Bad Guys and the Women Who Love Them…win a book today ~Tanya Hanson

What is it about very good girls falling for very bad men? Does the man have some redeeming quality she can see right off?

In my “Lawmen and Outlaws” Christmas Anthology novella, Christmas for Ransom, available both in print and e-book, schoolmarm Eliza Willows  falls in love with an outlaw when the handsome stranger hires her to teach him to read. Of course she’s unaware he’s the bad guy who thieved her granny’s prized Morgan horses smack dab during Thanksgiving dinner. Even when Eliza finds out his true identity, her heart has already been stolen…and Canyon Jack Ransom’s grown a conscience. He vows to become respectable and does all the right things to stay in her heart.

Today I’ll be giving away a signed copy (U.S.A.) or an e-copy (international) after drawing a name from today’s commenters.

Well, today let’s look at a real life good girl who fell for a bad guy. Schoolteacher Anna Ralston, daughter of a wealthy Independence MO businessman, held a Bachelor of Arts degree in Science and Literature from Missouri State College. Truth is, she was one of its first female graduates.

“Annie” is the woman who snared Alexander Franklin James, aka Frank James, and eloped with him in July 1875.  When she pretended to visit her brother-in-law in Kansas City, Frank waited for her on the train, the elopement already arranged.

No one ever knew how or when the couple met. But it is known Frank wasn’t only a rough and tumble baddie. As a youth, he’d devoured the books in his father’s library and even as an outlaw, quoted Shakespeare at will. His father, a farmer and Baptist minister, co-founded the William Jewell College in Liberty, Missouri. So maybe it’s not all that surprising that Frank chose an educator who loved literature. And with him described by the Kansas City Times as a “notable knight of the road” and “dashing and daring,” perhaps it’s not surprising Annie fell for him.

Two days after her departure for Kansas City, her parents received a brief note from her that said, “Dear Mother: I am married and going West. Annie Reynolds”

Not recognizing the name Reynolds, they figured she’d run off with a gambler they’d heard about. Putting their sons on her trail, her parents eventually learned of Annie’s marriage to the outlaw. Her father advised the family to treat the matter philosophically. Nothing could be done now, he said, and the less said about it the better.

Annie and Frank had one son, Robert Franklin James, born February 6, 1878. Four years later, after brother Jesse’s murder, Frank gave himself up, wanting peace after being hunted for twenty-one years.

Found not guilty for two robberies/murders (the juries cited lack of evidence), Frank became respectable for the last thirty years of his life. He gave lecture tours with his old crony Cole Younger and worked for the telegraph before returning to the James Farm in Kearney, Missouri to give tours. He died an honorable man on February 18, 1915. Fearing his grave would be desecrated for souvenirs, he decreed his ashes would be kept hidden until he and Annie could be buried together.

Annie remained with her mother in law at the James farm for many years, After her death at age 91, she and Frank were buried next to each other at Hill Park Cemetery in Independence.


(Excerpt from Chapter Two,  Christmas for Ransom:

Pinching herself, Eliza lost interest in everything except seeing what the stranger looked like in the lantern light. Brawny stalwart men were nothing new in a railroad town or on the ranch, but she never minded a good view.

Her breath caught so hard her sore rib tweaked. He was magnificent. The big-brimmed hat and flowing duster reckoned him a wrangler of some sort coming in from the range. Although he needed a bath and truly looked the worse for wear, she didn’t mind one single bit. The scruffy cheeks, the long rag-taggle coat, even the scent of masculine sweat were far more her style than the slick-haired dandies and overdressed fops she’d met at Boston cotillions.

“This here’s Ransom,” the blacksmith said helpfully.

As the stranger moved closer, he removed his hat and tucked it under his arm with a polite half-nod. For a long luscious moment, eyes the color of manly liquor covered her with a mouth-watering gaze. Golden-brown hair touched the mountains of his shoulders like sunlight at dawn across the Guadalupe Mountains.

Air left her lungs. A slow burn started at the top of her spine, her flesh desperate for the days’ worth of roughness adorning cheekbones carved like crags and valleys. She had to hold her hand still to keep her fingers from caressing the deep etches of his face.

Eliza couldn’t move as she stared up at him, aching and eager.

Now, for a Christmas story about a real GOOD man, my latest release, Right to Bragg, is a short, sweet holiday read.




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48 thoughts on “Bad Guys and the Women Who Love Them…win a book today ~Tanya Hanson”

  1. Howdy everybody, I’ll be taking the train to visit my daughter and her new baby (yippee!) this morning Pacific time) so I’ll post as soon as I can. Hope you have a nice day.

  2. Hi, Tanya! What a terrific post about one of my very favorite romantic themes! I love the story line for “Christmas for Ransom”–it sounds just perfect for me : ) Thank you for sharing the amazing true life love of Annie & Frank–I am so glad that they were together in life and beyond!

  3. Hi Virginia, early bird! It’s not even midnight here yet so I can say howdy as I haven’t left yet LOL. Thanks for the kind words about Ransom and I am glad you enjoyed Annie and Frank’s story. I just wonder how they met! Glad you stopped by already today!

  4. Hi Cindy, another early bird! When I was asked to contribute to the antho, I had the choice of an outlaw hero or a lawman hero…I’d never tackled an outlaw before and just couldn’t resist. Of course he had to have some spark of goodness, and for Canyon Jack, it’s his love for his gram-maw. Thanks for posting today.

  5. I guess the “good” girls crave a little excitement in their lives. A wild boy is an escape or rebellion against their staid, routine lives.

    Some people like to live on the edge of danger!

    I didn’t know that Frank James and Cole Younger turned their lives around. I thought they all were caught and spent the rest of their lives in prison or they were hung,


  6. Hi Laurie, so good to see you here today. It is kinda nice to know they found a bit of redemption. Me, I’m such a weenie. I don’t think I’d like hanging out with an outlaw, much less marrying one. That’s why I liked writing about one because I knew how it would turn out LOL. Thanks for posting.

  7. Hi Tanya,

    Thanks for sharing the story of Annie and Frank! I’ve always loved their story, but I hate when history leaves behind a mystery. I’d like to know how they met. But I guess not knowing leaves behind a mountain of possibilities for the imagination.

    Both of your Christmas stories sound wonderful! Enjoy your trip!


  8. So good to see you here this morning, Kirsten. As you can see, I haven’t left yet…still have a few minutes. I think their mystery does have a bit of allure. Thanks for posting.

  9. I enjoyed reading about Annie and Frank. What a story! Have wonderful visit with your daughter and new grandbaby!

  10. Great post Tanya.. I just love stories like this one… Have a good time with your new grandchild… and daughter too of course…

  11. Hi Lori and Kathleen…heading out the door for the station right now but taking one last peek. Thanks for your good wishes, and for commenting today! Always good to see you both here.

  12. Hi Tanya. I never get enough of these outlaws or their history. I had read this before and now that I re-read it makes me wonder if this is how the James’ met Quantrill since he was a school teacher. I also wonder if Quantrill’s actions didn’t have something to do with Annie’s ability to help turn Frank around? Have a safe and happy trip.

  13. Hi, Tanya. Loved the story of Annie and Frank James. Reformed bad guys are hard to beat. I love that they stayed together their entire lives and were buried side by side. And how funny that Frank gave tours at his own home! 🙂 Thanks for sharing!

  14. Tanya,
    GREAT POST, AS ALWAYS! This was so interesting! Frank was also a “consultant” for some of the silent movies about –what else– train robberies. At one point he was a shoe salesman. I loved learning more about him and Annie. And I look forward to reading your story in the anthology and am treating myself to Right to Bragg on my kindle.

    What a love story with Frank and Annie–I didn’t know any of that. Have a wonderful trip, Tanya!
    Cheryl P.

  15. Hi Stephy, yay, there is wi fi on the train!, I think the Quantrille connection is worthy of research…for a future blog for sure. I admit to an interest in the James. Boys ever since I saw the movie The Long Riders. Thanks for commenting today.

  16. Hi Karen, I originally learned that Frank started giving tours of the homestead for the unheard-of price of twenty five cents! The picture above shows him charging a whole fifty cents! yowza. thanks for posting today, filly sister!

  17. Hi Cheryl, there is so much more about Frank, to be sure, but didn’t want to get overlong. and Cole Younger had a shirttail relative whose family cemetery is on a farm now owned by kin of my friend Nancy. definitely a blog coming up on that. Thanks for the post! Oxox

  18. Great post! This is a story I can really get into, sounds really good. I think we all love those bad boys. You want what you shouldn’t have.

  19. Tanya, enjoyed reading the post… it is so great to read about little bits of history… thanks for sharing the excerpt for Christmas for Ransom!

  20. Hi Colleen, I am definitely a history tidbit addict. Seems to make people and the time period more real, not just dates and dry facts. Thanks so much for commenting today.

  21. I love this, Tanya. I’d really love a look inside of the James boys minds. They really were evil at times and they were also hailed as heroes at times. I just wonder what the truth really was.
    What happened to their son? Jesse was married, too, right?

  22. Tanya–the anthology and the Christmas story sounds like a perfect one to show love at Christmas time. How do you do it all? You amaze me with your talent and your dedication to your writing. Congratulations–

  23. Hi Mary,I just remember learning that the stepfather who raised them and loved them had been tortured by the Yankees…and left brain damaged, and that tragedy had a powerful effect on them. not that that should excuse anything. yes, Jesse was married to a cousin, Zee, who had been named for his mother Zerelda. Zee was devoted to Jesse, too. sorry typos, on train with iPad. Thanks for the post, Mary. oxox

  24. Thanks, Celia, for the compliments. Actually I just turned in my last of the eight Hearts Crossing Ranch series, and other than finalizing two proposals, am gonna take a bit of a break, spend time with hubby and grandsons. Sooooo happy you came by today with your own writing schedule. Thanks, my friend.

  25. Not knowing some things makes them more interesting, maybe if we knew all the details, the allure wouldn’t be as great. We can imagine all kinds of romantic possibilities. Looking forward to the blog about the cemetery.

  26. Hi Nancy, always good to have you join us in Wildflower Junction. And you’re so right. A bit of mystery is always nice. And I haven’t forgot about the cemetery blog. Look formit soon!

  27. Your book sounds really good.
    When my Grandfather was a young man in Missouri and working for the railroad, he had a run-in with one of the James gang. He didn’t know who it was at the time.

  28. Hi Tanya, Just wanted to thank you for this interesting post. I have always been curious about Frank and Annie. How difficult it would have been to be married to someone so notorious, and I didn’t realize they also had a child.
    Enjoy every minute with your daughter and new granddaughter!

  29. I love a good/bad story. Will be looking for your books as I also love Christmas reads.

    Enjoy the special time with family!!

  30. Thanks so much, Judy. I am here now…her hubby went out of town on a business trip,so here I am.

    I can’t imagine such a life either. I’m such a weenie, I don’t. Know if I’d even have let myself fall for an outlaw. But then again….lol. Thanks for posting here today.

  31. I really did know that much about Frank but this was very interested. Seem Jesse over shadowed his big brother. I guess Frank was Jesse’s wind beneath his wings.

  32. Anthologies are a favorite of mine. Christmas stories are another favorite. I have a bookcase of holiday books and many of them are anthologies. There is just such a sense of hope and peace that seems to resonate throughout them. LAWMEN AND OUTLAWS sounds like it will be a good addition.

    Thanks for the most interesting post. I didn’t realize that Frank and Jessie came from that type of a background. It is nice that he found a good woman and turned his life around..

  33. What a good sounding story. and that is very interesting about Annie and Frank. I don’t know if I would fall for the bad boy…but maybe he’d fall for me. 🙂

  34. Hi Patricia, always SO good to see you here! Frank and Jesse did marry for love and were always devoted to their mama. Go figure lol. thanks so much for being here with me today.

  35. Amy, I KNOw he’d fall for you! I would be pretty leery of a bad boy myself, but it’s fun to have a fictional one turn out good, and a real guy, too! So appreciate your commenting today.

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