The Mystery of the Gunfight at Hide Park


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The Mystery of the Gunfight at Hide Park – and how it inspired a book.

I’ve got a novella releasing in June. which includes fellow P & P Filly Margaret Brownley as well as Debra Clopton and Robin Lee Hatcher. It’s a fun mail-order bride collection with a twist. Each of the  heroines answers an ad for a mail order bride…the twist is the owner of the Hitching Post Mail Order Bride Catalogue feels free to rewrite the letters if he thinks he can move a romance along.


Hitch means well. He just thinks some of his prospective brides and grooms don’t know how to properly court each other.

So how was my little light hearted romance….about a groom who thinks he’s dying and a bride who’s not going to let that happen….like an old west gunfight?

That’s all part of the inspiration for the backstory of my hero. And because my novella, Winter Wedding Bells, is so short (as novellas always are) I didn’t get to do more than just barely mention it.

A little bit about The Gunfight at Hide Park.

A fight broke out between two lawmen that ended in a shooting and left one of those men dead. The other, named McCluskie, ran, but came back to town when he heard the law was calling the shooting self-defense.

Once McCluskie was back in town friends of the man hunted him down. One of those men shot McCluskie in cold blood while the men with him opened fire, not hitting anyone. It was assumed they were shooting to scare others back.

Gunfight at Hide Park

Then James Riley bought into the fight. These men had killed his friend and the quiet young man opened fire. He killed four men and  wounded four others, most of the men had emptied their guns already so they couldn’t fight back.

When the smoke cleared four men were either dead or wounded so badly they’d die of their wounds, besides McCluskie who lay dead.

James Riley was gone.

This is the Mystery of Hide Park. James Riley. Who was he? Had he been a killer before? Where did he go?  Much like my hero in A Bride for All Seasons, James Riley was a kid who”d just witnessed his friend”s murder. He fought back…and was never seen again.

I liked the idea of someone vanishing like that, then wandering around with this past all carefully concealed.

My hero in Winter Wedding Bells has a past. He lost his mother to outlaws who preyed on pioneers along the Oregon Trail. When the boy was old enough he took it upon himself to guard that trail. He found he was wickedly fast and deadly accurate with a gun. He kept his identity secret, he became known as the OT Rider.

Until someone tracked him down.

His father, who had no idea his son was the notorious OT Rider told his son that once a man has a reputation, he could never live a peaceful life again.

Others would come, looking to put a notch in their gun by shooting the OT Rider, so my hero, at his father’s urging, ran. He went back east, changed his name, never carried a gun again. Back east he got  married, had two sons and made a very good living as a businessman. And he never told anyone who he’d been. And then his wife dies and all he wants is to go home to the wild west he loved.

Then he finds out he’s dying. He needs to make sure his children are cared for and he writes a letter to a mail order bride catalogue. He gets many responses, a wealthy rancher is a good catch after all. Until he writes a second letter to all the women telling them they’ll be widows within the year.

No one writes back.

So Hitch alters his letter and our heroine Megan says yes.

A Bride for All Seasons

Available for pre-order now on Amazon.

It all started with an ad in a mail-order bride catalogue . . .

Four Hitching Post Mail-Order Bride Catalogue prospects in the year 1870, all eager for second chances . . . and hungry for happiness. Year in, year out, they’ll learn that love often comes in unexpected packages.

“And then Came Spring” by Margaret Brownley

Mary-Jo has traveled halfway across the country to meet her match, arriving just in time for his funeral. Returning home seems like her only option until her would-be brother-in-law proposes a more daring idea.

“An Ever After Summer” by Debra Clopton

Ellie had no idea she’s not what Matthew ordered. And what’s wrong with being a “Bible thumper” anyway? She’s determined to show him she’s tougher than she looks—and just the girl he needs.

“Autumn’s Angel” by Robin Lee Hatcher

Luvena would be perfect for Clay if she didn’t come with kids. But kids are a deal breaker, especially in a rough-and-trouble mining town. ­ e trouble is, there’s no money to send them back . . .

“Winter Wedding Bells” by Mary Connealy

David’s convinced he’s not long for the world. He needs someone to mother his boys when he’s gone—nothing more. Can plucky Irish Megan convince him to work at living instead of dying?

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Author of Romantic Comedy...with Cowboys including the bestselling Kincaid Brides Series

12 thoughts on “The Mystery of the Gunfight at Hide Park”

  1. Hi Mary, I love mysteries and I love how you used this in your story. People with a past make such interesting characters. I had no idea that David was inspired by a real person. Only you could give a dying hero a happy ending.

  2. Margaret my post today sounds so GRIM when I read it. I swear it’s a romantic comedy. Just because he’s a famous outlaw who’s dying doesn’t mean he can’t be funny and fall in love, right?????

  3. This collection sounds like so much fun. As long as your hero recovers, of course. 🙂 Somehow, I think he might. True love conquors ALL, right?

    Thanks for sharing the backstory and inspiration. I love your creative twist and look forward to reading it!

  4. Mary, what a great premise for your anthology collection! The backstory for your story made me smile. I can’t wait to meet plucky Megan. She sounds like my kind of gal!!!

  5. I’ve been looking forward to this book ever since I heard about it awhile ago, Mary! It has some of my favorite authors! When I heard about it, June seemed so far away and now it’s close! Can’t wait until its release! Yea! Thanks for your post today! I love old west stories….so glad I married a “Western” and got to change my last name 🙂

  6. What an intriguing story, Mary. Really makes you wonder about that young man, doesn’t it? I love what you’ve done, turning one idea into a story with your own twist. Your anthology sounds wonderful–and what a great collection of authors.

  7. It’a almost like Samson and the Philistines when all revenge was what the other had to do to avenge the other. The sad part is that so many lose their lives before somebody wakes up.
    The story you posted is sad but very interesting at the same time.
    This sounds like a really great book!

  8. Interesting story about the gunfight of Hide Park. What a mess.
    I love mail order bride stories and these sound good. I’ll be looking for it. It took a great bit of faith, spunk, and courage for these ladies to set out to an untamed land and an unknown future. One wonders haw many were driven by desperation.

  9. I love mail order bride stories and I know that I am going to LOVE these stories! Love the cover!

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