Excerpt Friday – Hearts and Spurs Collection: The Widow’s Heart


Welcome to Excerpt Friday!  Each Friday we’ll be featuring excerpts from recent releases by our very own Fillies.  So grab a cup of coffee and read on.  And if you find you’re hooked by what you read (and we know you will be!) just click on the book cover to purchase the entire book. Or you can click HERE.


Note From Linda:  When Prairie Rose Publications asked me to write a short story for them, I racked my brain for something suitable. That’s when Skye O’Rourke arrived at my door, holding a valise. She unpacked all her hopes and dreams along with an old secret love. Her husband is dead and she’s all alone out on the Texas prairie. She fears she must be going mad, driven there by the howling incessant wind. She’s at her lowest. Then Cade Coltrain emerges from the shimmering heat, awakening yearnings she thought were dead and buried.


Hearts and Spurs MedEXCERPT:

Skye O’Rourke gazed into the startling blue eyes that once made her dream, made her yearn, and made her want to move heaven and earth to have him lying next to her.

God help her!  They still had that power.

But he’d abandoned her, urged her to marry his brother.  What kind of man did that?  She’d not give him a chance to hurt her again. She’d learned a valuable lesson.

A sweeping glance took him in.  She saw no hint of the soft gentleness in the man she’d once given her heart to beneath a full moon.  A hardness as unyielding as the cold piece of iron in his holster had settled over him now, from his chiseled jaw and piercing gaze to the deep lines in his face.

Hard and frightening.

An ache spread across her chest.  Cade had died as surely as her husband Matthew had.  They just hadn’t buried him yet.

“It’ll only be for a few days,” he said quietly.  “Then, I promise I’ll be out of your life.  Just let me rest up.”

A few days could be an eternity when tempted by his nearness and her need to be held again by strong arms.  Skye shoved the thought aside.  It would destroy her.  He’d made it clear he wasn’t going to stick around.

“Where will you go?” she whispered.

Cade shrugged and worked to get to his feet.  He spoke in a flat, dead voice.  “One place is as good as the next, I reckon.  Learned a long ago not to get too comfortable.”

“What happened to you?”  She needed to know, to understand.

“I’ve done things.”  He spread his legs as though bracing himself for a blow that would knock him to his knees.  “Had to become someone else.  I answer to Cade Coltrain now.  In certain parts of the country the name strikes fear.”

“But why?  Why do you want people to be afraid of you?”

“Didn’t seek it.  Never.  Just happened.  You ask a lot of questions, Skye,” he said softly.  “Be careful.  You might not want to know the answers.”

“Are you bringing trouble to my door?”

“Not yet.  I’ve covered my tracks.”

A strangled sob rose up.  It took everything she had, but she managed to swallow it back down.  She’d not let him see her pain at what he’d become.  Not if she could help it.

“Are you wanted?”

“Skye, I warned you not to ask these questions.”

“I simply want to know what to expect.”

“Nothing.  Don’t expect anything from me.  I’ll only disappoint you.”

“You’re so different.  What happened to the Cade I knew?”

“He died.  When I sold my soul to the highest bidder.”

Tessa Berkley Rides Into the Junction


CastillosFieryTexasRoseMiss Tessa Berkley has saddled her pony and will ride into the Junction on Saturday, March 1.

She’s going to tell us what GTT meant in frontier-speak. Of course, to  this old gal here it means gone to town. Hee-Hee! But we’ll know soon enough.

Miss Tessa is toting some books to give away if outlaws don’t ambush her along the way.

So shake the wrinkles out of your bustle and hitch up your wagon.

We’ll be waitin’ for you.

Beds Fifty Cents a Night–Bugs Free

It’s hard to know what presented the greatest challenge to Sochi Olympic athletes: the games or the hotel accommodations.  Leaky roofs, broken toilets, brown water and unwanted furry creatures might have caused grief to modern day travelers, but such inconveniences would have been business as usual in the Old West.


Sharing a bed was optional in Sochi but not in those early western hotels.  Guests almost always had to share a bed—if not with another guest, then with a chicken, dog or cat. Sometimes even the sexes were mixed in the same bed—and not always by choice.


Poor victuals, vermin and distant outhouses were the least of it.   Some hotels were also used as hospitals.  A minister learned this the hard way when everyone avoided him like the plague during breakfast. It turned out someone had died of smallpox in his bed shortly before he took possession.  Fortunately, the poor minister  had been vaccinated.


Texas hotels hid poor conditions behind high-falutin’ names such as Grand Windsor and Mansion Hotel.   Some states like Missouri preferred calling a spade a spade and went with more descriptive identities like Buzzard’s Roost.  At least in Missouri single beds were available, but at extra cost.


Built from rough wood and canvas some early hotels burned down and were rebuilt with such regularity that there was hardly any need for maid service.


 During Nevada’s great silver boom, Dublin newspaper reporter J. Ross Browne described the hotels as 300 men “sleeping in a tinderbox not bigger than a first-class chicken coop.”

One Englishman telegraphed a Durango Colorado hotel asking for a private room and was delighted to receive confirmation of having reserved the bridal chamber. His delight was short-lived, however, when he discovered that the bridal chamber contained eighteen beds.


 A sign in the Dodge House Hotel in Dodge City advised guests that “Sheets would be changed once in six monthshotel—oftener if necessary.”  Guests were also required to remove their spurs so as not to mess up the sheets.   The hotel also offered a choice of “Beds with or without bugs.”


Early San Francisco hotels fared no better.  Sleeping spaces were chalked out on the floor CSI style. Whiskey provided warmth and travelers could expect nocturnal visitations “by the third plague of Egypt and a Lilliputian host of the flea tribe.”


Down south in the pueblo of Los Angeles, the famous Bella Union Hotel was described as a “flat-roofed” adobe with “dog kennel” rooms.  A respectable looking guest would be granted a bed on the billiard table—reportedly the best bed in the place unless a drunk decided to shoot a game.


Don’t know about you, but personally I find it heartening to know that the Old West still lives—even if it is only in Sochi.


What was the most memorable, funniest, or horrifying hotel experiences you ever had?


 “Exquisitely Intriguing” Publishers Weekly Starred Review

To order click on cover

Margaret cover gunTea

She’s a Pinkerton detective working undercover; he has more aliases than can be found in Boot Hill. 

Neither has a clue about love. –Gunpowder Tea


The Boy Captives

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The Boy CaptivesI love discovering historical tidbits, and I ran across a gem when researching what happened on this date in Texas history.

On February 26, 1871 – Clinton Lafayette Smith and his brother Jefferson Davis Smith (ages 11 and 9) were captured by Lipans and Comanche Indians while they were out herding sheep for their father on their ranch located between San Antonio and Boerne. Clint and Jeff’s father, Henry Smith, was a captain in the Texas Rangers along with his cousin, John Sansom. The two men quickly rounded up a posse of fellow Rangers and local militia to serve as a rescue party. They pursued the Indians all the way to Fort Concho in West Texas, but to no avail. They failed to recover the boys. Henry Smith returned home empty handed, but offered a $1,000 reward every year to anyone who could bring his boys home.

In the meantime, the brothers were separated. Clint was adopted by a Comanche chief, while Jeff  was sold to Geronimo [Yes, that Geronimo] and branded as his property. Jeff traveled with Geronimo’s band of Apaches. They remained captives for five years, both boys acclimating by necessity and with the innate flexibility of children to their new way of life. They adopted Indian traits and mannerisms. They learned to hunt and went on raids with the warriors of their clans.

I was unable to find any details about how they were eventually returned to their families, but after five years of captivity, Clint and Jeff returned home. It took a while for them to reaccustom themselves to lives as young white men, but they eventually did so. Having developed serious riding skills from their time with the Comanche and Apache, they went on to have strong careers as trail drivers, cowboys, and ranchers. Not to mention frontier celebrities. Everyone wanted to hear their story.

Both men married and had families. Clinton married a good southern woman. You can tell she was a good southern woman simply by reading her name: Dixie Alamo Dyche. Don’t you LOVE that name? Jefferson Davis (an excellent southern name on its own) married Julia Harriet Reed.

Clinton and Jeff Smith Clinton Smith with Bow and Arrow












When the brothers Smith were in their sixties, they related their stories to an author by the name of J. Marvin Hunter. He did his best to record their tales exactly as the men told them in The Boy Captives. Not everything matches precisely with what the history books teach, but personal accounts like this are a rare and valuable glimpse into a part of western culture we know little about.

So have you read stories or seen movies with this theme of white captured by Indians and raised in that way of life only to return to the white world? Talk about culture shock – both ways.

I always think of the movie Dances with Wolves. Great film. What others would you recommend?

By the way, if you are interested in learning a new tidbit of Texas history every day, you can sign up for the Texas State Historical Association’s Day-By-Day emails here.

We Have a Winner

banner 2 Hi!

Well, we actually have 2 winners.  And they are…

Sandy Haber and Judy Anderson

Congratulations to both Sandy and Judy!  And thank you all for coming to the blog today.  Some of your comments made me smile, some made me laugh outright and some were simply heartwarming.

Sandy & Judy, you must email me privately to get your ebook.  Please email me at karenkay(dot)author(at)earthlink(dot)net. 

Again, thank you.  What a delight it has been to read your posts.

And Then He Kissed Me

banner 2Howdy!

Does anyone else remember this old 60’s song?  Long ago, I used to know all the words.  I loved it then and I love it now.

I will be giving away a free ebook with this blog, so please do leave a comment.  That’s all you have to do to enter into the give-away.

roadtr40[1]So I thought I’d address a subject that has had a fan or two write me about in these past 20 years of professional writing.  The kiss.  Did the American Indian kiss?  And/or do I realize that the American Indian only rubbed noses?

Deep sigh.

What would a Historical Romance Book be like without that ever famous kiss?  Although historically speaking, am I being accurate when I put the ever-wonderful kiss in my stories?

Unfortunately, the American Indian at the time period in which I write didn’t leave an answer for this.  We have only scant “opinions” in this field, I’m afraid.

I don’t even recall if any of my historical research covers this point.  Of course we’ve all been told that Indians didn’t kiss.  I remember learning about this in grade school.  They rubbed noses — that’s what I learned.  Where in the world did that piece of data come from, that it would reach to me in grade school, in an fairly obscure and small farming community?AIPTEK

If there’s one thing I’ve learned from being a researcher, it is that if “everybody” knows about it and believes it’s true — it usually just isn’t so.

And so I decided — when I first started writing American Indian romances — to go right to the horses mouth.  I asked an Indian friend.  A Lakota man.

He did look at me rather oddly, but he said something along the line of, “Of course the Indians of yester year kissed.  Does the white man think he has the market cornered on anything as wonderful as a kiss?”  Might not have been his exact words, but it went along something like that.

galler6[1]Well, that answered my question and even gave me some more information … anything as wonderful as a kiss…  It also put to rest one of those “everybody knows” things that so often turns out to be founded on absolutely nothing.

Where would we, as romance writers, be if not for that all important kiss?  Whether it’s the first kiss, the sweet kiss, the sensuous kiss or the kiss to end all kisses, many a romance story comes alive with that first sweet, sweet moment.


One of my books, GRAY HAWK’S LADY, centers around a certain, particular real-life kiss.  It was during the writing of that book that I met and married my husband.  It was his kiss that opened my eyes to him.  It was that first kiss that made me sit up and notice him.  In fact, it was only about a month after that first kiss that he proposed, and I accepted.  That kiss is there in the book — it couldn’t help but be.  It’s all there — my reaction to the kiss, my becomig aware of just who this man is and what he might mean to me.

AngelAndTheWarrior-The-CoverOn April 1st, 2014, THE ANGEL AND THE WARRIOR will be released from Samhain Publishing.  This book shares a similar moment…a first kiss…and all the wonders…and problems of course…that go along with that first moment when one knows that his/her world is forever changed.

So I’ve got to ask you — because I’m sure we each one have had one of those moments — that earth shattering kiss — what do you remember most about it?

So come on it, let’s talk.

What Do Writers Do When They’re Not Writing?

We plot books together!

Sometimes in big groups, sometimes in smaller groups. One of my favorite things to do is brainstorm with other folks. There is nothing more amazing than putting together a bunch of creative minds and seeing what will happen. I’m lucky to be involved in a vibrant writing community. While I have a regular critique group I meet with, I’ve been blessed to have the opportunity to meet with other groups.


Storytelling is storytelling and it doesn’t much matter what genre someone is writing. While there are certainly idiosyncrasies within the different genres, the basics don’t change. Sometimes it takes a new perspective to put everything into..well…perspective!


Recently I meet with Renee Ryan, Victoria Alexander and Louise. It was an all day session and we were all brain dead by the evening! You’re probably looking at the gorgeous house in the background. Victoria lives in a beautiful historic home with stunning details. It’s the perfect place to find inspiration. We watched the snow fall through lace curtains and enjoyed lunch in a stunning, renovated kitchen. We also got some work done as well 🙂

Do you have a group you meet with on a regular basis? Quilting, knitting, book club? Tell me about your favorite get together.

Available Now!

The Marshal’s Ready-Made Family

4 ½ stars from RT Magazine, Susan Mobley says, “A lovely marriage-of-convenience story, the interaction between the two main characters is a joy to start.”

Gentlemen don’t court feisty straight shooters like JoBeth McCoy. Just as she’s resigned to a lifetime alone, a misunderstanding forces the spunky telegraph operator into a The marshal's ready-made familymarriage of convenience. Wedding the town’s handsome new marshal offers JoBeth a chance at motherhood, caring for the orphaned little girl she’s come to love.

Garrett Cain will lose guardianship of his niece, Cora, if he stays single, but he knows no woman could accept the secrets he’s hidden about his past. The lawman can’t jeopardize Cora’s future by admitting the truth. Yet when unexpected danger in the small town threatens to expose Garrett’s long-buried secret, only a leap of faith can turn a makeshift union into a real family.


 Logo--kathleenybarbo.comWhen I set out to write a heroine equal to the task of catching the charming villain Will Tucker in Sadie’s Secrets, there was no doubt Sadie Callum, the well-bred Louisiana-born daughter of sugar cane planter, would be a Pinkerton agent. After all, what other nineteenth century organization allowed women not only to populate their ranks well before they could vote, but also made great use of their unique talents?

 Early on, Alan Pinkerton respected the ability of a woman to go where a man might not be allowed. Thus, he made sure that he always had a few well-trained ladies in his employ for those difficult cases where a feminine touch was needed.

Kathleen 1

 Pinkerton agents—both male and female–were well trained and well paid. Their expertise in surveillance was beyond comparison. Allan Pinkerton was an early proponent of using female agents, determining that often it was the lady who was least suspected of being a detective.

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 One famous lady Pinkerton was the widow, Kate Warne, thought to be the clean-shaven person standing behind Mr. Pinkerton in the photograph from the Library of Congress archives. Kate Warne, a woman who it is claimed walked into the Pinkerton offices seeking a secretarial job only to leave as a detective, is one of the more memorable Pinkertons, and definitely the first female agent.Kathleen 3

 Among Mrs. Warne’s many accomplishments was the detection of a plot against President-elect Abraham Lincoln. Not only did she learn of the plot, but she also saved the president’s life by helping to smuggle him into Washington DC for his inauguration disguised as her invalid brother. Later, during the Civil War, it has been alleged that Mrs. Warne was quite adept at fitting in on both sides of the lines and brought back valuable intelligence to the Pinkerton offices. Quite the accomplishment considering women were not yet accepted as valuable members of any other crime fighting organization.lKathleen

 And although Sadie Callum is only a fictional detective, I believe Alan Pinkerton would heartily approve of her methods of bringing Will Tucker to justice once and for all. Take a peek at Sadie’s Secret, the third book in The Secret Lives of Will Tucker series, and find out just how she manages such a feat.

Post a comment and be entered into a drawing for a print copy of Sadie’s Secret!



About Sadie’s Secret (releasing February 1, 2014 from Harvest House Publishers): 

Louisiana, 1890—Sarah Louise “Sadie” Callum is a master of disguise, mostly due to her training as a Pinkerton agent but also from evading overprotective brothers as she grew up. When she takes on a new assignment with international connections, she has no idea her new cover will lead her on the adventure of a lifetime.        

Undercover agent William Jefferson Tucker is not looking for marriage—pretend or otherwise—but his past is a secret, his twin brother has stolen his present, and his future is in the hands of the lovely Sadie Callum. Without her connections to the world of upper-crust New Orleans and Newport, Jefferson might never find a way to clear his name and solve the art forgery case that has eluded him for years. Only God can help these two secret agents find a way to solve their case and uncover the truth about what is going on in their hearts.

Read the first chapter of Sadie’s Secret here: 

 About Kathleen Y’Barbo:

Bestselling author Kathleen Y’Barbo is a multiple Carol Award and RITA nominee of forty-five novels with almost two million copies of her books in print in the US and abroad. A tenth-generation Texan and certified family law paralegal, she has been nominated for a Career Achievement Award as well a Reader’s Choice Award and several Top Picks by Romantic Times magazine.

A member of American Christian Fiction Writers, Romance Writers of America, and a former member of the Texas Bar Association Paralegal Division, she is currently a proud military wife and an expatriate Texan cheering on her beloved Texas Aggies from north of the Red River. To find out more about Kathleen or connect with her through social media, check out her website at www.kathleenybarbo.com.



Excerpt Friday – Hearts and Spurs Collection: Found Hearts


Welcome to Excerpt Friday!  Each Friday we’ll be featuring excerpts from recent releases by our very own Fillies.  So grab a cup of coffee and read on.  And if you find you’re hooked by what you read (and we know you will be!) just click on the book cover to purchase the entire book. Or click HERE.

From Author Cheryl Pierson – FOUND HEARTS


An enemy from the past threatens Alex Cameron’s future on the day he’s set to wed mail-order bride Evie Fremont. Can they survive their wedding day?


Hearts and Spurs MedEXCERPT

“If you’re asking about husbandly rights, I’ve never forced a woman to bed me, or bedded one I didn’t at least carry a bit of fondness for in one way or another. If you want children between us, I’m glad to oblige, and will provide for them.”

“Well, then,” Evie said breathlessly, her heart pounding at his matter-of-fact discussion of their intimate marital duties. She was surprised at the anger that seemed to underlie her own feelings. “Well, then,” she repeated, “I have a few expectations myself. The first one has to do with alcohol. I won’t abide a drunk husband.”

“Nothing to worry over. I rarely drink, and when I do, it’s in moderation. I like to keep my wits about me, in case of trouble.”

Something about the way he said that sent a cold chill racing up Evie’s spine. “What kind of trouble are you expecting, Alex?”