My mother was a Brit who married an American. While I was born in England, as soon as possible, she and I immigrated to Texas where we joined my dad in Houston. I was about 18 months old at the time. Because of my twin heritage, I’ve always loved everything Texan and British.
What I find fascinating is how much influence the British had on settling the American west. Many lords sent their second sons to America to oversee cattle enterprises in which they were investing. Some Brits came over on their own in order to give this new venture a go. They were accustomed to civilization and very often brought refinement to a harsh life. They smoked fancy cigars, drank French wine, and entertained as they had at home. They were educated at Eton and Cambridge. They were groomed to be leaders. They understood duty and responsibility. While they might not have been as rugged as their American counterparts, they were more than up to the task of settling the west.
My upcoming re-issue, A ROGUE IN TEXAS, begins the Rogues in Texas series which is based on the premise of the second sons of English lords being sent to Texas to make their own way. There actually was a man who approached English lords. For a fee, he would bring their second sons to Texas and help set them up to earn a living. In A ROGUE IN TEXAS, he has brought them over to help a community of Civil War widows with their cotton farming. The next book in the series, NEVER LOVE A COWBOY, addresses the cattle industry.
I enjoyed writing this series because it gave me the opportunity to mix my two heritages. There are some language differences, some attitude differences, some prejudices that are put to rest.
The Englishmen have just been delivered to the farm where they will work…
Grayson Rhodes’ father had always warned him that he would burn in hell, but he had never expected to arrive at the damnable place while he was still alive.
A woman with hair the shade of a full moon captured his attention for reasons he could not begin to fathom. She looked worn, as though whatever dreams she might have once held had been turned under the soil and never bloomed.
She stepped toward him, so close that he was forced to look down to meet her gaze. He saw her body twitch as though she suddenly realized she stood closer than she’d intended, but to step back now would reveal her mistake. She angled her heart-shaped chin in defiance, and he somehow knew she would stand her ground rather than hop back out of harm’s way. Her violet eyes challenged him as effectively as tossing down a gauntlet.
“Let me see your hands,” she demanded.
“I beg your pardon?”
She grabbed his wrist, turned his hand up, and placed her palm against his. Her roughened hand was callused, dry, and cracked, leaving him completely unprepared for the jolt of warmth her touch sent spiraling through him. He jerked his gaze from her work-worn hand to her provocative eyes and saw bewilderment swirling within the violet depths.
She parted her lips slightly, almost breathlessly, and he was hit with the realization that he had not drawn a breath since she’d touched him. What was it about her—
She dropped his hand and stepped back as though she couldn’t remember why she’d grabbed it to begin with.
Her caress possessed nothing to entice a man, and yet, he experienced a keen sense of loss now that their contact had been severed. He closed his hand as though by doing so, he could recapture her touch.
* * * *
Of course, Brits weren’t the only ones to settle the west. We had all nationalities, leaving their mark.
Who is your favorite western hero, fiction or real?
A ROGUE IN TEXAS was originally published in 1999. It’s been 15 years since it was in stores, and I’m thrilled that it will once again be available in print. To celebrate, I will give an autographed copy to three lucky posters.
Also look for Lorraine’s upcoming E-Book release on June 24……
It originally came out in print in To Tame A Texan (1999). She took the story and expanded on it so it’s like brand new.
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.
From Author Phyliss Miranda – The Troubled Texan
Note from Phyliss: To one reader I will give you a gift card to purchase “The Troubled Texan”. And, to a second reader who leaves a comment, I will send them a Bath and Body Works gift certificate.
Alternating blue and red lights flashed from behind, jolting Rainey Michaels’ gypsy mind back to the dusky Texas highway not far off Interstate 40.
A single blast of a siren from a county marked club-cab pickup sliced the air.
“Son of a ..l” She slammed her hands on the steering wheel, tapped the brakes and pulled to the soft shoulder of the road. Speedling! I had to be speeding. And her proof of insurance had blown away when she’d opened the glove box way back in Tennessee.
Trouble had found her and she hadn’t been in the Texas Panhandle more than an hour. In this Godforsaken county, she’d be lucky if she didn’t get the book thrown at her.
She had carefully selected FarleySprings to relocate because it was far enough away from her hometown of Denton, Texas, for her not to be recognized, while small enough to feel at home. Along with the fact she had prepaid a six-month lease on a building sight unseen in the Podunk city. She had planned to slip quietly into town and go inconspicuously about her business. But now … that might be impossible.
In the rearview mirror, she saw the silhouette of the officer unfold from the patrol car. He carried himself with a confident presence, an air of authority. Most likely there would be no talking her way out of a ticket.
There wasn’t the slightest hesitation in his stride, as the tall man approached. No doubt, she had found trouble and he came with a Stetson, a Glock .45 on his hip, and the means go unravel the elaborate ruse she’d constructed.
From the way the deputy pulled the white felt hat low over his eyes and lifted back his jacket to touch his service revolver, he expected instant obedience. A no-nonsense type person who would enjoy making an example of a commonplace automobile with New York plates speeding through his sleepy Texas town.
Biting on her lower lip, she jerked open the gym bag and retrieved her new driver’s license and auto registration card. Maybe he wouldn’t ask for her insurance card. Not likely, but maybe.
He looks tough and way too cocky, but great body! Her tongue danced along her upper lip.
Shadowed by the remnants of a lazy West Texas sunset, the big man trooping her way reminded her of Donovan Cowan, Sr., the tough-as-nails longtime sheriff of Denton. Teaching the teenagers a valuable lesson, if he caught them speeding, they were an automatic overnight guest of the county. Swallowing hard, she tried to dislodge the knot in her throat. The death of the gruff old hound dog, killed in the line of duty, had been plastered all over the Internet for weeks.
As though she stepped on a grave, thoughts of his son Deuce chilled her musing. After nearly three decades of trying to ignore his existence, why would she think about the baddest good boy she had ever known?
Old friend and former Filly sister Lorraine Heath will pay us a visit on Saturday, May 31.
This is so exciting! We’re sprucing the place up real nice for her and I even gave Jasper a bath.
Miss Lorraine has had some cowboy books reissued and they’re humdingers. I just can’t get used to her writing about lords and dukes and whatnot. Just me a plain old cowboy and I’ll be happier than a dog with two bones.
You’ll be tickled to death to know she’s giving away three autographed copies.
In Courting Trouble my heroine Grace Davenport is in big trouble.—the kind of trouble no sane man would want to mess with Not even Wild West attorney Brock Daniels. Not only is his beautiful new client charged with killing her husband, her two previous husbands died under dire circumstances. Things sure didn’t look good for Grace and when I sat down to write her story I had no idea how my hero would defend her. It was time to hit the books.
My research for this story turned up many surprises. Namely, the number of lawyers required for frontier justice. Whenever a large mining boom began lawsuits were filed in incredible numbers. “Go west young man” went double for lawyers.
“We didn’t need laws until the lawyers got here.”
The wilder the town, the more lawyers (and doctors) it required. Not everyone welcomed the onslaught of lawyers, of course, but most accepted them as the cost of doing business.
Tombstone became a favorite gathering place for lawyers many of whom became rich and ran for office. Residents dubbed the street occupied by lawyer offices Rotten Row.
A court could be held indoors or out. In one murder trial the jury sat on the coffin containing the corpse of the victim. Most trials allowed for regular recesses for “liquid refreshment.” One well-known lawyer was routinely locked up in a hotel room prior to trial to assure he would be sober enough to defend his clients.
Three for the price of one
One of the strangest trials I ran across took place in California in 1845. During the trial of Joseph Wilson, William Ide served as judge, prosecutor and defense attorney. As the district attorney, he questioned his witness and was careful to object to his own questions when needed. He then moved to the bench to rule on the objection.
Women didn’t have the right to vote, but that didn’t keep them from making their presence known in court. Margaret Cody of Denver owned a notions shop with her husband but spent most of her time suing and being sued. I found a dozen lawsuits she was involved in and that was just during Colorado’s Territorial years. When Colorado became a state, she happily continued to enjoy litigation far into old age.
It seems like everyone in the Wild West practiced law in one way or the other, which led a character in my story to lament, “Unless you know the trial of having a wife, you know nothing about law and order.”
Okay, I admit it; I’m hooked on The Good Wife (or was until they killed off Will). Anyone have a favorite TV or movie lawyer?
So how does my hero defend the woman the town called the Black Widow? You’ll have to read the story to find out. While you’re at it, you won’t want to miss the other three stories (one by our very own Mary Connealy) in our exciting new collection. To order just click the cover.
In delving into the history of the American West, I’ve often come across some quite unusual stories…facts. Some of these stories are “stranger than fiction,” and so is this story I’m about to tell you.
This is a true story, even if highly extraordinary. It concerns an unusual man, a man who was born on the expedition and was the youngest member of the Lewis and Clark expedition. That man was Baptiste, Sacagawea’s baby
In 1804-1806, Sacagawea, as we might remember, accompanied Lewis and Clark on their expedition into the West. She was the only woman on the journey and Baptiste was the only child. He was born in 1805 in the Minnetaree Village on the Knife River, just a few miles below the Mandan Village on the Missouri. His birth was noted by Lewis as February 11, 1805. Baptiste’s father was a French trader who had won Sacagewea in a gambling wager in a Minnetaree Village, and because he could speak the language of the Indians, he engaged on the expedition, thus bringing his wife along with him, although she was with child.
It’s said by historians that Baptiste inherited his mother’s sunny disposition, her intelligence and attractive features. Captain Clark was particularly fond of him and called him, “my little dancing boy, and also as “my boy, Pomp,” from Pomp’s tower. Indeed, Captain Clark had become to so fond of the little boy, that he begged his parents to let him take the boy, whereupon he promised to raise him as his own. Baptiste’s parents declined, but over the years, Clark apparently did enter both Baptiste and his older, half-brother into school.
Now, here’s where the story gets really interesting. In 1823 (Baptiste would have been 18), he was introduced to Prince Paul of Wurtemberg, Germany. The prince was twenty-six and he had come to America in search of scientific information. It was at the mouth of the Kaw or Kansas River that the two were introduced and a fast friendship began between the two. Indeed, the prince declared in his written diary in 1829 that he “hunger(ed) for the vast silent places and the simple life among free unaffected children of nature.” Prince Paul offered to bring Baptiste with him back to Germany, where he promised to educate the lad and to tour the European continent. Captain Clark, who by now was like a father to Baptiste, agreed, and so on November 3, 1823. Baptiste began his journey to Europe with Prince Paul.
For six years, Baptiste lived the life of a prince. He lived in a castle in a beautiful woodland setting, he learned many different languages, including German, English,Spanish and French, He was instructed in the arts and social graces of the court and Baptiste was the companion of Prince Paul for all those years, developing a fast, fast friendship. Here’s where the story gets even stranger.
To the left is a picture of Prince Paul. In 1829 Baptiste and Prince Paul returned to America. Here somewhere along the route, Prince Paul and Baptiste parted, never to see each other again. Baptiste went on to become a mountain man and a scout for various private and governmental parties. Why the two friends parted remains a mystery, as none of Prince Paul’s published works mention the affair. It is, however, speculated that their separation was less than amicable.
To the right here is a painting of Baptiste. The mystery of Baptiste became highly enigmatic since he never again corresponded with Prince Paul, nor did he keep a diary. However, because Baptiste went on to be one of the best scouts the West has ever known, we have learned of him from the writings of travelers at that time.
Perhaps one of the most interesting aspects of Baptiste’s life is that he neither married, nor produced heirs, and this in a land where a man could easily have taken more than one wife or mistress.
What happened? Why did he suddenly cut all ties to the prince in Europe? Had he fallen in love with some princess, only to be dismissed out of hand because he lacked any real royal standing? Perhaps. My asking this question led me to write the story of THE PRINCESS AND THE WOLF, which is still available for purchase.
It’s one of the strangest stories that I uncovered in my research into the West and the many legends What do you think? Why did the Prince and Baptiste, who had been fast friends for six years — had toured together, learned together, hunted together — why did they separate, never to see one another again? Come on in and tell me your ideas. And if you haven’t done so already, pick up your copy of THE ANGEL AND THE WARRIOR today. Also on sale soon — in June is THE SPIRIT OF THE WOLF.
What do you get when you mix a “mad scientist” hero with a woman on a mission to save her family? Lots of explosive action and heart-pounding romance. And when I say, explosive, I mean KABOOM!!!
When I started writing this book, I knew I wanted to pair a feisty heroine with a hero who was obsessed with science. But what kind of scientific obsession would make sense in Texas in the 19th century? I wanted something exciting, something explosive. At first I played around with making him a chemist, thinking of all the lovely laboratory experiments that could go wrong. But it had been far too many years since my high school chemistry days, and I didn’t trust myself to handle the science needed to accurately portray that type of hero.
Then I remembered steam engines – steamboat engines in particular. Very explosive. I started digging into the research and learned that during the height of riverboat expansion into the American west in the 1840s and 50s, thousands of passengers and crew lost their lives every year in boiler explosions aboard steamboats. So I put my hero aboard an actual 19th century steamboat, the Louisiana, on the day that its boiler exploded in New Orleans.
A few minutes after 5:00 p.m. on November 15, 1849, the Louisiana began to pull away from the wharf, and all at once the boilers exploded with such force that large pieces of the boilers were blown hundred of yards, killing not only passengers, but pedestrians and animals on land as well as severely damaging two other nearby vessels on the river. Some passengers were scalded to death, falling timbers and debris crushed others, still others drowned trying to escape. The mighty ship sunk in a mere ten minutes. Over 150 people died that day. And no one could determine the cause of the explosion.
This is where Darius Thornton’s obsession was born. He was aboard the Louisiana during this horrendous tragedy, saw the death and destruction firsthand, and despite his efforts to save the women and children around him, still lost too many. Darius gave up his lucrative position in his family’s business, bought an abandoned plantation near Liberty, Texas along the Trinity River, and started conducting his own experiments with steam engine boilers, determined to find a way to help make steamboat travel safer.
In honor of Full Steam Ahead’s release, I’ll be drawing two names from today’s commenters to receive free, autographed copies. [Available for US addresses only.]
So here’s a question for you . . .
Who are your favorite scientific heroes – mad or otherwise?
Memorial Day is a US federal holiday wherein the men and women who died while serving in the United States Armed Forces are remembered. The holiday, which is celebrated every year on the final Monday of May, was formerly known as Decoration Day and originated after the American Civil War to commemorate the Union and Confederate soldiers who died in the Civil War. By the 20th century, Memorial Day had been extended to honor all Americans who have died while in the military service. [source: Wikipedia]
Flags should be flown at half-staff until noon, then raised to full height.