A steady diet of exciting adventures stories growing up and a childhood spent on a farm in the west created my life-long interest in history. It seemed natural to dive into writing sweet historical western romances, especially since I love researching all the details that bring the characters and stories to life.
When the idea for my Pendleton Petticoats series began bubbling in my head, I decided it Pendleton, Oregon, at the beginning of the 20th century, would provide the ideal setting.
Many people know Pendleton as the home of the world-famous Pendleton Round-Up and the Pendleton Woolen Mills. It billed itself as the “queen of a golden empire – golden wheat,” producing one percent of the nation’s wheat crop at the turn of the century.
As I began digging into the town’s past, I discovered, much to my surprise, Pendleton was a happening place to be in the early 1900s.
On any given day during that time, a person walking down the street could spy ladies and gentlemen attired in the latest fashions, as well as Chinese immigrants, Indians from the nearby reservation with colorful woolen blankets, miners, sheepherders, ranchers, and farmers.
Modern and progressive for its time, Pendleton offered a unique blend of Wild West and culture. Wild rowdies and plenty of crime established its rugged reputation. The 32 saloons and 18 bordellos open at that time also played a key factor in the seedier enterprises in town.
Pendleton boasted an opera house and theater, a teashop, a French restaurant, and a wide variety of businesses in the early years of the new century. The town had an enviable railway facility with trains running east and west daily.
Telephones as well as running water and sewer lines were available for those who could afford the services. It was the second city in the state to have paved streets and according to historic records; residents of Umatilla County had a rare passion for the newly introduced automobile.
There was one part of town, though, that “decent” women didn’t visit and discussed in whispers – The Underground, Pendleton’s city beneath the city.
Mystery and intrigue surrounded the tunnels of The Underground. What began as a way for businesses to deliver their goods from the depot, soon turned into a booming mini-city of saloons, card rooms, working girls, Chinese laundries and opium dens. According to local tales, the working girls used the tunnels to enter respectable businesses and do their shopping around town. Reportedly, a tunnel even ran to the doctor’s office for them to pay their visits undetected.
While the town didn’t lack for colorful characters, those portrayed in my Pendleton Petticoats series are purely fictional.
The women in Pendleton Petticoats come from all walks of life but find commonality in drawing strength from their courage and persevering in chasing their dreams. One woman longs to better her future, one to escape her past, one wants to find a place to call home, and one seeks hope.
Aundy, Caterina, Ilsa, and Marnie challenge the roles typically assigned to women of this era. These strong, brave, woman are ones I so admire, even when (or perhaps especially because) one of them becomes intimately familiar with the city beneath the city.
Thank you for hosting me today. I’m so grateful for this wonderful opportunity to connect with your readers and share a little about a fun western town!
Shanna is giving away a copy of Aundy to the winner of the drawing! The winner can choose a paperback or Kindle copy.
Desperate to better her situation, Aundy Thorsen agrees to leave behind her life in Chicago to fulfill a farmer’s request for a mail-order bride in Pendleton, Oregon. When a tragic accident leaves her a widow soon after becoming a wife, Aundy takes on the challenge of learning how to manage a farm, even if it means her stubborn determination to succeed upsets a few of the neighbors.
Born and raised at Nash’s Folly, the family ranch, Garrett Nash loves life in the bustling community of Pendleton as the 20th century approaches. When his neighbor passes away and leaves behind a plucky widow, Garrett takes on the role of her protector and guardian. His admiration for her tenacious spirit soon turns to something more. He just needs to convince the strong-willed woman to give love another chance.
A hopeless romantic with a bit of sarcasm thrown in for good measure, Shanna Hatfield is a best-selling author of clean romantic fiction written with a healthy dose of humor. In addition to blogging and eating too much chocolate, she is completely smitten with her husband, lovingly known as Captain Cavedweller.
Shanna creates character-driven romances with realistic heroes and heroines. Her historical westerns have been described as “reminiscent of the era captured by Bonanza and The Virginian” while her contemporary works have been called “laugh-out-loud funny, and a little heart-pumping sexy without being explicit in any way.”
She is a member of Western Writers of America, Women Writing the West, and Romance Writers of America.
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