Welcome Guest – E.E. Burke!

EE Burke imageIn my latest release, FUGITIVE HEARTS, widow Claire Daines, who has confessed to killing her husband, slips away on a train bound for Texas to search for her runaway foster son. Attempting to evade Sheriff Frank Garrity, she makes an unscheduled detour through lawless Mus-ko-gee.

The town of Mus-ko-gee—named for the Muskhogean people, the Creeks who inhabited that part of Indian Territory—sprang up overnight. Literally. The day the Katy Railroad drove stakes to mark land reserved for the depot and adjacent wagon ground, several tents and board shacks appeared, providing gambling, liquor and whores.

IT Map“Before breakfast, one man was dead and the murderer was being chased over the prairies by a lot of men. So, Mus-ko-gee was born in blood.” Locating Engineer F.O. Martin, later dean of the School of Engineering at University of Kansas.

The town’s first “citizens” were mostly the rabble that infested the previous terminus points of the expanding rail line. In fact, folks called this brand of criminal “terminuses” because they followed the railroad to each terminal point, looking for easy pickings.

“Three men were shot about twenty feet from our (rail) car in one night at Muskogee. Oh, this was a little hell, this was! The roughs took possession in earnest… There was no law here and no means of getting any.” George Reynolds, Special Agent to the Indian Territory

terminus picOne visitor appalled by the lawlessness asked why the government didn’t do something about it. He was told, “there is no government, but lots of trials.” That is, if both parties were Indian, the offender would be tried under Indian law. If either party was a white, he would be tried at Fort Smith, and that was pretty much no trial. There was a reason the officiating judge, Roy Bean, had the nickname, The Hanging Judge.

In 1873, a writer from New York’s Scribner’s Magazine visited Muskogee’s version of “boot hill” where eleven men were buried with their boots on. “Each grave,” the reporter noted, “is a monument to murder.”

Brad Collins (who makes a brief appearance in FUGITIVE HEARTS) was a typical terminus type. He was a half-breed whiskey smuggler, a “desperado and a dead shot.” It was said he could throw a pistol in the air, catch it as it fell and hit a target at thirty paces. Even the other “shootists” in the Territory were in fear of him.

(Information, images and quotes taken from The Katy Railroad and the Last Frontier by V.V. Masterson)


In this excerpt, Sheriff Garrity catches Claire trying to evade him (again) and is escorting her to safety when they encounter the outlaw Brad Collins and members of his gang outside a saloon.


“Don’t talk.” The sheriff’s voice dipped low. “Keep going.”

Claire replied in a whisper. “I wasn’t planning to stop for a conversation.”

He slipped his arm around her waist and picked up the pace.

The three men cut them off at the street. The sheriff had to stop, attempt to run around them, or barrel through. He hesitated.

The bold sheriff never hesitated. She’d never known anyone with more courage than the lawman. What kind of men would scare him?

The one who confronted them had the blackest eyes she’d ever seen. Looking into them was like staring into the darkness of a sealed room. The soulless man smiled. That was even more terrifying. “Mister, she don’t look like she wants to be with you. Why don’t you hand her over?”

She clung to the sheriff’s arm.

“My wife isn’t feeling well. Let us pass.” Sheriff Garrity delivered the lie smoothly, as he tucked her behind him.

The cold-eyed man stopped smiling. His hand drifted to one of the revolvers in twin holsters strapped to his thighs.

“I wouldn’t do that,” the sheriff warned.

Claire’s heart fluttered into her throat. These devils would kill Frank to get to her and he knew it. She considered asking them nicely to step aside. But they weren’t the type to respond to polite requests or reason. One look told her they wanted what her cousin had wanted when he attacked her in the barn and tore her dress.

Wait… Hadn’t her “husband” said she wasn’t feeling well?

Claire screwed up her courage. “Ohhh!” she groaned and put her arm around her waist. She staggered in front of the sheriff and wove toward the other man with her hand outstretched. “Oh, sir, please…please help me! I-I’m terrible sick…”

“Claire, come back here!”

If the sheriff would play along, he might avoid getting killed.

The troublemaker reacted with surprise when she grabbed his sleeve. “Oh God, help me. Get me a doc,” she choked out. “I got…cholera.”

“Cholera? Christ!” The man couldn’t shake her off fast enough.

She gagged and retched. Couldn’t force anything out of her empty stomach, so she spit a wad of saliva on the ground and let it drip from her lips.

“Hell, Brad, she’s pukin’,” one of his companions blurted out. “She’ll infect you.”

The two cowards turned tail and ran.

Claire dropped to her knees and threw her arms around her would-be rescuer’s legs. “Help me…”

“Get the hell away!” The man called Brad shoved her aside. He shuffled backwards, and then turned on his heel and fled.

Frank Garrity bent down and scooped her up, satchel and all. She wound her arms around his neck and buried her face in his shoulder, moaning, as he carted her across the street to the boarding car.

He mounted the steps, swept her inside, set her on her feet and then slammed the door and latched it. Her moans turned to laughter. Inappropriate, but she always burst out laughing after she was scared witless.

Her protector turned. He wasn’t laughing. Not even smiling. His face was set in a grim expression. Apparently he didn’t experience relief in quite the same way.

E.E. Burke is giving away an e-book to one lucky commenter today. If your name is chosen, you will win your choice of books from the series Steam! Romance and Rails. 

EE Burke Steam Romance and Rails Series








EEBurke_FugitiveHearts800“Sheriff…I just shot my husband.”

Hotel owner Claire Daines is a respected member of the community. Until she shocks the entire town by rushing into a saloon wearing only her nightclothes and confessing to very inebriated lawman.

Is she a killer? Is she crazy? Or is she covering up something worse?

For years, Claire hushed up her husband’s dangerous condition to guard his reputation. When tragedy strikes, she puts her own life at risk when she vows to keep another terrible secret.

Sheriff Frank Garrity must get to the truth, although the tough, hard-drinking lawman hides his own secrets and would rather walk a lonely path than face his demons. But as Frank unravels Claire’s subterfuge and unlocks her heart, he’s torn between his desire to save her and his duty to bring her to justice.

You can pick up your copy of FUGITIVE HEARTS at Amazon or other online retailers.



EE Burke imageWeave together rich historical detail, passionate romance, add a dash of suspense and you have books by E.E. Burke. Her chosen settings are the American West, and her current series Steam! Romance and Rails takes place during the tumultuous era of America’s steam railroads. Her writing has earned accolades in regional and national contests, including the prestigious Golden Heart®. Over the years, she’s been a disc jockey, a journalist and an advertising executive, before finally getting around to living the dream…writing stories readers can get lost in.









+ posts

40 thoughts on “Welcome Guest – E.E. Burke!”

    • Thanks for stopping by Kathryn! As you can tell, I love writing these stories and weaving in historical tidbits. Especially things people may not have heard about. And the railroad era provides an exciting backdrop for Western romance.

  1. Good Morning and welcome, Elisabeth! We’re so happy to have you come to visit again. Thanks for coming. I LOVED Fugitive Hearts! And this excerpt you chose really showed Frank Garrity’s depth of love and commitment for Claire. Just a great story. It seems each one you write just gets better and better. And those covers…Wow! They’re all so striking and vibrant.

    But the main thing I love is how you deftly weave so much history into your stories. You injected even more danger and suspense with the addition of Brad Collins and the wild town of Muskogee. Just great!

    I’m very proud to put my name on the front of this book. It was an honor.

    Thanks again for coming to visit. Wishing you tons of success, dear friend! I cannot wait to meet to you face to face in just a few weeks. YAY!

    • Hey there, Linda! (Waving madly)

      Having your name on the quote in front of my book is a HUGE honor. Thank you for having faith in me, and for all your encouragement and support. It means the world.

      I’m so glad you loved Fugitive Hearts. I fall in love with every book I write, so it’s hard for me to pick a favorite. They all hold a piece of my heart. This love story really just flowed right out of the last book, A Dangerous Passion, when I first wrote a scene between Frank and Claire. Those two were made for each other…I just had to figure out how they could be together. Murder, She Wrote? 🙂

      Can’t wait to see you in person. Lots of hugs and conversation to catch up on. xo

  2. I grew up in Muskogee County, Oklahoma. I still have family living there. Every September we have a family reunion there.

    • Muskogee has a very colorful history. I’d love to research and write more about it!
      Thanks so much for coming by, Goldie. Hope you’ll check out Fugitive Hearts.

  3. Elisabeth, wonderful post! Of course, Muskogee is nothing like that NOW, thank goodness–oddly enough, that was where the veterans’ housing office was when we moved back to Oklahoma! When we were buying our house and using a VA loan, that was where the main office was–not in OKC! Also had a big veterans’ hospital there–but I don’t know if that’s still the case.

    I love this look back into the past, Elisabeth. And loved the excerpt. You know I will have to snap this one up! Got to find out what the Sheriff thinks about Claire’s laughing in such a situation. Sounds like he is none too happy with her.

    Glad you’re with us today!

    • Cheryl,

      Oh, I hope you do read it! I’d be so honored!

      You’re right. Muskogee is nothing like it was when it was first “settled.” There’s also a scene in the book about a boarding house made of rail cars (actually did exist), which sat amidst the seedier institutions. Indian Territory was a wild place back then, and not necessarily because of the Indians. But you know that, having written books featuring the history of that area. (Loved the history in Fire Eyes…great story!)

      The laughing part… Claire keeps her cool through her performance, but when the danger is past, she has to release all that restrained fear and tension. Laughter is also a nervous reaction. My daughter does that, too. She laughed hysterically after her husband nearly flipped their car over. He didn’t think near death was funny, either.

      Thanks so much for coming by and commenting. And I do hope you’ll check out Fugitive Hearts!

    • Thanks for hanging out with me, Tanya. Glad you enjoyed the post. I also love “visiting” places I’ve never been, which is why I read (and write) historical fiction. Hope you enjoy the trip!

  4. This series of books are full of colorful description and history! I read them one after another and would love more. The characters came to life for me and the history of the building of the railroad added to my knowledge of the trials those building them endured.
    Thank you for great reading!

    • Connie, thank you so much for coming by and commenting. I love it when I hear that someone is eager to read the next installment. I’m working on it. Have some more research to do. This time around Robber’s Cave (which is now a state park in Oklahoma). Does that give you some idea of whose story I’m writing?


  5. This is an extremely interesting post and the excerpt from Fugitive Hearts drew me right in. I am definitely adding this book to my “to-be-read” stack! Loved it.

  6. This sounds like a great book. What a bunch of fascinating characters there were in the West. Sometime hard to believe the true things that happened. And what a rough life for women. Thanks for the giveaway.

    • Sally, isn’t our history fascinating? And you’re right, so many things that really happened are stranger than anything I could make up. These were rough times, indeed, but women like Claire managed to raise families and even run businesses. Strong men need strong women, yes?

  7. Thanks for the History lesson EE Burke! I have always been fascinated by American History and recently became a huge fan of Hell On Wheels thanks to your books about the race to build the railroads that would make travel so much faster and safer for all Americans. Thank you for teaching us more about Muskogee! I enjoyed it very much!

  8. I loved FUGITIVE HEARTS, and I love all the history you thread so seamlessly into your stories, Elisabeth. The Wild West comes alive in your hands. Can’t wait to read your next book!

    • You spin a fine tale, yourself, Jacqui. It was so much fun to write the first installment in the Steam! series with someone who loves to bring the Old West alive as much as I do! One day, we’ll have to collaborate again.

      BTW, good luck with your Gambling Hearts series. I’m hooked on Between Love and Lies!


  9. Great post, sounds like a fantastic read and i can’t wait to read it. Thanks for sharing your books with us today!

  10. I have all of Elisabeth books who ever wins this are in for a treat. FUGITIVE HEARTS was an outstanding read. Elisabeth does her research well as she spins true history right into her stories. Her characters are wonderful right down to their sense of humor. She gives you a very touching read that stays with you long after you put the book down. I can’t wait for the next book to come out.

  11. Elisabeth,
    As always, I enjoy your historical lessons! My daddy always said “you should learn something each and every day of your life.” Which I try and do… No matter how little or big the lesion is… No matter how significant or insignificant it pertains to my life. One never knows when you’ll need it.

    Ladies, if you’ve never read one of E.E. BURKE’s books, you are missing out! She has a way with storytelling, combining both fiction and non-fiction, allowing it to flow throughout the book. You will not want to put one of her books down!

  12. Kristen, thank you so much for those kind words! I agree wholeheartedly with your daddy. Mine said much the same. He had an inquisitive mind and passed that trait along to me. I love learning new things. I love exploring and researching and discovering hidden treasures and passing them along in the form of stories. My hope for everyone who reads my books is that they learn something they didn’t know, and they take away something that makes their day a little brighter. If I accomplish that, then I’ve succeeded.

    Thank you for helping me name three characters (Gertrude, Genevieve and G.W. Moore) and for sharing your wonderful family stories…more fodder for my imagination. We’ll be seeing Mr. Moore again for certain. He just took hold of my heart and won’t let go.


  13. Hope it’s not too late to get into the drawing. It sounds like a good book. I haven’t read any of your books before but I plan to look them up.

Comments are closed.