Great Escapes? by Patti Sherry-Crews

Patti Sherry-Crews is funny, friendly, and a pleasure to know. She lives smack-dab in the middle of the Midwest and took part of her education in Wales, where she studied archaeology, Welsh, and Welsh literature. Nevertheless, she writes western historical romance. Go figure. Welcome to Wildflower Junction, Patti!

Jesse James's Grave in Kearney, Missouri
Jesse James’s Grave in Kearney, Missouri

What do Billy the Kid and the Grand Duchess Anastasia have in common? Like Butch Cassidy, the Sundance Kid, Jesse James, The Lost Dauphin of France, and the Princes in the Tower, years after their “deaths” rumors of their survival persisted.

It’s obvious why certain factions in Europe would want their royals to escape death. But why do we want to believe a group of gunslingers and bank robbers went on to live a quiet life under an assumed name?

I’ve been thinking about this question, and except for a few stray individuals such as D.B. Cooper, I can’t think of a group so rumored to have faked their own deaths as much as the American outlaw of the old west.

Is it because the time and place capture our imagination? Or is it the personalities? Maybe we can’t bear the thought these mythologized, larger than life men were fallible after all? I picture Butch and Sundance always two steps ahead of the posse, Billy the Kid slipping out of handcuffs and escaping from jail, and Jesse James outwitting the Pinkertons. It is hard to then, picture these same men pinned down by gun fire in Bolivia, being taken down in the middle of the night while visiting his sweetheart, or being shot in the back while righting a crooked picture.

Billy the Kid

It was not uncommon for outlaws to go by an alias. Butch Cassidy was born Robert LeRoy Parker. Billy the Kid was christened Henry McCarty in New York City but was also known as Henry Antrim and William H. Bonney. Butch and Sundance moved around South America under the names James Ryan and Harry E. Place (Etta Place). So it’s a short stretch to see them moving on with a new name after “killing off” their old one.

Rumor has it Butch went on to live in the Pacific Northwest under a name unknown to this day. A few Billy the Kids surfaced, Bushy Bill being the most famous. Of all of them, even though Jesse James isn’t my favorite outlaw, I believe he did successfully fake his own death—but that’s another story.

When I was creating my own bad boy for Margarita and the Hired Gun, I had these men in mind, but especially the resourceful and charming Billy the Kid. Like Billy’s mother, Rafferty is an Irish immigrant who got his American start in New York City. The Kid was only 5’3”, and judging by the few photographs we have of him, it’s hard to see his sex appeal. Despite all that, he was quite the ladies’ man. A picture recently surfaced of him playing croquet and wearing a striped cardigan I’d expect to see on my grandfather. He looks incredibly young. A man loved by ladies and feared by men—my type of hero.

Rafferty had many “adventures” in America, and in true outlaw style, he had to change his name a few times. The excerpt I’ve included is the scene where Rafferty tells Margarita his real name. They’ve endured a hair-rising stretch of the trail and both have let their guard down in their relief. It is the first time since fleeing Ireland he hears his own name being spoken.

About Patti

patti Sherry-crews in kitchenPatti Sherry-Crews writes romances because she can’t help herself. She is a romantic who turns everything into a romance in the hope that everyone can just work it out and live happily ever after. Patti has published stories in several other genres, including paranormal and narrative nonfiction. Margarita and the Hired Gun is her first historical western but won’t be her last. The old west has always fascinated her, because the time and place are unique: the mix of cultures all coming together at a point in history when so many people were drawn westward in attempts to reinvent themselves after the great shake-up of the Civil War. The old west saw the borders between law and outlaw blurred, and people moved back and forth between the two, a theme reflected in Margarita and the Hired Gun.

Visit Patti online at Visit Patti online at her website, Twitter, Facebook, and Pinterest.


margarita-coverMargarita and the Hired Gun

Beautiful Margarita McIntosh escapes Flagstaff with a hired gun, Rafferty, as her only protection from her father’s powerful enemies who are hot on their trail. Giving up her life of leisure is nothing compared to the passion she finds in Rafferty’s arms. Together, they face a perilous journey that becomes a fight for their very lives—and a dream of the future neither of them could have imagined.


Within minutes, the trail turned onto a flat piece of grassland on top of a plateau. Margarita took in a deep breath. Her hands were shaking. He waited for her to come up alongside him.

“I think we all need a rest,” he said, smiling thinly at her.

He dismounted and led his horse and the mule over to a copse of trees. He tied up his horse and mule to a tree near a patch of grass, which the animals hungrily tore into. Margarita followed his lead.

“Are you hungry?” he asked, reaching into one of the packs.

“No. I don’t trust my stomach right now.”

“Fine, but do get some water into ya,” he said, sitting down with an apple and his canteen on a big boulder in the shade. She sat down on the ground beside him and was met with his look of surprise. She’d never sat near him before.

“What would have happened if the path was too narrow for you to get off your horse?” she asked, shuddering.

He regarded her with a little grin on his face. “You don’t have to think about that now, and I don’t want to. That part of the trail is behind us, never to be repeated on this trip.”

He pulled a large knife out of his boot. Margarita flinched. He gaped at her before cutting a slice out of the apple. He handed her a slice.

“It will do you good. An apple will settle your stomach.”

Her hand brushed against his fingers as she took the slice, sending a shock up her arm. He drew back as if feeling a charge, too.

“Thank you, Raf…I don’t know what to call you. Do you have a first name? Rafferty is a mouthful.”

He looked down and smiled. “I do have a first name.”

After a long pause she added, “But you’re not going to tell me?”

“I’ve got no problem telling you,” he said, but he continued to sit in silence.

“It appears that you do,” she said, laughing. “I didn’t mean to stump you with that question.”

He looked down at her, his deep blue eyes full of mischief. “I’m only trying to work out which name to give you. I’ve had a few.”

“Oh…I see. How about the one your parents gave you?”

He looked down at his hands, focused on carving out another slice of apple. “Michael.”

“That’s a nice name.”

“And Rafferty isn’t my last name. It’s Byrne.”

“Why do you have so many names?”

“Loads of people out here have more than one name. That’s what you do here, which is one reason I like the west. If you stop liking who you are, you become someone different,” he said with a wink, handing her another slice of apple.

She smiled coyly at him. “Mr. Byrne, what have you been up to?”

He chuckled. “Maybe I’ll tell you sometime. We have weeks yet ahead of us. My misdeeds will give us something to talk about. How about you, Margarita? Margarita is quite a mouthful, as well. Do people call you Rita?”

She realized this was the first time he called her by her name. She liked the way her name sounded coming from him. The way he seemed to chew the separate syllables of her name sounded like water roiling gently over pebbles in a creek.

She sat for a moment, relishing the heat radiating in her chest at the sound of her name spoken in his deep, silken voice. He was looking at her with something close to affection in his eyes. Then, she shook herself. “Not if they want to stay on my good side! I hate being called Rita. My father calls me Maggie.”

The smile disappeared, and the blood drained from his face. He stood up. “Time to hit the trail again if we want to reach camp and get these horses watered.”

He was walking away from her, already at his horse.

“All right, Michael,” she said, in a sweet voice, with a smile on her face.

His back was to her, but she saw his shoulders stiffen. Something about the gesture wiped the smile right off her face.

Find the book at:
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Patti will give an ebook of Margarita and the Hired Gun to someone who answers this question before 11 p.m. Sunday: What would your outlaw name be? Go comment!


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31 thoughts on “Great Escapes? by Patti Sherry-Crews”

  1. I love your write up. I truly think our royality here in America is in our outlaws who helped shape our American West. We don’t hold the Crown Jewels or have a monarch to look up too, but we have our infamous stories of our favorite villains. I’m like you, I believe we have made them our bigger than life heroes in a sense and I truly believe some did escape death and went on to live in the “AKA” world without being detected. So I salute all of our infamous villains who have intrigued us throughout history.

    • Hi, Tonya! Thanks for stopping by. You have an interesting point about our outlaws being like our royalty and so interesting Americans with their spirit of rebellion would gravitate to the “outlaws.” Have you got any theories about which of these bad boys went on to live a quiet life. And btw, there was a rumor that Etta Place (Sundance’s woman) was the outlaw lady Ann Bassett in disguise? And whatever became of Etta? It’s a mystery.

  2. Welcome to Wildflower Junction, Patti! an interesting post! I am such a sucker for second-chance romance–reunion stories and your thoughts here seem to be an off-shoot of that. A second chance at a life here in the U.S. Starting over. A new beginning. Reinventing oneself. Enjoyed your excerpt!

    • Hi, Kathryn, I love a redemption story! Do we want to believe these outlaws saw the light and went on to live a good, clean life? I think that’s why I write romances–I want to see everyone have a happy ending. Thank you for stopping by and for your kind welcome.

  3. Hi Patti, welcome to the Junction! So happy to have you come visit. I love your post. Outlaws just draw me, for whatever reason. I think it’s the fact that they’re daring and bold and live life larger than most men. I agree about Billy the Kid. I think he’s very homely and it escapes me why women would fall for him. Evidently the pictures do not do him justice. I’m in the middle of my own outlaw story and have no trouble justifying his actions but wondering how in the heck I’m going to redeem him.

    I love your excerpt! Rafferty sounds like a man I’d love to meet. That’s a great name by the way. Margarita will be sure to find what’s looking for in him. Wishing you much success.

  4. Thank you, Linda! I can’t see the sex appeal of Billy no matter which way I turn the picture, but apparently the ladies loved him and his peers enjoyed his company from what I’ve read about him, so maybe he had some charm. One of the theories of his escape is that Pat Garret was fond enough of him to help him escape.
    I hope your outlaw redeems himself. Maybe he needs a good woman who sees to the core of him. Kids and dogs are always a good device to bring out the soft side in a man 😉
    I loved Rafferty myself. He was a fun character to write.
    I’m glad you stopped by today. Have a good one.

  5. I want to give a big thanks to my host today for such a warm introduction! When I told my 20 year old daughter about the subject of this post, she immediately spouted out the names of a couple of rappers (Tupac and someone else I don’t know) who are rumored to have faked their own deaths. How interesting! Are rappers the new outlaws?
    My outlaw name would be Wrong-Way Pat. I have the worst sense of direction and seem to go about things from the wrong direction half the time.

  6. I love the article and the excerpt. I have a facination with the west. I’m drawn to it like I’ve lived it before. I know it sounds very weird right? Haha. Since I’m a musician my outlaw name would be Melissa “Singing Byrd” C. Lol. Thanks for the chance to win. I haven’t had the pleasure of reading your books yet but, I will be looking for them. Thanks again. I hope you have a great day!!

    • Melissa, that doesn’t sound strange to me at all, because I feel the same way about the west and wonder if I have lived a past life there too!That time and place is unique to us Americans, I think. I often analyze what the fascination is. Maybe we’re drawn to it because so many people went west to get a fresh start. I also love the mix of cultures that forged the American west. Thanks for stopping by Singing Byrd!

  7. Welcome! Enjoyed reading your post and the excerpt I am looking forward to reading the whole book. I think that the ladies were drawn to outlaws because of the danger involved.

    I was called Gabby Hayes as a child and in spite of the actor or because of him I would think it a perfect outlaw name.

    • Hi, Gabby!Bad boys never lose their allure, do they. Some of the women who loved those outlaws in the old west were colorful characters themselves. Did I mention part of the story takes place in a outlaw hideout? Thanks for stopping by today!

  8. Patti, so glad you could be with us today here at P&P! Well, I certainly don’t have to tell you how much I loved Margarita and the Hired Gun. Your characters in that story were so real to me, and that is a true gift. Rafferty–oh there were times I could have shaken him silly! But I knew Margarita was feeling that, too, and I loved traveling the road with her and learning about Mr. Byrne right along with her.

    I think it’s the danger element that attracts women to these outlaws in our stories and in history, as well. It’s fun to think about it and wonder, isn’t it? Wonderful post today, Patti!


  9. Howdy, Cheryl! Good to see your smiling face! Thank you for a ringing endorsement. I’m so glad to be part of the Prairie Rose roses. Yes, it’s the danger element as well as the wiliness (if that’s a word) of some of these characters that keeps us talking about them. What personalities came out of the old west. I can’t think of a time like it. Have a great day!

  10. Patti, Great post and gives us much thought on all those past criminals and why we love them or at least why we’re so fascinated by them. And you already know I loved reading about Michael/Rafferty and Margarita. Wishing you much success and please keep those western outlaws coming. Love ’em.

    • Hey, Bev! I’m so glad you stopped by. I’ve been thinking too how with all we can know about a person nowadays with DNA and all it does take some of the mystery out of our stories. Like we now know for certain the Grand Duchess Anastasia did meet her end along with the rest of her family because her bones were found and identified. Maybe that’s why we’re so fascinated with times gone by. Though my daughter tells me there are a couple of rappers rumored to have faked their own deaths.Thanks for your comments!

  11. Hmmm, so who is “Maggie.” Quite an intriguing excerpt, Patti. I guess I don’t quite get how women could think of Billy the Kid as a Ladie’s man. He’s just icky, if you ask me. I wonder where he’s really buried–more than once place claims his grave is “just around the bend, about five miles…Stop, have a cool drink, visit our gift shop, and visit Billy the Kid’s grave. Haha.
    Seriously…your book sounds very good. Best wishes for tons of sales!

  12. Hi, Celia! Your comments on Kathleen’s blog earlier this week about Billy the Kid had me laughing! BTW Tom Horn was a psychopath–you wouldn’t have wanted to have dinner with him. Sounds like you went looking for the Kid’s grave, though. You really want him dead. Yes, there is a story behind “Maggie.” I tell that story in my book Margarita and the Hired Gun, haha. It’s always good to see you. Thanks for stopping by.

  13. Hi Patti, nice to meet you and welcome to the Junction. I am sorry to say I have not read your work before but must change that. I love outlaws but I am not sure I would make a good one. I am not sure what would be a good name for me if I was an outlaw.

  14. Hi, Kathleen! I haven’t escaped from anywhere…yet. I’m working out the details now.
    Thank you! Rafferty is quite a hunk. It’s the way I made him. Us writers are lucky that way, aren’t we? Thank you for stopping by today. You know I always enjoy your visits. Have a great weekend!

  15. Hi Patti, what a great post. I confess I adore outlaws and don’t quite know why…I was not attracted to “bad boys”
    as a youngling. Jesse is probably my favorite. I think that happened long ago when I watched The Long Riders for the first time. And I believe he was shot by Bob Ford lol. Best wishes for much success with your wonderful book!

    • thanks for stopping by, Tanya. The coward Bob Ford! Did you ever see that movie with Brad Pitt? I loved that movie. I could possibly be persuaded to think he faked his death. For one thing I get the sense he was quite the plotter. And there is some interesting evidence he may have coming from a family who claim Jesse James, going under an assumed name, is their direct descendant. Whatever, he’s surely dead now.
      Thanks for your wishes and have a great day!

  16. My outlaw nam, at least my first one, would be Anita Grace. It combines my mother’s name and her mother’s name. Actually, that is the name I had thought of using if I became an author. I guess there are a few similarities in the professions. Authors change their names and often go by a variety of them. They both tell tales and tend to twist the truth to suit their purposes.

    Thanks for the short excerpt. It was a good hook.

  17. Thanks for giving me a good chuckle this morning. That’s an excellent point you make about outlaws and authors! I used a pen name early in my early writing efforts, and I’ve decided I’m going to kill off my other persona. I have enough to do with managing my social media accounts under my own name! Funny, when I first glanced at your comment and saw the name Anita Grace, I thought “Isn’t she an author?”–or an actress! It’s a good name. Thank you for stopping by and for your kind words, my fellow Patricia.

  18. Kathleen Rice Adams asked on a recent blog if we were outlaws in the Old West, what crime would we commit. I told her since I’m not big on guns, I’d likely steal kisses. I guess that means my name would be something like the Kissing Bandit? Or maybe, the “Look Out Here She Comes Again Outlaw”? 🙂 Thanks for the interesting post and book offer–I’ll be happy for whoever wins since I don’t have an e-readers.

  19. Thank you, Kissing Bandit. I like your style. I’m glad Kathleen has found a creative outlet to funnel her energies or we might be seeing her in the news. Thank you for stopping by.

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