I’m so excited! I have a new book out tomorrow! Actually, this is a re-release of a 2002 book but since it got no exposure back then, this is like brand new. It’s the first in a series called Texas Heroes and is about a cowboy with nothing to live for who wins a baby in a poker game. I’ll tell you more about it further down.
Some ranches have the strangest names but they must mean something to the owner. The ones I put in my stories all do. But some that I see when I drive down the road leave me scratching my head.
In the anthology Give Me a Texas Cowboy, Jack’s Bluff was the name of the ranch in my and Phyliss’s stories. Jack, one of Tempest LeDoux’s many husbands, won the ranch after buffing in a card game. We thought it was perfect name for her ranch.
Here are a few of the others I’ve used:
Long Odds – Texas Mail Order Bride
Last Hope – Twice a Texas Bride
Wild Horse – Forever His Texas Bride
Lone Star – Men of Legend series
Each one told a lot about the owner. Duel McClain in Knight on the Texas Plains names his ranch Aces ’n Eights later on in Book #3 of this Texas Heroes series.
The name means so much to him. It’s the hand he wins baby Marley Rose with and he doesn’t ever want to forget how she comes into his life. That baby girl gives him the will to live again.
Aces ’n Eights is also called the Deadman’s Hand and is comprised of a pair of black aces, black eights and a hole card. It was called the Deadman’s hand because those were the cards Wild Bill Hickok was holding when he was shot and killed. His hole card was the Queen of Hearts.
Here’s the back blurb for this book:
Duel McClain has lost everything he’s ever loved: his wife, his son, his sense of self. But when a strange twist of fate—and a poker game he’ll never forget—leaves an innocent little girl in his care, Duel vows to defend his new family to his very last breath. If only he knew a single thing about taking care of babies…
Just as Duel swears his life can’t get any more complicated, a beautiful woman stumbles into the light of his campfire, desperate for help. Jessie Foltry is hungry, tired, and running for her life. She agrees to help Duel care for the child in exchange for his protection, even as she fights to guard her broken heart. But Duel will do whatever it takes to make Jessie see that the Texas plains have more than one kind of knight, and perhaps their salvation is closer than either of them could have dreamed…
Oh my dear Lord! My head is swimming with all the horses coming and going. Come closer and get the scoop!
We’ve watched Tanya Hanson, Charlene Sands, and Kathleen Rice Adams saddle up and ride out. I cried buckets. Couldn’t stand to see them leave. They’re family. But other trails beckoned them, and it wasn’t right to hold them back. No siree. So we gave them a hug and packed some jerky, chocolate, and coffee makings in their saddlebags for when they’re sitting around a lonely campfire. Maybe it’ll help.
We welcome four new fillies to Wildflower Junction, and man, these ladies are go-getters! You probably need no introduction. They sure love their cowboys so they’ll fit right in as snug as a dog in his blanket.
JULIE BENSON is a Texas girl and evidently loves to work with her hands, too. She makes jewelry, refinishes old furniture, and remodels her own house. Their household includes three dogs and a turtle. Her books feature modern day cowboys and their mishaps and success with love. These cowboys need all the help they can get, and Julie knows exactly how to do it. She’ll dip her toe in the water for the first time as a Filly on Wednesday, August 2nd. Be sure to roll out the welcome mat and show her some love.
RUTH LOGAN HERNE loves to play in the dirt, planting flowers and gardens and watching them grow. They have lots of excitement on their place what with their roadside vegetable stand. And then there’s her inspirational romances. Let me tell you…Ruthy has won more awards than you can shake a stick at– her most recent being the Maggie Award of Excellence. There are lots more. Last year she celebrated having one million books in print! Yes, ma’am. I told you she was a go-getter. Her first blog as a Filly is Thursday, August 3rd. Drop by and give her a big welcome.
MARIN THOMAS went off to college to play basketball only to discover that maybe, just maybe, she should pursue her dream of writing. Which lucky for us, she did. Marin writes about modern-day cowboys, bull riders and speed daters. She’s also very proud of her romantic women’s fiction that is getting lots of attention. Marin will introduce herself on Thursday, August 10th. Stop by and give her a big howdy.
SHANNA HATFIELD is a hopeless romantic and likes to refer to her hubby as Captain Cavedweller. She’ll have you in stitches if you don’t watch it. Her finely-honed sense of humor endears her to everyone she meets and is reflected in her stories. Shanna writes historical as well as contemporary western romances. This lady is someone you already thought you knew and will make you feel like family at the first rattle out of the box. Miss Shanna’s first blog is Wednesday, August 16. Get ready for some good times.
I know you’re gonna love these new Fillies. And if you do, show ’em. Visit with them on blog days and, if you take a notion, buy their books. They’re some of the best in the industry.
Hello, Petticoats & Pistols readers! I’m so excited to be back with you today. I’m sharing a bit about an era in American history called The Gilded Age.
Many of you may already know what the Gilded Age is, but in case you don’t, it was the time period here in America occurring between the end of the Civil War and the turn of the century (1865 until 1900). The term, “The Gilded Age,” came from Mark Twain’s novel The Gilded Age: A Tale of Today. Twain’s work satirized the many social problems of the era, which society had seemed to gloss over, as if with a thin layer of gold. While Twain’s book was published in 1873, the term didn’t come into use for this time period until the 1920s.
So what were some of the common issues that marked the Gilded Age?
Rapid economic, technological, political, and social transformation
Huge disparity between the rich and the poor across the country
Building and completion of the Transcontinental Railroad
Native Assimilation—forcing the Native American people to either assimilate into white culture or live on government-run reservations
An increase in European immigration
The formation of labor unions, which fought for worker’s rights, child labor laws, and eight-hour work days, among other things
An increase in popularity of some Christian denominations
An uptick in Christian missionary work
Social reforms, such as temperance movements or the Women’s Suffrage movement
An increase in women in the workforce
An increase in leisure activities like sports
And the list could go on.
I was excited to have the opportunity to write a novella for Barbour’s recently-released Of Rags And Riches Romance Collection. The theme of the collection is all about the Gilded Age. Each of the nine stories focus on the haves and the have-nots of society, although the stories aren’t all about romances between a rich person falling in love with a poor person. Sometimes the stories feature two working-class people falling in love, or two rich people finding romance together. But the theme of wealth—or the lack thereof—is prevalent in each story. And in most cases, the stories also delve into at least one, if not several, other themes of this period. Because the era was so broad—board in years, broad in location, broad in the changes that came about during this time—the stories are vastly different, offering quite the range of reading in one volume. The authors in this collection are: Susanne Dietze, Michelle Griep, Anne Love, Gabrielle Meyer, Natalie Monk, Jaime Jo Wright, Erica Vetsch, Kathleen Y’Barbo—and me, Jennifer Uhlarik.
My story, Union Pacific Princess, focuses on the themes of Westward Expansion, the building of the Transcontinental Railroad, and Native Assimilation. After her mother’s untimely death, my heroine, Dara Forsythe, leaves Boston to join her estranged father, a bigwig with the Union Pacific Railroad. But she experiences quite the culture shock when she steps off the train into a hell-on wheels railroad camp. All around her are tents, mud, and squalor. The one bright spot in the entire tent city is the poor, but charming hero—Gage Wells.
Gage is a Georgia farmer-turned-highly-skilled Confederate sharpshooter. At the Civil War’s end, he moved west to escape the memories of the conflict, but as the railroad plows across the territory he now calls home, he sees another conflict brewing—this time between the railroad, the white settlers, and his new friends, the Cheyenne. Gage’s plans to stop the railroad—and prevent a war—become far more complicated when he meets the intriguing rich girl, Dara Forsythe, and realizes she’s the daughter of his nemesis.
So there’s a snapshot of the Gilded Age—and the Of Rags And Riches Romance Collection. I hope you’ll check our stories out.
It’s your turn! Have you ever heard of The Gilded Age? Which of the various parts of the age that I listed above do you think you’d have been a part of, if you’d lived during that time—and Why? I would love to give one lucky reader an autographed print copy of Of Rags And Riches, so leave me your thoughts!
Jennifer Uhlarik discovered the western genre as a pre-teen, when she swiped the only “horse” book she found on her older brother’s bookshelf. A new love was born. Across the next ten years, she devoured Louis L’Amour westerns and fell in love with the genre. In college at the University of Tampa, she began penning her own story of the Old West. Armed with a B.A. in writing, she has won and finaled in numerous writing competitions. In addition to writing, she has held jobs as a private business owner, a schoolteacher, a marketing director, and her favorite—a full-time homemaker. She currently writes historical novellas of the American West for Barbour Publishing and works as a Content Editor for Firefly Southern Fiction. Jennifer is active in American Christian Fiction Writers and lifetime member of the Florida Writers Association. She lives near Tampa, Florida, with her husband, college-aged son, and four fur children.
Please welcome Lynnette Austin. Lynnette is filling in for Margaret Brownley, who is attending the Romance Writers of America conference. Lynnette is giving away a copy of Can’t Stop Lovin’ You. The winner will be announced on Sunday and can choose either print or eBook. (Contest guidelines apply). The book is available now both in stores and digitally.
Thanks for having me on Petticoats and Pistols today! I’m thrilled to be here and am celebrating the release of Can’t Stop Lovin’ You, the third in my Maverick Junction series. (BTW, while it’s fun to read the whole series, each book can stand alone.) Entering the drawing is as simple as leaving a comment. So pour yourself a tall, ice-cold glass of sweet tea and let’s chat.
Who doesn’t want to go home? Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz, Scarlett O’Hara in Gone With the Wind, Odysseus in Homer’s Odyssey, even Luath, Bodger, and Tao, the three lovable fur-friends in The Incredible Journey fought against heavy odds to make that trip. It’s no different with Brawley O’Dell in Can’t Stop Lovin’ You.
When I started the first book of the Maverick Junction series, Annelise Montjoy, in Somebody Like You, was a sheltered heiress living in Boston. Where did her money come from? Texas oil wells! In a last-ditch effort to save her grandfather’s life, Annelise was forced to return to her Texas roots. She needed to return to the home of her ancestors. Once she did? She fell madly in love with those fields of Texas bluebonnets, the cowboy boots and the men who wore them—especially one very special cowboy.
The characters in our books all have back stories, things that have happened to them and shaped who they are long before we meet them on page one. The same goes for our settings. As I developed the town of Maverick Junction, Texas, I dug deeper into the roots of the oil finds there. Oil and Texas. Inexorably tied together. Yet until January 10, 1901, when the Lucas No. 1 well at Spindletop came in near Beaumont, Texas, the state of Pennsylvania was at the heart of the oil industry. Throughout the second half of the 1800s, it held the title as the leading oil producing state.
Having grown up in the Keystone state and later lived in Wyoming, I’m very familiar with the oil industry. In fact, in the mid-1800s Edwin Drake, the inventor of the process used to extract oil from deep in the ground, hit the first Pennsylvania gusher in Titusville, not far from my small hometown of Kane. This photo shows the early oil wells that sprang up in the fields around Kane in the 1800s. I can’t believe how many there were—and they’re taller than the trees. A veritable oil rig forest.
Even before the Beaumont find really kick-started Texas’ oil industry, it was no secret there was plenty of the black gold there. Native Americans in the area sometimes drank it for medicinal purposes, mainly to cure digestive problems. I wonder how that worked for them! The Spaniards, while they didn’t drink it, put it to good use both as waterproofing for their boots and caulking for their ships in the 1500s.
Until Spindletop, the oil finds in Texas were small and low-producing. With the coming of the big oil fields and refineries, cities like Houston grew from small commercial centers to some of the USA’s largest cities. Oil barrons, Annelise’s great-grandfather among them, became some of the wealthiest and most politically influential men in the country.
When the early settlers made the arduous trip out West, they often could never go home again. They literally gave up everything—and everyone—to go West, even as late as the early 1900s when men travelled there to work the oil fields. In my new release, Can’t Stop Lovin’ You, Brawley Odell moved away from small town Maverick Junction to live in Dallas, the big city. In doing so, he gave up the girl he loved. Now? He wants it all back—the small town, the life, and, most importantly, the girl. But has he stayed away too long?
When you think of Texas, what makes you keep
coming back for more stories set there?
Thanks so much for stopping by today! Hope to see you in Maverick Junction. I think you’ll like it there!
THERE’S NO PLACE LIKE HOME
Maggie Sullivan can’t wait to get out of Texas. Luckily, she just got the break she needed to make her big-city dreams a reality. But then Brawley Odell swaggers back into Maverick Junction, looking hotter than ever in his dusty cowboy boots and well-worn jeans. He’s the guy she still dreams of at night. The guy who broke her heart when he left her behind.
Fed up with city life, Brawley jumps at the chance to return home and take over the local vet’s practice—and get back to the smart, sassy woman he’s never been able forget. He couldn’t be prouder of Maggie’s new wedding-dress business . . . until he realizes it may mean losing her all over again. Determined to win her back, Brawley must find a way to convince Maggie that their one true home is with each other.
Brawley Odell figured his life wouldn’t be worth one plug-nickel the second he stepped foot inside Maggie’s shop. Too damn bad. He hadn’t driven the thirty miles from Maverick Junction to back out now. He was goin’ in.
After all this time, he’d come home…and she was leaving.
He grasped the brass knob and shoulder-butted the oak door. It flew open, the bell overhead jangling. Maggie Sullivan, all that gorgeous red hair scooped into a jumbled mass, stood dead-center in the room. Dressed in a skirt and top the color of a forest at twilight, she held a fuzzy sweater up in front of her like a shield. Those amazing green eyes widened as he stormed in.
“We need to talk.” He ignored the woman at the back of the store who flipped through a rack of tops.
He held up a hand. “Don’t speak. Not yet.”
Her mouth opened, then closed.
Anger boiled in him, but he needed to find some modicum of control. Taking a deep breath, he held it for the count of ten, then slowly released it. “Did you plan on telling me?”
Her eyes narrowed, but she said nothing.
“You’re invited to New York City for a showing of your new line, and you don’t share that with me? I have to learn about it secondhand?”
“Last I heard this wasn’t about you, Brawley. In fact, my life, my business has absolutely nothing to do with you.”
His jaw clenched. “Anything that affects you is my business, Mags.”
She snorted. “Get real, Odell. You gave up any and all rights years ago.” Her head tilted. “Why are you even interested? You want to attend so you can show off your latest Dallas Cowboy cheerleader? Maybe order her trousseau?”
He shot her a deadly look, one that had made grown men back away.
Not Maggie. She actually took a couple steps toward him. The woman had no survival instincts. Another reason she had no business heading off to New York alone.
She tapped a scarlet-tipped finger on her chin. “Oh, that’s right. There’d be no trousseau for your honey, would there? Maybe a weekend-fling outfit for your date du jour? A one-night-stand set of lacy lingerie.”
“Shut up, Maggie.”
“Make me.” Her eyes flashed.
This time the look in his eyes must have warned her she’d treaded too close to the edge. She stepped back.
“You challenging me, Maggie?”
When she wet her lips, his gaze dropped to her mouth, followed the tip of her pink tongue as it darted out.
“Only one way I could ever get you quiet,” he said.
Her hand shot up. “Don’t even think about it.”
“No thought required. Been wanting to do this a long time now.” He closed the distance between them and dropped his mouth to hers. Fire. Smoke. Hell, a full-out volcanic eruption.
LYNNETTE AUSTIN, a recovering middle school teacher, loves long rides with the top down and the music cranked up, the Gulf of Mexico when a storm is brewing, chocolate frozen custard, anything by Blake Shelton, Chris Young, and Thomas Rhett, and sitting in her local coffee shop reading and enjoying an iced coffee. She and her husband divide their time between Southwest Florida’s beaches and Georgia’s Blue Ridge Mountains. Having grown up in a small town, that’s where her heart takes her—to those quirky small towns where everybody knows everybody…and all their business, for better or worse. Writing for Grand Central and Sourcebooks, she’s published twelve novels and is at work on a new series.