Most readers know me for my historical romances about lighthouses, orphan trains, and bride ships. But a western? Whoa! What’s that all about?
No, I’m not switching genres. My friends here on Petticoat and Pistols have the western genre well covered! But I am delving into a five-book family saga set in the high country of Colorado in the ranching area of South Park.
The Colorado Cowboys Series has all my usual trademarks—deeply emotional characters, fun plot twists, and sizzling romance. But this time the package includes hunky cowboys!
Most of the time when we think about cowboys in Colorado, we think of the ranches on the eastern plains, not the mountainous high country. But believe it or not, ranches started popping up in the mountains very early in Colorado’s history.
One of the first ranches in South Park (near Fairplay), was Hartsel Springs Ranch, founded as a homestead in 1862 by Samuel Hartsel. He started his ranch by buying oxen brought into the mountains by men arriving to mine for gold. The oxen were often worn out and worth little after making the long trek to the West. But Samuel fattened them and then turned around and sold them as beef to the mining community.
By 1864 Hartsel decided to branch out and diversify his livestock. He went to Missouri and purchased a herd of shorthorns that he then drove to Colorado along the Santa Fe Trail. It was a tough trip, but he eventually completed the cattle drive and made it back to his ranch with 150 head of short-horned cattle.
Hartsel went on to become a very successful rancher, capitalizing on the rich grassland in South Park that fed his cattle. He also took advantage of a natural hot spring near his land that he developed and used for tourists who wanted a chance to bathe in the “healing waters.”
A Cowboy for Keeps, the first book in the series, is inspired by this real life cowboy and ranch. The hero, Wyatt McQuaid, is attempting to make a go of homesteading and ranching. But with all the obstacles he faces, he’s having a hard time making a new home. When Fairplay’s mayor offers him a deal, one that involves taking a bride in exchange for cattle, Wyatt can’t resist.
If you like hunky cowboys, mail-order brides, and marriages of convenience, then I invite you to give A Cowboy for Keeps a chance!
Leave a comment on this post if you’d like the chance to win a signed copy of the book! (Sorry, U.S. mailing addresses only.) I will choose a random winner on January 16.
What’s your favorite thing about cowboy stories?
Jody Hedlund is the best-selling author of over thirty historicals for both adults and teens and is the winner of numerous awards including the Christy, Carol, and Christian Book Award. She lives in central Michigan with her husband, five busy teens, and five spoiled cats. Visit her at jodyhedlund.com
Howdy, Everybody! My name is Julie Lessman, and I’m wondering if anybody remembers the above musical intro to the hit Western TV series back in the day, Bonanza? Probably not, because I’m pretty old, but it was a staple in our household growing up and not just in ours either. Bonanza is ranked No. 43 on TV Guide’s 50 Greatest TV Shows of All Time, and the 2013 TV Guide included it in its list of The 60 Greatest Dramas of All Time, still in syndication today.
So … why am I talking about an almost 60-year-old TV show? Well, despite the fact I’m primarily known as an Irish family saga author with novels set during the early 1900s on both coasts, one day I had this Western series percolating in my brain so strong I could smell the chicory coffee. Next I know, the dad-burned thing caught on fire like the Ponderosa map at the beginning of every Bonanza episode.
It’s called The Silver Lining Ranch Series, and it’s the story of two suffragists from New York, a godmother and her goddaughter, who fall in love with confirmed bachelor ranchers in Virginia City, Nevada (where Bonanza was set) from 1868 till the 1890s. This is an absolutely fascinating era on the heels of the transcontinental railroad and the discovery of the Comstock Lode silver mine upon which Virginia City was built.
Now, I’ll be the first to admit that writing a Western scared the pejeebers outta me because, well, to be honest, I was intimidated by so many wonderful Western authors I love like Mary Connealy, Karen Witemeyer, Winnie Griggs, Kit Morgan, and Margaret Brownley, most of which—gulp—are part of this amazing blog!
But once I got into the fascinating research—like the Transcontinental Railroad, which lots of Irish workers helped build (YAY!) and Virginia City, which numbered as many as 115 saloons in its heyday (BOO!), I knew I found a home in the Wild West!
So I’m a-lookin’ to give away some books today, including my latest Western release, Love’s Silver Bullet, which is book 2 in the Silver Lining Ranch Series. Now, to give you the flavor of this novel, my talented artist hubby created a realllllly cool VIDEO/TRAILER that also features pix of my grandchildren, so I hope you check it out.
And if you do and send me an email via my Contact Julie tab on my website telling me where the heroine, Sheridan Donovon, went to school, I will send you a FREE E-COPY of the prequel novel to this series, For Love of Liberty.
Have you ever run across some interesting tidbit in history that you wanted to learn more about?
Here’s a sneak peek of my series:
A Match Made in Heaven?
Or Someplace a Whole Lot Warmer?
She’s stubborn, educated, and looking
to give women the vote.
He’s bullheaded, successful, and looking
to give her a piece of his mind.
But when things heat up, they just may give each other
a piece of their hearts.
Next, here’s a gander at book 1 in the series, Love’s Silver Lining:
She tampers with his life.
He tampers with her heart.
Love tampers with them both.
And finally, my new release, Love’s Silver Bullet:
She’s targeting his love.
He’s aiming to steer clear.
Till true love picks them off
in a bull’s-eye of the heart
In addition to my video/trailer giveaway mentioned above, I am ALSO giving away winner’s choice of the entire Silver Lining Ranch series in e-book OR a signed paperback of her choice of one of the novels in the series. So leave a comment, and you’re automatically in the draw!
One of my favorite childhood memories was harvest time at my grandmother’s house. After the crops were picked, Mom, my sister Rose and I would rise early, knowing we had a long day ahead of us. But whether it was shelling peas, snapping green beans or peeling apples, we had a good time just sitting and talking while we worked. It’s a good memory and one I relive every year when I’m canning various vegetables and fruits out of my garden.
It also got me wondering—how did people back in the 1800s preserve food before canning and refrigeration were widespread?
The type of food helps determine the best way to preserve it. Take corn. It could be shelled, ground into cornmeal, or left on the cob and stored in a corn crib. But what about other vegetables like green beans, cabbage or potatoes? One way of preserving fruits and vegetables in the early 1800s was to run a heavy thread through them and hang them by the fireplace or in a warm, dry room. This helps remove the moisture from them and keeps them from rotting. In order to cook them, you’d treat them the same way we do dry beans today. You’d put them in water overnight to rehydrate, then cook the following day.
Another way to preserve food was by using a root cellar. If you’ve never been in one, it’s basically a small room, very dark and much cooler than the temperature outside. The walls have roots growing out of them and there’s a strong scent of dirt, fresh vegetation, and kerosene from the lantern used to light the room. Barrels filled with sawdust line the walls and inside them are various fruits and vegetables. Green beans and peas are strung from one side to the other. Root cellars were used up until the mid-1900s when home refrigeration become popular.
We can thank Napoleon for home canning. In 1795, the French emperor offered a reward for anyone who could come up with a way to preserve food for his army. It was fifteen long years before Nicholas Appert unveiled his method of heat processing food in glass jars. Over the course of the next century, improvements to the equipment were made. John Mason introduced a glass jar with a screw-top lid and rubber seal. William Charles Ball and his brothers got into the home canning business and marketed their canning jars across the country, making it easier for families to preserve their own food. And Alexander Kerr developed the wide-mouth jar (praise the Lord!) and the metal ring with a lid that sealed the preserved jar.
Funny story—I went to high school at a former Agricultural and Engineering College built during the 1890s. While I was there, one of the original buildings was torn down. The workers found the A&E school’s root cellar with canned beans, pickles, and squash dating back to 1913. And they still looked as fresh as the day they were picked!
Do you can or freeze food for your family?
Let’s Chat! I’ll give away two print copies of THE HEART OF THE MIDWIFE
The Heart of the Midwife
If Not For Graceby Patty Smith Hall New York City, 1889 After her friend’s death in childbirth, Grace Sullivan converts her family home into a haven for immigrant families preparing for the birth of a child. But when the city threatens to close her down, her only hope is to ask for help from an unlikely source—her former fiancé, Patrick O’Leary.
Bio: Multi-published author Patty Smith Hall lives near the North Georgia Mountains with her husband, Danny, her two daughters, her son-in-law, and her grandboy. When she’s not writing on her back porch, she’s spending time with her family or working in her garden.
When we think of the western frontier, few of us picture a young woman seated at her desk, studying English grammar, yet many would argue that the West was shaped as much by education as by anything else. Thus, when I learned of the pioneering institution known at its inception as the Young Ladies’ Seminary in Benicia, California, I was immediately intrigued. Established in 1852, it was the first school of higher learning created for women west of the Rockies and continues today as Mills College.
Despite the word seminary in its name, the school’s purpose was not to prepare its pupils to be priests, ministers, or rabbis. It was established to fulfill the perceived educational needs of the daughters of California’s Protestant Christian families. The original trustees were concerned that the pioneering families of the West were forced to choose between forgoing a higher education for their daughters or sending them on a long ocean voyage to New York, potentially severing family ties.
Thus the school was established while the gold rush was still in full swing and Benicia was California’s capital. According to the school’s early catalogues, its aim was “to train healthy, companionable, self-reliant women—those prepared to be useful and acceptable in the school, in the family, and in society.” To that end, the teachers deemed it important for their students to “be able to spell correctly, to read naturally, to write legibly, and to converse intelligently.” The young ladies of the school performed regular recitations at which family and select members of the public were often invited to attend. In addition to an English course of study, the school offered what they called “ornamental branches” of study which included “instrumental music (pianoforte and guitar), drawing, crayoning, painting (in water colors and oils) and ornamental needle work.” (Keep, 1931)
Initially many of the school’s students came from the nearby cities such as San Francisco, Marysville, Sacramento, and Stockton, but most came from Mother Lode camps such as Hangtown, Park’s Bar, Rough and Ready, Angels Camp, and more. A few students also came from the southern part of the Golden State, which is where my heroine, Clarinda Humphrey, hails from in my novel, Sing in the Sunlight. Keeping in mind the incredible fluctuation of fortunes and social status going on in California during this time period, the idea of young women from such varied backgrounds coming to Benicia to learn and live beneath the same roof is fascinating. What I wouldn’t give to have been a fly on the wall of the Young Ladies’ Seminary in those early days.
I think I’d have planted myself on the shoulder of those early principals first, though. It seems they had a terrible habit of forgoing their duties to pedagogy in favor of matrimony. The romantic in me is incredibly curious about how those courtships began and progressed. Further adding to my curiosity surrounding the school’s romances is the manner in which the school’s students were required to attend church.
Escorted to church each Sunday by their principal, the students were required to sit at the rear of the church in the upper gallery near the organ so that they would be out of sight of the young men present. My guess, though, is that more than one man gained a crick in his neck during services. What do you think?
Source: Keep, R. (1931) Fourscore Years, A History of Mills College
I’m excited to share with you that Sing in the Sunlight, book two of my Chaparral Hearts series which features the Young Ladies’ Seminary, is currently on preorder.
So today, I’m giving away a signed copy of Waltz in the Wilderness, book one in the series. Leave a comment below to enter. (International Winners will receive a digital copy of the book & signed bookmark in place of printed book. Void where prohibited.)
How influential was your college experience, or lack of it, in creating who you are today?
Happy Fall, y’all. I’m so pleased to be your guest blogger today. I love history, and one of my favorite parts about the writing process is doing the research required to ensure accuracy in my stories. I also like to try to find something that may not be widely known to keep the story interesting.
My family and I share our hometown of Griffin, Georgia, with a notorious gambler and gunfighter who’s also a dentist. I work only a block away from the location of his dental practice.
Doc Holliday is well known for his participation, along with Wyatt Earp, in the O.K. Corral gunfight in 1881. The battle itself lasted less than a minute. After almost 140 years, what do we still find so intriguing about the man? Multiple movies retell the story of the lawman, Wyatt Earp. But strangely, the character we’re most drawn to is a sickly dentist turned gambler and gunman known as Doc.
Pictured left Doc Holliday with Wyatt Earp and his brothers.
Perhaps the complexity of his character is the reason for his lingering appeal. His vibrant personality is rooted in contrast. Doc is critically ill but bold and gallant. He’s a deadly gunslinger and gambler, yet smart, educated, flashy, witty, compassionate, and loyal. Stir in a bit of vulnerability, a touch of vanity, and don’t forget a healthy dose of gallant southern charm to describe this critically ill man.
Born with a cleft palate on August 14, 1851, John Henry Holliday was fed by his mother with an eyedropper and a spoon.
The baby’s uncle, Dr. John Stiles Holliday, performed surgery, assisted by Dr. Crawford Long, the namesake of the Emory Hospital in Atlanta. The operation may have been the first time in history in which ether was used on an infant. He was schooled at home by his mother, who spent years training him to conquer his speech impediment. She also instilled in him Southern etiquettes, which would forever be part of his demeanor.
Two actors who played Doc Holliday, Stacy Keach and Jason Robards, were also born with the same condition.
Jason Robards played Doc in Hour of the Gun in 1967.
In 1864, his family moved to Valdosta, Georgia, where his mother suffered from consumption, now known as tuberculosis, and died when he was fifteen. Three months after his mother’s death, his father remarried.
John Henry Holliday, age ten
Holliday attended Valdosta Institute, where he received a classical education, and in 1870, nineteen-year-old Holliday left home to attend the Pennsylvania College of Dental Surgery. He graduated five months before his twenty-first birthday. He returned to Griffin, Georgia, in 1872 to practice dentistry.
John Henry was soon diagnosed with consumption and, in 1873, ended his career as a dentist. Some say he didn’t want his family to see him deteriorate and die from the disease. Others suggest he went west in hopes that the climate would be beneficial to his lungs. Regardless, Doc took the train to the literal end of the railroad line—Dallas, Texas.
Holliday understood the gravity of his disease and most likely considered himself a walking dead man. Though a realist, he remained hopeful for a cure. Doc found comfort in whiskey and gambling.
Texas was full of guns, knives, and violent men, some of whom were suffering from post-traumatic stress from the effects of war. Doc reinvented himself—from a southern gentleman dentist to a dangerous gunman who’d killed more than a dozen men in various altercations.
Holliday traveled from town to town, following the money and gaining a reputation as both a gambler and a gunman. In 1877, Doc was involved in an argument, but instead of going for his gun, he used his walking stick. His serious wounds, compounded by worsening tuberculosis, spurred a change of scenery. His next stop was Fort Griffin, where he met Wyatt Earp, who ultimately saved his life.
Earp and Holliday became fast friends. Eventually, Doc would join Earp in the wild boomtown of Tombstone, Arizona. Due to recent silver strikes, the town was flooded with merchants and cash but short on law and order. By the end of 1880, Tombstone was embedded with organized rustlers and thieves called the Cowboys.
Val Kilmer as Doc alongside Sam Elliott, Kurt Russell & Bill Paxton as Virgil, Wyatt & Morgan Earp in 1993
On October 26, 1881. Tombstone City Marshal Virgil Earp deputized Holliday. Virgil asked Doc to carry his shotgun under his coat, and the four strode down the middle of the street to meet and disarm five members of the Cowboys near the O.K. Corral, which resulted in a thirty-second shootout.
GIVEAWAY: Leave a comment and you could win an ebook copy of WILLOW’S WORTH!
Telegraph operator, Willow Graham, has benefited from a unique lifestyle growing up with her grandfather at the livery. She’s independent and loves spending time riding and training animals. With her twenty-first birthday approaching, her family pressures her to return to the city and take up the lavish lifestyle her uncle has planned for her.
Her other alternative is to take her chances with a matchmaking agency’s recommendation and begin correspondence with a handsome farmer.
Leo Weaver is a man of many talents. Hardworking, he’s helped his father develop a successful farm. Loyal and giving, he volunteers as a deputy sheriff. Handsome and charming, he’s about to become the target of several well-meaning ladies in the community who have submitted his name for a new matchmaking venture.
Willow craves the outdoors. Leo loves community life and wants to live in town. Can a matchmaking agency help two independent people realize the opposing desires of their hearts?
Kimberly Grist is married to her high school sweetheart, Nelson, a former teacher and coach, now a pastor. They have three adult sons, one with Down syndrome, and they have a passion for encouraging others with family members with special needs.
I’ve enjoyed writing since I was a young girl; however, I began writing my first novel in 2017. Inspired by so many things life has to offer, one of which includes our oldest son’s cancer diagnosis, it’s especially gratifying to write a happy ending.
I believe you should come away refreshed and inspired after reading a book. In my personal life, I wear so many hats, working inside and outside the home. I work hard, try harder, and then begin again the next day. Despite my best efforts, sometimes life stinks. Bad things happen. I need and want an outlet, an opportunity to relax and escape to a place where obstacles are met and overcome. My stories are designed to entertain, refresh, and inspire you, the reader. They combine History, Humor, and Romance, with an emphasis on Faith, Friends, and Good Clean Fun.
It’s a crazy world out there right now, and Christmas is coming with a warning label to stay away from people. I can’t do that. It won’t be Christmas without the “grands,” I tell myself.
Calm down, I say to myself. I’ll wash my hands another hundred times and put on two masks, not just one. I’ll even jump back if I pass someone in the grocery aisle. I will whisper my new battle cry: I’ll live through this, or not. I’m in the danger zone.
I don’t know about everyone but for me now and then, I just have to relax and have fun or I will go completely nuts. I’m staying in, staying safe and staying up all night watching at least one Hallmark movie a night. And, of course stepping into fiction anytime I can. If I can’t see people, I have to talk to my characters and that’s how I got the idea for a new story.
When I started writing my new novella, THE COWBOY WHO SAVED CHRISTMAS, I wanted to put lots of love and laughter in the story because that’s what we’re all looking for.
So, of course I picked a dark time in Texas to start. In the ten years after the Civil War, almost half the people in Texas died, hard times. I picked a woman with no future and a man down on his luck, a broken soldier. The two get their chance to start a life when they get a job to transport five little girls from Jefferson, Texas, to a ranch north of Dallas.
Now the fun begins. Trapper knows nothing about little girls, and it seems every bad guy in Texas wants to kidnap the rich girls. He teaches them how to survive, and they teach him to care. Trapper risks his life to save them, and they open his heart.
So cuddle up with THE COWBOY WHO SAVED CHRISTMAS. I promise you’ll love the journey this story called “Father Goose” takes.
These are my little outlaws last Christmas who inspired the story. We may not all get to see our families this holiday, but if you have a comment about your family at Christmas, I’d love it if you’d share.
Do you have a funny story that happened at Christmas? What is one of your family traditions? (Do you have matching pajamas?) What is a favorite food your family always requests?
Join in, and I will send one lucky winner a copy of the book.
Let’s all take a minute to remember happy days in the past and know that we’ll get to hug everyone next Christmas.
Until then, read on dear friends. I pray my gift to you this holiday is laughter.
The Fillies welcome guest Kathleen D. Bailey. Please make her welcome.
Judge Henry Garth owns “Shiloh,” the largest ranch in and around Medicine Bow, Wyoming. When feuding ranchers and Indians from “up north” want to meet to settle their differences, Garth offers Shiloh as a neutral venue. He has two house guests: Ben, a city-slicker newspaperman come to visit Garth’s daughter Betsy, and the Indian Affairs agent who’s supposed to settle the whole mess. Garth wants a peaceful solution to the Indian/rancher problem, but his plans go awry when a group of thugs takes over Shiloh. He finds himself a hostage in his own home along with Betsy, the journalist, the Indian agent and Randy, his singing cowboy. His other hands are all at the roundup.
The hostages try various ways to foil the thugs. After the criminals take everyone’s guns, Randy mouths to Ben that there’s one in the desk Ben’s leaning on. Ben sneaks it out and aims it at the ringleader, but loses his nerve. When the captives discover a small bottle of laudanum they try to drug one of their captors’ coffee, but they are again foiled. The Indian Affairs guy turns out to be part of the problem when he reveals himself as allied with the criminals. There are other attempts at freedom, and each time the viewer thinks, “Well, they’ve got it now.” Except they don’t, because this is a 90-minute Western and there’s plenty of time for things to go wrong. Even The Virginian, Garth’s relentlessly resourceful foreman, can’t get them out of this one. He’s been shot.
Where will it all end? How will it all end, with every escape blocked?
Western movies and television have always known how to keep a viewer engaged. The classic stories hook viewers by baiting, switching and baiting again. Just when the viewer thinks the cowboy/wagon scout/marshal has figured a way out of their dilemma, someone or something will trip them up. Just when the viewer thinks there’s no hope, a solution appears, and they’ll wonder why they didn’t see it before. It’s like mystery writing only with horses.
The genre could be formulaic, especially in the early years. My husband and I are aggressive Western watchers and we’ve learned to recognize the archetypes such as the physician who won’t practice medicine any more, usually due to alcohol or losing someone precious to them. Or losing someone precious, then turning to alcohol. But it’s what they do with these archetypes that makes these tales stand the test of time.
I spent most of one summer watching “How The West Was Won,” the epic TV miniseries starring an aging James Arness as Zeb Macahan, one of the legendary Mountain Men. Arness was perfection in the role of his life, and supporting cast members included shoot-em-up royalty such as Slim Pickens and Dennis Weaver. But as I rolled through it a second time, I became hooked on the story itself. It wasn’t just Zeb meeting up with old cronies, or rescuing his kinfolk from one scrape after another. Oldest nephew Luke, played by a young Bruce Boxleitner, stumbled into serious trouble when he went back East to check on his father. He got conscripted into the Union army, ran away from same, stole a horse and shot a sheriff. The sheriff lived but lost the use of one arm, and that one rash act—and the sheriff’s lust for revenge—followed Luke through the entire series. Luke spent most of the show on the run, eluding the sheriff’s spies, hired guns and the sheriff himself. The threat to Luke’s life kept resurfacing, like Whack-A-Mole, every time he thought he had a chance at happiness. It’s perfect story structure, a thread that runs through the entire series and keeps the watcher hooked.
The best Westerns carry out the classic themes of guilt, shame, retribution and justice. They connect on a deeper level, as with John Wayne in “The Searchers.” It’s why I chose to write Westerns. Take two strong characters, give them something to fight about, give them an attraction—and set it against the Oregon Trail or a cattle drive or the Land Rush. Watch the magic happen.
What of Judge Garth? He solved his dilemma without a single bullet. Calling on his memories of a court case, he set two of his assailants against each other. A long-simmering grudge came to the front, and they destroyed one another. With all other escape routes blocked, Garth solved the problem with his mind.
The perfect ending to a not-so-perfect day.
The Western genre is adventure, romance and at its best something more. Western stories pack a satisfying experience for the reader. And if you’re a writer of Westerns, you can chalk up all that movie watching as research. You’re welcome.
So…what’s your favorite Western movie, mini-series or TV program? I’ll be giving away a paper copy of my first book, “Westward Hope”; an e-copy of the sequel, “Settler’s Hope”: and a New England gift pack to three separate winners. Leave a comment to enter the drawing.
Kathleen Bailey is a journalist and novelist with 40 years’ experience in the nonfiction, newspaper and inspirational fields. Born in 1951, she was a child in the 50s, a teen in the 60s, a young adult in the 70s and a young mom in the 80s. It’s been a turbulent, colorful time to grow up, and she’s enjoyed every minute of it and written about most of it.
Bailey’s work includes both historical and contemporary fiction, with an underlying thread of men and women finding their way home, to Christ and each other. Her first Pelican book, ‘‘Westward Hope,” was published in September 2019. This was followed by a novella, “The Logger’s Christmas Bride,” in December 2019. Her second full-length novel, “Settler’s Hope,” was released July 17, 2020. She has a Christmas novella, “The Widow’s Christmas Miracle,” scheduled for this December as part of Pelican’s “Christmas Extravaganza,” and is completing “Redemption’s Hope,” the third and final book in the Western Dreams series.
She lives in New Hampshire with her husband David. They have two grown daughters.
Sometime last year, I heard a news story about women gathering together to burn their wedding dresses to celebrate their divorces. I felt so sorry for these ladies. You could tell they were still angry and hurt. I didn’t think burning their gowns was much of a solution to soothing bitter hearts. At least, not in the long run.
Then what was?
My brain started turning. I write Westerns. How could that help women? I played what-if. What if there was a ranch run by women? And what if this place somehow facilitated healing? And what if the ranch owner was—AVOIDING A SPOILER HERE—let’s just say, special?
The first thing I had to know for sure—could women REALLY run a ranch in the Old West? I mean, come on, that’s kind of a man’s world, right?
Wrong. There are several historical examples of women running successful ranches, but only one that I could find where women did the same work as the men.
Eastern Montana is, in my opinion, one of the most beautiful and lonely places in the US. It is not an area for the faint of heart. The weather, the wide-open spaces, the solitude…it’s the kind of place that makes you or breaks you.
Which is why the story of fiery redheads May, Myrtle, and Mabel Buckley is all the more remarkable.
When Franklin and Susannah Buckley started having children, surely they hoped for boys. After all, farming in the Dakotas and ranching in Montana was man’s work. But the Buckley daughters were born for this land. Franklin was smart enough to know it…or perhaps his precocious, fearless, ambitious daughters gave him no choice. They bloomed on those prairies like wildflowers after a snowy winter. Their father’s ranch hands taught the girls to ride, rope, shoot, brand, round up, even break broncs. The cowboys called them, with affection, the Red Yearlings.
Confident in his daughters’ abilities, Franklin turned his 160-acre ranch in Terry, Montana over to the girls. This freed him up to manage the farm in North Dakota, tend to other business ventures, and serve as a state representative.
In 1914, neighbor and friend Evelyn Cameron photographed the girls working and playing on the ranch. Cameron wrote an article about Montana cowgirls and featured the feisty ranching sisters doing what they did best. While this article spread their fame to Europe, the girls had already been fielding invitations from Wild West shows and even President Roosevelt. Turned ’em all down flat. May, Myrtle, and Mabel were ranchers. The profession was no game to them. The most play-acting they did was posing for the now famous and very collectible Cameron photos.
So, a female-run ranch was not only plausible, it was historical fact.
And Burning Dress Ranch was born. It is a place where hurting, broken women can go and learn a trade, rebuild their confidence, come to believe in themselves. Some will even get second chances at romance. But true healing and happiness come when they give their hearts to the Lord.
Hey, y’all. I’m Christian author, Caryl McAdoo. First, I have to say I’m so thrilled to be here at Petticoats & Pistols! A big thank you to Karen Witemeyer for the invite! Y’all have such a great group of readers here!
While doing research for my Cross Timbers Romance Family Saga, I ran across a very interesting incident that some say was a catalyst to the start of the Civil War, and it happened right there in Dallas, Texas where I lived until age twelve. That’s when we moved to Irving, one of the suburb cities to the west, between Big D and Fort Worth.
I set GONE TO TEXAS, book one in the series, in 1840 along the Delaware Creek that would become Irving. It took me five books in to get to 1860, just before the Civil War began, so that I could use the Dallas incident, but it inspired the title of book five TEXAS TROUBLE that debuted on September first!
The September addition to that series always also is in the Thanksgiving Books & Blessings Collection—this year is its third, so Collection Three! Heather Blanton, Donna Schlachter, and Kim Grist wrote CAROLINA HOMECOMING, A PINK LADY’S THANKSGIVING, and MAGNOLIA’S MEASURE, respectively for the stories that all contain a very special Thanksgiving!
It was in one of those extra hot summers where the temperatures burned over a hundred degrees for days on end. I lived through a summer like that in 1980, but back in 1860 they had no air conditioning. Poor people. TEXAS TROUBLES opens with two young friends about to go into a barn dance.
While one of the young ladies had never said it aloud, the other spread the news to anyone who would listen that she loves Aaron Van Zandt, but he’d accepted a new position as a cotton buyer for a company in Richmond, and would be soon leaving the little community.
Cass had to figure out a way to persuade him to marry her before he left, and she hoped for her friend’s assistance!
You see, Josie Jo Worley (born in book one GONE TO TEXAS) happened to be the sister of Aaron’s best friend. But her problem was that she loved the dashing Mister Van Zandt as well—had for as long as she could remember, and she’d grown since birth in his shadow. Cass was a relative new resident there, and while JoJo loved her best friend, she couldn’t bring herself to be any part of marrying him off to anyone else!
So, the second fly in the proverbial ointment is that JoJo’s brother loves Cassandra. It happened so often in those days, that neighbors and friends’ brothers or sisters wed. The distances between folks greatly limited the pool of beaus or beauties. It wasn’t so common, though, that a widower fell in love with his dead wife’s sister . . . What would people think?
In TEXAS TROUBLES readers not only get a wonderful overview of the country’s one war—hardly civil at all—where Americans fought Americans. Reviewers say the story gives an excellent rendering of what it was like for those left behind, and so far, have given it one hundred percent five-star ratings!
It shows how the women kept things going at home. How they drew ever closer to God, praying for their husbands, sons, and sweethearts day after day, knowing nothing. How they poured over the lists printed the newspapers of those fallen, wounded, missing in action, or taken prisoner. Not every man who left the close-knit community would come home.
Aaron ended up signing on with the South. The Confederates’ headquarters centered there in Richmond. His best friend, Richard Worley, more like a brother since they grew up together since birth fought for the Yanks.
Following most of those in the conservative community, he joined up with the Federalists, putting the almost-brothers on opposite sides of the battlefields.
The costs of war proved high. Four years of civil war drained the American economy in both the North and the South, and the cost of human life . . . more than six hundred thousand perished, and at least that many or more wounded. Limbs lost and horrors seen changed the men’s lives forever, and doctors didn’t know about PTSD then.
I purposely skirted the horrors of the war, mostly it’s told through letters back and forth from the men and the women who love them. But it’s chock full of history, and I loved the research! One fun thing I learned was that they didn’t manufacture shoes specifically for the right and left foot. Until the Civil War, they were all the same!
Anyone who loves history will enjoy this story and get two romances for the price of one! Readers will live with those left behind. I’ve been so blessed in my life not to have been any part of war. My husband Ron signed up for the navy reserves when we were still in high school and then after we married, but got a honorable dependency discharge when I got pregnant. He would have gone to Vietnam. But God . . .
Has war touched your life?
Brothers are for conflict; and he who finds a wife has found a good thing.
Through the first battle to the end of the Civil war, partners Aaron Van Zandt and Rich Worley fought on opposite sides. The women who loved them lived in prayer and learned to trust God even more to stay sane. While their fellows fought each other, best friends Josie Jo Worley and Cass Andrews battle jealousy, worry, and regret. Experience the war as one who’s left behind. See how they cope. Readers aren’t able to stop turning the pages.
GIVEAWAY: I love giving and especially books! To enter for the opportunity to receive a copy of TEXAS TROUBLES, please comment below whether your life was ever touched by war, and whether you’re a new reader to my stories or have enjoyed some before! BLESSINGS!
GAME: And for those of you who love word games, check this one out! So much fun! PUZZLE
BIO: Award-winning hybrid author Caryl McAdoo prays her story brings God glory. Her best-selling novels have garnered over 1000 5-Star reviews, attesting to the Father’s high favor. Readers love her Historical Christian romance family sagas best, but she also writes Christian contemporary romance, Biblical fiction, and for young adults and mid-grade booklovers. They count Caryl’s characters as family or very close friends. The prolific writer loves singing the new songs God gives her almost as much as penning tales—hear a few at YouTube! Married to Ron over fifty years, she shares four children and twenty grandsugars. The McAdoos live in the woods south of Clarksville, seat of Red River County in far Northeast Texas, waiting expectantly for God to open the next door.
Thank you to the ladies of Petticoats and Pistols for having me back again for the launch of my new series, Granite Junction! This is actually a spin-off of my last series, Redemption Ranch, continuing some favorite characters and the same world, but with new story arcs and new fun times.
The series features a favorite secondary character, Emma Holt, a guidance counselor who’s been in love with her best friend, rancher Cam Miller, for her entire life. Only, he doesn’t feel the same way and, in fact, is selling his ranch and leaving the town forever. Kind of a romance killer. His cousin, Gabe Buchanan, comes to town, completely blocked on his latest book, to help Cam with the ranch and looking for a little fun, nothing serious. His charming ways win over Emma and they begin a little affair, neither intending for it to go much further than a summer romance. Yet when the lines between casual and interested blur, neither can deny the chemistry between them.
Gabe is a fun loving guy, using his charm and wit to hide his insecurities and fears. One of their dates is fairly typical of dating today – a movie. Except in his case, it’s to the town drive-in theater to see City Slickers! Not your typical romantic first date movie, or even the scary one to get the girl in your arms. Nope, Gabe chooses a comedy to laugh and have fun. He sets out a romantic dinner in the bed of the truck, with all of Emma’s favorite foods (including French fries from the local diner) and they settle in for the movie.
Of course after, she has to ask about his loving the movie, especially since he grew up on a guest ranch and was supposed to take over that portion of the family business until he went rogue and decided to write books instead.
Here’s a snippet from their conversation:
“No, I’ve always found City Slickers to be oddly profound and thought-provoking,” he replied.
She lightly punched him in the arm and laughed. “Only a guy would say that. You probably think fart jokes are funny too.”
“Funny, yes. Profound, definitely not.”
She turned on her side and propped herself on her elbow and looked down at him. “What do you mean by ‘thought-provoking’? I don’t think anyone has a deep, philosophical discussion based on City Slickers.”
He shrugged, his hands pillowing his head as he stared up at the stars. “Well, they should. Or maybe it’s something only a guy would get. But think about the whole premise. Three guys at major crossroads, all trying to figure out the secret of life. And a grizzly old trail boss has the secret and it’s so goddamn simple.”
She laughed. “They’re having midlife crises because one wants to keep dating younger women, one is afraid of his wife, and the other hates his job. It’s all pretty normal stuff.”
“Maybe. But the trail boss tells them that they’re complicating things. They need to find one thing. Just one thing and you stick to that and the rest means nothing. Basically, find the one thing that means everything to you. Mitch found it in the river, right? His family. Nothing else mattered. How simple is that? Yet we all focus on so many things, so many distractions. Narrow it down to that one simple thing.”
She lay back down, her mind suddenly focused. “Oh my God. You found something meaningful in a comedy.”
He grinned. “In every good movie, there’s meaning. Even the cartoons have it. Why not a comedy?”
“What’s your one simple thing?”
The silence dragged on for so long that she wondered if he had fallen asleep. Finally, he replied, “I’m still looking for it. But I’m close. And you?”
She paused. It was a loaded question. Before that night, she might have answered differently, might have automatically replied with her outline for her plan, the one that had been clearly defined for ten years and followed her from year to year, planner to planner. But now she hesitated. “I’m not sure.”
“Good. That one simple thing is not so simple and should require thought.”
“What other pearls of wisdom came out of the movie?” She asked, desperately trying to get back on firmer ground.
“Nope, I think that’s enough philosophy for one night. It’s getting late and I should get you home, though I doubt anyone will pull me over. That’s Cam’s problem tonight.” He laughed.
“You devil. Jo will be hunting him down and giving him tickets.”
He sat up and folded the blanket that covered them. “He’ll probably make me pay the ticket since I’m somehow to blame.”
She remained lying on her half of the blanket under them, her stomach clenching as she realized he was seriously ending the date and was not even going to try to kiss her. Disappointment morphed into outrage. How dare he not even try anything? She knew he found her attractive. If he didn’t, he wouldn’t have come out here with her. No, he was putting distance between them, being careful with her, afraid to push her because of their earlier conversation, and it pissed her off. She had accepted her own issues and decided to go all in with him. She could have gone home, but now, damn it, she wanted the full date experience, especially now that they were at the infamous Granite Junction makeout spot, one she had never really experienced thanks to her overprotective brother and his best friend.
“You’re not even going to try and kiss me?”
He turned a hot gaze toward her. “I thought it might be best to end the night while I was ahead.”
She sat up. “You’re not ahead yet, Gabe.” She twined her fingers in his shirt and tugged him down so he lay half across her. “Now, let’s end this date properly.”
Of course, their date doesn’t end there. But you’ll have to read the book to find out who catches them and how Emma defines properly!
Check out The Wrong Cowboy, out now!
To get your name in the drawing for an electronic copy of The Wrong Cowboy, share what movie you find profound or thought-provoking that maybe other people might not? Let me know in the comments below!
Graduate from college? Check.
Land a school counselor job? Check.
Seduce her forever crush? Epic fail!
In fact, he’s not interested, period. But Emma is determined to change his mind until his cousin, Gabe Buchanan, puts a definite crimp in her perfect plans.
Gabe has come to help his cousin with work around the ranch while struggling to unravel his next book plot. The last thing he expected to find was literary inspiration in the curvaceous cowgirl pining over his cousin. Determined to prove he is the right match for her, he devises a plan to win Emma’s heart.
As much as Emma wants her childhood crush to finally take notice, she can’t help but be intrigued by the sizzling hot and funny Gabe. When he asks her out, she can’t say no. Besides, it’s just a friendly dinner. No big deal. Yet when the lines between casual and interested blur, neither can deny the chemistry between them.
Can Gabe fill every box on Emma’s checklist and give her what she needs the most? His heart and a future together?
Granite Junction is a spin-off from the Redemption Ranch series, with some of your favorite characters returning and making guest appearances, while others find their happy ever afters!