I’ve lived in the same house in a rather affluent part of my city for 35 years. In that time, I’ve seen the area grow and thrive. We have lots of restaurants and shopping, banks and office buildings. Good schools and churches. Neighborhoods are well-kept and safe.
Safe, most of all.
Until recently, that is.
Several weeks ago, less than a mile away from my home, one of the banks I frequent was robbed. The two thieves pistol-whipped a bank employee, roughed up and dragged a pregnant employee by the hair, and injured a bank customer. They got away with $350,000. Luckily, the police found them early the next morning. One of the robbers had red dye staining his face, pretty strong evidence of his guilt.
Last week, unbelievably, a young, heavily-armed man walked into my Target store a mere block from the same bank. 250 people were in that store. Once he started shooting, people fled into bathrooms, fitting rooms, and out the back door. By the grace of God, he didn’t kill anyone. Dozens of police cars from all over the city and surrounding towns raced to the store. Six minutes after the first 911 call, one brave police officer took care of the situation, saving those 250 lives.
Sure makes you want to lock up your house and never come out, doesn’t it?
But of course, we can’t live that way, and in the time since, I wondered about the men and women who lived in the far reaches of our country when it was yet new and unsettled. No 911 calls. No speeding policemen. No high-tech databases. No cell phones to keep frantic families informed.
Sure, they had sheriff posses and organized groups like the Texas Rangers. The men were dedicated and tough, but they were helped along only by their horse, word-of-mouth, and possibly the occasional telegram from neighboring county law enforcement that might have news about an outlaw’s whereabouts.
The Pinkerton Agency’s detectives were a little more sophisticated in their sleuthing. Record-keeping was perfected, criminals and their methods were studied, and even the cleverness of working undercover produced positive results in preventing crime and catching criminals. But speed wasn’t their strong suit.
And then there were the citizens themselves who often took matters in their own hands when law enforcement was nowhere to be found or too far away to help. Vigilantes, too, who enacted justice with the help of a rope and a long-branched tree.
Thank goodness those days are gone. Justice was hard and slow. Sometimes it didn’t happen at all.
Unfortunately, crime still thrives, the acts far more sophisticated and deadly than ever before. I’m afraid the outlaws of yesteryear would never have thought of the crimes being committed today.
I’m grateful to say I’ve never been a victim of one. I’ve never had a car broken into, or my house robbed, or my purse stolen. My neighborhood–knock on wood–remains very safe, and hopefully will for a very long time to come.
Have you ever been a victim of a crime? Did the modern-day outlaw fall to justice?
Robber’s Cave State Park near Wilburton Oklahoma has the dubious honor of being a favorite hideout for outlaws like Jesse James. This remote place and its rich history made it the perfect setting for my last Steam! Series novel, which features an outlaw, a Pinkerton agent, a deadly mystery, and some fascinating history.
After the Civil War, the U.S. entered a period of severe economic downturn. The sparsely populated, mountainous terrain along the border between Arkansas and Indian Territory became a sanctuary for criminals fleeing justice, who took advantage of confusing legal systems and lax federal oversight. Add to that, a corrupt judicial system operating out of Fort Smith, Arkansas, and you have a recipe for trouble…and an exciting historical romance.
As legend has it, some of the more famous bad guys who hid out in this remote area included Jesse and Frank James, the Youngers, and the Daltons.
Today, the area is a lovely state park with great views, beautiful waterfalls, streams and lakes, and lots of caves to explore. These aren’t your typical underground caves. Many of them are inside of massive stone structures that look as if Nature created shelters for the purpose they ultimately served—to shield fugitives and thwart those who might come to search for them.
A short drive west will take you across what used to be the old Katy Railroad line. Go south and you’ll soon be in Texas. The town of Denison became a cattle hub in the mid-1870s and the railroad was transporting beef in newly invented refrigerated railcars.
What do cold rail cars have to do with outlaws hiding in caves and a missing Pinkerton agent? You’ll have to read my book to find out.
The deal she offers him could be a path to freedom or a detour straight to hell.
Jasper Byrne, an accused train robber, is about to face frontier justice when he is stolen away from a lynch mob. His female savior, who claims to be a reporter, offers him a chance at redemption if he will help her solve a mystery.
He will do one better. Make certain she returns from her quest alive.
Undercover detective Brigit Stevens isn’t certain she can trust Jasper to keep his word, but she needs an outlaw to guide her through a wilderness known only to thieves and murderers. She doesn’t expect the rogue to become her protector. No more than she anticipates losing her heart to him.
Can an outlaw and a Pinkerton agent form more than a temporary partnership? Does love have the power to rewrite the future and create second chances?
What are some of the places you’ve been that have outlaw legends attached to them? Do you have a favorite? Where and why?
Leave a comment for your chance to win a copy of Lawless Hearts.
E.E. Burkeis a bestselling author of historical fiction and romances that combine her unique blend of wit and warmth. Her books have been finalists for numerous national and regional awards, including the Chanticleer International Book Awards, Readers’ Choice and Kindle Best Book. She was also a finalist in the RWA’s prestigious Golden Heart® contest. 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.
If you happened to catch our Yee-Haw blog on Monday, you’ll know I announced a new series called Love Train. My book, CHRISTIANA, is the launch book and will be released on April 1st, but I’ll talk more about that later.
There’s few things more satisfying than writing a book to the finish. Starting one, however, isn’t quite as satisfying, at least not for me. In fact, it can be downright stressful until I find my way with the plot, the characters, and their conflict.
To do that, I must do plenty of research, especially if I’m writing an historical. Then, as inevitably happens, I stumble upon an article that I find absolutely fascinating, and voila, my story starts to take shape.
That’s exactly what happened with Belle Siddons.
The author of the article mostly pieced together information from two reporters’ sources–a jail cell interview when she was a bit, well, inebriated, and a death bed interview where she describes herself as a victim and whose account doesn’t quite match up with what little historical facts could be found.
Still, the author wrote a fascinating piece, and from the beginning, I was hooked. Here’s a quote from a reporter at the time:
She went to the wildest excesses in dissipation. When not sitting behind her gambling table she was eating or drinking. But she was never known to drink in her gambling hall. There she would sit, silent and brilliant, coldly shuffling the cards, or carelessly turning her roulette table. Women she despised and seldom spoke to or of them. She never quarreled or exchanged words of anger. Her prompt argument was her pistol, which always lay beside her stacks of money. Her favorite costume was red or black velvet, ornamented with a profusion of gaudy jewelry, mostly diamonds and rubies. Her luxuriant black hair usually hung carelessly looped over her shoulders with gold and diamond clasps. This sensational costume, she said, was a part of her stock in trade. “It excites curiosity and draws in the suckers,” she said.
—San Francisco Examiner, 1881
What’s not to love?
I won’t go too deep into her wild life given that not all of it can be backed up as factual. The author admits to fictionalizing Belle’s legend, and it made for fascinating reading. But if you want to read the article, here’s a link.
Regardless, after poring over the writings, my story took off, and I love it when that happens.
Belle is the inspiration for my heroine’s mother, Olivia Turcotte. I softened her up quite a bit, and the story is truly Christiana’s, but the book is based on Olivia’s actions, Christiana’s love for her, and the hopes and dreams she has.
One thing I did keep was Olivia’s skill at the faro table. It was that skill which drew the villain’s interest, leads to the decisions she makes, and well, you’ll have to read the book when it comes out to learn more.
Suffice to say, everyone–even outlaws–have skills that everyone admires.
I’d like to think I have numerous skills–ha!–but probably my strongest would be organizational. It seems I’m always ramrodding something for my family or other authors, a throwback, I suppose, from being the oldest of seven children that were born boom-boom-boom. Back in those years, my mother needed help, and she’d come to me saying “Pam, you handle it.”
So I did.
How about you? Can you name one skill that is your best?
Hi, I’m Andrea Downing and today I’d like to talk about the lesser known figure of John Larn.
The history of the West is littered with a glittering array of gunfighters and lawmen—sometimes both in one man. After all, the West wouldn’t have been ‘Wild’ without them; think how boring it would be if we only had pioneers and a quite ordinary workforce to write about! Like cream, certain names rise to the top in the litany of gunfighters: Jesse James, Billy the Kid, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. Their counterparts, the lawmen, were often not much better than they; think Pat Garrett and Wyatt Earp and company. But there were lesser mortals who left a trail of destruction in their wake, and one such man was John Larn.
Larn was born in Alabama in 1849, well before the heady, post Civil War main migration to the West. As a teen, he moved on to Colorado to find work as a cowboy, but the hot-headed young man ended up killing his boss around 1869 in an argument over a horse. Heading to New Mexico, he notched his gun a second time when he killed a sheriff he believed to be in pursuit of him. Moving on to Texas, he next had work as trail boss for rancher Bill Hays in Fort Griffin, around 1871. This led to the deaths of 3 more victims on the trail to Trinidad, Colorado.
As we all know, ladies love a bad boy, and Mary Jane Matthews, from a prominent family, was no exception. The couple married, would eventually have two sons, and Larn managed to become a well-respected citizen—for a time at least—of Shackleford County in Texas. But by 1873, rumors started to appear of cattle rustling in which Larn was involved. Somehow, he was able to put the spotlight on his former boss, obtain a warrant charging the outfit with rustling and, keeping in mind no good deed goes unpunished, he gathered a possee and joined soldiers from Fort Griffin to ambush and kill all Bill Hays’ ranch hands.
By now, you may be getting the idea that Larn was one blood-thirsty dude. I’d agree! His next foray into law enforcement was to join a vigilante group called The Tin Hat Brigade in Griffin. Griffin had become so lawless, such a magnet for the anarchic and unruly, that it needed this group to take control and bring some law and order. Earning respect from the local townspeople for this work, Larn was elected sheriff in 1876 and was able to build a ranch on the Cedar Fork at Lambshead. But I guess law enforcement may not have paid well because in less than a year Larn had either resigned or been pushed out, and his next post was as a deputy hides inspector. This involved keeping an eye on all cattle movement and supervising butchers as well. He also obtained a contract to supply three cattle a day to the fort. Needless to say, Larn didn’t think to supply his own beef. He practically started a range war, leading a band of men in bushwhacking and heading cattle off ranches. When a band of citizens searched the area behind Larn’s house, no prizes for guessing what they found. Six hides with other ranches’ brands were found and, at last, Larn’s game was up. For a moment at least…no charges were filed despite the arrest. Unfortunately for him, however, his bad temper led to his last assault—that of a local rancher by the name of Treadwell who had supposedly uncovered Larn’s cattle rustling. Larn was arrested and taken to Albany, where the sheriff had him shackled to his cell. When vigilantes arrived wanting to lynch Larn, they found they couldn’t remove him and shot him instead. He was twenty-nine years old. That’s about the age of my hero in Shot Through the Heart.
Here’s a little more about the book:
Gunslinger Shiloh Coltrane has returned home to work the family’s Wyoming ranch, only to find there’s still violence ahead. His sister and nephew have been murdered, and the killers are at large. Dr. Sydney Cantrell has come west to start her medical practice, aiming to treat the people of a small town. As she tries to help and heal, she finds disapproval and cruelty the payment in kind. When the two meet, it’s an attraction of opposites. As Shiloh seeks revenge, Sydney seeks to do what’s right. Each wants a new life, but will trouble or love find them first?
So what do you think of these gunslingers and lawmen of the Old West? What made some men into killers? Mental disease? Family genes? And if you’d like to find out whether Shiloh and Sydney manage to find a middle ground, I’m happy to give away one e-book copy of Shot Through the Heart to one person who comments.
And of course, the book in both paperback and eBook is available at:
In the settling of the U.S., owning land used to be the primary dream of almost every man–rich or poor. It was something tangible that meant you had worth and the owner could use it however he saw fit. But how were the sales handled when almost every town had a land office?
The General Land Office created in 1812 was an independent agency of the United States government responsible for all the public domain lands. It took over this function from the Treasury Department that had been in effect since 1785.
The General Land Office was in charge of surveying, platting, and selling of public lands. In addition they oversaw the Homestead Act and the Preemption Act in disposal of public lands.
During the Westward Expansion period, land sold at such a frantic pace that it was difficult to keep up. As I said, everyone wanted a piece to call their own.
Every town of any size had a land office where prospective buyers could see what was available. If they bought some, a deed was recorded and registered at that county’s courthouse which then made its way to the General Land Office in Washington D.C. But given the slow speed of travel, it might be a year or more before it got registered. And unscrupulous land agents could sell the same land twice or several times over. I see how easy it would’ve been. And how killings would’ve taken place. The West had no one to oversee a lot of things.
In 1946, the General Land Office and the U.S. Grazing Service merged to become the Bureau of Land Management.
In my newest release, ONCE UPON A MAIL ORDER BRIDE, Ridge Steele served as the mayor and land agent in the outlaw town of Hope’s Crossing. Unlike others, he is honest and above board in his dealings and in the recording of deeds.
To settle this fledgling town, he and his friends send for mail order brides through Luke Legend and his private bride service. Ridge is the last of his friends to get one.
When Adeline Jancy arrives, she’s more than he ever dreamed in every respect—other than she couldn’t speak. Due to horrifying trauma, she’s lost her voice. Ridge doesn’t have to marry her, but he does. He likes what he sees and figures she’ll do just fine.
He soon discovers Addie can throw a hissy or argue as well as anyone—all without words.
Their love grows slowly and ripens into a passionate story for the ages. From the moment they strolled onto the page, I knew they were perfect for each other in every way. Each had their own strengths that complemented the other as should a real relationship.
Do you believe in love at first sight? Or do you think it takes time to develop only after the couple has come to know each other? I’m giving away a copy of this book (winner’s choice of either ebook or print.) I’ll draw on Saturday.
Dancing! Oh yes! I love it! I put dancing throughout my Outlaw Mail Order Brides series and it’s all the real-life outlaw gunslinger Clay Allison’s fault! They say he suffered a head wound during the Civil War and it left him with a terrible temper. Maybe so. His epitaph reads that he didn’t kill anyone that didn’t need it and it is a well-known fact that he put a lot of men six feet under.
But strangely, Clay loved to dance—a lot. He owned a ranch outside of Cimarron, New Mexico and always kept a violin player on his payroll.
I first put Clay Allison in The Heart of a Texas Cowboy as Houston Legend’s drover and my editor liked him so much she wanted me to give him his own book. I thought it best to make him fictional so I changed his last name to Colby. Book #1 of Outlaw Mail Order Brides—The Outlaw’s Mail Order Bride—is about Clay Colby.
Clay and some of his friends are tired of running and want to settle down so they decide to carve a town from their hideout. Next came populating it so they send for mail order brides.
Since Clay has been writing a wanted woman in hiding, Tally Shannon, he asks her to marry him so she travels to Hope’s Crossing. She agrees.
Oddly, Clay makes sure one his fellow outlaws is a fiddle player and they have a dance each night after supper, waltzing over the uneven ground under the stars. And that’s how he and Tally get acquainted. It worked.
My town has the dancing-est outlaws you ever met. It keeps ’em out of trouble. (Psst, not really)
I’ve always loved to watch dancers, but I didn’t know how until around the age of 30. I was married and three kids underfoot when I took classes at the local college for ballroom dancing. I learned the foxtrot, tango, the waltz, and then the teacher threw in the two-step.
It opened up a whole new world and I loved it. The only problem was my husband didn’t dance and had no desire at all to learn so I was forced again to sit on the sidelines.
Occasionally one of male customers would ask me, but then we stopped going to those places altogether, and sadly, I lost what I’d learned.
I still love to watch dancing couples though. And I love the show Dancing With the Stars, living vicariously through them. Sometimes, I even get out of my chair and do the steps. You’d die laughing.
Dancing has been in our culture probably since the beginning of time. The earliest proof was found in 9,000 year old cave drawings. I’m astounded.
Some of the dances had such names as the Quadrille, the Minuet, the Polka, the Waltz, and many others. Rock and Roll brought many, many more dances like the Lindy Hop, the Twist, the Jitterbug, etc. This didn’t involve a partner so I jumped right in and loved twisting and gyrating and making a fool of myself.
Tell me the first person you ever danced with and the type of dance it was. I’m giving away The Outlaw’s Mail Order Bride to three people who leave a comment.
He may be a Texas Ranger, but he only has eyes for the outlaw’s beautiful daughter…
I’m happy to announce that my new book has just been released! This is book three in my Haywire Brides series, but each book stands alone.
I’m giving away a book today to one of you. So be sure to leave a comment!
Texas Ranger Matt Taggert is on the trail of a wanted man. He has good reason to believe that Ellie-May’s late husband was involved in a stagecoach robbery, and he’s here to see justice done. But when he arrives in town, he discovers the thief has become a local hero…and his beautiful young widow isn’t too happy to see some lawman out to tarnish her family’s newly spotless reputation.
Ellie-May’s shaken by her encounter with the Ranger. Having grown up an outlaw’s daughter, she’ll do anything to keep her children safe—and if that means hardening her heart against the handsome lawman’s smiles, then so be it. Because she knows Matt isn’t about to give up his search. He’s out to redeem himself and find proof that Ellie-May’s husband wasn’t the saint everyone claims…even if it means losing the love neither expected to discover along the way.
Ellie-May has lived all her life in the shadow of her outlaw father. Do you think a parent’s reputation has the same impact today as it did in the 1800s?
Writing a series about outlaws has opened my eyes a bit concerning the oddities I sometimes find hidden way back in history. It’s been fun and very interesting.
Sometimes teens in the old West, just as today, had some wild oats to sow. Yet, you never think about girls doing it back in the 1880s. Yet, this one became famous for it.
Rose Ella Dunn was born Sept. 5, 1878 in Indian Territory at Ingalls, Oklahoma. She was the only girl among five brothers. That was probably the problem right there. They taught her to ride, rope, and shoot. The boys had formed their own outlaw gang by the time she was just twelve years old. I’m not sure what their parents must’ve thought of that.
A few years passed and when she was fourteen or fifteen, her brothers introduced her to outlaw George “Bittercreek” Newcomb.
The striking beauty with a kind demeanor became very infatuated and Bittercreek called her his Rose of Cimarron. Bittercreek was a member of the Doolin/Dalton gang and they were extremely protective of her.
Rose would go into town for supplies and whatever the gang needed, plus bring back news. It was a good system.
For some reason, maybe they got religion or something, her brothers disbanded their gang and started bounty hunting. Knowing most of the gangs and how they operated, they had quite a bit of success. I’m sure the brothers switching horses mid-stream must’ve made everyone on the lawless side just a tad bit nervous.
On September 1, 1893, the gang was in the saloon in Ingalls, Oklahoma when they found themselves surrounded by a posse of U.S. marshals. A hail of bullets rained down on them. The outlaws exchanged fire and made a run for it.
Bittercreek was struck down in the street but managed to pull himself to cover. Rose watched it all from a nearby hotel, filled with horror. She ran to him with two belts of ammunition and a Winchester rifle and hunkered down next to him.
Rose fired the Winchester at the marshals while Bittercreek loaded his revolvers. Finally, he was able to escape.
Three deputy marshals lay dead. On the gang side, several were badly shot up. Rose hid out with them, nursing them back to health.
By 1895 Bittercreek had a $5,000 bounty on his head and was wanted DEAD OR ALIVE. That caught the attention of her brothers. Loyalty didn’t amount to much when that much money was involved.
The next time they came to visit at the house, the brothers were waiting. They shot Bittercreek and the outlaw with him as they dismounted, killing them both.
Rose was never prosecuted for her involvement with the gang and her life of crime ended. She married a local politician until her death at the age of 76. I could find no record of any children.
So, was she just a rebellious teenager innocently caught up in something over her head? Or was she truly an outlaw and in it all the way? Have you ever been caught up in something you really wanted no part of and then couldn’t figure a way out?
I’m giving away two $10 Amazon gift cards in a drawing on Sunday.
Color is all around us and writers use a lot of color in telling a story. Readers visualize the characters knowing the color of their eyes, hair, and clothes. Animals, landscape, foods–it’s impossible to write a story without using the various shades and hues.
There’s a reason why hospitals use a lot of blue, churches employ white, firetrucks are red, and nobility wear purple.
Here’s a little of what I discovered:
WHITE – purity, innocence, and wisdom. i.e. angels
BLACK – negativity and judgment
RED – energy, vigor, power, strength
PINK – love and compassion
PURPLE – royalty, blending of mind and spirit, uplifts
BLUE – prime healing color, relaxation, sleep, peace
BROWN – the earth, commitment
GREEN – balance and harmony, sensitivity, abundance
YELLOW – the emotional self, cleansing, creativity
ORANGE – cheerful and uplifting, warmth
TURQUOISE – brotherhood, friendly, the color of the freed soul
* * * * *
My new book – THE MAIL ORDER BRIDE’S SECRET – will release on Jan. 28th. This is Book 3 of my Outlaw Mail Order Bride series and tells Tait Trinity’s and Melanie Dunbar’s story.
Melanie has turquoise (green/blue) eyes and Tait describes them as the color of ancient stones. His eyes are an icy gray, the color of quicksilver. Her hair is red and his sun-streaked brown. Color says a lot about these two.
Tait is an outlaw and has a large bounty on his head for a string of train robberies so when his sister’s twin boys and four-year-old daughter appear on his doorstep, he’s totally unprepared for the responsibility. The last thing he needs are children to raise, yet he can’t let them go to an orphanage. His friends advise him to send for the mail order bride he’s been writing, but when she arrives, she’s nothing like what he expects.
Melanie is thrown as well to see there are kids involved. She lets him know right off that she’s not going to be his nanny, housekeeper, laundress, or cook while he rides out and stays gone for weeks or months at a time. Wife is the role she’s agreed to, but she comes with secrets—big juicy ones.
How long will it be before Tait figures out her true reason for marrying him? And he does.
I hope you give this book a try. The children provide ample humor and the ending is the most powerful I’ve ever written. The old western series Paradise provided a lot of inspiration. Book 4 will release the end of the year and complete the series with Ridge Steele and Addie Jancy.
Question: How does color affect your life? Do you have a favorite and why?
Giveaway: Two people who comment will win a copy (their choice of format.)
The past several weeks, I’ve been working on a new book in my Baker City Brides series which is set in the 1890s in Baker City, Oregon.
The town got its start from gold mines in the area back in the 1860s. The gold played out, or so people thought, then enjoyed another boom around 1890.
The story, titled Dumplings and Dynamite, takes place for the most part at a mining camp.
This is a photo of the E&E Mine out of Baker City. It appears much as I envision the mine where my story takes place.
I’m fascinated with the mill buildings that sprung up against the hillsides at mines like this one – the Golden Gate Mine near what once was called Greenhorn City.
It’s hard for me to envision what it was like working in a mine because I wouldn’t have lasted a day. Probably not even an hour. I don’t like dark, enclosed spaces. At all. I can’t imagine how hard it would have been to get up day after day and spend hour after hour in the bowels of a mountain digging out some other man’s fortune.
The image above shows mine workers from the Bonanza Mine (one of the most successful of its time) near Baker City.The men are wielding “single jacks,” four-pound hammers, and steel drills. For light, the miners had candles on a wire stuck in a crack in the wall.
In my story, the hero is working as a powder monkey (a new term I learned in my research), also known as the brave individuals who worked with the explosives at a mine. The powder monkeys, or powdermen, were in charge of rotating the explosives to ensure older explosives were used first, ordering explosives, transportation of explosives, and keeping up the area where the explosives were stored. And in my story, he also sets off the charges, although, in reality, this job was often left to the miners who were digging out the ore.
It was while I was trying to dig up research on dynamite usage in the early 1890s that I happened across an interesting story. I don’t know if it’s true, but it’s fun reading, anyway. The source is from Richard Dillon’s book Shanghaiing Days. New York: Coward, 1961.
According to the story, a young man named George Banks had a job working on the portage railroad at Cascade Locks, Oregon. It was the mid-1890s and shanghaiing was a rampant sport at the docks in Portland. In fact, it was a known fact the port was one of the worst places in the world to be kidnapped around that time.
One day, George (known as a confident, upright, rock-solid fellow) was in Portland picking up a load of freight and he missed his returning sailing on the riverboat. Stuck on the wharf with crates of merchandise for work, he didn’t want to have to wait for morning to leave.
A few friendly fellows approached George and offered to help him out. They made a deal for George to pay them for transporting him and his crates, and the men soon returned with a boat. The men helped George load his crates and they cast off, heading the wrong direction. At first, George merely puzzled over what they were doing. Then one of the men explained to him he was a sailor now and they were taking him to their ship where he’d be stuck working for them as little more than a free laborer.
George took exception to this plan.
“You ain’t gonna shanghai me,” George informed his kidnappers, reaching into his pocket. “I’ll blow you to hell first.”
His hand came out full of blasting caps.
All those crates the men had loaded were full of dynamite and George had the nickname among his friends as the “Dynamite Kid.”
Needless to say, the boat turned around and took George where he wanted to go. After he unloaded his cargo, he paid the men as he’d originally agreed to do, then went about his work.
I think I would have liked to have met George. Talk about pluck and determination!
Although I’m not quite ready to do a cover reveal of Dumplings and Dynamite, I will share a little excerpt with you today:
Seth gathered an armload of wood and carried it inside the cookshack where mouth-watering aromas filled the air.
Long tables and benches filled the room. Through a doorway, he could see a woman and the two younger boys he’d noticed earlier scurrying around the kitchen, scooping food into bowls and dishing it onto platters.
“Need some wood?” Seth asked as he walked through the doorway.
The woman glanced up at him in surprise, but quickly recovered. She waggled a gravy-coated spoon in the direction of the wood box then went back to scraping gravy into a large bowl.
“I’m Seth. Mr. Gilford just hired me,” he said after he dumped the wood he carried into the box by the stove. He stuffed his hands in his pockets to keep from snatching a golden flapjack off a platter one of the boys carried out to the table.
“I’m Mrs. Parrish, the cook,” she said, not meeting his gaze as she handed the gravy bowl to a boy then picked up two platters full of bacon.
“Allow me,” Seth said, taking the platters from her. The woman might have been twenty or fifty. From her stringy hair, rumpled dress, and bedraggled petticoat hanging an inch below her skirt hem, she looked rather unkempt, but she smelled clean and her eyes were bright.
In fact, they were an unusual shade somewhere between gray and green that made him think of the sagebrush that grew so prevalent to the south and east of Baker City. In spite of circles beneath her eyes and smudges of flour on her cheeks, her skin was smooth, without the wrinkles age brings, and dusted with a generous helping of freckles.
He glimpsed her hands. Although rough and red from hard work, they looked young, almost delicate.
Yet, the woman moved slightly humped over with the hint of a limp and when she smiled at him, he couldn’t miss the absence of her two front teeth. He stepped back and followed the boys out to the dining area, setting the platters on the table. Something about the woman bothered him and it had nothing to do with the lack of teeth. If he was a gambling man, he’d bet she was hiding something. He had a feeling Mrs. Parrish was not at all what she seemed.