Wedding Disasters

My new sweet contemporary romance, Lilac Bride, releases next week. 

It’s the story of a couple who gets engaged on Christmas Eve, plan the perfect wedding, then face one disaster after another when it comes to their upcoming nuptials.

I’ve heard so many horror stories about wedding plans gone awry. In-laws wreaking havoc. Grooms so nervous they drink too much the night before and can barely stand up at the wedding. Brides turning into crazed maniacs in the quest to have a picture-perfect wedding.

Cakes falling to the floor. 

Florists accidentally delivering sympathy flowers instead of the wedding bouquet. 

Torn dresses, lost dresses, dresses that don’t fit. 

If you can imagine it, some poor bride or groom has endured it. 

Writing the story made me think of my own glitch-plagued wedding. 

The first hitch in the plans happened when my mom came down with the flu two weeks before my wedding. There were approximately a gazillion tiny buttons that still needed to be sewn on my dress, along with dozens of details that weren’t quite finished. She and I had planned to make the wedding cake together. Only she was sick, and I was up to my eyeballs with work, wedding plans, and the holidays (not my best idea to get married a week before Christmas but it seemed soooooo romantic at the time). My mother-in-law called me at work and informed me her friend was going to make the cake and that’s all there was to it then hung up. Although her take-charge attitude bothered me at the time, I was so glad her friend made the cake for us. It turned out beautifully, and was tasty, too. 

Captain Cavedweller, and several members of both of our families, caught the same bug that Mom had and began dropping like flies. Helping hands were limited as we neared the big day. The friend I’d asked to play the piano for us backed out two days before the wedding. Fortunately, a lovely girl I worked with at the time offered to step in. 

My maid of honor had sent measurements for her dress, since she lived almost eight hours away at the time. Mom made it, and when my dear friend tried it on, it didn’t fit. At all. So Mom stayed up late frantically ripping seams and making adjustments. 

Somehow, we made it to the wedding rehearsal where my soon-to-be sister-in-law jokingly announced I was pregnant (which I wasn’t). CC was angry. I was livid. My parents were simultaneously shocked and appalled.  I remember standing in the foyer of the church and discussing if eloping was still on the table. For months after the wedding whenever we encountered someone from CC’s side of the attendees who didn’t know me well they would give me a strange look, since I obviously wasn’t pregnant, and inquire about the arrival of the baby.

The day of the wedding, things went along fairly smoothly until the ceremony. My uncle was a county judge and we’d asked him to perform the ceremony. Except he got so nervous, he kept calling me by my sister’s name, and he bungled CC’s last name. When he announced the bride and groom at the end of the ceremony, instead of Shanna Hatfield, it came out Shelley Hathaway. Everyone in the crowd gasped in disbelief, which is evident on the video of our wedding. With all the air that was sucked in at that moment, it was lucky some of the decorations weren’t caught up in the vacuum. 

The wedding was held upstairs in an old church. The reception took place in the basement. On the way down the stairs, the heel broke off my never-before-worn satin wedding heels, leaving me to clomp the rest of the way down the stairs to our waiting guests like a peg-legged pirate. 

By the time we left for our honeymoon hours later, it was evident the flu I’d so carefully avoided catching caught up to me. 

I laugh about all the disasters now. When people ask if there is anything I would do differently about my wedding, I always answer the same: “I’d change everything but the groom!” 

 

In Lilac Bride, Kaden and Katherine endure any number of trials and tribulations when it comes to their wedding plans.  One of the many issues that popped up included their invitations. 

I thought you might enjoy reading a little snippet:

Thoughts of her kisses left him so distracted, he almost ran the drone into a tree. He guided it back toward the barn, then noticed Colt riding one of the horses he was training down the driveway. His brother rode out to the mailbox, gathered the mail, then started back. He was halfway to the house when he kicked the horse into a run and raced toward the barn, waving something over his head.

“Kade! Get down here! Hurry!” He could hear the alarm in Colt’s voice, even from his perch on the barn’s widow’s walk.

Kaden landed the drone, gathered his things, then rushed down the narrow staircase. He’d just reached the bottom when Colt burst into the barn.

“It’s so bad, Kade. She’s going to freak.” Colt waved an envelope and what appeared to be an invitation in his face.

“Who’s going to freak?” Kaden asked, setting his things on a workbench. He brushed his hands on his jeans before taking the pristine piece of creamy cardstock in his fingers and looking at a wedding invitation. His and Katherine’s wedding invitation. He knew she’d been able to get the reception address changed at the last minute and paid extra to have the invitations shipped to the guests from the print shop.

Watercolor lilacs swept across the upper left and lower right corners of the invitation, accented with sage-colored leaves and delicate gold edging. An elegant font announced the wedding and invited guests to attend the ceremony and reception. He glanced at the date to make sure it was correct, then looked at his brother. “It looks good.”

Colt appeared shocked. He tapped the card in Kaden’s hand, pointing to the first line of type. “Did you read it, you idiot?”

Kaden’s gaze dropped back to the invitation, and he quickly read each word. His eyes widened as his jaw dropped open.

He glanced up at Colt as trepidation seeped into every fiber of his being. “She is so going to freak.”

~*~

Lilac Bride releases February 25, but you can pre-order your copy today!

~*~

What about you?

Do you have any wedding disaster stories to share?

Post your comment for a chance to win an eBook copy of Lilac Bride!

Please Welcome MK McClintock and a Give Away!

The Four Seasons of The Healer of Briarwood

with MK McClintock

You may have heard the phrase “The seasons of our lives . . .” and then someone will tell you they are in the summer of their life or perhaps the winter. The same can hold true for a book and its characters. Whether or not intentional by the author, chances are the characters of a story can represent the seasons in a year. I did one of these for the second Gallagher book, Gallagher’s Hope, and explored the idea that I could apply it to the latest installment, The Healer of Briarwood.

SpringRachel

Rachel’s story as a secondary character begins with tragedy, and yet she is the essence of hope throughout the story. Through her, Katharine and Brody see both the end of sorrow and the renewal of life. She has a long, personal journey ahead, and the best of what is to come for her is just beginning.

 

 

Summer—Katharine

Katharine is considered an old maid at thirty years, and while her spring has passed, she has many more seasons to look forward to as she continues to bloom. Like others who have come before her, this is a time for her to make choices and she has big choices to make. She is willing and ready to take risks in life, business, and love, and she does so with courage.

Autumn—Finn

Brody is a practical sort who has seen much of life—good and bad—and has come through it with hope for the future intact. He’s a steady sort with a big heart who isn’t afraid to do whatever is necessary to heal those in need and fight for those he loves, all while living by a code of honor that puts him in good company with the Gallagher men. There is more to Finnegan Brody than anyone realizes.

Winter—Elizabeth

Elizabeth, as the eldest female, is for all intents and purposes the matriarch at Hawk’s Peak. She is not directly connected to Katharine, Finn, or Rachel, nor does she rule the Gallagher clan, but the people feel her presence from ranch to town, and into every home. She comforts, heals, and is a beacon of strength to all who might ask, “Is it too late?” Elizabeth would reply, “It is never too late to live your best life.”

Just as the seasons blend one into the next, the dreams of the Gallaghers and people of Briarwood complement the dreams of family and friends until there is one common goal—hope, love, and the promise of peace.

MK is giving away an autographed copy of The Healer of Briarwood to one lucky commenter! Come in and let’s talk. What season of life do you think you’re living in? 

A man with a healer’s touch. A woman with a healer’s heart.

Doctor Finnegan Brody tends his patients, keeps to himself, and vividly remembers the heartaches and trials from the Civil War and why he devoted his life to healing. He watches the townspeople live their lives, loving and laboring alongside one another, and wonders if one day he will give a woman as much time and dedication as he gives the people of Briarwood.

Katharine Kiely has a deep-rooted stubbornness to never give up, even if it means leaving behind her comfortable life by the sea to protect her father’s health and help expand his empire. When she finally arrives in Briarwood to convince the Gallaghers a spur line should cross their land, nothing goes as she expected.

Finn, with his knowledge of healing the people, and Katharine, who learns how to heal with her heart, join together as the townsfolk of Briarwood face challenges and choices that could alter their way of life forever.

Welcome to Briarwood and Hawk’s Peak, where friendship, love, and hope conquer overwhelming odds.

Buy Links

E-Book: Kindle

Paperback: Amazon ~ B&N ~ Large Print ~ IndieBound ~ Bookshop.org ~ BAM!

Book Trailer: https://youtu.be/kDUreawijNQ

Early New Mexico – by Guest Janice Cole Hopkins

 

During the years when Spain ruled Mexico and territories to the north, they allowed very few foreigners to enter, and trade was nearly impossible. However, once Mexico gained its independence in 1821, things opened-up. Almost immediately, traders began to enter New Mexico Territory, and the legendary Santa Fe Trail began.

Much of the merchandise available from Mexico was inferior to that produced in the United States, and those in the territories were eager for the higher quality goods. Hauling the items that far was difficult and dangerous, but the lucrative profits were appealing. From its beginning, the Santa Fe Trail was only meant for wagon trains hauling goods. Other western trails, such as the Oregon Trail, the California Trail, and the Mormon Trail would be for settlers coming to the West. That didn’t keep settlers from trickling in, however, and for the most part, the Mexican government welcomed them.

This is the historical background to my new five-book series set in early New Mexico. The first book in the Cactus Creek series, Second-Choice Bride, is already out, and the second book, Sterling Orphans, will soon follow. In Second-Choice Bride, Abby Carter was horrified with herself when she blurted out a marriage proposal to Preston King. A proper lady would never do such a thing, but her cousin had just jilted Preston, and she wanted to ease his hurt. She cared too much for him. Preston is confused, but he knows he needs a wife to help him run his uncle’s ranch in New Mexico Territory, so he asks Abby to marry him. But will he ever purge Magnolia from his heart, and will they even survive the long journey west?

I lived in New Mexico for two years and learned much about the area and its history during that time. My husband and I bought an old adobe house and remodeled it. I had a great time decorating it with a southwestern theme. When my mother’s health began to fail, and her insurance wouldn’t pay out-of-state beyond six months, we returned to North Carolina, and I began writing some of those novels I had always wanted to write. Second-Choice Bride is my thirtieth published book.

I love writing about the places I have lived and worked, and I have a lot to choose from. I’ve been to all fifty states and about forty-five other countries. With my love of history, I always explore the past and culture of an area. Having grown up in the eastern part of the Appalachian Mountains, I often joke that I lived much as people did in the 1800s. However, there’s some truth in that statement, but it’s given me a good background for writing historical fiction.

Leave the answer to the question below in a comment, and I will give a Kindle copy of Second-Choice Bride to the winner whose name is drawn.

If you could temporarily move to a new place for a year or two, where would you choose and why?

Also, free to ask me any questions or make comments. I look forward to chatting with you.

You can check out Janice’s books HERE

Fort Worth Facts

I recently moved about 20 miles away from Fort Worth. I’m excited to discover more about this epic historical town, and will, the minute it’s safe to do so. 

I’m putting together a list of little known places I want to see, and I thought I’d share it with you, in case you ever visit (this may even entice you to!)

  • Jesus BBQ – This quaint shoebox on South Main has been in business since 1969. A sign hangs over the sidewalk – “Jesus BBQ and Mexican Food.” The reviewer loved it.
  • Pick Your Own Strawberries 3010 S. Bowen Road, Arlington Pay $10, get a 1-pound strawberry basket and spend a sunny day picking strawberries. Better get there early as sometimes the berries are picked over before closing.

  • The Blue Hole, Dinosaur Valley State Park 1629 Park Road 59, Glen Rose

  • The swimming hole in Dinosaur Valley State Park offers visitors a chance to cool off in 20-feet-deep clear water surrounded by 100 million-year-old fossilized dinosaur tracks. Before you go, check out the Texas Parks & Wildlife website to learn how to map nearby dinosaur tracks because some may be hard to find.

  • Ayres Cemetery2500 Block of Scott Avenue 

    A tiny, antiquated cemetery hides one block off Interstate-30 in a motel parking lot in East Fort Worth. Crumbling gravestones tell a story of one of Fort Worth’s first families. Nestled next to a few of the gravestones are markers indicating that some were citizens of the Republic of Texas, which ended in 1846. The last time someone was buried in this family lot was in 1955. The Ayres Cemetery remains as a symbol of the area’s early settlers.

  • Bonnie and Clyde Shooting Dove Road, Just East of Hwy. 114

    This power couple frequented North Texas reportedly because relatives lived here. However, their career as robbers and gangsters slowed and halted when they played a part in killing several Texas patrolmen near Grapevine.

  • Northside Street Art Intersection of 21st and Roosevelt streets

    An enraged gorilla sits on the side of a nondescript building in an otherwise colorless part of town at the corner of 21st Street and Roosevelt. The artist is unknown.

  • The Stockyards – Lots to do there:
    • Cowtown Opry
    • Fort Worth Herd Cattle Drive
    • Mechanical Bull
    • Cowboy Hall of Fame
    • Cattlemen Maze
    • Filthy McNasty’s Saloon

I don’t know about you, but I love the quirky, the obscure, the unknown. I plan to visit several of these places!

Have you ever been to Fort Worth?  

The Grand Canyon

Hello everyone, Winnie Griggs here.  According to my This Day In History calendar, today marks the 113th anniversary of the day Teddy Roosevelt declared the Grand Canyon a national monument. I myself have visited the park twice, once in 2012 and once in 2017, and can personally attest to the fact that the word awesome fails to do it justice. 

You can find accounts and photos from those trips at the these two links:

LINK:   My First Trip To The Southwest

LINK:   My Second Trip To Southwest

 

And here are some trivia and fun facts about the Grand Canyon.

  • The park is massive in size.
    • To give you some idea of its scale, here are some various types of measurements:
      • It’s 1,904 square miles (1.2 million acres) – the state of  Rhode Island is only around 1,212 square miles.
      • The Grand Canyon is 277 miles long and 18 miles wide at its widest point. And at its narrowest point it stretches 4 miles. However that’s less than a fifth of the Colorado River’s total length of 1,450 miles,
    • Though it’s only about 10 miles as the crow flies between the North and South rim visitor services centers, there are 211 road miles and takes more than four hours to drive from one to the other.
    • Though the Colorado River has a maximum depth of 85 feet, it drops in elevation nearly 2000 ft as it travels through the Grand Canyon.

  • One really cool thing about the Grand Canyon is that it actually creates its own weather.
    • From the highest points at the rim of the canyon to its lowest point, the temperature can change by more than 25 degrees. That’s because sudden changes in elevation have tremendous impacts on temperature and precipitation. So whatever weather you’re experiencing could be very different based on your actual location in the park. The coldest, wettest weather station in the region is on the north rim at the Bright Angel Ranger Station while 8 miles away at the depths of the gorge near Phantom Ranch, is where the hottest and driest can usually be found.

  • The canyon is full of hidden caves.
    While only the Cave of Domes is open to the public there are an estimated 1,000 caves within the canyon itself and only 335 have been recorded.

  • Depending on how one measures size (length, depth, width, etc) there are several other canyons that are larger, among them are the Cotahuasi Canyon in Peru, the Kali Gandaki Gorge in Nepal and the Yarlung Tsangpo Grand Canyon in Tibet. 

 

  • There is some debate about the age of the Grand Canyon.
    For a long time scientists believed the Colorado River started carving out the canyon six million years ago. Then, in 2012, a study theorized this erosion process may actually go back 70 million years ago.
    It’s also believed that it’s likely that today’s Grand Canyon began as a number of smaller canyons but the scope of today’s canyon didn’t start taking its current shape until more recently.

  • Even though the Grand Canyon is fossil rich, you won’t find any dinosaur fossils among them. What you will find, however, includes diverse specimens that include ancient marine fossils from over 1 billion years ago as well as more recent land mammals that left their remains in canyon caves about 10,000 years ago.

  • The Grand Canyon offers one of the most visible examples of a worldwide geological phenomenon known as the Great Unconformity. The Great Unconformity refers to the fact that rock layers  that are estimated to be 250 million years old unaccountably sit directly on rocks that are 1.2 billion years old. It is a complete mystery as to what happened to the hundreds of millions of years of layers that should lie between them. 

  • The Canyon boasts about 91 species of mammals, 447 species of birds, 58 species of reptiles and 18 species of fish only five of which are native.
    • Several of these species are endangered, including the peregrine falcon, the California condor, the bald eagle, the southwestern willow flycatcher, the Ridgway’s rail, the humpback chub, the razorback sucker, and a species of snail, the Kanab ambersnail. There are also number of endangered plants that can be found there.
    • One interesting reptile, the Grand Canyon Pink Rattlesnake can only be found in the Grand Canyon. It’s one of six rattlesnake species that can be found in the park. The snake’s unusual color is an adaptation that allows it to blend into the surrounding rocks which makes it extra surprising when someone actually catches a glimpse of one.
    • Surprisingly though, even though the Grand canyon is home to dangerous animals such as snakes, Gila Monsters and big horn sheep, if you look at actual attacks on people, the most dangerous animal in the Grand Canyon is the innocuous-looking rock squirrel. Many visitors are bitten each year by this rodent than any other animal, many while trying to take selfies with or feed this “vicious” critter.

  • There are interesting facts around trying to hike the Grand Canyon
    • Believe it or not more people have walked on the moon than have actually completed a continuous length-wise hike through than Grand Canyon. 
    • Hiking the Grand Canyon is not for the casual hiker. A reasonably fit hiker takes four to five hours to trek from the South Rim to the Colorado River and, as to be expected, much longer to make the return trip.
    • The hiking records are interesting. The best known times to make it by foot from the South rim to the North rim and back for women is 7 hours, 28 minutes and 58 seconds and for men it’s  5 hours, 55 minutes and 20 seconds.
    • Trying to hike this area when you aren’t adequately prepared can have serious consequences. About 250 people have to be rescued from inside the Grand Canyon on average every year. According to park rangers, one of the biggest mistake many hikers make is to not carry enough water with them. Of course underestimating the effort involved and their own fitness to undertake the effort plays a part as well.

  • It’s been shown that the air at the Grand Canyon is among the cleanest air in the United States.

  • Like a sculptor, the Colorado River, along with other environmental elements like win and precipitation, is still working on shaping the Grand Canyon, though this is being done at a pace that makes a snail look speedy.

  • The FAA (Federal Aviation Administration) owes its existence to the Grand Canyon. Apparently it was common in the 1950s for commercial planes to take detours that  routed them over the ark to give their passengers some breathtaking views. Unfortunately, in 1956, two  planes collided with tragic results – there were no survivors. As a result the federal government moved to create the FAA. 
  • Seven years after the Grand Canyon was established as a national park, 37,745 visitors were counted. In 2019 they had 5.97 million visitors, making it second only to Great Smoky Mountains National Park as the most visited national park.

  • Did you know the Grand Canyon National Park has a physical address? It’s 20 South Entrance Road, Grand Canyon, AZ 86023.    However, if you want to send mail thee, the park’s mailing address is P.O. Box 129, Grand Canyon, AZ 86023

There’s a whole lot more I could tell you but this is probably enough for one post.

So was there anything in this list that surprised you? Have you ever visited the Grand Canyon yourself? What were your impressions?

Guest Julie Lessman and a Give Away!

Dun-Dun-Dun-Dun-Dun-Dun-Bonanza!

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

 

GIVEAWAY!

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!

Hugs and GOOD LUCK!

Julie

 

The Christmas Wish and a Giveaway

I can’t speak for all authors, but I think many of us get attached to our characters like they were members of our family.

For me, that is certainly the case with my Hardman Holidays series. 

Back in 2012 when I wrote The Christmas Bargain, the first book in the series, I had no intention of making it into a series. But I fell in love with the characters. I really did. Book nine, The Christmas Wish, will release in a few weeks! 

If you are unfamiliar with the series, the first book is about Luke (the town banker) and Filly (a woman he marries in lieu of payment on a loan). Readers have called it an Old West Cinderella story with a holiday twist. The second book is about Luke’s sister, Ginny, and Blake, the boy she once loved who is now a man who thinks she is frustrating, ridiculous, and entirely captivating. Book three is about Alex, a purveyor of prestidigitation, and Arlan, Luke’s straight-laced assistant at the bank. The fourth book is about Arlan’s brother, Adam, and Tia, the girl he planned to wed before she married an older man with deep pockets. The fifth book is about Tom Grove, a newspaper man, and Lila, Luke’s lovely cousin. Book six features Fred Drecker (once the town bad boy) and Elsa, a sweet woman who runs the town bakery. A recluse, Gray, and his adorable daughter, Maddie Mae, encounter a lively socialite, Claire (Fred’s aunt) in book seven while book eight features Trace, a telephone lineman and a Victoria, Gray’s sister. 

The Christmas Wish is about Percy Bruner. He’s made an appearance in every single book in the series. In The Christmas Bargain, we meet him as a six-year-old rascal who helps out in his parents’ mercantile. I knew the first time I envisioned his character, I wanted to write more about him. By the time I finished the second book in the series, I planned to one day tell Percy’s story. We get to watch him grow through each book and now he’s a man with a broken heart who hates the thought of returning to Hardman. But an urgent telegram from his mother beckons him to return to Hardman, a place he once loved, but hasn’t set foot in for almost five years. 

Percy discovers something when he returns to Hardman he never expected to find. I won’t give you any spoilers, but it involves a pretty girl who runs the bookstore, writes anonymous “wishes” letters to the people in town, adores a cat named Teddy, and has a grandfather in need of his own romance. 

Here’s a little excerpt from the book:

~*~

“Did you know Brynn Rutherford was helping with the children’s program?” Percy asked, tossing his mother an accusatory glare.

“I had no idea. Pastor Dodd just said he had one volunteer and needed a second.” Despite her nonchalant demeanor, Percy noticed the hint of a smug smile forming at the corners of her mouth. “Isn’t that nice of her to help?”

“Nice,” he muttered, convinced his mother wasn’t nearly as innocent as she pretended to be.

“That Brynn is such a nice girl,” Aleta said, glancing at Percy, then her husband.

His father nodded in agreement. “She’s got plenty of gumption, that’s a fact.”

“Not only that, but she’s thoughtful and fun, and so well-liked in the community.” Aleta blew on a bite of the hot stew. “I’m not sure Mr. Howland is a good match for our girl.”

There was that “our” business again. Percy wondered when his mother had decided to claim Brynn as part of the family but decided it best not to voice his question. By sheer determination, he ignored her comment about Christopher Howland. Percy had seen the strange man leaving the bookstore late one evening and could only assume he was there after hours to visit Brynn.

The thought of him, or any man, coming to call on her left Percy with a bad taste in his mouth. He took a long drink from the glass of milk sitting by his plate and then glanced down at his bowl of stew.

“This is good, Pop. Thanks for cooking for us.”

“I won’t say it was a pleasure, but it did feel good to do something productive,” George said, cutting a slice of cornbread and slathering it with butter and honey.

Later that evening, as Percy prepared to turn in for the night, he glanced across the street and saw a light burning in the room he was sure belonged to Brynn. He smiled, picturing her lost in a romance, growing swoony over a swashbuckling hero.

He climbed into bed and closed his eyes, wondering if any of her heroes ever had red hair.

~*~

 

The Christmas Wish releases December 3 but you can pre-order your copy today. 

Also, you can discover the visuals that have inspired the series on my Pinterest boards here.

What about you?  If you had the opportunity to make a wish for someone else, what would it be? 

Post your comment for a chance to win the Hardman Holidays ebook boxed set which includes the first three books in the series!

 

Yellowstone Calls in the Cavalry

By Regina Scott

             Regina Scott   http://www.reginascott.com

My father was a big John Wayne fan, so I grew up watching Westerns that featured the iconic actor. In them, the US Cavalry always rides to the rescue, no matter the odds. When I was researching for my second book in the American Wonders Collection, Nothing Short of Wondrous, I was delighted to learn that the Cavalry really did ride to the rescue of our first national park, Yellowstone.

When Yellowstone was first created, there was no National Park Service. No one had any idea how to manage the millions of acres that encompass the park and range from snow-capped mountains to steaming hot pools.

Congress appointed a superintendent, but some of the first tried to manage things from Washington, D.C.! Others that followed moved out to the park, at least when it wasn’t covered by snow, but even they struggled to protect the natural wonders and the species who called Yellowstone home.

By 1886, Yellowstone was in real danger. Commercial interests were lobbying to build railroads into the park, erect businesses, even log and mine. The number of visitors was swelling, and many had no idea how to behave.

   Albert Bierstadt Painting of Old Faithful

They carved their names into the geological formations, chipped off chunks to take home as souvenirs, and even plugged up the geysers to see how high the debris would shoot.

Postcard #157 – The Buffalo Herd;
Frank J Haynes

Worse, poachers traveled brazenly through the park, picking off game. The buffalo herd, the last truly wild herd in the country, dwindled to less than 30.

Captain Moses Harris

Something had to be done. Congress used a clause in an earlier law to send the Army to manage the park. Captain Moses Harris and Troop M of the 1st Cavalry rode into Yellowstone on August 20, 1886, to take control.

     Troop M of the 1st Cavalry in Yellowstone

Their first task? To fight the wildfires that were raging throughout the park, at least some set by poachers intent on driving the game onto unprotected lands for slaughter. There was no fire wagon, no hoses, and no money to allocate for them. But they fought the fires nonetheless. They also stationed detachments at all the major tourist attractions to safeguard the park.

The men expected their work in the park to be temporary, until Congress could determine a better way to manage Yellowstone, but the Cavalry remained in charge for 32 years. Their zeal to protect the land and its animals lay the foundation for the conservation mindset still prevalent in the National Park Service today.

What else would you expect from those trained to ride to the rescue?

Have you ever been to Yellowstone? Which attraction was your favorite? If you haven’t been, which have you heard about you’re longing to see? Comment below for a chance to win an autographed print copy of Nothing Short of Wondrous, a set of vintage-style postcards, and huckleberry lip balm straight from Montana.

                      Click to Buy

Regina Scott is the award-winning author of more than fifty works of warm, witty historical romance. She and her husband live in the Puget Sound area of Washington State on the way to Mt. Rainier. Her fascination with history has led her to dress as a Regency dandy, drive a carriage four-in-hand, learn to fence, and sail on a tall ship, all in the name of research. You can learn more about her at http://www.reginascott.com or connect with her on Facebook (http://www.facebook.com/authorreginascott) or Pinterest (http://www.pinterest.com/reginascottpins).

LORDS AND OUTLAWS: THE PARKS OF COLORADO

Andrea Downing

In my recent release, Shot through the Heart, my hero, Shiloh Coltrane, goes in search of outlaws in the Colorado Rocky Mts. through both Estes Park and Brown’s Hole (later named Park). This mountain area was once called the ‘Switzerland of America’ because of its beauty, and within its domain at around 8,000 ft. are several “parks”:  North Park, Middle Park, South Park, Winter Park and, of course, Estes Park. Why are they called “Park”?  Apparently, it’s Colorado-speak for an upland valley—and I have to say sounds rather nicer than ‘Hole,’ which is another western take on valleys, as in Brown’s Hole.

  Estes Park was renowned for its beauty but was also an abundant hunting ground. It was brimming with wildlife that attracted numerous overseas visitors in the 19th century, notably wealthy men who came to hunt creatures they wouldn’t encounter back home. The Earl of Dunraven, an Anglo-Irish peer, was so enamored of this area, which he first viewed in 1872, that he set out to make it his own.

 

Why Dunraven favored Estes Park came down to several details, as varied as the beautiful sunsets, the dry air, and the fact nearby Denver was a station for no less than five railroad lines. He loved the area so much that he paid Albert Bierstadt $15,000 for a painting of Estes Park. The way Dunraven set about obtaining ownership to six thousand acres was a modus operandi that would be employed by numerous ranchers throughout the west in the coming years. Exercising his vast resources, he had his agents bribe various American citizens to make use of both the Pre-emption Act and Homestead Act to either buy or prove up 160 acres each. By choosing the sites wisely, Dunraven enclosed more acreage without access to water. Thirty-one claims were filed for his use.

In the next sixteen years, Dunraven was able to make the seventeen-day journey from Liverpool annually or more often. But as time went on, with squatters moving in, a grand jury investigating his claims, and his own increased involvement in HM Queen Victoria’s government, he was unable to visit after 1882 and eventually sold his land.

Most people who have visited the national park will have travelled at least part of Trail Ridge Road. Peaking at 12,000 ft., it twists and turns on the backbone of the Rockies through some of the most beautiful scenery imaginable. If you continue on this road on a rather circuitous manner, you will eventually reach Steamboat Springs. And from there if you head north, you touch upon Brown’s Hole, or Brown’s Park, nestled near the borders of CO, UT, and WY. You can see in the photos how the landscape changes from the greens of Estes Park to the red rock country and canyons of Brown’s Park.

Brown’s Park had a long history of being visited by Native Americans and trappers.  Its harsh landscape was not particularly welcoming but a few settlers did move in, and there was a trading post. But the main visitors in the late 1800s were rustlers and other outlaws, and it became part of the outlaw’s trail, which included Robber’s Roost (UT) and Hole-in the-Wall (WY). Men such as Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, Elzy Lay, and Tom Horn, as well as the Queen of Cattle Rustlers, Ann Bassett, had hide-outs or homes in Brown’s Park. Today part of it is the Brown’s Park National Wildlife Refuge, and its landscape, which eventually leads into Flaming Gorge in WY, remains fairly isolated and remote. Strict regulations are in place for the hiker, camper or other visitor, and warnings such as lack of cell phone reception and bringing enough water abound. For the outlaw on the run it remains a perfect hide-out.

To find out whether or not Shiloh gets his man and returns home to his beloved, you’ll have to read Shot through the Heart.  I’m happy to let one lucky reader find out for free by commenting below. The prize will be a signed paperback if the winner is in the US or, for an overseas winner, any version of an eBook they prefer.

 

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?

Click to Find Andrea Downing online 

 

THE BOOK IS OUT!!!

I probably talked about this last time I did a post for Petticoats and Pistols. 

But THIS TIME it’s official.

Her Secret Song

Book #3 of the Brides of Hope Mountain Series is in bookstores now. Shipping now!

Click Here to Buy on Amazon

A woman who’s afraid of everything is falling for the scariest man in the world.

WHAT COULD GO WRONG???

After a rough winter spent alone, Ursula Nordegren realizes she must overcome her fears of the outside world and begins a trek down Hope Mountain. Along the way she finds a badly wounded stranger and realizes God may have used her decision to leave as a way of saving the man. 

Wax Mosby was climbing Hope Mountain in part to atone for his terrible choices. He was hired to drive out the Warden family and now knows he was duped. But when he’s wounded during the climb, the last person he expects to rescue him is a beautiful blond woman with the voice of an angel. 

As both Ursula and Wax weigh the costs of living new lives, the two find an unlikely bond. And they’re joined by Ursula’s sisters and the Warden family as the final showdown over the family ranch looms with the coming of spring. 

The Back Cover

He hunts down outlaws.
She hides away from everyone.
When a long winter alone has each rethinking their lives,
Will they be ready to spring for unexpected second chances?

With both her sisters gone and married, Ursula Nordegren is the only one left clinging to their grandma’s fears about the outside world. But after a winter spent in isolation, even she is rethinking those warnings. She bravely starts to venture down Hope Mountain, only to stumble upon a badly wounded stranger and realize God may have had an extra special purpose behind sending her out.

Wax Mosby thought he was a skilled hired gun with principles. But that identity was upended the day he realized he’d been duped into wrongfully driving out the Wardens. He’s spent the winter planning to climb Hope Mountain to find the family and atone for his deeds. But when he’s wounded during the climb, the last person he expects to rescue him is a beautiful blond woman with the voice of an angel.

As both Ursula and Wax weigh the costs of leading new lives, the two find an unlikely bond. And they’re joined by Ursula’s sisters and the Warden family as the final showdown over the Wardens’ ranch looms with the coming of spring.

“Connealy concludes her Brides of Hope Mountain series with this charming tale. . . . Lush descriptions of the Colorado frontier and exciting gun battles make this a standout. Connealy’s fans will be pleased to see the series go out on a high note.” —Publishers Weekly