When my husband and I went to the National Cowgirl Museum in Fort Worth, I wasn’t sure what to expect. I thought I’d find pictures and stories about working cowgirls, rodeo queens, and maybe some famous cowgirl actresses, like Dale Evans. What I didn’t expect was an extensive display of posters and memorabilia from Wild West shows, especially Buffalo Bill’s show. Luckily, we took our camera and got some great pics (those shown here).
Touring the exhibits, I learned many historians believe what we know as our western genre sprang from the late nineteenth century touring companies, calling themselves Wild West shows or rodeos. In particular, Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show helped to shape both the substance of an American national identity and the way it was disseminated in our culture. Buffalo Bill brilliantly established the thesis that the true American identity was founded in the West. Thus, the entire western genre owes its continuing popularity to the basics set out in the Wild West Show. Thousands of books, movies, and television shows are the stirring “progeny” of these shows.
Buffalo Bill or William F. Cody was the real thing. Born in a log cabin in Iowa in 1846, Cody grew up in Kansas. Young Cody worked as an ox-team driver, as a messenger for the pony express, and on numerous wagon trains. He prospected for gold and went on trapping expeditions, becoming a good hunter. During the Civil War he served as an army scout and guide. The U.S. Army was Cody’s most important employer in the decade after the Civil War. He worked on short-term contracts as a civilian scout, guiding troops through unmapped terrain, hunting for meat, carrying messages, tracking Native Americans, and participating in military encounters.
After “putting on a show” for several well-heeled Eastern and European sportsmen wanting to hunt buffalo and big game, along with a stint in vaudeville, Cody came up with the idea for the Wild West show. Though based loosely on the traveling venue of circuses of the era, Cody strived for the ultimate “western” realism in his shows. With Nate Salsbury as the general manager, and the show’s publicist, John Burke, who employed innovative techniques such as celebrity endorsements, press kits, publicity stunts, billboards, and product licensing, Buffalo Bill’s show was the most successful Wild West show of its time.
Along with the most famous female entertainer of the era, sharpshooter Annie Oakley (a headliner in Buffalo Bill’s show), Wild West shows employed dozens of female athletes who could rope, trick ride, sharpshoot, wrestle steers, and ride broncs. Cowgirls carved an identity for themselves that allowed them to live in both the male and female spheres. While performing athletic feats, they adhered to those things that made them acceptable as females, such as an ability to cook, sew, and clean. In fact, most of the performers sewed parts of their own costumes, like special beading or western motifs. From these roots, historians believe our concept evolved of what a cowgirl is, just as the western genre was portrayed by the Wild West shows.
Since actresses and show business people of the time were deemed to have “susceptible” morals, most female Wild West show entertainers went to great lengths to portray themselves as “ladies.” This duality for the female performers is most easily observed in their dress and manner.
The challenging environment of being a female entertainer in a Wild West show captured my imagination, and the heroine for “Kurt” sprang to life. But Kurt, the hero, who was the baby in my story, “Zach,” had been born and reared in rural Texas. See how I bring together these two characters to fall in love in my new release from the Cupids & Cowboys series, Book 11, “Kurt.”
Please comment and enter a random drawing for a digital copy of “Kurt,” my new release, along with “Zach,” the previously-related book. If you already have both or either of these books, please feel free to pick any digital book(s) at my Amazon Author Page: http://www.amazon.com/Hebby-Roman/e/B001KI1L0O//a?tag=pettpist-20. In addition, the lucky winner will receive a $15 Amazon Gift Card.
What do you think the hardest part would be for a cowgirl in a Wild West Show?
Hebby Roman is a New York traditionally published, small-press published, and Indie published #1 Amazon best-selling author of both historical and contemporary romances. Her book, BORDER HEAT, was a Los Angeles Times Book Festival selection. She has been a RONE Finalist four times and in three different categories.
Happy Tuesday! Before I get into the blog today, would like y’all to know that THE SPIRIT OF THE WOLF and also RED HAWK’S WOMAN are on sale for $.99 cents for a short time. THE SPIRIT OF THE WOLF is #2 in the series The Lost Clan and RED HAWK’S WOMAN is #3.
It’s a series of four books and each is related, but is a stand alone book.
THE SPIRIT OF THE WOLF was a book written around and about the 200th year anniversary of the Lewis and Clark exposition. And so, in honor of that exposition, I wrote a little about the game played at that time on all the Plains and by every tribe on the Plains — the game of Cos-coo, a game of chance and a game of war.
Sacagawea was won by the French trapper and trader, Charbonneau in a game of chance. Charbonneau had been playing the game with a man who had five (I believe) wives. Sacagawea was his youngest wife. Interesting how this game of chance was to influence events that helped to found our country, isn’t it?
Cos-soo is a game played only by the men and it is played sometimes within one’s own tribe, but mostly it is played by men from enemy tribes. It is a game of war. No one is killed. However, once embarked upon, the game is played until one or the other of the players is ruined utterly. It can go on for days, breaking only to eat (not to sleep). And, unless agreed upon before the game is begun, it is played until one player loses everything: his lodge, his horses, his gun, his knives, his clothes and even his WIFE. This is what happened in the life of Sacagawea.
And so, let me leave you with an excerpt from the book where the two players (one is the hero of the story) is playing in a desperate game of Cos-soo.
THE SPIRIT OF THE WOLF
The end of a curse hides behind a riddle—and the final clue in the heart of a woman.
The Lost Clan, Book 2
Grey Coyote stands on the knife edge of desperation. An ancient curse dooms his people to a half-life in the mists, neither living nor dead—unless he can solve a deceptively simple riddle. As time runs short, he’s sure the answer lies in beating a white trapper in a game of chance.
Among the trapper’s possessions, though, is a prize he never expected: A golden-haired woman as beautiful, delicate and stubborn as a prairie rose.
One moment Marietta Welsford is wondering how long it will take her hired guide to finish his game so she can hurry home to Rosemead, the English estate to which she hopes to lay claim. The next, she is abandoned with a man whose magnetism tugs at her body and soul, and makes her heart out-thunder the storm.
With so little time to lift the enchantment, Grey Coyote at first views Marietta as a trickster-sent distraction. But as sure as the star that guides him, it soon becomes clear she is the clue that could ultimately free his people…and capture his heart.
THE GAME OF Cos-soo
Cos-soo, sometimes called the game of the Bowl, was a common game known to the Indians on the plains—all tribes. A game of chance, it was played only by men, and the stakes were often desperate.
The rules of Cos-soo were as follows: Players used a wooden bowl slightly less than a foot long, highly polished with a rim of about two inches. The “dice” were not dice as we might think of them, but were instead common objects on the plains at this time. These small objects were assigned certain values.
The highest value went to the large crow’s claw—there was only one per game—which was painted red on one side and black on the other. When after a throw it was standing, it counted for twenty-five points (or sticks). The count was kept by sticks. It also counted for five on its side if the red side was up—and so a total of thirty points would go to the large claw, if it were standing. No points were given if the black side was up. If it wasn’t standing, it counted for only five.
Next were four small crow’s claws, also painted red on one side and black on the other. They counted for five if landed on the red side, and nothing if on the black.
Next there were five plum stones. These were white on one side and black on the other. If the black side was up, it counted four; if the white side was up, it counted for nothing.
Then there were five pieces of blue china—they were small and round. Blue side up was worth three points; white side counted as nothing.
Farther down the line were five buttons. The eye side up counted for two each, the smooth side for nothing.
And last there were five brass tack heads. The sunken side counted for one, the raised side as nothing.
Each man kept his opponent’s score, not his own, by means of handing his opponent a number of sticks equal to his throw. The sticks were kept in view so that all could see them. In the early 1800s Edwin Thompson Denig (a trader married to an Assiniboine woman) noted: “It has been observed in these pages in reference to their gambling that it is much fairer in its nature than the same as carried on by the whites and this is worthy of attention, inasmuch as it shows how the loser is propitiated so that the game may not result in quarrel or bloodshed…”
The game was often kept up for forty-eight to seventy-two hours without a break except for meals. And it was usually played until one or the other of the players was ruined totally.
Horses, guns, weapons, clothing and women were all stakes in these games. Again, Edwin Thompson Denig observed, “We have known Indians to lose everything—horses, dogs, cooking utensils, lodge, wife, even to his wearing apparel…”
The Minnetaree Village
A Permanent Indian Village of mud huts on the Knife River
Upper Missouri Territory—in what is today the State of North Dakota
From the corner of his eye Grey Coyote watched the white man sneak a stick into line beside those that were already present, giving the white man eleven sticks instead of the ten he had won fairly.
So,the white man has no honor.
Grey Coyote raised a single eyebrow and cast a glance across the few feet that separated him from the white man, the man the Minnetaree Indians called the scout, LaCroix. LaCroix was French, as were many of the white men in this country. His face was pale and bearded, his hair long, dark and scraggly. His breath stank of the white man’s whisky, and his body smelled of dirt and grime.
None of this bothered Grey Coyote. In truth, he was smiling at the man, although the expression could hardly be called one of good humor. After a moment, Grey Coyote said, “Darkness has fallen again. We have been playing for longer than a full day now.”
“As you know, we are both guests here, in my friend’s lodge, in the Minnetaree village,” continued Grey Coyote. “And I would hardly be the cause of a fight if I could avoid it, for it would bring shame to our host, Big Eagle.”
Grunting again, LaCroix looked away. His gaze shifted from one object in the room to another, not centering on anything in particular, not even on the lovely white woman who reposed on one of their host’s beds in a corner of the hut.
As discreetly as possible, Grey Coyote let his gaze rest on that golden-haired beauty. He had never before seen a white woman, and to say that Grey Coyote was surprised at her appearance would have been an understatement.
He would have assumed the white man’s woman would be as unkempt and perhaps as hairy as her male counterpart. But this simply was not so. The woman was uncommonly pretty. Slim, small and curvy, with tawny hair that reached well to her waist, the woman’s coloring reminded him of a pale sunset—luminous, translucent, mysterious.
Her eyes were as tawny as her hair, like those of a mountain lion’s. Even at this distance, and despite the ever-growing darkness in the one-room hut, Grey Coyote could discern their color. It was a rare shade to be found here on the plains, where the eye colors of dark brown and black dominated.
Warming to his subject, he noted thoughtfully that the white woman’s skin was also quite fair, unblemished. Her cheeks were glowing, as pale and pink as the prairie rose. To his eye, she was a beautiful sight.
But she paid no heed to the people sharing this hut, not sparing so much as a glance at another being, except perhaps the Indian maid who appeared to serve her. In truth, the white woman seemed lost in her own thoughts.
Maybe this was best. From the looks of her, she might prove to be more than a mere distraction to him if he took a liking to her, something Grey Coyote could ill afford.
Slowly, Grey Coyote returned his attention to the matter at hand. The game of Cos-soo had been started a day ago, Grey Coyote being more than ready to gamble with this particular white man.
After all, LaCroix fit the description of the white man whom he sought. Perhaps this was the chance Grey Coyote awaited.
But to find the man cheating?
Clearing his throat, Grey Coyote spoke again. “I admit it is dark, growing ever darker as we sit here. I concede, too, that a good many hours have passed since we decided to begin this game, but do not think that because of this my eyes are so tired that they do not see.”
“What? What is it that monsieur insinuates?” asked LaCroix, his look incredulous.
Grey Coyote nodded toward LaCroix’s sticks with his forehead. “I am keeping track of the number of your sticks.” Grey Coyote raised one of his eyebrows. “There should be ten sticks that you hold, for as you see, you received ten points for your roll. Remember, you had lost all of your other sticks in the previous roll.”
“That is not true. I kept one stick that was left over from before. I should have eleven sticks, not ten.”
Grey Coyote’s stare was bold. “You lost the last bet.”
LaCroix’s eyes grew round, though he could still not match Grey Coyote’s direct gaze. “Is it true? I thought that… Oui, oui,” he blurted out, his words accompanied by a chuckle. “Ye are right. What was I thinking? I do not know how this other stick came to be here, for I had taken all my sticks away. Perhaps two sticks stuck together. Oui, I am sure that is it.”
“Hau, hau,” said Grey Coyote, using the Assiniboine word for “yes”. “Let us hope that no other sticks see fit to stick together.” Grey Coyote once more nodded toward LaCroix, and reaching across the playing space handed LaCroix fifty sticks. “These are for my last roll.”
“Oui, oui.” LaCroix accepted the twigs and commenced to set them out along the ground beside the two men.
Grey Coyote carefully watched the man at his work, not fooled by LaCroix’s attempt at sleight of hand. “Scout LaCroix, I gave you fifty sticks, the amount of my throw. But you have only set out twenty.”
“But, monsieur, I have done this because it is the number of sticks that is appropriate for your roll. Do ye see? Ye rolled five burnt sides, which is four points each, or twenty.”
Grey Coyote narrowed his brow. “You should look closely at the bowl. Do you not see that the big claw stands on end, red side up? As you and I know, that is worth thirty.”
“Is it standing? Surely you jest, monsieur, for I do not see the big claw stand on end.” LaCroix leaned over, as though to more carefully peer into the polished wooden bowl that was used to throw the dice. The man came so close to his target that he bumped into it, though it was surely no accident. The big claw—the one dice that garnered the highest points—fell to a different position. “Monsieur, you make a mistake. You see, the claw, it does not appear to be on end. However, if ye insist, I will take yer word that it landed that way, and will set out the extra thirty sticks.” His eyes didn’t quite meet Grey Coyote’s.
“Do not bother,” Grey Coyote spoke after a long pause. Though LaCroix’s actions more than alarmed him, Grey Coyote trained his features into a bland expression. He would let the incident pass. After all, it was not in his mind that he had to win everything that this man owned. All he needed was the possession, the one thing that would help Grey Coyote solve the riddle, though at present what that particular possession was escaped him. He said evenly, “We must both pay more attention in the future.”
“Oui, oui, monsieur. And now, if ye insist, ye may have another turn, since ye believed that the big claw stood on end.”
Grey Coyote shrugged. “It is not necessary. I will give you the next roll.”
“Oui, oui,” uttered LaCroix, and after picking up the bowl with four fingers placed inside its immaculately polished rim, he threw the dice up by striking the bowl on the ground.
Well, that’s all for today. Please do leave a comment. That’s all you need to do to enter into the drawing for a free e-book of your choice. I look forward to hearing from y’all.
It is wonderful to be sharing with you today. The last time I was here, back in February, I shared the first book in the Cactus Creek series, Second Choice Bride. Today, I would like to share the two other books in the series that have been published since then, Sterling Orphans and Poor Relation.
Often town leaders in the West encouraged the establishment of churches if they wanted a family-oriented, growing town. Pastors were recruited through various organizations to come west. But pastoring could be a harrowing task, and it often took tough, tenacious men to stay. There were even rare cases of men who held both the positions of sheriff and pastor and toted guns most of the time. Congregations also preferred their preacher to be married, but this could be a challenge, too, unless the man brought his wife to the West with him. Eligible, single women could be scarce in the early West. In Sterling Orphans, Preston King finally finds a man to start a church in Cactus Creek. He had been holding Sunday services for the people on his ranch prior to Gray Fox rescuing Dan Proffit from the Apache and bringing him to the ranch. Preston talks him into starting a church in town. Dan becomes one of the two main characters in Poor Relation, and readers get a good look at his life as a pastor in a small, Western town.
These books continue the family saga of Preston and Abby King, but their family grows to not only include children, but also close friends. In Sterling Orphans, Book Two, Rose Sterling needs to leave the Sterling Orphan House since she’s turned eighteen. She’s asked to take toddler, Katie Hudson, to her father who works on the King Ranch in New Mexico Territory. She thought her biggest adventure would be getting there on the wagon train, but she was wrong. And Will Hudson can’t believe he has a daughter. His wife left him for a gambler, and he’d been trying to cope ever since. He doesn’t make the best impression on Rose Hudson at first, but he sees how much his little daughter loves and depends on her. Can he adjust to fatherhood, or will he always be a disappointment to the women in his life?
Letty Sawyer also comes to the King Ranch, and she’s traumatized by the sight of an Indian since they killed her adoptive parents. Gray Fox terrifies her, but he wants to show her that all Indians aren’t alike, and he would protect her with his life? All this sets the stage for adventure, conflict, personal growth, and a great ending.
In Poor Relation, the third book in the Cactus Creek series, Dan Proffit, Cactus Creek’s pastor, mistakenly thinks the niece of the town’s busybody will be a young girl. Instead, Hannah York turns out to be a beautiful young lady with remarkable musical abilities. However, she is also shy, overworked, and under her two aunts’ thumbs. As his attraction grows, so do the problems.
What is a specific problem you think a pastor in the early West might encounter?
I will give a free Audible promo code for Second-Choice Bride, the first book in the series, to anyone who has an Amazon Audible account and asks for one in the comments as long as they last. Please specify if you need a U.S. or U.K. code. You’ll have to check back later in your comment for your promo code.
Hey, y’all! It’s an honor and a thrill to be back visiting you here at Petticoats and Pistols. You know, the name of this blog says it all. At least for me. Women can be feminine and still be downright dangerous.
My new book, A Scout for Skyler, from the Mail-Order Mama series, has been described as Pride and Prejudice meets The Beverly Hillbillies.
Yes, it’s a comedy, but my heroine, Priscilla Jones, was written as a serious tribute to some of the most amazing pioneer women in American history.
Over the years, my research has introduced me to some gals who defied expectations and overcame some impossible situations. Sometimes, it was life-and-death. Other times, it was a matter of life—hers, and how she wanted to live it.
As I was writing A Scout for Skyler, I had these historical figures in my head:
Of course, when we think of rough-and-rowdy frontier women, the first one to come to mind should be Calamity Jane. She lived in a man’s world. Smoke, drank, chewed, and fought with the best of them.
Orphaned at twelve, left to care for five brothers and sisters, Calamity did not shirk her duty. Most likely she did work as a prostitute early on to provide for the family. She left the lifestyle behind, though, by learning to shoot and throw a respectable punch. Everyone who knew Calamity did respect her courage and her kindness. She rescued a runaway stage from a Cheyenne war party and nursed some Deadwood residents back to health during a smallpox epidemic. The only thing Calamity couldn’t do was win Hickock’s heart.
Susan McSween watched her husband get gunned down in the street during the Lincoln County War. Livid over his murder by a US Army colonel in cahoots with the Murphy-Dolan gang, she stayed in town and hired an attorney to fight for justice. He was soon murdered, as well. Susan still didn’t back down or leave. She changed tactics. She figured out the best way to get back at the corrupt forces in Lincoln County was to hit them in the pocketbook.
Susan McSween was a shrewd businesswoman and she put all her efforts into frustrating her nemesis, James Dolan. Eventually, she became the Cattle Queen of New Mexico, at one point running nearly 5,000 head of cattle. Best of all, she outlived all her enemies.
And I thought of Nancy Hart, a patriot on the frontier of North Georgia. The Cherokee named her War Woman because she was fearless and an accurate shot (even with crossed eyes). Her real legend came about when she killed six British soldiers with their own guns.
I could go on and on. The women who built this country were tough, stubborn, and courageous. Suffice it to say, the things my girl Priscilla Jones does in A Scout for Skyler—she’s totally capable of them. Because real heroines have gone before her.
My hero, Captain Corbett, is an arrogant Scotsman who believes women should have babies not opinions. How well do you think an attitude like that would have gone over with the rough-and-tumble Calamity Jane, or the fiery, refined Susan McSween?
In A Scout for Skyler, all these ladies have a voice, and the story was a hoot to write. Talk about fireworks and sassy dialogue.
A Scout for Skyler is part of the multi-author series, Mail-Order Mama. All the stories are stand-alones but have one thing in common: the mail-order bride is a surprise. I hope you’ll check them all out.
Most of us would find it hard to fathom having two kitchens in our homes. But many old ranch and farm houses did indeed have two, and any farm or ranch wife would tell you she couldn’t get through her summer canning, pickling, and baking without one.
Often built at the back or side of the house, its purpose was strictly utilitarian. The main kitchen would likely be the gathering place for the family and had cabinets like any of us could imagine–holding plates, bowls, groceries, etc. The main kitchen would have a stove, ice box or refrigerator, etc., as well as the family’s dinner table.
The old farm houses from years ago would not have had air conditioning, and so the summer kitchen was intended to keep the heat from bulk food preparation away from the main part of the house. The summer kitchen would likely have had a ‘mother’s helper’ or more commonly known as a “Hoosier.” The Hoosier held shelves and drawers and crannies for cookbooks. The shelves contained bowls, utensils, measuring cups and spoons, spices, flour, sugar, and the like. Everything a housewife would need to prepare and preserve food for her family.
The summer kitchen would have a stove, likely a sink, and a table or counter top. They usually had two doors, some more, to open and let fresh air in. Windows were a must so they could be opened for the same reason. And oh, the smells that would drift into the yard and down the lane!
Although my Italian grandmother lived in the city, she had a summer kitchen in her old house. She called it simply ‘the back porch’, but it’s purpose was the same. The room was located in the back of the house, beyond the main kitchen (as small as a postage stamp!) and down a short hall. I remember as a little girl going out there, my memories vivid of the cracked linoleum floor, the pale green walls, and bright, ceiling-high windows. How my grandmother managed to wash them, I can’t imagine. She didn’t have a Hoosier, but instead this green metal cabinet which I was fortunate to have as my own now. (Alas, we keep it in the garage for garage stuff now, but I think of my grandmother every time I walk by.)
In addition to the metal cabinet, she had a nice-sized refrigerator. Once, I opened it and discovered a package of octopus from the meat market, which totally grossed me out. She would have boiled the octopus, sliced it, and served it as a salad with olives, oil, lemon juice, and celery and onions. Or she would have simply simmered the boiled octopus in sauce. Regardless what she did with it, she knew better than to serve it to us kids. We would have refused to eat it!
Next to the refrigerator was an upright freezer where she kept breaded zucchini blossoms (they are to die for!), homemade bread crumbs, sausage, and Italian bread. But the main star of the back porch was a big gas stove where she did her canning and prepped foods for freezing. Over those burners, she roasted hundreds (thousands?) of red peppers, then put them into bags for steaming before peeling and seeding. I tell you, I bet those walls still hold those smoky, mouth-watering aromas to this day.
Alas, she didn’t have sink, which had to have been inconvenient, but at least the porch was close to her garden–just down a few stairs and a left hand turn outside. Tomatoes, peppers, zucchini, and onions grew in abundance, all in preparation for their time in the summer kitchen. Mama mia!
I think if I was a ranch wife, my summer kitchen would be my favorite room in the house – even in winter!
What is your favorite room in your house? Where do you hang out the most?
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Trace McQuade has lost everything–his ranch, his brother, the woman he wanted to marry. When his quest for justice fails, he leaves Texas to head north, but he never expects an outlaw’s baby along the way.
Morgana Goldwater needs to be needed. After she endured a terrible tragedy, she lives in a narrow, protected world. When Trace needs help caring for the baby girl, she is quick to take them both into her heart and into her life.
But their troubles return, and Trace and Morgana must face their past to keep loving the little girl–and each other–in their future.
The turn of the century when the 1800s merged with the 1900s was called The Gilded Age among other names. It was an era of great economic growth and the world changed very rapidly, especially in the transportation and industrial sectors. Women were fighting for the right to vote and to have a say in the running of the country, to end social injustice. As they cried out for and demanded change a lot of women’s organizations sprang up.
One such organization was the American Temperance Society who advocated against liquor. They were led by women such as Carrie Nation whose first husband died of alcoholism. Carrie attracted a lot of followers who marched and carried signs decrying the evils of drink.
These women eventually became known as “Hatchettes” due to the fact they’d march into saloons carrying hatchets and destroy the place. It was a wild time and women were fed up being treated as second-class citizens and being abused (or killed) by their drunken spouses.
Grace Legend in A Cowboy of Legend joins the temperance movement and sees a hero in Carrie Nation. One of her childhood friends was beaten to death by her drunk husband so Grace sees this movement as one that will define her life.
She’s living in Fort Worth, Texas with her brother who’s trying to keep her out of trouble and not having much luck. As a baby in “The Heart of a Texas Cowboy” she was a sassy little thing and as an adult she’s headstrong, passionate, and determined to make her mark.
Tempers flare and sparks fly when she descends on Hell’s Half Acre and Deacon Brannock’s Three Deuces Saloon with signs, drums, and hatchets.
Having grown up with nothing, he’s worked long and hard for something to call his own and he’s not about to let these women take it from him.
But who is Deacon Brannock? Grace’s search yields no one in the state in Texas under that name. It has to be fake. If so why? What is he hiding?
And who is the young pregnant woman living above the saloon? A wife, mother, sister? Or maybe he’s holding her against her will. Grace wouldn’t put anything past him. He has a dangerous reputation and was questioned for the murder of one man. Who knows how many others he may have killed?
Yet, Grace is keeping secrets of her own as well. Her family would be furious if they knew what she was doing.
This story has a monkey named Jesse James, orphan boys, and a mystery.
A Cowboy of Legend releases a week from today on Tuesday the 27th.
I have two copies to give away. Just leave a comment answering my question. If you had lived back then, would you have joined one of these women’s organizations? Or tell me any organizations you have joined or are still a member of?
Once Upon a Mail Order Bride (ebook only) is on sale for $1.99 until close of day on Thursday, April 22! If you missed the fourth book of Outlaw Mail Order Brides, now is your chance to get it cheap.
Have you ever wondered what goes into an American Indian’s name? One of the first things I do when starting a new book is name the hero of the story. But, why are “eagle,” “hawk,” “horse,” “buffalo,” “bear,” good names for a hero? Well, there are some rules and I thought I’d talk about them.
The Sioux had three different classes of names. The first name would show the order of children…like First Child, or First Born Son. The second class of name (at least in the Lakota society) was the honor name or public names. The third name was a nickname (sometimes an unflattering name). Sometimes a man might gain a honoring name different from one of his childhood and this is sometimes called a “deed” name. And sometimes childhood names remained with a person for all of his/her life.
An honoring name is given usually by the clan medicine-man in a public ceremony. In the story I’m writing currently called, BLUE THUNDER AND THE FLOWER, the opening scene in the book is a scene where a boy is being given an honoring name. His grandfather bestows his own name on the boy, BLUE THUNDER STRIKING.
Trivia question: did you know that Crazy Horse was given his name by his father, who then took a lesser name? The name Crazy Horse was given to him because of a great deed he performed.
Many years ago, when I was adopted into the Blackfeet tribe in Browning, MT, I was given an Indian name, but it was bestowed on me by the chief of the tribe, Chief Old Person.
In the story, BLUE THUNDER AND THE FLOWER, the boy had been given a nickname prior to his honor name, and that name was somewhat unflattering…Little Skunk.
Deed names usually require some act of courage and so the courageous act is celebrated by giving that man or boy a name from some fear-inspiring animal, like a buffalo, a bear or wolf. A noble sort of name might be given to a man from one of the nobler birds, like the eagle, the hawk the owl. Sometimes the character of the courageous act is given along with the name. For instance, swift or strength or endurance and these give the name a descriptive element, like Challenging Wolf.
Here are some honoring name for boys: White Eagle; Black Buffalo; Red Wind; Storm; Kills the Man; Shadow Hawk.
What about names for girls? Well, there were some rules here, as well. No Indian girl was permitted to wear the skin of a bear or a wolf, a cat, etc. Nor could she wear eagle feathers as these were masculine representations. Instead a girl could wear the skins of a doe, ermine, mink, etc.
As far as names were concerned, girls were usually called after the fawn, mink, beaver. While only boys could have the names of the fiercer animals. Both boys and girls could be named after the wind or water or sky, but not by the name of Fire. At least these were the rules in Lakota society.
Here are some names of girls: White Bird; Sky; Jingles; Earth Maiden; Laughing Maid, Swan Maiden.
Also, often in the stories I write, the hero will give the heroine an Indian name, sometimes flattering and sometimes not. In the story THE EAGLE AND THE FLAME, the hero first named the heroine, “Deceiving Woman.” Later, it changes, of course.
So, I thought I’d leave you with an excerpt from my most recent book, IRON WOLF’S BRIDE, and I’ll be giving away a free copy of the book today. So do please leave a comment.
IRON WOLF’S BRIDE
Iron Wolf followed her. It was time to learn what was happening here. Who was that man?
He intended this to be his first question to the woman who should be, and still was, his wife. His second question to her would be why she believed he, her husband, had betrayed her. But this could wait.
He noted that she had fled into a maze that was flanked by fragrant bushes which were taller than a man, and, were he not the scout and tracker he was, he might have become lost within these high shrubs, for the paths intersected one another and led in multiple directions. But he didn’t lose his way. He found her soon enough.
Once he had discovered her, he spoke out softly, so she might become aware he had followed her. “What is going on here? Who is that man you were touching, the one who sat next to you? What is he to you?”
Jane spun around, the look of surprise on her countenance quickly turning to anger. She didn’t pause an instant, though, as she accused, “How dare you follow me!”
“I am your husband. It is my duty to follow you.”
“Well, you can go away now. I came here to be alone.”
Iron Wolf didn’t leave. Instead, he repeated his question, for he intended it to be answered, and he asked once more, “Who is that man?”
“The one you touched. The one who sat beside you tonight.”
“He and I were to be married today.”
She turned her back on him and Iron Wolf didn’t speak; he couldn’t, for he felt as though she had punched him in the gut.
She added, “We didn’t marry today, as it turns out, because I would like my sister to be a part of the marriage ceremony. So we have postponed our wedding for the time being. And now you see that I, too, might marry another, as you have.”
Although he wished to speak out loudly, to rage the truth at her, he found it impossible to find his tongue, and so he paused until at last he was able to say, “My wife, you have become like a wild pony in my absence. How can you marry another when you are already married to me?”
“Am I? Do you forget you divorced me? And, how dare you call me ‘wild,’ when you…when you…” Her voice caught.
He ignored the insult and said instead, “You have now accused me of this too many times. Who has told this to you?”
“No one has ‘told’ it to me, as you say it. It was written up in the newspapers, and I have the divorce papers that you signed, or have you conveniently forgotten that? And, how dare you seduce me in front of all these people tonight; you, who are married to another. Is she here tonight? Does she care that you looked at me as you danced as though you were making love to me?”
She spoke so swiftly that he took a moment to understand all she had said, and then he asked, “Do you speak of the white-man’s newspapers where you saw my ‘wife’?”
“Who showed this to you?”
“Does it matter?”
He sighed. “Hau, hau, it matters. I would ask you again, who has said this to you?”
“My uncle, if you must know.”
“Your uncle who owns this house?”
Iron Wolf took a moment to collect his thoughts, then said, “You are wrong to believe these people, even if they be family.”
“So you can say easily enough. But, my uncle is beyond reproach and I am certain he wouldn’t lie to me. Besides, you forget that I have evidence of your betrayal of me.”
“No,” he countered, “what you have is ‘proof’ that is a lie. And, now I say that it is good you did not marry that man this day, for had you done so, you would have committed a grave error, one I could not easily set aside. So now, you must decide and choose between one or the other of us: me—your husband or that man. For, even in my society, a woman may have only one husband.”
“I have already chosen, and that man is not you.”
“Hau, then I will go.”
“But before I go, I wish to see these papers you have mentioned to me many times. I would witness these lies with my own eyes.”
“They are not lies.”
He raised his voice. “I say they are, and if you continue to tell me these untruths, I will say that you are a woman of no honor, who tells lies, as well.”
“How dare you shout at me, and how dare you say I am not honorable!”
He blew out his breath in an attempt to control his temper. At length, he said, “I am a man who must be convinced. Show me the papers you speak of, for I tell you true: I did not place my written name on anything. I have no other wife, but you. Why would I want another woman when the one I have is the sweetest, the most beautiful woman I have ever known or seen? I ask you, why would I throw away the woman of my heart, for, if I were to do that, would I not destroy her and myself, too?”
He noted that the compliment, spoken as it was from his heart, might have found its target. However, she did not respond favorably, and she turned her back upon him.
He encouraged, “Show me.”
When she turned around, she was crying, and his heart sank to realize that his raised voice and unkind words might have caused her grief. Still, what he’d said had been true.
“Do you really think I stoop to tell fibs? That I don’t have these things in my possession which show you betrayed me and then married another?”
“I would see them.”
She paused, as though she seriously considered his demand, even against her will. At length, she said, “I suppose that might be a fair request. So follow me. I will show you, although I am certain you are already aware of what I am talking about.”
He nodded, but he said nothing except, “Show me. I will do as you ask and follow you.”
She turned around then and stomped out of the maze. And, Iron Wolf, astonished again by the obvious—that this was no act and that his wife truly hated him— trailed after her.
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.
Hope you’ve all had a wonderful holiday and are happy to be beginning a New Year. Here’s a hope and a wish that this year will be so very much better than last year.
IRON WOLF’S BRIDE, second in The Wild West Series, is a new release for me. Set within Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Shows, Iron Wolf’s Bride encompasses two continents, both America and England.
I’ll be giving away a free e-book of IRON WOLF’S BRIDE to a couple of bloggers (2 bloggers). So do consider leaving a comment, since this is how one enters into the drawing. We have guidelines, by the way, for our giveaways — you can see them off to the top right here.
So here we go: I’m going to post the back cover blurb of the book and then an excerpt. Hope you’ll enjoy both.
IRON WOLF’S BRIDE
I will return to you, my love…
Jane Glenforest’s father believed she was too young to marry, so he’d stolen her and her newborn son away from the handsome Assiniboine Indian she’d wed and taken her to Surrey, England. In spite of divorce papers and rumors he’s wed another, Jane’s never forgotten the man who’d stolen her heart and given her son legitimacy. When Buffalo Bill’s Wild West show comes to England—bringing her ex-husband with it—Jane’s curious to see her lost love, in spite of her new fiancé.
Although Iron Wolf’s purpose in working for Bill Cody’s Wild West show is to fulfill his father’s vision to find and stop a deceiver, he fell in love with and married Jane Glenforest. But, no sooner had Jane given birth than her father stole her away. Now, a few years later, Iron Wolf is arriving in England with the hope of rekindling the love he once shared with Jane. However, instead of love, he finds his wife loathes him, believing he has married another. And, when he discovers she is engaged to another man, he declares war on both her and the fiancé.
But when their son is kidnapped, Jane and Iron Wolf must work together to rescue him. And, as danger escalates, they discover trusting each other might be the only way to save their son. Will Jane and Iron Wolf learn to forgive one another, to reignite the embers of a passion that never died, or will the lies of a deceiver destroy their love forever?
Warning: Rediscovered love might cause sleepless nights spent in the arms of one’s true love.
Let me tell you a little about the book before I attach an excerpt.
As I said above IRON WOLF’S BRIDE is the second book in The Wild West Series, my newest series.
I’ve planned three books in this series and two of them are released, Book #1, THE EAGLE AND THE FLAME and Book #2, IRON WOLF’S BRIDE.
The third book, BLUE THUNDER AND THE FLOWER, is a work in progress at present.
But let me tell you a little about this series. It concerns three men, who are part of the secret Society of the Wolf, The Clan of the Scout. Two of the men are from the Assiniboine Indian Tribe and one is from the Lakota Tribe. They are on a deadly serious mission.
The chief of the Assiniboine tribe has had a terrifying vision: that someone called the deceiver, or trickster, spells doom for the children of his tribe, and eventually for all Indians. The old chief is desperate and enlists the aid of two young men from his own tribe and one young man from the Lakota tribe to join Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show. He has been shown in a vision from the Creator that help for his people can be found if these three young men can become a part of Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show. There, within the framework of the show, the old chief has been shown that he may appeal to the President of the United States — or his representative — for assistance; also, to find and stop the deceiver who means to harm the Indian Tribes.
Because traditionally scouts were the most trusted individuals within the tribe, the old chief appeals to two young men who are a part of that society. One of them is his own son; another is a young man who is the most accurate shooter with the bow and arrow as well as a gun. The third young man is to be found from the Lakota tribe.
These three young men become part of Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show, and, in addition, they become one of the most popular events in the show, especially with the young ladies. But these three young men care very little about any fame or fortune that might be attached to being so popular. Their concern is to find and disable the trickster and all his associates, so as to free the next several generations of Native American children from harm.
Within this series of three stories, these young men — although not looking for love — discover true love along the path to discovering this real evil which is threatening their tribes.
Enjoy this excerpt of the book:
Earl’s Court Exhibition Grounds
Jane Glenforest felt as though her world was shattering. How dare he. How dare he come here.
Of course, she needn’t have bought the tickets to see the Wild West Show. But, she’d been unable to resist the impulse to come here today to see if he were still with the show. And, surely, there he was, surrounded by the usual crowd of women.
It still hurt. Seeing him again only made the pain of what had happened between them worse.
Eventually, she’d have to go down there where he was, for her sister still worked with the show; indeed, her sister, Luci, was even now dressed as a boy. Did this fact mean that she and Luci were still in danger? Surely that was behind them now. It had been two and a half, almost three years since the trouble.
Jane watched from a top section of the bleaching boards as her former husband and lover, as well as his two friends, wooed the feminine, English hearts. He and his friends, having finished their athletic performances in Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show, were now engaging the crowd in a different skill: American Indian-style singing and dancing.
The three friends had taken up a position that was in front of and close up to the tiered bleaching boards. Already, several of the young English women were leaving their seats, were filtering into the arena and joining the Indian women there. Together, these two different groups of ladies formed a circle around the three performers.
And, there he was: Iron Wolf. He stood in the middle between his two friends, Wind Eagle and Blue Thunder. Wind Eagle was drumming on what appeared to be a buffalo-hide drum, which he held in his hand. Blue Thunder shook two rattles. Both Blue Thunder and Wind Eagle were singing, while Iron Wolf blew into his Indian-styled flute. Feathers and strung beads hung from the instrument, which more resembled an English recorder than a flute.
She remembered that flute. Iron Wolf had often played it for her, and once, over two and a half years ago, he had used it to make her smile when she’d felt downtrodden.
She watched Iron Wolf as he danced. He was the only one of the three men who was dancing. As the others were singing, Iron Wolf took a moment to swing around in a circle, then bent over at the waist, keeping time to the rhythm and looking as though he were a nineteenth-century Kokopelli, who was, of course, the ancient American Indian Casanova.
His dance was stimulating to her, although she was an unwilling recipient to the blatant sensuality of his movements. Whether Iron Wolf intended it or not, the dance he was doing was not only exotic, it was erotic, and several of the women surrounding the three musicians were also bobbing up and down to the rhythm, looking as though they were part of the unusual performance.
Once again Jane wondered why he had come to England. He didn’t have to come. He could have stayed behind.
Didn’t he know she was here? It wasn’t possible that he would not know, if only because their divorce papers listed her current residence as being in Surrey, England. Was he so insensitive that he didn’t realize how much it would hurt her to see him again, to observe him flirting with other women, to witness him with his new wife?
Perhaps a better question would be to ask herself why she had come here. Yes, good manners dictated that she visit with her sister, but she also needed to talk to Luci more seriously, if only to find out why her sister had never written. Why had she never answered Jane’s many letters?
But, she hadn’t any real necessity to come to the show for that reason. Not really. She could have sent a note to Luci and her husband, Wind Eagle, inviting them to her uncle’s estate.
All at once, Iron Wolf unexpectedly jumped into the air, only to land in an athletic split upon the ground, and Jane recalled that this same man had once appeared to fly through the air in an effort to rescue her and their baby. To her disappointment, his attempt had failed.
But, this was all in the past. Once, not too long ago, he had loved her. Once, she had loved him to distraction. But their love was over now. It was dead.
And, she had recovered from its extinction. She’d had to, for she was raising her small son without Iron Wolf’s aid. Indeed, her once-unconditional love for Iron Wolf had died about a year ago when he had divorced her. It was that simple.
She had grieved for months, but had forced herself to move on with her life and had put her infatuation with Iron Wolf behind her. Her future now lay with another.
Little Jeremy Iron Wolf, Jane’s son, laughed, his antics serving to bring Jane back to the present. She glanced to her right where her friend and nanny, Marci Fox, sat. Marci was holding Jeremy in her arms, while Jeremy wiggled his small fingers, entangling them in Marci’s long, nearly-black hair.
Jane smiled. “Here, I’ll take him,” she said, as she moved to gather her son into her arms. “I’m thinking we should be leaving soon.”
Marci nodded and grinned. “Look at your son dance up and down to the drum. Do you think he knows that he belongs in the Western culture on display down there?”
“No,” replied Jane, “although I admit I used to think this was so. But not now. Let’s go.”
“Yes. Are you going to try to see your sister?”
“Not today. Tomorrow perhaps.”
“But tomorrow you are to be married. Will there be time?”
Jane bit her lip. “Yes, well… Perhaps you are right. Will you come with me while I try to find my sister?”
“Then, I suppose we should go down there,” Jane replied, then sighed. “Mayhap, we might find someone who will lead us to her. Maybe, too, I might invite her to dinner tonight…. Possibly…”
That’s all Jane would say on the subject for now. But she did wonder why, in all this time, Luci had not written. Like Iron Wolf, had Luci changed so much?
Well, there was nothing to do about it now. Luci was here in London, and she was, after all, Jane’s sister.
Positioning young Jeremy on her hip, Jane rose up from her top seat beneath the white canvas awning covering the bleaching boards of the Wild West Show. Stepping toward the stairs on the far side of the sitting arrangement, she carefully made her way down toward the arena. That the bottom edge of her light-blue walking dress dragged on the steps, dirtying it, was, for the moment, forgotten. What was more important was what her stomach was doing. Her entire body was trembling. Her stomach in particular felt as though butterflies had taken residence within it.
Would he see her? Would he even recognize her? He might not, since two years ago, Jane had been forced to wear a disguise. At that time, Jane had managed her hair into a tight chignon, and she had worn a wig of long, dark hair whenever she was away from her sleeping quarters. Yes, he had seen her as a blonde, but rarely, and mostly in the privacy of their bedroom. She’d been pregnant then and he’d only been privy to a brief glimpse of her as a slim, young girl before her father had come and whisked her away. Would he even know her now?
He might. Unlike many men, Iron Wolf seemed unusually perceptive, attentive to the minutest detail in his environment. He saw elements around him that another might miss.
Her light-blue hat, however, might cause him to pass her by, for it was wide brimmed, with feathers on top to give her small, five-foot-four figure more height. It hid her face, also.
She inhaled deeply…for courage.
Having descended to ground level, she stepped forward onto the field of the arena. The three young American Indian singers had not yet finished their performance, and Jane hoped she might be able to avoid detection as she glanced into the distance, her gaze searching for Luci. However, it was not to be.
Her first indication that she had been recognized was when Marci touched her shoulder and said, “He comes, I fear.”
There was no need to say who “he” was. Apparently, he had detached himself from the rest of the performance, and Jane watched as Iron Wolf approached her.
Dear Lord, why did he have to look so handsome? Tall, with a slim, muscular build and long legs, he sauntered toward her, his gait smooth and graceful, as though the mere act of walking were an art form. His hair had come a little loose from where he usually clipped the two braids behind his head, and the Assiniboine-style “bangs” blew in the wind. He wore dark-blue, cotton pants that fell to the ground and were long enough to almost cover his moccasins. His breechcloth was white with blue, red and green beaded decoration, and his shirt was light blue. A beaded, white vest was secured in front with what looked to be leather ties, and a white bandana was tied neatly around his neck.
Jane took another breath as her stomach alerted her to the danger coming toward her, and she realized with mounting dread that she was not immune to him. She should be, but she wasn’t.
And she, who was to be married to another man tomorrow….
She pasted a smile on her face as she prepared herself to confront the man she had once loved with all her heart.
He had watched for her all through their performances this day; he had even counted on her being here, for he’d suspected that her father might have taken her to England. Indeed, his antics today were for her benefit, alone.
He had despaired, though, when he hadn’t caught a glimpse of her in the crowd. However, as he and his two friends had begun their singing, he had espied her, there in the top row of the seating arrangement. All through their first singing performance, he had felt as though he had gobbled her up with his gaze. Had she felt the intensity of his emotions? Did she know that he played his flute for her? That he wooed her with it? That his dance was for her, and only for her?
His heart beat fiercely in his breast as he approached her now. Two, almost three years ago, he had known her as a pregnant woman and she had been beautiful then, both in spirit and in body. But to see her now, slim, holding their son on her hip…it was such a stunning sight, he was certain he would never forget it.
In many ways, it was hard to believe that she was his wife, for her beauty was unusual to his eye. Small-boned, feminine and clothed as she was in the English style of dress, she looked calm, cool…and untouchable. The light blue of her dress might complement her coloring of light skin and pink cheeks, but its color added to the illusion that there was no history between them. She looked foreign, cool, out of reach.
All those years ago, her hair had been dark, almost black whenever she was in public. He had come to learn that it was a wig she wore, that the true color of her hair was an unusual shade of white-yellow. On her, the hair color was beautiful, although he had to admit that to him, it was still foreign to his eye.
He felt a stirring in his loins as he measured his steps toward her, and he marveled at the power of his attraction to her. She was his wife, and, although their love had been left to simmer over the ashes of a two-and-a-half-year-old fire, he felt his hunger for her stirring again within him.
He stopped directly in front of her, and, as was Indian tradition, he simply looked at her. It was a sign of respect he bestowed upon her, and he didn’t speak, nor did he extend a hand toward her. He simply gazed at her, admiring her lovely face.
She looked up at him briefly, then glanced quickly away.
“Why are you here?” she asked, her voice low and sweet, though within those tones, there was an air of hostility toward him. She didn’t look back at him, leaving him to do little more than admire her attractive profile.
Although her words weren’t exactly welcoming, he yet felt heartened. He was here and so was she. They were, at last, together again. He said, “I am happy to see you, my wife and my son.”
She did nothing in response at first and he watched as she swallowed hard before she gained her composure and uttered, “How dare you call me that.”
To say he was astonished by her tone of voice, as well as by her words, would have been an understatement, and it took him a moment to respond. But at last, he asked, “Call you what? I do not understand. What did I say that you object to?”
“’Wife.’ That’s what I take offense to and you should know it.”
Clearly puzzled now, he asked, “Are you not my wife?”
“You know I am not.”
He had not expected her anger; sadness, perhaps, that he had not been able to find her sooner. But antagonism bordering on what appeared to be disgust? And, what did she mean that she wasn’t his wife?
He watched in surprise as a tear slipped down her cheek. Why was she crying? It seemed incomprehensible to him that she was so upset, especially because his emotions were intense and happy; he was, after all, reunited with her. Yet, he could not deny that those were tears. Reaching out a finger toward her, he traced the path of the tear’s salty wetness.
But she batted his hand away, saying, “Do not touch me!”
He nodded and took one step backward, and, by way of apology, he murmured, “I mean no assault.”
“Don’t do this!”
He said nothing. He didn’t, however, avert his gaze from her, for she was truly angry with him. Why?
“I am looking for my sister,” she stated after a pause; still she did not look at him. “Do you know where I might be able to find her?”
“I do,” he answered calmly. “If you follow me, I will take you to her.”
“I will not follow you anywhere, sir. Simply tell me where she is, and I shall go there.”
“She is in the corral,” he told her without pause. “But come, the time is long since we have seen or talked to one another. Could we not take a moment to speak kind words to each other? You are angry with me and I do not know why. Perhaps if we share our thoughts with one another, we can renew our acquaintance. But, if it is your wish to see your sister now, I would be honored to take you to her.”
“Don’t do this to me, Iron Wolf. I will not go with you. Is it your wish to parade that other woman in front of me? Is that why you wish to accompany me? No, I will not allow it.”
Iron Wolf realized at last that he was completely baffled. He questioned, “Another woman?”
“Do you really expect me to say it?”
He could only stare at her, confused.
“Your other wife! That is who I am speaking of. Do you think I don’t know of her existence? Did you believe that you could throw me away and marry another without my knowledge?”
“Throw you away?”
“Please, stop this. I…I’ve seen the pictures of you with her. Did you expect that I would not? I also have our divorce papers that you signed. So, do not pretend innocence with me. I…I can say no more.”
Iron Wolf felt as though he were bedazzled. True, he was confounded by her accusations, but he was also in awe of her. Angry or not, he continued to be happy to see her. But, he did question how a woman could be so angry, yet exude such beauty at the same time.
Accused of acts he hadn’t done, he knew no other course of action but to tell her the truth, and so he said, “I tell you no lie. I have no other wife. But I do wonder, who has told these lies to you?”
She didn’t answer his question. Instead, after a short moment, she called over her shoulder, “Come, Marci.”
He watched as his wife turned and brought forward the young woman who had been standing behind her all this while. Then, his fine-looking, yet irate wife said to the one whom she called Marci, “We will find my sister without any help.”
But, before they left, and in defense, he uttered, “I tell you this true. I have no other wife, but you.”
“It is you who lie, for I have a news clipping of this wife you claim you don’t have and of you…pictures…newspaper articles…as well as our divorce papers. And those, Mr. Wolf, prove that it is not I who is telling lies, but you.” Then she turned away, and, within moments, she was walking away from him.
She loathed him, he realized perhaps too late. And, he supposed that from her point of view, she might believe she had reason to show him dislike.
He watched her until she turned a corner and was no longer in his line of vision. He frowned. Two, almost three years ago, Jane and her sister had faced a trouble that had almost taken their lives. He had thought the incident had resolved itself, and that his and Jane’s forced separation had been the act of a jealous father.
Now he wondered about the truth of that. His wife’s reaction to simply seeing him again caused him to further speculate. What had happened here, and, perhaps more importantly, why had something bad happened here? Did it have anything to do with what had occurred to Jane and her sister two years ago? He didn’t know, but he promised himself that he would discover these answers, and soon….
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.