An Outlaw Land Agent, Mayor, and Romantic

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.

 

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IRON WOLF’S BRIDE — Free E-book Giveaway & Excerpt

Howdy!

Welcome to another terrific Tuesday.

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

by 

Karen Kay

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:

CHAPTER TWO

April, 1891

Earl’s Court Exhibition Grounds

London, England

 

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?”

“Of course.”

“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….

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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!

 

A New Book and Giveaway by Linda Broday!

Broday concludes the Outlaw Mail Order Bride series with a sizzling finale that features a tantalizingly slow build to intimate trust that catapults into adrenaline packed ardor.”  ~Booklist

Next week on November 24th, I’ll release the fourth and final book of my Outlaw Mail Order Brides series. I’m warning readers to put their feet in the stirrups and hang on tight because this story is full of twists, turns, and surprises as Ridge and Addie fight tooth and nail for their HEA.

Ridge Steele is an ex-preacher weary of the outlaw life on the run and yearns for someone to share his days and nights with. He’s excited when Adeline Jancy agrees to marry him sight unseen and makes arrangements.

She’s as beautiful and kind as he’d dared hope for—except she can’t speak a word. She resorts to written communication only.

The look in her pretty eyes shows sadness…and the fear that he’d send her back. Only he’d been through enough hard times to know he can’t do that to her. He’s in it for the long haul.

But married life isn’t easy. They both find it littered with one problem after another that threatens to steal their happiness and culminates in a soul-jarring fight for the justice they both seek.

I think readers will find the story very thrilling and the conclusion satisfying. From the moment Ridge and Addie walked onto the page, I knew they were perfect for each other and early reviews have stated the same. This is a book that will stay with you long after you finish.

Click HERE for an excerpt and links.

I’m sad to say goodbye to these outlaws with heart and the town of Hope’s Crossing but it’s time. I’ll start a new series called Lone Star Legends in April with the first book A COWBOY OF LEGEND. I hope you’ll like Gracie Legend’s story.

But first, give Once Upon a Mail Order Bride a try and find out how tough Ridge and Addie have to get to survive long enough to claim their love.

Here’s all four books of the series in order of their release in case you missed any or all.

I’m sure there were many men in the 1800s who’d turn away a mail order bride with any kind of impediment or deformity. My question…Would you turn her away or open your heart? I’m giving a copy of Once Upon a Mail Order Bride to TWO commenters.

**Announcement** The Mail Order Bride’s Secret is on sale across all outlets. $1.99 until Nov. 22, 2020.  Click HERE for the links and an Excerpt.

 

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CHERYL ST. JOHN IS HERE WITH A GIVEAWAY!

I’m delighted to visit Petticoats and Pistols and check in with all my friends. After twenty-five years under contract, I took a year and a half away from writing to care for and nurture a new grandbaby. During that wonderful and exhausting time, I refreshed my mojo so that I could write with renewed energy. I also promised myself that from then on, I would only write books I love. And that’s what I’ve been doing.

One of the things I especially like to do is take a character out of their place of comfort and put them into a new and difficult situation to see how they react. This is exactly what I did when I created Raylene Cranford, a gently-raised Southern belle whose new husband and father were killed in the brother’s war. She and her childhood friend survived through the winter in the burned-out remains of her family home, living on acorns and scrawny rabbits, and eventually made their way north to safety.

Determined and resourceful, the two are able to turn a family member’s home into a boarding house to support themselves. The system of male-dominated households existed to protect the weaker gentler sex. All Raylene knows how to do is maintain appearances and reputation, and to perfect the feminine graces—like modesty, piety and meekness—qualities that made a Southern woman the center of attention.

Here’s an interesting article about how the war left these young women at a loss with no way to fulfill the roles they’d been primed to fill:

https://daily.jstor.org/life-really-like-southern-belles-civil-war/

 

Raylene’s behavior does not go over well with the gaggle of more practical, capable and single women of Twin Springs, Colorado. Nor does her exaggerated drawl endear her to the former Union Army captain who spent months in a confederate prison.

But Tanner Bell has bigger problems. He’s just become solely responsible for a newborn. He owns a livery, where he lives in a tiny back room. His current arrangement will not do for taking care of a newborn. The most convenient solution is to rent a room at the boarding house. Also convenient is asking his industrious new landlady to help him care for the baby.

All Raylene knows is the past. Tanner is focused on the future. It might seem they have nothing in common, but the more they come to know about each other, the more similar they truly are. Both have faced loss and endured hardships. Both are acutely aware of racial injustice and are making a difference by helping change lives and hearts in their community. Both want the best for the tiny girl who has won their hearts.

Raylene’s journey is one of self-discovery. I enjoyed unwrapping these characters to get to the heart of matters, and I hope readers will enjoy reading their story as much as I enjoyed writing it.

 

Have you ever been out of your comfort zone and having to learn how to reinvent yourself? I’m offering three e-books from the choice of my backlist! 

Thank you so much to all the Fillies for the warm welcome, and a big howdy to all my friends!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

BUY LINK: https://tinyurl.com/ya3r25kt

Cheryl’s amazon author page:  https://tinyurl.com/y6js92y8

BookBub: https://www.bookbub.com/profile/cheryl-st-john

Like Cheryl’s Facebook author page: https://www.facebook.com/CherylStJ

 

Dancing Outlaws

Dancing! Oh yes! I love it! I put dancing throughout my Outlaw Mail Order Brides series and it’s all the real-life outlaw gunslinger Clay Allison’s fault! They say he suffered a head wound during the Civil War and it left him with a terrible temper. Maybe so. His epitaph reads that he didn’t kill anyone that didn’t need it and it is a well-known fact that he put a lot of men six feet under.

But strangely, Clay loved to dance—a lot. He owned a ranch outside of Cimarron, New Mexico and always kept a violin player on his payroll.

I first put Clay Allison in The Heart of a Texas Cowboy as Houston Legend’s drover and my editor liked him so much she wanted me to give him his own book. I thought it best to make him fictional so I changed his last name to Colby. Book #1 of Outlaw Mail Order Brides—The Outlaw’s Mail Order Bride—is about Clay Colby.

Clay and some of his friends are tired of running and want to settle down so they decide to carve a town from their hideout. Next came populating it so they send for mail order brides.

Since Clay has been writing a wanted woman in hiding, Tally Shannon, he asks her to marry him so she travels to Hope’s Crossing. She agrees.

Oddly, Clay makes sure one his fellow outlaws is a fiddle player and they have a dance each night after supper, waltzing over the uneven ground under the stars. And that’s how he and Tally get acquainted. It worked.

My town has the dancing-est outlaws you ever met. It keeps ’em out of trouble. (Psst, not really)

I’ve always loved to watch dancers, but I didn’t know how until around the age of 30. I was married and three kids underfoot when I took classes at the local college for ballroom dancing. I learned the foxtrot, tango, the waltz, and then the teacher threw in the two-step.

It opened up a whole new world and I loved it. The only problem was my husband didn’t dance and had no desire at all to learn so I was forced again to sit on the sidelines.

Occasionally one of male customers would ask me, but then we stopped going to those places altogether, and sadly, I lost what I’d learned.

I still love to watch dancing couples though. And I love the show Dancing With the Stars, living vicariously through them. Sometimes, I even get out of my chair and do the steps. You’d die laughing.

Dancing has been in our culture probably since the beginning of time. The earliest proof was found in 9,000 year old cave drawings. I’m astounded.

Some of the dances had such names as the Quadrille, the Minuet, the Polka, the Waltz, and many others. Rock and Roll brought many, many more dances like the Lindy Hop, the Twist, the Jitterbug, etc. This didn’t involve a partner so I jumped right in and loved twisting and gyrating and making a fool of myself.

Tell me the first person you ever danced with and the type of dance it was. I’m giving away The Outlaw’s Mail Order Bride to three people who leave a comment.

Epitaphs Tell a Story

I guess it’s the writer in me but I always love strolling through a cemetery. The buried stories are too many to number and I always wish I knew them all.

I can get a pretty good idea from the epitaphs carved on tombstones. Some are sad and some are hilarious, revealing a sense of humor. I wrote about a Texas Ranger once who was thinking about his epitaph and what he might be remembered for. It was in The Cowboy Who Came Calling with Luke McClain.

Here’s what he came up with: Here lies Luke McClain, he was one hell of a lawman. He fought injustice and crime wherever he found it. He gave generously of himself to make the world a safer place. He lived well and loved hard. He will be missed.

Of course, Glory Day told him he didn’t need to write a whole book. Her’s was: She lived. She died. End of story

The epitaphs told so much about each of them. Glory was going blind so she was at a low point in her life.

         

Here are some favorite ones that I found:

Old Ma Walker, Non stop talker, Ran out of breath, Talked herself to death

Here lies Shawn O’Toole, kicked in the head by an ornery mule

Here lies Lester Moore. Four slugs from a .44. No Les. No more.

Here lies George Johnson hanged by mistake 1882. He was right, We was wrong. But we strung him up and now he’s gone.

Here lies a man names Zeke. Second fastest draw of Cripple Creek

They abounded in riches. But she wore the britches.

Here lies Rosalie Tanner. A woman that spent most of her life on her back

 

 

I’ve often thought about what I would say on my tombstone. Maybe something like “I laughed. I cried. I lived.” Or maybe the opening lines of my book Forever His Texas Bride: “A plan? Definitely not dying.” 

What would you say on yours? Leave a comment to enter the drawing for one of 3 autographed copies of THE COWBOY WHO CAME CALLING.

 

 

Jodi Thomas Is Back in the Saddle Again

In this time of ‘house arrest’ we are all staying home most of the time.  Now I don’t know about other writers (haven’t seen any) but I started out the first two weeks thinking I’d write like crazy. 

Didn’t work.  I cleaned closets, cooked, watched TV, read books.

When the two weeks continued on and on, I made a list every morning of what I would do. Pretty soon I learned I could keep my Monday to-do-list all week and just change it to Tuesday, then Wednesday, then Thursday.

THEN I discovered a box of old music, country of course.  I bounced out of bed, put on my sweat pants, didn’t bother with shower or makeup half the time, and flipped on Only the Lonely by Roy Orbison. We danced around the house.

I know it sounds strange but it cheered me up. By the time I played it three times, I was ready to write.

Then I found a CD of Riders in the Sky with a song Gene Autry wrote.  Back in the Saddle Again. I learned to sing Whoopi-ty-aye-oh. Dancing again. To hear the song click here.

I played it as I saddled up for work.  When I was a kid I loved nothing more than riding across open country and today (as I have for thirty years) I love writing.

I’ve stepped into fiction in good times and bad.  When my heart’s been broken, I fall in love with my characters. When reality gets too much, I make my own world. When I simply want to have an adventure, I travel in my mind.

During this time of isolation, I still feel connected to my readers and all the writers I know. We may be home dancing to Only the Lonely but we’re together. 

After I took a bad tumble riding in my teens, the hardest thing I ever did was climb back on a horse, but the strange thing was, once in the saddle, I wondered why it had taken me so long.

 

My advice for this time: 

  1. Be good to yourself.  Get lost in a good book whether you’re reading it or writing it. Have a party every night.  Popcorn and a movie or cookies and milk on the porch watching the rain.
  1. Be happy.  Sure you don’t get to see the people you love, but the upside is you don’t have to be around all those folks who bother you.
  1. Dance.  Personally, I never learned to dance, but I do it anyway.  I told Tom once that I may look like I’m standing still, but I’m dancing inside.  He smiled and said, “I know.”

I’m in the middle of a series and I’m loving it. Book One, BREAKFAST AT THE HONEY CREEK CAFÉ came out last week. It’s packed with action and love stories that will keep you reading through the night.

Please add it to your reading list and ‘if you have time’ leave a comment and tell me what you’re dancing to during this isolation. One reader’s comment will be selected to receive my first book out of the box. 

Joke of the day from Riders in the Sky.  “If the world was logical, men would ride sidesaddle.”

 

 

Andrea Downing on how Wyoming Women Take the Lead

Before I was able to purchase a small place in Wyoming where I live part-year, I always thought of Wyoming as ‘the cowboy state.’ The symbol of a cowboy on a bucking horse is pervasive in the state, and shops and bars are plentiful in throwing around the word ‘cowboy.’ But the other nickname for the great state of Wyoming is ‘the equality state’ because, as any feminist historian may know, Wyoming was the very first place in the entire world to give women the vote. Although it’s often said that the decision to give women the vote had to do with the comparatively small population residing in Wyoming at the time, the pro-suffrage vote was generally along political party lines with the Democrats bringing in the law on December 10, 1869. At the time, there was something akin to five men for every woman in Wyoming.

Photo courtesy of Jackson Hole Historical Society and Museum

In September 1870, women finally got their chance to cast their ballots…and apparently predominantly voted Republican. Later that year, women jurists served, and in 1871, the first female Justice of the Peace was elected. Women went on to serve in several capacities, including in the state legislature. However, in my own neck of the woods, in the valley of Jackson Hole, things were a bit slower to take off, but when they did, women certainly made their mark.
It’s difficult to believe that the area in which the town of Jackson now sits was once called Marysvale, but that was the original postal address for the area. The first homestead claims had been filed in the 1880s, mostly by men, with women and families arriving later. In 1893, Maggie Simpson became the official postmistress sitting on a property that now is the center of town. She renamed the district Jackson and, as everyone now knows, that is the name that stuck.

Photo courtesy of Jackson Hole Historical Society and Museum

By 1900, the town was slowly developing and lots were being sold for housing and shops, but it remained a fairly laid-back place with no real government. It took another twenty years for a town council to be elected—all women! At the time, the population of Jackson was 307 and Grace Miller beat one Frank Lovejoy for the position of mayor, fifty-six to twenty-eight. The five-woman council was able to collect long-overdue taxes, improve road conditions, maintain the Town Square, control roaming livestock, give access to the cemetery, expand sewer and water systems, and install electric lighting and a phone service. They also employed the first Town Marshal, a woman! Pearl Williams had formerly been working at the drugstore as a clerk, but having been brought up on a ranch located between Jackson and Wilson, she had her own horse and could look after herself in the wild. Apparently, most of Pearl’s time was taken up giving interviews to reporters who loved the story of the female marshal in the wild west. The truth of the matter was that the town jail cells had no doors and the worst incidents Pearl apparently handled, aside from keeping stray cattle out of the town square, involved drunken cowboys.

My own first visit to Jackson was as a young girl in the 1960s. I don’t remember much other than going up to Yellowstone except that it was still a fairly quiet place reveling in its small-town life. I suppose in the 1970s when my book Always on My Mind is set, it was just beginning to evolve into what it is today—a vibrant place that welcomes men and women (!) from around the globe, pandemics permitting. And women, of course, continue to play a vital role in both the state government and the town of Jackson.

If you’d like to win an e-copy of Always on My Mind, comment below and let me know what you think it might have been like for a woman living in Jackson in the seventies. There certainly was a lot going on in the country at the time. Here’s the book’s blurb to give you some ideas: 1972 – Vietnam, the pill, upheaval, hippies.

Wyoming rancher Cooper Byrnes, deeply attached to the land and his way of life, surprises everyone when he falls for vagabond hippie Cassie Halliday. Fascinated and baffled, he cannot comprehend his attraction—or say the words she wants to hear.
Cassie finds Coop intriguingly different. As she keeps house for him and warms his bed at night, she admits to herself she loves him but she misinterprets Coop’s inability to express his feelings.
Parted, each continues to think of the other, but how can either of them reach out to say, “You were ‘always on my mind’?”

 

Find Always on My Mind at these booksellers:

Amazon

Barnes and Noble

Bachelors and Babies by Hebby Roman

Please join us in welcoming Hebby Roman as our guest author today! Welcome, Hebby! It’s great to have you join us!

 

 

Zach is the eleventh book in the Bachelors & Babies series. As with three of my other sweet western historical romances, I chose to set this book at a Texas fort, Fort McKavett.

I’ve been researching Texas forts for over two years, and I’m amazed by how many different kinds of forts there have been in Texas. In the early days, regions of Texas were claimed by both France and Spain. Each of them built forts to protect their claims. The Alamo is an example of a Spanish presidio, built to bring Christianity to the natives.

Along with the Spanish presidios and the log forts of the French in East Texas, there were many families who moved to the wild lands of Texas and built their own personal forts. The John Parker family established Parker’s Fort in 1833 on the banks of the Navasota River. This fort was the site of a well-known Comanche Indian raid in May 1836, where the Comanche captured 12-year old Cynthia Ann Parker. She was the mother of the last great Comanche chief, Quanah Parker.

The famous Texas Rangers built base camps to use for their raids on hostile natives and various outlaw bands. Before Texas became a part of the United States, it was an independent nation, known as the Republic of Texas, and the Republic built forts as well. Most of the Texas Republic forts were “rough” affairs of mud brick and timber. Prior to the Civil War, the United States built two lines of forts to protect settlers from hostile natives. Some of these forts were taken over by Confederate soldiers during the Civil War, others were decommissioned and abandoned, a few were used as outposts for state militia or even as stagecoach stops. Many of these forts were taken back by the U.S. cavalry and protected the Texas frontier for years.

Fort McKavett, where my book Zach is set, was one of those frontier forts that changed hands during the Civil War and was reclaimed as part of the U.S fort system. Originally, it was known as the Camp on the San Saba River, and it was established in March, 1852 to protect settlers from Comanche and Kiowa raids in Menard County, Texas. Later that year, in October, the fort was renamed Fort McKavett, in honor of Captain Henry McKavett, who had served meritoriously in the Mexican-American War.

With the outbreak of the American Civil War, the post was occupied by members of McCulloch’s Company E, 1st Texas Mounted Rifles, and the camp served as a prisoner-of-war camp for Union soldiers who had survived the Battle of Adams Hill, which took place north of San Antonio, Texas.

The fort was reactivated by the United States Army in April, 1868, as part of “the redeployment of a frontier military force,” by Brevet Lieutenant Colonel Eugene Beaumont’s 4th Cavalry Company.

From 1868 to 1883, Fort McKavett served as a major supply depot providing food and provisions for most of the Texas military campaigns, along with scientific and mapping explorations for other forts in West Texas. The spring of 1869 brought dramatic historic developments to the post with the arrival of the 41st Infantry, and its commanding officer, Colonel Ranald Mackenzie. The 41st was one of the army’s six regiments, and Mackenzie would become one of the foremost Native American fighters of the post-Civil War army.

Nestled in the picturesque Hill Country of Texas, Fort McKavett was characterized by General William T. Sherman as “the prettiest post in Texas” on his inspection tour of Texas forts in 1871.

My giveaway includes a $10 Amazon gift card, along with a digital copy of my boxed set, “A West Texas Frontier Trilogy.” “Zach,” which is set in Fort McKavett, as discussed above is the fourth book of my Texas fort series and it is currently in pre-orders. When it is released on April 1st, I will also send the winner a digital copy of “Zach.” One lucky winner will receive all three prizes! All you have to do to enter the drawing, is to comment on this blog and P&P will randomly select a winner.

Please,  leave a comment so we can chat and good luck!

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 WEST TEXAS CHRISTMAS TRILOGY is an Amazon Bestselling and Award-Winning series. SUMMER DREAMS, was #1 in Amazon fiction and romance. Her medieval historical romance, THE PRINCESS AND THE TEMPLAR, was selected for the Amazon Encore program and was #1 in medieval fiction. She won a national Harlequin contest. Her book, BORDER HEAT, was a Los Angeles Times Book Festival selection. She has been a RONE Finalist three times and in three different categories.

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