I’m filling in for Phyliss today and still talking about my new release – A Cowboy of Legend. Hope you’re not tired of it.
I just love putting kids and animals in my stories because they add whole other levels of emotion and depth. They’re such a great literary device in that you can show a lot about characters without really coming out and stating it. And they certainly entertain the reader.
Mostly, I’ve written in the normal dog, cat, horse, and mule. Although I did put a raccoon named Bandit in The Mail Order Bride’s Secret.
In this story, I added a little spider monkey named Jesse James. He’s dressed as a cowboy right down to a small gun and holster. Each time he yanks his gun out and fires, a puff of smoke comes out the barrel. I laughed so hard writing his scenes.
And then, he leaps onto the cat Sarge’s back and the war is on.
Jesse James arrives at the Three Deuces Saloon in Fort Worth’s Hell’s Half Acre and Deacon Brannock is sure he’s hit on a gold mine. Folks flock in from everywhere to watch the lunch and supper shows. Just wait until he gets his hands on a real loaded pistol……
Here’s a short excerpt:
Harry muttered something that sounded like, “That little shit,” and hurried to get the monkey away from a customer’s plate where it was cramming food into its mouth. “JESSE JAMES!”
Clearly no love lost between them, the monkey chattered, shaking a finger at Harry. As the skinny bartender grew closer, Jesse James yanked a little pistol from his holster, and shot, all the while chattering and shrieking fit to wake the dead. The miniature gun gave a little pop and discharged smoke. The customers were laughing hysterically.
Deacon watched, entranced. This could have money pouring in. People would flock from all over to watch the hairy little outlaw with the perfect name.
Land. He saw his piece of land.
Just as Harry closed in to capture the monkey, Jesse James leaped from table to table then the long bar. As he reached for a full bottle of whiskey, Clyde clapped sharply, and the monkey clambered down and back onto the man’s shoulder.
* * * *
In the book I just finished that will be out early in 2022, I added a talking parrot named Casanova. He’s even funnier than Jesse James. Plus, he plays dead. Who knows what I’ll come up with next. Maybe a lion. Now there’s a thought.
What pets have you had? Anything exotic? I’m giving away a copy (ebook or autographed paperback) to someone who leaves a comment.
Hi, I’m Andrea Downing and today I’d like to talk about the lesser known figure of John Larn.
The history of the West is littered with a glittering array of gunfighters and lawmen—sometimes both in one man. After all, the West wouldn’t have been ‘Wild’ without them; think how boring it would be if we only had pioneers and a quite ordinary workforce to write about! Like cream, certain names rise to the top in the litany of gunfighters: Jesse James, Billy the Kid, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. Their counterparts, the lawmen, were often not much better than they; think Pat Garrett and Wyatt Earp and company. But there were lesser mortals who left a trail of destruction in their wake, and one such man was John Larn.
Larn was born in Alabama in 1849, well before the heady, post Civil War main migration to the West. As a teen, he moved on to Colorado to find work as a cowboy, but the hot-headed young man ended up killing his boss around 1869 in an argument over a horse. Heading to New Mexico, he notched his gun a second time when he killed a sheriff he believed to be in pursuit of him. Moving on to Texas, he next had work as trail boss for rancher Bill Hays in Fort Griffin, around 1871. This led to the deaths of 3 more victims on the trail to Trinidad, Colorado.
As we all know, ladies love a bad boy, and Mary Jane Matthews, from a prominent family, was no exception. The couple married, would eventually have two sons, and Larn managed to become a well-respected citizen—for a time at least—of Shackleford County in Texas. But by 1873, rumors started to appear of cattle rustling in which Larn was involved. Somehow, he was able to put the spotlight on his former boss, obtain a warrant charging the outfit with rustling and, keeping in mind no good deed goes unpunished, he gathered a possee and joined soldiers from Fort Griffin to ambush and kill all Bill Hays’ ranch hands.
By now, you may be getting the idea that Larn was one blood-thirsty dude. I’d agree! His next foray into law enforcement was to join a vigilante group called The Tin Hat Brigade in Griffin. Griffin had become so lawless, such a magnet for the anarchic and unruly, that it needed this group to take control and bring some law and order. Earning respect from the local townspeople for this work, Larn was elected sheriff in 1876 and was able to build a ranch on the Cedar Fork at Lambshead. But I guess law enforcement may not have paid well because in less than a year Larn had either resigned or been pushed out, and his next post was as a deputy hides inspector. This involved keeping an eye on all cattle movement and supervising butchers as well. He also obtained a contract to supply three cattle a day to the fort. Needless to say, Larn didn’t think to supply his own beef. He practically started a range war, leading a band of men in bushwhacking and heading cattle off ranches. When a band of citizens searched the area behind Larn’s house, no prizes for guessing what they found. Six hides with other ranches’ brands were found and, at last, Larn’s game was up. For a moment at least…no charges were filed despite the arrest. Unfortunately for him, however, his bad temper led to his last assault—that of a local rancher by the name of Treadwell who had supposedly uncovered Larn’s cattle rustling. Larn was arrested and taken to Albany, where the sheriff had him shackled to his cell. When vigilantes arrived wanting to lynch Larn, they found they couldn’t remove him and shot him instead. He was twenty-nine years old. That’s about the age of my hero in Shot Through the Heart.
Here’s a little more about the book:
Gunslinger Shiloh Coltrane has returned home to work the family’s Wyoming ranch, only to find there’s still violence ahead. His sister and nephew have been murdered, and the killers are at large. Dr. Sydney Cantrell has come west to start her medical practice, aiming to treat the people of a small town. As she tries to help and heal, she finds disapproval and cruelty the payment in kind. When the two meet, it’s an attraction of opposites. As Shiloh seeks revenge, Sydney seeks to do what’s right. Each wants a new life, but will trouble or love find them first?
So what do you think of these gunslingers and lawmen of the Old West? What made some men into killers? Mental disease? Family genes? And if you’d like to find out whether Shiloh and Sydney manage to find a middle ground, I’m happy to give away one e-book copy of Shot Through the Heart to one person who comments.
And of course, the book in both paperback and eBook is available at:
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.
We’re doing something a little fun several times through the year. It might be a Craft Project, how we breathe life into a hero, or anynumber of things. You just never know. We’re sort of calling it Pot Luck. This is my day and I’m going to tell you jokes. Keep your fingers crossed because I’m not very good at this. Hopefully, you’ll find them worth a chuckle.
Okay, here we go……
A man and wife went to their lake cabin for a little R&R. It was a beautiful day and not a cloud in the sky, so the husband decided to go fishing in his rowboat.
After several hours with not much to show, he rowed in and tied up, telling his wife he was going to take a nap.
Now, the wife liked to read romance and she thought how perfect it would be to drift along in the boat. If she got too hot she could take a dip. So she rowed out a little ways from the shore where she could get a nice breeze and picked up her story where she’d left off. The hero cowboy was having a time getting his little darling to the altar.
She drifted along in the little rowboat and turned the pages, totally engrossed.
Pretty soon, a game warden came by and asked to see her fishing license.
“But warden, I’m not fishing. You can see the poles are inside the boat. Besides, I don’t like to fish. They’re smelly and I don’t like touching them. I’m just sitting here reading my book, not bothering one fish or one person.”
The warden looked stern. “That doesn’t matter. You have all the fishing equipment and could put the poles into the water if you choose. I’m going to have to write you a ticket.”
“Then I’m afraid I’ll have to take you to jail, ma’am.”
“Let’s make it the sheriff’s office, warden. I’ll need to file a complaint.”
“May I ask what your business is? I’ve been as polite as I can and I’m following the law.”
“The charge will be for sexual assault.”
“You’re crazy. We’ve done nothing but talk. You still have your clothes on.”
She smiled sweetly. “But I’m sorry, Warden, you have all the right equipment.”
Flustered, he threw his ticket pad down. “Have a nice day, ma’am, and continue reading your book.”
* * * * * * *
What Do You Call a Happy Cowboy? (a jolly rancher)
Why Did the Bowlegged Cowboy Get Fired? (he couldn’t keep his calves together)
* * * * * * *
I hope you got a chuckle or two. I’m giving away one early copy (autographed) of A COWBOY OF LEGEND. It doesn’t come out until April 27th so you’ll be ahead of the game. I’ll draw from the people who comment and the Giveaway Rules apply – https://petticoatsandpistols.com/sweepstakesrules/.
Just tell me what makes you laugh. Or tell me a joke. I love to laugh.
Hello from wacky weather Texas! The last of the snow melted here in Dallas on Friday. By Monday, our temperature was 81 degrees. Today as I write this, it’s 48, but that’s Texas for you. A weather roller coaster ride!
Here’s a picture of my view after the first snow.
What my family went through during Snowmageddon Texas Edition was nothing compared to what others endured. We only lost power for a day, and we never lost water service. Others were without power for a week or more. While our house pipes didn’t freeze, our pool froze over, though. My youngest son had fun doing a photo shoot with his penguin, Tama, to memorialize our adventures. The only damage we sustained was broken pool equipment pipes. Unfortunately, so many others have not been as lucky. Houses have been destroyed by burst pipes and for some safe water is still an issue.
My small adventure brought back memories of my grandparents’ northeastern Iowa farm and reminded me how difficult daily life could be in the past. My grandparents’ house had electricity but lacked running water and indoor plumbing. A gas heater warmed the downstairs. I can still picture it—a giant brown rectangle that stood in the living room. It had a glass window through which we could see flames. It was the monsterish kind that scared poor young Kevin in Home Alone. Upstairs we went without heat.
A simple task such as bathing a preschool me and my brother Saturday night to attend church on Sunday was a major project. My grandma would pull a dented round galvanized tub into the kitchen. Water had to be hauled from the pump by the milk house. After that, she boiled water on the stove to mix with the colder water to eventually get bath water. No wonder folks in the past only bathed once a week and didn’t have to worry about exercising! Daily life provided all the workout they needed. Sleeping upstairs in the winter meant wearing the warmest jammies possible and sleeping under mounds of blankets. And don’t even ask me about the outhouse…
I’ve always loved reading historical romances, but the recent snowstorm reminded me how we romanticize 🙂 the past. My small taste of life without electricity during Snowmageddon reminded me how past generations had to be strong, determined, and tough or they didn’t survive. Our favorite historical authors incredibly weave the feeling of the time period and daily life into their stories. They transport us to a time we often wish we could visit. After my recent short technology deprived stint , I’m thankful they don’t make the trip too realistic, and now I appreciate their talent of knowing what of past time periods to leave out even more. The past is a nice place to visit in a novel, but as for me, I wouldn’t want to live there!
Please continue to pray for those struggling to overcome the effects of the snowstorm. For many recovery will be a long, expensive process.
To be entered in today’s giveaway for the thankful, grateful, blessed sink mate and llama chip clips, comment on this question. What would be the toughest modern day item or technology for you to do without if you lived in the Old West?
During the years when Spain ruled Mexico and territories to the north, they allowed very few foreigners to enter, and trade was nearly impossible. However, once Mexico gained its independence in 1821, things opened-up. Almost immediately, traders began to enter New Mexico Territory, and the legendary Santa Fe Trail began.
Much of the merchandise available from Mexico was inferior to that produced in the United States, and those in the territories were eager for the higher quality goods. Hauling the items that far was difficult and dangerous, but the lucrative profits were appealing. From its beginning, the Santa Fe Trail was only meant for wagon trains hauling goods. Other western trails, such as the Oregon Trail, the California Trail, and the Mormon Trail would be for settlers coming to the West. That didn’t keep settlers from trickling in, however, and for the most part, the Mexican government welcomed them.
This is the historical background to my new five-book series set in early New Mexico. The first book in the Cactus Creek series, Second-Choice Bride, is already out, and the second book, Sterling Orphans, will soon follow. In Second-Choice Bride, Abby Carter was horrified with herself when she blurted out a marriage proposal to Preston King. A proper lady would never do such a thing, but her cousin had just jilted Preston, and she wanted to ease his hurt. She cared too much for him. Preston is confused, but he knows he needs a wife to help him run his uncle’s ranch in New Mexico Territory, so he asks Abby to marry him. But will he ever purge Magnolia from his heart, and will they even survive the long journey west?
I lived in New Mexico for two years and learned much about the area and its history during that time. My husband and I bought an old adobe house and remodeled it. I had a great time decorating it with a southwestern theme. When my mother’s health began to fail, and her insurance wouldn’t pay out-of-state beyond six months, we returned to North Carolina, and I began writing some of those novels I had always wanted to write. Second-Choice Bride is my thirtieth published book.
I love writing about the places I have lived and worked, and I have a lot to choose from. I’ve been to all fifty states and about forty-five other countries. With my love of history, I always explore the past and culture of an area. Having grown up in the eastern part of the Appalachian Mountains, I often joke that I lived much as people did in the 1800s. However, there’s some truth in that statement, but it’s given me a good background for writing historical fiction.
Leave the answer to the question below in a comment, and I will give a Kindle copy of Second-Choice Bride to the winner whose name is drawn.
If you could temporarily move to a new place for a year or two, where would you choose and why?
Also, free to ask me any questions or make comments. I look forward to chatting with you.
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.
“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.
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.