Monday, July 21, 2014

New Review: Ellen O’Connell’s SING MY NAME – A Tender, Superb Post Civil War Love Story

It’s 1867 and the Civil War is over. Young Matt Slade, the son of Texas settlers, fought for the South in some of the bloodiest battles—and he survived. Because he’s good at surviving. When two shady bounty hunters seize him for a crime he didn’t commit, he determines he’ll survive so they won’t take him dead, as in “dead or alive.”

While being transported with a group of calvary escorting some women to Fort Grissom, he encounters Sarah Hammond, the young daughter of passionate Massachusetts’s abolitionists, who is on her way to join her fiancé, a Yankee major, a man she does not love. Abhorring the abuse of Matt by the bounty hunters, Sarah intervenes to assure Matt is properly fed and no longer beaten. Shortly after, Comanches attack. Matt and Sarah survive only because of Matt’s resourcefulness. To get to the fort, they must depend on each other—and they grow close.

Finally at the fort, Sarah's fiancé learns that she has fallen in love with “Rebel trash," and he takes his revenge on the young lovers. And a fierce revenge it is. It will be 1875 before the story is over…

O’Connell has a way of putting you right in the action, of making you feel the emotion and of understanding what led the hero and heroine to be who they are. The tender budding love between Matt and Sarah is the genuine thing. But they will have many hurdles to cross before they can be together. Along the way, O’Connell will make you laugh and she’ll make you cry.

This is a story of sacrificial love and standing up to bias that says a fallen woman and a gunslinger aren’t worthy citizens (“What did you do with a man who loved you too much to love you?”). I absolutely love her writing! Simply put, O’Connell tells GREAT stories and she does it very well.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

New Review: Emma Merritt’s MASQUE of JADE – Love and Spies During the War of 1812 in New Orleans!

Set in 1813 in New Orleans when America was at war with England, this is the story of Laura Talbot-Harrow, who left her family’s estate in England for America nine years earlier when her mother disgraced the family by having an affair with another man, which caused Laura’s fiancé to break their engagement. Since then, Laura has wanted no relationship with any man, but instead finds her joy in running her stepmother’s plantation. That is, until she meets the wealthy gambler Clay Sutherland from Virginia who ruthlessly pursues her.

Laura’s father and stepmother want her to marry a certain nobleman from a Creole French family. Laura doesn’t love him; she loves Clay. But she would not marry Clay because he is not acceptable to her Creole society.

You had to love Clay, the honorable Virginian with a mysterious past…a past that has caught up with him, just like the war that’s coming to New Orleans.

There is a lot of action in this one as Napoleon and his supporters engage in stealth to establish New Orleans as a second base of operations; spies and treachery abound. There’s also a sultry voodoo queen who sees Laura as competition for Clay’s affections and will stop at nothing to see Laura dead. Laura’s sister Judith, who was left in England long ago, travels to New Orleans and joins the family, bringing more tension into Laura’s life.

I enjoyed this romp through the War of 1812 from the perspective of the English, Americans and Creole French living in New Orleans. I think you will, too.

The sequel to this story, MASQUE OF SAPPHIRE, is foreshadowed in JADE and tells the story of Laura’s sister, Judith. It was written by Emma Merritt’s sister, Deana James.

Friday, July 18, 2014

New Review: Lisa Gregory’s BONDS OF LOVE – Exciting Civil War Bodice Ripper!

What can I say about this book? It’s a well-written page-turner, a bodice ripper and Lisa Gregory’s (aka Candace Camp’s) first novel, published in 1978. Set during the Civil War, it tells the story of Katherine Devereaux, the only daughter of a wealthy Boston shipbuilder, who is abducted by one of the Confederate prisoners working in her father’s shipyard.

Katherine is witty, independent and capable, and when we first meet her in Boston, she is intent on marrying a Union naval officer, Lt. William Perkins. But that plan would soon change.

Captain Matthew Hampton is arrogant and selfish. He desired the haughty Miss Devereaux from the moment he laid eyes on her. And since he takes what he wants, when he escapes with a ship and his men, he kidnaps Katherine and takes her to sea, and then to England. In Katherine’s own words, “He stole me! He raped me! And now he refuses to release me, locks me in here like a dog in its kennel.”

When she does escape him in England, it is to a terrible fate. I kept thinking all the while it is Hampton who is responsible for ALL her misfortune since he abducted her in the first place. For me, it was sort of a “loved her, hated him” story. When he finally comes to realize he loves her, he just couldn’t grovel enough to compensate for what Katherine experienced. I just could not like him, no matter how contrite he became. To my mind the real hero here was the constant Lt. Perkins, who still wanted Katherine even after all she had experienced.

For all that, if you’re looking for a good bodice ripper with a very worthy heroine, I recommend it.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

New Review: Lori Austin’s AN OUTLAW IN WONDERLAND – Sizzling Civil War Love Story with Some Unusual Aspects

Austin writes very well and her books are a pleasure to read. The characters are always well developed and their emotions clear. This story is more unusual than the first in the series. It takes place during and after the Civil War and for part of the time we are in a Confederate prison. And, the hero and heroine are separated for years, which may not appeal to all readers. Still, it’s a captivating story.

The story begins in Gettysburg in 1863 when Ethan Marsh, a Union doctor, is asked to be a spy in a confederate hospital for the Intelligence Service. Hoping to end the war sooner, Ethan accepts the his job in Chimborazo Hospital in Richmond, caring not what uniform the boys wear whose lives he saves. He dons the disguise of an Irishman, adopting his father’s accent, and takes along his 17-year-old brother, Mikey, a tracker.

In Chimborazo, Ethan meets Annabeth (“Beth”) Phelan, who volunteers to bring comfort and food to the Confederate soldiers. Ethan soon recognizes Beth has talent as a nurse and requests she be assigned to him. Though it will brand her as his whore, Beth accepts the job because she loves the challenge of the work. As they work together to save lives, Ethan and Beth fall in love. When Beth learns Ethan is a spy for the enemy, she becomes a Confederate spy to expose him.

The plot has many twists and turns and Ethan and Annabeth each have secrets they keep to themselves and lies they must tell. I loved Ethan—a man every woman would.

You may wonder about the cover. I did. After all, Annabeth always wears skirts and does not carry a gun. Nor is she an “outlaw.” I kept thinking they got the wrong cover on this book. However midway through the story, when the war ends, much changes and Beth becomes a very different heroine. And Wonderland, should you ask, is an outlaw’s hideaway.

This is book 2 in Austin’s Once Upon a Time in the West series. The first actually begins after the second and the two are entwined in a very clever way, but each can be read as a stand alone. The third is the story of Annabeth’s brother, Luke.

BEAUTY AND THE BOUNTY HUNTER
AN OUTLAW IN WONDERLAND
THE LONE WARRIOR


Tuesday, July 15, 2014

New Review: Jan Cox Speas’s MY LOVE, MY ENEMY – Exciting Story Brings the War of 1812 to life!

New Cover
Set in 1813 in Baltimore, London, France and in the Atlantic, this is the story of an American girl and a British viscount. It is one of the wonderful historical romances that comprise the legacy of Jan Cox Speas.

Of the seven daughters born to Samuel Bradley, gentleman of the Chesapeake, Catherine Page (“Page”) was a rebel who tried the patience of Duncan MacDougall who worked for her father. But even he could not foresee that the bored 18 year old, wanting to spend her birthday money for some new frippery, would stow away on the small sloop Duncan sailed across the Bay to Annapolis to pick up her father’s Madeira. Once there, she manages to get into further trouble when she rescues a British gentleman from a local mob who want to hang him as a spy. When she and Duncan sail back to get the British man and his servant to safety, they run right into a British warship.

Taken aboard the English frigate, Page learns that the British gentleman she rescued is Jocelyn Trevor, Viscount Hazard of London.

Lord Hazard claimed to be in America to visit his sister though Page questions that. (He was an officer on Wellington’s staff, and it seemed odd that he’d be allowed to leave the Spanish front for family business.) In fact, he is the spy the mob in Annapolis accused him of being, though Page doesn’t know it. But since Page and Duncan MacDougall end up on a British warship because of him, Hazard vows he will see her safely back to her father.
Original Cover
This story reminded me of the statement of Bilbo in Lord of the Rings when he says to his nephew, “It's a dangerous business, Frodo, going out your door. You step onto the road, and if you don't keep your feet, there's no knowing where you might be swept off to.” Page steps out of her door and is swept away on one adventure after another as she gets caught up in the War of 1812 and the life of one particular British lord.

Speas allows us to see the conflicting emotions of those on both sides of the war. Lord Hazard is shamed by the British atrocities at Hampton, and Page experiences gracious treatment at the hands of the British officers when aboard their ship. Though there were several reasons America declared war on Britain, Speas deals specifically with the impressment of merchant sailors into the Royal Navy—sailors who considered themselves Americans. We also get to witness America’s clever privateers at work with the character Mason.

I love that Speas incorporates her extensive research of the history into this endearing and charming love story. It’s a bit lighter than her others but still quite wonderful!

Sunday, July 13, 2014

New Review: Cindy Nord’s NO GREATER GLORY – Civil War Romance Rich in Historic Detail

A well-researched debut novel with considerable detail of the various battles around Virginia, this is a romance for those who like to become very involved in the Civil War.

Set from 1862 to 1865, it tells the story of Emaline McDaniels, a widow trying to hold onto her Virginia plantation, Shapinsay. Then Colonel Reece Cutteridge, a Union officer, shows up to requisition her home and her livestock to winter and feed his troops. Despite her disdain for the Union, Emaline finds herself assisting the Union doctor and nursing the colonel’s men, all the while fighting an attraction to their commander. Reece, who lost his wife and child, resists Emaline, too, but quickly finds himself falling in love with her. Separated by war, they will find themselves brought together by fate.

Nord describes what it was like to hold a plantation on the edge of war with intruding soldiers, deserters and miscreants all trying to steal what is not theirs. And in the midst of all that, a love between two people on opposite sides. Reece is a strong, capable leader of men. Emaline is a sympathetic Southern woman. Though some parts of the book seemed more like historical fiction than romance, the love story taking a back seat to the war, history fans will love it!

Friday, July 11, 2014

New Review: Parris Afton Bonds’ MOOD INDIGO – Wonderful Story from Pre-Revolutionary War America, Rich in Historic Detail!

Original cover

The story begins in England in 1774, the year after the Boston tea party, and soon moves to America, and tells of a highborn English lady who gives up her pampered life among the aristocracy and the dictates of her overbearing father to become an indentured servant and follow the man she loves.

Lady Jane Lennox, daughter of Lord Wychwood, laughed when a Hindu fortune teller told her she’d meet a stranger who is a marked man. And she wondered when that same fortune teller told her Captain Terrence MacKenzie of the Royal Dragoons, who she had loved since she was young though he was bastard born, would be waiting for her at the end of a long road.

New cover

At a dinner party in London, Jane learns Terrence has been sent to Canada and that her powerful father has no intention of allowing her to follow him. At that same party, she meets an insolent colonial, Ethan Gordon, owner of a Virginia indigo plantation, who she spars with over dinner—a Quaker marked by a burn on his face.

Rich with period descriptions, details and locations (Williamsburg, the Green Dragon Tavern, and so many more), Bonds has woven a meticulously researched tale that will please the serious historical romance reader. There’s mystery, treachery and unwilling love with an engaging cast of characters (both real and fictional)—all set in a time when the winds of revolution were rising. Ethan is now one of my favorite heroes and the love scenes and the ending were oh, so sweet.

I highly recommend it! A keeper!

Thursday, July 10, 2014

A NEW NAME FOR THE BLOG!

Regan's Romance Reviews now has a new name--HISTORICAL ROMANCE REVIEW! It made sense to be clear about the romance genre I read and review, both for my followers and the authors whose books I review and promote and who appear here as my guests.

So, in future, my followers will be seeing my posts in their email with the new title. Nothing else will change. This will always be the place for you to find great reads--the keepers!

I hope you agree the change makes total sense!

Regan

And the Winners are...


Hello, all!

I am pleased to announce the lucky commenters who won Judith E. French's book SCARLET RIBBONS....(drum roll):

           Janice Hougland, Parris Afton Bonds and Anna Bowling!

Congratulations and thanks so much for commenting--you all had some interesting things to say about setting a novel in the time of America's Revolutionary War!

I'll be sending your emails to Judith so she can get you your book!

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Favorite Author and My Guest Today: JUDITH E. FRENCH!

Today I am pleased to have as my guest Judith E. French, winner of the 1999 Romantic Times Career Achievement Award, and the author of more than fifty novels. Her novels, known for strong heroines and authentic research, have sold worldwide.

Judith has been writing professionally since she was seventeen. A country girl and an acknowledged tomboy, Judith grew up on a farm, with loving parents and grandparents. She had a Tom Sawyer childhood, full of ponies, fireflies, and puppies. Books were always a passion of hers, and her fondest memories include afternoons spent reading or listening to her granddad tell ghost stories.

Judith lives with her husband and two spoiled dogs in a restored 18th Century farmhouse on the Delaware-Maryland border that has been in her family since a female ancestor received the land grant from William Penn. Judith is descended from early Chesapeake Bay settlers and Lenape Indians. She has a strong family heritage of oral story telling, a tradition continued in the success of her oldest daughter, bestselling novelist Colleen Faulkner. Two of Judith's grandchildren are aspiring novelists.

Note: Judith has graciously agreed to gift the eBook of SCARLET RIBBONS to three lucky commenters, so be sure we have your email!

The American Revolution as a Setting for Historical Romances, by Judith E. French

I have always wondered why the American Revolution is considered a poor choice for historical writers. Why should Great Britain's wars be of greater interest to romance readers? And why has American history been told through men's eyes? What of the wives, sweethearts, mothers, daughters, and sisters who lived through those turbulent times? Why are their stories pushed to the far corners of the stage and often forgotten?

Maryland's Eastern Shore

My mother's family settled on the Eastern Shore of the hauntingly beautiful Chesapeake Bay Region of Maryland in the 1660's. As a child, I listened to stories of redcoats, smugglers, courageous and clever women, horse thieves, crafty clerics, and pirates. Those fascinating tales led me to a passion for history, and when I began to write seriously, I wanted to tell the true experiences of these unique women and the bold men that they loved.

In dusty libraries, in shaded graveyards, and from oral accounts, I learned that the area known as Delmarva--Delaware, Maryland, and the Eastern Counties of Virginia--was known as the Breadbasket of the Revolution. It was from these farms, these rivers, these forests and kitchen gardens that Washington's starving soldiers were kept alive during the terrible winter at Valley Forge. And when everyone believed the colonials struggle was lost, it was the wives, sisters, mothers, and daughters who made the sacrifice to produce and smuggle those vital supplies through the British lines.

Revolutionary War battle


In 1777, most men between the ages of 20 and 60 were away from their homes fighting for one side or another. Deserters from the Continentals and the British army roamed at will, robbing isolated farms. Ragged bands of rebel vigilantes and Tory raiders threatened the lives and possessions of loyal citizens and those who supported the young American nation alike. Women, children, and the elderly were often victims of the unrest and lawlessness, and Hessian mercenaries made little difference between Tories and rebel sympathizers when it came to seizing livestock, foodstuffs, slaves, or valuables. For the women left alone, it was a perilous time, as dangerous as the conditions of those refugees and civilians we witness in far parts of the world on the evening news.

Gen. Washington addresses his troops on the Delaware

I have to believe that the Delmarva women in 1777 were not much different than today's women. Most must have been frightened and opposed to the war. Some may have been loyal to England's monarch and the mother country, while others, whose husbands and sons had marched away to follow Washington, probably were ardent patriots. But I can't imagine that many of those women would have chosen to see war come to their quiet villages, farms, and plantations. Most women, whatever the color of their skin or origin, instinctively prefer compromise to violence. They want a secure peace to raise their children, operate their small shops, worship as they wish, and interact with friends and family without fear. Most women would not choose to have their homes, their communities, and their loved ones in danger of being lost. Few today or in the 18th century would wish to see their men at risk of injury, imprisonment, or death.

Original cover

In Scarlet Ribbons, I decided to tell the story of these women through the eyes of Sarah Turner, a young mother who operated a country tavern and ferry crossing. On Delmarva, such a woman would not have been unusual. Here, in Maryland, it was common for women to own their own businesses and manage their own affairs. In sharp contrast to the laws of New England or to England, Maryland women had rights. I gave my Sarah Turner a young child, and I gave her a rocky past. I thought that it would be logical that Sarah would be opposed to the rebellion and sought only to survive and provide for her son, something many readers can understand and sympathize with.
New Cover

Yet, I'd started with the idea of writing a romance between a practical, conservative woman and a brave, idealistic man who had joined the Revolution in an effort to create a new form of government, a man who would risk all for honor and a noble cause. My Sarah had never known romantic love, and she had reason to doubt and fear putting herself in a position where a man could have the power to hurt her or her child again. So what would make a sensible, intelligent woman like Sarah throw caution to the wind and take up Forrest Iron's cause? What would make ordinary women from every level of society defy the might of the British military? What or who would change Sarah from a pacifist to someone willing to share in the danger of the American fight for independence?

My task as a writer was to make Sarah's journey realistic and believable to readers while keeping the romance front and center. It is up to you to decide if I succeeded. But regardless of your opinion of Sarah and Forrest's love story, I hope that I've made you think about the sacrifices women like Sarah made so that we might enjoy the benefits of life in a free society today. And I hope that those of you who do like Scarlet Ribbons will go to your favorite e-books site and leave a review. Your opinion does influence the future of publishing and of historical romance in today's market.

Many thanks to Regan for inviting me to share a few thoughts with you today. Wishing you happy reading because readers really do have more fun!

Monday, July 7, 2014

New Review: Judith E. French’s SCARLET RIBBONS – Brings the Revolutionary War to life!


Set in Maryland in 1777, scarlet ribbons tells the story of Sarah Turner, originally from England who, through a series of misfortunes, is now innkeeper of King’s Landing, and wed to a man serving the loyalists. Then one day to her inn comes Forest Irons, a Rebel spy sent to watch the goings on at the inn for General Washington. Forest dons the disguise of a beard and an eye patch and poses as a man in need of work, a man with no loyalties. Sarah needs help at the inn and for her young son, so she hires him, never knowing he is an enemy and never telling him her husband lies in an unmarked grave nearby.

With treachery, intrigue, and bad guys aplenty, French weaves a well-written tale of love in the time of war. The story reflects extensive research as she puts you in the scene with conflicting loyalties as some Americans supported England’s reign and others wanted their new country free from England’s tyranny. Forest is a worthy hero, bound by his dream of a free America to the Rebel cause, yet finds himself falling in love with a courageous woman who is loyal to the Crown. Sarah is one smart, clever heroine who will have you cheering.
Original cover

If you want to experience our nation at war in the time of its early beginnings, this is a great romance to read. While there are no battles, you’ll see what went on in the early days of the war between Maryland and the Rebels winter camp in Pennsylvania.

Note: Judith will be a guest on my blog on Wednesday, July 9th, and she’ll be giving away three copies of Scarlet Ribbons, so come on back!

Saturday, July 5, 2014

New Review: Kathleen Woodiwiss’ ASHES IN THE WIND – Captivating Civil War Romance!

When Kathleen Woodiwiss did historical romance well, there was no one better--and such a novel is ASHES IN THE WIND. To my thinking, it's up there with her best (THE FLAME AND THE FLOWER, THE WOLF AND THE DOVE and SHANNA).

It is a compelling tale of a young Southern woman from Louisiana who loses everything in the Civil War. The Yankees take her family and her home and finally, even her identity. Disguised as a boy for her safety, 17-year old Alaina MacGaren thinks to seek refuge in her uncle's home in New Orleans. But before she can reach him she encounters a group of soldiers who harass her. A young Yankee surgeon, Captain Cole Latimer from Minnesota, rescues her. He is a man of honor and great medical talent who is respectful of Southerners.

Cole takes "Al" the boy (Alaina's new identity) under his wing and gives "him" a job at the Yankee army hospital in New Orleans Al returns the favor and saves the doctor's life one night when he is drunk, set upon by thieves and tossed into the Mississippi River. In the process of caring for Cole in her uncle's home, much happens, and a great mix-up occurs that casts a shadow on the rest of the story.

It is a magnificent love story, well told with great plot twists and accurate history of the era, woven in so that you understand what is going on in the Civil War. Her characters are richly drawn. You will feel you are living it as you celebrate Alaina's strength and intelligence. She plays many parts and Woodiwiss does them all so well.

You won't regret reading this one--it's a keeper!

Thursday, July 3, 2014

New Review: Cordia Byers’ LOVESTORM – A Bond Servant in the Colonies Falls for her Master—an Exciting Read!

Set in 1750, beginning in England but quickly moving to the American colony of South Carolina, this is the story of Storm Kingsley, confined to Newgate Prison because she was taken with her mother, a prostitute falsely accused of murder. Storm was transported to the colonies to be sold as a bond slave. She was labeled as a prostitute though she was innocent. Storm blames it all on her father, Lyle Ashfort, the son of an earl who married her mother and then sailed away to America, never knowing the wife he left destitute carried his child.

The ship that carries Storm to America is captained by Thor Wakefield who owns a plantation in South Carolina as well as several ships. A self-made man who was spurned by his mother when she left his father, Thor has no desire to marry though he knows he will one day need an heir for the fortune he has worked hard to accumulate. On the voyage, Thor uses his possession of Storm’s mother’s Bible to lure her to his cabin where he seduces the innocent girl. Then, rather than turning her over to be sold as an indentured servant, he decides to keep her papers. He makes her his housekeeper by day and his whore by night (apparently unconcerned she will get pregnant).

Storm both loves and hates Thor but resigns herself to her fate when she discovers the man on whom she wants vengeance for her mother, Lyle Ashfort, owns the plantation next door.

This is a well-written page-turner, and while not a bodice ripper in my mind, there is a lot of seduction. Storm doesn’t seem to be able to reject Thor’s attentions once he touches her. But the rest of the time, she has nothing but disdain for the man. Thor continues to think the worst of her no matter what she does or how good she is; and she seems unable to organize an escape. She blames herself for all of Thor’s problems. Heck, she blames herself for everyone’s problems. Add to that so truly despicable villains who plot everyone’s demise and, well, you can see where you end up. Byers does a good job of keeping up the tension while serving up an intriguing tale.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

New Review: Danelle Harmon’s LORD OF THE SEA – Another Well-written Tale from Harmon—this one of American Privateers in the War of 1812

Since July is American Patriotic Romances month on my blog, I thought to begin with a tale that takes place during the War of 1812. Set in the Caribbean in 1813, this is the story of Capt. Connor Merrick, a cavalier Yankee privateer, and Rhiannon Evans, a young British girl.

Rhiannon wants an adventure and so she accepts an invitation to winter at the home of Sir Graham Falconer in Barbados, who happens to be Connor’s brother-in-law. On the way, pirates attack her ship, and Connor saves her and takes her to Sir Graham’s. Intending to leave to hunt British merchant ships, Conner stays long enough to get trapped into marrying the young Rhiannon.

Harmon has woven an entertaining seafaring tale of divided loyalties with an American privateer whose sister is married to a British admiral. Reckless and daring, yet insecure about his ability to be his famous father’s equal, Connor takes one British prize ship after another, all this in his brother-in-law’s backyard. Meanwhile, Rhiannon, a naïve young woman in many ways, quickly grows up trying to keep up with Connor—and keep him out of trouble, an effort that is doomed to failure.

The descriptions of the ships and sails and all things nautical are done exceptionally well and will keep you turning pages as Connor faces pirates, battles at sea and storms. There is deep emotion, too, as Connor comes to term with his own frailties and the strengths of others.

It’s been a while since I read one of Harmon’s sea faring adventures, so I was a bit lost when characters from her other books made an appearance and there were references to earlier stories. I say this only to suggest you might want to read this book as a part of the series, and in order.

This is book 4 in the Heroes of the Sea series:

MY LADY PIRATE
CAPTAIN OF MY HEART
MASTER OF MY DREAMS
THE ADMIRAL’S HEART (short story)
LORD OF THE SEA

Monday, June 30, 2014

New Review: Elizabeth Lane’s THE BALLAD OF EMMA O’TOOLE – Unusual Marriage and Utah Mining Make for an Entertaining Tale!

It’s Park City, Utah Territory in 1886 and Emma O’Toole is pregnant by her fiancé Billy John “the only boy who’d ever loved her.” In an attempt to win some money to care for her and their child, foolish Billy cheated at cards and then threatened the life of an old man if the card players didn’t let him leave with his ill gotten gain. Before he could shoot, however, another player shot him.

An unprincipled “muckraking” newspaperman pens a ballad than has everyone singing of the story, much to Emma’s chagrin. Then the jury decides Logan Devereaux is guilty of manslaughter and the judge offered Logan prison or marriage to Emma. Logan chose marriage even knowing his bride would hate him. Emma agreed only because the judge said he would otherwise let the murderer of her lover go free. But she intended to make Logan’s life a living hell. When she discovers the horrible conditions in the silver mines, she finds a way to help the miners and hurt her husband.

All the time Emma is plotting, Logan treats her well and they find passion together, never telling Emma he has another identity, that of Christian Girard, a man wanted in New Orleans for murder.

A well-researched, well-told tale that will bring you into the lives of those in a western mining town in the late 19th century. Logan is a drool worthy hero who rises above a bad situation to do the honorable thing—again and again. There are several bad guys in this one and a secret from Logan’s past that will keep you guessing!

And the Winners are....


We have our three winners of Kaki's new book, WHERE THE HORSES RUN!

First, thanks to all who commented. I know Kaki enjoyed meeting you. Now to our winners. They are Debbie McCreary, Crystal Christopherson and Gwen Rutherson!

Please send me your address for Kaki's book! You can use the email link on my website or reach me via Facebook or my website at reganwalkerauthor.com.

Congratulations!

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Favorite Author of Western Historical Romances and My Guest Today: Kaki Warner!

Although she now lives on the eastern slopes of the Cascade Mountains in Washington, Kaki grew up in the Southwest and is a proud graduate of the University of Texas. Her years spent riding horses and enjoying the expansive vistas of Texas became the inspiration for the backdrop of her first novels—the wide-open spaces of historic New Mexico Territory and then Colorado.

Kaki and her husband, Joe, now live in a hilltop cabin overlooking the scenic Methow Valley in Washington where Kaki spends her time gardening, hiking, reading, writing, and soaking in the view from the deck with her husband and floppy-eared hound dog. Sounds ideal, no?

Note: For 3 lucky commenters today, Kaki will be giving you a copy of her new release WHERE THE HORSES RUN. Only one of you may be international but all three may be sent to the US and/or Canada.

The Interview:

Hi, Kaki. Welcome to the blog! I’m so glad you’re here to conclude western month. I’ve posted my review of WHERE THE HORSES RUN, so I know my followers are anxious to hear more!

Kaki: I’m delighted to be here, Regan, and thank you so much for including me on such a formidable list of outstanding authors.


1. Tell us where HORSES fits into your Heartbreak Creek series. You’ve several trilogies out now so we need help!

It is a bit confusing. Maybe it’s easier to think in terms of six books in a series, rather than two trilogies, since all the books relate to the same setting and all the characters are linked to the four female characters who first came to Colorado in Book 1.

Book 1—HEARTBREAK CREEK (Edwina’s and Declan’s story)
Book 2—COLORADO DAWN (Maddie’s and Ash’s story)
Book 3—BRIDE OF THE HIGH COUNTRY (Lucinda’s and Tait’s story)
Book 4—BEHIND HIS BLUE EYES (Audra’s and Ethan’s story)
Book 5—WHERE THE HORSES RUN (out July 1st)(Josephine’s and Rafe’s story)
Book 6—Untitled (out in 2015) (Pru’s and Thomas’s story)

2. What inspired HORSES?

I love the “stranger in a strange place” trope and wondered what would happen if I sent a Heartbreak Creek character to England and Scotland. So I sent Rafe Jessup (the ex-Texas lawman, horse wrangler introduced in Book 4) and Thomas Redstone, the Cheyenne Dog Soldier (introduced in Book 1 and appearing in every subsequent book) to England to buy Thoroughbreds and bring them back to Heartbreak Creek. If ever two men were out of their element in Britain, it would be these two. It made for some interesting—sometimes funny, sometimes harrowing—situations.

3. Was it difficult to write a Western set in England (mostly) with a trip aboard ship, too?

Definitely. In addition to researching transatlantic vessels, local English road maps, and what it would take to transport mares and studs by ship and railcar for thousands of miles, I had to describe the terrain and climate of a country I’d never visited, the society of that era back in 1870 and the Scottish Highlands…all from a male point of view. A woman might be awed by the beauty, history and glamour of the English Lake District or a battered highland castle, but these fellows mostly thought it rained too much and the residents talked funny. And if they were baffled by local laws (especially in regards to poaching) or the British customs of behavior, dressing up in Sunday clothes just to eat dinner, or risking fine horses in steeplechase races, the locals were just as bewildered by them. Texans and Cheyenne warriors don’t always transplant easily. Or so I’ve heard.

4. Tell us of your own experience with the west and with horses. I know you are a horsewoman!

I used to be. In fact my husband and I owned two feisty American/Missouri Foxtrotter mares and raised a couple of beautiful colts out of them. The area where we live now (land that we bought over thirty years ago and retired to a while back) is “John Wayne” country, for sure. By horseback, we chased cows, mended wire fences, outran forest fires, swam rivers, and rode some amazing trails before our horses galloped off into the sunset. Those sassy mares are mentioned in the dedication to this book and I miss them still.

5. You have an accent that is clearly not from the east and now you live in Washington State. Where is your accent from and how did you end up where you are?

What accent? I lost my accent years ago. When I did have one, it was a combination of several different accents. My parents were from Southern Louisiana (pronounced Suthun Loozy-anna) Cajun Country, so there might be a touch of that. And since my mother was raised by a Virginia woman (who gave all her “r”s to my grandfather to add to his Scottish brogue), there may be some of that soft Southern cadence. But mostly, my accent would be Texan, although not a real twang, no matter what anybody says. Since my daddy was in the o-i-yul bid-niss, we moved around the state a lot, and didn’t stay in one place long enough to pick up the local accent. And now that we’ve been up here in Washington State (sent there originally by Texas Instruments over thirty-five years ago), my husband I sound just like everybody else up here—which is to say, like a radio announcer.

6. I understand you’ve been writing the last book in the series. Tell us about that one. For those of us following your series, I know who the hero and heroine are, but tell all those who may have forgotten…and what’s in store for them?

This was a hard one. Originally, I envisioned Thomas and Pru as secondary characters in Book 1: a one-quarter white Cheyenne Dog Soldier, and the mulatto half-sister to the heroine. Both were to act as foils, or contrasts, to the main characters. Instead, they took on lives of their own and demanded to be included in almost every book, finally becoming the glue that holds all the stories together. And if that wasn’t pushy enough, they complicated everything by falling in love, despite all their differences. By the third book I started getting emails from readers, asking when I would write their story. I resisted, mainly because I wasn’t sure I could do them justice. I’m just a gray-haired grandma, sitting on a hilltop, hunched over her computer. What did I know about the Cheyenne culture, or what a Native American warrior would think when he saw his people forced onto reservations and his way of life overrun by soldiers, white settlers and trappers? How would Pru feel, growing up in the slave-owning South, beloved by her white father and sister, but despised by most blacks and whites because of mixed blood? Google can only cover so much—it can’t delve inside another person’s mind. But neither the readers, nor the characters would let me off the hook, and finally, at the gentle persistence of my agent and editor, I decided to give it a try.

That’s when the research started. Not to fill the pages with stale facts, but to paint pictures in my own head, so I could translate them into my characters’ thoughts and wants and decisions. Thomas, a nomadic warrior who grew up in a tipi, whose life had been marked by violence and loss, and whose culture was little understood and drastically different from those intruding upon his land—and Pru, half-white and half-black, a beautiful woman highly educated and pampered, but still carrying the scars of her own violent past. How were they to bridge the gap between them and reconcile their vast differences of culture, religion, dreams, lifestyle and expectations? It wasn’t easy, but love conquers all, right?

7. What do you do with your time you aren’t writing western historical romances?

I take road trips with my husband or some lady-friends, visit my grandkids, read, work in the garden, read some more, and make lists of stuff for my husband to do. It’s a grand life.

[Regan’s note: I am so jealous!!]

8. What is your writing process? Do you plot? Or, like me, do you write with a general idea but let the story take you where it will?

Like you, I’m more of a pantser. I start with a setting and time period. Then I people it with characters. After I figure out what they’re missing or need or want, I set them on the right path toward their goals. Then I screw up all their plans by throwing obstacles in their way. Sort of like real life. Except most of my characters are handsomer/prettier and sexier than real life. This is, after all, a romance. I find that if I outline before I write, I limit my characters’ responses to the pre-conceived plot. I like them to be spontaneous, to do the unexpected. Usually after the first half, I know who they are and where they want to end up (and with whom), so I finally begin to outline that last part so I can be sure to tie up all the loose ends. For me, it all begins and ends with the characters. Plot is secondary.

[Regan’s note: it sounds a bit like cooking dinner. I’m always amazed when all those dishes come up together in the end.]

9. Speaking of dinner, do you have a favorite food?

Anything I didn’t cook. The kitchen isn’t my favorite room. Since I’ve been writing full time and my husband has decided to try out his culinary skills (with total indifference to a healthy ratio of fats to sugar to carbs—does EVERTHING have to have bacon?) I’ve had to lower my expectations even further: anything I didn’t cook AND won’t kill me outright.

[Regan’s note: you are such a hoot, Kaki! Just think how lucky you are to have a man who cooks!]

10. Share with us a few pictures from the Methow Valley of northwestern Washington where you make your home!

Delighted to. These are all pictures my husband took. They don’t quite give the scope of where we live but you get enough of the view to see why I’m inspired to write westerns.

The first is a picture of our garden in full bloom. Since we’re on a bluff, there are also a couple of lower levels, all bound by an eight-foot deer fence.


Even though it’s certified, our outdoor fireplace is only useable in the spring and fall before/after the summer fire danger is past. We’re paranoid about fire up here. With good reason.

The Fireplace outdoors




 
The picture on the right was taken after one of the early winter snowfalls. If we’re lucky, everything is solid white by January—we get almost all our water from snow. This was a bad year—an early hard freeze before snow came to insulate the garden, then limited snowfall, and no spring rains. It could be a very bad fire season.



The eagle below is one of many that hang out in the trees along the Methow River in December.

Methow Eagle
T-Bone



       
      This is an old doe we called T-Bone because of her droopy ears. She hasn’t been around for several years.





Thanks, Kaki, for being a guest on my blog and sharing the story behind your latest books--as well as a bit of your life in Washington State!

Saturday, June 28, 2014

New Review: Kaki Warner’s WHERE THE HORSES RUN – Great Western Historical—and this one has England & Scotland, too!

Set 1871 in England and Scotland (bracketed by scenes from Texas and Colorado) this is the story of Rafford Jessup (“Rafe”), the former lawman we met in BEHIND HIS BLUE EYES.

Rafe is the wrangler Ash (Lord Kirkwell) hires to go with him to England to procure breeding stock for his thoroughbred ranch in Heartbreak Creek. One of the places they hope to buy horses is in Penrith, England where a former coal miner turned wealthy man is being forced to sell his stock. His daughter, Josephine Cathcart, is a ruined woman who had a son by her baron lover who deserted her to marry someone of higher rank. Sadly, Josephine must go along with selling her prized stallion “Pens” unless her father can marry her off to a wealthy man. And so they traveled to America. On the ship sailing to England, they all come together.

Warner serves up a wonderful cast of characters with this installment in the series: cowboys, Scots, the Cheyenne Indian Thomas Redstone, who we have come to love from Warner’s other books, an Irish maid, and some irascible Englishmen, including the valet, Pringle who continually banters with Ash—all wrapped around a love story between two unlikely people in Victorian England who share a passion for horses.

Rafe is the 19th century equivalent of a Texas “horse whisperer,” and Josephine is an Englishwoman who has borne her shame with dignity. I loved them both. And I was delighted to see the Ash and his countess back again.

There’s humor and emotion that will have you laughing one moment and crying the next and lots of fun in this most unusual tale. You can enjoy it alone, but it’s best devoured with the rest of Warner’s Heartbreak Creek stories: the Runaway Brides trilogy and the Heroes of Heartbreak Creek. I recommend them all! And the next will be the story of the Cheyenne dog soldier, Thomas and the half black schoolteacher, Pru. I CAN’T WAIT for that one!

Note: Kaki is my guest on June 29th (this book is to be released July 1st) so ya’all come back, ya hear?