Monday, November 23, 2015

Books in paperback!

Over the last few weeks I've been creating some of my books into paperbacks so they are available on Amazon for those people who don't have Kindles. I'm very pleased with the results. I wish I had done it ages ago, but they are done now and I hope readers feel they are worth it. 

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Women suffered many Post-War Issues

When World War II ended there was a feeling of anti-climax, as if the bright blue, sun-filled sky had clouded over, leaving a feeling of uncertainty about the future. A grey chill seemed to hang over everything. But then the country was in a mess, near bankrupt. There were bombed areas and rubble everywhere, homes lost or wrecked, many empty shops and huge bomb craters everywhere.

Women had become much more hardened and independent, having worked hard jobs usually occupied by men, spending endless sleepless nights in shelters fearing they could be killed. And suffering years of anguish worrying over the fate of their loved ones in the war.

When the fighting men returned, these problems were not always taken into account, the husband too beset by his own problems. Women lost their jobs, expected to concentrate on being a wife and mother again by creating a family and home. Housework did take much more time in those days, of course. Even so, many of them resented this change in their lives. They were also urged to no longer wear plain looking suits, trousers or overalls, but to be bright and pretty females again.

She might also have to cope with a shell-shocked or injured husband, outbursts of violence, depression or infidelity. A soldier having been trained to kill was not always the same civilised a person he’d once been. He could be far too accustomed to giving orders and inflicting punishment in order to achieve his aim, for him to show much patience for her. Or he might feel in desperate need for peace and quiet and hardly move or speak.

Many men suffered from sleepwalking, nightmares, or shouting in their sleep. Settling back into Civvy street was not easy, nor was finding a home and employment. He might be missing his pals, decide she’s grown old and become bored with her. Lives had changed and relationships were often badly affected, not least because couples had seen little of each other as leave generally were quite short, and many men had gone overseas. Even letters were often late and much of them blacked out. Whatever his reaction to the traumas he’d suffered, she would largely be the one left to cope. There was little in the way of counselling or assistance.

Cathie is remarkably patient with her fiancé, perhaps a little too kind and vulnerable. She does her best to help by listening to the advice given out over the radio and from the WVS. But then finds there is a price to pay.

Christmas is approaching and Cathie Morgan is awaiting the return of her beloved fiancé, Alexander Ramsay. But she has a secret that she’s anxious to share with him. One that could change everything between them. Her sister has died and she wants to adopt her son. 

When the truth is finally revealed, Alex immediately calls off the wedding, claiming that the baby is actually Cathie’s, causing all of Cathie’s fears to be realised. As Cathie battles to reassure Alex of her fidelity, she must also juggle the care of the baby and their home. 

But then Alex crosses the line with a deceit that is unforgivable, leaving Cathie to muster the courage to forge a life for her and her nephew alone. Will Cathie ever be able to trust another man again and as peace begins to settle will she ever be able to call a house a home… 

Published by Mira books. 

Read an extract: 

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Monday, November 9, 2015

New Release! LADY HOPE AND THE DUKE OF DARKNESS-The Baxendale Sister Series Book #3



In her first Season, Hope Baxendale attracts the interest of a powerful English duke, the husband all debutantes wish for and some will fight dirty to get. If only the handsome Frenchman Daniel Brienne, Duc du Ténèbres wasn’t distracting her from her course. Daniel shows little interest in marrying again, and surely, it is only the sadness in his deep brown eyes that pulls her to him:
Daniel yearns for solitude. When his very existence is threatened, he wakes to the possibilities of a life passionately lived. He knows just whom he wants in his future, but the weary hawk, the Duke of Winslow, circles. And is it fair to ask Hope to leave her family and her country for him?
A heavyset man halted beside Hope. When his way forward was blocked, he lost his temper and pushed against her. His foot crashed down on her instep, unprotected in her thin evening slipper. Hope cried out in pain, but the man merely ground his shoe into hers to gain momentum and pushed on.
With an angry scowl at the man’s back, the duke took her arm and pulled her sideways. He frowned down at her. “Did he hurt you?”
She grimaced. “My foot is a little sore.”
Hope limped as he drew her toward the open French doors.
When they reached the doors where the curtains flapped in the breeze, they escaped out into the cool, welcoming fresh air. The terrace was deserted. A small party of guests, who had braved the weather, disappeared amongst the trees to admire the gardens lit by braziers.
Hope had left her evening cloak when she’d entered the mansion. She shivered and rubbed her arms. Her foot throbbed horribly, and she’d begun to hobble.
The duke put an arm around her and led her to a garden seat. He shrugged out of his coat and wrapped it around her shoulders. “I’ll fetch your parents.”
Hope clutched his coat, still warm from his body to her chest and breathed in his musky, masculine scent. “It will be difficult for you to locate them in that crush.” She looked toward the open door. “I expect they’ll soon find me.”
“Then please allow me to see the extent of your injury.”
Hope cautiously lifted her gown high enough to expose her foot and ankle as the duke knelt at her feet.
She muffled a gasp as his gloved fingers took a gentle hold of her ankle and his dark head bent over her foot. Her skin tingled where he touched her. The only man who had ever paid attention to her ankle was the groom who’d taught her to ride. The duke removed her slipper, revealing an obvious swelling beneath her damaged stocking.
“You’ll have a nasty bruise, but I don’t think you’ve broken a bone,” he said, lifting his head and pinning her with his deep, soulful dark brown eyes.
She sucked in a breath and fought to compose herself. He didn’t look beguiled. In fact, he sounded like their doctor. She’d thought him quite sociable when they’d last danced, but tonight, there was more distance between them despite his proximity. It was impossible to know what he was thinking. She supposed she didn’t present well from this angle. She now had a big hole in her soiled stocking. “I was to ride in Hyde Park on Sunday. I suppose I shan’t be able to, now,” she said. “And I was looking forward to it.” She closed her mouth firmly, aware she was rambling.
“I doubt this injury will prevent you. You like to ride?”
“I do. Riding gives one a wonderful sense of freedom.”
“Well put.”
“Although Rotten Row is a little restricting. One cannot gallop there. My father disapproves of women galloping. He says sidesaddles are dangerous.” She pressed her lips together.
“They have been proved so.”
“I would love to ride astride, like men. I don’t see why women cannot.” Rambling and opinionated. She was so nervous she seemed unable to stop.
“In the future perhaps, when you marry.” He straightened, but having him stand so close didn’t improve her breathing.
“A husband would permit it?”
“I don’t see why not in the privacy of his estate.”
“Then you agree?” she asked, curiosity getting the better of her. “You would allow your wife to ride astride, I mean.”
He paused to consider it. “It would be entirely my wife’s decision.” His smile softened the firm set of his jaw and turned his eyes to brown satin. “But I imagine you could persuade your husband without a great deal of difficulty, Lady Hope.”
It wasn’t a criticism, for his tone was warm. He might even like her a little. In fact, his gaze was a soft caress, and oddly, it seemed to bring him closer, although he hadn’t moved an inch. A lurch of excitement shocked her and brought her back to the present. They were at a rout, surrounded by the beau monde. Her dress was rucked up, and he was holding her shoe!
“We’d best replace your shoe before your foot swells.” The duke dropped down again and returned to his task.
He was holding her ankle in his long fingers while slipping on her shoe when her father stormed out of the door with her mother following on his heels.
For a moment, Hope held her breath as her father surveyed the scene. Thankfully, he did not rush to judgment. But neither was he pleased. His brows snapped together. “Thank you for rescuing my daughter from that infuriating melee, Your Grace.” He strode over to Hope. “We feared you’d been trampled underfoot, my dear.” He eyed her foot. “It seems you have.”
Fortunately, she and the duke were not alone, for several guests had emerged from the gardens and approached the terrace steps.
Having replaced her shoe, the duke straightened. “Your daughter has suffered a slight injury.”
“I’m grateful for your assistance,” Father said, his tone brisk. He whipped the duke’s coat from Hope’s shoulders and held it out to him. “Most grateful.”
The duke shrugged into his coat. “Lady Hope finds it painful to walk.”
“Come, Hope.” Her father took hold of her arm and led her across the terrace.
A sharp pain shot through her instep, and she staggered. “I can’t walk, Father.”
“Dashed infernal entertainments, so called,” her father muttered. “How on earth are we going to get through that crowd?” He swung Hope up into his arms.
Hope held on to her father’s shoulder and peered around at the duke, who nodded to her as she was carried inside. “Thank you,” Hope mouthed.
Her father blustered his way through the throng, which was thankfully dispersing, her mother behind them. Reaching the front porch, he set Hope on her feet. “Never ask me to attend another of these ridiculous routs again,” he said to her mother through clenched teeth. “I’d rather brave Billingsgate fish wharf.”
“Are you overset my dear?” her mother asked. “He actually had his hand on your ankle! The French do not have the same sense of proprieties that we English do.”
“He wore gloves, Mama.”
“Nevertheless. He might have seen more than was fitting.”
“He did see my foot and my ankle. I believe he will recover from the experience.”
“Don’t be impertinent,” her father said. “Your mother is quite correct.”
At least her parents were now in agreement.
As they were led to their vehicle, the duke strolled onto the porch. Footmen stood to attention while others scurried for the carriage. His fingers on her ankle had been gentle and impersonal, and he’d showed no sign that he found her irresistible. Why would he? It had been kind of him to bother with her. He was a puzzle, however, welcomed with respect in English ballrooms and sought by those in high office, but at the same time, there seemed a wall between him and the rest of the world.

Maggi Andersen's Website:

Saturday, November 7, 2015

Guest Author: Jessie Clever

To Be a Lady: A Spy Series Short Story by Jessie Clever


She planned for everything except him.

Miss Jane Black enjoys a comfortable position in society.  As the daughter of a respected genteel farmer and former agent for the War Office, Jane has had the pleasure of planning a future filled with domesticity and quiet reflection.   But when her dying grandfather swears her to a dangerous promise, Jane’s expectations are shattered. 

Fighting to keep her promise, Jane sees danger lurking everywhere, and when her near kidnapping throws her into the arms of the Marquess of Evanshire, another danger she didn’t know to fear emerges: the danger of love.

The short stories in the Spy Series:
1.     To Be a Spy
2.     To Be a Duke
3.     To Be a Lady

The Spy Series short stories take place after the conclusion of the Spy Series.

Goodreads Link:

Purchase links:

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About the Author:

In the second grade, Jessie began a story about a duck and a lost ring.  Two harrowing pages of wide ruled notebook paper later, the ring was found.  And Jessie has been writing ever since.

Armed with the firm belief that women in the Regency era could be truly awesome heroines, Jessie began telling their stories in her Spy Series, a thrilling ride in historical espionage that showcases human faults and triumphs and most importantly, love.

Jessie makes her home in the great state of New Hampshire where she lives with her husband and two very opinionated Basset Hounds.  For more, visit her website at

Connect with Jessie…

March 1833

Richard Black, the Duke of Lofton, died peacefully in his bed.  It was a Tuesday, as unremarkable as any other Tuesday, and he had gone to bed as he had any other Tuesday for the whole of his eighty-three years.  It was only as dawn broke through the curtains that his wife, Jane, found him gone when she woke beside his cold body.
His colleagues and friends had all remarked on such a virtuous end to a life lived in constant pursuit of death.  For in his work with the War Office, Richard Black had more than once traveled into the vicinity of death, caring not for the safety of his person but for the safety of an entire nation.  To have death finally come when one had lived a life as full as it was wide, having escaped attempt after attempt on his life by nefarious traitors and the like, it was a rather remarkable feat and oft mentioned at the clubs by those that survived him and admired him.
His funeral was quite the spectacle with everyone in attendance including the Earl Grey.  It was rumored even Peel would have appeared if he had been in the country at the time.  As it was, St. Paul's ran over with the respectable and noble, the pews crammed with the latest in mourning fashions.  The people were all there to see the great Richard Black, the Duke of Lofton, celebrated spy for the War Office, and in his later years, tremendous supporter of the reform acts sweeping through the House of Lords, laid to rest.
It was an exultant affair for all that those types of things could be.  His life was carefully articulated by his sons, each milestone given its due.  His achievements were itemized in detail and revered with exuberance by Lord Crawley, a man simply referred to as exemplary in his work alongside Lofton at the War Office.
As Richard Black's merits rang through the dome of St. Paul's, the attendees all bowed their heads, absorbing the passage of time, reflecting on their own life's achievements or lack thereof, and all pondered on the greatness of the man they had lost.
All except one, that is.
One slight head bent not in reflection but in fear.
Fear of the days ahead.  Fear of the unknown.
Fear of not being able to keep the last promise she made to her grandfather.

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

The richest young widow in England....

Frances Bowes, the richest young widow in England, saves Jack Slade from drowning, but Jack, living in his own private hell after the death of his wife, is not grateful. Newcomer Holbrook dazzles the neighbourhood in his glorious regimentals and Frances’s mother, match-making hat firmly in place, claims that he’s admirable husband material. Frances remains unimpressed, but when the newspaper publishes an ugly letter questioning her reputation, she realizes someone is trying to force her into something she definitely does not want.

An absorbing tangle of emotions and a heart-rending denouement.


His clothes… She ran her eye over the long length of him, took in the riding breeches and top-boots, both of a quality far beyond the pocket of a mean highwayman. Her mouth twisted. What did she know of highwaymen? His left hand, relaxed and long-fingered against the stony ground, bore a heavy gold ring on the third finger, and as she watched, the sun raised a scarlet gleam from the embedded stone. A wedding ring?
Thoughts tumbled through her mind at amazing speed. She ought to check his head and see if the wound still bled, but to do that she must touch him. Such a small thing; yet she hesitated.
Frances! Touch him, or else call yourself a coward.
Her hand trembled in the air above him and then closed upon itself and retreated, curling into a fist against her throat. Even with him unconscious, she did not like the thought of touching him.
Marriage to Rathmere had left her with a huge dislike of physical contact. But this man, she told herself, looking down at him, offered no threat. He needed her help.
Do it. Do it now.
Taking a deep breath, she reached out before her fears caught up with her and touched his brow. Her fingers sprang back as if she encountered fire. Frances shook her head at her foolishness.
His skin was cold beneath her hesitant fingers, but a pulse beat slowly in his neck. Drat the proprieties. And be damned to her fears. If he died, she would never forgive herself.
“Wake up, you silly creature.” Growing bolder, she shook him by the shoulder. “Wake up. Speak to me. Who are you?”
Perplexed, she flopped down on the wet mud beside him. He was far too heavy to lift. She could not drag him up the slope to the meadow, even with Gyp’s assistance.
Hugging herself, rocking back and forth, she dithered. If she knew what to do, she would do it, but she had no idea what would be best.
Gyp whined, shuffled closer, stretched out her neck and licked the man’s neck with long, curious strokes.
Stimulation. Frances smiled. Of course.
She gripped the man’s shoulder. He looked uncomfortable, sprawled on his side, one cheek flat against the mud. He proved far heavier than she expected, and as soon as she let go, he flopped back again. Odd sounds and a trickle of water came from his mouth. Encouraged, she tried once more, and failed again.

“Oh for pity’s sake!”

Friday, October 23, 2015

Guest Author: Madeline Archer

Today we have a guest spotlight. Please welcome Madeline Archer, who is showcasing her book, The Changeling. 

The Changeling
Madeline Archer

November 1, 1867
Frances March hurried cautiously along the stable wall. So distracted by their conspiracy of mercy, she nearly jumped out of her shoes at the nicker of a horse. The sooner this deed was done, the better.
Pressing flat to the wall, she listened for the stableman, but heard only the muffled sound of stabled horses and the hoot of a distant owl. It was imperative that no one — upstairs or down —  see her. She peered around the corner and watched as her sister disappeared through the hedge. Pulling her shawl tightly around her and the bundle she held, she scurried across the gardens to the library and slipped inside quietly. The head butler was waiting.
He stated rather than asked, “You’re certain no one saw you . . . ”
With a nod she went to warm herself by the fire, her bundle held close. The grandfather clock in the hall struck one.
Osgood checked his watch against it. He pressed, “Did you explain to your sister she must never speak of this again?”
“Yes, Mr. Osgood. As I said before, Agnes says no one would believe the truth of it anyway. She’d be ridiculed…her reputation ruined. And there’s always the possibility she could be blamed for the other. It is unbelievable, no?”
“It is at that.” Osgood nodded. “I scarcely believe it myself, Fanny. What about the poor still babe?”
Her eyes brimmed with tears. “Agnes will see him to the cradle and hopefully none will be the wiser. Mrs. Benton will think her own baby died and he’ll get a decent burial. And that’s pretty much the truth, isn’t it? Her own son is as good as dead. Poor, poor laddie, wherever he is now.” She crossed herself.
Osgood peered out into the night before locking the French doors and drawing the heavy curtains closed. “It’s as it should be.”
“Is it? Was it wise to switch them, Mr. Osgood? I mean, the baker and his wife —”
“— Had their child taken, with nothing to be done for it. They have seven living children to love, Fanny. Her ladyship has four in the grave. Five now.”
Frances frowned. “Has her ladyship awakened?”
He shook his head. “Doctor Fischer administered a sedative. Lady Amelia was done out. She went to sleep believing her child alive and has no idea of the tragedy that occurred but half an hour later.”
My poor lady. To go through that long labor and, in the end, the babe too weak to survive.” Emotion welling, Frances wiped her eyes. “What do you suppose they do with the babies they take?”
Osgood blinked his own sentiment away. “I can’t say. My old Welsh grannie said the fae only took the sickly ones. But back then it was only legend.”
“My Scottish gran told us the same,” Frances said, shaking her head. “But Agnes says Libby Benton’s baby wasn’t sickly but strong and healthy. Nearly every child of the Benton’s is as towheaded as their father, except for the two with the ginger hair like their mother. Agnes said Libby’s babe was destined to be ginger.”
Osgood went to the decanter and poured two small glasses of sherry. He handed one to her before downing his in one swallow. “Did your sister witness the switch?”
Frances sipped then shook her head. “When Agnes went to tidy the mother, she left the sleeping babe in the crib with no one to watch him. And, why would she think he needed to be watched? She helped bring the others into the world without fuss. It was minutes only that he was out of her sight. When she went back, another, with black hair, was in his place. That’s when she told Libby the babe was asleep and she should rest a while. So distressed was Agnes that she ran up to the hill to find me.”
He nodded. “It was fortunate she did. Another hour and everyone might have known.”
“Oh yes, it was fortunate. Libby’s husband was at the bakery mixing his dough, and the other children were sleeping up the stairs . . . one more child to such a large family brought little interest in him, you see. There was no one to witness the deed. Will you be telling Mrs. Smithson?”
“No, Fanny. No one in this household, save you and I, will know. Of course Mrs. Smithson would keep the secret if I asked her to, but that isn’t necessary. We shan’t burden anyone else with the truth.”
Frances uncovered the bundle in her arms. Looking down, she smiled. “He’s a handsome laddie, don’t you think? I’m no expert, mind, but Agnes and I both suspect the babe is of mixed race. His little ears . . . ”
Moving to her side, Osgood broke into a smile of his own. The little bundled boy was sleeping. He ran a gentle fingertip over the small, slightly pointed ear. “Yes, he very well could be. And yes, he’s a handsome little man  — dark like Master Evan was. May his soul in heaven forgive us.”
The lady’s maid put a reassuring hand on the head butler’s arm. “He wouldn’t want her ladyship’s heart to be broken more than it already is. You know how he loved her.”
“I do,” he nodded. “As I see it, the baker’s child is no more, taken away to some faery hill no doubt, never to be seen again, if the old stories are true. This little boy did not belong with the Benton family anyway. He’s black-haired, for one. He’d grow being different, maybe disliked or mistrusted, even despised by his father as another man’s bastard. Danny Benton is a highlander. You know how they are — with their superstitions —  when they feel something isn’t quite right. The child would suffer for a situation not of his making. It harms no one that he be raised a Pendry.”
She nodded. “Yes, you’re right Mr. Osgood. If nothing else, this is the better life of the two.”
“It most certainly is. Master Evan is gone and Master John has been missing for a fortnight. Solicitors across London have been inquiring high and low for his whereabouts, but it isn’t looking good, Fanny. Should anything have happened to Master John, there is no other heir living. This little man may very well become the 10th Earl of Pendry.”
To the babe, Osgood leaned down and whispered, “And the family name will continue because of you. Shall we meet your mummy little sir?”

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

New cover reveal for my Victorian historical novel, To Gain What's Lost.

This story is very close to my heart as it was the first historical I wrote back in 1997 when I was at home with my small children. The characters Anna, Matt and Brenton, whom had been in my head for years, suddenly demanded to be written or I should say typed. I had an electric typewriter I used to work on my family genealogy, and one day I put a clean white piece of paper into the machine and started to reveal their story(and thankfully six months later I got my first computer!). It took me two years to write and it turned out to be a huge piece of work - over 150,000 words - too big!
Over the next few years I edited it, gave it different titles, put it through a critique group, and tried to sell it to agents. The novel was published twice by two small publishers, both went out of business, then it was published by Black Opal Books a few years ago, but I asked for my rights back and now I'm re-publishing it wit a new cover and hopefully a new audience. It's time for this story to shine properly.

She thinks her life has changed for the better, her dark secrets hidden, but little does she know…

The daughter of a wealthy landowner in Yorkshire, England in 1864, Anna Thornton leads a privileged life. But she is not content. She wants her life to mean something and longs to be accepted for the free-thinking, independent woman she is. When the dashing, adventurer Matt Cowan sweeps her off her feet, she thinks she has finally met her soul mate. However, he’s not the man she thinks he is. After he sails for South America, leaving her behind in England, Anna discovers she’s pregnant. Heartbroken she flees her family home, determined to keep her child’s illegitimacy a secret. 

He has a few dark secrets of his own…

Brandon O’Mara is a strong, independent man who wants to make his own way without relying on his father’s wealth. He comes to Anna’s new home looking for work and convinces the reluctant woman to hire him. But Anna's wary of men, of love, and treats him as nothing more than the penniless labourer she believes him to be. Then, just when Anna seems to feel she is getting on with her new life, and Brandon believes he is breaking down her barriers, the past rears up to confront them and their future hangs in the balance.  

Available on Kindle at Amazon.
USA and UK and all Amazon countries.

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Guest Post: Historical author Liz Harris!

A special welcome to fellow Choc Lit author Liz Harris!
Liz's new release is a historical set in Wyoming in 1887, but this story is not your usual story, please read on to find out more about Liz and her wonderful story.


What’s so special about Wyoming, I’ve been asked on a number of occasions.

It’s a fair question – I’ve set three historical novels in Wyoming. A BARGAIN STRUCK, set in 1887, tells the story of a second generation homesteader who lives on agricultural land south of the railroad. My novella, A WESTERN HEART, set in 1880, is located in ranching country north of the railroad. My latest novel, THE LOST GIRL, is set in the 1870s and 1880s, and is located in SW Wyoming, an arid, non-agricultural region, but one that is rich in coal.

The answer is easy – I fell in love with Wyoming, its openness, its endless wide blue sky, its history and its people when I visited the State a few years ago. Not to mention the wrangler on the ranch where I started my trip, who filled me in on many historical details. A rugged, good-looking man he was, tanned from days on the range. Not that I noticed any of that - I was there for a greater purpose; namely, to research Wyoming in the 1880s.

Photo: Me at the border between Colorado and Wyoming

So what did I learn that I hadn’t been able to find in any of my research books?

I’ll start with the title I gave this guest blog. I learned that anyone approaching a homestead should holler, ‘Hello, the House!’ if they valued their life. The westward-bound pioneers of the mid 19th century often settled on land which had once been the home of native peoples, thus giving rise to potential strife. Also, there was growing tension at that time between the large cattle ranches and the small homesteads. A quaint desire to avoid being shot on sight would encourage a person to identify himself thus.

I hadn’t been able to find out how far mechanisation had reached outlying homesteads and settlements by the late 1880s. Earlier than that would have been easy – they had nothing – but a few years after they’d started their settlements, the answer wasn’t so clear.
Did isolated homesteads have any form of running water, for example, or did all water have to be brought in from an external well outside the house? The answer, to my surprise, was yes, there was a rudimentary form of running water.

In addition to the main well on the pre-1890 ranch where I started my trip, there was a 28 foot deep, stone-lined well sunk right next to the kitchen wall. A pipe attached to a pump next to the kitchen sink ran down to the well. Bingo! They could pump water into the kitchen. PS. On winter mornings, they had to wait for the ice to melt on the pump arm before using it or they’d break it.

                                            Photo: The pump beside the sink

Call me trivial, but I was curious about the sanitary arrangements. I knew there’d be an outhouse, but did it have a can inside – a sort of porta-potty de luxe - or what? No book answered this, but the friendly wrangler did. The hole in the ground was filled in when full, and the outhouse structure lifted up and moved to a different place.

Photo. An outhouse

Interested in getting the feel of how it was to ride between the outlying towns, farms and around their ranchesI emulated the women of the American West and vaulted into the saddle.

Having been brought up on Hollywood westerns, I had always assumed that women at that period rode astride, but apparently not so. A museum curator told me that women had only ridden side-saddle until late in the 1880s. The change to riding astride hadn’t come about until there was a relaxation in the restrictive nature of women’s clothing. 
As you can see, I’m not sitting side-saddle, my skirts and petticoats tucked under me.  Rather, I’m wearing trousers and sitting astride my bucking bronco. Yes, bucking bronco. Minutes before the photo was taken, the horse had been rearing and snorting, desperately trying to unseat me. It had been all I could do to hang on. Yes, indeed!

The reason why women’s clothing became more relaxed in the late 1880s is an interesting one. Basically, Esther Morris, the first female justice of the peace in the US, appointed in 1870, wanted Wyoming Territory to become a State. A certain number of votes was required for this to happen, and because the population was so small, she needed women to go out and vote. Esther Morris, therefore, subtly let it be known that women could relax their style of clothing. Goodbye, tight, restrictive corsets; hello, divided skirts and trousers. Effectively, she bribed women to vote, and it worked. In 1890, Wyoming Territory became the 44th State of the Union.

Photo: The Indian Paintbrush, the State flower of Wyoming, courtesy of wikipedia

But women didn’t have the vote as early as 1890, I can hear you cry.

Oh, yes, they did. In 1869, Governor John Campbell extended the franchise to women. Wyoming Territory was the first in the US to give the vote to women. And it was the first for other women-related things, too: the first women jurors, 1870; the first female court bailiff, 1870; the first US State to elect a female governor, 1924. Wyoming is known as the Equality State with good reason.

But there was no such equality for the Chinese migrants, who started arriving in San Francisco from the Canton province of China in the 1850s. Until well into the twentieth century, thlaw ensured that the Chinese were very much second class citizens, with restrictions on their movement and with a ban on them becoming US citizens.

Ironically, the very State that was the first State in the US to promote the rights of women, albeit for pragmatic reasons, vigorously denied basic rights to the Chinese who lived and worked in that State. The history of Chinese and Americans in Wyoming is one of growing tensions between the two races, and it is against this background that I’ve set my love story, THE LOST GIRL.

Blurb for the novel:

What if you were trapped between two cultures?
Life is tough in 1870s Wyoming. But it’s tougher still when you’re a girl who looks Chinese but speaks like an American.
Orphaned as a baby and taken in by an American family, Charity Walker knows this only too well. The mounting tensions between the new Chinese immigrants and the locals in the mining town of Carter see her shunned by both communities.
When Charity’s one friend, Joe, leaves town, she finds herself isolated. However, in his absence, a new friendship with the only other Chinese girl in Carter makes her feel as if she finally belongs somewhere.

But for a girl like Charity, finding a place to call home was never going to be easy.

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Friday, October 16, 2015

Guest Post: Anita Philmar

More Than Ready by Anita Philmar


After losing his brother, Kirk Pepperman planned a future with Richard’s wife, Sadie. Kirk wanted to honor his brother and take care of Sadie.
She had other ideas and married another man.
Now, Kirk is uncertain what he should do with his life
Mary Beth Owens knows her parents are arranging for her to marry Kirk. The problem is he’s been stuck on the wrong woman for years.
She is determined to find out if he can please her. If not, then she has no desire to marry him either.
Can these two let go of the past and move into the future? 

Available for .99cents and free for KindleUnlimited.
Theme: friends to lovers
This story is part of the Naked Bluff series.
Section: erotic
Genre: historical, western, erotic
Theme: friends to lovers
Word Count: 5803

“Kirk, where are you?”
Unhappy about the interruption, Kirk Pepperman debated not answering Mary Beth Owens’ call. He’d snuck away to the barn’s upper floor to escape his parents and to have a few moments to himself.
The view outside the open loft door showed the sun drifting steadily toward the horizon. A nice cross breeze blew inside and cooled the large space. For the last couple of weeks, he’d found he enjoyed sitting up here alone, maybe because it helped him forget.
“Kirk?” Mary Beth’s voice rang from the ladder, leading to the stalls on the ground floor.
Not bothering to turn, he leaned forward and gripped his hands over his knees. The three-legged stool, where he sat, was right in front of the center pole for the barn. The position afforded him a backrest if he should want one.
The floorboards squeaked, telling him Mary Beth stood behind him. He pictured her in his head. A petite blonde, she had small breasts and appeared much younger than him. In truth, they were around the same age.
Hoping, if he remained quiet, she’d leave. He continued to stare out across his family’s property. The last days of summer and the recent harvest had turned the parched land to dust. What did this place hold for him?
He’d never ventured outside of Naked Bluff to travel or to experience another way of life. Depression filled him at his brother dying so far away from home. Now, though, Kirk understood Richard’s desire to leave.
What future could Kirk have here?
He toyed with the idea of heading off to join the Confederate army. The latest news from the returning soldiers was the south wasn’t faring too well against the Northern armies. Maybe, if he had something to fight for, he’d feel alive again.
The familiar noise of a rope flying through the air alerted him. The lasso fell over his head and circled his chest before it tightened, pinning his arms to his side. “What the...”
With a sharp tug, he fell back against the center pole and hit his head against the solid bulk. “Mary Beth, what are you doing?”
She yanked on the rope and walked around him, winding the cord across his chest. “Just sit still. Let me get you tied up and then we’ll talk.”
“Why the hell do you need to tie me up for us to talk?”

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Kindle short story, Hot Western romance, Cowboy lust, best western short story, texas cowboy romance series

Tuesday, October 13, 2015


A fast-paced dramatic story set in Stirling, Scotland in the year 1543.

The Dowager tilted her head and regarded Meg with a speculative glint in her eye. ‘Do you now wish to reside in Scotland? To be with your father?’
Meg blinked. Nothing would persuade her to leave the sophisticated court of England for the wintry delights of Scotland. ‘I have fond feelings for both my father and Scotland, Madame,’ she lied. ‘I am here at his request.’ She deliberately softened the clipped English Madam to the French Madame and put the stress on the second syllable. ‘But I shall return south very soon.’

‘Even though the Earl of Lennox pays court to you?’ the Dowager enquired softly, a hint of mischief in her eyes.
Meg wondered who among the lady’s numerous confidants had passed on such information. It came to her at once - Father, of course. He would not have thought twice about spreading the word of such an advantageous match for his daughter. ‘I wish I could be as certain as you, Madame. Lord Lennox has spoken of marriage, but only in the vaguest terms. I fear he may never mention it again.’

A small buzz of amused comment ran through the listening ranks of courtiers. The Dowager offered a smile that did not reveal her teeth ‘It is possible the English King dangles you as a prize before Lord Lennox.’
The same thought had been lurking at the back of Meg’s mind. ‘I don’t know that I am any kind of a prize, Madame. More of a liability, if my father is to be believed.’

Undisguised amusement shone in the Dowager’s eyes. ‘Among our relatives in France, Lennox is known as an ambitious man,’ she said softly. ‘Marriage to you would take him within Henry’s family and the succession to the throne of England.’

Every member of the illustrious de Guise family served either the French king or God. They would have made it their business to know Lennox when he was resident in France. ‘I must remember that,’ Meg said, ‘when we have our first married argument.’

The Dowager rose from her chair and stepped from the dais. ‘Come, walk with me. Your mother welcomed me to Scotland. For her sake, I believe we may find friendship between us. And of course, I shall be pleased to hear of my husband’s youth.’

A historical novel set in the sixteenth century. PG 13
UK Kindle link: