Tag Archive | oregon trail

Excerpt Wednesday – Trail of Longing

Time for another sneak peek of Trail of Longing, the third book in the Hot on the Trail series! This one is about Emma Sutton and Dr. Dean Meyers. Think they’ll be able to get together with all of the road blocks in their way? Let’s take a peek….

(Shh! Pretend you're not seeing this yet!)

(Shh! Pretend you’re not seeing this yet!)

“What’s the matter?” Kathleen’s sharp question forced Dean to drag his eyes away from the curiosity of Emma and her mother. “Don’t you like lemonade?”

Dean had completely forgotten he was holding the jug and tart. “Oh, yes, of course.” He took another long draught and another bite of the tart.

“Then why aren’t you eating more?” Helen asked.

Across from where Dean sat, Pete was shaking with laughter. “Now ladies, you can’t expect poor Dr. Meyers to devour a feast when so many lovely ladies are serving it up.”

Dean nearly choked on tart. At least he had the lemonade to keep him from coughing. “You’re too kind,” he croaked to Helen and Kathleen.

Across the wagons, Mrs. Sutton thrust a long spoon into Emma’s hand. Emma was still trying to argue, but Mrs. Sutton was having none of it. She turned and pointed directly to Dean… and the girls standing on either side of him. Then she gestured to the simmering pot.

Emma’s shoulders heaved in a sigh. She peeked at him. Their eyes met. Dean couldn’t help but smile, mouth full of raisins and pastry. Emma turned bright pink and snapped away.

“Kathleen, why are you bothering the doctor?” The voice of an older woman interrupted the already ludicrous scene. Dean twisted to see Kathleen’s mother striding toward his camp. “Can’t you see he’s busy with Mr. Evans?”

“Oh, don’t mind me, ma’am,” Pete chuckled. “I’m just enjoying the show.”

Dean sent him a short scowl. He was enjoying it a little too much.

“Oh mother. I couldn’t help myself. I saw Dr. Meyers sitting here looking so parched. I just had to bring him some of our lovely, sweet, homemade lemonade.” The way Kathleen delivered the line was practiced in every way.

So was her mother’s reply. “How kind of you, dear. But that’s my Kathleen for you. She is the soul of kindness, and so thoughtful too. Wouldn’t you agree, Dr. Meyers?”

“I’m kind,” Helen growled. “And thoughtful, and I’m a good cook.”

“Yes, and I can sew and keep house.” Kathleen stepped behind Dean’s back to stand toe-to-toe with Helen.

“I can keep house and I make quilts,” Helen said.

Kathleen’s mother’s proud smile slipped at the unexpected contest. “Oh, well, girls, perhaps we really should leave Dr. Meyers to his lunch.”

“Yes, well you might quilt, but my strawberry jam won the Allegheny County blue ribbon every Fourth of July for the last three years!” Kathleen argued.

“Kathleen.” Her mother laughed and grabbed her daughter’s arm. “Maybe now isn’t such a good time to—”

“I believe you,” Helen cut her off, eyes narrowed at Kathleen. “I can tell by your figure that you enjoy a lot of that strawberry jam.”

Kathleen yelped. Her mother yanked her away. Pete roared outright with laughter.

Dean hardly heard a word of it. What did Emma think she was doing? She couldn’t possibly cook over an open flame in a skirt like that. Every time she attempted to lean closer to the steaming pot, the silk of her dress brushed too close to the embers. She caught it and held it back, but that left her standing at an awkward angle as she stirred whatever was in the pot. Steam curled up into her face, causing the tendrils of hair at her neck to go limp and slip out of their elaborate style almost before his eyes. He couldn’t let her go on like that.

“Excuse me, ladies.” He stood and handed the jug of lemonade to Helen—who had a fist raised and aimed at Kathleen—and the rest of the raisin tart to Kathleen as her mother yanked her away from Helen.

He left the turmoil behind him to stride down the line of wagons to where he was truly needed.

 

Uh oh. Trouble on the trail! Trail of Longing will be available wherever eBooks are sold on January 5th!
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Excerpt Wednesday – Trail of Longing – First Look

I’m so excited today to bring you the first look at my next novel in the Hot on the Trail series, Trail of Longing! It’s coming on January 5th, so without further ado….

[No Cover Yet – Cover Reveal Coming Soon!]

Emma pulled her focus away from Dean to see that they’d come to walk alongside her family’s wagon. Her father led the oxen from the ground, walking beside them as though they were white stallions instead of plodding beasts. Alice had gone to the back of the wagon to join their mother, who whispered furiously. Her eyes never left Dean.

“I’ll leave you ladies to take shelter in your wagon,” Dean said, letting go of Emma’s arm. “I’d better check on the miners anyhow.”

“Thank you so much, Dr. Meyers,” Mrs. Sutton skipped forward to make her goodbyes. “I haven’t met a truer gentleman in this entire wagon train. I do hope we’ll be seeing more of you.”

Emma’s heart caught in her throat at her mother’s audacity. Her embarrassment was only relieved a tad by Dean’s smile.

“I’m sure we’ll see much more of each other.” He nodded to Mrs. Sutton and Alice, then turned his smile to Emma. “Until next time, Miss Emma.”

“I….” Anything Emma could have said froze on her tongue. She pressed her lips into a tight smile and nodded.

As Dean turned to go, frustration poured in on her. When she was certain he was out of earshot, she huffed out a breath and hid her face in her hands. What was she thinking? How could it be so difficult to talk to such an agreeable man?

“Very well done,” her mother congratulated her. She scurried to Emma’s side as they walked on, raindrops beating down harder now. “You have him good and hooked.”

“Mother,” Emma sighed. “I don’t want to ‘hook’ anyone. Dean— I mean, Dr. Meyers, is a good, noble man.”

“Exactly.” Her mother smiled as if the sun had come out. “He’ll make a perfect husband for you.”

“Shh!” Emma would have slapped her hand over her mother’s mouth if she could. “Please!”

“Oh come now,” her mother scolded, waving Emma’s protests aside as if they were fluff. “You and I both know the importance of nabbing a good husband.”

“Husbands should not be ‘nabbed.’”

“All men need to be nabbed, dear,” her mother argued. “Otherwise they would wander the earth not knowing which way was up or what was good for them.”

Emma scoffed and crossed her arms to ward off the chill that the rain was bringing her.

Her mother turned serious, sliding closer to her. “I know you think I’m laying it on too thick, but we’ve both seen what happens when a girl makes an inappropriate match.”

They both glanced to the back of the wagon where Alice had hoisted herself into the bed and was busy rolling down the canvas coverings. Emma’s heart squeezed with sadness for her sister.

“Alice loved Harry,” she murmured to her mother so Alice wouldn’t hear.

“That is precisely the problem,” her mother replied.

Emma frowned, confused. “Harry was a good man.”

“He was a clerk and we never should have agreed to the match.” Before Emma could protest, her mother went on. “Dr. Meyers, on the other hand, is just the sort of man I have always wished to see you with. Now that he’s hooked, I know just how to reel him in.”

Dread filled Emma’s stomach. She knew what her mother was capable of. Her journey west had just taken a perilous turn.

 

Now, you may have noticed that I haven’t put this one up for pre-order. But never fear! If you visit my Amazon author page and click on “Add Favorite” right under my fabulous author pic, then I believe Amazon will email you as soon as any of my books come out. Wanna give it a try? Click right here.
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Like what you’ve read? I love the fact that you read it! I’ve got more for you too. Sign up for my newsletter to receive special content, sneak-peeks, and treats that only subscribers are privy to. And thank you!

Trail of Hope – Release Day!

It’s Release Day! Trail of Hope is finally here!

TrailofHope

You can pick up a copy at Amazon, iBooks, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, and Smashwords.

I keep telling people that this installment of the Hot on the Trail series is different than anything I’ve written before. It’s different because it deals with slightly more serious topics, namely death. Both our heroine, Callie, and our hero, John, have recently experienced the death of someone close to them. This story is about coming out of grief and moving on with life.

I did a fair amount of research about death on the Oregon Trail before I wrote Trail of Hope. I know a lot of people have the idea that folks died on the Trail all the time and that your chances of survival were perilous at best. I’m not sure where this idea came from. Possibly from the difficulties of playing that wonderful old school video game Oregon Trail and trying to make it through to the end. The truth is that in the entire history of the Oregon Trail, only about 4% of people died along the way.

That’s not too bad when you stop to consider how many people die in everyday life for one reason or another. So what killed settlers on their way to start a new life in the West?

Another misconception is that Indian attacks were the biggest problem and that pioneers had to constantly be on the alert. While it’s true that in the very early days of the Trail and, ironically, in the later days of the Trail during the Civil War, there was a greater danger of attack, the truth is that Native Americans weren’t as big of a threat as stories have painted them. There was some trouble, but for the most part, once the trail was established, the U.S. Army was able to stop most attacks before they happened.

The exception to that was once the West began to be more and more populated by pioneers from the East. Many of them encroached on Native lands, which were then defended. When certain parts of the Trail became too dangerous to travel for these reasons, other routes were tested. If you think about it from a Native American point of view, it must have been really frustrating! All these foreign people who don’t understand your ways coming and coming like waves drowning a shore.

But I digress.

dysenteryThe single greatest cause of death on the Oregon Trail, and the cause of death I explore from Callie’s point of view in Trail of Hope, was disease. Fatal trail illnesses accounted for almost half of the deaths on the Trail. So many of these were caused by bad water, close conditions, and the lack of comprehensive medical care. The Platte wasn’t exactly the best water source around, and after so many people traveling west crossed through the same area, digging latrines that became overused and burying their dead too close to the river, problems arose.

Actually, one of the details that I chose not to include in Trail of Hope because it felt a little too gruesome to me was how people were buried if they died on the Trail. Much of the time, because there was no time to sit and wait for people to mourn, when someone died, they were buried right away. A grave was usually dug right in the trail itself, and then all the wagons and oxen would be driven over it. The purpose of this was to make it more difficult for wild animals or anyone else to dig up the deceased. Yeah, I left that out on purpose.

But really, Trail of Hope is, as its name suggests, about finding hope after great loss. It is about the fact that life goes on, which is what the whole Oregon Trail is about. I hope you enjoy Callie and John’s story!

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Like what you’ve read? I love the fact that you read it! I’ve got more for you too. Sign up for my newsletter to receive special content, sneak-peeks, and treats that only subscribers are privy to. And thank you!

Excerpt Wednesday – Trail of Hope

Oh boy! It’s the last excerpt Wednesday before the release of Trail of Hope on Monday! Here’s a particularly juicy snippet for you….

TrailofHope

He folded the shirt and laid it aside and settled back into the bedroll, arranging the blanket over them, then pulled her back into his arms. Now when she reached around to spread her hand across his back, as he resumed doing with hers, her whole bare arm was in contact with the skin of his torso. The shivering feeling grew stronger.

“I like this,” he was frank with her.

“It’s nice,” she agreed, unsure how else to explain it.

He shifted again to hold her closer, his arm inching her chemise further up, her chest and stomach pressing against his, only one layer of fabric between them and none at all in some spots. “Would you mind if I kissed you?”

Again Callie’s eyebrows flew up. Other than a few pecks on the cheek, he hadn’t kissed her since their wedding. “Do you want to?”

“Of course I want to,” he chuckled.

He wanted to kiss her. Even though she wasn’t Shannon.

“All right then.” She spoke quickly to push Shannon out from between the two of them.

He leaned towards her, found her mouth in the dark. His lips were warm and very slightly textured from the sun and the wind. His breath was humid on her skin. It was a lovely kiss all things considered.

Then he kissed her for real, a deep, serious kiss. She sucked in a breath as his mouth opened over hers, heat and pressure. She didn’t realize until she felt the tip of his tongue against her own that she’d opened her mouth as well. It was an entirely new feeling, this soft tasting. Somehow it was more than just two mouths meeting. It affected her more deeply than that.

He stopped kissing her long enough to ask, “Is that all right?”

She teetered just on the other side of overwhelmed and took a few seconds before answering. “It’s quite nice.”

“It is, isn’t it?” Again, she could hear the smile in his voice.

He kissed her again. With her one arm still around him, she could feel the muscles in his shoulders relax. His free hand rubbed her back, climbing up towards her shoulder and pulling her chemise with it. If she hadn’t been so focused on the way his mouth and tongue tasted, she might have been concerned that her breast was inches away from being exposed, that the hair on his chest was tickling her stomach. But she was far too absorbed in the discovery of how much she liked kissing, how much she liked kissing John.

And YES! You can pre-order Trail of Hope on Amazon, iBooks, and Smashwords.
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Like what you’ve read? I love the fact that you read it! I’ve got more for you too. Sign up for my newsletter to receive special content, sneak-peeks, and treats that only subscribers are privy to. And thank you!

Who Were the Western Pioneers?

TrailofHopeIn my new western historical romance series, Hot on the Trail, I’m giving a glimpse into the lives and loves of several sets of people traveling west on the Oregon Trail. My particular stories are set later in the history of the Trail, but all the same, I wanted to give a picture of the kinds of people who would leave everything back East to start over in the West. So who were these people? What would really induce someone to drop the life they had to run west?

Of course, the obvious answer that we’ve learned since childhood is that these were people in search of opportunity. And that’s still a true answer. From the moment the West was opened up through exploration and discovery, Americans back East saw it as one great big ball of opportunity just waiting for someone to rush out and claim it. The land was fertile, natural resources abounded, and gold (and later silver) were found.

But as I mentioned in an earlier post. The very first intrepid settlers who made the trek west during the first days of the Oregon Trail in the early 1840s were not going for gold. They weren’t even going to California. They were headed to the territory in the Pacific Northwest that was already minimally settled by both American and British trappers and merchants. The American government encouraged settlers to high-tail it for Oregon, because the more American butts were on the ground, the more likely it was for the U.S. to claim a larger chunk of the land that was proving to be so profitable. It was about showing Britain up. Working the land was important and ports along the Pacific coast were vital to trade, but really it was an international land grab.

The Oregon Trail, by Albert Bierstadt

The Oregon Trail, by Albert Bierstadt

All that changed, of course, when gold was discovered in California. We hear a lot about the gold rush and the Forty-Niners. That was just the tip of the iceberg. The truth was that there was some gold easily available, right on the surface of the ground for those who could get out there fast enough to grab it. And many, many men did zip out from the east to try to get rich quick. Most failed, though. Too many exhausted their entire life savings trying to make something of themselves. And a bunch of them ended up going home to the East, empty-handed.

The people who succeeded in California, and later in Colorado and Wyoming and Montana, and all the other future states and cities that survived and thrived, were the ones who followed the get-rich-quick schemers and set up businesses to cater to them. The real riches to be had were in mercantile business, selling things to the burgeoning population of the West, or in ranching or farming to feed the West. These weren’t get-rich-quick sorts of enterprises, but they definitely made a lot of people a heck of a lot of money in the long run.

Okay, it’s pretty obvious that the West was populated by adventurers and entrepreneurs, folks with stars and dollar signs in their eyes. But who exactly were these people? What were they like?

As I’ve done research for my Hot on the Trail books, I’ve discovered one consistent trend that I haven’t heard a lot of people talk about before. It seems that a great many of the people who were willing to pull up their roots and chase their dreams west were (unsurprisingly) restless, ambitious dreamers and (surprisingly) quite liberal and secular in their thinking.

Mayer-Awakening-1915Yep, I think the trend is to think that these early settlers were pious and god-fearing, but all the research I’ve done seems to indicate that religion didn’t reach the West until many, many decades after the people did. After all, this was the land of gunslingers and prostitutes. There’s a reason the West was called “wild.” But it was true even for peaceable settlers in the earlier days. In fact, an early missionary heading to Oregon wrote home that she was shocked by the amount of godlessness she found in the West and felt something had to be done.

In fact, something was done, and as the great revivals of the 19th century swept in from the East, lonely settlers out West adopted religion as a means to come together to stave off the sheer loneliness of life on the prairie. But I’ll write more about that later.

The other remarkable thing about people in the West was that they had far more liberal ideas about a variety of topics, especially women’s rights. As the century rolled into its later years, settlers throughout the West began to see the necessity of all people, including women, participating in every facet of life, from farming to politics. Women were given the vote in several western territories as early as the 1880s. They also owned land and operated businesses, and ended up being used as an example of the progress that women could make once the cause of women’s rights took center stage at the turn of the century.

So the people who settled the West were some of the heartiest and cleverest people in America. That can’t be denied. The West also drew a lot of foreigners looking to start anew, but that’s a whole other story. Would you have had what it takes to start over in an untamed land? Would you have been the one to tame it?

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Like what you’ve read? I love the fact that you read it! I’ve got more for you too. Sign up for my newsletter to receive special content, sneak-peeks, and treats that only subscribers are privy to. And thank you!