Thursday, March 08, 2012


Me doing a
happy dance!
This weekend is the official launch of my new western historical BRAZOS BRIDE, set in 1870 North Central Texas. Woo Hoo! I am so excited about this book. While considering this trilogy, I engaged in a lot of research on stage lines, Comanche attacks, pioneer settlements, and a million other things specific to the area and time period. Let me share with you some of the places and events that inspired me.

Frankly, I love trilogies. I like seeing the hero and heroine from the first book reappear still happily married in the second and third books. Family-oriented books also appeal to me, so this trilogy features three brothers: Micah, Zach, and Joel Stone. Zach lives on Stone Mountain and his brothers live nearby. You can see why it’s subtitled Men of Stone Mountain, can’t you? But back to inspiration.

A fascinating non-fiction book, PAINTED POLE by Barbara Belding Gibson, is about the Belding Ranch. Fortunately, I bought mine years ago because now they're very hard to find and expensive. When the first Belding came to Palo Pinto County, Texas in 1859, he found an abandoned small cedar log cabin already on the land. To people in the east or in Europe and the UK, I realize thatjust ovee 150 years is not old. But y'all remember, we’re the “new” part of the US, and that time period is early for Texas, partner. Texas only became a country in 1836, and then a state in 1845.

Mr. Belding had a huge ranch that has since been divided several times among descendants. The portion on which Barbara and Cy Gibson live includes the original cabin, smokehouse, and cold room. These structures have been preserved and incorporated into the newer portions of the ranch house. The former cabin is now a bathroom--roomy for that purpose, but very small for a home. Fortunately, the Gibsons love history and are excellent stewards of their heritage.

Approaching the
Palo Pinto Mountains
Several years ago, Hero noticed in the local newspaper that the Belding-Gibson Ranch was holding an open house. YeeHaw! We attended and I was enthralled. This ranch was perfect for the first book in my trilogy! Although I was working on other projects, I took notes like mad.

California hacienda in Laguna Beach
similar to Hope Montoya's (sans
plam trees and beach)
The heroine, Hope Montoya, is Hispanic from a very wealthy family who were in Texas before there were anglos. She lives in a two-story Spanish-style hacienda reminiscent of the Moorish Spanish architecture found in many areas of the Southwest.
 However, that's not true of the hero, Micah Stone.

Belding cabin on right, dogtrot,
and smokehouse on left from a
Micah lives in a replica of the Belding Ranch cabin with a dog trot extension. I enlarged the cabin minutely, so there was room for five bunks and some other furniture. I also attached a porch with a couple of benches and a chair for the hero, his brothers, and two ranch hands. That’s the fun part of writing; we can take reality and twist it to suit our stories. Mmm, I feel so empowered! I can almost hear Helen Reddy singing in the background. "I am woman, hear me roar...."

Part of the Belding Ranch is beneath
Possum Kingdom Lake, which
was created by daming the Brazos. The
white cliff on the left is Hell's Gate and
a part of the original ranch.
The Brazos River runs through this area, winding through ravines and creating lovely scenery. The hills are the Palo Pinto Mountains, called that by the Native Americans who labeled them “painted poles” for the scrub oaks colorful fall leaves. They aren’t the Appalachians or the Rockies, folks, but the Palo Pinto Mountains are beautiful in their own way. To someone like me who mostly grew up in relatively flat West Texas, they are gorgeous. I used this area in another book, a modern time travel titled OUT OF THE BLUE. That book has an Irish girl from 1845 plopping into the modern lake beside the bass boat of a police detective.

When I was a small girl, I lived in Southern California and fell in love with the Spanish architecture prevalent there. Probably that's why I love Santa Barbara, San Antonio, Santa Fe, and Albuquerque so much. Anyway, that’s the style I chose for the heroine’s home. In my mind, I can picture it so clearly. I hope my writing brings the home to life for readers.

And I love romances where there is also murder and mayhem. This one has both. I just love torturing my characters. (Ghoulish laugh)

Another commonality of this trilogy is that each involves a type of poison. In BRAZOS BRIDE, the heroine is being poisoned and enlists the hero’s help to discover the killer. Her plan involves a temporary marriage of convenience so she can control her estate. Well, you’ve read enough romances to know how that will end, right? But you need to read this book to see how Hope and Micah arrive at their happy ending. Really, you do need to read the book!

Here’s the blurb:

Hope Montoya knows someone is poisoning her, but who? She suspects her mother was also poisoned and knows her father was murdered. Who wants her family eliminated? She vows to fight! She realizes she won’t last the eight months until she turns twenty-five and her uncle no longer controls her or her estate. Never will she be dominated by a man as she was by her father, as she has seen her mother and grandmothers dominated. If she marries, she gains control now, but only if she weds a man she can trust. Only one man meets her requirements. Can she trust him to protect her and capture the killer...but then to leave?

Micah Stone has been in love with Hope since the first time he saw her. But he was accused of her father’s murder and surely would have hung if not for his two brothers’ aid. Most in the community still believe him guilty. But the drought has him too worried about water for his dying cattle to care about his neighbors’ opinions. When Hope proposes a paper marriage in exchange for land on the Brazos River and much needed cash, her offer rubs his pride raw. His name may be Stone, but he’s not made of it. He can’t refuse her for long, and so their adventure begins.

And here’s an excerpt from in the hotel room after the wedding:

She looked at her hands. Perhaps she was unreasonable. Or maybe insane for sympathizing with a man who'd had to work harder because of her family.

"I know it is an odd situation. If—if you wear your shirt and britches, I guess it would be all right if you slept on top of the cover here." She patted the bed beside her.

He froze. Not a muscle moved, and he only stared at her. Had she misunderstood? Did he think her offer too forward?

She babbled, "That is, if you want to. You said I should trust you. Well, maybe you would be more comfortable where you are." Why didn't he say something? Would he prefer sleeping in a chair to sharing the bed?

From the street below, she heard raucous laughter and someone called to a man named Ben. Music from a piano, she supposed in the saloon, drifted in through the open windows. A gust of breeze moved the curtains and slid across her skin. In this room, though, there was no sound.

Slowly, he rose and extinguished the lamp as he moved across the room. She slid one of the pillows beside hers then scooted down. What had possessed her to offer him half her bed? Would he think she invited more?

Too late to take it back now, for the mattress dipped as he stretched out. Quaking inside at the thought of him so near, she turned her back to him. She heard his weary sigh, as if he relaxed for the first time in a long while.

"Good night," she offered, and hoped he understood the finality of the phrase.

"Yep. Good night, Mrs. Stone." The mattress shook as he turned his back to her. She felt the soles of his feet press against her ankles. He must be several inches too long for the bed and she guessed he had to bend his legs to fit. She didn't dare turn to see firsthand.

She lay perfectly still, afraid to take a deep breath. Soon his breathing changed and she knew he slept. Outside the open window the town quieted and the distant tinkling of the piano was the only sound. Light from the full moon illuminated the room and slanted across the bed. A soft breeze drifted across her, lulling her in its caress.

With a sigh, she fought to relax, but abdominal pain kept her awake no matter how her body cried for rest. Perhaps if she planned, she’d forget the pain and chills that racked her frame.

Plan, yes. She needed a plan for food preparation when she returned to her home. No, Micah said he had a plan. Oh, dear, once more he took charge when it was her life, her home.

Maybe Aunt Sofia and Uncle Jorge would have left by then and things would be fine. Already she felt more secure. She sensed her eyelids drifting closed and the sleep’s blessed relief approaching. She snuggled into the pillow.

A gunshot ripped apart the night.

The blast startled her and she screamed as something thudded near her head, showering her hair and face with splinters. Panic immobilized her. What had happened?

Micah dragged her onto the floor as a bullet ripped into the mattress.

Want to know what happens next? BRAZOS BRIDE is 65,000 words, mildly sensual, and only 99 cents at Amazon Kindle. Here’s the buy link:

On Monday, Ann Christine will by a guest, so please return. Thank you for stopping by!


Beth Trissel said...

Mega Congrats! Sounds fabulous, Caroline. And I enjoyed your post and all the great pics too.

GiniRifkin said...

HI Caroline:

Congratulations and much success on the new book and the trilogy. Sounds intriguing indeed. Interesting post and lovely photos.

Gini Rifkin