Wednesday, July 11, 2012

TRUE GRIT - WESTERN WOMEN



Everyone loves a sexy cowboy, but there’s not much of a love story if he doesn’t have an interesting woman who can tame the untamable.  Who’s up to the ever-so-pleasant but sometimes rocky task?   Let’s talk about western women. !

Western women weren’t merely transplanted eastern women.  For the most part, women had more rights and were far more “modern” in their thinking.  Wyoming granted women’s suffrage in 1869.  Most of the western states were far ahead of the eastern states when it came to suffrage, property rights, and marital law.

With that in mind, let’s look at a few women who shaped the character of Janelle Kathryn (aka J.K., shortened to Jake) O’Keefe, the heroine in MUCH ADO ABOUT MAVERICKS (♥ Hearts of Owyhee ♥ #3).
                                                        
 And while we're looking at these inspiring women, let me mention that another release, MUCH ADO ABOUT MADAMS, is FREE today on Amazon!

Little Joe Monaghan
Joe Monaghan

A lot of you know the story—Joe Monaghan was a woman who lived as a man in Owyhee County, Idaho Territory, for forty years.  But that’s not what interested me.  What I found intriguing was what she did.  As a member of the “weaker sex,” here’s a list of accomplishments:
 Worked a high-altitude mine, and worked harder than most men.
 Worked odd jobs—carpentry, digging ditches, anything to make a coin
 Bought a small acreage and raised chickens and garden vegetables—enough to sell and provide her with a decent living.
 Hired out as a sheepherder
 Hired out as a cowhand
 Homesteaded
 Earned money as a wrangler and bronc buster
 Performed as Cowboy Joe in Whaylen's Wild West Show: the Greatest Show on Land or Sea (note: Whaylen offered to pay $25 to any man who brought a horse that Joe couldn't ride, and never once did he have to part with his money)
 Built her own ranch and raised cattle
Now does that sound like the “weaker sex” to you?  This is not an easy country to ranch in, either.  Take a look: http://youtu.be/E8CzQYEncvk (be prepared to listen to a motorcycle. )
You can read more about Little Joe Monaghan at Unusual Historicals.

Kitty Wilkins
Kitty Wilkins

Now, we’ll go to a girlie-girl, a very feminine woman who you’d think would be the epitome of Victorian propriety.  She also lived in Owyhee County.  I’m referring to Kitty Wilkins, who, to this day, holds the record for the largest horsetrading deal in North American history.

Did she act like a man? No.  Did she look like a man?  No. The Sioux City Journal of Sioux City, Iowa, described Miss Wilkins as "a tall stately blond, with fluffy, golden hair, large blue eyes that have quite a knack of looking clear through one, regular features and pearly teeth which glisten and sparkle when she smiles, and she has a habit of smiling very frequently. Her lips are red and full, and her mouth and chin denote a certain firmness of manner, no doubt acquired in her peculiar calling."

Yet this woman could wheel and deal with the best of them.  She knew horseflesh better than most men, and she understood the business.  Find out more about Kitty Wilkins at Romancing The West.

Jake O’Keefe


Maureen O'Hara/Jake O'Keefe



So how did Little Joe Monaghan and Kitty Wilkins become Jake O’Keefe?  I guess it just happens when visions mix up in the ether.  Out came a beautiful woman who looks like Maureen O’Hara but is in a man’s world where she has to make do with what she’s got.  And what she has are the skills to make her the best foreman in the territory.  She’s confident, competent, and bold.  She wears clothing appropriate to her job; hence, britches instead of skirts.  I loved the idea of a man having to tame a woman instead of the other way around.

Now who would make the most improbable mate for a woman of this background?  A Boston attorney.  Yep.  So that’s just what I gave her, and it was rather fun watching her work all this out.  Sometimes an author needs to stay out of the way and let the characters tell the story, and believe me, no one gets in Jake’s way.  Well, except for Ben.  Whoo-baby!



Excerpt of MUCH ADO ABOUT MAVERICKS (♥ Hearts of Owyhee ♥ #3)
by Jacquie Rogers

[Setup: Ben grew in Owyhee County, Idaho Territory, but his father (who called Ben “Skeeter”) didn’t see where he’d ever amount to anything so he sent Ben to Harvard, where he read the law and became a prominent Boston attorney.  In this scene, Ben has just come home for the first time in thirteen years to settle his deceased father’s estate.]

Ben paid for the sarsaparillas and grasped both mug handles with one hand.  “Nice to see you again,” he said to the clerk.  He strode outside, into the billowing alkali dust kicked up by the wagon passing in front of the store.

A red-headed woman in cowhand’s clothes pulled the horses to a stop.  She handled the reins as well as any man; nevertheless, he planned to drive to the ranch whether she liked it or not.  She jumped down and headed for the trunk, but Ben ran to it first.  Shoving the mugs into her hands, he picked up the trunk and heaved it into the wagon.  He’d be double-damned if he’d let a woman load his trunk for him, even if she was nearly as tall as he.

She saluted him with one mug, drank the entire contents, and wiped her mouth on her sleeve.  “We best be getting to the Bar EL.  They’re expecting us.”

He could hardly wait to see his mother and sister, even if his stomach soured every time he thought about his childhood home.  But he had to take care of the family and ranch now that his father had died.  Worse, he had to contend with Jake O’Keefe because Pa thought his own son too incompetent to hire good people, even after four years at Harvard and nine years of practicing law.

The soda was refreshing and he took his time while the woman waited, not patiently, shifting her weight from left to right, then tossing a few pebbles.

“I think we should reintroduce ourselves.”  He placed the mug on the boardwalk and offered his hand.  “How do you do?  I’m Benjamin Lawrence, visiting from Boston.”

“Janelle Kathryn.”  She grabbed his hand and shook it vigorously.  “I’m surely pleased to meet you.”

He tested his shoulder to see if it still functioned after her hearty handshake.  Then, just to knock her off guard, he took her hand and kissed the back of it with grandiose gallantry.  “My pleasure, Miss Janelle.”
♥ ♥ ♥
Jumpin’ juniper berries!  Jake snatched her scorching hand away from Skeeter’s lips.  His well-placed little smacker burned hotter than a branding iron in August.  Only better, but she sure as shootin’ wouldn’t admit it to a soul.  Ever.  Of course, she had no intention of washing her hand for a month either.  That hot kiss sent goosebumps clean down to her toes.

She sucked in a deep breath and cleared her throat.  “Let’s go.”  She hopped onto the wagon and picked up the reins.

Ben leapt onto the seat and took the reins from her.  “I’ll drive.”

His thigh rubbed hers.  She didn’t know how he could think right if he tingled anything like she did.  But, he probably didn’t.  She inched away from him as the buckboard moved out of town.  She focused on the sagebrush—at least it didn’t knock her plumb senseless.  He was too damned good-looking in a dandified sort of way.  Taller than she was, too, by a few inches.  Few men were.  She stood even with Whip, who, although bent with years of hard work, was taller than the rest of the men.

It ate at her that Skeeter muddled her mind so, and she had no idea what got into her to tell him her real name.  She’d better set him straight.

“Just so’s you know, I ain’t no simpering female.  Folks around here call me Jake.  Jake O’Keefe.  I expect you ought to call me that, too.”
~^~
Enjoy the ride!

MUCH ADO ABOUT MAVERICKS (♥ Hearts of Owyhee ♥ #3) is available at Amazon.



You can get MUCH ADO ABOUT MADAMS (♥ Hearts of Owyhee ♥ #2) for FREE on Kindle today,



 and MUCH ADO ABOUT MARSHALS (♥ Hearts of Owyhee ♥ #1) is only 99¢.What a deal!

Author Jacquie Rogers

Visit Jacquie at her website, http://www.jacquierogers.com/
Twitter, https://twitter.com/JacquieRogers
Facebook , http://www.facebook.com/JacquieRogersAuthor
Romancing The West, http://romancingthewest.blogspot.com/
or her Blog http://jacquierogers.blogspot.com/

Thanks to Jacquie, who is one of my favorite authors, for sharing her source of inspiration for her new heroine. Don't you love her book covers? If you haven't read her books, poor you! Start with book #1, MUCH ADO ABOUT MAVERICKS, and you won't be able to stop until you've read all three of her Hearts of Owyhee Series. She combines fast pace, humor, surprises, and great characterization for a perfect read.

Thanks for stopping bt!


7 comments:

MK said...

Fun post! So many of us are always talking about cowboys that it's nice to see the women of the west get some much deserved credit.

Caroline Clemmons said...

Welcome Jacquie. I love the cover for Mavericks! She does look like a young Maureen O'Hara, who is one of my all-time favorite actresses and the model for several of my heroines. I look forward to reading this book. To date, Cole from Marshalls is one of my favorite heroes, but Ben sounds like a great hero too.

Jacquie Rogers said...

Thanks for stopping by, MK! And I know what you mean. Cowboys are delish, all right, but they have to prove their mettle, too. And what better way to do that than to give them the ultimate challenge. Bwahahaha.

On a more sober note, the role women played has been given short shrift, IMHO. Yes, most "decent" women were housewives, schoolteachers, or cooks, but there were a lot of entrepreneurs who are conveniently overlooked.

Jacquie Rogers said...

I adored Maureen O'Hara. Never once have I been able to picture anyone else as Jake. There's a fine line between doing a man's work and losing her femininity. Ms. O'Hara could pull that off, I'm just sure of it.

Ben would be played by Gregory Peck--same thing in that he's a Boston lawyer, but he can hold his own on the ranch,also. So there's the dandy and the rugged man wrapped up in one. Gregory Peck has played both, so he could've put them together and played Ben.

Too bad I couldn't get Gregory Peck and Maureen O'Hara to pose for my book cover. Sigh.

Earl Staggs said...

Thanks, Jacquie and Caroline for the wake up. I've always been interested in stories from the old west, but always thought more about the men. Now I'm interested in the galloping gals with true grit. Reckon I'll mosey on over and get one of Jacquie's books.

Jacquie Rogers said...

Thanks, Earl! You might be interested in Malinda Jenkins' biography, too (A Gambler's Wife). Really intersting--doesn't go into gambling much, though. It's mostly about daily life and how she made her way despite her husbands gambling away her money. She was not a soiled dove or a schoolteacher, so breaks the stereotype. I wonder how many other women were more like Malinda, Kitty, and Joe, than we will ever know about.

Alison E. Bruce said...

I agree with all the comments on how women of the west are short-changed, but what I really want to say is LOVE the cover.

I really like the ripped cover theme you've got going now. Visually appealing and without reading a word, I know that Much Ado About Madams and Much Ado About Mavericks are connected.