Monday, April 25, 2016


Will independent spirits yield to hearts bound by love?


Although widow Beth Dodd has agreed to wed Val Caldwell, she puts their marriage off until the end of the year. She still desires to have a place of her own that she and her little sister can fall back on should something go wrong in the future. Widowed in California, she has an estate coming to her that is worth far less than her portion from the Ohio farm that her pa sold to her late husband for the express purpose of providing Beth with a husband and a secure place to spend her life and raise a family. That was before her late husband sold out and left her behind so he could return to the mines in the eastern Sierra-Nevada Mountains. Now, she is in the eastern Sierras, but it is land, not gold and silver, she seeks.

Beth Dodd has made a promise to help “Lulu”, a young prostitute at the Blue Feather, keep her baby if she decides to leave the whorehouse and become a respectable woman. But Beth hadn’t counted on the obstacles she and the new mother will face from society in the mining town of Lundy. From the obstinate landlady, Mrs. Ford, to her intractable German boss, Gus Herschel, Beth must fight for the woman she’s promised to help. But Beth Dodd never gives in, and she keeps her word with a stubbornness that Lundy folks are not accustomed to seeing from a woman.

Lulu has a decision to make. Will she give up her baby in order to resume working as a prostitute at the Blue Feather brothel? Or, will she take Beth up on her offer to keep her baby, leave prostitution behind, and work as a cook? And, will the stubborn German cook, Gus Herschel, who owns the chop shop at the back of the Arcade Saloon where Beth works, give in to Beth’s badgering and promises? Knowing Louisa’s past, will he allow Louisa to bring her baby there and work as a cook in spite of the Arcade Saloon’s strictly-enforced policy of “no upstairs girls”?

Gus' kitchen would include these

Once Lulu, now known as the more respectable Louisa Parmley, starts working for Gus in his kitchen, she proves that Beth was right to take a chance on her. She has every intention of making a good life for her new daughter. But can she also hope to find happiness with Gus? And will Gus be able to accept her and baby Sophie Ann as his? Love was never in the cards for Gus, but Louisa dreams of happiness with the stoic man, and Beth is determined to bring them together through HER INDEPENDENT SPIRIT.


Lulu pulled her two week-old daughter away from her breast and straightened her nightgown. her eyes never strayed from the face of the little cherub in her arms until she gently placed the baby on her shoulder to pat her back. Yet, instead of the joy that should have filled her heart as she gazed at the child’s sweet face framed by a fine down of golden brown hair, all she felt was a sense of loss.

After losing everyone important to her, she was threatened once again with the loss of the most important person in her life, her baby, Sophie Ann.

As she gazed down at the child now sleeping peacefully in her arms, her mouth occasionally moving in sucking motions as if she continued to nurse, Lulu realized she needed to decide what to do about Sophie Ann. Did the baby’s future belong with her? Or, was it best for her daughter if she heeded Miss Flora’s directive to find a home for the baby so she could resume working by the end of the month?

In spite of the money she would earn, Lulu cringed at the thought of once again subjecting herself to being pawed by men—and more.

Flora had offered to let Albert drive her into Bridgeport during the next week so she could leave the baby on the doorstep of one of the local churches. Flora insisted that someone would find the baby, fall in love with her, and the child would be well taken care of as she grew in her adopted family.

But, Lulu worried, what if no one came for a long time and Sophie Ann grew hungry? What if a pack of feral dogs roaming the streets in search of food found her first? What if she was not found right away and had to spend the night outside and the temperature dropped and she became seriously ill?

Lulu clutched her baby to her chest with enough force that Sophie Ann squeaked out a protest in her sleep. In response, Lulu loosened her grip, but would not let the child out of her arms. No, never. She could not turn her out and let her take her chances. That is what had happened to her, but at least she had been almost fifteen, not a helpless babe slightly over two weeks old.

Lulu’s body involuntary jerked in response to the loud rap on her bedroom door. After checking to be sure the front of her nightgown was securely buttoned, Lulu pulled the edge of her wrapper over the side of her chest that was not covered by her sleeping daughter. Prostitute or not, she maintained her modesty when she was not working.

It was morning, almost time for the girls to wake and stumble down to eat breakfast. Surely it wasn’t an old customer trying to get in to see her.

“Who’s there?”

“It’s Albert, Miss Lulu.”

“Come in.”

Albert, the muscle Miss Flora hired to enforce order in the brothel entered the room holding what appeared to be a small folded bundle of flannel. “Miss Lulu, this is for your baby.”

“Who would bring the baby a gift? Not that many people know me let alone know I have a baby.”

Bewildered, Lulu reached for one edge of the fabric and shook it free of its folds. One side was solid white flannel. The other side had a checkerboard patchwork design of striped blue blocks and red flannel blocks alternating with white flannel blocks. It was a quilt with a thin fabric center instead of heavier cotton filling. It was not the most artfully designed quilt Lulu had ever seen, but the corners of the squares matched up and the stitches that held all the layers together were neat and even.

“It was the midwife. She said no matter what, baby Sophie Ann needs a blanket.”

“The midwife! She brought the baby a blanket?”

Lulu recalled the woman, Jim Dodd’s widow, not much older than she was, who had come to help with the birth of Sophie Ann. That day she had offered to help Lulu get work as a cook so she could keep Sophie Ann but only if Lulu gave up being a prostitute and be the one to walk away from the Blue Feather. Had she said that just to be nice, or had she meant what she said?

 “Oh, Albert! Where is she? I need to talk to her.”

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Zina Abbott, Author

 Zina Abbott is the pen name used by Robyn Echols for her historical novels. Her novel, Family Secrets, was published by Fire Star Press. Her novelette, A Christmas Promise, along with the first two novellas in the Eastern Sierra Brides 1884 series, Big Meadows Valentine and A Resurrected Heart, was published by Prairie Rose Publications. Her novelette, He Is a Good Man, was published in the Lariats, Letters and Lace anthology.

The author is a member of Women Writing the West, American Night Writers Association, and Modesto Writers Meet Up. She currently lives with her husband in California near the “Gateway to Yosemite.” She enjoys any kind of history including family history. When she is not piecing together novel plots, she pieces together quilt blocks.

Please visit and follow the Zina Abbott’s Amazon Author Page by clicking HERE.

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Caroline Clemmons said...

Zina, so glad you could share with readers today. I love your books and look forward to reading HER INDEPENDENT SPIRIT. Best wishes for continued success in the future.

Zina Abbott Author said...

Thank you, Caroline. I'm so pleased to be on your blog today. Thank you for featuring HER INDEPENDENT SPIRIT.