My most recent historical release is Wild Prairie Roses, a Barbour repack of three Heartsongs, written by me, Lisa Harris, and Laurie Alice Eakes.
Soon after the end of the Civil War, an actual shipment of gold destined for the western frontier to pay the soldiers disappeared. That shipment was never found. We used a similar shipment of gold as a thread that links all of the books. This shows how you can take an element from history and create believable stories surrounding it.
Back Cover Copy:
Lost Gold Leads to a Treasure Trove of Romance
In the decade following the Civil War, rumors of gold lost near Browning City, Iowa, lead three couples on quests for treasure.Constance Miller’s father’s dying request sends her on a manhunt. Once in Iowa, local blacksmith Hans Van de Kieft shadows her every step. Will Constance find more than she bargained for in riches of the heart?
Among a family famous for their heroics, Tara Young seeks the chance to make a name for herself recovering the gold cache. Government agent Aaron Jefferson is on a similar mission. Can they work together, or will the prize remain elusive to them both?
Lily Reese can’t wait to leave her boring town—until Ben Purcell arrives, looking to set down his roots. When stories of treasure sweep them both into a whirlwind of danger, will they each have to give up their dreams to reap a reward?
Can the little town of Browning City handle so much excitement? Will it relinquish its treasure or reveal it in matters of the heart?
An excerpt from the first chapter:
Hans looked at the words he had painted on a new board: Van de Kieft Smithy. Today, he would hang it right after the stagecoach delivered his new anvil. Finally, he was a business owner. He’d worked hard as an apprentice for Homer and then continued working for him several more years before the blacksmith decided to retire on the farm he had bought about five miles from town. Of course, Homer planned to do all his own smithy work, so he wanted to keep his own anvil.
The afternoon stage wouldn’t arrive for a while. Hans might as well go ahead and hang the sign while he waited. He picked up several nails and stuck them in his shirt pocket. He shoved the head of the hammer into one of his hip pockets before picking up the sign. After standing in the street in front of the blacksmith shop for a few minutes, looking at the building, he decided to nail
it up over the top of the large doorway. He set the sign against the side of the building and went inside looking for his ladder.
Hans wasn’t excited about climbing on the thing. He never had liked heights. When the boys played in the hayloft while he was growing up, he tried to stay on the ground as much as possible. He closed the doors and latched them together before he leaned the ladder against them. After testing to see if the ladder was stable, Hans took a tentative step up. Another followed. How many rungs would he need to climb before he could reach far enough to attach the sign?
Good thing he was over six feet tall, so he could reach pretty high. He stepped down and decided to climb back up only four rungs. After hefting the sign over his shoulder, he took a firm grip with his other hand on the ladder. This time, his steps were slower. Finally, he felt secure, but he decided not to look down.
About the time Hans had the sign placed exactly where he wanted it, the ladder swayed. Cold sweat broke out on his forehead, and a voice came from behind and below.
“I’ll hold the ladder for you, Hans, while you pound in those nails.”
“Thanks, Sheriff.” Hans didn’t dare look at his friend but was glad he had come by. “I appreciate it.”
He quickly pounded nails into the four corners of the sign and stepped back down the ladder. When he was standing safely on solid ground, he thrust out his hand toward the sheriff.
Andrew Morton shook it, then turned to look up at the sign. “It looks nice. You did a good job on the lettering.”
“Mother made all of us learn good penmanship, even the boys. I’m glad now.” Hans stood in the middle of the street with his hands on his hips to get the full effect. “Everyone should be able to see the sign most anywhere on the street.”
He rubbed his hands down the legs of his denim trousers. “I’m going to leave the door closed. Isn’t it about time for the stagecoach to arrive? My anvil should be on it today.”
Hans started toward the station, and Andrew walked beside him. “I think I’ll mosey that direction, too.”
Constance glanced around the crowded stagecoach, trying not to show her distaste. The trip had been way too long and much too hard. Some of the people who shared the space with her didn’t understand the importance of cleanliness. She could hardly wait to arrive at Browning City, Iowa. When she stepped out of this conveyance, she planned to breathe in a lot of clean, fresh air.
She pressed her hand down the length of dark green gabardine that covered her lap. When Constance had donned the traveling suit in Fort Smith, it had been the most beautiful outfit she had ever owned. She felt sure she didn’t need to be ashamed of the way she looked. Layers of dust almost obliterated the color of the fabric.
Several times she had been given the choice of whether to spend the night at way stations and
catch the next coach or continue on this one when the fresh horses were harnessed to it. Because of her eagerness to take care of her final promise to her father, she always chose to go on. Now she regretted it. The driver had told them that the next stop was Browning City, and she would arrive dirty with her traveling clothes completely wilted. Why was she always so impetuous?
Mother had often warned her to take longer to make decisions. Why hadn’t Constance
The grizzled man who sat in the opposite corner of the coach leaned his head out the window and looked in the direction they were going before pulling back into the cabin. “I can see the edge of town up ahead. How many of us are stopping here?”
When Constance was the only one who lifted her hand, he smiled at her. “I’ve got a brother who lives several miles west of Browning City. I’ll be getting off, too.”
Constance glanced out the window in time to see several boys running alongside the vehicle as it began to slow down. A puppy romped around their legs. The houses on her side of the street looked inviting, each wearing a coat of whitewash or paint. None of those unpainted gray cabins such as hers back home in the Ozarks. Some houses had picket fences, while iron railings corralled other yards. This looked like a nice town. Too bad she was only here for one
When the driver stopped the coach in front of the station, Constance noticed two men standing on the boardwalk, eyeing the people in the windows of the coach.
A tall, broad-shouldered man with blond hair long enough to touch his collar turned to his companion. “My anvil is probably in the boot. I’m sure no one wanted to lift it onto the luggage rack on the top.” He stepped off into the street.
The driver opened the door. “This is your stop, Miss. I’ll get your carpetbag down for you.” He stepped up on the front wheel of the coach to reach it.
Constance gathered her reticule and stood up as well as she could in the confines of the coach. She had been sitting so long that her legs felt stiff. She planned on taking a long walk after she checked into a hotel or boardinghouse. Exercise would work the soreness out.
When she reached her foot down for the step, somehow she missed it. She realized that she would land on her face in the dirt. Just what she needed for her entrance into a new town.
Constance grabbed onto the handle of the door, but it swung wider, taking her with it. After shutting her eyes, she took a deep breath, preparing for her inglorious landing in the street.
Instead, strong arms lifted her up and away from the coach. Her eyes flew open, and she peered into a handsome face with eyes the color of the sky above.
Here's a link where you can order the book:
Wild Prairie Roses: A Daughter's Quest/Tara's Gold/Better Than Gold (Heartsong Novella Collection)
Now find some bit of history and build a story around it and see where it goes.
Lena Nelson Dooley