Meet the Bootlegger’s Bride

THE BRIDE TRAIN: Next arrival Aug. 11, the bootlegger’s bride…

A spinster, a bootlegger…an unexpected chance at love.

Leaving the safety of her old life, Prudence Walker rides the Bride Train west to the end of the line. Her last chance at matrimony. She’s too plain to inspire desire. Nor does she expect to find love. She does have her standards, however.

Arch Childers longs to put down roots, only he’s too busy managing his family’s illegal whiskey business to pursue his dreams. His troublemaking brothers, deciding he needs help, kidnap a spinster lady and present her to him, bound and gagged, as his bride.

Prudence isn’t immune to the charming scoundrel, but a bootlegger is the last man on earth she would marry… That is, until Arch sacrifices his freedom to save her.

Tempting Prudence, Book 3 in The Bride Train series, releases Aug. 11. Preorder your copy today.

Moonshiners and Bootleggers: a colorful history worth retelling

The term moonshine originated in Europe and was used in the England in the 1700s. It originally referred to occupational pursuits that necessitated night work, or work by the light of the moon. Those who made illegal whiskey worked at night so the smoke from their stills couldn’t be seen.

The term Bootlegger is believed to have originated in colonial America in reference to white men who sold alcohol to Native Americans. The practice was frowned on (for many reasons I won’t go into here), but the more determined peddlers wanting to trade spirits for material goods concealed bottles in the top of their boots.

Screen Shot 2016-07-22 at 12.55.26 PMThe terms are often used interchangeably, but strictly speaking, the moonshiner manufactured the illegal whiskey and the bootlegger transported and distributed it.

In Colonial America, distilling whiskey for home use wasn’t illegal and the time-honored process was carried out in thousands of homes. But when country exploded into civil conflict, the federal government needed tax money to pay for an expensive war. In 1862, Congress passed a law making distilling liquor without a license a federal offense, thus birthing an illegal distilling industry and furthering the long history of moonshiners and bootleggers.

Drinking was the top recreational activity for men in the Old West. Enterprising businessmen out to make money were eager to obtain a less expensive product and mark it up for a tidy profit. In some cases, before the railroads were built, homemade “fire water” was the only option.

Screen Shot 2016-07-24 at 7.48.36 PMDo you know where the term “fire water” came from? When the Indians purchased liquor, they determined the quality by the “kick” it provided. The stronger, the better. To test, they would toss some of the liquor onto a fire. If it flared up, they would deem it of good quality. Considering what was added to the liquor to provide the kick — things like gunpowder and arsenic — the “fire water” test might not have been the best quality control process.

Some moonshiners would age their liquor in charred oak barrels to give it the appearance and flavor or aged bourbon whiskey. Other purveyors who sold to the public would purchase “white lightning” in its raw form (generally clear and colorless) and use different additives to please purchaser’s tastes.

Additives for color and flavor included chewing tobacco, tea, coffee, prune juice, tea bark, burnt sugar, molasses, sagebrush, red pepper, dried peaches, black bone meal. Chemical ingredients such as tartaric acid, sulfuric acid, ammonia, strychnine, turpentine and creosote would make its way into the mix to add a little “bite.” That could be a deadly bite!

Among pet names for whiskey on the frontier is one of my favorites: “Forty-rod.” Meaning, the drinker could expect to travel around forty rods (220 yards) before the booze kicked in and he collapsed. White Lightning is a ubiquitous name everyone had heard about. Here are some of the less well known but equally colorful names: skull cracker, popskull, stumphole, bush whiskey, ruckus juice, rotgut, catdaddy, mule kick, panther’s breath, alley bourbon, happy Sally, jump steady, see seven stars, old horsey, wild cat.

stillIf the distiller was conscientious, he used clean equipment and made the best product possible. He took pride in his craft and earned respect amongst his colleagues and customers. At the same time, moonshiners were looked down on as lawbreakers and considered outside of “proper” society. Keep in mind, Victorians privately enjoyed the vices that they publicly condemned.

Out in the Old West, illegal stills became the target of  law enforcement officials who sought to shut them down. To avoid detection, stills were often located in remote mountainous areas with thick forests, such as the Missouri Ozarks.

In Tempting Prudence, Arch Childers is a bootlegger from the hills of southwestern Missouri. He stakes a claim on railroad land over the border in Kansas and sells his family’s moonshine to area saloon owners. Arch keeps a low profile around town, but he has a bad reputation due to his profession, as well as his association with his troublemaking brothers.

Prudence is deeply religious and fiery in her opposition to liquor, most especially those who peddle it. When she first meets Arch, she’s sure he’s as bad as the men who abducted her. As it turns out, he isn’t the scoundrel she expects him to be.

Can a “daughter of temperance” find happiness with a bootlegger?

Check out an excerpt from Tempting Prudence, or read more about the first two books in the series.

This month, I’m also holding a Bride Train #giveaway on my Facebook Page. Like my page, and click on Giveaway (tab) to enter the raffle for your chance to win three ebooks from the series, an autographed copy of Valentine’s Rose and $10 Amazon gift card. https://www.facebook.com/AuthorEEBurke/

 

 

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Get Aboard The Bride Train

NEW RELEASE! Patrick’s Charm, Book 2 in The Bride Train series

Patrick's Charm

Available on Amazon

She believes in nothing. He has nothing left to believe in, except his good luck charm.

Lady Luck hasn’t been kind to Patrick O’Shea. The Irish immigrant has suffered loss, betrayal and bitter disappointment since arriving in America. When a talented performer shows up at his saloon looking for a job, it appears his luck is about to change.

Charm LaBelle would rather take a job singing in a saloon than be forced to marry. The famous actress is on the run from danger and has learned the hard way not to entrust her life, or her heart, to any man…in particular, her charming employer.

Patrick is determined to hold onto his good luck through whatever means necessary, including marriage. But Charm won’t give up her freedom or her secrets, and it’s only a matter of time before luck runs out.

Read an excerpt from Patrick’s Charm.

Fun Facts about Patrick’s Charm…

Screen Shot 2016-04-21 at 1.10.54 PM

The Irish Brigade at the Battle of Fredericksburg.

Patrick’s Charm features a disabled veteran and a runaway actress who both desperately need a lucky break. Researching this book, I learned a great deal about the Irish experience in America’s Civil War. While the war was raging in the early 1860s, the Union turned to the immigration docks for new recruits. These young men were signed up “fresh off the boat” and sent into battle, often with little understanding of what they were up against.

This is how Patrick O’Shea starts his new life in America. Although he questions the wisdom of his decision to enlist, he nevertheless serves honorably, as did his countrymen, many of whom fought with the ill-fated Irish Brigade.

Screen Shot 2016-04-21 at 8.08.07 PMPatrick’s permanent injuries are a constant reminder of his bad luck. Wounded soldiers were routinely dosed with opium for pain, and many of them, like Patrick, became dependent on the drug. Opium addiction among former troops was so widespread it was given the name Soldier’s Disease. Imagine the strength it would’ve taken to cope with injury, addiction and the rigors of starting a new life on the frontier. I think you’ll find Patrick a fascinating character.

Patrick meets his match in Charm LaBelle.

CharmCharm is a famous actress traveling incognito. She signed onto the bride train as a means of escaping danger with no intention of getting married. Instead, she takes a job as a saloon singer. Her decision has far-reaching effects. I won’t spoil the story by going into them.

Charm’s character is loosely based on a famous 19th century actress, Lotta Crabtree, who got her start as a child, entertaining miners in San Francisco. Pursuing acting as a profession in America in those days required a great deal of courage and fortitude. Traveling through the wilds was bad enough. Performances were held in mining camps, saloons, and on makeshift stages. Only the famous few appeared in large theaters. Actresses who traveled the West were strong-willed and independent and certainly didn’t fit the mold of Victorian womanhood, which it made it difficult for them to find suitable mates or form relationships with women outside their circle. It wasn’t an easy life.

In her impromptu audition, Charm sings two songs popular during the war and afterwards. One you might classify as a “fight song,” The Irish Volunteer. If you listen to this, you’ll want to jump up and dance like the men did at O’Shea’s saloon. The other, Lorena, is a ballad sure to bring tears to the eyes of former soldiers. 

It was great fun researching acts performed by traveling entertainers, which also included humorous skits created on the fly, and, surprisingly, lots of Shakespeare. Who knew the bard was so popular in the American West?

Both Charm and Patrick have lived with tragedy, bitter disappointment and betrayal. Trust isn’t something that comes easily for either of them. Both are wounded in different ways. They must come together to help each other, and then, through love, find healing.

I hope you enjoy Patrick’s Charm. Check back next month for information about the next book in the series. Until then…

Steam On!

E.E. Burke

~ How about those gorgeous trains on my covers! The images were taken by award-winning photographer Matthew Malkeiwicz. He travels the country capturing relics of the steam era, and his work is simply amazing. You can see more of it on his website, Lost Tracks of Time.

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When a railroad plays matchmaker

Eve Find Your Adam in the Garden of the World!

Single young ladies of good reputation desiring to emigrate west for the purpose of marriage may apply to the Young Ladies Immigration Society for free travel to southeastern Kansas, where hardworking settlers are eager to make your acquaintance and become steadfast husbands. Applicants must be free to wed, of marriageable age, preferably between the years of 18 and 25, without deformities, debts or other encumbrances. Dance hall girls, circus performers and soiled doves need not apply. Must provide references.

Screen Shot 2016-03-02 at 4.20.42 PMWith this advertisement begins a journey for seven women who answer the call to become brides for settlers on the Western frontier. The Bride Train takes them to a land plagued by violence and unrest. A place ruled by passion that only a woman’s touch can tame into love.


The Bride Train

Taming the West one bride at a time.

The mail-order bride phenomenon in 19th century America spawned personal advertisements, matrimonial newspapers and matchmaking services—even railroads wanted a piece of the action.

The Bride Train is inspired by a series of true events that took place in southeastern Kansas shortly after the Civil War, when the government opened up former Cherokee land. The railroads used their political power purchase the large tract before preemption claims were certified, forcing those who had already settled in the territory to broker deals with the new owner.

By 1869, riots broke out in protest of railroad land policies. Angry settlers burned ties and tore up track as fast as the railroad could put it down. Things got so bad that President Grant sent troops into Kansas to quell the violence. A more peaceful solution was proposed: a program sponsoring the immigration of single young ladies into Kansas to become brides and provide a “calming influence” on the unruly men. I couldn’t find any evidence this program got off the ground, but what a great romance series idea!

The Bride Train is first mentioned in my debut romance novEEBurke_HerBodyguard_800el, Her Bodyguard, which is set against the same series of events in a different location. Click here to read a scene about the arrival of the first Bride Train.

That scene inspired me to conceive an entire series about the railroad matchmaking service. The first question that popped into my head was: “What kind of women would answer an advertisement to leave everything behind and go to an unknown and largely uncivilized land to marry virtual strangers? They would have to be desperate, or adventurous in the extreme.

Let me introduce you to the first bride:

Rose Muldoon, 20, is an Irish laundress from Five Points, a crime-ridden slum in New York City. After a terrible tragedy, she finds herself alone, destitute and with few good men to choose from. She decides to seek a hardworking husband out West and start a family to replace the one she’s lost.
ValentinesRose_FacebookAdWhen considering a hero who would be perfect for my Irish Rose, I thought, why not a dissolute English nobleman?

(Don’t you love mismatched couples?)

Constantine Valentine is the second son of an English Baron. His reckless, irresponsible lifestyle results in banishment and unexpected poverty. Never one to quit, Val decides to seek his fortune in America and then return home to repair his tarnished reputation.

The surname Valentine, of Anglo-Saxon origin, comes from a Latin name Valentinus, from the root word valens, which means strong and healthy. The word “valor” comes from this root. But even a strong man is bound to have a weakness. One that only his true love can help him overcome…

Click here to read an excerpt from Valentine’s Rose.

If you’d like to know more about the series and be notified when new books come out, sign up to receive my newsletter. Just for signing up, I’ll send you a FREE book.

All Aboard!

E.E. Burke

~ Train photography by Matthew Malkeiwicz, all rights reserved. Check out more of Matthew’s work on his website: Lost Tracks of Time.

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