Bestselling Author

Category: Romance (Page 1 of 3)

Share the blessing

Dear friends:

I pray this holiday season brings blessings to you and your families. I’ve been reflecting lately on my blessings and have decided I want to share some of what I have with others during this season of giving. One way I can do this is to donate my royalties to a worthy cause.

Through the end of this year, all proceeds from the sales of my book, Taming Huck Finn, will be donated to a local food bank to help them in their mission to feed the hungry.  In the past, I have volunteered at food lines and seen firsthand how a little given in love can go a long way.

If you haven’t had a chance to buy and read this book, now would be a good time. If you’ve read it and enjoyed it, consider giving it as a Christmas gift and you can extend a gift to others. If you know friends who might enjoy it, please spread the word and help me feed the hungry.

I’ll be sending my money to Harvesters, a regional food bank serving NE Kansas and NW Missouri including Kansas City and Topeka. It’s a wonderful organization that provides food and related household products to more than 760 nonprofit agencies including emergency food pantries, community kitchens, homeless shelters, children’s homes and others.

Share your blessings and be blessed this holiday season!

E.E. Burke

Facebooktwitterpinterest

Myths, legends and inspiration

In my novel Redbird, elements from Cherokee myths are woven into the love story, which is set during a historical event in the 1870s involving the Cherokee Nation and the Katy Railroad. Read on to find out more about these fascinating legends that inspired me.

Uk-ten-a

Jake crept next to the dark side of the locomotive. Tonight, Uk-te-na didn’t hiss or spew its dark breath. The smoking dragon crouched on metal rails with its nose pointed south, directly at the heart of the Tsa-la-gi nation, silent and still like a predator anticipating a kill.

Most cultures have legends about supernatural serpents. In Cherokee lore, they call this mythical creature Uk-te-na.  Described as a monstrous beast with horns, similar to a dragon, Uk-te-na is originally created at the behest of men to destroy their enemy. Instead, it wreaks havoc on the people of the earth. It makes sense, then, that Native Americans would liken locomotives to this fearsome beast.

This powerful imagery fit beautifully within the framework of my story about a Cherokee hero who sets out to stop a powerful railroad from devastating his homeland. His quest takes an unexpected turn when he abducts a railroad heiress who it seems might be the personification of a legendary goddess.

Wa-ya and the little bird

How did the cardinal get its beautiful coloring? In this Cherokee tale, Raccoon (gv-li) loves to tease Wolf (wa-ya). One day Wolf is chasing Raccoon so long he becomes exhausted. While he sleeps, Raccoon covers Wolf’s eyes with mud, which hardens. After Wolf awakens, he can’t get the mud off and he can’t see. He begs for help, but Raccoon just runs off.

At long last, a little bird hears Wolf and she flies over. “What’s the matter Brother Wolf? Can I help you?”

Wa-ya cries: “I can’t open my eyes, Please help me to see again!”

“I’m just a plain little brown bird. but I will help you if I can.”

“U-wo-di-ge tsi-s-qua (little brown bird), if you can help me to see again, I will take you to a magic rock that oozes red paint. We will paint your feathers red.”

The little bird pecks away the mud until Wolf can see. True to his word, Wa-ya takes U-wo-di-ge tsi-s-qua to the magic rock and uses a chewed stick as a paint brush to paint right red over the little bird’s plain, brown feathers. She becomes to-tsu-wa--the beautiful Red Bird.

Similarly, in the novel Redbird, the heroine Kate is instrumental in saving the hero, Jake (whose Cherokee name is Wa-ya). In turn, Jake’s gift to the woman he calls Redbird is a new awareness of her beauty and strength.

The Sun and her daughter

This traditional Cherokee legend contributes a core element in my love story and the hero’s journey. As a boy, Jake is enthralled by the story about the Sun’s daughter. He forms an image in his mind about what she might look like, and even sees her in a vision, which later directs his path in ways he could never have predicted. The original legend is rather long, so I’m going to paraphrase most of it.

The Sun lived on the other side of the sky vault, but her daughter lived in the middle of the sky, directly above the earth, and every day as the Sun was climbing along the sky arch to the west she stopped at her daughter’s house for dinner. Now, the Sun hated the people on the earth, because they could never look straight at her without screwing up their faces. But the people of the earth smiled at her brother, the Moon. The Sun was jealous and decided to kill the people, so when she came to her daughter’s house, she sent rays down that created a great fever and many people died.

The people went for help to the Little Men (supernatural beings), who changed two people into snakes (Copperhead and Spreading-adder), but they were unsuccessful at killing the Sun. Then the Little Men created a monster, the great Uk-te-na and the Rattlesnake. They surprised the daughter of the Sun when she came outside, thinking it was her mother who was knocking.

After the Sun finds her daughter dead, she goes away and the world is plunged into darkness. Representatives of the people go to the land of the dead to retrieve the Sun’s daughter and bring her back alive, but along the way, they mistakenly let her out of a box she’s being kept in and she flies off,. A moment later, they hear the song of a red bird. The daughter of the Sun can’t return to her mother in her previous form, but she is brought back to life as the beautiful Redbird.

In my novel, Jake associates Kate with the Sun’s beautiful daughter and nicknames her Redbird. His fascination with her allows him to lower his defenses and open his mind and heart to new possibilities.

As far as Kate is concerned, Jake is the only man who accepts her on equal terms. With him, she feels beautiful and strong. She also comes to believe she is uniquely suited to help Wa-ya and his people. In the end, she is transformed, like her namesake.

Redbird, Book 2 in the series, Steam! Romance and Rails

A rich, white heiress. A Cherokee outlaw. They have nothing in common except a desire for peace…and each other.

Railroad heiress Kate Parsons has spent a lifetime trying to win her father’s respect. Her heart isn’t in the marriage he demands for her, but she is eager to help him peacefully resolve a land dispute between his railroad and the Cherokee Nation. Instead, her life–and her future–take a sharp turn when she is abducted by outlaws.

Jake Colston longs for peace, but not at the price the railroad wants his people to pay. Rather than fight a war against the smoking dragon, he devises a scheme to stop it. But a split-second decision to abduct Kate pitches his plans into chaos and creates havoc in his heart. Like the legendary goddess Redbird, his captive is brave and quick-witted, curious and compassionate. Is she the incarnation of a vision? Or does she portend the end of his dreams?

A captivating, cross-cultural love story, which unfolds during a fast-paced race through historic events. Redbird was originally released as a novella under the title Kate’s Outlaw. This new edition has been expanded into a novel with exciting new scenes and renamed after the Native American legend that inspired it. 

Read Redbird

Have you read the series yet? If not, get started on the first book, Her Bodyguard.  Right now, if you sign up as a new subscriber to my newsletter, you’ll receive a link to a free download. Sign up today!

Steam On!

E.E. Burke

Facebooktwitterpinterest

Merry Christmas, Santa

My novella Santa’s Mail-Order Bride incorporates a number of American Christmas traditions, including the beloved character of Santa Claus. Our present-day version of Santa may appear contemporary, but the venerable gift-giver has a long history.

Santa started with a real person. Saint Nicholas, born in the 3rd century in a village in present-day Turkey, is said to have spent his inheritance to help the needy, and he had a special love for children. It’s from his generous nature we get a gift-giving Santa.

Fast forward to 18th century America where immigrants from Holland brought with them the tradition of Sinterklaas, who became “Santa Claus.” Woodcuts distributed in 1804 show images of an old man in a robe and long white beard filling colonial stockings with fruit and toys.

In 1823, an anonymous poem (later acknowledged to have been penned by Clement Clarke Moore, an Episcopal minister), took the legend another step. Entitled An Account of a Visit from St. Nicholas or The Night Before Christmas. Moore’s poem is largely responsible for the image of Santa Claus as a “right jolly old elf” with a portly figure and the supernatural ability to ascend a chimney with a nod of his head. This is also where we first have references of flying reindeer and Santa’s sleigh.

But we have American artist Thomas Nast to thank for the richest legends we have today surrounding Santa Claus. From 1863 through 1886, Nast contributed 33 Christmas drawings to Harper’s Weekly with references to Santa.

To the left is the most familiar Santa “portrait” he did in 1881. It is Nast who gave Santa his familiar suit, his North Pole workshop, the elves and his wife, Mrs. Claus.

 

America’s Victorians were very familiar with Santa and his legend.

Department store Santa’s popped up at the end of the 19th century and early 20th century.

Santa’s on parade became a popular theme in towns and cities, and in the 1930s, Santa received “contemporary” red costume.

Yes, Santa’s reputation reaches far back in history, and at the heart of his character we find love and generosity, and a special kind of magic that makes the world a better place.

Merry Christmas, Santa!

E.E. Burke

 

Facebooktwitterpinterest

10th Anniversary Celebration: Passion and Photography

Steam train image by Matthew Malkiewicz; cover design by Erin Dameron-Hill

One of the greatest challenges and pleasures in self-publishing is partnering with other artists to conceive the book cover. It’s the physical representation of your story, and so it has to be right. For the Steam! Romance and Rails series, I didn’t just want pictures of trains, I wanted images that would capture the passion and drama of a long-ago time and bring it alive.

When I came across a website featuring the photographic art of Matthew Malkiewicz, I knew I’d found perfect fit. His photography visibly defines the era and captures the mood I want to evoke. His trains are featured on eight of my books, and his iconic images are also featured in the banner of my website and on my newsletter.

Contrary to what some might say, authors can’t launch and sustain careers without great partners, such as critique buddies, editors, illustrators, and designers, photographers, to name a few.  In this post, I wanted to extend a special thanks to someone who has been a valued partner and friend on the journey, Matthew Malkiewicz.

I’ll let him tell his story in his own words:

How did you get started “shooting” trains?

Photo by Matthew Malkiewicz

It was more an awakening than an idea, it all started at the age of 4 months. I have a photo of myself watching a toy train run around the Christmas tree as a baby, it must have hooked me well. As a kid I had a model train layout on a piece of plywood in the basement, and in my teens I received my first camera, which I aimed at every train I saw. After a long period in my life without cameras or trains a job assignment in Colorado (a train mecca) during 2005 rekindled both hobbies, driving me to buy my first digital camera. At the same time I discovered the power of Photoshop, soon after I created my website to showcase my rapidly growing collection of photographs. It’s been a snowball effect ever since.

What are some of your favorite locations or settings?

I concentrate on vintage steam locomotives from all across the United States. Now they have second lives as tourist operations, the fortunate trains that survived the scrapping after the fleet was retired in the middle of the last century. Modern day railroading, both passenger and freight revenue, are pulled by either diesel or electric engines. My passion gravitates to the machines of yesteryear, fire-breathing monsters that seem to be alive whether you have your hand against the polished steel or you are two bluffs away looking across acres of prairie grass. I envision how it must have been back in the day and try to create photographs as timeless as possible to depict what I consider a vibrantly better and sadly vanished time.

What drew you to photographing old steam engines?

Photo by Matthew Malkiewicz

The allure of capturing images that stimulate one’s senses is what drew me to photograph steam-powered locomotives. I wanted to bring to life the smells of the coal fueling the engine, the sound of the steam hissing, and the earth rattling as these magnificent machines sit idling or are in motion. These machines of steam are alive. Each is unique, its own personality, which changes from day to day. At a state of rest the locomotive is groaning, sweating, simmering, creaking, spitting. At speed it’s controlled madness – the ground shakes, sound deafening.

What’s the coolest train you’ve ever photographed and why?

Halloween weekend 2011 at the East Broad Top Railroad in Pennsylvania. Nothing, and I mean nothing; can keep me away from capturing that awe-inspiring shot of a majestic steam locomotive.  However, the Halloween nor’easter would certainly test my fortitude. The storm produced unusually early season snowfall across the northeastern United States, breaking records for total accumulations. As the morning passed on, the snow intensified. By the time the train made its way out of town for its first run of the day, we had experienced near whiteout conditions and things got real quiet. With a typical steam train, you would expect to hear wheels clacking against the rails and steam puffing from the stack. But to my surprise, the snow seemed to envelop and muffle the familiar sound of the locomotive. As the train bellowed down the snowy rails, it was visible that the pine trees struggled to support the weight of the fresh snow, and the cornfields became covered in a white blanket. The autumn-colored leaves indicated that perhaps the trees were also caught off-guard by the storm. An image from the day, aptly named “Train on a Snow Day”, placed second in the Center for Railroad Photography & Art’s 2014 Awards Program.

Photo by Matthew Malkiewicz

Do you enjoy seeing your work interpreted on book covers? Is it how you might have imagined, or completely different?

Yes I do. We all interpret a scene differently, it’s what makes us individuals. I enjoy seeing how others, such as the graphic artist of a book cover, takes my photograph and add their own style, flair, and techniques to enhance. The final results have been beyond my expectations; very pleasantly surprised every time.

Here are some of Matthew’s images on book covers designed by the very talented Erin Dameron-Hill.

Photograph by Matthew Malkiewicz; cover design by Erin Dameron-Hill

Photograph by Matthew Malkiewicz; cover design by Erin Dameron-Hill

Photograph by Matthew Malkiewicz; cover design by Erin Dameron-Hill

Photograph by Matthew Malkiewicz; cover design by Erin Dameron-Hill

Photograph by Matthew Malkiewicz; cover design by Erin Dameron-Hill

Photograph by Matthew Malkiewicz; cover design by Erin Dameron-Hill

What dreams have been realized as a result of your photography?

Throughout life, we all seek our own way in the pursuit of happiness, to find something that’s going to set us apart from the pack, mold our life into something special, and discover the sense in it all.  We test different things to determine what will help us in our quest, push us beyond our own limits, and achieve our dreams. My galleries capture my travels and experiences across our countryside.  Some near home, others far away and remote, all uniquely memorable.  It’s a passion that has taken me to where I am in life today.  My hope is that someday my portfolio will be an inspiration to others interested in this hobby I truly love.  I’m confident that one day I will capture my most spectacular image.  Until then, each photo tells the story of lost time, remembered.

While Matthew continues to pursue his dream of capturing soul-stirring images of an era long past, I continue to pursue my dream to write stories that will transport readers to the past and connect them to the hopes and dreams of others and themselves.

I am incredibly thankful for the opportunity to share them with you, dear reader.

Enjoy a safe and happy Thanksgiving.

With fondness and gratitude,

E.E. Burke

Facebooktwitterpinterest

10th Anniversary Celebration: Romance, Rails and Riots

This month, I’m celebrating my 10th anniversary as an author. I’ve always been a history geek, so it seemed natural to combine a passion for the past with my lifelong love for romance, which is how I arrived at historical romance. The potential for subject matter is as vast as humankind, but as I thought about what most piqued my interest, I found myself drawn to a particular period in American history. Something about the story of the railroads called to me. Maybe it was the passion and excitement of that long-ago era when America expanded her boundaries as fast as men could lay track. A little booklet I picked up in a museum ignited an idea, and I started writing what became my first published novel.

Here’s a blog post I did shortly after I released Her Bodyguard (Book 1 in the series Steam! Romance and Rails).

Romance, Rails and Riots

In the second half of the nineteenth century, the United States entered a time of explosive growth and expansion that has been unmatched since. The country had just emerged from a devastating war and its people needed to have faith in something. That something turned out to be what railroads represented: opportunity and hope for the future.

A hotly contested  construction race between the Missouri, Fort Scott & Gulf Railroad Company (nicknamed The Border Tier) and the Missouri, Kansas and Texas Railway (more commonly known as The Katy) encapsulates the spirit of these times and the challenges. This race turned out to be the perfect setting for the first two books in my railroad romance series.

Her Bodyguard follows the history of the Border Tier and tells the story of an unlikely romance that develops between two people caught up in the cutthroat railroad race and a violent settlers’ revolt.

“If the railroad can be put through next season, we can sell lots enough to make such sinners as we are, rich as sinners ought to be.” Samuel Pomeroy, Kansas Senator, 1870

With the Cherokee Treaty of 1866, President Grant establishes a large tract of land in southern Kansas for settlement. Using political pressure, the railroads got the land cheap, less than $1 an acre. That same month, the President signs the Land Grant bill into law, giving first railroad to reach Indian Territory (modern day Oklahoma) exclusive rights to build through the sovereign nations.

The race between three contenders quickly becomes a neck-to-neck competition between the two most powerful railroads: the Southern branch of the Union Pacific started by Judge Levi Parsons and the line owned by then-president of the Chicago, Burlington & Quincy, James Joy. Both men are Eastern investors who get into the railroad business for the easy money. It turns out to be not so easy.

Since the end of the Civil War, settlers have been “squatting” on what is now railroad land. They claim Congress promised it to them and refuse to pay the railroad’s asking price.

“Hang the RR man as high as Haman, without benefit of clergy” Crawford County Settlers Land League.

By late 1869, competitive railroads are racing toward a prescribed crossing at the border of Indian Territory.  Working for James Joy’s Border Tier line, brilliant engineer Octave Chanute (who gained famed by constructing the first bridge over the Missouri River in Kansas City) draws a straight line south and builds to altitudes of 300 feet, intent on constructing a “first class” railroad.

Meanwhile, settlers in Southeastern Kansas organize into armed militias (Land Leagues) to violently oppose the railroad. Leaguers attack railroad agents, burn out rail crews, steal supplies, tents, articles and camp equipment. Federal troops are sent in to keep the peace. The settlers, predominantly Union veterans, face off with the government they’d fought for just a few years earlier.

Despite problems with angry settlers, all bets are on the Border Tier to win the race. The railroad is laying track over two miles a day, has a head start on the Katy, and more money.

“Give me the iron and the big stuff and I’ll put your railroad down if I have to lay it flat on the prairie.” John Scullin to Katy brass.

In January 1870, the stockholders of the Katy Railroad meet in Emporia. Parsons has hired a new general manager who will win the race for him. While the Border Tier builds a railroad that will last, the Katy’s workers lay iron “flat on the prairie” and adjust routes to minimize bridges and curves. They focus on speed, rather than quality. Rumor has it Parsons’ men are stirring up the settlers and encouraging them to riot. The Border Tier strikes back and is accused of vandalism and banditry. Both lines engage in bidding wars for workers.

“One must be prepared to pay for the victory, or not play at all” James Joy

Sneaky competitors hire “fake” Indians to direct Octave Chanute to wrong border crossing, a pile of stones that mark an 1837 survey, which is few miles away from the official 1854 border. While the Border Tier celebrates, the Katy lays track to the correct borderline.

The problems with the settlers continue to plague both railroads as they dispute the results of the race.

I won’t tell you how it ends, although I will say at least two people get their HEA.

Books in the Steam! Romance and Rails Series include:

HER BODYGUARD: A determined railroad investor stalked by a mysterious killer seeks protection from a wanted gunslinger, who is hiding a dangerous secret.

KATE’S OUTLAW: After a railroad heiress is abducted, one of her captors becomes her protector. On the run from danger with enemies on all sides, they discover a love as powerful as it is forbidden.

Originally part of the anthology Passion’s Prize. Catch up on the stories of two other women caught up in a dangerous race for riches in Adella’s Enemy by Jacqui Nelson and Eden’s Sin by Jennifer Jakes.

A DANGEROUS PASSION: An inquisitive author sets out to expose a charismatic railroad baron and becomes ensnared in a deadly mystery and a dangerous passion.

FUGITIVE HEARTS: When a newly-made widow tries to cover up the truth behind her husband’s violent death, her plan backfires, sending her fleeing from a hardened lawman determined to bring her to justice.

Facebooktwitterpinterest

E.E. Burke’s 10th Anniversary Celebration

Ten years ago, I officially entered the world of romance writing when I submitted a manuscript for the Romance Writers of America Golden Heart contest. To my utter amazement and delight, I made the finals in November, 2010. That moment gave me the impetus and encouragement I needed to send me down a path to becoming a published author. To celebrate, I’m taking a look back at my first published series, which will be on sale through the month of November.

It all started with an idea and a friendship with two other 2010 Golden Heart finalists, Jacqui Nelson and Jennifer Jakes.

I had been working on a railroad romance, and we were all ardent fans of the series Hell On Wheels. I proposed a joint effort, which we turned into three love stories woven together around a common historical event–a gritty, glamorous railroad race akin to Hell On Wheels, only with happier endings.

The anthology Passion’s Prize launched the series with Adella’s Enemy by Jacqui Nelson, Eden’s Sin by Jennifer Jakes and Kate’s Outlaw by your’s truly. You can still pick up each of the novellas originally featured in this anthology.

I’ll go into more detail on the historical underpinnings of the series in my next blog post. In the meantime, here is an interview I did shortly after publishing the first full-length novel of the series, Her Bodyguard.  Time wise, this story actually precedes Kate’s Outlaw, but it came out a year later. Each book is a satisfying read as a stand-alone, but if you enjoy building on an overarching story, I’d recommend starting with Her Bodyguard.

At the Golden Heart awards ceremony in 2010

What made you combine romance and rails?

That’s a good question. I guess something about the old steam railroads calls to my adventurous side, and to my romantic nature. But more specifically, when I touring a museum in Fort Scott, Kansas, a few years ago, I came across a small booklet about a railroad race. It had all the makings of an epic: crooked politics, underhanded landlords, angry mobs, liars, cheats, killers…I couldn’t imagine a more perfect setting for a great love story. As far as turning it into a series, I got that idea from the AMC television series Hell On Wheels. The show follows the building of the transcontinental railroad, which first joined both coasts of the United States. I became an instant fan, and the show’s popularity convinced me there is an audience out there for stories like these, and that includes romance.

Tell us a little about the series.

The first books in the series are set against the background of a contentious construction race through southeastern Kansas between two powerful railroads with long names. One was dubbed the Katy and other was nicknamed the Border Tier. The government promised the winning line free land grants and exclusive rights through this corridor into cattle-rich Texas.  So you can imagine, they pulled out all the stops and no one was above cheating. The series was actually kicked off in the anthology, Passion’s Prize, which features works by two other 2010 Golden Heart finalists, Jennifer Jakes and Jacqui Nelson. These three novellas follow the story of the Katy through the lives of three women who get caught up in the race.

Her Bodyguard, revolves around the story of the Border Tier. While its crews were trying to win a race, the railroad was feuding with settlers over land rights. That’s really the focus of my book. The heroine, Amy Langford, is a wealthy widow who’s invested heavily in the railroad and is looking for ways to appease the settlers so they’ll stop vandalizing the tracks. Only, someone is out to kill her. The hero, Buck O’Connor, is an outlaw who comes out of hiding to help his cousin avoid financial ruin. Through a twist of fate, he ends up being Amy’s bodyguard. He uses his position to thwart her railroad and help his cousin, while at the same time trying to protect her. You can see that isn’t going to work. But it takes Buck awhile to recognize this. He’s pretty sure of himself.

How much of the story is based in fact?

Quite a bit, actually! Honestly, I couldn’t come up with better scenarios than those I find in history books. The race really happened pretty much as it’s written, the settler’s riots, too. I love to use real events and include historical characters. In this case, I put two people very attracted to each other but with opposing goals in the middle of a cutthroat railroad competition and a land war. It was fun to see how they reacted.

You talk about your characters as if they’re real people.

In my mind, they are. But I try not to talk to them when other people are around. Characters come to me fully formed. Sometimes they appear before the story, and sometimes they come out of the story. But I always make sure I get to know them as much as possible before I start writing.

Your books are based in the American West during the nineteenth century. Why that place, and why that era?

 I write what I love best. I’ve always been a history geek, and particularly American history. I really got fascinated with the Western expansion when I first moved to Kansas (I won’t say how many years ago or I’ll really out myself). That period of expansion had such an impact on this country, good and bad. I don’t think people realize just how much. There are so many stories that haven’t been told and I want to tell them.

I try to strike a balance between gritty realism and romance. I suppose I do err on the side of romance, but in many ways, that Victorian era was very romantic—even in the “Wild West.”

Start the series with HER BODYGUARD

The most dangerous man may be the one she hired.

For America “Amy” Langford, investing in the Border Tier Railroad isn’t about chasing riches. The savvy businesswoman is after bigger stakes: influence, respect, success her father didn’t live to see. Rioting settlers and underhanded competitors can’t stop her, but a killer might. When a ruggedly handsome drifter comes to her rescue, she trusts her instincts and hires him as her bodyguard.

Buck O’Connor has put his violent past behind him, but being a wanted man dictates a life of deceit. So what’s one more lie? He becomes Amy’s protector so he can secretly thwart her railroad’s progress to help his cousin avoid financial ruin. A great scheme—until he falls in love.

While Buck hides his true purpose, Amy lies to herself about her growing feelings for her bodyguard. But the price for deceit is steep, and the secrets they both hide could destroy their future—if they survive.

Other books in the series include:

KATE’S OUTLAW: After a railroad heiress is abducted, one of her captors becomes her protector. On the run from danger with enemies on all sides, they discover a love as powerful as it is forbidden.

Originally part of the anthology Passion’s Prize. Catch up on the stories of two other women caught up in a dangerous race for riches in Adella’s Enemy by Jacqui Nelson and Eden’s Sin by Jennifer Jakes.

A DANGEROUS PASSION: An inquisitive author sets out to expose a charismatic railroad baron and becomes ensnared in a deadly mystery and a dangerous passion.

FUGITIVE HEARTS: When a newly-made widow tries to cover up the truth behind her husband’s violent death, her plan backfires, sending her fleeing from a hardened lawman determined to bring her to justice.

 

Facebooktwitterpinterest

Stay At Home Free Reads

With so many of us staying at home during this public health crisis, it’s easy to feel isolated and get depressed. I know I’ve been feeling that way lately, and I have struggled to write even with extra time on my hands. One thing that always helps when I’m feeling low is to curl up with a book that offers a sense of hope. The reason I write romance has to do with my deepest desire to find and share hopefulness. With that in mind, I’d like to offer you a collection free reads that I hope might brighten the coming days.

These books feature three of my favorite characters: an outlaw, an adventurer and a madam. They all share one thing in common–they have a hard believing in anything until they find hope

Her Bodyguard: Meet a wanted man who finds hope in the most unlikely place–as bodyguard to a woman who would rather see him dead if she knew the truth.

Taming Huck FinnThe free-wheeling adventurer discovers hope on a dangerous journey with an orphan boy who yearns for a father almost as much as Huck resists the role.

Jolie: Hope for this cynical madam comes in the form of a blind greeting card salesman who can’t see her flaws.

If we’re still hunkered down in a month, I’ll send out another round of free reads. If you’d like to be included, be sure to sign up for my newsletter.

Stay home and stay safe!

E.E. Burke

Facebooktwitterpinterest

On the Journey with an award-winning photographer

Seven years ago, I launched my first novel in the Steam! Romance and Rails series. The covers of several books in this series, and in the subsequent Bride Train collection, feature the work of award-winning photographer Matthew Malkiewicz. His breath-taking photos of authentic steam engines captured my fancy and provided a perfect backdrop for book covers that looked as lush and evocative as the time period they represented. (In fact, the header for On The Journey features one of my favorite images!) I asked Matthew to share a memory about each of the photographs featured on my books. Come with us on the journey to visit the last of America’s steam railroads.

E.E. Burke

“Opening a window to the past”

Matthew Malkiewicz is a widely recognized photographer specializing in steam railroad history, “keeping a window to the past open for us to see.” His work has appeared in print and online. He is the recipient of the Center for Railroad Photography & Art’s prestigious John E. Gruber Creative Photography Award, and is a Hasselblad Masters of Photography 2016 finalist, and has been published on CNN International, The Weather Channel, DPReview and PetaPixel websites. He earned honorable mention in the 2017 Monochrome Awards in both the professional fine art and landscape categories. His entire portfolio can be viewed at his “Lost Tracks of Time” website.

Take a journey with Matthew:

Photos used in Steam! Romance and Rails series

A Dangerous Passion cover: Cumbres & Toltec Scenic Railroad, Chama, New Mexico, March 16, 2014 

A long day of plowing the line after a recent winter storm, #489 catches its breath with snow still on the front pilot. Living at sea level, this day winded me from being in the upper elevations of the Rocky Mountains. I was at the rear of the train and hustled getting into position to capture this image while daylight was quickly turning to night. The things we do for fun.

Fugitive Hearts cover: Western Maryland Scenic Railroad, Cumberland, Maryland, December 10, 2009

Sunrise as the train pulls into the station to pick up its passengers. I remember well capturing this image. The dramatic smoke and steam combined with gorgeous morning light spoke to me.

Photos used in American Mail-Order Bride Series

Santa’s Mail-Order Bride cover: Steam Into History, New Freedom, Pennsylvania December 8, 2013

This location is only a few hours from my house. I knew of an oncoming snowstorm and arrived extra early in the morning. My 4×4 kept me safe, and the train crew put on a great show in the falling snow. The Christmas garland, ribbons, and illuminated lanterns on the locomotive add to the festivities.

Photos used in The Bride Train novella collection

Valentine’s Rose cover: Chelatchie Prairie Railroad, Yacolt, Washington, October 13, 2014

One of the all-time favorites in my portfolio – a foggy morning in the Pacific Northwest. Two minutes earlier there were horses grazing in the field. The train scared them away. The ground fog would soon burn off, taking with it a lot of the mood and atmosphere.

Patrick’s Charm cover: Rio Grande Scenic Railroad, Alamosa, Colorado, August 22, 2011

Sadly, this steam excursion railroad is no loner in operation. The locomotive sits locked up in a dark engine house. But on this summer day it was in all its glory. I don’t know why the smoke plume goes from black to gray to almost white to black and then gray again; but it draws my eye as much as the train in the surrounding Rocky Mountains.

 

Tempting Prudence cover: Cass Scenic Railroad, Cass, West Virginia, May 17, 2008

A workhorse from the days of a thriving logging industry in the West Virginia Mountains. A shay locomotive, its cylinders and drive train on one side with the boiler offset to the other for balance. A timeless reproduction on a foggy rainy day.

Seducing Susannah cover: Cass Scenic Railroad Cass, West Virginia, May 17, 2008

The same locomotive used on the Tempting Prudence cover. The three vertical steam cylinders in front of the engineer, connecting to the horizontal drive shaft are much different than a traditional steam engine with rods on both sides. One of the few times it was not raining on this day.

Born too late…

My hobby of photographing steam trains across our country has taken me well off the beaten path – without it I doubt to have ever visited any of these locations. I truly believe that life is about the journey and not the destination–the people met along the way and the stories they share, or that moment that takes you back to a better, vanished time. E.E. Burke and I have collaborated quite a bit over the years. I am thankful for her vision in selecting these images for her stories. Her choices were perfect.

Thank you, Matthew! You and I share a love for the grand old age of steam. My historical romance novels set during this period feature many characters and events straight from pages of America’s railroad history. If you are interested in reading the Steam! Romance and Rails series or The Bride Train collection, I’ve provided a handy guide for the reading order here.

You can see Matthew’s full gallery at www.losttracksoftime.com.

Steam on! 

E.E. Burke

Facebooktwitterpinterest

Love for all seasons with 99c Brides of Noelle sale

Get four bestselling romances for less than the price of a box of chocolates! 

 

JOLIE by E.E. Burke

On sale for 99 cents this week only

Jolie LaFemme has been a working girl at La Maison for four long years…ever since being betrayed and left penniless, grieving and adrift. She’s jaded, distrustful and blind to the possibility of love. As far as she’s concerned, being the madam of a popular sporting house is the best she can hope for, and nothing will convince her to give up the coveted and lucrative position. 

Hank Donavan arrives in Noelle with a plan to ensure his sister’s financial security, and regain his pride. He’s a man in his prime, handsome by any measure, but an accident ruined his vision, and his future. Now, he travels with his dog, Bear, and sells beautiful handmade Valentine’s cards. His big opportunity comes when he gets a chance to invest in the town’s richest silver mine. There’s only one catch: he has to be married first. 

Who would marry a blind man with little to recommend him when there are plenty of hale and hearty men to go around?

OPHELIA by Kit Morgan

On sale for 99 cents this week only!

Clint Jones comes to Noelle for one purpose and one purpose only. Get in, assess the town and get out. Then he’d report to his superiors at Wells Fargo and Company to let them know if Noelle is respectable and prosperous enough to open a branch there. What Clint finds is anything but respectable! Toss in a violet-eyed beauty who takes his breath away, a mayor and a preacher he things are consorting with the worsts sorts of evil, and the fun begins.

NORAH by Amanda McIntyre

On sale for 99 cents this week only!

Not proud of his seedy entanglements back East, Irish immigrant Seamus Malone is determined to create a new and better life in the western frontier. Despite attempts to reach the woman that captured his heart, his letters for the last four years have gone unanswered. 

Will a plea for help from Noelle’s new matchmaker convince his estranged wife to join him in this new world, proving his love, and that he is a changed man?

Passion (and a controlling aunt) drove Norah into marriage, but when she finds her new husband dabbling in drink and dangerous liaisons, she bid him farewell, relenting to his pipe dreams of a better life, while she remained behind living in the shame of a broken marriage. When a dark truth is discovered she must now decide if the love she once felt is enough to survive a second chance?

ROBYN by Jacqui Nelson

On sale for 99 cents this week only!

Raised by three free-spirited older brothers, Robyn Llewellyn has learned to fight for what she wants—and now she wants to transform her boss and best friend, Max Peregrine, into a lifelong partner. Determined to become the image of what a marriage-minded man wants, Robyn trades her trousers for a dress and heads to Max’s hometown of Noelle, Colorado. But changing who she is with the help of the now happily married Brides of Noelle puts her friendship with Max at risk, and now he fears he may take her away from him forever.  

This year, my husband and I celebrate 32 years of marriage the day after Valentine’s Day. We intended to get married on Valentine’s Day, but it fell on a Friday that year, which wasn’t good for out of town guests, so we pushed our wedding to one day later. Now we get to celebrate for two days!

I picked Valentine’s Day as the setting for my story because for me it is the most romantic time of the year. I thought it fitting that Hank Donovan would sell Valentine’s cards and did some research into Victorian handmade cards. They were truly works of art.

Hank happens to be blind, which makes his story all the more intriguing. When he gives one of the handmade cards to a cynical madam who considers “love” a transaction, something magical begins to happen, and two people who had nearly lost hope begin to dream again.

May you find your happily ever after,

E.E. Burke

Pick up all four delightful Brides of Noelle romances for a sweet deal, only 99 cents each. Click the names below. 

Ophelia |Jolie | Norah |Robyn

Have you read any of the Noelle books? in the Twelve Days or Brides series? If so, which character would you invite to dinner and why?

Facebooktwitterpinterest

Bestselling Christmas Collection Only 99 cents

I’m delighted to announce that USA Today Bestselling Author Caroline Lee is featuring my #1 bestselling box set, An American Mail Order Bride Christmas Collection, in her book club this week! I’ve put the collection on sale for 99 cents because I want all her readers (and mine) to be able to afford it! If you haven’t yet read this set yet, I hope you’ll try it. Goes well with a cup of hot cocoa and a warm fire!

Here’s the link for the book.
Here’s the link to the group if you want to participate in the conversation and giveaways I’ll be offering.

Victoria Bride of Kansas

In Victoria, Bride of Kansas, we meet a little girl, Fannie, who is mute. She hasn’t spoken since her mother left her two years earlier. Victoria initially tries to break through Fannie’s defenses with a very special gift. Desperate to communicate with the troubled child, Victoria teaches her sign language.

Where did Victoria learn sign language? At the first American school for the Deaf in Hartsford, Conn., which opened its doors in 1817. Within forty years of the opening of the Hartford school, more than twenty other schools for the deaf had been established, the majority residential, teaching manual sign language.

David O’Brien doesn’t react well to Victoria teaching his daughter how to sign. If she doesn’t speak again and relies on sign language, he fears she will be excluded. His feelings reflect the general consensus of the time, which was fired by a fierce debate over the best way to teach the deaf to communicate. “Oralists” argued that the deaf should be taught to read lips and speak (English) in order assimilate into the broader society. Even Alexander Graham Bell, better known for his invention of the telephone, advocated banning sign language.

David reluctantly agrees to try Victoria’s approach, with surprising–and touching–results.

Santa’s Mail Order Bride

After I wrote Victoria’s story, which introduces David’s sister, Maggie, I knew I had to give Maggie her own HEA. A year has passed, and Maggie is now a teacher. She comes home for Christmas and finds a new mission—to gather toys for orphans. When she approaches Gordon Sumner–the shopkeeper across the street and David’s fiercest competitor–for his contribution, he comes up with a plan that will not only garner toys, but also allow him to “woo” a woman he’s had his eye on for some time.

Santa’s Mail-Order Bride incorporates America’s Christmas traditions and the beloved character of Santa Claus. How much do you know about Santa?

Santa Claus was a real person…sort of. Nikolaus of Myrna was born in the 3rd century in a village in present-day Turkey. He spent his sizable inheritance to help the needy and is credited with numerous miracles (including bringing dead people back to life), and he had a special love for children. It’s from his generous nature we get a gift-giving Santa.

Fast forward centuries later and we find the Dutch giving Santa a ride across the ocean when immigrants from Holland bring the tradition of Sinterklaas to America. Woodcuts distributed in 1804 show images of an old man in a long robe and long white beard filling colonial stockings with fruit and toys. There are also colonial images showing Santa as a something of a trickster in a tricorn hat.

In 1823, an anonymous poem (later acknowledged to have been penned by Clement Clarke Moore, an Episcopal minister), gave us a mythical, mischievous Santa. Entitled “An Account of a Visit from St. Nicholas” or “The Night Before Christmas.” Moore’s poem is largely responsible for the image of Santa Claus as a “right jolly old elf” with a portly figure and the supernatural ability to ascend a chimney with a mere nod of his head. This is also where we pick up flying reindeer and Santa’s sleigh.

We have American artist Thomas Nast to thank for developing the more familiar images of Santa Claus we cherish from Victorian times. From 1863 through 1886, Nast contributed 33 Christmas drawings to Harper’s Weekly with references to Santa. Here is the most familiar Santa “portrait” he did in 1881. It is Nast who gave Santa his familiar suit, his North Pole workshop, elves, and even his wife, Mrs. Claus.

Department store Santa’s popped up at the end of the 19th century and early 20th century.

By the 1930s, Santa had even ventured into marketing, appearing on Coca-Cola ads.

Connection to other series

This 2-book collection features characters from another series I’ve written. You’ll meet David’s mentor, Buck O’Connor, whose sage advice on relationships has come as the result of hard-earned lessons (Her Bodyguard, Steam! Romance and Rails).

If you haven’t read this collection, I hope you’ll give it a try this season while it’s still on sale.

May God bless you in this season of miracles, hope and love.

Click here to purchase

Facebooktwitterpinterest

« Older posts

© 2021 E.E. Burke

Theme by Anders NorenUp ↑