Meet Santa’s Mail-Order Bride!

Maggie has an unexpected suitor…in a red suit!

A schoolteacher asks her brother’s rival for help gathering gifts for orphans. Little does she know where a sleigh ride with the local Santa may lead…

On sale for the holidays, only 99 cents! 

Santa’s Mail-Order Bride incorporates America’s Christmas traditions and the beloved character of Santa Claus. Our version of Santa may appear contemporary, but the venerable old 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, which became “Santa Claus.” Woodcuts distributed in 1804 show familiar images of an old man in a long 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), brought the legend forward 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 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 the legends we have today surrounding Santa Claus. 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 red suit, his North Pole workshop, 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. But Santa’s reputation reached 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.

Don’t miss this special sale on SANTA’S MAIL-ORDER BRIDE. This week only!

 

Santas Mail Order Bride YouTube play

On sale for the holidays, only 99 cents! 

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The Bride Train Series Collection

The Bride Train Series Collection Introductory Offer

Taming the West one bride at a time

Four women answer a railroad advertisement seeking single young ladies as brides for settlers on the Western frontier. The Bride Train carries them to a land plagued by violence and unrest…a place where passion rules…and only a woman’s touch can tame it into love.

Valentine’s Rose

An English nobleman searching for riches, an Irish laundress seeking love… Only in American would Fate be foolish enough to put them together.

Patrick’s Charm

A disabled veteran’s fortunes improve after he hires a beautiful and talented performer…but when her past catches up will his luck run out?

Tempting Prudence

An upright spinster is kidnapped to become the bride of a notorious bootlegger and finds an unexpected chance at love…if she’ll risk everything, including her reputation.

Seducing Susannah

The arrogant railroad agent must marry a proper lady to reclaim his inheritance, but the woman he wants despises him passionately.

Prequel: A Bride’s Journey

“BONUS!! Prequel: A Bride’s Journey Enjoy this brief introduction to The Bride Train Series, which provides a glimpse into the journal of one of the brides traveling west.

This series features a cast of characters taken straight from the pages of history. Why not try your hand at matching them? Who would YOU put together and why?

All four of the Bride Train books have become Amazon bestsellers, and Tempting Prudence won a readers’ and bloggers’ book award for Best Western Romance in 2016.

The Bride Train Series Collection

Take a ride on the Bride Train out to the American West and fall in love!

Purchase the collection today!

 

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Celebrate Cowboys

 What it is about cowboys and the cowboy lifestyle that we find so compelling? I asked this question of five other authors and got surprisingly similar answers. Or maybe it’s not so surprising.

Summed up, we all share a deep love for the iconic cowboy. He’s the hero of our romance novels, he has equal parts courage and honor, and he follows a code of ethics that don’t just guide him, they define him.

Historically, the “cowboy code” wasn’t a set of laws or statutes, it wasn’t even written down. Rather, it was about core values, and an unspoken understanding about how one should behave—in public and in private. Here’s a nice summation:

1) Live each day with courage.
2) Take pride in your work.
3) Always finish what you start.
4) Do what has to be done.
5) Be tough, but fair.
6) When you make a promise, keep it.
7) Ride for the brand.
8) Talk less and say more.
9) Remember that some things
aren’t for sale.
10) Know where to draw the line.

Even today, this “cowboy code” or “code of the West” speaks to us. Why? I think it’s because it inspires us to be better than we often are, and it reminds us that these are the kind of values that will truly make a nation great.

But what makes a cowboy a cowboy? It isn’t putting on jeans and boots and a hat, and driving around in a truck listening to country music, or displaying guns, or flying your colors. Feel free to do all that (this is what freedom grants you), but if you’re coarse and rude, or dishonest and lazy, the rest of the package doesn’t matter. True cowboys, using the iconic definition I talked about earlier, are those who live by the code.

A little cowboy history

In reality, the original cowboys were mostly young men in their late teens and early twenties, who sought adventure and money as drovers taking cattle across rough, often hostile, country. They worked long hours, often through sleepless nights, keeping the herd together, safe and pointed north until they reached the railhead. Most of the men who worked this job didn’t even own the cattle. If the owner was a rancher, he might ride along, but not always; and sometimes the owners were businesses, not individuals.

It generally took upwards of three months to reach the railhead, where the cows would be loaded to be taken east to a slaughterhouse. Most of the cross-country cattle drives (such as the ones we think of when we hear “The Chisholm Trail”) were made in the early 1870s, before the railroads connected Texas to eastern markets.

Cowboys faced natural disasters (frequent storms and flooding), stampedes caused by any number of factors, inhospitable strangers, such as the farmers who hated the Texas cattlemen because of tick fever…and the list of obstacles goes on and on. Cowboys relied on physical vigor, cleverness, and sheer determination, along with the experience they gained along the way.

Out on the frontier, cowboys had to depend on each other’s character rather than depend on a set of written laws. In fact, the cowboy tended to be a mite independent (translate that, stubborn as a mule’s hind end). He might flaunt the law of a territory or state, particularly if he didn’t think it made sense, but you could count on him to abide by “the code.” Those who didn’t were drummed out of the brotherhood, at the very least.

Yes, cowboys could be wild, and at times, violent. They could also be generous, loyal and considerate, particularly to ladies. Were they perfect? Hell, no. And I’m betting they’d laugh if someone told them today they’re considered heroes with a special day set aside to honor them.

Saturday, July 22 is National Day Of The Cowboy.

Modern day cowboys

This summer, I met two professional bull riders, Matt Triplett and Tyler Harr, at a PBR rodeo in Deadwood, S.D.

Let me tell you, they were popular in the bar that night. You can see why. These bull riders look mighty fine in their jeans and hats and pressed cotton shirts. And, oh my, were they polite. Every sentence was punctuated with, “ma’am.” They were also endlessly patient with the entire female population at the bar who wanted pictures made with them. More than that, they’d cleaned up and come by to meet some of us romance writers after a grueling night of competition–and they never stopped smiling.

I’ll admit to being intrigued by what inspires bull riders to do what they do. Week after week, they load up and drive to the next competition, where there’s no guarantee they’ll make money. Frankly, there’s no guarantee they won’t get hurt. This is rough sport, and in many ways, unforgiving. But when you talk to these cowboys, to a man they’ll tell you they wouldn’t trade it for anything, and they can’t imagine doing anything else.

Mike Heald, shown at right, is a stock contractor (he supplies bucking bulls for the rodeos) and a former bull rider. He also serves on the board of the Rider Relief Fund, established to help pro bull riders when they get injured. I’d like to share a little of what he had to say when we talked about rodeo and modern day cowboys.

What drew me to the rodeo to start with? I guess the adventure, and being a cowboy is in my DNA. My dad was a cowboy. I was born and raised on a ranch in northeastern California; ranching and the cowboy lifestyle go hand in hand. I got into bull riding when I was pretty young. Wasn’t good enough to be a world champion, so I guess I’m lucky I got hurt early and had to get out of it.

What brought me back to rodeo and being part of it as a stock contractor is the community. It’s like family–however dysfunctional (laughs). I’ve had a career in Silicon Valley, met interesting and wealthy people, and it’s easy to get sucked into all that. But in rodeo, nobody gives a damn about what you drive or what you own. It’s about the love of the sport, the culture, the people, and what you do for each other.

Most bull riders start as kids in youth rodeo, and because the sport is self-selecting, they ride, get a high score, win, and then the best move ahead. They grow up with it. Soon as they hit 18, they can go professional. A lot of these guys live in RV’s, they travel from show to show. Some have wives and children who follow them. They really are the modern day “drifter.”

What attracts us to the sport? Hey, you write romance, so you know what I mean when I say it’s the romance. You can look at yourself and say, ‘I’m a cowboy. I’m special. I’m a dying breed, part of something unique, cowboy values, the Western way of life.’

Who these guys are and what they do, it’s really incredible when you think about it. They’re always one ride away from failure and injury, or one ride away from championship and victory…one ride away from a comeback, one ride away from reaching a dream.

Celebrate National Day of the Cowboy All Week!

Join me, Linda Broday, Carolyn Brown, Amanda McIntyre, Angi Morgan and Beth Williamson, July 17-22, at Get Lost in a Story for a special series to celebrate National Day of the Cowboy. Delve into cowboy lore and culture, find out who our favorites are, and while you’re at the blog, enter our Celebrate Cowboys raffle. http://bit.ly/2uRfnzlGLIAS_CowboyDay

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Travel to a place with few rules and no limits…

Meet dangerous men and daring women caught up in intrigue, mayhem and murder, as the railroads advance across America’s frontier.

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Steam! Series Collection
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 Steam! Romance & Rails Series Collection 

“Pure passion and romance that will steal your breath.” New York Times bestselling author Linda Broday

HER BODYGUARD: A woman embroiled in intrigue employs a bodyguard to protect her from a killer, unaware that he’s an outlaw hired by her enemies to put a stop to her plans.

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

A DANGEROUS PASSION: An inquisitive author sets out to expose a corrupt 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.

If you’re a fan of passionate romance woven with rich historical detail and a dash of suspense, this series is for you. Grab your set today: 

Amazon: http://amzn.to/2jwpnaV

B&N: http://bit.ly/SteamNook

Apple: http://bit.ly/SteamApple

Kobo: http://bit.ly/SteamKobo

Google: http://bit.ly/SteamGoogle

Inspiration for the Steam! Romance and Rails Series

Historical events and bigger-than-life characters, similar to those that inspired the hit television series “Hell On Wheels,” inspired Steam!. 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.

The 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 an action-packed, suspenseful historical romance series.

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

Kate’s Outlaw is inspired by the Cherokee people’s response to the railroad’s encroachment on territory that was promised to them “forever” after they were forced from their Eastern homelands.

The exploits of a indomitable Katy Railroad executive and the legend of a family of serial killers provides fodder for A Dangerous Passion. Ride the rails with the sheriff in Fugitive Hearts from the Katy Railroad’s headquarters in Parsons, Kansas, down through the Indian Territory in search of a fugitive who also happens to be the woman he loves.

The rich history of the railroads has inspired new ideas for more books. You haven’t seen the last of this series.

Steam On!

E.E. Burke

 

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Christmas Together: Two Bestselling Authors Team Up

 

1The holidays bring people together and inspire romance. What better time for two bestselling authors to team up to bring you both!

This month, Amanda McIntyre and I are joining together to offer you a great price on our Christmas romances. For less than the cost of a cup of coffee, you can curl up by a crackling fire with Amanda’s brand new release featuring an immigrant’s first Christmas in America, and my #1 bestselling Christmas collection about a mail-order bride and a matchmaking experiment gone awry.

We’re also offering readers the chance to win some great prizes in our special Christmas Romance Raffle. Our way of saying, “Thank you.”

THE PROMISE by Amanda McIntyre

am-thepromise_400x600Brady McCormick made a promise to his young wife the day she died—to follow through with their plans to take their son to America and begin a new life in the land of opportunity. Now in New York, living in charity with a distant uncle, barely scraping by, Brady is unsure he will be able to uphold that promise, much less that he will ever be able to quell this loneliness eating him inside.

Saran Reichardt knows that she is unlike most women—headstrong, tenacious, she is dedicated to teaching, believing she has no need of a man to care for her, until an accidental encounter with a stormy-eyed Irish immigrant and his young son changes her perception of what need really is.

What inspired Amanda to write this story?

amandaI’ve always had a passion for taking ordinary characters and placing them in extraordinary circumstances. Whether in my historical or my contemporary romance books, I love watching my characters become the heroes and heroines of their own stories.

In THE PROMISE, I stretched back to my own roots of a Scottish-Irish heritage—Black Irish, my mother called it—and thought of what hope and dreams those living outside America might have had. What would it have been like to sail thousands of miles to a strange land, to come into that bay and see Lady Liberty and read the words at her feet written in 1883 by a native New Yorker, Emma Lazarus.

“…Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, the wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door!” 

rouse3Inspired too, by the painting called The Christmas Ship, the story of a young Irish immigrant who’d made a promise to his dying wife to bring their son to America and start a new life began to take shape. Set at Christmas in New York, it follows the struggles of Brady and his son as they adjust to the new land, and the unconventional woman the two meet by fate on the day of their arrival.

AN AMERICAN MAIL-ORDER BRIDE CHRISTMAS COLLECTION includes two historical romances and a short story, filled with Christmas spirit and a special kind of magic.

Here’s a video to whet your appetite.

American Mail-Order Bride Christmas YouTube play

 

Along with books at special discounts, we’re also offering you a chance to win a Kindle Fire and a Christmas stocking filled with some surprises. Enter the Rafflecopter below. (To leave a comment, scroll past the social media buttons and click on Comments.)

Our books revolve around three wishes and a promise. What wishes do you have this Christmas? Do you have any promises for the New Year?

From both of us to you and yours, we wish you a Merry Christmas and promise to bring you more romance in the coming year.

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Are you smarter than a turkey?

turkey-trotbl-2

 

Congratulations to Bertha Chambers for winning the Turkey Quiz drawing for a $10 Amazon gift card.

Congratulations to “Laurie”, the winner of the Turkey Trot Blog Hop grand prize, $50 Amazon gift card.

 

Answers to the Turkey Trot Quiz below.

Note: there are different answers depending on who you ask, so I don’t stand by any of them. Like I said, not for a grade. 😉

 

turkey-trot-quiz-2

The winners of the other blog contests will be posted on their pages.

Thank you to everyone who participated and answered the quiz. I LOVED your answers. Some of you should consider writing comedy.

 

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Autumn Harvest Author Blog Hop

autumnauthorhopelisabeth400

Congratulations to winners of the Autumn Harvest Blog Hop for the boxed set HEARTS ABLAZE.  Gregory Teresa: $50 Amazon gift card, Eva M: $25 Amazon gift card, Mary Brannian: $25 Amazon gift card.

The winners of my raffle are posted on the Rafflecopter widget below.

Come back on Tuesday, Nov. 22, when I’ll be participating in a brand new Thanksgiving Contest and Turkey Trot. More chances to win: $50 Amazon gift card grand prize, plus extra goodies from each of the authors participating.

In the meantime…

DON’T FORGET TO GET YOUR COPY OF HEARTS ABLAZE. EIGHT BOOKS FROM EIGHT BESTSELLING AUTHORS, ONLY 99 CENTS!

Amazon: http://amzn.to/2fzodcL
Apple: http://apple.co/2eWEnBr
B&N Nook: http://bit.ly/2eWEKvJ
Google: http://bit.ly/2eWxJLI
Kobo: http://bit.ly/2eH7x2t

Kate’s Outlaw is part of the box set Hearts Ablaze.

A half-breed desperado abducts—and then rescues—a railroad heiress. On the run from danger, with enemies on both sides, Jake and Kate seek solace in each other’s arms–and ignite a love as powerful as it is forbidden…

blazinghero

 

Jake Colson has a white father, but he considers himself Cherokee. My interest in writing a book with a Cherokee hero came about while doing genealogy research to track down my husband’s Native American ancestry.

Do you have any interesting facts you can share about your family’s ancestral roots? Any surprises or funny stories?

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Two brides, three wishes…in an unforgettable Christmas collection

American Mail-Order Bride Christmas YouTube play

  AN AMERICAN MAIL-ORDER BRIDE CHRISTMAS

Romance and adventure spark the spirit of Christmas for two mail-order brides…americanmail-orderbridechristmas_boxset_cropped

Victoria, Bride of Kansas (#1 Amazon Bestseller)

A lonely society miss travels a thousand miles to marry a suitor whose romantic letters won her heart, only to discover she’s betrothed to a Scrooge.

Santa’s Mail-Order Bride (the top-rated sequel)

A well-intentioned matchmaker has plans for a scheming Santa. Plans that don’t include falling in love.

The Christmas Wish

In this short story, a young orphan who has never known love gets his Christmas wish.

When I set out to write these two stories, I wanted to include themes that for me define the true meaning of Christmas: family ties, hope, faith, the spirit of compassion and generosity, and above all, love…the kind of love that shines through the darkness of our circumstances, even the darkness in our hearts.

Victoria, Bride of Kansas, which became an Amazon bestseller, started as part of an unprecedented project with 45 other authors, the American Mail-Order Brides series. This book, about a lonely socialite who travels over a thousand miles to find true love, was a finalist in the 2016 Booksellers’ Best Awards and a semifinalist in the Kindle Best Book awards.

Santa’s Mail-Order Bride is the top-rated sequel. I couldn’t let nast-1881-santa-portraitVictoria’s meddling sister-in-law remain a spinster! This well-intentioned matchmaker has plans for a scheming Santa that backfire, with unexpected consequences. And yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus. I can’t wait for you to meet him.

Where does my inspiration come from?

I’m a visual thinker, so I like to gather images of people that fit a mental picture of what my characters look like.

Victoria’s beau, David O’Brien, looks a bit like a brooding Aiden Turner.david-obrien

 

Maggie’s hero, Gordon Sumner, has Michael Fassbender’s gorgeous blue eyes and ginger hair.

gordonsumner

To see more of my inspiration, visit my Pinterest site: https://www.pinterest.com/authoreeburke/

I do lots of research when I’m preparing to write a historical romance, and if possible, I travel to the locations I write about. There’s something about physically being at a place and seeing it and experiencing it that makes it so much more real to me, which helps with my writing. I visit historical sites and museums. Go into the library or wherever they keep historical pictures and documents.fort-scott

These two books are set in the late 1800s in Fort Scott, Kansas, and feature characters from my first novel, Her Bodyguard (set 20 years earlier). I had so much fun learning about the history of this quaint town and the pioneers who settled here. I hope through these books you’ll come to love Fort Scott as much as I do.

Step into Christmas past with Victoria and Maggie this Christmas, and be sure to let me know what you think of their romantic adventures.

I pray this holiday season brings peace, hope and healing, for our great country, for our communities and for our families.

Blessings,

E.E. Burke

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Autumn brings blazing color and Hearts Ablaze

What’s more fun than a bonfire and s’mores? Having a sizzling story to read while you’re enjoying the westernboxedsetfall foliage. How about eight sizzling tales from the Old West?

I’m delighted to be part of a multi-bestselling author publishing project, HEARTS ABLAZE, a collection of eight Western historical romances set during the autumn months and blazing with passion and adventure.

This limited time boxed set is available for just 99 cents.  

http://bit.ly/BuyHeartsAblaze
When the eight of us first came together to work on this project, we quickly realized we had something very special–a collection that represents the varied and vibrant tapestry of the Old American West.

From the wild Pacific forests to the lonesome prairie, on wagon trains and at frontier outposts, you’ll fall in love with lumberjacks and soldiers, trailblazers and trick riders, courageous warriors and rugged cowboys.

For my part, I’ve revised and expanded my debut novella, which is featured as part of the collection.

Kate’s Outlaw is a suspenseful yarn about a half-breed desperado who abducts—and then rescues—a railroad heiress. On the run from danger, with enemies on both sides, Jake and Kate seek solace in each other’s arms, igniting a love as powerful as it is forbidden.

Read on to learn more about the other books included in this limited time collection:

In Whispered Love, bestselling author Kathleen Ball takes you to the wild Pacific Northwest, a land bristling with handsome, well-muscled lumberjacks. Foreman Samuel Pearse has only one rule; no women allowed. Until he finds one asleep in his bathtub—Pat Clarke, the company cook. With her secret revealed and her virtue at stake, Pat turns to the only man who can help her…the one man who sets fire to her heart.

The Officer and the Bostoner, from USA Today bestselling author Rose Gordon, follows the adventures of a well-to-do lady traveling cross-country to meet her intended. Instead, she finds herself stranded at a military fort and forced into an unwanted marriage. Can a hot-blooded officer spark love in his wife’s cold heart?

heartsablaze_ad1Fools Rush from USA Today bestselling author Ciara Knight. A young woman, desperate for independence from all men, embarks on a crazy cross-country wagon train adventure disguised as a man. Instead of finding her independence, a bounty hunter captures her under the guise of horse thieving, a crime punishable by hanging. Will a man she’s lied to for months save her, or will he surrender her to a monster with a badge?

Ridin’ For A Fall by Kirsten Lynn immerses you in a fiery tale of forever love. When circumstances force best friends and Wild West Show performers, Lena Boden and Kyle Allaway to marry and return to Wyoming, they must stand together against internal doubts and external forces seeking their destruction—or risk a fall that will knock them out of the saddle for good.

In A Warrior’s Heart, bestselling author Amanda McIntyre brings to life the passionate story of a bold Cherokee warrior and the brave white woman he rescues from certain death. Thrown together by circumstances not of their own making, they overcome betrayal and tragedy to find a love strong enough to bring nations together.

The Rancher, by bestselling author Hildie McQueen, transports readers to 1870s Montana Territory and into a sensual encounter between an injured rancher and a woman running for her life. Sometimes love enters at the worst moment…

In The Drifter, bestselling author Elizabeth Rose takes readers on an epic journey across the plains, as drifter Chase Masters shows up wounded at Nessa Pemberton’s stagecoach relay station mistaken as the bandit who killed her husband. Can a single mother learn to love again and put her trust in a man who is nothing but a drifter?hb-party

Let’s party!

On Thursday, Oct. 20, from 6-10 p.m. Eastern, we’re rounding up lovers of Western historical romance for a big celebration on Facebook. Joining me as hosts will be Hildie McQueen, Amanda McIntyre, Kathleen Ball, Rose Gordon, Ciara Knight and Elizabeth Rose. We’ll be turning up the heat (on each other), and providing readers with excerpts, fun facts, Flash giveaways, and a drawing for a $100 Amazon gift card!

Here’s the link to join the party. http://bit.ly/HeartsAblazeParty

 

 

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Meet the Bootlegger’s Bride

NEW! THE BRIDE TRAIN, Book 3

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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