Category Archives: Sweet Romance

New Releases

Some of my author friends had some recent releases I thought you might enjoy. Check out these pretty covers!

A Past to Forget by Rose Pearson:

Already with 61 reviews averaging 4.8/5! Wow! Everyone’s loving it.

I love Rose’s tagline: A past relationship threatens their future. Can they clear his name and find happiness together?

Find it on Amazon here: https://amzn.to/37cdAbW

undefinedCallie’s Calamity by Marie Higgins:

Callie’s Calamity is a #1 Best Seller! Readers are loving it! Check out the first line of the blurb:

All Callie Cartwright knows is that she’s got to get out of town fast. Her husband is dead and she’s pregnant. If the truth comes out to how her husband died, she won’t live to see the day her baby is born.

Doesn’t that make you want to read more?? Find it here: https://amzn.to/3czWYMk

undefinedMail Order Pearl by Cheryl Wright:

This one sounds like it starts with tragedy but we know it’s going to lead to a happily ever after 🙂

Abducted and forced to marry at gunpoint, Pearl Hopkins is held captive until her outlaw husband is killed in a gunfight.
With nowhere else to turn, she decides to become a mail order bride, unaware she is pregnant with her dead husband’s baby.

Find out more here: https://amzn.to/2A60dxM

What kind of wagon was my heroine driving?

While I was writing my latest Proxy Bride book, , I found myself in need of a little research. In it, Sadie, my heroine finds herself married to a well-to-do man out west in Nebraska. The story calls for her to do some travelling around the area so I’ve had to research how she did so. Would she ride? Would she drive? What kind of transportation options did she have after she arrived in Nebraska by train? Here is a little of my research:

A single horse could pull a wheeled vehicle and contents weighing as much as a ton! Wow! I had no idea! Apparently their pulling abilities exceed their ability to carry on their back. Here are some of the wagons and carriages that would have existed in the 1850s:

Buckboard WagonBuckboard Wagon: The no-frills buckboard wagon was commonly used by farmers and ranchers in the 1800s. It was made with simple construction. The front board served as both a footrest and offered protection from the horse’s hooves should they buck.

Concord Coach: American made Concord coaches were tall and wide and incorporated leather straps for suspension that made the ride smoother than steel spring suspension. They were also extravagant, costing $1000 or more at a time when workers were paid about a dollar a day. Wells, Fargo & Co. was one of the largest buyers of the Concord coach. Today the company still displays its original Concord Coaches in parades and for publicity.

Gig Carriage: A gig was a small, lightweight, two-wheeled, cart that d one or two people. Gig CarriageIt was usually pulled by a single horse and was known for speed and convenience. It was a common vehicle on the road.

Barouche: A barouche was a fancy, four-wheeled open carriage with two seats facing each other and a front seat for the driver. There was a collapsible hood over the back. It was a popular choice in the first half of the 19th century and was used by the wealthy. It was often pulled by four horses.

Victoria Carriage: The Victoria carriage was named for Queen Victoria and renowned for its elegance. It was a low, open carriage with four wheels that seated two people. It had an elevated seat for the coachman.

Phaeton: The Phaeton was a sporty four-wheel carriage with front wheels that were smaller than the rear wheels. The sides were open and that exposed a gentleman’s trousers or a lady’s skirt to flying mud. The seat was quite high and required a ladder to access. Phaetons were fast, but also high-centered leaving them vulnerable to tipping. They were pulled by two or four horses.

Landau Carriage: The Landau carriage was considered a luxury city carriage that seated four. It had two folding hoods and was uniquely designed to allow its occupants to be seen. It was popular in the first half of the nineteenth century.

Brougham Carriage: Designed by England’s Lord Brougham, the Brougham carriage was lightweight, four-wheeled carriage with an enclosed carriage. It was popular because passengers sat in a forward-facing seat making it easy to see out. It was also lower to the ground and easier for passengers to climb in and out of the carriage. The Brougham was driven by a coachman sitting on an elevated seat or perch outside of the passenger compartment.

Rockaway Carriage: The Rockaway originated on Long Island. It was a popular vehicle with the middle class and the wealthy. One distinguishing feature of the Rockaway was a roof that extended over the driver, while the passengers were in an enclosed cabin.

Conestoga Wagon: The Conestoga wagon was large and heavy and built to haul loads up to six tons. The floor of the wagon was curved upward to prevent the contents from shifting during travel. The Conestoga was used to haul freight before rail service was available and as a means to transport goods. Conestoga wagons were pulled by eight horses or a dozen oxen and were not meant to travel long distances. The Conestoga wagon is credited for the reason we drive on the right side of the road. While operating the wagon, the driver sat on the left-hand side of the wagon. This freed his right hand to operate the brake lever mounted on the left side. Sitting on the left also allowed the driver to see the opposite side of the road better.

So, I have concluded that Sadie was probably using either the buckboard or the gig depending on the situation. Have you read Sadie and Hamilton’s story yet? If not, check out A Bride for Hamilton today 🙂

The Westbound Surge

I’ll be writing in another multi-author project next year which will be set in the 1880s. This is very “modern” for me and the research has been fascinating. Up until now, all my books have been either set in Regency era England (1805) or the American Midwest from 1855-1865. With the 1880s comes more technology, more developed towns and cities in the West, as well as opening up the possibility of setting some stories in Canada (where I’m from).

The rapid development of technology spurred the population growth of North America as well as the westward movement of people. The ability to more easily communicate made the expansion of business also possible. And “rapid” transportation meant you could travel all across the continent in less than ten days. In fact, in 1876, the Transcontinental Express from New York to San Francisco made the trip in 83 relaxing, comfortable hours. Imagine! Three and a half days! That really shrank the world for people of that time. Of course, the poor, penniless, mail order bride couldn’t afford that ticket, but even she could reach her new life in a week or less, depending on her destination.

The consolidation and reorganization of the railroads in the late 19th century lead to rapid industrial growth in many areas including the opening of hundreds of millions of acres of very good farm land ready for mechanization, lower costs for food and all goods, and a huge national sales market. Of course, all this growth and prosperity didn’t benefit everyone. While the average annual wage for an industrial worker rose by 48% between 1860 and 1890 (from $380 to $564), there was still abject poverty and inequality leading to contentious social issues. And the ability to travel broadened people’s knowledge and perspective, making them more involved in these various struggles and triumphs.

Railroads were the major growth industry, with the factory system, mining, and finance increasing in importance. Immigration from Europe, and the eastern states, led to the rapid growth of the West, based on farming, ranching, and mining. The rapid economic growth in America also fueled this influx of millions of European immigrants, especially due to the wage increases making the opportunities seem so very attractive to these new comers.

I’m thrilled with the research I’ve been able to do and am overwhelmed with story ideas for this exciting time period in history.

Stay tuned for more book news. In the meantime, have you read my other westerns?

Eating Out in 1850s America

proxy 3 w m andrewsIn my latest Sweet, Historical, Western Romance (A Bride for Alastair), my characters are returning to Boston after an extended stay in Missouri. They, of course, hadn’t left any food supplies in the house, except a few dried goods like tea, as they weren’t sure how long they’d be away. In those days, although the arrival of the rails had greatly sped up travel times, it still took at least a week to make the trip one way. But that doesn’t change the fact that you gotta eat.

Interestingly, the word restaurant, from a French word, only applied to eating establishments serving French cuisine. Most famous in the East is Delmonico’s in New York which opened  in the 1830s. But aptly named “eating houses” also existed, besides saloons, as well as street vendors. The further West one travelled, the more people had to rely on eating “out” as fewer people had homes. By the time one got as far as San Francisco, nearly everyone ate in restaurants most of the time as so many were living in tents or hovels. This led to cooks coming from all over the world and created a diverse eating experience. The first three Chinese restaurants in the United States were opened in San Francisco in the 1850s.

Hotels served food, of course, to their patrons. In order to protect respectable woman from unwanted advances, a separate dining space in large hotels called a ladies’ ordinary was set aside for families or ladies travelling alone. At this time, women were not permitted to dine alone or unaccompanied by a male escort in restaurants and the public rooms of luxury, urban hotels. A ladies’ ordinary provided a socially acceptable venue where respectable women could dine alone or with other women.

I find this hard to believe as I don’t like them, but in the mid 19th century, one of the most common dishes ordered at any eating establishment was oysters. From my research, it seems like all across the country they were very popular. I can’t imagine them being very good in the middle of the country, but I suppose near the coasts they would be fresh enough.

Ice Cream ParlorOne thing I found fascinating, because “respectable” women didn’t usually eat in restaurants, a solution had to be found as the nation prospered – wealthy women could work up an appetite while out shopping. Thus the ice cream saloon came about. These decadent eateries allowed women to dine alone without putting their bodies or reputations at risk. The first ones served little more than ice cream, pastries, and oysters, but as women became more comfortable with eating out, these establishments expanded into opulent, full-service restaurants with sophisticated menus. Although ice cream saloons or parlors had an air of dainty domesticity, they also developed more sultry reputations. At the time, they were one of the few places where both men and women could go unchaperoned. As a result, they became popular destinations for dates and other illicit rendezvous.

The research I had done for my book centered around Boston, so I’ve found researching this article absolutely fascinating. I think some of these tidbits are going to have to turn up in future books <grin>.

Orphan Train series Inspiration

Sophie Cover ImageThe Orphan Train series was inspired by some real life events.

When friends of mine were adopting a beautiful little boy from another country, I decided to research the history of adoption. I found out some dreadful things, sadly, but I also found out about Mr. Charles Brace (a founder of the Children’s Aid Society) and the Orphan Trains from New York.

I’m sure there were some terrible experiences through the many years that the orphan trains were traveling, but there were far more success stories. At least one of the orphans went on to become President of the United States.

While reading  up on it, I began to imagine the lives impacted, not only of the children, but also of the adults involved. Thus was born the idea for three young women who accompanied a trainload of orphans on their journey out West.

The prequel sets up the story. The heroine of Book 2 wasn’t supposed to be on the train. She is taking the place of the heroine of Book 1. The heroines of Books 3 & 4 fully intended to leave their New York lives behind and set up a shop in their new town. Follow along on their journeys in the Orphan Train series!

Start with Sophie, the Prequel: $0.99 for Kindle:  https://amzn.to/2MUwCJ9