Monday, March 10, 2014

Love in the Wild, Wild West

By Harper St. George (Guest Blogger)


A big thank you to Lisabet for inviting me to post today. I am Harper St. George and His Abductor’s Desire is my debut book. With so many Regency romances out there, I wanted to share with you why I decided to write a romance set in the Wild West.

I’ve always loved the Wild West. The westerns that came on TV when I was a kid were fascinating. But I was really hooked when I read Autumn Dove by Sylvie F. Sommerfield. It was the first romance novel I ever read. Until then, I hadn’t realized that people actually wrote stories like that. I quickly began to read as many romantic westerns as I could find. They combined that exciting, tempestuous time when men could get rich overnight and lose it just as quickly, with the eternal love story.

It’s really a unique time period in American history. Lawlessness was a way of life as people struggled to carve out lives for themselves in an unforgiving land. Outlaws, bank robbers, and cattle rustlers could be hailed as heroes or criminals depending on who was telling the story. The men who were charged with bringing order to the land were sometimes the most corrupted. Black was never black and white was never white. That’s what makes it such a great era for storytelling. There are as many stories to tell as there were people who lived there. When I finally made time to sit down and write a romance, I naturally wanted to try my hand at writing a western.


My heroine, Charity, was inspired by this gray area in history. She’s a woman who uses the only means available to her – robbing banks – to attempt to right a wrong done against her family. While her methods may have been a little extreme, I think she’s someone we can all identify with. Bad things happen to all of us, often through no fault of our own. Who wouldn’t want to do whatever they could to make things right again. In the Wild West, or at least the fictionalized version, that was possible.

I also like to explore contrasts and contradictions in my stories. Charity was originally a Boston aristocrat, though her family fell from grace when she was younger. She goes from elegant ballrooms and evenings out at the theater to living a relatively isolated existence in the mountains. Her gowns are exchanged for pants and buckskins, and her life becomes obsessing about how to survive the long winters and planning revenge. It’s quite a drastic change for her that essentially transforms her into a completely different person.

While I have read many historical westerns, I’ve never read one that featured a bank robber as a heroine, so I wanted to explore the idea. What would provoke a woman to go to that extreme? What would be the consequences? What would happen if she met the hero during one of the robberies? It was very interesting to explore the answers to those questions. Besides, heroes get to have that sort of fun all the time, so I figured it would be nice to let a heroine have fun for a change!

If you like the Wild West like I do or just love history and want to read about it, these are some online resources I’ve used during my research.
Preservation Directory http://www.preservationdirectory.com and American Memory from the Library of Congress http://memory.loc.gov

They are great information depositories that sometimes offer that ever-so-precious primary resource.

Blurb
His Abductor’s Desire by Harper St. George
Montana Territory, 1887
Heiress-turned-outlaw Charity Blake is determined to get back the fortune the Davenport banking family took from her father—even if she has to hold Brent Davenport ransom to do it! After all, the seductive charmer stole something even more valuable from her five years ago: her heart. But once she has Brent in chains, Charity must face the fact that her desire for the man has grown from the sweet dreams of a young girl to the unquenchable passion of a woman. And soon it's not clear whether she's the captor, or the captive….
Excerpt

“Nobody move! Keep your hands where we can see `em!”

A hush swept over the room as the bank customers, one by one, began to realize what was happening. Charity Blake would have smiled at the effectiveness of her command if she hadn’t been so unsettled to find the place crowded. It was late Tuesday afternoon. No one was supposed to be there except the clerks. Even the bank manager should have been two blocks over at the saloon settling in for a long night of drinking and gambling, his weekly indulgence when his wife spent Tuesday evenings with her sewing circle. Yet, there he sat behind his desk, quivering hands held high in the air, staring wide-eyed back at her.

Apparently their reconnaissance had been wrong. She vowed to do better next time and pushed the disappointment from her mind. It was better to concentrate on not allowing her own hands to shake around the grip of her pistol than linger on the setback. Besides, she knew from the first two robberies that she had only seconds to command the attention and thus the respect of the room before someone tried to be brave. It was time to get to work.

“Don’t worry, folks. We ain’t here for yer valuables, just the money in the vault.” Her contrived accent came out deep and loud to make it past the muffling barrier of the scarf covering the lower half of her face and to hide her cultured Bostonian intonation.

As she spoke, her partners took their appointed positions. Elle had come in through the back door and quietly made her presence known, while Dew moved to disarm the men in the room, quickly establishing a stack of revolvers in the far corner.

“Get up and open the vault.” Charity barked the order to the manager.

He sputtered for a moment as if he might argue and looked at the customer sitting across the desk from him. Had she not been watching so closely, Charity would have missed the almost imperceptible nod from the man that gave the manager the courage to get on his feet. Hands still in the air, he walked his wiry frame to the vault, which sat in plain view behind the row of clerks, and stopped there, afraid to proceed.

“Th-the key is on my belt.” He explained, hands still in the air. His gaze went from her to the customer left sitting at his desk.

Charity followed his gaze and found herself looking at a broad pair of shoulders encased in a fine wool coat. The coat was impeccably tailored, not the roughspun typically found this far outside of the town of Helena. A banking official was her first thought, but that didn’t explain why her heart was suddenly threatening to pound out of her chest and the blood had gone cold in her veins. The girl who had long ago been banished to areas deep in her subconscious had already recognized the set of those shoulders. She knew that thick, sable hair brushed back in a style that had been entirely too long for Boston society but was a trademark of his contemptuous nature.

“My friend here can help you.” She managed to sound in control as she nodded to Dew who then quickly walked over and cut the key free.

After a moment of hassling with the lock, the bank manager pushed the door and it opened with an ominous screech that filled the deathly silence of the bank. Dew motioned him inside with her gun and followed him in to fill the three saddlebags slung across her shoulders with as much cash and gold as they could carry.

The moment they were out of sight Charity walked up behind the mysterious customer sitting at the desk. It was stupid. Everyone knew you didn’t go begging for trouble. But the devil who she had long suspected had taken up residence inside made her do it. The barrel of her pistol parted the hair at the back of his head.

“What’s yer name, mister?”

The man did not so much as flinch when the steel touched his scalp.

“My name is none of your damned business.” The voice was as hard and cold as the pistol.

“Turn around,” she commanded in a controlled, steady voice, but inside her stomach was in knots.

“The sheriff’s office is only blocks away. If you shoot, you won’t make it out of the bank alive.” He did not turn around nor raise his hands from the desk in surrender.

His refusal to give in to her command only made her devil beg to be appeased. This man and his family had taken everything there was to take from her. She needed to stare him down. Needed him to watch her take something from him, whether he knew her identity or not.

“Turn around, Mr. Davenport.”

That got him.

His Abductor’s Desire is available now!

Author Bio

Harper St. George was raised in the rural backwoods of Alabama and along the tranquil coast of northwest Florida. It was a setting filled with stories of the old days that instilled in her a love of history, romance, and adventure. By high school, she had discovered the historical romance novel which combined all those elements into one perfect package. She has been hooked ever since.

She lives in Atlanta, GA with her husband and two young children. Look for her short story in the first Romance Writers of America anthology. She would love to hear from you. Please visit her website at www.harperstgeorge.com.

Follow Harper
Twitter: @HarperStGeorge


4 comments:

Lisabet Sarai said...

Greetings, Harper!

I can't believe that this is your first book. You have such a confident voice!

I must say, though, that based on the cover Charity doesn't look much like and outlaw....!

Good luck with this book and all the ones to come!

KIM TALBOT said...

Interesting excerpt! Thanks for guest blogging.

Harper St. George said...

Thanks so much for inviting me to post, Lisabet! One thing I've learned in writing is that you either go for it or it falls flat. With such a strong heroine, I had to go for it so she could shine. I agree the cover doesn't completely represent her. She doesn't wear dresses and she carries a gun. You also wouldn't know that Brent spends most of the book in chains! Thanks again.

Harper St. George said...

Thanks for reading my post, Kim!

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