Monday, September 25, 2017

E.E. Burke's Best of the West: The Bride Train Series Collection Arrives!

A bestselling series from an award-winning author…
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.

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.

Valentine’s Rose, Book 1
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, Book 2
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, Book 3
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, Book 4

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

The Bride Train is inspired by a series of true events that took place in southeastern Kansas shortly after the Civil War, when the government opened former Cherokee land for settlement. The railroads used their political power to purchase the large tract, and settlers who had staked claims under “preemption rights” were forced to broker deals with the new owner.

By 1869-70, riots broke out in protest of railroad land policies. Angry settlers burned ties and tore up track as fast as the railroad could put it down. Things got so bad that President Grant sent troops into Kansas to quell the violence. A more peaceful solution was proposed: a program sponsoring the immigration of single young ladies into Kansas to become brides and provide a “calming influence” on the unruly men. I couldn’t find evidence this program got off the ground, but what a great romance series idea!

The bride immigration program is first mentioned in my debut romance novel, Her Bodyguard, which is set against the same series of events in a different location. That scene inspired me to conceive an entire series about the railroad matchmaking service. The first question that popped into my head was: “What kind of woman would answer an advertisement to leave everything behind and go to an uncivilized land to marry virtual strangers?

Each of these couple is based on actual historic characters I found while researching the mail-order bride phenomenon. These stories follow four couples. If you haven't read the books, why not try your hand at matching them? Who would YOU put together and why?

The grooms:
English noble 
Saloon owner 
Railroad agent

The brides:
Widow with a young child
Famous actress
Irish laundress
Upright spinster

Don't give it away if you know the answers! ;)

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. 

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

This series collection is on sale for a special introductory price of only $2.99!  In a month, it will go to full price, $5.99, so grab your copy now.

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Friday, September 22, 2017

Get Lost in the Victorian Era with debut romance author Mimi Matthews

Regan here with my guest today, debut romance author Mimi Matthews. Mimi researches and writes on all aspects of nineteenth century history, from animals, art, and etiquette to fashion, beauty, feminism and law. Her articles have been published on various academic and history sites, including the Victorian Web and the Journal of Victorian Culture and are also syndicated weekly. Her debut Victorian romance The Lost Letter has just been released.

In her other life, Mimi is an attorney and resides in California with her family, which includes an Andalusian dressage horse, two Shelties and two Siamese cats.

Comment for a chance to win her new book!  

And now to the interview:

1. How often to you get lost in a story?

Constantly! I read a book practically every day, even when I’m writing. If it’s a really good one, it doesn’t matter if I’ve only allotted an hour or two for reading. I’ll stay up all night to finish it. Those are the best books, in my opinion. The ones that take you out of yourself so completely that, when they’re over, you feel a little like Harry Potter emerging from the Pensieve.

2. What’s your favorite fairy tale?

I love Beauty and the Beast. Not only is it romantic and magical, but it also teaches an important lesson about looking past a person’s outward appearance in order to find the beauty that lies within. This is a critical component of my new Victorian romance novel The Lost Letter. The hero and heroine have undergone significant changes since they last met and both have to look past the superficial in order to find happiness.

3. What three things are, at this moment, in your heroine’s purse, satchel, reticule, weapons belt or amulet bag (whatever she carries)?

Sylvia Stafford, the heroine of The Lost Letter, is sensible, self-sufficient, and very well prepared. She always carries a handkerchief in her reticule—a plain square of linen with a neatly embroidered hem. She also keeps a needle and thread in her bag in case her clothing should require any emergency repairs. Lastly, she never leaves home without a few coins to use for train fare or to hail a hansom cab. A lady never knows when she’ll need to make a hasty departure!

4. What one thing about your hero drives his heroine crazy? And what one thing about your heroine drives her hero nuts?

The hero of my novel, Sebastian Conrad, Earl of Radcliffe, is a man of few words (and those words are generally growls, grumbles, and oaths). Sylvia is frequently frustrated by his unwillingness to communicate. Sebastian, by contrast, finds it a little irritating that Sylvia has accepted the hardship in her life with so much equanimity. As a man who is still struggling with accepting his own misfortune, he is often aggravated by her optimistic view of the future.

5. What’s your favorite kind of story to get lost in?

It depends on my mood. I love long, intricately detailed epics, like the novels of J. R. R. Tolkien and George R. R. Martin. I’m also a huge Agatha Christie fan, as well as a fan of classic Regency and Victorian romances, such as Persuasion, Jane Eyre, and Wuthering Heights. The romance novels of Georgette Heyer are perennial favorites as well. If only there were more of them!

6. What drew you to write in the genre(s) you do?

When I was in my early teens, my mother read historical romance to decompress from her high-stress job. I often borrowed her Amanda Quick novels. They were so much fun. Life can be stressful at times and the world can be a sad, uncertain place. Romances are great because there is always a happy ending. It’s reassuring to know that, no matter what the characters suffer, things will always be all right in the end.

7. Tea or Coffee? And how do you take it?

Definitely tea. I’ve been drinking Darjeeling tea since I was in my teens. It has the loveliest smell, as delicate as perfume. When I got older, I learned that Darjeeling is known as the Champagne of tea. I drink it with a splash of milk—and a muffin or scone if I can get one!

8. What will always make you smile, even on a bad day?

My pets always make me smile no matter how bleak things get. I have two dogs, two cats, and a horse. One of my dogs is a seven-month-old Sheltie puppy named Stella who just joined our family in July. She takes so much joy in life; running, leaping, barking, and wrestling with her toys. Watching her play with my elderly Sheltie, Ash, is the best stress reliever in the world.

A Proud Beauty

Society beauty Sylvia Stafford is far too pragmatic to pine. When the tragic death of her gamester father leaves her destitute and alone, she finds work as a governess in a merchant’s household in Cheapside. Isolated from the fashionable acquaintance of her youth, she resigns herself to lonely spinsterhood…until a mysterious visitor convinces her to temporarily return to her former life—and her former love.

A Scarred Beast

Colonel Sebastian Conrad is no longer the dashing cavalry officer Sylvia once fell in love with. Badly scarred during the Sepoy Rebellion, he has withdrawn to his estate in rural Hertfordshire where he lives in near complete seclusion. Brooding and tormented, he cares nothing for the earldom he has inherited—and even less for the faithless beauty who rejected him three years before.

A Second Chance

A week together in the remote Victorian countryside is the last thing either of them ever wanted. But when fate intervenes to reunite them, will a beastly earl and an impoverished beauty finally find their happily ever after? Or are some fairy-tale endings simply not meant to be?

See the book on Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Kobo.

Read an excerpt from The Lost Letter:

Hertfordshire, England
Spring, 1860

Sebastian Conrad, Earl of Radcliffe, raised his head from his book at the unmistakable sound of a carriage arriving. Despite his injuries, his hearing was as acute as it had ever been. He could easily make out the crunch of wheels on gravel, the sound of doors opening and closing, and following it all, the high-pitched laughter of his younger sister, Julia. 
He scowled deeply.
Pershing Hall was a huge, architectural nightmare of a house, filled with meandering corridors, rooms of varying sizes, and passageways that led to nowhere. But when his sister, Julia, Viscountess Harker, was present, the house seemed to shrink to a fraction of its size. There was no peace and quiet. No privacy. Sebastian already lived in almost complete seclusion in the earl’s apartments. When Julia was in residence, however, he felt as if he were a prisoner there.
She had last visited only a month ago. Why was she back so soon? To devil and torment him, no doubt. 
“Milsom!” he shouted. 
His throat had been partially damaged by a saber cut, rendering his voice a particularly harsh, rasping growl. At the sound of it, his former batman materialized at the door of the dressing room. A rangy fellow with a sharp, foxlike face, he was two and thirty, the same age as Sebastian, but somehow managed to look as if he were decades older. 
“My lord?” he queried.
“Lady Harker is here. Again.”
Milsom knew better than to question his master’s superior hearing. “Shall I lay out a fresh suit of clothes, my lord?”
Sebastian’s shoulder and arm ached. The last thing he wanted to do was truss them up in a blasted coat. Nor why should he have to? He was under no obligation to play lord of the manor. He had not invited his sister here. If she insisted upon forcing her presence upon him, she could bloody well bear to look at him in his shirtsleeves. “Unnecessary,” he said.
Milsom surveyed him with a critical eye. “Shall I shave you, my lord?”
Sebastian’s beard grew erratically on the side of his face that was scarred, but on the left side he had a good two-day growth of black stubble. He looked monstrous enough when clean-shaven, he knew. With facial hair, he looked a veritable beast. “No,” he said coldly.
There was no need. He likely would not even see his sister. 
He returned his attention to his book, but could not settle back into reading. The presence of other people in the house always made him uneasy. And, much as he loved her, he could scarcely tolerate the visits of his younger sister. She was too loud. Too emotional. Too cursed intent on interfering in his life.
She meant well, but she had no real notion of what he had been through in India. Nor could he ever confide in her. Like so many young ladies of her class, she was a coddled innocent who swanned through life clutching a vinaigrette lest she swoon away at the first sign of something unpleasant.
She had swooned when she had first beheld him, hadn’t she? Screamed, swooned, and then burst into tears—in that order. As if he had not felt hideous enough. 
He tightened his fingers around the lock of hair in his hand. Even after all of these years it was still as soft as silk. He caressed it absently with his thumb, the familiar action calming him enough that he was able to resume reading. He heard Milsom milling about behind him, tidying up the sitting room.
“You’ll give yourself a headache, my lord,” he remarked.
Sebastian made no reply. Reading was one of his only pleasures now and even that was marred by frequent headaches. The strain of reading with one eye, the doctor had said. Confound him. 
Before being injured, Sebastian’s leisure hours had been taken up with riding and sport and scholarship. He had even penned several articles for The Aristotelian Review—a somewhat obscure scholarly journal focused on classicalism and antiquity. His primary occupation, however, had been as a soldier. It was the career path chosen for all the second sons of the Earls of Radcliffe, and it was a life that suited Sebastian particularly well. He had always been an ordered and disciplined individual with a serious turn of mind. Rather too serious, he had been told on occasion.
But he had not lacked for courage. And though he did not relish fighting and bloodshed, he had found himself to be extraordinarily adept at it. 
He had expected to eventually come home from India to the modest property that his father had given him for his twenty-first birthday. Instead he had had his face nearly cleaved in two and returned to England to find his father and his elder brother dead. In place of a modest property, he now had a substantial estate. And instead of a second son, he was now the Earl of Radcliffe.
Fortunately, his younger sister had been married off to the Viscount Harker two years prior and was no longer Sebastian’s concern. And Pershing Hall itself was in the very capable hands of his father’s steward, a man who had managed the estate for over thirty years. 
Sebastian was content to leave it to him. 
He could muster no interest in poring over ledgers and even less in riding out to meet with any of the tenants. It was too easy to imagine their horrified reaction to the sight of his scarred face. Granted, he had known most of his father’s tenants since his youth, but mere familiarity was no guarantee that they would not respond to him with pity and disgust. He need only look to his sister’s reaction for proof of that.
“That’ll be Lady Harker now,” Milsom said.
Sebastian stiffened at the sound of muffled footsteps coming up the stairs and down the hall. The housekeeper, Julia, and one other. Lord Harker, perhaps? Good God, he hoped not. The last time that pompous ass had come to visit him in his rooms it was to read him an officious lecture on why a gentleman must never threaten to throttle his sister. But no, it was clearly the housekeeper and two women. Julia and her maid. Or Julia and a friend. Heaven help him. How long did his sister plan to stay?
“I am not receiving, Milsom,” he informed his hovering valet.
“Naturally, my lord,” Milsom replied. And when a gentle tap—the sort of anemic knock one might give at an invalid’s door—announced the presence of his irritating younger sibling, Sebastian heard Milsom open the door a crack and say, quite firmly, “His lordship’s not receiving today, my lady.”
“Not receiving! Look here Milsom…” Julia’s voice sunk to a poor apology of a whisper. “We discussed this and you promised that you would be of some assistance! If you care at all for my brother you will let me pass!”
Sebastian heard a rustle of expensive fabric as Julia shouldered past his valet and stormed into the room. With a sigh of resignation, he rose from his chair and turned to face her.
 And then he froze.

Keep up with Mimi on her Website, Facebook & Twitter!

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Welcome to Chandler County

Hi GLIAS family! I’m so excited to hijack the blog today for a little shameless promotion of a brand new (for me) story world and soon-to-be-released book!

Last June I was lucky enough to attend a wonderful book signing event called Wild Deadwood Reads totally geared toward readers connecting with authors. (For information on this year’s event click HERE.) But I was also blessed to meet and get involved with a wonderful pair of authors who have created an exciting world called Chandler County, Kentucky. This past spring, six Chandler County books were released. Starting on October 26th, eight new stories will be released, once a week through December.

I’m so excited that my book, “Missing By a Heartbeat” will be among them, and be released on November 16th.
This is not a boxed set of books, it is available at all online retailers, not just Amazon, and it isn't a series that must be read in order. All CC books are stand alone novels. But they are set in the same wonderful place and share some of the same smart, sexy, sweet, rowdy, funny, beautiful characters. And there’s a heat level for everyone whether you love sweet inspy stories, hot sexy stories or something in between!

Chandler County lies in 311 square miles between Lexington and Lousiville, Kentucky and consists of two main towns: Chandlerville (named for the founder Lyle Chandler) and Bourbonville (named for the prohibition-era government-led destruction of hundreds of private stills that flooded the town with bourbon and bourbon scent for weeks). Both towns thrive on business brought in by the Kentucky Derby every spring, but there are also many businesses that make up a successful economy.

In Chandler County you’ll find small town closeness and folks who’ve grown up in the area as well as lots of heroes and heroines who are new to the towns and the love they find there. Horses, horsemen and women, and thoroughbreds abound. In my book, you’ll meet a local veterinarian and a new-to-Churchill Downs trainer and plenty of scandal to give them trouble as well as push them together.

There truly is something and somebody for everyone!

Along with “Missing By a Heartbeat” here are the other seven books that will be released this fall:
“Missing Alaska” by Cherime Macfarlane
“Missing Desire” by PJ Fiala
“Missing Out” by Trish Edmisten
“Missing My Heart” by Tina Susedik
“Missing the Gate” by Aubree Lane
“Missing Us” by Traci Wooden-Carlisle
“Missing Home” by Stephany Tullis

In addition to the excitement of new releases, there is a Facebook Fan Page that’s full of fun little facts about each of the books: favorite recipes, favorite getaways, teasers, questions for readers, and giveaways. I’d love for everyone to hop on over and like the page so you can keep up with all the pre-release fun. 

Here’s a mini synopsis of my book, which will be available for pre-order this coming weekend!

Dr. Victoria “Tori” Sterling has only been practicing equine veterinary medicine for seven years, but she already knows her way around race horse injuries better than most vets with twice her experience. Innovative and honest to a fault, in a world where tradition and rule-bending are standard practices, Tori has fought to earn her good reputation. She’s also learned the hard way that an eccentric, animal-focused lifestyle is too much for any man to understand much less share. Since every spare minute is spent on her career and her farm filled with rescue animals—she has no time for love relationships.
As a newcomer to Chandlerville, thoroughbred trainer Winn Crosby has escaped a troubled past and made it to his dream destination: Kentucky and the venerable Churchill Downs. With a dozen horses in his stable and a gift for getting the best from them, he wants only to keep his business out of trouble and reach his ultimate goal of training a big stakes horse. It’s not an easy task, however, when every one of his teenage grooms, as well as his assistant trainer, has a record. But Winn was once a troubled teen, and along with his love of horses, he loves “his kids” and will do anything to help them succeed as he has.
It doesn’t take him long to decide Tori Sterling is someone who can help him with his goals. In addition to being straight-talking and scrupulously honest, she’s funny, smart, and attractive, and she makes him feel the same way—something rare for a man who’s had to fight for respect his whole life. Despite her support and his best efforts, however, it doesn’t take trouble long to find him. When a Derby-bound colt is targeted by a saboteur, Winn and his stable of misfits are prime suspects. Then a series of mysterious and illegal happenings behind the scenes at Churchill Downs keep him in the crosshairs and force him into a partnership with Tori that’s part detective team and all crazy attraction.
Because even though Tori stopped looking for love long ago, Winn gets through her defenses like nobody ever has. In him she sees a true horseman, a kind soul, and a man who shares her passion for all things lost. Tori’s love of animals and kids makes her a perfect role model for the teens in Winn’s employ. And her farm is a haven for Winn, who has never fully left his lost and lonely childhood in Chicago behind.
Together they struggle to find out who is doping horses with a secret stimulant that seems to magically make winners out of losers, who is sabotaging equipment and causing barn-wide panic, and who apparently wants Tori and Winn out of the horseracing business altogether. And they have to do it before both of them lose their careers—and their chance at love.

Have you ever been to Kentucky? Have you ever been to a racetrack? Tell me your best horse racing or never-been-to-a-horse-race story! I have a choice of any of my back list e-books for a commenter today. Please leave your email address with your comment!

And watch for more posts about the individual Chandler County books as we get to their release dates!