Tuesday, October 31, 2017

New Release: EVASIVE EDDIE JOE by Zina Abbott

No tricks! Only a treat....
Today I am pleased to announce the release of
Evasive Eddie Joe
Book 15 in the Sweethearts of Jubilee Springs series
and my fifth book
by Zina Abbott

About Evasive Eddie Joe:

          Edmond Joseph “Eddie Joe” Hampton, foreman for the Jacobson Ranch in Monarch Bend, had his own reasons for encouraging his boss to marry and start a family. Once he signed up with the Colorado Bridal Agency while Lizett Millard was in Jubilee Springs on Independence Day, July 4th, he figured it will be easier to persuade his boss to allow him to build a separate house and live as a married foreman on the ranch if the man is enjoying his own wedded bliss. As wily as Eddie Joe can be, he has to work hard to stay ahead of his boss who has shown no interest in marriage. He knows he can pull it off—as long as his plot isn’t discovered too soon.
          Etta Crabtree, an impoverished young widow of an abusive first husband, cannot stay at her widowed mother’s home. She has been corresponding with Eddie Joe, and arrives in Jubilee Springs with other brides intended for the town’s miners. The miners claim they have priority on all brides coming to Jubilee Springs until all ten men who signed up for brides and mining company housing are married.
          Who will win Etta Crabtree’s hand in marriage, the cowboy or one of the miners?


          Early that morning, Eddie Joe rousted Rusty out of bed to hitch the horses to the buckboard while he finished dressing and helped Juanita load the quilts and picnic baskets for the trip. In good weather like this, Juanita packed a picnic lunch for herself, plus she prepared food for Eddie Joe in case he didn’t choose to eat at the River Valley Inn restaurant or the Corner Saloon that also served a limited fare.
          Once they were on their way as the last of the morning stars disappeared and the eastern sky began to turn pink, the two traveled in silence. That was fine with Eddie Joe. He didn’t have much to say to the older woman, even though she spoke good English in addition to her native Spanish. He didn’t know much about her other than before he started working for Zeb Jacobson, she had come to the ranch with her husband. After her husband had died about ten years earlier, she stayed on to keep house for the boss.
          As soon as they arrived in Jubilee Springs, Eddie Joe turned the horses down Church Street in the direction of the Catholic church. He dropped Juanita off with the promise he would collect her mid-afternoon.
          As he guided the horses up River Road, Eddie Joe broke out into a smile. While the older woman would enjoy her Mass and a picnic lunch with a few of her fellow Catholic friends, he would look around town and catch up on the latest news. The best place for that was the city park between the community church and the schoolhouse where the Protestants had their own Sunday picnic after church. He preferred to wait there, because it was mostly townspeople, and they tended to be hospitable. The few miners who came to church were usually well-behaved enough they refrained from giving a lone cowboy in their midst a ration of hassle. It was the saloons, the bowling lanes and Helsa Bath House where he had to watch out for miners looking to pick a fight. He’d have to wait until church let out, but that would give him enough time to take the horses over to Johnny B. at the livery for some well-deserved rest, water and feed.
          Halfway down Main Street, just before he reached the front of the Brinks Mercantile, Eddie Joe pulled back on the leads to stop the horses. He leaned forward, unable to believe what he saw. Exiting the Howard Boarding House on the other side of the mercantile was a crowd of women. Eddie Joe squinted. Respectable ladies, by the looks of them, not to mention Daniel and Clara Howard would not allow the other kind into their boarding house. The Jubilee Springs prostitutes may come to town to shop during the week, but they lived and worked across the river at the Silver Dollar Saloon. But, no, what Eddie Joe witnessed in this town he knew was extremely short of women were at least a handful of ladies, mostly his age or younger. Two were dressed like high-society women—or what Eddie Joe guessed high-society women dressed like. The rest he supposed were in their Sunday best, whether that amounted to calico or linsey-woolsey. A couple of the ladies that left the boarding house walked with men Eddie Joe did not recognize. Hats and gloves completed the outfits. At least two ladies held books clutched in their hands.
          Since when did Jubilee Springs get a wagonload of women?
          Keeping hold of the leads, Eddie Joe folded his arms and leaned back as his characteristic wide, toothy grin split his face. This particular Sunday was starting to get real interesting.
No tricks ~ only a treat:

Evasive Eddie Joe will be available at the New Release price of $.99 through Wednesday, November 1, 2017, at which time it will return to its regular price of $1.99. This novella is also available on Kindle Unlimited.

To purchase Evasive Eddie Joe from Amazon, 

This book is part of the "Harvest Dance 1881 in Jubilee Springs" group. To purchase my first book in this collection, Dead Set Delphinia, please CLICK HERE.

Monday, October 30, 2017

Working Woman's Corset

Working Woman's Corset
by Sophie Dawson

My new release, Music of Her Heart, is set in 1869. It’s book two in my Stones Creek - Ladies of Sanctuary House series. In writing one of the early scenes, I needed to be sure what sort of corseting the main character, Gema, would be wearing and whether she could easily take it off without help. I realize much has been written about corsets, a lot negative. 

Gema is a Russian immigrant, orphaned at sixteen and taken to live at Sanctuary Place. It’s a woman’s mission set just outside of Dubuque, Iowa, fictional of course, that offers shelter, education, safety, and the Gospel to girls and women who are in need from circumstances beyond their control, or from poor life choices. 

With the opening of the West, and the dearth of women, Sanctuary House is built in Stones Creek, Colorado for the women, Ladies as I call them, and their children to move to and begin new lives, possibly become brides to men in the area. So far, two books have been released concerning these ladies: Chloe’s Sanctuary and Laundry Ladies Love.

Okay, back to Gema and her underpinnings, now that I’ve given you some background. When we think of corsets, we naturally think of the Victorian corsets of the late 1800’s. Post Civil War from about 1870 onward. Actually, we probably think of Madonna’s and Lady Gaga’s corsets worn when they perform. Not what ladies would wear back then, and certainly they would not show. Soiled doves the exception.

Stays and corsets were the foundation garments for centuries before the invention of the bra, girdle, and Spanx, not to mention control top pantyhose. They held up the bosom and created the shape of the torso popular at the time. If you have anything up top, you probably understand why women throughout the ages wore something to keep the girls contained. I’m not going into a detailed history of stays and corsets, or the pros and cons. I was more interested in what Gema, a poor woman, would have worn and whether it had a split busk or not.

A busk is a stiff rod down the center front that keeps the garment from sagging. Think of it as the underwire of the day. Until the 1830’s they were made of one piece. This only allowed the stays to be put on by lacing and removed by unlacing down the back. When the split busk was invented, it allowed a woman to much more easily dress by herself. The innovation took over and by the 1850’s nearly all corsets and stays were made with split busks.

The historic stays and corsets we see in photos and museums were most likely those of wealthy, elite women. My Ladies of Sanctuary House are anything but that. They were poor women hoping to improve their lot in life by moving and possibly marrying men in the West. They probably wouldn’t have had whale-boned corsets made of silk. Theirs, which they may have sewn themselves, would have been cotton or linen, quilted with cording or tightly rolled paper rather than bones simply because of the cost. They would have worn them until they fell apart. Women protected their corsets by wearing a chemise under and corset over over them. Those were easily washed. Corsets were not. Corsets with steel bones couldn't be washed since the rods would rust.

Here's a corded corset from 1855-1865. It would have had cotton cords quilted in for the stays, or possibly rolled paper.

Photos from Augusta Auctions 

Notice the lacing pulling the sides together. This was not the way a corset would be worn. At least 2-4 inches gap should remain between the edges. The waist size of a corset is the measure that is of the garment without the gap. This one measures 25 inches, the person would have an actual waist measurement of at least 27-30 inches.

The corset ends just below the waist and would have allowed for ease of movement as a woman went about her daily duties. This is the sort of garment Gema, a hotel maid, might have been wearing, although hers would not have had the lovely trapunto quilted floral sprays between the ribs.

So my problem was solved. Gema could get out of her corset, by herself, and flop it over the back of the chair like I wanted her to. 

Thursday, October 26, 2017

The Mighty Beaver

The mighty beaver figured prominently in the settling of the 
United States of America.

The beaver is a rodent second only in size to the capybara. When the USA was young there were upwards of 60 million beavers in North America. [Although, I often wonder about these numbers experts throw around. I mean really, did we have a beaver census. LoL Just my ponderings for the moment.]

Speaking of ponds, beavers are famous for building dams on streams and making ponds that benefit the ecosystem while acting as protection for the beavers from predators. These ponds help remove pollutants in the stream and benefit wildlife.

So how did the beaver help establish the USA? Hate to say it, but in the 1800s people loved beaver fur for hats and coats. If you have never felt a beaver pelt, I can tell you their fur is some of the softest I have ever felt. I do like it better on the beaver though. But back in the day before all the synthetic fur we have now, beaver pelts were at a premium. In fact the European beaver was almost extinct.

They ran out of their beavers, so being the productive people we are, fur traders went out across North America. And even before that the Native Americans traded beaver pelts for goods with the Europeans.

And surprise to me, beavers are still being trapped for their pelts in areas where they are overpopulated. Beavers can be a nuisance as they cut down larger trees for the dams and younger trees for food. 

So ends this little article on the fascinating beaver. They are an industrious animal building lodges and dams. We owe the beaver a hearty thanks for their part in settling our country.

I hope you found these facts fun and you have a wonderful day.
Patricia PacJac Carroll

You can find more info about Patricia PacJac Carroll and her books:
email                   patricia@pacjaccarroll.com
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Wednesday, October 25, 2017

New Release CAPTURED HEART By Sandra E Sinclair

Today is release day for 
Captured Heart 
by Sandra E Sinclair
Book 14 and her fourth book in the series

About Captured Heart:

He’s haunted by his past, she doesn’t have one.

With no past and an uncertain future, Emily St. Clair leaves the monastery to become a mail order bride. Her journey is made easier when she meets a kindred spirit along the way, someone she could care for, whose troubles seem greater than hers. Deciding her future would be what she makes it, Emily embraces the idea of all the possibilities which lie ahead.

Only problem is, she’s not Emily.

Lonely and in need of female companionship Steven Kelly sends for a mail order bride, unprepared for the surprise that awaits him on her arrival. The woman who came to be his would-be-wife, was already married—to him. Although this woman looked like his wife, sounded like his wife and was wrapped in his wife’s skin, she wasn’t his Adriel. He didn’t know who she was.

The wife he thought dead, was back, but she was different.

Was this his second chance to right the wrong he’d done, or was she back to torment him? It hurt to be forgotten. Would his love alone help her to remember?

Find out now  by grabbing your copy of Captured Heart, on Amazon today. PLEASE CLICK HERE

Captured Heart will be offered at the New Release sale price of $.99 for one day before it will be available at its usual price.

Now, for an excerpt:

Chapter 1
“Oh my, you really do scrub up well, Mr. Kelly.”
“Why thank you, Mrs. Radcliffe. However, I’m now all dressed up with no place to go. Me plans are on hold. I’d forgotten about the tour of the town the Bainbridges put on when the women get here. There won’t be a luncheon for us, not today anyway.”
“Well you can still come by the ranch. I think we’ll be ready to move in as soon as tomorrow. So, you’ll be able to move in upstairs and get the place sorted the way you like for when you bring home your bride.”
Steve grinned. He was grateful to Lily for moving out earlier than planned. He knew it had to be her idea. Wythe had told him there were still a few things needed doing on the ranch house, even though most of the furniture ordered was now in place, and their stove had yet to arrive. “I don’t think I’ll change much. You’ll be leaving the furniture, won’t you?”
“Yes, you’ll get the apartment with everything in it. Should be a nice new start for both of you.”
“So what’s the plan now? How are you going to beat Beg Wilson for your young lady’s affections?”
“Aye, you see this is where you come in. It’ll be too late for lunch but not for tea. If you’re agreeable, we can go see her after the parade is over and ask her here for tea. What do you think?”
“I think it’s a splendid idea. Maybe you could stop by the bakery and get some baked goods to go with it. That would be a nice gesture.”
“Aye it would.”
Wythe came down the stairs dressed to go out. “Weren’t we going somewhere? Why is Steve going to DeMitre’s?”
“Change of plans, dear. The brides are being taken on a tour of the town, Steve had the time wrong.”
“As I said before, what’s the plan?”
“We still have to go to the ranch. Steve and I are going to invite his young lady for tea there.”
“What cockamamie plot are you two cooking up for that poor woman?” Wythe asked, shaking his head.
“It’s actually a good plan,” Steve said. “We’re going to the boardinghouse before the official meet and greet to invite Marybeth to have tea with me and your good selves, before Beg gets there. He’s got the choice of two, he can have the other one.”
“How do you think he’s going to feel about your underhanded tactics?” Wythe ran his fingers through his hair.
“I don’t care what he thinks if it works.” Steve’s mouth drew into a thin line.
“I really think you should wait and play fair,” Wythe said.
“I wasn’t asking you what you think. I’ll be back in a while.”
“Now you wait just a minute. I—”
“Leave him, Wythe. This has nothing to do with us.” Lily placed a hand on her husband’s arm.
“It has, when it involves you too.”
“Lily can stay. I’ll do it on me own.” Steve strode to the door.
“No, Steve, I’m coming with you. Go on to the bakery. I’ll talk to Wythe.”
“We are talking, and neither one of you is making a lick of sense. Do you want to see the other side of Beg Wilson? I know I don’t.”
“You won’t, his beef will be with me.”
“What if he comes to the ranch? What then? It will involve Lily and by the same token, me.”
“Aye, I guess you have a point there. I’ll go on me own, Mrs. Radcliffe. Thanks for offering to help.”
“Go to the bakery, Steve, as we discussed. You deserve a chance at happiness and neither Wythe nor I have a right to stand in the way of that. If Wythe is so worried about me he can use his charms on Mr. Wilson to defuse things. You know how good you are at negotiations, dear.” She smiled into her husband’s eyes, her hand pressed to his chest. “If that doesn’t work, we’ll tell Mr. Wilson I’m pregnant. I’m almost sure he wouldn’t want our child to be fatherless.” She laughed and rested her head on Wythe’s shoulder.
“Almost sure?” Wythe grinned. “You and Steve can take it lightly. I’ll continue to be the voice of reason until one of you gets it.” Wythe wrapped his arms around his wife and kissed her forehead.
Lily slid her arms around Wythe’s waist and nodded to Steve. “You do that, dear. Run along, Steve, time’s a-wasting.”
Outside the store Steve chuckled to himself. Lily had Wythe licked. His mouth said one thing and his body another when it came to his wife. He hadn’t won an argument with her since they married. It reminded him of how Adriel used to have him chasing his tail as she ran rings round him. He sighed. Head bent, he walked down Telegraph Street, past the people and the unfortunate men gathered by the depot to see the brides.
He could wait. He’d be marrying one of them in a few days. Part way down Schoolhouse Road, he paused in his stride and glanced at the surreys carrying the women from the corner of his eyes as they passed by. He froze to the spot, blinked, and shook his head; for a moment there, he thought he saw Adriel, at least two of her.
Steve told himself he really needed to stop thinking about her, as he stared after the vehicle. He had to move on if he was going to start hallucinating.
If he kept this up, he would be seeing her face in every woman he met, just as it was before he’d left Ireland. He couldn’t go back to not caring for himself or anyone else.
After ten years of self-torment, he’d decided to try and live again, open himself up to another, only to let the ghost of his wife enter his head all over again. He wouldn’t allow it. That chapter in his life was over, done, finished.
Steve rubbed his eyes, pressed his hat down hard on his head, and shifted his collar up over his neck, to cut out the chill that ran through him. The wind was bitter, but it wasn’t that which chilled him. The sensation ran far deeper. He shook himself and snorted like a horse, vibrating his lips.
Lord, would he ever get over losing Adriel? Dazed and uneasy from the knotting in his stomach, he hurried along the street as flurries of fine snowdrops landed on his coat sleeves.
He returned from the bakery to find Lily waiting outside for him. Wythe had gone to the livery to hire a four-seater and would join them at the boardinghouse. She wanted to walk as the day was fresh. Lily let him carry the pastries until they reached the entrance of the boardinghouse, then she removed the package from his fingers.
“It would look better if I held these,” she said, jerking her head toward the reception area, to a smiling Mrs. Howard, who had greeted them on entry. Beside her was another woman Steve had never seen before. He guessed she must be the matchmaker lady. His suspicion was confirmed when her face brightened with recognition.
“Lily Whitefield, my dear, how are you?”
“Hello, Lizett, it’s Lily Radcliffe now.” Lily showed Lizett the ring on her finger. “I’m very well. Thank you for asking. What about you? How have you been?”
“Good, good, I’m just here with my young brides—”
“That’s the reason I’m here,” Lily cut in. “This is Steve Kelly. He’s been promised to one of the women that came to town with you, Marybeth Stanley. We’d like to invite her to tea at my home. If they are compatible, I’m sure she and I will become firm friends, as Steve works quite closely with my husband. It would be good to have some additional female company.”
“I see. This is most irregular. I do believe that young woman has also been corresponding with one of the miners. Mr. Bainbridge’s men have priority.”
“I think if you ask Royce, he will confirm he added Steve, as a favor to his cousin; my husband. It’s all above board. Royce assured Wythe that Steve would be given the same chance as the miners who work for him. So, if you would just let her know I’m here. I’m with child so I don’t want to be standing for too long.” Lily patted her stomach and smiled.
Lizett gave a short squeal and hugged Lily to her. “Congratulations. Yes, yes, I’ll get Marybeth right away. Mrs. Howard, do you have a chair for Mrs. Radcliffe?”
Lily held up her hand. “Please, no, that won’t be necessary. I can stand for a little while longer.”
The portly woman flew up the stairs, a look of delight on her face, as if she’d won first prize in a baking contest. Steve was glad he brought Lily with him. He wouldn’t have been able to do this alone. There was no way that woman would have allowed him anywhere near Marybeth were he on his own.
He felt as if he’d been standing in the same spot forever, before he saw Lizett descend the stairs followed by two women. Beads of sweat formed on his forehead. He removed his handkerchief from his pocket to mop his brow and palms.
When he glanced back toward them, a cold sensation shot up his spine, his head grew heavy, and the air left his lungs. It couldn’t be. His eyes seemed ready to release themselves from their sockets, as the blood rushed from his head to his boots.
Steve gulped down with relief. On closer inspection, he could see he’d been mistaken. For a moment there he thought he saw his dead wife. It was uncanny how much she reminded him of Adriel. Was it fate? That a woman who looked a lot like Adriel, should be the one writing to him?
No sooner had a sense of calm enveloped him, then it was gone the instant the other woman came into focus. Was he going mad? Either the hallucinations were back or the woman behind her was most definitely his wife, Adriel.

It was impossible. Yet here she was. Steve wanted to run to her, ask her how? But he was paralyzed by both fear and elation. Was it possible? He couldn’t breathe or think, and Lord only knows where his voice went. His legs were boneless. It was sheer willpower that kept him on his feet.


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