Monday, January 28, 2019

Boarding Houses in the Old West

People came to the old west for many reasons and it was full of all sorts of people. From outlaws to lawmen, from mothers with lots of children to sheltered mail order brides. Ranchers, businessmen, explorers, and the list goes on.

The truth is that all of them needed a place to stay while they sorted out their new homes or as they passed through town in their travels. Many of the boarding houses with rooms and meals available to those who needed them were owned and run by women. The women who ran these safe havens were well respected. Doesn't it make sense that many women found their places in ways to nurture the needs of those who needed shelter?

In my series, Boarding House Misfits, the Rosebud Boarding House was a place for those who had no other place to go. Briarwood, Nevada was a small town on the edge of the desert with its fair share of gamblers, drunks, gun slingers, and those who needed a fresh start. Dolores O'Hanlon ran the place with a strict set of rules and a tender heart for the down trodden whether their own poor decisions had landed them in need or not.

The series shares the stories of five misfits - men with problems and nowhere to go. Dolores takes them in, gives them shelter, enforces her rules, and gives advice. Her advice and counsel leads each man to turn his life around and find true love.

Though these are the stories of how Rosebud boarders find love, Dolores is present in all the stories. I couldn't have put this series together without the voice of Dolores in my ear. I pictured her to be kind, caring, and wise - as well as beautiful. And though she's a single woman alone in the wild west, she's content with what she's doing for others.

Here's a short excerpt from Hidden Courage, Book One in the series.

Stanley Winthorpe sighed as he walked down the two steps of the bank – his new work place. The sleepy little town of Briarwood, Nevada, was as alive as it ever was, with a few people walking through the dusty streets and the soft noise of the piano music drifting out of the saloon. He tucked his book under his arm as he reached the boardwalk, imagining himself a much more confident, assertive individual.
“I’m Stanley Wilder Winthorpe, Bounty Hunter and Cowboy of the Wild West.” Stanley declared to himself as he made his way up the street. He had been staying at the town hotel, hoping he could find a place of his own soon. The only problem was, the hotel wasn’t cheap, and the little money he had brought to live on was quickly waning. Finding a place of his own he could afford was likely to prove challenging.
The wild west had captivated Stanley’s imagination since his boyhood years, when he’d read stories of brave men who had come out west, conquering the wild and untamed land and claiming it for their own. He had spent many hours with his own little stick, pretending it was a pistol, and a hobby horse his mother had made for him from a broomstick and some scraps of fabric.
But, Stanley had to admit, he was not an adventurous person. Even now, in his desperate search for a job to make ends meet, he knew that his tales of coming west to be a brave cowboy were nothing more than a fancy he held in his mind. In truth, he would run if a fight were to arise, and he would shy away from controversy at a moment’s notice.
If a situation turned uncomfortable, Stanley would make his excuses and stay away. Though he now carried Moby Dick under his arm and dreamed of having the same spirit as Captain Ahab, Stanley couldn’t help but feel the weight lift from his shoulders as he walked to the hotel. He had been so dreadfully nervous about the interview that day, he hadn’t slept nor eaten since the day before.
Now that it was over, and he had gotten the job, he was famished and ready for a nap. Stanley knew that he had to be careful with the few dollars he had left, but he also wanted to celebrate. He wanted to treat himself to a nice dinner, then settle into his room to enjoy more of his book before getting a good night of restful sleep.
“What can I get for you, sugar?” a plump woman with an apron tied across her front asked him as he settled into the hotel’s diner. He smiled a warm smile, hoping his introvert personality wouldn’t show through.
“I was thinking maybe… the special?” he said, phrasing it more as a question. She looked over her shoulder at the blackboard with the words fried chicken and corn bread scrawled across it, and smiled. With a nod, she finished clearing the dishes from the table she was working on, then backed toward the kitchen.
“You just settle yourself in there, sugar. I’ll be right back.” Her sweet friendly accent brought a smile to Stanley’s face, and he felt his cheeks flush red. Immediately, he wanted to slap himself for the involuntary reaction. He had to stop being so easily embarrassed. She was an attractive woman, to be sure, but she was clearly older than him, and it was safe to assume that she was married – perhaps even to the man who owned the hotel.
“You might not be a cowboy or a bounty hunter, but you do have a job out here now. So, whether it’s a large town or a small little place, you have to keep all interaction professional,” Stanley muttered aloud to himself as he waited for the waitress to return with his iced tea and fried chicken.
A few moments later, the woman set the meal in front of him, and gave him her most charming smile. “Will that be all for you?” she asked, her accent even thicker than before. Stanley felt his cheeks flush red, and though he tried to reply with words, he couldn’t find his tongue. With a sheepish grin on his face, he nodded.
“All right then. If you think of anything else, give me a holler, sugar.” She gave him a pat on the arm before she turned and walked back to the kitchen. Stanley buried his face in his hands and rubbed his eyes.
Good job, Stanley. I bet she thinks you’re really impressive now, he thought.


The complete Boarding House Misfits Series is available on Amazon. If you prefer to read with your Kindle Unlimited subscription, it's available in the program.


Annie Boone writes sweet western historical romance with a happy ending guaranteed in every single story. Inspiration comes in many forms and Annie finds more than one way to make her stories entertain and inspire.

To connect with Annie, find her on Facebook, Twitter, or her website.

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