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By Caroline Clemmons
Welcome, readers! Today, I’m so pleased to announce the release of my new American-set Victorian romance, WINTER BRIDE. This western historical romance is a stand-alone part of the Stone Mountain, Texas series set in the Palo Pinto Mountains of North Central Texas.
Here’s the blurb for WINTER BRIDE:
Sweet western historical romance of 60,000 words by bestselling author Caroline Clemmons is a stand-alone novel of the Stone Mountain Texas series including murder, danger, and adventure.
When Kendra Murdoch’s brother in law murders her sister, she takes charge of her nephew and two nieces. Fearing the man plans the same fate for her, she seeks shelter in Radford Crossing where she operates a café to support her small family.
Determined to be self-sufficient, Kendra shuns all advances from the handsome sheriff as danger hangs heavily over her head. But can she safeguard her family alone?
Butch Parrish battled a snowstorm and a killer to rescue Kendra and the children. He’ll do whatever is necessary to protect the independent young woman who rekindles sensations he hoped were dead long ago. Protecting her, chasing a killer, dealing with the town gossips, and investigating a stagecoach robbery, Butch has a battle on his hands.
Here’s an excerpt from WINTER BRIDE involving hero, Sheriff Butch Parrish:
As he turned onto the faint trail he sought, he spotted fresh tracks in the snow. He pulled his rifle from the saddle scabbard and slowed his horse. Instead of heading along the trail, the tracks led around the boulders.
Scout’s ears twitched forward, the chestnut’s signal of trouble. Even more slowly, Butch eased forward. He dismounted and crept along the boulders. If he could climb up to the taller rocks, he could spot where the tracks led and if Tucker waited for him.
Quietly as his boots allowed, he climbed. As he gained height, he spotted a horse tied to brush twenty yards from where he stood. Tracks crisscrossed in the snow, but where was Tucker? The man had the advantage of knowing this area’s terrain better than Butch.
“Sheriff?” The yell came from below and behind him.
Butch crouched and turned. A streak of fire burned into his chest. The impact sent him tumbling from rock to rock until he hit the snow-covered ground. He landed on his back, stars lit the backs of his eyelids, and his breath whooshed from his lungs. His rifle lay just beyond his grasp.
WINTER BRIDE is a romance, but the storyline includes mystery, murder, and mayhem. I like stories where something happens. I hope you do, too.
Here’s the buy link for Amazon http://amzn.com/B00VC9C31W
To celebrate my new release, I’m giving away a free download to someone who comments on this post by April 5th. Thanks and happy reading!
clawhammer–a man’s dress coat. Really. It seems that Nathaniel Hawthorne used it first and it was a nautical term. It was used from 1863 through the end of the century, but it doesn’t appear to be used much after that. I’ve been watching the first few seasons of Downton Abbey (which is the Edwardian period, but the grandmother is from the Victorian period, and the Earl and Lady Grantham to some extent) and couldn’t figure out which coat to which this was referring. So I googled and found out it was evening dress, a cutaway/ tails coat, based upon this wonderful, free book, Historic Dress in America 1800-1870. No worries, not stealing from anybody. Apparently it’s free because it’s 100 years past the 1910 copyright date. The reference to clawhammer is on page 423.
So there you go, slang and a cool book to look at!
In Shadows of the Soul, the hero, Luke Devlin, is a mentally and emotionally tortured hero. The torture starts when he’s young, perpetrated by an emotionally abusive aunt. But his life after leaving home is no picnic (partly to his own choices). He ends up in Andersonville prison. When he’s released, he decides to travel to Iowa to find the heroine. Unfortunately, he chooses the Sultana.
The Sultana was a riverboat that traveled the Ohio, Tennessee and Mississippi rivers, which sank after a terrible explosion on the morning of April 27, 1865. Most of the people on board were soldiers, many like my fictional character Luke, survivors of Andersonville prison or Cahaba prison.
Launched on January 3rd 1863, the Sultana was a $60,000 side-wheel riverboat/steamboat, 260 feet long with a hold 7 feet deep. Constructed with a flat bottom for inland water ways, it sported four coal-burning boilers, made in the new “fire tube” style. This style was considered more efficient, but were not, however , particularly good for the muddy water of the lower Mississippi.
Originally built for the lower Mississippi cotton trade, The Sultana was a beautifully appointed ship with glass chandeliers and ornate Victorian trimming. It had room for 66 cabin passengers. The staterooms were small but luxurious, and the passengers could enjoy the passing scenery from the boiler deck promenade. The rest of the ship could accommodate 300 deck passengers and crew, the former of whom were like “steerage” passengers on ocean liners, and slept on bare planks, and had their food served on tin plates.
For all that, on the day the Sultana sank two years later it carried an estimated 2400 passengers.
Riverboats on Mississippi had a rough life. They were only expected to last 4 -5 years due to the perils of snags, debris and collisions. However about 200 of steamship disasters in the first half of century were due to boiler explosions.
At any rate Captain J.C. Mason piloted the Sultana out of Cairo, Illinois headed for New Orleans on April 15, 1865, the day President Lincoln died, and a week after the official end of the war. At the time, War Secretary Stanton had ordered southern newspapers not to print anything about Lincoln’s assassination, so when the Sultana arrived in New Orleans on April 19th, it was the first time they’d heard this news, which many didn’t believe.
The Sultana left New Orleans two days later on April 21st 1865 with only 75-100 passengers. 75 miles south of Vicksburg it was discovered that one of the coal-burning boilers was leaking from a bulging seam. They reduced the ship’s speed and it was decided to repair the boiler in Vicksburg. There the Captain was informed that the best repair, the most thorough and permanent, would be to replace two metal sheets adjoining the leak. However, Captain Mason was persuaded against his better judgment to patch the seam instead. It took 20 hours and the patch itself was thinner than the regular plating on the boiler. In addition heavy rain and melting snow increased the current made it harder for the steamship to travel.
While the Sultana was being repaired, Federal prisoners from Andersonville and Cahaba were arriving for passage to Cairo, Illinois. The price paid to transport enlisted men was generally five dollars, and ten dollars for an officer, good money for the time. The first 1300 soldiers, the lucky ones, were taken north by the Henry Ames on April 22. Afterwards more ex-prisoners being held at Camp Fisk were marched four miles to Vicksburg to board the Sultana. They were crammed on board, along with army mules, horses and hogs.
When the Sultana left Vicksburg it had 2400 people on board. It steamed North for 30 or more hours to Helena Arkansas, on April 26. There the last picture of the Sultana was taken. When the passengers heard of the photograph they moved to the port side to be part of the photograph, nearly capsizing the boat. An hour later it started up river. It’s next stop was Memphis, Tennessee, where they docked at 6:30 pm that night. There they did some minor repairs again on the boiler while some passengers disembarked. The ones who didn’t re-embark were the lucky ones. At midnight the Sultana cut across-stream to a coal yard, where it picked up a thousand bushels of coal. It left at 1 am on April 27th.
7 miles north of Memphis, at 2 am, The Sultana’s boiler finally gave out. It’s believe that the explosion ruptured two of three remaining boilers, and was heard all the way to Memphis. Debris tore through decks below, and many passengers were instantly scalded by superheated steam. Some were hurled into the air and thrown into the river. Others were burned or wounded by flying metal, and some were trapped in the burning ship.
The Sultana Saga, The Titanic of the Mississippi by Rex T. Jackson, has many different direct recollections of survivors’ tales. One passenger reported the hissing of steam and the crashing of the different decks, along with the horrors of the falling of the smoke stacks, and flames bursting through crowds of people, burning alive men who had survived battle and the horrors of Andersonville. He reported the sounds of people begging for help, of women shrieking and the sounds of horses neighing and mules braying, all kicking frantically in fear.
The explosion made machinery parts into projectiles, flying through the upper decks and killing passengers as they slept. One man wrote an account of waking up surrounded by fire. He escaped to the hurricane deck and used ropes to get to the bow, where he saw the dead and dying being trampled as people tried to escape. He reported seeing people crying, praying and singing.
As the Sultana burned, terrified people jumped into the water, whether they could swim or not. The water, one passenger reported, was a seething mass of humanity, and people jumping in often landed on top of other people. The passengers in the water hung onto each other. It didn’t last for very long, however. Many were injured by the explosion. Many were weakened by their time in prison, and drowned quickly.
One man was thrown into the water by the explosion, fully clothed. He swam as best he could for a while and was lucky to catch hold a piece of debris large enough to keep him afloat.
One man sleeping on the boiler deck about 16 feet away from the explosion had his shoulder broken by the explosion. He was badly scalded and believed he should be burned alive, but he managed to crawl to the front of the boat. He jumped into the water and swam three and a half miles to shore, where he stayed until 9 am the next morning.
One smart man picked up a hatch door, threw it into the water, and then jumped on top of it. He floated on it until another steamer, the Bostonia picked him up. The Bostonia picked up about one hundred passengers.
Sadly, the Sultana had only one lifeboat. Although people did manage to get it into the water, so many tried to get into it that eventually it sank, taking everybody down with it.
Meanwhile on shor, a man whose house was across the river from the explosion said that fire was so bright, he could the ground clearly by it. He watched as the ship because a ball of fire and drifted down the river. By dawn of April 27th it sank in 26 feet of water, taking many dead with it.
That day and for weeks to follow bodies washed up on shore in and around Memphis, Fort Pickering and Helena. Many bodies just floated in the water decomposing and getting in the way of other boats and steamers, some of which would get caught up in the wheels of the paddle boats. To get them untangled was a gruesome job. 520 victims made it to hospitals, 200 of whom died, many so badly burned or wounded they died within hours.
In the end an estimated 1,547 people died that day. However, taking into account the people at the hospital, the casualty count is probably more like 1700-1800 in all. In comparison, the estimated dead of the Titanic 47 years later was about 1500 people. And yet, very few people have heard of this disaster, probably because it was so close to the end of the war and the death of Lincoln. Understandable, of course, but for the people who lost loved ones on the Sultana, and those who survived it to be physically and mentally scarred for the rest of their lives, the lack of press and therefore lack of understanding, was difficult and painful.
PHOTO borrowed from this site, which has some more very interesting information, and an eyewitness account.
The majority of my information came from The Sultana Saga, The Titanic of the Mississippi, by Tex T. Jackson
That’s the tag line of the book I just published after a long hiatus due to family difficulties. I’ve got a heroine who has grown up in a town that has labeled her as “crazy”, and a hero who was psychologically tortured by the aunt who raised him, and is a Civil War veteran to boot. I’ve set it in Iowa 1871, which makes it neither a Western or typically Victorian. Honestly, I am the queen of choosing settings and topics most people shy away from. I couldn’t help it though, because in addition to the romantic plot of the story I wanted to see how a small farming town would react to a serial killer (although obviously not labeled as such in the book).The only way for me to do that, was to write it.
So here’s the blurb, and an excerpt following it:
She thought she’d imagined him
Beth Hartwell is a little bit crazy. Or so her hometown of Mayfield believes, due to her long-ago obsession with her imaginary friend. Although in 1871, at the age of twenty-two, Beth has long since forgotten him, the phrase sticks to her like prickles to wool. If she’s ever going to be normal, she must marry a nice, normal man, have nice, normal children and live a nice normal life. She’s one reluctant yes away from accepting the only man who’ll take her, when handsome, mysterious Luke Devlin comes to town. Upon touching him, visions of fire beset her, along with a deep, unexplainable familiarity. . .
But he was real
Calamity and suffering follow Luke everywhere he goes. An orphan from birth, Luke was raised in the shadow of a mad aunt who insisted that he was evil incarnate—Satan’s son. After years of seeking proof that she was wrong, he finally accepts her ravings as prophesy. To fulfill that prophesy, he must claim his “dark angel,” the little girl with whom he had a telepathic relationship as a boy.
Trapped between love and a prophecy
Unfortunately Beth, a midwife and sister to the town’s preacher, is hardly “dark.” In order for Luke to win her, he must use everything in his arsenal, including seduction, lies and trickery. In order for Beth to pull him out of the shadows, she must uncover the secrets behind his sad, dying eyes. As the battle lines are drawn, however, a murderer strikes in Mayfield and the town accuses Luke. . .
So farewell hope, and with hope farewell fear,
Farewell remorse: all good to me is lost;
Evil, be thou my good.
John Milton, Paradise Lost
The fire rose like a monster from the depths of Hell, its only purpose to consume the building it enveloped. Its yellow head towered over the fragile wooden structure, orange hair jumping and leaping with a life of its own, scraping the underbelly of the star-studded heavens. Long, pointed fingers wrapped around the corners of the building and crawled through windows, and everything they touched turned black. The building hissed, crackled, cried, and its windows shattered under the heat. The people inside, unimportant to either building or fire, screamed for mercy.
A short distance from the building, Luke Devlin stood under a tree, the shade of new spring leaves concealing his expression. He made no attempt to assist the panicked rescuers, who threw buckets of water on the flames in a futile attempt to save the inn. Luke watched the burning stoically as words and memories passed through his mind, just across the border of conscious thought.
You killed her, you wicked, wicked boy. My sister’s dead because of you!
They’re all gonna die, son. That friend of yours is goin’ next.
It’s yellow fever. It’ll take more than half the souls that get it.
She’s a witch, a dark angel. How else could you talk to her in your mind?
You’re evil, destined to cause naught but misery and death for the good folk of the world. But you shall stay away from me. Do you understand me, boy? You stay away from me!
The last thought crept into consciousness, and Luke winced at the sound of a slamming door echoing in his head, an attic door locking him in darkness. And his soul, locked in the same.
God didn’t give you a soul.
Death and destruction shadowed him, followed him, preceded him—undesired at first, then expected, finally anticipated.
A roar filled the yard, and a piece of the roof caved in. Flames leapt through the opening; shrieks of pain clawed the air. As the fire burned, the remnants of the boy who had once chosen to stay in prison to save a friend instead of escaping burned with it. Luke could all but see his own image peering out of a cracked, soot-stained window—a shaggy, blond boy, the rough anger in his stare eclipsed by gut-wrenching fear. A spirit from years past when he’d still believed his aunt was wrong, before Andersonville and Galveston, before New York and Chicago and all the miles of misery between.
The window exploded; the spirit vanished.
It was time.
He’d accomplished the worst possible on his own. It was time to seek out the girl, his dark angel. In one swift move Luke mounted up and turned west.
He’d been born on All Hallows’ Eve five minutes before lightning started the fire that had killed his family. In his mind he envisioned the charred bodies and smelled burning flesh; the visions fed a hunger in the sucking pit in his chest where a soul ought to have been. He was evil and he was death, and up ahead, in Mayfield, Iowa, was the woman he’d waited half his life to claim.
If you love Civil War romance, like I do, my award winning Civil War romance, Confederate Rose, is now available as part of a boxed-set of Civil War romance novels titled Whispers In the Wind. The set is being released today from The Wild Rose Press.
From torn loyalties come… Rebellious hearts and Forbidden passions
This digital boxed set contains 6 complete novels.
The Rebel Wife by Donna Dalton
When war correspondent Jackson Porter lies to a Union patrol to save a red-headed rebel, he gets something he never expected…a wife. With her knowledge of corruption at the federal prisons, he can deliver the topnotch article his newspaper editor expects.
Louisa Carleton needs a miracle–even if that miracle is a Yankee. With her brother’s imminent death in prison, she has no option but to join forces with the enemy. Can she save her brother from a vindictive prison commander while still protecting her heart, or will Jackson stir dark memories she wants to forget?
Confederate Rose by Susan Macatee
Disguised as a man to serve with her husband as a soldier in the Confederate Army, Irish immigrant Katie Rose O’Reilly vows to remain in the ranks and seek revenge on Yankees after her husband is killed at Sharpsburg. When she falls and almost drowns in a swollen stream, Southerner Alexander Hart, a Yankee spy, saves Katie from drowning, then nurses her through a resulting fever, keeping his identity secret from the feisty and beautiful Rebel soldier even as he finds himself falling in love with her. Can Katie reconcile her loyalties with her love?
Northern Temptress by Nicole McCaffrey
When the Civil War arrives on her door step, Gettysburg doctor Alexandra Winters uses her knowledge of medicine to help the wounded. When an uncommonly handsome rebel officer finds her tending the wounded in his battlefield, he takes her for a spy until she confesses her darkest secret; her brother fights for the south.
Major Caleb McKenna, CSA, has grown weary of war and bloodshed. Dreams of glory and valor are long gone, as is the memory of his beloved fiancee back home in Georgia. Try as he might, he can’t recall her face. Instead, it’s the bewitching image of Alexa Winters that haunts his every thought.
When the major is gravely wounded, Alexa comes to his aide. Hiding a Confederate officer in a house filled with recuperating Union soldiers is risky… but fighting their growing desire is a battle they can’t afford to lose.
Memory’s Edge by Bette McNicholas
Brave and feisty at eighteen, Victoria Garrett takes on a mission to smuggle two slaves to the Underground Railroad in Delaware. But after an explosion at the DuPont Munitions Factory, she’s arrested as a Confederate spy.
Captain Luke Cassidy has different thoughts about Victoria, the only survivor found unconscious at the scene. He notices strangulation marks on her neck. Invincible together, he and his men rescue her and hide her from the person trying to kill her.
Suffering from amnesia, Victoria is alone and frightened. She turns to the one person who will save her, Luke Cassidy. Theirs is a tale of murder, espionage and love…
An April To Remember by Lauri Robinson
April Simonson hated all men. They were cruel, sinful beasts. Her disfigured face was proof. That is until she met Jerek Brinkley. Then, as the revered Sultana explodes, April falls into the dark, muddy waters of the Mississippi River terrified she’ll never see the light of day or the handsome riverboat gambler again.
Jerek Brinkley fought hell and high water to save the northern vixen who’d won his heart with her cards tricks, only to fear Allan Pinkerton’s arrival in Memphis might reveal secrets he’s not ready for her to know.
Based on history’s greatest maritime disaster, An April to Remember, sprinkled with real facts and events, revives the Sultana, a civil war riverboat whose death toll surpassed the Titanic’s, and offers a new twist on what might have happened that fateful night in 1865.
Shadows Of A Southern Moon by Meg Hennessy
In a country torn apart, Brandt Michaels serves the Union. Behind enemy lines, he expects the danger of Confederate skirmishers and swamps. Instead, he finds himself bewitched by a beautiful woman, igniting his passion beyond anything he’s ever known. But he soon learns her coy games are only a distraction, as she secretly devises a deadly trap for his capture.
Elizabeth DuBay is determined to deny her attraction to the Union officer and plans to foil his mission. But the moment Elizabeth surrenders to her burning desire for one unforgettable night of love, her life changes forever. As her well-set trap closes in on Brandt Michaels, Elizabeth must risk everything for his escape. From their perilous journey through war-ravaged countryside springs a passion too strong for the war to destroy…and too consuming for the lovers to deny….
To purchase or for more info, visit The Wild Rose Press.
If you’re like me, you’re already eager for the days from Thanksgiving up to Christmas Eve. That’s my favorite time of year. I love the decorations, the songs, and the anticipation associated with choosing gifts for my family.
I confess to feeling letdown once the gifts are opened and the dinner eaten. The Christmas tree looks letdown, too, with no gifts underneath. I can’t explain why Hero and I leave our tree up until after Twelfth Night, but we always have. Probably this year will be no exception.
You can see why I love reading Christmas stories. In fact, I read them all year, but especially from October until Christmas. However, this is the first time I’ve written a Christmas story.
For this novella, I blame Darling Daughters 1 and 2. Each of them asked me to write a Christmas story. Guess the spirit is genetic, right?
Kim Killion did the perfect-for-the-novella cover. I chose the woman’s photo from Kim’s studio stock and she used the photo to create exactly what I had in mind. Don’t you love when that happens?
Here’s the blurb of STONE MOUNTAIN CHRISTMAS:
Christmas has been Celia Dubois’s favorite time of year as long as she can remember. When she moves back with her parents a year after the death of her husband, the young widow is appalled at the town’s lack of Christmas spirit. Two months earlier, banditos had burned the church and crushed the townspeople. Celia vows to return holiday joy to the town. Perhaps doing so might help mend her aching heart. Will Celia’s plan work magic on the town?
Rancher Eduardo Montoya knows Celia is the woman for him. She enchants him with her winning smile and vivacious nature. When her father warns Eduardo away from Celia, Eduardo is both angry and frustrated. After he stops a robbery in the mercantile, will Celia’s parents change their minds about him? Can handsome Eduardo heal Celia’s sorrow?
Here’s an excerpt of STONE MOUNTAIN CHRISTMAS:
Radford Crossing, Texas, November 1874
Eduardo Montoya focused on the beautiful redhead who swept the walk in front of Sturdivant’s Mercantile across the street. He turned to speak to his friend. “She is a vision, is she not?”
Micah Stone, his cousin’s husband, asked, “Have you met her or spoken to her?”
Eduardo’s gaze returned to Celia Dubois. He refused to let anyone shatter his dreams. “See how graceful she is even when performing a menial chore? When we are wed, she will not have to be concerned with such things.”
Sounding incredulous, Micah said, “I repeat, have you even met or spoken to her?”
Eduardo had no doubt his friend believed he had taken leave of his senses. He wasn’t so sure he hadn’t, but he placed a hand over his heart. “In good time, my friend. All in good time.”
Micah clapped him on the shoulder. “Come on, Romeo. We’ve finished our business with Joel. Hope’s expecting us for lunch. You can daydream about the pretty widow on our way home.”
“I suppose we must go.” He exhaled, reluctantly willing to leave town but unwilling to let anyone derail his plans.
Micah untied his horse from the hitching rail in front of his brother’s law office and mounted. “Have to say this is the first time I’ve known you to be shy about flirting with a woman.”
Determination steeled Eduardo’s resolve as he swung onto his gelding. “Never before has a woman been so important to me. You will see. One day, she will become my wife.”
The two rode toward Micah’s ranch.
From where she stood on the walk, Celia had known the men watched her. One was the youngest Stone brother. Identifying him was easy because the three Stone men looked so much alike.
But she hadn’t yet met the handsome man dressed as a Spanish Don. He fit the description she’d been privy to of Eduardo Montoya, one of the wealthiest men in this part of Texas. At least, that’s what she’d overheard while helping in her parents’ store.
He certainly cut a dashing figure in his black clothes trimmed with silver buttons. She wondered if he was entitled to dress like Spanish nobility or if he merely played a part. The silver on his saddle flashed in the sunlight and she questioned the safety of such a display.
One thing she’d noticed in her few days in town and working in her father’s mercantile, she heard tidbits of local gossip whether intentionally or not. She wondered what the gossips had to say about her. Probably best she didn’t know. Most people she’d met were friendly but there were a few prunes eager to criticize everyone.
Wasn’t that true everywhere? Yet she thought an unusual pall lay over Radford Crossing. The town definitely needed a large dose of cheer. As a matter of fact, she wouldn’t mind a measure of good spirits for herself. With a sigh, she went back inside the store.
You can purchase STONE MOUNTAIN CHRISTMAS:
Barnes and Noble Noble http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/stone-mountain-christmas-caroline-clemmons/1120622158?ean=2940046278842&itm=1&usri=2940046278842
Thanks for stopping by!
Let fall the robe and reveal yourself as a Neoclassical Victorian goddess. Slide into a gossamer slip, and step onto a marble veranda by the Mediterranean sea. You are in a world of mythical creatures, gods and legends in the Tarot of Delphi.
The Tarot of Delphi is a tarot deck illustrated with Neoclassical Victorian art from 1838 to 1913. This gorgeous deck places your life at the center of the story. You interpret your past and dream your future into being through fine art from the Victorian Era.
This full-color, 78-card tarot deck features paintings by over 20 Victorian artists, including John William Waterhouse, Dante Gabriel Rossetti, Henrietta Rae, Lord Frederick Leighton and George Frederic Watts.
The Tarot of Delphi is available for a limited time on Kickstarter. Inspired by the Victorian artworks, artisan-crafted Victorian-style jewelry of genuine gemstones and pearls – as well as a tarot bag made from authentic 1870s Victorian fabric – are available exclusively through Kickstarter.
Janet D.H. Hinkel was raised in western contemplative tradition. Her writing focuses on the intersection of science and spirituality, health outliers, and the unexpected. She created the Tarot of Delphi, a tarot deck that uses fine art to explore personal stories. The project combines over 20 years as a nonfiction writer and 16 years studying tarot.