*UPDATE*

I have updated my review and giveaway policies page (now just titled Policies above). If you are entering a giveaway, please read and abide by the applicable policy.

Attention Authors! If you arrived here looking for information on the Two Sides to Every Story guest post series, see the tab at the top of the page for more info!


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Tuesday, October 17, 2017

New Book Alert: Holiday Romance Novels

Holiday_Romance_Blitz_Banner

St. Martin’s Press has a wonderful line up of books coming out in the month of October ready to take you into the holiday season.  Whether you like contemporary romance, westerns, or historical novels there is a little something for everyone.  Below I’m highlighting the two historical novels of the bunch, but you can check out all of them in the banner image above.


First up is an anthology collection featuring men in kilts!

Christmas in Kilts_Cover

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Christmas in Kilts by Terri Brisbin, Lecia Cornwall, Bronwen Evans, Lavinia Kent, and May McGoldrick
Published by Swerve on October 31, 2017

Tis the season to fall in love! These five bestselling authors bring you great tiding of highlanders and romances this holiday season!

A HIGHLANDER’S HOPE by Terri Brisbin
A village harlot who would never dream she could have a different life meets a Highlander who visits for the holidays and brings with him an offer and hope.

A HIGHLAND CHRISTMAS WAGER by Lecia Cornwall
When a snowstorm forces a charming lass hiding a broken heart to take shelter in a castle with three fine Highland lairds just days before Christmas, there’s a game afoot—who will be the first to win a kiss and maybe her heart.

A SCOT FOR CHRISTMAS by Bronwen Evans
She’s ready to embrace her life and future as a spinster, he’s trying to have one last hurrah before he gives into his family’s wishes and proposes marriage to his neighbor, but fate has other ideas when the lady and the Scot meet at a holiday house party in the wilds of Scotland.

LEFTOVER MISTLETOE by Lavinia Kent
What happens when a highlander finds himself stranded, maybe kidnapped, with an English lady around Christmas... maybe the mistletoe will help answer that question.

SWEET HOME HIGHLAND CHRISTMAS by May McGoldrick
An encounter between an English officer and a desperate aunt trying to keep custody of her young niece leads to a little magic during the holidays.

Buy the Book: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Publisher


With This Christmas Ring_Cover

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With this Christmas Ring by Manda Collins
Published by Swerve on October 3, 2017

A wallflower determined to fulfill a dying promise, the rogue she jilted years ago, and an orphaned baby are all brought together amidst the magic of Christmas in this new novella from Manda Collins.

Miss Merry Parks makes a deathbed promise to a schoolfriend that her infant daughter will be taken to her absent father. There’s only one problem—to find the baby’s father, she’ll have to consult his cousin, Viscount Wrotham, the man she jilted five years ago. The man she couldn’t forget.

Alex Ponsonby, Viscount Wrotham, is stunned to find Merry Parks—looking more lovely than ever--on his doorstep with an infant in her arms. His shock soon turns to dismay when he learns his own cousin William is the man who abandoned his wife and child. As head of the family he’s duty bound to see right is done. But he can't let this opportunity pass. He’ll take Merry and the baby to his cousin, but he’ll woo her back in the process.

Merry agrees to travel with Alex and the baby to Wrotham Castle, where the entire Ponsonby family has gathered for Christmas, but her plans to see the baby settled then leave are ruined by a snowstorm. After five years apart, Alex and Merry will spend the week getting reacquainted. Perhaps it’s the spirit of the holiday, or the magic of the season, but there could be something else in the air this Yuletide…A Christmas Reunion.

Buy the Book: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Publisher 






Copyright © 2017 by The Maiden’s Court

Monday, October 16, 2017

Wish List 5: Westward Expansion

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Once a month I am planning on sharing with you all 5 of my biggest wish list books broken up by theme.  I know that you all need more on your TBR!!!  I have always been intrigued by the push westward in the United States.  From grade school when we played the original Oregon Trail during computer lab, to reading the Little House series, to the Dust Bowl of the 1930s, the movement westward was a hardscrabble existence that many were too little prepared for.  These are their stories … (sorry for the Law & Order reference, I couldn’t resist!).


Jacksonland: President Andrew Jackson, Cherokee Chief John Ross, and a Great American Land Grab by Steve Inskeep

jacksonlandJacksonland is the thrilling narrative history of two men—President Andrew Jackson and Cherokee chief John Ross—who led their respective nations at a crossroads of American history. Five decades after the Revolutionary War, the United States approached a constitutional crisis. At its center stood two former military comrades locked in a struggle that tested the boundaries of our fledgling democracy. Jacksonland is their story.

One man we recognize: Andrew Jackson—war hero, populist, and exemplar of the expanding South—whose first major initiative as president instigated the massive expulsion of Native Americans known as the Trail of Tears. The other is a half-forgotten figure: John Ross—a mixed-race Cherokee politician and diplomat—who used the United States’ own legal system and democratic ideals to oppose Jackson. Representing one of the Five Civilized Tribes who had adopted the ways of white settlers—cultivating farms, publishing a newspaper in their own language, and sending children to school—Ross championed the tribes’ cause all the way to the Supreme Court. He gained allies like Senator Henry Clay, Chief Justice John Marshall, and even Davy Crockett. In a fight that seems at once distant and familiar, Ross and his allies made their case in the media, committed civil disobedience, and benefited from the first mass political action by American women. Their struggle contained ominous overtures of later events like the Civil War and set the pattern for modern-day politics.

At stake in this struggle was the land of the Five Civilized Tribes. In shocking detail, Jacksonland reveals how Jackson, as a general, extracted immense wealth from his own armies’ conquest of native lands. Later, as president, Jackson set in motion the seizure of tens of millions of acres—“Jacksonland”—in today’s Deep South.

Jacksonland is the work of renowned journalist Steve Inskeep, cohost of NPR’s Morning Edition, who offers here a heart-stopping narrative masterpiece, a tragedy of American history that feels ripped from the headlines in its immediacy, drama, and relevance to our lives.

Harrowing, inspiring, and deeply moving, Inskeep’s Jacksonlandis the story of America at a moment of transition, when the fate of states and nations was decided by the actions of two heroic yet tragically opposed men.

Jefferson’s America: The President, the Purchase, and the Explorers Who Transformed a Nation by Julie M. Fenster

jeffersons americaThe surprising story of how Thomas Jefferson commanded an unrivaled age of American exploration—and in presiding over that era of discovery, forged a great nation.

At the dawn of the nineteenth century, as Britain, France, Spain, and the United States all jockeyed for control of the vast expanses west of the Mississippi River, the stakes for American expansion were incalculably high. Even after the American purchase of the Louisiana Territory, Spain still coveted that land and was prepared to employ any means to retain it. With war expected at any moment, Jefferson played a game of strategy, putting on the ground the only Americans he could: a cadre of explorers who finally annexed it through courageous investigation.

Responsible for orchestrating the American push into the continent was President Thomas Jefferson. He most famously recruited Meriwether Lewis and William Clark, who led the Corps of Discovery to the Pacific, but at the same time there were other teams who did the same work, in places where it was even more crucial. William Dunbar, George Hunter, Thomas Freeman, Peter Custis, and the dauntless Zebulon Pike—all were dispatched on urgent missions to map the frontier and keep up a steady correspondence with Washington about their findings.

But they weren’t always well-matched—with each other and certainly not with a Spanish army of a thousand soldiers or more. These tensions threatened to undermine Jefferson’s goals for the nascent country, leaving the United States in danger of losing its foothold in the West. Deeply researched and inspiringly told, Jefferson’s America rediscovers the robust and often harrowing action from these seminal expeditions and illuminates the president’s vision for a continental America.

Locust: The Devastating Rise and Mysterious Disappearance of the Insect that Shaped the American Frontier by Jeffrey A. Lockwood

locustsIn 1876, the U.S. Congress declared the locust “the single greatest impediment to the settlement of the country between Mississippi and the Rocky Mountains.” Throughout the nineteenth century, swarms of locusts regularly swept across the American continent, turning noon into dusk, devastating farm communities, and bringing trains to a halt. The outbreaks subsided in the 1890s, and then, suddenly—and mysteriously—the Rocky Mountain locust vanished. A century later, entomologist Jeffrey Lockwood vowed to discover why.Locust is the story of how one insect shaped the history of the western United States. A compelling personal narrative drawing on historical accounts and modern science, this beautifully written book brings to life the cultural, economic, and political forces at work in America in the late nineteenth century, even as it solves one of the greatest extinction mysteries of our time.

A Country of Vast Designs: James K. Polk, the Mexican War, and the Conquest of the American Continent by Robert W. Merry

a county of vast designWhen James K. Polk was elected president in 1844, the United States was locked in a bitter diplomatic struggle with Britain over the rich lands of the Oregon Territory, which included what is now Washington, Oregon, and Idaho. Texas, not yet part of the Union, was threatened by a more powerful Mexico. And the territories north and west of Texas -- what would become California, Nevada, Utah, Arizona, New Mexico, and part of Colorado -- belonged to Mexico. When Polk relinquished office four years later, the country had grown by more than a third as all these lands were added. The continental United States, as we know it today, was established -- facing two oceans and positioned to dominate both.

In a one-term presidency, Polk completed the story of America's Manifest Destiny -- extending its territory across the continent, from sea to sea, by threatening England and manufacturing a controversial and unpopular two-year war with Mexico that Abraham Lincoln, in Congress at the time, opposed as preemptive.

Robert Merry tells this story through powerful debates and towering figures -- the outgoing President John Tyler and Polk's great mentor, Andrew Jackson; his defeated Whig opponent, Henry Clay; two famous generals, Zachary Taylor and Winfield Scott; Secretary of State James Buchanan (who would precede Lincoln as president); Senate giants Thomas Hart Benton and Lewis Cass; Daniel Webster and John C. Calhoun; and ex-president Martin Van Buren, like Polk a Jackson protégé but now a Polk rival.

This was a time of tremendous clashing forces. A surging antislavery sentiment was at the center of the territorial fight. The struggle between a slave-owning South and an opposing North was leading inexorably to Civil War. In a gripping narrative, Robert Merry illuminates a crucial epoch in U.S. history.

Lions of the West: Heroes and Villains of Westward Expansion by Robert Morgan

lions of the wesstFrom Thomas Jefferson’s birth in 1743 to the California Gold Rush in 1849, America’s Manifest Destiny comes to life in Robert Morgan’s skilled hands.

Jefferson, a naturalist and visionary, dreamed that the United States would stretch across the continent from ocean to ocean. The account of how that dream became reality unfolds in the stories of Jefferson and nine other Americans whose adventurous spirits and lust for land pushed the westward boundaries: Andrew Jackson, John “Johnny Appleseed” Chapman, David Crockett, Sam Houston, James K. Polk, Winfield Scott, Kit Carson, Nicholas Trist, and John Quincy Adams. Their tenacity was matched only by that of their enemies—the Mexican army under Santa Anna at the Alamo, the Comanche and Apache Indians, and the forbidding geography itself.

Known also for his powerful fiction (Gap Creek, The Truest Pleasure, Brave Enemies), Morgan uses his skill at characterization to give life to the personalities of these ten Americans without whom the United States might well have ended at the Arkansas border. Their stories — and those of the nameless thousands who risked their lives to settle on the frontier, displacing thousands of Native Americans—form an extraordinary chapter in American history that led directly to the cataclysm of the Civil War.

With illustrations, portraits, maps, battle plans, appendixes, notes, and time lines, Lions of the West is a richly authoritative biography of America as compelling as a grand novel.


Looking for some recommended reads set during the time of westward expansion that I have read before?

empire of the summer moon
Empire of the Summer Moon
★★★½☆☆

If you are looking to add more books to your list, here are some of the wishlists from a few of my friends this month: (to be updated as they go live)

  • Magdalena @ A Bookaholic Swede –
  • Colleen @ A Literary Vacation –
  • Erin @ Flashlight Commentary –
  • Holly @ 2 Kids and Tired Books –
  • Stephanie @ Layered Pages –

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Copyright © 2017 by The Maiden’s Court

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Cover Crush: Where the Light Falls

cover crush

We can all say that you should never judge a book by its cover, but I guarantee that we all have done so at least once! Cover Crush is designed to feature some of those covers that have caught the eye as a standout on the bookshelf.

where the light falls

I love how this cover is framed like it is looking out a window or other type of opening; I love taking pictures that way so it is cool to see a cover that way.  That sky is a little ominous and I’m not really sure where that light source is, but I do like the cover.

What are your thoughts on this cover?

I wonder what my friends are crushing on this week? Let’s check it out: A Bookaholic Swede; Layered Pages; 2 Kids and Tired Books; A Literary Vacation; Of Quills and Vellum; Flashlight Commentary.    

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Copyright © 2017 by The Maiden’s Court

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

New Book Alert: Highland Promise by Alyson McLayne - Excerpt & Giveaway

9781492654506

Highland Promise by Alyson McLayne
Book 1 in The Son of Gregor MacLeod series
e-Book & Mass Market Paperback; 385 pages
Sourcebooks Casablanca
October 3, 2017
Genre: Historical Romance
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Book Blurb:

Five boys destined to become Highland lairds are fostered together as brothers. Darach, Lachlan, Callum, Gavin and Kerr fight for their clans, for each other, and for their own true loves.

When forced to choose between duty and honor…

Darach MacKenzie vowed never again to let a woman near his heart after his betrothed betrayed him. It sparked an intense feud between his clan and the Frasers. With all-out war on the wind, Darach can’t be distracted—not even by a sweet and charming lass who desperately needs his help.

This Highland Laird will find a way to have both

When Darach rescued Caitlin MacInnes from the clutches of vile Laird Fraser, she vowed to never let men or misery rule her life again. With Darach and the MacKenzie clan, Caitlin finally feels safe. But when Laird Fraser shows up to claim what’s rightfully his, or go to war, Darach will have to use all his brawn and brains to protect Caitlin—even if it means losing his heart.

Buy the Book: Amazon | Books-A-Million | Barnes & Noble | iBooks

Highland Promise graphic

I have a wonderful excerpt to share with you today from Highland Promise!  Enjoy!

“I’ll not be marrying the lass, Oslow, but if I did, she’d more than likely give me daughters. All of them looking like her, causing trouble. I’d be an old man in my grave before I was forty.”

“Nay. She’d give you sons. Braw lads as strong-minded and fearless as her. But if you’re not interested in the lass, I’ll introduce her to my Angus. He needs a wife, and I’m sure he’d be as smitten with her as Gare and Brodie.”

The blood heated in Darach’s veins, flushing his face. He looked toward the field, trying to make out what Caitlin and the two younger men were doing. Naught of consequence. Just playing with the kittens.

Playing with the kittens—like hell. Brodie was a right rogue with the lasses, and Gare was such a pitiful lad, caught betwixt man and boy, she’d want to save him just like she’d saved the baby bird. Most likely he’d try to make himself look as pathetic as possible with the hopes of ensnaring her, the devil.

Darach stood abruptly and made his way across the rocky shore to the field. Lachlan’s snort followed him. Sure enough, Gare and Brodie sat beside her, hanging on to every word. Scoundrels, both of them. He frowned, and they jumped to their feet. Let Caitlin see who was master and laird here—the most dominant MacKenzie male.

After sending them to Oslow, he sat on the grass beside her. She looked pleased to see him. Maybe now would be the time to tell her the kittens were going to the miller’s. He willed himself to begin, but one of the cats tumbled into his lap and mewed up at him. Bloody fiend.

“Och, would you look at that. He loves you, Darach. Maybe he will be called Justice, for he is drawn to you and you are the most just man I know.”

He puffed up and deflated at the same time. ’Twas a good decision to send the cats to the miller. Not only did it show Justice, but also Prudence, Fortitude, and Temperance. Surely she would see the right of it.

The kit ran up his body and batted his hair. Darach started in surprise. Grabbing it, he held the wee thing in front of him. The cat reached out and swatted his chin.

Caitlin fell sideways onto the grass, laughing. “You’ve ne’er had a cat before, have you?”

Darach grunted and brought the kitten closer. He had to admit it was sweet—big eyes and downy, soft fur. It suckled the stubble of his beard, and his heart turned over.

“They’re starved, poor babies,” she said. “He’s trying to nurse. All we had was water. It helped, but their bellies are empty.”

There would be lots of milk at the miller’s.

“Caitlin, I doona think…”

She gazed at him, her eyes wide, trusting. A happy glow surrounded her, and the words stuck in his throat. Maybe she could keep the kits ’til they were old enough to be on their own. House them in the kitchens and out of his sight and the sight of his dogs for a week or two. Then they could go to the miller.

“Aye, Darach?”

“’Tis naught, lass. We’ll be home soon and they can have their meal.”

Picking up a kitten, she held it close. “I think this little lass will be Temperance, for she’s the only female and needs to have much restraint to live with three brothers. It must be a trial, doona you think?”

“I lived with four brothers, and aye, ’twas a trial.”

A wistful look crossed her face. “I did so wish for a brother. Or a sister. But my parents were not blessed with bairns after me. Instead, I had lots of pets—cats, dogs, horses, and pigs.”

“Pigs?”

“Aye, pigs are wonderful pets. Although I caused such a fankle when my father wanted to butcher the dear thing, I was ne’er allowed to bond with a pig again.”

“And what happened to it?”

“I doona know. I lost more than just my parents the night of the fire. Verily, ’twas a torment. I longed for pets after that, but I feared to show favor to any creature, lest my uncle hurt the animal. I was verra careful when I fed Cloud apples. The guards who followed me knew, I’m sure, but one older guard in particular didn’t mind.” She turned to smile at the stallion tethered with the other horses. “I’m thankful you saved him too.”

His stomach soured at the insight into her life after her parents’ death, at how afraid, alone and sad she must have been. Yet she’d shown none of that to him or his men. And he knew she must have felt it—her heart was as big as the loch.

“I want you to have, Cloud,” he said suddenly. It was the least he could do.

Her eyes grew round. “Truly?”

“Aye. But wait to ride him until we return to the keep. I doona want him to spook and throw you out here. Let him get used to you in the stables first, aye?” Where he could have a healer on hand and spread out some hay to soften her fall.

With an excited holler, she threw her arms around his neck and almost knocked him backward. One arm settled around her waist, the other hovered just above her hair. The devil take him, he wanted to touch her, to hold her still for his kiss.

AlysonMcLayne_standing_credit_Tamara Roberts

A stay-at-home mom of twins and award-winning writer, Alyson McLayne is a dog lover and cat servant with a serious stash of dark chocolate. After getting her degree in theater at the University of Alberta, she promptly moved to the west coast where she worked in film for several years and met her Prop Master husband.

Find Alyson McLayne: Website | Twitter | Facebook



Now for something fun and different!  Alyson McLayne has a short letter for all her readers!

Hello Lovely Readers!!

My name is Alyson McLayne, and I can’t tell you how excited I am to introduce you to my book, HIGHLAND PROMISE, a Scottish Highlander Romantic Adventure!

It’s the first book in my historical romance series, THE SONS OF GREGOR MACLEOD, starring five Highland Lairds, who were fostered together as lads to become brothers. Darach, Lachlan, Callum, Gavin, and Kerr fight for their clans, for each other, and for their own true love.

These Highland Lairds are a band of brothers, who will defend each other to the death—if they don’t kill each other first with their sharp wit and hilarious banter. They take their oaths seriously, whether it’s to bring peace to the Highlands and defend one another as friends and allies, or to razz each other so hard, only one brother is left standing—and then they’ll take him down too.

And the women they love? They have spirit, and tenacity, and they take care of others before they take care of themselves. They’re all different—their backgrounds, their struggles, their interests and talents—but at the core of each woman is a strength, compassion, and a capacity to love that brings their man to his knees.

Totally. Slayed.

Before I tell you about HIGHLAND PROMISE, here’s a little about me. J I live on the west coast of Canada with my adorable (aka annoying) 5 year old boy/girl twins; my sweet yet sarcastic husband (who just said he’s not sarcastic at all, he’s ironic!); my counter-surfing puppy, Jasper, who turns one year old the same day HIGHLAND PROMISE debuts (Happy Birthday, baby!!); and my 86 year old dad who gets a look on his face every time it’s mentioned there are—gasp—sex scenes in my books…but then goes on to tell me young people (meaning me) did not invent sex.

Ears…burning…must pour…hot oil…inside…

Speaking of ears, as I’m writing this, I have ear plugs in because my son is beside me in my office (aka my bedroom) building a fort under the covers on the bed, while my Slytherin-declaring daughter waits to knock it down, which results in WW3; Jasper hovers at the edge, barking, until he can’t stand it anymore and jumps onto the bed with the monsters, er, I mean children; my husband comes in and says something “ironic” about the chaos; and I stare fiercely at my computer screen determined to ignore it ALL—and thanking God my dad can turn his hearing aids OFF.

Just grist for the mill…grist for the mill…said all writer-moms everywhere.

Okay. Onto the important part: HIGHLAND PROMISE! I started writing HIGHLAND PROMISE almost 10 years ago after reading ALL of Julie Garwood’s medieval-set historicals, most of which were set in the Highlands. I LOVED them. I don’t read a lot of books over and over, but I did hers. I found them completely captivating.

I think HIGHLAND PROMISE captures that same tone and spirit: Caitlin MacInnes is the archetypal Waif/Free Spirit who turns the archetypal Chieftain, Laird Darach MacKenzie’s life upside down—and then spins it around and dribbles with it for a while. As Lachlan MacKay, Darach’s foster-brother, says of Darach’s and Caitlin’s courtship:

“I doona know when I’ve laughed so much as watching Darach trying to control [Caitlin] over the past few weeks. Her intentions are good, but she’s trouble. It follows her around like a faithful hound.”

Darach is undone by her. His heart, which he swore he’d NEVER give to another woman, is torn from his body and becomes putty in her hands. Of course, he doesn’t know that at first, and even when he finally figures it out, he doesn’t tell her—he’s a warrior, a leader of his people, not a poet. And Caitlin, who is determined to make Darach happy whether he wants her to or not, doesn’t believe there’s any possible way she can stay with him. She needs to leave the Highlands immediately and find her mother’s family in France.

’Cause there’s a whole lotta trouble on her tail (some might call it a shite storm—haha!) heading straight for Darach. But what Caitlin fails to realize is that Darach, along with his brothers and their clans, is strong enough to handle it.

War is coming. Caitlin didn’t start the blood feud between the Frasers and the MacKenzies, nay, Laird Fraser and his sister, Darach’s former betrothed, did that, but she will be the catalyst that ends it—pinning the good men of the Highlands against a monster.

And hopefully winning.

(Well of course they win, and of course Darach and Caitlin live happily ever after—it’s a romance, after all!!)

Now go—before I start rambling and give too much away. Read the words and feel the feels. Fall in love with both Darach and Caitlin…and prepare yourself for Lachlan’s story next.

Smooches,

Alyson McLayne


Tour Wide Giveaway

Thanks to the publisher, as part of this tour, I have the opportunity to participate in a tour-wide giveaway!  There are 5 copies of Highland Promise up for grabs.  You can enter the giveaway through the Rafflecopter below or on any of the host blogs in this tour.  If you have any questions please contact the publisher who is hosting this giveaway.  Good luck!


a Rafflecopter giveaway




Copyright © 2017 by The Maiden’s Court

Thursday, October 5, 2017

Cover Crush: The Writing Desk

cover crush

We can all say that you should never judge a book by its cover, but I guarantee that we all have done so at least once! Cover Crush is designed to feature some of those covers that have caught the eye as a standout on the bookshelf.

the writing desk

I’ve had something lately with ethereal covers.  This one based on the light surrounding her almost seems like she could up and float out the window, or even that she is in someone's memory. 

What are your thoughts on this cover?

I wonder what my friends are crushing on this week? Let’s check it out: A Literary Vacation; Flashlight Commentary; 2 Kids and Tired Books; A Bookaholic Swede; Of Quills and Vellum.   

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Copyright © 2017 by The Maiden’s Court

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Two Sides to Every Story: The Women Who “Settled” The West

two sides

Today I have the opportunity to welcome not one, but two authors to the Two Sides to Every Story series!  I don’t get to do that every day!  I have had the great pleasure of working with M.K. McClintock several times in the past with her Montana Gallagher series and she brought Samantha St. Claire with her to discuss the two sides to the women who settled the western United States.  I hope you will enjoy it as much as I have!

The Women Who “Settled” The West: For Good or Bad

Samantha St. Claire ~ The Good

Putting the morality of prostitution to the side, I’d like to consider how the institution made positive contributions to frontier development. Yes, positive contributions, by soiled doves and working girls.

Working camps brought the men first; the women followed. Scattered shacks and tents transformed to towns upon arrival of the fairer sex. Money became the common denominator as both sexes came seeking fortune. The women, especially those serving as madams, often succeeded where the men did not. Many were shrewd business women investing their earnings in land and new businesses in these boom towns. Some even acted as loan agents, providing banking services.

However, it is their charitable acts that make these women noteworthy. Let’s start by considering Annie who as a young girl traveled west with her family in search of a better life. Both parents died of cholera, leaving the orphan to find a way to survive. With her tall, slender body and flaming red hair, she thrived the working girl life in a variety of camps. Moving to San Francisco, she came into the employ of the celebrated Madam Mina Hayman. The young woman, showing an aptitude for finances, soon became Madam Hayman’s protégé. Taking over the business years later, Annie, now calling herself Jessie Hayman, expands the business. When the San Francisco fire of 1906 ravages the city, she provides the victims food and clothing.

“Diamond” Jessie Hayman was not alone in her charitable deeds. Laura Evans of Leadville, Colorado fame was reputed to be “tough as nails” but stories abound testifying to her generous heart. She provided food to families of injured or out-of-work fathers. Most remarkable was how she disguised her girls in nurses uniforms during the flu pandemic of 1918, sending them to care for the sick.

Often, our obituaries say much about how we used our days. When Virginia City’s Madam Julia Bulette was murdered, all the mines and saloons closed out of respect and her funeral was attended by thousands. Like others, she was remembered best for nursing victims of influenza and donating to miners suffering hardship.

Julia Bulette
Julia Bulette, Virginia City Madam
Credit: Public Domain

MK McClintock ~ The Bad

Mary Katharine Haroney, Mattie Blaylock, and Molly Hall all sound like the names of respectable women, but names—and appearances—can be deceiving. These were the fallen women, soiled doves, and sportin' women in what we commonly call the “Wild West.”

Sure, some of these women who braved the west went onto become millionaires and national heroes, building towns and helping others, but at what cost? Some were outlaws and thieves like Laura Bullion, who joined the Wild Bunch gang. Many others died from childbirth and disease, plying their trade from the back of wagons, shacks, or grubby tents for little more than $0.25. If they were lucky, they might pull in up to a dollar or more. Many died violently, became addicted to drugs, or committed suicide, preferring that to a slow and miserable death.

Maggie Hall, a young beauty from Dublin, arrived in America and found it difficult to secure a job. She became a saloon girl then fell and love and married a wealthy man whose father cut him off when he found out. At her husband’s behest, Maggie started to entertain men so they could bring in more money. When she finally left her husband and became a high-priced prostitute, there are some who would say she was redeemed by helping a small town through a small-pox epidemic. Soon after, she died from consumption.

Molly_B'Damn
Maggie Hall
Credit: Public Domain

Most of these women were young and illiterate, though not all, and while it’s optimistic to think of the grand madams being respected and praised for their contributions to building the west, those powerful and wealthy were far and few between. Then there were the poor souls forced into the sex trade by family, captors, or husbands, with little choice to spend their short lives as working girls, addicted to opium.

The more populated the West became, the more respectable the women who arrived. With them came more close-knit communities, families, churches, and more respectable men. And criticism toward prostitution grew.

Would the “Wild West” have boomed and built up if these ladies of the night found another way to earn a living? There’s no denying that some of these women were in it for business and knew how to make a lot of money, earn respect, and become prominent citizens. But what about the young women who worked for them? Who searched for a better life out west, and instead of being told they were too good for that way of life, started on a path of misery from which few escape.

No matter which side of the story you choose to believe, there’s no doubt that the working women contributed a great deal to “settling” the West.



Samantha St. Claire is the alter-ego and pen name of an author of YA historical fiction. Kat's Law was her first venture into romantic historical fiction. With residences in both Washington and Idaho, she's spent long hours traveling the route of the old Oregon Trail, gathering inspiration for her novels along the way. The second book in The Sawtooth Range Series, High Valley Promise, released in 2017. She is currently at work on her next story.  Learn more at https://samanthastclaire.net/

High Valley Promise_SamanthaSt.Claire
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In this thrilling and romantic conclusion to Kat's Law, Dr. Kathryn Meriwether must deal with a Cholera outbreak threatening the residents she cares for in Snowberry, Idaho, a killer not armed with a gun as the one whom ex-Texas Ranger Jonathan Winthrop pursues into the Sawtooth Range, but just as deadly and unpredictable. Once again, each will handle the crisis with the skills they've been given, but ultimately will find a greater strength in facing their future together. A high valley promise will unite them as an undeniable force to meet the challenges of their frontier home.

Buy the Book: Amazon


MK McClintock is an award-winning author who has written several books and short stories, including the popular "Montana Gallagher" series, the "Crooked Creek" series set in post-Civil War Montana, and the "British Agent" series. She spins tales of romance, adventure, and mystery set in bygone times. MK enjoys a quiet life in the Rocky Mountains. Learn more at www.mkmcclintock.com.

Journey to Hawks Peak_MK McClintock
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One woman's desperation to escape would become the greatest journey of her life.

Amanda Warren arrived in Briarwood, Montana with one satchel and a dream. After death destroyed her happiness, she fled, unwillingly to believe that was the end, yet her weary spirit thought only of survival.
Then she met the Gallaghers.

They took a chance and gave her a home and a family, but is she strong enough to make a new start?

Ben Stuart has seen more of life than he wants to remember, but with the Gallaghers he had found a place where he could forget times gone by and live the life he always wanted. When Amanda arrived at Hawk's Peak, Ben saw a woman hiding from secrets and running from her past. Will he be able to convince her that the journey is over?

Buy the Book: Amazon




Copyright © 2017  by The Maiden’s Court

Friday, September 29, 2017

Cover Crush: The Light Keeper’s Daughter

cover crush

We can all say that you should never judge a book by its cover, but I guarantee that we all have done so at least once! Cover Crush is designed to feature some of those covers that have caught the eye as a standout on the bookshelf.

the light keepers daughter

The rainbow of colors here just arrests my eye!  As I look at it I can truly see how they might be real in the proper conditions.  The script style of the title font evokes the concept of a letter or diary, which I think I remember from the cover blurb.  But really for me, it’s all about the colors here.

What are your thoughts on this cover?

I wonder what my friends are crushing on this week? Let’s check it out: Flashlight Commentary; A Literary Vacation; 2 Kids and Tired Books; A Bookaholic Swede; Layered Pages; Of Quills and Vellum.   

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Copyright © 2017 by The Maiden’s Court