Good to be here, Anna. Westerns have always been my first love — from childhood to adulthood. I was in love with the TV and movie cowboys of the 50s and 60s and even had some cowboy comic books. If I had only saved them. 😉 So, when I first began writing romances, cowboys were the logical heroes.
Since then, I’ve done quite a bit of research about the old west, but I have to admit those old western shows are my main “bible,” even though they weren’t completely historically accurate. Book-wise, I have books showing male and female clothing from different historic periods. I also have diaries written by women who’d crossed the country in covered wagons that detailed their experiences.
Men rode horses and drove the wagons. Women walked along side, cooked meals, washed clothing, looked after the children. In the diaries, even though they were ostensibly private documents, the women never mentioned their periods or even childbirth. The most they’d say is that there was an addition to the wagon train, then they moved on. I hope the woman who’d just given birth was given a day or two to ride in the wagon afterward. Life was difficult and lonely for many women in the west, but they had no choice but to continue moving one step forward, literally and figuratively.
My latest release, Jake and Ivy, is my homage to the western. Its actual beginning came from my love of the TV western, The Big Valley. I was/am a Nick Barkley fan. For a while I monitored a fan fiction site relating to this show. Heath was the big favorite, Jarrod fans were strong, but Nick fans were loyal. That black clothing and especially the omnipresent black gloves were somehow sexy. In Nick’s case, a black Stetson didn’t make him the bad guy.
My first manuscript was the Jake and Ivy sequel, The Long Road to You, and it starred a hero named Nick. Around the same time, I was listening to an Andrea Bocelli CD, Sogno, and in particular the song, ‘O Mare e Tu. Its haunting minor chords, the Spanish/Arabic/Gypsy sounds put me in mind of the Flamenco. A young Anglo woman became my heroine, and she became the Flamenco dancer. You’d think a Mexican or Spanish woman would be the dancer, but I turned it around so the properly brought up and schooled American girl fell in love with the Flamenco, tried to break her bonds of propriety, and flee to escape the threat of an arranged marriage.
To me, the Flamenco is a sexy, sexy dance. The serious focused faces, rigid dance poses, minor music chord sounds meshing with flying, tapping feet and gracefully waving arms. I wanted to portray Ivy’s self-discovery of her sensual nature and her flight to freedom.
My hero Jake was inspired, in part, by an incident in my husband’s youth. Jake and his older brother, the hero of The Long Road to You, were raised in an orphanage. Nick left when Jake was ten years old, and Jake shut himself away from commitments. This in particular was not part of my husband’s experience, but my heart ached for the young orphan boys.
A scene in Jake and Ivy takes place in Barranca del Cobre, Copper Canyon, in northern Mexico. Thank heavens for the internet, because it allows you to visit places you could never go to and get an idea of what they looked and felt like. That combined with your own experiences, of places you’ve traveled to and sights you’ve seen in person, really help in writing the scene.
Combining a historical story with characters from a certain time in history can be a challenge. We’re writing with our modern 21st Century sensibility. I had to think about what I thought a young woman in 1880 would have known about men and sex. I don’t think she would have known much since women were protected. Jake and Ivy are on a picnic and Ivy comments that in her Eastern life, she wouldn’t be alone with Jake as they are in that scene. It wouldn’t be proper. This makes Jake ask her what her life would be like back home. They both come to realize how restrictive and sad it is.
There are words for parts of the body that I don’t believe an 1880s era young woman would know, so I don’t believe she would speak a certain way, use particular words. This means I had to be aware of Ivy’s thoughts and dialogue and write them as realistically as possible.
I really like the challenge of subsuming myself in a character to see life as she/or he would. Especially in the male point of view. That’s really a challenge!
Here is the blurb for Jake and Ivy: Ivy Westlake, thought to be a demure young lady, comes alive at her friend’s hacienda in Mexico when she discovers the Flamenco. Her wild side is unleashed in the sensuality of music and dancing. She will not allow her father to force her into a marriage of convenience back East, so she runs away with the dance troupe.
Jake Agee, cowboy, horse trader, loner, has carefully built a life with no commitments. That life explodes in his face when Ivy dances. He doesn’t know she’s run away until he spots her performing in a small California town. He battles his desire to have this woman against his well-honed sense of independence.
Jake and Ivy perform their own style of pas de deux throughout southern California until their passions ignite in a desert cave in the middle of a thunder storm. Jake fights his growing love as Ivy fights her craving for their erotic pursuits. Jake’s long lost brother suddenly and mysteriously surfaces. Will this appearance tear Jake and Ivy apart? Will it destroy their love?
And a short excerpt:
Slowly he stretched out an arm, his hand spread welcomingly wide.
Her breath stopped in her chest. Her belly tightened. She didn’t think he was just asking her to take a ride with him. In her short life, she’d never thought to feel this kind of desire for a man, hadn’t known it even existed. He’d ridden out of nowhere. For her? He didn’t say the words but she knew what he was asking. Come with him. The only possible response from her was yes. She shifted her glance in the direction of the town.
His eyes narrowed. “It’s close enough. They’ll reach it before the storm hits.”
She heard Christina’s whispered urging but had already made her decision. She stood, balancing on the wagon frame and placed her hand in his. He swung her over, settling her in front of him to straddle the horse, her skirts hitching up to her knees. His arm tightened around her middle as he wheeled sharply away.
Her heart beat wildly recognizing the inevitability. It was what she’d been waiting for. He wanted her. She wanted him. It was as simple as that. Her body nestled into the shelter of his chest. His arms encircled her shoulders, one hand handling the reins, his open palm anchored over her belly. She twisted around to scrutinize him, her heart fluttering at his tender vulnerable neck, at the sight of the beating pulse pumping madly. Even his strong jaw shaded by light bristles looked arousing. Through lips slightly parted, little bursts of air coincided with the rise and fall of his chest as she leaned against it. Her eyes finally met his.
Jake and Ivy is available here – http://amzn.com/B00OEFC9LK
And let me give a little shout out to the short story, Wooing the Librarian, loosely connected to Jake and Ivy and also available now. Isis doesn’t want another man, not even handsome preacher Pres. Bounty hunter, now preacher, he can’t hide his attraction to the new librarian. Does he discover the way into her heart? Pres isn’t about to give up. Can Isis forget her past pain and see a future with him?
Wooing the Librarian is available here – http://amzn.com/B00ONZSRPS
Ellora’s Cave Lost and Found
Indie Valentine’s Day
His Hers & His
Soldier, Come Home
A Promise at Dawn
Jake and Ivy
Wooing the Librarian
Home to Stay (coming soon)
The Long Road to You (coming soon)
Siren Undercover Lover
I’ll Be Your Last
Jane Leopold Quinn: My Romance: Love With a Scorching Sensuality