I’m very happy today to welcome Jacqui Nelson, a personal friend, as a guest on Travel Back in Time.
Thanks for having me, Anna. As a writer, I’m inspired by history, but I’m also inspired by movies and TV shows. The first inspiration for my Western historical romance novella Adella’s Enemy (and the Passion’s Prize anthology featuring this novella and two others that share interlinked stories and characters) came from Hell on Wheels—AMC’s hit Western series revolving around the construction of America’s First Transcontinental Railroad.
Every story benefits from a cast of great characters. Larger-than-life characters make a story shine. For Hell on Wheels, the saying “the truth is stranger than fiction” couldn’t be more accurate. The series starts in 1865 and follows the Union Pacific Railroad and its surveyors, laborers, land speculators, government bigwigs, preachers and prostitutes (basically all manner of righteous and mercenary folk) who lived and died in the mobile town they called “Hell on Wheels.”
The town was continually packed into wagons and transported westward, following construction across the Great Plains like a shadow.
One of the main characters involved in building the Transcontinental was Thomas Durant—physician, financier, railroad promoter and a major shareholder in the Union Pacific. He concocted a scam to pay himself to build the railroad with government subsidies. His devilish mind earned him thousands of dollars per mile of track laid. Yes, he suffered setbacks as all complex characters do, but his moxie always seemed to get him through the challenging times. Love him or hate him, Thomas Durant was an intriguing character who left his mark on both friend and foe, and history too.
A railroad with an equally wild and woolly past was the Missouri-Kansas-Texas Railroad. This was where I gleaned further inspiration for writing my story, Adella’s Enemy.
In 1870, Congress passed acts promising land grants to the first railroad to reach the border between Kansas and the Indian Territory.
The usual cast of characters flocked to the railroad and the rough towns created along the line. Two railroads became locked in a battle to win the race and earn the prize, but there could only be one winner.
So once again, powerful leaders entered the stage, each pushing their workers to extremes to ensure their own fortunes. Judge Levi Parsons lead the Missouri-Kansas-Texas Railroad (the Katy) and James Joy was at the helm of the Border Tier Road (the Joy Road).
The laborers who did the heavy lifting were mostly Irish emigrants fleeing famine and poverty or ex-soldiers whose logistical skills sharpened in the War Between the States were essential for a project as large as building a railroad—a task often deemed similar to fighting a war.
But the war of personalities and pasts was what really intrigued me while researching all of these real-life characters and their historical shenanigans before sitting down to craft my story.
I hope readers will have as much fun following my heroine and hero, Adella and Cormac, as I had creating them and watching them earn a true prize—a happily-ever-after together.
Can the pursuit of an old enemy lead to a new love? The War Between the States ended five years ago, but she still pursues her enemy…
Rebel spy turned government rabble rouser Adella Willows receives her mission straight from a Washington senator—play havoc with the Katy Railroad and derail its bid to win the race. The senator craves wealth. Adella craves revenge against the man responsible for her brother’s death. But her plans crumble into chaos when she enters a battle of wits with the railroad’s foreman.
An ocean separates him from his failures in Ireland, but he’s still haunted by those who died… Seasoned railroad foreman Cormac McGrady’s sole desire is keeping his workmen safe and employed, which means keeping the Katy ahead of its rivals. But the beautiful spy bedeviling his railroad needs protecting as well. Cormac must choose between winning the race and winning Adella’s heart, while Adella must choose whether she lives for revenge or dies for love.
Adella’s Enemy (a novella) is available in e-book and print on Amazon.
What do a spy, a madam, and an heiress have in common?
Outlaws, soldiers, and spies bedevil the Katy Railroad as construction crews race to reach Indian Territory before their rival. The prize—a fortune in land rights for the wining line. Stakes are just as high for three women whose lives hinge on the outcome.
Passion’s Prize (an anthology featuring three interlinked novellas: Adella’s Enemy by Jacqui Nelson, Eden’s Sin by Jennifer Jakes and Kate’s Outlaw by E.E. Burke) is available in e-book and print on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, & Kobo.
More about Jacqui
Jacqui writes historical romantic adventures set in the American West and Victorian London. Her love of Western stories came from watching classic Western movies while growing up on a cattle farm. Her passion for Victorian London wasn’t far behind and only increased when she worked in England for four years and explored the nooks and crannies of London on her weekends. She currently lives on the west coast of Canada where she works in a bookstore. Jacqui is a Romance Writers of America® Golden Heart® winner and three-time finalist.
Her Golden Heart® nominated Westerns Between Heaven & Hell (set on the Oregon Trail) and Between Love & Lies (set in Dodge City during the heyday of the cattle drives) will be released this summer.
Excerpt from Adella’s Enemy
Adella’s fingers brushed the piece of paper hidden in her cleavage and she went as still as Cormac. Blast! She’d forgotten about the telegram! She needed Cormac to stay in her hotel room, but she couldn’t let him see the telegram.
“How do you know what I want?” she whispered, stalling for time.
“I don’t. But this is what I want.” In two strides, he devoured the gap between them. Then his mouth claimed hers in a hot, heady possession.
Pressed against the door, all she could do was kiss him back. She did so with abandon. Her skin tingled, and her blood raced as if her body had woken from years of sleepwalking. She didn’t want the feeling to stop. She wrapped her arms around Cormac’s neck and pulled him closer.
He suddenly lifted his head. “I want more than one kiss,” he murmured against her lips. “And I don’t mean merely claiming everything that’s under this dress.” His hand slid up her rib cage to cup her breast.
The telegram! With a gasp, she covered her chest with both hands. The corner of the paper poked her palm. Thank Dixie. It was still there. But had he seen it? She drew back against the door.
Cormac retreated as well, lifting his hand to rake it through hair that was already disheveled. Had she done that? He reached for the doorknob and she jumped aside.
“Stay away from the worksite, Adella.” He opened the door without his customary restraint. It banged against the wall. “And, for God’s sake, stay out of trouble. Don’t provoke a man beyond his patience.”