“THRILL ME!” event: 12/8/17 – 12/9/17, where the various authors shown below will #GIVEAWAY copies of their audiobooks.
Here are all the authors included in this giveaway event
The narrator for my THE DOLAN GIRLS is Nancy Peterson, who does both a terrific job capturing the essence of my book, as well as truly portraying the Wild West.
EXCERPT 1) “Without warning, an Irish bodrán drum started thumping. Whoops and hollers were unleashed, and all attention swiveled toward the front of the room where the fiddler had started an Irish jig.
Minnie clapped her hands. “Come, girls, it’s the Dolans turn to shine!”
Grabbing Cora with one hand, Ellie with the other, she forced them out onto the middle of the floor, and using authentic Irish steps, her hands on her hips, she began dancing. Ellie laughed and chimed in. Cora stayed still, until her sister and daughter were dancing in true Irish style—legs executing intricate patterns, their upper bodies straight as laundry pegs holding steady on a clothes line.
Thinking of her ma, Cora shrugged and joined in, as the dance steps got more complicated and the entire room watched, egging them on with rhythmic applause.
It was as if she were back in that encampment so many years before, dancing in front of strangers in a new land. Only this time, it was in front of her friends, her neighbors, and Thomas. She let herself go.
The music and drumbeats swelling, soon it was over as abruptly as it had begun. People walked by the threesome, slapping them on their shoulders and nodding graciously, as conversation returned to normal and a lilting waltz infiltrated the room.
Thomas turned to Cora, taking in her sparkling eyes, her fly-away hair, her collar opened one button down, and asked in a low voice, “May I have this next dance?”
He held out his large hand.
Exhausted, taken aback, she reacted without thinking. “Sorry, Thomas. I’m quite tired.”
Instantly, she regretted her words. When she saw his eyebrows raise, and one of his cheek muscles twitch, she opened up her mouth to explain, to try to soften her remark, but it was too late.
Clearing his throat and straightening his cravat, he turned succinct.
“Excuse me, then. I intend on dancing,” he said coldly, and without a backwards glance, walked across the room and stopped in front of a school committee member’s oldest daughter, Merribelle. Within seconds, they were twirling around on the dance floor––he talking continuously, she gazing up at him with enamored eyes, hanging onto every word.
“You had your chance, Cora,” Minnie snorted, after watching them dance for a while. “He’s a handsome devil and if you don’t…”
“Just don’t, Minnie,” she flared. “I’m tired, I don’t feel like dancing, and I don’t need your meddling. Just leave me be!” Still, she couldn’t take her eyes off of Thomas’ arm around Merribelle’s waist.
“Folks, the next dance is Ladies’ Choice, so grab the man of your dreams and keep those dancin’ shoes goin’!” He hardly got the last words out when the room broke out in a cheer.
Shot full of adrenaline, Cora didn’t even hesitate. Charging over to Thomas and Merribelle, on their way to a second dance, all she could concentrate on was his arm, and how it should be around her waist, not someone else’s.
“No you don’t! Now it’s my turn, Miss Merribelle,” Cora said firmly, gripping Thomas’ arm from Merribelle’s slim waist and yanking him over to her.
“‘Bout time!” Minnie called out, then watched them glide effortlessly, with Thomas’ Cheshire cat grin growing as large as all of Nebraska.
Pete steadied himself against her and gave out a large burp.
The waltz was extra slow and melodious and to further enhance the romantic setting, Mr. Corrigan had come up with a brilliant plan. Walking around the room, he blew out alternating lamps as the room dimmed in increments, the aaah’s grew serious, and the men’s arms tightened around their partners’ waists.
Ignoring the usual waltz ‘space protocol’ between partners, Cora’s and Thomas’ bodies moved together as a single entity as they rotated and swayed, wordless. Pressed up against him like old times, her body tingled. But there was something else. The stirrings she was feeling as his lower body hardened against her, were a sudden reminder of things she had not thought about for years, not since that night on Madam Ana’s porch so long ago. At one point, he leaned back slightly and carefully placed several wispy strands behind her ear, and when he stroked her neck with his fingers, she felt it down to her toes.
Without realizing it, they had drifted out toward the back door, out where the air felt cool and fresh, and for the first time since forever, she wasn’t aware of her brain, only her senses.
“The moon’s almost full tonight,” she murmured. Biting her lip, she gazed up at him.
“Yes it is,” he murmured back, and pulling her close, lifted her face up toward his so they could kiss, for the first time in their lives as grown adults––slowly, deeply.
Sensations sparked through her like lightning bolts, sensations that made her kiss him back just as fully, as she ran her fingers through his hair. Transported, the screams of laughter and feet stomping inside had become a dim haze, as he stroked her back with his hands, and she melted even further into him.
“Lord!” Minnie exclaimed, coming outside where they stood.
Like two fighting cats being doused with water, the couple jumped apart. Minnie laughed.
“It’s about time…”
“Cora, please?” he pleaded.
“No, I need to go. After all, I’m not a young girl anymore. I’m a businesswoman,” she answered, fidgeting with her hair before she went back inside.
Thomas turned to Minnie. “I don’t understand her, Minnie. I truly don’t.”
“Thomas, honey, I guess she’s lived with a world of hurt, and frankly, she just doesn’t want to get hurt again, if you get my meaning,” she said, and headed inside.”
…The two sisters shifted into their usual standoff poses: Cora annoyed, self-righteous, her hands on her hips; Minnie, wiry, know-it-all, breathing hard.
Just then, one of their ladies entered. “Mrs. Cora, Miss Minnie, there’s a problem out on the floor.”
Cora sighed. “What now, Marlena?”
In recognition of a regular happenstance, the two sisters looked at each other and grimaced.
“Need any help?” Minnie asked Cora as she stood up.
“Nope, I have it under control. Thanks, Sis,” Cora replied and headed out the door, Ellie and her homecoming temporarily forgotten.
Out in the main parlor, the girls had already formed a wide circle around old Pete. Corsets, bustles, crinolines, pantaloons, and camisoles intermingled with a whiskey-stained suit, a grimy vest, and mud-caked boots. He was no match for them. As they gleefully shoved and tickled him, his fury rose with each breath, while his face ripened into the color of raw meat. Finally, when he could take it no longer, he sputtered, “She-devils!” which produced gales of laughter.
“Ladies, ladies. Enough. Leave the man alone,” Cora said, placing a concerned arm around the smelly habitué. “There, there, Pete. They meant you no harm.”
“As Mercutio proclaimed in Romeo and Juliet, …’tis not so deep as a well, nor so wide as a church door, but ‘tis enough, ‘twill serve. Ask for me tomorrow and you shall find me a grave man. All I wanted was a little love, Cora. I swear it!” He sniffled pathetically as the girls giggled.
With a dirty glance aimed at the group’s ringleader, Charity, Cora turned back to Pete. “You did produce some money, right, love?”
He looked down.
“I just wanted a little love. As Henry David Thoreau said, There is no remedy for love but to love more. He also said…”
“Now, Pete, enough about Thoreau,” she interrupted, gently angling him toward the door. As soon as he left with a snort and an “After all we’ve been through together,” Cora shook her head and turned back to face her employees.
“Ladies, she said, “some women in this town may look down on us, but I do have my standards. Gentility is most important, above all else. I thought I had made myself perfectly clear.”
A few head nods and corset scratching was all she got before Marlena stepped forward. “Ah, Mrs. Cora?”
Placing one hand on her hip, Cora sighed. “Now what?”
“He was full as a tick, that one was. He almost fell down twice.”
Cora squinted her eyes, assessing her new employee. “I don’t care how drunk he was. He, Miss Minnie, and I go way back.”
“But you tossed out a feller from Fanny’s bed just the other night. I reckon he wasn’t half as likkered up as that ol’ coot.”
Cora frowned. “I could tell the man with Fanny was going to be big trouble.”
“Yes, zat one very, very scared me,” Suzette, the resident French girl affirmed. “I zink Mrs. Cora maybe saved Fanny’s life.”
“All right, all right. Get a wiggle on, ladies,” Cora continued, her eyes sweeping over them. “I heard a group of cowboys are ridin’ through town, maybe even this afternoon. Now, go, go!”
A slow, undulating breeze ruffled the prairie grassland as the Baltimore & Ohio chugged on toward Cheyenne. High up on a distant ridge, the Soltano gang sat back on their horses and carefully surveyed the scene before starting their drill. Composed of two Mexican-born brothers, seven cohorts, and a new member named Clyde, each man inspected his Winchester rifle or Smith & Wesson, readied his bandanna, and roll-clicked a fast command to his horse before heading downhill toward the Pullman.
On the train, the passengers had been lulled into an exhausted stupor. After days of rhythmic jiggling and wheel clanking, they were looking forward to their final destination in Wyoming. Families, businessmen, and immigrants jostled silently in their seats, while thick dark clouds of smoke blasted past the soot-stained windows.
Down on the plains, the ten-member Soltano gang stretched out in a line, galloping furiously, their torsos bent forward over their saddles, their linen dusters flapping feverishly against the wind.
The train engineer had delivered careful instructions to his fireman, conductor, and brakeman earlier that morning. “Be on high alert today. We’ve got a safe overloaded with payroll, and we’ll be entering Wyoming soon. That’s not a good combination.” Seeing the nervous faces in front of him, he added, “But there’ll be a Pinkerton agent riding in the baggage car to protect the money, so there’s no cause for alarm. Just be watchful.”
The conductor nodded slowly and promised vigilance, but by noon, his predilection for liquor had gotten the better of him. Swaying slightly from side to side, he teetered through each passenger car holding onto seat backs and barely registering the outside world.
As they neared the train, the robbers slowed down long enough to position their bandannas up on their faces and secure their six-shooters. Four of them galloped next to the railroad tracks and stayed in tandem with the last car, four on each side. Two men covered the rear as designated horse wranglers.
The leader, José Soltano, still galloping, rode on ahead and hoisted himself up onto the moving baggage car as his horse dropped away and moved on, riderless. On the other side of the car, his brother Guillermo did the same. Soon, eight of them were onboard with bandanna-covered faces, empty burlap bags, and handguns cocked, ready to go.
HERE’S WHAT THEY’RE SAYING ABOUT THE DOLAN GIRLS:
1) “At times rollicking, at times poignant, but always authentic, well- researched and a beautifully told story.”
2)“A compelling read, perfect amount of romance, with a wonderful ending. With Mallery’s warm writing style, you will be immersed in cast, time, and place.”
3)“S.R. Mallery’s words thunder off the page like a cattle stampede… her sharply written characters demonstrate that truly it was WOMEN who tamed the American West.”
4)“It’s a rip-roaring, nail-biting, heart-throbbing ride…my Stetson is off to S.R. Mallery, five stars all the way.”
5)”What a marvellous story… A well-researched book of historical value for this reader–entertaining and very warmly written. Highly recommended.”
6)“Mallery has done it again. THE DOLAN GIRLS leads you on a trip that is sometimes painful and sometimes loving. You are taken from innocence to womanhood. From love to heartbreak… Definitely 5-stars!”
7) “As a history buff, I just loved this whoppin’ good tale set in the old west…From the first word to the last, the pages couldn’t fly fast enough. Highly recommended!”
8)“S. R. Mallery gives us a colourful view of America’s wild west of the 1800’s… The characters are endearing and the action is fast paced … Looking forward to more from this talented writer.”
9)“If you’re a fan of the old west, strong women, and enjoy a great read, this book is for you. Recommend highly!”
10)“The Dolan Girls is simply a wonderful book. It brings the West alive in a way that is not only historically interesting, but one can’t help but become fascinated with how the story is going to play out.”
11) “S.R. Mallery knows how to write historical fiction in a way that hooks the reader…”
12) “I loved The Dolan Girls. It was easy to get interested in from the start. I recommend that anyone wanting a good read of a clean historical western romance give this book a try.”