GET LOST IN THIS STORY…
The Katy Railroad may have won a contentious race against their rival, but construction comes to screeching stop six miles inside Indian Territory—halted by the Cherokee, who refuse to let the "smoking dragon" pass. With bankruptcy looming, railroad heiress Kate Parsons takes negotiations into her own hands. However, her plans go awry when she’s abducted.
Jake Colson, known as “the Wolf,” among his people, didn’t intend to kidnap anyone, but now he's stuck with a white woman whose personality is as bold as her fiery curls. When his partner threatens to kill her before she can expose their scheme to save their land, Jake takes off with his beautiful captive. Now, he must protect the woman he’s named Redbird, and at the same time prevent her father's railroad from steaming ahead.
I’m so excited to host author E.E. Burke at Get Lost In A Story today! Not only is she a new member of our blog, she’s a fabulous debut author, an extremely talented critique partner, a wonderful person and a very good friend. I’ve had the honor of reading her work for the past three years and I am thrilled that you have the chance to read her incredible stories now, too! So without further ado, here’s E.E. Burke!
E.E. Burke writes sexy, suspenseful historical romance set in the American west. Her debut release, Kate’s Outlaw, is part of a new series, Steam! Romance and Rails, which features stories based on true events from the golden age of steam railroads. An avid fan of AMC’s Hell on Wheels, she was inspired to create a railroad-themed romance series after watching the show. Her writing has earned accolades in regional and national contests, including the prestigious Golden Heart®.
Over the years, she’s been a disc jockey, a journalist and an advertising executive, before finally getting around to pursuing her dream of writing novels. Her stories are as deeply rooted in American soil as her family, which she can trace back to the earliest colonists and through both sides of the Mason-Dixon line. She lives in Kansas City with her husband and three daughters, the greatest inspiration of all.
An excerpt from Kate’s Outlaw…
"Redbird?" Kate’s hand flew to her hair. Lord knows it’d been compared to worse than a cardinal's bright coloring, but the jest hurt more because it reminded her that all men, even those regarded as savages, found her unattractive.
She smoothed the messy curls and retreated into her only defense—self-deprecating humor. "You shouldn't insult the poor bird. It might take offense."
The devilishly handsome Indian regarded her with that searching look she found so disconcerting. "Redbird is the daughter of the sun.”
What was he talking about, an Indian story?
“Did she look like me?” That seemed unlikely.
He stared at the top of Kate’s head. “The legend doesn’t say what Redbird looked like, but I always imagined she had hair like flames and eyes as blue as the sky vault."
He hadn't used the word beautiful, but the way he described Redbird made Kate feel that way. Her hand drifted up to her hair again. Had it changed since she’d last seen it? "You…you meant it as compliment?"
"It wasn't an insult.” His gold-flecked eyes burned with a look she didn’t often get from men, especially handsome ones.
She tore her gaze away. "I…I believe I need another drink."
Bending over the gurgling stream, she cupped a handful of water. Why had he stopped at this secluded glen? They did need rest, the horse included, but that wasn't all he had in mind if those heated looks were any indication. He hadn’t threatened her, and in fact acted like he wanted to help. But she didn’t trust he was taking her somewhere safe. After all, lying and cheating were natural as breathing to outlaws.
Was his plan to seduce her? Why else would he be making up names and telling her pretty stories? Perhaps he didn’t enjoy rape and wanted a willing partner. He might even view it as a conquest. After all, how many Indian outlaws, even handsome ones, could claim they'd bedded a rich white woman?
Kate threw a frantic glance at his horse, which was tied up and grazing a few paces away. He’d catch her before she could reach it.
"Are you feeling better?" He sounded concerned, but that might be a ruse to gain her trust so she’d be more easily manipulated.
"Just thirsty." She studied him from the side of her eye. The gun at his side, she could slip it out of the holster if he let down his guard. But how could she get him to do that?
Her heart thudded against her breastbone. What if she acted as though she wanted to be seduced? Then, when he was distracted, she could steal his weapon and take his horse.
No, she couldn’t do it.
Yes, she could if her life depended on it.
What if he tried to overpower her? Could she shoot him?
She’d make him believe she would. Now wasn’t the time for squeamishness. She had to be bold. Calculating. Sly.
Steeling her nerves, she looked at him through her lashes as she'd seen debutantes do when they wanted to bring a man to their side.
He didn’t move.
Was she doing this right? She’d never felt comfortable flirting and disliked being coy. But right now she was desperate enough to try anything.
"So, you…you think my hair is pretty?" She tried not to grimace at how ridiculous that sounded.
He cocked his head. Perhaps he thought she was suffering from heatstroke.
Taking a deep breath to relieve her jitters, she removed the pins from her hair and unwound what was left of the knot. Using her fingers, she combed a mass of curly locks over her shoulder, but kept her eyes averted so he wouldn't see what a basket of nerves she'd become.
"Would you…like to touch it?" Her heart thrummed, the sound reverberating in her ears. Was he remembering how she'd tricked him the last time? He didn't strike her as stupid. This would never work if she didn't convince him of her interest. “I don’t mind.”
His fingers brushed hers. Desire crackled through her with lightning swiftness.
She gasped, her gaze jumping to his face. Thank heavens he was staring at her hair or he’d have seen her alarm and realized she was acting.
He rubbed a bright curl between his fingers, his expression rapt. “Feels like lamb’s wool.”
That was one comparison she’d never heard. “Lamb’s wool?”
His eyes warmed to the color of old gold. “Wool from the first shearing is the softest.”
Delight warmed her skin. Another compliment, and so utterly unique it seemed sincere. Perhaps it was. She stroked her hair in invitation, her hands shaking as his gaze intensified. "What else had you wondered?"
The muscles in his face tightened. Without warning, he fisted a handful of her hair and jerked her to him. With his other hand, he tilted her face, taking her mouth in a crushing kiss. His firm lips ground against hers, insistent, demanding.
Shock held her immobile. What in heaven’s name did she do now?
Heather: How often to you get lost in a story?
E.E.: Just about every week when I’m reading my critique partners’ work. Stop laughing. Seriously, I do enjoy reading what you and Katy and Keri write, and when I get lost in your stories, then I know they’re really good.
Heather: Wow, I’m honored… And I know how you feel! It’s fabulous to be able to read the work of such great authors every week. I’m so excited that the whole world will be able to read your work now, too!
Heather: Your novella is part of an anthology written with Jennifer Jakes and Jacqui Nelson, two authors who were Golden Heart finalists the same year we were. Can you tell me how you decided to write together?
E.E.: I was at a conference with Jennifer Jakes and we were commiserating about how hard it was to sell a Western romance to New York publishers. I remarked we ought to write one together and self publish. Jenn agreed! We decided to ask Jacqui Nelson if she wanted to join us because all three of us love to write Westerns, which was what we’d made the Golden Heart finals with in 2010. In fact, Jacqui won that year with a Western romance.
Heather: How did you come up with the idea for your book?
E.E.: Honestly, I kind of stumbled across this great railroad story while I was in Fort Scott. And I liked the idea using the era of railroad expansion as a backdrop. It totally captures the passions and ambitions that drove America during that period and opens the door for addressing timeless issues like prejudice, hubris and unbridled ambition. When I saw the TV series, “Hell On Wheels,” it seemed like some kind of sign…or at least evidence that someone besides me loved Westerns! When I suggested writing a railroad-themed romance together to Jennifer and Jacqui, they loved the idea.
Heather: How did you manage writing together?
E.E.: We actually wrote three separate novellas, but they’re tightly interwoven, three stories within a larger story. We brainstormed characters drawn from historical figures and roles that were relevant to the situation. Then we narrowed it down to three couples: the spy and the foreman, the madam and the major, the heiress and the outlaw.
Heather: Which characters are yours?
E.E.: My heroine, Kate Parsons, is the railroad heiress. Judge Levi Parsons was a real person, a very savvy investor from New York who ran the Katy Railroad. I couldn’t find a great deal written about his family, but I thought, what if he had a daughter who was a suffragist? And what if this daughter decided to go out West to prove she could run a railroad as good as any man? (Don’t you love fiction?) I liked the idea of putting a woman who’s driven a stake in the ground for equality into the midst of a struggle between white railroad owners and Native Americans.
My hero is a Cherokee outlaw. Jake Colson is a survivor, like most of those brave souls who survived the horrors of the Civil War in Indian Territory. His family is poor and stands to lose their land to the railroad. He devises a way a save it, and ends up abducting Kate (by accident).
Ultimately, these two smart, determined people come to understand and support each other, and eventually love each other. Their strength of character is what enables them to rise above cultural and societal barriers, which were huge at this time.
Heather: Can you name three things in your heroine’s purse or reticule?
E.E.: At the time she’s kidnapped, she doesn’t have her reticule. But she’s carrying a compass in a pocket sewn into her skirt. She’s come out to a very wild place and carries that compass in case she ever gets lost. Unfortunately, it doesn’t do her a great deal of good when she’s abducted.
Heather: What is your hero’s “kryptonite”? What will bring him instantly to his knees?
E.E.: His biggest weakness? Ironically, it’s devotion. I don’t want to give anything away, so you’ll have to read the book to see what I mean.
Heather: What dreams have been realized as a result of your writing?
E.E.: I’ve been writing historical romance full-time for a little over five years, but I’ve been a storyteller since I was old enough to talk. I’ve always wanted to be able to share my stories, so I’m living a big part of my dream just by having the opportunity to put them out into the world.
HEATHER’S GOTTA ASK – E.E.’S GOTTA ANSWER J
Heather: Do you fall in love with the heroes you write about?
E.E.: Of course! I fall madly in love—each and every time.
CURRENT RELEASES: Kate’s Outlaw, an individual novella and featured as one of three interlinked stories in the anthology Passion’s Prize. This book, written with Golden Heart sisters Jennifer Jakes and Jacqui Nelson, is the first in a new series, Steam! Romance and Rails.
UP NEXT: Coming this fall, the second book in the series: Her Bodyguard by E.E. Burke.
Rioting settlers and cutthroat competitors can’t stop a feisty railroad promoter—but a killer might. When a ruggedly handsome drifter comes to her rescue, she hires him as her bodyguard, only to discover he may turn out to be her most dangerous foe.
WILL YOU HAVE A DRAWING FROM THOSE LEAVING COMMENTS?
Yes, for a free eBook copy of Kate's Outlaw.
GOT A QUESTION YOU’D LIKE TO ASK YOUR FANS?
E.E. Currently, my favorite Western is AMC television series Hell On Wheels. But I have a long list of beloved Western movies. At the top are: True Grit (the most recent one with Jeff Bridges), The Outlaw Josey Wales (Clint Eastwood), Tombstone (Sam Elliott).
What was or is your favorite Western book and/or movie?