E.E. Burke's Best of the West

Each month this year, I'll be hosting a series of interviews with Western historical romance writers. In addition to well-known authors, I'll be featuring authors who are just starting out. That way, you'll get to meet new talent and discover new favorites.

Today, our guest is Lori Connelly, whose debut series, The Men of Fir Mountain, is published by Harper Impulse.

Here's a blurb from her latest release

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The Lawman of Silver Creek
by Lori Connelly

 As sheriff of Silver Creek County, Matthew Marston’s job is to look after his town. But when he fails to protect the most important person in his life, Claire, from an attack, Matt feels as though he will never be able to forgive himself.

Her husband-to-be’s newly found overprotectiveness drives the headstrong Claire from his arms. She can’t see a future with a man who won’t allow her to follow her dreams.

In a small town where everybody knows your name and your business, it’s impossible for the pair to stay apart, especially as Claire finds that she can’t completely turn her back on the lawman that she loves.

Excerpt from The Lawman of Silver Creek

 Fall 1891 Fir Mountain, Oregon

Energy crackled in the air. Wind howled, and thunder roared, loud and intense. Clouds obscured the sky, darkening the midday hour, as rain streamed from the heavens.

“You shouldn't be here.”

Claire McConkey smiled in response to his gruff, inhospitable greeting and moved closer. “Why?”

Lightening streaked across the dull greyness above, illuminating her finely boned, heart shaped face. Dark brown hair blackened by water clung in tangles. The sight tugged at his deep need to protect her, but he fought it off with cold, hard reason. Another man might think the petite woman who stood only chest high before him, slender to the point that a stiff wind might blow her away, needed coddling. Her delicate appearance misled many. Sheriff Matthew Marston knew better.

Matt stepped out on the covered porch of his family’s log cabin. She didn’t yield ground. Their bodies brushed, and awareness flared. He closed the door behind him to keep her out of his refuge, sidestepping to put some space between them.

“Go home,” he ordered bluntly, his tone firm.

As always, eyes the same rich color as her hair mesmerized him. Claire never veiled emotion. When laughter sparkled in the depths of her eyes, her delight was infectious. If angered, one look would scorch whoever had earned her ill humor. He’d never had to guess what she was feeling, until now. His weight shifted awkwardly from one foot to the other. Her gaze shone with an intensity that unsettled him.

“But I’m soaked, chilled through. Won’t you ask me in?”

“No,” He was certain she was up to something, playing with him. Her soft request only hardened his resolve.

An eyebrow arched at his swift denial. “You’d let me catch my death walking in the storm?”

His eyes narrowed. Matt studied Claire for a long moment, jaw clenched, suspicion high. Mere weeks had passed since the woman who’d held his heart from the time she’d worn ponytails and he'd chased frogs had rejected him. She’d inflicted a wound that festered, refusing to heal. The memory haunted his quiet moments. He couldn’t understand how she could kiss him with soul searing passion one minute and then with her next breath calmly tell him that their wedding was off.

Meet Lori

I was born and still live in Oregon. Despite being a good student, my teachers complained about my tendency to daydream. The tales dancing through my imagination were frequently far more entertaining than real life. As far back as I can remember I made up stories, to calm my sister after a nightmare, entertain myself in boring classes and write in countless notebooks, many never again to see the light of day. I earned a BS from Eastern Oregon State College and married my best friend almost twenty years ago. I’ve three brilliant, handsome sons, one amazing daughter-in-law, a beautiful granddaughter and two spoiled dogs. When not writing I love to read, hike, camp, rock hound, and take long walks with my husband just after it rains.

 E.E.: So you daydreamed a lot, eh? I believe there's a club for Daydreamers and I'm a charter member, as well. So what’s your favorite fairy tale?  
Lori: Would The Princess Bride count?
E.E.: Favorite cartoon character? 
Lori: Eeyore. Every time I see him, I want to hug him
E.E.: Is writing or story-telling easier for you?  

Lori: Writing. I love being able to edit, layer stuff in, and make the story as strong as possible.  I also love storytellers but I’m actually quite shy.  The thought of standing before a group of people and speaking makes me break out in a cold sweat. 

E.E.: What’s something you’d like to tell your fans? 

Lori: Thank you.  Thank you so much.  It still floors me when a person says that they enjoyed reading my books.

E.E.: Do you write while listening to music? If so what kind?  

Lori: Yes I do.  I don’t go as far as making a playlist for each work but I find that there are certain songs I’m drawn to as the story progresses.   For the first two books of the Men of Fir Mountain, I listened to a lot of songs by Pink.  Sober, Just Give Me a Reason, Perfect and Try Try Try especially. 

E.E. What’s the first thing you do when you finish writing a book? 

Lori: Stretch, I write with my laptop on my lap, and then I find a good book to read. 

E.E.: What do you do to unwind and relax? 

Lori: I read, walk in the woods, rock hound, and hang out with my family.

E.E.: Tea or Coffee? And how do you take it? 

Lori: Coffee, with a lot of hot chocolate. 

E.E.: What color would you make the sky if it wasn’t going to be blue anymore and why? 

Lori: Green, because it's my second favorite color (blue is my other) and it would be like having the forest, everywhere.  I love being in the midst of the forest.  It's peaceful.

E.E.: What will always make you smile, even on a bad day?

Lori: A picture of my granddaughter, no matter what is going on, she brings joy.

E.E. What are the next five books on your ‘to be read’ pile? 

Lori: Sinfully Summer, The Golden Key Chronicles, The Illicit Love of a Courtesan, The Roman, and Beyond Grace’s Rainbow and the list goes on.  I'd like to read through the works of fellow Harper Impulse authors who've been beyond kind to me.

Gotta Ask: Why do you write Western historical romance?
Gotta Answer: One, my home, Oregon, provides a lot of fodder for my way too active imagination.  It inspires the settings for all my stories.  I’ve walked the old Barlow Road (part of the Oregon Trail) where wagon ruts from pioneers remained, wandered through the forest, finding an old rotting cabin more than once, and camped by a small, unnamed lake, listening to a chorus of frogs as night fell. 

Two, my paternal grandmother interested me in genealogy.  I’ve been researching my family history since my teens and have amassed a wealth of information including copies of letters written by a couple of ancestors.  One was standard communication between a husband and wife but it set my imagination off.  I wondered what their love story was and since there is no way to find out for real, I started creating possibilities. 

Genealogy also plays a role in naming my characters.  Until recently, many of my relatives had large families.  In fact, my mother was the seventh of nine children and my father the eldest of nine as well, although only seven survived childhood.  Most of the characters in The Outlaw of Cedar Ridge, The Lawman of Silver Creek and the other books I’m writing and/or have planned to write in the Men of Fir Mountain series are named after my ancestors.  I open my family history program and scroll through all the names of those who lived in the period my story is set and choose one that feels right.

Books by Lori Connelly 

Men of Fir Mountain (Harper Impulse)
Lawman of Silver Creek 
Outlaw of Cedar Ridge

Co-author of
Loving Winter Nights, Love Romance (free ebook published by Harper Impulse)
A Witch by Chance (free pdf book, downloadable from my website or blog)

Where you can find Lori:
Today's Giveaway!

For readers who haven’t yet met the Men of Fir Mountain, I'll be giving away one set of the seriesThe Lawman of Silver Creek and The Outlaw of Cedar Ridge. Plus two single copies of The Lawman of Silver Creek.

Question for our readers: What kind of heroines do you like best? What makes a hero irresistible? 
Comment and enter the raffle for your chance to win:
a Rafflecopter giveaway


  1. I like heroines that are strong, smart and have an opinion. To me, heroes are irresistible when they are able to show their vulnerabilities to their special someone. They can have hard candy shells on the outside, but I love it when their insides are all melty chocolate goodness. I love wounded warriors. ;)

    Marcy Shuler

  2. Marcy - I love your answer. Every hero needs a strong heroine. BTW I won't be able to look at MMs without thinking about a melty chocolate hero.

  3. I like heroines that don't need a man to rescue them, but are quite happy to have him along for the ride.

    A hero is irresistible to me if he not afraid to admit or show his vulnerabilities at times. That just makes him totally huggable - like Eeyore.

  4. Mary - I agree. I believe Heros/Heroines are at their best when they are strong enough, they can reveal how they're vulnerable.

  5. I love smart and sassy heroine. I like them if they are a little sneaky too. They are more interesting to me than a naive 16 yrs old virgin. Not that there is wrong with a 16 yrs old virgin... They just aren't as interesting as an older and wiser woman.

  6. Welcome Lori! So glad you joined us today on GLIAS! My favorite heroine is a smart, independent women who loves a man more for what she can give him than what he can give her. What makes a hero irresistible? Besides nice guns and arresting eyes? Their struggle to be heroic even when they don't believe they are anything close to hero material.

    1. EE - Thanks so much for having me over ^_^ A hero who doesn't believe he is hero material and yet rises to the occasion - that's true bravery.

  7. May - There is nothing to compare to a heroine who has had life challenge her, she's by far more interesting to read and to write.

  8. I like heroines who are a bit snarky and can also weigh their choices and then choose. I don't mind when they are wrong either as long as they can admit to it and move on...or learn to.

    Pretty much the same for the hero too, and love it when the heroine can make what they thought they wanted twist all upside down.

  9. smart and strong heroine who hasn't been with every guy in a town/sports team

    alpha and smart hero

  10. I love strong heroines. This series sounds fabulous and i would love the read it. I love the sweet hero cowboys make wonderful heros.

    quiltlady110 AT gmail DOT com