"A New Old West" from award winning author Jacqui Nelson

Each month, I feature a Best of the West guest author on Get Lost in a Story. One of my first guests was a fantastic debut author, Golden Heart winner Jacqui Nelson. Last month, you heard about her award-winning novel, Between Heaven and Hell. She'll have another Western historical romance out in September, Between Love and Lies. And today I'm giving readers a sneak peek!

Between Love & Lies, coming Sept 2014
In a town ruled by sin, will he earn her love or her lies?

Sadie Sullivan lost everything when a herd of longhorn cattle bound for Dodge City trampled and destroyed her farm. Now she works in Dodge—one of the most wicked and lawless towns in the West—at the Northern Star saloon. But her survival in this new world of sin and violence depends on maintaining a secret so deadly it could end her life before the town of Dodge can.

The one man capable of unraveling all of Sadie's secrets is Noah Ballantyne, the Texan cattle rancher whose herd destroyed her home. Back in town and taking up the role of Deputy Marshall, Noah vows he won't leave until he's put things right. But with the Northern Star's owner unwilling to let her go and a rival rancher plotting to claim her for his own, things won't be easy...especially with Sadie resisting him every step of the way.

Between Love & Lies – a never before seen excerpt 

Dodge City, Kansas – 1877

Noah drew a bag from each of his vest pockets and scattered their contents, a stream of colorful poker chips, across the card table. “How many acres was your farm?” He pulled his chair closer, his knee brushing hers.
The contact sent a jolt, unexpected and breath-taking as a bolt of lightning, up Sadie’s spine. She pinned her gaze on the window and huffed out a breath, trying to conceal her reaction. “If you’d truly purchased my home, you wouldn’t have to ask its size.”
He unfolded a crisp white piece of paper and laid it atop the poker chips. The deed to her farm bore his name.
Her blood roared in her ears. “Well, since you do indeed own my farm, you do not need me to tell you the extent of your property.”
“Indulge me,” he insisted, pulling his chair even closer until she sat between his splayed knees, within the unyielding curve of his body.
She blinked, befuddled by his persistence and this conversation’s purpose. Around her, the corners where the sun couldn’t reach were no less dark, but with Noah sitting so close the shadows seemed lighter.
She released a pent-up breath. “My farm totaled one hundred acres.”
Noah assembled the poker chips in neat stacks before her. When he was done, she counted ten columns of ten chips.
His gaze snared hers and held her captive. “I’ll give you one acre for every request you grant me.”
She felt her jaw sag in disbelief, but the rest of her snapped to attention. The desire to regain her farm was deep-rooted. And completely illogical. She couldn’t live on the land without a new house—a house she didn’t have the funds to build or protect from the never-ending herds flowing north from Texas. The dream of recovering all she’d lost faded, leaving her with only Noah’s proposal. He’d mentioned requests and she worked in a saloon…with a brothel upstairs.
Heat singed her cheeks, but she lifted her chin. “What kind of requests are you proposing?”

Meet Jacqui

Jacqui Nelson writes historical romantic adventures set in the American West and Victorian London. Jacqui's love for the Old West 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 and explored the nooks and crannies of London on her weekends. She now lives on the west coast of Canada where she works in a bookstore. She is a Romance Writers of America® Golden Heart® winner and three-time finalist.
Amazon ebook or paperback

Jacqui's previous releases:

Between Heaven & Hell 
On a trail full of danger, will he guide her to heaven or hell?

Hannah knows one thing the moment she enters Fort Leavenworth—she's arrived in Hell. But inside is the means to a new life, a position as a scout on a wagon train bound for the Western Territories. All she has to do is convince the wagon master, Paden Callahan, she's the right person for the job.

After his wife was murdered by the Comanche, Paden let his work as a Texas Ranger consume him. Now he wants nothing more than to disappear into the West. Unfortunately, the one man he can't refuse has asked him to guide a wagon train full of tenderfoots across thousands of miles of Indian land. But Paden's greatest challenge turns out to be Hannah, a woman his heart won't allow him to ignore even though she was raised by an enemy he hates.

Adella’s Enemy (included in Passion’s Prize, novel in three parts)
Amazon ebook & print
Amazon | B&N | Kobo
Apple iBook

You can learn more about Jacqui by visiting her website or following her on social media: 

Now, let's get to the questions...

E.E.: How did you come up with the idea for your book?
Jacqui: After writing my first novel, Between Heaven &  Hell (an Oregon Trail story that won a Golden Heart® for historical romance in 2010 and that I just published this summer), I started searching for a storyline for a second book. As is often the case for me, I turned to history for inspiration. While reading my Time-Life Old West books, I learned how the Texas cattle drives devastated the small farms along the trail when the longhorns infected the local cattle with a deadly tick.

What if a hard-working woman’s only source of income was destroyed by a cattle drover’s herd in just such a way? What if the drover returned a year later on a second cattle drive and found the woman’s life had changed 180 degrees: from innocent farm girl to cynical siren singing in a notorious Dodge City saloon? The idea was the spark for Noah and Sadie’s story.

E.E.: What is your hero’s “kryptonite”? What brings him to his knees?
Jacqui: Noah’s kryptonite is the guilt he carries and can’t ignore. It’s what drags him back to Dodge a year after his first disastrous trip. It’s what then keeps him in Dodge until different emotion invades his heart.

E.E.: What one thing about your hero frustrates your heroine?
Jacqui: Noah wants to help Sadie, but she’s learned the hard way not to trust anyone. How can she depend on anyone when everyone in her past has abandoned her, including Noah when he first met her a year ago?

E.E.: What one thing about your heroine frustrates your hero?
Jacqui: Sadie won’t accept Noah’s offer of assistance and if he can’t help her, he can’t make amends for starting her descent into a life of sin.

E.E.: What could we find in your heroine's purse?
Jacqui: Sadie doesn’t carry a purse, but she does make good use of another accessory. If she needs to open a locked door that stands in her way, she uses her hairpins. Her employer, Madam Garrett (the owner of the Northern Star Saloon) is hiding an evil secret. Exposing this secret is Sadie’s ticket out of Dodge and her dangerous life as a saloon girl.

E.E.: Which of your characters would you most like to invite to dinner?
Jacqui: I’d choose frontier lawman Marshal Bat Masterson. I had a great time researching his life and threading him into my novel. Masterson and Wyatt Earp were in Dodge City in 1877 (the year of my story) and I loved the true-life detail that Masterson had a wicked sense of humor. I couldn’t resist having him pester Noah into becoming his deputy so Masterson could more easily meddle with Noah and Sadie’s lives.

E.E.: What’s your favorite kind of story to get lost in?
Jacqui: The stories that sing to me are the ones brimming with emotion and grit. When I read, I want to laugh, to cry, to shout in protest (when something goes wrong) or in joy (when something goes right).

E.E.: If you were given a chance to travel to the past where would you go?
Jacqui: I’d travel to the American Old West of course! I love the frontier spirit and the open country. But I’d like to put some restrictions on my time travel…no visiting during the winter or pouring rain J

E.E.: What drew you to write in the genre(s) you do?
Jacqui: I grew up on a farm and I loved watching Western TV shows and movies. I find the memories from my youth are often the most vivid and therefore the most inspiring.

E.E.: How is it working with hot guys and sexy women all day?
Jacqui: Although my characters are often larger-than-life in their looks and their deeds, the journey I ask them to take is never glamorous. I drag my characters through the mud, both physically and emotionally. I make them earn their happily-ever-after. Is it possible to be sexy under those conditions? I’ll have to let my readers be the judge of that!  

E.E.: What has been your most rewarding publishing moment? 
Jacqui: I love hearing from readers. One comment that particularly delights me is hearing how those who don’t normally read Westerns say they enjoyed one of my books and are now looking forward to reading more Westerns. It’s a thrill to learn that I might be helping to resurrect a love for the Western genre!

So that leads to a question: when was the last time you read a Western novel or watched a Western TV show or movie? And what did you think?

Enter and leave a comment for your chance to win one of my books, including my new release, Between Love & Lies, which comes out in September.

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  1. It's been a while since I read or watched a western. I think the last western novel would have to be LONESOME DOVE by Larry McMurtry.

    1. Great pick, Mary! I loved LONESOME DOVE & the TV mini-series in the 80s starring Robert Duvall and Tommy Lee Jones was pretty awesome as well :)

  2. Great excerpt Jacqui! I'm sure you'll find a ton of new readers. All the best!

  3. Thanks, Jodie! So glad you could stop by!

  4. Hi, Jacqui, and welcome to GLIAS! I am so hooked on Longmire. Yesterday, my friend said she didn't know what to watch on Monday evening now that this season is over. I agree.

    1. Hi Vicki! Thanks for the warm welcome & the recommendation! I've heard great things about Longmire...but have yet to watch it. I'm now looking forward to checking it out even more than I was before.

  5. Hi Jacqui! I'm delighted to have you back as a guest on GLIAS. I've been looking forward to reading this book! You know my (current) favorite Western show. HELL ON WHEELS! I love the setting, the complex characters, the history that gets woven in, the gritty authenticity. All the things that make your books a great read, too.

    1. Always a pleasure to hang out with you, Elisabeth, whether it's on a blog as fine as GLIAS or at a RWA conference :) Watching HELL ON WHEELS is a real treat too!

  6. Congrats!

    The last time was butch cassidy and the Sundance kid on DVD. Not too many western movies now.

    1. So true, May - the Western isn't very common now BUT (being a fan of them) I'm hoping them make a big comeback one day! Thanks for stopping by and commenting!

  7. Pamela Clare's Defiant (book 3 in her MacKinnon's Rangers series). Great book!

    1. Oh! I absolutely adore Pamela Clare's MacKinnon's Rangers series! They are fantastic stories with amazing characters. Thanks for suggesting them, Linda!

  8. I love western movies....from the funny (Blazing Saddles), to the greats (John Wayne)...but I also love reading the cowboy novels. Thanks for sharing your time with us today.

    1. Great to meet another western fan, Brenda! True Grit (the John Wayne one) was just on AMC the other day. Love it! Thanks for stopping by, Brenda!

    2. Hi Jacqui! Sorry to be slow to arrive at this wonderful party, but I came and I am totally, thoroughly in love with your story already. The famous demon cattle book! I'm so excited to read it. The excerpt you let us share clinched the deal! I still watch classic old Westerns on TV: Have Gun Will Travel and The Lone Ranger. I grew up on my grandpa's old Louis L'Amour books and I've just started work on a new contemporary western series. So--I'm a fan!! I wish you so much luck with your fabulous books!

    3. So glad you could stop by, Lizbeth! And happy to hear you enjoyed the excerpt from my infamous "cloven hoof" story :)