E.E. Burke's #BestOfTheWest STEAM! Sampler Saturday

Tuesday, July 29 is release day for Fugitive Hearts, the fourth book in my series Steam! Romance and Rails. To celebrate, I’m hosting a special Steam! Sampler over the weekend. From now through Monday, I’ll be blogging about a variety of topics related to the series, holding drawings for prizes, and offering my debut novella, Kate's Outlaw, FREE.

Yesterday, I shared a little history behind Her Bodyguard and Passion's Prize, the first two books. The third, A Dangerous Passion, takes up where Passion's Prize left off and finishes the story of the Katy railroad before it was snatched up in a hostile takeover (yes, those things happened back then, too).

The hero in A Dangerous Passion, Henry Stevens, was inspired by the actual general manager of the Katy Railroad, Robert S. Stevens. Described as a man with “dark flashing eyes and meticulous style of dress,” he was a larger-than-life persona in the history of this legendary railroad. 

In 1870, Stevens was brought in by the Katy's president Judge Levi Parsons, to help built a railroad empire that stretched from Chicago all the way down to Mexico City. They didn't get quite that far, but the Katy's birth and impressive growth is largely attributed to Stevens, who took a "never surrender" approach to just about everything he attempted. Many of the events in A Dangerous Passion are based on exploits written about this fascinating man and the railroad he built.

Another historical tidbit featured in A Dangerous Passion is a series of mysterious murders that took place near Parsons, Kansas, during the early 1870s. 

From a period stretching between 1871 and early 1873, numerous travelers through southeastern Kansas were reported missing. There were theories as to what happened to them, including one rumor the railroad was to blame. 

Curiosity seekers outside Bender cabin
When a well-known doctor went missing, his brother, a U.S. Senator, tore through the area on a frantic search. Authorities ultimately discovered more than a dozen bodies (including the doctor's) buried in a field behind a cabin that doubled as a wayside inn serving meals to travelers. 

The Bender family--Johann (John) Bender, his wife, daughter Kate, and a "halfwit" son (possibly Kate's common-law husband rather than her brother) fled before authorities could arrest them. The father and son were never seen again. Two women were arrested years later, but their identities were never confirmed and they were never tried. 

Here’s the blurb from A Dangerous Passion

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Can a hero lurk inside the heart of a villain?

Life in a small New England village is too quiet, too ordinary for a free spirit like Lucy Forbes. When her father lands a job out West, she packs her books and her dreams and eagerly sets off to pursue the kind of grand adventures she longs to experience and write about. Yet the moment she steps off the train, she's thrust into the gritty reality of an untamed frontier, and into the arms of a scoundrel.

Henry Stevens, the ruthless railroad executive her father has been sent to investigate, is as passionate as he is ambitious, brave and charming, as well as clever, and possessed of a sharp wit. He is, in fact, the most fascinating man Lucy has ever met. However, his opponents are vanishing, and strangers are shooting at him. Fearing for her father's life, Lucy resolves to unmask the secretive Mr. Stevens and expose a villain. What she doesn’t expect to find is a hero.

This weekend, enter to win:

FREE on Amazon
for a limited time
1 signed copy, Her Bodyguard
1 signed copy, Passion's Prize
1 signed copy, A Dangerous Passion

You may download my debut novella, Kate's OutlawFREE on Amazon from Friday, July 25 to Tuesday, July 28. 

Do you like real history with your fiction? What's your favorite American time period (for book settings)?

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