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

This coming Tuesday is release day for my new book, Fugitive Hearts, which is the fourth in the series Steam! Romance and Rails

To celebrate, I’m hosting a special STEAM! Sampler. From now through Monday, I’ll be blogging about a variety of topics related to the series and holding prize drawings. 

And, I'll be and offering my debut novella, Kate's Outlaw, FREE.

Let’s get rolling with a look at an exciting time in the history of America known as the Railroad Era.

On May 10, 1869, the final spike was driven into tracks connecting a transcontinental railroad line. The impact was immediate and dramatic. Travel between America's east and west coasts was reduced from months to less than a week.

That famous contest between the Central Pacific and the Union Pacific wasn’t the only competition between two behemoths. In 1870, two other lines raced to be first to reach the border of then-Indian Territory and win exclusive rights to lay track into cattle-rich Texas. 

This true story turned out to be a perfect setting for the first two books in my series, Her Bodyguard and Passion's Prize. Let’s take a look at the history behind them:

“If the railroad can be put through next season, we can sell lots enough to make such sinners as we are, rich as sinners ought to be.” Samuel Pomeroy, Kansas Senator

With the Cherokee Treaty of 1866, President Grant establishes a large tract of land in southern Kansas for settlement. Using political pressure, the railroads got the land cheap, less than $1 an acre.

That same month, the President signs the Land Grant bill into law, giving first railroad to reach Indian Territory (modern day Oklahoma) exclusive rights to build through the sovereign nations.

The race between three contenders quickly becomes a cutthroat competition between the two most powerful railroads: the Southern branch of the Union Pacific, dubbed the "Katy", and the "Border Tier" line owned by the Chicago, Burlington & Quincy, The two men leading the railroads are Eastern investors who get into the business for the easy money. It turns out to be not so easy.

Since the end of the Civil War, settlers have been “squatting” on what is now railroad land. They claim Congress promised it to them and refuse to pay the railroad’s asking price.

 “Hang the RR man as high as Haman, without benefit of clergy”. Spokesman for Crawford County Land League

By late 1869, competitive railroads are racing toward a prescribed crossing point at the border of Indian Territory.  Working for James Joy’s Border Tier line, brilliant engineer Octave Chanute (who gained famed by constructing the first bridge over the Missouri River at Kansas City) draws a straight line south and builds to altitudes of 300 feet, intent on constructing a “first class” railroad.

Further west, Judge Levi Parsons drives the Katy Railroad crews day and night. At one point, crews are laying two miles of track a day, trying to catch up to their rival.

Meanwhile, settlers in Southeastern Kansas organize into armed militias (Land Leagues) to oppose the railroad. Leaguers attack railroad agents, burn out rail crews, steal supplies, tents, articles and camp equipment. 

Federal troops are sent in to keep the peace. The settlers, predominantly Union veterans, face off with the government they’d fought for just a few years earlier. Despite problems with angry settlers, all bets are on the Border Tier Railroad to win the race. They have a comfortable head start on the Katy, and more money. 

But In January 1870, the stockholders of the Katy Railroad meet in Emporia. Parsons has hired a new general manager who will win the race for him: Colonel Robert S. Stevens. While the Border Tier builds a railroad that will last, Stevens tells Katy workers to lay tracks with minimal grading and adjust routes to minimize bridges and curves. He focuses on speed, rather than quality.

“Give me the iron and the big stuff and I’ll put your railroad down if I have to lay it flat on the prairie.” John Scullin to Katy Railroad owner Judge Levi Parsons.

In May, the Border Tier reaches Baxter Springs near the Indian Territory border, still ahead of the Katy, and holds a blowout celebration party—a little prematurely.

Rumor has it Katy spies are stirring up the settlers and encouraging them to riot. The Border Tier strikes back and is accused of vandalism and banditry. Both lines engage in bidding wars for workers. Neither admits to wrongdoing.

“One must be prepared to pay for the victory, or not play at all.” James Joy, Border Tier Railroad president

"Indians" (reputedly men hired by the Katy) direct Octave Chanute to wrong border crossing, a pile of stones that mark an 1837 survey, which is few miles away from the official 1854 border. His railroad crosses at the wrong place. While the Border Tier celebrates, Katy crews lay track in nonstop rain--to the correct borderline. 

The problems with the settlers continue to plague both railroads as they dispute the results of the race. I won’t tell you how it ends, although I will say my books are historically accurate.

Here are blurbs from the first two books in the series. I’ll be giving away signed copies of the first three books in the series in the Steam! Sampler drawing. 

The most dangerous man may be the one she hired.

Amazon | B&N | Kobo |
 iBooks | Smashwords | Google
​For America "Amy" Langford, investing in the Border Tier Railroad isn’t about chasing riches. The savvy businesswoman is after bigger stakes: influence, respect, success her father didn't live to see. Rioting settlers and cutthroat competitors can’t stop her, but a killer might. When a ruggedly handsome drifter comes to her rescue, she trusts her instincts and hires him on the spot as her bodyguard.

    Buck O'Connor has put his violent past behind him, but being a wanted man dictates a life of deceit. So what’s one more lie? He becomes Amy’s protector so he can secretly thwart her railroad’s progress to help his cousin avoid financial ruin. A great scheme...until he falls in love. But the price for deceit is steep, and the secrets he hides could destroy their future...if they survive.

In a race for riches, anything can happen.

 Amazon B&N | Kobo |
 iBooks | Smashwords | Google
​Outlaws, soldiers and spies bedevil the Katy Railroad as crews rush to reach Indian Territory before their rival and claim the prize. Riches that come with free land. The stakes are just as high for three women whose lives hinge on the outcome. This novel in three parts tells their stories:

​​Adella's Enemy by Jacqui Nelson: A former Rebel spy must choose between living for revenge and dying for love. 

Eden's Sin by Jennifer Jakes: A woman with a soiled past must trust the one man who could ruin her future. ​

Kate's Outlaw by E.E. Burke: A railroad heiress abducted by outlaws must escape her Cherokee captor before he steals something more valuable than her fortune--her heart. 

Tomorrow on the Steam! Sampler, A Dangerous Passion continues the story...

FREE on Amazon for a limited time
This weekend, enter to win:
1 signed copy, Her Bodyguard
1 signed copy, Passion's Prize
1 signed copy, A Dangerous Passion

You can also download my debut novella, Kate's Outlaw, FREE on Amazon from Friday, July 25 to Tuesday, July 28. 

Have you read any of the Steam! series books? If so, who was your favorite character and why? If not, tell us about a favorite book based on a true story or historical event.

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  1. The books all look amazing. I hope to catch up with them soon.

    I read a LOT of historical novels & I would have to say they are all seeded with a lot of history. I can't choose just one. That seems a bit mean.

    1. I know, I have trouble picking just one, too. So many good ones. Thanks for commenting, Mary, and for being a great supporter of GLIAS.

  2. Sounds like another amazing book, E.E. !!!

    1. Can't wait to celebrate with you this coming Wednesday.

  3. they're interesting books

    1. Thank you! I'm glad you've enjoyed them.

  4. I will say that I only found this site and its authors a few months ago, so some of the authors like yourself are newer to me... I am looking forward to reading STEAM! soon!

    1. I am SO glad you found us! This coming week, I'll be hosting a book release Facebook party with nine other authors who have been my Best of the West guests on GLIAS. We'll have lots of great conversation, as well as giveaways. I hope you can join us. Here's the link to RSVP http://bit.ly/FugitiveHeartsParty

    2. I haven't read any of your books but they look amazing. I use to read Louse Lamar Westerns. Thank you for the chance!

  5. Love your writing, Elisabeth, so I know I'm in for a huge treat with FUGITIVE HEARTS. Plus I'm still thinking about Frank and Claire after first meeting them in A DANGEROUS PASSION. Can't wait to find out how they achieve their HEA.

    1. Jacqui, I can always count on your support. :) Thank you for being such a great writing buddy, friend and fan! I'm eager to hear what you think about Fugitive Hearts. Our railroad story has come a long way, hasn't it?