Tuesday, July 26, 2016

E.E. Burke's Best of the West: The Bride Train Arrives with a New Installment

Preorder Today
Available August 11
The Bootlegger's Bride

A spinster, a bootlegger...an unexpected chance at love.
Leaving the safety of her old life, Prudence Walker rides the Bride Train west to the end of the line. Her last chance at matrimony. She's too plain to inspire desire. Nor does she expect to find love. She does have her standards, however.
Arch Childers longs to put down roots, only he's too busy managing his family's illegal whiskey business to pursue his dreams. His troublemaking brothers, deciding he needs help, kidnap a spinster lady and present her to him, bound and gagged, as his bride.
Prudence isn't immune to the charming scoundrel, but a bootlegger is the last man on earth she would marry...
That is, until Arch sacrifices his freedom to save her.
Tempting Prudence, Book 3 in The Bride Train series, releases Aug. 11. Preorder your copy today.

Here's a brief excerpt to whet your appetite.

Arch's mother put the rocking chair into motion while she sipped her tea. “Arch has probably told you, he’s the youngest of my six boys, only four still living. When he was a baby, I feared he wouldn’t live, either. He was so sickly.” She chuckled. “Wouldn’t think that to look at him now. He's growed up strong as an oak. Smart, too. I was pleased to hear he found a wife.” 
     Prudence lifted the cup to her lips to avoid having to respond with a lie. She'd let Arch kiss her and brush her hair, had all but said yes to his proposal. Why correct his mother's misperception if they would soon be married? 
     “There is another reason I stopped by. Arch’s brothers went into town three days ago, said they was taking care of the deliveries because Arch would be busy with his new wife. Nobody’s seen them since."
     “What deliveries?” Prudence asked before she realized she ought to know.
     Mrs. Childers stopped rocking, appearing surprised by the question. “Corn whiskey."
     “Whiskey?” Prudence fumbled with her cup. Tea sloshed over the edge and onto the napkin in her lap. “Why were they delivering whiskey?”
     His mother looked at her like she might be slow. “They were taking it to the customers."
     Pru forced herself to remain seated. She wanted to jump up and run outside to find Arch and demand he explain why he hadn’t told her that his brothers were bootleggers. Now the empty coffin made sense. What better way to transport illegal goods without being suspected.
     The rocking chair creaked as his mother put it into motion, expertly cradling the teacup so as not to spill a drop. “Childers make the best whiskey in these parts. Arch’s pa learned the secret from his granddaddy and he taught the boys the trade."
     Dear Lord. Moonshiners, the whole family…including Arch.
     “I’m surprised Arch didn’t tell you.”
     Reeling from shock, Prudence could only shake her head. He’d told her he wanted to have his own farm and raise horses. That was his dream. More like a convenient cover. “No, he didn’t tell me he makes whiskey.”
     “Oh, he don’t do the distilling. He delivers the whiskey and takes care of the customers. Handles the finances. He’s rounded up a good business out here in Kansas.” She spoke with pride, as if bootlegging were an honored profession rather than a scourge on mankind. 
     Marry a child of the devil and you're going to have problems with your father-in-law.
     The old Puritan saying pretty well summed it up. That Arch made moonshine, or sold it, was bad enough. He tempted her to give in to sinful urges. He didn’t feel a need to be honest about his livelihood and had hidden the truth, even after she’d shared her sentiments concerning whiskey. He thought he was above the laws of God and man.
     Prudence stared into her cup. Tiny specks swirled in the dark liquid. She didn’t have to read tealeaves to know their future. They didn’t have one…not together.

Moonshiners and Bootleggers: a colorful history

The term moonshine originated in Europe and was used in the England in the 1700s. It originally referred to occupational pursuits that necessitated night work, or work by the light of the moon. Those who made illegal whiskey worked at night so the smoke from their stills couldn’t be seen.

The term Bootlegger is believed to have originated in colonial America in reference to white men who sold alcohol to Native Americans. The practice was frowned on (for many reasons I won’t go into here), but the more determined peddlers wanting to trade spirits for material goods concealed bottles in the top of their boots.

The terms are often used interchangeably, but strictly speaking, the moonshiner manufactured the illegal whiskey and the bootlegger transported and distributed it.

In Colonial America, distilling whiskey for home use wasn’t illegal and the time-honored process was carried out in thousands of homes. But when country exploded into civil conflict, the federal government needed tax money to pay for an expensive war. In 1862, Congress passed a law making distilling liquor without a license a federal offense, thus birthing an illegal distilling industry and furthering the long history of moonshiners and bootleggers.

Drinking was the top recreational activity for men in the Old West. Enterprising businessmen out to make money were eager to obtain a less expensive product and mark it up for a tidy profit. In some cases, before the railroads were built, homemade "fire water" was the only option.

Do you know where the term "fire water" came from? When the Indians purchased liquor, they determined the quality by the "kick" it provided. The stronger, the better. To test, they would toss some of the liquor onto a fire. If it flared up, they would deem it of good quality. Considering what was added to the liquor to provide the kick -- things like gunpowder and arsenic -- the "fire water" test might not have been the best quality control process.

Some moonshiners would age their liquor in charred oak barrels to give it the appearance and flavor or aged bourbon whiskey. Other purveyors who sold to the public would purchase "white lightning" in its raw form (generally clear and colorless) and use different additives to please purchaser's tastes. 

Some additives for color and flavor included chewing tobacco, tea, coffee, prune juice, tea bark, burnt sugar, molasses, sagebrush, red pepper, dried peaches, black bone meal. Chemical ingredients such as tartaric acid, sulfuric acid, ammonia, strychnine, turpentine and creosote would make its way into the mix to add a little "bite." Sometimes, it could be a deadly bite!

Among pet names for whiskey on the frontier is one of my favorites: "Forty-rod." Meaning, the drinker could expect to travel around forty rods (220 yards) before the booze kicked in and he collapsed. White Lightning is a ubiquitous name everyone had heard about. But here are some of the less well known but equally colorful names: skull cracker, popskull, stumphole, bush whiskey, ruckus juice, rotgut, catdaddy, mule kick, panther's breath, alley bourbon, happy Sally, jump steady, see seven stars, old horsey, wild cat.

The conscientious distiller used clean equipment and made the best product possible. He took pride in his craft and earned a certain amount of respect among his colleagues and customers. At the same time, moonshiners were looked down on as lawbreakers and considered outside of “proper” society. 

Victorians privately enjoyed the vices that they publicly condemned.

Out in the Old West, illegal stills became the source of running battles (literally) between moonshiners and law enforcement officials who sought to shut them down. To avoid detection, stills were often located in remote mountainous areas with thick forests, such as the Missouri Ozarks. 

Arch owns a red coonhound
with three legs named Rebel
In Tempting Prudence, Arch Childers is a bootlegger from the hills of southwestern Missouri. He stakes a claim on railroad land over the border in Kansas and sells his family’s moonshine to area saloon owners. Arch keeps a low profile around town, but he has a bad reputation due to his profession, as well as his association with his troublemaking brothers. 

Prudence is deeply religious and fiery in her opposition to liquor, most especially those who peddle it. When she first meets Arch, she's sure he's as bad as the men who abducted her. As it turns out, he isn't the scoundrel she expects him to be. 

Can a "daughter of temperance" find happiness with a bootlegger?

Enter the drawing for one of three books from the series, or an autographed copy of Valentine's Rose or a $10 Amazon Gift Card.  5 winners. Comment, follow, join or tweet to increase your chances to win!

E.E. Burke
Award-winning author
Amazon Bestseller

Who is your favorite character from this series, and why? (If you haven't started The Bride Train series, just tell me what series you're reading now and whether you have a favorite character.)

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  1. Hi,

    actually re-reading The Ancient Egypt series by Wilbur Smith. Taita, the magus/warlock is a superb character.

    1. I'll have to check it out! Thanks for stopping by. I hope you'll give the Bride Train series a try.

  2. I've been enjoying the series. My favorite is Constantine Valentine in book one. He's such a protective hero and the chemistry between he and Rose was dreamy. They really rounded each other out well and were perfectly matched!

    1. Thanks so much for coming by! I'm glad you loved Val. He was such fun to write. He's a very complex character with lots of deep hurts, and I thought Rose was just the one to help him heal. Hope you enjoy the rest of the series!

  3. Hello! I have to say that my favorite character is "Patrick O’Shea", the bar owner in Kansas.
    I love your series, so much fun to read and follow your characters!

    1. Oh, I'm so glad you liked Patrick! I really hoped I could write a story worthy of him. Thanks for coming by, Nicole! Thank you for reading my series!

  4. I have not started this series yet... my reading is all over the place... a wonderful variety of romances from many different authors.

    1. Hi Colleen! Yes, my TBR list is very very long, too. I hope when you get a chance you'll give the Bride Train a try. Thanks for stopping by.

  5. It's hard to pick a favorite. Every book I read becomes my favorite. That's not a fair question! LOL

    1. That's what I say when people ask me which book is my favorite! The one I'm writing! LOL. Thanks for stopping by, and thanks for reading my books!

  6. Another wonderful post. I love your books, but Patrick O'Shea and Charm's story and their characters are my favorite.

    1. I'm so glad you enjoyed that book so much. I did love those characters. Then again, I love all my characters! Thanks for coming by Marianne! I'm delighted and honored that you enjoy my books.

  7. Im reading the Montana Sky series right now.. But I have this series on my list to read next.. Tina 😀

    1. That's a great series! I'm thrilled and honored to know you have my series up next. Thanks for stopping by Tina!

  8. Im reading the Montana Sky series right now.. But I have this series on my list to read next.. Tina 😀

  9. Patrick O'Shea has been my favorite character of the series. I really liked his ambition and I admired him for fighting in the Civil War, though he wasn't given much choice in the matter. I'm really enjoying this series! Thanks Elisabeth! :)

    1. He's a wonderful fellow I agree. The more I dove into researching the Irish immigrants who fought in the Civil War, the more I admired them and wanted to share their story through the eyes of a character like Patrick. I'm so glad you're enjoying the series! Thanks for stopping by.

  10. Replies
    1. You're welcome! Hope you are enjoying the series!

  11. I'm actually reading Fatal Identity from Marie Force's Fatal series. I love them all.

  12. An amazing story with humor and loving characters truly enjoyed it!

  13. I'm reading Harmony Valley Novel by Melinda Curtis right now and I love the dog in the Summer Kisses, the second book in that series. He's so lovable and loyal!

  14. Beings I live in Kansas, I'd have to say that my favorite character is "Patrick O’Shea", the bar owner in Kansas. But then I am partial to my Ginger ancestors. I love your books, so much I can hardly wait to read this one