E.E. Burke's Best of the West: The Devil and Miss Julia Jackson by Cheryl Pierson

A woman with no home…
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Beautiful Southern belle Julia Jackson has just been informed she and her niece must find a new home immediately—or else. With no family to turn to in Georgia, Julia takes a mighty gamble and answers an advertisement for a nursemaid in wild Indian Territory—for the child of a man she knows nothing about. Together, she and five-year-old Lauralee waste no time as they flee to the safety of the new position Julia has accepted. She can only hope this move will be the start of a bright future for them away from Lauralee’s dangerous much older half-brother.

A rancher with no heart…
The death of Devlin Campbell’s young daughter has ripped the light from his life. Though the birth of his son, little Jamie, should have been a source of happiness, the subsequent loss of his wife forces Dev to ignore his emotions and trudge through life’s joyless responsibilities. But all that changes with the arrival of Miss Julia Jackson from Atlanta! Not at all what Dev is expecting in response to his ad, his resentment boils over at her failure to mention her tag-along niece—a painful reminder of the loss of his own little girl just two years earlier. Yet, how can he deny the sunshine Julie brings into his drab existence with her very presence?

Can love find a way?

In the depths of Dev’s boundless sorrow and his accompanying anger, is there room in his life for anyone else as Christmas approaches? Can Julie convince him that love is the cure for a broken heart, and hope is the only recipe for a new beginning between THE DEVIL AND MISS JULIA JACKSON…

Here's an excerpt...

The door banged open behind the three, a gust of icy wind howling in before the tall man who’d entered could get it shut. 
Lauralee hugged herself and shivered, then ran to the blazing hearth to the warmth. She eyed the man warily as she crouched before the fireplace.
Julia turned the baby away from the cold, until she heard the door shut behind her.
“What the devil—” the man bit out savagely.
When Julia’s gaze shot to his, her heart sank. This must be Mr. Campbell, her employer. And he was bending the fiercest glare she’d ever seen on Lauralee, who cowered by the fireplace.
Julia quickly gathered herself. Over the past few years, she’d had more than her fair share of life-changing surprises. Her parents had been killed in a runaway carriage accident when she was ten. Her older brother, Jerome, and sister, Helena, had tried to hold onto the family’s holdings, but Jerome’s penchant for gambling had ended up landing them all on the street.
It hadn’t been too much longer before Jerome had been found in an alley with his throat cut—and Helena had had to marry quickly to give herself and Julia a home. Now that Helena was gone, Julia knew she could never be parted from her niece. Helena had provided for Julia when there’d been no one else—now, Julia would keep Lauralee safe from the world—including the likes of the very unpleasant Mr. Devlin Campbell!
“I assume you are Mr. Campbell?” Julia asked uncertainly, as she stepped toward him, extending one hand. She shifted Jamie to her hip. “I’m Miss Julia Jackson,” she continued primly, “up from Savannah way—your new nursemaid for young Jamie, here. And this—” she stepped to the side as Dev took her hand— “is Miss Lauralee Redmond.”
Lauralee, it seemed, had recovered, as well. She had risen to her feet, and stood glaring at the man, her hands on her hips. 
He glared right back at her, barely sparing Julia a glance.
We’re not the Debbil! You are!” Lauralee said, pointing at him with an accusatory finger.
Oh, Dear Heavenly Father… Julia’s throat constricted as she stepped forward. They were going to be tossed out into this blizzard for sure!

Meet Cheryl

Cheryl was born in Duncan, Oklahoma, and grew up in Seminole, Oklahoma. She graduated from the University of Oklahoma and holds a B.A. in English.
She has nine published novels, including five western historical romances: Fire Eyes, The Half-Breed's Woman, Gabriel's Law, Time Plains Drifter, and The Devil and Miss Julia Jackson. Her contemporary romantic suspense novels include Sweet Danger, Capture the Night, and Beyond the Fire. Ride the Wild Range is her YA coming-of-age western tale. All are available at Amazon.
Three of Cheryl’s stories have been nominated in the Best Western Short Fiction category of the Western Fictioneers Peacemaker Awards.  Her paranormal western short story "The Keepers of Camelot" was nominated in 2013. In 2014, "It Takes a Man," featuring her characters from the Wolf Creek series, was a finalist. “Hidden Trails” made the list of finalists in 2016.
Cheryl also has contributed heavily to the western "shared world" collaborative effort known as Wolf Creek since it came into existence. Cheryl has also served as the President of the Western Fictioneers, a professional organization for western authors.
In 2013, she and long-time friend Livia Reasoner opened Prairie Rose Publications. PRP now offers five other imprints: Painted Pony Books, Tornado Alley Publications, and Fire Star Press, Prayers and Promises Publications, and Sundown Press.
Cheryl and her husband have lived in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, for the past 33 years. You can e-mail Cheryl at: fabkat_edit@yahoo.com

For more information:
PRAIRIE ROSE PUBLICATIONS WEBSITE: http://www.prairierosepublications.com/

E.E.: Where do you read and how often?
Cheryl: I pretty much read every single day—if I’m not reading for work, I am reading for pleasure or working on my own writing and reading back over it. But as the Editor-in-Chief for Prairie Rose Publications, I am also the acquisitions person, the editor for everything that comes in that we select to publish, and I used to also do free-lance editing. So reading is something that is ongoing and constant. I do read for pleasure when I sit down for lunch, though.

E.E.: What was the first story you remember writing?
Cheryl: The very first story I remember writing was in elementary school. I was always the kid who wrote two pages when the teacher asked for two paragraphs. My mom saved everything—so somewhere in the attic, I have my story I wrote in fourth grade about a girl and her cat!

E.E.:  What’s your favorite movie of all time?
Cheryl: Here I have to cheat a little. My overall favorite movie would probably be TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD because to me, there is no better book, no better story and no better movie—superb storytelling in all forms, and who better for the parts they cast in that movie than those particular people they hired for the parts? But, for another reason, I have to say WEST SIDE STORY was a favorite—I just don’t think I can compare those two—it’s like apples and oranges, right? And for pure entertainment, is there any better film than FIELD OF DREAMS? What a great concept—and what a surprise ending.

E.E.: What is your biggest vice? 
Cheryl: Oh, drinking real Coke is my biggest vice, hands down. I’ve tried to quit for years. I quit while I was pregnant both times. But no matter how many times I actually quit, I always go back to it at some point. I don’t drink it nearly as much as I used to—but it’s like my coffee—I have to have it first thing in the morning—at least one can. Then I might go to the more mellow stuff, like Diet Dr. Pepper.

E.E.: Is writing or story-telling easier for you?
Cheryl: Writing—by far. I stumble over my words when I try to “tell” a story or a joke—I’m the world’s worst joke-teller, for sure. LOL But writing is so much easier for me—it helps me to be able to just slow down, go back and revise what I’m saying on paper and get it right. I write everything longhand before I enter it into the computer.

E.E.: What is your hero’s “kryptonite” – in other words, what will bring him instantly to his knees?  
Cheryl: Oh, great question, because in this story, Devlin Campbell has suffered the loss of his daughter and his wife in a short period of time and he is so hurt by it all—especially his daughter’s death. When Miss Julia Jackson shows up as the nursemaid for his young son, Devlin is none too happy to see she has her young niece in tow—a little girl who is just about the same age as his daughter was when she died. He’s got to face dealing with her every day and get past his grief, but it’s not going to happen overnight.

E.E.: What will always make you smile, even on a bad day? 
Cheryl: My dog and my kids. Even though they’re grown now, my son and my daughter both have a very unique sense of humor and I can’t talk to them without feeling better. My dog…well, just looking into his sweet face makes me smile.

E.E.: What are the next five books on your ‘to be read’ pile?  
Cheryl: Great question! Because I do have a HUGE pile! LOL But I’ll just talk about the ones I will be reading for pleasure/entertainment, and not for work. With it being time for the holidays, I will definitely be reading Christmas stories galore—and I plan to start with THE TWELVE DAYS OF CHRISTMAS MAIL ORDER BRIDES stories. It’s been a VERY long time since I’ve been so excited about a series of books—and I just can’t wait to start these.

E.E.: How did you come up with the idea for your book?  
Cheryl: I had started to write this story as a short story for the SWEET TEXAS CHRISTMAS anthology—but it quickly took off and shot past the word count for an anthology-length story! This was definitely one of those tales where the characters “talked” to me and told me things about them I didn’t know—I knew Dev was in pain from the deaths I mentioned earlier, and that Julia was terribly uncertain about everything—but it never had occurred to me how scary that would have been for her to have been responsible for a young child and be at the mercy of the world—a world she had no clue how to get along with, coming from the genteel Southern society she was born and raised in to the rough-and-tumble life of what she ended up with in Indian Territory. I had to make sure the story was told as it should be and that they both got their say!

Elisabeth, thanks so much for having me here at GLIAS! I always love to hop over and visit with you and your readers, and it’s my pleasure to be able to give away these digital copies of these holiday stories for some lucky readers’ enjoyment! Thanks again for having me.

What is one of your favorite Christmas or holiday memories?

Leave a comment and enter the Rafflecopter drawing for a chance to win two copies of THE DEVIL AND MISS JULIA JACKSON and a copy of SWEET TEXAS CHRISTMAS!

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  1. I love these kind of westerns got the bug from my dad when i was 7 or so when he had me from the foster home one of our walks would be to the library so he could return a few westerns and he would check out some. He was in his 60's but miss him so much i didn't get to spend enough time with him. I sure hope if the author would give print instead of ebooks if there are reasons why you can't do ebooks! Thank you Cheryl for showing us a wonderful book and easy things to do to try to win a print book and also for coming! peggy clayton

    1. Hi Peggy, Yeah, I'm sorry--e-books are how I and most authors have to do giveaways because of the financial burden of print copies. This way we can do a lot more giveaways--I love a print book myself, so I know what you're saying. I love westerns, too--always have from the time I was little--I had a cap gun and an Annie Oakley outfit I loved. LOL Thanks so much for stopping by, Peggy, and if you do win I hope you will be able to use a digital copy of the story. Merry Christmas!

  2. Fav Christmas memories... waking up and seeing my grandparents... helping my grandma in the kitchen for breakfast...

    1. So many wonderful Christmas memories come back to us as we get older, don't they? I always loved AFTER getting up to open presents almost as much as that excitement itself. We always went down to my grandparents' house for a couple of days and I got to see all my cousins. That was just the best. Good times and wonderful memories.

  3. My dad was a twin and his sister and family lived in the town (our family in the country). Our Christmas Eves alternated at our houses. The year it snowed too much for the town family to come out to our house as planned, my family drove out early in he evening to check cows and found an unexpected newborn calf (about six weeks prior to calving season). We loaded mama and baby into a stock trailer and brought them home. Baby needed a little extra care so he spent the night inside in our bathroom. 😁 He and his mama returned to the herd a couple of days later.

    1. That is a great memory, Kaye! Thanks for sharing that--I remember my uncle throwing feed off the back of a pick up while my cousin drove--I think my cousin was about 7 or 8. Ya gotta do what ya gotta do. LOL MERRY CHRISTMAS!

  4. You know how I feel about any story you write, I love them. Have a Merry Christmas and may the New Year bring even more joy and prosperity to you and those you care about. Doris

    1. Doris, thank you. That is about the best compliment I think I ever received. Hope you have a very MERRY CHRISTMAS too, and I'm hoping 2018 will be a great year for every one of us.

  5. It's a great story! Christmas memory: My dad was OCD about putting tinsel on the tree. I wanted to put them on two (or five, or ten) at a time but nope--one at a time. I have to admit, when he got done putting it all on, the tree was beautiful. We also had those dangerous candlestick bubbling lights, which I loved. Sometimes I'd get up in the middle of the night and turn the tree lights on and just enjoy them--all by myself, in the silence. Was awesome.

    1. I always wanted those bubbling candle lights, but Mom said NO. She said they were too expensive, but I think she was worried about the safety of them, too, Jacquie. I still do what you're talking about--sometimes I just get up in the night and turn the tree on and sit and stare at it. Lots of memories. This year, I didn't put up a big tree, just a table top tree. I miss having a big tree, but I ran out of time and energy this year. LOL Hope you all have a very MERRY CHRISTMAS and a wonderful 2018.

    2. BTW, I had a mom like that about the tinsel. I wrote a short story--one of the first ones I ever sold--about that.

  6. Devlin is like a combination of Rochester, from "Jane Eyre", and Heathcliff from "Wuthering Heights" except he is the western version and every bit as complicated and sorrow filled as those heroes penned by the Bronte sisters.
    I bought the book as soon as I saw it.
    Dogs get my vote for happiness gurus, too.
    A wonderful interview, Cheryl.
    All the best to you and Merry Christmas!

    1. Aw, Sarah! what a nice thing to say! I really ached for Dev through this story. He didn't know which way was up, and certainly was not prepared for happiness to find him again. And thank you for saying you bought it as soon as you saw it. That made my day! Elisabeth asks some great questions, doesn't she? I always love coming over here to be her guest! Merry Christmas Sarah! Thanks so much for stopping by!

  7. Cheryl, You already know that I read this story as soon as it came out and loved it. I couldn't put it down. I so enjoyed the whole concept, the characters, but little Lauralee calling him Mr. Debbill was too precious. I chuckled every time. Nice interview. Wishing you and your family the very Merriest Christmas and Happy New Year.

    1. Bev, thank you so much for the very kind words, my friend. I appreciate that! And Lauralee was dear to my heart--she was such a protector in her own right--how could Dev not love her even when she was "prickly" and calling him Debbil! LOL Elisabeth is a wonderful hostess and always asks the very best questions. Thanks again for coming by, and hope you all have a wonderful Christmas!

  8. Cheryl this book sounds as wonderful as alll tbecithets of yours I’ve read. Can’t wait to read it. Merry Christmas to you.

    1. Tonya, thank you! I hope you enjoy it. Have a very MERRY CHRISTMAS, my friend! Here's hoping 2018 is the best year ever.

  9. My comment was that Devlin Campbell seems to be a 'dark, stormy, tempestuous' hero like Heathcliff or Mr. Rochester in Jane Eyre - then I noticed Sarah McNeal had already said it - which shows great minds think alike! Still, there's plenty of mileage in characters like that - the Bronte Sisters did all right out of them and I hope you do too! Excellent interview, Cheryl and Elisabeth.

    1. HA! You made me laugh about Heathcliff /Mr. Rochester. Maybe that was what was lurking in the back of my mind as I was writing. LOL Yes, great minds DO think alike, for sure. And you know, my middle name is ANGST. LOL Thanks so much for stopping by today, Andrew. I appreciate it! Hope you have a wonderful, wonderful MERRY CHRISTMAS and a very HAPPY NEW YEAR!

  10. I have told it many time, but one of my favorite memories is going to midnight mass with my mother's family, usually about 40 of us. Afterwards we would go to my grandparents' for brunch. We didn't exchange gifts, just played and visit. We would get home about 2 or 3 and open our gifts. Smart on my parents' part. Everyone would sleep in the next morning. Christmas afternoon we went to my dad's parents for Christmas dinner with all his family. Patricia B

    1. Patricia, that must have been so magical--especially to a kid--staying up so late and going as a family to midnight mass. We always opened a gift or two on Christmas Eve--when my kids were little I let them open a couple of gifts, and of course one of those was usually brand new pajamas. The other one would be something they could play with or something they had wanted. The next morning of course, SANTA had come! I really do miss those days when they were young.

  11. Thanks so much again, Elisabeth, for having me here to talk about THE DEVIL AND MISS JULIA JACKSON! And thanks to everyone who stopped by and read and commented! Merry Christmas, everyone!