E.E. Burke's Best of the West: a new arrival on The Bride Train

Last month, I introduced a brand new historical romance series, The Bride Train. Today, Book 2 arrives with a story about a disabled veteran and a runaway actress who find luck in love when they least expect it...

Available April 26

She believes in nothing. He has nothing left to believe in, except his good luck charm.

Lady Luck hasn’t been kind to Patrick O’Shea. The Irish immigrant has suffered loss, betrayal and bitter disappointment since arriving in America. But when a talented performer shows up at his saloon looking for a job, it appears his luck is about to change. 

Runaway actress Charm LaBelle considers the position at O'Shea's a lucky break, and a way to avoid fulfilling her bridal contract. She's learned the hard way not to entrust her life, or her heart, to any man, in particular one as charming as her employer.

Patrick is determined to hold onto his good luck through whatever means necessary, but Charm won't give up her freedom, or her secrets. It’s only a matter of time before luck runs out…


A shadow in the doorway caught Patrick's attention. The small figure outlined in the bright light from outside looked female. Short, slight, but too shapely for a girl.. 
She sallied into the male domain with surprising boldness for a lady. Her yellow silk skirt was bunched up in the back in what he assumed was a new style. Gold braid trimmed a black velvet jacket. No farmers’ wives he knew wore that get-up.
Golden curls framed a face with youthful contours. Yet she possessed a mature poise. Patrick tried to guess her age, and couldn’t. 
He didn’t wait for her to find whoever she sought, but went straight over to warn her she had best wait outside. As he approached, she regarded him quizzically.
“I’m here to speak with the owner." She spoke distinctly, without any discernible accent. Thick lashes a few shades darker than her hair framed luminous brown eyes. He hadn’t seen many brown-eyed blondes, and it added to the mystery.
Her delicacy and youthful beauty and something else, perhaps the innocence shining in her eyes, drew out a strong protective urge along with unexpected stirrings of desire. Patrick didn't analyze the disturbing reaction. She had to leave. Now.
"Miss, you can't be in here."
The young lady gave him the kind of smile a teacher might bestow on a slow child. “Mr. O’Shea…do you know where I might find him?”
The way she responded, like he hadn't understood, annoyed him. “I’m Patrick O’Shea.”
The mystery woman’s smile vanished and she blinked as if surprised. She quickly recovered her poise. “Yes, Mr. O'Shea... I saw your advertisement on the side of the building.”
“My advertisement?”
Her lips twisted in a wry expression. “I supposed it was yours. Someone wrote, “Female entertainers wanted.”
“Oh, that…yeah, that’s mine. I wrote it…” He caught himself before he kept blabbing on like a fool. Maybe he had taken too much medicine and it had fogged his brain.
She brightened up after he claimed responsibility. “Good. Then I’m talking to the right person.”
“The right person?” He still couldn’t figure out why she was here, though now he recognized her as one of the women who had arrived on the bride train earlier in the month. That didn’t explain why she’d come to the saloon to talk to him about a sign he put up…unless she had an objection.
That had to be it. She was one of those busybodies who liked to tell folks what they could and couldn’t do.
He crossed his arms over his chest and frowned down at her. “Are you here to tell me I shouldn’t be hiring women?”
      Confusion flashed across her face, replaced by a look of amusement. “No, Mr. O'Shea…I'm here to apply for the job.”

More about Patrick's Charm...

I’m so excited to introduce you to Patrick and Charm.

While researching this book, I learned a great deal about the Irish experience in America’s Civil War. While the war was raging in the early 1860s, the Union turned to the immigration docks for recruits. These young men were signed up “fresh off the boat” and sent into battle, often with little understanding of what they were up against. 

This is how Patrick O’Shea starts his new life in America. Although he questions the wisdom of his decision to enlist, he nevertheless serves honorably, as did his countrymen, many of whom fought with ill-fated Irish Brigade.

Patrick’s permanent injuries are a constant reminder of his bad luck. Wounded soldiers were routinely dosed with opium for pain. Many of them, like Patrick, became dependent on the drug. Opium addiction among former troops was so widespread it was given the name Soldier’s Disease. Today, it’s difficult to imagine the strength it would’ve taken to cope with injury, addiction and the rigors of starting a new life on the frontier. I think you’ll find Patrick a fascinating character.

Patrick meets his match in Charm LaBelle.

Charm is a famous actress traveling incognito. She signed onto the bride train as a means of escaping danger with no intention of getting married. Instead, she takes a job as a saloon singer. Her decision has far-reaching effects. I won't spoil the story by going into them.

Charm’s character is loosely based on a famous 19th century actress, Lotta Crabtree, who got her start as a child, entertaining miners in San Francisco. 

Making acting a profession in America in those days required a great deal of courage and fortitude. Traveling through the wilds was bad enough. Performances were held in mining camps, saloons, on makeshift stages. Only the famous few appeared in large theaters. Actresses who traveled the West were strong-willed and independent and certainly didn't fit the mold of Victorian womanhood, which it made it difficult for them to find suitable mates or form relationships with women outside their circle. It wasn't an easy life.

In her impromptu audition, Charm sings two songs popular during the war and afterwards. One you might classify as a "fight song," The Irish Volunteer. If you listen to this, you'll want to jump up and dance like the men did at O'Shea's saloon. The other, Lorena, is a ballad sure to bring tears to the eyes of lonely soldiers. If you want to hear them, check out these versions on YouTube:

Both Charm and Patrick have lived with tragedy, betrayal and bitter disappointment. Trust isn’t something that comes easily for either of them. They are both wounded in different ways. First, they must come together to help each other, and then, through love, find healing.

Get the free prequel
I hope you enjoy Patrick’s Charm

If you haven't started the series yet and would like to check it out, why not start with the free prequel, which follows the journey of one of the women who answer a railroad advertisement seeking single young ladies as brides for settlers on the western frontier. 

The Bride Train takes them to a land plagued by violence and unrest, a place where passion rules…and only a woman’s touch can tame it into love.

To celebrate the release of Patrick's Charm, I'm giving away a $20 Amazon gift card and two eBook copies of Valentine's Rose, Book 1 in the series. Enter the raffle to be eligible to win.

My question for readers:
Do you have any favorite songs from a historical era? Which ones, and why?

a Rafflecopter giveaway


  1. I love the look of these !
    Here Come the Brides was one of my favorite shows.

  2. Oh boy... historical era songs... nothing is popping into my head, but I do love listening to old Irish folk music and more... I will have to look up some of my favs and see when they were actually written... you have me curious now! Thanks for sharing!

  3. I'm not sure if they are considered from a historical era but I do listen to classical music including Strauss and Tchaikovsky.

    1. I love classical music. And I would consider them "historical."

  4. Replies
    1. Haven't heard of it. Do you have a link to share?

  5. I just love this charming series!

  6. I forgot the title, could it be ''Home, sweet home''

  7. I love the Civil War era and Reconstruction. My favorite songs from them are Dixie and The Battle Hymn of the Republic. I love them both. I have studied a ton about these two times because of my script. You are right about how they treated the Irish as they got right off the boat. I looking forward to reading this.

    1. Thanks Connie! Did you get a chance to listen to the Irish Volunteer? That song makes me want to get up and march around the room. There are so many interesting songs from the Civil War era. I love the music. Hope you get a chance to check out the book!

  8. I'm not sure if they count as the historical fiction you write, but I love the old Gospel music.

    1. I do, too. And yes, that would count. So many of our beloved hymns were written in the 19th century. I plan to research some of the them for one my future books in this series that features a preacher. Stay tuned!

  9. As a former Band geek I always loved playing the patriotic marches and of course, The Star Spangled Banner. It's impossible to play those and not be patriotic.

    1. That's so true! And somehow I can see you in a marching band, Diane! Thanks for stopping by.

  10. Thanks for the excerpt (and the sale)!

    1. Oh and I really can't think of a favorite historical song... We played a ton of marches in band, but the only songs I can really think of other than hymns is When Johnny Comes Marching Home.

  11. Love the except, not really into historical songs. The music I was born to are the Karaoke types my uncles loves to sing or scream when drunk lol! - Like Quando, Wonderful tonight and the famously My Way.

  12. Love the except, not really into historical songs. The music I was born to are the Karaoke types my uncles loves to sing or scream when drunk lol! - Like Quando, Wonderful tonight and the famously My Way.

  13. I really enjoyed listening to the two songs and I did so before I read the story. As for do I have any historical songs........nah. The closest would be hymns that are sung in church. When you know the background of "It Is Well With My Soul" it takes on a different perspective. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/It_Is_Well_with_My_Soul

  14. My favorite era was disco. "Saturday Night Fever", The Bee Gees music. That music and the movie, are very personnel to me. (jozywails@gmail.com)

  15. My Old Kentucky Home is the only thing that pops in my head right now. Entering under the name of Virginia.

  16. Not historical at all, but the song that makes me think of "old times" the most is Country Roads by John Denver, because I grew up in WV :)

  17. Hooray! So many comments, that's awesome! I loved this book and Patrick. I used to love listening to old time Civil War era songs when I was younger. My son actually started doing that, which I think is funny. When Johnny Comes Marching Home Again, The Bonnie Blue Flag, Dixie, and more! I love history!

  18. Dixie and the Battle Hymn of the Republic are what instantly pop into my head...I do like Lorena too. I really liked the story of Patrick and Charm. They over came so much trying to get their feet back on the road to having a home and family when so much had been taken and destroyed by the war.

  19. I'm 24 so I haven't been around long enough to know about songs from that era