Samantha here. On a trip this summer through the landscapes for my westerns, my family and I visited the Colorado Railroad Museum outside Golden, Colorado. Until the steam locomotive powers up to take visitors on a short rail trip around the property, it's a quiet place to stroll and climb on board static displays of historic cars from the 1800s.
I had spent the previous summer researching and writing my latest novel for the Sawtooth Range, Redeeming Lies. Correspondence with train enthusiasts like Evan Filby helped tremendously as I worked out the details of the opening where the two lovers meet on a station platform in Idaho Territory's Shoshone.
It was important to the plot to have the two arrive at that location, one traveling from the east the other from the west. The problem was in determining the possibility of service between Boise City and Pocatello. Early in my research, I was disappointed to learn that the track grade to Boise was too steep for trains to terminate there. However, another historian assured me that residents simply took a wagon ride or rode on horseback to Nampa, just a few miles south of the city. The Oregon Short Line connected Shoshone to Nampa.
There was second issue of transporting my female protagonist across the Snake River by train. Early research made this appear unlikely. The rails were just beginning to stretch to the gold and silver strikes in Central Idaho. However, another train enthusiast sent an 1880s photograph of a bridge at American Falls spanning the mighty Snake River. That photo allowed me to make the train a critical element for the plot. The train now unites them in both the opening and the closing of the book.
Writing descriptions of the train cars' interior would have been easy if I simply trusted in the images planted in my mind by movies over the decades. But I'm trying to depict the facts of this time period with accuracy, hence the research. This 1888 train car at the Colorado museum confirmed how Maddie, my heroine, would travel with her father's important valise. They really did have luggage racks over their seats.
Actually riding in the car gave me a sense of just how uncomfortable travel would have been for her. There is little cushion in those plush red upholstered seats. But there were wash rooms in each car, one for men and one for women at opposite ends of the car. What a relief! Pun intended.
After tucking his bag under the seat, David slid close to the window. He ran a hand through his hair, then slid his fingers across his chin, rubbing two days’ growth of stubble. His reflection in the train window looked soberly back at him. He announced to himself, "You need a shave." He stared at his reflection for a moment, no longer seeing himself but the vision of the brown-haired woman who'd stolen his heart. Kat was everything he'd hoped to find in a woman—smart, funny, and utterly charming, all five feet and one inch of her. She was also married to the man who'd been fortunate to find her first, Jonathan Winthrop. Because he’d even entertained such thoughts was why he had to leave. She was too great a temptation, and he was an honorable man.
This short excerpt may give those who have read High Valley Promise a definite clue as to the identity of the male protagonist of this latest story in the series. Dear Dr. David Reynolds finds his own love story in Redeeming Lies. Look for more excerpts for this latest novel in the coming weeks both here and on my own website.
The book is available for Pre-order from Amazon. Release date is September 20, 2018.
To live the honest life she's always wanted she'll be forced to weave a web of credible lies. Redeeming Lies
Before she can live the honest life she’s always wanted, she’ll be forced to weave a web of credible lies. Upon the sudden death of her scam artist father, Madison Jennings must heed his last words. Take the money and disappear. With the persistent Pinkertons and the ruthless Sicilians on her trail, she changes her identity, fleeing deep into Idaho Territory to the literal end-of-the-line.
Redeeming Lies by Samantha St. Claire
Genre: Historical Fiction
Heat Level: 1
Language Level: 1
Violence Level: 1
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