Shannon here: Donna Schlachter shares how her characters met in book one of her Oregon Trail Mysteries and again in book 2, with an excerpt from each. Comment or answer the question in this post to enter the drawing for a copy of her latest Historical Romantic Suspense, Book 2, A Pink Lady Thanksgiving. Deadline: Nov 7th, 11:59 pm central time. Here’s Donna:
A Pink Lady Love Story
Kate and Tom actually met in Book 1, Kate, when Kate runs away from the brothel where she was raised and hides inside a wagon heading west. Here we meet Kate, learn of her fear of men, and we meet Tom, who is running from his own past and his own secrets.
Excerpt from Kate by Donna Schlachter:
She slipped down the alley, hugging the shadows cast by the buildings, until she reached the livery. A covered wagon rested near the corral. She’d overheard customers talking about the train leaving the next day. Perfect. So long as the owners didn’t occupy this rig tonight, she was set.
She crouched low, gritted her teeth, and dashed across the thirty feet separating her from her goal. She slipped up beside the tailgate and listened, forcing her breathing to slow. Didn’t appear anybody was inside. Standing on tiptoes, she peeked in. Two barrels in one corner. A stack of blankets in another. A darkened lantern hanging from a rib. Three tin cups, a kettle, an iron pot, and three plates rested in a wooden box.
But no people.
And no dog.
Whoever owned this rig was trusting.
Hopefully when they discovered her tomorrow, they’d be kind enough to take pity on her and let her stay. She’d offer to look after their kids. At least until their first stop. She’d figure out what to do next after that.
She tossed her satchel into the wagon, then, using the wheel hub as a stepping stool, she pulled herself up. After sliding inside, she landed in a heap with a thunk! She waited a couple of minutes in case she’d aroused attention. When the night remained quiet, she grabbed a blanket from the pile and laid it on the wooden boards. She pulled the itchy cover around her, settled her head on her bag of clothes, and closed her eyes.
Morning couldn’t come too soon for her liking.
* * *
Kate stifled a scream and scooted away from the man towering over her. His face, frozen into a grimace that surely revealed great pain, filled her vision. Despite snagging splinters from the planking, she didn’t stop until she ran out of room. Her fingers scrabbled at her skirt. If he planned to have his way with her—well, not without a fight.
But instead, he stood, glued in place, his eyebrows so high they disappeared under the brim of his hat.
Finally she found her voice. “Who-who are you?”
“A better question is who are you? And what are you doing in my wagon?”
“That’s two questions.”
He snorted like that was the dumbest thing he’d ever heard. “Don’t change the subject.” He gestured to the tailgate. Go on. Get home. Your daddy’s gonna come looking for you. And I don’t want to be anywhere near you when he does.”
Now it was her turn to snort. Not very ladylike. At least according to her mother. Not that she was any bastion of high society. “If’n you can find him, I’d pay a whole dollar to see that.”
“Don’t know who he is. And he sure wants nothing to do with the likes of me.”
In A Pink Lady Thanksgiving, we join Kate and Tom a year later. She has now realized her dream of becoming a lady detective with the Pinkerton Detective Agency. They are living in Oregon City, and are settled into life, sure their pasts are far behind them. But they soon learn that marriage doesn’t solve every problem, a baby adds stress and problems of its own, and sometimes our past is only out of sight, not truly settled.
Here is an excerpt from the book. Kate is talking to the train depot manager as she investigates a missing woman.
“Just to say hello. So she’s missing?” He scratched his cheek. “Didn’t know that.”
“Did you see her recently?”
“Nope. She didn’t take the train. Tended to walk.” He glanced around then leaned closer again. “But there is something else.”
“Two strangers in town. One last week, one yesterday.”
She chuckled. “You must see strangers all the time.”
“That I do. And the first one didn’t cause me any concern. Sent him packing. But now with the second one, I’m a-wondering what’s going on.”
She doubted these men had anything to do with Ella’s disappearance, but no harm in asking. “Tell me about them.”
“Well, they was both asking about you. No, that ain’t ‘xactly true. One asked for you, one for your man.”
Her heart skipped a beat and landed in her throat. Would she and Tom never be free of their pasts? Wasn’t that all dealt with on the trail?
“Who were they?”
“Didn’t offer a name, and I didn’t ask.”
“What did you tell them?”
“Same thing. Told ‘em you were in Salem.”
“Did they say where they were from?”
He shook his head. “But I saw their tickets. One was from Deadwood, and t’other from Fort Laramie.” He patted her hand. “Didn’t think nice folks like you and your man would have anything to do with men like that, so I sent them on their way.”
She thanked the depot manager and left, pondering what he’d told her on her walk home. She’d mention the horse to Tom. With him working in the livery, maybe he could make inquiries.
But what to do about the men from their past? If they’d traveled on, then maybe there was no reason to worry. Surely they’d keep going until they tired of the chase and returned empty handed.
But what if they didn’t? What if they retraced their steps?
Kate proves very good at her job, and the book has a happy ending. As the title implies, it’s set around Thanksgiving, and by the time she and Tom solve the case and the mystery, they are without the fixings for a meal. But Tom soon fixes that.
Excerpt from A Pink Lady Thanksgiving by Donna Schlachter:
He retrieved his prize and wrung off its head before trotting back to his wife and child.
Kate lifted her head and gazed around. “What was that? Why are we stopped?” She gripped the baby close to her chest. “What the—?”
He held their dinner by the feet as he rounded the rear of the conveyance. “Stopped to do my part for Thanksgiving. Just going to tie it onto the back here so it doesn’t bleed inside the buggy.”
She laughed. “You are a man of surprises. And many talents.”
He climbed in beside her. “Couldn’t have us missing our first Thanksgiving as a family, could I?”
He started the mare down the road, aware of just how close he’d come to doing exactly that. He wouldn’t wait until tomorrow to thank God.
That would be a lifelong activity.
Beginning right now.
Both Tom and Kate realize that there will be no happy marriage, no peaceful household, and no hopeful future for them unless they center their lives on God and His role in their marriage. My stories all tell the same truth: God gives us second, and third, and fourth chances because that’s Who He is—a second, and third, and fourth chance God.
About Donna: Donna lives in Denver with husband Patrick. As a hybrid author, she writes historical suspense under her own name, and contemporary suspense under her alter ego of Leeann Betts, and has been published more than 30 times in novellas, full-length novels, devotional books, and books on the writing craft. She is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers, Writers on the Rock, Sisters In Crime, Pikes Peak Writers, and Christian Authors Network; facilitates a critique group; and teaches writing classes online and in person. Donna also ghostwrites, edits, and judges in writing contests. She loves history and research, and travels extensively for both. Donna is represented by Terrie Wolf of AKA Literary Management. Learn more and connect:
Donna’s Website – Stay connected so you learn about new releases, preorders, and presales, as well as check out featured authors, book reviews, and a little corner of peace. Plus: Receive a free ebook simply for signing up for our free newsletter!
Etsy online shop for Donna’s original artwork, book folding art, and gift items.
About the book – A Pink Lady Thanksgiving: Kate and Tom McBride, along with their newborn, John Thomas, settle into life in Oregon City, Oregon in November 1879. And while Kate enjoys being a wife, mother, and homemaker, she still remembers her fanciful dreams of last year: become a detective to solve mysteries. Her first case is to find the missing fiancée of a local banker. Tom, however, isn’t sure this is a good idea, particularly not when somebody throws a fiery bomb through the window of their home, burning it to the ground. They learn that their pasts may not be as far behind them as they’d hoped, but when their son is kidnaped, they just join forces to reveal who is trying to stop them—from finding the missing woman, and from starting their new life together.
Bonanza Books-in-a-Flash: order autographed print copies of books that are shipped directly from the author. Perfect for times when other online order services are slow.
Question for readers: What is your favorite dish at Thanksgiving? Mine is the turkey and stuffing and cranberry sauce. It all goes together in my mind as one dish.
Come back for Pat Nichols on Oct 30th!