Sunday, November 20, 2011

Harmonica Joe's Wyoming-1910 in the Old West

By Sarah J. McNeal   

Back in 1969, I went on a road trip with my Nebraska friends to most of the northwest.  We saw some gorgeous scenery and met some very fine and friendly folks along the way.  Of all the states we visited, the one I fell in love with at first sight was Wyoming.  The wide-open skies, rolling hills and majestic mountains spoke to my heart.  The people were friendly but they were also people who knew how to keep a secret if asked to and would come to the aid of a friend in trouble, no questions asked.  At least that was my impression of them.  The state motto is “Equality”—and they mean it.  Much to my surprise, Wyoming was the first state in the union to give its women the right to vote.  The spirit of freedom and self-reliance is at the heart of the people who reside in this beautiful state. 
When I needed to choose a western state for Harmonica Joe’s Reluctant Bride, Wyoming was my immediate choice.  The story of Harmonica Joe’s Reluctant Bride takes place in 1910 when the Industrial Age had just begun to blossom.  Joe Wilding left his home in Virginia to settle into the community of hard working, faithful, mind-your-own-business town folk of Hazard (fictional name), Wyoming.  He had his secrets and heartaches and tried to drown them in liquor and gambling until time folded over and brought Lola into his life as a very unexpected bride.  Joe didn’t have much of a chance at a quiet existence after that.

Harmonica Joe’s Reluctant Bride
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~*~*~Also available in print~*~*~

A haunted house, a trunk and a date with destiny.
Lola Barton discovers a warp in time in an old trunk when she falls into 1910. She finds herself married to Joseph Wilding, a stranger shadowed by secrets. Mistaken for Callie McGraw, a thief and a woman of ill repute, Lola finds her life is threatened by a scoundrel. Joe stands between her and certain death. With danger threatening all around and secrets keeping them apart, can Joe and Lola find their destiny together?  Or will time and circumstance forever divide them?

Lola sensed there was a mystery to Joe Wilding, something he was not willing to share with anyone, especially someone he barely knew like her.  Curiosity crept into her veins and spread like wildfire.  Nothing enticed her more than a good mystery. 

Studying his stony features for a moment, Lola guessed that something very sad or very bad had happened to Joe, something she determined to find an answer to.  But for the sake of peace between them, she would let it rest for now.  “What’s that tune you’re playing?  Sounds something like that noise you were making last night.”

“It’s the same tune.  I only know the one.” 
“It sounds like pots clanging together.”  There, she got a good lick in for the insult back in the barn.  His face was unmoved and somehow she felt just a little guilty for saying the smart remark since he seemed in a pensive mood.

“Maybe so,” Joe acknowledged.
“Why do you carry the harmonica with you all the time if you only know one tune?  You don’t even play that one very well.”  A little stab of conscience needled at her chest, but Lola ignored it.  Why was she being so mean spirited toward this man?  He had only hurt her pride some.  She shouldn’t make such a big deal out of it.

He wiped the harmonica on his shirt before he put it back in his pocket.  With a narrow glance toward Lola, he took a deep breath and answered.  “It’s not my harmonica.  It belonged to my brother.  He died.  I killed him.  Now will you just let me have some silence for a while?”  The words seemed to grind up from the bottom of his throat as if he were choking on a bale of tumbleweed.

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  1. Hey, Sarah J. : ) What a treat to have you visit here! So glad you brought Joe & his bride so they could entertain us with their delightful romance! Wyoming is a wonderful setting for a western love story : )

  2. Thank you for having me here today, Celia. I appreciate it. It's a lovely spot for western stories.

  3. Virginia! So good to see you here. You are so kind to drop by and leave a comment for me. Thank you so much.

  4. Hi Sarah,
    Nice to meet you at Sweethearts of the West. Love the photo of Wyoming. Such awe inspiring country. Enjoyed your story and excerpt. Wishing you many happy readers! Great to have you here today.

  5. Thank you so much for dropping by, Jeanmarie. I appreciate your very kind words. I love your unique name.

  6. Sarah, I love time travels and love the old west, so this book sounds perfect to me. Welcome to the Sweethearts. Can't wait to read about Harmonica Joe and Lola. Gorgeous photo of the winter ranch scene. Made me wish I were there, with a large window to view the scenery while I write--nice and warm inside. ;-)

  7. Thank you so much for coming by and leqving a comment, Caroline. I'm thinking about that picture window looking out on a Wyoming winter. Very nice--as long as I don't have to go outside.
    I love time travel stories, too. I love to see how different authors handle the means of time travel, too. It's wonderfully mysterious.

  8. Glad to have you visit with us today, Sarah. I am intrigued with your story and look forward to reading it. Wyoming is indeed a gorgeous state. I am lucky to live in the Sierra Mountains of California and write my stories on the gold rush.

    So nice to get to know you!

  9. I love time-travel stories! When I get my new kindle (the other one broke!!!) I'm going to read this book as soon as I can. Have been hearing about it and it sounds like the perfect story for me. :)

    As for the picture, my toes are cold. I prefer Wyoming (and just about anwhere else) in the summer. LOL. (Tropical girl at heart) You should come out to Seattle and visit. Wouldn't that be fun? :) (In the summer, when it's not raining.)

  10. Paisley, you lucky girl to live in such a pictuesque place. I can just imagine you writing by a huge picture window peering down at the mountain vista--what inspiration. The only thing that would be a drawback is winter.
    I am so happy you dropped by today and left such a lovely comment. I hope you do get around to reading Harmonica Joe's story. The next book in the series will be out soon--For Love of Banjo. I wouldn't want you to get behind.
    Thanks again for visiting me here.

  11. Hey Jacquie darlin'. It's always so good to see you. So you live in Seattle? I haven't been there but my sister did her internship there and lived on Mercer Island. She loved it there.
    That picture of Wyoming reminds me of this series that was on TV last year, The Last American Cowboy. Those cowboys (and cowgirls, too) went out in horrible weather in the dead of winter checking on cattle. What a tough job that must be. I am not much of a winter girl either.
    Thanks for coming by, Jacquie.

  12. I don't have a vista here at the house, but I do have the most beautiful cedars, firs, and pine trees. And, yes, there is the snow. We are at 3500 feet and do get an accumulation of about 3 to 4 feet at a time if my hubby doesn't keep the drive clear with his snow thrower. The vista is when we are driving up the hill and can see the mountains around Lake Tahoe. Priceless!

  13. So Paisley, do you ever have to manuver ice and snow covered roads going up and down those mountains in winter? That would terrify me. I would just stay in my house until spring. LOL It has to be beautiful there though.

  14. One time I did. It was snowing so I was going to cancel my dental appointment. Wise hubby said, no problem go. I called him from down the hill before my appointment, he still said no problem. On the way home I got stopped by the highway patrol. It was a white out and only people with good tires and 4WD were let through. Our driveway is steep with a sharp turn at the bottom. I was so scared, my knees would not hold me up to get into the house. Yes, hubby is still alive, but NEVER again do I leave on my own if there is even one snowflake. Hubby grew up in northern Wisconsin so snow is no biggie to him. It is sure pretty, though. :)

  15. I'm not sure how I would cope with so much snow, especially driving.

    This is a lovely spot for Western Stories.

  16. Hey Marybelle. I love your name. Yes, wyoming is the perfect place for a western whether it's historical or modern day. I'm with you about not wanting to drive in the mountains on snow and ice covered roads. Scary. In the winter, I would just as soon stay at home here in North Carolina. I once lived in Nebraska for a year and I had enough of winter weather there.
    Thank you so much for dropping by my blog, Marybelle. I really appreciate it.

  17. Ohmagawd Paisley, I was terrified just reading that account of your trip to the dentist's office in a white-out. Your driveway sounds like the road to death. Yikes!


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