Monday, December 10, 2012

ROMANCE IN THE BONE WARS-by Alison Henderson

Please welcome our guest.

She grew up in Kansas City on the edge of the prairie.  One of her favorite memories is of the fringed turquoise cowgirl outfit she received for her fifth Christmas.  She went off to New York to study art history at Vassar College but never lost her admiration for the fortitude of the pioneers who settled the frontier.  She began writing when her daughter entered pre-school and was quickly captivated by the creative process. The Treasure of Como Bluff is her first novella but her third western historical romance.

A girl after our own hearts--a true Sweetheart!
Thank you, Celia and the rest of the Sweethearts, for inviting me to join you today to talk about the historical setting for my new novella, The Treasure of Como Bluff.

 Romance in the Bone Wars
I’m sure many of you are familiar with the Wyoming Bone Wars that took place during the last quarter of the nineteenth century between Professor O.C. Marsh of Yale’s Peabody Museum and Professor Edward Cope of the University of Pennsylvania.  I’ve always found this conflict fascinating for several reasons, not the least of which was the lengths to which these two academics were willing to go to foil each other’s efforts in pursuit of fame and fortune.  Additionally, the combination of the settling of the West with the explosion of scientific discovery at that time makes it doubly interesting.


Marsh and Cope began their paleontological careers as colleagues, but all that disintegrated when Marsh publically humiliated Cope by pointing out that he had incorrectly connected the head of one of his major finds, a plesiosaur called Elasmasaurus, where the tail should go.  From that point on, the gloves were off. 


Although Marsh did lead an expedition to Wyoming in 1870, guided by William F. (Buffalo Bill) Cody, as a rule nineteenth century paleontologists did not do their own digging.  They relied on fossil hunters to ship crates of bones east for study.  They then paid the diggers by the pound or container.  These fossil excavators might have been railroad employees or merely fortune hunters, but whatever their background, there were not scientists.  They used any method available to get the bones out of the ground as quickly as possible with little care for what might have been damaged or destroyed in the process.

 Como Bluff is a barren ridge of rock east of Medicine Bow and west of Rock River.  It is also the site of one of the largest deposits of late Jurassic dinosaurs and early mammals in North America and a primary focus of the rivalry between Marsh and Cope.  There, diggers in the employ of both factions were ordered to do everything they could to disrupt the operations of the other, including dynamiting excavation pits and diverting fossil shipments.

 Sounds like the perfect setting for a romance, right? I thought so when I dreamed up (literally!) the premise for The Treasure of Como Bluff.

 Here’s the blurb:
In her race against rival bone hunters, the last complication paleontologist Caroline Hubbard needs is an unconscious stranger cluttering up her dig site. Nicholas Bancroft might have the chiseled features and sculpted physique of a classical statue, but she's not about to let him hamper her quest to unearth a new species of dinosaur and make her mark on the scientific world.
Nick has come to Wyoming in search of silver but, after a blow to the head, finds himself at the mercy of a feisty, determined female scientist. Despite his insistence that he's just passing through, he agrees to masquerade as Caroline's husband to help save her job. Once their deception plays out, they face a crucial decision. Will they be able to see beyond their separate goals and recognize the treasure right in front of them?

 And an excerpt:

              Nick laughed. “Are you always this grumpy when you’re working?”

            “I’m about to face the biggest challenge of my life, one that will affect my entire future, and you refuse to take it seriously.” She glared at him through narrowed eyes. “I have every right to be grumpy.”

“Perhaps, but remember, you asked for my help. You need me to pull off this deception.”

He was right. She did need him, and if she wasn’t careful he’d get back on his horse and ride out of her life forever. The thought pushed her near the edge of panic. “I know, and I’m sorry. It’s just that this is so important to me.”

Nick slid his arm around her shoulders. “I know. Don’t worry; I won’t abandon you. I owe you. You saved my life, remember?”

When he didn’t release her immediately, Caroline breathed a tiny sigh and allowed herself the luxury of leaning against him, wrapped in the safety and comfort of his arm. She closed her eyes and rested her head against the warm solidity of his chest, absorbing the reassuring rhythmic thump of his heartbeat. She’d always been alone in her quest; it would be a relief to have someone to share it with, even if only for a few days.

She thought she felt something whisper-soft touch the top of her head, almost like a kiss of breeze, but the air was still. It couldn’t have been Nick...could it? She lifted her head and turned until she could see his face. The devil twinkled in those sea-blue eyes, and a lazy smile played across his lips.

“Flip you for the bed.”
Thanks so much for stopping by to share this fun bit of our history with me.
She invites you to visit her website at

This Novella can be found on Amazon as an ebook-$2.99

 Please leave a comment for Alison! 


  1. Good morning, Alison--I must admite, I have never known a paleontologist at all, let alone one as a lovely heroine in a romance story! The blurb sounds like your story is humorous and filled with action. I hope you make a lot of sales on this novella with TWRP.

  2. Good morning, Celia, and thanks for allowing me to visit the Sweethearts and share my story. I had so much fun writing The Treasure of Como Bluff. The hero spends way too much time in a pink sunbonnet--made me laugh each time.

  3. Alison, this sounds so fascinating. I'm always on the lookout for a story with a different twist. This one definitely delivers. Can't wait to download and read it on my Kindle.
    Thanks for sharing.....

  4. Thanks so much, Donn. I hope you enjoy it!

  5. Alison, what an unique premise for a book. My husband and I have longed to visit the site of the dinosaur finds, so this sounds like a book I definitely will enjoy.

  6. Hi Caroline, I haven't been there in person yet either, but after researching this story, I'd love to go.

  7. Hi, ladies. I have nothing to say here--I'm just following Alison around. :-) Your story is so interesting.

  8. Thanks so much, Liz! I hope you learn a little something new with each post!

  9. How nice to meet you today, Alison. What fun you must have had doing your research on this premise. I love it!

    Best of luck to you with a lot of sales. It was fun having you share your story with us.

  10. Nice to meet you, too, Paisley! Thanks for the best wishes.

  11. Howdy, Alison, welcome to our little corner of the west. I always love learning new things, and your post is right up there. Best wishes with the book, and merry Christmas.

  12. Thanks, Tanya. Merry Christmas to you, too!


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