Saturday, September 28, 2019


By Jacqui Nelson

I’m excited to be here on Sweethearts of the West because I love reading and writing and learning about the Old West. In my Western historical romance Christmas book, ROBYN: A CHRISTMAS BRIDE (which released last December), my hero, Max, is a tenacious business man who built a thriving freight company in Denver. His most unusual talent however is one he gave up—only to discover again while pursuing the love of his life, Robyn Llewellyn. That talent is knitting.

During the plotting of my new book, A BRIDE FOR BRYNMOR (which released Sept 19), I decided Robyn’s brother, Brynmor, and the love of his life, Lark, would be transporting two lambs to the talented knitter, Max. So he can knit more winter clothing for his family. They love his creations, but…

I’m not a fan of wool clothing. Yes, it’s warm and that’s wonderful, but most wool makes me maddeningly itchy. How could I make my characters want something I did not want? What if the lambs in my story had very soft wool. Merino wool immediately sprang to mind. That sounded Spanish and it is.

Merino Sheep

So when did Merino sheep come to America? Hopefully before 1878 because that’s when A BRIDE FOR BRYNMOR is set. It was time to do some research—a task that I love doing.

·         The Merino sheep breed originated in 12th-century southwestern Spain.
·         Before the 18th century, the export of Merinos from Spain was a crime punishable by death.
·         In 1802, Colonel David Humphreys (U.S. Ambassador to Spain) introduced the breed in Vermont with the import of 90 Merinos from Portugal.
·         Before the War of 1812, the British embargo on wool exports to America led to a “Merino Craze.”
·         Between 1809 and 1811, William Jarvis (of the Diplomatic Corps) imported 3,500 Merinos through Portugal.

Hurrah! Merino sheep were in America before my story’s setting of 1878! But all of the above was happening east of the Mississippi and not in Colorado where my story is set. Luckily, I found the following on  

·         In 1598, Don Juan de Onate trailed 2,900 Churros into the Purgatoire River region of southeastern Colorado. Churros are descended from the Spanish Churra that were first imported in the 16th century to feed Spanish armies and settlers.
·         Between that year and the dates below, Thomas Boggs, Alexander Hicklin, and Albert Boone Jones established sheep ranches that introduced Merinos into the Raton Basin in southern Colorado.
·         With the increase in sheep raising in the 1870s and early 1880s, it was reported that as many as 300,000 sheep were exported yearly from Colorado’s Raton Basin (to feed and clothe miners in the mountains and coal fields).

Double Hurrah! I’d reached A BRIDE FOR BRYNMOR’s story date and location of Colorado, 1878. And now after finishing the story, I can’t imagine it without Brynmor and Lark’s Merino lambs. Read on for an excerpt with those lambs. But first the book blurb…

A BRIDE FOR BRYNMOR (Songbird Junction, Book 1) ~ Book blurb

Can a sister who’s lived only for others find freedom with one man? Family has always come first—for both of them. He’s never forgiven himself for letting her go. She’s never forgiven herself for almost getting him killed.

When Lark and her songbird sisters are separated fleeing their cruel and controlling troupe manager, only Brynmor Llewellyn can help Lark save her sisters and escape to the far west. But Lark wants more. And so does Brynmor. When they’re stranded in a spot as difficult to guard as it is to leave—a rustic cabin at a train junction between Denver and the mountain town of Noelle, Colorado—they find themselves fighting not only for survival but for redemption, forgiveness, and a second chance for their love.

Will the frontier train stop of Songbird Junction be Lark and Brynmor’s salvation? Or their downfall when her manager, a con artist who calls himself her uncle but cherishes only his own fame and fortune—demands a debt no one can pay?

A BRIDE FOR BRYNMOR ~ An excerpt with lambs

Balancing a fidgety lamb in one arm, Brynmor opened the railcar’s door. Before he could take the other lamb from Lark, so she could more easily climb inside, she was aboard. As nimble as their foundlings’ wild cousins who ruled Colorado’s mountains.

The ebony waterfall cascading down the back of her red jacket mesmerized him. He hadn’t noticed until he met Lark that most women tied up their hair. Lark was completely different from anyone he’d ever met. She didn’t even braid her hair.

When she glanced over her shoulder, her dark eyes held a fathomless allure that rendered him speechless. “Have you changed your mind about traveling with me to Noelle?”

“No. Of course not.” Why would she think that? Because you’re staring at her like a besotted fool rather than getting on the train with her.

He tightened his grip on his cargo and followed her into the railcar. A lot less gracefully. The lamb squirmed at the worst moment. Rather than let the rascal hit the wall, he let his shoulder take the brunt. “Ouch. You little b—” He gritted his teeth and patted the little bounder’s head, trying to calm him.

“Are you all right?” Lark’s silky voice soothed his agitation.

He lifted the lamb higher. It nestled its head under his chin and finally relaxed as well.

“Haven’t felt this good in a long time.” The truth in his words did not surprise him. He was with Lark. And he wasn’t shirking his work so he didn’t have to feel guilty. At least not overly. He could’ve loaded the wool on the train, put the lambs in Lark’s excellent care, and trusted her and the conductor to handle the transport from there.

As was their routine, Robyn and Max would be waiting to unload their freight at the other end. He wasn’t needed for that. But he wanted to be there to help with that. He wanted to hug his sister and see Max’s reaction when he received his gift.

He wanted to see Lark’s as well. Every second she stayed with him was his gift.

Hope you enjoyed this look inside my new book and into my love for historical research—and now also my love for Merino sheep :)    

A BRIDE FOR BRYNMOR is available on Amazon Kindle for a limited-time, new release sale price of $0.99 or you can read it (and all of my stories) for free with your Kindle Unlimited subscription.


Fall in love with a new Old West...where adventurous women find steadfast men. You’ll find scouts, spies, cardsharps, trick-riding superstars, and more in my stories. My love for historical romance adventures with grit and passion came from watching Western movies while growing up on a cattle farm in northern Canada.

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  1. I am reading this now Jacqui and it so very good I hope to get it finished soon. I just love the cover I think it is absolutely beautiful

    1. Yippee! Wonderful to hear you're reading my book, Glenda ❤️

  2. Sounds like a wonderful well-researched story. Please make sure the wool products you purchase (especially merino wool) are from farms that do not use museling a cruel and ineffective practice still used on sheep in Australia and New Zealand


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