Saturday, April 24, 2021

WHAT CAN A DOLLAR BUY? by Marisa Masterson

The Mississippi River features largely in my next new release. Steamboats traveling up and down that major waterway transport my hero as well as the heroine's sister who goes missing. I wanted to be accurate as I wrote so I researched. Each steamboat captain's dollar surprised me.

By that, I mean the dollar a captain had to pay in St. Louis. The wharf, like many through history, seemed to be a place where criminals sought out opportunities to rob others. The solution in that major port on the Mississippi was to collect a dollar from each captain regularly. 

The Robert E. Lee (in the front) appears in
my novel Verity's Overlander.

This created a fund that was paid to the police. As long as they paid them, an officer would patrol the area to protect the goods brought into the city. I suppose this would be like our modern-day security guards. I've heard that, often, police will moonlight as one of those. 

Another thing I found interesting in my research was the Black Maria. Some readers of this blog might already know what that is. For me, it was new.

I would call it a paddy wagon. That term seemed to be used mainly in New York in the 1800s since many of the people arrest there were Irish. The Black Maria was created with bars to, at first, specially hold one woman, Maria. She was so strong and wild when drunk that they made the wagon for times when they picked her up. Eventually, in London, the wagon became known as a Black Maria. This term was also used in the United States during the setting of my book.

If you're curious to learn how I used these in a sweet romance, check out Verity's Overlander. For a very brief time, it's at the special pre-order price of 99¢!

Poor Mrs. Ella Milton! The matchmaker bends her rules and interviews this bride and groom by letter. No matter the disaster that follows, she still feels the Lord’s blessing in the mess.

Verity Vaksdal wants adventure, just like her Viking ancestors. After reading dime novels, she knows that adventure will only come her way if she finds a dark and handsome hero.

Mrs. Ella Milton helps her find that hero, arranging for her to be a mail-order bride. To make her plan happen, Verity neglects telling Mrs. Milton her real age. At fifteen, Verity sneaks away from home and leaves a panicked older sister behind her. This sets in motion a series of events that will bring her sister, Veronica, to St. Louis. Veronica is the one who meets the dark, handsome hero. Not that she’s happy to see him.

Robbie MacTavish never thought to write away for a wife. After his wife’s death years earlier, he decided never to remarry. His aunt has other ideas and writes to a “friend of a friend”, Mrs. Ella Milton. When the bride fails to show, he is more relieved than disappointed. He needs to focus his attention on leading his family’s group of wagons to Wyoming.

When Veronica, his bride’s much older sister, appears and not Verity, Robbie’s suddenly grows much more interested in marrying. Will he be able to convince this woman that he needs only her as his wife while they race against time to find Verity?


  1. Such a great cover, Marissa! On our honeymoon, Hero and I rode a Mississippi Riverboat for a day's trip on the Mississippi. I loved it--but I guess I would have loved anything on my honeymoon. LOL Hero and I wanted to travel several hundred miles by rail and then ride a riverboat down to New Orleans. We never got around to it. Your new book sounds intriguing. Best wishes for continued success.

  2. You can go down such a rabbit hole with research, but I love what you discovered.

    The book sounds fabulous!


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