I'm so happy to introduce another lovely author, Jennifer Jakes. She's published two other books “Twice in a Lifetime” and “Rafe's Redemption”. Also a Golden Heart finalist, Jennifer has worked hard to build a career as an author. Because traditional publishers hesitate to contract western romances, she went the Indie route and there are many who have been glad. Count me as one! My 5 star review for "Rafe's Redemtion" on Amazon was titled "So Good!"
Today, we have the second in our series of interviews with three award-winning authors whose fascination with the TV series “Hell on Wheels” led to a historical romance anthology they wrote together. Our guest today Jennifer Jakes is the author of the novella Eden’sSin, which is featured in the anthology Passion’sPrize.
Thanks for having me here today, Mimi! The release of Passion’s Prize and Eden’s Sin has been so much fun! We’ve had tons of encouragement from friends and other authors – and the icing on the cake was my debut novel, Rafe’s Redmeption, hit #1 on the Kindle Best Seller list! So all in all, it’s been a fantastic week!
Like Leigh and Jacqui, I’m a huge fan of the Hell of Wheels TV series. I’m the nut who when I saw the first advertisement 6 months out, I marked my calendar to make sure I could watch the premiere. Yes, that’s how excited I was to see the Historical Western Genre making a come-back. I grew up watching Clint Eastwood movies, along with specialty series like Centennial. For me, anything Western held my attention. That has never changed.
So when we decided to write Passion’s Prize, why did I pick the former prostitute and the soldier? Well, Leigh said she thought I could handle that one. LOL I honestly did laugh and told her I wasn’t sure if that was a compliment, but that I’d be happy to write those characters. You see, I have a weird fascination with Old West prostitutes. How did those women end up in those kind of lives? Did they choose them? Forced into them? I have several research books about that vocation in that era, and if anyone thinks Miss Kitty from Gunsmoke is a real representation, let me assure you that is all lies.
While a few—very few—chose the life, thinking they might get rich, most had no choice. Or their choice was do this or starve. Women working as a laundress or in a factory (in the East) would make pennies per day compared to the dollar(s) per day a prostitute could make. But the conditions in which the lower-class doves worked was deplorable. High-end brothel girls had it pretty good…until their looks faded. Then they slowly made their way down the “ladder” until they died or ended up in a crib-house—a shack where the men didn’t even bother to undress for “servicing”. When a cattle drive would come through town, the crib girls could service up to 75 men in 24 hours.
So on that sad note; I knew Eden’s life of prostitution wasn’t something she would have picked for herself. Coming up with her story was challenging but the research was very interesting. I hope readers will enjoy reading Eden’s Sin as much as I enjoyed writing it! Now here’s an excerpt.
Eden smoothed the skirt of her plain brown calico dress and patted her tightly braided bun, draping her woolen shawl over her head. She had to appear a reputable lady of town or else she didn't stand a snowball's chance in Hell of convincing some Army man to hear her out.
Men, especially those in power, didn't respect whores.
The rain had slowed to a drizzle, hanging in the air like a fog. The smell of smoke and manure circled in the air, and she shuddered at the damp breeze. Lifting the hem of her skirt, she stepped off the boardwalk onto the muddy street. Biting back a curse, she tried not to limp. The last thing she wanted was questions from the soldier.
She dropped her gaze and hurried toward the end of town.
Down the street, the sound of men barking orders and hammering tent stakes echoed from the empty lot beside the livery now filled with horses.
Swallowing her doubt, she strode toward the camp.
Would she stoop to lying to claim help for Mary? Yes, why not? Heap yet another sin upon her head. Whatever it took to find justice. At this point murder was the only wicked deed she hadn’t committed—though there were men who tempted her to do just that. Two in this town alone. Judge Parsons one, Henry Stevens the other.
Parsons had already made it clear he had no intention of pursuing the man who raped Mary Rose—a whore in the making. The hateful phrase burned through Eden each time she replayed the scene. He refused to lose the man-power for a search. He didn't want to know if one of his workers committed the crime. Not that she suspected the McGrady Gang. Cormac's men were the most upstanding men in town. Possibly the only upstanding men in town. But the stragglers who hopped from the Joy line to the Katy, always searching for the higher pay wage, those men were cruel drifters with no morals and no conscience. And she intended to see the man guilty of destroying Mary Rose’s innocence prosecuted.
She wove her way through the muddy row of tents already standing, to a large wall-tent at the end of a military street. Poking her head inside the open flap, she spied two men unpacking satchels and setting up a foldable wooden table.
“Excuse me.” She cleared her throat and spoke again. Louder. “Excuse me, gentlemen.”
Both men turned, the taller planting a worn, wet hat onto his dark head. Damp hair, a little too long, curled around his ears.
Her heart pounded, but she swallowed and stood up straighter. Too late to turn back now.
“Yes, Ma'am. Come in. What can we do for you?” His voice was, deep, strong, but not harsh. There was a lot to be known about a man through his voice. Not his words. Words were lies, more times than not. But if a woman knew how to listen, she could learn with what kind of man she dealt. This one she felt, she hoped against hope, was fair.
“I need a word with your commander.” She forced her voice to stay calm, sound refined, the kind of soft elegance she'd learned so many years ago. “Would that be you, sir?” Stepping inside, she dropped the shawl to rest around her shoulders and tried to paste a respectable expression on her face.
“That would be me, Major Bradford, at your service.” He walked toward her, long, lean, a rare handsomeness. She swallowed hard. Damn, why did he have to be handsome? She didn't want to notice a man ever again. Not as long as she lived. The last handsome man she trusted tried to kill her.
Thanks again for having me here, Mimi! I want to give a FREE eBook of Eden’s Sin to 1 lucky commentator. So be sure to leave your email with your comment for the drawing!
About the Author!
After trying several careers—everything from a beautician to a dump truck driver—Jennifer finally returned to her first love, writing. Maybe it was all those Clint Eastwood movies she watched growing up, but in her opinion there is no better read than a steamy western historical.
Married to her very own hero, she lives on fifteen acres along with two beautiful daughters, two spoiled cats, three hyper dogs and one fat rabbit.
During the summer she does Civil War re-enacting and has found it a great research tool, not to mention she has continued appreciation for her microwave and hot water heater.
Her debut novel, RAFE’S REDEMPTION, was a RWA Golden Heart finalist and Won BEST ROMANCE 2011 at DITHR and many other awards. RAFE’S REDEMPTION has since become a #1 Best Seller on Amazon!
Her second book, TWICE IN A LIFETIME, was an International Digital Award finalist. It has also recently become a #1 Best Seller on Amazon!
Visit Jennifer Jakes at www.jenniferjakes.com or find her books on Amazon at http://www.amazon.com/Jennifer-Jakes/e/B005OMTLWW/ref=ntt_athr_dp_pel_1