Taboos in the Western Historical Romance

Are There Taboos in Writing the Western Historical Romance?

I had a new writer tell me she didn’t think you could tackle a controversial subject in a western romance like you could in other genres. She said all you have to do to write a western romance is dream up a handsome cowboy and a pretty maiden, throw in a few gunfights, a fistfight or two and a gang of outlaws or rustlers. Then you have the couple argue and make up and all will end well.

Of course, those of us who write western historical romance know there is more to the story than gunfights, outlaws, rustlers, (though they may be there) and a romance that ends well.

When I started writing western romance it never occurred to me the number of topics some people might consider taboo, that I’d end up including in my novels.

Fiona's Journey

My first western historical rromance, Fiona’s Journey came out in 2012. It touched on the horrible subject of child molestation and rape. Though I never graphically described either of these in my writing, it left no doubt in the reader’s mind what was being referred to.


Valissa's Home - WEBIn Valissa’s Home I discussed gambling. Not the regular kind of gambling that takes place in a saloon as happens in most westerns, but one of my characters suffers a gambling addiction so bad that he not only lost all his fortune, but also that of his sister.


Amelia's MarriagePrejudice was one of the topics in the book Amelia’s Marriage. A lot of people, including her father, were appalled when Amelia fell in love with, not only a bounty-hunter, but a bounty-hunter who happened to be half Lakota Indian.


Drina's Choice 2Drina’s Choice was a mail-order-bride story. Though many men in the west wanted a wife to ease their loneliness and to give them children as heirs, there were other reasons for using this service. In my book, the mail-order-bride was arranged to keep a rancher from losing the ranch he’d worked so hard to build into a profitable enterprise.

Hannah's WishesDealing with a heroine who was born with a withered foot and could never walk, but who had dreams and hopes of one day having a man to love and to love her back was the premise of Hannah’s Wishes. Also I touched on how an unscrupulous relative could take advantage of someone with a disability.


RenaCowboy_smRena’s Cowboy was the one time-travel I’ve written. It explores how an accomplished, savvy policewoman of today’s world copes when thrown back into the primitive way people had to live in the 1800’s. It also shows how men of that place and time could learn that women were strong and could hold their own in most any situation.

edwina COVER (1)Edwina’s Husband deals with a woman who has been raised by her not-so-religious preacher uncle who has a bible verse for everything that happens, though he sees everything in the world as evil, including his wife and his niece. Of course, he sees no wrong in himself.


camillaCOVERChild abandonment is the first problem that crops up in Camilla’s Daughters. There is also the problem of child slavery and how a woman who never wanted children contends with having two girls thrust upon her – one an infant and the other an eight-year-old.


Opla's Faith

Family loyalty and revenge is in Opal’s Faith.



Hate and acceptance is forefront in Belinda’s Battle, my newest romance from Prairie Rose Publications released May 19.


In some of the books I have sketched out I will tackle such things as: Remorse and loneliness in Zenia’s Guilt; Unwanted pregnancy and responsibility in Isabel’s Baby; and infidelity and forgiveness in Nelda’s Return.

After these books are finished, I’m not sure what, but I will come up with something else for my main characters to face. I hope it will be something I won’t be afraid to tackle or something that I’ll shy away from. I have learned that no subject is taboo when you write a western romance as long as it is written with tact and in a non-offensive way.


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Belinda’s Yankee Release

Belinda's Yankee

Release date for Belinda’s Yankee – May 19, 2016

Belinda Babcock’s father shoves her into the tunnel under her plantation home, but refuses to join her because the Yankee soldiers saw him enter the house. She is devastated when she hears them enter the house, kill her father then set far to her home.

Knowing her father died so she could live, she follows the tunnel to the cave where a hiding place has been set up. When she feels it’s safe to go outside, she stumbles upon a severely wounded man – Yankee Major Victor McKay.

Will Belinda get revenge for her father’s death by killing the almost dead man or will she do what she can to save his life?

If you’d like a signed copy of Belinda’s Yankee, leave me a comment and I’ll draw a name from all who post. I will  have print copies in a couple of weeks.  Drawing will end on May 31.  (If you choose, there is the option of getting a digital copy.)

I hope you enjoy Belinda’s Yankee as much as I enjoyed writing it.





Thanks to all who entered.

Keep checking out my blog because I’ll have other chances for you to win copies of my books.

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I have a lot of respect for the men and women who first made the trek across this great land of ours. The more I research this topic, the more respect I have. I don’t know if I would’ve had the grit and stamina to take the chance of settling in a new life in a strange part of the country. Researching for a western historical romance I’m working on helped me understand the many sacrifices these pioneers made.

The thing they had to decide was if they were going to convert their farm wagon into a covered wagon or to buy one already ready to go. A wagon ran from $150 to $250. The wagon was 6’ wide and 10’ long and could carry around 2500 pounds of food supplies. (The recommended amount for a family of four.) Some pioneers brought their own linen wagon covers and waterproofed them with beeswax or linseed oil. If converting a farm wagon for the trip the bows to hold the top covering were $3 a set.  To buy a wagon cover of heavy canvas sailcloth was $6 to $8

4 to 6 animals were needed to pull the wagons. Oxen were the best choice and were often recommended since they required less water and had no trouble surviving on the different grasses they would encounter. They cost $25 to $35 each. Mules were the next best selection. They ran $10 to $15 each and were often chosen because of the price, though it was recommended to bring extra along in the case of losing one or more on the trial. Horses were not recommended for the journey, but one was often brought along for the man of the family to ride in a hunting excursion or to use when serving as a look out. A prime horse sold for $100, but an acceptable one could be bought for $50. Many families brought a milk cow for milk and for the butter that could be churned by fastening a barrel to the side of the wagon. It would be jostled enough by nightfall to have made the butter. A good milk cow could run between $70 to $75.


Of course animals had to have riggings. An ox-yoke $8. Horse or mule harness $8. Also needed were 1 to 3 whips ($1 each). Other items suggested for the wagon were extra wheels since they often broke or came off on the trail, (Wheels sold at 2 for $50) and it was a good thing to have an extra axel ($75).

Getting the wagons ready for the trek across the wilderness was only the beginning. There are the food supplies, clothing, tools and many other items that the pioneers needed and wanted to take with them. Sometimes to survive they had to make a choice between food and some piece of furniture.

To take a wagon train west was more costly than most people realize. The average it cost for a family of four was $1,000. In that day this was a large amount of money and more than most people had. Many families not only used what little savings they had, but sold all their possessions and some still had to borrow from family and friends.

This was my first book about the Oregon Trail. It is still available on Amazon and other online outlets.

My contact:


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New Anthology

Lariats Letters and Lace Web

Love doesn’t happen only at Valentine’s Day, but that is a good time to read a good story.

Lariats, Letters and Lace gives you 8 stories from women who not only write the Western Historical Romance, but read them, too. Check these out. You won’t be disappointed!

Stories as they appear in the book:


Samantha Whitener delivers the children of her deceased friend to their grandmother, Nellie Jenson, in Wyoming. She likes Nellie and the children thrive under her influence. But Nellie’s son, Russ, is another matter. Samantha is attracted to the rugged, handsome rancher. But when she overhears him tell his mother that Samantha is the least useful women he’s ever met, she knows she must return to Philadelphia before it’s too late – and she loses her heart to him completely.


Brady Wells, a half-Sioux orphan, finds work on the Triple C Ranch. The ranch owner’s young daughter, befriends Brady, and through the years she never fails to give him a card on Valentine’s Day. When Kitty is sixteen, Brady promises her if she’s not married by the time she’s twenty-one, he will marry her – but how can that happen when he’s set on leaving the Triple C? Even though he rides away, Kitty is determined to hold him to the promise he made so long ago…and she sets out to track him down. She’s in love with Brady Wells and he made her a Valentine promise.

BETWEEN THE LINES — Linda Carroll-Bradd

Dance hall girl, Daisy Shaddock and her miner brother, Perry, work toward a mutual dream of owning a book shop. Perry’s partner, Walt Renfrid, arrives in town, dreading the promise he must fulfill — delivery of a faithful letter. Recognizing Daisy, Walt can’t resist delaying his purpose for a few stolen moments in her company. Will the news he must deliver push her away or draw the couple closer?

HE IS A GOOD MAN — Zina Abbott

Convinced he won’t make it out of the Civil War alive, Joshua persuades his best friend, Hal, to promise to deliver a letter. Joshua’s childhood sweetheart, Melinda, waits for him to return to her in California when the war ends – but Joshua won’t be coming back. Instead, he ask Hal to deliver his last letter to Melinda – in person

HEARTS IN HARMONY — Patti Sherry-Crews

It seems like Harmony and Alice have been best friends forever. They are of the same mind, and he can talk to her about anything – anything except the fact that he’s fallen in love with the young woman she’s become. He’s so in love, he’s speechless in her presence. But his sister, Melody, has a plan. Harmony sends Alice an anonymous declaration of his love, promising to reveal himself at the Valentine’s Day dance. What could go wrong?


A letter brings Chance Riebold to Lone Pine. Having been released from jail after being framed by his former girlfriend and her accomplice, he is ready for a second chance. As sheriff of the mining town, he’s tough enough for the job – but he’s in for a few surprises. Katherine Whitworth, aka as Kitty, runs her  down-and-out father’s saloon, but has every intention of leaving Lone Pine to start a new life. The sparks fly as Chance comes to see that Kitty – far from being a loose woman – is indeed a most respectable woman.


When Chantilly Walsh’s older brother is gunned down outside a Carson City saloon, she’s determined to save her younger brother from the same fate. Adventurous Pony Express rider, Blaze Steele, gallops into town and captures her heart and soul. Wealthy rancher, Daniel Braddock, sets his sights on her as well, offering stability and security. There’s been a terrible misunderstanding that could change everything. Set to marry on Valentine’s Day, who will Chantilly choose?


Remarrying isn’t on Dale Forbe’s mind, but his granddaughters want a grandma. Widow Irene Maxon yearns for something more than the disappointments life has handed her. A mail-order catalogue, a secret letter, and a blizzard combine to strike up a well-made match for Dale and Irene. However, another man expects Irene to fulfill their marriage agreement, and he isn’t going to take no for an answer.

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My Writing Path

As a lot of writers, I’ve been in love with the written word since I was a child. As many people know I wrote my first book when I was eight years old. It was a re-write of Beauty and the Beast. Of course, it’s lost in the past, but it wasn’t the only book I’ve written that never saw the light of day. There were several as well as the beginnings of many more.

My first published writings were short subjects and short stories, mainly for Sunday School take home papers and small magazines. I did have a recipe published in Southern Living and a hint found its way into Family Circle. I wrote and sold around seven hundred of these. The rejections I got amounted to over a thousand. Most paid me from .00 to 10.00, though there were four or five that paid 50.00 to 100.00.  I lost money because in all these ‘manuscripts’ I had to enclosed self-addressed- stamped-envelopes and/or return postage. (It was before the PC was a household necessity.)

Eventually I put together a book of games and puzzles based on the Bible called, Fun with the Bible and it was published by the Lutheran Synod. They also published two children’s activity books: Who am I, Old Testament and Who am I, New Testament. This happened in the 80’s.

After this, I hit an almost 20 year dry spell. It seemed nothing I wrote would sell. I received rejection after rejection, but I didn’t let this stop me. I wrote a couple of books and one actually caught the eye of a NY agent, who eventually rejected it. I was crushed, but I kept writing. No publisher would even look at it. After a good cry, I kept writing.

In 2000 I sold my first full-length fiction manuscript. Jilted by Death was published in 2003. The publisher then went out of business. I couldn’t attract a publisher for the next two books, Echoes of Mercy and Duo of Opposites, so I self-published them in 2006.  I owned the rights on Jilted and Echoes so in 2007 I sent them to Harlequin’s Worldwide Mysteries. I didn’t hear anything for 18 months, then out of the blue they sent me a contract for both. One was published in 2010 the other in 2011.

In 2008 I found a small publisher and they accepted the manuscript, Stetson Mold. It came out in 2009. The second book they published was Duo of Opposites since I owned the rights to it. They went on to publish The Calendar Clan, June & Wallace, The Ferrington Men: Gabe, The Ferrington Men: Josh and Emerywood Park.  They also published two western romances: Opal’s Faith and Valissa’s Home.

Another small firm published Your Place or Mine, Lady Slippers for my Lady, Wildflowers for the Senator and A Rose for my Forever Love.

My state murder series was first published by an e-book publisher: A South Carolina Murder, A Georgia Murder and A North Carolina Murder. I left this publisher.

For a new publisher. I began writing western romance under the name, Agnes Alexander. My publisher requested I only write under this name because it sold better than my birth name. I now answer to that name as often as I do my real name. My first book with them, Fiona’s Journey came out in 2012. They have also published in the western romance genre Rena’s Cowboy, Quinn’s Promise, Edwina’s Husband, Camilla’s Daughters, Amelia’s Marriage and Grace’s Dream. In the romance field they’ve published, The Island and Bought Bride. They re-named and re-published the mystries, Murder in North Carolina, Murder in South Carolina and Murder in Georgia.

I then found a publisher who only publishes western romance. They have published 2 books: Drina’s Choice and Hannah’s Wishes. I’m currently working on the 3rd and last in the series. At this time they have under contract, Belinda’s Yankee, a stand-alone that will be out in early 2016. In an anthology called, A Cowboy’s Celebration, they published my short-story: Second Chance at Love. In a boxed-set of books called, Love’s First Touch they re-published Drina’s Choice.

What did I learn from all this that might be of benefit to the new writer?:  (1) I didn’t let anything publishers or editors say discourage me. (2) No matter how my sales dropped, I kept writing. (3) I never refused to change or re-write when the editors requested it if it didn’t change the focus of the story. (4) I changed my genre when I felt I needed or wanted to. I started out writing non-fiction. I moved to Cozy Mystery, then Romantic Suspense, then Romance then Western Romance. Though I write a mystery or a present day romance occasionally, I’ve found I truly love writing the western romances and plan to continue – at least until I finish the alphabet with a woman’s name. (5) I now make a little money from my books, but I love writing them and know I will continue to write as long as the Good Lord lets me, whether I made money or not.

Leave a comment under this writing and be in a drawing for one of my print books. I’ll even autograph it for you.


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When I first started writing I thought the release date of my books would be some great day in the history of my writing. When it actually happened the first time, the date came and went without anything special happening. Now that I’ve been at it a while, I have learned a lot. I now know that unless the writer announces the date it is nothing more than a date on the calendar for everyone else, including the publisher.

I’m not saying the date isn’t important to the writer. It most definitely is. It means the public can now go to Amazon or their favorite bookstore and buy the book and in the end that is the important thing. But it’s not the earth shaking event I had thought in the beginning. The publisher didn’t call, or send flowers, or send me on a book signing tour across the country. If I’m lucky, they put a bit about the book on Twitter. Any other promotion is up to me.

That’s the reason you get bombarded on FaceBook and other media outlets with announcements of my book making it to market. Now you know why a writer tells you they have a new book on the market. Thanks for reading and if you’ll  leave a comment you’ll have a chance to win a free autographed copy of Grace’s Dream.

Grace’s Dream

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New Boxed Set

My Novel DRINA’S CHOICE is included in the boxed set entitled LOVE’S FIRST TOUCH. Loves First Touch Box 3The set sells for .99 on Amazon and is a must for anyone who like a good love story.

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Finished Editing!

It rained all weekend so I spent the time finishing the edits on Grace’s Dream. Now to move on to something new.

Grace’s Dream

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It rained all weekend so I spent the time finishing the edits on Grace’s Dreams. Now to start a new project.


Just received the galleys for the first editing of Grace’s Dream. Hope to get it finished this week. Of course this is not going to be easy. I’m closing on my new condo on Friday and I have a lot of packing to do.
Grace’s Dream is slated to come out in December.

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A Cowboy Celebration

Cowboy Celebration

Seven heartwarming stories by seasoned Western Historical writers.

Here are samples to give you an idea of the content.


Lily Harmon’s heart was captured when she adopted little Maddie Cullinan, an orphan whose father was presumed killed in battle. But former Union Army Major Luke Cullinan is very much alive, and he’s determined to reclaim his cherished daughter in Lorrie Farrelly’s  “The Longest Way Home.”



Ivey Treadwell, cook at her family’s boarding house, wants to accomplish something big. For now, she satisfies herself with improving on the traditional recipes for the boarders by adding herbs and spices she gathers. An incident with a broken pan causes her to see Berg Spengler, the town’s blacksmith, in a new light. Stigmatized for his huge size and blamed for his brother’s injury, Berg has discovered being alone is safer for his heart. But when he sees interest spark in Ivey’s eyes, he decides to take a chance and approach her. The pair discovers an attraction that heats up each time they are alone together. Will Ivey convince Berg his wandering days are over and home is here with her in Comfort?



Dr. Miles Kerry and his nurse, Cora Hilliard, have both given up on finding love again. But when Cora is asked to move out of the boarding house where she and her ten-year-old son Koby live, they have nowhere to go. Miles insists they move into the spare rooms in his house—an arrangement with no complications. But when Cora falls ill with a raging fever, she must rely on Miles as she never has before. Will Koby get the father he wants so badly? Will Miles and Cora get their Second Chance at Love?



Five years ago, Callie Lynch fell in love, only to have her dreams shattered when she realized she’d been played the fool and used like a puppet. Bitter and shamed, trusting no man and determined to stand alone, she leaves Virginia to find new roots in Wyoming. Three years ago, Marshal Chase Matlock lost the love of his life during a bank robbery and was left riddled with guilt for failing to protect her. For three years, he’s tracked the scum of the earth—and this time, by God, he’ll get his man.



Thomas Heath’s sister, Clara, abandoned him to the cruelties of the people who were raising them. As a young man, he finally finds her—but she is on her way to getting married. Tom leaves in search of something to give him the stability he yearns for…but what?

Maria Berñal, pampered and coddled by her wealthy father, is on the verge of becoming a woman as her eighteenth birthday approaches. When a stranger shows up at their door and is wounded as he tries to protect her, she finds him more than a passing attraction—she’s falling in love.

But Tom is the victim of a deadly trick, and can’t remember who he is or why he’s at the Berñal home. Will he regain his memory in time to prevent a second attack?



Poppy Stanton tracks down her mentally handicapped sister, Gracie, who has run off to become a mail-order bride. In the family way, Grace refuses to leave the dusty Wyoming town of Hope Springs, though she is married to an abusive husband. Bachelor Reed Ridgeley and his mother live nearby, and invite Poppy to stay at their spacious ranch while she sorts out what to do about Gracie. Can Poppy convince her sister to come back home to Chicago with her before Reed can show her what a new future could look like for them in Hope Springs?



Cora Peterson is dead set on winning the Fourth of July Barrel Auction with her Mile High Apple Pie. She expects her rival might best her once again, but what she doesn’t expect is a bid for love from the handsome newcomer to Cady Corners…

 Get your copy today and enjoy the celebration

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