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Denim and Lace
Thank you for the tremendous response to my Paper trilogy. I had so much fun with the characters that I found it hard putting them away, but I'm sure they live on somewhere in a fictional universe. By the time I finished Paper Moon, they didn't need me anymore, and I needed new horizons. A trip to California gave me just what I wanted: the rugged, mystical Sierra mountains.
I fell in love with the mountains, the redwoods, the waterfalls. After reading their history, I realized it took a strong man to survive once the gold rush days ended. And away from the civilized valleys, only a special sort of woman could settle there.
The vision of a wagon of women coming over those ridges to settle in an all male town came out of nowhere. The image was irresistible and soon my family of females were dancing in my head. As soon as I thought of Samantha, the britches-wearing head of the family, I couldn't resist Sloan, a devout woman-hater.
As the eldest daughter of a wandering scientist, Samantha took care of her mother and her twin sisters. Able to hunt and shoot just like a boy and too tall to be considered a beauty like her sisters, Samantha throws her heart into the land. A natural green thumb, she comes to California with dreams of farming. Her mother and sisters merely hope to create a new home away from their war-torn Tennessee.
Her father's letters stopped abruptly after he visited Talbott, a Sierra mountain town. Her father's description of the hateful Sloan Talbott convinces Samantha the man is involved with her father's disappearance. Her delight at reaching her new home is tempered by her hatred of a man she's never met.
Building the grudging relationship between the cantankerous Sloan and the boyish, stubborn Samantha kept me in chuckles. If Sloan can throw knives, she can outshoot him. If he tosses helpless young men out of his saloon, she shoves him into a river of mud. But she really flummoxes him when he tricks her into wearing women's skirts. Samantha in silk and petticoats nearly has Sloan on his knees.
The product of a destroyed, tragic marriage, Sloan has no reason to trust women. He's built this town and his fortune with the goal of keeping women out of his life. Samantha and the other Neely women defy all he's believed true, and Sloan can fight only so much temptation. With Sam swinging her sassy hips, Mrs. Neely offering heavenly ambrosia, and the twins turning his town into a home for the lovelorn, he figures the only way he'll ever get his life back is by finding Sam's father. He just demands a rather extortionate payment in return.
That's just the beginning of Sloan's predicament, but you'll have to read the book to find out the rest. How Sam and Sloan manage to find love despite mad Indians, earthquakes and desperate villains would-well, it would fill a book.
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