This book is the third in my series called The Ladies’ Shooting Club, set in an Idaho mountain town in the 1880s. When I first thought of this series, I wanted to write about a group of women who supported each other and did something unusual in the time and place.
A murder in their town drew the women together out of fear. Widow Libby Adams asked the gunsmith’s sister to teach her to shoot so that she could protect herself and her store. A rancher’s wife heard them shooting and asked if she could join them. Then the saloon owner, Bitsy Shepard, heard about it, and asked to tag along.
Gert and Libby had to decide whether or not to open their circle to all the women of Fergus. They saw women who feared for their children and their own lives—women who had no men to protect them or who felt vulnerable when their men were off tending to their ranches or businesses. They decided to welcome all women into their group. Disdainful men of the town gave them their name—the Ladies’ Shooting Club of Fergus. It wasn’t long before the women showed they could not only defend themselves, but keep their town’s crime level down as well.
This final book (which can be read as a standalone) focuses on saloon girl Vashti Edwards. She wants to take a further step into a man’s world by driving a stagecoach. Blacksmith Griffin Bane, who runs the stage line, can’t imagine hiring a woman to drive stage. He resists Vashti’s pleas, but finally allows her to ride shotgun with an experienced driver. Vashti gets the old man to teach her the fine points of handling a six-horse hitch. Shortly after she begins driving, a gang of robbers targets the local stagecoach line. Once again, the Ladies’ Shooting Club is called upon to face down the outlaws.
I loved writing this series from start to finish. A research trip into the mountains of Idaho was a highlight. I learned so much—like how dangerous those mountain roads are. My daughter went with my husband and me when we visited several historical sites in the Owyhee Valley, including the well-preserved ghost town of Silver City. The isolation of the location, and the hardships faced by the people who lived there, impressed me. I tried to bring this into the books, though I set Fergus in a more accessible spot than Silver City. The heart of the stories, though, is the women’s relationships to each other and to the men they love.
-Susan Page Davis
You can pick up your own copy of The Blacksmith’s Bravery in stores now!