As seen in the June issue of Uncaged Book Reviews.
Uncaged: You live and breathe the western lifestyle, is this one of the inspirations for your writing? You also write mysteries, how is it different to write in that genre?
Yes, I believe because I have lived rural and a western lifestyle my whole life that it helps me understand how people lived when writing historical westerns and gives me a sense of their struggles. When I started writing they always said write what you know. Historical westerns were the closest to what I knew that I could get. I actually read mysteries before romance and wrote mystery before romance. I love coming up with why someone is killed and who could have done it. In one respect mysteries are easier because they are contemporary, and I don’t have to research history, but on the other hand, I need to know law enforcement etiquette and put my story together like a puzzle of sorts.
Uncaged: Can you tell readers more about the series you have going now?
My Silver Dollar Saloon series is set in a fictional town along the Northern Pacific in the Dakota Territory. Shady Gulch is one of the watering stations and depots for the train to Bismarck. Because of the train the town grew up and with it will come growing pains. Beau Gentry and his lifelong friend, Jules Matthieu, moved to Shady Gulch from New Orleans. They set up the Silver Dollar Saloon. It’s a high-class establishment where Beau gives women who would be dead or have to resort to prostitution a chance to work and get back their self-esteem. He also owns the boarding house behind the saloon. It’s where the women live along with Mrs. Dearling, yet another, woman Beau befriended in her time of crisis. In the saloon the women deliver drinks, sing, and dance. But they aren’t dressed as skimpy as other saloons and the men aren’t allowed to touch them or made crude remarks. If they do, they are kicked out by Beau or Jules. Each book in the series shows how a woman comes to the Saloon and how one leaves to get married. Beau and Jules will eventually have their own love stories as well. I hope as a reader picks up one of the books they discover a community they would like to revisit and fall in love with each character who works in the saloon and townsfolk.
Uncaged: What do you have coming up next that you can tell us about?
Lottie Mae, Book two of the Silver Dollar Saloon series will be out in July. Lottie Mae was a teacher until she was accosted by three of her older male students and lost her job, her family, and her respect. Beau stumbled across her when she was thinking of taking her life. He brought her to Shady Gulch and she’s just getting around to thinking she’d like to apply to be a teacher again when one of the young men, now a man, has showed up in town right after a young woman was accosted on the train and tossed off.
You can also find a short story, Saving Dallie, in the Wild Deadwood Tales Anthology, where Beau, once again, steps in to help a young woman in trouble.
Uncaged: You are an attending author at Wild Deadwood Reads this year. What are you looking forward to the most from this convention?
I enjoy the Wild Deadwood Reads for two reasons, one it gives me a chance to visit places on my way there and back that I’ve always wanted to see, and I like visiting with readers in a unique old west type of setting.
Uncaged: Do you read your reviews? What do you take away from them?
I don’t go actively read reviews, but some of my fans will send me links to their reviews of my books. A review that says they enjoyed the book and the characters makes me happy. It means I did my job. If a review isn’t favorable, and it is one of a few, I figure the story, characters, or whatever wasn’t for them and rather than read more of my books I would like them to move on and read something else they do enjoy. I know every reader has their own taste in what they like to read. I’m the same way. It is rare that I love a book as much as someone else and yet I may love a book that few others do. If I make a few people escape and enjoy my stories as much as I do then I’ve accomplished what I set out to do.
Uncaged: What is one of the nicest things someone has said to you about your books?
When I first became published my dad bought several of my books and gave them to people. One was a receptionist at his dentist office. She is now one of my avid fans. She said, “I didn’t like to read until I read your book. Now I read all the time.” Being a voracious reader from the age of 5 I find bringing the joy of books to someone who hadn’t had that before to be the best complement.
Uncaged: What is your favorite parts about being an author? What have you found to be the least favorite?
My favorite part of being an author is coming up with a story and piecing together the main characters and setting which requires research. I LOVE research. My least favorite part is the business side- promoting, marketing, discovering my audience.
Uncaged: What do you like to do when you aren’t writing? Where is one of your favorite places on Earth?
When I’m not writing I like to go for walks on our property, ride my horse, or sew. One of my favorite places is the Oregon Coast. I love the writing retreats I go on there and spending time there with my hubby and our dogs. We don’t get there as often now that we live on the opposite side of the state.
Uncaged: What is the hardest part of a book to write? What is the easiest? From start to finish, how long does it take to finish a complete book?
For me the hardest part of a book, specifically if it is the first book of a series, is the first 20,000 words. It takes me a bit to get into the main character’s point of view and to establish the settings in my mind. I draw maps and use visuals as well as written out descriptions. The easiest is the last fourth of the book. When the story is heading to and going through the climax or black moment. I’ve spent the other ¾ of the book building up to this moment and I know what has to happen. Hoe long it takes depends on the book and what is going on in my life. I can write a mystery book in a month, IF, I’m at home those 4 weeks and stay focused on the book. I’ve written a 40,000 novella in a week while at the coast when there are no distractions and all I do is write and walk on the beach. The western historicals take about 6 weeks without interruptions.
Uncaged: What would you like to say to fans, and where can they follow you?
If you like murder mysteries a bit darker than a cozy but have the feel of a cozy you might like my Shandra Higheagle Mystery series. If you like raw and real stories of love and redemption, you’ll like my Silver Dollar Saloon Series. And if you like fun, steamy contemporary western romance, you might want to take a look at my Tumbling Creek Ranch series. I enjoy hearing from fans, giving away fun stuff, and writing boks.
If you’d like to check out my 30+ published books, you can find them at my website: http://www.patyjager.net. Here is a list of where else you can contact me and learn more about me, my books, and my lifestyle.
Paty and her husband raise alfalfa hay in rural eastern Oregon. Riding horses and battling rattlesnakes, she not only writes the western lifestyle, she lives it. This is what readers have to say about the Silver Dollar Saloon series: “Paty Jager brings her characters to life, right off the pages of her book. You will laugh, cry, be sad and get angry right along with the characters.”
Escaping a past full of deceit and larceny, Savannah Gentry goes in search of her only kin, a half-brother she discovered after her father’s death. She hopes Shady Gulch in the Dakota Territory can give her a future. However, she stumbles into the arms of Reverend Larkin Webster, finds herself working in the Silver Dollar Saloon, and soon fears she’s gone from the frying pan into the fire.
After dodging death and incarceration, the Topeka Kid decides to turn his life around and takes on a new identity. Reverend Larkin Webster. It works, until he finds a temptation he can’t resist and steals the heart of Savannah Gentry. When her past collides with his, he wonders if this theft could end up with him losing everything, including his life.
The train stopped. She waited for the others to leave the car before she stood and moved on wobbly legs down the aisle.
The man she’d noticed hopping on the train as it rolled out of Bismarck, stood by the door as if waiting for her to leave. He had on a blue chambray shirt and a white bandana around his neck. He shifted. The glint of sunlight off a shiny gun in a holster hanging on his right hip made her wonder if he was a lawman or an outlaw.
He tipped his hat as she approached. “Ma’am.” His deep voice had a soothing quality.
She nodded and held her satchel in front of her as she passed. That was when she noticed he had a valise in his left hand.
Her mind wandered to thoughts of what he could be carrying. She stepped off the platform and onto the step. The pointed heel of her boot caught in the metal grid. The weight of the satchel pulled her forward.
The moment she realized she was about to take a tumble, an arm snaked around her middle, holding her suspended in air. Her satchel hit the ground and popped open.
A boy ran toward her bag.
“Lord a mercy! No! Stop! Get away!” she shouted, struggling against the arm that held her on the stairs.
“Joshua, close the lady’s bag and guard it,” the deep voice behind her said.
The boy did as asked, snapping the bag shut and standing with a leg on each side of it.
“Can you get your heel unstuck?” the man asked, his arm still circling her.
“I could if your arm wasn’t wrapped around my body like a Georgia crossvine.” She hadn’t meant for the words to come out as haughty as they had.
“Sorry. I didn’t want you to fall.” He released her and remained on the platform above her.
The conductor appeared. “May I help you?”
She raised her skirt enough to show her foot. “My heel is holed up in this grate.”
The man started to reach out then pulled his hand back. “Lark, you better do this.”
The man behind her chuckled. “You afraid Lee will find out you touched another woman?”
The man called Lark eased by her, his tall body brushing her arm.
He set the valise between his legs like the boy stood over her satchel. “May I touch your foot?” His gaze met hers and she couldn’t breathe. Brown eyes, rimmed with copper, peered at her. One dark eyebrow rose as if waiting for her to answer.
“Y-yes,” came out much to breathy.
The handsome man smiled, a dimple appeared on his left cheek.
She stilled her racing heart as he gently, but efficiently, dislodged her boot heel.
“There you go. Miss—”
He rocked back and stared at her. “Gentry?”
Why was he repeating her name? “I declare, do you need your ears cleaned? Even with my southern drawl you couldn’t have misheard me.”
“I did hear you.” He walked over and patted the boy on the shoulder. “That was a good deed you did, son.”
The boy grinned up at him and took off at a run toward what appeared to be stockyards.
Lark Webster smiled. He’d known the boy had been about to pilfer the woman’s satchel. Putting him in charge of guarding it with others around to see would give the boy more confidence, something his father didn’t seem fit to do.
He shifted his attention to the beautiful woman. “Are you here to see Beau?” Lark picked up the satchel.
The woman made a grab for it, but he held it away from her. “I’ll carry it. Where do you want to go?”
“I can tote my own bag.” She glared at him with eyes as blue as a Dakota summer sky. Her hair was the color of wheat, ready to harvest. Judging from the fancy coat, bustle, and high heeled boots, she was a woman of means.
Funny, Beau never mentioned any relatives.
“While you may prefer, I’m not about to let a lady carry her own bag when I have a free hand.” He nodded toward town. “Where are you going?”
“To the Silver Dollar Saloon.” The words came out of her bow-shaped mouth as if they soured her tongue.
“Then you are related to Beau.”
She nodded, bouncing the feather on her fancy hat.
“This way.” He led her down the street. As they passed the Allman Hotel, he tipped his head toward the two-story building. “You want to get a room and freshen up?”
The pair of deep blue eyes narrowed. “No.”
She was a woman of few words. He liked that. And made him more certain she was a relation of Beau. He was a man of few words.
“Mind if I drop my valise off at the bank?” he asked, stopping at the door of the bank.
“Just hand over my bag and I’ll not be fret’n you anymore.” She held out her hand.
“You’re not fretting me. I just need to finish my job.” He put both bag handles in one hand and entered the bank. From how she’d yelled at Joshua when he started for her satchel, he had no doubt she would follow him.
The hollow thud of her heels on the wood floor let him know she was right behind him.
“Larkin, I see you made the trip successfully,” his brother, Owen, said, walking out of his office as bank manager.
“Here’s your dispatch.” Lark handed off the valise and spun on his heel, nearly bumping into Miss Gentry.
“Who is this?” Owen asked.
His brother was married, but he had an eye for money, and it was clear he’d pegged this woman as a potential patron of the bank.
“Miss Gentry, my brother, Owen Webster, the bank manager.” Lark stepped back and watched the woman’s interaction with his brother.
“Mr. Webster, it is my honor to meet you,” She held out her hand, limply.
Owen shook hands with her, which put a blush on the woman’s creamy skin.
“If you need to open an account, come see me,” Owen said.
“Bless your heart. I’ll give it a thought.” She glanced at Lark. “Shall we wander?”
He grinned and winked at his brother, who grinned back and shook his head. Lark held out his arm, hoping the woman would slip her hand through the crook at his elbow, but she walked to the door and waited for him to open it.
Back out on the boardwalk, he started across the street. While he’d wanted to escort her properly, it was apparent she had other ideas. He stepped into the street, causing dust to puff up around his legs. The June sun and unending wind had dried what was mud not a month ago, to four inches of dry powder.
He glanced back. Miss Gentry stood on the edge of the wood boardwalk, looking like a person afraid to jump into a river.
“Ye have to pick up yer skirt and not be too proud ta walk these streets,” Mrs. Cleary said, hefting her wool skirt up and stepping into the dust. She glanced over her shoulder at Miss Gentry.
The younger woman heaved a heavy sigh and raised the front of her skirts. The only problem—the back was longer and she wasn’t raising it up at all.
Lark doubled back and picked up the tail of her skirt, following along behind the woman. At that moment, Sheriff Tyson Blake stepped out of his office. He whistled and hollered, “I knew you were good for something other than a preacher!”
Miss Gentry stopped, and he ran into the back of her.
Ty roared with laughter.
Lark’s face and ears heated up hotter than Manfred’s forge.
“Y-you’re a preacher man?” Her gaze traveled from his dusty boots up to his wide-brimmed hat.
“Yes, ma’am. Every day of the week but Wednesday. That day I’m the bank courier.”
She spun around and hurried to the boardwalk in front of the mercantile. Once she set foot on the planks, she said, “Land a mercy, take your hands off my dress.”
What a gem of a book this turned out to be. Savannah goes to Shady Gulch looking for her half-brother after her father dies, trying to get away from a smarmy bank collector trying to take everything away, citing her father’s debts, and next he plans to marry Savannah. What she finds in Shady Gulch is true friendships, family and love from a preacher. I didn’t take to Savannah in the beginning with her snobby upbringing, but when you see her growth, and all that outside façade fade away and she becomes someone to root for.
A few laugh out loud moments, a bit of suspense and danger – with a good sprinkling of romance, and readers will enjoy this story. I can’t wait to read more about Shady Gulch. Reviewed by Cyrene