*Who designed the cover? Covers by Ramona designed the cover for A Game of Chance. She’s also the artist for my first two historical romances, Music For My Soul and Outlaw Muse. Ramona really understands what my stories and characters are about and does a remarkable job each time. I can’t imagine working with anyone but her!
*Can you share a little of your current work with us? A Game of Chance is a western with a twist. It doesn’t have any cowboys in it. It doesn’t take place on the Great Plains. Instead, it’s set in the very cosmopolitan city of San Francisco, which rivaled large European cities of the time. It’s the story of twins separated at birth, with the father taking the boy that was born and leaving the mother to die. After he leaves, she gives birth to a second boy before her death. Many years later, these twins will come across each other in California. The novel revolves around mistaken identity.
*How did you come up with the title? Since it’s about a gambler, I thought A Game of Chance was an appropriate title. The hero takes lots of chances throughout the novel, and his best bet winds up being one about love.
*Can you tell us about your main character? My hero Jed was raised by a midwife after his mother died in labor, but what he doesn’t know is that a baby was born just minutes before him and taken away by his father. He’s a Civil War veteran and now a gambler who’s made his way to San Francisco, a very cosmopolitan city back in 1870. My heroine Lily is the daughter of the most famous whorehouse owner in the city, and she’s been kept isolated away from that life, first with a governess and then attending boarding school back east.
*How did you develop your plot and characters? I’ve read quite a bit about the California Gold Rush and the American West after the Civil War. I wanted to create a story that combined aspects of both eras. Once a storyline started developing, it was easy to add characters that fit it.
*What was the hardest part about writing this book? I think in writing historical novels, the toughest part is getting those historical details right. I researched San Francisco in the 1870s, learning about its gaming halls, restaurants, and places of interest. I try to weave historical fact into my narrative to give it that air of verisimilitude. History and the setting can often prove to be a powerful tool and even a character itself in my historical romances.
*Did writing this book teach you anything and what was it? I had to research a lot about poker! My hero Jed is a gambler, and he’s very good at what he does. I learned about all kinds of poker hands. Now would I make a great poker player? Probably not. My face is an open book and would probably advertise what I held in my hand.
*Who or what influenced your writing once you began? Stephen King is a master at creating believable characters, and I try to do the same. Romance novelists such as Amanda Quick, Karen Robards, and Mary Jo Putney inspired me with their stories and characters, as well.
*What is your greatest strength as a writer? I think my stick-to-it-ness is my strongest quality as a writer. I’ve stayed with writing for a long time and no matter how down I got or what the odds were, I kept persevering. I knew one day that stubbornness would pay off!
*Have you ever had writer’s block? If so, what do you do about it? I have experienced writer’s block and have found the best thing to do is simply walk away. Close the file on the computer and don’t come back to it for a long time. Start a new project with new characters. Eventually, ideas for the problem begin to formulate, and inspiration can come in mysterious ways.
Lily Frontiere returns from a costly European trip to find her mother has accumulated large gambling debts. Things grow worse as her mother’s health deteriorates and she can no longer run Lucky Lil’s, the most famous whorehouse in San Francisco. Though Lilian shielded her only child from house life by sending her away to boarding school, Lily takes over and poses as Madam Lil. Her intelligence and astonishing resemblance to her mother help, but she’s entering a world she knows little about. Lily tries to extract the house from impending financial ruin until a handsome stranger turns up with the deed to Lucky Lil’s in hand.
Gambler Jed Stone journeys to California to track down Simon Morgan, the man responsible for his best friend’s death. Arrested for robbery and murder upon arrival, he is shocked to see his face on a wanted poster. Jed escapes before his hanging, unaware that the man guilty of those crimes is the twin brother he never knew existed. In a case of mistaken identity, Jed acquires Lucky Lil’s in a rigged card game his twin is meant to win. Jed asks Madam Lil to stay on as he learns the business.
Lily clashes with the new owner over ways to make the establishment profitable, yet she is attracted to the charming risk taker at the same time. Jed is fooled by Lily’s charade until he stumbles upon the real Madam Lil and learns the truth behind Lily’s deception. His admiration for Lily blossoms into love. But Simon Morgan seeks both Lily’s hand and ownership of Lucky Lil’s—and he will go to any means to possess both. Will Jed foil his nemesis while bringing his outlaw brother to justice?
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Genre - Western Historical Romance
Rating – PG
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