historical romantic comedy
Fire & Ice
Bailey Wilde is one of the best new ranchers in the West. She’s been living disguised as a man for a while, but when Gage Coulter comes to drive her off her homestead, he quickly realizes he’s dealing with a woman–a very tough, very intriguing woman at that.
Gage is an honest man, but he didn’t make his fortune being weak. He won’t break the law, but he’ll push as hard as he can within it. Five thousand acres of his best range land is lost to him because Bailey’s homestead is located right across the only suitable entrance to a canyon full of lush grass. Gage has to regain access to his land–and he’s got to go through Bailey to do it.
Spending a winter alone has a way of making a person crave some human contact. In a moment of weakness, Bailey agrees to a wild plan Gage concocts. Can these two independent, life-toughened homesteaders loosen up enough to earn each other’s respect–and maybe find love in the process?
Introducing Bailey & Gage
Brief physical description
Heroine –Bailey Wilde. Bailey dresses like a man, right down to trousers, wearing a holstered gun on her hip and keeping her hair cut really short. Bailey is very blonde with eyes that flash with fiery sparks when she’s angry, which is way too much of the time—especially when she’s dealing with the hero, Gage Coulter.
Hero-Gage Coulter is tall, dark and handsome (of course!). He’s the most successful rancher around. He’s got gray eyes that turn cold as ice when he’s upset. He’s learned icy control of himself that helped him stay out of trouble in Texas when his pa begged him not to fight in the Civil War because it frightened his ma so badly they were afraid she might harm herself if he went. The folks near them in Texas called him a coward as their sons left, and sometimes died.
Now he uses that control to manage his ranch, but for some reason dealing with Bailey Wilde is more than he can handle with cool detachment.
Henry Cavill as Gage Coulter
Strengths and weaknesses
Bailey is a top rancher. Very smart with cattle. An skilled carpenter. A crack shot. She breaks and gentles wild mustangs well enough she makes money selling them. She’s fiercely protective of her two little sisters who came west to homestead. Bailey is one of the new homesteaders that will prosper.
Bailey is afraid of men, especially in groups…because of some terrible experiences when she fought in the Civil War disguised as a man. She saw brutality, sometimes toward women. And most of those men seemed decent except in the heat of battle when they’d turn brutish. So even apparently nice men scare her. She’s solved that by being near hermit…and continuing her disguise as a man…until people start seeing through her masquerade…especially Gage Coulter, the man she stole a beautiful 5000 acre canyon from, by homesteading over the only entrance. She didn’t really STEAL it, she just won’t let him cross on her property. And she turned her cattle out on that lush grass because…why not? No one else was using it. Gage isn’t going to let that canyon go without a fight.
Gage has torn a ranch out of a rugged Rocky Mountain slope. He came out here well ahead of the homesteaders because he was forced to leave Texas when he wouldn’t fight in the Civil War. He’s responsible for most every road, every dammed up stream, every pasture…land that used to be covered with scrub brush and weeds.
Gage is smart, hard-working and honourable. But no one pushes him around. He won’t break the law but he’ll bend I as far as he can to get back his property.
He can’t handle his mother. He can’t say no to her. He loves her, but she is so over-protective of him it is ridiculous and he’ll do almost anything to make her stop crying. And guess who’s coming for a visit. Despite the fact that his ma really does love his pa, Gage is sorely afraid once she gets here, she might never leave unless she can take him back to Texas with her. And he will not go.
He’s also got a sharp temper, but he’s noticed that Bailey, who’s clearly afraid of men (though she won’t admit it), doesn’t seem to be one speck afraid of him, not even when they’re in the middle of a fight.
Quirk (if any)
Bailey persists in milking the meanest longhorn cow ever seen in the American west.
Gage is willing to go to insane lengths to avoid his mother, but at the same time he won’t admit there’s a thing wrong with the sweet lady or hear a word against her. And he won’t admit the two don’t go together.
Your inspiration for the characters
Gage Coulter was inspired by researching mountain men and the contrast between the whole of America being engulfed in the Civil War at the same time these wild men in the mountains, who liked to live by their own rules, barely knew it was going on.
I dealt with that attitude in the heroes from all three books.
Tried and True hero, Aaron Masterson had fought and after the war he’d lost his home—which was right on the Mason Dixon line—due to the lingering hatred after the war.
In Now and Forever, my hero is the true mountain man, Matthew Tucker. When someone tries to call him a coward for not fighting he can’t even figure out why anyone cares. Tucker was only distantly aware a war was being fought and he sure didn’t consider it his war.
Now we come to Fire and Ice. A really strong man who wanted to fight, who was crazy to join the battle, but who couldn’t because of his fragile mother…as if other mothers weren’t upset when their children went off to war.
To be labelled a coward, when his is a strong man, became unbearable, even dangerous as feelings in Texas ran high. Even his mother admitted he needed to get away. He ended up in the peaks of the Rockies trying to leave behind the stain of his failure to fight.
Bailey was the real foundation of this whole series—all three books. Her sisters went to war, but managed to get away from the worst of it, Shannon by working for the medical corps and Kiley as a secretary to an officer.
But Bailey fought. As I read about the women who’d fought I found as many reasons to fight as there were women. Some fought with their husbands. Some went after a family member died and they were furious and out for revenge. Some fought because they believed in the cause. Some were trapped into the war and disguised themselves for their own safety.
Records, mainly found in diaries long after the women died, brought names to light. Also some women were killed and the fact they were women was revealed when they were given medical treatment. There were two women who died in Andersonville prison—and their gender was revealed only when they needed medical help. These two are in addition to the woman who had the baby.(I’ll talk about her next because she was the beginning of my research and a huge inspiration for this whole series)
Background to the story
In researching Andersonville Prison for the Kincaid Brides series and the Trouble in Texas series I discovered a story about a woman giving birth in Andersonville, the meanest Confederate prison camp of all time.
She refused to leave her husband’s side when he was captured on their honeymoon. She disguised herself as a man and went to prison with him. She was found out months later when the baby was born and started crying. In Book #2 of the Trouble in Texas series Fired Up, the hero of that story, Dare Riker, helped deliver that baby and get the baby and mother out of the prison. In researching that story I found a lot of other stories about women who’d fought in the war disguised as men and the seed of the Wild at Heart series was planted and began to grow. I have loved writing this series.
Relz Reviewz Extras
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Character spotlight on Marcus Whitfield
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