Character Spotlight: Mary Connealy’s Bailey & Gage with a giveaway

Fire and IceMeet two ranchers in

Mary Connealy’s

historical romantic comedy

Fire & Ice

Bethany House


The Story

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.BaileyMC


Fire and Ice cover…this is Bailey Wilde

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.

Thanks Mary!

Relz Reviewz Extras
Discover more about Mary
Pop Quiz with Mary
Character spotlight on Marcus Whitfield
Visit Mary’s websiteSeekerville, and Petticoats & Pistols
Visit Bethany House’s fiction blog
Buy from Amazon: Fire and Ice or Koorong


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41 Responses to Character Spotlight: Mary Connealy’s Bailey & Gage with a giveaway

  1. As a child I do have to say I dreamed of being a cowgirl. I wanted the ranch and the horses and the cowboy that went with it.

    • Hi Carissa. I loved cowboy stories, even when I was a youngster. My husband is now a cattleman but we ride ATVs instead of horses (they NEVER kick you!). I love cows of all strange things to love, but I do. :)

  2. I have only dreamed of being a cowgirl when I am engrossed in a historical fiction book with an amazing cowboy hero =)

    • Ah, Heather you get drawn into the pages of a book and go along for the ride with the heroine. I hope you try my books and that happens for you.
      Thanks for taking time to leave a comment.

  3. Yes! I used to play cowboys and Indians. I had a little cap gun that made popping sounds. I would pretend to ride my horse. I loved watching The Lone Ranger and would pretend my horse was named Silver too!

    • I HAD ONE OF THOSE CAP GUNS NANCY!!!! We shot off all the caps of course almost IMMEDIATELY but once in a while we’d scrap the money together (25 cents???) to buy more caps. And our gun would pop and smoke a little. LOVED THAT! LOL

  4. I can’t say that I have…

    I definitely admire cowgirls for their strength and practical skills. I could use more of both!

    My daughter LOVES this series. I am entering on her behalf.

  5. Nope grew up on the east coast.

  6. I was an Annie Oakley fan and loved my skirt with the fringe!

  7. Although I’ve ridden a horse or two in my younger days, I guess I never thought about being a cowgirl!

  8. No, I never dreamed of being a cowgirl. I did get to live in Texas for four years and enjoyed going to the rodeo and watching the cowgirls cutting horse and barrel racing competitions.

  9. HOWDY MARY AND REL! I am a native Texan. I grew up around longhorn cattle and horses. I had over 30 horse statues on a shelf over my bed.

    • Carylkane, I’ve got a big sack in my closet full of BREYER Horses, did you ever have them? I had one daughter who LOVED them and she got one for every Christmas and Birthday for a few years. Judging by this sack I’d say about TEN years.
      They really are beautifully made plastic horses.

      I’ve also got one Frederick Remington statue and one Charlie Russell (You KNOW they’re fake of course) LOL

  10. I wanted to marry Roy Rogers….. or Sky King…..

  11. I used to play cowgirls/cowboys and Indians, but I was usually the Indian 😉 I have Native American ancestry (and I’m related to the man who baptized Pocahontas), so I loved dressing up in my Indian dresses and moccasins and having my grandmother braid my hair! Being a cowgirl would be fun too, though!

    I LOVED book two, and now I’m even more excited to read book three!!

    • Morgan what a wonderful history both the native roots and the man who know Pocahontas, those are terrific stories!
      Your name’s in the drawing for Fire and Ice. Thank you for letting me know you liked the earlier ones. I appreciate that so much!!!!!!

  12. We use to play cowboy and indians when I was growing up. We wounded a lot of imaginary people with our finger as a gun!

    I think being a cowgirl at my ripe old age of 66 would be a lot of fun. I’m afraid though, it is too late!

  13. I don’t recall dreaming of being a cowgirl.

    • I think I dreamed of being a singer, maybe. The whole darned ‘tone deaf’ thing got in the way. (okay, not tone deaf, just not a LOVELY voice, plus no guts) But I walked around the farm I grew up on and sang when I was alone. :)
      I might’ve been singing cowboy songs though. LOL

  14. Can’t say I ever dreamed of being a cowgirl but I sure enjoy your cowboys and their spunky ladies!

  15. Yes. I loved summers hanging out with friends who had horses and showed them.

    • Merry, we had a horse and our neighbors had three. I rode a lot of horses but my neighbor friend and I both had big sisters who were a LOT bigger horse freaks then we were so we lost out a lot.

  16. I became acquainted with the Wilde sisters when I listened to Kylie’s story on an audiobook. I borrowed book two from the library and am on page 223 as of tonight. Sure as sunshine in Texas, I am going to find out how will Bailey fare in book three.

  17. Hello. I didn’t dream of being a cowgirl when small. But, do love cowboys. My hubby was my cowboy. Boots, stetson and all. Would love to win. Maxie

  18. Thanks for sharing all the extras and research from the history behind the series! It’s fascinating to read about what women proved capable of doing through the Civil War. Historically speaking, this has been my favorite of all the series (though I have enjoyed and own every one!)

    As a dairy farmer’s daughter, I’ve been more on the farmer’s side than the cowman, though as they say, the farmer and the cowman should be friends. So I never really dreamed of being a cowgirl (though I’m most like Kylie anyway), but I wouldn’t have minded dancing with a cowboy.

  19. Never! As much as I enjoy a great cowboy romance, the work life of one doesn’t appeal to me. If I could ride a horse all day, Maybe. :)

  20. I’m sure maybe as a kid I may have wanted to be a cowgirl! I was always loping around like a horse in the house when I was little, even took the caps off of hairspray bottles & used them as hooves on my hands…haha!! I forgot about that until now :-) I, too, had a cap gun but not often did I have caps for it. Just pretended to shoot it at the bad guys. I even had sets of those little plastic cowboys & Indians. My dad was a huge John Wayne fan & we must have watched all of his movies, not to mention almost every western out there! You know, the oldies…this was back in the 70’s :-) He also read Louis L’Amour and other western books. He also never wore anything but cowboy boots and wore western shirts & jeans. I remember going shopping in the western clothing stores where he’d purchase his boots & things. So I guess since I grew up with it, I most likely wanted to be just like my dad…:-)
    Thank you for the chance to win a copy of “Fire and Ice”. I also have a copy of “Now & Forever” on my shelf, would be awesome to add to it!

  21. Mary, All i ever wanted to be was a cowgirl. Grew up in the city but my dreams and heart were always in the west! We had the cap guns and cowgirl hats and holsters , vests and sheriff badges ! All the books i read were about horses , cowboys and Indians !I finally got the horse 20 years later !! I still love Westerns.
    i love this book series , Thank you for the giveaway.

  22. No, but I love to read about them.

  23. I don’t know that I have ever dreamed of becoming a cowgirl, but cowboys and cowgirls (westerns) are sure fun to read about! 😀

  24. No but I have had dreams of living on the open plains with horses running free around me. So I guess actually I have. I sure love to read Christian Westerns and dream though !

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