Tuesday, October 28, 2014

The Abortionist's Daughter by Elisa DeCarlo



In 1910, scandal rocks upstate New York when Dr Horace Daniels is convicted of accidentally killing a woman when performing an abortion. Six years later, his beautiful, wilful daughter Melanie is facing a future as an "old maid." Eager to escape, she allows herself to be seduced by James, a traveling salesman. They elope to New York City. Melanie discovers that James is not what he seems. She meets his other lover, Gladys Dumbrille, a Broadway actress. When James disappears, Melanie decides to make her way as an actress. She and Gladys' lives become intertwined in ways neither of them could have expected. This story takes the reader from the deep woods of the Adirondacks to the bright lights of Broadway


This story is set in Upstate New York in the year 1916, where nineteen-year-old Melanie Daniels has to live down the fact her doctor father has been convicted after an abortion he performed resulted in the woman’s death. The impression the author gives is of a rather naïve girl, but perhaps all young women in this era had a less worldly view on life so Melanie might have been quite typical.

Melanie has to endure the criticism of Muller’s Corners, the small town who holds her responsible for her father’s actions. Angry with her family, her neighbours and her life, Melanie decides to branch out on her own.

Like most people, Melanie doesn’t always make the best choices so when the enigmatic James comes into her life, she doesn’t ask him enough questions. She travels to New York with him where he, inevitably, abandons her. She befriends an even more impressionable actress who becomes pregnant by James and who then decides she needs an abortion.

The author doesn’t spare the reader in her graphic, lesson teaching experience of abortion either, which illustrated how dangerous such procedures were in this era when they were done by unqualified back street practitioners in abysmal conditions.

Melanie discovers the Broadway Theatre world, where life delivers some hard lessons. She learns no one is going to come to her rescue, so she has to protect herself, or be prepared to clean up her own mess, something we all find out in whatever era in which we are born.

The author brings early 20th Century America to life in this novel, along with the rigid attitudes towards women which are changing, if slowly, and bobbing your hair is considered radical. The moral of the story being women should always take charge of their own bodies and not expect a man to do so – because he won’t.

The plot did take a while to get going, but the writing is smooth and well crafted, and I enjoyed the descriptions of the early 20th Century theatre life in New York.

I received an e-copy version of this novel in exchange for an honest review.

Anita Davison also writes as Anita Seymour, her 17th Century novel ‘Royalist Rebel’ was released by Pen and Sword Books, and she has two novels in The Woulfes of Loxsbeare series due for release in late 2014 from Books We Love. Her latest venture is an Edwardian cozy mystery being released next year by Robert Hale.

BLOG: http://thedisorganisedauthor.blogspot.com
FACEBOOK: http://www.facebook.com/anita.davison?
GOODREADS: http://www.goodreads.com/AnitaDavison
TWITTER: @AnitaSDavison

Trinity - The War of the Roses - by Conn Iggulden

Back Cover Blurb

The brilliant retelling of the Wars of the Roses continues with Trinity, 
the second gripping novel in the new series from historical fiction master,
Conn Iggulden.

1454: King Henry VI has remained all but exiled in Windsor Castle, struck down by his illness for over a year, his eyes vacant, his mind a blank.

His fiercely loyal wife and Queen, Margaret of Anjou, safeguards her husband's interests, hoping that her son Edward will one day know the love of his father.

Richard Duke of York, Protector of the Realm, extends his influence throughout the kingdom with each month that Henry slumbers. The Earls of Salisbury and Warwick make up a formidable trinity with Richard, and together they seek to break the support of those who would raise their colours in the name of Henry and his Queen.

But when the King unexpectedly recovers his senses and returns to London to reclaim his throne, the balance of power is once again thrown into turmoil.

The clash of the Houses of Lancaster and York will surely mean a war to tear England apart . . .

Following on from Stormbird, Trinity is the second epic instalment in master storyteller Conn Iggulden's new Wars of the Roses series. Fans of Game of Thrones and The Tudors will be gripped from the word go.


There is no doubt, Conn Iggulden is a master storyteller, and this is his second masterpiece. Following on the heels of Stormbird, the first book in the War of the Roses series, this novel is sure to please.

Frail King Henry VI is plagued with strange madness, catatonic, a mere shell of a human being. The time is ripe for usurpers to seize control of the kingdom through the infant heir, the Prince of Wales, who Henry does not know exists. When King Henry emerges from the dark of his madness, he is shocked at the machinations that have taken place, and struggles to set things right in the kingdom once more. The House of York battles with the House of Lancaster in an endless power struggle to control the heir, the king, the country.

The War of the Roses is one of the most complex and colorful eras in English history, filled with fascinating people and circumstances. Never before has an author written such a detailed, comprehensive accounting of this difficult period. By writing a trilogy, Conn Iggulden is able to bring to life all the details, conflicts, characters, and plot twists of the time. It lends readers to have a greater, more indepth understanding.

There are plenty of battle scenes that are so realistic, one feels as if they have truly experienced them. Clever dialogue and detailed descriptions lend a superb realism to the story. This novel ends with Edward, the Earl of March and the triumph of the House of York. And I am eager for the third installment.

If you’ve never read a novel by bestselling Conn Iggulden before, then now is the time to start! Excellent as expected.

Monday, October 27, 2014

The Wandering Harlot by Iny Lorentz

In 1410 in Constance, Germany, the beautiful Marie Schärer’s luxurious life as a merchant’s daughter is destroyed when her ambitious father arranges her marriage to a lawyer from the Black Forest named Rupert Splendidus. Her childhood sweetheart warns her of the attorney’s sly character and is tragically proven right the day before the wedding, when Rupert accuses Marie of unimaginable behavior and has her thrown into a dank dungeon, where she is brutally attacked by his henchmen. Unfairly condemned and banished from her home, Marie is forced to become a wandering prostitute to survive. The clever and kind Hiltrud befriends Marie, and the strong-minded pair sets out on spirited adventures—bedding counts, meeting scoundrels, and tricking foes—as Marie plots the ultimate revenge on the men who stole her honor and her family’s fortune.Set against a richly detailed historical backdrop, this is the dramatic tale of one woman’s quest for vengeance, redemption, and real love.

The Wandering Harlot is the first of a two book series about a young woman named Marie Schärer. Her mother died in childbirth, so she is the only child and heir of her wealthy merchant father, Matthis Schärer. When Ruppertus, the son of a count, asks for hand in marriage, Matthis is eager to see her daughter wed to him. But Ruppertus is not an honest man and before the wedding he unjustly accuses Marie of not being a virgin. She is thrown in prison where she is brutally raped, thereby proving she is no longer a virgin. It is no surprise she loses the court case. Ruppertus is allowed to keep her rich dowry and even takes possession of her father’s home. Marie is brutally whipped and then forever tossed and banished from the town. Her father is a broken man. Near death, she is found by a prostitute and has no choice but to take up the profession in order to survive. It is either that or starve. Marie vows to exact on revenge on Ruperttus and his family who have a reputation of using fraudulent mean to acquire wealth and land and property from others.

The book’s opening chapters are extremely gripping, but then the plot slows a bit in the middle of the story, gaining momentum once more towards the end. The story has a very realistic feel and is written with flowing prose. This is a tale of great loss and revenge, with a touch of romance added into the plot. It does not shy away from the brutality of life in the Middle Ages and the lack of justice as it pertains to the plight of women. With plenty of twists and conflicts, it kept me interested until the end. An enjoyable story of one woman’s perseverance in the face of adversity.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

The Dancer and the Raja by Javier Moro

Back Cover Blurb 

A fascinating novel that transports us to the fabulous world of the maharajas—
abundant with harems, bacchanalian orgies, jewels, palaces, 
flamenco music, horses, Rolls-Royces, and tiger hunting.

On January 28, 1908, a young Spanish woman sitting astride a luxuriously bejeweled elephant enters a small city in northern India. The streets are packed with curious locals who are anxious to pay homage to their new princess, with skin as white as the snows of the Himalayas.

This is the beginning of the story, based on real events, of the wedding of Anita Delgado and the maharaja of Kapurthala, a grand story of love and betrayal that took place over almost two decades, in the heart of an India that was on the verge of disappearing.


Who doesn’t love a real life fairy tale come true? This novel is about the life of Anita Delgado, a very beautiful dancer from Spain. Her father struggled to provide for his family, so Anita and her sister danced to help her family. It was while she was dancing that a Maharaja by the name of Jagatjit Singh Bhadur of Kapurthala was in the audience and became mesmerized by her performance. He sent her notes and gifts pleading for her to meet with him, but the virtuous Anita refused them all. Even after he returned to his homeland, the letters continued, and soon, Anita was persuaded to answer them. He proposed to her, offering her family enough money to take care of them for life. At first, Anita hesitated because the Maharaja had other wives, but he assured her with promises they could be married in Europe and that she would have a home of her own in his homeland. These promises he made, create controversy for him. His government and family advise against the marriage, but he follows his heart. After they marry, Anita becomes pregnant and is brought to Kapurthala where she must face not only the animosity from his wives, but the government refuses to recognize her and she struggles to assimilate into a culture very foreign from her own.

What follows is a tale of great love, of immense wealth, but profound loneliness. With her gentle personality, kindness, and patience, she wins the heart of the people of Kapurthala who are fascinated with her, as well as the media of the time.

A sumptuously exotic novel ripe with the visions and aromas of India!

Friday, October 24, 2014

Bitter Greens by Kate Forsyth

Back Cover Blurb

The amazing power and truth of the Rapunzel fairy tale comes alive for the first time in this breathtaking tale of desire, black magic and the redemptive power of love. French novelist Charlotte-Rose de la Force has been banished from the court of Versailles by the Sun King, Louis XIV, after a series of scandalous love affairs. At the convent, she is comforted by an old nun, Sœur Seraphina, who tells her the tale of a young girl who, a hundred years earlier, is sold by her parents for a handful of bitter greens... 

After Margherita’s father steals parsley from the walled garden of the courtesan Selena Leonelli, he is threatened with having both hands cut off, unless he and his wife relinquish their precious little girl. Selena is the famous red-haired muse of the artist Tiziano, first painted by him in 1512 and still inspiring him at the time of his death. She is at the center of Renaissance life in Venice, a world of beauty and danger, seduction and betrayal, love and superstition. Locked away in a tower, Margherita sings in the hope that someone will hear her. One day, a young man does.

Award-winning author Kate Forsyth braids together the stories of Margherita, Selena, and Charlotte-Rose, the woman who penned Rapunzel as we now know it, to create what is a sumptuous historical novel, an enchanting fairy tale retelling, and a loving tribute to the imagination of one remarkable woman.


In the novel Bitter Greens, Kate Forsyth has combined historical biographical fiction with the famous fairy tale, Rapunzel, written by Charlotte Rose de Camont. The result is a lush tale that combines the individual stories of three women. In seventeenth century France, Charlotte Rose de Camont de la Force, is banished from the opulence of the royal court and sent to live an austere life of severity in a rigidly ruled convent. There, she meets Sister Seraphina who tells her the story of Margherita (Persinette or Little Parsley) a young girl imprisoned in a tall tower by a witch named La Strega Bella. The novel’s storyline unfolds piece by piece through the voices of these three fascinating characters.

The strength of this novel lies in the wonderfully imaginative plot and superbly developed characters. Some scenes are very dark, with each character facing horrendous adversity that enthralls the reader. Some scenes are incredibly warm and heart-warming, filled with romance and success. In between readers can expect a very fast paced story with an ever evolving plot with plenty of twists and turns.

Despite the fact that Rapunzel is a fairy tale we are all familiar with, the author’s writing style makes it not only plausible, but very realistic and believable. The historical portions of the story are also vividly depicted and are well-researched. Most appealing is the fact the author does not shy away from extremes – poverty and wealth, innocence and corruption, good and evil, illness and health. Reading this book was a pleasant surprise. A novel written with insight and depth, and immensely entertaining. I’m looking forward to reading more from this author.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Juliet's Nurse by Lois Leveen

An enthralling new telling of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet—told from the perspective of Juliet’s nurse.

In Verona, a city ravaged by plague and political rivalries, a mother mourning the death of her day-old infant enters the household of the powerful Cappelletti family to become the wet-nurse to their newborn baby. As she serves her beloved Juliet over the next fourteen years, the nurse learns the Cappellettis’ darkest secrets. Those secrets—and the nurse’s deep personal grief—erupt across five momentous days of love and loss that destroy a daughter, and a family.

By turns sensual, tragic, and comic, Juliet’s Nurse gives voice to one of literature’s most memorable and distinctive characters, a woman who was both insider and outsider among Verona’s wealthy ruling class. Exploring the romance and intrigue of interwoven loyalties, rivalries, jealousies, and losses only hinted at in Shakespeare’s play, this is a never-before-heard tale of the deepest love in Verona—the love between a grieving woman and the precious child of her heart.

In the tradition of Sarah Dunant, Philippa Gregory, and Geraldine Brooks, Juliet’s Nurse is a rich prequel that reimagines the world’s most cherished tale of love and loss, suffering and survival.


Juliet’s Nurse is a splendidly written historical novel loosely based upon the story of Romeo and Juliet as written by Shakespeare. The story centers around a young woman named Angelica who becomes wet-nurse to Juliet Cappelletti on the same day her own child dies in childbirth. The novel covers the early years of Juiet’s life and introduces the family feud between Romeo and Juliet’s families. Told through Angelica’s strong first person narrative, we learn of how she is torn from the arms of her dirt-poor family by the machinations of a cleric and into the household of one of Verona’s most wealthiest citizens as a nursemaid. The novel focuses on the early life of Juliet. Her love affair with Romeo is not introduced into the latter quarter of the novel.

This sometimes heart-wrenching story is poignantly penned, bringing to vivid life the Italian Renaissance era where decadence and art warred with poverty and plague. This was a story of extreme hardship and suffering, of guilt and powerful love, and of one woman’s struggle to hold tight to the bonds of love she bears for the child she is charged with raising. From the adversities faced by the working poor to the opulent villas of the noblest families, the story is one of dark secrets and joyous love relationships. A lovely re-imagining of one of Shakespeare’s original characters. 

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Meet Author Charles Ray and his fascinating novel, Frontier Justice: Bass Reeves, Deputy U.S. Marshal

A fascinating tale of one of the great black heroes of the American West!
Read the First Chapter!
Meet the author, Charles Ray!

In 1875, Indian Territory, in what is now the state of Oklahoma, was a haven for thieves, swindlers, and murderers, all trying to escape the reach of the law. When President U.S. Grant appointed Judge Isaac Parker judge of the Western District of Arkansas, which included the territory, Parker was intent upon bringing fugitives to justice. He authorized U.S. Marshal James Fagan to hire 200 deputy marshals to help police the 4,500 square mile lawless territory. Among those deputies was Bass Reeves. Born a slave in 1838, Reeves had spent the Civil War as a runaway in Indian Territory, and spoke five tribal languages. He was an expert tracker and an accomplished marksman, and at 6’2” and 180 pounds in an era when the average male height was 5’6”, was an imposing figure. During his 32 year tenure as a deputy marshal, Reeves brought in over 3,000 fugitives. Unable to either read or write, he had someone read warrants to him and memorized every detail – never making a mistake. In this fictional account of his first two years, ride along with one of the most famous U.S. Deputy Marshals in American history.


If you like wild west stories with strong, but silent, courageous gunslinging heroes, then this historical biography is definitely the book for you. Bass Reeves is a black man, a farmer/rancer toiling hard to provide for his growing family. When he is offered a job as a Deputy U.S. Marshal and asked to hunt down wanted criminals, he is persuaded to give it a try. Not only does he quietly go about his task, but he captures every fugitive on his list without any loss of life. He is such a quick draw with his guns, that no outlaw can outgun him, and they usually surrender like lambs.

Author Charles Ray, with his easy, clear writing style, pens a wonderous tale about this fascinating man who broke through the restraints of race to become one of the most heralded U.S. Marshals of his time. Impeccable research, colorful characters, outrageous outlaws, and a story that makes you cheer as you read along, makes this a novel for everyone to read. Western fans will love the glimpse into the real wild west and the quiet, unassuming Bass Reeves who excels in capturing his bounty! This is an easy, absorbing novel that will keep you turning pages to the end.

Meet the Author behind the fascinating novel!

Charles Ray

1.  Welcome, I’m so glad to have this opportunity to chat with you. Can you share with my readers the essence of the story you’ve penned?

Frontier Justice: Bass Reeves, Deputy US Marshal is a fictionalized account of the first two years on the job of Bass Reeves, one of the first African-American deputy US marshals west of the Mississippi. A freed slave, he could neither read nor write English, but spoke five Native American languages. He was an expert tracker and a marksman with rifle or pistol with either hand. At over 6 feet, and around 160 – 180 pounds, he was larger than the average American man of the era. He would have someone read warrants to him, and would memorize the contents. During a 32-year career as a deputy marshal, he brought in over 3,000 fugitives and was never wounded. He often used trickery and disguise to capture wanted felons.

2.  You’ve chosen a very interesting title. What inspired the title? What inspired the book?

Reeves was a deputy marshal for western Arkansas and the Oklahoma Territory. At that time, the Oklahoma Territory was largely ungoverned and home to many fugitives. After the Civil War, it was part of the American frontier, and men like Reeves were assigned to bring justice to it. That inspired the title. The book itself was inspired when I came across information about Reeves when I was doing research for a historical/western series I write about the Buffalo Soldiers (African-American soldiers assigned to the Ninth Cavalry after the Civil War, who spent most of their time on the western frontier).

3. What makes this book special to you?

This book, like my Buffalo Soldier series is special to me because, even though they are fiction, I do lots of research to make them historically accurate. I spent 20 years in the US Army myself, and am proud to know that African-Americans played such an important role in the country’s westward expansion.

4.  What makes this a book that people MUST read and WHY?

Popular media, particularly when I was growing up in the 50s and 60s, portrayed the American west inaccurately. Cowboys, outlaws, and soldiers were not, as shown in most of the movies or popular fiction, were not all white. Nearly 10% of the military on the frontier were men of color (9th and 10th Cavalry and the 24th and 25th Infantry Regiments). Most ranches and cattle drives included black and Hispanic cowboys, and some of them were well known during the era, but somehow left out of the history books and popular films. The rodeo rider who invented bull dogging, for instance, was African-American. Same for the outlaws of the period, many of whom were former slaves. There were also black settlers, some who established all-black communities in places like Oklahoma, Kansas and Nebraska. I think we all benefit when we know the truth about our history, and just how diverse the country’s history is.

5. What sparks your creativity? Any tips to help others spark their own creativity?
I’ve always been something of a story teller. I wrote my first short story when I was 12 or 13 – won a national Sunday school magazine fiction contest with it. I get story ideas from anywhere and everywhere. I hear a random conversation on the subway and it sparks a story idea or a character; I read a newspaper or magazine story, and get an idea for a story. For instance, once while waiting for my wife at the doctor’s office, I read an interview with Stan Lee, in which he was quoted as saying that he didn’t like zombie movies or stories because the zombies were always so ghoulish. His view was that someone given a second chance at living – even as a zombie – would more likely want to do some of the things he or she didn’t get to do the first time around. This inspired me to write I, Zombie, a short story about a zombie who finds himself wandering in a city and his desire is to know why and how he died, and in the meantime, he helps people being victimized by muggers and robbers. This story has been accepted for a short story anthology which will be published by the end of this year. My advice to writers – pay attention to your surroundings, eavesdrop (politely and at a distance of course), and write down your impressions. Story ideas are everywhere.

6.  What has been the biggest stumbling block in your writing? Can you share some tips to help others get past similar problems?

The biggest stumbling block? Probably doubt. When you do that first book, as soon as it goes out, you begin doubting anyone will want to read it. It’s almost inevitable; you wonder if you’re really good enough. How to get over it? Keep writing. Finish one thing and move on to the next. I always keep two projects going at the same time, so that when I get bogged down by doubt with one, I can skip over to the other. That keeps me fresh. I keep a journal of ideas, often nothing more than suggested titles, or character sketches. From time to time I pull one out and begin working on it. The best way to improve your writing, and as a consequence your confidence in yourself as a writer, is to write, write, write. I write every day – no less than 1,000 words. Some people are comfortable writing in only one genre, others (like me) cross genre lines frequently. If I enjoy reading it, I enjoy writing it.

7.  Tell me about the most unusual things you have done to promote your book.

My promotions are mostly the usual: free book offerings, discounted prices, buy one get one. Probably the most unusual promotion was when I was invited to speak on government ethics at the army’s Command and General Staff College at Ft. Leavenworth, Kansas. This is the location of the Buffalo Soldier monument, so I took a few copies of my Buffalo Soldier novels with me, and before and after my lecture, I gave them to some of the senior staff and asked them to read and tell me what they thought of them. I discovered in the process that the book store at the monument had no fiction about the Buffalo Soldiers, and very little mainstream historical stuff. After reading my books, they did an interview and feature in their association magazine and ordered a few copies for the book store. Over the next two months after the magazine appeared, sales of the series topped 800 per month. They’ve dropped, averaging 20 – 40 per month, but that’s consistent sales since December 2012 – so, I’m not complaining. I also provided copies of my books to an author I know in southern Africa (Zimbabwe and South Africa), and she reads excerpts when she visits schools and institutions, which has generated modest sales in that region. For Frontier Justice, as well as my other books, when I offer free e-Books, I post on my blog and ask readers to consider doing a review. That gets a little notice. Lately, I’ve been posting excerpts and two full novels on Wattpad. That’s getting more readers and will hopefully induce people to look at my other books.

8.  Each author is different in the way they create a work of fiction. Please describe for us how you plan or plot a story.

I start with a theme or title. Then I create a list of main characters with fairly full histories. After I have these two nailed down, I decide on a time frame, and create a calendar. The next step is to do a rough chapter outline – what are the main events in each chapter, and which character or characters is/are involved. The last step before I begin writing is to do historical research of the time frame to get some ideas of what was going on. I pick a few significant events and make notes. Some (not all) will find their way into the story to help establish a credible narrative setting. I then start writing, making changes as I go – until I get to a point where the story seems to naturally end. For my mysteries, an additional step is to establish clues and decide where and how to plant them. Alert readers will often be able to solve the crime before the sleuth, provided they don’t get diverted by the red herrings which I also plant.

9. Authors are very unique in the way they write, the tools they use, when they write, etc. Please describe a typical writing day for you? How do you organize your day?

I typically rise at around 6:00 or 7:00 every morning (including Saturday and Sunday). I walk the dog and then shower and dress. After I fix my breakfast I check my emails. Once that’s done, I begin writing on my work in progress. I write until I’ve finished a chapter, or done around 2,000 words. Then, I do the first sentence or paragraph of the next chapter and stop on that work for the morning. I do lunch and then take my camera or sketch book and walk in the forest behind my house taking pictures of deer, squirrels, birds, and plants, or do sketches for my blog. Sometimes I take the morning off and visit my grandchildren, and write in the afternoon. After supper in the evening (usually between 6:00 and 7:00) I return to my office to write for 2 – 3 hours. I also do lecturing and consulting, so sometimes I’m on the road. I travel with my laptop and journals, so in hotel rooms, minus the dog and cooking my own breakfast, I keep pretty much the same schedule.

10. What is your current work in progress?

I’m doing number 20 in my Al Pennyback mystery series. It’s about an heiress who ran away from her family. Her father has died leaving her and her twin brother a huge fortune, and the hero, Al Pennyback, has been hired by the law firm probating the old man’s will to find her. She’s reportedly somewhere on the coast in North Carolina (on Roanoke Island). The detective is based in DC, but I occasionally have him travel to other parts of the country with which I’m familiar. For instance, I spent several years in North Carolina (stationed at Ft. Bragg and working as a newspaper reporter), so I only have to a bit of research to make sure I’ve remembered things correctly. I was recently in the Roanoke Island area doing some consulting, so I have fresh impressions. I’m also working a severe thunderstorm into the story because Al has a phobia about thunderstorms, and it will add to the tension when he finally finds the missing heiress. The working title is A Deadly Wind Blows, which will make sense for anyone who has ever been in a real severe thunderstorm.

11Can you tell us where to find more information about you and your books and how readers can reach you?
My Amazon author page is at

I also have a bookstore link to my books in the right sidebar of my blog:

I can be reached by email at charlesray.author@gmail.com

12.  What would you like our readers to know about you and your writing?

As I said before, I think of myself as a story teller. I don’t write what would be termed literary fiction (I also write nonfiction – I’ve done four books on leadership and management). I try to write stories that people will enjoy reading; that will enable them to suspend disbelief for a few hours and become absorbed into the story. I guess you could describe me as a pulp fiction writer, because I got my start reading pulp fiction in the early 50s and never outgrew it.

Read the first chapter of
Frontier Justice: Bass Reeves, Deputy U.S. Marshal
    Bass Reeves was a big man.
    At six-feet, two-inches, and weighing one hundred eighty pounds, he would have been an imposing figure even without the bushy black mustache that covered his upper lip and hung down to the edge of his square chin, the long, muscular arms, and hands, each of which was bigger than two hands on most men.
     He had just returned to his farm from a scouting job with the U.S. Marshals over in the Indian Territory, and during his absence, many of the chores which were beyond the abilities of his young sons had remained undone. Dressed in a faded pair of brown canvas pants and a blue wool shirt, he was hoisting a fence pole into the hole he’d just finished digging when he saw the rider approaching along the road from the town of Van Buren.
     His curiosity was aroused. It wasn’t often that people from town came out this way, most especially just before the middle of the day. Removing the battered brown Stetson, he took a cloth from his pocket and wiped the sweat from his broad, brown brow, and stood watching as the single rider drew nearer.
     When the rider was about a hundred yards off, Bass was able to distinguish features. He saw that it was a white man with a long, dark brown beard that came to a point midway down the front of the black coat he wore. His hair, dark brown, almost black, splayed out from under the white hat he wore pulled down low over his forehead. Bass saw the butt of a Winchester rifle jutting out of the scabbard attached to the right side of the saddle, and assumed that the man also had at least one pistol in a holster. Few men, white or black, went anywhere this close to Indian Territory without a firearm. Bass’s own weapon, a Winchester repeating rifle, was leaned against a small tree about ten feet from where he stood. He’d left his Colt .44 pistols at the house, not figuring he’d need them just to mend a little fence. And besides, they’d just have been in the way.
     Not that he was in any way worried. The stranger didn’t seem to pose any threat. He rode up, pulling his horse to a halt about ten feet away. Up close, Bass noted that he was almost as tall as he was, but considerably lighter, maybe a hundred fifty pounds or so. His expression, while not hostile, wasn’t particularly friendly either. There was something about the face that seemed familiar.
     The man dismounted. He left his rifle in the scabbard and tied his horse to the fence post Bass had just an hour earlier planted in the ground. As he walked closer, his coat flapped open revealing a revolver high on his right hip.
     “Don’t seem particularly friendly,” Bass thought. “But, don’t seem threatenin’ neither.”
     The man stopped just beyond his reach.
     “You Bass Reeves?” he asked.
     “I am,” Bass replied. He wasn’t a man for much small talk, and until he knew who the man was and why he was here, he decided to say as little as possible without unnecessarily riling him.
     “I’m James Fagan,” the man said. “I just been appointed U.S. Marshal for the Western District of Arkansas.”
     Then, Bass understood why the man seemed familiar. He’d heard during his last scouting job for the marshals that President Grant was appointing a new marshal for the district. He’d never met the man before, but from the descriptions he knew this was him. Fagan had been a general in the rebel army and had commanded Arkansas volunteers against the Union forces. Bass had heard that he’d finally been paroled and the president had appointed him to be the main federal law enforcement officer for the country’s roughest district.
     The Western District of Arkansas took in the western half of the state, which had problems enough, but also included the Indian Territory to the west in the Oklahoma Territory. Inhabited mostly by Cherokee, Seminole, and Creek Indians who’d been forced there as white settlers took over their lands in the east, they had formed tribal police to take care of their own people, but the territory was also settled by others, white and black, who were often trying to get away from the laws of the United States. Because the Indian police only dealt with Indians, the Indian Territory had become several thousand square miles of mostly lawless territory.
     Bass had spent most of the war hiding out there, living with all the tribes. He’d learned their languages, and this, along with his familiarity with the area was the reason he was often hired as a guide for the marshals when they entered the territory in pursuit of wanted fugitives.
     “Must want to hire me to guide him,” he thought. His dark brown face remained impassive. “Congratulations on your appointment, marshal,” he said. “What can I do for you?”
     “I’m here to talk to you about a job.”
     “Well, sir – I just yestiddy come back from a job over to Injun Territory, and I reckon I needs to do a mite o’ chores here on the farm fore I go back out.”
     “You don’t understand, Reeves,” Fagan said, with a note of annoyance in his voice. “I ain’t here to hire you to scout. You probably ain’t heard, but when President Grant appointed me, he also appointed a new federal judge for the district – fella name of Isaac Parker. Now, Judge Parker’s sort of my boss, and he done ordered me to hire two hundred new deputies to police the Injun Territory. I heard tell you know the territory better than just about anybody else in these parts, and that you’re pretty fair with a gun.”
     “I guess I knows the Injun Territory ‘bout as well as a cook know his kitchen,” Bass said. There was no bragging in his voice, just a matter of fact statement. “As to bein’ good with a gun, I reckon I’m only fair to middlin’.”
     Fagan laughed. “Way I hear it, you so good with that Winchester of yours, they won’t let you compete in the Turkey Shoots ‘round here anymore.”
     Bass smiled and nodded. It was true that the locals had become so tired of him winning every prize at every Turkey Shoot they’d banned him for life from competing. He was also a crack shot with a pistol, with either hand, and there wasn’t a man within two days ride of Van Buren who’d dare go up against him in a gun, knife, or fist fight. Bass, though, wasn’t one to brag about such things. They were just facts of life he’d learned to live with.
     “What’s this here job you want to talk about iffen it ain’t guidin’?”
     “I done told you, I been ordered to hire a buncha new deputies, and I want you to be one of ‘em.”