I just had to share the news that my latest release, The Three Widows of Wylder, became an international bestseller in two countries and came oh-so-close in a third. I’m thrilled readers around the world are intrigued by this historical fiction, set in the American West.
I thoroughly enjoyed writing the novel, which tells the story from the point of view of three very different women who each have reasons to flee from their pasts. The women meet up and start an uneasy friendship fostered by desperation. In their previous lives, these are women who would never become friends, but their plights compel them to work together.
I’ve had this idea for a while for a book about three widows who band together for survival, and have secrets to hide. I thought it would be a contemporary story, but when my publisher came up with the Wylder West series, I instantly knew I would set my story in the 19th century. It was perfect for their personalities and heightened the mystery and danger surrounding their stories.
Each book in the series The Wild Rose Press has produced is set in the fictional town of Wylder, Wyoming. The Three Widows of Wylder is set when Wyoming was a territory and truly the Old West. The area attracted a huge mix of people, from adventurers seeking lands to explore to ranchers to outlaws.
I’ve always been intrigued with how difficult women had it during this time, and how hard they had to struggle to have any independence at all. For the most part, their existence was ruled by the men in their lives. These themes, too, play a large role in this novel.
Women in the 19th century were constrained in their options. They could work in menial positions, get married, or remain at home. Most women strove for marriage – either for love or to create a family or to avoid the other two options. But I wondered, what would happen if a marriage went wrong? What options did women have then?
The Three Widows takes this idea to the extreme and places my three main characters in peril. They are on the run with their lives at stake.
Read on for the blurb and an excerpt:
The Three Widows of Wylder blurb:
Three women on the run.
After the death of her husband, Clara flees a hanging judge and seeks refuge with her brother in Wylder, Wyoming.
With secrets of her own and good reasons to flee, spoiled and vain Mary Rose joins Clara on the trek to Wyoming. Surely a suitable man exists somewhere.
Emma is a mystery. A crack shot and expert horsewoman, her harrowing past seeps out in a steady drip. She’s on the run from something, but what?
After the three women descend on Wylder, a budding romance leads to exposure of their pasts. As disaster looms, will any of them escape?
Emma stood, legs apart, one hand on the pistol at her hip. The covered wagon was the type used years ago by pioneers, before trains tamed the prairie, and they still lumbered across areas where tracks hadn’t been laid. Two women sat side-by-side, too focused on their argument to yet notice the camp they entered. Their one horse, overmatched by the heavy wagon, was damp with sweat, its mouth flecked with froth.
“We should have stayed on the main road.” The peevish one appeared much younger, curly gold hair topped by a large straw hat. She wore a light-yellow dress with lace at her wrists and throat, a perfectly inadequate outfit for travel. “Someone could have provided directions.”
The older woman had finely-drawn features, a few strands of gray threaded through her dark, uncovered hair. Dressed in sensible blue calico, she gripped the reins too tight and the poor horse gave a pathetic shake of its head. “The whole point was to avoid people,” she sniped.
Emma strode forward and seized the reins. “For God’s sake, you’re killing him.”
The two women gaped as though at an apparition. The horse, released from harsh hands, lowered its head and halted. Its sides heaved as flies drank at its sweaty flanks.
“Whomever let you two fools handle a horse should be whipped.” Tempted to dispatch the women to hell for their cruelty, Emma rested her hand on the pistol’s handle.
They two travelers spoke in tandem. “Who are you?” and “How dare you call me a fool.”
As Emma crooned into in the horse’s ear, her expert fingers undid the buckles at its shoulders and haunches. By the time the older of the two women climbed to the ground, the horse was unhitched and Emma led it to the creek.
“That’s our horse,” cried the one in yellow. “Clara, what is that insane girl doing? She’s stealing him.”
Emma halted, shoulders stiff. She turned and pointed the pistol at the one with lace at her throat. “I’m no horse thief.” She cocked the hammer. “Apologize.”
Barnes and Noble: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/the-three-widows-of-wylder-julie-howard/