My Texas romance-writing friends congregate in packs: we’re kind of like Lone Star(buck) Wolves.
One Saturday morning, while sucking down enough caffeine and sugar to make my eyes float, a Writer Pal asked, “So where are you going to set your next historical western?”
I mumbled something about throwing a dart at a map and hoping it missed the cat.
So another Writer Pal piped up, “Ever hear of Lampasas?”
I blinked blankly at her. “Lam what?”
“The Saratoga of the South! The Railroad Boomtown! The home of the notorious gunfighter, Pink Higgins! It’s 90 miles north of your house, for crying out loud!”
Lost in my sugar fog, I was still trying to figure out why any parents would name their son, Pink. (Could be the reason the kid became a killer – just sayin’.)
Suddenly, somebody shouted, “Road trip!” The next thing I knew, my Yankee derriere was being dragged out the door by two caffeine-crazed Texans, who thought nothing of driving 100 mph on a Toll Road with nachos in their laps. Splattered with queso, we finally arrived in a sleepy, Hill Country town that boasts some of the wildest history in Texas. (How could I not have heard of Lampasas?!)
With their gift for yarn-spinning, my Writer Pals brought to life a fascinating past. I could almost hear the Comanche war cries at the famed mineral springs and the Rebel Yells of masked vigilantes, hunting down horse thieves. I imagined I smelled gunpowder where the Texas Rangers tried to stop Pink Higgins from annihilating the Horrell brothers.
However, if we’re talking true confessions, the notion of setting a love scene in a bathhouse was what really sold me on the idea of Lampasas as the backdrop for Devil in Texas, (Book 1, Lady Law & The Gunslinger Series.) In drought-stricken Texas, in 1883, the town was a tourist and convalescent mecca, thanks to its mineral springs.
Needless to say, I was chomping at the bit to drive to Hancock Park and view the last surviving building from Lampasas’s legendary health resort. I was anticipating a Victorian palace, complete with puffs of mineral-scented air, steam cabinets, and massage chambers – in short, a structure reminiscent of Bathhouse Row in Hot Springs, Arkansas (where the oldest bathhouse dates to 1892.)
Boy, was I surprised! The sulfur springs in Lampasas aren’t thermal. In fact, they’re cold enough to give a polar bear brain freeze – in mid-summer. (Actually, that’s a good thing, when you consider that in Texas, summer heat drags on for roughly five months.) My next surprise was that Lampasas’s historic, bathhouse looked like a limestone longhouse: far more rustic than romantic.
Faced with the reality of my research, I couldn’t envision Cass and Sadie having their midnight rendezvous at the famous pool in Hancock Park. So I did what any self-respecting author would do: I got creative! I invented “Aquacia Bathhouse,” which I describe like a Spanish palace, complete with a red mansard roof and white stucco walls. The indoor pool is a cross between a Polynesian lagoon and a Mexican grotto. (What can I say? When I imagine scenery, I go whole hog!)
Of course, the great fun of writing Cass and Sadie – in any scene – is their dialogue. Here’s a sneak peek of their rendezvous at Aquacia Bathhouse.
Book 1, Lady Law & the Gunslinger
By Adrienne deWolfe
For a long moment, Sadie stood in the doorway, cicada song swelling behind her in the woods. Moonbeams spilled through the skylight, illuminating dust motes that danced like fairy magic over deeply verdant waters. A long, lean swimmer’s body was power-stroking through the pool. Completely naked, Cass’s exquisite length glimmered like a torpedo-shaped pearl.
She told herself she should arrest him for breaking-and-entering. Unfortunately, she was arrested –- even mesmerized — by the view: emerald waters sliding over alabaster flesh; corded limbs surging through frothy bubbles; the breadth and power of rippling shoulders, rising above the wave. Most endearing of all was the sight of his own dimpled moons, winking at the celestial orb that peeked slyly through the skylight.
He hadn’t noticed her arrival yet. That gave her time to plot her strategy. She raced him along the pool’s longest edge, beating him to the shallows, where she waited triumphantly with a scowl. She was loath to let him know just how much she enjoyed watching his shameless virility cleave her ominous, black silhouette on the water.
When he pretended not to notice her, looming over him like an angry volcano goddess, she tugged his Bowie knife from her belt and flung it. The blade struck the deck’s wooden planks above his head with a resounding thunk.
That got his attention.
He reared up out of the water, tossing back his hair in a gleaming arc of spray that looked like a moonbow around his golden head.
“I hear you left a message for me at Wilma’s place,” she announced. Planting her fists on her hips, she straddled that erect and quivering hilt. “What the devil is this?”
Cass grinned. He trailed his wicked gaze from the knob on the hilt to the apex of her spreading thighs. “I’m not sure. But it looks illegal.”
“That’s why you like me.”
She snorted. “As far as I’m concerned, Marshal Wright should have locked you in the calaboose and thrown away the key. You think vandalism’s a game?”
“Life’s a game, sweetheart. I just play by different rules.”
“This from the man who wants to be a Ranger?”
“I’m starting to have second thoughts about Rangerhood,” he drawled. “Women aren’t allowed on the force.”
“Oh, so now you’re all about equality?”
He winked. “Mostly, I’m about undercover work.”
Book 1, Lady Law & the Gunslinger
By Adrienne deWolfe
An outlaw seeking redemption, Cass was lured to Texas by the promise of a Ranger badge. But he hasn’t forgotten the sassy siren, who toyed with his heart. When Sadie proposes a truce, Cass suspects she’s hiding something.
With assassins dogging their heels, Cass and Sadie uncover a murder conspiracy in the senate. To stay alive, they must do the one thing they’re dead set against: trust each other.
Devil in Texas is available in ebook and paperback. Here are links to popular retailers:
And don’t miss Shady Lady, the novella prequel to Devil in Texas, which was published in the #1 bestselling Historical Western Romance Anthology, Pistols & Petticoats.