Dec 29

Victorians and Etiquette Books

Etiquette doesn’t seem very popular anymore. Rules, strictures, ways of behaving that must be adhered to—for many, I suspect that sounds more confining than charming. My own experiences of etiquette were limited to my grandma’s lessons on how to act at the dinner table, nudging my elbow to remind me to say “please” and “thank you,” and insisting I never let my hemline rise too high or my neckline ride too low. Was there someone in your life who taught you etiquette?

When I began research for my current Victorian romance series, I knew there were a fair number of etiquette books in print during the Victorian era. Certainly more than I’d seen at my local library or in the homes of my family while growing up. In fact, the only such book I recall was my grandma’s copy of Emily Post’s Etiquette, though I never remember her taking the volume down and thumbing through its pages.

My research starting point was that Victorians produced more etiquette books than those of us living in the 20th century. Of course, I wanted to know why. What I discovered surprised me and has informed each of the stories in my current Romancing the Rules series from Avon Impulse.

It’s tempting to imagine Victorians bathed in gaslight, hunched over their etiquette books, memorizing rules so that they could be behave with all the prudery and scrupulous politeness they’ve become known for. Yet if you read Victorian etiquette guides, you soon find that they’re more akin to advice manuals than rulebooks. In many ways, they remind me of our modern spate of self-help books, encouraging good health, physical activity, and urging kindness and politeness toward others.

I often write of aristocrats, the wealthy and powerful of English society. But the Victorian era saw the rise of an expanding middle class, many earning enormous wealth during the opportunity-rich industrial revolution. Etiquette books spoke directly to those ladies and gentleman who wanted to cultivate the social niceties the upper classes would have been taught by governesses and tutors.

To paraphrase S. L. Louis in Decorum, middle class men could “fake it” until behaving like a gentleman became real.

 Advice manuals seemed most plentiful for women’s edification. Then as now, an inordinate amount of time was spent advising women how to “look” in terms of their dress, cosmetics, scent, even how they should appear when participating in the new activities of the day, like cycling. In the 1893 book, Etiquette of Good Society, Lady Campbell advised,

A lady’s tricycling dress consists of a plain skirt, made sufficiently wide to allow the feet free play without causing them to draw up the dress by their action, and yet not so wide as to permit the skirt to hang in folds or flap in the wind.

Perhaps my most shocking find was the discovery that late 19th century Victorians, with all of their “modern” inventions and technologies, were a bit nostalgic for the past. In Decorum in 1883, S. L. Louis opined,

THE very delightful recreation and exercise of riding on horseback is too little partaken of in these days of fast locomotion.

If nothing else, the plethora of Victorian advice manuals and etiquette guides offer a fascinating glimpse into the era. Though the Victorians are often painted as the worst sort of prudes, the books indicate they were a generation of strivers, ladies and gentleman attempting to live up to ideals and fearing they’d fall short.

When trains shuttled people through the countryside, women had more property rights than ever before, and a few men without a drop of blue blood in their veins could afford more lavish lifestyles than some aristocrats, etiquette books must have seemed a useful aid to help people through rapidly changing times.

Works Referenced

Louis, S.L., Decorum. New York: Union Publishing House, 1883.

Campbell, Lady Elizabeth G., Etiquette of Good Society. London: Cassell and Co, 1893.

Dec 14

A Little Christmas History

It’s a wonderful time of year for many of us, seeing family, whether traveling or staying home, parties, twinkly lights, good food, friends, prezzies under the tree.

Victoria and Albert with Christmas tree

The nineteenth century brought about many of the staples of Christmas that we enjoy today: the decorated Christmas tree by the 1850s (via Prince Albert, consort of Queen Victoria, who grew up in Germany where the tree was already a tradition), Christmas cards (though only for the wealthy, at first), Christmas crackers (more popular still in the UK than here in America, but you can purchase them easily nowadays), and, of course, Ebeneezer Scrooge (via Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol.

Let’s get to Santa Claus. Santa is, for many, the secular representation of Christmas. Has that jolly old elf always been so jolly? At least in America, the answer is yes.

Early Christmas card 19th century

Santa, as St. Nicholas, first appeared in popular form in the 1820s, in Clement Moore’s “An Account of a Visit from Saint Nicholas” (also known by its first line as “Twas the Night Before Christmas”), complete with his eight “tiny” reindeer and a mini-sleigh. St. Nick was, indeed, a round, jolly elf dressed in fur who came down the chimney.

In the 1850s and 1860s, Santa was becoming more the modern Santa that we think of today. Thomas Nast (actually a political cartoonist and caricaturist) created Christmas illustrations introducing the idea of Santa’s workshop and of Santa having a record of whether kids were behaving well during the year. It was Nast’s colored illustrations, paired with George Webster’s 1886 “Santa Claus and His Works” that dressed Santa in red and made his domain in the famed and magical North Pole. Santa went from a Saint to an elf and back to a man again throughout the century.

All about Santa Claus

In Boston, MA, where Reed Malloy (from my romantic novel, An Improper Situation) and his family live, by the 1880s, Christmas celebrations were large family affairs that we know today, complete with a feast. Why? Because throughout the century, immigrants came to Massachusetts predominantly from Ireland, England, and Scotland, bringing with them their UK and European Christmas traditions. They came a long way from a 1659 Massachusetts anti-Christmas law of the Puritans to the nationwide celebration of the 1880s.

At the end of the nineteenth century, Virginia O’Hanlon’s now-famous question to a newspaper editor, “Is there a Santa Claus?” could be truly answered that, at least in American culture, “Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus.” That was in 1897.

Happy Holidays to all of you from the authors of Love Historicals.

Dec 01

Celebrating Victorian Christmas Traditions

As difficult as it is to believe, considering that Christmas items are available in stores as early as September, at the beginning of the 1800’s, most people didn’t consider it a holiday. Businesses weren’t closed and few celebrated the way we do now.

Many attribute the change to Queen Victoria’s marriage to Prince Albert. German-born, the prince brought many of his childhood traditions surrounding the holiday to England. When a popular news sheet featured a drawing of the royal family surrounding a decorated Christmas tree, many people flocked to emulate the royals by bringing evergreen trees into their homes and decorating them with candles, fruits, and other sweets.

While decorating homes with evergreens (including kissing boughs and mistletoe!) date back to medieval times, the manner in which this was done changed. Uniformity won the day, along with elegance. Housewives were encouraged “To bring about a general feeling of enjoyment, much depends on the surroundings… It is worthwhile to bestow some little trouble on the decoration of the rooms.” (1881 Cassell’s Family Magazine). Victorian Family Christmas

The custom of exchanging cards at Christmas also dates to Victorian times. Henry Cole commissioned an artist to design a card depicting a family celebrating Christmas in 1843. The concept quickly caught on and children began to draw their own cards to exchange. As techniques for printing lowered the cost and the postage rate dropped, cards were more frequently exchanged. By 1880, the greeting card industry was born as 11.5 million cards were exchanged that year.

Gift giving shifted from its previous New Years’ date to Christmas as well, thanks to the Victorians. The rise of factories and improvements in manufacturing reduced the cost of children’s toys, making it much more practical to indulge the young ones in the household with gifts. However, less fortunate children more often found oranges or nuts in their stocking.

It’s interesting to note that Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol was published in 1843, which encouraged wealthier Victorians to give to the poor, a tradition that is still encouraged to this day.

Father Christmas and Santa Claus are two different stories though the average person today might not be able to guess that. Old English midwinter festivals thrown to celebrate the coming of spring included a man dressed in green. Santa Claus or St. Nicholas (or Sinter Klaas in Holland) came with the Dutch who settled in America in the 17th century. By the 1870’s Sinter Klaas became Santa Claus in England.

Traditional Christmas carols from the Victorian period will sound very familiar to us today. O Come All Ye Faithful emerged in 1843, See Amid the Winter’s Snow in 1851, O Little Town of Bethlehem in 1868, and Away in a Manager in 1883.

lanawilliams_dancingunderthemistletoe_ecover_800What about you? What are some of your Christmas traditions? We’d love to know what is a *MUST* for you each Christmas!

As you celebrate Christmas this year, give a shout out to the Victorians for giving us so many wonderful traditions, and while you’re at, we invite you to read some Victorian Romances! My latest novella, Dancing Under the Mistletoe in set in 1870 (Book 3.5 of The Seven Curses of London series) and is available exclusively as part of Under the Kissing Bough collection for only $.99 for a limited time!







Nov 15

Funny Animal Sidekicks Steal Hearts


By Prince Rael the Magnificent
(Transcribed by Adrienne deWolfe, aka “Minion”)

Greetings, Humans!

It is I, Prince Rael the Magnificent, writing on a subject that is near and dear to every (self-respecting) reader’s heart: why cats make the funniest sidekicks. Er . . . I mean, why animals make the funniest sidekicks.

Frankly, I think every Romance novel should feature a cat hero, but Adrienne outvoted me. (She also chose deWolfe as her pen name! I’m pretty sure that’s a sign of brain rot.)

For those of you who don’t share your living quarters with one of nature’s demi-gods, I hope to inspire you (and mostly, to encourage you to reexamine your woeful existence.) But first, we must tackle the subject at hand: furry scene-stealers.

Back when Adrienne was a newbie author, she got the bright idea to write Texas Wildcat. (An inspired title, don’t you agree?) In her innocence, she envisioned an endearing scene, in which the hero would bring the heroine a puppy in his big, brawny cowboy arms. Of course, this idea necessitated killing off the heroine’s rheumy coon hound. Well! The way her Bantam editor carried on, you would have thought that Adrienne had whacked Garfield or Grumpy Cat! The editor phoned Adrienne and blubbered, “Never again will you kill a dog on my watch!”

Ironically, nobody at Bantam shed a single tear when the sheep-mauling mountain lion got his head blown off! (Where’s the justice?)

Fortunately, Adrienne is more clever than she looks. She started writing animals as fully developed sidekicks. The trouble is, she doesn’t write cats. You’d think that Romance readers would be outraged by this gross oversight on a bestselling author’s part.

Instead, they encourage this madness by sending fan mail to Pris, the border collie, who herds everything from geese to run-away apples in Texas Wildcat. They also write to Tavy, the orphaned baby otter, who doesn’t know how to swim in Scoundrel for Hire. But what really blows my mind is that readers and (supposedly wise) book reviewers love Vanderbilt Varmint, the raccoon, even though that impertinent sneak is known on Kitchen Wanted Posters as “The Masked Moocher!” Vandy has appeared in two of Adrienne’s series – and five of her books – which makes this pussycat want to barf hairballs.

If you’re anything like me, you’re probably wondering, “What kind of noodlehead writes about raccoons instead of cats?” But Adrienne had a creative vision for the climax of her Western Romantic Suspense novel, Devil in Texas (Book 1, Lady Law & The Gunslinger — now on sale for 99 cents.) She needed an animal character to rescue an unconscious child from an evil rattlesnake. Alas, cats must draw the line at fame and fortune somewhere, so I gave Adrienne my blessing.

Adrienne confessed that inventing a raison d’etre for the same furry sidekick, in scene after scene of five books, has been akin to Chinese water torture. (Serves the noodlehead right!) To date, Vandy has broken the hero out of jail; crapped on the antagonist’s pillow; run around a bedroom with underwear on his head; dunked a stolen pocket watch in a lady’s bathwater (while she’s still in it;) and gotten himself locked in a traveling trunk bound for Denver. In Book 2 of the series, Dance to the Devil’s Tune, Vandy saves the heroine from a bushwhacker – entirely by accident, of course.  

Now let us speak frankly. You and I both know that cats are far more interesting (and will sell far more books) than raccoons. However, the nice lady, who commissioned this post, expects me to regale you with tips on how to write funny animal characters. So while Adrienne’s busy shrieking inside the broom closet, I’ll review her Best Practices with you. (Kindly ignore any ruckus you hear in the background. Locked closets are perfectly comfy, I assure you.)

5 Tips for Entertaining Human Readers:

• Once you create a pet, you’re stuck with it for the rest of the novel. Killing off a pet (unless it’s Cujo or maybe a big hairy tarantula,) will earn you an avalanche of mail—from former fans.

• Without dialogue, a furry sidekick must be made funny via human interpretation. For instance, Vandy runs through the snow, getting his paws cold and slushy, before he jumps onto the hero’s crotch. Naturally, Cass thinks the coon is tormenting him. (And Vandy is. He told me so, himself.)

• A pet must help or hinder a human’s scene goal. Your animal character should have a greater plot purpose than wandering into the kitchen to eat. (Psst. I don’t care what Adrienne says. If you’re dishing out boiled shrimp, you can write whatever you want!)

• Invent situations that are innately humorous. For example, during the séance scene, Tavy the Otter, rises up under a sheet like a ghost. (But Tavy doesn’t levitate. Dang that editor!)

• Logistically, you must let the reader know where the pet is in every scene – even if that means writing a one-liner, mentioning that the pet is snoozing on the bed (or making baby animals under the porch.)

What Have We Learned in Today’s Creature Feature?
[Disclaimer: The following summary reflects the views of the FELINE, and not necessarily the person, who’s howling in the broom closet.]

1) Cats deserve the Pulitzer Prize.

2) Dead dogs will get your book rejected by Bantam.

3) Raccoons are blithering idiots.

4) Adrienne is deathly afraid of brooms.

5) Did I mention that cats are superior writers?

‘Til next time, Gentle Readers, this is your favorite Pussy Pal, signing off with a rousing MEOW.

About the Author
ray-with-glasses_paidPrince Rael the Magnificent is the foremost authority on animal behavior in Adrienne deWolfe’s den. Adrienne, his shrimp-cooking minion, is a #1 bestselling author of action-packed Historical Romances. Her most recent novel, Dance to the Devil’s Tune was released today! (Please buy it, so she can feed the pussy brat.) For sneak peeks of Adrienne’s sassy ladies and sizzling rogues, visit

Nov 03

How The Dogs Hold an Election

With elections only a few days away, here’s a Lakota legend on how the dogs hold an election.

Once, a long time ago, the dogs were trying to elect a president. One of the dogs nominated the bulldog because he was strong and could fight.

“But he cannot run,” said another. “What good is a fighter who cannot run?”

“He can run,” another argued, “but he cannot fight. When he catches up with someone, he gets beaten up. So all he is good for is running away.”

One little mutt jumped up and said, “I nominate a dog for president that smells good under his tail.”

Another said, “I second the motion.”

So, all the dogs started sniffing under each other’s tails.


“Phew,” said one, “he does not smell good under his tail.”

“Neither does this one.”

“He is not presidential timber.”

“This one sure is not the people’s choice.”

“Wow, this one is not my candidate.”

So now, when you go for a walk, watch the dogs. They’re always sniffing under each other’s tails looking for a good leader, and they still haven’t found him.


I’m not suggesting that we use the sniff test to choose our president, otherwise, like the dogs, we’d still be looking.

Oct 15

Medieval Adventure with Blackened Chain Mail

I recently had a new book published: The Black Knight’s Reward.

All Luke’s life, this half-Saracen, half-Englishman has sought legitimacy. The reward he desperately wants is to inherit his grandfather’s English estate and have the title of earl go to his own heir. However, his impulsive act in saving a young woman who is about to be executed by the Church changes everything. By the end of the story, he has a new reward in mind, and her name is Merry du Boise, a red-headed healer who seems to have trouble follow her wherever she goes.

Black Knight's Reward cover
Available in ebook and paperback everywhere fine books are sold, including Amazon.

Why the Black Knight? Blackened chain mail, or ring mail, was common. It was oiled and fired to prevent rust, and it became deeply blackened. It could be shiny or matt depending on how it was treated. My knight’s finely wrought mail is blackened and kept shiny with oil. His squire, Erin, takes good care of his master’s mail, except when he loses one of the chausses, leaving more than a chink in Luke’s armor — he leaves a whole leg vulnerable to attack.

The Black Knight’s Reward — co-written by me, Sydney Jane Baily, and Marliss Melton — is a standalone story, and is Book 2 in the Warriors of York series. Merry’s older sister’s story is told in Book 1, The Slayer’s Redemption, available in ebook and paperback everywhere books are sold.

Aug 17

Crazy Road Trip into Wild West Inspires DEVIL IN TEXAS

western, Victorian, Texas, Research, Adrienne deWolfeMy 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.)

Devil in Texas by Adrienne deWolfe, Book 1, Lady Law & The Gunslinger SeriesBoy, 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

Devil in Texas by Adrienne deWolfeFor 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?”

Devil in Texas: Book 1, Lady Law & The Gunslinger SeriesCass 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.”

“You’re 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 Description


Book 1, Lady Law & the Gunslinger

By Adrienne deWolfe

Book 1, Lady Law & The Gunslinger SeriesPinkerton Agent Sadie Michelson poses as a casino singer to investigate a Texas Senator. Before she can cozy up to her quarry, she must get past his bodyguard, William Cassidy, her long-lost lover.

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:


Barnes & Noble

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.

Adrienne deWolfe, americana romance, His Wicked Dream, historical romance, Pistols and Petticoats, Romantic Suspense, Shady Lady, Texas, Velvet Lies, victorian romance, western romance

Jul 28

Texas Lover: Sexy Ranger Hides a Secret!

Western Romance, Victorian Romance, 99 cents, on sale, Texas RangersSure, he can shoot and toss bad guys in the hoosegow.

But my rascally Texas Ranger also happens to be a top-notch flapjack griddler!  And a talented two-stepper! (Uh, that’s “dancer,” for you Yankee folk.) He spins hilarious bedtime stories for orphans, and he woos his Lady Love with romantic tall tales about a Sweetheart Tree!

Yes, when it comes to grizzled, sunbaked, gunslinging lawmen, Wes Rawlins breaks the mold. Maybe that’s why his story, Texas Lover (Book 2, Wild Texas Nights,) is so popular with readers.

I’m excited that my favorite Rawlins brother is going to have his “day in the sun,” so to speak. Wes’s and Rorie’s love story goes on sale today for 99 cents. 

Here’s a never-before excerpted scene, featuring this award-winning hero in all his rascally charm. Enjoy!


Texas Lover

Book 2, Wild Texas Nights

On Sale: 99 cents Today!

Award-winning Romance novelAfter a resigned inspection of her patched-up calico skirt, Rorie blew out her lamp and headed down the stairs. She avoided the creaking floorboard in the dining room, more out of habit than necessity, but the sound of voices stopped her near the kitchen door.

“You got that batter stirred up, Topher?”

“Yeah, but…” The nine-year-old sounded mutinous. “I don’t see why we got to do it. Men don’t cook. That’s women’s work.”

Wes’s chuckle floated out to her. “And just who do you think cooks for the cattlemen, Rangers, and buffalo hunters when there aren’t any womenfolk on the trail?”

A traitorous smile stole across Rorie’s face.

She edged forward, her footsteps muffled by the rattle of pans, and furtively poked her head around the corner. What she saw left her choking on amusement.

The kitchen was in shambles. A bucket had been overturned beneath the sink, and one of the window curtains was twisted and wrinkled as if a small hand had grabbed it, probably to haul Topher up onto the sideboard to steal cookies. 

The picture grew more comical. On the table, nestled between little mountains of flour, were several discarded egg shells, each dripping the last of their remains into the powdery residue sprinkled across the floor.

In fact, flour seemed to be everywhere. It decorated the milk pitcher in the imprint of a large masculine hand; it made Topher look like a ghost—or rather a raccoon, since his big blue eyes stared out from a pasty mask.The flour storm had even blown into the crevices of Wes’s rolled-up sleeves and rained down on his hair, giving him a sort of confectioner’s halo.

Rorie clapped a hand over her mouth to stifle a giggle when he brushed a rakish curl off his forehead, leaving a smear of white in its place. Then he began sweeping the flour mountains off the table with his forearm into a bowl.

Topher’s brows furrowed, dribbling a few flakes of flour into the batter he was stirring. “Just what are slabberdabs, anyway?”

With a deft flick of his wrist, Wes broke an egg into his bowl. “Why, they’re my pa’s prized trail flapjacks. Pa passed the secret on to my brother, Cord, and Cord passed it on to Zack and me. Now I’m letting you in on the recipe. It’s a time-honored tradition, son, and no women can ever know about it.”

He fixed Topher with a stern stare. “You’re going to have to take a pinky oath.”

Topher’s eyes nearly bugged out. “Gee, that’s serious!”

This time, Rorie clapped both hands to her mouth as Wes nodded gravely.

“Do you hereby swear to take to your grave the Rawlins brothers’ secret slabberdab recipe?”

Topher linked his smallest finger with Wes’s. “Ain’t no woman going to pry it out of me until the worms eat out my eyeballs.”

Rorie’s mirth lodged in her throat when she heard a footstep behind her. She turned guiltily, blushing to think that one of the other orphans had caught her eavesdropping. Instead she recognized the squat, round form of Ginevee. Rorie hastily pressed a finger to her lips, grinning as she beckoned her friend closer.

Meanwhile, Topher was standing on a chair, straining to get a better view of Wes’s bowl. “Whatcha got in there? Another secret recipe?”

“Naw. Just some biscuits. I could be making huckydummy, though, if I had raisins.”

“We got raisins,” Topher said brightly. Jumping back down to the floor, he blazed a trail through the flour drifts and stood on tiptoe to haul a tin container down from the shelves. “How many raisins you need?” he called as the metal lid clattered onto the floor.

“Well,” Wes said thoughtfully, raising his spoon and watching the batter plop back into the bowl. “We got eight hungry people coming to breakfast, and I reckon they’ll want at least two biscuits each. I figure we’ll need about ten raisins per person; so how many does that make, Topher?”

The enthusiasm on Topher’s face dwindled to confusion. “I don’t know.” He scowled. “Sixteen?”

Ginevee nudged Rorie as if to say, “That boy hasn’t been doing his multiplication tables.” Rorie shrugged helplessly. Topher had known the answer to eight-times-ten two weeks ago.

“No,” Wes said gently. “Try again. Eight tens are how many?”

Topher’s chin jutted. “I ain’t any good at numbers.”

“You want to know a secret?” Wes winked. “I’m not either.”

The tenseness eased from Topher’s shoulders. “You’re not?”

“Nope. That’s why I made up a song to help me. Want to hear it?”

Topher nodded eagerly. Grinning, Wes sang:

Grisly’s in the honeycomb,

Queen bee, she’s a bawlin’,

Hound dog treed a cougar cat,

and kitty’s up there squallin’.

In spite of Wes’s total disregard for pitch, Rorie recognized the tune because it belonged to a childhood game she had played in Cincinnati. Wes had taken liberty with the lyrics, though. Either that, or he was yodeling the Texas version, because she couldn’t remember singing about grizzly bears or cougars in Ohio.

Grinning from ear to ear, Topher threw back his head and helped Wes finish the refrain:

Ten times 5 is 50, ten times 6 is 60;

Ten times 7 is 70, ten times 8 is 80.

The combination of squeaky soprano and rusty baritone was so awful, so wonderfully blessed awful, that Rorie couldn’t help herself. She snickered.

Ginevee, who was the county’s uncontested fiddle-playing champion, covered her ears and did the same.

The next thing Rorie knew, the two of them were howling with mirth, clutching their sides, and staggering against the wall for support.

“Uh oh,” Topher warned in a mortified whisper. “Women!”

Book Description

Texas Lover

Book 2, Wild Texas Nights

On Sale: 99 cents Today!

Wild Texas Nights, Texas Rangers, 99 cents, Sale, Texas RangersTexas Ranger Wes Rawlins has a heap of trouble on his hands. The county sheriff has been murdered, squatters are entrenched on the dead man’s land, and no one can tell Wes why the sheriff wired for help in the first place.

So Wes rides out to the sheriff’s farm—and finds himself looking down a gun barrel aimed by Aurora Sinclair, a spirited, young divorcée with a house full of orphans to protect.

Is Aurora an innocent schoolmarm battling an illegal land grab? Or is she a cunning temptress who plugged her lawman-lover to seize his sprawling homestead?

In this high-stakes game of cat and mouse, Wes dare not lose his head. The trouble is, he may have already lost his heart…





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Jul 15

Summer Reading? Think Small!

Summer is supposed to mean reading on the beach, in porch swings or hammocks, or even relaxing in the comfort of an air-conditioned house. With plenty of time for sweet or spicy books, right?

By Tom Woodward from Richmond, VA, US (coconut) [CC BY-SA 2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

By Tom Woodward from Richmond, VA, US (coconut) [CC BY-SA 2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons


For most of us, jobs don’t end. Kids are home from school demanding things like food and stimulation. Argh. There are yards to mow, gardens to tend, weeds to pull, fireworks to watch – or set off! Vacation means packing, traffic, TSA lines, unpacking, laundry. How many of us truly get the hours of scrumptious summer reading time we crave?

Not many. We get little bites, like a feeding of tapas, yummy but not quite a meal. Was that dinner? Is it really reading if you can’t finish a whole chapter?

I don’t even have the excuse of limited time for my lack of summer reading this year. With my many weeks of recuperating from surgery, I should have read an entire library of romance by now. I’ll admit my brain couldn’t quite stick with anything. I was stupid and sleepy, and much more likely to zone out to an episode of “Supernatural” than open up a couple hundred page beach read. However, one book — or books, I should say — that appealed was a boxed set of novellas. Quick reads, yes, but long enough to have some meat to them, to leave you feeling like you’ve had a meal without the commitment of seven courses at the Ritz.

If you have less time and scattered attention, or if you just aren’t sure what you’re in the mood for, try a set of shorter stories by a variety of authors. It’s a great way to get fantastic stories in a small plate format. Plus, you may find a new-to-you author’s backlist to devour. Most sets are much less expensive than the starters at your local chain restaurant, too. And these bundles are all the rage, like coconut water.

Hearts Aflame boxed setNow, in a completely self-serving suggestive sell, might I advise you to give “Hearts Aflame” a nibble? It won’t be available forever and it is a well-reviewed steal at 99 cents!

Jul 12

DEVIL IN TEXAS: Sexy Gunslinger Turns Hero: NEW RELEASE!

Book 1, Lady Law & The Gunslinger SeriesWho would have thought I’d fall in love with my own villain?

A couple of books ago, I plotted a Western Romance in which two outlaw friends would compete for a preacher’s daughter, named Sera. (Seduced By An Angel.) Jesse, the hero, was supposed to become sheriff and save Sera’s small town from his compadre, William Cassidy.

But Cass wasn’t happy with my plot to bury him at Boot Hill.

“Aw, c’mon, Wolfie,” he kept whispering in my ear, “I’m not so bad. I’m funny! How many villains do you know, who ride get-away horses named Jelli and Pancake? And what about that time I poured moonshine into Sera’s pie, so she could win the county bake-off? I’m adorable! Give me a book and a woman of my own!”

The next thing I knew, I was doing something crazy: rewriting the ebook version of a previously published paperback so I could redeem Cass.

Now, at long last, my charming Texas Bad Boy gets to co-star in his own series of Western Whodunits with his long-lost love, Sadie Michelson, a fiery-haired, pistol-packing Pinkerton. Devil in Texas (Book 1, Lady Law & The Gunslinger) officially goes on sale today!

To show readers that Cass is truly hero material, I gave him a 17-year-old sidekick to mentor (Collie, the orphaned thief from the Velvet Lies series) and Collie’s mischievious raccoon (who would try any hero’s patience.)

I also set Cass’s sights on proving himself worthy of a Ranger badge. To that end, he agrees to protect his old ranch boss, who is running for re-election in the Texas senate. Little does Cass know that Sadie is secretly investigating the senator for murder. Here’s a sneak peak!


Devil in Texas

Book 1, Lady Law & The Gunslinger

By Adrienne deWolfe

Devil in Texas by Adrienne deWolfeReaching for his six-shooter, Cass waved his 17-year-old sidekick to safety and poked his head around the corner.

A bearded figure in a sack suit was climbing through the window. Apparently, a thief was breaking into the hotel.

Cass marveled at the irony. All his life, he’d wanted to be a Ranger, to fight for right and make the world a safe place for little kiddies to play. Even though that dream had been derailed when he turned vigilante, Cass’s altruistic side couldn’t let some desperado barge into the building and loot innocent folks.

Stepping into the moonlight, he confronted the burglar.

“What’s the matter, mister? Three flights of stairs aren’t enough exercise?”

The thief went rigid.

“Hands,” Cass barked, cocking his .45.

Slowly, reluctantly, the burglar spread his gloves in the universal sign of surrender.

“I’ll frisk him,” Collie volunteered, lurching forward in his widow’s weeds. The matched pair of cantaloupes in his corset thumped together like rolling thunder.

Cass wanted to wallop the kid for such a lousy stakeout disguise. “Confound it, Birdie, is that how your mama taught a lady to behave?”

The burglar chuckled. The sound was low and husky, reminding Cass of whiskey, scarlet, and sin all rolled into one.

“Looks like Birdie found Admiral Farragut’s lost torpedoes.”

“Mind your manners, cockroach,” Cass growled. “You’re talking to a lady.”

Straight white teeth flashed in the thief’s graying beard. “Somebody’s got his facts all tangled.”

Adrienne deWolfe, americana romance, His Wicked Dream, historical romance, Pistols and Petticoats, Romantic Suspense, Shady Lady, Texas, Velvet Lies, victorian romance, western romanceCass’s brow furrowed. Something about that voice wasn’t right. For one thing, it wasn’t scratchy enough to be old. For another, it reminded him poignantly of Sadie.

Cass cursed himself. Now wasn’t the time to get distracted by grief. Sadie had betrayed him. She’d told the Rangers about his murder warrant. After a hurt like that, Cass shouldn’t have cared that the golden-eyed hellion had vanished in a fire.

But no matter how he tried, he couldn’t stop thinking about those long-lost days of star-gazing, berry-picking, and sharing secrets in the hayloft with Sadie. A yawning emptiness consumed his soul. The nights had lost their thrill because he could never love, war, and make up again with the Devil’s Red-Haired Daughter.

He dragged his thoughts back to his prisoner. “What’s that bulge under your coat?”

The ghost of a dimple peeked beneath the thief’s derby. “The usual.”

“Want to be more specific?”

“See for yourself.”

Cass frowned. This conversation was familiar—macabrely familiar. But his memory had to do with Sadie and a skimpy negligee that had nearly stopped his heart.

“Take off your hat,” he commanded suspiciously.

Another saucy dimple peeked. “You want it? Come and get it, hotshot.”

Cass’s patience was rapidly unraveling. Defying knives, blinding powder, and whatever else the thief might throw, Cass stalked closer. A tepid breeze stirred the draperies. The masculine scents of leather and horse wafted past his nose, along with the feminine fragrance of rosehips.

Sadie’s favorite tea.

Now Cass was close enough to notice anomalies beneath the burglar’s bowler: a mustache that was just a hair off balance. Lips that were pink and kissably soft.

Cass’s brain told his senses they were liars, but his heart couldn’t give up the hope. With a shaking hand, he knocked off the thief’s hat.

Eyes as hot as golden brands burned into his.

In the next instant, a boot sent his gun flying. A second drop-kick plowed into his midsection.

“Son of a—” Cass stumbled to his knees, winded.

Collie reached for his revolver.

“No!” Cass tackled the boy. They hit the carpet in a tangle of limbs and lace. “That’s Sadie!”

“Are you loco? Sadie’s dead!”

They flopped like a couple of beached whales, Cass’s spurs shredding the boy’s petticoats.

Sadie glanced over her shoulder, that wicked dimple flirting with her lips. One last smirk for his embarrassment. One last sigh for all that might have been.

Then, with an audacious wink, she fled.

Book Description

Devil in Texas

Book 1, Lady Law & The Gunslinger

By Adrienne deWolfe

americana romance, His Wicked Dream, historical romance, Pistols and Petticoats, Romantic Suspense, Shady Lady, Texas, Velvet Lies, victorian romance, western romancePinkerton Agent Sadie Michelson poses as a casino singer to investigate a Texas senator. Before she can cozy up to her quarry, she must get past his bodyguard, William Cassidy, her long-lost lover.

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, he thinks 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:


Barnes & Noble

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.

Adrienne deWolfe, americana romance, His Wicked Dream, historical romance, Pistols and Petticoats, Romantic Suspense, Shady Lady, Texas, Velvet Lies, victorian romance, western romance

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