Kelli A. Wilkins
The Making of "Love, Lies and Redemption" (Part 2)
Today I’m sharing Part Two of the making of my historical western romance, Love, Lies and Redemption. In the first blog, I talked about how the book came to be and discussed the research involved in writing a historical romance. Today, I’ll explore the characters and touch on another subject—realism.
The book opens with Sam, the hero, bleeding from gunshot wounds and stumbling across the prairie. He’s wondering if he is already dead and suffering in hell for what he has done in the past.
This gives readers initial insight into Sam. Right from the start, we know he has done something that he feels guilty about, and he is harboring secrets. We also learn that Sam is stubborn and not the type of man to give up easily.
When readers meet Cassie in her store, they see that she works hard trying to make her store successful. But they also watch her going through the motions and wondering why she bothers.
Each character is at a crossroads, and everything is about to change for them. As the book progresses, we learn that Cassie is headstrong, independent, and not the type to take guff from Sam, or the people in town. She’s running a store all by herself and doesn’t like to accept help or rely on anyone.
I contrasted Cassie’s independent nature with a secret vulnerability. The consequences of a failed relationship left Cassie emotionally fragile and broken. She says she’s not afraid of anything, but later we learn that’s not true. Deep down, she fears losing the store. She’s also afraid of falling in love with Sam, only to lose him. Cassie has experienced many losses in her life, and she is hesitant to open her heart and trust anyone.
Sam is a noble man who feels he has a debt to pay and a duty to watch over Cassie, and this leads to conflict between them. She doesn’t want to admit that she needs his help, and he is being overprotective of her (or so she thinks…).
Although Sam comes across as honest and open, readers quickly discover that Sam is keeping his past a secret and is hiding his true identity—and much more—from everyone. Sam is a troubled soul who has also experienced a lot of loss in his life. Without giving too much away, readers learn that Sam lost someone very important to him through an act of violence, and he’s set on getting his revenge—and that’s not pretty.
This leads me to my next topic—realism. Before I sat down to write, I did a lot of research about general stores, what life was like in the 1870s, etc., and I learned that life back then was very difficult and much different from how we live today.
People died of infections, diseases, and all sorts of other ailments, and there was the threat of violence to consider. The west was known for being “lawless” and some people took advantage of the fact that you practically could do whatever you wanted.
Life for anyone in the “wild” west was tough. Combine that with the fact that women virtually were the property of their husbands and had no rights, and you have the makings for pretty rough times for women.
I incorporated a few of these elements into the book. How could I not? The setting and time period have to be realistically represented in a historical romance. Although readers might take issue with including violence in a romance, it has a place in the story (to a degree). If everything was too perfect or too pretty, the book would lose the richness in details that bring it—and the characters—to life.
Having Sam face the threat of a potentially lethal infection, Cassie trying to help a woman escape a violent marriage, and Sam admitting the horrific truth of his past, all work together to give the book an authentic feel.
And part of an author’s job (especially when writing historical romances) is to let readers live the story through the eyes and experiences of the characters. One thing authors are told is to make life difficult for your hero and heroine. If there is no conflict or drama, the story becomes dull, and the characters have nothing to strive for and don’t grow.
Yes, I may have put Sam and Cassie (and a few other characters) through an emotional wringer, and yes, they had to face violent situations, but they’re strong and their challenges built up their resilience.
And of course, as in any romance, it all worked out happily-ever-after. Here’s the book summary:
Love, Lies and Redemption
Shot and left for dead, Sam Hixton stumbles into a general store on the Nebraska prairie and collapses into the arms of Cassie Wilcox.
Cassie’s world is turned upside down when the handsome stranger drops into her life. Sam is another complication she doesn’t need: her business is dying and her trouble with the townspeople is escalating. Yet she’s determined to keep the store open — no matter what the cost.
As Sam recovers from his injuries, he hides the truth about his identity and convinces Cassie to let him work in the store. He’s attracted to her and admires her independent nature, but quickly realizes Cassie’s in way over her head. They fight their growing attraction, and Cassie questions whether she can trust her fragile heart to a mysterious stranger. Will he accept her once he knows about her troubled past?
Cassie resists Sam’s advances and represses her feelings until one fateful night when they give in to their fiery passion. Together, they work out a plan to save the store, but find their efforts are thwarted — and their lives endangered — by the locals.
Sam’s secret returns to haunt him and pulls him away just when Cassie needs him the most. Will he regain her trust when she learns the truth?
Cassie has everything invested in the store — can she save it and find true love with Sam before it’s too late?
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I hope you enjoyed this look at the making of Love, Lies and Redemption. I had a great time creating the characters and I think readers will fall in love with them as much as I have.
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Kelli A. Wilkins
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