by Alison Henderson
Romancing The West welcomes western historical romance author Alison Henderson. (bio on her website)
RTW: Thanks for being here with us this week, Alison. To start off, please tell us about your book.
AH: In 1879 Wyoming, the bone wars are raging between rival fossil hunters, and paleontologist Caroline Hubbard is not about to let a handsome, but unconscious, stranger hamper her quest to unearth a new species of dinosaur and make her mark on the scientific world.
After a blow to the head, Nick Bancroft finds himself at the mercy of a feisty, determined female scientist. To help save her job, he agrees to masquerade as Caroline's husband, but once their deception plays out, will they be able to see beyond their separate goals and recognize the treasure right in front of them?
RTW: Why do you write Westerns? What aspect of life in the Old West intrigues you the most?
AH: I’ve loved Westerns as long as I can remember. I grew up watching cowboys on TV. That might date me, but why try to hide it? When I was growing up, my siblings and I watched Roy Rogers every Saturday morning at my grandmother’s house. It was a huge treat for us (and for my mother, although I didn’t recognize it at the time). For years, we never missed an episode of Bonanza. Maverick? The Rifleman? Rawhide? I loved them all. Something about those Western heroes resonated with me as a young girl and still does.
The concept of “The West” has stirred the American imagination since we first became a nation. The West was a wide open place full of limitless possibilities—a place where a person could invent, or reinvent, himself. For better or worse, the realities of life on the frontier stripped away the veneer of civilization and exposed a man for who he really was. Caroline Hubbard, the heroine of The Treasure of Como Bluff has come to Wyoming for the same basic reason—to re-create herself as a person and find out what she’s made of.
RTW: If you lived in 1879, what would you visit first?
AH: [laughs] I know I should say I’d love to visit Como Bluff and see the bone wars in person, but I’m afraid I’m too much of a modern wimp. Although the town had a railroad station and a few basic services, conditions at the excavation site were extremely primitive, and I tried to capture some of that in my story. The land is treeless, barren, and windblown, and the situation with the local Native American tribes was unsettled at best. Truth be told, I probably would have enjoyed the relative “civilization” of Dodge City more.
RTW: If a person who had never read a Western asked you for a recommendation, what novel or movie would you recommend and why? What did the author do to bring the story alive for you?
|Alison Henderson, author|
AH: My favorite Western novel has to Lonesome Dove, by Larry McMurtry. I was absolutely riveted from the first page to the last by his brilliant characterization. As far as movies go, I think High Noon with Gary Cooper and Grace Kelly epitomizes the best of the genre. Sheriff Will Kane is the embodiment of true courage—not the lack of fear but standing resolute in the face of it. And in the end, he’s saved by the courage of the woman who loves him. Amy conquers her own fears and acts against deeply held beliefs to save her man. It just doesn’t get any better than that.
RTW: In The Treasure of Como Bluff, why must Caroline take this particular story journey? What does she have to prove? How does Nick affect her journey?
AH: Caroline has come to Wyoming to prove to her protective older brother that she can make a mark on the world in her own right. Nick is there for much the same reason—to find a new life and make his fortune prospecting for silver after learning that his fiancée has married his older brother while he was away at sea. Both Caroline and Nick set out on their journeys alone, determined to forge their own way. But when fate literally dumps him in her lap, their dreams collide and intertwine to form a single, stronger, vision for the future.
The Treasure of Como Bluff
by Alison Henderson
Nick laughed. “Are you always this grumpy when you’re working?”
“I’m about to face the biggest challenge of my life, one that will affect my entire future, and you refuse to take it seriously.” She glared at him through narrowed eyes. “I have every right to be grumpy.”
“Perhaps, but remember, you asked for my help. You need me to pull off this deception.”
He was right. She did need him, and if she wasn’t careful he’d get back on his horse and ride out of her life forever. The thought pushed her near the edge of panic. “I know, and I’m sorry. It’s just that this is so important to me.”
Nick slid his arm around her shoulders. “I know. Don’t worry; I won’t abandon you. I owe you. You saved my life, remember?”
When he didn’t release her immediately, Caroline breathed a tiny sigh and allowed herself the luxury of leaning against him, wrapped in the safety and comfort of his arm. She closed her eyes and rested her head against the warm solidity of his chest, absorbing the reassuring rhythmic thump of his heartbeat. She’d always been alone in her quest; it would be a relief to have someone to share it with, even if only for a few days.
She thought she felt something whisper-soft touch the top of her head, almost like a kiss of breeze, but the air was still. It couldn’t have been Nick...could it? She lifted her head and turned until she could see his face. The devil twinkled in those sea-blue eyes, and a lazy smile played across his lips.
“Flip you for the bed.”
RTW: What’s next? Is The Treasure of Como Bluff part of a series?
AH: The Treasure of Como Bluff is part of the Love Letters series from The Wild Rose Press, in which a letter serves as the initial impetus of each story, although the stories themselves are unrelated. I’m currently about half-way through another novella for the new WRP Lawmen and Outlaw series. Set in Salvation, Kansas, Delilah and the Badman features the reluctant owner of a saloon and the slippery gambler who’s accused of murdering her father.
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