Dear Readers, I was offered the chance to read Currency of the Heart over a month ago. Since Loree has been one of my favorite authors for several years, I jumped at the chance. It’s a real page turner. I had a hard time putting it down. Since it was during my recovery from surgery, I was able to keep my nose in the book most of the day. Her three-dimensional characters with secrets grabbed me from the first page. And the book is set in and around
in my favorite period, the late 1800s. The story reeks of authenticity, so I
was soon immersed in every scene. You really don’t want to miss this one. I can
hardly wait until the next book in this series comes out. It will go to the top
of my to-be-read pile. Denver, Colorado
Bio: At last count, best-selling author Loree Lough had nearly 5,000,000 4- and 5-star books in circulation. Books 103 & 104 (Currency of the Heart, #1, “Secrets on
and Once a Marine, #1 “Those Marshall
Boys”) will hit bookstore shelves this month. She loves interacting with
readers on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest, and via email (and answers every
Welcome back, Loree. How did this book come about?
I’m always looking for fresh new ways to transport readers back in time to places that pulsed with excitement and history! And because secrets so often damage relationships, I thought … why not combine the two!
And you did it so well. Tell us about the book’s cover and what makes it unique.
Rocky Mountain backdrop and a cowboy herding wild mustangs,
readers get a real feel for ranch life in Denver
during the 1880s … and the mist sets the perfect tone, I think, for the
mysterious secrets that are being closely guarded by the hero and heroine.
Please explain and differentiate between what’s fact and fiction in the book.
The historical information is all factual—including some of the walk-on characters who truly lived or passed through
Denver during this period of history. The setting
is factual, too: Tools, modes of transportation, how food was grown, cooked,
and served. The clothing, the hymns sung during Sunday services, even the words
people used in everyday conversation is the result of meticulous research.
The challenge every author of historical fiction faces is blending those facts with the story so that it doesn’t make the readers feel they’re sitting in a cold, boring lecture hall. Since the dawn of man, people have kept all manner of secrets from one another. Today, with easy access to a plethora of information about the psychology of secret-keeping, we understand secrets differently than people did in the 1880s, when people didn’t have time to sit around analyzing the whys and wherefores of others’ behavior. They also didn’t have time to sit around discussing their feelings the way we do nowadays. And yet … people haven’t really changed all that much across the centuries, so I had to motivate the characters’ reasons for harboring secrets in the first place, reasons that made sense in that time and place. And, as the secrets were slowly exposed, I needed to find ways to explain the characters’ reactions to learning the truth. It takes a lot of work and preparation, I tell you!
Don’t I know it? How much research did you have to do for this book?
I’d have to say somewhere in the neighborhood of a solid month, working 8-10 hour days, went into the research for Currency of the Heart. Maps, drawings, old books, new books, interviews with historical society people, interviews with real-life cowboys…. As I’m digging through the annals of history, I always find far more information than I could possibly fit into any one novel!
What are some of the most interesting things you found about this subject that you weren’t able to use in the story?
There were so many interesting characters who lived in the
Denver area during the
1880s! I managed to squeeze just a few of them into the story—outlaws,
politicians, inventors, educators, medical experts—but oh, how I wish I could
have added more!
What inspired and surprised you while you were writing the book?
Without exception, my readers inspire me. They ask questions about upcoming series (settings, characters, basic storylines) that leads me to incorporate additional layers into the story. Such as the train robbery in Currency of the Heart. When one reader heard outlaws would board a train to steal the gold, he asked, “How will they get their ‘timing’ right, given the unpredictable schedules of rail travel back then?” His question is the sole reason I had the bad guys get together, several times, to practice their surprise attack. You’ll just have to read that scene to find out how they managed to synchronize their watches … and to find out whether or not they got away with the gold!
What do you hope the reader takes away from the story?
If I could list just one takeaway, I’d have to say I hope readers realize that while we all keep secrets for a variety of reasons—sometimes, for years and years!—it’s usually better for all concerned to get those things out in the open. Usually.
What is the next project you’re working on?
I just turned in Guardians of the Heart, book #2 in the “Secrets on
Sterling Street” series, and am already
at work, plotting book #3.
I’m also working on book #2 in Harlequin Heartwarming’s “Those Marshall Boys” contemporary series.
And, I’m plotting two additional series, both contemporary, that I hope to submit in a few weeks.
What do you do when you have to get away from the story for a while?
That’s easy! I spend time with my grandorables!
Please give us the first pages of the book for my readers.
“Will you just look at that,” Elsie said, pointing. “Who does she think she is, Lady Godiva?”
Sloan looked up in time to see Jennie Rodgers heading toward
There were so many things wrong with Elsie’s question, he could only shake his
head. For one thing, Jennie was dressed in bright blue, from her festooned hat
to her high-heeled boots. For another, her ink-black hair reminded him of the
years he’d spent with the Lakota-Sioux.
Elsie snapped her fingers, putting an end to the still-raw memory.
“Sloan Remington,” she scolded, “stop gawking at that woman!”
He didn’t like being told what to do. Didn’t like the way she’d said “that woman,” either. What had Jennie ever done to her—to anyone in
Denver, for that
matter—to justify their poor manners toward her? No one quirked an eyebrow when
she offered to pay the new schoolteacher’s salary or fund repairs for the
courthouse roof, so it seemed mighty hypocritical of them to look down their
noses at the way she earned enough money to do so.
If the truth about his past ever came out, would Elsie and the others add his name to the list of citizens to avoid? Of course it would, he thought, frowning.
Elsie’s expression softened slightly. “Good thing you’re not a gambler.”
He had no time for poker, and said so.
“Better practice a poker face anyway,” she said, wagging a finger under his nose, “because that handsome face of yours is easier to read than a McGuffey Primer.”
Sloan didn’t know what she was babbling about. Even if Jennie owned a hat shop, she wouldn’t have turned his head. As for how she really earned her living, well, it seemed to him that was between her and her Maker.
Elsie peered at Jennie through the lace curtains. “Where do you suppose she’s headed?”
“Don’t know. Don’t care.” Truth was, he had a pretty good idea. Several evenings ago, he’d seen Jennie headed in that same direction … and so had Rafe Preston.
Elsie snipped the final stitch, then used a pair of pointy tweezers to pluck it from his cheek.
“I declare, the woman doesn’t have the sense God gave a flea. What is she thinking, parading through town, alone, when it’s nearly dark!”
Well, she had him there. And the ifs began to stack up: If Jennie hadn’t gone out that night … If the sinister look on Preston’s face hadn’t prompted Sloan to follow him … If he’d been a tick quicker, he could have averted the attack without sustaining a three-inch gash to his face. It wasn’t likely Jennie knew what sort of mayhem had erupted after she’d slipped into Sterling Hall, for if she had, she wouldn’t have made the trip again tonight.
Elsie grabbed a tiny brown bottle from the shelf above the exam table. Sloan read the label—Tincture of Merthiolate—and groaned inwardly. Clenching his jaw as she poured some of the orange liquid onto a cotton ball, he waited for the sting.
“You’re lucky that ruffian didn’t put an eye out,” Elsie said, dabbing the cut.
Right again, he thought, doing his best not to wince. “Hey, take it easy, will you?”
Elsie seemed not to have heard him. “So now you’ll have a scar for the rest of your life. And for what? Defending a woman like that?”
While she bandaged the wound again, the should haves piled up: He should have waited until Elsie left the room to tell Doc Wilson, how he’d come by the gash. Should have gone straight home when she said her brother was out delivering the Petersons’ baby. Should have found a way to shut down Elsie’s anti-Jennie gossip the instant it had begun.
She opened her mouth to say more, but a thunderous rumble stopped her.
Medicine bottles clattered on metal shelves as the doctor’s wheeled stool rolled across the floor. It slammed into the glass door of the apothecary cabinet as the big pendulum clock crashed to the floor … its shattered face stopping with both hands stuck on the number six. The floorboards creaked and ground as the ground beneath them shifted, throwing Elsie off balance, and right into his arms.
“Wh-what’s going on?”
A second, larger tremor rolled through the clinic, followed by two more in quick succession.
“Too close and too fierce to be some fool miner trying to dynamite gold from the mountains.” Sloan knew, because he’d heard it as a boy, when his pa dragged the family from
to Aurelia to find a lode. He’d pressed his wife and their boy into manning a
cradle strainer, and when that hadn’t worked, he’d built a crude sluice box.
But all they got was cold and wet and sick, and when May drew to a close, his
pa was broke and his ma and brother were both dead.
“My guess,” he said, “it’s an earthquake.”
Townsfolk had started reacting, as evidenced by the shouts and screams out on Broadway. Soon, some well-meaning citizens would barge into the clinic to check on the doc’s sister. One look at Elsie, stuck to Sloan like a second skin, was all it would take to get the gossip mill churning. And since Sloan suspected that Abe Fletcher, one of his ranch hands, was sweet on her, he couldn’t have that.
“The place is a mess,” he said, holding her at arm’s length, “but you’re all right.”
She looked around and gave a helpless little shrug.
“Spunky as you are, you’ll have this cleaned up before the Pattersons’ young’un comes into the world.”
He grabbed his hat from the hook beside the door. If the quake had caused this much damage here, how bad was it at Sterling Hall? More important, how had the women inside that house fared? He pictured Jennie, taller than most men and strong enough to handle a four-horse rig. Unless a rafter had come loose and knocked her unconscious, she was fine. The widow
Sterling on the other
hand, was barely bigger than a minute, and he’d made a promise to her dying
He took a Morgan silver dollar from his pocket and put it on the exam table. “Thanks, Elsie,” he said, touching a forefinger to the brim of his Stetson. “I’ll check in later to see if you need anything.”
Outside, Sloan worked his way through the milling crowd, skirting around overturned barrels and stepping over fallen shop signs. If anyone were to ask where he was going in such an all-fired hurry, he didn’t know how he would answer.
But he knew this: He had a powerful need to make sure the widow was safe.
How can readers find you on the Internet?
I’m kind of like an echo…here, there, everywhere! LOL But in all seriousness, I hope everyone will look me up and say hello, often!
Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/loreelough/Web site: http://www.loreelough.com
Thank you, dear friend, for sharing this new book with us.
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