5 Fact Thursday - Desert Rose #contemporary #romance
My latest release, Desert Rose, is set in Blake’s Folly, Nevada, once a silver boomtown, now a backwoods community of clapboard shacks and scraggly vegetation. The local saloon is a leftover from another century and, in here, country music whines, while eccentrics dish up tall tales, and suspicion. The sort of people who live in places like Blake’s Folly would never #t into neat houses with tidy gardens. They’re rebels, not by choice, but by character. Sometimes they’re ornery, nosy, secretive, or interfering, but I can guarantee they’re the real thing. Living in an unusual setting does have advantages. It makes you sit up and take notice of your environment, and it gives you a good knowledge of local history. Here are a few examples:
1) My hero, Jonah is a geologist, and his particular passion is prehistory. From him, we learn that both eastern and southern Nevada were once covered by a warm shallow sea #lled with reefs, molluscs, and ammonites. There were also ichthyosaurs — large marine lizards — and they appeared around 250 million years ago, evolving from a group of unidenti#ed land reptiles that returned to the sea, like the ancestors of modern-day dolphins and whales.
2) The grandmother of my heroine, Rose, worked as a prostitute in one of the town’s more luxurious brothels. Like all Western boomtowns, the male population outnumbered the female. Being out in the wasteland, panning for gold, trudging over empty space hoping to #nd silver, working hard in the mines, or ranching on poor soil and barely surviving, all made for a pretty lonely life. Saloon and brothel towns like Blake’s Folly were an oasis for such men. And what could be more appealing than an oasis within an oasis, where the decor was welcoming, even luxurious, and scantily clad women served alcohol and pleasure?
3) Although their silks, gaudy jewels, and perfumes set them apart from “decent” town women, madams made certain their “girls” were well behaved and lady-like in public. In reality, they had no reason to be otherwise: although a few were tough, gritty women, most were those who, through bad luck, circumstance, betrayal, or personal choice, had come to work in the sex trade. They were as sentimental and vital as any woman, crying each Christmas over the memory of faraway homes, inaccessible families, and a way of life no longer open to them.
4) Local wives detested the ladies of pleasure, and their disapproval condemned them to the last row at social events, theatrical performances in the local community hall, and church services. But these less respectable “ladies” were welcomed by local shopkeepers, for they spent their hard-earned cash on fans, furs, clothes, all manner of shining gewgaws.
5) As for my hero, Jonah, and my heroine, Rose… well, they’re both secretive people. Secretive people always seem mysterious and intriguing. They’re self-disciplined and always refrain from sharing information that could be harmful. They also often have a wealth of knowledge and experience that they keep hidden (Rose has a very complicated secret life.) However, if you’re a secretive person, it’s hard for others to know what you’re thinking or feeling. Just imagine how challenging it is to form close relationships… even though the dazzle, the spark, and the deep emotions are all there!
Desert Rose - Blurb
Rose Badger is the local flirt, and if the other inhabitants of backwoods Blake’s Folly, Nevada, don’t approve, she couldn’t care less. With a disastrous marriage and a dead-end career far behind her, settling down is the last thing she intends to do. Newcomer Jonah Livingstone is intriguing, but with his complicated life, he’s off limits for anything other than friendship. Besides, Rose has a secret world of her own—one she won’t give up for any man.
The last person geologist Jonah Livingstone expected to meet in a semi-ghost town is the sparkling and lovely Rose Badger. But Rose, always surrounded by many admirers, doesn’t seem inclined to choose a favorite. So why fret? Jonah keeps his personal life well hidden…and that's the best way to avoid disappointment.
“I really enjoyed going out to the Winterback Mine,” said Rose. “Thank you for inviting me to come along.” She sounded sincere. “My pleasure.” He knew he meant that too. “I didn’t really think you’d keep your promise to show me fossils and —” She stopped and caught her bottom lip in her pearly teeth, as if she had said too much, had confessed something she’d rather have kept hidden. He didn’t want there to be secrets between them. He liked her too much already, and he wished he could tell her that. Knew he couldn’t. How well did he know her? Not at all. How much did they really have in common? He’d o=ered her friendship the other night, yet knew perfectly well his attraction was also sexual. He was willing to admit she fascinated him; a little inner voice warned him that, if he let himself go, the feeling might run deeper than that. Was that what he wanted? Why had he been so determined to see her again so quickly? Why had he invented the story about needing to be out at the mine this morning? “And?” She watched him from under her lashes. “And…well, I guess I didn’t think you’d remember you’d made the promise.” He snickered. “I admit we geologists have the reputation of being absent-minded. We deal with time sequences of a hundred million years or so, so we have some di=iculty with small-time quanta such as centuries and decades. Some of us refer to ancient civilizations as ‘all that recent crap on the top.’ As for deadlines, we’re absolute duds.” He put down his spoon, leaned back in his chair, smiled at Rose. “But I never forget a promise.” “Good to know.” She leaned forward slightly. “Tell me, since you love the desert bleakness so much, what sort of place do you live in? A house with a huge garden? Or a place on a hill, overlooking the city?” “Neither one. I live in a high-rise apartment. And yes, it does overlook the city.” He stopped. It was a place that was convenient, too. Wasn’t that why he’d chosen it? Convenient and impersonal. A series of rooms, not a place to get attached to.
About J Arlene Culiner
Born in New York, raised in Toronto, Jill Culiner set out to have a life of adventure and discovery, not one of security and comfort. She has since crossed much of Europe on foot, travelled, by bus, train, car or truck throughout North and Central America, Europe, and the Sahara, has lived in a Hungarian mud house, a Bavarian castle, a Turkish cave-dwelling, on a Dutch canal, a lonely, and a very haunted stone house on the English moors. Such a lifestyle has meant staying flexible and taking up any sort of work that presents itself: belly dancer, fortune teller, b-girl, translator, fashion model, storyteller, radio broadcaster, actress, social critical artist, photographer, and writer. She now resides in a 400-year-old former inn in a French village of no interest and protects all creatures, especially spiders and snakes. She particularly loves incorporating into short stories, mysteries, narrative non-fiction, and romances, her experiences in out-of-the-way communities with their strange characters, and very odd conversations.
Contact J Arlene Culiner