A Room in Blake’s Folly (A Small Town Western to Contemporary Romance)
1) Back in the 1800s, pioneer towns really did stink. Rubbish was left out to rot along with the corpses of animals and offal from the butcher shops.
2) The western myth of brave cattle ranchers defending their territory in the far west is only…a myth. The real fight was between big powerful ranchers who formed stock-grower’s associations and used violence and terror to drive out small farmers.”
3) Western men thought their role was to dominate women, and domestic violence was widespread. Most wives stuck it out, believing their married status and a promised place in God’s heaven were worth beatings.
4) Divorce was easily available. Women could get one on grounds of alcoholism, abandonment, or extreme violence; men could divorce women who refused to wash clothes, cook, or have children.
5) Saloon dance ladies weren’t prostitutes, even though they were often dubbed soiled doves, nymphs of the prairie, scarlet ladies, or fallen angels. They earned money by selling dances, encouraging men to drink and gamble.
A Room in Blake’s Folly
by J. Arlene Culiner
(published by The Wild Rose Press)
Release date: May 16th, 2022
If only the walls could speak…
In one hundred and fifty years, Blake's Folly, a silver boomtown notorious for its brothels, scarlet ladies, silver barons, speakeasies, and divorce ranches, has become a semi-ghost town. Although the old Mizpah Saloon is still in business, its upper floor is sheathed in dust. But in a room at a long corridor's end, an adventurer, a beautiful dance girl, and a rejected wife were once caught in a love triangle, and their secret has touched three generations.
Excerpt from A Room in Blake’s Folly
“You a widow?”
“No.” She could hear the tightness in her voice and feel the tension in her shoulders.
His eyes glinted. “A runaway wife.”
“Not that either.” Did she have to say more? She didn’t. But since people were bound to be asking that same question over and over, she might as well get used to it, even though the answer was only partially true. Even though it could never express what her life had been like up until now. “I left of my own accord, but with my husband’s full agreement. He’ll be looking into getting a divorce.”
“And your children?”
Ah, there it was. The big question, the one thing everyone would be curious about. “No children. I’ve never had any.”
He said nothing. Had he heard the note of anger in her voice? She’d done her best to sound neutral, but neutrality wasn’t an easy note to hit. How vividly she remembered the first time she’d caught sight of her future husband, Sam Graham, waiting with a little knot of men by a shanty train station in the middle of nowhere. He and the others had been eager to grab a sight of their brides-to-be, women lured west by the promise of marriage, land, and a home. How had the other women fared? Had they been as discouraged as she at the sight of the vast lonely wasteland, the emptiness, the bleached-out colors, and the coarse men who would be their lifetime partners? Men honed by the elements, a hard life. And rough alcohol.
Writer, photographer, social critical artist, and storyteller, J. Arlene Culiner, was born in New York and raised in Toronto. She has crossed much of Europe on foot, has lived in a Hungarian mud house, a Bavarian castle, a Turkish cave dwelling, on a Dutch canal, and in a haunted house on the English moors. She now resides in a 400-year-old former inn in a French village of no interest and, much to local dismay, protects all creatures, especially spiders and snakes. She particularly enjoys incorporating into short stories, mysteries, narrative non-fiction, and romances, her experiences in out-of-the-way communities, and her conversations with strange characters.