I’m from Idaho. Cowboys, rodeos, farms, and ranches were the norm, rather than the exception. So when we moved to Illinois, I expected more city folk than cowboy charm. I’ve been surprised at the history I’ve found, even in my own, new home town.
Alton, Illinois sets right on the Mississippi River, with historical landmarks dotting the road I take daily into the day job in St. Louis. It’s easy to lose yourself in thoughts of the past while driving through the hilly country where two rivers meet, especially when restored paddle ships slip through the winding water. And during the winter, Alton serves as prime eagle watching real estate.
From 1862 to 1865, during the confederate war, Alton served as home to a military prison. The site, now reduced to a partial wall, sets on the edge of the historic section of town near the Mississippi river and now, the flour plant. Four types of prisoners where held at the prison, confederate soldiers (which made up the majority), civilians, Federal soldiers, and guerilla or bushwackers. At the height of the war, 1700 prisoners were held at the facility.
After the war, the prison transitioned into the first Illinois State Penitentiary. Conditions were so bad by the time the last of the prisoners were transitioned to Joliet, famous social worker, Dorothy Dix called the prison, unsalvageable. Due to the proximity to the river, flooding of the prison was a common occurrence.
After the prison was abandoned, the stones seen above were used in several local buildings including a church and a hotel. Many of these buildings constructed with the prison stone, now have ghostly residents that modern day paranormal hunters claim resemble the confederate prisoners.
No, the Alton prison isn’t part of my current releases. Both The Bull Rider’s Brother and The Bull Rider’s Manager are set back home, in the Boise, Idaho area, in contemporary time. But my writer’s mind takes off when I visit historical sites like the ones in Alton, and I wonder… What if? What would it be like to live during those times? And you all know what happens then, story magic.
The Bull Rider’s Manager
Barb Carico’s life is all about business. Now that her best friend has tied the knot with her high school sweetheart and Barb’s new partner, she’s busier than ever. Managing Jesse Sullivan’s career and
public persona can be a handful. Add in an aging mother who goes through home health nurses like candy, Barb’s hanging on the edge.
Her one salvation? Hunter Martin, prodigal son of Martin Family Dairy and, hopefully, Jesse’s next sponsor. A promise his father had already made before Hunter took over the public relations department. After his brother’s death, Hunter's become an instant dad to his seven year
old niece. More responsibility. For Hunter, the rodeo weekend with Barb is the perfect excuse to relax.
When their dinner turns into drinks and then a quick trip to a Vegas wedding chapel, both Barb and Hunter agree their nuptials were a mistake. A mistake they consummated the next evening. As soon as
they’re home, the marriage will be annulled. That’s what they both want. Or at least what they tell themselves.
Upon their return, Hunter finds that distant relatives are suing him for custody of his niece. The only way for him to keep custody is to design a life that matches the promise of a perfect family. For that, he needs Barb to stay married to him. Hunter would give her anything to go along with the charade.
Barb doesn't know anything about being a wife or mother but she needs one favor. A favor she'll trade her lifestyle, independence, and even risk her heart to make come true.