While thinking of the men who ‘tamed’ the west, lawmen, outlaws, cattlemen and cowboys, gamblers, miners, farmers, preachers and doctors come to mind, as well as a few others, but for my latest release, Boot Hill Bride, the hero is one rarely recognized—a chef. Hog (Howard) Quinter, loves to cook and sets a goal to create the most elegant restaurant/hotel Dodge City ever hosts. When he’s caught in bed with the daughter of the man running for Governor of Kansas, his dream becomes a nightmare.
Everyone who’s ever taken a road trip knows the excitement of getting out of the car and having a good meal. That excitement was there in the 1800’s as well. Restaurants, cafés, eateries, roadhouses, hotels, boarding houses, or whatever we want to call them, were as important to towns as saloons and churches.
Just today we returned from another trip to Kansas to see family, and once again I didn’t find the time to get over to the eastern part of the state where there is a small town, Brookville (population 239), that I want to visit. For years the town boasted one of America’s oldest and longest running restaurants. (The family who has owned the restaurant for the last 100 years opened a replica of the original restaurant up near the interstate several years ago.)
The literature I’ve read says the railroad’s arrival in 1870 made Brookville a central hub for the Texas cattle drives coming up the Chisholm Trail and the town soared with growth, hosting every type of business needed to keep the cowboys and railroad men happy—including an opera house. Less than twenty years later, the trains moved their hubs to Junction City, KS, and the town shriveled, yet continued to survive until an army base was built nearby and brought thousands of soldiers. Then, after the war, when I-70 was built the less traveled highway traveling through Brookville soon became cracked and overgrown leaving the town all but forgotten once again.
Established as the Cowtown Café in 1870 the cafe served meals to buffalo hunters, cowboys, railroad men, soldiers, travelers, and a host of others including local residents. In 1894 the name was changed to the Brookville Hotel. Their chicken dinners are what made them legendary.
It was a few years ago that I picked up the literature about the Brookville Hotel while we were traveling along the interstate and after reading about the restaurant I knew I had to create a hero who loved to cook.
Boot Hill Bride, The Quinter Brides Book 3 was released in print this week and will be released in e-book on April 16th. Here’s the blurb and a short excerpt:
Howard (Hog) Quinter is hell bent on getting The Majestic, the finest hotel and restaurant west of the Mississippi, open by May 1st. The last thing he needs is interference from his family, but that’s exactly what he gets when Ma Quinter strikes one brisk morning. Sound asleep, Howard rolls over to discover a lovely young woman lying beside him, however, standing at the foot of the bed are his mother, the girl's father, and a blubbering preacher reading wedding nuptials.
Randilynn Fulton runs from a forced marriage to her aunt in Dodge City, only to discover Aunt Corrine is one of Danny J’s brothel girls. If she stays, Randi may become one as well, which would damage her father's chance at running for the Governor’s seat. But it gets worse when she finds herself in the middle of what she ran from—a shotgun wedding, and she’s the bride.
Even sitting here, stinging from the cold of the night, his fingers tingled, wanting to touch her silky skin, caress the curve of her back and examine those perfect dimples—
“Holy shit!” Snake exclaimed under his breath.
Howard snapped his head up. Both of his brothers stared over his shoulders, their mouths agape, and their eyes as round as biscuits.
“What?” he asked, twisting his neck to follow the trail of their gazes. His jaw went lax, the bottom of his chin all but slapped against his chest. The sight he stared at knocked the air out of him harder than being thrown off a wild bucking bronc.
Inside the canvas, the flickering light of the lantern made his tent glow brighter than the moon. The white, heavy tarp had become pale yellow, and a dark silhouette moved about inside the gently billowing sides. It was a moment before his eyes locked on the shadow and registered what he saw, sending the impulse to his brain.
Randi was undressing, and the light projected each movement against the canvas screen more clearly than the finest painter could create. Her graceful, womanly profile moved with perfection as she drew her gown over her head. The contours of her breasts, flat stomach, the inward arch of her lower back, and her long, slender legs became clearly visible to onlookers.
“Shit!” Howard leaped to his feet. Almost as an afterthought, he grabbed the hat off his head and swiped it at both of his brothers, knocking theirs askew. “Turn around!” he demanded before storming off toward his tent.
Jogging across the grass, he shouted, “Randi! Randi! Dowse the light!”
The silhouette inside stalled.
“Dowse the light!” he repeated.