Welcome to Karen’s Killer Book Bench where, every Wednesday, readers can discover talented new authors and take a peek inside their wonderful books. This is not an age-filtered site so all book peeks are PG-13 or better. Come back and visit often. Happy reading!
Before I share Charlene’s wonderful book blurb and excerpt, Charlene is sharing a history of polygamy with us. Hope you enjoy this special feature!
A HISTORY OF POLYGAMY
Joseph F. Smith Family, ca. 1900
Joseph Smith, the founder of the Church of the Latter Day Saints, claimed to have received many revelations from God telling him how to set up the church, and how the Saints should live their lives. Smith may have received the infamous revelation about plural marriage in the 1830s, shortly before he married his first plural wife, Fanny Alger, but polygamy at that time was reserved for church leaders and not openly practiced until 1852.
Few Saints actually lived the principle. Those who did rarely exceeded two wives. There were no harems as shocked non-Mormons (Gentiles) imagined. Wives often lived separately, sometimes in different towns. Families set up their own routines and rules. Of course, there were problems.
Mormons believed they were protected by the freedom of religion clause in the Bill of Rights and continued to practice polygamy despite laws established to stop them. In 1882 amendments added to the Morrill Act made polygamy a felony punishable by five years in prison and a $500 fine. But the practice was almost impossible to prove, so those sentenced to prison were indicted under the easier to prove law against “unlawful cohabitation”.
Polygamists in Prison for Cohabitation 1885
Church leaders and other prominent members went into hiding. Church President John Taylor died. His successor, Wilford Woodruff, eventually knuckled under to the constant pressure to ban plural marriage. In 1890 he issued a press release, the Manifesto, which read, “I publicly declare that my advice to the Latter day Saints is to refrain from contracting any marriages forbidden by the law of the land.” The vague stipulations contained therein not only failed to discourage polygamy, but seemed to encourage it. Many plural husbands and wives continued to cohabit until their deaths in the 1940s and 1950s.
The first church to result from a break off from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints was the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. This Sect, under the leadership of Joseph Smith III, and backed by the first, legal wife of Joseph Smith Sr., Emma Smith, originated in the 1850s and stayed in the Midwest. Basically, Reorganized members believed in the doctrine as Joseph Smith Sr. first established it, which did not include plural marriage.
For other groups, unhappy with current church leadership, to break off and establish their own churches was inevitable.
The Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints is the largest and best known of the religious groups to practice polygamy, and continues even today. The FLDS, as they are called, are not to be confused with the Reorganized Church which stayed in the Midwest. The FLDS came into being soon after the turn of the 20th century, but they were not alone. Many groups relocated to Utah, hoping they and their polygamist beliefs would be accepted here. For the most part, they were right.
Overall, polygamists in Utah today number about 40,000, or approximately 1.4 percent of the total population of the State. Those living in their own communities tend to seek additional spouses from within or through networks of like communities. Often this involves arranged unions between daughters of polygamous families and older men who already have other wives, a practice commonly called daughter swapping. New brides are sometimes below the legal age limit. They may also be fairly close relatives, leading to inbreeding.
Small groups of from a few hundred to about 10,000 are reported to be located in various communities of the Western United States, Canada, and Mexico.
THE SCENT OF ROSES by CHARLENE RADDON
Rosalyn Delaney’s husband, Josiah, vanished six years ago. Following a private detective’s lead, Rosalyn leaves Salt Lake City and boards a train heading to the mining town of Whiskey Ridge, Arizona. She arrives at Rose House, an old mansion reputed to be haunted, only to discover that her missing husband has been killed, and his business partner, Whip Kincaid, is wanted for his murder. Determined to uncover the secrets surrounding Josiah and his death, Rosalyn decides to stay–even though she begins to receive nightly visits from a charming “ghost” . . .
A Ghost’s Kiss . . .
Escaping a troubled past, Whip Kincaid had hoped he could make a fresh start in Whiskey Ridge and open a saloon with his friend Josiah. Now, as a murder suspect hiding in his own house, Whip’s future looks bleak indeed . . . unless he can find the real culprit. But the unexpected intrusion of Rosalyn ruins his plan to sneak out at night to investigate. Scaring her away is his first step in clearing his name, but Rosalyn doesn’t rattle easily. And Whip isn’t sure he wants the lovely widow to walk out of his life — especially when she’ll take his heart with her.
THE SCENT OF ROSES by CHARLENE RADDON
“Aw, God.” Gall rose into his throat. “Aw, God, no.”
Josiah sat slumped at the desk, his head on the blotter. The bullet hole in his temple was neat and tidy, compared to the mess the missile had created as it exited, shattering the other side of the skull and splattering brains everywhere. To ease his queasy stomach, Whip stepped out into the hall and gulped air.
Hauling three crushed miners out of the mine had been bad. This was worse. He felt the itch of tears behind his eyes as he struggled to accept that his partner was dead, and blinked them away. No time for grief. Other things needed doing, and crying never helped anything. It certainly wouldn’t give Josiah back his life.
When he had himself together again, Whip took a deep breath and went back into the study. Snooker looked up and whined.
“I know, boy.” Whip patted the retriever’s head. “I loved him, too.”
The .45 caliber Schofield-Smith and Wesson revolver Josiah kept locked in a desk drawer lay on the floor beside the chair. Whip picked it up and checked the load. One bullet missing. His heart clenched. Had the man taken his own life?
A quick scan of the room said No. Whip’s arrival had probably frightened off the killer before he could replace books and papers knocked to the floor in a struggle, or right the spilled waste basket. The killer had won the battle and killed Josiah with his own six-shooter.
If only Whip had arrived home sooner. He’d failed his friend, his partner, twice in one day. At the mine, he’d turned on Josiah, blamed him for the cave-in, then hadn’t been there when the man needed him most. But Whip would avenge his friend’s death. He’d track down the killer and see him hang if it was the last thing he did.
He was heading for the door, thinking to ride after the man he’d seen leaving the house, when Snooker exploded past him into the hallway, barking. Whip cocked the Smith and Wesson and edged toward the door, his heartbeat matching the thunder that rattled the windows.
The dog’s barking faded, but another, closer sound reached Whip. Someone was hurrying toward the study from the front of the house.
He ducked behind the door a split-second before Lucinda Bullock burst into the room, her silver satin cape glistening with raindrops.
“Josiah?” she called.
A flash of lightning highlighted the gory scene at the desk. Her scream set the hair on Whip’s nape on end. He stepped from the behind the door, intent on comforting her. When he said her name, she whirled to face him. Her hands flew to her face. The terror in her eyes faded as she recognized him. “Whip!”
Her gaze lowered to the gun in his hand, then lifted to meet his gaze. She gave a sob, fear returned to her eyes, along with tears.
“I’m sorry, Lucinda—”
She didn’t let him finish. She bolted from the room. For a moment he stood there, uncertain what to do. The gentlemanly thing, he supposed, would be to hold her head while she puked. He’d likely end up emptying his own stomach, but he went to see what he could do for her anyway.
The front door stood open, and Lucinda raced toward it as if the hounds of hell were at her back.
She sped up. He glanced down and noticed he still held Josiah’s six-shooter. Ah hell, the fool woman thought he’d killed her husband.
Cursing, he shoved the gun into his waistband and went after her.
She was nearly to the door when Snooker bounded back inside and headed straight for Whip. To avoid the collision he saw coming, Whip leaped aside, lost his balanced and slammed into the wall. The dog kept going. Gritting his teeth against the pain ripping through his shoulder, Whip took off again. But he’d lost time. Lucinda had already darted out the door. All he could see of her when he burst onto the wide, wraparound porch was the silver gleam of her wet cape as she raced toward town.
The wind ripped at the thick tangle of vines that hung from the porch roof, causing them to rustle and swish. The empty porch swing creaked and rocked. Rain droned in his ears and dripped on the steps.
A frisson of awareness slid up his spine. In the deep, inky shadows on his left where the light from the open door failed to reach, someone was hiding.
He couldn’t see them, but sensed their presence, their fear.
Casually, he turned that direction, making as if to go back into the house. Then, keeping his gaze away from the spot where he suspected the person was concealed, he lunged.
As his hands closed over wet wool, smells filled his senses, surprising smells. Woman, roses, and talcum. The shoulders beneath the wool were slight. The cry his captive let escape was high and feminine.
“Who are you?” he asked, his voice taut with anger, “and what are you doing here?”
When no answer came, he tightened his grip. “Answer me, dammit. Were you with the bastard who rode off, or did you shoot Josiah yourself?”
“Josiah.” The name was a moan, and a cry.
“Yeah, Josiah. He’s been shot. You packing a sidearm?”
Any doubts he might have had about the sex of his captive vanished as he slid his hands over two soft mounds in the front of the woolen cloak. Her body jerked. He ignored her shocked gasp and continued his search, prodding beneath her arms, then sliding his palms down her rib cage. When he reached her hips and belly, she struck out at him.
“Don’t!” she cried. “Get your hands off me.”
“Not till I’m sure you’re not armed.”
She fought like a wildcat with a dozen paws. To anchor her more securely, he shoved her against a porch pillar and used his body to hold her there. With one hand he snared her wrists, and used the other to feel for a telltale bulge in her skirt pockets. She jerked and his hand slid into the cradle at the apex of her thighs. Heat seared through him.
Holly jumped-up hell, he thought as he ran his hand down her leg and back up the other. His breathing was harsh and rapid.
Sobbing now, the woman bucked and writhed in her effort to get free. To hang onto her was nearly all he could do. Thank God she wasn’t armed. The little hellcat would likely kill him if she had a gun. He knew what she feared, what she expected him to do next, and viciously banished his guilt at causing her such terror. Her presence on the verandah so soon after Josiah’s murder could be no coincidence.
He needed answers, but she was too frightened to give them. Her desperate, jerky movements brought her into intimate contact with him, and his nostrils drank in her sweet feminine scent. He couldn’t help but notice her full breasts pressed to his chest, or the way their bodies fit so that her pelvis abraded his groin. His thoughts scattered and instinct took over. Gripping her jaw with one hand, he brought his mouth down on hers. New sensations zinged through him, setting him afire.
The woman went still, every inch of her stiff and unyielding, breath held. It took everything in him to bring himself back to sanity, and control.
He laughed harshly. “Thought that might get through to you,” he said, grasping for any justification he could find for his inappropriate actions. “Be good now, I’m gonna haul you to the sheriff’s office.”
“Oh, thank God.”
Her soft murmur stole his breath. She wanted to see the sheriff? The idea threw him off kilter. He didn’t know what to think. He opened his mouth to ask why she’d say such a thing, and heard a sound behind him. Whirling, he grabbed for the gun in his waistband. When he saw the familiar, stooped figure in the doorway, he relaxed.
The woman moved so swiftly, he had no chance to act. The hard heel of her boot slammed down on his toes. Howling, he grabbed for his foot, his grip on her loosening. A sharp twist of her wrist set her free. She shoved at him, nearly toppling him over, dashed down the steps and vanished into the rain-whipped shadows of the night.
“Blast it, Smythely,” Whip yelled over his shoulder as he limped after her, “you made me lose her.”
“I do apologize, sir.”
“Lucky you didn’t get shot, sneaking up on me like that.”
Whip went a few yards one direction, then the other. The woman had vanished like a wraith. Muttering the foulest curse he could think of he returned to the porch and started into the house.
“Might I inquire, sir, what you intend to do?” Smythely asked in his polite, carefully modulated British voice.
“Josiah’s been murdered, and that woman had some part in it. Soon as I get my slicker and find Snooker, I’m going after her.”
“I believe, sir, that you would be wiser to seek a hiding place.”
“A hiding place! What the devil for?”
“If I’m not mistaken, one of the riders bringing Mrs. Bullock up the lane is the sheriff.”
Sure enough, Lucinda Bullock was already on her way back, seated in front of one of two riders galloping up the lane. That Smythely’s eyesight was better than his own surprised and annoyed Whip. It was too dark, the riders too far away, to identify them for certain. Lucinda must have run onto them on the road; she hadn’t had time to reach town.
“Guess I’d better wait for them.” He wished he had on dry clothes. He wished he knew where to find the other woman. “What do you know about this, Smythely? Were you in your room? Did you hear anything?”
“I was napping, sir. You know how deaf I am. I realize you must be grieving. At the moment, however, I believe it would be in your best interest to disappear, as I suspect madam has accused you of the foul deed.”
“Me! I didn’t kill Josiah.”
“I am aware of that, sir.” The butler looked pointedly at the .45 Smith and Wesson tucked in Whip’s trousers. “But will the sheriff believe you?”
Whip thought about it. Every man in town, including the new sheriff, would have heard by now of his fight with Josiah at the mine earlier. No doubt Lucinda had, too, which explained her early arrival home. All she knew was that he’d been hiding behind the door, the murder weapon in his hand. He had to concede she had reason to suspect him.
Glancing suspiciously at the old man, he said, “How come you don’t seem to think I killed him? Did you see who did?”
“The gunshot awakened me, but I heard you ride into the yard and assumed you’d shot at a coyote or something. Then Mrs. Bullock began screaming.”
“You have any idea who that woman was I was wrestling with when you came out here?”
“I’m afraid not. Might I urge you, sir, to seek refuge before Mrs. Bullock arrives with her impromptu posse?”
Casting a glance at the approaching trio, Whip asked sourly, “Exactly where do you suggest I find this refuge?”
“I thought perhaps the secret passageway.”
“Passageway! What the hell are you talking about?”
“Allow me to show you, sir.”
Whip’s mind buzzed with questions as he followed the man into the house. Why had Josiah died, and what part had the woman on the porch played in it? Her reaction to Josiah’s name proved she knew the man, but who was she? She’d felt small, almost fragile beneath his hands, yet fought like a cornered bobcat.
Damn, he had to find her. Being unable to go after her that very minute frustrated the dickens out of him.
Leading Whip to a corner of the drawing room, Smythely pressed a decorative knot carved into the chair rail. “The spring is here, sir.”
To Whip’s amazement the knot moved. With a rusty creak, a panel slid open, exposing a dark hole issuing cold, musty air that made him think of ancient secrets, and ancient sins. “I’ll be damned. So this is how you show up so suddenly all the time. Who else knows about this?”
“No one, sir, now that Mr. Seivertson is dead. Most of the rooms have entrances, including the bedrooms of Mr. Seivertson’s four wives.”
“Four wives? I’ll be double damned.”
“Undoubtedly, sir. Meanwhile, I suggest you make your escape quickly, before Mrs. Bullock and the sheriff arrive.”
Edging aside Lucinda’s fussy lace curtain, Whip saw they had nearly reached the house. His hand had left a red smear on the white fabric. The scrapes he’d gotten digging out the cave-in had stopped bleeding. He hadn’t touched Josiah’s body. So where had the blood come from? The answer seemed simple enough—the woman.
Boots pounded up the porch steps. Lucinda’s voice blew in on the wind: “In the study, third door on the right. The gun was still in his hand.”
“We won’t let him get away, ma’am. If he killed Josiah, me and my pals’ll see him do the hangman’s jig ‘fore dawn. You can count on it.”
The familiar, phlegmatic drawl caused Whip to curse. John Granger. During the time Granger had worked at the Memphis Miss, Whip had tangled with him more than once over the man’s carelessness. When Whip fired him, Granger threatened to get even someday. Looked like the day might have arrived. Whip’s only hope was to find the real murderer, which would be impossible from a jail cell.
“Shall I close the passageway?” Smythely asked.
“You sure you don’t know more about this?”
“I assure you, sir, were I able to tell you anything, I wouldn’t hesitate a moment.” The man lit a candle and held it out to him.
Whip studied him. The butler had some mysterious ways, but none he’d considered dangerous or dishonest. Before Mrs. Gianelli had come to work there, Whip had often entrusted the old man with Lenna’s well-being and hadn’t been disappointed. Taking the candle, he stepped into the passageway. The minute he did, he knew he’d been wrong to assume this was how Smythely showed up so suddenly at times. No footprints marred the thick, even layer of dust on the rough wood flooring.
The ceiling was too low for him to stand upright. To avoid all the cobwebs would require crawling on hands and knees through an inch of black dust. The passageway was probably full of mice. Where the hell was Snooker when he needed the mutt?
Then the ingeniously hidden door slid shut, and Whip found himself sealed in what felt like a dark and musty tomb.
Charlene Raddon began her fiction career in the third grade when she announced in Show & Tell that a baby sister she never had was killed by a black widow spider. She often penned stories featuring mistreated young girls whose mother accused of crimes her sister had actually committed. Her first serious attempt at writing fiction came in 1980 when she woke up from a vivid dream that compelled her to drag out a portable typewriter and begin writing. She’s been at it ever since. An early love for romance novels and the Wild West led her to choose the historical romance genre but she also writes contemporary romance. At present, she has five books published in paperback by Kensington Books (one under the pseudonym Rachel Summers), and four eBooks published by Tirgearr Publishing.
Charlene’s awards include: RWA Golden Heart Finalist, Romantic Times Reviewer’s Choice Award Nomination, Affair de Coeur Magazine Reader/Writer Poll for Best Historical of the Year. Her books have won or place in several contests.
Currently, Charlene is working on her next release.
Links to CHARLENE’s website, blog, books, etc.
THE SCENT OF ROSES
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TO HAVE AND TO HOLD
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**SPECIAL ANNOUNCEMENT: Charlene will give away a copy of her release, SCENT OF ROSES, to one of her lucky readers who comments on either her Monday Interview or Wednesday Book Bench blogs!! Winner will be randomly selected and announced Monday, August 12, 2013. Thanks, Charlene, for sharing your stories with us!