Kathleen has offered to give away a copy of the book (US ONLY) . You can enter by using the Rafflecopter link at the end of the post. (Giveaway ends July 27,2018. If you are the randomly chosen winner, I'll contact you.)
The story behind the story...
The short version of how My Heart Belongs in Galveston, Texas came to be is that my agent called and asked if I was interested in writing a book for Barbour's new location-based series. I jumped at the chance to write about a city that has been my favorite since I was a little girl. Growing up on the Texas Gulf Coast, Galveston was the exotic beach city that captured my childhood attention every time my parents took the ferry over from the mainland. The more I visited and learned about the island's rich history, the more I loved it. From the sandy beaches to the historic seaport and Strand tot he fabulous and historic Rosenberg Library, the island is a place of almost magical enchantment to me. I have not lived there--yet, anyway--but my son does, and that's close enough for now.
Of course, no story of Galveston could be told without mentioning the pirate Jean Lafitte, one of the island's earliest and most famous settlers. I have dealt with the mystery that surrounds Lafitte in other books, namely Millie's Treasure and The Alamo Bride (Barbour, 2019), but this story is different in that it takes a "what if" question that has been tugging at my creativity for quite some time: what if Lafitte lived to a ripe old age, quietly married, and had a family? Then what? My Heart Belongs in Galveston, Texas explores that question. Throw in a reporter who is looking for that answer and a Pinkerton agent who thinks he's merely following orders, and that's where the book begins.
Gulf of Mexico
September 19, 1855
The storm raged around us like a mad beast intent on taking our ship and all aboard down to the briny depths. The men assigned to the watch had given up and lashed themselves to their posts. We had already lost at least two to the waves.
For once I gave thanks that my wife had been too ill to travel with us. The illness that forbade her travel just may have saved her life.
Galveston lay behind us now, the storm’s surge making it impossible to put in at port. So we sailed on, heading into the eye of the monster rather than out to sea where the waves would likely have already been stilled.
The reason for this decision, the cause for the choice to chance death and find a port to drop anchor, lay down below on a bank in the captain’s quarters. For tonight, regardless of the tempest that raged, a child would be born.
The child’s father came to stand behind me, his face etched with nearly a full day and night of watching the one he loved endure indescribable pain. Behind him, the woman hired as nursemaid shook her head.
“So the child did not survive?”
A single tear traced my son’s cheek. “The child, she is weak but alive.”
Again the nursemaid shook her head. This time she, too, showed tears. “Gone.”
A groaning sound roared from the depths of the ship, and warning bells rang. We had been taking on water since an hour after sunset. I looked beyond these two to the man standing in the door.
He was waiting. No words were needed. The vessel and its occupants were done for. With only two small boats with which to evacuate, I knew what must be done.
“Turn for Indianola,” I said. “We race the wind and hope for the best.”
“But sir,” my loyal crewman protested. “We will not make land in this vessel.”
“We will get close enough,” I told him.
And we did. The storm still raged farther south, but the winds were more companionable to sailing into port at Indianola. We did no such thing, of course, for to sail into that port in this ship would be to invite unwanted attention, even in this abysmal weather.
I ordered two small crafts sent out. One carried my son and the remains of his wife along with a loyal crewman to row. The other carried the child and her nursemaid. On this vessel, I sent my most trusted man to see to their safety.
“No matter what,” I told him. “See that the child lives, even at the cost of your own life.”
And he had vowed it would be so.
My son, a devoted sailor always, went on my orders but under a protest I understood. Even my answer, that separation from the child meant one might arrive safely if the other did not, did not dissuade him from his despair.
“Go and bury your wife,” I told him as my crew fought to keep the ship from ruin. “Take rooms and wait for me here. Find a wet nurse for your daughter. I will come to you.”
With that, I sent my son off into the night with the body of his wife wrapped in the same blankets where she had so recently given birth.
A moment later, I heard a sound like the mewling of a cat. I turned to see the nursemaid holding a bundle.
“She will live?” I asked her, for I knew I must make a report to my wife should the Lord allow us to be reunited this side of heaven.
“She will live.”
I pulled back the wrappings to see wide brown eyes peering up at me. One tiny fist had found its way free of its prison and now shook at me like an angry fishmonger.
“Hello, little treasure,” I said to her. “Go with God. We will be together soon.”
And then I released my granddaughter to the waves and the wind and the care of God. Most certainly and especially the care of God.
New Orleans, Louisiana
March 14, 1880
Of all the assignments Jonah had been given since he joined the agency almost ten years ago, this one had to be the strangest. Though his career thus far had included putting his life on the line to bring in murderers, thieves, and con men, here he sat sipping tea in the fancy New Orleans parlor of a woman old enough to be his grandmother.
Or at least pretending to while he studied the distinctly feminine rose-scented room. His gaze landed on the mantel where mismatched crystal vases were filled with the pink blossoms. Larger vases on the bookshelves opposite the fireplace vied for space among the leather-covered volumes.
Given the fact it was early March, Jonah wondered if she had a greenhouse to grow the flowers all year, but he didn’t ask. In fact, there was much he wondered about this room, but with the goal of getting out of this place as quickly as possible, he remained silent.
The only space that did not show some evidence of the owner’s penchant for pink roses was the window seat that looked out through lace curtains onto Prytania Street. As if to make up for that grievous transgression, the seat had been wrapped in the same rose-strewn fabric that covered the walls and the two chairs where he and Mrs. Smith now sat.
When Jonah returned his attention to his hostess, he found Mrs. Smith, a tiny woman who had obviously once been a great beauty, watching him carefully. Her dark eyes twinkled as she regarded him with what appeared to be equal parts assessment and amusement.
Though she’d only yet offered him a polite greeting and settled him into this parlor, Jonah couldn’t help noticing this elderly woman had the smile and graceful movements of a much younger person. And her voice, when she spoke, held the slightest trace of an accent. Whether it was the familiar Acadian French of his grandfather’s people that he recognized in her tone or something else entirely, he couldn’t say.
“So, you think I’ve lost my mind, don’t you?” she said as she lifted the teapot to pour more of the fragrant brew into his cup.
He did, and he’d told the captain as much. However, the woman sitting across from him had apparently paid dearly for the privilege of hiring a Pinkerton man to solve her case, and she had requested him specifically.
“Ma’am,” he said in the reverential tone he’d learned from his mama back home in Texas, “I take every assignment seriously.”
A smile rose and then she chuckled, lighting her wrinkled face as she set the teapot back in place. “Well done, Detective Cahill. You’ve answered my question without actually giving me your opinion of my sanity.”
“Begging your pardon, Mrs. Smith,” Jonah said, “but I don’t believe you hired me to determine that.”
“True, I most certainly did not.” She sat back and gave him an appraising look. “Yes, I believe you’ll do.”
This is a book that fans of historical novels will want to check out. Buried treasure, a mystery, and a Pinkerton agent all combine in Y'Barbo's tale, which is set in Texas (mainly) in 1880. While the answer to the mystery isn’t a total surprise, it is interesting to see the characters piece everything together. Jonah was a bit annoying at times, particularly in how he would jump to conclusions and then sort out the facts later. Madame is eccentric, but loveable. Madeline is a plucky, capable, and likeable, but you do have to get past a few quirks (such as her nosiness). The historical details are accurate, and they enhance the story.While there is a sweet romance, there is so much more to this enjoyable tale, including some memorable secondary characters. This is a quick read, making it an easy addition to your summer reading list!
Disclaimer: I received a complimentary copy from the publisher, but I wasn’t required to leave a positive review.
About the author...
Bestselling author Kathleen Y’Barbo is a multiple Carol Award and RITA nominee and author of more than ninety books with almost two million copies of her books in print in the US and abroad. A tenth-generation Texan and certified paralegal, she has been nominated for a Career Achievement Award as well a Reader’s Choice Award and several Top Picks by Romantic Times magazine. She is a member of ACFW, Novelists Inc., and the Texas Bar Association Paralegal Division.
Kathleen celebrated her fifteenth year as a published author by receiving the Romantic Times Inspirational Romance Book of the Year Award for her historical romantic suspense Sadie’s Secret, a Secret Lives of Will Tucker novel. Her novels celebrate life, love and the Lord—and whenever she can manage it, her home state of Texas. Recent releases include The Pirate Bride and My Heart Belongs in Galveston, Texas.
To find out more about Kathleen or connect with her through social media, check out her website at www.kathleenybarbo.com.
Where you can find her online...