Can a hero lurk in the heart of a villain?
Life in a small village is too quiet, too ordinary for a free spirit like Lucy Forbes. When her father lands a job out West, she packs her books and her dreams and eagerly sets off to pursue romantic adventures she’s only read about. But the moment she sets foot in Kansas, she is thrust into the gritty reality of an untamed frontier and into the arms of a scoundrel.
Henry Stevens, the ruthless railroad chief her father has been sent to investigate, is as passionate as he is ambitious, brave and charming, as well as cunning and controlling. However, his opponents are vanishing and strangers and trying to kill him. Fearing for her father’s life, Lucy resolves to unmask the secretive Mr. Stevens and expose a villain. What she doesn’t expect to find is a hero.
E.E. Burke writes romance from the heart, woven with history the way it really happened in the old American West. Her work has received accolades in numerous contests, including the RWA’s prestigious Golden Heart®.
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Hello and Welcome to Book Obsessed Chicks E.E. It's so great to have you here on the blog. Would you please tell us a little bit about yourself?
Thanks for having me as a guest today. I write historical romance in American settings, and have recently released my third book, A Dangerous Passion, which is part of the series, Steam! Romance and Rails.
Over the years, I’ve been a disc jockey, a journalist and an advertising executive, before finally getting around to pursuing my dream of writing novels. I’ve been fortunate enough to win and place in various contests, but my proudest writing achievement is being a finalist in the 2010 RWA Golden Heart® contest.
Besides reading and spending time with my family, I love to wander around museums. I’ll explore just about any historical museum and I dearly love spending time in art museums. I also love to travel. Anywhere. I’ll find something interesting any place I visit because there are always connections with the past.
Tell us how A Dangerous Passion came to be.
Something about railroads calls to my romantic nature. Maybe it’s the passion and excitement of a long-ago era when America expanded its boundaries as fast as men could lay track. I wanted to give readers a glimpse into that exciting time period, and that’s how the idea came about for the series Steam! Romance and Rails.
Being a history geek, I dove eagerly into research to find inspiration for my series. I enjoy weaving real events and people into my stories, so that readers will feel they’ve been transported back in time and are reliving history.
The main character Henry Stevens was inspired by the actual general manager of the Katy Railroad, Robert S. Stevens. Described as a man with “dark flashing eyes and meticulous style of dress,” he was a larger-than-life persona in the history of this legendary railroad.
In 1870, Stevens was brought in by the Katy’s president Judge Levi Parsons to help build a railroad empire that stretched from Chicago all the way down to Mexico City. They didn’t get quite that far, but the Katy’s birth and impressive growth is largely attributable to Stevens, who took a “never surrender” approach to just about everything he attempted. Many of the events in this book are based on exploits written about this fascinating man and the railroad he built.
Another historical tidbit featured in A Dangerous Passion is a series of mysterious murders that took place near Parsons, Kansas, during the early 1870s. From a period stretching between 1871 and early 1873, numerous travelers through southeastern Kansas were reported missing. There were theories as to what happened to them, including one rumor that the railroads were to blame.
When a well-known doctor went missing, his brother, a U.S. Senator tore through the area on a frantic search. Authorities ultimately discovered nearly a dozen bodies (including the doctor’s) buried in a field behind a cabin that doubled as a wayside inn serving meals to travelers.
A Dangerous Passion is my latest addition to the series Steam! Romance and Rails. There are two preceding books. Here’s a recap:
Passion's Prize follows three women who must contend with dangerous men caught up in a cutthroat railroad race. This trilogy was conceived and written with Jacqui Nelson and Jennifer Jakes, who made the finals of the RWA’s Golden HeartÓ contest the same year I did with Western historical romances.
Her Bodyguard features a railroad promoter who hires protection in the midst of settlers’ riots. But her handsome bodyguard may pose the greatest threat.
The three novels are connected through an event, the construction of the railroads, and a theme, passion colliding with ambition. This plays out with different characters in different stories, although you do see characters appear in each other’s stories. For instance, we first meet Henry, the hero in A Dangerous Passion, as an antagonist in Passion’s Prize. The books can be read in order, as a series, but don’t have to be. Each will stand on its own.
What are you currently working on?
I’m writing the next novel in the series, featuring characters I introduce in A Dangerous Passion. From there, I may venture to other railroads and new stories. It’s the kind of series that could continue to evolve through many more books, as long as readers stay interested.
Did you always want to be a writer? If not, what did you want to be?
I love telling stories, always have. When I was in high school, I seriously considered pursuing writing as a profession, and in college ended up in journalism. Somehow the whole storytelling dream got sidetracked through a career that took me into marketing and advertising. At some point, I realized I hadn’t done what I dreamed of doing, writing stories, and so I set out to get back on that path. If I hadn’t chosen writing novels, I would’ve pursued some other artistic endeavor…like comic books. J
Who was your favorite character to write and why?
My favorite is always who I’m writing about at the moment. I love my characters so much I get very involved with them. For A Dangerous Passion, Henry was a blast to write. He’s the villain who longs to be a hero. I adore dark heroes. Lucy hauls books around in her satchel. They’re her BFFs. She longs to be independent, to pursue adventure and write stories, yet conflicting loyalties pull at her. She struggles to balance everything, as women often do when we chase that “impossible’” dream.
Who are your role models/favorite authors? If so, who?
In terms of writers who’ve influenced me, I’ll start with Mark Twain. He’s the quintessential American novelist and his books and short stories captured the historic American personality on many different levels. I fell in love with American literature at an early age by reading about Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn.
The romance authors who’ve inspired and influenced my writing are too numerous to name. I’ll list a few whose historical romances were inspirational when I wrote my second novel, which made the finals in the RWA’s 2010 Golden HeartÓ contest. Jill Marie Landis, Kristen Hannah, Lisa Kleypas, Julie Garwood, LaVyrle Spencer, Kathleen Woodiwiss, Dorothy Garlock – did I say a few? J
Where can your fans meet you?
At Starbucks? Kidding. The usual places: website, Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, Amazon author page. I’m also going to the Romantic Times convention in Dallas this year and I’ll be participating in a “meet and greet” for historical romance authors and fans on Sunday, the 17th. Hope to see some fans there!
What would you like readers to know about you?
I’m a contributor to the book blog Get Lost in a Story, and I feature new finds in historical romance. My “Best of the West” series of interviews features authors who write American historical romance. Over the past four years, I’ve discovered some great new (or new to me) books and authors. I’d love for readers to come by and check us out. You might find your next good read!
There are many dangerous happenings surrounding the Katy Railroad expansion out West. People are being reported missing in Parsons, Kansas and some believe that the railroad is to blame.
Henry Stevens is a very determined man. The railroad executive has a job to take care of, and he will do almost anything to get that job done, even if he must resort to less than legal means to achieve its end. The handsome man is taken for a loop when the railroad sends Major Robert Forbes with his attractive daughter Lucy in tow from the East, to assess the goings on with the Katy Railroad.
Lucy Forbes has a preconceived notion that Henry Stevens is somewhat villainous and usually her instincts are spot on, but Henry is a complete contradiction and she doesn't know how to handle it. The strong and sophisticated Henry one minute can be clear, cool and concise, and then next he can be getting dirty with the average man, helping out when needed. Considering Lucy was sure that he father would have no difficulty in discovering wrong-doing by Henry, she is now confused. She is also a bit undone about the sparks that fly between them both.
Weary of her life back East, Lucy is determined to have an adventure, but sometimes adventure leads to danger, and Miss Forbes has a knack for finding it. When her father heads out of town to smooth over some railroad business, not only does this danger seek Lucy and Henry out, but passion does as well. Will Henry be able to put Lucy’s misgivings about him to rest? Will he be able to solve the problems that have wreaked havoc on the railroad? You will just have to pick up A Dangerous Passion by E.E. Burke to find out.
This is the first book I have read by E.E. Burke and I was so impressed with A Dangerous Passion that I am currently ensnared by her previous titles and eagerly wait for anything this very talented author writes. Westward expansion of the railroad was as fascinating as it was perilous. Those brave men and women who followed the expansion had hard lives. A Dangerous Passion gives us a peek inside. Henry Stevens is dark, brooding and resolute. Once he meets Miss Forbes, he realizes that there is much more than work. Lucy has had an unconventional upbringing with a permissive father, who perhaps just could never say no to his intelligent and adventurous daughter, but she indeed meets her match in the form of Henry Stevens. Trust is a word that both need to come to terms with during the journey in A Dangerous Passion by E.E. Burke. This well written tale draws the reader in and doesn’t let go.