"A real page turner! I loved Kat for her independence and determination!"
—Books & Benches (Read the full review)
She was a doctor seeking justice for her town. He was a lawman who had turned in his badge after failing to protect the innocent.
Dreams of an educated woman
Kat Meriwether left Snowberry as a tomboy with a saucy reputation as a fighter of bullies. She returns as an educated woman polished by her father's aunt, with whom she's lived these past four years. Throughout those years she's kept her mind on her studies, avoiding romantic entanglements that might hinder her from achieving her goals. Those goals have advanced to include an appointment as a physician in a San Francisco hospital, but upon returning she learns just how much her father and Snowberry need her to stay.
Nightmares of an ex-Texas Ranger
Texas Ranger, Jonathan Winthrop, is a haunted man, running from his own tormented past. Idaho territory offers him a chance to start over as a rancher, but lawless men are changing the once peaceful town, and innocents will die without a defender. But can he find the confidence in his brokenness to take up his gun again and confront those who would violate the law?
Love can alter them all
In this sweet historical western romance, author Samantha St. Claire brings young medical school graduate, Dr. Kat Meriwether, back to Idaho Territory to find violence has shattered the peace of her beloved home, but she also finds a good man whose sense of justice is as strong as hers. Together they would find not only their irresistible calling, but an undeniable love.
Find the book on Amazon.
Q&A with Samantha St. Claire
What is your favorite motivational phrase?
“If you find yourself asking yourself (and your friends) "Am I really a writer? Am I Really an artist?" Chances are you are. The counterfeit innovator is wildly self-confident. The real one is scared to death." —Steven Pressfield, The War of Art
My daughter gave this quote to me on a handmade card for my birthday two years ago. More than anyone, she knows how much I invest in my writing. She also understands that struggle to persevere before the revisions are complete and way before the reviews are in. If this quote is true, then I guess I'm a writer, because there is a lot of fear in putting my heart out there. When you publish, it is very much like giving birth, and I don't know how the world will treat my child.
What story are you working on next, and what inspired it?
Shepherdess of the High Valley. This title came to me while finishing Kat's Law. That just brings so many lovely pastoral images to mind. I suspect the name came about as a result of my recent research into the Basques that settled the high deserts and mountains of Idaho. I'm not sure that this will be part of the Sawtooth Range Series or it will be launched from that series to create another. I do hope no one writes with that title before I have a chance to use it. Titles are critical to my mindset when I'm first putting down my thoughts. It's been that way since I was a child, sitting in the barn writing my little stories. Picking up my freshly sharpened, yellow pencil, I'd write that title on a stack of lined notebook paper, stare at it for awhile, and wonder where it would lead me like Alice standing poised over the rabbit hole.
Of course, I have to see what happens next with Jonathan and Kat. Do you think they should get married?
What is your favorite scene in Kat's Law?
I love the relationship Kat shares with her father. She has such respect for him and while she so wants to pursue her own dream of working in the San Francisco hospital, she knows how it will impact him. I find the scene at the table very touching, where she begins to see just how weary he is. When she steps around the table and wraps her arms around him she wants to share a little of that burden he's carrying "enfolding all of him - his worries and cares - in the comfort of her presence". I think for many of us there is a time in our relationships with our parents that we recognize a reversal of roles. It's a time when we become the caregiver, the one to encourage and support. Nathaniel has been her mentor and wise counselor for so long that this moment of awareness is painful. As a physician now she steps into that role quite naturally. But in the next moment, she realizes that her own dreams are in jeopardy.
What else have you written?
Under another name, I've published a middle-grade historical fiction novel, which recently won an award. I'm quite pleased by that, because of my affection for the protagonist, an orphan boy of mixed heritage. He was modeled after my son, a young man who needed to find his true calling, rejecting expectations forced upon him. I started writing it when my own brave son shipped out with the U.S. Marines to Afghanistan in 2012. So that became the theme of the novel.
The setting also helped to inspire that story. Fort Ross was a Russian settlement in the mid-nineteenth century on the California coast. The Russian American Company set up a colony to become the breadbasket for their Alaskan hunting colony. For thirty years they worked there in relative harmony with the Pomo Indians, evening living in an uneasy peace with the Spaniards. Although the colony did produce goods that the Alaskan colony could not grow for themselves, the Tsar shut them down and ordered everyone home in 1841. That is another story worthy of writing, and it could turn out to be a romantic novel for my grownup little orphan.
What is the easiest thing about writing?
Once I know my characters well, I find that they begin to write their own dialog. I don't mean to sound metaphysical in that, but they do seem to take on a will of their own.
When you live with a character rattling around in your brain 24 hours a day for three months or more, you can hear the cadence of their speech and know their colloquialisms. You learn how they will react and what verbal responses they are likely to give. You know when they will not speak as well, when they'll suffer silently or petulantly turn to internal dialog.
I enjoy allowing my characters to speak to one another. Often they surprise me. I'll type the words, end with the quotation marks, sit back and think, "Wow! I didn't know you thought that?" That's when you look over your shoulder, a bit spooked, wonder if there really is a muse, and go turn on all the lights. It's a wonderful, scary kind of thrill to see where that stream of consciousness leads them.
At the end of the first draft, I find it sometimes necessary to go back into the story and cut back the dialog so that more time can be given over to narrative. This makes me wonder if I shouldn't be teaming up with a graphic novelist and simply consigning myself to writing only the dialogue.
Samantha St. Claire is the alter-ego and pen name of an award-winning writer of historical fiction. Kat's Law is her first venture into romantic historical fiction. With residences in both Washington and Idaho, she's spent long hours traveling the route of the old Oregon Trail, gathering inspiration for her novels along the way.
Enjoy an Excerpt from Kat's Law
From Chapter 6
Eight out of the original nine cans lay on the other side of the fence rail, pierced through. Kat lowered her rifle and squinted at the result of her firing. "Missed one!" She swore softly under her breath.
"Kat! When did you start swearing? You never heard that from me!" Nathaniel gave her a look of mock rebuke.
"Well, Papa, you pick up more than medical terms when you work with men under pressure." She threw back a rueful smile and reloaded.
Nathaniel nodded toward the execution line of soup and bean cans. "You seem to have lost a little of your irritating talent for beating me at target shooting. What's thrown your aim off?"
"Lack of practice, I suppose. Didn't have much time for it." She drew the weapon to her shoulder and fired. The final can flew up with a satisfying plink. "Too busy learning how to swear," Kat grinned at her father, handing him the Browning rifle, then picking up a half-dozen tin cans. She scrambled up the hill to balance them on the rail.
"Suppose none of those city doctors even know the business end of a gun from the butt," Nathaniel called after her as he leaned back against a tree trunk watching his daughter, skirt tucked into her waistband stride back down the hill and across the yard.
"Oh, they were quite familiar with butts - just not those constructed of wood."
Nathaniel sniggered, "Kat! I'm afraid your feminine sensibilities have been compromised by your studies of anatomy."
"Papa, my feminine sensibilities were compromised long ago by being brought up by a doctor. Besides, it seems you were the one who raged at anyone who chose to use euphemisms instead of... Let's see. What did you say? Oh yes, 'perfectly adequate anatomical language.'"
Loading two .45 rounds, Kat pulled the Browning rifle back to her shoulder and fired, levering rapidly before taking a second shot. Two shots, two cans flying.
Nathaniel shook his head as he watched a sparkle of smug self-satisfaction brighten her eyes. "You know, for awhile when you were growing up, I thought you just might decide to study law."
Kat picked up her father's gun, a newer Browning, and inspected it. "Now what in the world would have made you think that? You treated me like an intern most of my adolescence! Remember that I was the one who told Josie the real facts of life, thanks to you and a particularly well-illustrated medical book."
Nathaniel snorted. "I suppose I did. But you were darn good at picking up anything I taught you. You were doctoring everything from that ugly old yellow cat you carried around like a sack of potatoes, to wild rabbits. Couldn't have you sued for malpractice on the neighborhood pets!"
Kat spun to the target, the rifle loaded and fired.
"No, it was that you were always so keen on seeing that justice was served. Remember the Robinson children and that gang of Liam Brewster's?"
Kat bent down, picking up two spent rifle shells. She tumbled them in her hand while she thought back to her childhood vigilante days. She chuckled. "Guess, I did have a single-minded focus on delivering justice to those bullies."
Nathaniel sniffed at that. "Single-minded focus? You delivered it all right! They never went after those poor kids again after you justiced them bloody." Her father chuckled. "I tried to straighten that nose of his, but it ended up pointing two degrees south when he was facing due east."
"He still lives around here?" Kat squinted into the sun, taking a reading on the time.
"I see him from time to time. He's still a bully."
Kat cradled the barrel into the fold of her arm, starting off toward the house. Their talk of her vigilante days brought the self-appointed sheriff to mind. That started her mind traveling down another path. Hadn't most of the gold and silver strikes been outside the ranges bordering their long valley?
"Papa, why are the ore wagons even coming on this side of the mountain and not using the old road?"
"Well, they were for awhile, I think. From what I've heard, the route held too many places for robbers to ambush the wagons. Our side of the mountain makes the trip through more open land. It's safer. Or, at first it was. Now, I hear they take a different route from time to time, trying to confuse the robbers."
Kat kicked at a clod of mud. "Men and their fool lust for quick riches! How many lives and towns been ruined by it?"
"I assume that's a rhetorical question," Nathaniel said.
"It's going to change the town! It already has! There'll be more drinking establishments, more gambling, and more violence." Her eyes flashed with anger as she imagined what she feared would become the town's inevitable future.
"You're preachin' to the choir, Kat. Don't you think I've already seen the results in my office here? I never used to treat gunshot wounds, unless you count the time Mrs. McDougal moved her husband's rifle to dust the mantle and accidentally shot herself in the foot."
"She was the only one claiming it was an accident, as I recall," Kat skipped up the steps and onto the porch that wrapped around the house from the kitchen entry to the office front door. "Mr. McDougal was singing quite a different song in your surgery." Nathaniel chuckled and bobbed his head at the memory, taking her gun from her and carrying both inside the house. Kat sat on the porch bench where she had an expansive view of the town below and the river beyond, meandering away down the long valley.
She was glad that her father and mother had agreed to build the house on the hill rather than in the heart of town. Some people complained about having to make the climb, especially those with rheumatism, but Nathaniel was never one to deny a request for a house call. So it became a non-issue.
Up here away from the center of town, the child she'd been felt free of critical eyes, especially so after her mother's death. Her father had indulged her to be...different, a little wild by others' more conventional standards. Not just one opinionated, concerned citizen had admonished her father to use a tighter hand in raising her. But Doc Meriwether had ignored them, just like he'd ignored his sister's advice to send her back east to her so she could be raised in a civilized town and taught how to be a proper lady. And there'd been those that tried to arrange a wife and mother to fill the needs of the widower and child. Nathaniel was, after all, quite a catch and still an attractive man. But he'd successfully escaped those efforts, remaining a contented bachelor.
Kat reached up, pulling the pins from her hair. Her long plait of brown hair swung down over her shoulder. Leaning her head against the house wall, she closed her eyes. The winds, brisk but not cold, felt pleasant brushing over her bare arms. The smell of spring filled the air better than any perfume, and soon the scent of her mother's blush roses would add to the heady fragrance. Even before that, the lilac bushes bordering the small garden would paint a lavender backdrop for the sweet peas that would follow with tender shoots of pink and purple reaching up and up.
Opening her eyes again, she felt a shadow of melancholy steal some of the day's warmth, realizing that she might not still be here to see them bloom. Her hand slipped into the pocket of her skirt, and pulling out the letter from St. Mary's Hospital, she read it once more.
End of Excerpt