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A Western Hearts Novel

Lilly Gayle's Profile PhotoWilder Hearts is a historical western and romance novel. What draws you to the old west and makes it ripe for you to write such a great romance story in it?

I’ve been reading romance novels since high school. My mom and grandmothers taught me to love history, and my dad taught me to love westerns, science fiction, and the paranormal. Growing up, I used to watch western TV shows and movies with my dad all the time. We still watch western movies together. I think I’ve seen every western ever made starring John Wayne and Clint Eastwood, but my all time favorite “old” west movie is Support Your Local Sheriff– a western romantic comedy staring James Garner.

I thought the historical accuracy was spot on. What research did you do for this story?

A lot of research went into this novel. I have dozens of hard cover books on British and American history. When I began researching historical crimes a few years back, my husband gave me The Chronicle of Crime by Martin Fido, a book that chronicles the most infamous crimes in modern history. I also get a lot of my book ideas from watching Mysteries at the Museum. While doing internet research on American crimes similar to Jack the Rippers, I ran across a single article on the Servant Girl Annihilator. From there, I began searching the web for more info, and low and behold, just after I finished the first draft of Wilder Hearts, Mysteries at the Museum featured a segment on the Servant Girl Annihilator. The show even made the connection between Maurice, the Malay cook and Jack the Ripper. I was thrilled.

It’s time to make Wilder Hearts into a movie! What actress and actor do you picture playing the leading roles?

I think Melissa Rauch who plays Bernadette on The Big Bang Theory would make the perfect Ellie. She’s older than Ellie and her hair is blond, but in Hollywood, anything is possible. And I think Chris Pratt would make a great Jake.

I enjoyed the romance that was weaved into the mystery story. Where do you see Jake and Ellie, oh let’s say, a year after the novel ends?

As secondary characters in the sequel. I still haven’t settled on a title for the book. Obviously, it will be something with “Hearts” in the title, but in the rough draft already in the works, Ellie suggests that Brett Henderson (the rancher who helped Jake rescue Ellie) consider answering an ad for a Mail Order Bride she read in the San Francisco paper, Matrimonial News (a real paper in the late 1800’s.) Jake, of course, will be against the idea, but Brett is desperate to find a wife for his son in the dying town of Harmony.

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Wilder Hearts: A Western Hearts Novel (Book 2)Writing about the outlaw, Jake the Snake, could be the opportunity of a lifetime—if it doesn’t get her killed. When Ellie Wilder takes her sister from their grandfather’s home, she’s determined to put her family back together and write of their adventures. Then she runs into Jacob Harper, a man who resembles Jake the Snake, a notorious outlaw who once rode with Billy the Kid. Is it possible the outlaw who escaped justice has mended his ways? Or is the handsome Mr. Harper now murdering servant girls in Austin? Finding out the truth could be the journalistic opportunity of a lifetime. Former Texas Ranger Jake Harper has returned to Texas to help solve the Servant Girl Annihilator murders. But when a similar murder occurs in Harmony, Texas, Jake goes undercover as Jake the Snake to find a connection between the series of brutal murders. Then Ellie Wilder shows up. Her snooping could blow his cover and get her killed, but Ellie soon becomes a bigger threat to his heart than his investigation.
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Wilder Hearts

Wilder Hearts- A Western Hearts Novel (Book 2)4 StarsWilder Hearts by Lilly Gayle is a combination of a historical western romance and a mystery romance novel. If you love stories about Billy the Kid and western gunslingers, you will enjoy this book. There is a mystery story line involving a serial killer to keep the novel moving along as well as the romance between the two main characters Ellie Wilder and Jake Markham. The book has a slow start, you get some background to the characters but it jumps around a lot between current events, stories that Ellie and her sister Ida Louise tell, and past events. About a third of the way though the novel, when the Wilder family make it to Harmony Texas, the story picks up and moves quickly.

From the beginning of the book Ellie and her sister are following their father from Pennsylvania to Texas. Their father Clay is an oil wildcat looking to find the next big oil deposit in Texas. When the they arrive in Austin Texas they’re greeted by the street cleaner outside the train depot. He tells the girls about some murders that have happened recently by a killer named the Servant Girl Annihilator. Ellie is drawn into the mystery and wants to know all she can about the case. While at the train station waiting on their father to fetch their trunks she spots a man resembling a sketch in her book about Billy the Kid and his gang of Renegades. The man she see’s is listed as Jake the Snake in her book but in reality he goes by several names. Ellie is attracted to him right away even if she doesn’t recognize that it is desire at first. She is just intrigued by the mystery, why is he in Austin, how is a wanted man wandering the city unnoticed, is he the Annihilator? Ellie dreams of being a famous writer and thinks telling the story of what happened to Jake the Snake or the story of the Annihilator is her ticket to fame. In Ellie’s innocence she fails to see the danger and trouble associated with her spying and investigating.

Jake is actually a Texas Ranger that goes undercover in the small dying town of Harmony. This is also where the Wilder family winds up as Clay Wilder is certain there is oil to be found in that small town. Character development was something that I enjoyed as there were many interesting people the book introduces. From the rich grandfather, to the old town sheriff you really get a feel for each character’s personality. And as the story goes on you start to understand and like them. I liked the historical accuracy of the Oil Industry and its expansion in the west that is used throughout the novel. The author expertly uses accurate descriptions of that time period to really sell the time and place of the old west; and I enjoyed the references to the Texas Rangers and Billy the Kid.

This is a great read once you get past the slow beginning chapters. Then the story gains a strong direction and the story flows smoothly. Wilder Hearts provides an adventurous and romantic look at the untamed west that I thoroughly enjoyed.

Pages: 254 | ISBN: 9781310875816

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