Publication Date: May 28, 2019
Lion Heart Publishing
eBook & Paperback; 312 Pages
One look at Baby Doe and you know she was meant to be a legend! She was just twenty years old when she came to Colorado to work a gold mine with her new husband. Little did she expect that she'd be abandoned and pregnant and left to manage the gold mine alone. But that didn't stop her! She moved to Leadville and fell in love with a married prospector, twice her age. Horace Tabor struck the biggest silver vein in history, divorced his wife and married Baby Doe. Though his new wife was known for her beauty, her fashion, and even her philanthropy, she was never welcomed in polite society. Discover how the Tabors navigated the worlds of wealth, power, politics, and scandal in the wild days of western mining.
Tumbleweeds scraped across the Colorado prairie as Lizzie looked out the window of the Pullman railcar, rushing along the rickety tracks, too fast, too far, ever farther away from her family. The ache under her breastbone deepened as she remembered Da back at the train platform, dour as a pallbearer. Ever since the Oshkosh fires ripped through their haberdashery, their theater, and even their home, the light went out of his Irish eyes. He should have hugged her and wished her Godspeed, but he just pressed a cameo locket into her palm. On the train, Lizzie opened the locket hanging over her heart, staring at her parents’ faces. “You are such a tease.” Harvey Doe, her husband of two weeks, reached across and caressed her décolletage like it belonged to him, which maybe it did. A bead of irritation trickled down her neck, the July morning already stifling. “My stars, are you as ravenous as I am?” Lifting a profusion of red-gold locks, Lizzie fluttered a peacock feather fan. “I’ll go find out when breakfast is served.” Maybe fresh air would clear away her homesickness. “Elizabeth McCourt Doe, just sit there and look beautiful.” Harvey’s bowler hat topped dark blond curls framing a face so thin-skinned his blue veins showed through. Lizzie’s father had tailored his natty three-piece suit to perfection. His starched shirt still held its press for the third day on the Union Pacific, headed west to Central City, Colorado. “No wife of mine will be wandering around the train looking the way you do.” “What’s wrong with how I look?” She leaned over to the wall mirror and pinched her cheeks for color. Her beauty was a gift from God, Mam said, a gold-plated guarantee she’d marry a gentleman of means and wouldn’t have to take in mending. She tied her hat ribbon under her chin, her bosom inches from Harvey’s eyes, wielding her power over the boy. He pinned her to the seat, sweet-clover breath close to her own. His trembling fingers traveled down her face, pulling back her curls until it hurt and kissing her breathless. “Lizzie, I’ll make you the richest woman in Colorado. I swear I will. The Fourth of July gold mine will strike it big. Just wait and see.” Richest woman in Colorado. He said it again. She didn’t need to be the richest, just enough to pull her family back from the precipice. “But, we’ll be back for Christmas?” She spread her fingers through his hair. “Sooner, if I can help it.” The train porter strutted down the aisle ringing his brass bell, wearing the same blue uniform with frayed cuffs he’d worn the whole trip. “Breakfast is served…in a quarter hour,” he said, his Southern cadence melodic to her ears. Harvey traced the crocheted trim on her plunging neckline with a bitten fingernail. “Enjoying the scenery?” the porter asked. Harvey retrieved his hand and studied it for a hangnail. Lizzie laughed. “Why, yes, we are, Mister George.” “Just plain George.” He pointed to the nametag on his lapel. “Seems like all the porters are named George,” she said. “They calls us that after George Pullman, inventor of this here sleeper car.” He smiled. “George it is, then.” She gazed outside the window, bothered he wasn’t allowed to use his real name. Two bare-chested men rode horseback on a barren hill. “Land ‘O Goshen.” She pressed her palms on the window. “Are those real Indians?” “Pawnee, I reckon.” George plucked whiskers on his chin, eyes fixed on the horsemen. “Pawnees looking for a Morning Star sacri- fice. Not a subject fit for ladies.” “You have to tell me now,” she said, irked when he looked to Harvey for permission. “She won’t leave you alone until you do,” Harvey said. “She questions everything.” “Don’t say I didn’t warn you.” George’s voice dropped an eerie octave. “When the morning star rises, a Pawnee brave shoots an arrow through the heart of a young woman.” She felt the soft spot between her ribs where the arrow could penetrate. “Then, the Pawnee carves a star around her heart and lays her in the field to drain her blood out to nourish the prairie.” “You’re trying to spook me.” Lizzie hiccupped and grabbed the Dr. Mackenzie’s Smelling Salts from her handbag. “Indians aren’t the only varmints in the West,” George nudged Harvey. “Keep her away from bandits like Jesse James. They’ll steal a girl out from under your nose.” Lizzie swallowed a hiccup and changed the subject. “What’s the next stop, George?” “The Mile High City.” “He means Denver,” Harvey said, puffing out his chest. “Why do they call it that?” she asked. “Denver’s a mile higher than sea level,” George said. “Don’t you feel it? Hard to catch your breath.” He continued down the aisle, ringing his bell. Ready for breakfast, Lizzie and Harvey jostled through the nar- row passageway of the train. Her shoulders bumped one side, then the other, until the end. Harvey insisted she jump first between the railcars, so he could help if she had trouble. It scared her, all right, the whirring of wheels on tracks, the link-and-pin coupler holding the cars together, the ground rushing below. She jumped before she dared think of the consequences. The impact of the metal floor on the balls of her feet sent a whoosh of exhilaration through her. Harvey stood on the opposite platform, watching the flickering tracks below. “Just jump,” she shouted above the roaring train. He squeezed his eyes closed and leapt, one boot landing on the platform, the other skidding off the edge. Panicked, she pulled him to her, his heart flailing against her own. The sweat on his lip belied his smile. “See? You did just fine,” he said, opening the door. His bluster annoyed her, but a fight wouldn’t help her find out more about the mine. Why did his eyes glaze over whenever she brought up the subject? As they passed through the dining car, folks turned to stare. She’d grown used to people’s reactions to her over the years, and now her boyish husband seemed to amplify the effect. All eyes devoured the fetching damask gown Mam had sewn for her trousseau. Mam. Lizzie swallowed hard as her fingers grazed the real sil- verware, crystal, china, smoothing the white linen, while, back home, her mother struggled to put food on the table. They’d left behind the abundant Oshkosh trees that cradled the sky with lush foliage. Trees were scarce here on the western plains; the bleak horizon stretched a hundred miles in every direction. Even the sky’s color had changed from eggshell blue to a vibrant turquoise that hurt to look at it. A sizzling platter of pan-fried steak and eggs arrived at the table. “Ohhhh. That smells divine.” She took a bite, mulling over what she wanted to ask him. “You never told me how your father found the mine.” “Always the questions.” He tweaked her chin. “Maybe if you answered I wouldn’t have to pester you.” “Okay, okay.” He held his palms up. “Father met this prospector, Jenkins, who needed money to build a mine, so he backed him.” “But why is he sending you to the mine?” She bit into the steak, too tough to chew. He pushed eggs around his plate. “Some things are better left unsaid.” “Tell me,” she pushed. “My father wanted us out of Oshkosh, okay?” His face reddened. “What do you mean?” “Father never even mentioned the mine until I told my parents I was marrying you, and mother left the room in a conniption. Then he poured me a Glenlivet and said, ‘Time to cut the apron strings, son. Take your beautiful bride out west for a honeymoon and work the gold mine until your mother simmers down.’” She nodded slowly. “Your father is a smart man.” What a relief to get away from Mrs. Doe who never looked Lizzie in the eyes. Her backbone stiffened. She’d make a good wife and strike it rich at the same time. “What makes your father so sure we’ll strike gold?” “Father says Central City is the richest square mile on earth.” Harvey leaned back, elbows splayed, hands behind his head. “He’ll meet us there after he finishes up some business in Denver.” “What will he want me to do?” Lizzie said, anxious to get started. “Stay home and sit pretty, most likely,” he said. “Come on, Harvey.” She laced her fingers with his. “I’ll do any- thing to help.” Anything to help her family. He kissed her knuckles. “You can count the gold.” “I’ll be good at that.” She smiled; the bookkeeping she’d done for Da would come in handy. As the train pulled into Denver’s outskirts, the double-time pace of the city thrilled her. Hundreds of carriages, supply wag- ons, horses and buggies traversed the brick street. A milk wagon dodged the streetcar running down a wide boulevard flanked with stores. “George was right about the altitude.” Harvey jerked his collar, sucking in dry, sparse air. His mother had warned about his asthma, instructing Lizzie to distract him from his tight chest. So, she read the signs on the storefronts. “Robertson Art Gallery. Larimer Butter& Cigars, Walker Whiskies & Wines. Whoa. Look at that one, House of Mirrors.” A revolving red light glared off a million mirrored tiles behind a woman in a lacey bustier gyrating up and down a brass pole. Lizzie had read about tainted women in the Bible, but never imagined them so…striking. “House of Mirrors.” Harvey’s eyes bulged. “We don’t have places like that at home.” “Because we don’t need them, do we?” She turned his head and kissed him with all the fervor she could muster. The best kiss they’d had, ardent and satisfying. Afterward, Harvey’s eyes still followed the red light.
“Rosenberg’s rollicking Western adventure strikes gold with a gutsy, good-hearted spitfire of a heroine and action aplenty.” —THELMA ADAMS, bestselling author of Bittersweet Brooklyn and The Last Woman Standing "Gold Digger tells the true story of Lizzie 'Baby Doe' Tabor, a beautiful young woman who in 1878 marries the son of a wealthy miner in order to save her family from penury. Shrewd and stubborn, Lizzie fights back-biting Victorian society, wins and loses vast fortunes, and bests conniving politicians in her larger-than-life story. A twisting tale worthy of Mark Twain, with a big-hearted heroine at the center." —MARTHA CONWAY, author of The Underground River
A California native, Rebecca Rosenberg lives on a lavender farm with her family in Sonoma, the Valley of the Moon, where Jack London wrote from his Beauty Ranch. Rebecca is a long-time student of Jack London’s works and an avid fan of his daring wife, Charmian London. The Secret Life of Mrs. London is her debut novel. Rebecca and her husband, Gary, own the largest lavender product company in America, selling to 4000 resorts, spas and gift stores. The Rosenbergs believe in giving back to the Sonoma Community, supporting many causes through financial donations and board positions, including Worth Our Weight, an educational culinary program for at-risk children, YWCA shelter for abused women, Luther Burbank Performing Arts Center to provide performances for children, Sonoma Food Bank, Sonoma Boys and Girls Club, and the Valley of the Moon Children’s Home. For more information, please visit Rebecca’s website and blog. You can also find her on Facebook and Goodreads. Visit the Facebook page for The Secret Life of Mrs. London.
Wednesday, May 15 Review at Pursuing Stacie Thursday, May 16 Review at Passages to the Past Friday, May 17 Review at View from the Birdhouse Monday, May 20 Interview at Passages to the Past Tuesday, May 21 Excerpt at Donna's Book Blog Friday, May 24 Feature at Just One More Chapter Monday, May 27 Review at Orange County Readers Tuesday, May 28 Excerpt at Kimber Li Review at Diana_bibliophile Wednesday, May 29 Review at 100 Pages a Day Review at Oh, the Books She Will Read Thursday, May 30 Review at A Bookish Affair Excerpt at The Book Junkie Reads Friday, May 31 Interview at Myths, Legends, Books & Coffee Pots Monday, June 3 Review at A Chick Who Reads Tuesday, June 4 Excerpt at Maiden of the Pages Wednesday, June 5 Review at A Book Geek Thursday, June 6 Review at Comet Readings Friday, June 7 Review at History From a Woman's Perspective Saturday, June 8 Interview at Comet Readings Monday, June 10 Review & Guest Post at Clarissa Reads it All Tuesday, June 11 Excerpt at Old Timey Books Wednesday, June 12 Interview at T's Stuff Review at Proverbial Reads Thursday, June 13 Review at Cheryl's Book Nook Saturday, June 15 Review at Suzy Approved Book Reviews Monday, June 17 Author Spotlight at RW Bookclub Tuesday, June 18 Review at Books In Their Natural Habitat Thursday, June 20 Review at A Holland Reads Monday, June 24 Review at RW Bookclub Review at CelticLady's Reviews Thursday, June 27 Review at Mama's Reading Corner Friday, June 28 Review at Coffee and Ink Review at Cover To Cover Cafe
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