One day last July at the RWA Conference in Atlanta, I wandered into the very crowded room where two thousand (mostly) women had gathered for lunch and a keynote address. I found a table with a couple of empty chairs and found myself sitting next to a writer called E.E. Burke. I’d never met Elisabeth Burke before, but we soon discovered a shared love of Hell on Wheels and American historical romance. Elisabeth told me that she and two other writers (all three of them Golden Heart finalists), Jacqui Nelson and Jennifer Jakes, would soon release an ebook, Passion’s Prize, containing three related short novels set during the post-Civil War construction of the Katy Railroad. I downloaded it as soon as it was available (the three parts are also available separately, but if you are interested, you’ll enjoy them all).
Adella’s Enemy, by Jacqui Nelson, opens the collection with the story of Adella Willows, photographer and one-time Rebel spy, who has come West seeking vengeance for the death of her brother in a Yankee POW camp. She blames the man behind the Katy, and if she can derail the Katy, figuratively or literally, she’ll have her revenge. But she didn’t figure on falling for the Irish railroad foreman, Cormac McGrady.
In Eden’s Sin, by Jennifer Jakes, we meet Eden Gabrielli, a brothel owner in the railroad town, and U.S. Army Major Sinclair Bradford. The investigation of a rape committed by a railroad worker brings them together, but the secrets of their pasts, blackmail in the present, and the future of the railroad may drive them apart.
E.E. Burke wraps up the book with Kate’s Outlaw. Kate Parsons is the daughter, and only heir, of the Katy’s owner, but she has yet to prove her worth to her father as more than someone to be married off to a male successor. When she is accidentally kidnapped by Jake Colson, a Cherokee bent on stopping the railroad’s path through the Indian Territory, she finds unexpected passion for both her captor and his cause. But can she save both the railroad and Jake?
A brief epilog reconnects our three heroines, who each appear in the others’ stories, and sets the stage for the next volume, E.E. Burke’s Her Bodyguard. That one’s waiting on my Kindle, and I’ll be looking forward to more books in the Steam: Romance and Rails series.