Under The Desert Sky
Western Historical Romance
March 29, 2016
Sara Luck is known for her “well-developed characters, accurate historical settings, and hot naked men” (RT Book Reviews), and Under the Desert Sky does not disappoint! Fans will love this story of a widowed frontierswoman and the ranch hand who might be all that stands between her and ruin.Phoebe Sloan isn’t afraid of hard work—she couldn’t have survived on the Arizona frontier if she were. But ever since her husband was killed in a ranch accident, she’s struggled to make ends meet and preserve her young son’s birthright. Her last gamble was to start raising ostriches—the plumes are prized by fashionable city ladies—and it could work, but someone’s determined to sabotage her efforts.Enter Christian de Wet, a South African importer who finds himself drawn to the fragile but determined Phoebe. He begins helping her around the ranch as a kindness, but the two quickly find that the heat rising between them has nothing to do with the Arizona desert! When the saboteur finds a way to endanger not just the ranch, but Phoebe’s family, will she have to forsake her happiness to save her son?
When I watch the “street interviews” on TV such as when Jay Leno did his “Jay Walking”, or now Jimmy Kimmel’s “Man on the Street” or Jesse Watters’ “Watters’ World,” I am at first amused . . . then greatly disturbed. When an interviewee agrees that an organized crime boss would “be a good nominee for a Justice of the Supreme Court,” or that our nation’s capital was named after Abraham Lincoln, I am stunned by the historical disconnect of so many.
I believe that historical novels, when well researched, can be a more effective way of learning than any text book. In a novel the reader interacts with the characters that people the world developed by the author.
All of my reviews point out that Sara Luck’s signature is “well-developed characters” and “accurate historical detail.”
I have continued that trademark with Under The Desert Sky, a novel about ostrich farming in the Arizona Territory of 1900, not for the meat, but for the feathers which brought a lot of money because of their use in the haute couture fashion. Before I start writing, I read as many books and contemporary newspapers as I can find . . . not only the news articles, but the editorials, and letters to the editors. I’m not looking specifically for information about ostriches; I’m looking for articles that would be little “time-travel capsules” to provide color, tone and tint, of Phoenix in 1900. Here is one such story found in the Arizona Republican, published June 12 of that year.
“Friday night, June 8, the Mesa brass band were tendered a reception by one of their members, B. F. Johnson, at his residence, south of the city. Mr. Johnson had decorated the lawn with Japanese lanterns, under which chairs and tables were stationed. The evening was spent pleasantly by the assembled families and friends of the band.”
Even the advertisements are fair game for research, such as this one. Are you dry? If so, call up telephone number 24 and order a case of good soda. Tempe Bottling Works.
After I have spent several weeks of research I find that I am occupying two time periods, the present, and the past. The letters and feedback I have received from many of my readers, tell me that, while immersed in my books they, too, become a part of that time period.
When you read Under The Desert Sky, you will be considerably more than a detached observer following the trials, romantic encounters, and ultimate triumph of Phoebe Sloan and Christian De Wet. You will be an inhabitant of Arizona’s Salt River Valley, and thus a neighbor and a friend. In the book, you will shop with Phoebe at the Chicago Store, which was very much a part of the 1900 Phoenix scene. When you go with them on the train, and then by stagecoach to Castle Hot Springs, you will be visiting the resort favored not only by the citizens of the time, but by Zane Grey and such wealthy personages as the Rockefeller family. As an aside, after World War II, John F. Kennedy came to Castle Hot Springs to recuperate from his ordeal in the Pacific, and begin thinking about his book PT-109.
Any book is a symbiotic relationship between the writer and the reader. As you read the words I have written, we are, for that moment, sharing the experience, for you, the reader, must use those words to create the world you have entered. Come with me as, together, we visit this fascinating period of our history.
They travel frequently to research their books, most recently to a mountain top in Wyoming, where they encountered mountain lions, wolves, and bears...fortunately from a safe distance. Throughout their marriage, she has been a writing partner, editor, and research assistant for her husband's many books.