Publication Day! A Bargain Struck goes out into the world… by Liz Harris

A Bargain Struck

.. well, actually, it went out on kindle a short time ago, just before it was reviewed in the Daily Mail, no less, where it was described as  ‘a vivid portrayal of 1880s mid-West America (which) is another sure hit to add to the burgeoning canon of Choc Lit’s highly readable popular fiction’.

So why the theme – a mail order bride – and why the location – Wyoming 1887?

Not long after The Road Back had been published, I was driving along to meet a friend for lunch, thinking about what I would enjoy writing next, when I heard the words ‘mail order brides’ on the radio. This is a concept that I’ve always found really romantic, and I promptly focused on the programme. It was a report about what was happening in Russia today. Yes, I thought in excitement – that’s my story line!! But not in Russia – Russia’s too cold. By the time I reached my destination, the location of my story-to-be was Wyoming.


Location of Wyoming, the 44th State of the Union


And now the answer to ‘why Wyoming’. I knew that in the pioneering days of the American West it wasn’t uncommon for homesteaders and settlers in Wyoming and adjacent States to send for a mail order bride.

There was a man’s work and there was a woman’s work. Men worked on the homestead outside the house, rugged, gleaming and tanned – now stop that, Liz – providing food for the family and protecting them. Women worked in the house, looking after the children, sewing clothes, making preserves of the vegetables that they had tended in the vegetable garden, which was a part of a woman’s work, too.

A man, therefore, needed a wife.

Widower Conn Maguire was no exception. His eight-year old daughter, Bridget, was about to start school and he needed someone to help with the chores she’d been doing since her mother had died a year before. Enter Ellen O’Sullivan.

Widow Ellen O’Sullivan needed a home and a family, and quite by chance – these things do happen, you know – she read the advert placed in a Nebraskan newspaper by Conn Maguire.

Bingo! Conn had a wife. Ellen had husband. They could ride off into the sunset together.

But of course, they didn’t.

30 thoughts on “Publication Day! A Bargain Struck goes out into the world… by Liz Harris

  1. LOL Liz – ‘rugged, gleaming, tanned’??? I’m definitely reading this one now! 😀

  2. Oh, yes!! On the radio, I was asked for my inspiration for Conn and whether he was modelled on an actor. I assured them that he wasn’t modelled on any actor – he came out of my head, the embodiment of my ideal of a dishy man. When I got home, I found my pallid-skinned, dark-haired husband waiting for me in the front hall, the radio in his hand …

  3. Happy publication day, Liz! Have already got “A Bargain Struck” on my Kindle and look forward to reading it when times allows.

  4. Many thanks, Margaret. It’s lovely to see Conn, Ellen and Bridget go out int the world. It was a huge wrench to leave them, and I’m pretty sure I’ll return to the American West again at some point in the future.

  5. That’s the trouble with the American West, Liz, it steals your heart! Very best of luck with A Bargain Struck – I loved it, as you know, it deserves to be a runaway bestseller!

  6. It’s exciting how well it’s doing in the kindle lists of Top 100 Paid, Berni. That’s true of the UK and the US. The fabulous Daily Mail review helped, I know, but I’m sure that your cover has much to do with the way it’s rising in the lists.

  7. Thank you, Janet. I can’t wait to be able to say the same to you – you know how much I’m looking forward to reading your novel.

  8. Brilliant..I remember this from the blog! Well done you for getting a review in the Daily Mail (well, it is a mainstream tabloid, whatever one may think of it)

  9. Many thanks, Carol. Talk about being excited! I’m thinking of the number of people who may have read that review…

  10. The research on this must have been fascinating, Liz…I’m looking forward to buying a copy although with all these brilliant choc lit books I can barely keep up 🙂


  11. I feel the same, Helen. I buy all of the Choc Lit books, so I have a huge TBR pile. Eventually, I shall have read them all, and had many hours of pleasure doing so, but that eventually is still a long way off, I fear.

  12. It’s a lovely story, Liz, one that sneaked its way up the still-towering TBR pile, but I very much enjoyed it.

  13. Many thanks, Chris. I’m glad you enjoyed it. You can imagine the fun I had in Wyoming, researching it!

  14. It’s waiting patiently on my Kindle. I’m struggling to read atm. Real life has this annoying habit of gatecrashing. I’d love to see the western make a real comeback – used to enjoy watching them on tv when I was growing up. Do children play ‘cowboys and indians’ any more? Somehow, I doubt it, and find it quite sad.

  15. Yep – rugged, gleaming and tanned kind of did it for me, too 🙂 Can’t wait to read it. Bought but still no kindle to read it on! Congrats on all your fab reviews, Liz X

  16. I think the mythology of the Wild West and the Indians has been rather exposed as just that in recent films, Liv, and that may well have moved Cowboys & Indians lower down in the list of favourite games. Space Age games, robots, terminators and the like may well have taken over the top spots. Also, if the newspapers are correct, computer/video games would be the first choice of many a modern child. If that’s true, it would be very sad.

  17. Many thanks, Sarah. I’m about to get my first kindle. To date, I’ve been reading ebooks on my iphone, but my husband got fed up with seeing me hunched over the phone, squinting, so he’s just bought me one for my Publication Day present. Maybe the solution is to start squinting over small print around the time of your next Publication Day ….

  18. So you’ve got a kindle now, Liz? I’ve become addicted to mine over the past 6 months. I love having both though.

    And I loved ‘A Bargain Struck’! Well done and may it continue to enjoy fantastic reviews and rankings.

    Beverley x

  19. Thank you for your lovely comment, Beverley.

    I suspect that I shall come to feel about my kindle the way I feel about my iphone. I hadn’t wanted to have an iphone, feeling attached to my ancient mobile. I grudgingly bought one when I realised that I had to be able to access my emails from various places. I have never looked back – I love it!

  20. I’m a teensy bit late to the party, but I come with Happy Publication Day congratulations…..and so pleased to se eyou picking up such great reviews….and that ranking! You must be thrilled…..all your hard work, and talent, paying off.

  21. I’m even later, Linda! But I thought A Bargain Struck was a brilliant read, and set in the American West, (a particular interest of mine)Who could ask for more? x

  22. Many thanks, Linda. There certainly was a lot of work involved, but it was work of the most pleasant kind – research. It was lovely to spend hours learning more about a period I’ve already felt drawn to. Being able to access the Wyoming papers from the 1880s online was a particular thrill.

  23. I love the American section of A Stitch in Time, Mandy. That was brilliant. I’m wondering about going to South Dakota next May on the way to Kansas City. A happy thought!

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