The Secret History Mystery on Wolf Mountain
As book 4 A Wolf to the End is in the works to be released, the culmination of some 15 years of writing will come to the end. But even longer about the Stanton family.
The first book I wrote was was about the first ones who started a ranch in Montana during the Oregon Trail days, in a fictional slice of land squeezed between what is now Glacier national park and the Blackfoot reservation. A wolf in the fold was never published due to publisher disagreements, but there was a point where I had the thought what if that character was living in the modern day. A kick ass survivor. I never liked the tries though until my husband was sent to the Black Hills of South Dakota to close down the Homestake Gold Mine, the oldest operating one in the world at the time. They were closing it down before it became unprofitable, cleaning up the mess and slowly letting people go as the work was finished. Sitting there the what if popped in my head. What if the mine wasn't closed responsibly, what if it just shut down without warning what would happen?
It has been worked on for 15 years, but it is set in 2008-2010. The economy collapsing in 2007 just made it even more of a catastrophe. When the miners couldn't go find jobs anywhere else because the only major employer in the county closed. When Sasha Stanton the current owner of the massive ranch down the road was supposed to marry the owner of the mine, a premature will ends up leaving the company town to her when her former fiancee is killed only a days after she breaks off the engagement. There are two mysteries on the mountain though, one to do with the mine and one with Sasha's family. Family saga over events long in the past are all intertwined with the murder of a fiancee she never loved. A world of trouble can be hid when Sasha's father drives her to never come home for years. 9 years she used getting a doctorate in business to save the ranch as a reason to not come home to her father's untreated mental illness. He dies in January and the mine world collapses in July. But when the local sheriff doesn't really try to investigate the death and instead just keeps arresting people connected to the ranch Sasha has no other choice but to investigate with the help of a local lawyer that used to work for her fiancee.
That's the start of four books. Each book has a murder or two in the present, but the murders other than one, let out connections to the underlying crime that has taken over Gold Springs, Montana. It's not much of a spoiler to say she ends up marrying the lawyer, Ethane, at the end of book one before he's recalled to the Marines. Book two A wolf by any other name, brings her family issues to light and Sasha leaves home for awhile because Ethane's far too worried she'll get killed. 6 months later Sasha returns home in Return of the Wolf when the FBI shows up and a man working for her is killed. There's no real mystery in this death, instead a man hunt to catch the killer. Just before she heads home though a man shows up, one she didn't trust the moment he appeared, but he offered jobs in a town that had no hope. Trying to name drop he calls a barest of acquaintance, Matt Dunham. All of my books these days have been getting tied into the same world. He's the Prince of Kapheira, that I named my press after. He's been trying to figure out what his father was doing on the island before his death. A Prince only because his brother died, he was a solider until his father died, he never would allow a woman to track a killer alone, at that point Ethane finally returns.
That leads to book four, A wolf to the end. I break a few rules by throwing in a segment of Matt's future wife's POV, but it does all connects when he invites Sasha and Ethane to his wedding. Because Matt's been out of contact with the bride for nearly 14 years they start getting more connections which start to finally unravel what the true mystery on Wolf Mountain was that started this whole adventure and how Matt and Sasha are connected. Sasha, trying to get back to making a living with horses, is taking a horse to the Kentucky Derby moving most of the action away from Gold Springs and when more murders get Ethane arrested the final links in the puzzle are revealed, but that doesn't mean the danger is over just yet.
After spending so long with these characters I don't want to leave them. There is a prequel to Matt showing up in book three, and a story of another secret in his family that takes place after where Sasha and Ethane at least make an appearance. There are some stories that touch on the side characters in Gold Springs. Perils in Polynesia tells about JP ending up in town, A New Beginning tells about the Coltons before gold is ever found. What if tells a bit about Seth after he comes to the ranch, and the One that got away is about Zoe who takes the over the kitchen of the Wolf Mountain Grill. Mayhem at the Mount Baker Lodge has a final showdown on the ranch picks up on a great great uncle I think it would be back. I just can't seem to stay away.