Susanne Dietze joins us this week to share a little about her latest book, My Heart Belongs in Ruby City, Idaho. It's a delightful historical set in, you guessed it, Ruby City, Idaho.
Welcome back, Susanne - Congratulations on your latest book! How did this story come to life? Did it start with an image, a concept, a dilemma or something else?
Thank you so much for having me, Karen! I love hanging out with you and your readers.
I am a huge fan of mail order bride stories, and one day I was brainstorming ideas along those lines for a future story. As I was thinking of ideas, I imagined a road-dusty blond woman and a dark-haired fellow getting married in a rustic office, googly-eyed for each other, only to realize once the ring is on her finger that they've married the wrong people. Then I had to think about how something that ridiculous could even happen! I had fun creating a scenario where it could, but of course, the problem can't be easily remedied for the newlywed couple, Tad and Rebecca.
It's a great idea! The twists and turns that ensue are complicated and rather humorous, for sure. Was there any special knowledge or research necessary to write the book?
The My Heart Belongs in line of books are all set in real places, so I had a lot of research to do. Ruby City doesn't exist anymore, so to learn more about it, I ordered books, studied maps, and called the Owyhee County Historical Museum and Library. A woman there graciously answered my kooky questions. The story is set right after the Civil War, and my son, a walking talking teenage encyclopedia on the War, helped me with those aspects of the story. While doing my best to be historically accurate, I nevertheless took several liberties while writing the story, mainly with things like stagecoach routes and placing businesses where I wanted them, staffed by my characters instead of real people. Not a single person in my story ever existed.
That's fun that your son was able to aid in the research about the Civil War. Who are your main characters? Can you describe them a bit for us?
Madge the mule isn't a main character, but I love her, so I have to give her a shout-out.
Rebecca Rice hails from Missouri. She's struggled to survive since the death of her lawman father and through the hardships of the Civil War, which is why she became a mail order bride. Her intended, Theodore Fordham, is a shopkeeper in an Idaho mining town, and he's promised her a secure life, which sounds wonderful to her! She doesn't expect love, but when she meets her Mr. Fordham at the stage coach stop, they click, and she's grateful for the man she believes God gave her as her husband.
However, Rebecca realizes something is terribly wrong after they've swapped vows and the justice of the peace calls Mr. Fordham "deputy." Turns out she's just married Thaddeus "Tad" Fordham, Theodore's cousin, a lawman who also runs the local livery with his father. Tad is supposed to marry a mail order bride named Rebekah Rhys, who's long overdue to arrive in Ruby City. Now Tad has a wife-in-name-only and a missing fiancee, not to mention an angry cousin. Things are already rocky between Tad and Theodore, and marrying Theodore's fiancee wasn't exactly the best way to work toward reconciliation!
Theodore makes a very good living off the miners in town. He's a smart businessman, but he's lonely. His relationship with Tad and Tad's dad, his only remaining family, has been strained for several months, so he's ready to start his own family. And when Rebecca finally arrives to marry him, she marries his nemesis cousin instead! He finds it impossible to find any humor in the situation, though the town finds it hilarious.
Rebecca, Tad and Theodore are all good-hearted folks, but like all of us, they have their flaws and struggle with putting things above their trust in God. Rebecca cherishes security and control, which isn't necessarily bad, but she doesn't want to relinquish control to God if it means taking a risk. Theodore holds grudges and hoards God's gifts, and Tad sometimes charges into things without looking at the whole picture. Like a lot of men, he wants to jump in and fix things, when maybe it would be more helpful if he just listened.
i enjoyed all the characters, including Madge. I liked Ulysses too (he's not pictured). But if I had to choose, Rebecca and Tad were my favorites. Were any of these characters challenging to create?
In all honesty, the characters were some of the most enjoyable to write that I'd ever had the privilege to spend time with. I had a blast with the secondary characters, some of whom are "characters" in every sense of the word! The most challenging character for me to write, I suppose, was Mr. Wrong (I won't reveal his identity here, but I will say the book is not a love triangle. It should be pretty evident to the reader who Rebecca ends up with at the end.) Mr. Wrong isn't a villain; he's just not Mr. Right. All the characters have faults and quirks, but Mr. Wrong's attitudes and behaviors needed to be such that he was clearly not a good fit for Rebecca. At the same time, I didn't want the reader to loathe him, because Rebecca certainly doesn't loathe him. She cares about him. No matter who she marries, the other man will be part of her family forever.
I can see where it would be a lot to keep track of as you wrote and the story unfolded. The result is a lovely and entertaining story. Thanks so much for visiting with us this week. Wishing you continued success with your writing! :)
Thank you, Karen!
My Review of My Heart Belongs in Ruby City, Idaho
I loved this book! Susanne Dietze knows how to tell a story filled to the brim with adventure, mystery, and yes, even a good dose of romance. This happily-ever-after tale will warm your heart while providing an entertaining ride through the old west. A marriage mix-up - that's what faces mail order bride Rebecca Rice upon arriving in Ruby City, Idaho. Things couldn't get much more tangled up in the matrimonial department for Rebecca and her real intended husband, Theodore. Accidentally marrying Theodore's cousin Tad gives her a rocky start to the quiet life she'd expected. But as in real life, things have a way of sorting themselves out, and this story, I'm happy to report, ends well. Susanne's characters, so caught up in doing the "right" thing, miss what's happening right under their noses. This book is the total package - great characters, fun and engaging plot, and a happy balance of romance and history. Looking forward to reading more of Susanne's stories soon. :)
What are you reading this week? Do you enjoy historical fiction?
Happy reading and writing,