A Western Heart

The story

Wyoming, 1880

Will Hyde and Rose McKinley, the older son and the older daughter of successful neighbouring ranches, have grown up together like brother and sister, knowing that one day they’ll marry and thereby unite their two ranches.

Their families and friends know this, too. And impatient to see the marriage take place, they’re now wondering aloud with increasing frequency why the engagement hasn’t yet been announced.

Rose, too, has started to wonder why. She knows Will loves her and she knows she loves him, so there’s nothing can stop them marrying.

Or is there?


Before I started writing A Western Heart, I wanted to get the feel of a novella as opposed to a full length novel, so I did some research into both forms of novel. It wasn’t exactly painful work – it involved sitting down and reading novellas all day!

At the end of this part of my research, I’d noted some clear differences between writing a story of 30,000 words and a story of 95,000 words, and I recorded those differences in a blog post for The Write Romantics. If you’d like to read my post, click here.

The research mentioned above related to the tone and style of a novella. Next I researched the historical background, focusing on Wyoming’s history between the years 1875 and 1885 in order to find a year in which it would be fruitful for me to set my story. I wanted a year in which history offered a possible reason for Nate Galloway to ride into the lives of the McKinley sisters. A novella may well be shorter and lighter than a full length novel, but I wanted the same degree of historical authenticity that I had with A Bargain Struck and The Road Back.

The humming-bird: a frequent sight on ranches
Good grazing land
A light buggy in which a woman might travel

I almost immediately settled upon the year 1880. By setting my story in 1880, I had a valid reason why Nate might choose to leave the area in which he’d lived for quite a while – the Rock Springs area – and I had an authentic purpose to give him for visiting successful cattle ranches throughout Wyoming. This derived from developments relating to cattle drives and the railroad in 1879 and 1880, and history shows that it was both reasonable and far-seeing of Nate to make the proposals he made to the Wyoming ranchers.

Indian Paintbrush, the state flower of Wyoming, courtesy of Wikipedia