Reading Charlene's bio, below, I'm guessing she's not quite as neurotic about spiders as I am... And just think, I met my first black widow in Utah, the setting for Taming Jenna...
...We were new immigrants from England. My husband was at work. And my three sons had somehow managed to invite three friends "home" from school. But home was a rented house where we knew no-one and possessed next to nothing--just the clothes that fitted in our suitcases, with some notebooks and pencils freshly bought for school.
I fought the front door--still learning how to use the unfamiliar key. We stepped inside. And the oldest visitor cried out, "Oh look! Be careful Mrs. Deeth." He pointed out the hourglass mark in red, easily visible on this obliging, and very large, specimen of black widow spider with its legs stretched across the the doorway. He explained how dangerous these spiders are, and how I mustn't let it move (i.e. "Don't try to close the door!") or lose sight of it, since it might reappear to bite us in the night--the size that thing was, it could have bitten a sizeable chunk even without its other, more poisonous attributes. And he said I should "remove it." But how?
In a house with no cleaning materials, never mind insect repellants or black widow discouragers... in a house full of kids, three of whom had never even heard of black widows before, and three of whom weren't mine... in a house in a strange neighborhood in a strange country...
My oldest son and our oldest guest walked up and down the street together while I watched the younger ones and guarded the spider. People were at work, of course, so it was quite a while before the boys found a house where anyone answered their knock. Then an elderly man, wrapped in hat scarf and gloves (on a hot sunny day) for protection, with heavy jeans, thick socks, and super-heavy boots, arrived bearing an armful of cloths and multiple sprays.
He caught the spider. I caught a renewed respect for the wildlife of America. And I thanked my new, temporary neighbor profusely. Soon afterward we moved into a home of our own, but first I bought some spider spray, frequently used as, indeed, there were black widow spiders there too--just a little smaller and less scary.
There were termites as well, but that's another story...
I wonder if there were black widows and termites in Israel at the first Christmas--read Bethlehem's Baby for five-minute bedtime stories of what might have been.
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MEET THE AUTHOR:
Charlene Raddon began her fiction career in the third grade when she announced in Show & Tell that a baby sister she never had was killed by a black widow spider. She often penned stories featuring mistreated young girls whose mother accused of crimes her sister had actually committed. Her first serious attempt at writing fiction came in 1980 when she woke up from a vivid dream that compelled her to drag out a portable typewriter and begin writing. She’s been at it ever since. An early love for romance novels and the Wild West led her to choose the historical romance genre but she also writes contemporary romance. At present, she has five books published in paperback by Kensington Books (one under the pseudonym Rachel Summers), and four eBooks published by Tirgearr Publishing.
Charlene’s awards include: RWA Golden Heart Finalist, Romantic Times Reviewer’s Choice Award Nomination, Affair de Coeur Magazine Reader/Writer Poll for Best Historical of the Year. Her books have won or place in several contests.
Currently, Charlene is working on her next release.
But what about the book? Here's a blurb from Taming Jenna
FIND OUT ABOUT THE BOOK:
Deserted by her father at the tender age of seven, Jenna Leigh-Whittington had taught herself to ride, shoot, brawl…and steer clear of the opposite sex. But now, in a lonely Utah canyon, the Pinkerton agent has drawn her gun on a rugged stranger—only to discover that, far from the dangerous outlaw she’d been tracking, he is Branch McCauley, hired gun…and the most irresistible rascal ever to tempt and torment a woman!
THE RIGHT WOMAN
If there’s one thing McCauley trusts less than a female, it’s a female who packs a six-gun. But what a woman! Vowing to bring the sensuous hellcat to heel, McCauley has no inkling that their passionate battle of wills has just begun. Taming Jenna will be the most seductive—and satisfying—job he’s ever taken on.
Okay, so there are some fascinating characters there, and I grew up loving Westerns, but how do I know I'll really enjoy reading this. I guess an excerpt would help...
TAMING JENNA EXCERPT 1
Jenna scowled as she studied the man by the flickering glare of his campfire. He had the right build and appeared close to thirty, Mendoza's age. But something didn't fit.
The Denver police chief had described her quarry as a spoiled aristocrat, too busy wooing Lady Luck and every other female to be much of a train robber, let alone a killer. But the rogue in front of Jenna looked too lean and hard to be spoiled, too wary and aloof to be a ladies' man.
To Jenna he seemed the perfect gunslinger: cold, tough, and ready to spring. Like a big yellow cougar perched on a ledge. Or a rattler, tightly coiled. Either way, his bite would be deadly.
In spite of the cool night breeze, sweat oozed from her pores. She couldn't forget that lightning draw. Why had she come here? How had she expected to take an outlaw Pinkerton's other agents had failed to bring in? No, she refused to think that way. She was every bit as capable as any man to capture Mendoza. She had to believe that, the same way she had to do what she'd set out to do. Only one question remained: Was this Mendoza or not?
"Who are you, mister?"
"Who am I? Hell, who are you? "
Blast! Did no male exist in this empty wilderness who wasn't so taken with himself that he couldn't cooperate for a change?
She took a calming breath. A body could catch more flies with honey than vinegar, old Charley Long Bow used to say. Jenna figured flies might fancy the hairy creature facing her, so she decided to try being friendly. "Listen, I smelled your coffee and hoped you might spare a cup, is all. You can understand me being a mite leery of walking into a stranger's camp without knowing who I'm hooking up with."
Firelight glinted on the man's straight white teeth as his whiskers parted in a cold smile. "Don't recall inviting company, but I'll play your game. Name's Branch McCauley. Now it's your turn."
His smile unnerved her. It held no humor, only a lethal sort of grimness that cannoned her stomach into her throat and made her wish she'd wired William Pinkerton for instructions instead of going off half-cocked this way. "I'm Jim...Jim White," she lied.
"All right, Jim, how about some honesty? You come here looking for me?"
"I'm not looking for anyone named Branch McCauley. If that's who you are, you've nothing to worry about."
The wide, innocent eyes McCauley studied held honesty. He relaxed. "In that case...be glad to pour you some coffee." He reached for the battered graniteware pot. His visitor's next words froze him in a half-stoop: "I'd feel more welcome if you'd set aside your gun first."
Cool as Montana sleet, McCauley straightened, hand poised above his holster. "Reckon you would. Wouldn't do much for my sense of well-being, though."
So much for trying to be friendly, Jenna thought. What now? She clenched her knees together to still their shaking and swallowed the fear knotted in her throat.
"Look." McCauley shifted his weight to one leg. "Why don't you put your gun away and have a sit? Could be I might know something about the hombre you're hunting.
Hombre. Sounded Spanish. Like Mendoza. It must be him. She had to get his gun away from him. Surprise seemed the best means. She squeezed the trigger of the .44 Starr. The bullet kicked dirt onto the man's scuffed boots. He jumped and let out a yelp as though she'd set his feet afire.
"Dammit, kid, going up against me won't get you anything but a six-foot hole in the ground."
"Shut up and toss over your gun or I'll turn them boots into sieves. 'Course, my sights might be a bit off." She raised the muzzle toward his groin.
"You made your point," he growled as he unbuckled his gun belt and tossed it over.
Instead of the fancy weapon she had expected a gunslinger to own, an ordinary, six-gun lay at her feet. No ivory handle or engraved barrel. Only an ordinary .44 Peacemaker, crafted and worn for one reason—to kill. The thought did funny things to her innards.
"All right," she said, getting back to business. "You aren't going to like this, mister, but I don't know any other way to be sure who you are. Drop them trousers to your ankles."
Want to know more? Why not watch the video, then connect with Charlene Raddon through on of the links below. And enjoy the read.