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Excellent storytelling, accurate historical reporting, and gritty, persevering characters

The Story behind Romancing the Widow by Davalynn Spencer

Davalynn Spencer is our guest this week. She’s stopping by to share the story behind her book Romancing the Widow. Here’s a teaser:

The light went out of Martha’s soul when her husband fell to a bullet in St. Louis. Now, back in her hometown of Cañon City, she’s convinced she’ll never know happiness again. Until she crosses paths with a darkly mysterious Colorado Ranger.

Haskell Jacobs has a mission. And the beautiful, flame-haired widow sure isn’t it. But Martha is somehow mixed up in the crime that brought Haskell to the rough-and-tumble town…and soon, she’s entangled in the lawman’s heart. But the danger that lurks around them is all too real. Can they find strength and love in each other before it’s too late?

Davalynn, share with us a little bit about how the story came to be.

Authors are always on the lookout for memorable character names. Baby-name books are a common resource, as well as census records.

So are families and obituaries.

I combined these last two sources for the hero’s name in my *award-winning novel, Romancing the Widow.

Haskell Tillman Jacobs is a Colorado Ranger hunting a notorious horse thief in 1888.

He’s also a combination of my maternal grandfather and the brother of a deceased friend.

Romancing the Widow is the third in what I refer to as my Cañon City series. I based all three historical novels in Cañon City, Colorado, and included many actual historical details in the stories.

The Widow is set at the height of the famous Bone Wars during which two universities vied for possession of the many dinosaur fossils recovered in Cañon City’s Garden Park area.

For the first book in the series, The Cowboy Takes a Wife, I also mined family names and found the perfect match for a prickly minor character. However, the name belonged to my mother-in-law who is not far enough removed, historically speaking, and bears no resemblance to the less-than-affectionate character.

For the sake of peace in the real world, I relinquished the name and chose another beginning with the same letter.

Some people are pleased when their names appear in a novel, others not so much. It depends upon the character bearing their, uh, likeness.

I’ve found it much safer to search through records at least two generations removed when it comes to borrowing family-member names. Especially when writing not-so-nice characters!

*Romancing the Widow won the 2015 Will Rogers Gold Medallion for Inspirational Western Fiction.

Bio: When the handsome, dark-eyed cowboy sauntered into my life, the gate to adventure swung wide. And what a ride! Yes, I married him. As the wife of a rodeo clown and bullfighter, I got a front-seat view on a fast-paced life and great opportunities to write for national rodeo markets and win awards in the process. Today I’m living my dream as a novelist and living for real on Colorado’s Front Range with our Queensland heeler, Blue, and mouse detectors Annie and Oakley. I hope you’ll join me in the inspirational Western romance world for stories about rugged cowboys, their challenges, and their loves.

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Davalynn is giving away an ebook copy of Romancing the Widow. Follow the directions below to enter.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thanks for visiting with us, Davalynn! It’s been great to have you.


  1. My great aunt was named Una Mae

  2. My grandmothers both had Bell in their names, I.e. CoraBell/Lena Arbelle. My great-grandparents had ten children so they named their tenth, Tennie, original! Thanks for the opportunity to win!

    • What fun names, Linda. My great aunt was Laura Bell, but Bell was her married name. I used it in my first contemporary, The Rancher’s Second Chance. Laura Bell was the heroine.

  3. My Mother’s name is Iola. She passed away Feb. 5, 2013. I miss her very much. I think her name is beautiful.

  4. The relatives who started our branch of the family tree was named Anna & Tofel. I think Anna’s maiden name was Maas. They were either my great,great or great, great, great grandparents who immigrated to America from Prussia. I can’t remember the year as I’d have to search out where I put that information.

    Genealogy has always fascinated me! To learn where our descendants came from, what they did in their life, etc. It really gives you an appreciation for family 🙂

    Thank you for the wonderful post and giveaway chance Davalynn!

  5. Thanks for commenting, Trixi.