One Month To Go! Gearing Up for Book Two of BRIDES OF LITTLE CREEDE

Book Two in CiCi’s ‘Brides of Little Creede’ series, The Dance Hall Wife, is due out on October 10, and we couldn’t be more excited. We had so much fun writing about Frank Carter and Cat Purdue, from their first tumultuous confrontation to their final, exciting resolution.

When we were writing Book One, The Substitute Wife, we knew within the first few words of Cat’s creation, who we’d pair her with. It was like a light bulb going off and both of us thinking, “Oh, we’ve gotta get them together.” We’re very happy with the way things fell into place, even though it was apparent from the beginning these two wanted nothing to do with each other.

Funny how that works out.

Along the way in Book Two, our readers will get a chance to meet and get to know some of the more ‘endearing’ characters in Little Creede. In a nineteenth-century boom town, there’s bound to be a few, and we were thrilled with the way they seemed to spool out and fill in the gaps.

Readers will also meet old favorites again—and some new ‘characters’—in Book Three, The Innocent Wife. Currently coming along nicely, and due out in May 2019.

As always with a historical novel, research is vital to create the right setting and all the visual prompts that make up an authentic read. Of the two halves of CiCi, Char probably enjoys research the most, though Cheryl is learning to like it better. All eras have their fascinating sides, but there’s just something about the Wild West, the gold and silver rushes of the mid-to-late nineteenth century, and how territories became states. It’s rougher. Tougher. The struggles are so visceral compared to the rest of the country, though the US’s first hundred years was certainly not easy.

But writing about it sure has been fun.

Over the next six months and through the release of The Innocent Wife in May, we’re going to drop in little showcases of life in late-1800 mineral towns like Little Creede. We thought it’d be interesting to start with food.

Specifically, dessert.

As our readers have discovered, Little Creede’s Mercantile, owned by Silas and Betsey Loman, is the place to go for foodstuffs, sundries, fabric, nails, you name it. Betsey also bakes for The Miner Stage House, Catherine Purdue’s new venture, an eatery of refinement in a town that’s in danger of growing too big for its britches. Betsey’s cakes, pies, and other desserts are much coveted by the rough miners who live near and work in the silver mines ringing the town. And Catherine opens up the Stage House to cater to these miners and their families, offering hearty meals and family specials. She doesn’t mind children running through her dining rooms and understands families sometimes just need to get away from their cramped cabins and come to town for someone else to wait on them for a change.

And Betsey bakes some pretty yummy stuff . . .



Pandowdy has been around several hundred years, along with tasty dishes such as Peach Slump and Berry Buckle. You could use any kind of fruit, though apples and berries were the most common. The principle is the same: a rich crust or dough made of flour, butter, and milk, spooned (“dowdied” or “buckled”) in pieces over the fruit which has been sweetened with a thick sauce usually spiced with cinnamon or nutmeg. Baking this treat made the sauce ooze up between the spaces left over in the dough, and you ended up with something absolutely delicious. You ate it warm from the oven with clotted cream or, if you were lucky, a nice scoop of ice cream.

Pandowdy is traditionally baked in a cast iron skillet, at a moderate temperature so the fruit can soften and juice up nicely. Some recipes are actually closer to a cobbler than a pie. The recipe Betsey Loman used in The Dance Hall Wife is more of a cobbler, with a tender, fluffy top crust and a rich sweetness to the fruit. In a nineteenth-century kitchen molasses might have been more available than sugar, but pure molasses is an acquired taste!   

Below is the standard instruction for Apple Pandowdy which was the most popular version of the dessert. We substituted brown sugar for the molasses since brown sugar is technically molasses-enhanced sugar anyway. For a deeper, more molasses flavor, you can use dark brown sugar.

If you end up trying “Betsey’s recipe,” please let us know how it turned out.


  • In a saucepan, combine brown sugar, 1/4 cup flour, and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Add water and cider; cook and stir over medium heat until thick. Cover and set aside.
  • In a bowl, combine baking powder and remaining flour and salt. Cut in the 1/4 cup butter until the mixture resembles coarse pebbles. Add the milk and mix just until moistened (a few lumps will remain); set aside.
  • Arrange apples in a greased cast-iron skillet or 1-1/2-quart baking dish; sprinkle with 3/4 teaspoon cinnamon. Add nutmeg, vanilla and remaining butter to sauce; pour over apples. Drop dough by spoonfuls over sauce and apples. Combine remaining cinnamon and coarse sugar; sprinkle over dough. Bake at 350° until top is brown and apples are tender, 55 minutes. Serve warm, with whipped cream or ice cream if desired.


CiCi just found out ‘Brides of Little Creede’ Book One, The Substitute Wife, is a runner-up in UNCAGED Magazine’s annual Raven Awards! It was up against some very stiff competition, and we’re delighted to be a runner-up in such distinguished company. Thanks, UNCAGED!

Stay Tuned for more fun stuff from the Wild West, including traditions, daily chores, horse-talk, and how to send diapers through a mangle. You heard it here, first.   We’ve Got Links!

Buy Link for The Substitute Wife:  Amazon

Pre-Order Link for The Dance Hall Wife (Release Date October 10):  Amazon

Want to find the two crazies behind CiCi Cordelia? Here we are:

Cheryl Yeko:

Website: ‘Where Love Always Wins’






Char Chaffin:

Website: ‘Falling In Love is Only the Beginning’

Website: ‘Falling In Love is Only the Beginning’






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