While laid up in the hospital last week (another story for another time!), I was delighted to get an advance copy of the first in a series of new historical romances by Jennifer AlLee and Lisa Karon Richardson. Diamond in the Rough is due to be released by Whitaker House in May, but it’s already available for pre-order from Amazon (click here).

Lisa is a good friend and one of my critique partners for the historical novels I’ve been writing the past two years. Our online critique group reviewed an early draft of Diamond in the Rough, and we were “hooked” even then. So I want to give my novel-reading friends a “heads up” to this new release; it’s a story that’ll make you turn off that latest police procedural on TV for a much more enjoyable (and wholesome) yarn of the Old West. Here’s the premise:

DiamondGrant Diamond is a professional gambler on the run from his past. When he comes across a wagon wreck, the chance to escape his pursuers is too good to pass up, and he assumes the identity of the dead wagon driver. His plan takes an unexpected turn when local heiress Lily Rose mistakes him for the missionary she had asked to come work with the Wiyot Indians. Seeing the sleeply little town as a promising place to lie low, Grant plays along. Before he knows it, he’s bluffing his way through sermons and building an Indian school.

Lisa and Jennifer are brilliant storytellers, and their plot twists often caught me by surprise. Diamond in the Rough is not a cut-and-dried genre romance, but an authentic taste of life in 1860s California, where relationships between “long knives” and Indians are still potentially explosive, even for those who do missionary work.

This is the first in a series of novels called “Charm & Deceit.” When you’ve enjoyed the first one, I’m sure you’ll watch for more. I certainly am.