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One lie leads to another in this playful historical romp until the characters have dug themselves in so deep, they may never be able to dig out!
Josette Stratton insists on being her own woman. To avoid an arranged marriage, she adopts the identity of a woman who has died, takes the woman's stagecoach ticket, and heads for the untamed Nevada Territory to assume the woman’s position as a seamstress.
Meanwhile, in Nevada City, a madam sells raffle tickets for one lucky man to spend the entire night with the new prostitute who is due in on the next stage.
Naïve Josette is horrified to discover, on her first night in town, that “seamstress” is just another name for...oh my God! A gunslinger named Wolf makes her an offer, but why exactly would he need an “employee”?
Nevada’s Comstock Lode bonanza adds color and excitement to this fast-paced adventure.
Westport Landing, Missouri Territory, 1850
Today was going to be the day that Little Joe and Joe’s best friend, Polly, would catch “The Big Humungi,” the king daddy catfish of Petre’s Pond. Joe had made a new lure that would do the trick and couldn’t wait to show Polly.
There was nothing better than these lazy summer days and the way the soft dirt path to the pond felt on Joe’s bare feet. Red-Spotted Swallowtails flew up and away as Joe passed. When high enough, they floated on drafts, landed, then flitted up again, flirting with the breezes.
A scream sounded from the direction of the pond.
Polly? The buck brush was too thick to see through, but Joe recognized the other voices that were slinging mean names and busting out in laughter.
“Leave me alone!”
It was Polly all right.
Joe threw down the fishing pole and charged through brush that grew higher than a man’s head, reaching the clearing by the pond in seconds. Lefty Turkenbaugher and two of his buddies circled Polly. Lefty’s rock hit its target, and all three boys laughed when Polly cried out.
Polly was curled in a ball, cringing on the ground. Her chocolate-brown arms shielded her head and face. Polly’s faded dress was ripped at the sleeve and dirty on one side, where she must have hit the ground.
She spotted Joe from beneath her arms and sat up. Tears made a trail through the grime on her face, and a drop of blood rolled down her forehead.
“You’re gonna pay!” Joe hollered, then ran full tilt for the three bullies.
One of the hooligans whirled around and froze. “It’s Joe! Run!”
The boys dropped what rocks they held and ran in three different directions.
Joe chased Lefty, leaving the others for another day. Lefty, their leader, was the biggest, the meanest, and the eldest of the three—two years older than nine-year-old Joe.
Joe caught up easily and grabbed the back of Lefty’s shirt. Lefty tried to bolt, but Joe held on. Lefty jerked around with a right hook that missed its mark, throwing him off balance. He tripped and fell, then rolled over, looking scared.
“You leave me be! I’ll tell your Pa.”
Joe’s fists were up and ready to strike. “Get up!”
“What you care about some nigger girl?” Lefty whined.
Joe punched him in the eye.
Lefty let out a howl. He covered his sore eye with one hand and raised his other defensively.
“Get up, ‘Left’-over donkey dung, or you’re really going to be sorry!”
The bully did as he was told, holding his eye and backing away.
Joe feinted a move toward him. Lefty swung around and ran for all he was worth.
“I ever catch you even chawing Polly again, I’ll blacken both your eyes!” Joe yelled at the retreating boy’s back. Hands on hips and laughing, Joe watched him go. “Polly, you see how fast that chicken liver is running?”
Polly stood and dusted herself off. Her lower lip trembled and she cried quietly, wiping the tears away as quickly as they came. “I never done nothin’ to Lefty. Why’s he so mean?”
Joe sobered immediately. Next time Lefty came around, he’d really be sorry! Gently dusting the dirt off the side of Polly’s head, Joe said, “Aw, Pol, it ain’t you. Lefty knows he can get away with troublin’ darkies.”
“His Ma’s goin’ be lookin’ for ya.” They exchanged a wide-eyed look of mock fear. Lefty’s ma would be looking for them, as she usually did when Lefty came home crying.
“Hide!” they yelled in unison. And they took off running, stumbling and giggling, toward Joe’s house.
* * * *
"A wonderful love story with a well developed cast of characters, Digging Holes in Paradise by Karen Mihaljevich is a book I will savor again and again." - Reviewed by Wisteria, The Long And Short of It
"The story has a series of funny and twisted romps one right after the other.
I didn’t believe the author could do better than the opening she presents, but she does. She startled me with quirky and sometimes so amusing and funny twists. The characters leap off the page, all but shouting out at the reader to take notice of them. The setting, the sensory description – this author pens it down so well. I could almost feel myself transported to the area. My only peeve was that the plot dragged in some occasions. I almost wanted Ms.
Mihaljevich to cut to the chase and dish it out. But still, I suppose if she did this, the story would lose much of its refreshing tone. I can sincerely say, this is one book you’ll find hard to put down." - Zee, Enchanting Reviews
"Karen Mihaljevich has an amazing sense of humor. Digging Holes in Paradise is smart and funny. I laughed so many times as I read this book. Josette is a fantastic heroine, a woman who knows her own mind and isn’t afraid to go after what she wants. She is brave, something that shows clearly when she hops the stagecoach and heads out rather than face a loveless marriage. There wasn’t anything about this book that I didn’t like. The plot is fast-paced, the dialogue true to the time and some of the lines are delivered like a comedian’s act. There are interesting secondary characters. I like the fact that it isn’t only Josette who finds happiness. There is joy for others, too.
Digging Holes in Paradise is an entertaining story, one that made time fly while I read it!" - 5 Angels! Reviewed by: Carly, Fallen Angel Reviews
Book Publisher: Whiskey Creek Press
No. of Pages: 364
Paper Weight (lb): 15.0
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