Mary Connealy writes “romantic comedies with cowboys” and is celebrated for her fun, zany, action-packed style. She has sold more than half a million books. She is the author of the popular series Brothers In Arms, Brides of Hope Mountain, High Sierra Sweethearts, Kincaid Brides, Trouble In Texas, Lassoed In Texas, Sophie’s Daughters, and many other books. Mary lives on a ranch in eastern Nebraska with her very own romantic cowboy hero.
In this interview, Mary talks with us about her newest cowboy romance, Inventions of the Heart, which is the second book in her The Lumber Baron’s Daughters Series.
FF: Can you please provide a summary of your new novel, Inventions of the Heart?
After their middle sister’s marriage, Michelle Stiles and her younger sister Jilly are left at Two Harts Ranch, owned by Zane Hart. So far they’ve managed to stay one step ahead of their stepfather and his devious plans.
Zane has his own problems, having discovered a gold mine on his property. How does he harvest it without kicking off a gold rush? Michelle, educated and trained to run her father’s business, wants to manage all aspects of the mine. Zane thinks for a smart woman she can have some misguided ideas. Running that mine will be dangerous, and he doesn’t want her exposed to what might occur out there.
But danger finds Michelle anyway when a man breaks into the house and attacks her. Able to fend him off and capture him, they realize he has ties to Michelle’s stepfather. If they go to the sheriff, they’ll reveal her location, but if they do nothing, their troubles have only just begun.
FF: Your books are often described as “romantic comedies with cowboys.” What do you love about writing stories like this?
I always say if they’re sassing each other and falling in love while they’re running for their lives, then I’m happy. That’s what I love to read, so that’s what I write.
FF: What was the inspiration for your novel?
I try really hard to challenge myself. A new location, a new character type. I always write strong women, that’s just a fundamental baseline. For this series, I wondered how could I make engineering work before women could easily go to college. How could I have intelligent, well-educated women in this time and place? And I’d never set a book in California before. So new occupation, new location, but always I need humor and action and cowboys. It’s just what I love doing. So marrying all these new details with my traditional romantic comedy with cowboys was a fun challenge.
FF: How do you maintain the accuracy of the time period in your writing?
This series took a lot of research, and Inventions of the Heart was especially loaded with it. 1872 was the heart of the industrial revolution. New and improved versions of everything were being patented and developed every day. The more I researched the more I discovered. And the heroine of Inventions of the Heart is the inventor of the three sisters. She’s a mechanical engineer before there was such a thing. And at its base, engineering is applied science. It’s taking science and finding ways to use it to make the world better. And that’s what Michelle is a specialist at.
FF: What do you hope readers will gain from reading this novel?
What I most loved about the book is these very ambitious, talented, brilliant women learn a humbling lesson about how their high-flying ideas have caused them not to fully respect simple domestic chores. Sure you can improve the braking system on a train car, but can you cook? It’s fine to be able to do “important” things as long as you have people taking care of your basic needs. Washing and mending your clothes, cooking your meals. But my very smart women, when in hiding and in need of survival skills, learn that some of the skills they really need haven’t been learned. But they do find ways to help, and they do it with respect and humility.
FF: What was your inspiration for the events in Inventions of the Heart?
The research for this book inspired a lot of it. A lot of my book ideas spring from research for other books. I read something that plants a seed, and I store it away until I can focus on it. The reading and research I did was so fascinating that sometimes it slowed down my writing. But I loved it. The internal combustion engine, also called the four-stroke cycle engine. Turning highly unstable nitroglycerin into safer dynamite. The train had just gone transcontinental with trestles built across gorges. The holes they blasted in the sides of mountains to get a train tunnel through are such huge undertakings, and yet they figured it out. Oh, it was just pure fun. I love research and so many ideas spring to life from that.
FF: What was your draw to write a business-savvy female character when women did not usually have that type of position in this time period?
I have this theory that though history hasn’t properly recorded women’s roles, they were still very smart and contributed in many huge ways. For example, the patents during this time have hundreds of women listed. Women were right in there inventing and experimenting and getting legal patents. For some reason, probably because it just wasn’t done due to the male-dominated history of that time, those women just weren’t held up with the same regard as the men who were changing the world. I love bringing things that have been forgotten by history to my stories.
FF: Are readers always promised a “happily ever after” in your novels? Why or why not?
Readers are always, absolutely guaranteed a happy ending. I have readers who have expectations of my work and not to meet those expectations is, in my opinion, a betrayal to the reader. If a romance novelist isn’t going to give me happily ever after, you’d better warn me, or I’m going to be mad. I don’t want any readers mad. But honestly, I do it for myself, too. What’s the point in writing something that’s a bummer? Sure writers create angsty books, and I respect the skill, but isn’t life hard enough? Why would I want to write a book about that?
Inventions of the Heart
The Lumber Baron’s Daughters Series #2
Genres: Historical Romance
Release Date: July 5, 2022
Her heart seeks safety. But will trouble find her even here?
After her sister’s marriage, Michelle Stiles is left hiding at Two Harts Ranch with the handsome but stubborn Zane Hart. She’s managed to stay one step ahead of her stepfather and his devious plans, but if he finds her, she will no longer be safe.
Zane has problems of his own. Having discovered a gold mine on his property, he must
figure out how to harvest it without kicking off a gold rush. Michelle, educated and trained to run her father’s business, wants to manage all aspects of the mine, but Zane thinks for a person so smart she can have some misguided ideas. Running the mining operation will be a dangerous job, and he can’t risk putting her in harm’s way.
But danger finds Michelle anyway when she’s suddenly attacked. If they go to the sheriff, they’ll reveal her location, but if they do nothing…their troubles have only just begun.
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