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, and many other books. Mary lives on a ranch in eastern Nebraska with her very own romantic cowboy hero.
In this interview, Mary talks about her latest book, The Element of Love, which kicks off her new series, The Lumber Baron’s Daughters.
FF: Please provide a brief summary of your new book, The Element of Love.
The heirs of a lumber dynasty, Laura Stiles and her two brilliant and highly educated sisters, are on the run from their abusive stepfather. The trio have long been trained to take over their family legacy, and all Laura needs to inherit her one-third of the business is a husband. To her surprise, she finds herself falling in love with a mission pastor. But to marry Laura and return to save her mother from her stepfather’s greedy clutches, Parson Caleb will have to turn his back on his call from the Lord. And he’ll have to admit that before he made his peace with God, he’d lived a life very much like her stepfather. They’re two people with secrets, and only honesty will give them a chance at true love.
FF: The Element of Love takes place in the mountainous and heavily forested terrain of northern California during the spring of 1872. Can you tell us a little about why you chose this physical location and time period for your novel?
I wanted to explore the idea of women being highly educated and trained for a male dominated career in a time when women rarely were. I also wanted to put these engineer-trained women into the roles of servants to have them be fish out of water.
FF: Laura Stiles is the female protagonist in this story. Can you please tell us a little more about her character?
Laura is a chemical engineer with special training in the use of dynamite. Each sister has a skill useful for building railroad tracks in mountainous territory. Their father owned a mountain covered with trees, and his dream was to build a railroad track to the top. When their father died, the girls took his dream as their own. Laura, the youngest and sweetest of the daughters—dynamite skills notwithstanding—is the first to round up a husband.
FF: The Element of Love is the first book in The Lumber Baron’s Daughters Series. Are there any threads that will connect each book in the series?
Each book in the series will focus on a different sister and her individual love story, but through the series, the girls are pursued by their vile stepfather, who only sees them as a source of cash through arranging marriages for them to lecherous men.
FF: One of the underlying themes The Element of Love deals with is greed and the love of money. How does this theme come into play in the lives of the Stiles sisters?
Laura has her eyes opened to the hardships faced by others as she works alongside the mission parson. Now that she’s falling in love with a man whose life she’d like to share, running her family’s prosperous lumber dynasty appeals to her less. Serving as a parson’s wife holds a new and wonderful appeal that will betray her family. She has a hard choice to make.
FF: What was the inspiration for The Element of Love?
The idea of women engineers was my first thought when I began working on the project. Very smart, ambitious women, put in terrible danger and using their intelligence to get themselves out.
FF: What do you hope readers gain from reading your new novel?
My foremost goal is always to write the most fun book I can write. I hope I take readers along for a ride that they thoroughly enjoy. If they learn something and grow in their faith along with the Stiles sisters, that would be God blessing my words.
FF: How can readers connect with you?
You can find me online at www.maryconnealy.com and sign up for my newsletter there, connect with me on Facebook, or you can get info about my new releases sent straight to your inbox by liking my Amazon page.
The Element of Love
The Lumber Baron’s Daughters Series #1
Genres: Historical Romance, Western Romance
Release Date: March 1, 2022
With their sharp engineering minds, Laura Stiles and her two sisters have been able to deal with their mother’s unfortunate choice in husband until they discovered his plans to marry each of them off to his lecherous friends. Now they must run away—far and fast—to find better matches to legally claim their portion of their father’s lumber dynasty and seize control from their stepfather.
During their escape, Laura befriends a mission group heading to serve the poor in California. She quickly volunteers herself and her sisters to join their efforts. Despite the settlement being in miserable condition, the sisters are excited by the opportunity to put their skills to good use. Laura also sees potential in Caleb, the mission’s parson, to help with gaining her inheritance. But when secrets buried in Caleb’s past and in the land around them come to light, it’ll take all the smarts the sisters have to keep trouble at bay.
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Buy The Element of Love from Amazon HERE!