Eureka! A one-time "diamond in the rough..."
If you only know a little of California history, it’s probably that 1849 marked the Gold Rush era to the northern part of the state. Boomtowns grew out of the mud and rubble where a mix of unwashed “forty-niners”, merchants, gamblers, savvy businessmen, and people down on their luck converged to swell the population over the next ten years. If gold brought them out, the beauty of the area kept them!
Jen and Lisa's Diamond in the Rough takes place in Eureka, California, one of the lovely towns born of the era and the seat of government for Humboldt County. Set between mountains and the Pacific Ocean, the area saw such rapid development, there was little time to plan for the needs of the immigrants and locals—as we’ll discuss later.
Remember what’s going on back on the East Coast? A world away, politics rumbled with increasing fervency over states’ rights and the abolishment of slavery. Throughout the west, as settlers encroached on Indian lands, “the Indian Problem” grew.
In 1850 Chicago Policeman Pinkerton opened his first Pinkerton Agency in Chicago Illinois and a new era in detective work began . . . a point you'll recall when a certain "operative" (Carter Forbes) shows up to do his job in this fast-paced story set in 1861!
Fashion. Hoops were at their largest during this period. Adding to the already confining stays were these hooped contraptions ‘the well-dressed woman’ needed to hold yards and yards of skirt/dress material out away from her body. Not what I’d want to be wearing in the searing heat of summer, and in some cases, dangerous for the woman or a man who might get tripped up in her skirts!
Architecture was a wild mix of slapped-up-quick saloons and storefronts to the grander buildings of homes and upscale hotels for the rich or just-about-to be richer. One of the most lovely holdovers is the Carson Mansion, circa 1883! Isn't it incredible? Just happens to be the model for Lily Rose's family home. Now you know why her mother is not happy about Lily's fondness for lost causes!
That heroine, Lily Rose, longs to right a wrong suffered in the year 1860, nearly ten years after the rush of new Californians. A very difficult part of the area’s past is the regrettable Wiyot Indian Massacre on “Indian Island”. With concerted efforts by local ‘militia’ (vigilantes), two years of grumbling and complaint culminated one night in the massacre of from 80-150 men, women and children of the peaceful Wiyot tribe. Most of the adult men were away and it's likely no mistake the attackers knew that.
While the Wiyot people had never been known to cause any trouble, the fever to rid the west of ‘savages’ drove white settlers (otherwise considered upstanding ranchers, businessmen and good-church-goers) to this despicable act.
Falling right into the middle of these continued hostilities is Grant Diamond, on the run from Agent Forbes and even deeper into a big mess of his own making!
Rather than end on this dreadful historical note, I’m adding a photo of the old 1856 Humboldt Lighthouse and hoping you’ve learned a bit more about the setting for Diamond in the Rough!
Thanks for joining us for a short look 'back' at Diamond in the Rough's setting and history! Stay with us all week to enjoy more about this 'first in the series' novel and its creators, Lisa Karon Richardson and Jennifer AlLee! Please leave a comment to be in the drawing for our giveaway! Scroll down to check out Monday's Release Party (it's worth a look-see, though the picnic is all packed up and put away).
"Indian Island photo from : http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-GwVGetUtNeU/UauZwIwBpjI/AAAAAAAACfU/UIjmIVRgrzo/s1600/250px-Indian_Island_Tolowot_California.jpg
Grant 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 a gamble 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 Eureka as a promising place to lay low, Grant plays along. Before he knows it, he's bluffing his way through sermons and building an Indian school. But with a Pinkerton on his trail and a rancher rousing fresh hatred against the Indians, Grant fears the new life he's built may soon crumple like a house of cards.