Character Interview – Joel Stone, from BLUEBONNET BRIDE by Caroline Clemmons
Thanks to Laurie for sharing her blog with me today. I’m Caroline Clemmons, and I’m happy to see you. You’re just in time to make yourself comfy. Joel Stone, the hero of BLUEBONNET BRIDE, Men of Stone Mountain book three, will be here in a moment for a chat. Oh, here he comes now.
A handsome man strides in and removes his white Stetson to reveal dark, almost black hair. Blue-gray eyes twinkle in a sun-tanned face. He wears a badge on his gray vest over a white shirt. Powerful shoulders taper to a narrow waist where a six-gun is belted around him. Black trousers end at boots of the same color polished to a high sheen.
With a slight bow, he smiles. “Howdy, Ma’am. “
Caroline: “Come right in.” I gesture to the chair opposite me. “Sit here where we can talk.”
Joel sits and crosses his ankles. “What did you have in mind, Ma’am?”
Caroline: “To begin, why don’t you explain how your family ended up in Radford Springs, Texas?”
Joel’s face lights up: “Be happy to. Zach is the reason we settled here. After our folks died back in Johnson County, he went northwest a ways and bought most of a mountain in Palo Pinto County.” Joel holds up a hand. “Now I know you’re wondering how a man can own a whole mountain, but Zach only owns a valley and one side. On the map, you’ll find Stone Mountain listed, so he gets credit for the whole dadblamed mountain. Um, pardon my language.”
Caroline: “Of course. So, is Zach the oldest of you brothers?”
Joel: “I’m two years older than Zach and then Micah is two years younger. Since I’m oldest, I’m used to being in charge, but Zach is the peacemaker. He’s always been the one who captured the women’s admiration, but he never noticed. Sure am happy he found a good woman.
Caroline: “I see, so you and Micah followed Zach here?”
Joel: “Reckon you could say we decided together that we’d come stake out ranches close by one another. We were tired of fighting and chasing after criminals. Zach found his place first and built a snug little cabin. We all bought cattle and drove them here. Zach and I planned to capture one more set of criminals and then settle down, but Micah wanted to stay put.”
Caroline: “If you’re used to giving orders and Zach is the peacemaker, what is Micah like?”
Joel chuckles. “He’s his own man, but sometimes that brings problems. We hadn’t been here long before Micah was accused of murder. Naturally, Zach and I pitched in to help him. Like any family, we’ve had our differences, but we stick together through thick or thin.”
Caroline: “Is Micah also married?”
Joel smiles broadly: “Each of my brothers married a fine woman and each one has a large ranch with lots of cattle. I couldn’t be prouder of them—or for them. I only wish our parents could see what fine men are carrying on their name.” He turned solemn. “Guess they’d be asking me why I’m thirty-two and not wed.”
Caroline: “So it’s just you three men left in your family?”
Joel: “Not by a long shot. You ought to meet our aunts, Maggie Jo Gamble and Lizzie Mae Fraser.” He slaps his hat against his knee. “Let me tell you, they are corkers. Those two dote on us and even moved to Radford Springs to be near us.”
Caroline: “Let’s talk about you, Joel. I see you’re wearing a badge. Tell me something about yourself.”
Joel shifts uncomfortably: “Like the badge says, I’m the Radford Springs Sheriff. Took over when Sheriff Ryan retired. I want this to be a good place for families to live. Just the other day, I ran a gambler out of town for cheating at cards.”
Caroline: “Would you make an exception for a friend or someone important?”
Joel shakes his head. “I am a by-the-book lawman and you can take that to the bank.”
Caroline: “Both your brothers are married and you indicated your parents would want you to be wed also. Haven’t you found a woman you’d enjoy having as your wife?”
Joel appears embarrassed. “Not exactly. But if the new seamstress in town—she’s a widow, by the way—would give me a chance, I might be inclined.”
Caroline: “What is she like?”
Joel stares into space: “In the sunshine, her hair turns to molten red gold. Her eyes are brown, but not just plain brown. They’re…they’re like warm coffee. Her face is smooth and white and her hands have long, delicate fingers.” He focuses and smiles. “She has the cutest little girl named Lucy, who calls me Mister Sheriff and says I’m a giant.”
Caroline: “Sounds as if you are definitely interested in this dressmaker. What’s her name?”
Joel: “Rosalyn, and her name suits her. She’s sweet as a rose, and her voice carries the velvety, soft sounds of the South like you hear down around New Orleans.”
Caroline: “Are you and she courting or engaged?”
Joel exhales as if frustrated: “Reckon she isn’t interested in me. Don’t think I’m giving up, though. I am determined to win her over no matter how long it takes.”
Caroline: “Will you be taking her to your ranch if you convince her to marry you?”
Joel: “No, I have a house in town. Guess it was foolish of me, but I bought this 26-room house from a man who wanted to move on. His wife had died, see, and he lost interest. The house was a shell when I bought it, but I’m finishing it out one room at a time.”
Caroline: “A 26-room shell? That seems odd?”
Joel: “Reckon it is odd. He paid to have the house framed in and the roof and outside finished, but he planned to finish the inside himself. Whew,he sure did make a mess. I believe my 8 year old nephew Seth could have done as well.”
Caroline: “I can tell from your voice and facial expression that you love the house.”
Joel: “You’re right. I loved it the minute I saw it. When I heard Mr. Turnborough wanted to sell, I couldn’t get there fast enough to make an offer. Surprised me when he took it with no haggling. He loaded his kids into two wagons and took off for Colorado.”
Caroline: “Tell me more about yourself, Sheriff Stone.”
Joel shakes his head. “Ma’am, why don’t you just buy BLUEBONNET BRIDE and read it? Reckon that will answer all your questions, especially if you also read BRAZOS BRIDE about Micah and HIGH STAKES BRIDE about Zach. By the time you finish all three, you’ll be an expert on the Men of Stone Mountain. But don’t think the stories will end there. No, Ma’am. There are more coming about other people in Radford Springs.”
Caroline: “Thank you for that promotion, Joel. Let me include a blurb and an excerpt to entice readers a bit.”
He’s a by-the-book Texas sheriff;
she’s on the run from a murder conviction...
When a tornado provides Rosalyn with the opportunity to escape the gallows, she collects her daughter Lucy and flees. They travel far enough West that Rosalyn believes she’s gone to the ends of the earth. She hopes she and Lucy will be safe in this remote North Texas town where she embarks on a new life as a dressmaker. If only she could avoid contact with people, especially the handsome sheriff who pops up every time she turns around. She fears either she or her chatterbox daughter may slip and reveal too much.
Joel Stone has been content with his life, even if it’s not the one he’d dreamed. His younger brothers are married and living nearby, his aunts have moved to Radford Springs, and he is respected for the efficient job he does as sheriff. When he meets the new widow in town, his instant attraction staggers him. She appears uninterested, but he is determined to win her hand in marriage.
But life doesn’t turn out the way either Rosalyn or Joel plan. They overcome temporary obstacles, but what of the secret she protects? Can he save her from the gallows?
Buy Links for BLUEBONNET BRIDE:
Excerpt set up: Rosalyn has been convicted of poisoning her wealthy, influential husband. She is innocent, but has no way to prove it. She has been sentenced to hang the next day on the gallows she watched built outside her cell window.
Rosalyn looked at Lucy’s drawing. Her daughter’s simplistic art showed a woman and little girl holding hands in a garden. How many times had she and Lucy walked among her plants, admiring the blooms and the butterflies attracted to the flowers? Rosalyn sank to her cot and sobbed.
The wind picked up and a gust fluttered the paper in her hands. Lightning flashed and rain blew through the open window. Rosalyn moved to the other cot across the narrow cell. At least the rain didn’t hit her there.
The sky grew darker and clouds developed a greenish cast. Fine hairs on Rosalyn’s arms prickled and raised. A peculiar sulphurous odor surrounded her.
“Sheriff, the sky looks ominous, like a tornado is coming.”
Sheriff Boudreau glanced up but didn’t rise from his chair. “Naw, too early in the year for a cyclone.” He went back to reading his newspaper, which is what he did most of the time as far as Rosalyn could tell. Either the man memorized the stories or he was the slowest reader ever born.
Dust and debris blew through the window and swirled around the cell. A horrific sound reached Rosalyn’s ears, like a freight train roaring toward town. She’d never been in a tornado, but she recognized the vibration from descriptions she’d heard. Instead of just dust and paper, now debris flew from between the bars. A tin can hit her forehead with such force she fell back against the wall.
“Take cover,” yelled the sheriff and he hit the floor in an attempt to crawl into his desk’s kneehole.
Her cot was bolted to the concrete floor, so she crawled underneath. The rumble grew louder, shaking everything. Rosalyn clung to the cot’s legs with white knuckles. Air whooshed from her lungs and she fought to breathe.
Winds sucked at her skirt so hard she thought her clothes would be ripped from her body. Holding on to the metal bed legs required all her strength. Swirling debris pummeled her and she closed her eyes against the sting. With a powerful crash, the roof flew away and the wooden jail walls collapsed inward. The noise nearly deafened her and her ears popped. At last, the only sound was thunder.
Cautiously, Rosalyn clawed her way out from her hiding place. Clouds of dust rose through the rain and she coughed. Her mouth tasted like mud. Only rubble surrounded her. In addition to jail’s cell bars, the storm had deposited debris from who knew where. No telling where her shawl was. A roof beam lay across her bed’s frame.
If not for the sturdy metal skeleton, she surely would have been crushed or blown away. Rain drenched the town and she heard cries as people called for loved ones and friends. Darkness hung heavy, broken only by flashes of lightning. She inched her way across the littered floor in a crouch, climbing cautiously over obstacles.
Lucy, she had to make certain Lucy was all right.
Caroline Clemmons is an Amazon bestselling author of historical and contemporary western romances whose books have garnered numerous awards. Her most recent novel, BLUEBONNET BRIDE, is a poignant tale of tender redemption. A frequent speaker at conferences and seminars, she has taught workshops on characterization, point of view, and layering a novel.
Caroline is a member of Romance Writers of America, Dallas Area Romance Authors, Yellow Rose Romance Writers, and Hearts Through History Romance Writers. Her latest publications are the acclaimed historical Men of Stone Mountain series: BRAZOS BRIDE, HIGH STAKES BRIDE, and BLUEBONNET BRIDE.
Caroline and her husband live in the heart of Texas cowboy country with their menagerie of rescued pets. When she’s not indulging her passion for writing, Caroline enjoys reading, travel, antiquing, genealogy, painting, and getting together with friends.