Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Guest post from Kaki Warner, author of Pieces of Sky

Debut novelist Kaki Warner is stopping by today to discuss a subject that readers of the blog should find familiar: the difficulty in categorizing historical novels that don't fit neatly as genre romances or mainstream historicals. I hope to post a review of Pieces of Sky when my schedule lightens up a bit. We have a giveaway opportunity toward the end of this post, too. Welcome, Kaki!


I think, since Pieces of Sky is being marketed as a romance, I should start putting warning labels on the cover.

CAUTION: Bad things happen.

It’s only fair. In traditional romances, insomuch as the hero/heroine is above brutality, stinky feet, and God forbid, poor choices and un-heroic behavior, I think the reader should be given advance warning that this book might not fit the norm. Granted, there are clues: the cover (which I adore) doesn’t look very romancy. And the first scene is a bit brutal. And the quest for sexual bliss is only a small part of the story (although I feel I should get extra credit for having it occur out of wedlock), and when consummation is finally achieved near the end of the book, it’s not in very graphic detail. In fact, I don’t think I mentioned “throbbing” once (except in reference to a headache, but that was in another scene).

So if Pieces of Sky is not “steamy” enough for a traditional romance, and it’s too steamy for a Western, and if it doesn’t have a strong enough focus on actual events and/or people to make it a straight historical, then what the heck is it?

Just a story. One set in the West just after the Civil War and just before the completion of the transcontinental railroad, when bad guys were really bad, and good guys were only marginally bad—unless they had reason to be worse—which my hero does.

Hence, the warning.

However, in keeping with the “romance” tag, there is also an engaging love story, good winning over evil (a la Code of the West), and of course, the obligatory happy ending. Did I tell you it was somewhat humorous, too?

Brady (aka hero) is the eldest of three surviving brothers and the man in charge of the sprawling Wilkins ranch in the desert mountains of New Mexico Territory in 1869. Trapped in a bloody land feud and already haunted by the death of one brother, he’s desperate to protect his remaining brothers and the ranch from further destruction. The last thing he needs is a prim, proper, rule-spouting English spinster complicating his life. But after their stagecoach crashes and she is forced to recuperate at the Wilkins ranch, that’s exactly what he gets.

Jessica Thornton (aka heroine), already burdened by a violent act that has left her pregnant and distrustful of men, now finds herself stranded in a male-dominated household under the watchful eye of the worst of the lot—profane, ill-mannered, high-handed Brady Wilkins. Cultures clash. Sparks fly. Complications abound. But then…as antipathy gradually becomes attraction, he sees in her all the gentle things missing from his lonely life, and Jessica realizes that what’s “proper” might not always be what’s “right.” Against a backdrop of violence, vengeance, and tragedy, these two wounded souls learn to trust again, and through humor and courage find redemption, forgiveness and the love they both deserve.

But be warned, dear reader. This story is about difficult times in a harsh place, where hard lessons are learned, and desperate choices are made. Bad things may happen, but good people prevail and love triumphs. Sort of a romance, but with a Western flavor and a touch of real history. Just a story. I hope you’ll give it a try.

Thanks for inviting me to visit today! It’s been fun!

Kaki Warner is the award-winning author of the Blood Rose Trilogy (Berkley Trade, Pieces of Sky, January 2010, Open Country, June 2010, Chasing the Wind, 2011), a historical series about the unpredictable West and the men and women who brought it to life against all odds. Although Kaki now lives on the eastern slopes of the Cascade Mountains in Washington State, she actually grew up in the Southwest. Her years spent riding horses and enjoying the expansive views of Texas became the inspiration for the backdrop of her novels – the wide open spaces of historic New Mexico Territory. Kaki spends her time gardening, hiking, reading, writing, and soaking in the view from the deck of her hilltop cabin with her husband and floppy-eared hound dog. For more information, please visit Kaki's website at

Curious about the book? There's a short excerpt available at the author's website. I have a signed copy of Pieces of Sky to give away to a selected blog reader. To enter the contest, leave a comment on this post with your email address. Deadline is a week from today (Wed 3/24). Good luck to all entrants!


  1. I'm not a traditional romance kind of reader. This sounds just my style!

  2. Great post! I love complicated historical novels that have a little bit of everything! I'd love to win a copy!

    Let Them Read Books

  3. This sounds great and I love a novel that is as much history as it is romance (also dig trilogies LOL); true-to-life characters can really suck me into a story and I enjoy authors who write with the "thinking reader" in mind...I look forward to reading this ;-)

  4. I enjoy Kaki's sense of humor in this guest post, I wonder if it portrayed in her novels. Please enter me in the giveaway, I look forward to some historical western romances. Good luck with her new book. marieburton2004 at yahoo dot com

  5. Annette8:14 AM

    I loved the excerpt. The novel I'm currently revising has similar issues regarding romance vs. straight historical, though mine takes place in ancient Sparta. Pieces of Sky sounds like just what I enjoy. I look forward to reading it.


  6. Thank you Wendelene, Lady Quinlan and Linda. I appreciate the kind welcome. And yes, Marie, there is humor in my books--it's hard for me to take things too seriously--especially in the sex scenes. And good luck with your Spartan historical/romance, Annette. I love the ideaof that cross-over!

  7. I will definitely love to read Pieces of Sky I recently started to read historical fictions.

    nancysoffice at gmail dot com

  8. I've read and enjoyed lots of historical fiction set in England. It would be nice to change the setting to the American Southwest. Thanks for the opportunity.


  9. This sounds like a great story. I liked Kaki's comment that what's 'proper' is not always what's 'right'. thanks for the giveaway.

  10. Annette2:42 PM

    I posted above, so don't enter me twice into the giveaway. ;)

    Just wanted to say that my sister got the book based on my recommendation and LOVES it. (I'm still holding out for the contest.) She loves historical romance and says Jessica might be her favorite heroine ever. The only thing she wasn't thrilled about was that Brady has a mustache, as she prefers clean shaven heroes. I just told her to imagine a young Sam Elliot.

    Definitely works for me!

  11. Thanks, Nancy. I hope you like it. And I'm delighted you're trying a Western, Carol. Linda, I appreciate the kind words, and Sandee16, welcome to my blog. Annette, I have to laugh. Tell your sister if Sam Elliot doesn't do it for her, I've received a lot more suggestions: a younger Tom Selleck, Jeffrey Dean Morgan, Josh Lucas... And I'm sure there's more.

  12. Annette1:37 PM

    Any word on the giveaway? My sister just finished the book and is hounding me to read it so she can talk about it with me. She's raving about it - the intensity, the chemistry between the hero and heroine, the characterization of Jessica, the humor. She can't wait for Ms. Warner's other books to come out. And once I know the results of the giveaway, I'm going to run out and buy it for myself.

  13. Ack, yes, I did mean to post the giveaway results before now (been kind of buried lately). I'll get them posted in a few!