Grit and Gunpowder (Preview)


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Chapter One

Inyo County, California 1870

The wagons of the caravan groaned and creaked as the horses pulled them up the mountain road. They were approaching Mount Whitney from the west side and could see the great peak far ahead of them, jagged ridges extending out from each side of the summit and looming over the valley.

The caravan was small: two heavy wagons and a brightly-painted carriage in the lead. Bella always took the lead. After all, it was her theatre company rolling along behind her. She took pride of place in being their leader, their inspiration… their prima donna.

This afternoon, however, her stage director, Tony, didn’t seem to be finding Bella much of an inspiration. Twenty-one years old with a pencil mustache and shock of blonde hair, he had been complaining about how difficult it was to work with her. She was testing him to the limit, Tony said. He didn’t know why he had taken this job in the first place.

Bella wondered why she had offered him the job. Then she remembered: they had been desperate to find a stage director. Her previous one had quit just a couple days before the company was due to leave San Francisco, and she’d hired the first person who came along. After chatting with Tony for all of five minutes, she’d offered him the job and the company had set out the next morning.

Now, she regretted that hasty decision.

While Tony had proved a capable director, their artistic vision and personalities clashed even before the first rehearsal. By then, it was too late to fire him. They were already two days out of Frisco, in the middle of nowhere. So, Bella had gritted her teeth, tried to play nice, and carried on, resolving to replace the little snot at the first opportunity.

He’d become sullen and withdrawn, even harder to work with—if that was possible. Whenever he didn’t get his way, he would stalk off into the woods, fuming and talking to himself.

Bella had grit her teeth again and offered him what was, to her mind, an olive branch and peace offering. She’d invited Tony to join him in her own carriage during the day’s travel. It was a special privilege for a new member of the company.

But Tony didn’t see it that way. He’d sat beside her and sulked even more, only opening his mouth to complain bitterly. When his complaints turned to insults about her appearance, fashion sense, habits—Bella had had enough. Temper rising, she pulled back on the reins and stopped the caravan.

They sat there as the wagons pulled up behind them, raising a cloud of dust that blew forward on the breeze, making Tony wheeze and cough. Seizing the opportunity, she let him know exactly what she thought of his insults and attitude. Tony spat out a gob of dust before telling her she was a vain, impossible woman.

Temper flaring, Bella slapped him across the face with the leather reins. He stared back at her in shock, fingers touching the angry red welt that appeared on his cheek.

“Sorry, Tony, I didn’t mean to—”

He grabbed the leather strips from her hands and whacked her over the head with them. Bella barely felt the blow; it bounced harmlessly off her bonnet.

“Give me those!” she demanded. As the rest of the company jumped out of the wagons and ran toward them, the two artists fought furiously for control of the reins.

Bella, more muscled and stronger than Tony, wrestled the leather back into her hands. “Get out of my carriage, you insolent pup!”

“I’d be glad to,” he sniffed. Turning away, he opened the door and put a foot on the step. Bella kicked him in the rear and he pitched to the ground, face first in the dirt. “You tyrant!” he sputtered, getting to his feet and lunging at her.

The company gathered around, gawping in shock as Tony grabbed Bella by the sleeve of her dress and tried to drag her from the vehicle. She got her footing and launched herself at him, knocking him to the ground yet again.

Landing on top of him, she pummeled Tony with her fists, sitting on his chest and pinning him to the earth until he dropped his arms in surrender. “Are you ready to play nice now?” she asked like a mother scolding a naughty child.

“Hell, no! I quit,” Tony spat back. “I don’t want anything to do with your company, Folino.”

Surprised by this, Bella gave him a look. She didn’t think he had it in him. “That’s fine by me.” She climbed slowly off his chest.

Tony got to his feet, brushing dirt from his clothes. “Who’s with me?” He challenged the other members of the company, who were standing there with their mouths hanging open. “Anybody?”

Silence descended on the tense scene. Bella crossed her arms and waited as the actors glanced around at each other.

Finally, one man said, “I’ll go with you, Tony.”

“I’m going back to Frisco,” another muttered.

“Me too,” said a third. “This job isn’t worth getting whipped for.”

“For the record, I apologized to Tony,” Bella said hotly. “He threw a bunch of nasty insults at me when we were riding today. Nobody should talk to a woman like that. Nobody!”

“That’s no excuse to beat him up, though,” an actress said. “Who’s gonna be next, Bella? You gonna whip me like a dog if I say the wrong thing?”

Tony turned his eyes toward Bella with a smug look, obviously delighted most of them had decided to throw in their hats with him.

“No, Trixie,” she replied evenly, “I won’t whip you. I’d never do that to you.”

“After what I seen just now, I’m not so sure,” Trixie said doubtfully. She was eighteen and pretty, and she looked rattled. “I mean, we’ve all had arguments with you before, Bella… but this is somethin’ else.” She paused and bit her lip. “I’m leaving, too.”

“Don’t go, Trixie. I need you. The company needs you.”

“I’m sorry,” she replied, shaking her head. “but you’re just too rough on us.”

“Those miners up on the mountain are making money hand over fist, girl! They’ll be throwing money at the stage,” Bella protested. She didn’t want to see Trixie leave. The young actress was the best of the lot—next to herself, of course.

But the girl crossed her arms and said nothing more.

The last one to render his decision was Alexi, an actor from Eastern Europe. “I am afraid I must leave too, Bella. I am sorry.”

And there it was, a fait accompli. A full-blown mutiny in the Sierra Madre mountains. Bella’s theatre company had abandoned her in the midst of the California wilderness—who had ever heard of such a thing?

“Go, then!” she erupted angrily. “All of you. If you don’t want to make a barrel of money in Silverville, that’s fine by me. Get out of my sight!” She dismissed them with a wave of the hand. “Just leave my costumes and props, and some food. I’ll play the shows myself. Load them in my carriage and be on your way.”

She spun around to hide the disappointment in her face as the company trudged back to the wagons. Alexi, a big and strong man, returned carrying her costume trunk on his shoulder and loaded it into the back of the carriage.

“Farewell, Bella. Good luck to you,” he said like a gentleman.

“So long, Alexi,” she murmured, unable to look at him.

Tony, smirking triumphantly, walked up and put a few food supplies into the carriage without saying a word. She glowered at him ferociously, trembling with rage, but held her tongue.

When everyone had climbed into the wagons and were turning them around to head back San Francisco, Bella could stay silent no longer. “Traitors! You’ll regret this!” she shouted at the top of her lungs. “This will be the greatest run of shows California has ever seen. It will be a legend, I tell you. And you could have been part of it.”

No one answered her.

Trixie sat in the back of another wagon, staring at her. The girl lifted an arm and waved.

Bella raised a hand in farewell. She’d always liked Trixie. Dropping the hand to her side, she turned back toward the carriage.

That was it, then…

Like so many times before in her life, she had been abandoned. The familiar feeling of rejection filled her chest with a painful ache. “Oh, Shakes,” Bella said to the horse she’d named after the playwright, William Shakespeare. “Why does everyone always leave me? What’s wrong with me?”

Shakes turned his head and twitched his ears.

She walked up and stroked his muzzle. “You’re not going to leave me too, are you?” She kissed his soft muzzle tenderly. “I know you won’t.”

Standing there in the middle of the road, she looked up at Mount Whitney. A little town was barely visible on the lower slopes. “Let’s go, Shakes.”

Bella set out walking and the horse followed; there was no need to hold the reins. They’d been together for years and Shakes would follow her anywhere.

The afternoon was a warm one. Bella’s feet grew hot, stuffed as they were into fashionable ladies’ shoes. It was her habit to walk whenever she was upset; it helped defuse painful emotions.

Twenty-six years old, just under five feet tall with a squat figure, thick, wavy black hair, and brown eyes, Bella trudged along for a half-hour until she felt calmer.

Climbing back into the carriage with a grunt, she wiped her brow with a silk handkerchief and took the reins. “Okay, Shakes, let’s put some distance behind us.”


That evening, young Andy Hamil stood by a roaring campfire on the slopes of Mount Whitney. Grabbing a ladle he’d carved from the branch of an oak tree, he stirred a pot of stew that hung over the flames.

“It about ready?” his friend, Charlie, asked.

“Prit’ near. Just be a couple minutes.”

Andy added a pinch of salt to the stew and returned to his perch on a hollow log. Thin and wiry with a head of wild, curly brown hair, he was twenty-two, the protégé of Charlie the hobo.

Older by sixteen years, Charlie had found Andy homeless and starving on the streets of Los Angeles six months previously. Taking pity on the boy, he had taken him under his wing, fed him, given him a blanket to sleep on.

When Andy showed no inclination to leave the company of the man who’d fed him, Charlie asked if he’d like to come along on the hobo trail. The kid had agreed with a happy grin.

He’d escaped from an LA orphanage where they were treating him badly there. Hoboing seemed a much better prospect than getting hit with a cane every day.

And so the two of them had left LA for Inyo County to the east, in the heart of the Sierra Madre mountains.

Every year, Charlie worked from spring to fall at whatever laboring jobs he could find, then retired to the warm climate by the ocean and rested easy for the winters. This spring, he’d heard about a great silver strike on the side of Mount Whitney. The prospect of good wages in the new mining town of Silverville had moved him to hit the road early with his new apprentice.

They got along just fine together on the road. Andy took readily to the ways of a hobo, and besides which was a fine cook. They conversed freely and easily. When the time came for silence, both were easy with that too.

Tall and rotund, balding, with a bushy beard streaked with gray, Charlie sat next to Andy on the hollow log, stomach rumbling. He stood up and peered eagerly toward the fire. “Reckon that stew’s done yet?”

Andy laughed. “I expect so, Charlie. C’mon and grab your bowl.”

As they stepped to the fire, the sound of a carriage came from the direction of the valley below. The men turned and Andy strained his eyes into the twilight.

“There’s a woman drivin’,” he said.

Chapter Two

It was another blessing about Andy that Charlie appreciated: the lad could see twice as far into the distance. He saw the driver of the carriage a hundred yards before Charlie could.

The boy’s keen vision kept them safer by day and by night. It also conferred other advantages, such the sighting of wild game they could turn into a meal.

“A woman?” Charlie grunted. “What’s she doin’ out driving all by herself at night?”

Andy shrugged. “We got plenty o’ stew if she’s hungry.”

As the carriage neared, the hoboes lifted a friendly hand toward her. Charlie could see the vehicle was painted in bright swirling colors of pink, green, and orange.

“Will you look at that buggy?” He chortled. “I wonder if she’s with the circus?” He paused to ponder the odds. “Seems a mite premature for a circus to be comin’ to Silverville, though; the town just sprung up last fall. Prob’ly not even on the map yet.”

“Ain’t enough room for a circus on the side of a mountain, anyway,” Andy commented.

“Good point, son. Good point.”

The carriage rolled to a stop on the road within calling distance of the campfire. The woman was wearing a fine bonnet and had an expensive-looking shawl draped over her shoulders. She lifted a gloved hand in greeting. “Good evening, gentlemen.”

“Evenin’, ma’am,” Charlie replied amiably. “Chilly night for a drive.”

“It surely is. I’d heard it can get quite cold up here in the mountains at night sometimes.”

“Yep,” Andy said. “And this here is just the foothills.”

“We got a fire on here, ma’am, if you’d care to sit a spell and warm yourself,” Charlie offered. “We got some stew on, too—was just about to dig in when you came along. You’re welcome to join us, if you’d like.”

The woman smiled, and Charlie could see her white teeth catch the fading light. “Oh, that would be wonderful! I am famished. What kind of stew is it, sir?”

“Gopher and wild onion,” he replied, then added quickly, “Now, ma’am, before you turn your nose up at it, you should know that Andy here is one of the best cooks I’ve ever had the pleasure of dining with. He can make gopher stew taste like a buffalo roast.”

A giggle came from the carriage. “From the smell of it, I believe you could be right about that. Thank you, gentlemen, I’d be glad to join you for dinner. You don’t seem the kind of men who would do a woman harm. Are you?”

“No, ma’am!” Andy exclaimed. “We’re hoboes on our way to Silverville. Honest laboring men, lookin’ for work.” He lifted his hands, palms spread wide to emphasize the integrity of their intentions.

Charlie saw the woman hesitate.

Can’t blame her. Finding a couple strangers at nightfall on the side of a road leading to a wild boomtown. She’s smart to be cautious. This woman is no fool!


“Andy’s right, ma’am. We’re honest men… just hoboes looking for work. But we understand if you decide to push on. No tellin’ who a body might meet up with on this road.”

After another pause, she flicked the reins and the wagon began moving forward, causing Charlie’s heart to sink in disappointment.

But then the carriage pulled off to the side and the driver set the brake.

“I believe we have a guest for dinner,” he said with a smile.

“Must be a brave lady,” Andy mused. “For all she knows, we could be a couple of bad outlaws, lookin’ for trouble.”

“Oh, you’d be surprised,” Charlie murmured as she walked toward them. “Some women have a mighty powerful intuition. I’ve seen it before. Sometimes they know what a man is like without even talking to ’em. It’s uncanny.”

“Huh… I never heard tell of such a thing.”

“Welcome, ma’am,” Charlie said as the woman stepped up. “My name’s Charles Johnston—folks call me Charlie.”

She nodded. “I’m Bella Folino. Pleased to meet you.”

The hobo felt like he’d been pole-axed. “You’re… you mean the actress Bella Folino?”

Bella did a dramatic bow, thrilling Charlie down to the tips of his socks. He’d seen her play in San Francisco and had been enthralled by her performance.

“That’s me, sir: the actress, late of San Francisco, en route now to stage some plays in Silverville.”

“Well, I’ll be… welcome to our camp, ma’am. I didn’t ever expect to see—”

“Please, Mr. Johnston: call me Bella.”

“I’d be glad to, B-Bella,” he stammered, making Andy laugh. “What’re you laughin’ at, boy?”

“Nothin’. I just never heard you trip up on your words like that before.” He reached out a hand toward their guest. “I’m Andy Hamil. Charlie’s my mentor, he’s teachin’ me the hobo trade.”

They shook hands. “Pleased to meet you, Mr. Hamil.”

“Call me Andy, ma’am.”

“Andy-ma’am is peculiar name,” she said with a grin.

“What’s that?” he puzzled, staring blankly until the joke sank in. “Oh! Right. Good one.”

“Call me Bella.”

Andy threw his head back and shouted, “Me-Bella! Me-Bella!” at the dark blue sky. She broke into an easy laugh.

“Very funny, Andy,” Charlie chided him. “Now go fetch our guest a plate and a spoon and ladle her up some stew, will ya?”

“Yes, sir!” he replied with a crisp military salute before flashing Bella a grin and scampering off toward his rucksack to get the items.

“Miss Bella, have a seat by the fire if you like; dinner will be served pronto.”

“Thank you, Charlie.”

He thrilled at hearing the sound of his name from the famous actress. Walking her to the fireside, he gestured toward the hollow log, the only thing they had to sit on.

Bella sat down and stretched her fingers toward the fire to warm them. He squatted down on the other side of the blaze and did the same, not wanting to crowd the lady or frighten her; though at this point she seemed quite at ease in their presence.

Maybe it’s her intuition telling her we’re not a threat.

Andy returned with the bowl and spoon. Scooping a couple ladles full of stew from the pot, he handed the steaming bowl to their guest. “Careful, ma’am—I mean, Miss Bella—this stew’s very hot.”

She cradled the bowl in her hands and placed it on the lap of her skirt. “Yes, it’s delightfully warm! Thank you, Andy. And it smells so good.” She took hold of the spoon, scooped up a sample, and raised the food to her lips with a graceful, ladylike movement.

Andy and Charlie watched her taste the gopher stew, waiting to see what the verdict would be.

After a moment, Bella shook her head with a look of admiration. “This is absolutely delicious. You cooked it yourself, Andy?” He nodded. “It’s the best stew I’ve ever tasted—bar none.”

Andy gazed at Charlie proudly. His mentor chuckled. “You heard the woman: it’s the best she ever tasted. Now can I have a bowl, too?”

The boy was grinning ear-to-ear as he filled the other two bowls and they sat down to eat.

“I saw you play once in Frisco,” Charlie said after a couple of mouthfuls. “Best show I ever seen, hands down.”

“Thank you so much,” Bella replied politely.

“Is the rest the rest of your theatre company followin’ you up to Silverville?”

Bella licked her lips, pulled out a red handkerchief, and wiped at the edges of her mouth. “No, not this time. I’m planning a series of one-woman shows.”

“Oh? Well, you surely got the talent for that. And I reckon it must cut down on expenses not havin’ to pay a whole crew to put on a play… ’specially way up here in the Sierra Madres.”

Bella nodded. “Yes. That’s exactly right, Charlie.” She paused and glanced at them thoughtfully. “I could use a couple men to help with mounting the productions. You know, to build sets, hang lights, things like that. Are either of you good at that type of thing?”

“I never swung a hammer before in my—” Andy started to say.

“But I’m sure my friend wouldn’t mind giving it a go,” Charlie interrupted. “After all, it’s a lot easier on the back than underground mining.” He gave the boy a look. “We’d be honored to help you stage the shows in Silverville.”

She put down her bowl and turned her beautiful brown eyes on him. “That would be wonderful, Charlie. Thank you so much.” She glanced at Andy. “Are you sure you won’t mind trying your hand at working in the theatre for a while? The hours are late but I’ll pay you more than a laborer gets in the mines—I can promise you that much.”

The boy’s face lit up. “You got yourself a deal, Miss Bella!” He jumped to his feet and thrust out a hand. “Let’s shake on it.”

She stood up and they shook. “Welcome to the theatre, gentlemen,” Bella said warmly.

“You hear that, Charlie? We’re in the theatre business now.”

He stood up, feeling as excited as Andy but too shy to express it so much. “I heard. Thank you for the work, Miss Bella. I’m looking forward to it.”  They shook hands, and Charlie placed his free hand on top of hers. “It’s truly an honor to work for such a great actress.”

“Thank you. That’s very sweet of you to say.”

“I mean it. You are somethin’ special… on the stage, I mean,” he added awkwardly. “I mean, like when I saw you in Frisco. Like I was sayin’ before.”

“Of course. I understand.”

He turned away, squatted by the fire again, and picked up his bowl of gopher stew, hardly believing his luck.

Me, Charlie Johnston, working with Bella Folino! None of my friends are gonna believe this.

“Would you care for more stew?” Andy asked her.

“That would be lovely. Thank you.”

Darkness had fallen now. The blue dome above them was faded to black, and stars dotted the vast sky.

As Andy took Bella’s bowl to refill it, a man’s voice came from beyond the firelight. “Evenin’, folks,” it said calmly, evenly. “I have a weapon in hand. Please put down that grub and raise your hands toward the stars.”

It was a poetic-sounding statement, and Charlie wondered for an instant if this was some kind of prank by one of Bella’s actors. Maybe the rest of the company was with her after all? Were they hamming it up; having some dramatic fun at the hoboes’ expense?

As he put down his bowl and raised his hands, a rough-looking man stepped into the firelight. He was aiming a Winchester rifle at them, and Charlie knew this was no actor.

Chapter Three

“Evenin’,” the stranger said again, stepping closer to the fire. He held the rifle at waist height, hammer cocked and ready to fire. “Please hand over all your cash and valuables. Do so peacefully, and I’ll be on my way without troubling you any further.”

Bella thought of the Derringer pistol tied to her calf, hidden beneath her petticoats. She also thought of the bankroll of two thousand dollars tucked away under her ample bosom.

She couldn’t possibly draw the pistol in time to defend herself, not unless a better opportunity came up. She resolved to watch for one. That bankroll was needed to stage the plays.

Andy squatted by the fire, looking frightened, but Charlie seemed completely unafraid. At the thief’s command, the men reached into their pockets and produced whatever money they were carrying. She could see coins glistening as they held them up toward the thief.

“This is all we got, mister,” Charlie said. “Nothin’ in our rucksacks. We’re hoboes, always keep whatever money we got stuffed in our trousers.”

The thief gave him a long stare as if gauging whether this was the truth. He was middle-aged with hard lines cut from nose to mouth down a lean, stubbled face. Intense eyes peered out from under the brim of a battered hat.

After collecting the money from the men, he turned his attention to Bella. “How about you, ma’am? Any valuables or money?”

She summoned her best acting skills. “I’m afraid I have nothing to offer you. I’m broke, sir.”

He smirked. “Well, now that’s hard to believe from a woman wearing such a fancy bonnet. And the shawl looks like it’s not from any old general store, either. How did a rich lady like yourself come to be broke?”

She gave him a rueful look. “I’m afraid another bandit beat you to my valuables yesterday when I began riding into the foothills.”

He grunted. “Didn’t leave you a penny, huh?”

“No, sir.” She shook her head for emphasis.

“Would you stand up please, ma’am?”

“What for?”

“If you’ve got nothin’ hidden on you, I’m sure you won’t mind if I make a quick check of your person.”

She stood, keeping her arms raised.

“Step away from the fire a couple paces,” he ordered.

She did so.

One hand cradling the rifle, keeping it aimed at the men, he walked over and stood in front of her. “Remove your bonnet and hand it to me.”

She did so.

He took the bonnet, looked inside, and dropped it to the ground.

“Don’t startle. I’m gonna put my hands on you now. That is, unless you got something you wanna give me first?”

“No, sir,” Bella said calmly

The thief began running his free hand over her body, starting at the top and carefully feeling through her dress. When he got to her chest, he reached down deep between her breasts. His brow knitted in disappointment at finding nothing hidden there.

“Hey now, mister,” Charlie objected bravely, “that ain’t no way to treat a woman.”

“Shut up!” the outlaw replied harshly.

Charlie buttoned his lip.

The thief cupped the side of her right breast and slid his hand beneath it, slowly pushing upward. Bella felt his fingers touch the bankroll and grab at it. “Remove that roll from under your dress, please.”

She sighed, undid a couple buttons, and reached inside her dress to withdraw the money. The man grabbed it from her with a high-pitched hoot. “Whoo-wee! Will ya look at the size of that bankroll? This woman definitely ain’t broke. How much is here?”

“A couple thousand.”

“Two thousand dollars? Well, thank you kindly.” He slid the money into his pocket with a grin. Glancing over at the carriage, he said, “Fine carriage you got there, ma’am. Any money stashed in there?”

“No, sir,” Bella replied firmly, and it was the truth.

The outlaw cackled. “You’ll understand if I don’t believe you. I mean, you’re a damn good liar, but after finding that bonanza under your chest…” His voice trailed off in anticipation of stealing more riches. “I got to go have a look. You all just stay here around the fire where I can see you. Nice and close to the fire now.”

He frisked the men for weapons and valuables before striding off toward the vehicle, not bothering to finish searching Bella in his excitement. She was glad. He would surely have found the Derringer.

“Do you have any weapons in your rucksacks?” she asked the hoboes quietly.

“Just a couple huntin’ knives,” Andy replied.

“Great. There goes my money.”

They watched as the thief rifled through the carriage, throwing items overboard as he went. He emptied bags, looked under the seats, and dug through the food items.

Finally, he walked back to the fire. “Looks like you were telling the truth this time, ma’am. I’ll be movin’ on now. Pleasure doing business with ya.” He turned to leave but swung back toward them. “Whose side you on, anyway?”

“How do you mean, sir?” Bella asked.

“You haven’t heard about the war?”

“What war?”

“There’s a couple mining companies in Silverville been fightin’ for the richest claim. ‘The Great Vein,’ they call it. Could be the biggest silver strike ever in the Sierras.”

Bella shook her head. “I did not know that.”

“Oh, yeah. There’s been bloodshed on both sides, men from both companies got killed. Even the town marshal quit to save his skin. If that’s where you’re headed, ma’am, you’d be wise to turn around and avoid the place.”

She groaned inwardly. Could this trip get any worse? The company had deserted her, a highwayman had stolen her money, and now she finds out they’re headed into a war zone?

“Thank you for your concern,” she said sarcastically, “but I’m not frightened and will be pressing on to Silverville.”

What else could she do?

“Suit yourself,” the thief said diplomatically, touching the brim of his hat as if he were a friendly fellow traveler instead of the man who’d taken her bankroll. “You been warned.” He backed slowly away from the fire, keeping his rifle aimed at them, and faded into the night.

“Good Lord,” Charlie breathed out. “I didn’t know there was a mining war going on in Silverville.”

“Me neither,” Andy said.

Bella looked at them and felt empathy. These were good, honest men. She had no right to ask them to put themselves in harm’s way just to stage a few plays. “I understand if you two want to back out of the job offer. I don’t expect you go into a war zone to work for me.”

The hoboes glanced at each other.

Charlie spoke first. “I fought in the War Between the States. I can handle myself if things get rough, Miss Bella. I prefer not to use a gun no more, but I will if it’s necessary.” He looked at his protégé. “Andy here’s only twenty-two, though; he’s never handled a gun or shot a man. I won’t go up to Silverville if Andy doesn’t wanna go. It wouldn’t be right to bring him into a war unless it’s something he wants to do.

“Grit and Gunpowder” is an Amazon Best-Selling novel, check it out here!

Bella Folino, a fiery and celebrated actress, finds herself stranded en route to a California mountain boomtown. Abandoned by her theater company, she enlists two ingenious hoboes, determined to stage her plays. Unbeknownst to her, their destination is a town rife with conflict over the Great Vein, a legendary silver deposit…

Fate has plans other than art…

Hank Maloney, unwavering and steadfast, anchors himself firmly to his rightful claim of the Great Vein amidst Silverville’s mining conflicts. His unwavering integrity shines like a beacon in the shadowy depths of greed and rivalry. Facing off against a fierce rival hungry for the vein’s riches, Hank’s resolute spirit and unshakable resolve mark him as a central figure in the town’s volatile showdown…

Can he stand his ground in a world gone insane?

In the midst of this, Bella’s theatrical flair intertwines with Hank’s world, injecting a spark of the unexpected into Silverville’s gritty history. Will they succeed in saving everyone from a greedy takeover plan? Their paths cross and set the stage for a tale brimming with adventure, intrigue, and the unyielding pursuit of dreams against all odds!

“Grit and Gunpowder” is an intriguing cozy mystery novel of approximately 60,000 words. No cliffhangers, just pure captivating mystery.

Get your copy from Amazon!


Grab my new series, "Legends of the Lawless Frontier", and get 2 FREE novels as a gift! Have a look here!

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