That Monroe Girl

Ilona Fridl
That Monroe Girl

The Wild Rose Press
Release Date
February 2016
Historical Romance, Western Romance

Cat Monroe arrives in Tombstone, Arizona searching for her father and brothers, who left Virginia for the West right after the Civil War. With the help of newspaper reporter Jake Spencer, she finds her family and a whole peck of trouble. She's falling for the newspaperman, but she discovers his family and hers are feuding over water rights. When her father finally accepts that she is his daughter, he wants to marry her off to a rich neighbor who has a dark past.

Scandal and murder are catching her in a snare—Who can she possibly trust in a town too tough to die?

Interview by Laura

Hi Ilona, welcome to The Romance Reviews, and let's talk about THAT MONROE GIRL.

Q: Where did you get your inspiration for this book THAT MONROE GIRL?

I've always loved westerns and thought it would be fun to write one. I've been to Tombstone, Arizona and was interested in the town, so I decided to set my story there.

Q: What made you set the book right after the Civil War?

Many people started moving west after the war for various reasons. Some had lost their family and land, the land where the battles took place were in sad shape, and some in the south didn't want to live under a Yankee government.

Q: Please tell us more about heroine Catherine Monroe. What is her background? What made her want to search for her father and brothers?

Catherine had been born in Alexandria, Virginia during the war and when her mother died, her father was still fighting away from home. Her mother's sister and husband took Catherine and her two older brothers in until the war was over. Her father returned after the war and wanted to move west, but since Catherine was only three, her aunt felt that the west was no place for a little girl, so her father just took the boys. When Catherine was eighteen, both her aunt and uncle had died and her cousin, Ben, inherited the house. Catherine felt she was unwelcomed there and that's when she decided to search for her father and brothers.

Q: How about hero Jake Spencer? How is he a swoonworthy hero?

He knows what he wants and gets it whatever the odds. He was raised on a ranch, but knew that life wasn't for him. He was interested in being a newspaper reporter and defied his father who wanted him to stay on the ranch. He has flaws, but is a good-hearted man.

Q: How is their first meeting like?

Cat turned and regarded a handsome young man with dark sparkling eyes. His blue-gray suit, clean starched collar, and dark blue vest with a watch chain drawn across it proclaimed him to be a gentleman of some sort, certainly not a "rowdy" or a cowboy. "Do you make it a habit of eavesdropping on people?"

He grinned. "In a way." He held out his hand. "I'm Jake Spencer, reporter for the Tombstone Epitaph."

She shook it. "Epitaph?"

"Newspaper. I was checking the new arrivals in town. May I sit down?" He pulled a small notepad and pencil out of his jacket pocket.

Cat was mildly amused and curious. "Please. I'm Catherine Monroe, and this is my traveling companion, Edna Harper." Edna gave him a curt nod and raised an eyebrow in Cat's direction with a "would your uncle approve" look.

His face registered surprise and concern. "Monroe?"

"Yes. Is there something wrong?"

The smile immediately came back. "No―nothing wrong. How long are you going to stay here?"

"I don't know. Perhaps a week or so."

"Are you here to visit anyone special? It's odd to see two ladies traveling alone."

"No." Cat was feeling slightly uncomfortable. "You're questions are verging on personal."

"Not at all. We ask all visitors this." He raised an eyebrow. "Your answers could be deemed suspicious."

Cat puffed up. "It's really none of your or your newspaper's business why we're here."

"Then I take it this isn't a leisurely excursion of the West. You're obviously from the South."

Cat had had enough of his prying. "Yes, we are." The waiter was on his way with their food. "It was lovely to meet you, Mr. Spencer, but our meal is here."

He rose and gave a slight bow. "I see. I hope you ladies have a pleasant stay. Miss Monroe. Miss Harper." He pocketed his notepad and pencil and left.

Q: Cat's and Jake's family are feuding over water rights. How did Cat and Jake not let that affect their growing relationship?

Jake felt that since he had moved into town, the squabble didn't include him. His father saw it as a betrayal of sorts and didn't want Jake involved with the Monroes. Cat had walked in in a middle of a play and didn't understand why she had to abandon her feelings for Jake.

Q: What makes them perfect for each other?

They seem to complement the other. She's a strong woman, but the society at that time showed her she was looked down on as a businesswoman. Jake respected her and did all he could to help.

Q: What for you is a romantic moment between them?

The band started playing a polka, and he rose, bowing to Cat. "Before anyone else interrupts, may I have this dance?"

Cat laughed and reached for him. "Delighted to!"

They whirled onto the floor, and soon they were flying to the lively beat. The room seemed to blur as he swung her around. When at last the music ceased, they were breathless and hanging onto each other.

Cat opened her fan. "My, I'm overheated now."

Jake held out his arm. "Want to step outside for a bit?" She slipped her hand through the crook of his elbow, and they went out the side door and to the back of the building. Strains of "Drink to Me Only With Thine Eyes" came floating into the night. The full Arizona moon made her creamy skin glow like alabaster. They did an impromptu slow waltz in the night air with some snorts and whinnying from the waiting horses. "Cat, you are so beautiful tonight."

She stopped, still in his arms, and raised her eyes to his face. He could feel her trembling beneath his touch, as she said, "I'm beginning to feel more than friendship for you. Am I too bold to tell you this?"

Every nerve in his body came alert. A wave of tenderness and lust washed over him. "My dear sweet Miss Monroe, you don't know what joy it is to hear that confession." They stared transfixed at each other. Jake lightly caressed her cheek and moved his fingers to trace her neck to her shoulder. She seemed to soften as he hardened. Leaning down, his lips brushed hers lightly, and a small moan escaped her throat. His mouth sealed hers then, and he ran his tongue over her lips until she opened them and met him with a full kiss. Lord, she tasted sweet! He wanted her. Badly.

She pulled back and swallowed a couple of times. "Oh, Jake, that was―"―she seemed to be searching for the right word―"breathtaking." She embraced him, fitting her body with his. "Let's do that again."

Q: What kind of research did you have to do to write this book? Please share an interesting fact or unique behind the scenes experience.

I remember going to Tombstone on a number of family vacations when I was growing up. Being fond of westerns, I was always drawn to the historic sections of town. I have some copies of the Tombstone Epitaph and used those as reference for the book. I copied a visitor's map of the historic district on where the buildings were located.

Q: What's up next for you?

I've just about finished a story of Waukesha, Wisconsin during the springs resort era around the turn of the 1900s. Also, have a short Amos and Sarah Darcy mystery in the works.

Thank you for your time, Ilona!

Bio of author, Ilona Fridl:

Ilona Fridl was born in the Los Angeles area of California and grew up during the 50s and 60s. She took journalism classes and creative writing during school, but didn't do much with it then. In her twenties, she moved with her parents to SE Wisconsin, where she met her husband, Mark. She helped him start a locksmithing business and still put off writing. When they got their first computer in the 90s, she decided it was time and started her first novel. Silver Screen Heroes sold in 2006 and she hasn't looked back. That Monroe Girl was her sixth novel. She credits Kathie Giorgio of AllWriters on giving her the tools she needed to craft a story.



Silver Screen

Golden North

Bronze Skies

Prime Catch

Iris Rainbow


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December 08, 2021 06:03 PM ( EST )