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Blog Tour and Book Excerpt for "The Redemption of Mattie Silks"

Book Title: The Redemption of Mattie Silks

Series: n/a

Author: Kimberly Burns

Publication Date: October 25, 2023

Publisher: Thomas Bard Publishing

Page Length: 315

Genre: Historical Fiction

The Redemption of Mattie Silks

by Kimberly Burns



In 1892, running one of the West’s fanciest brothels is a rough game. In a town filled with brazen criminals, corrupt police, zealous politicians, and morality committees, Madam Mattie Silks makes her fortune catering to Colorado’s gold and silver millionaires.

Notorious crime boss “Soapy” Smith is at the top of the Denver underworld. There are no rules for Smith’s gang. They solve problems with bribes and bullets. When Mattie’s husband stumbles into Soapy’s dealings, she struggles to protect him.

Gold is discovered in the Yukon and Mattie seizes the opportunity for adventure and profit. But Skagway, Alaska, is even more lawless than Denver. Mattie must use all her business sense and street smarts to safeguard those she cares about. Will it be enough? Or will Lady Justice again turn a blind eye?

Based on a true story, The Redemption of Mattie Silks is an action-packed tale of a woman succeeding in a man’s world even when the cards are stacked against her.

“The research on the era shines through, as do the grit and spirit of the characters. …A colorful and enthralling journey.”

~ K.T. Blakemore, award-winning author of The Good Time Girls series “A nice, nuanced portrait of the complex underworld with fine and witty turns of phrase. A great Western romp!”

~ Randi Samuelson-Brown, award-winning author of The Bad Old Days series

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This title is available to read with #KindleUnlimited

Author Bio:

Kimberly Burns grew up in Colorado hearing stories about the colourful characters of the Old West. She has degrees from the University of Colorado and the University of Hartford. Kimberly is a member of the Historical Novel Society, Western Writers of America, and Women Writing the West. She lives with her husband and black Lab in Leesburg, Virginia.

Her debut novel The Mrs. Tabor won numerous awards including the Western Fictioneers Peacemaker Award for Best New Novel, a gold medal for Best Regional Fiction from the Independent Publisher Book Awards, a National Indie Excellence Award, and a silver medal from the Colorado Independent Publishers Association EVVY Awards.

Kimberly and her unruly heroines make for an entertaining book talk. She is available to discuss her novels with book groups in person or online. Email her at

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Book Excerpt:

“Jane, tell Polly to come downstairs. I need to speak with her,” Mattie called to the maid.

All of the females in the house knew something was afoot and they stopped their evening preparations to trail Polly into the front parlor.

She wore a pale green silk dressing gown over her corset and stockings. Pins held the auburn hair around her face in small curls. At twenty-three, the sand in Polly’s hourglass was slipping away. She’d worked on her back for nearly five years. It was a long time, even in Mattie’s refined and gentle house.

“I guess you know your beau, Rudel, was here. He wants to marry you.” Mattie felt like a proud parent.

The other girls squealed with delight. Suzanne threw her arms around her friend’s neck while Dora and Ruby hooted approval and Violet clapped. Even Effie and Allie smiled from the doorway.

“You didn’t chase him off, did you?” asked Liz looking around the room.

“No,” chuckled Mattie. “He’ll be back in an hour. I wanted to talk to Polly privately.” She gave the other girls a pointed look, however, none of them moved.

“We’ve all seen Polly naked as a jaybird more times than we can count. What could you say to her that we don’t already know?” asked Dora.

Rolling her eyes in mock frustration, Mattie turned to Polly. “I want to make sure that what he is offering is what you want. He’s promising you a life of hard work and loneliness miles from civilization.”

Unmentioned was the dubious future of a fallen woman. Working at a fine parlor house was one thing, but as they aged girls would tumble down The Row to ever grimier brothels, to rougher and rougher saloons, to dingy cribs, landing at last in a back alley.

“No ranch wife is a pampered lady,” Mattie said.

Polly pulled the pins from the hair at her temples. Tendrils cascaded down her cheekbones, framing her lovely green eyes. “Rude is a good man and I was never gonna be a lady anyway.”

“All right then,” Mattie said, clapping her hands together. “This calls for a celebration. Jane, bring up champagne from the cellar and glasses for everyone. Bring a glass for yourself.”

A cheer went up and bubbly poured.

“Have you kissed him?” Ruby wanted to know.

“Yes,” Polly said with a blush.

“Oooh!” her friends exclaimed.

There were no rules preventing kissing customers, but it was a rarity. The girls couldn’t waste the time, and the customers usually weren’t there to purchase that kind of affection.

“I wouldn’t make a good country wife,” opined Violet after a deep drink of champagne. “I’d miss the excitement of city living and being around people.”

Mattie agreed and was sure Cortez disliked the solitary monotony of life in Wray. But the false gaiety and imitation intimacy of Market Street created its own particular kind of loneliness.

“I read there are more cattle than people in southern Colorado,” said Suzanne.

“He did ask if I can ride a horse astride like a man,” Polly said, between slips.

“I can ride a man astride like a horse. Do you think he could find me a husband too?” Dora cracked.

Liz’s laughter and her champagne met in her throat making her cough. Fanny pounded on her back.

“Here’s to Mrs. Rudel Strudel,” Dora proclaimed, raising her glass overhead.

Everyone offered their best wishes for a long and happy life. Glasses were drained and a fresh bottle was opened.

“You know, I had a husband before,” Polly admitted. “We lived near Laramie. He was a drunkard. He stumbled out one night and never came back. I thought I could get by, but… A local saloonkeeper had an idea how I could make a little money.” She took another drink. “I just couldn’t do it in Laramie where people knew me.”

The girls all had a similar story of an event that changed the course of their life. Mattie recognized the pain at the heart of those tales as the bit of grit at the center their souls that made them into pearls. Not many women made it out of the sporting life. But she thought calm and pragmatic Polly would succeed.

For Polly’s sake, in the future Mattie would never claim to know her. “Do you have a story to tell your new neighbors? About how you met Rudel?” Mattie asked. “Something simple might be best.”

“I’m a widow. Rude came into the restaurant where I worked in Denver. He had one bite of my peach pie and fell in love.”

“Here’s to Polly’s peach pie,” offered Ruby, raising her champagne flute. The girls slugged down another glass and another bottle popped opened.

“So, Polly…” Ruby asked, “do you love him?”

“Even though people call what we do ‘making love,’ I’m dang sure that love is not a tent pole in his pants,” Polly answered wryly.

Rueful laughter escaped from the painted lips of the ladies of the lamplight.

“We are all the same to those men.” Polly looked at the design in the pressed tin ceiling. “But Rudel is different. He likes me. He said my hair was as pretty as his best chestnut sorrel.”

Everyone murmured agreement that this was probably flowery prose of love from the young rancher.

“Rude is kind and he’s loyal. That’s probably what love is made of in Rudel.” Polly wrapped both hands around her champagne glass and held it to her chest like a bridal bouquet. “And I trust him. That’s probably as close to love as I’ll ever know.”


The next morning, Polly and Alvin carried her things down the stairs. In the front sitting room, they sat the trunk down and she pulled out three of the fancy evening gowns Rudel had paid for. They were gorgeous creations of autumn colors, a rich burgundy brocade, and an aspen leaf yellow in a light chiffon, and the a copper velvet and satin dress she wore the night she met Rudel. They were decorated with rows of jet beads, lace, fringe, and feathers.

“I can’t see myself showing up to a church social in these. Would anyone—?” Before Polly could finish offering the dresses, Violet dashed across the room and snatched up the wine-colored brocade. Fanny grabbed the copper satin. No one wanted the yellow dress.

“What about your green dress? I want that one,” Ruby said, trying to peer into the trunk.

Polly shut the trunk and sat on the lid. “I’m keeping it.” The luscious deep forest color perfectly complimented Polly’s emerald eyes and chestnut hair. “That one and the black dress. I can take off the beads and rework the bodices. I can turn them into something more suited for a ranch wife.”

She played with a line of fringe that edged the dress Violet held. “I suppose that is what I am doing with my life. Taking off the fancy work and remaking myself into something different.”

A lump caught in Mattie’s throat. Practical Polly. “You’ll always be our beautiful girl, no matter what you wear or where you live.”

Rudel and Alvin packed Polly’s things in the wagon waiting in the back alley. Tears flowed as the girls crowded around for last hugs.

Pulling the tall girl in close, Mattie pressed two hundred dollars into her hand, and whispered, “It’s important that you always have money of your own. Keep this back, just in case.” She held Polly’s face in her hands. “If you don’t like it out there, you can always come back.” Polly would always be part of Mattie’s family.

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1 comentário

Cathie Dunn
Cathie Dunn
19 de dez. de 2023

Thank you for hosting Kimberly Burns with The Redemption of Mattie Silks today. Much appreciated.

Take care,

Cathie xo

The Coffee Pot Book Club

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