A Blaze of Poppies
by Jennifer Bohnhoff
Genre: Historical Romance, Women’s Fiction
In 1916, Mexico is on the brink of revolution. Despite armed bandits streaming over the border and prejudices against female ranchers, feisty little Agnes Day is determined to keep the family ranch and run it on her own terms. The last thing she wants is to fall under the authority of a husband who will keep her from the land she loves.
Her ally in the fight is Will Bowers, a strong and silent New Mexico Guardsman assigned to nearby Camp Columbus under General Blackjack Pershing, but Will hides a dark and disturbed background that stops him from committing to any one or any place. Then the United States enters World War I and both Agnes and Will are swept into conflagration.
Can Agnes secure a peaceful future on the Sunrise Ranch after the insanity and bloodshed of war? Dare she hope to share that future with someone else?
A lifelong New Mexican, Jennifer Bohnhoff loves travel and history, so it should come as no surprise that many of her books are historical novels set in beautiful or interesting places.
Follow the tour HERE for special content and a giveaway!
Win a Poppy Swag Pack with a $25 Amazon gift card, poppy seeds,
remembrance pins, bookmarks and more!
A Blaze of Poppies takes place in Southern New Mexico and France during the tumultuous 1910s. Its main character, Agnes Day, is a ranching woman who is determined to keep her family’s ranch, the Sunset, within the family who’s held it for three generations.
The family’s brand is the lazy D, a capital D laid over on its side. The D not only stands for the Days, who’ve owned the ranch since before the Civil War, but on its side it looks like a sunrise.
The man who quietly supports Agnes through difficult times is Will Bowers, a member of the National Guard who is serving border patrol at Camp Columbus.
New Mexico’s National Guard began serving its country before New Mexico was even a state. In 1898, when the Spanish American War broke out, New Mexico Guardsmen helped form the 2nd Squadron, 1st United States Cavalry. This unit was part of Teddy Roosevelt’s Rough Riders and were among those who charged up San Juan Hill.
In 1916, when Pancho Villa raided the southern New Mexican town of Columbus, New Mexico’s National Guard, under the command of Black Jack Pershing, pursued the outlaw into Mexico. The Guard spent the next year on this border duty.
Pershing was so impressed with the Guards’ performance in the rough field conditions of the desert southwest that he insisted they join the mobilization efforts when the United Stated entered World War I. New Mexico National Guardsmen were among some of the first to arrive in France. They didn’t, however, go over as a single unit. The First Infantry Regiment was activated into Federal Service and assigned to the 40th Infantry Division. A Battery of Field Artillery was assigned to the 41st Division and became part of the 146th Field Artillery Regiment, which took part in the actions at Champagne-Marne, Alsne-Marne, and Meuse-Argonne.
Because the 41st Division was largely made up of soldiers from Oregon and other northwest states that bordered the Pacific Ocean, it was named the “Sunset Division.” Its semicircular shoulder patch featured a red background, with a yellow sun setting into a blue sea.
When Agnes first sees Will’s patch, she thinks it is a sunrise instead of a sunset. To her, it looks like a fancier version of the lazy D that is the family brand. They are, after all, the Day family, and the ranch is The Sunrise Ranch. She muses that perhaps she should add rays to the lazy D so it will look even more like the image on Will’s patch.
Agnes wants to keep the ranch, and she wants Will to be there with her. But Will has a hidden past that makes him afraid to commit, even to the woman he loves. Read A Blaze of Poppies to find out whether the story ends in sunshine or shadow.