Please help me welcome my friend Debra Holland to my blog today.

Holland_GloriousMntSky__front_v.4_2Sometimes an author carries a story around in her head for years before she actually has a chance to write it. Such was the case for me with Glorious Montana Sky. I can’t tell you when the idea for the story of Joshua Norton, son of Reverend Norton (the minister in my small Montana town) and his wife Mary, came about. I do know I started formulating the story about three years ago.

The first scene that came to me and I wrote down at the time was between Joshua and his father. In the scene, Joshua, a missionary who’d just returned from Africa after the death of his wife, was telling his father about his feelings of burnout. (But since it’s 1895, I couldn’t use the word “burnout.”)

As I wrote this scene, another character came into being—Joshua’s nine-year-old son, Micah. Joshua told his father how Micah had run wild for the previous year because his mother was dying. The boy bonded with the African natives, whom he considered family, and was grieving and resentful about leaving them. Joshua had been focused on caring for his wife and neglected his son. So his relationship with Micah is strained.

Ah, two hurting men or, rather, a man and a boy. I had to find a partner for Joshua—a woman who’d both challenge him and help him heal, one who’d bond with Micah and help him adjust to living in Sweetwater Springs, Montana.

A definite challenge for I had no character in Sweetwater Springs who would fit for Joshua. Therefore, I had to bring her from somewhere else. So the idea of Delia Fortier, a quadroon woman fleeing New Orleans with her father, came to me. I knew he’d have a heart attack on the train, forcing the two to stay in Sweetwater Springs while he recovered. Delia has a secret that she hides from Joshua—the reason she and her father left New Orleans. This secret will keep her and Joshua apart and may even threaten their lives.

With the idea for the book firmly in my mind, I wrote down my notes. I commissioned Delle Jacobs, my cover designer, to do the cover for Glorious Montana Sky, telling her I wanted a sweeping sky scene with a train in the distance. We played with the size and angle of the train, and I settled on a small barely seen version.

Then I set the story aside and focused on writing Painted Montana Sky and Montana Sky Christmas, both smaller books that I could write quicker than the longer story for Glorious Montana Sky. Then I had the idea for The Mail-Order Brides of the West subseries, and wrote three of those books.

So Glorious Montana Sky had plenty of time to simmer in my mind. In the years since thinking of the story and writing it, I would have ideas or bits of dialogue come to me. Often this happened in church during the sermon. One of the ministers at my church was a missionary and also grew up on a farm in North Dakota. Sometimes he’d tell a story that had me scribbling notes on my bulletins. When it came time to write the book, I had a stack of church bulletins to go through.

A week ago, I received my author copies of Glorious Montana Sky. Holding the book in my hand, with the beautiful cover designed three years ago, I had a huge sense of accomplishment—a dream that was three years old was now a reality. What a wonderful feeling!

After years as a missionary in Africa, Joshua Norton is mentally exhausted. He returns home with his estranged nine-year-old son in tow, hoping to rebuild their relationship.

Meanwhile, Delia Fortier plots to escape becoming the mistress of a cruel, powerful politician. The mixed-race secret daughter of a wealthy businessman, Delia seeks help from her father who offers her an opportunity: travel west with him, pretending to be his legitimate daughter.

When Joshua and Delia meet, their attraction is undeniable. But will Delia’s secret stand in the way of their love?


No sign of Delia. Anxious to see her, Joshua stepped through the glass door and onto the brick path. He moved toward the fountain, then veered to the right, checking underneath the arbor, and then looked across to the other. The wooden benches under both were empty.

Disappointed and wondering if she’d gone in to check on her father, Joshua continued his stroll around the fountain, choosing the slanting path toward the gazebo. The breeze brought the scent of the roses growing in beds along the wall. From this angle, he could see through the doorway to where Delia sat reading on a cushioned bench that circled the interior. His stomach did a little flip, and his feet rooted to the ground.

Sunlight filtered through the lattice and hanging morning glory vines to gild her gold-and-brown patterned dress and burnish auburn highlights into her dark hair. He could see her profile…the line of her throat, the soft rise and fall of her chest.

Somehow, Joshua knew he’d always remember this image of her. Reluctant to shatter the picture, he watched for another moment before taking off his hat. “Miss Bellaire,” he called softly.
Delia looked up from her book and saw him.

The way she smiled and how her eyes lit up caused Joshua to catch his breath.

“Reverend Joshua.” She placed a bookmark between the leaves and closed the volume. “How good to see you.” She waved him in.

“Mrs. Graves tells me your father is resting.”

“Yes, I insisted. Although Papa does seem much stronger and has started to chafe at staying in bed.”

“I don’t blame him.”

“Your son is a godsend, the way he entertains my father. After their chess game, Micah walks him in the area outside the bedroom. It’s something to see, Papa’s hand on Micah’s shoulder, their painstaking progress, that boy’s patience with a sick man.”

Her words gave Joshua a sense of pride. For so long, he’d only heard complaints and criticism about his son, mostly he reflected with some guilt, from the boy’s own mother. And she’d made him believe their son’s normal boyhood mischief was a more serious behavioral problem. Thank goodness, Micah and I are gradually growing closer.

“Visiting with Andre has helped Micah too,” he said. “My son seems happier lately. I’m hopeful adapting to Montana won’t be as difficult as he and I feared.”

She patted the bench next to her. “Come sit. I imagine my father will awaken soon and will be happy to see you.”

Joshua took a seat next to her, perhaps closer than he would for any other lady, setting down the bowler on his other side. “I’ve been in better spirits, too.”

Delia gazed at him, sympathy in her eyes. “You’ve been in mourning.”

He let out a long breath. “Yes, but I’ve also struggled with a feeling of malaise.”

She touched his hand. “I’ve seen signs of that.”

“Being home…with my family and old friends…” He gazed at her sure she could see his feelings in his eyes. “And new ones…has proven to be a tonic.”

Pink rose in her cheeks, and she glanced away.

He reached inside his coat, pulled out the letter from his vest pocket, and handed it to her. “The stationmaster sent this with me. He says it’s from New Orleans.”

The light left her eyes, and her skin paled. With obvious reluctance, Delia reached to take the letter from him.

Concerned, Joshua leaned toward her.

Delia glanced up at him, her eyes wide and apprehensive. “It’s from my mother.”

“Would you like me to leave so you can read in private?”

Her hand shot out to clasp his. “Oh, no. Please stay.”

Joshua squeezed her fingers and had to prevent an instinctive need to bring her hand to his lips. Reluctantly he released her.

Delia took a deep breath, opened the envelope, pulled out the single sheet of paper, and began to read.

From the glimpse Joshua had of the writing before he turned his face away, her mother had only written a few paragraphs.

Delia made a small gasping sound of distress.

His stomach tightened. What’s wrong?

When she finished reading, Delia kept her head averted. With shaking hands, she clumsily folded the paper and tried to stuff the sheet back into the envelope.

Amazon-7121 (1)_2BIO

Debra Holland is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of The Montana Sky Series (sweet historical Western romance.) She’s also the author of The Gods’ Dream Trilogy (fantasy romance.) Sign up for her newsletter and download a free copy of her ebooklet: 58 Tips For Getting What You Want From a Difficult Conversation. Http://

7 thoughts on “GLORIOUS MONTANA SKY by Debra Holland

  1. Almost halfway through Glorious Montana Sky and loving it just as much as the others even though there is a different feel to it. You are an amazing writing. Cindy, thank you for giving us a chance to get just a little closer to the characters we love!

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