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Wednesday, December 12, 2018

A Gift of Christmas Hope by Kaye Spencer - December #blogabookscene #Christmasstory #westernromance #PrairieRosePubs

A Gift of Christmas Hope tells the story of a well-to-do lady gambler, Mara Wyndham, who is traveling from the East back home to Texas with a stagecoach full of treasure when she encounters a con man on the look-out for another wealthy woman he can spend the winter with while charming her out of her money.

The story unfolds with hints about the woman's mysterious true identity, what her treasure really is, and how the con man, Neal Behlen, turns out to be a crucial link in her life's chain of events.

A Texas Panhandle blizzard threatens to keep Mara from reaching her destination by Christmas Day, and this is totally unacceptable to her, as there children looking forward to her arrival.

Although I don't go into detail about where these children are living, I took the essence of a real children's home as the model.

The real facility is located in the Texas Panhandle, not far from Amarillo, is a facility with a history dating back to 1938. This facility is still in existence today. The facility, and what it came to stand for, was the life's work of a man with a vision who created a 'place' for homeless, wayward, and abandoned children—boys to begin with and later girls—to live and have the opportunity to turn their lives around.

It became a haven where children could get a decent education, have enough food to eat, sleep with a roof over their heads, learn a trade or skill, be involved in athletics, receive medical attention, and have their spiritual needs met. It was a home when there was no home for these children.

Cal Farley Ranch - aerial view
Photo from slideshow on this website:

This man with a vision was Cal Farley, and and the place he built for needy children is now called the Cal Farley Boys and Girls Ranch. Click HERE to read a history of the ranch.

Kaye Spencer's photo - Cal Farley Ranch from a distance


Neal looked at her a long time. “When my pa died, he took everything I cared about with him. There wasn’t anything left to settle.”

Mara placed a gentle hand on his arm. “Your father made his choice. Regardless of his last words to you, I have to think he wanted you to lead a good life. Yes, he was despondent; he saw no reason for living, but why else would he have left you money and property? If life was really as terrible as he said, he’d have taken you with him when he killed himself to spare you from life’s pain and suffering. But he didn’t. He left you the one thing that refused to die with him. Hope.”

“Hope! It’s always hope with you.” Neal threw up his arms and left the bed in a bound. He crossed the small room in quick strides to stand at the fireplace, one arm resting on the mantle as he gazed into the flames.

Mara sat motionless, frowning at his outburst. “Yes. Hope is all we have.”

“My parents had hope, too, and look where it got them.” His voice was hard and cold. When he turned, a dark shadow of regret and anger clouded the usual sparkle in his eyes. “They put every penny they had into the hope of a better life, and it was stolen from them. In the end, they didn’t even get to say goodbye to each other. They each died alone and hopeless eighteen hundred miles apart. I’ve carried that with me all these years. Here and here.” He touched his head then his heart. “We’re born, we endure—and then we die.”

Mara left the bed in a whirling swirl of skirts, clutching both hands to her breast, her heart pounding, stomach churning. His cavalier sarcasm cut her to the bone. “You are not the only one who carries memories so painful that remembering them physically hurts.” Tears she’d kept bottled up for years came unbidden, streaming down her cheeks, fueled by the anguish she’d buried in the deepest part of her heart.

“I was orphaned before I was two years old. My mother was a young Mexican girl who died at the hands of a vicious patron.” She saw the recognition in his eyes. “Yes, she was a prostitute. I was too young to remember, but I’m told after she died, I was passed from one person to another because no one wanted me.” Her face contorted with the effort to stem the flow of tears.

“When I was six, an elderly minister and his wife took me in. For the first time in my life—” her voice caught on hiccupping sobs. “I had a home and people who cared for me—really cared. I had a bed to sleep in every night and food I could eat, even when I wasn’t hungry. My little world was finally safe and happy.”

She drew herself up to her full height, set her shoulders, and forced the next words out. “Then the Comanche attacked.”

Neal’s expression ran a gamut of emotions, and she each one, be-cause they still raged in her heart and brought her screaming out of nightmares in the middle of the night.

She forced herself to explain what she seldom spoke of. “You know what that means. You’ve seen the aftermath of a Comanche raid, and you’ll never be rid of the memories. Imagine the horror for a child who witnessed the carnage. A seven-year-old girl shouldn’t have to kill to survive.”

A Gift of Christmas Hope, as a novelette, is available on
Kindle | KindleUnlimited


The story is also available in the anthology Wild Texas Christmas.
Kindle | KindleUnlimited | Print


Until next year,

Kaye Spencer

Writing through history one romance upon a time

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Prairie Rose Publications |YouTube


  1. Love this story, Kaye. You always bring your characters to life and make them so real to the reader. This is a good'un!

  2. Sounds wonderful, Kaye. I haven't read this one yet. I'll have to pick it up!

  3. I love the story line, Kaye. I like that you incorporated some genuine history into the story with the needy children's ranch.
    I wish you great success with this story and I hope you have an absolutely marvelous Christmas.

  4. I love a story which draws on real history for inspiration. This looks really good.