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About the author:
Katie Mills Bellows has been writing for many years as a journalist and historian. She lives in a country home with her husband and pets and enjoys filling her free time turning her fantasies in written word.
What inspired you to write your book?
My fascination with the old west began when I was growing up in California, and my family would take yearly vacation treks around the southwest visiting old ghost towns in Arizona, Nevada and Colorado. When I was older, I became particularly interested in the bordello culture of the old west and the “soiled doves” who turned to this line of work. I was inspired to write The Belle Amour from my collection of 19th century erotic photography, much of which was taken in the brothels and bordellos.
Here is a short sample from the book:
A young woman brought out a tray of tea and cookies and set it on the small table in the parlor. Abigail stirred a small spoonful of sugar into her tea and looked around at the opulent room decorated in reds and pinks. The artwork caused her to do a double-take. Paintings of almost nude women in suggestive poses decorated the walls. Abigail had heard that European mansions contained such art, and after all, Clarice and Harlan had spent their honeymoon in France. Perhaps Clarice had purchased the paintings there.
“I love the name of your hotel,” Abigail said. “The Belle Amour sounds so romantic.”
Clarice smiled. “Belle Amour was Harlan’s pet name for me. It means beautiful love.”
“How have you been doing since he passed away?”
“I’ve managed.” She paused and sipped her tea. “So what brings you all the way to Colorado?” Clarice asked as if to change the subject.
Abigail placed the fine china cup back on the table. “I had to get away from Richmond for a while.”
“What about Robert, the man that you wrote to me about?”
She swallowed back the lump in her throat. “That’s why I had to leave. I found out that he was married, Clarice. He had a wife in Baltimore and a baby on the way.”
Clarice made a face. “That son-of-a-bitch led you to believe that he would marry you.”
Her friend’s colorful language gave her pause, but Abigail let it pass. It was tamer than some of the things she had been thinking about Robert.
“Yes, he did, and I…I gave myself to him. It was just one time, but still, I feel like such a fool.”
“Well, sweetie, you’re not the first woman to make a fool of herself over a man.” Clarice gave a little wave to a young woman who passed by the parlor door.
“Is this one of those ladies’ hotels?” Abigail asked.
“I’ve only seen women here,” Abigail said. “Other than your driver, I haven’t seen any men.”
“Oh, well, we entertain men, as well. Just not today,” Clarice said. “Let me show you up to your room. It’s the turret room on the third floor right next to my private suite. It has a beautiful view of the mountain.”
Abigail saw more erotic paintings hanging on the second-floor walls. These went beyond suggestive to full nudes reclining on beds and sofas. The centerpiece of the third-floor landing was a statute of a couple embracing. The subjects bore a striking resemblance to Clarice and her late husband. Abigail was taken aback by the bold nature of the third-floor artwork. These paintings depicted men and women in sexual positions.
“So do you have guests on this floor?” Abigail asked. “Or is this your private living area?”
“This floor has two other suites and of course, the turret room,” she said. “You might say that the highest-paying guests, and special friends, get to stay on this floor.”
Clarice led her into a room that was painted in more of the garish reds and pinks that colored the reception area. No expense seemed to have been spared on the furnishings. A large, four-poster bed with an overstuffed mattress was placed in the center of the room. A two-seater sofa sat in front of the fireplace and a cushioned window seat was placed in front of the turret’s rounded bay window. A large mirror hung on the wall opposite the bed. Not that I want to see how I look when I wake up in mornings, Abigail thought.
A few more pieces of erotic artwork decorated the walls. In the one hanging over the bed, a buxom nude woman straddled a man’s mid-section. Abigail moved closer to be sure that she was seeing what she thought she saw. Her gloved hand flew to her mouth. The man’s huge cock halfway penetrated the woman’s sex. Abigail felt her cheeks flush.
“Clarice, do you mind if I ask why there are so many paintings of naked people in the hotel?”
Clarice chuckled. “Harlan envisioned the Belle Amour as a honeymoon hotel. When it came to sex, my late husband was a free spirit. Harlan believed in stimulating the libido with reminders of how beautiful sex and the naked body are.”
Crossing the room to a narrow doorway, Clarice said, “In this little room there’s a porcelain tub and washstand, so you can have a private bath. Just let housekeeping know when you want to have a one drawn.”
She walked back over to Abigail and embraced her.
“I have some business to attend to, so I’ll leave you to unpack and freshen up,” Clarice said. “I’m having the cook prepare all your favorite foods for dinner. We’ll eat at six, and you can catch me up on everything that’s been happening back home.”
Abigail walked over to the window to take in the scenery Clarice had mentioned, but her eyes drifted instead to the lawman standing across the street below. His eyes looked upward as if he could see her looking down at him. She moved away from the window and sat on the end of the bed. Now that she’d arrived in Majestic Peak, she’d begun to have misgivings. Clarice seemed to have changed in a way Abigail couldn’t quite define. She had a gut feeling that there was something different about her friend.