Guest Post with J. Arlene Culiner

Please join me in welcoming author J. Arlene Culiner. Today she is sharing the inspiration behind the setting for Desert Rose, the third book in her Blake Folly Romance series. J. Arlene sets readers up for an intriguing read with secretive characters. Be sure to scroll to the end and check out the trailer.


Title: Desert Rose (A Blake’s Folly Romance, Book 3)

Author:  J. Arlene Culiner

Genre: Contemporary Romance


Secrets are the best protection against love

Rose Badger is the local flirt, and if the other inhabitants of backwoods Blake’s Folly, Nevada, don’t approve, she couldn’t care less. With a disastrous marriage and a dead-end career far behind her, settling down is the last thing she intends to do. Newcomer Jonah Livingstone is intriguing, but with his complicated life, he’s off limits for anything other than friendship. Besides, Rose has a secret world of her own—one she won’t give up for any man.

The last person geologist Jonah Livingstone expected to meet in a semi-ghost town is the sparkling and lovely Rose Badger. But Rose, always surrounded by many admirers, doesn’t seem inclined to choose a favorite. So why fret? Jonah keeps his personal life well hidden…and that’s the best way to avoid disappointment.


Once upon a time, I found myself in a clapboard, rusty trailer, semi-ghost town in Nevada, where an ever-buffeting wind dragged dust across the frozen ground, rattled grasses, and set the doors of abandoned shacks tapping. The hotel I stayed in was a rundown has-been: ceilings soared high, and the lumpy, almost colorless wallpaper was surely a century old.

In the hotel’s bar, a talentless band whined out bad country music, and eccentric locals dished up tall tales, wry humor, and suspicion. It was a singular community, quite magical, and I’ve recreated it as Blake’s Folly, the setting for my three romances: A Room in Blake’s Folly, All About Charming Alice, and Desert Rose.

In the late 1800s, Blake’s Folly was a silver boomtown that boasted three mining companies, a railway line to Reno, a lot of cash, many saloons, and quite a few brothels, but the glory didn’t last. When the silver ran out, those sane enough to do so, pulled up stakes.

Today, it’s a backwoods community of shacks, wooden sidewalks, and one saloon set in an unrelenting flatland. Who would live in such a place? Odd independent characters and rebels, people who would never fit into neat houses with tidy gardens.

In Desert Rose, my half-Paiute hero, geologist Jonah Livingstone, takes great pleasure in sighting the other inhabitants of this territory: mule deer, bobcats, desert tortoises, sidewinders, rattlers, and little gray lizards. There’s another attraction, too: the lovely Rose Badger. How does Rose feel about Jonah?

Well… that’s the problem. Both Jonah and Rose are secretive people, and that makes them mysterious as well as intriguing. Secretive folks are very disciplined, and they often have a wealth of knowledge and experience that they keep hidden (Rose has a very complicated secret life). It’s hard to know what they’re thinking, or feeling, so forming close, trusting relationships is a definite challenge for them—even though the dazzle, the zip, and all the necessary magic is right there, just waiting to be discovered!


Rose approached the little group slowly, still peeking carefully into the shadows of booths lining the wall.

Jonah was watching her every movement. “You’re looking strangely furtive.”

“I’m avoiding my mother.”

Lance laughed; Jonah chuckled.

She scrunched up her face with mock pain. “Okay, okay. I know how infantile that sounds, but I just got rid of the woman. She staggered over to the shop about fifteen minutes ago.”


“Four sheets to the wind, as usual. She does make a habit of it.” Rose wrinkled her nose. “Now, she wants to drive into Reno with me on Saturday.”

“On Saturday? I thought you didn’t do Saturdays,” said Lance laconically.

“Really?” Jonah raised one quizzical eyebrow and turned to Lance. “What do you mean, she doesn’t do them? She wipes them off the calendar? Crams everything into a six-day, Sunday to Friday, week?”

“It’s her secret day. No one knows what she gets up to on Saturdays. Only that she isn’t
available. Ever.”

“Aha. I was about to ask her to meet me this Saturday evening.”

“She’ll say no. She always does.”

Exasperated, Rose threw both men the dirtiest look she could manage. “I’m not unavailable every Saturday. I intend to be here, in Blake’s Folly, for the Get-Together, and that’s two Saturdays away. Now, would you both please stop talking about me in the third person? I’m here, right in front of you. You can address me directly, and I can speak for myself.”

“Except you don’t. Not when it comes to Saturdays.” Lance’s voice was calm.


Writer, photographer, social critical artist, and impenitent teller of tall tales, J. Arlene Culiner, was born in New York and raised in Toronto. She has crossed much of Europe on foot, has lived in a mud house on the Great Hungarian Plain, a Bavarian castle, a Turkish cave dwelling, a haunted house on the English moors, and on a Dutch canal. She now resides in a 400-year-old former inn in a French village of no interest where, much to local dismay, she protects spiders, snakes, and all weeds. She particularly enjoys incorporating into mysteries, non-fiction, and romances, her experiences in out-of-the-way communities, and her conversations with very odd characters.







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