Friday, May 1, 2020

#GuestPost - 5 Things about Ben from "Wild Rose Pass" by Karen Hulene Bartell

Thanks so much for hosting me on your blog. It’s a pleasure to be here today!


Wild Rose Pass has two protagonists—Cadence and Ben. In many—okay, five—ways, Ben is the more interesting, and here’s why.
Ben Williams is based on a real person—a friend’s great-great-grandfather, José Maria Bill, who was captured as a small child. The Comanches killed his parents and brother and, at first, treated Ben as a slave.
They beat him so often, a Comanche man and his wife took pity. The couple had three daughters but no son, so they traded him mula ensillada—for a mule and a saddle—and raised him as their own.
When old enough, he left the Comanches for two reasons: politics and a woman. According to the terms of the Guadalupe Hidalgo Treaty, Apaches and Comanches had to return all captured Mexicans from the States. But he wasn’t sure if he were Mexican or American. His Comanche father said he was born near the west Texas-Mexico border, but Ben was captured at such an early age, he couldn’t remember which side.
Politics aside, what compelled Ben to leave was a woman. Marriage in the Comanche campamiento was straightforward. If a young man saw a woman he wanted to marry, he simply asked her father for her. Unlike the widespread practice in 1880s Texas Anglo communities—where a man asked a woman’s father for her hand in marriage—when a Comanche asked for a man’s daughter, the father simply handed her over.
One day, Ben and his best friend noticed a pretty girl. The friend said he’d ask for her. Teasing him, Ben told him no, he’d ask for her. Though meant as a joke, the prank fanned into a feud. Even after his friend married the girl, he was suspicious and jealous.
Ben decided to leave the camp before the resentment turned to bloodshed. Though the tribe’s capitán offered him his choice of young women to change his mind, Ben realized his friend would never let go the bitterness. 
Wounded and resentful about losing not only his friend, but his adoptive family and clan, as well, Ben left the Comanche community. Since he didn’t know which side of the Rio Grande he’d been captured on, he decided against being repatriated to Mexico. Instead, an American Anglo family took him in and taught him to read and write.
How did he become an officer of the buffalo soldiers at Fort Davis when he wasn’t a West Point graduate?
When the Civil War broke out, he enlisted and was assigned to the USCT, the Colored Troops—regiments made of black men—but some Native Americans, as well. He rose through the ranks, and during combat, received the title of brevet lieutenant. Then after the war ended, his commanding officer recommended he apply for an officer’s commission to the buffalo soldiers.
That’s where he met the commander’s daughter, Cadence, an interesting character in her own right. A free-spirited nonconformist, she yearned to escape the rigid code, clothes, and sidesaddles of 1880s military society in Fort Davis, Texas. Though expected to keep with family tradition and marry West Point graduate James West, she found the daring new lieutenant exhilarating. 
Orphaned and always the outsider looking in, Ben Williams yearned to belong. Cadence embodied everything he craved, but he was neither accepted into military society nor considered marriageable. 
Could two people of different worlds, drawn together by conflicting needs, flout society and forge a life together on the frontier? From these five things, what do you think? The first chapter of Wild Rose Pass is on me!


Cadence McShane, free-spirited nonconformist, yearns to escape the rigid code, clothes, and sidesaddles of 1880s military society in Fort Davis, Texas. She finds the daring new lieutenant exhilarating, but as the daughter of the commanding officer, she is expected to keep with family tradition and marry West Point graduate James West. 

Orphaned, Comanche-raised, and always the outsider looking in, Ben Williams yearns to belong. Cadence embodies everything he craves, but as a battlefield-commissioned officer with the Buffalo Soldiers instead of a West Point graduate, he is neither accepted into military society nor considered marriageable. 

Can two people of different worlds, drawn together by conflicting needs, flout society and forge a life together on the frontier?


Reining his horse between catclaw and prickly-pear cactus, Ben Williams squinted at the late summer sun’s low angle. Though still midafternoon, shadows lengthened in the mountains. He clicked his tongue, urging his mare up the incline. “Show a little enthusiasm, Althea. If we’re not in Fort Davis by sunset, we’ll be bedding down with scorpions and rattlesnakes.” 

As his detachment’s horses clambered up Wild Rose Pass, the only gap through west Texas’ rugged Davis Mountains, Ben kept alert for loose rocks or hidden roots, anything that might trip his mount. A thick layer of fallen leaves created a pastiche of color shrouding the trail from view. He glanced up at the lithe cottonwood trees lining the route, their limbs dancing in the breeze. More amber and persimmon leaves loosened, fell, and settled near the Indian pictographs on their tree trunks. When he saw the red- and yellow-ochre drawings, he smiled, recalling the canyon’s name—Painted Comanche Camp. 

“How far to Fort Davis, lieutenant?” called McCurry, one of his recruits. 

“Three hours.” If we keep a steady pace. 

Without warning, the soldier’s horse whinnied. Spooking, it reared on its hind legs, threw its rider, and galloped off. 

As he sat up, the man groaned, caught his breath, and stared into the eyes of a coiled rattler, poised to strike. “What the…?” 

Flicking its tongue, hissing, tail rattling, the pit viper was inches from the man’s face. 

A sheen of sweat appeared above the man’s lip. “Lieutenant—”

Buy Links:
Amazon Paperback 
Barnes & Noble Paperback
About the Author:

Author of the Trans-Pecos, Sacred Emblem, Sacred Journey, and Sacred Messenger series, Karen is a best-selling author, motivational keynote speaker, wife, and all-around pilgrim of life. She writes multicultural, offbeat love stories that lift the spirit. Born to rolling-stone parents who moved annually, Bartell found her earliest playmates as fictional friends in books. Paperbacks became her portable pals. Ghost stories kept her up at night—reading feverishly. The paranormal was her passion. Westerns spurred her to write (pun intended). Wanderlust inherent, Karen enjoyed traveling, although loathed changing schools. Novels offered an imaginative escape. An only child, she began writing her first novel at the age of nine, learning the joy of creating her own happy endings. Professor emeritus of the University of Texas at Austin, Karen resides in the Hill Country with her husband Peter and her “mews”—three rescued cats and a rescued *Cat*ahoula Leopard dog.

Connect with Karen: 


  1. Thanks so much for interviewing Ben and me, Amber!

  2. Great book and great hero. Best of luck. D. V.🦉

    1. Thanks for your kind words, Donna! Appreciate your stopping by!

  3. Wonderful to weave real history into a compelling story. And what a biography Ben has! Congratulations, Karen.

    1. Charlotte, thanks so much for dropping in today. Ben's a real character, who kinda' wrote himself. Thanks again!


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