Fun Friday: ‘To Capture His Heart’ (A Ransome Spin-Off #StoryIdea) | #amwriting #romance
Because I’m trying to re-teach myself that writing can be fun, this year, I’m focusing on coming up with new ideas for stories. Does this mean they’ll all get written in novel or even novella form? No guarantees. However, this is a creative exercise that I both need and want to share.
Frederick Ransome = Ben Aldridge
Valeria Amador = Gal Gadot
Valeria Amador (1821) and her brothers, Faron (1819) and Mateo (1823), grew up in one of the largest land-holding Californio families in Alta California, north of San Francisco. Their father, a high-ranking member of the Mexican leadership in Alta California, was arrested and his lands confiscated during the Mexican-American war. Valeria had been engaged to marry a Spanish aristocrat before the war broke out, but once her family lost everything, the engagement was canceled.
With the influx of US soldiers during the war and immigrants flooding in with the peace and the discovery of gold, diseases have run rampant among the Californio and native populations not exposed to them before—including decimating Val’s family. Now all she has left are her two brothers from their once-large family. By chance—because they saw a Wanted poster with a reward listed and they desperately needed the money—the three became some of the best Vigilantes in California. With a nomadic lifestyle—and the occasional hospitality of other Californio families who still have their homes—the Amadors have managed to save most of the money from the bounties they’ve claimed.Older brother Faron has it figured that with just three or four more high-value captures, they can buy enough land for all three of them to be set for the future—for families and children and homes of their own.
Frederick Ransome arrived in Philadelphia at age eighteen to live with his uncle’s family and attend college and medical school. Upon completing his medical degree in 1845, Freddie joined an expedition led by famous explorer John Fremont. The goal was to map the source of the Arkansas River to its source in the eastern Rocky Mountains. However, Fremont actually took them through the mountains and into California—the Sacramento Valley—where he started trying to stir up disaffection against Mexico City and start an independence movement. Freddie didn’t want any part of the war-mongering, so he set out on his own, seeking other doctors—and native shamans and medicine men—who could teach him not just about healing and native plants/remedies, but also about the land itself and how to live with it rather than exploit it.
By the time the Mexican-American War started in 1846, Freddie had apprenticed himself to Dr. John Marsh, a Harvard-educated physician and wealthy land owner in northern California. Marsh was more heavily involved in politics/the war effort than Freddie first realized and he soon struck out on his own again. This time, he ended up in Nueva Helvetia, California, where he was immediately employed as the settlement’s physician by founder John Sutter. Once gold was discovered where the workers were digging the foundation of the new mill Sutter wanted built, immigrants and wagon trains started flooding in—bringing plenty of work for doctors . . . and bounty hunters alike.
With winter approaching, Dr. Frederick Ransome is seeing more and more miners every day with illnesses that could be easily treated in an office or hospital in a city, with the proper medications and nutrition. But as these aren’t available in the gold fields, he applies what he’s learned from the native tribes—herbs and plants found in the area as he travels from camp to camp.
Upon arriving at the latest camp, Freddie ducks into the saloon tent for a bite to eat and to warm up. Within minutes, the mood changes perceptibly, and Freddie turns to see a beautiful woman enter. She looks anxious and asks if there’s a doctor in camp. Freddie identifies himself and rushes out with her when she tells him her brother needs a doctor urgently.
Outside the camp, Freddie is ambushed by two able-bodied men. After riding through the night, they stop to rest the horses and finally tell him what’s happening. They’re Vigilantes (bounty hunters), and they’re taking him to San Francisco to face legal charges for fraud and theft.
Someone has been going from town to town, camp to camp, selling fake medicines (that have been making people sick) and, when he leaves, money and valuables are discovered missing. His name: Dr. Frederick Ransome. And though the drawing on the Wanted poster doesn’t look much like Freddie, it doesn’t matter. He says he is Dr. Frederick Ransome, so they’re taking him in.
Val Amador has had too much experience with avoiding unwanted advances from the men they capture and arrest—so when Freddie Ransome doesn’t behave the way all the others have, she starts to observe him, paying much closer attention to him. Soon, she finds herself believing him and trying to convince her brothers of his innocence. She finally convinces them to detour to a town that leveled a complaint about him to see if they can identify him as the con artist.
When they arrive in the town, Freddie is vindicated, as each person who’d seen the doctor is willing to swear that it wasn’t the man—Freddie—standing before them now. Wanting to clear his name—and spend more time with Val, while also helping the Amadors bring in the reward money—he offers to work with them to track down and capture the man who has stolen his identity.
Will Freddie and Val be able to find the culprit before a rival group of vigilantes, known for delivering their prey dead more often than alive, finds Freddie and takes the law into their own hands?
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