New York Times Best Selling Author

The Diary of Mattie Spenser

“One of the bright new voices in historical fiction…Dallas’s authentic period details, her colorful characters, and most of all Mattie herself lend charm and emotional truth to this appealing marital and pioneering adventure.”
—Publishers Weekly

No one is more surprised than Mattie Spenser herself when Luke Spenser, considered the great catch of their small Iowa town, asks her to marry him. Less than a month later, they are off in a covered wagon to build a home on the Colorado frontier. Mattie’s only company is a slightly mysterious husband and her private journal, in which she records the joys and frustrations not just of frontier life, but also of a new marriage to a handsome but distant stranger. As she and Luke make a life together on the harsh and beautiful plains, Mattie learns some bitter truths about her husband and the girl he left behind and finds love where she least expects it. Dramatic and suspenseful, this is an unforgettable story of hardship, friendship, and survival.


Author’s Note

Because of my interest in the West—I wrote nine nonfiction books about the West before I turned to fiction—I’m a sucker for women’s journals of the westward movement. I wanted The Diary of Mattie Spenser to have the elements of a novel but to read as much like a 19th century journal as possible. Mattie is a woman of her time, not a current-day heroine dressed in a long skirt, and the language is faithful to the Civil War era. I added dialogue to keep the diary entries from being too stilted for contemporary readers. Making the diary believable has had an unforeseen consequence: Many readers believe it is an actual journal. They’ve asked where the diary is kept and what happened to the characters after the journal ended. One reader accused me of rewriting some of Mattie’s entries because she recognized my style. Another sent me a copy of an early Denver photograph, asking if the man in the picture was one of the characters in the book.

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