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From New Orleans to Idaho Springs!

Welcome Fellow Women Writing the West Author, J.v.L. Bell!

J.v.L. Bell is a is a Colorado native who grew up listening to stories from Colorado’s vibrant past. Her first novel, The Lucky Hat Mine, is an entertaining historical mystery that weaves together a strong female character, a cozy mystery, romance, and colorful historical characters and tales.

Welcome to the interview:

What inspired you to write this novel?

The Lucky Hat Mine was inspired by my love of my home, Colorado, and by my fascination with historical characters and life during the gold rush days. I wanted to write a fun cozy mystery with a strong female character and interweave the history I love throughout the story.

What is your favorite character and why?

I fell in love with my main character, Millie, as I got to know her. I wanted a strong female character, but as I wrote, a woman emerged who I’m not sure I planned. Her journey from a New Orleans orphan working for a rich family to a woman able to survive in the rough mining town of Idaho Springs was a part of the story I loved.

About The Lucky Hat Mine

Colorado Territory, 1863

What’s a Southern Belle to do?

Wife-wanted ads are always risky business, but Millie Virginia never imagined she’d survive the perilous trip across the Great Plains only to find her intended husband in a pine box. Was he killed in an accident? Or murdered for his gold mine? Stuck in the remote mining town of Idaho Springs without friends or means, Millie is beleaguered by undesirable suitors and threatened by an unknown assailant, but her troubles escalate when the brother of her dead fiancé, Dominic Drouillard, unexpectedly turns up.

Dom is an ill-mannered mountain man who invades Millie’s log cabin, insists that his brother was murdered, and refuses to leave until he finds the killer. Compelled to join forces with her erstwhile brother-in-law, Millie discovers the search for Colorado gold is perilous, especially with a murderer on their trail.

The Lucky Hat Mine interlaces the tale of a feisty heroine with fun frontier history and a bit of romance to create a story the Denver Post described as “filled with period detail and real-life pioneers,…a spirited…tale.”

Comment or ask J.v.L. Bell a question about her novel or about writing it to enter a signed copy of The Lucky Hat Mine. 

Short Excerpt:

In The Lucky Hat Mine, southern belle, Millie Virginia, answers a wife-wanted ad and travels to the small mining town of Idaho Springs in the Colorado Territory. She arrives to find Mr. Drouillard, the man she’s supposed to marry, dead. The following is an excerpt from the book describing her arrival in Idaho Springs.

“That’s Idaho Springs,” said the driver as they topped a rise, pointing to a cluster of log buildings and dusty tents. “The river’s all tore up from the placer mining, but it’s still purdy.”

Millie stared. And stared. That was Idaho Springs? Mountain City and Central City had at least looked like towns, but this? Shabby cabins were spread out across the valley, each located near a mine tailing or ripped up section of river. A few of the structures had roofs, but many were log piles with canvas covers or just well-worn tents. In the center of this hodgepodge was a cluster of larger buildings located haphazardly along the dusty path.

That’s Idaho Springs?” Millie repeated, unable to hide her dismay.

“Yup. People here are real friendly.”

This was her new home? She’d be lucky if Mr. Drouillard owned a cabin with a real roof. Oh, Lor’. She didn’t have to worry about rejection. Her fiancé wouldn’t care if she wasn’t the woman in the picture. He wouldn’t care what she looked like. Any man who lived in such desolation couldn’t be picky.

“You the mail-order bride Mr. D ordered?” the driver asked, giving her a side-glance. “Course you are. No other white woman be coming here unchaperoned. Tonight Mr. D’s gonna be one happy man.”

Millie swallowed, her attention drawn to a crowd of silent people standing near a tilting building with “Theobald and Shafter, General Mercantile” painted in slanting letters across its false front. Millie searched each face, frantically looking for the hairy face she’d memorized. She couldn’t find him. Maybe he’d shaved. Maybe it hadn’t been him in the picture after all. Would he dare to be that dishonest?

The coach stopped and Millie climbed from the dusty stagecoach, her hands shaking. She turned and stared at the silent crowd. No man stepped forward to claim her.

Hesitantly, wishing she knew how to pronounce the name she’d soon acquire, she asked, “Is Mr. Drool… I mean Mr. Droil—”

“Dead,” screamed a shrill voice. “He’s dead! You poor, poor girl. So young, and already a widow.”

What people are saying about The Lucky Hat Mine

“…the perfect blend of romance and suspense. It was subtle and full of humour…” —Inishowen Cailin, Just Book Talk, January 11, 2017

“The Lucky Hat Mine combines murder, mystery, gold mining and life on the early frontier in a perfect blend of fact, fiction and diversion. J.v.L. Bell has certainly done her research of the times and written a story that was hard to put down…. I recommend this book to young and old, mystery and historical readers, and those who just enjoy a well written book.” – Readers’ Favorite

“JvL Bell’s recipe for a great story, simmer a heroine in danger, add a dash of history, and spice with humor.” – HL Miller, Author of the PT Thomas Series

The Lucky Hat Mine Buy Links


Barnes and Noble: 


Amazon Audio CD: 

Publisher: The Hansen Publishing Group:

Connect with J.v.L. Bell




Comment or ask J.v.L. Bell a question about her novel or about writing it to enter a signed copy of The Lucky Hat Mine. 
















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  1. Julie:
    An entertaining plot. A naïve heroine. Humorous, yet authentic dialogue. No wonder you are receiving accolades from fellow authors. I plan to put next on my reading “to do” list.

    1. Carmen Peone says:

      I agree, Judith. It looks wonderful!

  2. I read LUCKY HAT MINE some months ago and really liked it a lot. It is a great story, very believable and entertaining.

    1. Carmen Peone says:

      I love that this book as an entertainment element. Thank you, Irene!