This book is a work of fiction, but the historic Fort Verde State Park in Camp Verde, Arizona, is very real. The fort was built between 1871 and 1873, and was in operation until decommissioned in 1891. At that time, the buildings there were sold to the general public, often for as little as $25, and as building materials were hard to come by, many were torn down and carted away for other purposes. It’s pure good fortune that four of the original buildings still stand, and it’s a testament to the people and the town of Camp Verde that such an important relic of our frontier past has been preserved.

I have many people to thank for their knowledge and input for this book, among them Sheila Stubler, head ranger at FVSHP; Bob Jennings and Kelly Jackson, rangers; and Liz Roland, Wade Cox and Ed Lee, volunteers. All were invaluable in answering my questions, digging out old maps and drawings, giving me access to old documents, guiding me to books and pamphlets that helped me make this story as authentic as possible. However, I do want to point out that I did make some small changes to the layout of the homes, solely to serve the story. I do hope any purists out there will forgive me. I also want to say that any inaccuracies or mistakes in clothing, weapons, medical procedures or military protocol are mine alone, and should not be laid at the feet of the people who helped me. While most authors try their best to be as authentic as possible, there is often a fine balance between authenticity and storytelling. When choosing between those two, I hope I have chosen the path that affords the best story with the most believable background.

And finally, if you’re ever near Camp Verde in north-central Arizona, I do hope you’ll stop by the fort and see it for yourself. It’s worth the trip. And the time.

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