the wildest, wickedest, wealthiest
big “small” town in the west


About The Author

“When we read books, whether they are true history, based upon history, creative art, or pure journalistic reporting, we are reading about someone else. The mistakes, crimes, affairs and achievements are committed by characters on a page. For the writer, there is a piece of your heart and your own story embedded in works of creative or historic fiction. For the reader, they can face their own demons, without revealing them to anyone else. It is a private world—between the author, the reader, and the characters they live with for a brief time. It is a delicious way to escape the present!”


Cookesville, U.S.A. Is A Fictional Western Town Whose Story, Location And Peoples Have Been Ripped From The Pages Of History.
From Santa Fé, New Mexico, To The Goldfields Of California In 1850, To The Settling Of Cookesville In California's Central Valley, Its Colorful Characters Bring To Life The True Drama Of Westward Expansion and Western Romance

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Cookesville: Historical Fiction Book

If you are a fan of the historical fiction book, Cookesville by Sarah Burns is for you. Cookesville introduces readers to many historical characters, weaving together fictional storylines with dramatic history and Western romance. For instance, in the crossroads, which was Santa Fé of 1846, Burns highlights the life and saloon of the historical character, Doña Gertrudis Barcelό, or “La Tules,” as the people of Santa Fé called her. Here, the flavors of the Old West and Spanish cultures combine to take readers on a whirlwind adventure and romance, the backdrop of which is the Mexican-American War, 1846-48. Her ability to weave together the elements of history with fiction makes her historical fiction book, Cookesville, stand out. Moving on from Santa Fé, newly-wed Frank Cooke experienced the early days of the Gold Rush in California; in the chapter which explains, “How the White Man Took the Land…Again!” Working on his claim, Cooke becomes a very wealthy man who nevertheless experiences the dangers of vigilante law. He and his entourage of Native Americans, Mestizos and Chinese eventually retraced his original route back to the southern San Andreas valley. There, he and his family settle by a river they humbly name the Cooke River, creating the town of Cookesville.
This California central valley city embodies the struggles that ran strong as the state of California came to life in 1850, bypassing the process of organizing as a territory and racing to become a free-soil state. Encompassing lands which paralleled both the previously delineated North and South during the antebellum period, it became an instant combination of numerous races, mixed faces and outlooks. The passions which typify the goals of each ethnicity can be witnessed in its early development. Paradoxically, the spirits of the Old South and the Antebellum North compete on this western soil. The result of these equal but opposite visions would lead to violent confrontations. In this historical fiction romance, readers learn the backstory of the people who originally settled Cookesville, following their offspring and their relations into the 20th and 21st centuries, along with the influence of new in-migrating peoples. Their red-hot relations and stories are compelling, exciting, exotic and sensual, and though they are fictional, they are solidly based upon real characters. You won’t want to miss a single epoch or individual storyline in this Western romance. Cookesville exemplifies not only how the West was won but how the spirit of survivalism was essential in uniting cultures on a local and national level.

Mexican-American War: 1846-1848

Cookesville, a historical fiction romance, highlights Mexican American War, which was an important conflict in the history of North America. It began with territorial disputes between the United States and Mexico that resulted in significant territorial gains for the US. The war perfectly portrayed the military prowess of both nations. Sarah Burns has done a splendid job of portraying the realities of history in her historical fiction romance, Cookesville.

Historical Fiction Romance Book: Cookesville

Sarah has showcased her talent of weaving together the elements of history and fiction to show readers that the past is alive and living right here in the present in her historical fiction romance book, Cookesville, U.S.A.
— Peter S. Freedman, Artist & Writer
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“In ‘Cookesville, USA’, Sarah Burns has done what all great historians do – show us that the past is alive and well and living right here in the present. In fact, the wonderful/terrible truth about Cookesville, California (which is Ms. Burns’s pen name for a real life city located about 100 miles north of Los Angeles) is that not much has changed since its founding back in the nineteenth century. In exquisite and moving detail, Ms. Burns teaches us exactly what put the ‘wild’ into the Wild West – lots of sex, money, compassion, brutality and a powerful heartfelt belief that the American Dream could be made real. ‘Cookesville, USA’ is a beautifully grand story. Although California of 1851 might feel like a John Ford movie while Cookesville of 1961 reads more like Raymond Chandler, altogether it defines an identity that is uniquely American – that we are a land of both scoundrels and heroes and we’re not entirely sure which ones deserve our deepest affections.”

About The Book

Cookesville introduces readers to many historic characters, weaving together fictional story lines with dramatic history. For instance, in the crossroads which was Santa Fé of 1846, Burns highlights the life and saloon of the historic character, Doña Gertrudis Barcelό, or “La Tules,” as the people of Santa Fé called her. Here, the flavors of the Old West and Spanish cultures combine to take readers on a whirlwind adventure and romance, the backdrop of which is the Mexican-American War, 1846-48.

Customers reviews

Anne R. Marshall
A saga covering a family, a town, and a nation. Totally enthralling.
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Cookesville U.S.A. by S.C. Burns looked foreboding: 703 pages. In printed form it is nearly two inches thick. I settled in to read and found myself immediately in the middle of a saga. It started with the original Frank Cooke and his wife. Lily and their stories in 1850, but quickly proceeded to modern Cookesville in 1946 and beyond. The focus was on Lyndon (Lynnie) Wethers, originally an investigator who worked for the FBI and the IRS, but eventually became the in-house investigator for Sam Cooke's law firm. Lynnie spent six years in Las Vegas, investigating the skimming the mob was doing there. He became friends with Bugsy Siegel until Bugsy's untimely demise. When he returned to Cookesville, some things had changed, much had not. Lynnie fell in love with a woman whom he had know before he had left the area: Stella Garcia. She had been a child then and she was a woman now. She apparently had been as interested in him as he in her. Their affair lasted a year. They both moved on, not happily. Time did not stand still. Lynnie fell in love again and wrongdoing never stopped. His morals were questionable but he was always looking for justice. Very often he found it. The book followed his life and the lives and loves of many other Cookesville residents for years, until most of the originals lay in their graves. Cookesville U.S.A. was interspersed with local and national history. It covered the Gold Rush, then, skipped to the time after WWII. It saw racism rise and fall and rise gain. It told the story of people lives, some in detail, some on occasion. It is a wonderful example of storytelling. There were errors: some typos, some inconsistencies, which were minor, and rampant misuse of apostrophes in plurals. I noted these in passing, I was so enthralled with the story. The characters were sharp and well-defined. The plot(s) were intriguing and consistent with the time and place. The pacing was marvelous, as it would have to be in a book of this length. Don't be intimidated. It was worth the time to read this fascinating history of our country interwoven with many personal histories, just as life is. I recommend it. I was invited the read a free ARC of Cookesville U.S.A. by The Mystery Review Crew and Outskirts Press. All thoughts and opinions are my own. #mysteryreviewcrew #outskirtspress #scburns #cookesvilleusa
Patty Sahagun
Cooksville, wow what a roller coaster ride,you will love this book
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Cookeville,the best summer read in a very long time. I loved every word of this book! Author Sarah C Burns well done!
Debbie Meeks
Must read for Bakersfield natives
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The juicy and informative story is artistically woven throughout a backdrop of California history and the broader history of America from the 1850s on, as told by a narrator. This technique gives depth to the story of some pretty savory fellows who committed some unbelievably harrowing and gruesome underground crimes. Their identifies were protected by the use of pseudonyms, even though most of them have passed away by now. Having been born and raised in Bakersfield, I recognized many of the frequented places and knew of many of the characters. It was a real eye-opener and made for an interesting read. And, then my mom told me Dr. "Vonn" had delivered me! It was hard rooting for Lynnie, the protagonist, who was more like an antagonist, but near the end of the book I finally felt sorry for him. I will miss the characters. Thank you, Sarah, for writing this valuable history book, for teaching these lessons. PS: For anyone that needs a refresher course on the civil rights movement and the political machinations of the 1920s through the 1980s, this book could be very useful and has the best ever explanation of the Viet Nam war.
Thrifty LoCo
Great story plus lots of history
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I was a little intimidated when I first saw the size of this book....just over 700 pages! But as soon as I started reading, I found myself wishing it was even longer. It's interesting and much so that you won't even notice you're learning things in the process! It follows the Cook family from around the 1850s through the post-World War 2 era. There is a lot of excitement, and the characters live through some pretty pivotal moments in history. I enjoyed learning about these major events, as well as what life was like for everyday people during these times. Let me stress that, despite everything I learned, this NEVER felt like I was reading a history book. Every page felt like reading a fascinating fictional story. I came away feeling both satisfied with the story itself, and pleased with how much smarter I felt. I truly hope the author writes some spin-offs to delve more deeply into other time periods and events. Definitely a 5-star historical fiction book!
Chelsie S.
Interesting read about the Wild West and history of Cookesville!
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This novel is quite the Wild West ride – don’t let the heft of this book scare you off. It reads very fast and I really enjoyed how the author wrote the different time lines. This story starts out with a literal bang, and Lennie is called in to fix things. All must be well within Cookesville and Lennie’s your man. The novel then switches to Frank Cooke’s arrival into the West with two others who often are given a second look. It’s every many for himself and it doesn’t take Frank long to get his camp set up and soon plans for a settlement. Following Frank and Lennie’s storylines you learn the history of Cookesville- the good, the bad, the ugly and its secrets many hoped stayed buried. I’ve always been intrigued by these mining towns so I enjoyed reading the history of Cookesville and how the author took you through its history. Anyone looking to read more about the Wild West- I highly suggest this novel. Thank you to Cozy Mystery Review for the invite and S.C Burns for the free novel.
A Really Great Book
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If you are looking at the reviews for this book, it must mean you are thinking about reading it. To that I say do it! This book is a novel with a history lesson that is snuck in and it's 100% interesting The only con to this book in my opinion is it is too heavy! I wish the author would have made this into a two book series. I received an arc of this book and am voluntarily leaving my review.
A profound look into a family as fortunes and reputations are made or lost.
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S.C. Burns did an incredible job blending histories from the 1850’s of the “original” Cooke family of our story to the early 2000’s where in my opinion most of the focus was on Lyndon “Lynnie” Wethers. The depth of the characters and the nuance of the settings all draw you into the story until you are so immersed it is a shock to realize you have finished reading the book. Please don’t let the 713 pages deter you from reading this phenomenal story because the pages fly by and there is never a dull moment. This isn’t my normal genre these days, but I absolutely enjoyed reading this.
Dianne Davega
This is a multi-layered, in-depth and fascinating generational history of a single family.
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This book, written in such a deliberate and enticing style that it is difficult - if not impossible - to put down. When finished, the generations of the family explored throughout the pages became part and parcel of my own cadre of acquaintances and friends. The underlying fact that it is all true (with names modified and changed) makes turning the pages and absorbing the history even more compelling. An excellent read with the hope of more books to come from this skilled author.
Background of activities in Kern County where I reside
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Kern County history with fictional names.