Review – The Home Place, by Carrie LaSeur

The Home Place, by Carrie LaSeur

This book has it all:  an amazing combination of mystery, romance and family dysfunction, with dark secrets from the past.  Above all, it’s an ode to kind of pull that brings you back to the place you grew up, even after you’ve tried to leave it.  I have felt this pull myself drawing me back to our family ranch in Colorado.

In this case, The Home Place is a ranch east of Billings, Montana.  The author has a gift for evoking its hold on her protagonist, Alma, a successful young Seattle attorney who has tried to escape it.  Alma returns to Billings for the funeral of her drug-abusing younger sister, Vickie, who has died under mysterious circumstances.  During the next six days, Alma tangles with an unscrupulous oil developer trying to acquire her family’s home place, a brutal uncle and his sickly wife, her gay brother, and her degenerate sister’s circle of unsavory friends.  As she works to solve the mystery of her sister’s death, she must find a way to take care of her seven-year old orphaned niece, and choose between her Seattle boyfriend and her Billings high school sweetheart, a rancher named Chance Murphy.

Carrie LaSeur is adept at weaving back-story into the unfolding present in a way that doesn’t detract from the drama.  As an author myself, I was captivated by the way she uses gestures and expressions to convey emotion and by her use of images like this one describing tough frontier women as winter aspens,bare of ornament, stark, giving the appearance of death, yet green and resilient at the core, and tied to the place and the people with a vast network of unseen roots.”  And her opening lines personifying the cold in Montana gave me, well, chills.

I couldn’t disagree more with the reviewers who dismiss this book as a romance novel disguised as literary fiction.  It’s got a bit of romance, to be sure, but it is so much more than that.  I give it five stars.


Little Sleepyhead, by Elizabeth McPike

Here’s a book for the little ones.  A sweet, bedtime story to read to one, two and three-year-olds.  It’s gentle rhymes are the kind of verse that when repeated, will pop back into children’s heads after they are grown up.  We sent the book to our new grandson, Orion, and can’t wait to read it to him when we see him next.

Liz McPike is a friend of ours who for many years served as editor of the American Educator.  She has a great sense of what works in early childhood education, and has brought that knowledge and experience into this charming little book.

David and Linda Jessup

Book Tour by Laura Pritchett

One of my favorite authors may be coming your way. If you live in any 51sZLbsMZLL._SL160_of the cities listed below, be sue to attend Laura Pritchett’s reading and book signing event. She’s a prize-winning author from northern Colorado, and is a neighbor of ours. Two of her previous books are among my favorites: Hell’s Bottom, Colorado and Stars Go Blue. Many of the same characters populate both stories, including an Alzheimer’s victim to tries to avenge the murder of his daughter before his disease makes it impossible. Very gripping. I haven’t yet read her new book, Red Lightning, but it sounds great as well: a woman who abandons her baby daughter to smuggle illegal aliens seeks redemption.

June 20, 5 pm, Skylight Books Los Angeles, CA 
June 26, 2 pm, BookPeople of Moscow, Idaho
June 27, 7 pm Auntie’s Books, Spokane, WA
June 28, 3 pm, Elliott Bay Books, Seattle, WA
June 29, 7:30 pm Powell’s Bookstore Hawthorne Portland, OR
July 1, 7 pm,  Book Bar, Denver, CO
July 13, 7 pm, Porter Square Books, Cambridge, MA
July 14, 7 pm, Powerhouse Arena, Brooklyn, NY

Mariano’s Crossing Tour – View from Red Ridge


Was this ridge the secret grave site of Lena Medina, the fifteen-year-old daughter of Loveland’s first settler? According to David M. Jessup’s historical novel, Mariano’s Crossing, the beautiful young girl could have been buried in a place like this after her distraught Indian mother stole the girl’s body from their home on the Big Thompson River.

Thirty participants visited this site during the May 17 tour of historic sites depicted in the book.

“Wow! What a ride and what a beautiful place,” said one participant after ascending to the cliff top.“ Another said, “it was a very special day for all of us. David Jessup was so knowledgeable of the history of the ranch and of course of his book.”

The tour, sponsored by the Heart-J Center for Experiential Learning at Sylvan Dale ranch, began with brunch in the ranch dining room followed by a walking visit to the original ranch homestead next to the river. Other sites included the restored Medina cemetery, the old Weldon school, and Namaqua Park, location of the original stage stop and trading post established by Mariano Medina in 1858.

The tour was sold out several days in advance, and a waiting list established for the next tour, to be scheduled sometime in September. To get on the wait list, contact To purchase a book, visit

, ,

The Reporter Herald posts an article on upcoming historical tour

History and fiction combined in tour of Mariano’s Crossing

By Jessica Benes

Reporter-Herald Staff Writer

POSTED:   05/13/2015 03:31:40 PM MDT


Mariano’s Crossing

“Mariano’s Crossing” is available at or on the Amazon and Barnes & Noble websites. His next book, a prequel to this one, is almost reading to be published.

Find out more about the tours at

David M Jessup surveying flood damage at Sylvan Dale Ranch

Standing on the bridge over the Big Thompson river where the road was washed away by flood waters, David Jessup, owner of Sylvan Dale Guest Ranch, talks with a man surveying damage Thursday, September 26, 2013 in west Loveland. The guest ranch sustained heavy damage in the Front Range flood. (Lilia Munoz / Loveland Reporter-Herald)

In David Jessup’s story, “Mariano’s Crossing,” he uses history and creative fiction to answer the “why” of many mysteries in Mariano Medina’s life.

Mariano Medina was one of the first settlers in the area before Loveland was Loveland.

History is full of holes. There were rumors that Medina’s wife, Takansy, stole their daughter’s body, who died at 15, and buried it in a secret place. There were rumors that Medina tied his son onto a horse and that his son died that way. There were rumors that Medina shot a man off a ladder while the man was working on his roof.

Jessup, who owns Sylvan Dale Guest Ranch with his sister, Susan Jessup, will host a tour on Sunday of historic sites used in his book.

Visitors will take a walking tour of the main ranch and look at a site of Indian tepee rings and a wall that was part of the original homestead of William Alexander, who settled with his family on the property in 1864. The wall used to be beneath a lodge that was destroyed by the September 2013 Front Range flood.

The tour will also include a drive to the site of the old Weldon School and to the Mariano Medina Cemetery near Namaqua Park. Jessup will also show viewers the location behind the Big Thompson School that he used in his book as the fictional burial site of Lena Medina and John Alexander’s hideout.

“We did a previous tour back in the spring of 2013. There was so much demand for it that we scheduled another in September 2013,” Jessup said. “Then, you know what happened in September 2013.”

The flood that came down the Big Thompson River dug out a big chunk of the Sylvan Dale land and took out several buildings. The ranch is back on its feet but can only serve half the people it used to. The ranch used to have lodging for 60 people for overnight stays and now are at around 30.

Jessup said the tour is available for only 30 people but they are compiling a waiting list for more tours at a time and date to be determined.

“Mariano’s Crossing” is available at or on the Amazon and Barnes & Noble websites. His next book, a prequel to this one, is almost reading to be published.

Jessica Benes: 970-669-5050 ext. 530,


May 7th – Mariano’s Crossing – Loveland’s First Family, Fact and Fiction

Join author David Jessup for a virtual journey into post-gold rush Colorado, when Mariano Medina, a Mexican trader, became the richest man in the Big Thompson valley. What caused the mysterious death of Mariano’s daughter, Lena? Why did Mariano’s Indian wife steal Lena’s body from their home? These questions, and more, will be explored in depth using historic images from the museum’s collection. Contact: David Jessup at (970) 481-8342.

Mariano's Crossing Book CoverDavid-JCost:          Free

Time:         5:00pm-6:00pm

Location:   Loveland Museum/Gallery, 503 N Lincoln Avenue, Loveland

Mariano’s Crossing – Book Tour of Historic Sites


In cooperation with Loveland’s Historic Preservation Month, I will be leading a tour of sites described in my award-winning historical novel, Mariano’s Crossing on Sunday, May 17, 2015.  The tour is sponsored by the Heart-J Center for Experiential Learning at Sylvan Dale Ranch.

The event will begin with brunch at Sylvan Dale, followed by a presentation and a walking tour of the ranch grounds, including Indian tipi rings and the remains of the original Alexander homestead dugout, which was exposed by the 2013 flood.  We’ll end with beverages and snacks and a presentation on the history of Sylvan Dale and the great floods of 1976 and 2013. In between, the group will visit the site of the old Weldon School, the Medina Cemetery, Namaqua Park (Mariano’s original Crossing) and Red Ridge, the novel’s imagined location of John Alexander’s hideout and Lena’s secret gravesite.

A group tour at Sylvan Dale RanchThe Red Ridge segment of the tour will be available only to participants who have their own four-wheel drive vehicles, who can car-pool with someone else, or who choose to climb the last half-mile on foot (calculate a half-hour fairly steep hike up an old quarry road bed).  Those who are unable to join the Red Ridge segment will return to Sylvan Dale for happy hour before the late afternoon program. 

Cabins are available for optional bed-and-breakfast stays for anyone who would like an overnight spring get-away.

I look forward to your joining us!

David M. Jessup


PS. For those not able to join the tour, please consider attending a “virtual tour” (my Fact-to-Fiction slide presentation) at 5:00 PM on Thursday, May 7, at the Loveland Museum, 503 N. Lincoln Ave. No charge, no RSVP necessary.

COST:  $79.00, paid in advance.  Includes full brunch, late afternoon snacks, meeting facility and tour.  Optional Bed-and-breakfast overnight “spring getaway” stay available for $110/night (double occupancy).

REGISTRATION:  On-line at,

Or send a check to National Center for Craftsmanship (fiscal sponsor of Heart-J Center, at PO Box 150, Masonville, CO 80541, with “HJC book tour” in memo line.   Questions?  E-mail, or call (970) 481-8342.  


12:00 Noon.  Full brunch in the Sylvan Dale Heritage Room.

12:30 PM.  Historic photo slide presentation Mariano’s Crossing – From Fact to Fiction. Heritage Room, Sylvan Dale Ranch.

1:00 PM.  Walking tour of main ranch grounds, including the original William Alexander Homestead, the original bridge location, old barn, Indian tipi rings, and view of Mt. Alexander.

2:00 PM.  Depart for driving tour, car caravan to the Weldon School ruins, Marianna Butte, Medina Cemetery, and Mariano’s Crossing near Namaqua Park.

4:00 AM.  Red Ridge, the “Hideout,” overlooking the river valley below. (hikers and 4-wheelers only. Others return to main ranch for happy hour). 

5:30 PM. Beverages and snacks at Sylvan Dale Heritage Room, with presentation on the history of Sylvan Dale and the great floods of 1976 and 2013.

Optional: Overnight Bed and Breakfast “spring get-away” stays available at Sylvan Dale. $110/night.



, , ,

Conversations With Authors Event

When I started twelve years ago to write my historical novel, Mariano’s Crossing, I never thought I would be sharing a speakers platform with two of my favorite authors, Laura Pritchett and Patty Limerick.  Now, I am pleased to say, that moment has come.

On Saturday, October 5, starting at 10:00 AM, the three of us will be speaking at a “Conversations with Authors” event at the Embassy Suites Hotel near the Budweiser Events Center Near Crossroads Blvd and I-25.  Sponsored by the American Association of University Women, the event raises funds for post-graduate scholarships for women.  The cost is $50.

For reservations, including lunch, contact Martha Diccico by e-mail  or call 970-461-5794.  The RSVP deadline is Monday, September 30, but if you get this too late, try anyway!

I first learned about Laura Pritchett when I got hooked on her book, Hell’s Bottom, Colorado.  It’s a collection of inter-connected short stories which, taken together, create a compelling account of three generations of a ranching family in a town suspiciously like Bellvue, Colorado, where Laura lives.  Word is out she has a sequel in the works, and I’m elbowing everyone else aside to be first in line to buy it.

Patty Limerick runs the Center for the American West at CU, and in her previous books has transformed the way we view the history of the American West.  Her latest book, A Ditch in Time, tells the fascinating story of Denver Water, with some characters that appear stranger than fiction.  Each wonderfully readable chapter begins with–you guessed it–a limerick.

Hope you can join us.  For me, it will be a nice break from Sylvan Dale flood recovery!


David J

PS.  Click here to read an article about this event in the Loveland Reporter Herald.

, , , ,

Colorado Book Award

Mariano’s Crossing has been selected as one of three finalists for the Colorado Book Award in literary fiction, to be announced at the Colorado Book Award Celebration on Friday, June 21, from 1 to 4 PM, at the Doerr-Hosler Center at the Aspen Meadows Resort in Aspen, Colorado.

I’ll be reading an excerpt from my book at a Finalist Reading Event, Thursday, April 25, 2013, from 6 to 9 PM at the Denver Press Club, 1330 Glenarm Place in Denver.  C’mon down!

David J


Mariano’s Crossing Book Launch

I’m pleased that the launch of my historical novel, Mariano’s Crossing, was attended by over 100 people.  Thanks to all!  The event took place Friday, Oct. 12, 5:30 PM, at Anthology Book Company, 422 E. Fourth St. in Loveland.

I’ll be donating my part of the book sale proceeds to the Loveland Historical Society’s Medina Cemetery Project, in honor of the 200th Anniversary of the birth of Mariano Medina, Loveland’s first settler and a central character in my novel.

Hope you can join the party!


David J