The Improbable Journeys of Billy Battles

After meeting the widowed Baroness Katharina von Schreiber during dinner a few nights before at the captain’s table aboard the S S China, Billy is pretty sure this is a woman that has no interest in him and he is convinced that because of her caustic comments during dinner, that he has no interest in her either. As he settles in his cabin for the night, there is a knock at his door. When he opens the door, there stands the Baroness. She asks if he would join her outside on the deck and Billy, being polite, agrees.

We stood at the ship’s railing in awkward silence for a few moments. I was waiting for Katharina to explain why she wanted to talk to me, but she seemed content to stare out at the glabrous black sea. I resolved not to disrupt whatever reverie had seized her and remained mute. The only sounds were the dull vibrating hum of the ship’s engines and the soft splash of water against the hull as the ship sliced through the ocean. It was about nine thirty, and a full moon irradiated the water with shimmering threadlike streaks of pale light.
I found myself stealing quick but meticulous glances at Katharina’s profile silhouetted against the dim running lights of the ship. She stood about five feet ten inches tall, maybe four inches shorter than I was. Her beauty was breathtaking. She seemed perfect in almost every physical feature. Still, it was her personality, her caustic behavior that detracted from that stunning physical beauty. Until I met Katharina Schreiber, I was sure my late Mallie was the most beautiful woman I had ever seen. Of course, Mallie was also beautiful inside where it actually counted. I wasn’t so sure about the widow Schreiber.
I was still debating that issue when Katharina at last broke the silence.
“Mr. Battles, I need your help.”
I was not expecting that. “My help?”
“Yes,” she said, her voice quavering. Then she continued. Her words were barely above a whisper. “I don’t want to sound overly histrionic, but it really is a matter of life and death . . . and Deputy Captain Partington informed me that you are a deputy U.S. marshal.”
“That’s a bit of a stretch . . . I haven’t worn any kind of badge for years, and even then, I am not sure how legitimate it was.”
“But Mr. Partington said you showed him and Captain Kreitz your badge.”
I began to explain why I had shown them my U.S. marshal’s badge, but Katharina interjected before I got very far.
“Of course, if you aren’t willing to help me, then I shall bid you good evening.”
I wondered if she was joking or being facetious about her problem being life or death. After all, I had experienced the widow Schreiber’s razor-sharp cleverness at the dinner table. When I turned to look at her, however, I was met with a face that was obviously distraught. Her lips and chin were trembling, her bright green eyes were damp and glistened brightly in the pale light, and her knuckles were clutching the railing so tightly that they were turning white.
“I apologize . . . It’s simply that I didn’t think you meant it for real play.”
“I am serious,” she rasped. “This is not a matter of any flippancy.”
I didn’t know what to say. I cleared my throat, but my words came out gravelly and dissonant.
“Mrs. Schreiber, I did not mean to make light of your, uh, situation.”
“What situation?” she demanded, her voice rising sharply. “I haven’t even explained anything yet.”
“I am sorry . . . I—”
Before I could finish, she held up her hand and shook her head. “No, no, please forgive me. I am sure I sound a bit vague and mysterious.”
With that, she placed her hand softly on my arm. It was the first time she had touched me, and I felt an electric tremor as adrenaline surged through my body. My posture went suddenly rigid with legs and arms firmly tensed. I shuddered noticeably.
“Are you all right?” she asked, quickly removing her hand from my arm.
I covered my mouth with my hand and coughed quietly.
“I think I may be coming down with something,” I lied.
“Perhaps we should leave this to another time.”
“No, it is okay . . . please continue.”
We stood there for another five minutes or so, and she related one of the most extraordinary stories I had ever heard.
It seems the widow Schreiber had been a bit judicious with the facts at the captain’s table that first night aboard ship. Her German husband had indeed passed on, she was a widow, she had indeed grown up in Chicago of German parentage, and she was on her way to the Philippines to join her brother. That much was true. However, the rest of her story was almost unbelievable.
“I am a widow because I killed my husband,” Katharina suddenly declared. Her eyes were focused keenly on me as if looking to see what my reaction to that astounding bit of news might be. I am sure I flinched a bit as her words sunk in.
“You, uh, killed your husband . . . ?”
Katharina quickly interrupted before I could say more.
“Yes . . . but you will note that I told you I killed my husband, not that I murdered him.”
“That seems like a rather subtle distinction,” I responded.
Katharina was facing me squarely now, her face barely a foot from mine. This time when she spoke, it was in a voice just above a whisper.
“You must let me explain now that I have released the genie from the bottle. However, I don’t relish providing details here in the open. May we go to my cabin?”

After meeting the widowed Baroness Katharina von Schreiber during dinner a few nights before at the captain’s table aboard the S S China, Billy is pretty sure this is a woman that has no interest in him and he is convinced that because of her caustic comments during dinner, that he has no interest in her either. As he settles in his cabin for the night, there is a knock at his door. When he opens the door, there stands the Baroness. She asks if he would join her outside on the deck and Billy, being polite, agrees.
Ronald E. Yates is an author of award-winning historical fiction and action/adventure novels, including the popular and highly-acclaimed Finding Billy Battles trilogy.

Editorial Reviews
The Improbable Journeys of Billy Battles is just as powerful a read as its predecessor, Finding Billy Battles, taking readers on a realistic and compelling journey from Kansas to the wider world and bringing with it the subtle nuances, emotions, and feel of the late 1800s. Unlike the first book, however, this one takes place far from the Kansas world Billy operated in, and follows his far-reaching journeys which begin in 1894, with Billy sailing to the Far East in the firm clutches of dangerous associates. Revolution and turmoil are in the air; and with Billy at the eye of the storm, a rollicking good read is the result: one highly recommended for fans of not just Westerns, but compelling historical action stories. D. Donovan, Senior Reviewer, Midwest Book Review.

The second volume in the Finding Billy Battles trilogy, The Improbable Journeys of Billy Battles picks up right where its predecessor left off. This time, author Ronald Yates' intrepid protagonist finds himself on a steamship en route to the Far East, trying to assuage the pain of losing his beloved wife. It isn't long before Billy is immersed in a tumultuous world of action, adventure, and danger, all set against the backdrop of ever-unfolding cultural and political events. Featuring superb plot and character development, the most salient aspect of Yates' tale is his inimitable storytelling style. Though he's chosen late 19th century Asia as the subject of his latest offering, one gets the sense Yates could write about any number of different topics with the same compelling skill, and the result would be the same: a rich, eye-opening yarn that proves impossible to put down. In an era where the average attention span is as long as the next Snapchat video, this ability is a rare trait, and indicative of true literary talent.
Rife with eye-opening action and engrossing details, The Improbable Journeys of Billy Battles treats the reader to the highly intriguing travels of a seasoned journeyman. Highly recommended. Daniel Goodson, Apex Reviews

Recent Amazon Customer Reviews:

5.0 out of 5 stars A Story You can't Put Down Until You Finish.
By John W. Howell on June 19, 2016
The Improbable Journeys of Billy Battles (Trilogy Book Two) by Ronald E. Yates

Ron Yates has an engaging style of writing that grabs the reader in the first few paragraphs and doesn’t let go until the end. His second book deals with another chapter in the life of Billy Battles. Book one was a delight and centered on Billy’s rough and tumble life on the Kansas plains and his dealings with the likes of Bat Masterson and other heroes of the West. Billy is a correspondent who sees life through a reporter's eyes.

The second book begins in 1894 and Billy is off on an adventure to the Orient on a ship appropriately named SS China. While on the SS China he meets the lovely widow Baroness Katharina von Schreiber. She is a very attractive person who Billy finds it difficult turning down any request she has of him. The Baroness is a person of interest in Germany since there are questions regarding her involvement in her husband’s murder. Before the voyage is complete, Billy must deal with special agents hired by the German government bent on returning Katharina to Germany. Now if all this sounds like the whole story, please be assured this is just one piece. Billy goes on to fight pirates, the Anti-French insurgency in Indochina, and the Spanish-American War in the Philippines.

As you can imagine this story has enough history and action for any reader. Mr. Yates spends lots of time developing the tableau with a richness that is pleasing and rewarding for those who crave depth' in their novels. I always evaluate a book by how much sleep I lose in not wanting to put it down. The second book of The Improbable Journeys of Billy Battles is a five cups of coffee the morning after winner. This story is so good and the writing so superb I would recommend this book to anyone.

5.0 out of 5 stars Indochina and the war in the Philippines
By Mary Parkhurst on December 1, 2016
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Book 2 in Ronald E. Yates' trilogy of books about a journalist whose life spanned a century, this volume continues the story of Billy Battles, aptly named because the protagonist winds up in war zones. He's not seeking violence. He's grieving. But life doesn't give him time to do that. Soon he's protecting a beautiful and mysterious woman (who readers hope will turn into a love interest), he's escaping a Pinkerton detective, and looking up old friends in Saigon. Once again the history and sense of place is spot on--from the humidity to the the smells to the stirrings of rebellion against the French. Another rebellion looms as Billy makes his return, this time in the Philippines. This is a fascinating account of the struggle between the Colonial powers: Germany, Spain, and the United States. This book is incredibly well researched and historically accurate, but Billy remained front and center, a genuine American hero.

5.0 out of 5 starsExcellent - this is a top-notch novel
By Rocky Melton November 26, 2016
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Excellent writing, and very interesting story. I purchased this book and was very impressed. Has anyone else who has read this book got a recommendation for something similar?

5.0 out of 5 stars Great historical fiction of late 1900s
By Rachel Horonon October 30, 2016
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Billy Battles is on his way to Asia looking for answers in his life and the chance to reconnect with friends he made in the previous years. His journey takes him away from his family for a few years, but it puts him deep into espionage, guerrilla warfare, and the turmoil of European colonization of Asia in the late 1800s. It also reflects on the opinions the United States during that time period. There was talk about the American feelings about colonization when it occurred in their own country just over 100 years before. The characters are well developed and the historical fiction is written in a way that you feel it is truly someone's memoir. Either Billy was lucky or unlucky to be in the heart of many conflicts in the few years he journeyed that side of the world. He is a well-rounded character who is approachable to a variety of lifestyles and cultures, but also strong enough to lead and defend his group at a moment's notice. This book may be simple enough for those who are not as well versed in the history or for those who are fascinated with this time period both home and abroad.

5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent storytelling set against a highly detailed historical background
By horrorgirldonnaon October 28, 2016
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“The Improbable Journeys of Billy Battles” is the gripping follow-up to Ronald E. Yates’ “Finding Billy Battles.” Through his detailed descriptions and well-paced storytelling, Yates takes his reader to the far-reaching regions of the globe. Beginning in Kansas and journeying to the exotic Philippines and French Indochina, the three-part series chronicles the century-long life of Billy in a factual / fictional way using real events of the period as a setting in a brilliant way.

Told through Billy’s journals, this installment opens with Billy struggling with despair and having left his mother, the parents of his now-deceased wife, and small daughter. Now working as a journalist on a ship heading for the Orient where he meets the beautiful but mysterious widow, the Baroness Katharina von Schreiber. But this is only one little piece of Billy’s story. Billy’s story also includes battles with pirates and Pinkerton men, as well as his daughter’s kidnapping by some Germans, and intriguing friendships with names you might run across in a history book—if history books were only that interesting. This is highly recommended to anyone who loves historical fiction that will immerse you in the era with its attention to detail and historical accuracy. Very nicely done. I was hooked and you will be, too!

5.0 out of 5 stars It is good
By fausto marmolon October 27, 2016
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The highlights to me: it has historical aspects integrated in the story and the way it is written. the story has a wide variety of characters.with this book you may experience a good fictional story and at the same time learn real historical events. The author has a lot imagination and creativity.
I don't want to be a spoiler, it is good, read it yourself.

5.0 out of 5 stars An Adventure At Its Finest
By Cassandraon October 26, 2016
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I love the use of historical facts within this series but, more than that, I just found the book fun and fascinating overall. It is a great tale of adventure and far off places, and the author does an amazing job of bringing these to life. Additionally, the book works pretty well as a standalone as well. So, you could read it and enjoy it even if you haven’t read the first book in the series.

I recommend this book especially strongly to anybody who loves historical fiction, as it is a great example of that. But, even if you’re not really into historical fiction, the story is a fun adventure novel in its own right and well worth the read.

5.0 out of 5 stars Great insight on traveling during that late 19th century.
By Peggy on October 25, 2016
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What a legacy! Ted Sayles was with left three journals from his great-grandfather’s travels that are full of adventure, wisdom, and insight of the years when he was vacant from his family.
The Improbable Journeys of Billy Battles: Book 2 starts when Billy Battles left his daughter with his mother after his wife died. He questions whether he was running away and if he was doing what was right by his family.
The first quest started when it was rumored he was a U.S. Marshall, although he hadn’t worn any kind of badge for years. The misunderstanding leads the widow, Baroness Katharina von Schreiber, to ask for his help.
This directs him to the French vessel, SS Trave. He isn’t on the ship for 24 hours before it is attack by pirates. Exciting events unfold everywhere Billy goes, but he seems to take them with stride no matter the perils.

5.0 out of 5 stars Loved this one!
By Robin Surfaceon October 25, 2016
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If you like historic fiction mixed with a little romance and intrigue, then this is a book you'll enjoy.

The characters are interesting and the continuing history lesson is most enjoyable. The mix of real and imaginary characters keeps things moving along and the characters' personal lives add depth to the story.

It was also interesting to contemplate how life at this point in history seemed much more exciting than it is now. There was so much going on. The politics, empire building and technology boom made this era pretty hoping' - second only to the time covered by book three.

The author's descriptions are vivid, the situations he creates both interesting and realistic and the characters well-developed and complex.

You also don't have to read book one to enjoy book two, but you probably should.

History buffs and those who enjoy a good story will enjoy this book. I look forward to the third installment!

4.0 out of 5 starsVery good historical fiction novel
By Purple on October 25, 2016
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Readers should know that this is the second of a trilogy of novels that is most definitely a continuing story of one man's life. While it is possible to read this as a stand alone novel, it is best enjoyed as a continuation of the first novel. For those who did not read the first novel, however, there is a succinct summary at the beginning of this one and therefore readers won't be completely lost if beginning the story here.

The author describes his work as 'faction' - a great description of a novel set in history that is described accurately, complete with historical figures, while telling a story with fictional characters. For fans of historical fiction this trilogy will be highly enjoyable.

The author is a skilled storyteller who is well equipped to describe the historical setting accurately and vividly. The life story of Billy Battles is interesting and will keep you reading...and wanting to read the next installment.

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5.0 out of 5 stars Adventure awaits you.
By Chelsey McQuittyon October 24, 2016
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If you’re a big fan of historical novels then this book is for you. Although the novel itself is fiction, you can see the days of yesteryear come to life as you read through the pages. I especially loved the aspects of the book where the main character was ship bound, as the descriptions seemed to come to life, which allowed me to enjoy my own piece of the adventure.
This novel is part 2 of a series, but can easily be read and enjoyed without the first portion of the book, so don’t fret if you hit your book budget limit and forgot to grab book 1.
You’ll instantly fall in love with the characters of this book though, especially Billy. However, there are strong female roles presented too, even though we are reading about a time when women have little to no rights. I especially loved this element!
You’re sure to be hooked on this book though in a matter of sentences. I’d highly recommend it to those missing out on some wanderlust or those who love a journey back in time.