Category: Christmas

The Magical Music Box

by Regina Scott

 

If you’re like me, you’ve already been queueing up the Christmas music. There’s something special about the hymns, carols, and jingles written to celebrate the season. But in the west of the 1800s, music was a precious commodity, at any time. There are tales of families sacrificing to bring a piano on the Oregon Trail, stories of stampedes averted by a cowboy with a calming voice. If you could play an instrument or sing well, you were instantly popular!

 

Perhaps that’s why music boxes were so prized. First developed in the early nineteenth century in Europe by watchmakers, some early specimens were tiny enough to fit inside a gentleman’s snuff box. The mechanism was much like what you may have seen in a child’s toy—a cylinder with bumps equating to notes and a toothed comb that the cylinder rotated against to “ring” out the song. You cranked the mechanism to tighten a spring, which slowly unwound and stopped the motion of the cylinder.

People were entranced by the sound, and demand grew. Music boxes grew larger, fancier. Some came in tortoiseshell cases, others encased in fine wood. Sizes increased to tabletop and even as large as a grandfather clock. Companies found ways to swap cylinders, so you could play more songs. The number of teeth “playing” across the cylinder grew to over 300, providing a range of octaves. More springs meant the box could play for hours without rewinding.

Catalogs allowed you to pick from a range of music, from popular tunes to classical pieces and hymns. One piece even mimicked the sound of a bird singing. Supposedly Beethoven was particularly enchanted with the devices and composed music with them in mind.

 

At first the price for these boxes was high enough that only the wealthy could afford them. But after the Civil War, more reasonable boxes became available. These used less durable components, such as wooden or even paper rolls. Coin-operated versions were placed in railway stations for the public’s enjoyment. Pocket watches became musical, playing chimes to mark the hour. And people on the frontier ordered the boxes and gave them to those they loved. My hero Levi Wallin gives one to my heroine Callie Murphy in this month’s His Frontier Christmas Family. Callie loves music, but her family circumstances have prevented her from owning any kind of instrument. The music box becomes her prized possession.

The advent of the phonograph and player piano toward the end of the nineteenth century usurped the popularity of the music box. But examples continued to be created long afterward. The round music boxes in this blog post belonged to my great-grandmother and her sister, both of whom were born in the late 1800s. One was used to hold face powder—the original powder puff is inside.

 

Perhaps, like Callie, they loved music in any form, even from a magical little box.

 

Leave a comment to get your name in a drawing for an autographed copy of His Frontier Christmas Family, Regina’s new release.

 

Regina Scott started writing novels in the third grade. Thankfully for literature as we know it, she didn’t actually sell her first novel until she learned a bit more about writing. She now has more than thirty-five published works of warm, witty romance. She and her husband of nearly 30 years reside in the Puget Sound area of Washington State. Regina Scott has dressed as a Regency dandy, driven four-in-hand, learned to fence, and sailed on a tall ship, all in the name of research, of course. Learn more about her at her website or connect with her on Facebook, Pinterest, or Goodreads.

His Frontier Family

After taking guardianship of his late friend’s siblings and baby daughter, minister Levi Wallin hopes to atone for his troubled past on the gold fields. But it won’t be easy to convince the children’s wary elder sister to trust him. The more he learns about her, though, the more he believes Callie Murphy’s prickly manner masks a vulnerable heart…one he’s starting to wish he was worthy of.

Every man in Callie’s life chose chasing gold over responsibilities. Levi—and the large, loving Wallin family—might just be different. But she can tell he’s hiding something from her, and she refuses to risk her heart with secrets between them. Even as they grow closer, will their pasts keep them from claiming this unexpected new beginning?

 

 

Christmas Confections by Shanna Hatfield

Christmas has always been such a beautiful, blessed, wonderful season to me.

A tradition that my mom taught me, one I still carry on, is to bake goodies, infused with love, and share with family and friends.

One year, I spent hours and hours making elaborately frosted sugar cookies. In particular, I recall a little rocking horse that I’d painstakingly decorated with tiny little reins and a saddle accented with mini holly and berries made of icing.

Then my dad and brothers came in for supper and made short work of my creations!

I still make sugar cookies (a recipe I spent years experimenting with until I got it just right), although I don’t spend hours decorating them like I used to.

Sugar Cookies

I also love to make cinnamon rolls and share them with our neighbors when the rolls are warm from the oven and icing is melting into sweet pools all around them.

Cinnamon Rolls

I have an overflowing recipe box with all the traditional sweets I typically make during the holidays.

But while I was researching details for my latest release, I found so many more recipes I’d love to try.

The heroine in the story is a Swedish baker. My goodness! I think I gained five pounds (or ten) just writing about all the delightful pastries and goodies she created in her bakery.

Confection long

The Christmas Confection is book 6 in the Hardman Holidays series, set in the old western town of Hardman, Oregon.

2017 Christmas Confection

Will a sweet baker soften a hardened man’s heart?

 Born to an outlaw father and a shrewish mother, Fred Decker feels obligated to atone for the past without much hope for his future. If he possessed a lick of sense, he’d pack up and leave the town where he was born and raised, but something… someone… unknowingly holds him there. Captivated by Hardman’s beautiful baker, Fred fights the undeniable attraction. He buries himself in his work, refusing to let his heart dream.

Elsa Lindstrom adores the life she’s carved out for herself in a small Eastern Oregon town. She and her twin brother, Ethan, run their own bakery where she delights in creating delicious treats. Then Ethan comes home unexpectedly married, the drunks in town mistakenly identify her as a missing harlot, and a mishap in the bakery leaves her at the mercy of the most gossiped-about man in Hardman.

Mix in the arrival of three fairy-like aunts, blend with a criminal bent on dastardly schemes, and sprinkle in a hidden cache of gold for a sweet Victorian romance brimming with laughter and heartwarming holiday cheer.

Excerpt:

“Well…” Fred gave her an odd look as he stood in the doorway with autumn sunshine spilling all around him.  “There are two other things I’d like.”

“Two?” Elsa asked, wiping her hands on her apron and facing him. “What might those two things be?” She anticipated him asking for a batch of rolls or perhaps a chocolate cake.

“My first request is simple. Please call me Fred. I’d like to think, after all this, we’re friends and all my friends call me Fred.”

Elsa nodded in agreement. “We are friends, Mr. Deck… er, I mean Fred. If you want me to call you Fred then you best refer to me as Elsa.”

The pleased grin on his face broadened. “Very well, Elsa.”

Her knees wobbled at the sound of his deep voice saying her name, but she resisted the urge to grip the counter for support. “You said there were two things you wanted, in addition to cookies. What is the second?”

“It’s a tiny little thing really,” Fred said, tightly gripping his hat in both hands.

“A tiny little thing? Then I shall take great honor in bestowing whatever it is.” Her gaze roved over the kitchen, trying to imagine what in the world Fred could want. She kept a jar full of assorted candy. Sometimes, she used the sweets to decorate cakes and cookies. Perhaps he wanted one. “A piece of candy?” she asked.

Fred shook his head. “No, Elsa. It’s sweeter than candy and far, far better.”

Intrigued, she took a step closer to him. “What is it?”

He waggled his index finger back and forth, indicating she should step closer. When she stood so her skirts brushed against the toes of his boots, he tapped his cheek with the same finger. “A little sugar right here would be even better than ten batches of cookies.”

~ Giveaway ~

red bowed packages on white background

Make sure you enter this drawing for a chance to win a mystery box of Christmas goodies!

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Wishing you all a bright, beautiful, holiday season!

What’s one thing do you always look forward to baking or eating each Christmas?

SOMETHING THEY WANT…by Cheryl Pierson

 

Cheryl PiersonHere’s something I learned recently that I sure could have used in Christmases past when my kids were younger! Searching for the perfect gifts, the ones that “everyone” would be getting, made for a stressful time—not the relaxed, easy-going holidays we always imagined in our minds. You know, the Norman Rockwell scenes we all believed our Christmas holidays should look like—but that was before Playstation, X-Box, iPad…the list goes on.

Last year I read something that really opened my eyes and made me wish for this bit of wisdom much earlier in my life. A simple Christmas list like this would have surely made life easier and less stressful—what do you think?

“Something they want

Something they need;

Something to wear,

Something to read.”

Problem solved! FOUR GIFTS! No, I’m shaking my head. I know I couldn’t have limited it to four gifts—not “back then”, anyway. Now that my kids are 31 and 28, this is a lot easier to follow and keep to! “Toys” are more expensive—as is everything. Clothing, wants, needs – yes, even books!

Maybe that’s why we enjoy writing historical western romance—those were simpler times and the expectations were not so great. My parents grew up during the Great Depression in the Dustbowl days of Oklahoma’s history. Their families were so poor—and, coming from the same small town, Mom and Dad knew each other—and everyone else in that area—from the time they were born.

Mom talked about how sparse the Christmases were, but how happy they managed to be, in spite of it all. I imagine, with her being the eldest of eleven kids, her Christmas was especially small. She mentioned that the girls got a doll and a pair of shoes. If times were “good”, they got ribbon candy and an orange in their stockings.

When I was growing up in the 60’s-70’s, Mom kept up that tradition of always getting me a doll. When I got too old for baby dolls, she switched to the Madame Alexander collectible dolls. By that time/age, I was on to other things—blacklights, posters, incense, record albums, and of course, bell bottom jeans and “smock tops” to wear! Did I mention crayons? There was nothing more wonderful than getting the HUGE box of crayons and new coloring books—I don’t think I ever outgrew those. I would still sit down today and take joy in coloring!

 

This is BABY FIRST STEP–I got her when I was about 10 or so–she really walked (with the help of 2 “C” batteries!)

A woman with no home. A rancher with no heart.
Can holiday magic bring The Devil and Miss Julia Jackson together?

In my story, THE DEVIL AND MISS JULIA JACKSON, the heroine has fled her home in Georgia to get away from a distant family member. Filled with a sense of propriety, she scarcely knows what to ask for when the hero, rancher Devlin Campbell, asks her what she might like for Christmas. Even though they’ve made the hasty decision to marry to avoid the scandalous talk that might otherwise surround them, they don’t know one another very well yet—certainly not well enough for Julia to mention anything personal she might want or need—even though she has arrived in Indian Territory with not much more than the clothes on her back. What does she ask for? Take a look…

EXCERPT FROM THE DEVIL AND MISS JULIA JACKSON:

Something had changed. Julia felt it. His touch was more…possessive. The bitterness seemed to have disappeared, only to be replaced by lines of weariness, instead. What had happened in the short space of time since he’d left?

“Got anything left to make for breakfast?”

Before she could respond, he went on. “We’ll head for town here in a bit. Gotta take the prisoners in.”

“I have my list…it’s long.”

He laughed. “Good thing there are so many of us going. Still too treacherous for a wagon, but maybe we can pack what you need back on the horses.”

She brightened. “That will be wonderful, Dev. Thank you.” What a relief to hear him offer, with no complaint. She breathed deep, knowing this Christmas was going to be special for everyone. But it was especially important for the children.

“And…what would you like for Christmas, Julie?”

His voice was rich, low, and somehow, his question was reassuring. It had been so long since she’d thought of wanting anything for herself—even necessities—that she struggled to think of how she should respond.

“I—maybe some new pan grips for the kitchen—”

Dev stood looking at her in shock. “Pan grips—you mean pot holders?”

She nodded, and he laughed in disbelief. “Well, I tell you what, Miss Julia Jackson. I may be a lot of things, but I’m not a man who buys his betrothed pan grips for Christmas.” He leveled a narrow look at her. “You better think of something other than…pan grips.” Shaking his head, he started for the door. “I’ll go gather eggs. At least, we’ll have those for breakfast if nothing else.” He grabbed his coat from the wall peg and shrugged into it. Just before he closed the door behind him, Julia heard him mutter, “Pan grips.”

Asking for any kind of personal gift would mean…reciprocating. And she had nothing to give him. If only he knew how she’d had to scrimp, even with the money he’d sent her—to get here! She had a blessed five dollars left, saved back in case she and Lauralee hadn’t been able to make it to the Flying C and had to stay in town.

How could she tell her soon-to-be husband that she needed—everything? She had bought one dress for herself and one for Lauralee. The first new dress Julia had had in over two years. And in those past two years, she’d embarrassingly filled out in certain places. And even grown taller. She was an excellent seamstress and had done all she could. The older dresses she possessed were tight, and shorter than was decent. But Julia supposed a man would take no notice of that. Dev would probably not realize that it wasn’t the fact that her clothing was woefully out of fashion, but that it was bordering indecency, that embarrassed her.

********************************************************************************************************************

What were your childhood Christmases like? I miss those days! As soon as it was a “borderline” decent hour on Christmas morning, my best friend, Jane, who lived down the street, would call—or I would call her—and we’d excitedly talk about what we got and when we might get together to play. Those were simple joys—just sharing our new gifts with one another and enjoying each other’s company.

Please leave a comment to be entered in my drawing for a digital copy of THE DEVIL AND MISS JULIA JACKSON! If you can’t wait to see if you won, you can snap up your copy at Amazon—and it’s also available in paperback.

https://www.amazon.com/Devil-Miss-Julia-Jackson-ebook/dp/B075SJX8SL/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1512283314&sr=8-1&keywords=The+Devil+and+Miss+Julia+Jackson&tag=pettpist-20

Thanks for stopping by today!

 

‘Tis the Season for Christmas Movies

I love Christmas movies. Especially the classics. Miracle on 34th Street is probably my all-time favorite. It’s a Wonderful Life is  a close second.

It’s rare to find a western romance Christmas movie. At least for me. (I don’t have time for the Hallmark Christmas movie marathons.) Maybe you know of some good ones to recommend. Please leave me movie names in the comments!

I did run across a made for TV Christmas movie many years ago that has stuck with me. It was as corny as all get out, but I loved every minute of it. Dolly Parton and Lee Majors were the two stars. It dates all the way to my high school years – 1986. A Smoky Mountain Christmas. Anyone remember this one? I actually bought a copy of it about five years ago, just because I wanted to see it again.

Dolly plays country music star Lorna Davis who is suffering from writer’s block, so she decides to leave the big city and get back to her roots in the Smoky Mountains over the holidays. When she gets to her cabin, however, it’s filled with seven orphaned children who are hiding away from a bad situation. This is where the plot overlaps with Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. Mountain Dan has been watching out for the kids on the sly, which bring him into contact with Lorna and pulls him out of his hermit shell. The two of them work together to save the kids. But not only the kids need saving In true Snow White style, there is a wicked witch, a poison apple, and a true love’s kiss that come into play as well. Yes, it’s corny – I warned you – but for someone who loves fairy tales and rugged mountain men and heroines who take in orphans – it was perfect.

Besides, it might have been a few years between this show and Lee Majors’s appearance as Heath Barkley on The Big Valley, but he still makes a mighty fine western hero.

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  • What are your favorite holiday movies?
  • Any recommendations for romantic western Christmas movies?

Christmas Roses

Hi everyone, Winnie Griggs here.  I hope all of you had a nice Thanksgiving. Mine was lovely – I feel truly blessed.
As for today’s post, I’m going to break from my usual western-themed subject matter to tell you about another project I’m part of.

Shreveport, Louisiana is home to the national headquarters of the American Rose Society.  The Gardens of the American Rose Center are located on a 118-acre tract of wooded land and is the nation’s largest park dedicated to roses. The park features in excess of 65 individual rose gardens and somewhere in the neighborhood of 20,000 rosebushes. In addition the park is also filled with other plants, fountains and sculptures. And every year during the month of December, they transform the place into a winter wonderland known as Christmas in Roseland. It’s a magical place filled with lights, festive displays, entertainment, photos with Santa Claus and lots more.

As it happens, the Shreveport area is also where my local chapter of Romance Writers of America©, the NOLA STARs, is based. Last spring we decided to undertake a project where a number of our members would pen original short stories for an anthology and we wanted to feature the American Rose Society as part of the project. So nine of our members set out to write these stories with the only restrictions given is that each story be set during the Christmas Season and that there be some mention of the Rose Center as part of it. The result is a collection titled American Roses. Though the stories all contain those same two elements we started with, they are all as different as the authors who penned them. And I deviated from my normal setting to create a contemporary story. My contribution is titled A Crossword Puzzle Christmas and is a play on the ‘friends to lovers’ trope.  I had such fun writing it!

One of the neat things about this collection is that all of the authors have donated their stories – none will be collecting royalties. Instead, a portion of the proceeds will be donated to the American Rose Society and the remainder will go back to our chapter.

And now, as a reward to you for reading through all of this, I’m going to give away a copy of the collection to one of the visitors who leaves a comment on this post between now and Tuesday afternoon. Just tell me your favorite rose-related memory or what variety/color of rose is your favorite and why.

CHRISTMAS ROSES

Come visit a place where love blooms and holiday magic fills the air…

Set against the background of the Gardens of the American Rose Center, these stories of hope and holiday cheer are sure to warm your heart and put you in a festive mood.

There’s no better gift than finding love among the roses. In this collection, you’ll find second chances at love, couples who find more than friendship under the mistletoe, and holiday reunions that bring the joy of the season. So grab a cup of hot cocoa and curl up with Christmas Roses.

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Updated: December 1, 2017 — 1:27 am

Cowboy Simple Christmas

Keeping Simple Christmas…

In a lot of modern homes, Christmas is anything but simple. It’s costly and complex, like a Rubik’s Cube puzzle with  angles and facets and faces… And no matter how much you turn and twist, someone is not going to be happy.

Well dagnabbit, that’s a confounding situation since Christmas isn’t supposed to be about us.

It’s about them… a family, pushed to travel with a baby due and no choice. A family put upon by governmental regulations, taxes and expectations… and a secret baby.

Anyone who writes romance understands the lure of a secret baby. We have Mary, pregnant by unexplained means. We have Joseph who stays by her side because an angel came to him in a dream…. and told him to stand by Mary, to welcome the coming child as his own…

And then he did, so Joseph is one of my favorite saints. He not only stood by her, he cared for his wife and little son and when it was time to escape a tyrannical killer in the form of King Herod, Joseph fled with his wife and child to a foreign land…. and didn’t bring them back until Herod’s reign was over.

Now that’s a true cowboy.

He put them first.

He cared for them. He probably wasn’t exactly comfortable with all of this… a wife, pregnant by unexpected and unexplained means…. a child not his own…. and to leave what he knew first to protect them.

He may have been a carpenter, a man who worked with his hands to shape wood, but in my heart, he was a true cowboy. He put others first…. he was patient as needed…. strong enough to take the lead… and loving enough to accept a child not his own. That wasn’t exactly the norm back then.

This link to Michael Card singing “Joseph’s Song” is such a perfect image of Joseph… the cowboy. The sacrificial father…

Simple Christmas…. Remember Laura Ingalls’ description of her prairie Christmas in “Little House on the Prairie”? A tin cup… a candy stick… and a shiny penny!

And Ma made sugar cakes and they roasted venison or rabbit or fish caught in Plum Creek…

Simple isn’t bad. Simple is good. Simple can be fulfilling. Like when you stay up all night with an ailing cow and she takes a turn for the better come morning…. Like when your taxes shoot up and you’re not sure where the money will come from and all of a sudden you have the best maple syrup season you’ve had in a dozen years… Or how about when someone puts a bug in your ear about fancy pumpkins and you like the idea and grow them and sell 17,000 pumpkins because you thought fancy stacking pumpkins would sell… and then they did! 🙂

Simple goodness… simple foods…. simple comforts…. simple songs… simple romance….

In this beautiful season of giving, I have a brand new book release that centers on second chances… new beginnings… and God’s perfect timing in a little town where wishes and prayers and hopes and dreams mingle freely…

A town called “Wishing Bridge”.  And of course there is a link for you to see this wonderful 4 STAR ROMANTIC TIMES story RIGHT HERE!!!!! 

I want you to read this story. It’s not a Western, but it’s a great book with a heart for the downtrodden and hope for the future… It’s a story that grips your heart and soothes your soul… it’s a story of small town loving and small town fears… and about three women who make a pledge to help each other as needed, and now– twelve years later– it’s needed.

I’ve got a Kindle copy to give away today so let me know if you’ve got a Kindle or the Kindle app for your computer or tablet…. and I’ll tuck your name into the wishing well!  So what do you do to keep the spirit of Christmas as your focal point so you don’t get lost in the hustle and bustle? I’d love to have you share your points right here today!

 

Welcome Guest – Karen Kirst

CHRISTMAS AND ROMANCE GO HAND IN HAND

There’s something magical about falling in love at Christmas. When I write Christmas romances, I strive to inject special touches that bring the holiday spirit alive for the reader. A Lawman for Christmas is my fifteenth book for Love Inspired Historical and the final installment of my long-running Smoky Mountain Matches series. While secrets abound, as well as a mystery that isn’t solved until the end, I tried to weave in elements that celebrated the season. My hero and heroine—the town flirt and an avowed spinster—join other young people for a ride through Gatlinburg’s mountains on a crisp December night, serenading local farmers in exchange for hot spiced cider. What could be more romantic than cozying up to a handsome deputy in a hay-strewn wagon bed, singing Christmas carols together beneath a canopy of stars?

Once a lost little boy is introduced into the story, there are many opportunities for traditional holiday past times. Baking cookies, sipping on cinnamon-laced hot cocoa, riding into the mountains in search of evergreen boughs. I enjoyed describing the characters making pomanders, which are oranges and apples decorated with cloves, cinnamon and other spices. I could almost smell the fragrant fruit.

One particular winter scene consisted of snow before Christmas—not common in this area of East Tennessee, but hey, it’s my story—and an injured little boy longing to go outside and play. Like a true hero, Deputy Ben fills a copper basin with snow and brings it inside. He and Eli make miniature snowmen together, a kind act that thaws Isabel’s heart.

There are gifts exchanged and of course, mistletoe. A holiday story time for the children, followed by sweet treats to delight young and old. A Christmas Eve pageant that celebrates the birth of God’s Son, Jesus Christ, and the true reason for the season. I hope that I succeeded in imbuing the story with the joy, goodwill and hope that characterizes the holidays.

The Gift of Family 

Committed to her spinsterhood, Isabel Flores isn’t about to trust a man with her hard-won independence or her heart—especially not lawman Ben MacGregor. But when a little boy is abandoned on her property, the so-called “Debonair Deputy” of their small Tennessee town helps her care for the child. And Isabel begins to hope he might be more than just a handsome flirt.

Ben is well aware of Isabel’s aversion to love and has his own secret reasons for avoiding relationships. But as he and Isabel do their best to make the holiday special for their young ward, Ben wonders if he could be a family man after all. Will this Christmas be the first of many for Isabel and Ben’s little instant family?

*****

Karen is giving away one copy of A Lawman for Christmas. For a chance to win, leave a comment about what you like best about Christmas romances.

Oh, there are so many things . . .

Christmas Cowboy Style

We’re very happy to have Louise Gouge come visit. She always has something interesting to say. And she has a new book–a Christmas one! Yippee! Leave a comment to enter the drawing for one print copy of COWBOY LAWMAN’S CHRISTMAS REUNION!

 

Many romance authors will tell you that writing the last page of a novel can be a bittersweet experience. We feel relief over satisfactorily tying up our story’s loose ends and, we hope, meeting a deadline. But we also will miss beloved characters as they ride off into their happily-ever-after fairy tale sunset. Even more poignant is completing a beloved series of novels with its many compelling characters whose lives are intertwined.

COWBOY LAWMAN’S CHRISTMAS REUNION is the sixth and final installment in my Four Stones Ranch series set in my fictional town of Esperanza, Colorado. Based on Monte Vista, Colorado, an actual town where my husband and I lived and where our children were born, Esperanza became a character in these books. Completing the series is like moving away from Monte Vista all over again. Oddly enough, we moved right after Christmas 1971, and is a Christmas story. I love little synchronicities like that.

Not being an actual cowgirl and not having lived on an actual ranch, I couldn’t have written these books without some serious research. (Does it count that I used to watch Gunsmoke, Bonanza, The Rifleman, and long before those, Roy Rogers and John Wayne movies?) My daughter and granddaughter are western-style horsewomen, so they provided the essentials for anything horsey. And I was blessed to find a book about Monte Vista, A Bridge to Yesterday, by Emma M. Riggenbach, whose pioneer family settled in the area. The information she provided in the book gave me everything I needed to create my own version of this small town. While historical errors sometimes slip past the most diligent writer, this book kept my stories close to the way it was in the 1880s. My fictional Four Stones Ranch is loosely based on a ranch/farm owned and operated by some folks our family knew way back when.

 

As it turns out, COWBOY LAWMAN’S CHRISTMAS REUNION,  is my fifteenth and final book for Harlequin’s Love Inspired Historical Imprint. (The line is closing next year.) So I write this blog with a sense of nostalgia hanging over me. I’ll miss writing for LIH, and I’ll miss the fictional people who populated this last series. If you’ve read any of my Four Stones Ranch books, you’ll understand why. But I’m kind of hooked on writing westerns, so you may see me here again in the future.

Here’s the story of the final installment:

Sheriff Justice Gareau can make outlaws quake in their boots…yet coming face-to-face with Evangeline Benoit once again takes away all his composure. She broke their engagement, and his heart, to marry a wealthy older man. Despite his reluctance, Justice can’t avoid the widowed single mother of two when they’re collaborating on a Christmas village for the town’s children.

The loving boy Evangeline once knew has become an unyielding lawman. Forced to flee New Orleans over false allegations, Evie doubts Justice will take her side when the past follows her to Colorado. Especially when he and her troublesome son butt heads. But perhaps the spirit of Christmas will soften his heart and give them a second chance at love.

Copyright © 2017 by Harlequin Enterprises Limited, Cover art and cover copy text used by arrangement with Harlequin Enterprises.

® and ™ Limited or its affiliated companies, used under license.

 

Other books in the series:

Cowboy to the Rescue

Cowboy Seeks a Bride

Cowgirl for Keeps

Cowgirl Under the Mistletoe

Cowboy Homecoming

 

Florida author Louise M. Gouge writes historical fiction for Harlequin’s Love Inspired Historical Romances. She received the prestigious Inspirational Readers’ Choice Award in 2005 and was a finalist in 2011, 2015, 2016, and 2017; and placed in the Laurel Wreath in 2012.

Please visit her Web site at https://Louisemgougeauthor.blogspot.com, https://www.facebook.com/LouiseMGougeAuthor/, Twitter: @Louisemgouge

 

Please tell me what it is you like about western stories and you’ll be in the drawing for a print copy of Cowboy Lawman’s Christmas Reunion! (U.S. residents only please)

 

In the Christmas Spirit

Time is flying by and it won’t be long before Santa will ride in on his sleigh. This year has been one big blur for me. I’ve released four books since January and have one more left next month—To Marry a Texas Outlaw. But today is the release party for CHRISTMAS IN A COWBOY’S ARMS and I’m so excited to have this out!

I felt really honored to have my story included in a book with Leigh Greenwood, our own Margaret Brownley, Rosanne Bittner, Anna Schmidt, and Amy Sandas. These six stories are guaranteed to warm your heart. Margaret’s especially.

My story – The Christmas Stranger – is about a drifter, Hank Destry, who has no home or family. No reason to celebrate anything. He’s riding through a huge blizzard with his dog and finds the drifts too large to continue. His coat is too thin and no protection. Unable to hold on to the reins, he slides from the saddle into the snow.

Sidalee King is returning from visiting a lonely old woman named Miss Mamie and finds him. She loads him into her wagon and takes him home to the Lone Star Ranch. She works in the mercantile for the Legend family. Cholera took her family years before but she’s determined to give Miss Mamie a good Christmas. If only she can reunite the old dear with her son George. That would be perfect.

This story is about finding that one place to belong, healing old wounds, and giving of yourself without expecting anything in return. Giving is what Christmas is all about and I think you’ll love the journey Hank and Sidalee take in finding the courage to open their hearts to a happily ever after.

Hank’s dog Beau almost stole the story and I guarantee he’ll make you laugh. Such a scamp.

Here’s a short Excerpt:

Hank slowly tugged the long silk ribbon from around her neck, trailing the red fabric down one arm. He leaned closer. “There’s some mistletoe right over your head. I hope I’m not pressing my luck, but do you mind if I kiss you?”

A happy, warm glow swept over her. “I don’t see anyone trying to fight you,” she whispered.

He pulled her up into his arms and drew the ribbon around her, tethering her to him. Sidalee had never felt more alive, more breathless, more…hot.

She tilted her face to him, feeling the wild beat of his heart that matched hers. He gently anchored her against the hard wall of his chest. The moment his lips touched hers, an aching hunger swept through her, turning her knees to pudding.

The yearning for him was so strong she clutched him to keep from falling in a puddle at his feet. One arm curled around his neck just under his hair. The strands brushed her skin like tiny feathers.

That’s when she knew she was falling in love with Hank Destry.

* * * *

What about Christmas do you love most? Is it the smells, the sounds, the food? Leave a comment to be included in the drawing for two copies (your choice of format.)

A Christmas Affair

We’re happy to welcome back fan favorite Jodi Thomas today, here to talk about a bit of Christmas romance.

I know we’re only starting fall. I haven’t even gotten my Halloween decorations out, BUT in the book world it’s time to start collecting all those wonderful Christmas stories we all love to read.

It just wouldn’t be Christmas if I didn’t curl up with a few stories. In all the rush of planning, decorating and cooking, I love also taking time to read.

So last winter, just after I put away the decorations, I stepped into fiction. While I’d been writing Indigo Lake, I wanted Maria to have her story.

Sometimes characters come alive and for me. Maria came into my study, sat down and said she wanted to have a wild affair. She’d been too busy when she was in her early twenties and building a business; then after the accident that left her blind, she withdrew from the world. Now, she decides she wants the shy store owner who stocks her famous jams and jellies.

Only problem is Wes Whitman doesn’t want an affair. He’s watched over her for years. He wants forever.

I hope my story, A Christmas Affair, will make you smile this Christmas.

An early story folks around the Panhandle of Texas remember always makes me smile so I thought I’d share a bit of history.

Family stories

In the late 1800s on the flat land of the Panhandle a rancher let his four daughters talk him into having a Christmas party. The women baked for days and decorated not only the house, but the barn as well. The rancher hired a fiddler and invited families who lived nearby, and any cowboy who wanted to ride in was welcome.

Legend is they came from as far away a Lubbock and Liberal. The rancher put them all up in the barn.

Christmas Eve it started to snow so most spent the night, but the next morning the weather was worse. The company stayed almost a week, eating the rancher out of his stores of food for the rest of the winter. The fiddler played until he passed out, then folks took turns singing so the dancing in the parlor never stopped.

The rancher didn’t mind the company. All four of his daughters were engaged before the New Year came and the snow melted enough for all the company to go home.

Updated: September 26, 2017 — 1:27 pm
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