Christmas in a Cowboy’s Arm will be released on October 3rd. Don’t you just love that title? I’m so excited to be part of the collection, which also includes stories by Leigh Greenwood and our very own Linda Broday!
My story is titled A Texas Ranger for Christmas and I’m giving away a copy (giveaway guidelines apply). So be sure to leave a comment.Here’s a sneak peek:
Sadie had just put Adam down for his afternoon nap that second week in December when a hammering sound drew her to the kitchen window.
“Dang that man!” Now the ranger was on the barn roof hammering down shingles. Last week, after he’d spent the day repairing the fence, he’d run a fever and had to spend two days in bed.
Now here he was at it again, overdoing it.
She pulled a woolen shawl from a peg by the back door and stepped outside. The wind was cold and angry clouds crowded in from the north like a bunch of wooly sheep.
Upon reaching the barn, she yelled up to him. “If you fall and break your neck, don’t come runnin’ to me!”
He peered over the edge of the roof. His nose was red from the cold and his hair tossed about like sails in the wind, but he sure was a sight for sore eyes. “I guess I’d just have to wait ‘till your friend Scooter comes.”
She balled her hands at her side. “I’d think you’d have a little consideration for my reputation.”
His eyebrows quirked upward. “I’m not sure I understand what you mean.”
“How do you think it looks for a woman to entertain a man that’s not her husband?”
She’d not yet told anyone of Richard’s death. She didn’t want friends and neighbors coming to her door to express condolences until after the ranger was long gone.
He shrugged. “Isn’t it a little late to worry about that? Some of your neighbors already know I’m here.”
“I told them my husband sent you here to recover from your bullet wound.”
“Your husband sent me? That might be hard to explain when the truth comes out that he’s dead.”
“That’s my problem.” She tossed her head. “I mean, it Captain.” She grabbed hold of the ladder and gave it a good shaking. “If you don’t come down, I’ll see that you’re stuck up there for good!”
“Why, Mrs. Carnes, is that a threat?”
She glared up at him. “You’ve already had one relapse and I’m not about to take care of you for another. So what’s it gonna be?”
“Okay, okay, I’ll come down, but only on one condition.”
She straightened, hands at her waist. “What?” “You stop calling me captain. My name is Cole.”
“Not gonna happen,” she said. Calling him by his given name would only strengthen the bond between them, and she couldn’t let that happen. It was hard enough trying not to like the man more than was absolutely necessary.
“Why not?” he asked.
“I never name an animal I plan on eating, and I sure don’t aim on naming a man who’ll soon be gone.”
“All right, Mrs. Carnes. Have it your way. But could you at least tell me what your Christian name is? I promise not to use it unless you say it’s okay.”
She chewed on a bottom lip. “Sadie,” she said. “And I don’t want you calling me that, you hear?”
“Nice name,” he said. “It suits you.”
She didn’t know what he meant by that and she wasn’t about to ask. “So what’s it gonna be, Captain?” She grabbed hold of the ladder and rattled it. “You coming down or ain’t you?”
“Oh, I’ll come down, Mrs. Carnes. But only because I don’t want you complaining about me to your dead husband.”
Short stories and novellas are popular around the holidays. I don’t mind writing short, but I prefer reading full-length novels. Which do you prefer? Also, has a short story ever inspired you to check out the author’s novels?
What do you call Christmas in a Cowboy’s Arms?
In my new release THE TEXAN’S ONE-NIGHT STANDOFF, my heroine Ruby Lopez is an expert horse wrangler and trainer. As a result I had to do some extensive research on the subject of training horses. I found some inspiration in the Australian television series Downunder Horseman, a tutorial on how to train horses. Believe it or not, horses aren’t exactly docile and they have many fears that they need to overcome, such as approaching a body of water, or going into the water. It is not necessarily an inherent trait. Ruby is a gentle soul when it comes to animals, but she’s a spitfire and an independent woman, who isn’t opposed to flipping a man over her shoulders when he deserves it. She was so much fun to write, seeing how the man she nicknamed Galahad, because he rushed to her defense one night, softens her rough edges.
How many of these fun horse facts did you know? I was amazed at some of them!
Horses can sleep both lying down and standing up.
Horses can run shortly after birth.
Domestic horses have a lifespan of around 25 years.
A 19th century horse named ‘Old Billy’ is said to have lived 62 years.
Horses have around 205 bones in their skeleton
Horses have been domesticated for over 5000 years
A horse’s teeth take up more space in the head than a horse’s brain.
Horses drink at least 25 gallons of water a day, more in hotter climates.
Horses are herbivores (plant eaters).
Because horse’s eyes are on the side of their head they are capable of seeing nearly 360 degrees at one time.
Horses gallop at around 27 mph.
The fastest recorded sprinting speed of a horse was 55 mph.
Estimates suggest that there are around 60 million horses in the world.
Scientists believe that horses have evolved over the past 50 million years from much smaller creatures.
When horses look like they’re laughing, they’re actually engaging in a special nose-enhancing technique known as “flehmen” to determine if the smell is bad or good.
Horses have bigger eyes than any other mammal that lives on land. (That’s amazing!)
I’ve been running this fun prize package on Facebook, yesterday, today and tomorrow. Prize includes DVD, Bracelet Bling, two Charlene Sands’ books and Santa Kisses! Please stop by and enter to win my Twelve Days of Desire Giveaway!
I have a lot to celebrate. My novella Do You Hear What I Hear? released on the 24th; my book Left at the Altar will hit the stores on November 1st; and my office is clean (no small miracle).
Left at the Altar is the first book in my new series and I’m excited about it. The second book A Match Made in Texas will release in the summer of 2017 and the third book How The West was Wed will follow soon after.
The idea for Left at the Altar came to me in a rather unexpected way. We inherited several antique clocks and they all needed servicing. My husband called a clock repairman to the house and the horologist was a writer’s dream. He was full of fascinating stories about clock collectors. But the story that really made an impression was the one about a client who owned so many clocks, the quarter-hour racket was deafening. The horologist’s job was to turn the clocks off before each holiday so that guests didn’t have to compete with the cacophony of bongs and chimes during dinner.
This Banjo clock circa 1929 was a wedding gift for my husband’s parents.
Ah, sweet inspiration. Before I knew it, the town of Two-Time, Texas was born and the story of two feuding jewelers fell quickly into place.
The book takes place in 1880 before standard time. Prior to 1883, the town jeweler usually determined the time. Trouble arose when a town had more than one jeweler and no one could agree on the time. One town in Kansas reportedly had seven jewelers and therefore seven time zones. Talk about confusion!
Just think, a person traveling from the East coast to the West would have contended with more than a hundred time zones. That wasn’t a problem when traveling by covered wagon, but it became a huge problem when traveling by train. I was surprised to learn that some battles were lost during the American Civil War due to time confusion. When an order was issued to attack at a certain time, no one really knew what it meant. Was that Washington time or local time? And if it was local time, which one?
This clock has been in the family for a hundred years!
Ah, yes, time. It affects us in ways we might not even be aware of. It certainly affected the two feuding families in my story. A marriage was supposed to unite the families and turn Two-Time into a one-time town, but of course nothing ever goes as planned as this little excerpt shows:
The grandfather clock in the corner groaned and the wall clocks sighed. Seconds later the cacophony of alarms struck the hour of eight a.m. Only today, it wasn’t bongs, gongs, cuckoos and chimes that bombarded Meg’s ears. It was mocking laughter. Jilted bride, jilted bride, jilted bride…
Hope you enjoy the story as much I enjoyed writing it.
Now it’s your turn. Leave a message and you might win a copy of Left at the Altar. Giveaway guidelines apply.
How does time affect your life? Are you always running late, early or on time? Are you looking forward to the November 6th time change? If you could change one thing about time, what would it be?
Just a week after the big RWA conf in San Diego, I flew with my two older sons to Denver while my husband flew in from Hawaii with our little guy to meet up for a huge family reunion at a dude ranch near Grant, Colorado. Grant—originally called Grantville after President Ulysses S. Grant—was founded in 1870 and within twenty years had a population of 200. It’s a lot smaller than that today.
I write ranch stories.
I love cowboys.
But I confess: I got on that plane nervous about playing cowgirl for a week…especially with four different generations, and not because I don’t love everyone, but I’m a hard core introvert and the very idea of scheduled activities, much less 8 hours of scheduled activities for seven days filled me with a fair amount of trepidation.
Happily, reaching the ranch, I breathe in the clear clean mountain air and began to relax. Tumbling River is located at a 9,000 foot elevation so the scenery is spectacular, and the ranch itself has a fascinating history. Our hosts shared that some of the buildings date back a hundred plus years, and is always favorite with ranch guests. We didn’t have one of the old cabins, or the original homestead cabin, which had been built in the late 1800s, but our cabin was very comfortable and pretty and perfect.
My boys had as many activities as I did…and each of the boys had activities for his ‘age group’. Mac was thrilled with all of his, especially because he could be with Luke, his cousin who is just 20 days older and full of fun. Mac and Luke’s mornings started with a horse back ride and then either a hike or fun games, followed by lunch with everyone and then family fun that we could all do together: fishing, swimming, rodeo practice, hay rides.
While Mac did ‘kid stuff’, my two older boys were able to go rock climbing, fly-fishing, white-water rafting, and do longer trail rides, including a visit to a ghost town in the mountains.
Midweek when I was craving some alone time with my guy, Ty and I packed up Mac and headed to Georgetown, forty-five minutes away. Georgetown is a historic mining town, and today a historic landmark, preserving the town’s past when its silver boom turned it into the third largest city in Colorado. Only a thousand people live in Georgetown today but it has lots of interesting buildings and fun places to shop, eat, and explore.
But the dude ranch wasn’t just blue skies and fresh air, sparkling rivers and massive mountains, it was really good food. The kind of food you’d want on a dude ranch after a long trail ride: ribs and chicken, tri-tip and smoked pork tenderloin. And for those who went on the overnight ride and visited the ghost town, they had coffee and flapjacks and bacon in the morning, eating outside next to the campfire. I didn’t do the overnight as I stayed at the ranch with Mac, and I was envious of those who had their overnight adventure but I do think I slept better in the big luxurious bed!
Back home, I’m still doing laundry and now trying to get my middle son ready for his senior year of high school (which starts Monday!!) but I’ve a lot of new ideas for future western stories so I owe my family a huge thanks for dragging me out of my comfort zone and into a dude ranch vacation!
Have you ever or would you one day like to visit a dude ranch? If you’ve already been, what did you love most about your experience? And if you haven’t, what’s the one thing you’d really want to do there? Leave a comment and you’ll be entered to win a fun prize! Contest ends August 10th. 🙂
I met Carol Jansen Koch in 2005 when I was on my Frog Prince book tour and hosted a tea in Plano, TX for Pi Phi Alums. We didn’t really get to know each other until I was back 2006 on my Flirting with Forty book tour. After that event we spent a couple of hours talking and by the end of the evening Carol was a true blue friend.
On every visit to Texas, I try to see Carol, and when I returned in 2010 for my She’s Gone Country book tour, a 10 day trip that would take me across Texas, I had Ty and 18 month old Mac along. We kicked off our trip in Dallas/Ft Worth and who better to launch us on our Texas adventure than Carol and her new husband, Garner Koch, a true Texas cowboy.
Ft. Worth is Garner’s old stomping grounds so he took us to get real boots–at Leddy’s–and then showed us the Texas he knows and loves.
Garner and Carol are the friends we meet every year in Las Vegas for the NFR. While the guys go off and do guy stuff, Carol and I and her cool Texas crew go shopping at Cowboy Christmas. This last year Carol made a list as one of the most fashionable people at the 2015 NFR and so I thought it would be fun to share a little bit of Carol’s western fashion sense with you, as well as some great places to pick up your western fashion wear.
1) Carol, I met you in Texas at a Pi Beta Phi alum event. So have you always been a cowgirl?
I’m a Midwest farmer’s daughter. Born and raised in Iowa. Self proclaimed big boned Iowa girl. Got to Texas as soon as I could. Texas completes me.
2) When we first met you were single. How did you meet Garner? Tell me about your first date.
I cannot tell a lie. We met at a Honky Tonk. (I hope my Mother isn’t reading this… she thinks we met at church) It was the day after Christmas and I was very germy and so didn’t want to go out. Garner was the tallest most handsome cowboy in the place and he came up to the table where I was sitting with my 5 girlfriends and asked ME to dance. I so thought he was coming to ask one of my other of my pals. Ha! We danced the night away. We exchanged numbers and I so thought I’d never hear from this cowboy again….to my surprise, he called me while my friends and I were driving home! Yes. my friends were very impressed!
3) How did you develop your western style?
My style is forever evolving. I love to invest in some fabulous pieces and then throw in a few inexpensive pieces to make the look my own.
4) Where do you shop?
Orisons in McKinney, Texas and also Ya Ya Gurlz in Abilene, Texas are both my favorites and thankfully not next door to me – otherwise I might get into lots of trouble….it’s a treat and ordeal when I go to shop. I go with my list of parties/events and they help dress me. It’s like stepping into your best friend’s closet.
5) What is the one thing you MUST wear when going out with Garner?
Boot and turquoise.
6) How much did Garner influence your fashion sense?
Garner is very traditional. He has great shirts from 10+ years ago in his closet that with “extra heavy starch” – wears today and looks timeless. Our dry cleaners know us well. Unless Garner’s britches (jeans…) can stand up in the corner by themselves, we take them back to the cleaners….
My favorite line early on was oh I need something new to wear to our next party/function as….”it’s hard being Mrs. Garner Koch…” this only worked a few years. He’s onto me now. I can admit I’m addicted to the entire perfect “costume” hunt and presentation. It’s my obsession. 🙂
Plus a few more fun stores if you’re in Texas or enjoy shopping online: Pinto Ranch – You can shop online or visit their locations in Dallas, Houston, and Las Vegas http://www.pintoranch.com Gypsy Wagon – Fun mix of western and boho fashion–plus jewelry & more. Online or locations in Dallas, Austin, and Crested Butte, CO http://www.the-gypsy-wagon.com Wild Bill’s Western Store – Hats, boots galore & lots more http://wildbillswestern.com
A big thank you to Carol for letting me poke around her closet and talk fashion. Carol, you inspire me to take fun risks and make fashion fun!
Do you enjoy western wear? Where do you shop? Leave a comment and you’ll be entered for a giveaway! The prize is the winner’s choice of a signed print copy of She’s Gone Country, set in Mineral Wells, TX, or an ebook version of the book, plus reader swag!
Long before I wrote my first Harlequin Presents, my true love was the cowboy hero and this love was inspired and nurtured by wonderful books written by one of my all-time favorite authors, Anne McAllister. I loved her main characters, the plot lines, the descriptions—everything! Anne made it so easy to fall in love with the cowboy alpha hero and all my early cowboys were inspired to a large extent by Anne’s cowboy romances.
I thought it would be fun to interview Anne McAllister on the P&P blog today so please join me in giving her a big welcome! 🙂
Best-selling author Anne McAllister has written nearly 70 romance novels — long and short, contemporary, time travel, and single title. She has won two RITA awards from the Romance Writers of America and has had nine other books which were RITA finalists. Anne grew up on the beaches of southern California, and spent summers in Montana and on her grandparents’ small ranch in Colorado. They were formative experiences — not only in providing her settings, but in giving her heroes. She finds herself attracted to lean, dark, honorable men – often lone wolf types – who always get the job done, whatever it might be. Anne and her husband, The Prof, spend the school year in the Midwest now, but are looking forward to more time in Montana when he retires. But wherever they are, Anne will always be writing. There are too many ideas not to!
Jane: You have made a career writing alphas…which came first, your cowboys for Silhouette Desire or your tycoons for Harlequin Presents?
Anne: Neither! My first dozen or so heroes were an archaeologist, an actor, a book illustrator who moonlighted as a beach lifeguard, a baseball player, a Major League umpire, a wildlife biologist/ photographer, a rock star turned grad student, a bartender, an architect, a jungle guide, and a journalist.
I probably write more “lone wolf” heroes than alphas. But what the cowboys, the tycoons (there were probably only two!) and all the rest of my motley crew of heroes have in common is they are strong, capable men who know what they want and how to get it done. My earlier heroes just had a greater variety of venues in which to do it.
But all of them are, in a word, competent. I love competence. I think competence is sexy. And when a competent guy falls for the heroine, I can pretty well be assured that he’s going to figure out how to get her, which makes my job easier.
And, of course it doesn’t hurt if he looks like the guy on the cover of Cowboys Don’t Cry!
Jane: I have been a long time fan of your writing, Anne, but it was your cowboys that swept me away and made me want to write a great cowboy hero. What draws you to the cowboy hero? Why do you like to write his story?
Anne: Well, he’s competent (see above)! You can count on him to get the job done no matter what it is or what the cost. There is a saying among cowboys: “He’s a good man to ride the river with.” That applies to every cowboy I’ve ever written about. They aren’t necessarily easy to deal with. They can be hard-headed, single-minded and they don’t suffer fools gladly. But when the chips are down — when you need them — they’re there.
Also, my own experience when I was young was that cowboys were pretty much uniformly kind to kids and animals, and they were respectful of women. As a kid, I responded to that. As an adult — and a writer — I still do.
I also like that they are live-and-let-live men. The west is a great place for second chances, for starting over, making new beginnings. My cowboys — and most people — haven’t always got things right the first time around, so I like that they have lived to fight another day, that there is room for hope.
Power is often a word that comes with the alpha hero. It is not a word that springs to the lips when you talk about cowboys. They are not powerful in the traditional sense of the word. And that appeals to me, too, because “power” always seems to evoke its opposite: powerlessness. And that’s not a dynamic that interests me. It’s not a relationship the interests me. On the contrary, I want to explore and to celebrate relationships where both people bring different strengths together, where they complement each other, fulfill each other, and bring out the best in each other. I can do that with a cowboy hero.
Wealth is not a word commonly associated with cowboys, either. I understand the ‘alpha fantasy’ that comes with the billionaire hero. It’s another way of saying he’s successful, that he can get the job done. It’s another version of competence. But wealth per se does not equate with success in the cowboy world. Of course money is nice, but beyond the basics, it’s not what you need in the West to succeed. It is, if anything, a false god. I’m writing about it now in the book I’m working on. It tempted my hero’s father and ultimately destroyed their family. It isn’t always a good thing. So I do not need, as one of my editors once said, “cowboys who own multi-national corporations on the side.” It’s the other measures of the man that interest me.
The women who survive and thrive in a cowboy’s world bring their own competence. By virtue of coping in a demanding and often harsh environment, they bring an equality to their relationship with a cowboy hero. Cowboy heroes simply demand strong independent women. Because I like working with strong characters, I like writing their stories.
Jane: You write the rugged West so well. Are you from a small Western town?
Anne: I grew up in southern California — land of sun, sand, surfers and beach volleyball players (even wrote a hero who was one)! But my roots are in the West — in Montana and Iowa on my mother’s side and in Oklahoma and Texas on my dad’s, so I think perhaps it’s bred in the bone.
We did spend some summers with family on my grandparents’ small ranch in southwestern Colorado when I was growing up. I loved every minute of it. My adult life has been spent primarily in Iowa where those same values are rock solid. Now we are in Montana (there’s a circular migration pattern in my family apparently) where I’m happy to see my grandkids’ parents instilling in them the same independent, hard-working, yet compassionate values that seem to go with the territory.
Jane: Do you have a favorite type of heroine you like to write?
Anne: I like strong, independent-minded heroines who can — and have — relied on themselves. One of my favorites was actually not a heroine at all (in a book at least), but the hero’s grandmother in Last Year’s Bride. Em McCullough had raised her kids and three of her grandkids, and had taken in a cousin’s boy for part of his teenage years. She had been in charge of the Marietta Christmas program for 50 years. She had everyone’s back. She was a fixture. And her grandkids would have said they knew exactly who she was. But there was more to Em than she’d ever really bandied about. And it’s that little bit inside her that her grandkids discovered toward the end of the book that opened their eyes — and made them look at her in a new light, and themselves as well.
I love Em. She’s in my upcoming book, McCullough’s Pride. She had a part in Rachael John’s Marietta rodeo book and is about to show up in one of Deb Salonen’s Marietta books as well. Em gets around! She embodies all the stuff I like to write about most in my heroines — their strength, their compassion, their connection to the community, and the little bits of themselves that they don’t always share, but which give them surprising depth and make them who they are.
Thank you, Anne for your time! Readers, I hope you’ll try Anne’s books if you aren’t already a fan of hers and to add to the fun, I’m giving away a fun Jane Porter & Anne McAllister giveaway just for you! For a chance to win, leave a comment for Anne!
I come from a long line of farmers and ranchers who settled in Texas and Oklahoma after the Civil War. Since all my ancestors had big families not much was passed down to me.
But I have one metal music box that plays ‘Here Comes the Bride.’ I’ve always loved it. When I’m holding it, I can almost feel my grandmother’s hands around mine when she used to show it to me.
In researching my keepsake I discovered that the song was part of an 1850 Wagner opera called Lohengrin. The irony is that in the opera, the ‘Bridal Chorus’ is sung as the bride and groom enter the bridal chamber and the wedding party prepares them for their first night together.
I don’t really care about the opera, I just love holding it because I feel like I’m somehow touching base with those who came before. Maybe it’s because they didn’t have much that the few things that made it down to great-granddaughters like me are treasured so dearly. [The cookie “rustler” I caught (right) is another generation learning to love their own past.]
In the new series I’m working on, RANSOM CANYON, I keep turning back to family heirlooms and memories. The second story in this new series, RUSTLER’S MOON, centers around a necklace, handed down for generations.
This story is about learning to trust in love and I hope you’ll fall in love with the people in Crossroads, Texas, like I have.
One old man in this story touched my heart. He’s long retired and comes to Ransom Canyon every summer to search for a memory from his childhood. You’re going to love Carter.
Thank you all for joining me in this journey into modern day ranching and living in a small town. As we move though the books I hope you’ll begin to think of it as your hometown, as I do.
“On a dirt road marked by haunting secrets, three strangers caught at life’s crossroads must decide what to sacrifice to protect their own agendas…and what they are each willing to risk for love.”
In today’s world, we fall in love and get married, or dream of falling in love, or we thought we were in love but learned better.
I’ve often wondered about our forefathers…our “foremothers?”…falling in love and marrying the man they chose. Did they?
My paternal grandfather at age twenty left home and wandered about for a while, until he came to the Moore farm in North Texas and asked for a job. The family had a fourteen-year-old daughter. After a while he decided he wanted to marry her. The father promised him he could marry his daughter when she became a little older. I believe my grandmother loved my grandfather. They lived a good happy life, had one daughter, and five sons.
Most pioneer women had little choice for one reason or another, but being the romantic I am, I do love to fantasize about these unique women marrying the man they chose. In fact, some of our well-known Texas pioneer women did just that.
Henrietta Chamberlain married Robert King, and together they built a ranching empire—The King Ranch in the Wild Horse Desert of South Texas. Henrietta was a tall, lovely young woman when she met and married Robert King. In her own words, she describes her happiness:
“When I came as a bride in 1854, a little ranch home then — a mere jacal as Mexicans would call it — was our abode for many months until our main ranch dwelling was completed. But I doubt if it falls to the lot of any a bride to have had so happy a honeymoon. On horseback we roamed the broad prairies. When I grew tired my husband would spread a Mexican blanket for me and then I would take my siesta under the shade of the mesquite tree.”
This was a happy marriage.
Molly Ann Dyer married rancher Charles Goodnight. In May of 1877, Charles and Molly built a two-room cabin in Palo Duro Canyon in the Panhandle of Texas. The nearest neighbors were 75 miles away from where Molly Goodnight established the first ranch household in the Texas Panhandle. In her biography, she explains how happy she was, although left alone much of the time. She loved her husband.
Luvenia Conway Roberts was called Lou by her beloved husband Dan Roberts. At age 33, Dan Roberts was a fine specimen of a man, tall, lanky, and strong. He joined Company D of the Frontier Battalion of the Texas Rangers in 1874, when the rangers were reorganized to offer protection to pioneers on the Texas frontier. When Dan was ordered to go into Indian country, he asked to take his new wife along. She agreed and was eager to travel with the Rangers.
In her own words:
“My friends thought I was courageous; in fact quite nervy to leave civilization and go into Indian country. But it did not require either. I was much in love with my gallant captain and willing to share his fate wherever and whatever it might be. Besides, the romantic side of it appealed to me strongly. I was thrilled with the idea of going to the frontier,the home of the pioneer.”
Ahhh, true love.
Prairie Rose Publications is growing by leaps and bounds. I was so pleased they wanted to include one of my sweet love stories in a Boxed Set titled “Love’s First Touch.” It includes stories from five authors.
LOVE’S FIRST TOUCH is powerful and sweet. It can move the heart to realize the true depth of emotion that only a first love can bring to a relationship. There’s some exciting reading ahead in these five full-length novels! Come join these wonderful characters as they experience awakening feelings and tumultuous relationships that can only be discovered with LOVE’S FIRST TOUCH!
WISH FOR THE MOON by Celia Yeary—Sixteen-year-old Annie McGinnis wishes for a chance to see more of the world, since all she’s ever known is the family farm in North Texas. Then she meets Max Landry.
FLY AWAY HEART by Sarah J. McNeal—Lilith Wilding can’t remember a time when she didn’t love the English born Robin Pierpont.
DOUBLE OR NOTHING by Meg Mims— Lily Granville, heiress, rebels against her uncle’s rules. Ace Diamond, determined to win Lily, invests in a dynamite factory.
DRINA’S CHOICE by Agnes Alexander— To escape her abusive father, Drina Hamilton feels she has no choice but to become the wife of a rancher she only knows from the one letter his uncle has written her.
DIGGING HOLES IN PARADISE by Karen Mihaljevich—In 1859 Missouri, Josette Stratton discovers that a chance identity switch gives her an out from a marriage mandated by her father—and allows her to work as a seamstress.
I would love to Gift an ebook copy of this Boxed Set to a lucky person who leaves a comment.
I am a history buff with a weakness for historic buildings, and in particular, historic hotels.
My dad, a history and political science professor, passed his love of history to his kids and years after studying American Lit & History at UCLA, I went back and got a teaching credential so I could teach English and Social Studies to junior high and high school students.
Whenever I travel, I try to stay in one of the oldest hotels in a town, or one of those fascinating historic buildings that have been turned into a hotel today, preserving a bit of the past while making the building relevant for today’s generation.
Hubert Howe Bancroft’s Historical Library ( 1883) was my inspiration for Marietta’s Library
In my Taming of the Sheenan series, my hero and heroine in The Tycoon’s Kiss, are both preservationists. Troy Sheenan, a hi-tech tycoon in the Silicon Valley, never forgot his roots in Marietta, Montana and has bought the turn of the century Graff Hotel and restored it to its former glory after the hotel had been abandoned for twenty plus years. Renovating the Graff has nearly bankrupt him, but he had to do it because the hotel was too big a part of Montana history to let it be demolished. Fortunately, he meets the new Marietta librarian, Taylor, who is equally passionate about Montana history, including the town’s 19th century library and my tycoon and book girl fall in love with each other in part because they both love Montana’s rugged history.
The Grand Union Hotel in Montana which was the inspiration for my Graff
Thinking back, I could have happily written an entire story just about American Frontier buildings, except I don’t think my romance readers would have been happy with me f I’d left out people and romance completely.
I’ve used Marietta’s Graff Hotel as a setting many of my Sheenan Brothers stories, but it plays a central role in my brand new release, A Christmas Miracle for Daisy.
In A Christmas Miracle for Daisy, single dad, Cormac Sheenan, and his four-year-old daughter Daisy are living at the Graff during the holidays while their Paradise Valley log cabin style home is being remodeled to make it ‘child-safe’. Cormac isn’t big on Christmas and festivities and Marietta has become Christmas town, with the handsome old Graff featuring daily visits with Santa Claus.
Santa from 1900
My new Christmas story is a riff on Miracle on 34th Street, and so I don’t need to tell you the challenges everyone faces. Cormac is a non-Kris “Krinkles” believer, while Daisy knows without a doubt that Kris is the real thing. Santa needs to pull off a miracle but its not easy without magic and faith.
I loved using the Graff for a Christmas setting because I could fill the dark paneled lobby with a soaring fir tree, and put garland and red ribbons above doorways and add weekend holiday teas to the hotel’s restaurant menu. I also added another historic building to my Marietta, Montana collection with the addition of the turn of the century “Crookshank Department Store”, a big brick building on Marietta’s Main Street. I’m also sharing a couple Pinterest links to boards featuring Marietta decked out for Christmas, along with the great turn of the century buildings I love so much:
This interior bar from the Montana Hotel in Anaconda, MT found its way into my Graff Hotel in fictional Marietta, MT
As you can tell, when researching, I spend considerable hours pouring over histories and pictures of my favorite old hotels of the West so I thought I’d share some of my favorite recommendations with you. I’ve been able to stay at each of these places, too, and am including a link so you can visit, either in person or as an armchair traveler…which sometimes can be the best way to travel!
Five of Jane’s Favorite Historic Hotels of the West
The historic Grand Union Hotel was opened in 1882, seven years before Montana became a state. However, within a year two new railroads opened—the Northern Pacific and the Canadian Pacific Railroad to Calgary—and overnight the hotel and town declined. Just two years after it was opened, the bankrupt hotel sold at a “sheriff’s auction” for $10,000. The hotel struggled on through the 20th Century, before closing in the 1980’s and then undergoing a multi-million remodel over a period of years before reopening in 1999, making the Grand Union Montana’s oldest operating hotel.
Spokane’s 1914 Davenport Hotel is one of my favorite hotels in the West. It was built to be a destination spot where guests could escape from the noise and chaos of the outside world for the Davenport’s elegance and refinement. The hotel was nearly demolished in 2002 but saved at the last minute for an extensive renovation that has once again made the Davenport the place to go west of the Cascades.
The Oxford Hotel – Denver, CO
Opened to the public in 1891, the Oxford Hotel was built by Colorado brewer
Adolph Zang with the newest technology, and stunning grandeur with oak furnishings, silver chandeliers and frescoed walls. The newest technology meant that all guest rooms had rare creature comforts: steam heating, electric and gas lighting and bathrooms with separate water closets. The hotel was updated a number of times over the next seventy-five years, but restored to its former glory in the 1980’s to the tune of $12 million.
Browns Palace Hotel is the second oldest hotel in Denver, opened just one year after the Oxford Hotel and name for its owner, Henry Brown. The hotel was designed around an atrium—one of the features I love best about this hotel—and features a gorgeous afternoon tea (my favorite thing to do when traveling…).
The historic Sacajawea dates back to 1910 and was renovated one hundred years later, after spending almost a decade boarded up. Unlike the big city sandstone and red brick hotels, this is a white painted beauty in a small, rural community thirty miles outside Bozeman. I’ve been here several times, if not to overnight, then for a fantastic steak dinner in the hotel’s handsome dining room. I could write an entire blog about Three Forks, MT as it factors hugely in the Lewis and Clark Expedition, as well as being a key stop on the Milwaukee Railroad.
(Plus one extra favorite from my childhood, The Wawona Hotel outside Yosemite, near the Mariposa Grove, a station stop in 1856 with rustic accomodations that were replaced in 1879 with the 25 room hotel. Just 90 minutes from my home in Visalia, the Wawona was a magical Victorian period two-story hotel with lots of crisp white paint and picturesque verandas overlooking the lawn. I could picture the horse drawn carriages at the turn of the century arriving with guests from San Francisco and Los Angeles. The hotel today has 104 guest rooms and has been operated by the Park Service since the 1930’s, and remains my first hotel love….with the Awahnee Hotel in Yosemite valley as a very close second! http://www.yosemitepark.com/wawona-hotel.aspx )
Do you enjoy staying in old hotels or visiting historic buildings? Leave a comment for a chance to win this fun prize and I’ll be back to pick a winner on Sunday, the 6th of December!