Category: Contest

Left at the Altar Book Release and Giveaway


LeftattheAltarfinalcoverI 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?

Time for a little holiday cheer


Do You Hear What I Hear?

only 1.99








Updated: October 27, 2016 — 7:49 am

Jane Porter: Cowgirl at a Dude Ranch

image12  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.


image21But 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. 🙂


Updated: July 29, 2016 — 5:11 pm

Jane Porter: Q&A with my Style Icon, Carol Koch

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.  

IMG_1369 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.  IMG_1400



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.jp1

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!  jp4


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. jp6


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.  

Screen Shot 2016-05-30 at 9.27.49 AM

5)  What is the one thing you MUST wear when going out with Garner?  

Boot and turquoise. jp5

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.    🙂 

2 of Carol’s Fav Shops:  
YaYa Gurlz –  Abilene, TX –
Orisons – McKinney, TX –

Garner Koch’s Fav Shops for Boots & Traditional Wear:  
Leddy Boots2 locations in Ft. Worth, TX
Maverick Western WearFt. Worth, TX
J Hilburn Custom Shirts


A couple of Jane’s Favorite Shops: (I discovered these shops and designers from attending NFR’s Cowboy Christmas (of course, I was introduced to them by Carol!)
Patricia Wolf – Patricia’s vests and belts are amazing.  I have one of each!
Ann’s Turquoise – Craving some turquoise jewelry?  Here you go!

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
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.comcountry_450x2
Wild Bill’s Western Store – Hats, boots galore & lots more


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!

Updated: May 31, 2016 — 11:39 am

An Interview with Anne McAllister by Jane Porter

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! 🙂

auth_AnneMcAllister-500x500Anne McAllister:

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?

51SpOrK3daL._SX339_BO1X204X203X200_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.

Look for Anne’s new release, Cowboys Don’t Cry at these online retailers:
Kindle | iBooks | Kobo | GooglePlayIMG_9290


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!



Updated: April 4, 2016 — 3:37 pm

Kathryn’s Winner!

Thank you to all who stopped by and commented yesterday!

I really enjoyed reading of the road trips you’ve taken and the ones you hope to take!

The winner of my giveaway is none other than

Quilt Lady!

Please contact me at with your mail address and I will send you a (free) copy of

Familiar Stranger in Clear Springs!

Jodi Thomas Rides Under a RUSTLER’S MOON

Jodi Thomas Author PicI 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.

Jodi's Music Box

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 prepareRustlers 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 neRansom Canyonw 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.”

Step into RUSTLERS MOON, you will enjoy the adventureRustler's Moon

Jodi is giving away one print copy of RUSTLER’S MOON today to one of you who leaves a comment. So get to it!

Welcome to The Junction, Celia Yeary!

By Celia Yeary

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—TheHenriettaKing 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 GoodnightMolly 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 DanielWRoberts_mediumage 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

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.


Celia Yeary-Romance…and a little bit ‘o Texas


My Website

My Blog

Sweethearts of the West-Blog

My Facebook Page


The Handbook of Texas On-Line
Texas Tears and Texas Sunshine

Jane Porter: Historic Hotels of the West

TheTycoon'sKiss-SMALLI 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


ACMFD-MEDIUMThinking 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:


Screen Shot 2015-11-22 at 8.17.44 AM

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

  1. The Grand Union Hotel – Fort Benton

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.

  1. The Davenport Hotel – Spokane, WA,_Washington)

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.

  1. 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.

  1. The Browns Palace Hotel – Denver, CO,_Colorado)

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…).

  1. The Sacajawea Hotel – Three Forks, MT

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! )

IMG_7686Do 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!





Updated: November 22, 2015 — 6:08 pm

THE LAST WARRIOR, a review, an excerpt and a free give-away


Yes, indeed, I will be giving away a free Tradepaper copy of THE LAST WARRIOR to some lucky blogger.  Please refer to our rules for giveaways as mentioned in my bio at the end of this blog.  Also, please remember to check back tomorrow (Wednesday eve) to discover if you are the winner or not.  It saddens me sometimes when I pick a name for a winner and then never hear from them.  So please be sure to check back.  All of our blog rules for entry and for entering the contest apply.  All you have to do is leave a message, but please do read the rules — it’s not long and it’s easy to understand.  : )

That said, let me introduce you to THE LAST WARRIOR — a book set in the backdrop of Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show.  So first a review of the book, and then an excerpt.  Hope you’ll enjoy, and please do leave a message.


LastWarrior-The72lgFrom the mists of time, people have had legends about lost peoples, lost tribes, and lost civilizations. Karen Kay has chosen her topic well, brought forth legend and times when they were honoured. The Last Warrior is an intensely beautiful book, written on a backdrop of the 1890’s west, Karen takes us on a voyage of discovery with a young brave who has values not understood in the white world. Black Lion is led on a quest that leads him not only to Europe, but to the very one he seeks. There, yet unknown at the time, he finds the meaning of love. Too preoccupied to do anything but his job, the revelations come to him later when he finds a pregnant and very lost Suzette in The Song Bird’s tent. Known for her voice, Irena has followed Bill Hickcock and his show to America, she has her own agenda, her own quest, but when Suzette joins her, and when Black Lion comes into the mix, then the world spins, and thunder rolls, and only the gods can know what might come from the mix.

The Last Warrior has a rich background, a wealth of beautiful scenery, a host of magnetic characters, and a story you will not be able to put down. The tension and attraction that flares between Suzette and Black Lion is riddled with passion and desire. From their first accidental meeting in England when he proposes marriage, to her acceptance of his proposal in her aunt’s tent at the Wild West Show in the US, We are rooting for them both as we learn of the circumstances, of the bond, and of the sacrifices each are willing to make for the other. Only when you finish the book will you understand. This is a book of depth and sensitivity as well as being a wonderful romance. The Last Warrior will make you laugh, cry, and cheer as the terms of the quest are outlined, and the players take their places in the drama to come. Only then does Karen Kay allow the readers to see the possible ending, and even then keeps one on the edge of the seat until the end. The Last Warrior makes room and stands among the books by authors like Madeline Baker, Susan Edwards, and Cassie Edwards… The Last Warrior is a book you will read over and over again, and a great addition to your keeper shelf.

Yours in good reading,



THE LAST WARRIOR, an excerpt


Karen Kay


Black Lion awoke with a start. Had he overslept?

It appeared he had; the signs were not good. Sunlight poured in overhead from the ear- flaps of the canvas tepee, and glancing up through the lodge poles, Black Lion caught sight of the sun, which was already positioned mid-sky.

What had caused him to oversleep? And this on a day when he had been cautioned to arrive for the performance in a timely manner. Needing to pull on his jeans over his naked body, he had no more than stepped foot into them when he remembered he was supposed to be attired in traditional dress.

“Damn.” He uttered the white man’s word.

Tossing his jeans to the side, Black Lion grabbed hold of a breechcloth lying on the floor, stretching the softened leather through his legs and tying the long string securely around his waist. Sliding his feet lightly into his moccasins, he decided he wouldn’t bother with leggings today—the kind of riding he was doing was traditionally done naked anyway.

The Long-haired Show Man—Buffalo Bill—might have things to say to him later, but

Black Lion couldn’t consider that now.

He grabbed his quiver full of arrows—mere sticks with rubber tips, since they were now minus the traditional bone arrowhead—and his bow. Then he heard feminine laughter outside the tepee.

Black Lion shook his head as though the simple action might serve to enlighten him. What was wrong with these European women that they followed him? Why did they wait for him? Touch him? Ask for his autograph?

Sighing, he realized he was doomed. Not only would he be unable to hurry to the arena as was needed, he was going to have to humor these females. That or face a dressing-down if one of them complained.

And this would never do, not when he acted in his friend’s stead.

Accepting his fate, Black Lion seized hold of his headdress, as well as his shield, and stepped out of the lodge. Frowning, he inhaled the moisture-laden air as he quickly counted the number of women in his audience. At least there were only fifteen this time. Last night there had been more than fifty.

Giggles sounded around him. “May I have your autograph?” asked one of them.

He smiled at the girl. “For twenty-five bucks.” He uttered the words good-humoredly, however, for he accepted the young lady’s pen and paper without further argument.

“My parents have given me permission to ask you if you would like to join us for dinner this evening,” said another one of the women as Black Lion attempted to scribble out his name—although it wasn’t his name, it was his friend Two Bears’s name.

Black Lion nodded at the golden-haired, pretty and immaculately dressed girl. In truth, if duty were not so heavy on his shoulders, he would have liked nothing better than to spend more time in this young lady’s presence. But he could not. Not only was he a man haunted by a responsibility to his people, he was also here representing his friend Two Bears, who was married.

“Stop it, Sadie, I wanted to ask him.” The owner of that voice pushed in toward him. “Maybe you could come to see me tomorrow?”

He breathed out another deep lament. Here before him was yet another beauty. Black Lion jerked his chin to the left—a Lakota gentleman’s gesture—and grinned first at one of them, then at the other woman. “I would like nothing better than to get to know you all,” he admitted. “Alas, I cannot.”

“Why can you not?” came several voices all at once.

“Because I have work to do and because—”

“I…be jealous.” The voice was low, feminine and came from behind him.

Looking around, Black Lion recognized the wife of Running Fox, a fellow Hunkpapa tribal member. He smiled at this woman whom he knew to be called Little Star.

Meanwhile, the giggling of those surrounding him had stopped. Each of the beautiful young women was staring at the speaker.

“I…often jealous of…women,” Little Star stated, “who ask…husband to dinner.”

It did not escape Black Lion’s notice that Little Star omitted saying exactly who her husband was.

“I didn’t know you were married,” observed one young lady.

“I didn’t either,” chipped in another.

“Nor I.”

“Sorry,” voiced Black Lion simply. “But Buffalo Bill rarely hires an American Indian man who is not married.” He cast Little Star a quick wink as well as a grateful smile. Little Star nodded. “And now,” said Black Lion to the girls at large, “I must leave you. I am late for my performance.”

Without a backward glance, he struck off toward the livery.

Once he was far enough away from the women, he didn’t waste another moment, but ran as though he were in a race, bolting over anything in his way, which included a rather large hitching post, as well as several mud holes.

“Where’s Ranckles?” he asked Old Doe, the man who attended to the animals.

“Son, you’re late,” the old-timer remarked.

“I know,” panted Black Lion, barely catching his breath. “I must hurry.”

“He’s over there in the stall. He’s saddled.” Old Doe winked.

“Thank you, Grandfather. I will honor you for this.”

“Honor? Forget about the honor, and just get in there. He’s come down here twice to check on ya.”

Black Lion had no need to ask who he was. Shoving a gift—a pouch of tobacco—into the old-timer’s hand, Black Lion adjusted his headdress over his hair, grabbed hold of Ranckles’s reins and hurriedly headed toward the arena.

It had rained the day before the show was to open. This was both good and bad. The good was that the air was clear, fresh and invigorating, if a little humid. The bad was that there was muddy water everywhere.

Black Lion had no choice but to leap over the many mud holes, as he pulled Ranckles, an Appaloosa, after him.

In an effort to determine the time, Black Lion glanced upward toward the sun, not the best action to take when one is also running. Momentarily blinded, he rammed straight into an obstacle, sending whatever it was to the ground, and unfortunately for it, directly into the mud. Luckily for Black Lion, Ranckles seemed to have more sense than his owner and stopped quickly enough so as to avert a real disaster.

Looking down to see what it was he had run into, Black Lion was disconcerted to behold yet another female. Grimacing slightly, he rolled his eyes.

“I saw that,” said the female heap who had landed at his feet. Her voice was surprisingly beautiful.

Black Lion, however, was not so easily impressed, since it was still a female voice. He looked passively at the woman and uttered, “I am sorry,” then he groaned a little as he gave her a closer look.

The woman had raised her eyes, and they were the deepest, most clear blue eyes he had ever seen, and Little Blue Eyes, as he immediately dubbed her, stared back at him. Unwillingly, he found he was not immune to her charm.

“You rolled your eyes at me,” she complained indignantly.

“Forgive me. I am late for my performance. I hurry when I should perhaps tarry.” He heaved a deep sigh then turned to leave.

“That is all? I get no more apology than that? Will you at least help me up?”

Black Lion frowned. Lovely though this young woman might be, he couldn’t help but compare her to the well-brought-up Lakota women with whom he was acquainted. No polite Lakota woman would dare to use a voice on him that, for all that it was pretty, was filled with antagonism. Indeed, in the country of the Lakota, it was considered the height of bad manners to speak to a man with anything but a pleasant demeanor. “Where I come from,” he vocalized, “women speak softly and pleasingly. And they do not contradict a man.” Perhaps he should have kept the observation to himself, however.

She scoffed at him.  “I beg your pardon. Do you, an American Indian, seek to lecture me on manners? You, who have not even offered your hand to help me out of this mud? Where were you raised? With wolves?”

He stepped toward her. Obviously, he did not understand what a white man was required to do. “Forgive me. I am not from here. I do not know your customs.”

“Pray, is it really that difficult to understand? Look at me.”

He did, which was part of the problem. She was enchanting…as well as… There was something about her that pulled at him.

At the moment, she was a mass of dark hair and sky-blue material, except where she had rolled in the mud, of course. It occurred to him that she wanted him to help her up, something no Lakota woman would ever expect or need. For it was a man’s job to protect and to provide, and a Lakota woman knew this. She would never interfere with a man or with his work.

But here in this England, Black Lion was out of his element. With one more apology, he bent over the young lady, and as though she were as lightweight as the headdress he wore, he picked her up.

She was rounded and soft, he noted at once, and she was probably the most shapely young woman he had ever had the good fortune to hold in his arms.

However, this embarrassed him. In his country, men and women who were not married did not touch. Rarely did they even speak.

As he grasped her tiny waist, his fingers tingled at the contact. For a moment, he yearned to hold her closer, to breathe in her sweet scent.

He quickly set her on her feet. “Sorry,” he repeated, and turned away.

Apparently white women here were more than a little different than Lakota women. “That’s it? That’s all? You have nothing more to say? You knock me down like some colonial gun-barreling, Wild West gunslinger. You ruin my dress and my umbrella. And all you have to say is sorry?”

Spinning back toward her, he spared the delicate creature a glance, but for all that it was fast, the look was thorough. Long dark-brown hair that cascaded into ringlets over her shoulders; creamy, pale, pinkish complexion; blue eyes that were made bluer by the color of her clothes. In truth, she was more than beautiful. She was…exquisite.

He said, “I am late.”


“I have to…hurry.” Was she comely but not very smart?

“Look at me. You have ruined my dress.” She held out a muddy piece of the material as evidence. “You slung me into the mud, and then turned away without helping me up.”

“I helped you up.”

“After I complained.”

“I still helped you up.”

She sighed impatiently. “That’s not the point.”

Black Lion realized he probably appeared stupid, but he could only gape at her. She wanted something else? Wasn’t it enough that they had touched, that he was speaking to her when there was no chaperone here to thwart him? Did she not fear for her reputation?

He was not left long to wonder, however, for she continued, “Do you not understand that I will have to pay to have the dress washed and pressed tomorrow?” She blew out a breath. “And that’s tomorrow, what about today? How am I supposed to endure the rest of the day with all this guck on me? And look here, my jacket is torn too.” She put a hand to her head. “Where’s my hat?”

For a moment, Black Lion felt as guilty as a wayward boy. Once, long ago, one of the women from the tribe had scolded him in much the same manner. It had been so demeaning an experience that it had never happened again. He had ensured it.

But this was not then, and he was not a young boy to take offense so easily. What was wrong with her? Couldn’t she grant him quarter? After all, he was new to this land. He didn’t know this town, he hadn’t yet learned their rules…

“Oh, my hat,” she complained. “Where’s my hat?”

Looking around, Black Lion noticed an object of similar coloring to the woman’s dress. It was probably the object in question.

Letting go of Ranckles’s reins, he recovered the article, though the action little aided his cause. Mud had worked its damage on the hat. A long blue feather, instead of standing straight up, limped to the side. Carefully, he tried to make it stand upright. The action was useless.

Shrugging, he offered the item to her. “Back in my country, men and women who are not married, or planning to be married, do not speak, let alone touch one another. I have done both with you this day, and I fear that either I must bring our conversation to an end, or I will be forced to marry you.”

Though he smiled a little, she gasped. “Are you trying to insult me?”

“I flatter you. Or I try to. There are many women who would be honored by such a declaration from me.”

“Well, I am not one of them.”

His smile broadened. “Do not worry. If I am forced to add you to my family, my first wife will tame you.”

Her second gasp was even louder than the first. He had known, of course, that the taunt would hit a chord with her, since he had come to understand that white people married only once. But, the Great Spirit be praised, he couldn’t seem to help but tease her.

As though to add further insult, in the process of handing the hat to her, their fingers accidentally touched. At once, excitement burst through him. He even swayed toward her.

He said, “I will pay for the damage to your dress, or I will buy you a new one. People here call me Two Bears. You have only to ask for me, and others will bring you to me.”

“I do not want your money. I want you to—” She stopped suddenly.

Waiting, Black Lion raised an eyebrow at her.

“I want you to go away and leave me alone,” she finished, although as she spoke, her hat fell from her fingers, the cap landing in the mud. The feather fell over as if it might drink in the substance. Her possession was now beyond repair.

Still, he couldn’t help but grin at her. “If all that you require of me is my absence, it will be my pleasure to obey.” His smile widened, and without another word, he turned his back on her.

“Wait. It is not my duty to seek you out. A gentleman should always solicit the lady.”

He sighed. “Please, I do not have time for more talk about manners. I am late.”

“And you expect me to be sympathetic? Perhaps you should arise earlier if you have trouble arriving in a timely manner. Or better yet, maybe you should watch where you are going.”

“I think you are right. I should, and I will,” he said, just as if he might be agreeing with her. “But at least I have only a change in my schedule to consider.”

“What is that supposed to mean?”

“Only this. Where I was raised, young women do not venture out into the day alone, and if they did…” he let the insinuation dangle between them for a moment before finishing, “…they are what the white man calls fair game.”

“What? Why, that’s as barbaric to a modern woman as—”

“And when they speak,” he continued, cutting her off, “only soft words of comfort and pleasure come forth from their lips.”

“Meaning that I…? How dare you,” she sputtered. “That’s the second time you have spoken offensively to me.”

“I mean it not as ridicule, but as instruction because you…” He shook his head. There seemed little point in explaining it was his duty to protect a young lady’s reputation. Besides, such a declaration would hardly be true. He had meant to be as forward with her as she was being with him. “If you will stay until after the show, I will seek you out then, and I will make good on my obligation to you.”

“Pray, do not bother. I will see to the repair of the dress myself.”

“If you wish it to be so, then it will be so.” He turned to leave.

“Oh!” she exclaimed. “A real gentleman would press his cause.”

Once again, he turned back and crossed his arms over his chest. “Either I will pay you for the damage, or I will not pay. The choice is up to you. Now be clear on this matter. Do I look for you after the show? Or not?”

“You do not. And, sir?”

He raised an eyebrow.

“You are no gentleman!” She said it arrogantly, lifted her chin and swung around to stomp off in the opposite direction of his destination. He might have watched her for a moment. She was certainly pretty enough he would have liked to memorize her every feature. But he had wasted enough time.

Picking up Ranckles’s reins, he hurried in the direction of the arena.


LastWarrior-The72lgTHE LAST WARRIOR


Karen Kay


Stay tuned.  On November 24th, 2015, BLACK EAGLE will be released.  The start of the Iroquois Warriors series.BlackEagle2

Updated: November 10, 2015 — 12:59 pm

Winners of the Four-Novel Boxed Set!

A Cowboy's Touch Box 2Thank you to everyone who stopped by to comment on my post about the Western Fictioneers convention in St. Louis. Two lucky ladies won Kindle copies of the four-novel boxed set, A Cowboy’s Touch. The set includes four spicy full-length novels about Old West love: The Half-Breed’s Woman by Cheryl Pierson, Prodigal Gun by Kathleen Rice Adams, Spirit Catcher by Livia J. Washburn, and Wild Texas Winds by Kit Prate.

The winners, determined by, are:

Kim Amundsen


Sally Schmidt

Congratulations, ladies! I’ll be in touch.

Kathleen Rice Adams header