Category: Excerpt

LONE ARROW’S PRIDE, Excerpt and Free E-book Give-away

Howdy!

LONE ARROW’S PRIDE was just uploaded to Amazon Kindle and Amazon KindleUnlimited.  Always I remember this book because on one of my visits to the Crow Reservation (in Montana), a friend of mine, Jeff Rides-the-bear asked me why I didn’t do any stories about the Crow.  My answer was that because the Crow language is the first language (before English) for the Crow people, it scared me a little because my efforts might not be exactly right.  Hearing this, Jeff  volunteered to help me with the language and he and another fellow on the reservation looked over all of the Crow words used in the story to make sure they were correct.  And so was born the book, LONE ARROW’S PRIDE — which is a light-hearted romance.  In writing this book, I took some actual legends from the Superstitious Mountains and brought some of that legend to the Bighorn Mountains in Wyoming.

I will be offering a free e-book to one of the bloggers today, so do leave a comment.

Buried treasure shines brightest in the dark…

The Legendary Warriors, Book 2

Ten years after she survived a cholera epidemic that wiped out her entire wagon train, Carolyn White is on a quest to shake off the bad luck that follows her everywhere and which now threatens her adopted family. The unending string of mishaps can have only one source: the gold piece that she, in childish innocence and wonder, once took from a stolen cache.

She tells herself her journey to Crow Country is merely to put the piece back in the cave where she found it. Yet in her heart, she knows it’s the memory of Lone Arrow, the boy who sheltered her there. The boy whose face, now that of a man’s, inhabits her dreams.

Lone Arrow’s anger knows no bounds. Anger with the white woman he suspects isn’t being truthful to him. Anger with himself that he cannot ignore the beauty who captured his heart even as a boy. Though trust is in short supply, he can’t deny his burning need for her. Whatever else she may be, she is his destiny.

 

LONE ARROW’S PRIDE

 

It started harmlessly enough. A bee buzzed around Carolyn’s face and fingers, most likely because honey still clung to her in those places.

Darn. She hated these little bees. She swished at the insect, but the little bugger wouldn’t leave her alone. She could stick a few of her fingers in her mouth to wash off the honey, she supposed, but she hated to do that. What with petting the horse, keeping hold of the reins and pushing aside bushes in their way, Carolyn’s fingers were filthy, covered with bits of dirt and dust…and they were sticky.

Wait, she had put her handkerchief into her bag only a few moments ago, and it was within her reach. It would take her only a second to get it.

Hating to bother Pretty Moon, Carolyn leaned down to open her bag. Unfortunately, she brought up her leg slightly as she turned, not realizing until too late that the movement hit the bee, which had already landed on the horse.

The bee stung the horse, who then reared, and Carolyn, already twisted in her seat, could not hold on. She flew off the horse’s back, sailed through the air and came down with a plop, landing in a boggy mire of dirty water.

“Ouch!” Lifting a mud-soaked hand out in front of her face, she wiggled her fingers and toes; at least everything still seemed to work.

And perhaps the entire incident would not have been so bad if it hadn’t been for Pretty Moon. The other woman stood beside her, laughing.

Carolyn smoothed a lock of hair from her face and grimaced as she watched a rivulet of muddy water slide down its length.

“Go ahead and laugh,” Carolyn called to her. “I know I would, too, if someone looked as silly as I must. Although, don’t you think that one of us should go after the horse? He’s carrying all our supplies, and the mule’s following him.”

Pretty Moon nodded, although she made no move to go after the animal.

Carolyn came slowly to her feet, her bonnet flopping down over her forehead. She tried to push it back from her face, but it kept collapsing forward, splattering even more mud and gunk on her.

Her antics caused Pretty Moon to giggle even more furiously than before, one hand thrown up over her mouth.

Drat, Carolyn thought, she was wet from her neck clear down to the tips of her toes; her skirt and petticoats, now muddy and slimy, clung to her legs like oily rags, and her boots gushed murky water with each step she took. Even her bodice was drooping.

“Oh, no,” she said. “Look at me. I’m going to have to change into another skirt.”

Pretty Moon nodded, trying her best to keep from smiling. “Pretty Moon,” she pointed to herself, “will take mule…and catch…horse. Does…white friend have…other dress?”

“One,” Carolyn said. “I didn’t bring many of them, since I figured we’d do some laundry along the way.”  But she hadn’t thought she’d need to do it so soon.  “If you’ll go and fetch the pony,” continued Carolyn, “I’ll slip out of these clothes. Maybe there is some clear water here where I can wash the skirt.”

“There…” Pretty Moon pointed in the direction of a small stream. “Pretty Moon…go…get horse.”

“Yes,” Carolyn agreed. “Please.”

In answer, Pretty Moon turned around and took off, chasing after their single mode of transportation.
Carolyn took a step forward, only to trip over her own skirt.

Goodness, it was one thing after another. Maybe she should step out of the skirt so she didn’t keep tangling herself up in it.

Reaching down, she began to undo each of the buttons which held the skirt in place. So intent was she upon her task that she was unaware for the moment of the things going on around her. Perhaps that was why she didn’t see it.

Something poked her in the backside.

Turning around, she saw the reason at once. A buffalo calf had come up behind her. Curious, she reached out a hand toward it.

“You’re a cute little fellow,” she said with a smile. “Where’s your mother?”

As if in answer, the little guy switched its tail.

“Well,” she said, pulling the skirt down around her feet. “It’s been nice talking to you, and you’re a sweet little thing, but I really have to be going. I’d like this skirt to be washed before Pretty Moon comes back.”

Carolyn took a step. With one foot precariously raised, she lost her balance and fell backward…right into the calf.

It cried, and as Carolyn pitched to the ground, the calf collapsed over her.

Goodness, but the little guy was acting like a baby. It whined and cried as though she had done it bodily harm.

Carolyn tried to extricate herself from underneath the calf. Praise be, but it sure did weigh a great deal. She shoved against him, but she could not budge him.

“Would you move off me?” Exasperated, the question came out as more complaint than question.

The calf merely let out another moan. Goodness gracious!

Unfortunately, another buffalo, perhaps the calf’s mother, was making its way toward them, a little too quickly.

But Carolyn barely noticed. She had her own problems. The calf could not get up, and she could not move it, either. Its feet had become entangled, and the more it struggled, the more ensnared it became.
Carolyn sent a helpless glance up toward the heavens. What was she to do? As she tried once more to move and could not, she realized that she was going to have to help the little buffalo get to its feet. Leaning over, she touched its hairy legs and began to set its feet out, one over another.

There, now. She almost had it. In another moment, she would have the calf back on its feet, and gain her own legs out from underneath it.

Miserably, she noted as she glanced around her, she had drawn a crowd. Four buffalo had come to stand over her, looking down at her as though she were the latest in Wild West entertainment.

In little time, however, the calf was back on its own legs, and Carolyn was able to struggle to her feet. Taking a deep breath and stepping completely out of her skirt and petticoats, she paced around the other buffalo that had come to watch her.

They reminded her of cows somehow. Big, dangerous, wild cows, yes, but cows nevertheless.

The stream that Pretty Moon had pointed out was only a short distance away, and Carolyn paced quickly toward it, unaware that the calf followed her. And so it was that Carolyn had little knowledge that the calf’s mother followed it, and that the other buffalo began to follow the mother, keeping to its quickened pace.

Soon a few buffalo tramped by her. Then several more.

Carolyn did notice that the animals appeared to be moving a little too fast. But she didn’t think much about it; certainly it was no reason to glance behind her.

Unaware of what was beginning to take place, Carolyn picked up her pace. In truth, she began to run toward the stream. She had almost made it, too, when it happened.

The buffalo, which had begun to surround her, were beginning to pass by quickly, their speed perhaps matching her own. And at last, Carolyn thought to glance over her shoulder.

Dear Lord, she thought as she took it all in. How had this happened? The entire herd was beginning to follow her and the calf. Worse, unless she did something soon, she might likely be trampled to death.

But if they were following her, would they also stop if she did?

The little guy behind her let out another whimper as the bigger animals pushed past them. Carolyn turned around, her gaze falling onto the baby. At least he wasn’t running away from her. Carolyn fell to her knees before him, throwing her arms around the animal. Could he possibly be her lifeline?

Would the other buffalo be aware of them, perhaps even watch out for him, making a path around him?

As the thunder of pounding hoofs began to drown out even this disturbing thought, Carolyn could only pray that it would be so.

##############################################################

 

Lone Arrow was not happy. It was an understatement.

How could the white woman have left the fort as she had? After he had forbidden it?

And Pretty Moon; what did she have to do with the white woman’s escape? Did the two of them think it a mere game to defy their men?

Their men?

Raising up from the ground where he had been squatting over the women’s trail, Lone Arrow snorted at the thought. He was not her man; she was not his woman.

Staring off in the direction the women had taken, he tried to speculate on what was in the white woman’s mind. From her tracks, here in the sand, he could tell that she was agitated. What he did not understand was why the women were not bothering to cover their trail, nor the direction of their path.

Did they think no one would come after them?

Perhaps the white men at the fort might be content to let them go. But he…

That was another thing. How had Carolyn convinced the soldiers not to follow them? She must have done something, for the bluecoats were making no moves to send out a rescue party.

Lone Arrow looked off into the distance, and he figured that from the freshness of the tracks, he and his friend were only a half day behind them. In the meantime, his pony snorted and shoved her nose under Lone Arrow’s hand.

“Easy, girl,” he said, whereupon, without thinking, he began to pat the animal.

Why weren’t the women traveling more quickly?

Obviously they wanted to be found.  Why?

Lone Arrow scowled. Who knew the workings of a woman’s mind. As the old ones had often said, “Do not try to understand them. Simply love and protect them.”

Shrugging, he signaled to his friend, telling him to move on ahead. And Lone Arrow, jumping up to regain his seat atop his pony, refused to try to make sense of these clues he found.

At least the women were not far ahead of them. If he and his friend rode hard, they should catch up to the women by the time the sun was highest in the sky.

Hopefully, The-girl-who-runs-with-bears and Pretty Moon had met with no trouble, although that seemed unlikely. This was, after all, The-girl-who-runs-with-bears. She seemed to be involved in more accidents than any single person he had ever known.

He could only hope that Pretty Moon would be alert enough to rescue her, since Lone Arrow was certain that his white woman would need it.

His white woman?

Lone Arrow pulled his brows together, frowning, as an abrupt realization came over him. He was worried about her…really worried about her…

Lone Arrow heard the thunder of buffalo hooves in the distance. It meant that the herd was in the throes of a running stampede.

His stomach turned over at the sound. Why? There was nothing to fear there; nothing unusual.

Or was there?

He stared down at the imprints in the ground, which told him a story. He did not like this. He did not understand it, either. Why would the women’s path lead them in the direction of a stampeding herd? Pretty Moon would have avoided contact with the buffalo, if at all possible.

It had to be the inexperience of The-girl-who-runs-with-bears. She did not know the ways of the plains well enough to discern danger. He had observed this in her too many times in the past not to be aware of it now.

Pulling back on his buckskin reins, Lone Arrow stared straight ahead of him. What was wrong? Why did he feel as though he were on the verge of toppling over the precipice of some high cliff.

Glancing over his shoulder at his friend Big Elk, Lone Arrow gave him to understand that they needed to hurry.

Why this was so, he did not know. It was only that he had a bad feeling about this.

He saw her at once, heard her scream, even over the beating of buffalo hooves.

How she had managed to situate herself in the midst of a stampeding buffalo herd, he might never know. But it was of little value to ponder it.

This time, he thought, The-girl-who-runs-with-bears had gone too far. This time her antics had gotten her into more than a simple stumble over herself.

This was serious. She could be killed.

The sudden realization brought on a sense of panic within him, and alarm swept through him like a tide of black fear.

He had to do something.

For she must live. For herself; for him.

Ho! There it was. In this moment of stark unreality, one thing stood out clearly. He had feelings for this woman; raw, carnal yearnings.

And so it was with no sense of surprise that, perhaps for the first time, Lone Arrow admitted the truth. His own happiness, his own future, was irrefutably wound up with that of The-girl-who-runs-with-bears.

Turning toward Big Elk, who was watching him, Lone Arrow signed that the rescue of the white woman was to be his concern alone. Big Elk should go and find his own wife.

And while Big Elk spun about, Lone Arrow pressed his war pony forward, into the herd of buffalo.

“A-la-pee,” he called the Appaloosa by her name, which meant in the Crow language “Grass Fire.” “We will have to rescue her, do you understand?” The pony whinnied and shook her head, and Lone Arrow continued, saying, “Step sure of foot, my friend.”

The animal snorted, as though it understood every word he had said, and Lone Arrow thanked his medicine, as well as his spirit protector, that he’d had the foresight at the start of this journey to ride out on his best mount.

At least, thought Lone Arrow, the herd was not in a full run…yet. But if the animals caught the human scent or had the least inducement, they might stampede…and then there would be no hope…for her…for him.

He had to get to her quickly.

“Délaah! Go!” Lone Arrow shouted to his pony over the noise of the herd. But the encouragement was hardly needed. A-la-pee sensed the excitement and began to squeeze her way into the herd, avoiding oncoming buffalo, and heading toward the girl.

Had The-girl-who-runs-with-bears seen them? Did she know that help was on the way? No, she could not, he answered his own question. Her head was down.

And what was that she was holding? A calf?

Lone Arrow silently congratulated her on her wisdom. Even the mean-tempered, old bulls would skirt around the calf, protecting it.

“Carolyn!” he shouted over the noise of striking hooves.

He had been right. She had not noticed him, for she stared up at him quickly, sending him a startled glance, and as she did so, he added, “Take my hand.”

Her eyes looked big and white in her face as she swung around to glance up at him, and he heard her mutter, “Lone Arrow” as though she did not believe she was seeing correctly. “You’ve come after me.”

He nodded. “I come. Now, give me your hand.”

She did so at once, and he pulled her up behind him.

“Hold on to me,” he instructed, although he might not have bothered. She grabbed hold of him instinctively. “Do not let go of me no matter what happens. Do you understand?”

She nodded. And he began to ease A-la-pee out of the herd.

Trained to respond to knee pressure alone, and sensing her master’s intention, the Appaloosa needed little direction. She sidestepped her way out of the buffalo herd, pressing toward the edge of it, dodging one buffalo after another, avoiding the horns of an ill-tempered bull, moving ever closer to safety.

In truth, she had almost cleared the herd completely when a particular buffalo bull spun about toward them.

Lone Arrow saw the animal at once, witnessed its turn and, at the sight, felt his heart jump up into his throat. Recognition of the animal made his spirits sink. This was not good; not at all.

This was not the sort of bull who bluffed a charge at the enemy, attempting only to make his foe go away. This buffalo was a special type of animal. Lean and skinny, its mangy mane hung down over its eyes bluntly, as though its coarse hair had been cut that way. This alone made the animal easy to identify.
This was the type of buffalo that never charged unless it meant to kill you; it never gave up. And it had put its sights on them.

A-la-pee must have seen the animal at the same time as Lone Arrow, for she had made a series of moves, away from its charge. Lone Arrow could feel her desire to run, and he struggled to hold her back.

Lone Arrow’s muscles bulged under his exertion, and it was with little more than personal willpower that he forced A-la-pee to retreat, while ever so gradually winding her way to the side of the herd.

Still, the buffalo charged.

Another turn by his mount kept them out of the bull’s reach. Unfortunately, the pony and riders faced the oncoming charge of the rest of the herd as well. There was a moment of confusion, as the entire world seemed to be coming down around them, and Lone Arrow could feel A-la-pee’s panic.

Had he saved The-girl-who-runs-with-bears only to be killed together?

“Ap-xi-sshe.” He used an endearment to calm the animal. “We will survive this. You are the best war pony a man ever had.”

A-la-pee raised her head as the buffalo made yet another rush at them.

The Appaloosa dodged at the perfect moment, swinging around to confront the bull. Another step, another pace or two, another dodge from the oncoming bull, and they were free at last.

But the buffalo followed them, making another charge. It was at this moment that Lone Arrow let A-la-pee have her rein, and so quickly did she spin away from the herd, to run across the prairie, that one might have thought a demon were after her.

And perhaps it was true.

Lone Arrow glanced over his shoulder, noting that the buffalo was giving them chase. And though Lone Arrow knew the huge animal’s speed was no match for his pony, he still experienced a moment of concern.

Soon, however, A-la-pee put more distance between them and danger, and Lone Arrow watched—again over his shoulder—as the bull stopped, the huge beast pawing the ground in frustration. And then, as though realizing it had done all it could do, it turned tail and headed back toward the herd.

Seeing this, Lone Arrow drew a deep breath. It was only then that he allowed himself a moment of relief.
A very short moment, for he would not let himself rest. He could not. Guiding his mount up onto higher ground, he wasn’t satisfied until they had put more than a few hills and gullies between themselves and that buffalo.

At last, Lone Arrow drew back on the reins, bringing A-la-pee to a halt.

Jumping down from his seat, Lone Arrow threw the buckskin reins onto the ground, expressing his foul mood. Never, not ever, could he remember being so upset with another human being. Never had a woman given him reason to lose his temper like this.

Striding back and forth in front of Carolyn, who was still atop the Appaloosa, Lone Arrow quipped, “You—you were supposed to go home! This land, my country”—he extended his arms in a circle—“is a dangerous place for people who do not know the ways of it. Do you realize what would have happened to you, soon…very soon, if I had not come for you?”

She did not answer, which only incited him further, for she looked innocent, much too innocent. And it was this, her attitude, that was more than he could stand.

Did she not understand that she had almost lost her life?

He continued, “How did you manage to get into the middle of that herd?”

He watched her gulp, as though she attempted to answer, but no words formed on her lips. Narrowing his eyes at her, he beheld her fear, watched as she seemed to choke on mere syllables, but he was not inclined to spare her the tiniest bit of sympathy. Instead, he carried on, saying, “Where is Pretty Moon?”

The white woman pointed, although again she said nothing; it was as though fear had taken hold of her voice.

But not so for Lone Arrow. “What were you thinking?” he said. “You will never find that cave and help your family if you get yourself killed. Do you not know this?”

She nodded.

“Then why did you leave without me?”

That question, more than anything, seemed to stir a spark of life in her, for she narrowed her eyes at him, raised a well-arched brow and spat, “Without—you?”

He crossed his arms over his chest, muttering only, “Humph! Éeh, yes. Without me.”

“You, you—you…”

He jerked his head slightly to the left, while she tipped her chin defiantly toward the sky.

And then, as though she had at last found her tongue, she began, “You, Lone Arrow, made it abundantly clear that you would not take me where I need to go.” As though she gained inspiration by speaking, she jumped down from the Appaloosa, her feet hitting solid ground with a dull thud. She even took a step toward him before she continued: “Is it my fault that you chose to ignore me? Is it my fault that you are bullheaded and stubborn? Is it my fault that you can’t seem to trust me?

“No, it’s not,” she answered her own questions. “And it’s certainly not a sign of weakness on my part that I seek a way to get to the mountains without you. And don’t think you can talk me out of going there, or Pretty Moon, either, for that matter. I’m determined to get there. And she is, too…I think,” Carolyn added, although Lone Arrow had to strain to hear this last.

However, all he uttered in response to her was, “Humph!” before he said, “Where are the rest of your clothes?”

A look of shock passed over her features as she gazed down at herself. Mayhap she had forgotten that she stood before him in no more than calf-length drawers and corset.

Ignoring her red-faced countenance, he went on to say, “Pretty Moon knows not this cave that you seek or where it is.”

Carolyn appeared to recover quickly enough, and placing her hands on her hips, she said, “But I do. I’ll recognize it again when I see it.”

He squinted his eyes at her. “Will you?” he asked.

A glimmer of doubt crossed over her features, but he said nothing. At last, bringing his arms down to his sides, hands clenched in fists, he took one step toward her, saying, “You are not to defy me again, do you understand?”

She did not appear to take orders well, he observed, for she stood straighter and countered, “I will do as I please. You are not my lord and master.”

“Am I not?”

She shook her head.

“Ho,” he said, “and what happened to your marriage proposal? Have you forgotten it so soon?”

That simple statement seemed to startle her. Her glance dropped to the ground. And Lone Arrow was silently congratulating himself on his cleverness, when she said, “You have already told me what you think of me.”

Again Lone Arrow experienced a moment of anxiety, though of a different sort and, for a moment, his stomach knotted up. Had he told this woman of his concern for her? How could he, when he had only just become cognizant of it himself?

“Please,” she said, “don’t rub my nose in it. I understand perfectly that you do not wish to have anything to do with me. Do me a favor, please. Truth be known, I would consider it an act of kindness if you would simply go away and…”

Go away? Strangely enough, relief flooded his system. He had not revealed himself to her after all.

“…And leave me and Pretty Moon alone.”

Leave her alone? After that hair-raising rescue?

It was with some revelation that Lone Arrow realized he could no more leave this woman alone than he could stop the wind from blowing. But he had no intention of telling her that. And with good reason.
And so, he uttered, “Pretty Moon’s husband might have something to say about what she does, as well he should.”

Carolyn tilted her head, sending him a glare. “Perhaps,” she said. “But I think she is running away from him.”

Lone Arrow uttered a grunt beneath his breath, while aloud, he commented, “He is here with her now. He will take her back with him, and you will follow me.”

“I will not.”

“You have not the choice.”

“I have every choice.”

Lone Arrow set his feet together in a stance as natural to him as the act of breathing: feet not too close together or too far apart; weight on one foot while the other was thrust slightly forward. One hand at his side, the other holding his bow, which had previously been hanging from his shoulder. It was a way of holding himself, a position and a manner which said, “Do not tamper with me.” As if to complete the image, he commanded, “You and Pretty Moon are not to go anywhere alone. It is obvious that you will only get into trouble. I forbid it.”

Lone Arrow was happy with himself, though he carefully hid such satisfaction from her. And why should he not feel some elation? He had done well so far; curbing his anger toward her. He was even instilling caution within her with his well-chosen words.

Yet his self-appreciation died a quick, silent death. For when she spoke, despite the fact that she should have shown him deference, she seemed completely unaffected by him. She even went so far as to utter, “You, Lone Arrow, have no right to forbid me anything.”

Why that statement should bother him, he did not know. Yet it did all the same.

He narrowed his eyes at her but did not reply at once. And it was with some feeling of surprise that he realized he itched to shake some sense into her. But of course he would not do it. As the elders always said, only a coward or a man of little character would use physical force on a woman or on anyone who could not fight back.

Yet, for all his good intentions, Lone Arrow could not curb his tongue, not quite. And though he knew he should think the thought through, perhaps a little more thoroughly, he found himself uttering, as though in challenge, “Then I accept.”

Color slowly drained from her face, and she stared at him as though he had gone mad. She asked, “You what?”

He did not move a muscle; he merely stated again as calmly as possible, “I have decided that I will accept your proposal.”

“M-my…what?”

He gritted his teeth. “I will marry you.”

He watched as her throat worked against itself, as though she did not know whether to swallow or to speak. At some length, she said, “You…you wish to…marry me?” She raised her eyes to his. “Really?”

He nodded.

“Then…you…have some…feelings for me?”

He did not budge. He did not even blink, and he said, “And as your husband, I will forbid you to go any further in search of this cave.”

“Oh,” she uttered. He watched as darkness fell over her features. “I see,” she continued. “Well, then I guess I will not marry you, after all, because there is nothing—not a single thing that you can do that will make me stop my search.”

He stepped forward. “I could tie you up,” he stated, though he made no move to do it. Instead, he reached out to push a lock of her hair away from her face.

She knocked his hand away. “And I will only get loose and come out here again. The only thing you would gain is time. But because I have so little of that, by doing such a thing, you could cause the ruin of my family.”

“I? I have not caused their ruin now, nor will I cause it in the future, no matter what I do. Others cannot live your life for you.”

“And yet, you rescued me today.”

He shrugged, seeing no harm in admitting the obvious.

“Yet, you would keep me from rescuing my family?”

“That is different.” He watched as the wind blew that same lock of her hair forward, and once more he reached out to tuck it behind her ear.

This time, however, she did not whack his hand away, though she did say, “How is it different? A rescue is a rescue, whether it be from bears or buffalo or a land-hungry banker. You would deny me the right to help another? The same right that you take for granted?”

He sighed. Why was it so hard to win an argument with this woman?

“Lone Arrow”—she reached up and grabbed his fingers with her own—“I once offered you the only gift I have to give to a man. Now you accept my proposal, but only in exchange for my obedience to you. Somewhere in between, there must be a compromise we could make. Marry me, but take me to the cave.”

One touch.

That was all it had taken. One touch of her hand and his body came to instant alert. He supposed he could remove his fingers from her own, but the will to do so was not there within him.

He said, “That is no compromise at all, and well you know it. It would be more like my surrender. Besides, I could make you marry me.”

She shook back her hair. “I think not.”

“I can prove it to you.” He took a step forward.

She shook her head.

And that’s when it happened. He kissed her.

LONE ARROW’S PRIDE

By Karen Kay

https://www.amazon.com/LONE-ARROWS-PRIDE-Legendary-Warriors-ebook/dp/B0745KNRPK/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1500951783&sr=8-1&keywords=lone+arrow%27s+pride+by+karen+kay&tag=pettpist-20

Updated: July 24, 2017 — 10:35 pm

SOARING EAGLE’S EMBRACE, Excerpt & Free Give-Away

Howdy!

WHITE EAGLE’S TOUCH — one of my best selling books — is going to be — sometime this week — released by Amazon in e-book format.  And although we authors might never admit to having a favorite book,  well…gotta say that this book is one of my favorites.  So, I thought I’d tell you a little of the background that went in to the making of that book.

I love this cover by the way.

WHITE EAGLE’S TOUCH starts with my love of a rather spoiled, head-strong heroine — one who is really quite soft-hearted, but for reasons explained in the book, she harbors opinions that are far from flattering.  In the story, the heroine, Katrina, is blond-haired, stubborn, almost out of funds and is demanding her inheritance in order that she might marry into royalty.  She has also grown up without ever knowing her parents — who perished out West — or her uncle, who holds the purse-strings to her inheritance.

In other words, she has some reason to be spoiled, because she’s grown up without love — with a succession of nannies.

There are problems — mainly that her uncle will not release her funds until she comes West and parades her fiance in front of him for his approval.  I must admit that it really is a lot to ask of a young woman who has known only the comforts of New York City — still it was rather fun to play around with her outrage.

Of course her uncle doesn’t show up at the scheduled rendezvous — he sends his friend — who is almost like a son to him — White Eagle — to bring her to him.

Of course the story goes on from there — spoiled, rich-girl meets handsome, yet determined young Indian warrior.

Now, the truth of the matter is that the character of Katrina was patterned after my daughter, Trina, who is definitely not blond.  Not that Trina is spoiled, but at the writing of this story, Trina was a teenager — about nineteen, I believe — and she definitely had her likes and dislikes.  Off to the side here is a picture of Trina with her daughter and my granddaughter, Lila.  But patterning the heroine after my daughter really gave me a deeper understanding of my character, Katrina’s, personality — it also helped me to love this character, even when she is at her wit’s end.

In writing this book, I often had pictures of clothing and what the heroine might have looked like at that time.  Off to the left here is a picture of that period’s clothing.  I love this clothing, I must admit and sometimes wish we could go back to an age where women looked so very feminine.  Now this picture to the left really — in my mind — has the look of my heroine at this time.  A little bored, a little spoiled, always well dressed and trying to do the right thing — although in the West, my heroine’s efforts are sometimes clumsy and humorous — as she tries to “fit in.”

As for the hero, another one of my loves — I’ve always held a passion for a hero who brooks no argument, yet who is kind and generous — and who is waiting patiently for the heroine to come to her senses.

There is one scene in this book that I particularly like.  It was a scene where the hero, along with his friend, concoct a scheme to send Katrina’s fiance packing.  At the writing of this book, I had just the previous year, married my husband, Paul.  When I married Paul, however, I also discovered that he was extremely close to his brother, Bob — this picture to the right is of Bob and Paul — Paul is the one sitting down.  But this particular scene was about these two fellows and what they would do if they were there to rid themselves of this very unwanted person, and send him packing for home.

Interestingly, that “friend” of White Eagle is Night Thunder who has a book of his own — next in this series.

To end I thought I’d show you a picture of the original cover for WHITE EAGLE’S TOUCH.  The reason I have to show you is that this cover is also one of my most favorite covers.

WHITE EAGLE’S TOUCH

Excerpt

By Karen Kay

 

It took the Indians less than an hour to fabricate the boat, it being scantily constructed of several buffalo hides stretched over a crude framework of willow branches, the willow being the closest wood to hand. A paddle had been made from a few tree limbs, too, and within little time, Katrina observed many of their party’s supplies neatly stowed within the bull boat, although Katrina took note that it was only the marquess’s things.

White Eagle motioned the marquess forward just as Katrina began to set foot into the boat. But White Eagle motioned her away, despite her protest, making signals to his friends to bring forward the marquess…and his dogs. White Eagle turned to Katrina. “You will ride in the wagon across the river.”

“But I don’t wish to wet my dress, and I might if I don’t…”

White Eagle looked sternly at her, and she fell silent, as he clearly had meant her to. She watched as the marquess sauntered toward them.

“Ah, finally,” the marquess said to White Eagle as he stepped into the boat, “you savages are recognizing your betters. It is about time.”

“Humph!” was the guttural response from White Eagle as he motioned to his friends, and, at a signal, the marquess’s hounds joined him in the crude structure.

White Eagle beckoned to Good Dancer to come forward, and after some counseling, Good Dancer strode toward the water, taking the rope of the boat in his hand and leading the craft into the water.

He began to swim ahead of the boat, tugging the craft out into the swirling currents.
No sooner had the marquess set out in the boat, when White Eagle directed both Katrina and Rebecca into the wagon.

The women seated themselves and immediately, upon doing so, the marquess’s two men—who had been driving the wagon—started the horses forward, into the swift-rushing currents. This being done, White Eagle and Night Thunder took hold of the rest of the horses and began guiding those animals, too, across the water.

No one appeared to notice the bull boat being led farther and farther downstream, away from the main party; not even the marquess, who, it would seem, was busily engaged in gazing at the sky and sipping the wine he had managed to bring with him.

Trouble hit without warning. One of the ponies pulling the wagon stepped into a pool of quicksand and jerked on his bridle, unseating the drivers and shooting them forward. The horse next to it reared, becoming entrenched, itself, in the mire and only the fast action of the two drivers saved the wagon from the same fate. The men righted themselves and whipped at the ponies, cursing them in a more colorful language than Katrina would have liked to hear, but the driver’s efforts were to no avail; the poor ponies could not extricate themselves, not with their burdens of bridle and harness.

One of the horses tried to rear again, its action tilting the wagon off kilter. Off slid the marquess’s baggage and particulars as well as her Saratoga, all tossed into the sandy murk of the quicksand and, had the two women not been holding on to their seats, they would have been flung overboard, too.

Katrina screamed; Rebecca, also.

The two women held onto one another as readily as they did to the wagon, and Katrina, as the wagon sank deeper and deeper, decided it would be better to jump for freedom, rather than sink into the muck of the sand.

“We’re going to jump off this wagon,” she yelled above the noise of the ponies and drivers’ cursing.

“I can’t,” came Rebecca’s reply. “I’m afraid.”

Katrina took her maid’s hand. “We’ll do it together, all right? It’s better than staying here. Now, ready, one, two, three.”

The two of them jumped, landing in the sandy marsh instead of sanctuary, their feet sinking quickly into the wash.

Both women shrieked.

Suddenly it was over. Strong hands caught hold of Katrina and pulled her out, bringing her up and onto a horse.

Barely able to hold on to the pony, she looked up into White Eagle’s face. She didn’t say a word, nor did he, as he nestled her against him.

“Rebecca…is she…?”

“She is fine. My friend has her. Hold on to me,” he said, and as soon as he ensured she had a firm grip upon him, White Eagle whipped the pony into the fury of the river, forcing the animal to swim against the current and, it would seem, against all odds.

Onward, across the river, defying the swirling water and eddies, they swam, the pony’s body, except for his head, completely submerged.

The currents unseated them, and White Eagle barely held on to the pony by its tail, though he never took one arm from around her.

Soon, the other shoreline beckoned, and, within moments, the pony leapt to its feet, White Eagle able to do the same almost as quickly.

But he didn’t waste any time. “Wait here,” was the only instruction he gave her as he spun back toward his pony, the animal heaving with exhaustion. Still, White Eagle jumped back onto his mount and guided it once more into the water, Katrina watching him cross over, to the other side.

Good Dancer and Night Thunder had already rushed to the wagon, Night Thunder having deposited Rebecca safely on solid ground much as White Eagle had done with Katrina but, rather than chance the danger of the river, Night Thunder had settled Rebecca upon the safety of the eastern shore of the river, the opposite shore from where Katrina now stood.
Katrina looked around her to see if she could find any sign of the bull boat, but there was nothing to be found; as best she could tell, the marquess had not landed upon this same shoreline.

Yet there stood Good Dancer, trying to extricate the wagon. And he had been the one leading the bull boat. Where were the Englishman and his dogs? Had they been set adrift?

Far from being alarming, the thought was…amusing.

Katrina returned her attention to the ponies and the wagon.

It took the labors of all three Indians and the marquess’s two men finally to extricate the animals from the quicksand.

But they did it at last, with the least possible damage to the wagon, the ponies or the men…although much of the marquess’s clothing sank further and further into the sandy wallow.

The Indians and the two servants sprawled for the moment upon the sandy shore…but on the opposite side of the river. And no one seemed in any hurry to see to the marquess and his concerns, wherever he was.

Almost an hour passed, an hour during which the Indians sat up and smoked, working over something, while the white men rested. Katrina had tried to communicate to them all by shouting across the distance of the river. But it was almost impossible—nothing could be heard over the noise of the river. The most she learned was that Rebecca remained unhurt.

Finally, the Indians arose; to go in search of the marquess, she supposed.

More time passed, White Eagle no longer within sight, and Katrina’s clothes had almost dried upon her by the time the Indians returned, the marquess and his dogs trailing behind them. But what had happened to the marquess? He stood drenched from head to foot, while the Indians, in contrast, remained amazingly dry.

And then she saw that White Eagle did not return with the others.

“Where is White Eagle?” Katrina yelled across the stream, but no one could hear her.
She tried again, “Has something happened to White Eagle?”

Panic rose up within her. Surely, he wasn’t hurt, was he?

Without realizing what she did, she started toward the river, more willing to face it than remain in ignorance. She had no more than stepped foot in the water when from behind her, came a voice, saying, “Stay here.”

She recognized that baritone timbre and she turned.

“White Eagle,” she breathed out in relief, “you are all right.”

He nodded. “I am here. I am unhurt.”

“And the others?”

“They are fine.”

“But what are they doing over there, on the opposite shore? And why aren’t they crossing the river?”

“They are not all coming.”

“What? Not coming?”

“The Englishman refuses to travel any further.” White Eagle smiled slightly. “He said something about the expense of his suits and his silks and not liking all this adventure. They are turning back.”

“I see. I’m not surprised.” She paused, a thought occurring to her. “Did the marquess mention how he intended to pay for his stay upon returning to Fort Union?”

White Eagle shrugged.

“And what about Rebecca? Why is she still over there? When will you and the other guides be bringing her across the river?”

White Eagle looked off in the distance, avoiding Katrina’s eyes. He said, “Your friend will be going back to the fort, too.”
“No!” Katrina responded at once. “You can’t, she can’t. She has no one to watch over her and protect her there. Either I must go with her or she must be brought to me.”

“Night Thunder has promised to keep her safe.”

“Night Thunder? But he—”

“He will guard her and see to her needs.”

“But—”

“Someone must go with the Englishmen and guide them back to the fort. They are as helpless as newborn babes.”

“But what has that to do with Rebecca? She must stay with me. I would worry about her otherwise, and—”

“Have you not noticed the looks shared between my friend and yours? It is better they stay together. Do not worry. Night Thunder will be with her. This I can promise you.”

“Do you? I still don’t like this, and what do you mean by the looks shared between them? I—”

“It has been decided.”

“Well, you can un-decide it.”

White Eagle, his lips turning up into a grin, seemed to be amused by Katrina’s determination. “Do you worry about a chaperon? Is that what bothers you? Do not. Good Dancer and his wife will join us as soon as the others have started back to the fort.” White Eagle crossed his arms over his chest. “Do you think I would take you on this long trip without another female companion? And with us as yet unmarried?”

“As yet?”

“Humph,” was all the answer she received from this man.

“Perhaps it is for the best.” Katrina looked away from White Eagle, glancing out across the river. “This trail could well prove dangerous, and I wouldn’t want Rebecca risking her life unnecessarily. So mayhap you are correct in your judgment.”

“Humph,” he uttered again, and though she was fast beginning to tire of this standard response from him, she said nothing about it, gazing instead toward Rebecca and calling out, “I will miss you.”

Katrina waved, and Rebecca returned the gesture.

“I will miss you too,” Rebecca cried back. “If I could, I would be with you.”

Katrina smiled and mouthed the words, “I know,” and, turning about, she began to follow White Eagle up the steep incline, to the bluff just above the river.

They were dodging stickers and thorny plants when she heard White Eagle say, in a rather offhand manner, “Did I mention to you that your Englishman agreed, giving me his word of honor, to end your engagement and promised not to cause you any further trouble over this?”

Katrina could barely believe that she was hearing correctly. She opened her mouth to say “No, you did not,” but nothing issued forth. And so she did the only thing afforded her in her situation.

She stared at his back as he moved ahead of her, simply stared…

WHITE EAGLE’S TOUCH

by

Karen Kay

Well, that’s all for today.

Do come on in and leave a comment.  That’s all you have to do to enter into the contest.  And of course the Giveaway Guidelines all apply.  Remember to check back tomorrow to see if you are the winner.

 

 

Updated: June 5, 2017 — 12:43 pm

Third Time’s A Charm

Hi everyone, Winnie Griggs here.

I have a new book out this month and I thought that today I’d share with you a little bit on how it came to be.  Sometimes the stories we write come to us easily and sometimes they take a very roundabout path. A Tailor-Made Husband is an example of the later. This is the ninth book set in the world of Turnabout, Texas (FYI they are all totally standalone) and my hero and heroine will be familiar to any readers who have been keeping up with the series.

Ward Gleason, the steadfast town sheriff, has made an appearance in just about every book since Handpicked Husband, the first book in the series. Hazel Andrews, the town’s seamstress, first popped up in book two, The Bride Next Door, and she really made a splash in book six, Second Chance Hero, where she was the heroine’s flamboyant best friend.  It was originally my intent to have book seven be their story. In fact, I thought I set it up nicely when I mentioned Hazel’s long standing but unrequited crush on the town’s sheriff.

The problem was, because I’d dropped those hints in the earlier book without much forethought, I’d boxed myself in. I not only had to figure out just why Ward would ignore Hazel’s obvious interest, but I also had to find a way to add a little extra zip when I’m starting with a heroine who is already in love with the hero.  I actually got pretty far along into my first version of the book before it became apparent it wasn’t going to work. I decided to put their story on hold and work on another of the stories I’d planned for the series while I gave it a bit more thought. Once I turned in book seven, The Holiday Courtship, I took another run at it. But again, after quite a bit of work, it became obvious this new story wouldn’t work either. So again I moved on to another book in the series, and Texas Cinderella was the outcome.

By this time, I was determined to give Ward and Hazel their turn in the spotlight.  And, with the help of some friends who are not only willing to listen to me whine without judging me, but are excellent brainstorming buddies, I finally came up with a story that I felt was worthy of this couple.  And I’m really excited about the way it turned out. I hope you’ll agree it was worth the wait.
So what about you – have you ever had a situation where things just weren’t coming together for you and you had to take a step back and regroup?

Leave a comment and you’ll get your name in the hat for a chance to win a copy of A Tailor-Made Husband, or any book of your choice from my backlist.

Below is an excerpt from A Tailor-Made Husband.

Ward frowned. Surely Hazel hadn’t meant that the way it sounded? “You mean you’re taking your annual trip back east early?” Her mother had come from New York and Hazel still had family there that she visited regularly.

“No.” She tucked a stray tendril behind her ear. “I mean I’m moving to New York permanently.”

Turnabout without Hazel’s vibrant presence? He couldn’t quite picture it. Trying to keep his demeanor matter of fact, he raised a brow. “This seems a bit sudden.”

She studied her hands on the table. “Not really. Aunt Ellen has asked me a number of times over the years to join her in her fashion design business. I’ve finally decided to accept her offer.”

“I see.” Except he didn’t. Why would she do such a thing? And why now? She’d always said when she returned from her trips that it felt really good to be home again. “Exactly how soon do you plan to make this move?”

“I haven’t set an exact date, but soon. I talked it over with Verity before she and her family headed out on their vacation and I promised her I wouldn’t leave until she returns.” Hazel shrugged. “They’re due back in about three weeks.”

So soon! And if she’d been planning this since before the Coopers left, why was he just now hearing of it? She usually told him everything. “I see,” he said again, not that he did.

Why had her decision unsettled him so much? After all he had no claim on her.  “And you’ve definitely made up your mind?”

She nodded, looking down as she brushed at her skirt. “So you see, I can only help you with Meg for that long.”

This was so much bigger than not helping with Meg. How could she just leave like this? How long had she been contemplating this? Was she so unhappy with her life here, or was there something in New York drawing her there? Could she have met someone on her last trip? Was—

Hazel reached across the table and touched his wrist, bringing his thoughts back to the here and now.

“But for the next three weeks,” she said, “I’ll do whatever I can to help with Meg.”

He forced a smile. It was the second time today she’d touched him that way. He found he liked it.

Perhaps a little too much.

 

A TAILOR-MADE HUSBAND

From Bachelor Sheriff to Family Man 

Tired of pining for handsome sheriff Ward Gleason, seamstress Hazel Andrews plans to head East for a fresh start—until Ward finds an abandoned child. Hazel can’t turn down his request that she watch the little girl while he investigates a spate of crimes. But spending time with Ward is sending local gossips—and Hazel’s heart—into turmoil. 

Nothing in Ward’s world is the same since he took charge of orphaned Meg…and that includes his growing feelings for Hazel. A fake engagement will allow them to care for the child together until Hazel moves away and finds someone more worthy. But with little Meg convinced she’s already found her forever family, can Ward and Hazel dare to make her dreams come true, along with their own?

 

 

Updated: June 5, 2017 — 12:11 am

LOVING THE TEXAS LAWMAN– SNEAK PEEK by Charlene Sands

Today I’m super excited to share with you the first scene in my upcoming story.. LOVING THE TEXAS LAWMAN!  It’s book 2 of the Forever Texan Series, but can certainly be ready as a stand alone.   Here’s a sneak peek and keep on reading for the giveaway!

 

Gravel crunched under Sheriff Jack Walker’s boots as he exited his patrol car and headed for the cherry red sports car parked alongside the road just outside of Hope Wells. The Texas night sky twinkled above with bright stars, but on the ground his flashlight was his guide. Years of wearing a badge made him ready for anything and he knew better than to think he’d find a driver in that car, not with Wishing Wells, the town’s natural flowing hot pool just fifty feet away. Lovers and others often frequented the waters past closing time, past curfew, sometimes breaking other Texas statutes as well. His mouth cocked up at the notion. He’d broken a law or two at the wells in his younger days. But Jack didn’t rightly recognize the car and that put him on alert.

He crossed the road where gravel became wildflowers and then headed down the familiar path. As he came upon the gate, the chain link didn’t appear to be jimmied, but that didn’t mean much since the gate was more than climbable. There’d never been a need to secure Wishing Wells with anything more than a strong link fence, Hope Wells being a peaceable town for the most part.

The honeyed sweet scent of star jasmine flavored the air as he drew closer. His ears perked at a disturbance in the wells, a quiet swishing that only occurred when someone was upsetting the soothing waters.

“Who’s there? You’re trespassing at this hour. This is Sheriff Jack Walker.” Giving fair enough warning for a trespasser, he climbed over the gate. He hoped like hell he wouldn’t find two lovers going at it hot and heavy.

His flashlight illuminated the springs with a blast of brightness. Nope not two lovers at all, but one scantily clad woman.

A woman he recognized.

His eyes burned hot and his senses blurred.

He shined the light just below the soulful, baby blue eyes of the trespasser.

Damn.

Jillian Lane.                                                                                                                                                                     

What was she doing here? He didn’t think he’d ever see her again. It’d been years since Jillian had washed her hands of Hope Wells… and of him. He was over her, but cool and casual wasn’t what pounded in his chest now. Instant disappointment at his reaction to her sent him back eleven years.

“Hello, Jack.”

Her soft sultry voice filled him up with memories. “I see you’re still breaking laws, Jillian.”

A smile surfaced and the baby blues that had once done incredible things to him, seemed just as potent now. She had charm and grace to spare, a trait he’d once thought was exclusive only to him. He’d thought he’d known her mind too, but she’d proved him wrong in the end and his grief had lasted too long to admit, even to himself.

“As I recall, you helped me break more than a few, Jack.”

The moonlit waters flowed freely around Jillian’s bare shoulders. What in hell was the famous lingerie designer wearing underneath all that pooling water? A bikini? A thong? The woman ran a successful million-dollar company aptly named Barely There. Maybe Jillian wore next to nothing.

Jack drew a deep breath reminding him that Jillian wasn’t the girl from the wrong side of the tracks anymore. She wasn’t that poor misunderstood wild child that had once touched his heart and made him want to protect and cherish her. But seeing her at the wells again, unguarded, smiling up at him with a gleam in her eyes and that come-here look on her face, had him stumbling for a comeback.

She had moved on. So had he. Both had made something of themselves. It was best to let it alone. “Now. I protect the law, Jillian.”

She looked away, staring out into the darkness. “And the fine people of Hope Wells.”

“One in the same.”

She stroked the water, her hands playing over the pooling liquid like a delicate instrument. “You were meant to be sheriff. It suits you.”

“Don’t see as I could be anything else, what with my father and his father before him, being sheriff. It’s in our blood, I suppose.”

“It’s a good thing, Jack. I understand you saved a little boy’s life. You’re the town hero.”

“I’m no hero, Jillian.”

His gut twisted. Visions of that fateful day tormented him still. That winter night six months ago, rain had poured down so heavily the banks couldn’t hold and the river overflowed in large gulps. The blinding deluge and a set of bad tires had the driver of a sedan skidding off the road and plunging into the raging water. Trapped inside the car was a family of three, a young boy and his parents. Jack had seen it all happen from his patrol car and hadn’t hesitated to jump into the river. Frantically, he’d searched for the passengers, hoping to help, hoping to save everyone. And then he’d seen it, the small arms of the boy flailing wildly from inside the car, his parents offering up the boy through the darkness as if to say, take him. Take him. Their faces strained in panic as they realized their fate. Jack would never forget that scene, as the swift current carried the car and the boy’s parents under and away. There wasn’t anything Jack could do for them but bring the boy to safety.

“I did what any other man would do in that situation.”

“Not every man, Jack.”

A breeze blew by and Jillian trembled. She’d been in the water too long. Typical Jillian.  “I think it’s time you got out.”

“You mean I can’t make a wish in the wells?”

“Is that what you’re doing, wishing?”

She gave her head a tilt. “Maybe.”

“It’s cold tonight. You should get out.”

“Is that an order, sheriff?” A teasing smile played on her lips.

“It’s a firm suggestion.”

“Will you hand me that towel over there?”

Jack reached for the towel hanging over a tree branch and walked closer to the wells as Jillian stepped out of the waters. Dewey droplets cascaded down her body adding a glimmering sheen on tanned, healthy-looking skin. He held the towel open, dipping his gaze to take a peek of frilly black silk covering her near naked body. Male fantasy wet silk.

“Thanks,” she said, tucking herself into the towel.

“It’s late. You’d best get to wherever you’re going.” He kept his focus on her face and off the tempting swells pushing the barriers of her towel.

“I’ve already been there,” she said breathlessly, running a hand through wet hair, “and the Winslows weren’t home.”

Jack arched a brow, ignoring how the honey blonde strands fell against her bare shoulders. “You’re staying at the Winslow place?”

“Yes. They said I’m welcome anytime.”

Jack twisted his lips and shook his head. He had a thousand questions for her, but only one pounded hard in his head repeatedly. Why was she here? What brought her back to Hope Wells after all this time? “Damn, Jillian. As far as I know, they’re gone for the weekend. Won’t be back until Monday.”

Jillian shrugged. “That’s okay. I’ll get a room at the motel or something.”

Jack took his hat off and ran a hand through his hair. Leave it to Jillian not to see things through. She’d always been the impulsive one, the make-love-to-me now and damn the consequences, kind of girl. Jack had been the one to hold back, to want to wait, to do right by her. Jillian had been a temptation from the start, a girl he’d wanted above all else, but he’d been the responsible one. Sometimes, he hated that about himself.

“Doubtful. The rodeo’s in town this weekend. You won’t find a room anywhere.”

Her face fell. “Oh.”

She chewed on her lower lip and Jack’s temperature rose watching her tongue dart in and out of her mouth as she contemplated her next move. He dragged his gaze off her mouth and glanced at his watch. It was almost eleven–too late for her to go traipsing along the highway looking for a place to stay. Jack doubted she’d find a vacancy for fifty miles or so.

Another breeze blew by and she shivered. Goosebumps erupted on her arms as she hugged the towel tighter. Ah, hell. “Follow my patrol car. I know a place you can stay.”

A nervous little laugh erupted and she shook her head. “No way, Jack. I’m not staying at the jail.”

Jack didn’t hide a wicked grin. “You don’t have too many options, now do you? Get dressed. I’ll wait for you by your car.”

 

Do you enjoy stories about lawmen? What did you think of the excerpt?  Some of my favorite television shows revolving around lawmen are Gunsmoke, Justified and Blue Bloods.  What are yours?  Post a comment and one blogger will be picked randomly and announced at the very end of the day to win a gift ebook copy of Taming the Texas Cowboy, book 1 or another of my available titles.  

LOVING THE TEXAS LAWMAN is available for PRE-ORDER and released on May 22nd.

Be sure to sign up for my latest news and contests at Charlenesands.com 

 

Updated: May 9, 2017 — 4:31 pm

Jeannie Watt 25th Book, Twins and a Give Away!

Hello everyone! I’m so excited to announce the release of my 25th Harlequin, A Bull Rider to Depend On. It was really exciting to receive the notification, because I had miscounted. I thought A Bull Rider to Depend On was my 24th book. Math never was my strong point.

To celebrate this milestone, I’m posting an excerpt and giving a way an autographed copy of the book to someone who comments. Yay!

A little background before the excerpt. Tyler and Jess Hayward are bull riding twins. Tyler is the wild child and Jess is the responsible twin. Tyler has had a crush on Skye Larkin forever, but Skye never approved of his wild ways and eventually married one of his friends.

Now Skye is a widow and in deep financial trouble. Ty offers to help, only to discover that Skye thinks he encouraged her late husband to gamble away the ranch emergency fund. He’s just discovered that she blames him for the state she’s in and he’s not going to have it…

Skye started walking toward where Ty stood beside his truck, stony expression firmly in place. Her hair was pulled into a sophisticated looking bun thing instead of tumbling around her shoulders in dark waves as usual, and she wore a light blue dress with sensible heels.

He instantly surmised that she’d been to another bank and that things had not gone well. Ty told himself he didn’t care.

“Hello, Tyler.” She came to a stop a few feet away from him, just as she had the day before, and adjusted the position of the purse strap on her shoulder, keeping her fingers lightly curled around the black leather.

“Skye.”

“What brings you here today?”

Coolly spoken words, but Ty read uncertainty in her expression. Guilt, perhaps…?

“I’m for sure not here to offer you money.” He took a lazy step forward. “I want you to set the record straight.”

“What record?”

His voice grew hard as he said, “Where do you come off telling people that I’m trying to buy a clear conscience?”

Skye gaped at him. “What?”

He cocked his head. “What part needs repeating?”

“I never told anyone you were trying to buy a clear conscience.”

“Well, that’s the story going around, Skye. I wonder how it started?”  He took another step forward, doing his best to ignore the fact that she looked utterly confused. “I tried to help you, Skye. I wanted to help you. It had nothing—not one thing—to do with my conscience.”

Her chin went up at that. “Nothing?”

He shook his head, realizing then just how deeply engrained her dislike of him was. She was never going to believe anything but the worst of him and he wasn’t going to try to convince her otherwise. “I’m wasting my time here.” He turned and started back across the drive toward his truck, cursing his stupidity in driving to her ranch. The damage was done. And realistically, he’d never expected her to be able to make the situation better, but he wanted her to know what she’d done so that she didn’t do it again. Mission accomplished.

He jerked the truck door open, then, because this could well be the last time they ever spoke, he said, “For the record, I never gambled with your husband.”

An expression of patent disbelief crossed Skye’s face, but before she could speak, he said, “I know it’s really handy to blame me, since you’ve never cared for me. I’m a nice easy target to make you feel better about things, but here’s the deal—I don’t gamble.”

“Ever?”

“More like never as in…never.”

“You’re saying my husband lied to me.”

Sorry, Mason, but the roosters have come home to roost. “I’m saying he used me as an excuse.”

“You never partied with him.”

“Of course I partied with him. We drank together. A lot. But we never went gambling.”

She looked at him as if he was missing the point. “If Mason had stayed in at night, if he hadn’t drunk too much, then he wouldn’t have gambled. But would you leave him alone? No.”

“He never once said anything about wanting to stay in.” That was the honest truth. “He never acted like he wanted to stay in.” And Tyler hadn’t seen the danger of encouraging him to go out until it was too late. But Mason would have gone out no matter what. Tyler was convinced of that.

“Or you’re not presenting things the way they really were.”

Ty’s eyes narrowed. “Why would I present things any other way?” In other words, why would he lie?

“I don’t know. Guilt, maybe? Public image?”

“I’m not lying, Skye. I know you believe that I’m the reason you’re broke. I’m the reason Mason had hangovers. Yes, you asked me to leave him alone. No, I didn’t do it. But I didn’t encourage him to gamble and lose all of his money—or to gamble some more to try and make it all back. That was fully his thing.”

Tyler’s jaw tightened as he fought the urge to tell Skye the whole truth. To tell her what her husband was like on the road. To tell her that gambling wasn’t the only vice Mason indulged in.

But angry as he was, he couldn’t do that to her.

He also couldn’t handle being in her presence any longer. “You want to hide behind a lie? Fine. Have a good life, Skye.” The words came out bitterly, as if he cared in some way about what she thought, but he didn’t.

“You too,” Skye said in a stony voice, before walking past him, her heels tilting in the gravel as she made her way around his truck. She was almost directly in front of the vehicle when she stopped dead in her tracks.

Ty followed her line of vision and instantly saw the problem. One of her horses was down, next to the water trough, and from the way it was lying with its neck stretched out and its head at an odd angle, he didn’t think it was napping. He got back out of his truck at the same moment that Skye started running toward the pasture in her heels.

He might be angry. He might have been happy to never see Skye again. But no way was he going to drive away when she had a horse down.

The horse needed help even if Skye didn’t.

***

Yes, I know–Skye seems kind of cranky. She’s scared and hurting, but eventually she comes around.  Tyler becomes the man he needs to be and she learns to trust again. I just turned in Jess’s book and had as much fun writing the responsible twin as the wild twin. I guess that’s because I gave him a heroine to drive him nuts.

And to complete my twin theme–we just had twin calves! It was very touch-and-go saving them, since it was breach birth to begin with, but they’re thriving now. Here are the adorable little guys minutes after birth.

This is me in full farm gear!

Do you know any twins? If they were identical, did you find them hard to tell apart once you knew them? I’m looking forward to reading your answers! I’ll post a winner on Saturday.

Christmas novella time….part 2

Mary Connealy Header

Do you remember that I gave away a novella last month? A Christmas novella?

Well, no, I’m not doing a rerun. I have TWO Christmas novellas and here’s the second one and I’m especially excited about showing it to you today because I’m doing a FACEBOOK LAUNCH PARTY for it tonight.

facebook-party-1Click Here to say YES to my invitation to the party and your chance to win!

This novella contains books from Mary Connealy (me!), Ruth Logan Herne, Julie Lessman and Anna Schmidt

My contribution to Cowboy Christmas Homecoming is

Longhorn Christmas

 (oh c’mon, you knew it’d be named something like that!)

It was a lot of fun to write and these ladies were really fun to work with.

Here’s an excerpt from

LONGHORN CHRISTMAS

Chapter One

The trouble with lassoing a Texas cyclone was—now you had a cyclone on the end of your rope.

Then what was she going to do with it?

            She dropped a loop over the monster’s head and ran.

            Her cowpony dodged around a clump of trees as the red cyclone with an eight foot spread of horns charged. With whipfast moves, Netty snugged the lasso around an aspen and kicked her horse to get out of range.

            Cyclone, a longhorn mama, with a noose tight around her eight foot spread of horns, lunged at poor Blue. Her razor sharp horns swiped her horse’s rump but she only snared the blue roan’s tail. The horse was scared enough he didn’t take any notice, not counting running for his life of course.

Cyclone came up against the end of the rope and was yanked back so hard she flipped over, onto her side. Then, like a striking snake, she turned and charged the trees. The yellow leaves still clinging in the late November breeze quivered and quaked.

She bounced off the trees then turned back and locked her furious eyes Netty. A big old hank of horse hair dangling from one horn.

            Trembling, Netty stayed atop her horse for a few second, shaking so hard she was afraid if she dismounted she’d just sink down to the ground in a heap. Blue was as bad as Netty. Both of them were quaking as bad as those aspens.  

Cyclone bellowed and pawed the dirt, then turned to thrash at the trees that held her tight.

Netty had to finish.

She swung off Blue, clung to the stirrup until she was sure her knees would hold, ground hitched the horse, and turned to do what she’d come for.

Drive off starvation for another few weeks.

            “Are you all right, Mama?”

            Starvation for her and her son.

            Well, Netty was scared fit to beat all, but her son didn’t need to know that. All she had to do with this job. And with no one to watch her six-year-old son since Ma had died, there was no choice but to bring him along.

            “I’m fine Jeremy.” She looked about forty feet away to a good-sized red oak tree where she’d perched her boy up high—out of Cyclone’s reach. Safe until she could finish this and fetch him.

            But first she had to save the calf.

Cyclone had busted out of the canyon gate and Netty’d been glad to see the back of her. As much as she needed every cow, Cyclone, amid a herd of wild dangerous animals, was the deadliest.

And then today, Netty’d ridden out to hunt food, and found a mess.

            Mama standing guard over a baby she couldn’t reach and was desperate to protect.

Netty worked hard to save every baby on the place. Her hold on survival for her and her son was tenuous and losing a calf, especially a perfectly healthy calf, was serious business.

            But she didn’t rope the cyclone for money, there wasn’t enough of it in the world.

The truth was she couldn’t bear the thought of that baby trapped down here away from its mama, dying a lingering death.

Netty strode to the crevice in the jumble of rocks and looked down. The little red-roaned calf looked up and bawled piteously.

            Carefully, picking a thin ledge for footing, Netty dropped into the hole. It was about five feet, not too far down, just too far for the baby to escape, Netty got into the little notch in the ground, roughly shaped like an upside down triangle. She scooped the poor baby up and hoisted it high and set it on the ground.

Then a terrible bawl from Cyclone—she must’ve spotted the calf—a snap loud as a gunshot sounded, and the rope gave way, just as Netty crawled up out of the hole. Cyclone charged.

            “Look out, Mama!” Jeremy shouted in terror.

            Netty dropped back into that hole and landed face down on the bottom. She looked over her shoulder to see one of those long horns slashing down at her. She flattened against the ground. The horn snagged the coat she wore but the horn didn’t catch. Netty ripped at the coat just as Cyclone rammed her head into the crevice.

            Netty facebook-party-win-a-little-comfort-for-christmasflattened and sucked in her stomach to get as low as possible. The maddened cow missed her again.

            Cyclone gouged at her, hooked a horn, then shoved her head in. Hot breath blasted the back of Netty’s neck.

            Cyclone pulled her head back, snorted and dove. Pulled back again. The calf bawled pitifully and that finally turned Cyclone aside.

            Netty lay still, gasping for breath. That’s when she heard Jeremy screaming………

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Stop by Facebook tonight at 8 – 10 Eastern Time. Why is this Eastern Time!!!??? Everybody knows CENTRAL time is the REAL time. I did NOT approve this!

Anyway, stop in from 7 – 9 CENTRAL TIME and join the party (or as we like to call it, “The Wild Rumpus.”)

We’re giving away a prize every 20 minutes or so, and a book is included with each prize package…or sometimes a book alone. I’m giving away a velvet throw, Ruthy’s doing a dried soup mix, Julie is doing Ghirardelli Chocolate, a scarf from Anna. All with the idea of finding a comfortable spot and settling in with a good book!

And I’m giving a book away today here at Petticoats & Pistols, too. Yep, Cowboy Christmas Homecoming. To get your name in the drawing, let’s talk about comfort. Cold weather is coming….we’ve had a lovely fall but this is Nebraska, winter has NEVER ONCE SKIPPED US. It’s forecast to be 61 for a high today. And then tomorrow comes. High in the 30s, love of 20. Excuse me while I weep.

What do you do for comfort? Chicken soup? A velvet blanket? Rewatch Holiday Inn or…It’s a Wonderful Life…or Miracle on 34th Street…or Elf? Turn on Mannheim Steamroller Celebration…such a perfect Christmas album. Chocolates and hot tea? A fireplace (try this and turn your computer screen or, if you get it on your TV, your whole TV becomes a fireplace… https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RDfjXj5EGqI&t=312s

Let’s talk comfort today on Petticoats & Pistols.

 

A Sneak Peek at The Texan’s One-Night Standoff by Charlene Sands

Hi Y’all.   I’m head deep in my next Texas Cattleman’s Club book, working on a deadline and hoping you’d like a sneak peek at my upcoming Desire.  The early reviews of this book have been wonderful garnering an average of 4.75 Stars out of 5 on Goodreads. Charlene-with-Books

 

And now for a little peek under the Christmas tree:

 

Brooks Newport swiveled around on the bar stool at the C’mon Inn, his gaze fastening on the raven-haired Latina beauty bending over a pool table, challenging her opponent with a fiercely competitive glint in her eyes. With blue jeans hugging her hips and creamy skin exposed from the cropped red plaid blouse she wore, the lady made his mouth go dry. He wasn’t alone. Every Stetson-wearing Texan in the joint seemed to be watching her too.

His hand fisting around the bottle, Brooks took a sip of beer, gulping down hard. The woman’s moves around the pool table were as smooth and as polished as his new Justin boots.

“Five ball, corner pocket,” she said, her voice sultry with a side of sass, as if she knew she wasn’t going to miss. Then she took her shot. The cue ball met its mark and sure enough, the five-ball rolled right into the pocket.

She straightened to full height, her chest expanding to near button-popping proportions. She couldn’t be more than five foot two, but what she had in that small package was enough to make him break out in a sweat. And that was saying something, since he’d come to Texas for one reason, and one reason only.

To meet his biological father for the first time in his life.

He’d spent the better part of his adulthood trying to find the man who’d abandoned him and his twin brother, Graham in Chicago. Sutton Winchester, his bitter older rival and the man Brooks thought might be his biological father turned out not to be his blood kin after all. Thank God.

But Sutton had known the truth of his parenthood all along and all Brooks could figure was the ailing man, plagued by a bout of conscience, had finally given up the name and location of his and Graham’s father.

Brooks would have been speaking with his real father at Look Away Ranch in Cool Springs right now, if he hadn’t gotten a bad case of nerves. So much was riding on this. The trek to get to this place in time, to solving the mystery surrounding the birth of the Newport twins, as well as his younger brother Carson, would finally come to fruition.

So, yeah, the powerful CEO of the Newport Corporation from Chicago had turned chicken. Those bawking noises played out in his head. He’d never run scared before and yet as he was breezing through this dusty town the Welcome sign and Christmas lights outside the doors of the C’mon Inn had called to him. He’d pulled to a stop and entered the lodge in need of a fortifying drink and a good night’s rest. He had a lot to think about and meeting Beau Preston in the light of day seemed a better idea.

He kept his gaze trained on the prettiest thing in the joint. The woman. She yielded the pool cue like a weapon and began wiggling her perfectly trim ass in an effort to make a clean shot. He sipped beer to cool his jets, yet he couldn’t tear his gaze away. He had visions of taking that bend on the pool tthe-texans-one-night-standoffable with her and bringing them both to heaven.

Long strands of her hair hung down to touch her breasts and as she leaned over even further to line up her shot, those strands caressed green felt. She announced her next shot and bam, the ball banked the left side and then ricocheted straight into the center pocket.

The whiskered man she was playing against hung his head. “Man, Ruby. You don’t give a guy a chance.”

She chuckled. “That’s the rule I live by, Stan. You know that.”

“But you could miss once in a while. Make it interesting.”

So, her name was Ruby. Brooks liked the sound of it, all right. It fit.

He had no business lusting after her. Woman trouble was the last thing he needed. Yet, his brain wasn’t doing a good job of convincing his groin to back off.

The game continued until she handed the older guy his vitals on a silver platter. “Sorry, Stan.”

“You’d think after all these years a man could do better against a teeny tiny woman.”

She grinned, showing off a smile that lit the place on fire, then set a sympathetic hand on the man’s shoulder and reached up to kiss his cheek.

The old guy’s face turned beet red. “You know that’s the only reason I endure this torture. For that kiss at the end.”

Her deep, provocative chuckle rumbled in Brooks’ ears. “You’re sweet for saying that, Stan. Now go on home to Betsy. And kiss your sweet grandson for me.”

Nodding, Stan smiled at her. “Will do. You be good now, you hear?”

“I can always try,” she said, hooking her cue stick on the wall next to a holly wreath.

Stan walked off and Ruby did this little number with her head that landed all of her thick silky hair on one shoulder. Brooks’ groin tightened some more. If she was any indication of what Cool Springs was like, he was quickly growing an affinity for the place.

The woman spotted him. Her deep-set eyes, the color of dark cocoa, met his for a second and time seemed to stop. Blood rushed through his veins. She blinked a time or two and then let him go, as if she recognized him to be an out-of-towner.

He finished off his beer and rose, tossing some bills onto the bar and giving the barkeep a nod.

“Hey, sweet doll,” a man called out, coming from the darkest depths of the bar to stand in front of her. “How about giving me a go-round?”

Ruby tilted her head up. “No thanks. I’m through for the night.”

“You ain’t through until you’ve seen me wield my stick. It’s impressive.” The big oaf wiggled his brows and crowded her against the pool table.

She rolled her eyes. “Pleeeeze.”

“Yeah babe, that’s exactly what you’ll be crying out once we’re done playing.”

“Sorry, but if that’s your best come-on line you’re in sad shape, buster.”

She inched her body away, brushing by him trying not to make contact with the bruiser. But the jerk grabbed her arm from behind and gave a sharp tug. She struggled to wiggle free. “Let go,” she said.

Brooks scanned the room. All eyes were still on Ruby, but no one was making a move. Instead, they all had smug looks on their faces. Forget what he’d thought about this town; they were all jerks.

The muscles in his arms bunched and his hands tightened into fists as Brooks stepped toward the two of them. He couldn’t stand by and watch this scene play out, not when the petite pool shark was in trouble. “Get your hands—”

The words weren’t out of his mouth, before Ruby elbowed the guy in the gut. “Oof.” He doubled over, clutching his stomach, and cursed her up and down using filthy names.

Crap. Now she was in deep. The guy’s head came up; the unabashed fury in his eyes was aimed her way. Brooks immediately pulled his arm back, fists at the ready, but before he could land a punch, Ruby grabbed the guy’s forearm. The twist of her body came so fast, Brooks blinked, and before he knew it, she’d tossed the big oaf over her shoulder WWF-style and had him down for the count. As in, she’d laid him out flat on his back.

Someone from the bar groused, “No one messes with Ruby unless she wants to be messed with.”

Apparently, the oaf didn’t know that. And neither did Brooks. But hell, the rest of them had known.

She stepped over the man to face Brooks, her gaze on the right hook he’d been ready to land. “Thanks anyway,” she said, out of breath. Apparently she wasn’t Supergirl. The effort had taxed her and he found himself enjoying how the ebb and flow of her labored breaths stretched the material of her blouse.

He stood there somewhat in awe, a grin spreading his mouth wide. “You didn’t let me do my gladiator routine.”

“Sorry, maybe next time.” Her lips quirked up.

Behind her, the bartender and another man began dragging the patron away.

“Does that happen often?” he asked her.

“Often enough,” she said. “But not with guys who know me.”

He rubbed at his chin. “No. I wouldn’t imagine.”

He kept his gaze trained on her, astonished at what he’d just witnessed. Her eyes danced in amusement, probably at his befuddled expression. And then someone turned up the volume on the country song playing, and his thoughts ran wild. He was too intrigued to let the night end. This woman wasn’t your typical Texas beauty queen. She had spunk and grit and so much more. Hell, he hadn’t been this turned on in a long, long time.

A country Christmas ballad piped in through the speakers surrounding the room. “Would you like to dance?” he asked.

She smiled sweetly, the kind of smile that suggested softness. And he would’ve believed that, if he hadn’t seen her just deck a man. A big man.

Her head tilted to the left and she gauged him thoughtfully.

He was still standing, so that was a plus. She didn’t find him out of line.

“Sure. I’d like that, Galahad.”

I hope you enjoyed my sneak peek!   Check out my website next week for more details on this fun surprise that I’d like to share with you.  To celebrate the fall, I’ve teamed up with more than 60 fantastic contemporary cowboy romance authors to give away a huge collection of novels, PLUS a Kindle Fire to one lucky winner!  Here’s what’s happening starting NEXT WEEK.  And remember to visit me on Facebook and on my website.

cont-cowboy-romance-sands-1

The Texan’s One-Night Standoff is available for pre-order on Amazon and all other stores today.

Updated: November 9, 2016 — 10:48 pm

The Devil’s Rope Comes to Texas — and a Giveaway

Kathleen Rice Adams header

young longhorn

Longhorn cattle in the Texas Hill Country

Texas has seen a number of mass migrations since the Mexican government opened the territory to Anglo settlers in the 1820s, but perhaps none were as transformative as the influx that took place immediately following the Civil War. Carpetbaggers, footloose former Union soldiers, and dispossessed former Confederates all found attractive the state’s untamed rangeland brimming with feral cattle called longhorns. Many a man with nothing more than guts and grit built a fortune and a legacy by shagging longhorns from deep scrub and driving the tough, stubborn, nasty-tempered critters north to the railheads in Kansas and Nebraska. Others pushed herds to Montana and Wyoming to begin new lives where the West was even wilder.

Between 1866 and 1890, cowboys drove an estimated twelve million longhorns and one million horses north. A crew of twelve to twenty men could push a herd of 2,000 to 3,000 beeves about ten to fifteen miles a day, reaching Kansas railheads in three to four months.

The development of barbed wire in the mid-1870s — along with an incursion of sheepmen and farmers — put a crimp in the cattle drives by crisscrossing Texas’s wide-open spaces with miles and miles and miles of fence. To protect themselves and their herds from the yahoos who would use Texas range for something besides Texas cattle, wealthy ranchers strung wire around the land they owned or leased, often extending their fences across public land, as well. What once had been open range across which cowboys drove enormous herds of steak on the hoof became parceled off, causing no end of frustration and unfriendly behavior.

Fence-cutting began almost as soon as the first of the wire went up. Small confrontations over “the Devil’s rope” happened frequently, with wire-nipping taking place in more than half of Texas counties.

barbed wireIn 1883, the conflict turned bloody. Instead of merely cutting fences that got in the way during trail drives, bands of armed cowboy vigilantes calling themselves names like Owls, Javelinas, and Blue Devils destroyed fences simply because the fences existed. Fence-cutting raids usually occurred at night, and often the vigilantes left messages warning the fence’s owner not to rebuild. Some went so far as to leave coffins nailed to fenceposts or on ranchers’ porches. During one sortie, vigilantes pulled down nineteen miles of fence, piled the wire on a stack of cedar posts, and lit a $6,000 bonfire.

In response, cattlemen hired armed men to guard their wire…with predictable results. Clashes became more violent, more frequent, and deadlier. In 1883 alone, at least three men were killed in Brown County, a hotspot of fence-cutting activity, during what came to be known as the Texas Fence-Cutter War.

The bloodiest period of the Fence-Cutter War lasted for only about a year, but in that period damages from fence-cutting and range fires totaled an estimated $20 million — $1 million in Brown County alone.

Although politicians stayed well away from the hot-button issue for about a decade, in early 1884 the Texas legislature declared fence-cutting a felony punishable by a prison term of one to five years. The following year, the U.S. Congress outlawed stringing fence across public land. Together, the new laws ended the worst of the clashes, although the occasional fracas broke out in the far western portion of Texas into the early part of the 20th Century.

Texas Ranger Ira Aten

Texas Ranger Ira Aten

The Texas Rangers were assigned to stop several fence-cutting outbreaks, and being the Texas Rangers, they proved remarkably effective…with one notable exception. In February 1885, Texas Ranger Ben Warren was shot and killed outside Sweetwater while trying to serve a warrant for three suspected fence-cutters. Two of the three were convicted of Warren’s murder and sentenced to life in prison.

In 1888, a brief resurgence of fence-cutting violence erupted in Navarro County, prompting famed Texas Ranger Ira Aten to place dynamite charges at intervals along one fence line. Aten’s method was a mite too extreme for the Texas Adjutant General, who ordered the dynamite removed. The mere rumor of the explosive’s presence brought fence-cutting to a rapid halt in the area, though.

****

Though Civil War battles left few scars on Texas, the war’s aftermath was devastating — and not just because barbed-wire fence appeared. Texas existed under federal martial law for five long years after the war ended, becoming the final member of the Confederacy to repatriate only under duress. During Reconstruction, lingering animosity led some of the occupation forces to plunder and terrorize their jurisdictions. Bearing their own grudges and determined to become an independent republic again, Texans demanded “the invading foreign army” remove its boots from sovereign soil. A U.S. Supreme Court decision finally ran the rebellious Lone Star State back in with the rest of the herd in 1870, at last reunifying a divided nation.

A Kiss to Remember

 

My newest story, The Trouble with Honey, takes place during Reconstruction in Texas: A marshal’s widow can escape a Union Army manhunt only with the help of an outlaw condemned to hang. The novella is part of the trilogy The Dumont Way, which begins a saga chronicling the lives and loves of a Texas ranching dynasty from before the Civil War to the turn of the 20th Century.

The Dumont Way is available in the five-author boxed set A Kiss to Remember. Three other Petticoats and Pistols fillies also contributed to the collection: Cheryl Pierson, Tanya Hanson, and Tracy Garrett.

 

Excerpt:

Boots meandered across the stone floor. The marshal’s snicker slapped Daniel between the shoulder blades. “Injun Creek hasn’t seen this much excitement in a month of Sundays. We’re planning quite a celebration for you.”

One of life’s great mysteries: Had Halverson been born arrogant, or had the skill required practice? “Always did fancy a crowd of folks looking up to me.”

Whistling, the marshal moved away. Daniel stared at the dingy clapboard across the alley. That wall wouldn’t present much challenge. This wall, on the other hand… A barrel of black powder and a lucifer would come in handy right about now.

He rested his forehead against the bars. Daisy would dig up his body and throw a second hemp party if he didn’t show up for the wedding.

The jailhouse door scraped open, and a swirl of fresh air tapped him on the shoulder. Fingering the tender crease running from his eyebrow to his hairline, he pivoted. If Halverson’s lucky shot hadn’t dropped him—

His fingertips stilled. So did his breath.

The marshal ushered in a voluptuous vision and lifted a tin plate from her hands. An abundance of golden hair, gathered in soft swirls at the crown, framed her head like a halo. Curls fell beside rounded cheeks.

“What’re you doing here?” Judging by the pucker in his tone, Halverson had eaten one too many sour apples. “Where’s that old drunk you insist on keeping around?”

“Henry hasn’t touched a drop in—”

“What? Twenty-four hours?”

The angel raised her chin. “He isn’t feeling well.”

Daniel drifted to the front of the cell and slouched onto the forearms he draped over a horizontal bar. The familiar voice… Nectar, fresh from a hive.

Gracing Halverson with a shallow smile, the buxom beauty tipped her head toward the plate. “Chicken and dumplings for your prisoner’s supper.”

Steam rising from the lump meant to be his meal carried a whiff of old socks. Daniel’s thoughts churned right along with his stomach. High point of the day: bad vittles. Now, the lady… She was downright mouthwatering.

****

A Kiss to Remember is available exclusively on Amazon (free for those who subscribe to Kindle Unlimited). I’ll give an e-copy to one of today’s commenters who answers this question: If you had migrated to Texas after the Civil War, would you have settled in town or on a ranch or farm? Why?

Thanks for stopping by today! I’m looking forward to your comments. 🙂

 

Save

Save

Save

Save

Pie Trivia and a Giveaway

WG Logo 2015-04

Hello everyone, Winnie Griggs here. First of all, I want to wish everyone a very Happy Labor Day.  I hope you all are able to take some time to kick back and enjoy this holiday that’s set aside to celebrate the working man and woman.

The other thing I’m celebrating today is the release of my newest book in the Texas Grooms series, Texas Cinderella. The heroine of this book, Cassie Lynn Vickers, has a dream to one day open a bakery. Her specialty is pies (strange because I love to bake but am no good at pies). So I thought I’d have fun today and give you some Trivia and Fun Facts on the subject of pies.

  • Pies have been around for a very long time. There is evidence that the ancient Egyptians, Romans and Greeks all made pies of one sort or another.
  • The first pies were mostly of the meat pie variety. The earliest published pie recipe came from the 14th century Romans and was a rye-crusted honey and goat-cheese pie.
  • The thick crusts on medieval pies were known as coffyns, which at the time simply meant basket or box.
  • In A Winter’s Tale, Shakespeare includes a recipe for pies that includes ginger, mace, prunes, nutmeg, raisins and, for a hint of color, saffron.
  • Pumpkin pie wasn’t present at the pilgrim’s first Thanksgiving, but it was at the second in 1623
  • The most popular flavors of pies purchased in America are, in this order: apple, pumpkin, cherry, blueberry and Dutch apple.
  • A 2008 survey by the American Pie found Americans consider pie more than just a dessert. 35% have had pie for breakfast, 66% have eaten it as their lunch and 59% have eaten pie as a midnight snack.
  • At one time Kansas had a law on the books that made it illegal to serve ice cream on cherry pie.

So, what is your favorite pie? And do you have any fun facts to add to the list?

Leave a comment to be entered into a drawing for a copy of Texas Cinderella.

divider001

 

 

Here’s an excerpt from Texas Cinderella:

22 TC- smallMaking up her mind, she decided to share her plan. “I do have an idea about how I might get around this.”

Mrs. Flanagan straightened. “Well, bless my soul, you do have some gumption, after all.” She leaned back with a satisfied nod. “Let’s hear it.”

Cassie Lynn took a deep breath. “It appears the only excuse my father will accept is if I was spoken for. So that’s what I intend to do—find a man to marry.”

The widow’s brow went up. “Just like that, you’re going to go out and find yourself a suitor?”

“I didn’t say it would be easy.” Cassie Lynn tried to keep the defensiveness from her tone. “And it’s not as if I expect anything romantic.” She didn’t have any notions of finding a fairy-tale prince who would look at her, fall instantly in love and whisk her away.

After all, she’d already contemplated a businesslike marriage once upon a time, so she’d already come to terms with that kind of arrangement.

But Mrs. Flanagan was frowning at her. “You’re much too young to be giving up on love. Don’t you want at least a touch of romance in your life?”

“Romance is no guarantee of happiness. And even if that was something I wanted, in this case there’s no time for such schoolgirl notions. So a more practical approach is called for.”

“I see.” Mrs. Flanagan crossed her arms, clearly not in agreement with Cassie Lynn’s argument, but willing to move on. “Is there a particular bachelor you’ve set your sights on?”

“I’ve been pondering on that and I have a couple of ideas. The main thing, though, is I’ve decided what requirements the gents need to meet.” She’d given that a lot of thought on her walk home.

“And those are?”

“Well, for one, since I want to continue pursuing my goal of opening a bakery, the candidate will need to be okay with having a wife who does more than just keep his house. And it would also require that he live here in town so I can be close to my customers, for delivery purposes.”

“Surely you also want to consider his character.”

“Of course. He should be honest, kind and God-fearing.” She didn’t expect affection?after all, this would be a businesslike arrangement?but she did hope for mutual respect.

“And his appearance?”

Cassie Lynn shrugged. “That’s of less importance. Though naturally, I wouldn’t mind if he’s pleasant to look at.” Like Mr. Walker, for example.

She shook off that thought and returned to the discussion at hand. “But none of that matters unless I can find someone who’s also open to my proposal.”

“And you’ve thought of someone who meets this list of qualifications?”

“Two. But I don’t really know the men here very well, so I was hoping that perhaps you could give me some suggestions.”

“Humph! I’ve always thought of matchmakers as busybodies, so I never aspired to become one.”

“Oh, I don’t want a matchmaker—I intend to make up my own mind on who I marry. I’d just like to have the benefit of advice from someone who knows the townsfolk better than I do. And who has experienced what a marriage involves.”

“Well then, much as I’m not sure I approve of this plan of yours, I don’t suppose I can just let you go through it without guidance of some sort.”

“Thank you so much. I can’t tell you what a relief that is.”

“Now don’t go getting all emotional on me. I said I’d help and I will. Tell me who these two gents are that you’re considering.”

“The first name that occurred to me was Morris Hilburn.”

“The butcher?”

Cassie Lynn nodded. “From what I can tell, he meets most of my criteria. Of course, I won’t know how he feels about having a wife who runs a bakery until I talk to him.”

“Morris Hilburn is a God-fearing man with a good heart, all right. But he is not the smartest of men and he’s not much of a talker.”

“Book learning and good conversation are not requirements.”

“Think about that before you rule them out. Do you really want to spend the rest of your life with a man whose idea of conversation is single syllable responses?”

Cassie Lynn paused. Then she remembered the fate her father had in mind for her. “There are worse things.” She moved on before her employer could comment. “The other gentleman I thought of was Mr. Gilbert Drummond.”

“The undertaker? Well, I suppose he might be someone to look at. Then again, he strikes me as being a bit finicky.”

“There are worse qualities one could find in a man. Besides, a woman in my position doesn’t have the luxury of being choosy.” More’s the pity. “But I’m open to other suggestions if you have any.”

“I’ll need to ponder on this awhile.”

“Unfortunately, my time is short.” She hesitated a heartbeat, then spoke up again, keeping her voice oh-so-casual. “There’s actually a third candidate I’m considering.”

“And who might that be?”

“I met a newcomer to town while I was at the livery. He just arrived on today’s train.”

“A newcomer? And you’re just now telling me about this? You know good and well part of the reason I hired you is to have someone to bring me the latest bits of news.”

Cassie Lynn laughed. “And here I thought it was for my cooking.”

“Don’t be impertinent. I want to hear everything. How did you meet him? Is he a young man or more mature? Is he handsome? Is he traveling alone.” She waved impatiently. “Come on, girl, answer me.”

She decided to respond to the last question first. “He’s traveling with two children, a niece and nephew. I met the little boy first. Noah is about seven and such an endearing child—intelligent, curious, outgoing. The little girl, Pru, seems shy and quiet.”

“Enough of the kids,” Mrs. Flanagan said with a grumpy frown. “Tell me about the uncle.”

Cassie Lynn paused a moment to pull up Mr. Walker’s image in her mind. “He has hair the color of coffee with a dash of cream stirred in, and his eyes are a piercing green.” A glorious shamrock-green that she could still picture quite vividly. “He’s lean but muscular, if you know what I mean, like he’s used to doing hard work.”

“And his age?”

“I didn’t ask.”

Mrs. Flanagan made a disapproving noise. “Don’t be coy with me, Cassie Lynn. Take a guess.”

She hid her grin. “I suppose I’d put him around twenty-four or twenty-five.” Though there was something about the look in his eyes that spoke of experience beyond his years.

“How did you come to meet him?”

Cassie Lynn explained the circumstances as she crossed the room to retrieve an apron that hung on a peg near the stove.

“So what was it about him that made you decide after only ten minutes in his company that he might be the husband you’re looking for?”

“I only said he might be worth considering.” Then, under Mrs. Flanagan’s steady gaze, she shrugged. “I suppose it was the fact that he had two young children in his care—it made me think he might be a man in need of a woman’s help.”

“I agree with you there,” Mrs. Flanagan said. “A single man in charge of two young’uns sounds like a gentleman in need of a wife if there ever was one.”

Purchase at Amazon here: Texas Cinderella

 

 

Updated: September 4, 2016 — 11:17 pm

Guest Kari Trumbo Talks Train Wrecks

Kari Trumbo is one of those people who sneaks up on you — in a good way. She’s not loud or rowdy (like some of us who won’t be named…ahem). Dig beneath the surface, though, and you’ll find a warm heart, a passion for family and fiction, and a sincere desire to live the precept “love thy neighbor.” She’s come to visit with a “story behind the story” of her new western historical romance.

****

To Love and ComfortIn my latest novel, To Love and Comfort, Margot must face a train disaster. Now, I had only read minimally about train accidents in history with my children (we homeschool). When the story started veering in that direction I had to stop and do some research.

Most of the big train accidents happened earlier than the setting of my story. That is not to say they didn’t happen in 1901, just that the majority of these incidents happened earlier in history. They happened by and large because of brake systems that could wear out and bridges that were built quickly and not maintained well. Trains weren’t new, but what had to be done to maintain a 50-year-old bridge was.

I also had to research what large river my character was likely to cross and what the terrain might be where it crossed. This proved to be incredibly difficult, as the U.S. has a lot of rivers and the terrain varies a lot even within small distances. In the end, I ended up going with the terrain the way my character described it and made the disaster over the Ohio river, as that was the river it was most likely they would have been traveling over.

In the end, I found the train disaster fascinating and terrible to research. Putting my character through that situation was daunting. I am so thankful for history and survivor testimonies to help us know that our writing about feelings and what situations would be like are as accurate as they can be.

To Love and Comfort

Margot Fleur is devastated by a secret kept by the man she’s known as her father, tearing her heart to pieces. Struggling with feelings of isolation, she desperately wants to be part of something more; to be whole.

Tyler Wilson longs to sweep Margot off of her feet. Seeing past her imperfections, he loves her for the sparkling spirit and bright dreams she once held so dear and only wants to see her smile again. Strong and determined, he sets out to win her heart but will a stubborn unwillingness to hear the call of the Lord forever keep them apart? And if he doesn’t learn, will Margot be lost forever?

Excerpt

“Where did the 72 depart from?” But he knew the answer before he asked. His face pinched with pain before the answer was even given.

“Philadelphia, sir. The wreck is about thirty miles straight west of here. Follow the tracks out of town, but be careful. They’ll be trains coming along soon to bring those passengers back. You might want to wait here if you knew someone on the train. Might miss them.”

Tyler backed out the door, his mind a mess of what he’d just heard. She had to be alive. He’d know if she were dead, wouldn’t he? That dreadful feeling meant she needed him, not that she was gone…right? He turned as Jax approached him.

“What did you learn?” He grabbed Tyler’s shoulder and shook him.

“I need a horse, a fast one.”

Jax grabbed his other shoulder. “Just where do you think you’re going?”

Tyler looked up at him and shrugged his hands off. “I have to go get her and the stage will slow me down.”

“You’re sure you know where you’re going?”

“I’ve never been more certain of anything in my life.”

 

Kari TrumboKari Trumbo is a writer of Christian Historical Romance and a stay-at-home mom to four vibrant children. When she isn’t writing, editing, or blogging, she homeschools her children and pretends to keep up with them. She is the author of the Western Vows series and co-author of the Best-Selling Cutter’s Creek series. Kari loves reading, listening to contemporary Christian music, singing with the worship team, and curling up near the wood stove when winter hits. She makes her home in central Minnesota with her husband of nineteen years, two daughters, two sons, and three cats.

Places to follow Kari:

Website           Facebook        Twitter            Pinterest          Amazon          BookBub

 

Save

Petticoats & Pistols © 2015