Category: western romance

New Kid in Town!

I AM A FILLY!

I’ve always been a girl… And then a woman/sister/mom/wife/daughter/sister-in-law/grandma….

But now I’m officially a Petticoats and Pistols filly and do you know why?

I write Westerns.

It’s not my fault.

IT’S NEVER MY FAULT!  (Just had to get that out of my system.)

But this time it’s true… Love Inspired asked me to be part of a Western continuity a few years ago and I was hooked.

#mustlovecowboys

#cowboysrock

I am over the moon and if that sounds overdone, trust me: it’s not. It’s facts, ma’ams, simply facts.  And huge thanks to the wonderful writers/cowgirls of Petticoats & Pistols for bringing me ’round the campfire. But how is writing a Western novel different from writing my typical novels?

BOOK ONE of the DOUBLE S RANCH SERIES AVAILABLE HERE!

That’s Colt Stafford on the cover. And  that cover is a clue. Western heroes are larger than life, regardless of size… Because it’s not the size of the man. It’s the size of the heart.

Real cowboys are strong enough to be gentle… They’re man enough to put others needs, including the horse, the stock, the wife, the kids… before theirs. They’re tough enough to find faith, even if it’s not for the first time. They practice “Cowboy code” and they’re proud of it.  Whether you’re the oldest brother Colt, pictured above…

Or the middle brother, Nick: (Nick’s book is a finalist in the Maggie Award of Excellence for 2017. It’s available here.)

Or the country crooner superstar youngest brother, Trey:

Westerns are different in lots of ways. The obvious distinction is setting, and that’s a big difference because the West prides itself on being The West… Movies and books chronicle the push west, Ken Burns did a whole documentary about Westward expansion, Western movies and television shows abound and there are high school and college courses done on the positives and negatives of that westward push. History books cleaned up some stories, while scholars re-painted those same stories with dark intent that sometimes went to opposite extremes.

In the midst of it all, a region was built, bought, separated, fought for, fought over, divided and maintained. The heartland became the opening segue into the American We. With land spreading west, north and south, new states, cities, towns, villages and ranches were born. People moved west, moved back east, and moved west again, pushing that invisible wall of separation until they hit the Pacific Ocean.

I’ve delved into the history of it to create a fictional town set in South Dakota, one in Idaho and one… romance in a soddy!… in eastern Nebraska.

I’ve written an award-winning, bestselling series about the contemporary west, and loved it.

Whether my stories are set in modern times or historical venues, they have one thing in common: Love. And strong, strong women.

I love strong women.

I love empowering women.

Women are the unsung heroes in so many roles in life, but not in a Ruthy book. A memorable hero is a wonderful thing. But I love a book that celebrates the strong overcomer in a woman. A book that champions HER as much as it does him…

Because I believe women are blessed with an amazing strength that gets overlooked too often. Hey, I’ve been in a labor bed… and at a bedside, holding a dying hand. I’ve been in an emergency room, watching skilled professionals try to save a life… and at a graveside, mourning when life succumbs.

A great Western is a story of strength… of hope… of love.

My joy in writing gets polished in all of my books, but my cowboy books grab a piece of my heart and don’t let go… Maybe it’s the hat.

Maybe it’s the setting.

Or maybe… just maybe… it’s that pioneer-loving side of me that will never take the American West for granted.

Hey, I brought some home-made ice cream and chocolate dipped cones… and strong coffee.  Join me inside and if you leave a comment, I’ll toss your cute name into a hat for the first Double S Ranch book “Back in the Saddle”. Let’s talk why we love romance

Ranches, Horses and Cowboys, Oh My!

Lately I’ve wondered how an Iowa city girl ended up writing romances with cowboy heroes. Or, I’ve wondered about the reasons other than the obvious—that cowboys are incredibly sexy. For my first official blog as a filly at Petticoats and Pistols, I’m sharing what fascinates me about cowboys.

For me, a cowboy isn’t as much about the occupation as the state of mind and attitude. Sure when I think of a cowboy, I see a man in form fitting Levi’s or Wranglers. I see dusty, worn cowboy boots and a cowboy hat, but it’s more than that, too. There’s something about the way he moves in a slow, yet deliberate way, that says he’ll take his time with what matters in life. If you’ve seen Scott Eastwood in The Longest Ride, you know what I mean. If not, watch it now. I’ll wait.

Now that we’re done drooling over Scott, back to the topic at hand. Cowboys have a connection to the land that goes deeper than most people’s. That taps into my love of my grandparents’ farm in Decorah, Iowa. I spent hours wandering over that land spinning stories and imaging my life living on a similar place. Writing about my heroes and heroines strolling over their land or walking along Wishing’s streets fill me with the same warm affection. That intense bond with the ZSAER%^land was a big inspiration behind my Wishing, Texas series. For those heroes, their link Ty Barnett’s ranch, The Bar 7 and each other anchor their lives.

As to a cowboy’s attitude and mind-set—people see him as a loner, and he is, but I also see his strong tie to family. Family, however he defines it, is allowed past his guard. When I wrote my first novel for Harlequin, I wanted my hero so desperate for money he’d model in New York. But I wanted something different. What does a cowboy love more than his ranch and horse? His mama. That one detail told me everything I needed to know about my hero.

A cowboy has a sense of honor that factors into every decision. In my first Wishing, Texas book, To Love A Texas Cowboy, Ty Barnett’s world is turned upside down because of a promise to a friend. One he’ll keep even if it means dealing with Cassie Reynolds. This unwavering honor paired with a good dose of Alpha male, makes writing stories with cowboy heroes fun when I turn the tables on them. In To Catch A Texas Cowboy, AJ Quinn’s sick of hearing “let’s just be friends” from women. Poor cowboy. I had a blast torturing AJ giving him what he asked, but not what he bargained for, in New Yorker Grace Henry.

For me, these characteristics make cowboys fascinating, and oh so hero-worthy. Now it’s your turn. Tell me what it about cowboys makes you swoon or say that’s a hero?

I’m giving away a copy of To Catch A Texas Cowboy and a wine glass. Post a comment to enter.

 

Updated: August 1, 2017 — 8:54 am

Ranch Names and a Giveaway!

I’m so excited! I have a new book out tomorrow! Actually, this is a re-release of a 2002 book but since it got no exposure back then, this is like brand new. It’s the first in a series called Texas Heroes and is about a cowboy with nothing to live for who wins a baby in a poker game. I’ll tell you more about it further down. 

Some ranches have the strangest names but they must mean something to the owner. The ones I put in my stories all do. But some that I see when I drive down the road leave me scratching my head.

In the anthology Give Me a Texas Cowboy, Jack’s Bluff was the name of the ranch in my and Phyliss’s stories. Jack, one of Tempest LeDoux’s many husbands, won the ranch after buffing in a card game. We thought it was perfect name for her ranch.

Here are a few of the others I’ve used:

Long Odds – Texas Mail Order Bride

Last Hope – Twice a Texas Bride

Wild Horse – Forever His Texas Bride

Lone Star – Men of Legend series

Each one told a lot about the owner. Duel McClain in Knight on the Texas Plains names his ranch Aces ’n Eights later on in Book #3 of this Texas Heroes series.

The name means so much to him. It’s the hand he wins baby Marley Rose with and he doesn’t ever want to forget how she comes into his life. That baby girl gives him the will to live again.

Aces ’n Eights is also called the Deadman’s Hand and is comprised of a pair of black aces, black eights and a hole card. It was called the Deadman’s hand because those were the cards Wild Bill Hickok was holding when he was shot and killed. His hole card was the Queen of Hearts.

Here’s the back blurb for this book:

Duel McClain has lost everything he’s ever loved: his wife, his son, his sense of self. But when a strange twist of fate—and a poker game he’ll never forget—leaves an innocent little girl in his care, Duel vows to defend his new family to his very last breath. If only he knew a single thing about taking care of babies…

Just as Duel swears his life can’t get any more complicated, a beautiful woman stumbles into the light of his campfire, desperate for help. Jessie Foltry is hungry, tired, and running for her life. She agrees to help Duel care for the child in exchange for his protection, even as she fights to guard her broken heart. But Duel will do whatever it takes to make Jessie see that the Texas plains have more than one kind of knight, and perhaps their salvation is closer than either of them could have dreamed…

For an excerpt, click HERE.

Not far from where I live is the Spade Ranch, the Tongue River Ranch, the Pitchfork, and the Four Sixes. Each one has a story.

Do you know any ranch names either in books or that you’ve seen or heard about? I’m giving away three copies of this book (your choice of format.) Just leave a comment to enter the drawing.

Contemporary vs. Historical Western Stories

Contemporary vs Historical

I ran across a fun video from three authors talking about things you won’t find in a contemporary western romance.  Melissa Tagg, Victoria Bylin (who will be a guest blogger on August 4th!), and Becky Wade had this list:

  • Shotgun weddings
  • Arbuckles coffee
  • Primitive diseases (the plague, scarlet fever, smallpox)
  • Aristocracy
  • Stagecoaches
  • Corsets
  • Wars
  • Telegraphs and lost letters
  • Covered Wagons
  • Mail-Order Brides

I question them on #10 because this still happens, but the brides are from other countries rather than from the east and communication goes by email. I also thought of a few other things for their list…bonnets and ten-gallon hats, animal clothing such as mink or fox coats,  button-up shoes, mercantiles, ice-boxes.

Since I write historical westerns, I decided to make my own list. This is what I came up with…the first was a biggie because so very many of our modern conveniences stem from it.

Things you won’t find in a historical western:

  • Anything electronic — Cell phones, televisions, texting, computers, refrigerators, automatic dishwashers, air-conditioning.
  • Modern transportation — Automobiles, airplanes, jets, space stations, rockets.
  • Modern medicine.

So, what has stood the test of time and is still seen in both types of stories?

  • Rattlesnakes
  • Horses
  • Cowboy boots and Stetsons
  • Lasso’s
  • Bucking broncos and bulls
  • Windmills
  • The cowboy code
  • Manners among our heroes
  • Guns & rifles
  • Land wars, although these have morphed from sheep vs cattle and farmers vs ranchers to land developers’ vs small towns but they are still definitely land wars.)

Can you think of other differences between then and now?
Or things that have stayed the same?

Comment for a chance to win a copy of my latest release ~

And for your viewing pleasure ~ here’s the video.

(It’s cute!  I think you will enjoy it.)

 

HOW DEEP DO YOUR ROOTS GO? by JODI THOMAS

How deep do your roots go?

I’m from dry land farmers and people who ran small ranches that never made much money.  I know the movies have the stories about powerful ranchers who own more land than they can ride across in a day, but that’s not the people I’m from.


My grandparents met at a barn raising in Texas, just over the Red River from Oklahoma.  They spent the day together, wrote letters for a year, then he rode back across the Red to pick her up.  She had the wagon packed with her hope chest and all they’d need.  They were married that day.  She was fifteen and he was eighteen. They crossed back over the Red into Oklahoma Territory and started farming.

My dad was their youngest son and he said they looked old when he was born. If he was alive, my father would be a 100 this year.

All this said, sometimes I feel close to the past.  Like it’s just around the corner out of reach.  I might have an iPhone and an Apple computer, but their blood still flows in me.  I’m from farm folks….

Or, so I thought….the blood must be thinning.

My son, who has a master’s in Criminal Justice and works in loss prevention for a national chain, was told he could work from home last month.  Three weeks later he bought a farm in the middle of nowhere.  My GPS told me I was 31 miles out.  Two hours later I’m still circling every County Road looking for him.  Who knew two ruts in the tall grass was a road?

I couldn’t wait to see his land, his farm.  We traveled across Texas, 10 hours, with three ducks riding in a tub in the back of our van.  Once, when Tom stopped fast one of the ducks flew out and landed just behind my sister.  She didn’t seem to like the duck eating her hair.

 

So all tired we pulled into a beautiful, green farm.

My son, whose time outside city lights can be counted in weeks, greets us with a warning that he shot a coral snake this morning.

Coral snake.  I start trying to remember that ‘black touch red or black touch yellow’ but have no idea which is a friendly fellow.

I jump out.  I have to walk the land!  Get back to my roots! They’ve got chickens and ducks.  A stream.  Not exactly The Red, but too big for me to cross.

The fire ants were not welcoming—enough said.

We let the ducks out and they loved their bath.

Tom thought he’d pet a chicken.  By accident, I’m sure, the chicken put a deep scratch along Tom’s arm.  This chicken was not a cuddler.

But, we were in Heaven.  We were on the land.  I had no idea how noisy it is at night.  Or how early the sun comes up without heavy drapes.

Then about dawn the first day, I picked up my Apple, curled up in the porch swing and found Heaven.

I’m from the land, you know.  I was home.

I hope you’ll feel just that way when you read my new book, INDIGO LAKE.  Come along with me on this journey and when you finish maybe you’ll say “I’m from the land.”

When I began writing the Ransom Canyon series, a very dear friend gave me a Ransom Canyon T-shirt to inspire me. It sat by my desk and was never worn. I would like to give that shirt to one of my special readers who might know—How do you get rid of fire ants without killing the chickens?”

Love you all,  Jodi Thomas

Here Comes the Bride!

Four SeasonsNational statistics say that June is the most popular wedding month, followed by July and August, and I think it has to do with the weather and versatility. The ceremonies can be either outside or in. A lot of couples choose tropical locales which I think provide exceptional backdrops for gorgeous weddings. The only problem I had was that I picked poor guys. All we could afford was a quick trip to the JP. Short and sweet.

It doesn’t really matter though and mine carried as much meaning as the fanciest.

By the way, those statistics say that a total of $72 billion dollars are spent each year on weddings and the average budget is $20k.

The top wedding city in the world is Istanbul, Turkey with Las Vegas, Nevada coming in second.

I’ve written wedding scenes in a good many of my books and none of them were elaborate either. I think the two in my newest, The Heart of a Texas Cowboy, were the most shocking. Houston Legend never anticipates the turn of events and both leave him shaken. I won’t tell you what those are because I don’t want to ruin the story for readers who haven’t read it yet.

In To Love a Texas Ranger, Book 1 of the Men of Legend series, the wedding took place outdoors at sunset at the end of the book. Sam Legend and Sierra Hunt loved the fresh air and the beautiful Texas sky so that was perfect.

But the wedding in Book 3 – To Marry a Texas Outlaw – has them all beat. You won’t believe what happens. You’ll have to wait until November 7th to find out though.

There is also a wedding in my upcoming August re-release, Knight on the Texas Plains, between Duel McClain and Jessie Foltry. I think it may be the only one to take place in a church. But then marriage ceremonies on the American frontier were usually simple affairs and to the point. They had no time to waste.

In the book I’m writing, the wedding takes place at sunrise on the rim of a canyon and I think it’s very romantic. Tally Shannon and Clay Colby tie the knot then afterward change clothes and get to work. Someone just burned down the town.

Weddings always turn me into a blubbering mess. So, how about you? Share something about a wedding and enter a drawing for one copy from any of my books.

 

Updated: June 27, 2017 — 3:41 pm

The Story Behind the Story of GRAY HAWK’S LADY

Howdy & Good Day!

Whether you’re joining us in the morning, afternoon or evening, welcome!

Today I thought I’d tell the story of the writing of the book, GRAY HAWK’S LADY, a tale deeply enshrined in my heart.  This story has just recently been re-released at Amazon, and because it is so special to me, I thought I’d give away a free ebook of the story today to some lucky blogger.

GrayHawksLady_v1Believe it or not, the story starts with a kiss.  But let me backtrack.  I had in 1992-1993 gone through a divorce and had come back to California, because I’ve considered it home ever since I was 18 and fell in love with it.  Unfortunately for me, I jumped right into a relationship that was very bad for…many reasons.  After that relationship, I wanted nothing to do with men, love, marriage again.  Sigh…

The year was now 1995 and I was on my own and definitely enjoying being on my own.  One of my best friends (whom I had known since 1970) was pushing me to go on a blind date.  I didn’t want to go and I told her I wanted nothing to do with men, relationships, marriage, dating…nothing…

But she insisted and I found my self consenting to one date.  That was in January of 1996.  I had a book due to my publisher in July of 1996, but had plenty of time to write it and had, indeed, started writing it when I went on this first date.

family1[1]So off I went on this first ever in my life blind date.  The gentleman picked me up at my house and I noticed he was wearing cowboy boots and being very interested in the West and Cowboys and Indians, this was great.  He was also born and raised in Montana, and I was very interested in Montana since the story of GRAY HAWK’ S LADY was to take place in Montana.

The date was good, okay.  We went out to eat, but I was left with the impression that he wasn’t really interested in me.  So, I put it behind me.  He never called, never asked me back out and never told me what was happening and so eventually, just to end my wondering about it, I called my friend, told her I was sorry it hadn’t worked out and … well, so long sort of thing.  To my surprise she wouldn’t let it go — I had just wanted to put it behind me.  She said, “Oh, no, he’s really interested in you.”  and I said, “Oh, no, I don’t think so.  Let’s just put the whole thing behind us.”  And she said, “No, I’m sure he really liked you.”

30002_391822494010_760039010_4043017_7176149_n[1]So she called his brother, who then talked to him, and the upshot of it all was that Paul then called me and asked me for another date.  Well, it had been a good first date, I thought, and he was a nice gentleman and perhaps we could be friends, I thought.  So I accepted.

Little did I know what was in store.  On the second date, we were both more relaxed, held hands, and I thought, okay, we’ll be friends.  He took me home, walked me to the door and just as I was about ready to go inside, he took me in his arms and kissed me.  Now, it was quite some kiss.  He meant it. And I was more than ready to receive it.   His hands caressed my cheeks, my eyes, my face, my hair, my neck. It went on and on and on, and when he was done, I felt a little drunk.  I think I stared at him and for the first time, I said to myself, “Who is this man?”  Indeed, I wanted more.

roadtr40[1]Well, that was that.  We had a date the next week, and within 2-3 weeks, I had moved in with him and we were married in May 1996.  Our first date was February 3rd 1996.  So it definitely was a whirlwind romance.

Now you may be wondering what this has to do with the book, GRAY HAWK’S LADY.  Well, a lot, I’m afraid.  I was in the middle of writing that book, and I fell so deeply in love with this man, who is now my husband, that of course that love was written all over the printed pages of GRAY HAWK’S LADY.  That first kiss and my Samhain_RWA2012_IMG_0292_Webemotional reaction to it is recorded in that work.  Also, my gradual coming to understand that this man was the most important man in my life is in that book.  His calmness, his teasing, his care…it’s all written there as I fell head over heels in love.  Over to the right here is a recent photo of us.

14-smooch[1]Did I mention that my earring (the night of that first kiss) fell off — and I have pierced ears!…

In May of this year, we were married for 21 years.  Interestingly enough I still have the pictures of our wedding on my website http://www.novels-by-KarenKay.com — can’t bring myself to take them down, even though 21 years more or less have gone by now.  People sometimes write to me and congratulate me on my recent marriage — and I smile.  To me, in many ways, it does seem like a recent marriage, as I fall in love with this man all over again every day.  I told him recently (only a few days ago) that for me it seems as if our time together has been like a fairy-tale romance (again, knock on wood).

galler6[1]I love this man with all my heart — and as the years have gone by, that love grows and grows and grows.   He stole my heart with that first kiss and that love goes on and on and on.  (I’ll knock on wood here.)  As the — gee, was it the Ronettes that once sang the song, “And Then He Kissed Me,” —  it has always seemed to me that it started with that kiss.    Ah, sweet!

I hope you’ve enjoyed the blog today.  Again, I’ll be giving away a free copy of this ebook to some lucky blogger, so do leave a message.GrayHawksLady_v1

And if you haven’t done so before, pick up your copy of GRAY HAWK’S LADY today!

https://www.amazon.com/Gray-Hawks-Lady-Blackfoot-Warriors-ebook/dp/B0723B3VCM/ref=sr_1_fkmr0_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1497836377&sr=8-1-fkmr0&keywords=GRAY+HAWK%27S+LADY+by+Karen+Kay&tag=pettpist-20

Updated: June 18, 2017 — 8:44 pm

Houston Legend Spills All

Last month I released book #2 of my Men of Legend series–THE HEART OF A TEXAS COWBOY! I’m still excited. Can you tell? This marriage of convenience story has gotten a lot of attention.

Today, I’ve caught up with Houston Legend, one of Stoker’s three sons. I have to tell you, I’m a little tongue-tied. All six-feet-four-inches of this brooding handsome hunk is sitting across from me and his dark eyes are making me awfully fidgety. Oh my!

I guess I’d best get started before the perspiration seeps through my clothes—or else I grab him and kiss him.

Q: Now, Houston honey, why exactly did you marry Lara Boone, a woman you’d never met, after vowing to never take a wife?

A growl rumbles in Houston’s throat.  “I had to clean up my father’s mess. During a weekend of drinking and gambling, Stoker loses half of our ranch. Two hundred and forty thousand acres disappeared overnight. Still makes me mad enough to cuss, except I don’t do that in front of a lady. All that hard work, sacrifice, and sweat for nothing. Gone. (Houston snaps his fingers.) Just like that. And then, he tells me that I can get it back—by marrying the daughter of the new owner and giving her baby a name.

I tell you, that was closest I ever came to hitting my father. In fact, the urge was so strong, I had to leave the room before I did. Finally, after some soul-searching, I agreed. I’d give Lara Boone and her baby my name—but I had the vow to love her stricken from the marriage ceremony. Love wasn’t part of the deal. I’d make them comfortable and keep them safe, but that was all I signed up for.”

Q: Tell me about that ceremony and seeing Lara for the first time.

Houston pinches the bridge of his nose and lowers his head just a little. “I wasn’t prepared for the pain in that woman’s eyes, the shame of resorting to this, and the clear fact she hated having to marry as much as I did. I thought she was some gold-digger, wanting to trap a man, but that wasn’t the case at all. In the days that followed, I discovered how sensitive and kind Lara is. Her intelligence about ranching really took me by surprise. Who would’ve thought a woman would care about the ranch, much less know anything about the running of one.”

Q: So you put together a cattle drive and Lara went along to cook. When did you know trouble was coming?

A hard glint fills Houston’s eyes. “I saw riders trailing us the morning of the third day and my gut said they were up to something. I soon learned they were after Lara—abduct or kill, didn’t much matter to them. They were hell-bent on getting her. And here we were in Indian Territory with no law anywhere. Those outlaws gave us quite a time. (Houston gave me a little heartstopping grin.) I kinda spoiled their plan. They found out about Legend justice.”

Q: I can just imagine. I hear there was quite a fight.

Houston shifts in his chair and his voice turns to granite. “Yuma Blackstone started picking us off one by one and we couldn’t catch him. Indian Territory has thousands of places to hide. We started pushing the herd faster as hard as we could. Posted guards in camp and I ordered drovers to do everything in pairs. After burying two men, we had a bloody fight to the finish. For a time there, I wasn’t sure how it was going to end. I was down to my last bullet and figured to make it count. Suddenly a band of Cherokees rode from out of nowhere and helped up. Me and my brothers came awful close to dying that day.

Q: I hear you and Lara fell in love on that cattle drive. How do you feel about her now?”

Houston relaxes and stretches his long legs out in front of him. “That pretty woman lights up my world. I can’t imagine life without her. I’m happier than I’ve been in my life. And she and kiss—boy, how she can kiss. She sends a hunger through me like I’ve never seen. The best part of my day is when we lie down at night, sharing not only a bed, but hopes and dreams too. Lord, how I love her. She’s everything to me.

Thank you, Houston honey. I know you’re a very busy man so I’ll let you get back to running the Lone Star. Readers, if you want suspense, danger, and a big helping of romance, pick up this book and dive in. It’s quite a journey.

Leave a comment telling me one of your favorite cowboy book heroes and get your name entered in a drawing for a copy of this one. If you already have it, you can choose one of my other ones. Oh and you get to choose either print or ebook. 

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

Research Nugget: St. Elmo’s Fire

Some authors hate research and find it tedious, but I love it. I’m always surprised by something I find and it’s a little gift to me when I run across tidbits that deepen my story. They don’t have to be earth-shattering either. Small details can add another layer of realism.

In THE HEART OF A TEXAS COWBOY it was St. Elmo’s Fire. I’d heard about it for a long time but never knew exactly what it was. This is a weather phenomenon that occurs during thunderstorms. It’s a plasma discharge similar to lightning and forms a blue or purple glow that attaches and hangs onto the tip of sharp objects. Even blades of grass have been known to attract this strange glow. Often, but not always, a hissing sound can be heard.

The occurrence was recorded as far back as the 14th century when an eerie glow formed on the tall masts of ships. It’s the patron saint of sailors and to see the phenomenon is viewed as a good omen.

Cattleman Charles Goodnight wrote about the experience during one of his cattle drives and how the glow formed on the tips of the long horns and jumped from animal to animal. It never hurt the cows one bit.

The Heart of a Texas Cowboy that came out on May 2nd takes place during a cattle drive up the Great Western Trail. Houston Legend is trying to save the Lone Star Ranch by selling off two thousand of his herd. But first he has to get them to Dodge City. The woman he marries in order to give her child a name, Lara Boone, volunteers to come along as cook. Two days out, he sees riders trailing them. He doesn’t know what they want but he’s determined to protect his wife and child, his drovers, and his herd. It soon turns into an all-out fight with love blossoming along the way in this marriage of convenience story.

One night, during a huge thunderstorm, Houston sees St. Elmo’s Fire jumping from tip to tip of the cows’ long horns. He doesn’t know exactly what to call it and is amazed that it doesn’t affect the animals.

Here’s a short excerpt of that scene:

Lightning flashed around Houston as he moved amongst the herd around midnight. An eerie glow danced along the six to nine foot horns of the frightened animals leaping from one to another. It was strange how it never hurt the cows. Or didn’t seem to anyway.

In the midst of the summer rain, he scanned the herd, looking for signs of a possible stampede. So far, they were just restless. The biggest threat for a stampede was at the beginning of trail drive. After a few weeks, the jumpy cattle settled into the routine and became acclimated to the noises. Thank goodness for that or this storm would send them into a panic.

His thoughts tried to return to Lara and he kept reeling them back in. Lives depended on him focusing on this right now. Everything else would have to wait. He rode around the fringes speaking soothing words, keeping the animals in a tight bunch.

Harmonica music drifted in the air as Joe rode alongside him. The song, Beautiful Dreamer, had a calming effect on the herd. One by one they laid down, lulled by the music. Houston breathed a sigh of relief that the danger had passed. He watched the steady drip of water off his hat brim onto his oilskin slicker, wishing he was in a Dodge hotel. After a hot bath with his lady, Lara would curl up next to him with nothing between them but skin.

With what had happened tonight, he had high hopes that they would in the near future. He still felt her hand brushing his chest and sneaking up under his jacket. She seemed to like touching him and he certainly didn’t mind a bit. Whatever she fancied to do was fine with him.

But teach her how to love?

Not a chance. What did he know? He was raised with little softness. Stoker was a hard man and he’d instilled that sharp-edged toughness into his sons that had squeezed out affection and sentiment. Still, he’d try. He wanted more than anything for Lara to know a true husband’s love.

* * *

The book released on May 2. This is #2 Men of Legend series and will be followed by #3 (To Marry a Texas Outlaw) in November this year.

Come along and take this journey with me. Meet the Legend family—the tough father and his three sons—and help them tame the West.

As far as I know I’ve never seen St. Elmo’s Fire but maybe you have. If not, tell me about the scariest thunderstorm you’ve ever witnessed. Leave a comment to be entered in a drawing for one of two copies (print or ebook) of this.

Petticoats & Pistols © 2015