Category: western romance

WOLF SHADOW’S PROMISE — An excerpt

Howdy!

And Good Morning!  How are you doing today?  Well, I hope.

My latest release, WOLF SHADOW’S PROMISE, is just out in e-book format.  To honor this occasion I’m giving away two e-books of the book.  So please come on in and leave a comment, join in the discussion and automatically you are entered into the drawing.  Do read the Giveaway Guidelines off to the right here — these govern our give-aways.  And please do come back either tomorrow evening or Thursday evening to see if you are one of winners.  I rely on your doing so.

I must admit to really loving this new cover.  What do you think?

Today, I thought I’d open with the blurb for the new book release, and then an excerpt.  Hope you enjoy!

Wolf Shadow’s Promise

by Karen Kay

Legendary Warriors, Book 4

She saved his life. The only way he can save hers is to deny their forbidden passion…

When eight-year-old Alys Clayton saved the life of a young Blackfeet Indian, she had no idea her own life would be forever changed. To honor her bravery, Moon Wolf pledged his heart to her, vowing to marry her. But they were both too young…then.

Returning to Fort Benton in the Northwest Territory fifteen years later, Alys again encounters the deeply handsome hero who had once set her heart afire. But Moon Wolf has changed. He has become the legendary Wolf Shadow, a warrior intent on helping his people’s struggle against those who would destroy them.

Because a precious jewel like Alys warrants more from a man than risking death at every turn, Moon Wolf battles his desire for her, denying her what she needs most. But Alys has other ideas. She is determined he will not walk his chosen path alone.

Yet, how can their love survive when they are surrounded by enemies determined to destroy them, in a world where their love is forbidden?

This book has been previously published.

Warning: Sensuous romance that might renew a love that was written in the stars. Don’t say we didn’t warn you.

WOLF SHADOW’S PROMISE, an excerpt

by Karen Kay

 

Fort Benton on the Missouri River

1857, Northwest Territory

 

“Two and two equals…?” The teacher slapped the ruler against the blackboard, the wap of the wooden stick an unspoken threat. The teacher—who, by invitation, had only recently arrived here—stood frowning, arms crossed at her waist. “Young lady,” the teacher threatened as she took a menacing step forward and unfolded her arms, “answer me.”

Still the young Indian girl, standing at the head of the class, didn’t make a sound. Head down, she stared fixedly at her feet.

Looking at the child, who was no older than herself, Alys Clayton felt as if her heart might break. Personally, she had never understood why the wild Indians had been brought to this school. Her mother said the whole matter was an experiment by their Indian agent, Alfred J. Vaughan, to see if the Indians could be civilized, whatever that meant.

But the project was doomed to failure because Indians didn’t learn from this kind of teaching.

At least that’s what her mother had told her: that the Indians of the plains had not been brought up with the same books and stories as the white man; that the Indians had their own legends and tales, their own way of teaching, of doing things. Indians were close to the land, were free, or at least they were supposed to be. Alys’s mother had also said, and Alys agreed, that the Indians would be better off if left independent which, Alys decided, must mean “left alone.”

So, if all these observations were true, why was their teacher making an example of this poor child? What did it matter if the girl could or could not add the two plus two on the chalkboard? Alys knew that if she were to approach the girl and promise her four beads while giving her only three, the young girl would know the difference.

Tears streamed down the youngster’s face as she endured not only the silent threat of the teacher but the sneers and scoffing of her “fellow classmates” too.

Something should be done. Such dealings were not right. Yet Alys felt helpless. She was only eight years old, a child herself. What good was she against a teacher—against the taunts of the others?

Oh, no. Alys caught her breath.

The teacher—an overly skinny, sickly-looking woman, had raised the ruler as though she might hit the girl, causing the youngster to put a hand over her eyes as though to shield them.

Then the worst happened. Down came the ruler, down across the Indian girl’s arm.

The child didn’t cry out, didn’t even flinch, although she whimpered slightly as tears streamed down her face.

The teacher shouted out a few more unmentionable words. Still the young girl remained silent.

“I’ll teach you to sass me, you heathen,” the teacher hissed, while Alys tried to make sense of what the teacher had said. The young girl hadn’t uttered a word.

Wap! Another slap across the girl’s arms. The teacher raised her arm for another blow.

It never came.

In a blur of buckskin and feathers, a young Indian boy, the same one who had been at their school for about a week, burst into the classroom, putting himself between the youngster and the teacher. In his hand, he wielded a knife.

The class went from a mass of jeers and prankish catcalls to abrupt silence.

Where had the boy come from so suddenly? And the knife? Where had he obtained that? It was well known that the wild Indians, even the children, were relieved of their weapons upon entering the fort.

Yet there was no mistaking that knife or the boy’s intent.

Good, thought Alys.

Immediately, the teacher backed up, but in doing so, she tripped over a wastebasket, losing her balance and falling into the trash can, bottom first.

Alys couldn’t help herself. She laughed.

It was the only sound in an otherwise silent classroom. No one looked at her, however. Everyone appeared…stunned.

The teacher’s face filled with color, her hands clenched over the top of the basket. “You…you savage. You pushed me—”

“This one,” the Indian responded, pointing to himself, “has not touched you. But give me good reason to”—he waved his knife in front of her—“and I will.”

The teacher spat ugly words deep in her throat, before she uttered loudly, “I’ll have your skin for this, young man.”

“Humph.” The boy approached the teacher, then said, “And I will have your hair.”

It took a moment for his meaning to register, but as the boy swung out his knife, taking hold of the teacher’s tight bun, she screamed. Whack! Off came the bun, harmlessly falling into the youngster’s hand.

“You heathen, why, I’ll…” In an almost superhuman effort, the teacher jumped up, out of the basket. The boy quickly grabbed hold of the Indian girl, and pulling her after him, fled toward the classroom’s only window.

That was all it took for the other youngsters in the room to come alive. Insults and threats reverberated through the early morning air, while the two fugitives made the best escape they could. Boys, almost all of them of mixed heritage themselves, suddenly sprang up from their chairs, leaping after the two runaways, who had by this time cleared the window.

The entire school became a mass exodus as student after student bolted out the door, out the window, chasing after the pair.

Alys, however, arose from her seat at a more leisurely pace, strolling slowly and thoughtfully toward the doorway of the tiny cabin which served as the schoolhouse. Fingering her soft auburn curls as she moved, she trudged home, concluding that school had been let out for the day.

Poor Indian kids, she mused. Wasn’t it enough that the children had been taken away from their family to be “educated”? According to her mother, the townspeople weren’t making it easy on these wild ones either, scolding them and making fun of them. Who would want to stay amidst such hatred? Alys asked herself.

Her thoughts troubled, Alys left the schoolhouse and slowly trudged toward her home.

Her house, a wooden structure and one of the nicer homes in the fort, lay situated toward the rear of the town, away from the river and isolated from most of the fort’s more rambunctious activities. It was a relatively quiet spot, a location her father had personally selected before he had passed away almost four years ago.

That Alys’s mother had refused to return east after her husband’s passing had been the fort’s greatest gossip during the first few years after his death, at least for the few white women who had come west with their husbands.

There were only two types of unmarried women on the frontier, or so it was said: Indians and the hurdy-gurdy girls. Her mother had been asked which one she was.

And it hadn’t mattered that her mother had helped found this town, right alongside her father. Nor had the richness of her purse given her immunity. As it was in many small towns, there wasn’t much to provide gossip, leaving Alys’s mother to supply fodder for the wagging tongues, a circumstance that had effectively isolated her, and her youngster, from the community.

As Alys made her way through the fort, she wondered what her mother would say about the events of this day, knowing that it was her nature to blame the townspeople, not the Indians. Hadn’t her mother often commented on the unchristian-like behavior of the few white women in this town? Hadn’t she herself observed that those here, more oft times than not, made up the grievances they complained about?

Why? Alys Clayton could little understand it.

She only wished there were something she could do, some way to help. If only she knew where the two Indians were right now, she would offer them kindness and hope. Yes, she decided, with all the naïveté of a young girl her age. She would be kind to them, make friends with them, show them that they could trust her.

Why, she would…

What was that? There is was again, a glimpse of something out of the corner of her eye. Buckskin, feathers—two small arms and legs? There in the bushes? She turned to look.

A knife suddenly appeared out of nowhere, pressing close into her throat, and a hand covered her mouth as arms slipped about her waist, dragging her backward, toward that bush.

“You cry out…I kill you,” threatened a young male voice.

Alys looked up into a set of the deepest, blackest eyes she had ever seen. She nodded.

The dusty scent of the boy’s skin, the dirt on his hands assailed Alys until she thought she might gag. It wasn’t that the smell was unpleasant, it was more that he held her mouth too tightly. She squirmed.

“Be still.”

Two young boys flew past them, more footsteps followed, more shuffling, the pounding of boots, of adult feet striking the ground, rushing by.

Alys struggled in the boy’s arms. She wanted to let him know that she was a friend, that she would help him. It was useless, however. The boy held his hand too securely over her lips.

Gunshots in the distance caught Alys’s attention, and then came more shouts and hurrying footsteps. Gunshots? Surely no one intended physical harm to these two, did they?

She had to do something. Quickly, Alys took stock of where she was. Over to her right was her home—within running distance—and beside her house was the secret place, that place known only to Alys and her mother…

It was a special locale, a part of Alys’s heritage that might prove to be the salvation of these two outcasts, if she could make them understand. Could she?

She had to try. Motioning toward the house, Alys pointed at the two Indians, then flapped her hands like wings, trying to show an image of birds, flying away free. Would he understand?

The young boy followed her hand motions for a moment, then tugged at her to remain still. He looked away.

Alys tried again. Point to the house, to the Indians, a bird flying away free. Once more, over and over. It took a few more gestures before the boy frowned, looking down at Alys, at her hands, at the house.

More voices, more footsteps coming toward them.

Alys gestured again.

With a stern frown at her, the boy loosened his grip, allowing Alys to whisper, “I know a secret way out of the fort.”

Would he believe her? Did he understand she meant to help him?

Dark eyes glared into her own.

“It’s at the side of my home.” She motioned toward the house.

“There is nothing there, white girl; a house, a wall, no more. Do you try to trap us?”

Alys didn’t say a word. And perhaps it was her silence that accounted for her redemption.

He asked, “How we escape there?”

“In our root cellar,” Alys was quick to answer, “my mother’s and mine.  There is a hidden tunnel.”

“What is this…root cellar?”

Alys pointed to a set of bushes that almost, but not quite, hid the wooden doors of the cellar. “There,” she said. “See it? It goes down to a passage underground. It’s like a cave. It leads to the hills.”

She could see him hesitate, watched as indecision played across his features. At last, though, he volunteered, “You show us.”

Alys nodded.

They waited until the approaching footsteps faded away. Then he prodded her forward, and she fled as fast as her small legs would carry her, on and on toward the side of her yard, with the two Indians following close on her heels.

“Here.” She pushed her way into the bushes and pulled at the doors of the cellar. They wouldn’t give. She almost cried.

The Indian boy came to her rescue, tugging on the doors and hauling them up.

“Hurry.” She motioned to the two of them to enter. Quickly, they did as she bid, fleeing down into the cellar, Alys coming in after them and dragging the doors shut behind her. Instantly, all was darkness inside, but it didn’t bother Alys. She merely sighed in relief.

“This is trap,” the boy said, his knife coming once more to Alys’s neck. Maybe he didn’t like the darkness, Alys considered.

“No,” she insisted, unafraid. “I’ll show you.”

Lifting a rug on the floor, Alys uncovered a small earthen mound. Brushing the dirt away, Alys pointed to a meager trapdoor.

Pulling on the door, she glanced up toward the boy, barely able to make out his features in the darkness.

“Come,” she said and dropped down to the ladder. Down and down she climbed, her two charges following.

Plunging to the stone floor of the cavern below, Alys fumbled in the dark until she found the lantern her mother always kept there. Checking first to make sure it was working properly, she lit the wick, instantly throwing a shadow of light throughout the cave. Instinctively, she took the hand of the Indian boy.

“Hold hands,” she instructed and began to lead the two of them through the tunnels. The darkness of the caves, their earthy smells and coolness had never bothered Alys. They were a part of her family, a part of her.

She and her mother came here often, hunting a treasure that had been lost here long ago. Although if Alys were honest, she would admit that sometimes she sought out the comfort of the caves for pleasure alone, these caverns being a legacy to her from her father.

“If you lead us back to…that village, white girl, I will kill you.”

“I know.” Alys hesitated. “But I won’t. I promise you.”

He let out a snort. “The vow of a white girl.”

“The word of Alys Clayton.” She might not be aware of it, but Alys lifted her chin. “Not all white people are bad.”

He didn’t say a word, though another menacing growl escaped his throat.

Well, what did it matter anyway? She would show him. Wasn’t it what her mother had always told her, that actions, not words, were important? It took an hour or so of careful travel, but she didn’t falter in her step. She knew the way.

The tunnel climbed slowly, gradually, until at last, up ahead, she could see light, hear the rush of a waterfall.

Ah, the great falls, behind which lay the tunnel’s entrance. This was her most favorite spot in the world, isolated, untouched and unspoiled. No one else knew of the caverns or the beauty of these cliffs either, as far as she knew, since they were hidden on all sides by the height of the hills. At least, Alys silently corrected herself, no other white man knew of them.

Alys led their party underneath the falls, out onto the rocks and into the bright sunshine, allowing the two young people to adjust their eyesight to the light before she stated, “I don’t know where your people are, but I reckon you’ll be able to find them from here.”

The boy looked around him and inhaled a deep breath before glancing back at Alys and staring intently at her.

Then, without any expression on his face whatsoever, he murmured, “What strange manner is this? A white girl who keeps her word?”

Alys stiffened her spine before she responded, “I told you I would.”

He nodded. “So you did, white girl, so you did.”

The young Indian miss at his side didn’t seem as devoid of human emotion as her male counterpart, however, and she came up to Alys, hugging her profusely and saying something in a very strange tongue.

The lad translated, “She says something good will come to you.”

Alys nodded, smiling. Then it occurred to her. “She doesn’t speak English?”

“Saa, no.”

“So she could not even understand the teacher?”

The boy remained silent, though when he gazed down at Alys, he suddenly smiled, the first cheerful emotion Alys had seen on his face. The action made him look younger still, innocent, and oh, so very handsome. Alys gaped at him, admiring his long dark hair that fell back from his face. The cooling breeze from the falls brought tiny droplets to his tanned skin; his dark eyes, surprisingly full of approval for her, watched her closely. Alys couldn’t help herself. Gazing back, she fell instantly under his spell.

Slowly, the boy took a piece of jewelry from around his neck. A round, single white shell dangled from a chain of bleached buckskin. He drew it over Alys’s head and settled it around her neck.

“Soka’pii, good.” His right hand signed the meaning of the word in a single gesture. “Looks good on you.”

With the tip of his finger, he tilted her face up toward his. “I will remember you always, young white girl, and what you have done for me and my sister.”

So, thought Alys, thè Indian girl was his sister. Pleased by the realization, she said, pointing to herself, “Alys.”

“Aa-lees,” the young lad rolled her name smoothly over on his tongue.

She pointed to him. “And your name is?”

He shook his head. “A warrior does not repeat his own name. To do so would be dishonorable.”

“But I would like to know…”

She was interrupted by the boy saying something to his sister, again in that strange tongue.

With a quick glance up at Alys, the Indian girl spoke, and, pointing to her brother, said, “Ki’somm-makoyi.”

“Ki’somm-makoyi,” Alys whispered. “That is your name?”

He nodded.

“What does it mean?”

“I cannot say.”

“Please?”

He took a deep breath, grinned at her slightly, then said, pointing to himself, “This one is called Moon Wolf.”

“Moon Wolf.”

Another nod.

She smiled up at him. “Moon Wolf, I will never forget you.”

He stared into her eyes, his look serious, before he volunteered, “Come with us, young Aa-lees. Come with us and I promise that when we grow older, I will take you for wife and show you great honor for what you have done for us this day.”

Under any other circumstance, Alys might have chuckled, the thought absurd for one so young. Yet there was a somberness to his words that she couldn’t discount. “I cannot,” she replied, her voice sounding strangely adult. “I would bring you more trouble if I went with you. No one in the fort would rest until I was found.”

He inclined his head. “That is true. For a small girl, you speak with wise tongue. But still,” his chin shot up in the air, “no matter what others would do, I would honor you in this way.”

His words, or perhaps it was the pride in his manner, reached out to her, its effect on her profound, and she felt herself responding to the boy, tears of appreciation, maybe even joy, coming to her eyes. She said, “I cannot. My mother would miss me too much.”

He remained silent for many moments before he nodded at last. “So it will be,” he uttered, “but know that though you choose to stay behind, I will carry your image with me, here,” he held his hand to his heart, “for so long as this one should live.”

Alys stared. These were strong words, a powerful declaration, for a boy not much older than she, and Alys contemplated him in silence for several seconds, afraid to move lest she spoil the moment. Slowly, he brought his hand up to run his fingers over her cheek, his touch gentle; he reached up with one of his fingers to trace the path of her tears, before bringing that same finger to his own cheek. “And now,” he whispered, touching his face with her own tears, “a part of you is a part of me.”

He didn’t wait for her to respond. All at once, he turned and fled, disappearing with his sister down the rocks and into the countryside as though they belonged to it.

Alys fingered her cheek for what seemed an eternity, letting the warmth of the sunshine wash over her and dry her face. In the distance she could hear the birds sing, while closer at hand, she could smell the perfumed scent of the grasses and wildflowers. Lightly, the wind ruffled her hair, lifting her spirit gently upward until she felt herself becoming a part of all this, a part of the natural course of things.

She would never forget this, never forget him. She couldn’t.

Alys had become, in the space of a moment, infatuated:  She had fallen in love. A love that would last her a lifetime, she thought, no matter the state of her youth. And in that instant, she knew she would never be the same.

WOLF SHADOW’S PROMISE

by

Karen Kay

https://www.amazon.com/WOLF-SHADOWS-PROMISE-Legendary-Warriors-ebook/dp/B075YC2T3X/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1507565489&sr=8-1&keywords=wolf+shadow%27s+promise+by+karen+kay&tag=pettpist-20

Updated: October 9, 2017 — 9:10 pm

Christmas Cowboy Style

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

 

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

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

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

 

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

Here’s the story of the final installment:

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

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

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

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

 

Other books in the series:

Cowboy to the Rescue

Cowboy Seeks a Bride

Cowgirl for Keeps

Cowgirl Under the Mistletoe

Cowboy Homecoming

 

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

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

 

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

 

In the Christmas Spirit

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

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

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

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

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

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

Here’s a short Excerpt:

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

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

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

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

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

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

* * * *

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

Let ‘Er Buck

Today kicks off a 107-year-old tradition — the Pendleton Round-Up.

This rodeo, held in the western town of Pendleton, Oregon, began when a group of community and area leaders developed the idea of an annual event. It all started, really, with a successful 4th of July celebration in 1909 that included bronc riding, horse races, Indian dances, foot races and fireworks.

The Pendleton Round-Up was incorporated as a non-profit organization at the end of July in 1910. The legal name was the “Northwestern Frontier Exhibition Association.” The group decided to stage the event in September to allow the grain farmers time to complete their harvest and the ranchers time to make a late summer check-up on their grazing cattle.

Image from the East Oregonian

The first Pendleton Round-Up was to be a frontier exhibition that brought the old west back to life and offered the crowd entertaining Indian, cowboy, and military spectacles, held in conjunction with the Eastern Oregon District Fair.

Image from the East Oregonian

People responded so enthusiastically to the idea, special trains ran from Portland to Pendleton to make sure the “city crowd” could witness the event.

The stores in town closed for the first performance. In fact, so many people showed up at that first performance, workers jumped in after the rodeo and added an additional 3,000 seats to accommodate the crowds the next day.  More than 7,000 people attended the first event (which far exceeded the number of people living in town at the time).

In just a few short years, the wooden grandstand and surrounding bleachers were completed, offering seating to more than 20,000 spectators.

Before women received the right to vote in Oregon, the Pendleton Round-Up gave them a chance to compete in a variety of events. In 1914, Bertha Blanchett came within a dozen points of winning the all-around title, right alongside the men.

Many famous names competed in the Round-Up arena including people like Slim Pickens, Hoot Gibson, Jackson Sundown, and Yakima Canutt (a stuntman who doubled for Clark Gable and John Wayne, to name a few).

Pendleton is home to the Umatilla Reservation and from that very first show in 1910, many Indians have participated in the event. There are Indian races at the rodeo, the special Happy Canyon pageant, and the Indian Village that is one of the largest in North America with more than 300 teepees set up annually.

Tribal members also ride into the arena before the Indian dancing at the rodeo (right before the bull riding) and wow spectators with their beautiful regalia, some that dates back more than a century.

There are unique facets to the Pendleton Round-Up that make it different from many rodeos. For one thing, the rodeo arena’s grass floor is one-of-a-kind in the world of rodeo, adding a unique challenge for competitors. It provides the largest barrel racing pattern on the professional rodeo circuit, too.

Also, the Pendleton Round-Up was the first rodeo to have rodeo royalty, beginning in 1910. Today, the queen and her court race into the arena, jumping over the fence surrounding the grassy expanse not once, but twice.

The first year of the rodeo also saw the introduction of the Westward Ho Parade, one of the longest non-motorized parades in the country.  The parade tradition carries on today with entries from all around the region.

Since 1910, the Pendleton Round-Up has been a popular event. Other than two years it was not held during World War II, it has run continuously each September. Today, more than 50,000 attendees fill the bleachers to watch the four-day long event.

And on their lips, you’ll hear them shout the slogan that was first used in 1910…

Let’ Er Buck!

***

 Dally  (Pendleton Petticoats, Book 8) is a sweet romance that encompasses the first year of the Pendleton Round-Up. In fact, the girl on the cover is one of the 2017 rodeo court.

I’m going to give three lucky winners a digital copy of  Dally .

To enter for a chance to win, all you have to do is answer this question:

What’s your favorite rodeo event or thing to see in a parade? 

 

 

Go West, young man!

We’re thrilled to have Becca Whitham with us today. In Becca’s own words, she’s an author, paper crafter, and Army wife who resides in South Carolina with her husband of more than 30 years and a 12-foot-long craft cabinet she thinks should count as a dependent. So far, neither the army nor the IRS are convinced. In between moves from one part of the country to the other, she writes stories combining faith and fiction that touch the heart. You can find her online at http://www.beccawhitham.com or on her paper crafting blog at http://www.becca-expressions.blogspot.com.

“Go West, young man!”

This was the solution to every disappointed hope of the mid-late 1800s. Did your crops fail? Go West. Were you too poor to own your own land? Go West. Had your life taken you in a direction you didn’t like? Go West!

This solution appealed to women as well as men because there’s a universality about thinking the grass will be greener, the situation better, and life easier if we could start somewhere fresh and leave all our mistakes behind.

But what if you gave up everything to make the journey only to discover that your situation is now worse?

In The Promised Bride, Emilia Stanek leaves the stench of Chicago for the wide-open space of Montana as a mail-order bride because she’s sure being the wife of Finn Collins—a man she’s fallen in love with through letters—will solve everything from her father’s ailing health to her brother’s involvement with a gang of boys she doesn’t like. Except, when she arrives in Helena expecting to meet her new husband, she’s greeted by the county sheriff instead and told that Finn was murdered the day before. Not only that, he left behind considerable debts which she’ll be responsible to pay if she files the paperwork formalizing her proxy marriage.

“This mail-order bride novel as it all – likeable characters, intriguing suspense, a dash of wry humor, and a swoon-worthy romance!”– RT Book Reviews, 4 Stars

With nothing left for her back home, Emilia stays. As you’ve probably guessed, she also falls in love with the gruff county sheriff, Mac McCall, over the course of the story. I know. Spoiler. But you don’t read a romance novel to find out how it ends, you read it to enjoy the journey.

When Gina Welborn and I first brainstormed this story, we wanted to use the past to speak into today. Mail-order brides of the 1800s were all too often greeted on the other end of their journey by pimps and madams who had tricked them into a life of sexual slavery—which is the same way predators use Facebook, Twitter, ShapChat, Craigslist, and other online sites to lure young girls, in particular, into sex trafficking. The problem is epidemic. According to wearethorn.org, 100,000 new ads for “escorts” are posted every day, and 63 percent of children rescued from sex trafficking report that they were approached via an online source.

As Mac says, anyone can be anything in a letter…or online.

Although there’s no mystery that Mac and Emilia end up together, there is one regarding Finn. Did he fool Emilia into a marriage that would have ended with her being sold into a brothel? Would she have been better off staying in Chicago and using her energy to find solutions there? We didn’t solve this mystery easily. We wanted readers to wrestle with Finn, his intentions, and Emilia’s decision to trust the written words of a man she’d never actually met.

Sometimes it is a good idea to go West—to start over and start fresh in a new place. But sometimes the best solution is to stay put and figure out how to make your life better where you are right now.

For a chance to win a copy of The Promise Bride, please leave a comment telling us a challenge you are currently facing or a way lessons from the past apply to today.

 

 

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

Petticoats & Pistols © 2015