Category: western romance

Big Ranches, Big Story


The state of Texas has 268,597 square miles so it’s no wonder we have huge ranches to match the size. Some are simply too enormous to comprehend. So I had no trouble setting a big ranch here for my latest Men of Legend series. I wanted it as big and bold as the father and sons who owned it, so Texas was perfect. (It’s rumored that the state produces people with big personalities.) Strictly rumor of course. I’m laughing here.

My fictional Lone Star Ranch is a little on the puny side at 480,000 acres. I modeled it to some degree after the Waggoner Ranch which was 510,000 acres in 1954. When it sold in 2016, it had grown. The Waggoner Ranch also fit the location of mine in North Texas.

XITbrandThe largest ranch in the world in 1880 was the XIT Ranch (stands for Ten in Texas) at a whopping three million acres in West Texas and the Panhandle. To put this in perspective, that’s roughly 4,687 square miles. Just think how long it would take to ride over it by horseback. All that land was owned by a syndicate of English investors. It was simply too big for words.

The mighty King Ranch down at the far end of the state was and still is one of the largest ranches in the world. It has well over a million acres. It was established in 1854 by partners Richard King and Gideon Lewis.

King RanchNorth Texas certainly has a lion share of ranching land. That’s mostly because the rugged, rocky, dry landscape is fit for little else. The Matador Land and Cattle Company (purchased by Scottish investors) is another large one at a million and half acres in the beginning. It has shrunk now but still going strong.

Four sixesThe 6666 Ranch is an interesting one that keeps on thriving. Captain Samuel Burk Burnett bought 350,000 acres in 1870 and started raising cattle. Rumors have swirled for decades that he named it this unusual name because he won it in a poker game with a hand of four sixes. Descendants swear that’s not true. It’s still a huge ranch at 275,000 acres. I always love driving past it and looking at the large herds of horses. Their buildings are always pristine and they even have an airstrip. It’s pretty.

Love a Texas Ranger smallerOkay, back to my Lone Star Ranch. The patriarch, Stoker Legend, acquired 100 acres as payment for fighting in the Texas War for Independence. Everyone scoffed and said he had little chance of making the ranch thrive what with Indians, outlaws, drought, and the fact the land was extremely inhospitable. He paid them no mind and carved out the mighty ranch that serves as a legacy for his sons—Sam, Houston, and Luke.

Sam Legend joined the Texas Rangers as soon as he could because ranching just doesn’t interest him. He has restless feet and is driven with a need to see what’s over the next hill. Book #1 of this Men of Legend series is TO LOVE A TEXAS RANGER. Sam runs across a desperate woman named Sierra Hunt who has been dragged from pillar to post. She burns with a dream of permanence—a little white house with a picket fence around it, flowers in front and a garden in back. She’s not going to settle for anything less…not even for Sam.

There are lots of twists and turns in this story as they seek to find common ground and protect the fragile love that forms as they run from a ruthless band of outlaws.

Think the western series Bonanza. This series is every bit as big and bold as the Cartwrights. I’m enjoying writing this so much.

Release day is October 4th! You can preorder at these links:  AMAZON  |    B&N    |    iTUNES

There are still one million acre ranches today in the United States. What do you think the biggest challenge would be to owning such a huge amount of land?

By the way…Did you know July 23rd is the National Day of the Cowboy?

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Wait… What?

Filly Fun 2016 Design to use


Good Thursday, all! Glad you could join me. The topic of the day is Ten Things You Didn’t Know About Tracy Garrett. So, let’s see—Tracy Garrett

  1. I’m a middle child. My older brother was born a hazel-eyed redhead, my younger sister a blue-eyed blond. Me? “Brown, brown, brown, brown, brown!” (Anyone know what that quote is from?)
  2. If you’ve read my bio, you know I’m a musician, but did you know I’d planned to be a school music teacher? I was a Music Education major right up until my senior year.   It only took two days of student teaching for me to realize I was in the wrong place! Yikes! With the help of my professors—and a couple of extra special study classes—I graduated on time with a Bachelor of Music in Flute Performance. Then I headed to graduate school for a Master of Music in Flute Performance. And, before the real world called, I did post-grad work in voice performance. So now, naturally, I’m a romance writer. lol
  3. I still use my music. I’m the Assistant Director for the Greater Lake Area Chorale, a group of 60-70 volunteer musicians who perform two concert seasons a year. And every year since 2008, my mom (pianist), my sister (vocalist), a couple of other vocalists and I have given a concert to raise funds for local charities. This August will mark our ninth annual Evening With The Classics.
  4. LOTOWe live on beautiful Lake of the Ozarks. The Lake has more shoreline than California has coastline. We moved here because our parents all decided to retire here—and because Dan has been coming to this lake all his life (his first time on the water here was when his mother was pregnant with him).
  5. I’m a certified sailboat skipper. I have the training (and the papers) to pilot up to a 50’ sailboat. I didn’t grow up on the water, though. I took up sailing because my husband grew up on the water. I figured I needed to be able to get us to shore if he got conked on the head by the boom. I’ve been sailing in Florida and the Caribbean eight or nine times. After a sailboat, piloting our 25’ pontoon is a piece of cake.
  6. I’ve snorkeled with manta rays! This giant of the sea has a tip-to-tip wingspaMantan of up to 23’ and can weigh in at 4,400 lbs!  Just imagine:  you’re the only snorkeler on a dive boat after dark; once all the divers are in the water, you gear up and step off the back of the boat into the cold Pacific Ocean water; you surface and signal to the driver that you’re good to go, turn around—and come face to face with this!!! I promise I can spell hyperventilate now!
  7. You all know I’m a Cowboy Action Shooter by the name of Ozark Belle. What you might not realize is I’d never shot a gun until we took up the sport three years ago. (I don’t count firing my brother’s BB gun at the woodpecker who decided my bedroom window was a fine place to drill at four in the morning. Both shots missed.)
  8. I’ve got about a dozen states to go to visit all fifty. I’ve been to DC, the U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico, too.
  9. IStBasilsCathedral spent 28 days with a college class exploring The Soviet Union when Brezhnev was in power. It’s an amazing country. Standing in a thousand year old chapel—it’s hard to describe what that’s like.
  10. Counting Russia, I’ve visited twelve countries besides the good old United States of America (thirteen if you count a layover in the airport in Helsinki, Finland). One of those was former East Germany. We worshipped in Thomaskirche, the Leipzig church where J.S. Bach and Felix Mendelssohn played. Way cool!

That’s about it, I think.  Thanks again for visiting with me. Happy Reading!



Encouragement from an unexpected source set Barbara Ankrum’s romance-author’s feet on a new path. Help us welcome Barbara to Wildflower Junction.

By Barbara Ankrum

Barbara Ankrum

Barbara Ankrum

For years, I resisted the temptation to write a romance with a Native American protagonist.  Frankly, I was scared to do it. I might get it wrong. Or, worse, insult someone! So I avoided it even though I longed to write one.

Then my daughter moved to Kansas.

On a visit, I took the grandkids to a cool little farmstead called Deanna Rose, and was surprised to find there a reproduction of a Kanza (tribe) mound lodge. From the outside, the mound looked like a tall, grass-covered hill with two tunnel-like doorways. Inside, it was a circular wood-braced lodge, 14’ high at the center with cottonwood tree trunk poles supporting the arched roof. Beds lined the walls all the way around the forty feet in diameter perimeter. In the center, a fire pit and a hole in the ceiling for smoke to escape.

indian mound 3The earthen walls were fourteen inches thick insulating the interior from the harsh Kansas summer sun. Outside, it was 3,000 degrees, (I jest—but it was Kansas in July!)  But inside that mound it was a cool 70-something and I lingered.

A Native American docent started to chat with me about the structure and I asked a bunch of questions. The mounds are scarce—almost non-existent now, because they were nearly all destroyed by the Army in the Indian Wars, set ablaze and collapsed.

indian mound 5When I admitted I write historical romance and secretly always wanted to write a Native American hero, but didn’t have the nerve, this woman looks at me and says, “Why not?” And I was like, “Well, because I’m not Native American. I might not do their story justice.” This sweet woman laughed. “But you see,” she said, “You’d be telling their story, a story that might not be heard otherwise. A story that might never have a voice. You must write it.”

I was dumbfounded but profoundly affected by her words.  Maybe I just needed a new perspective. If I did my best with it and gave it my heart and told the story that was calling me, then it might be enough. After all, isn’t that what writers do?

indian mound 4This woman’s off-handed encouragement was the jumping off point for THE RUINATION OF ESSIE SPARKS. Set Montana, my hero is a half-breed Cheyenne (okay, so I dipped my toe in!) and my heroine is a white schoolteacher he accidentally kidnaps and drags into the wilds of the Montana Mountains. It’s set in the post-Indian War devastation of the far West tribes and the systematic removal of the Native American children to white-run boarding schools.

And it turned out Essie was brave and maybe a little inspired by that docent’s words, too. When I got a really nice review from a Native American reader thanking me for not backing off the true story of the boarding schools, I could only smile and secretly thank that woman from Deana Rose.

Essie SparksYou never know where encouragement will come from. You never know how your words will affect someone else. And you never know what you can do until you try.

I hope you’ll give THE RUINATION OF ESSIE SPARKS a read. Maybe it will inspire you to be brave about something in your own life.  I think if we just remember that we bring our own heart to the things we do, we bring something to the table that no one else possibly could. And that’s more than enough.

Find The Ruination of Essie Sparks and Barbara’s other books at Amazon.


What is it you’d love to try, but have held back doing? Tell me and I will give away one e-copy of THE RUINATION OF ESSIE SPARKS to one lucky commenter.

Great Escapes? by Patti Sherry-Crews

Patti Sherry-Crews is funny, friendly, and a pleasure to know. She lives smack-dab in the middle of the Midwest and took part of her education in Wales, where she studied archaeology, Welsh, and Welsh literature. Nevertheless, she writes western historical romance. Go figure. Welcome to Wildflower Junction, Patti!

Jesse James's Grave in Kearney, Missouri

Jesse James’s Grave in Kearney, Missouri

What do Billy the Kid and the Grand Duchess Anastasia have in common? Like Butch Cassidy, the Sundance Kid, Jesse James, The Lost Dauphin of France, and the Princes in the Tower, years after their “deaths” rumors of their survival persisted.

It’s obvious why certain factions in Europe would want their royals to escape death. But why do we want to believe a group of gunslingers and bank robbers went on to live a quiet life under an assumed name?

I’ve been thinking about this question, and except for a few stray individuals such as D.B. Cooper, I can’t think of a group so rumored to have faked their own deaths as much as the American outlaw of the old west.

Is it because the time and place capture our imagination? Or is it the personalities? Maybe we can’t bear the thought these mythologized, larger than life men were fallible after all? I picture Butch and Sundance always two steps ahead of the posse, Billy the Kid slipping out of handcuffs and escaping from jail, and Jesse James outwitting the Pinkertons. It is hard to then, picture these same men pinned down by gun fire in Bolivia, being taken down in the middle of the night while visiting his sweetheart, or being shot in the back while righting a crooked picture.


Billy the Kid

It was not uncommon for outlaws to go by an alias. Butch Cassidy was born Robert LeRoy Parker. Billy the Kid was christened Henry McCarty in New York City but was also known as Henry Antrim and William H. Bonney. Butch and Sundance moved around South America under the names James Ryan and Harry E. Place (Etta Place). So it’s a short stretch to see them moving on with a new name after “killing off” their old one.

Rumor has it Butch went on to live in the Pacific Northwest under a name unknown to this day. A few Billy the Kids surfaced, Bushy Bill being the most famous. Of all of them, even though Jesse James isn’t my favorite outlaw, I believe he did successfully fake his own death—but that’s another story.

When I was creating my own bad boy for Margarita and the Hired Gun, I had these men in mind, but especially the resourceful and charming Billy the Kid. Like Billy’s mother, Rafferty is an Irish immigrant who got his American start in New York City. The Kid was only 5’3”, and judging by the few photographs we have of him, it’s hard to see his sex appeal. Despite all that, he was quite the ladies’ man. A picture recently surfaced of him playing croquet and wearing a striped cardigan I’d expect to see on my grandfather. He looks incredibly young. A man loved by ladies and feared by men—my type of hero.

Rafferty had many “adventures” in America, and in true outlaw style, he had to change his name a few times. The excerpt I’ve included is the scene where Rafferty tells Margarita his real name. They’ve endured a hair-rising stretch of the trail and both have let their guard down in their relief. It is the first time since fleeing Ireland he hears his own name being spoken.

About Patti

patti Sherry-crews in kitchenPatti Sherry-Crews writes romances because she can’t help herself. She is a romantic who turns everything into a romance in the hope that everyone can just work it out and live happily ever after. Patti has published stories in several other genres, including paranormal and narrative nonfiction. Margarita and the Hired Gun is her first historical western but won’t be her last. The old west has always fascinated her, because the time and place are unique: the mix of cultures all coming together at a point in history when so many people were drawn westward in attempts to reinvent themselves after the great shake-up of the Civil War. The old west saw the borders between law and outlaw blurred, and people moved back and forth between the two, a theme reflected in Margarita and the Hired Gun.

Visit Patti online at Visit Patti online at her website, Twitter, Facebook, and Pinterest.


margarita-coverMargarita and the Hired Gun

Beautiful Margarita McIntosh escapes Flagstaff with a hired gun, Rafferty, as her only protection from her father’s powerful enemies who are hot on their trail. Giving up her life of leisure is nothing compared to the passion she finds in Rafferty’s arms. Together, they face a perilous journey that becomes a fight for their very lives—and a dream of the future neither of them could have imagined.


Within minutes, the trail turned onto a flat piece of grassland on top of a plateau. Margarita took in a deep breath. Her hands were shaking. He waited for her to come up alongside him.

“I think we all need a rest,” he said, smiling thinly at her.

He dismounted and led his horse and the mule over to a copse of trees. He tied up his horse and mule to a tree near a patch of grass, which the animals hungrily tore into. Margarita followed his lead.

“Are you hungry?” he asked, reaching into one of the packs.

“No. I don’t trust my stomach right now.”

“Fine, but do get some water into ya,” he said, sitting down with an apple and his canteen on a big boulder in the shade. She sat down on the ground beside him and was met with his look of surprise. She’d never sat near him before.

“What would have happened if the path was too narrow for you to get off your horse?” she asked, shuddering.

He regarded her with a little grin on his face. “You don’t have to think about that now, and I don’t want to. That part of the trail is behind us, never to be repeated on this trip.”

He pulled a large knife out of his boot. Margarita flinched. He gaped at her before cutting a slice out of the apple. He handed her a slice.

“It will do you good. An apple will settle your stomach.”

Her hand brushed against his fingers as she took the slice, sending a shock up her arm. He drew back as if feeling a charge, too.

“Thank you, Raf…I don’t know what to call you. Do you have a first name? Rafferty is a mouthful.”

He looked down and smiled. “I do have a first name.”

After a long pause she added, “But you’re not going to tell me?”

“I’ve got no problem telling you,” he said, but he continued to sit in silence.

“It appears that you do,” she said, laughing. “I didn’t mean to stump you with that question.”

He looked down at her, his deep blue eyes full of mischief. “I’m only trying to work out which name to give you. I’ve had a few.”

“Oh…I see. How about the one your parents gave you?”

He looked down at his hands, focused on carving out another slice of apple. “Michael.”

“That’s a nice name.”

“And Rafferty isn’t my last name. It’s Byrne.”

“Why do you have so many names?”

“Loads of people out here have more than one name. That’s what you do here, which is one reason I like the west. If you stop liking who you are, you become someone different,” he said with a wink, handing her another slice of apple.

She smiled coyly at him. “Mr. Byrne, what have you been up to?”

He chuckled. “Maybe I’ll tell you sometime. We have weeks yet ahead of us. My misdeeds will give us something to talk about. How about you, Margarita? Margarita is quite a mouthful, as well. Do people call you Rita?”

She realized this was the first time he called her by her name. She liked the way her name sounded coming from him. The way he seemed to chew the separate syllables of her name sounded like water roiling gently over pebbles in a creek.

She sat for a moment, relishing the heat radiating in her chest at the sound of her name spoken in his deep, silken voice. He was looking at her with something close to affection in his eyes. Then, she shook herself. “Not if they want to stay on my good side! I hate being called Rita. My father calls me Maggie.”

The smile disappeared, and the blood drained from his face. He stood up. “Time to hit the trail again if we want to reach camp and get these horses watered.”

He was walking away from her, already at his horse.

“All right, Michael,” she said, in a sweet voice, with a smile on her face.

His back was to her, but she saw his shoulders stiffen. Something about the gesture wiped the smile right off her face.

Find the book at:
Barnes and Noble
iBooks (Apple)

Patti will give an ebook of Margarita and the Hired Gun to someone who answers this question before 11 p.m. Sunday: What would your outlaw name be? Go comment!


Outlaw Lawmen

Kathleen Rice Adams header

Life on the open range could be a discomforting experience, what with outlaws popping out from behind the sagebrush without the slightest provocation, nesters “accidentally” mistaking a cattleman’s range for the quarter section they’d purchased, steers stampeding wherever they pleased, and wild animals running amok in settlers’ vegetable gardens—not to mention all those Indians to keep track of.

wanted posters on deskThings weren’t much easier for townies. For one thing, outlaws didn’t confine themselves to the countryside. Drunks stumbled out of saloons with reckless abandon, ladies of questionable virtue roamed the streets at will, and barbers pulled teeth or performed surgery like they knew what they were doing. Even church socials sometimes got out of hand.

At least folks in town could count on the law to keep things somewhat under control, right?

Not always.

Finding a reliable lawman was anything but easy. El Paso, Texas, discovered that when it hired Dallas Stoudenmire as city marshal. Stoudenmire, a deadly gunman with a mean temper and a fondness for strong drink, insisted on starting fights and shooting people—some of them even criminals. As a young man, famed lawman Wyatt Earp stole horses. Between gigs as a county sheriff, town marshal, and city policeman, Earp ran faro tables, owned brothels, got arrested for a number of crimes, broke out of jail, led a vigilante group, and otherwise made a nuisance of himself. Pat Garrett may have been a straight arrow legally speaking, but he was unpleasant to be around. Even his fellow officers objected to his disposition: a refreshing mixture of arrogance and surliness.

Some men found a badge to be an excellent disguise for nefarious activities. Take these guys, for example:

Henry Plummer

outlaw lawman Henry Plummer

Henry Plummer

In 1856, at the age of 24, Plummer became the marshal of Nevada City, Calif., the third-largest settlement in the state. In 1859, the marshal killed the husband of a woman with whom he was having an affair. Sentenced to ten years in San Quentin, he received parole in six months and immediately joined a gang of stagecoach robbers.

In January 1862, Plummer formed his own gang and began hijacking wagons transporting gold out of mining camps. When that enterprise petered out in January 1863, Plummer relocated to the newest gold rush in Bannack, Montana. There, he formed the Innocents, a network of road agents that numbered more than 100 men within a few short months.

In May 1863, Plummer lost a sheriff election and subsequently threatened his rival until the man high-tailed it, fearing for his life. Plummer took over the sheriff’s job and right away appointed two of his Innocents cronies as deputies. Oddly, crime dramatically increased. In about nine months, more than 100 murders occurred and robberies, assaults, and assorted other crimes reached unprecedented levels. All the while, Plummer—under the guise of cracking down on lawlessness—hanged witnesses.

On January 10, 1864, having had enough law enforcement for a while, fifty to seventy-five vigilantes rounded up Plummer and his two deputies and hanged them in the basement of a local store.

Burt Alvord and Billy Stiles

outlaw lawman Burt Alvord

Burt Alvord, Yuma Territorial Prison, 1904

In the 1890s, Alvord and Stiles served as deputy sheriffs in Willcox, Arizona. Unsatisfied with their salaries, the two began robbing Southern Pacific Railroad trains to supplement their income. Emboldened by pulling a number of successful jobs, they undertook their most daring escapade on September 9, 1899, in what came to be known as the Cochise Train Robbery. Instead of clinging to tradition and stopping the train on a lonely stretch of track in the middle of nowhere, Alvord and Stiles had five members of their gang blow up the safe while the train was stopped in the town of Cochise. Alvord and Stiles, maintaining their law-enforcement decorum, were part of the posse that unsuccessfully attempted to apprehend the robbers in the Chiricahua Mountains.

About five months later, on February 15, 1900, the gang struck again, in broad daylight in the tiny town of Fairbank, Arizona. While the train was stopped at the station, the Alvord-Stiles gang approached the express car, guns drawn, only to find the messenger responsible for the safe unwilling to abide such rude behavior. During the gunfight that erupted, two of the five gang members were wounded and one ran away. The messenger, also wounded, hid the safe’s key before losing consciousness. Unable to find the key and without a single stick of dynamite between them, the rest of the gang vamoosed.


Fairbank, Ariz., railroad depot circa 1900

Once again, Alvord and Stiles rode with a posse to track down the outlaws, one of whom was injured so badly he had to be left behind about six miles outside town. Despite Alvord’s and Stiles’s attempts to misdirect the pursuers, they stumbled across the wounded man. Before he died, the outlaw fingered Alvord as the ringleader. Stiles confessed and turned state’s evidence, allowing him to remain comfortably outside the bars while Alvord cooled his heels inside. A short while later, Stiles broke Alvord out of the hoosegow and the two of them lit a shuck for Mexico.

The Arizona Rangers invaded Mexico and, in 1904, engaged the two now-expatriates in a gun battle. They captured Alvord, but Stiles got away. After a brief stint in the Rangers under an assumed name, Stiles was killed a few years later while working as a lawman in Nevada, also under an assumed name. Alvord did two years in Yuma Territorial Prison and took it on the lam for Panama upon his release.

H.D. Grunnels


Steam train, 1898

In 1898, Fort Worth, Texas, Assistant Police Chief Grunnels talked a gang of Oklahoma bank robbers out of robbing a local diamond merchant and into robbing a train in Saginaw, Texas, instead. Grunnels masterminded the operation, planning to apprehend the bandits after they made off with the money, then collect the reward and keep the loot.

The Apple Dumpling Gang might have performed the train heist with more aplomb. While crawling across the top of the coal tender to reach the engine, the gang’s leader slipped and accidentally discharged his pistol. His minions mistook the misfire as their signal to hop on the train and commence whatever mischief their roles required. Chaos ensued.

Meanwhile, Grunnels and a cadre of Fort Worth police officers not in on the plan raced to the rescue of a train that had yet to be robbed. The discombobulated robbers scrammed. The Fort Worth Police Department became suspicious when it discovered Grunnels reached the scene of the crime before the crime had been reported. Grunnels was fired and indicted, but he disappeared before trial.


The heroes in the two novellas that compose Robbing Banks, Stealing Hearts could give lessons in how to fail at outlawry to all of the compromised lawdogs above. So, here’s my question for this month: If you were going to commit a crime in the Old West, what crime do you think you could pull off? Bank or train robbery? Horse or cattle rustling? Murder for hire? Spitting on the sidewalk? Something else? I’ll give an e-book of Robbing Banks, Stealing Hearts to one of y’all who’s brave enough to expose your criminal dreams. 😉

Robbing Banks Stealing HeartsEveryone should have career at which they excel. At failing to commit crimes, nobody is better than Laredo and Tombstone Hawkins. Maybe they can bumble their way into love.

The Worst Outlaw in the West
Laredo Hawkins has one ambition: to redeem his family’s honor by pulling the first successful bank robbery in the Hawkins clan’s long, disappointing history. Spinster Prudence Barrett is desperate to save her family’s bank from her brother’s reckless investments. A chance encounter between the dime-novel bandit and the old maid may set the pair on a path to infamy…if either can find a map.

Family Tradition
Haunted by his kin’s tradition of spectacular failure, bank robber Tombstone Hawkins is honor-bound to prove his family tree produced at least one bad apple. When carnival fortuneteller Pansy Gilchrist tries to help, she accidentally summons a pair of dishonest-to-goodness ghosts. Getting into the spirit of a crime is one thing…but how do you get the spirits out?

Mail Order Brides on the Texas Prairie

Miss Jamie Adams is obsessed with Texas. And Ranches. And cowboys. And cowboys on ranches in Texas. How could we not be glad to have her visit Wildflower Junction again?

By Jamie Adams

Corralling the Cowboy 2The last time I had the privilege of visiting with the gals here at Petticoats and Pistols we talked about cowboys. It’s been a while, but back then I used Toby Keith’s song “Should have been a Cowboy” to open up a discussion on our favorite men on horseback. This time I thought I’d switch it up a bit and talk about something different . . . like life on a ranch . . . in Texas . . . with Cowboys.

Who am I trying to kid?  I have a hopeless obsession with the handsome, brave men who tamed the Wild West. Good thing for me I have friends that share that same fascination or at least they pretend they do to keep me happy.

This past year I convinced some talented writers (MidwestChristianRomanceAuthors) to join me in creating a mail-order-bride box set series set on a ranch in Texas. When a widower Texas rancher is told he has a short time to live, he decides the best way to rein in his three rambunctious sons is to find them wives. He means business too. They have to marry within three months or lose their inheritance. A very substantial inheritance.

Mesquite Gulch is a small town where the men outnumber the women tenfold. Actually that’s an exaggerated guess. The last census was taken in 1880 and they skipped our little town. Just trust me. There aren’t any marrying age women in town. But that’s not a problem, not when you have only to put an ad in the paper, or if you’re a wealthy rancher you can have your lawyer take care of things for you. Mr. Logan wants to see his sons safely hitched, but if he doesn’t live long enough, his trusted lawyer will carry out his wishes. The father hears wedding bells in the future, but it resembles a dirge to the sons.

Now take several young women fresh out of an orphanage in Chicago and put them on a ranch in Texas and you have the Texas Brides Series. The young ladies have never stepped foot outside the city, and ranch life is rougher than they’d imagined. Nothing could have prepared them for the reception their given. Their prospective grooms are as welcoming as the wicked cactus dotting the landscape.  Didn’t they send for a bride? They had a strange way of showing affection. Who’d want to marry one of them?

Shotgunwedding 3a-A Bride by Christmas (1) 4a-The Substitute Groom (1) TBMOS5

Three rugged cowboys have no idea what is about to hit them and I have to admit it is so much fun to watch them be taken down one by one. This is a five book series. Yep that’s right, five not three. Things seldom go as planned. We’ve got twist and turns that we hope our readers will enjoy.

Just to show how excited we are to introduce ya’ll to the Logan family we’re going to give away a digital box set. Leave a comment to enter the drawing.


About Jamie

JamieJamie Adams fell in love with books at an early age. Little Women by Louisa May Alcott opened her imagination and sparked a dream to be a writer. She wrote her first book as a school project in 6th grade.

A graduate of the Institute of Children’s Literature as well as member of American Christian Fiction Writers, The Writing Desk and several critique groups she spends most of her time writing, reading or learning more about the craft near to her heart.

The parents of three teenagers, she and her husband make their home in the beautiful Ozarks of Arkansas.

You can connect with Jamie on Facebook and Amazon.


Lacy Williams: Bullfighters and Butterflies

Well looky here! Lacy Williams has come back for a visit. I swear to goodness that woman writes some good stories. Guess that’s how she got to be a bestselling author, huh? Let’s give Miss Lacy a big ol’ howdy!

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lacy-williams-media-1Lacy Williams here, excited to be back with P&P!

Today I want to chat about the men who risk their lives in the rodeo arena. No, not the ones with the vests and helmets… the other ones. They wear colorful outfits and clown makeup. You know. The bullfighters.

Their job is two-fold. When the bull riders get bucked off (or jump off), the bullfighters distract the bulls to buy the riders time to get out of the arena. In between rescuing riders, the bullfighters also entertain the crowd with their antics and often over the loudspeaker, so they have to have a sense of humor and be able to think on their feet.

Can you imagine racing around in a dirt-packed arena, just in front of a fifteen hundred pound bull that wants to pound you into the ground? You jump into a barrel (have to be pretty fit and more agile than I am!) and wait for the bull to leave the arena. Then you do it all over again!

Ty Pozzobon Invitational PBR


What would make a man choose bullfighting for his job? That was the question I asked as I created the hero for my June release, Luke Starr. As Pamela Tracy and Vickie McDonough and I brainstormed the Lone Star Brides series, I knew their heroes would be twins and bull riders. I also knew Luke would secretly be a little envious of their close twin relationship. But the real thing that drove him to choose bullfighting is his guilt over something that happened when he was sixteen. I won’t spoil the story for you, but Luke uses bullfighting to distract himself from the guilt that eats him alive… until he’s forced to come home to his family’s ranch and face the memories that haunt him.

THE BUTTERFLY BRIDE is book three in the Lone Star Brides mini-series and is Luke’s story. When heroine Jess Sadler ropes him into reaching out to a special needs student, Luke uses the skills he’s learned in the arena to reach out to the boy. And what woman can resist a man with a soft spot for kids?

THE BUTTERFLY BRIDE is releasing in ebook only and I’d like to give away two ebook copies, names to be drawn from anyone who comments today. Do you have a favorite kid-friendly hero? It could be a single dad, uncle or otherwise. Let me know!

Thanks again for hosting me today. I always love visiting Petticoats & Pistols!


lonestar brides-3_lowres copyAbout The Butterfly Bride:

The prodigal son is back. Ever since the terrible mistake he made in high school—a mistake that cost his best friend his life—bullfighter Luke Starr has stayed far away from Pecan, Texas, and his family. But with his twin brothers gone on their respective honeymoons, Luke is forced to come back to town to watch over Gramma and the family ranch. And he can’t wait to leave again. Because being home hurts more than being stomped on by a bull—and it’s only a matter of time until he messes up all over again.

Special ed teacher Jess Sadler will do anything for her students—even abandon her comfort zone to convince a reluctant rodeo cowboy to give “horse lessons” to a student she can’t reach. But when feelings for Luke blindside Jess, she knows she’s in trouble. The man is counting down the minutes until he can leave Pecan. Will he take her heart with him when he goes?

Then a little boy goes missing on the family ranch, and Luke must confront the ghosts of his past or lose the future he never dreamed was possible.


About Lacy Williams:

USA TODAY bestselling author Lacy Williams works in a hostile environment with three-point-five kids ages 6 and under. In spite of this, she has somehow managed to be a hybrid author since 2011, publishing 26 books and novellas. Lacy’s books have finaled in the RT BOOK REVIEWS Reviewers’ Choice Awards (2012, 2013, & 2014), the Golden Quill and the Booksellers Best Award. She is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers, Romance Writers of America, ALLi, and Novelists Inc. Visit her online at


Image © vanell via
Cover art © Lacy Williams via Serenade Books

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

I met Carol Jansen Koch in 2005 when I was on my Frog Prince book tour and hosted a tea in Plano, TX for Pi Phi Alums.  We didn’t really get to know each other until I was back 2006 on my Flirting with Forty book tour.  After that event we spent a couple of hours talking and by the end of the evening Carol was a true blue friend.

On every visit to Texas, I try to see Carol, and when I returned in 2010 for my She’s Gone Country book tour, a 10 day trip that would take me across Texas, I had Ty and 18 month old Mac along.  We kicked off our trip in Dallas/Ft Worth and who better to launch us on our Texas adventure than Carol and her new husband, Garner Koch, a true Texas cowboy.  

IMG_1369 Ft. Worth is Garner’s old stomping grounds so he took us to get real boots–at Leddy’s–and then showed us the Texas he knows and loves.  IMG_1400



Garner and Carol are the friends we meet every year in Las Vegas for the NFR.  While the guys go off and do guy stuff, Carol and I and her cool Texas crew go shopping at Cowboy Christmas.  This last year Carol made a list as one of the most fashionable people at the 2015 NFR and so I thought it would be fun to share a little bit of Carol’s western fashion sense with you, as well as some great places to pick up your western fashion wear.  


1)  Carol, I met you in Texas at a Pi Beta Phi alum event.  So have you always been a cowgirl?  

I’m a Midwest farmer’s daughter.  Born and raised in Iowa.  Self proclaimed big boned Iowa girl.  Got to Texas as soon as I could.   Texas completes me.jp1

2)  When we first met you were single.  How did you meet Garner?  Tell me about your first date.

I cannot tell a lie.  We met at a Honky Tonk.  (I hope my Mother isn’t reading this… she thinks we met at church) It was the day after Christmas and I was very germy and so didn’t want to go out.  Garner was the tallest most handsome cowboy in the place and he came up to the table where I was sitting with my 5 girlfriends and asked ME to dance.  I so thought he was coming to ask one of my other of my pals.  Ha!  We danced the night away.  We exchanged numbers and I so thought I’d never hear from this cowboy again….to my surprise, he called me while my friends and I were driving home!  Yes.  my friends were very impressed!  jp4


3)  How did you develop your western style? 

My style is forever evolving.  I love to invest in some fabulous pieces and then throw in a few inexpensive pieces to make the look my own. jp6


4)  Where do you shop?  

Orisons in McKinney, Texas and also Ya Ya Gurlz in Abilene, Texas are both my favorites and thankfully not next door to me – otherwise I might get into lots of trouble….it’s a treat and ordeal when I go to shop.  I go with my list of parties/events and they help dress me.  It’s like stepping into your best friend’s closet.  

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

Boot and turquoise. jp5

6)  How much did Garner influence your fashion sense? 

Garner is very traditional.  He has great shirts from 10+ years ago in his closet that with “extra heavy starch” – wears today and looks timeless. Our dry cleaners know us well.  Unless Garner’s britches (jeans…) can stand up in the corner by themselves,  we take them back to the cleaners…. 

My favorite line early on was oh I need something new to wear to our next party/function as….”it’s hard being Mrs. Garner Koch…”  this only worked a few years.  He’s onto me now. I can admit I’m addicted to the entire perfect “costume” hunt and presentation.  It’s my obsession.    🙂 

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

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


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

Plus a few more fun stores if you’re in Texas or enjoy shopping online:
Pinto Ranch – You can shop online or visit their locations in Dallas, Houston, and Las Vegas
Gypsy Wagon – Fun mix of western and boho fashion–plus jewelry & more.  Online or locations in Dallas, Austin, and Crested Butte, CO  http://www.the-gypsy-wagon.comcountry_450x2
Wild Bill’s Western Store – Hats, boots galore & lots more


A big thank you to Carol for letting me poke around her closet and talk fashion.  Carol, you inspire me to take fun risks and make fashion fun!

Do you enjoy western wear?  Where do you shop?  Leave a comment and you’ll be entered for a giveaway!  The prize is the winner’s choice of a signed print copy of She’s Gone Country, set in Mineral Wells, TX, or an ebook version of the book, plus reader swag!

Updated: May 31, 2016 — 11:39 am

Victoria Bylin: Who Says You Can’t Go Home Again?

Give a big howdy to former Filly, Vickie Bylin! We’re so happy she came to visit. AND she brought books to give away. Three in fact, so leave a comment!

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Home   . . .  That word is one of the most evocative in the English language. It’s also a fitting theme for today’s blog, because Petticoats & Pistols was my home for over three years. Hello, Fillies!  I miss hanging out with you and the P&P readers. I thoroughly enjoyed being a Filly during my time with Harlequin Historical and Love Inspired Historical.


Westerns will always be close to my heart. So will California with its beaches, mountains, valleys, and deserts. The state may not be the first one to pop in your mind when you think “traditional western,” not like Texas or Wyoming, but the history and culture have a western flavor.


SomeoneLikeYouCoverI live in Lexington, Kentucky now, but I miss the Golden State. That’s why I started writing about it. If we took a road trip with the characters in my contemporary romances, we’d walk barefoot on Pismo Beach, see endangered California condors in the wild, and camp out on Anacapa Island.


The Pismo Beach scene is in my latest release, Someone Like You (Bethany House, May 2016). The story is set at a historic resort in central California and is about what happens when college sweethearts meet after six years. Back at UC Berkeley, Zeke Monroe was a strong Christian, and Julia Dare believed in living for the moment. Fast forward six years . . . Now Zeke is struggling with his faith and Julia is a new believer and a single mom with a four-year-old son.


Until I Found YouTo add some western flavor (and because I like country music), I made the owners of the resort a retired country music duo called the Travers Twins. Ginger Travers no longer performs, but George Travers (who looks and sounds a lot like Sam Elliot) is going strong and still a heartthrob for Julia’s widowed mother.


California condors played a big role in Until I Found You. Those birds are amazing!  During the 1990s, when my family and I lived in the Los Padres National Forest a.k.a. “Condor Country,” we had the pleasure of seeing condors soar over our home. With their nine-foot wingspans, the birds look like glider planes. Writing about them brought back some great memories.  


Together With YouGoing camping again on Anacapa Island is another secret dream.  Anacapa (pronounced ANN-a-cap-a) is one of the Channel Islands off the Southern California coast. In Together With You. Kentucky girl Carly Jo Mason and Los Angeles ophthalmologist Dr. Ryan Tremaine make a trip to the island with his kids.


 Ryan and Carly have quite the romance, but a little girl named Penny stole even more hearts—including mine. Penny has special needs and remains one of my favorite characters.


Thank you for taking a mini-trip home with me!  When it comes to romance, California is the perfect setting for strong characters, dramatic plots, and stories that touch the heart.

To celebrate my home state, I’d like to give away three books—reader choice from the titles above. Leave a comment and you’ll be entered in the drawing!


A big thank you to the Fillies for inviting me to visit.  As the saying goes, “East or West, Home is Best.”

You can contact Vickie at:


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Carousels and Brass Rings by Anita Mae Draper

We’re so happy to have Anita Mae Draper visit the Junction. She’s giving away a copy of Romantic Refinements (Austen in Austin Vol. 1) so leave a comment!

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Carousels have always been my favorite midway attraction, so when I decided to include the Texas State Fair into my latest story, Romantic Refinements, it was only natural that a carousel be added to the scene. Happily, I hit the research trail. My first stumble however, was when all the information pointed to Dallas holding the state fair and not Austin. My persistence paid off though and I found several sources to confirm the State Fair of Texas was held in Hyde Park in Austin from 1875 to 1884.

Caption: State Fairgrounds, Hyde Park. Racetrack, grandstands and spectators; undated; Courtesy of Austin History Center - Hubert Jones Glass Plate Collection

Caption: State Fairgrounds, Hyde Park. Racetrack, grandstands and spectators; undated; Courtesy of Austin History Center – Hubert Jones Glass Plate Collection


Since my story takes place in Austin in 1882, I was ready to go carousel hunting. As you can imagine finding images of a carousel that early was difficult, especially since part of my scene involved the brass ring that the carousel riders strive to collect. According to Wikipedia, ring devices were introduced about 1880, and while most of the rings were made out of iron, a couple on each ride consisted of brass. Some carousels had a clown designed on the side and you could toss your iron rings into its open mouth—no prize, but one way to make returning the rings exciting. Other carousels simply collected the rings in a container at the end of ride. However, if you managed to latch onto the brass ring, you were given a free ticket for the next ride.



Watching several YouTube videos showing riders going after the brass ring, I have to agree with them. Check out this video on Knoebel’s Carousel in Elysburg, PA to see the brass ring dispenser in action:


In the carousel scene in my Romantic Refinements story, there is a little girl who wants to catch that brass ring more than anything. The main problem with the ring dispenser, however, is that it’s the same distance for everyone and a bit out of her reach. But she tries ever so hard as can be seen in this photo which was my inspiration for this scene:

Catching the Brass Ring


But the brass ring dispenser is just out of her reach. So the little girl does what she sees bigger kids doing—and that’s when disaster strikes. I’m not going to tell you what happens, but I will tell you that the events in my story will affect how the little girl handles life and romance when she re-appears as an adult in Sense and Nonsense by Lisa Karon Richardson, the final novella in Austen in Austin Volume 2.

Sense and Nonsense

Perhaps I’ll take a moment to explain that Austen in Austin contains 8 novellas in 2 volumes, all based on heroines of Jane Austen’s novels. Although we changed the stories to reflect historical Austin in the late 19th century, and took away some relationships such as the familial relationship between Elinor and Marianne Dashwood in Sense and Sensibility, readers have still been able to identify their Austen counterparts. This is how we can have a little girl in my story grow and appear as an adult in Lisa’s story which takes place seventeen years later. This also gave us the chance for cameos to update characters as each novella progressed—like an ongoing epilogue where you see what happens after they are married.  I love revisiting characters after reading their story ends, don’t you?

Have you ever ridden on a carousel? Where? Did you pick a horse or some other animal? Did you catch the brass ring?

Leave a comment for a chance to win Austen in Austin Volume 1 – winner’s choice print or digital.


Thanks for visiting me here today. You can find me at the following online sites:

Website  Pinterest   Twitter    Facebook Author Page


Austen in Austin Volume 1 – Available for Order

Austen in Austin Volume 2 – Available for PRE-Order

AnitaMaeDraperAnita Mae Draper’s stories are written under the western skies where she lives on the prairie of southeast Saskatchewan with her hubby of 30 plus years and the youngest of their four kids. When she’s not writing, Anita enjoys photography, research, and travel, and is especially happy when she can combine the three in one trip. Anita’s current release is Romantic Refinements, a novella in Austen in Austin Volume 1, WhiteFire Publishing, January 2016.  Anita is represented by Mary Keeley of Books & Such Literary Management. You can find Anita Mae at



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