Category: western romance

Janalyn Voigt Pans Montana Gold

Thanks for welcoming me back to Petticoats & Pistols!

I have a new story to talk about, one very close to my heart.

My father took me to pow wows when I was a child. I can still remember the sun blazing down on my head, the salty sweetness of buttered corn, and dancers in ornamental dress swaying to the drumbeat. My father greeted many of his friends from among the gathered tribes.  In this way, I suppose he captured something of the heritage he’d been denied. Dad, was half Native American, but never knew his father. He took after that side of his bloodline and as a result suffered from the prejudices of others. Orphaned at age 14, he took to the road and eventually landed among my mother’s relatives. My parents’ romance was the stuff of novels.

My father passed to me an abhorrence of injustice, and this often makes its way into my fiction. Montana Gold, my western historical romance series, focuses on the Irish in America. Nowadays we celebrate St. Patrick’s Day and it’s hard to understand that Irish immigrants were once despised.

Many fled Ireland’s potato famine only to die on the journey to America. Packed like sardines into ‘coffin ships,’ they had to endure a four-week journey in deplorable conditions. Those who lived arrived on American shores disease-ridden and hungry. They met with hostility from those suspicious of the newcomers’ Catholic faith and angry that they would take away jobs or rely upon the public coffer. The job market could not keep up with the influx, and many Irish immigrants wound up in the Five Points slum of Manhattan. The residents crammed into cheap housing built above a filled-in collection pond which had been polluted by commercial enterprises. Sickness and death followed. Street gangs flourished amid all the vices of desperation, and crime grew rampant.

When Bryanna married, she counted herself fortunate to leave the slum behind. Hardship dogged her, however. Her husband died, forcing her to go into service. She is unjustly accused as Cheyenne Sunrise opens. Bry’s trials continue, leaving her with a burning question. Why does God allow innocent people to suffer? Her search for an answer occupies her throughout the story and is finally satisfied.

I found it intriguing to contrast negative sentiment against the Irish with the prevailing attitude against Native Americans. Nick Laramie, the hero of the story, is the son of a Cheyenne woman and a French trapper who have both died. Nick struggles to survive despite the prejudice that plagues him. His feeling that he doesn’t fully belong to either of his parents’ worlds and his yearning to belong echo my father’s.

Nick takes on work as a trail guide for the wagon train carrying Bry to her brother’s ranch in Montana Territory to start a new life. They are attracted to one another, but neither wants a romance. After her disastrous marriage, Bry doesn’t need another man to break her spirit, and Nick has no intention of bringing a woman into the pain of his life. After dire circumstances throw them together, each must learn that true peace comes only from trusting in God.

More About Cheyenne Sunrise

Can a woman with no faith in men learn to trust the half-Cheyenne trail guide determined to protect her?

Young Irish widow Bry Brennan doesn’t want another husband to break her spirit. When she and her brother Con join a wagon train headed to Montana Territory, Bry ignores her fascination with Nick Laramie, the handsome trail guide.
Nick lives in an uneasy truce between the settlers and his mother’s tribe without fully fitting in among either. With no intention of dragging a woman into his troubles, he stifles his yearning for Bry.

The perilous journey throws the two together, leaving Bry no choice but to trust Nick with her life. Can she also trust him with her heart? Answering that riddle forces Bry to confront her unresolved questions about God’s love.
Based on actual historical events during a time of unrest in America, Cheyenne Sunrise explores faith, love, and courage in the wild west.

 * * * *

About Janalyn Voigt

Janalyn Voigt is a multi-genre, best-selling novelist who has books available in the western historical romance and epic fantasy genres. An inspirational, motivational, and practical speaker, Janalyn has presented at the Northwest Christian Writers’ Renewal Conference and Inland Northwest Christian Writers Conference. She has also spoken for local writing groups, book events, and libraries. Janalyn is represented by Wordserve Literary and holds memberships in ACFW and Northwest Christian Writers Association. For more information, go to: Janalyn Voigt.

I’m celebrating the launch of Cheyenne Sunrise with a giveaway drawing for winner’s choice of a Kindle Fire, Celtic and Cheyenne flute music CDs, or a $30 gift card. Click on the image below to enter.

Charlene Raddon: Games of Chance in the 19th Century

We’re very happy to have multi-published author Charlene Raddon come to visit. Writing is in her blood and she pens some mighty good stories. Authors, if you’re in need of a cover, check out her Silver Sage link at the bottom. Please make her welcome.

Since the heroine in my latest book, Divine Gamble, dealt faro for a living, I had to do a good deal of research on 19th Century games of chance.

Thanks to TV and old western movies, most people (like me) believed poker to be THE game of the times. Instead, it was faro. An honest faro game is as close as you can get to an “even money” game, meaning your odds of winning are nearly the same as for the house. Before the end of the century, however, card sharks figured out how to cheat even at faro.

Faro (for Pharoah, from an old French playing card design) was played with a standard pack of 52 cards. First played in France and England, faro became particularly popular in the U.S. In the movie Tombstone (1993) Wyatt Earp (Kurt Russell) plays faro, but the game wasn’t depicted entirely accurate. In Wyatt Earp (1994) Wyatt (Kevin Costner) and his brothers deal faro using the right layout, but still do not play 100% correctly.

The term “bucking the tiger” is said to have come from early card backs that featured a drawing of a Bengal tiger. “Twisting the tiger’s tail” is another euphemism for playing faro. Many gambling parlors were often referred to as “tiger alley” or “tiger town.” Brag, another popular saloon game of the time, which later evolved into 5-card draw poker or “Draw”.

Draw, also called “bluff poker” or “bluff,” was a rarity on the frontier until the late 1870s.

One person was designated the “banker” and an indeterminate number of players could be admitted. The faro table was typically oval, covered with green baize, and had a cutout for the banker. A board was placed on top of the table with one suit of cards (traditionally the suit of spades) pasted to it in numerical order, representing a standardized betting “layout”. Each player laid his stake on one of the 13 cards on the layout. Players could place multiple bets and could bet on multiple cards simultaneously by placing their bet between cards or on specific card edges. Players also had the choice of betting on the “high card” bar located at the top of the layout.

A deck of cards was shuffled and placed inside a “dealing box”, a mechanical device also known as a “shoe“, which was used to prevent manipulations of the draw by the banker and intended to assure players of a fair game.

The first card in the dealing box was called the “soda” and was “burned off”, leaving 51 cards in play. The dealer then drew two cards: the first was called the “banker’s card” and was placed on the right side of the dealing box. The next card after the banker’s card was called the carte anglaise (English card) or simply the “player’s card”, and it was placed on the left of the shoe.

The banker’s card was the “losing card”; regardless of its suit, all bets placed on the layout’s card that had the same denomination as the banker’s card were lost by the players and won by the bank. The player’s card was the “winning card”. All bets placed on the card that had that denomination were returned to the players with a 1 to 1 (even money) payout by the bank (e.g., a dollar bet won a dollar). A “high card” bet won if the player’s card had a higher value than the banker’s card. The dealer settled all bets after each two cards drawn. This allowed players to bet before drawing the next two cards. Bets that neither won nor lost remained on the table, and could be picked up or changed by the player prior to the next draw.

A player could reverse the intent of his bet by placing a hexagonal (6-sided) token called a “copper” on it. Some histories said a penny was sometimes used in place of a copper. This was known as “coppering” the bet, and reversed the meaning of the win/loss piles for that bet.

When only three cards remained in the dealing box, the dealer would “call the turn”, which was a special type of bet that occurred at the end of each round. The object now was to predict the exact order that the 3 remaining cards, Bankers, Players, and the final card called the Hock, would be drawn. The player’s odds here were 5 to 1, while a successful bet paid off at 4 to 1 (or 1 to 1 if there were a pair among the three, known as a “cat-hop”). This provided one of the dealer’s few advantages in faro. If it happened that the three remaining cards were all the same, there would be no final bet, as the outcome was not in question.

A device, called a “casekeep” was employed to assist the players and prevent dealer cheating by counting cards. The casekeep resembled an abacus, with one spindle for each card denomination, with four counters on each spindle. As a card was played, either winning or losing, one of four counters would be moved to indicate that a card of that denomination had been played. This allowed players to plan their bets by keeping track of what cards remained available in the dealing box. The operator of the casekeep, such as the heroine in my book Divine Gamble, is called the “casekeeper”, or colloquially in the American West, the “coffin driver”.

Certain advantages were reserved to the banker: if he drew a doublet, that is, two equal cards, he won half of the stakes upon the card which equaled the doublet. In a fair game, this provided the only “house edge”. If the banker drew the last card of the pack, he was exempt from doubling the stakes deposited on that card. These and the advantage from the odds on the turn bet provided a slight financial advantage to the dealer or house.

Other popular games of chance in wild west saloons were “Beat the Dealer” or “High Dice”, a quick and simple game. This was often played right on the bar with the barkeep as the dealer.

Chuck-a-Luck

Then there was “Under and Over” (or “High/Low” or “Hi & Lo” or “Lucky Number 7”), a popular party game for three to six players played with a dice tray and 2 dice in a shaker cup.

“Chuck-a-Luck”, aka “Sweat”, Sweat Cloth”, “Birdcage”, “Chucker Luck”, “Chuck” or “Big Six” is an old game originating in England. This was played with a dice cup and 3 dice. Because of cheating, the use of a heavy welded metal birdcage device became the standard for the game.

Grand Hazard (not to be confused with Hazard) was a more advanced for of Chuck-a-Luck, with a more sophisticated layout allowing for the simple 1 through 6 “chuck bets”.

Hazard was played with two dice and was the ancestor of the modern dice game, craps.

Monte Bank was a popular card game of the early 19th Century, particularly in the Southwest and mining camps in Northern California.

 

In Divine Gamble, a mistake made long ago has put Maisy Macoubrie in a killer’s crosshairs. Her only hope is to run. Yet, her chances are slim of surviving alone.

The Preacher, a bounty hunter known for bringing men in alive, finds his own face on a wanted poster—dead or alive—for a crime he didn’t commit. He knows who the real killer is, but trying to prove it could be the last thing he ever does.

United in battle against a common enemy, can Maisy and The Preacher find love and solace in each other? Can they win the biggest gamble of their lives?

 

Are you a gambler? Have you ever visited a casino? Or have you read a book where they did? Charlene is giving away one digital copy of Divine Gamble to one commenter.

 

Charlene Raddon is an award-winning author of western historical romance novels and a book cover artist. Originally published by Kensington Books, she is now an Indie author. You can find her at:

http://charleneraddon.com

http://silversagebookcovers.com

Buy link for Divine Gamble: http://a.co/2pfqPru

Book Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ddx1B1JMKiE

Carolyn Brown and the Luckiest Cowboy of All

Hello to everyone at Petticoats and Pistols! Thank you so much for inviting me to stop by to talk about my new book, Luckiest Cowboy of All, coming out next Tuesday.

 

This book has gotten rave reviews at both Publisher’s Weekly and RT Reviews and from my amazing readers on Goodreads. To say I’m excited about it would be an understatement.

The Luckiest Cowboy of All is the third and final book in the Happy, Texas trilogy, following Toughest Cowboy in Texas and Long, Tall Cowboy Christmas.  Although it’s part of a series, it’s a stand alone book that can be read without reading the first two.

AND—I love that word because it means there’s more to come—this is a two-for-one book. After you read Luckiest Cowboy of All, you are only half finished with the book. My good friend, Sara Richardson’s book Hometown Cowboy, is included. It’s Jessa Mae and Lance Cortez’s story. She’s a small town veterinarian and he’s a big-time rodeo star.

 

Voices in my head….

Jace Dawson has waited patiently for his turn to tell me his story, and I loved having him sitting behind me in the recliner telling me all about his life while I wrote it. I have a plaque on the wall of my office that reads: I know the voices in my head are not real but they have really great ideas.

That saying became very real during the time I was privileged to spend with Jace. He’d fallen in love with Carlene back when they were in high school and had even entertained notions that someday they might be together forever. But after graduation her father got transferred and she went with him. She’d promised to keep in touch but she hadn’t and her old aunt, who still lived in Happy, wouldn’t give him a bit of information.

Now it’s almost a decade later and Carlene has taken a teaching job back in Happy at the elementary school. One look at her daughter and Jace knows immediately that the child is his and he’s pretty angry that Carlene didn’t even tell him that she was pregnant.

 

Secret Baby/Second Chance 

The secret baby/second chance trope has been done so often that I knew when I started writing this story; it had to touch my readers emotions to keep their attention. I hope I’ve done that and that they travel with Jace through his battle with giving up his bachelorhood and doing what his heart is telling him. And that they experience Carlene’s reluctance in listening to her heart—when she fears that Jace is only doing “the right thing” in wanting a relationship with her. How could he love her after she deceived him?

 

                    Secondary Story Threads

There’s a secondary story thread that began in Toughest Cowboy in Texas and continued through Long, Tall Cowboy Christmas. It’s about the Dawsons’ grandmother, Hope, and a past love from her youth. It wraps up in Jace and Carlene’s story as this trilogy comes to an end.

I hope that when you finish Sara and my stories that you sigh and wish for more! If so, don’t put your reading glasses away and keep your cowboy boots close by because there are more cowboys on the way. Cowboy Bold debuts the first book in the Longhorn Canyon series in May. Cowboy Honor, the second book, will arrive in September and then Cowboy Brave will finish the series in January of 2019.

 

GIVEAWAY!

I’ll give away a signed copy of Luckiest Cowboy in Texas to one person who comments on today’s post. Tell me, what makes you go from merely taking a look at a book to putting it in your cart to take home? Cover? Back blurb? Those first few sentences on page one?

 

Carolyn Brown is a New York Times, USA Today, and Wall Street Journal bestselling author and a RITA finalist. The author of more than eighty published books, she’s also the three-time recipient of the National Reader’s Choice Award, a Bookseller’s Best Award, and a Montlake Diamond Award. Carolyn and her husband live in the small town of Davis, Oklahoma, where everyone knows everyone else, as well as what they’re doing and when—and they read the local newspaper on Wednesday to see who got caught. They have three grown children and enough grandchildren to keep them young. When she’s not writing, Carolyn likes to sit in her gorgeous backyard with her two tomcats, Chester Fat Boy and Boots Randolph Terminator Outlaw, and watch them protect the yard from all kinds of wicked varmints like crickets, locusts, and spiders. Visit her at http://www.carolynbrownbooks.com.

 

A Cowboy Will Soon Come to Call!

Sometimes events in my life inspire a story. That was certainly true with Knight on the Texas Plains and my little playmate who’d been won in a poker game. And now again with THE COWBOY WHO CAME CALLING (Book #2 Texas Heroes series.)

When I wrote this story in 2002, I was locked in a battle to keep my eyesight. I’d been diagnosed with MS and the disease was determined to steal my vision no matter what doctors did. Each day found a drop in the things I could see. Then, I woke one morning unable to see anything but shapes and shadows. My neurologist put me in the hospital, gave me bags of steroids, and was able to bring much of it back. Although I still struggle with eyesight, I can do almost everything I want today.

In The Cowboy Who Came Calling, Glory Day is slowly going blind and this terrifies her. She’s the sole support of her younger sisters and her mother. If she doesn’t hunt, they don’t eat. To make matters worse, the bank is trying to take their farm.

On the trail of a wanted outlaw, Glory shoots former Texas Ranger Luke McClain then has to take him home with her and fix him up. She desperately needs the reward money to pay the bank and try to get her father out of prison before she loses all her vision. Luke desperately needs the outlaw as well in order to clear his name and get his job with the Texas Rangers back. But the outlaw Mad Dog Perkins slips away.

As Luke recuperates in the Day household, he sees all the things in bad need of repair and begins to make himself useful as soon as he’s able. Glory sees his help as pity and it gets under her skin so she starts calling him Mr. Fixer. But her deep irritation comes from attraction to him. He won’t want a blind wife.

The Cowboy Who Came Calling is in the vein of Little Women and Glory reminds me so much of Jo March. She’s embodied with such courage and strength. The book is a reissue and releases Feb. 6.

I have a Goodreads Giveaway going until release day. Here’s the link: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/35023957-the-cowboy-who-came-calling

(You have to have a Goodreads account or the giveaway won’t show.)

More News!!

The e-book version of Knight on the Texas Plains (Book #1 of this Texas Heroes series) is on sale for $1.99 until Monday, January 22nd on all outlets. Click HERE for the Amazon link.

Book #3 Texas Heroes — To Catch a Texas Star — releases July 2018.

My question:

Can you tell by maybe added depth when a story is inspired by an event in a writer’s life? Do you enjoy stories a little better when you know they came from an author’s life?

Two people who comment will win a copy of my handy-dandy 2018 calendar.

 

Texas Rebels Series Grand Finale

By Linda Warren

I’m always happy to post at Petticoats and Pistols. I grew up on a farm/ranch in rural Texas so I love everything Western. Thank you for the invite.

In December the last book of the Texas Rebels series will be released. Texas Rebels: Elias. I’m excited to finish the series. I thought I would share how I came to write seven books about seven brothers. My husband and I watched the TV miniseries the Hatfield’s and McCoy’s. I told my husband I would like to write something like that, but more modern day and not so dark and violent. I guess the idea was in my head because that night I dreamed about two feuding ranching families in Texas. When I woke up the next morning, I had these two families, their names and exactly what had happened to keep them feuding for years.

The Rebels and McCray’s were fighting over a fence line and water rights. The McCrays said if a Rebel stepped over the fence line to McCray land they would be shot. One day two of the younger Rebel boys jumped the fence on a horse and Ezra McCray shot them. John Rebel rushed toward the blast to find his two sons lying on the ground. Ezra was on a horse with a rifle in his hand. He raised the rifle to shoot John, but John fired first, killing Ezra McCray. This scene was very vivid. Then there was John and Kate, his wife, talking to five other kids, telling them what had happened and they had to take their two little brothers to the hospital. Kate called each of them by name. I quickly went to my office and wrote down the names and events before they faded from my mind. Seven brothers and I had all their names. That was a true gift. Here’s where I hen-scratched them down. No one can read this, but me.

After breakfast, I went to work on what I had. I jotted more notes and then study the names of the brothers. Did I want to write about seven brothers? Would my editor buy a series about seven brothers? Oh, what the heck, I went with it. I could do nothing less with all the scenes in my head. The rest of the day I thought about these two families and how I wanted to write them. It took a long time and several headaches to pull it all together.

Two things had to happen before the stories would work. First, the feud would escalate because of the shooting. Second, John Rebel would pass away. The books would be about how his grown sons would deal with life after his passing. Then I gave each brother a characteristic that would define him and help me write his story. Falcon was the oldest, so he was the strong, responsible one taking over as head of the family, with his mother. Quincy was the peacemaker, trying to keep peace among the brothers. Egan was the loner. Elias the fighter. Jude the quiet one, as he was one of the kids who’d been shot. Paxton was a bull rider and a ladies man. The youngest was Phoenix, the fun-loving jokester. Now I had something to work with.

I did an overview of the stories that would change with each book. All the brothers would work the large Rebel Ranch, but the McCrays would always be there, making life hard. With each book that would slightly change as the McCray women start to notice the Rebel men as someone other than their enemy.

Elias’s story is the last book in the series. He said he was never getting married. He liked his freedom. When Maribel McCray returns to Horseshoe, Texas she shakes up his world. She has a seventeen-year-old son and says that Elias is the father. Kate Rebel insists that Elias is not. Elias and his mother argue and he leaves the ranch he loves. This tears the family apart. The last scenes were hard to write. I won’t tell you what happens because it would spoil the book. But I enjoyed writing Elias and finding his softer side. And finding a way for the families to live in peace.

Now you’ve had a glimpse into the weird workings of an author’s mind. The books are done. Time for cheering. It’s hard to believe they all started with a dream.

I’m giving away an ebook of Texas Rebels: Elias and a Horseshoe Christmas ornament (the stories are set in Horseshoe, Texas.)

Question: Have you had any vivid dreams that stayed with you for a long time? Leave a comment to get your name in a drawing for an ebook copy of Elias and a horseshoe ornament.

Thanks again and Happy Holidays, everyone!

 

Elias’s book: http://tinyurl.com/yan96drf

My website: http://www.lindawarren.net/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/authorlindawarren

 Texas Rebels: Elias

First Love, Second Chance

Maribel McCray knew moving back to Horseshoe, Texas, would mean facing Elias Rebel, the cowboy she was forbidden to love in high school. She just didn’t expect it to happen so soon. With her teenage son, Chase, in trouble, she needs Elias’s help. He may be a Rebel, sworn enemy of every McCray, but he’s also Chase’s father.

For the lone bachelor of the Rebel clan, there’s only one way to make up for lost years with his son—become a family for real. But Maribel’s distance runs deeper than the Rebel-McCray feud. Elias won’t settle for a marriage of convenience with the woman he’s falling for again. How can he convince Maribel some second chances are worth taking?

There’s a New Outlaw in Texas

I’m so happy, happy to FINALLY share TO MARRY A TEXAS OUTLAW with you! This release will make me twenty published books and short stories. Whew! I can’t believe it.

It seemed this third book of Men of Legend, the story you’ve all waited so patiently for, would never come. (A watched pot never boils.) I think you might find it well worth the wait. At least I’m hoping that’s the case.

At last, Luke Weston has the location for the man who pinned a federal judges’ murder on him. He’s searched for Ned Sweeney for two long years and finally has his location. He only has a one-hour window before Sweeney goes underground again. He’s riding to Dead Horse Creek when he sees a woman bound and gagged underneath a scrawny tree and covered in blood. He’s torn about what to do but his honor won’t let him ride on.

The woman doesn’t know her name, where she belongs, or how she got there. But she’s mad enough to whip someone.

Deliverance Canyon is close by. He decides to take her there to Tally Shannon and the other woman hiding out.

I often think of how scary it would be to wake up and not know who I was or where I lived. You would have no starting point or nothing to relate anything to. I can’t imagine. But Josie somehow keeps her sense of humor and stays optimistic for the most part. She trusts the outlaw Luke Legend and feels safe with him.

As pieces of her life slowly start to emerge, she falls deeper in love with Luke. It’s at that point she begins to pray she never finds out who she is because she senses it will change things between them. Something tells her that her past is riddled with bad people and she’s found contentment with Luke and hates the thought of that ending.

Despite the seriousness of her situation, she is so funny and sweet and I love that. I think you will too. But that doesn’t mean she’ll be a doormat for anyone. She’s quite a fighter.

I think that’s what Luke likes most about her. She takes whatever life throws at her and finds a silver lining.

This story is full of twists and turns and Luke will steal your heart—all over again. Will he clear his name and get to claim the Legend name? So many forces are working against him. And Josie too. You’ll just have to see. All I can say is you’d better hold on tight.

Many secrets are revealed, and love claimed. By the end of the book, Luke and the Legend family will forever remain etched in your memory.

In Texas some legends are born, some are made

…and some are created by destiny.

In this story, the legend is that whoever sleeps beneath the Texas star will find his true worth. Luke does that in this story and gets the affirmation he seeks.

Do you know of any legends? Maybe you’ve read about some in other books. Or maybe a book about amnesia. Leave some kind of comment to be entered in my giveaway for one of three copies of the book.

Past, Present and Future

They say time flies when you’re having fun. That must be why it seemed unbelievable that last Thursday I celebrated the 10th anniversary of when I got the call from Harlequin that I’d sold my first books to them. While the first couple of books that published with Harlequin American Romance weren’t westerns, the third, Elly: Cowgirl Bride, was as part of the six-book, six-author continuity series called The Codys: The First Family of Rodeo. This series was set in northern Wyoming, a beautiful area east of Yellowstone National Park that I visited a number of years ago while on a trip out West to visit my sister.

Soon thereafter I wrote the first book set in my fictional Hill Country town of Blue Falls, Texas. At the time, I thought The Cowboy’s Secret Son was just the first of a planned trilogy about three ranching brothers that was tagged with the name The Teagues of Texas. I had no idea that I would continue to write Blue Falls stories for years and that the series would, after that initial trilogy, have a its own series name named after the town. Thus far, there have been 15 full-length novels, one e-novella and one Harlequin online read set in Blue Falls, Texas. Two more are in the pipeline. In fact, I just finished writing the first draft of the last contracted book last night (Sunday).

Yellowstone River flowing through the Paradise Valley.

As you might have heard, Harlequin is closing the Western line next June. That put me and a number of other authors at a crossroads, trying to decide what step was next in our careers. I’m happy to report that I recently signed a contract for three western romances with Tule Publishing. I’ll be able to return to the Yellowstone area again, this time to the beautiful Paradise Valley north of the park in Montana. This area sits between the Gallatin and Absaroka Mountains, and the Yellowstone River runs through the middle of the valley. This stretch of Big Sky Country is home to ranches, fly-fishing outfitters, hot springs resorts and trophy homes. Such visually stunning films as A River Runs Through It and The Horse Whisperer had scenes filmed here. I’m going to be writing about three brothers once again. This time their family not only has a large ranch but also a hot springs resort. I’m excited to dive into writing the first story soon, creating a new cast of characters and a new small town for readers to love.

Updated: October 29, 2017 — 8:07 pm

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.)

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