Tag: excerpt

Jeannie Watt – Catch Me, Cowboy Excerpt and Give Away

Jeannie Watt 2Hello and Happy Wednesday! Today I’m in Florida, attending a writing conference and hanging out with my fellow authors. My husband is home packing the house for our move to Montana, which earns him a Great Guy Award.

Today I’m posting an excerpt from Catch Me Cowboy — Book 1 of Tule Publishing’s 78th Copper Mountain Rodeo series. For a chance to win a digital copy, leave a comment telling me your favorite thing about western romances. My favorite thing is the challenges rural people face in the course of their everyday lives and how they overcome.

CATCH ME, COWBOY

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Shelby O’Connor heard gravel crunch under tires on the opposite side of the barn, but didn’t take her eyes off the horse circling her in the round pen. If she broke focus, so would the young gelding, and now that she’d made a small amount of headway in the respect department, she wasn’t stopping. She gently slapped the coils of rope she held against her thigh and waved a hand to urge the horse to trot faster. A truck door slammed and boots hit the ground.

Please be UPS.

If it wasn’t, she could handle it.

The round pen was set up behind the barn, to keep the horses from being distracted while Shelby worked them, but unfortunately that also kept her from seeing who’d just driven in to the Forty-Six Ranch. Just because she’d gotten a couple of heads up texts early that morning informing her Ty Harding was back in town, it didn’t mean he’d come to see her. Why would he? She’d made her feelings clear as glass when he’d left four years ago. Shelby raised her hand and the gelding flicked an ear and shot a look at her out of one eye as he trotted around the perimeter of the pen, a sign he was starting to focus on her instead of escape. Finally.

She slowly walked up to the horse, extending a hand and waiting until the horse bumped it with his nose. “You did good.”

She rubbed the gelding’s forehead before snapping the lead rope onto the halter and starting toward the gate, her heart thumping just a little harder as she crossed the sandy pen. Moment of reckoning. Who is our mystery guest today? Package delivery guy? Some lost soul looking for the nearly invisible turn-off to the River Road?

Or… Ty.

Her heart slammed against her ribs at the sight of the man who’d once been her whole world, leaning against his truck, the late morning sun behind him, looking every inch the cowboy he was. Dark hair escaped from beneath his Resistol and, even though the brim shaded his face, she could see his features were harder, more sculpted than before. Four years had changed him, but it had not dulled her reaction to him. Part of her wanted to rush into his arms, as she would have done before he’d so easily abandoned her, and another part wanted to smack him. Hard. Fortunately for both of them, the sane part of her prevailed, although it was a battle, and she kept her expression carefully distant as she crossed the drive.

“Shelby.”

“You’re back.”

She spoke on a flat note, as if her heart wasn’t beating a mile a minute— which it shouldn’t be. They’d tried to make a go of it once. Failed. If he was back to make nice so they could live together in the same community…fine. She wasn’t looking forward to it, but, hey…free country and all that.

“I am.” He shifted his weight, hooking a thumb in his belt, a sure sign he wasn’t as certain of himself as he appeared. But even when Ty wasn’t sure of himself, he was a formidable opponent. She knew from the confrontations they’d had when he’d asked her to come with him on the road. As if she could just leave grad school, her grandfather, and go. Right. It would have been easier for him to give up saddle bronc, or to ride only in the Montana Circuit instead of chasing the big titles. But no.

“And…?” Again she tried to sound polite, yet distant, as if he were an acquaintance who’d stopped by for an unknown reason. As if he hadn’t knocked her heart around, but good. He shrugged, those gray-blue eyes of his holding her, causing her to lift her chin as she came closer. Ty was tall for a bronc rider. Long and lean. Cowboy tough. And that had been the problem. He was cowboy tough and cowboy stubborn.

The gelding took a couple sideways steps when she came to a stop and Shelby automatically adjusted the lead, bringing the horse back to where he was supposed to be, standing with his head at her shoulder. She brought her attention back to the man in front of her… the man who wasn’t exactly bursting with explanations.

“Why are you here, Ty?”

“I’m back in Marietta for a while. I wanted to see you.” Direct. To the point. As Ty always was—when he talked about stuff. Good, because she was in no mood for polite games. She wanted him gone before her grandfather realized he was there.

“I see.”

“We have unfinished business, Shelby.”

The laugh burst out of her lips before she could stop it, startling the horse, who danced a few steps before stilling. “The business between us is long finished.”

Good luck! I’ll post the winner on Saturday, September 24th. Stay tuned.

Good To Be Home, Even If I Can’t Charge My Phone

Our houseHey everyone and happy Wednesday! When I got back from the Romance Writers of America National conference one week ago today, I was greeted by a house with no electricity or water, and a slightly stressed out husband. He also had to replace the refrigerator while I was gone. I was kind of getting afraid to answer the phone while I was in San Diego.

I had a book due shortly after returning home, but with no electricity, finishing it proved to be a problem. Fortunately, I had a neighbor whose power sources were still running, so I’d meet him at the end of my driveway on his way home from work, hand off my laptop, he would take it home and charge it and then we’d meet at the end of the driveway when he headed back to work the next morning. I was so glad to have a fifteen hour battery.

Life off the grid can be a challenge, but my power source is up and running again, and I’m writing away. To celebrate, I’m posting an excerpt from my September Harlequin Western Romance (formerly Harlequin American Romance), The Bull Rider’s Homecoming.

My bull rider hero is babysitting the heroine’s twin daughters during an emergency. He’s never been around kids and is learning the ropes as he goes. I hope you enjoy.

“Now what?”

Well, he certainly couldn’t leave the macaroni cooking and go home. “What do you guys…girls…usually do while waiting for supper to cook?”

“We do our schoolwork.”

“Or watch TV.”

“Or play on the computer.”

Or play dolls.”

Katie’s face brightened. “Yeah. You can be the boy dolls!”

“I…”

But Kristen was already on her way out of the room, Katie close behind her. A moment later they came back carrying a box of dolls and small clothing.

Trace pushed the hair back from his forehead. This was foreign territory.

Katie set three fashion dolls in various states of dress on the table then looked up at Trace. “Who do you want to be?”

“Uh…where’s that guy doll you were talking about?”

Kristen dug into the bin and pulled out two identical boy dolls—one wearing striped pajamas and the other wearing jeans and a white shirt with an aluminum foil buckle on his small belt. “This is Tyler and this is Jess. They’re twins. Like us.”

Trace knew Tyler and Jess Hayward, the bull-riding twins. He wondered if they knew they had tiny doppelgangers.

“We don’t have many boy clothes,” Katie said.

“And they don’t fit in the girl jeans, so Tyler has to wear his pajamas.”

“Or his beach shorts.” Katie pulled out a pair of flowered swim trunks.

Trace picked up Tyler. “So, what’s my job?”

“We have to get the horses and then we play rodeo.”

Not what he’d been expecting.

“Uncle Grady got us a bull, too, so Tyler and Jess can ride the bull.”

“In his pajamas?” Trace asked.

“Well, he has to wear something,” Katie remarked in a grown-up tone as she headed out of the room. She reappeared a few minutes later with a crate of horses and sure enough, there was a Brahma bull in with the plastic model horses.

“I’ll get the cans,” Kristen said.

“Cans?”

“For barrel racing,” Katie said as if he was slow on the uptake.

And so Trace got down on the floor and played rodeo with the girls. Tyler did very well riding the bull, but Jess got tossed off and landed in the sink of soapy water with a big splash, much to the girls’ delight.

“Mom never lets us do that.”

“Mom…” He almost said “doesn’t need to know” before he realized that was not a very wise thing to say to two impressionable seven-year-olds. “Mom knows best,” he amended.

He got to his feet and fished Jess out of the sink and left him to dry on the drain rack before sitting back down again. Out of curiosity, he asked, “Do you guys ever play anything but rodeo?”

“Sometimes we play school and sometimes we play going-on-a-date, but mostly we play rodeo.”

“You can go on a date to a rodeo,” Kristen announced. “That’s where Uncle Grady and Lex went on their first date.”

“We went, too!” Katie added.

“That must have been some first date.”

“It was,” Kristen said, suddenly solemn. “Lex got scared and sad because her dad died at a rodeo, but Uncle Grady helped her get not afraid.”

“And now they’re getting married,” Katie interjected.

“We’re flower girls!”

The Bull Rider’s Homecoming is available for pre-order from Amazon. Thanks for stopping by!

Second Chance at Love

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What is it about reunion / second chance at love stories that make them a favorite? There are a few readers here who have mentioned knowing a boy in school, only to then be separated by circumstances, and then to come back together at a class reunion, a wedding, or a chance meeting years later. I’ve read of some couples in the newspaper where they reconnected after sixty years and a marriage in-between, tying the knot again at eighty years of age! I LOVE such stories!

What is their draw? Is it hope? Is it that love truly can conquer all? Or is it that we never forget our first love…and the rush of new emotions and experiences that made up that roller coaster of a time? The romantic in me say it is all these things.

My newest release (April 2016) is a story about second chances. It is a novella in the Western Spring Weddings Anthology ~ His Springtime Bride. I hope you enjoy the excerpt here…

His Springtime Bride 

Blurb ~

Released from prison, Gabe Coulter must work for his enemy to earn back the deed to his own ranch. But when his boss’s daughter, Riley Rawlins, returns home with a rebellious son after years away in the east, nothing will stop him from discovering the truth.

Riley no longer trusts the man she once loved so completely. Years of old hurts and his violent past make it impossible to forgive and allow him back in her life or that of her son.

But one thing Gabe has is pure cowboy grit. Will it be enough to make Riley see that she and his son should be a part of his future?

Western Spring Weddings

Excerpt ~  

The coach rounded a rocky bend in the road and the village of Nuevo came into view. If she remembered correctly, the station and pen with fresh horses stood on the south side of the dusty town. From his seat overhead the driver called out announcing the place. The stagecoach slowed and finally pulled to a stop in front of the change station.

The dirt yard was empty; however, a buckboard sat off under the shade of a juniper tree. Perhaps that was her ride. The caw of a Steller’s jay broke the silence of the afternoon. A lean, broad-shouldered man stepped through the station door and out into the sunlight. She recognized him and froze. Scuffed boots, brown canvas pants, a cotton shirt with rolled-up sleeves, a green bandanna at his neck and the darkest brown eyes Riley had ever seen under a tan felt hat. Gabe Coulter.

Her breath whooshed from her like a deflating balloon. What was he doing here? When had he been released from prison? She stared at him, captivated and at the same time annoyed that after all these years he had grown more handsome. His collar-length black hair framed a face chiseled and sharp with angles, his nose straight as always, his jaw firm and square. The only thing not hard on the man was his lips…and they looked exactly as she remembered…enticing and kissable.

Abruptly, she pulled away from the window, hoping that he would walk away and never know she was there. Her heart raced. He still packed quite a presence. She swallowed, angry with herself for feeling anything at all. No amount of time was sufficient to make her forget what he’d done. She would never forgive him.

The driver placed the box step and swung open the door. “All out! Nuevo!”

She didn’t move.

“Aren’t we going, Ma?” Brody watched her.

She took a steadying breath. Perhaps it was silly to be nervous about running into Gabe after all this time. Hadn’t she just been telling herself to leave the past in the past? This was a test of her resolve. That’s all. Nothing more.

She tugged down on the hem of her shirtwaist and then straightened her straw bonnet. Ready. She stepped through the doorway and onto the box the driver had set for disembarking passengers. The bright sunlight blinded her. She wobbled slightly, her legs unused to activity and stiff after riding for four hours.

A strong hand grasped her upper arm, steadying her. The grip hardened to steel. “Riley? Riley Rawlins?”

His voice was richer, deeper, than she remembered, and he sounded astonished. Careful to keep all of her colliding thoughts contained and squashed deep inside, she looked up and met his eyes. “Hello, Gabe,” she said with cool reserve.

Gigi Hadid: Actor inspiration for Riley Rawlins (Photo by Dave Lee)

Then she stepped down to the ground and promptly stumbled.

He grabbed hold with his other hand and steadied her. Both grips were tight bands on her upper arms. He stared at her with unveiled shock in his eyes. “You are the company that Rawlins is expecting?”

She stiffened. “I am.”

He let go immediately. “Then I guess I’m here to fetch you.”

Her pulse raced. Her entire body felt on edge, as though half of her wanted to bolt one way and the
other half run another. “You are working for my father now?”

“Started not too long ago.”

With their exchange of letters, her father had known for over a month that she was coming home and yet he had hired Gabe? It didn’t seem possible. Years ago when he discovered they were involved in something more than friendship, Father had been dead set against them being near each other. He also knew how upset she’d been when Gabe had deserted her. Was this his own brand of retribution he was forcing on her?

She squared her shoulders, resigned that this “new beginning” had taken a decided turn for the worst. “Very well.” It wasn’t the most gracious of responses, but at the moment it mirrored how she felt.

His eyes narrowed as he took a closer look at her.

It was as if he was reaching back through the years and trying to read what had happened to her since then…and perhaps wishing she would return to where she had come from. Heat mounted on her cheeks under his scrutiny.

“Ma.”

She startled at her son’s voice behind her and turned to him. “Brody, this is Mister Coulter…a ranch hand of your grandfather’s.”

Gabe’s brow raised at the last, just the slightest bit, but he turned and watched Brody disembark. If Brody’s size…nearly five feet six inches…surprised him, not a muscle moved on his handsome face. When her son lifted his sullen gaze, all Gabe did was thrust out his hand.

Her son hesitated but then grasped Gabe’s hand in a firm shake.

“Brody,” Gabe said, as if testing his name and committing it to memory. His shake slowed and he glanced at Riley with a question lighting his eyes. Then he let go. “I’ll get your bags transferred to the wagon.”

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Tom Welling: Actor inspiration for Gabe Coulter.

“I can do it,” Brody said, his voice challenging. He scrambled to the top of the coach and tossed down their traveling cases with enough force Riley worried they might break open. It didn’t seem to faze Gabe as he caught them. What was her son trying to prove? When he had climbed back down and Gabe had left them to carry two of the cases to the wagon, she took Brody aside. “What was that all about?”

“I don’t like the way he looked at us—at you.”

It wasn’t the first time her son had acted protective of her, but it had been a long time since he had even cared—more than year.

“I hope you are a bit friendlier upon meeting your grandfather.” She also hoped her father was a bit friendlier than Gabe had been. Then squaring her shoulders, she braced herself for the long ride to the ranch and followed her son to the buckboard.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Gabe’s entire body was shaking on the inside when he settled the luggage in the wagon bed. Riley was back—and with a son! Just the thought of her with another man made Gabe knot up inside, stupidly jealous of something that happened years ago. He hadn’t expected her to stay unhitched. She was too beautiful to stay single for long. He darted a look at her as she walked toward the wagon. Still slender, still with that long, wavy, honey-colored hair—although it was up in a knot under her hat. He’d never forgotten her eyes—gray-green with long dark lashes. They’d haunted him for as long as he could remember.

He helped her onto the wagon seat, irritated that his hands tingled when he let loose of her. Brody gave him a penetrating look before climbing up beside her. It wasn’t hard to decipher the stare. Gabe had felt possessive often enough with his own mother whenever Rawlins had come slinking around. The boy didn’t have a thing to worry about. As much as he had once loved Riley, he had learned his lesson there. He was just the hired help in her family’s opinion and nowhere near good enough for her.

His Springtime Bride/Western Spring Weddings Anthology   ©  2016  by Kathryn Albright
Permission to reproduce text granted by Harlequin Books S.A.

For more information about Western Spring Weddings or my other books,
please check my website ~  www.kathrynalbright.com

Now ~ I’ve admitted to my favorite kind of stories. I also love coming-of-age stories and the-underdog-wins stories. What about you? What type of story draws your interest over and over. If nothing strikes you ~ just name your favorite book from the past five years…( I always need new recommendations for great reads!)

Comment for a chance in my drawing! I’ll give away one copy of Western Spring Weddings (or another story from my backlist) to one lucky commenter. 

Excerpt of Love on the Mend

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Chocolate Ice CreamLast week, I took my kids to the local ice cream parlor since we had a BOGO coupon that was about to expire. (Can’t let free ice cream go unclaimed.) I decided not to get my own, but just to snitch bites from everyone else’s. Mama tax. LOL. Anyway, my middle child loves eating with the little sample spoons, so he always asks for a free sample before he decides on a flavor. This time they happened to have a new chocolate flavor that was extra rich. Chocolate Truffle. He wasn’t sure if he would like it better than the flavor he usually got, so he tried a taste. It was scrumptious! He immediately decided to get that flavor, and I must admit that my spoon wandered over to his dish more frequently than the others. It was fabulous!

I thought I’d offer you the same courtesy – a free sample to help you decide whether or not you will like my latest novella, Love on the Mend.

In this scene, Dr. Jacob Sadler (on his way back to hometown he ran away from 17 years before) stumbles across a young woman who is trying to rescue a boy who has fallen through the rotted floorboards of an abandoned church. When Jacob offers to help, Mollie insists that he man the rope and pull her up after she drops down into the cellar in order to get to the boy below. However, Jacob takes one look at the boy’s leg and knows that lifting and jostling the lad would be the worst thing for him. So he ignores Mollie’s demand to lower the rope and takes measures into his own hands.

Now only $1.99 for Kindle. Click on cover to purchase at Amazon.

Now only $1.99 for Kindle. Click on cover to purchase at Amazon.

From Love on the Mend:

“Boneheaded stranger,” Mollie grumbled under her breath when the man’s face finally disappeared from above her.

Not that I’m complaining, she mentally amended. I appreciate that you sent help, Lord. Truly. It just would have been nice if the fella weren’t so all-fired sure he knew best. Adam ain’t got the time to waste.

Mollie sighed and turned her attention back to her charge. Poor kid. He was only ten, too young to know the risks of playing in an old building. She was nearly twice that age. Full grown. Responsible. So why hadn’t she made the church off limits during their game of hide and seek? She’d known the place was run down. Should have guessed it’d been dangerous, too. But she hadn’t. All he’d done was drop down from the rafters after she’d discovered his hiding place. The floor had completely given way. She could still hear the crack of the wood ringing in her ears . . . and the crack of Adam’s leg before his scream drowned out all other sound.

She’d nearly panicked before she found that length of rope in the storage closet. She’d tied all her hopes on that rope and now that stubborn, know-it-all man wouldn’t even toss the end down.

“I’m going to get you out of here, Adam.” She smoothed the hair off his forehead, alarmed by how clammy his skin had become. “You’ll be all right. I promise.”

Please let him be all right.

Adam moaned, but made no effort to speak. Was he losing consciousness? Mollie’s heart thumped against her ribs. He had to be all right. He and Uncle Curtis were the closest thing she had to family. She’d never forgive herself if—

Bang!

Mollie jumped. What on earth? Had that been a gunshot? She swiveled to look behind her.

Something crashed. Then a shaft of light penetrated the darkness and illuminated the outline of a man climbing down the cellar stairs.

Her jaw slackened. The boneheaded fella had actually done it. He must’ve shot the lock clean off the chain.

He marched straight up to her and dropped a coil beside her hip. “Here’s your rope.” It hit the dirt with a thud. She expected a smirk or a gleam of gloating in his eyes, but he didn’t even look at her. His attention zeroed in on Adam instead. “I’ll need wood for a splint. All this is rotted,” he said, scowling at the debris scattered around them. “See what loose boards you can pilfer from upstairs. No nails.”

Well, of course, no nails. She wasn’t an idiot. Mollie pushed to her feet, a scowl scrunching her forehead. Just because he succeeded in breaking down the cellar door didn’t mean he could come in and start taking over. Adam was her responsibility, and she wasn’t about to let some stranger mess with his leg. She’d seen what could happen when a bone wasn’t properly set. On the streets in Galveston where she’d grown up, many of the beggars had been crippled by similar injuries that had healed poorly. She wouldn’t risk the same thing happening to Adam.

Fisting her fingers in her skirt, she planted herself in front of the stranger. “We should wait for the doctor to tend his leg.”

The man glared at her. “Lady, I am the doctor.” He raised his hand and jiggled a black bag. A doctor’s bag.

Criminy! The Lord had not only sent her a man who could help get them out of the cellar, but he’d sent her a doctor. An honest-to-goodness doctor. One who wasn’t ancient like Dr. Bradshaw but young and strong and . . . downright handsome. She glanced away before he caught her staring. Really, a man’s eyes should not be that blue. Especially not when his hair was so dark. And here she’d been complaining.

“Hurry and fetch those boards,” he repeated as he hunkered down next to Adam, her looks obviously not distracting him in the slightest. “I’ll need your help setting the leg after I examine him.”

At least he didn’t expect her to stand around and wring her hands. That would save her from having to disabuse him of the notion later. After giving a quick nod to let him know she’d heard, Mollie turned and jogged toward the exit.

  • So what about you? Are you a try-it-before-you-buy-it type of person?
  • Ever discovered a new ice cream flavor or favorite treat after trying a free sample?

Here Come The Brides – Laughing On The Way To The Altar


More Love and Laughter From Margaret Brownley

The following is a short except from Dawn Comes Early.  Eleanor owns the Last Chance Ranch. Robert proposes to her yearly, but has never mentioned the word love.  This is a good thing—a very good thing.  Because even an old hand like Eleanor can’t protect her heart forever. 

Miss Margaret is giving away a copy of her book,

 so speak up or forever hold your peace

 (Your choice: print or eBook!)

 

 Excerpt 1 — Dawn Comes Early

            Robert picked out a clear sandy spot and knelt on one knee. He pulled off his hat and held it to his chest. Most men his age would be at least half bald but not him. His silver hair was just as full and lush as that of a much younger man.

            Eleanor gazed down at Robert. “Must you be so dramatic?”

            “It’s my proposal. I can be as dramatic as I please.”

            “Very well. If you insist.”

            He cleared his throat and his pale blue eyes held hers. “Will you, Eleanor Walker, do me the honor of becoming my wife?”

             Each year on her birthday he proposed marriage and each year she turned him down—and for good reason. Arizona Territory community property laws would make Robert half owner of her ranch. Her painful divorce taught her the folly of shared ownership and she had no intention of making the same mistake twice.

             “How long have we been doing this, Robert?”

            “Fourteen, fifteen years,” he said. “But like I’ve told you many times, I’m a patient man.”

            “I’m not sure that patient is the right word,” she said. “In any case, the answer is no.” No surprises, there.

            Her answer hung between them for several moments before he rose and brushed the sand off his trouser leg. “Same time, same place next year.”

            “Same answer.”

 www.margaretbrownley.com

 

And now from Phyliss Miranda . . .

Miss Phyliss is giving away a copy of Give Me a Texas Ranger, so be sure to leave a comment!

In my story, One Woman, One Ranger for our anthology, Give Me a Texas Ranger, I used factual events of Mickey and Frenchy McCormick and how they were forced into marriage. I took that tidbit of history and turned it around where my Texas Ranger, Hayden McGraw, is faced with a similar situation. As a matter of fact, McGraw’s character was developed from a real life crusty  ol’ Texas Ranger in the Texas Panhandle in the late 1800’s.   

Please note that I am using some quotes from the book, but also leaving parts out, so you won’t find every single word of these excerpts in the story.

Excerpt 2 ––  “One Woman, One Ranger” in Give Me A Texas Ranger

            Not only was he tired, hungry, and dirty, but technically, Hayden McGraw guessed he was still on suspension with the Texas Rangers. The last thing he needed was to become involved in the quarrel that seemed to be brewing in Buffalo Springs, Texas. It wasn’t any of his concern … yet.

            First Lieutenant McGraw finds a place to quench his thirst where he walks right into the middle of a room full of grumpy towns folks, including an old toad named Baldy, waiting on the Justice of the Peace to commence a meeting …

            “Where’s that dern justice of the peace anyways?” A boisterous voice boomed. “He called this meeting.”

            “Probably at Molly Lou’s showing off his new book of marriage licenses, trying to make the gamblers and dancehall girls see the error of their ways,” Mr. Baldy answered. “He says you’ve gotta get hitched if you’re livin’ without benefit of clergy–“

            “What in the heck is that supposed to mean?” A woman, not so lady like, spouted.

            “Means everybody in Newman County has gotta get legit. No marriage license, no beddin’.” Baldy’s eyes narrowed, brows knitted together. “I’m jest quotin’ the JP.”

            It doesn’t take long for McGraw to encounter the feisty, beautiful Patience Eleanor Stevenson, who has come to town to fight for the rights of the ladies who work in Molly Lou’s, her drinking establishment across the creek. She enters the saloon mad as a peeled rattler ….

            “Women have rights, and we’re nobody’s have to! We don’t have to do anything, just because a man tells us to do so.”  

            The bully of a sheriff takes umbrage at her attitude and threatens to arrest her if she doesn’t leave.  Unfortunately, Hayden can see how things are unraveling. The sheriff attempts to physically remove her, but comes up on the losing end of the stick … she punches him accidentally.

             Before Hayden can blink the sheriff tries to arrest her, but the towns folks would just as soon see her hanged.  Suddenly, the Texas Ranger is faced with …  A beautiful woman with a noose around her neck, no proof he is a Texas Ranger, and a pompous-ass of a sheriff with hangin’ on his mind. Ranger McGraw, being the senior law enforcer, tries to take custody of her….

             Sheriff Oldham smirked in a gottcha way. “And, I reckon you don’t even know her name.”

            Having a knack for remembering details to a flaw, McGraw says, “Patience Eleanor Stevenson.” He pushed his Stetson back with his thumb. “But, I call her Puddin’ Cake.” He turned to Ella, and said, “Don’t I, wife?”

            If looks could kill, Ella’s face would be on every Wanted Poster between the Canadian and the Rio Grande….

            “Miss Stevenson, uh Mrs. McGraw.” … “Uh, I’m Wilson Scott, Newman County JP. This won’t take long. Reckon we gotta get the formalities out of the way.” He opened a black ledger. “If you’ll both sign here, then all I’ll need is the fee and your union will be duly recorded as required by law.”  

            “Can’t this wait? The misses and I are tired and hungry. And, I want to clear up the matter of the Warrant.”

            “No, sir.“ The JP stood his ground.

            “Nope, Ranger. This needs tending to … now!” Sheriff Oldham interjected.

            “Gotcha fee right here.” Dixie (one of Ella’s employees) pulled a stringed bag from between her breasts and began counting out coins.

            Reluctantly, Hayden signs his name to the ledger.

            Ella folded her arms across her chest and tapped her foot, resisting the JP’s demands. As if it were Hayden’s fault, she furrowed her brow and sent him a go to blue blazes look which scathed all the way to his toes and back again.

            “It’s them or me.” Hayden nodded toward the Sheriff and Baldy, who now held the noose.

            Almost knocking the JP off the porch, she seized the ledger. In an exquisite script, Ella scrolled her name across the paper. She shared her frown with Dixie, as she handed over the fee.

            Dixie raised an eyebrow and shrugged her shoulders. “Should I let them hang you?”

            Ranger McGraw was weighing his druthers.

Here Come The Brides: Forced into Marriage!

Whether it’s by shotgun or another equally pressing reason, sometimes proposals and weddings don’t come at the right time  – even if they’re the right thing. Here are Donna Alward and Mary Connealy with glimpses into a few forced unions from their books!

From THE REBEL RANCHER (June 2012)

“I thought about it all night, Clara. Thought about you and the baby and Diamondback and I know what we have to do.”

She wasn’t sure she liked the sound of this. He seemed very sure of himself and considering she’d already explained her proposal this meant he wasn’t likely to go along with it. She tangled her fingers tighter together and replied, as evenly as she could, “I already told you what I’d like to do. This doesn’t have to change anything, not really. I can keep my life and you can keep yours, and we can work it out so that our baby has both a mother and a father. Right?”

Somehow in the twisting of her fingers, she managed to cross hers, hoping he would see reason.

Another step closer, and this time he was shaking his head. “That doesn’t work for me, Clara. I can’t be a father hundreds of  kilometers away.” He reached out and pried one of her hands loose, clasping it in his strong, warm fingers. “What makes the most sense is…”

He paused, then got down on one knee while her mouth fell open. No, no, no! This couldn’t be happening. He couldn’t possibly be proposing. It would ruin everything! She didn’t want to get married. Didn’t want to lose herself in another relationship where she wasn’t loved in return. Why couldn’t he just be reasonable?

She tried to slide her fingers out of his but his grip was too firm. Oh God, he was looking up at her with those heart-on-his-sleeve eyes and she couldn’t look away.

“I want you to marry me,” he said softly. “Come home to Diamondback, and we can raise our child together.”

Panic threaded its way through her body. “We don’t have to get married to be parents,” she answered, adding a nervous laugh to the end that fell completely flat. Ty’s brow furrowed and a wrinkle appeared just above his nose.

He got to his feet and Clara realized once more how very tall he was. Ty had such presence that he tended to fill a room with it without even trying. It was hard to go toe to toe with that. But the truth was Ty had mentioned absolutely nothing about love. He had asked her but for all the wrong reasons. And it would be a disaster to marry without it. They would end up resenting each other and then what sort of parents would they be?

She had to make him understand that somehow. “Ty,” she tried, praying for calm, “getting married would be a mistake. We’d end up regretting it, I’m sure of it. And then there’d be a child stuck in the middle. If we’re calm and practical now, it’ll be so much better, can’t you see? We’ll make rational decisions rather than running on emotion.”

“Of course there are emotions involved. We’re not talking about buying a car or taking a job. We’re talking about a baby here. My baby.”

“And mine,” she reminded him.

A muscle in his jaw ticked. This wasn’t going the way she wanted at all! It had never crossed her mind that he’d propose. He didn’t love her. She wasn’t a naïve little girl after all. She knew that one night of passion and grief did not a love affair make.

“You’re asking me to make an impossible choice, do you realize that?” He ran his hand through his hair. “I either have to try to be a father on special occasions and holidays, or…”

He dropped his hand. “Damn,” he muttered.

“Or what?” she asked, wondering what choice she’d possibly forced.

“Or leave Diamondback.”

Her lips dropped open. “You’d do that?”

The chocolatey eyes she’d drowned in earlier now hardened. “What choice would I have? You should know me better, especially after everything I told you.” His voice turned accusing. “You know my history. You know how I feel about what my parents did. Thank God Virgil and Molly were there, but what if they hadn’t been? Don’t you think I know how it might have ended up for me? Maybe this was unplanned, but I could never turn my back on my own child. I could never put them second in my life and I thought you understood that.”

And now she saw his eyes glisten with the barest sheen of moisture before he blinked and turned away from her.

“But you love Diamondback,” she said weakly.

“Yes, I do.” His voice was hoarse with emotion. And he didn’t need to say anything more. If she insisted on staying in  Saskatchewan, he would leave the ranch behind. His birthright. His family.

For a chance to win a copy of THE REBEL RANCHER, leave a comment!!!!!!!!!

 And now here’s Mary, with an excerpt from CALICO CANYON:

“I can’t be out here alone with you wearing a nightgown.” Grace clutched the blankets. “It’s not proper.”

Daniel’s fair skin turned an alarming shade of pink as he stared at her. “I’ll bet it wasn’t proper of us to sleep together either.”

“It most certainly was not.” The deep voice from behind hit them at the same instant the cold did.

They all turned to face Parson Roscoe.

The boys wheeled fully around. Daniel sat up. Grace clutched the blankets to her chest and looked into the startled eyes of the  kindly parson and, just behind him, his gentle-hearted wife, Isabelle.

“Parson, it’s not what it looks like,” Grace said.

“Oh, thank heavens,” Mrs. Roscoe said. “Because it looks like you and Daniel spent the night together in this cave.”

“Then it is exactly what it looks like,” John said into a silence more frozen than Grace had been last night.

“Well, yes,” Daniel said. “We did spend the night together, but…”

“Daniel,” Grace gasped in horror.

Daniel looked away from the parson, his skin now fully flaming red. “Well, we did. Do you want me to add lying to the parson in on top of having you in bed…I mean, sleeping together…I mean…” Daniel lapsed into silence.

“Pa brung her home to be our ma, but he tried her out for the night and he decided to return her,” Mark said.

Parson Roscoe stepped fully into the cave. “Both of you get up immediately.”

“In front of the children, Grace? I’m shocked.” Mrs. Roscoe came in and shut the door behind her. The plump woman clutched her hands together in front of her chest as if desperate to get away and spend an hour in prayer just to wash the shock out of her mind.

Grace climbed to her feet. She fumbled with the blankets, there were too many of them to hold. She tried to drop a few of them and managed to drop them all. She caught at them and almost fell forward trying to keep herself covered.

In a voice that seemed to promise eternal flames, Parson Roscoe said to Daniel, “We’ll get on with this and no one will have to know what exactly went on here last night.”

The parson gripped his big black Bible in both hands as if he needed to physically hang on to his faith in the face of this indignity. “Do you Daniel take this woman…”

Daniel was staring at her, his eyes so wide Grace would swear the man had seen a ghost, shook his head.

“I don’t even know how I got here.” Grace flung her arms wide, narrowly missing backhanding Daniel in the face.

“I do.” Daniel grabbed her hand to protect himself.

“About time.” The parson turned his fire and brimstone eyes on Grace.

“No, I didn’t mean…” Daniel dropped her hand like it had sprouted cactus bristles.

“Silence, Daniel.”

“Do you Grace take Daniel—?”

“We told you we aren’t keepin’ her for our ma.” Mark turned on Grace. “You want out of here as bad as we want you out of here, don’t you?”

Grace nodded frantically. “I do.”

“Hallelujah!” The parson raised his hands to heaven.

“I now pronounce you—”

Mrs. Roscoe threw herself, weeping into Grace’s arms, whispering ‘congratulations’.

The parson, whom Grace had always liked, and his wife who seemed like such a sweet-natured woman in the normal course of things, swept out of the cabin. The door slammed shut.

“But I need a ride back to town,” Grace called after them.

“You’re not getting a ride back to town, woman. You’re married!”

Daniel might as well have been a cougar trapped in this cave with her, she’d have felt no safer.

“I’m what?” Deafening silence followed her question.

“To who?” Mark shoved himself to the front of the pack of boys.

Grace looked at Daniel, and it hit her. She was the mother of five—including two ten-year-olds. And she was only seventeen. Grace sank onto the floor and pulled all six blankets over her head.

 Mary’s giving away signed copy of her SOPHIE’S DAUGHTERS trilogy! Just leave a comment to be entered for the draw!

Win A Copy of MARRYING THE MAJOR!

I got my author copies last week and can’t wait to start giving them away.  Just leave a comment and I’ll toss your name in the Stetson. Late tonight I’ll draw three names . . . Most of you know that Marrying the Major is Book #4 in the “Women of Swan’s Nest” series.  It’s about Caroline and Bessie, so it’s a two-for-one romance.  Here’s the back cover blurb:

 A Very Practical Proposal . . .

He hired a governess, but what retired officer Tristan Willoughby Smith needs is a wife. Not on his behalf, but to protect little Dora and Freddie. When Caroline Bradley arrives at his Wyoming ranch, she seems perfectly suited–capable, efficient, intelligent . . . if a trifle too appealing.

Caroline knows what a real union of hearts should be, and the major’s polite, no-nonsense offer hardly qualifies. Still, she accepts for the children’s sake, little knowing the complications the marriage will bring to test her confidence and her faith. Yet in this unusual match, Caroline starts to see a glimmer of something strong and true–the makings of the family she never thought she’d find . . .

Here’s an excerpt . . .

This is from the middle of Chapter Two, and it’s one of my favorite scenes. Tristan is ferrying Caroline across a river on the back of Cairo, his prize Arabian stallion. Caroline is terrified of horses. To reassure her, he’s just bragged that Cairo would never disobey him. But that’s exactly Cairo does. He balks in the middle of the river, and Caroline takes a fall…

The water went over Caroline’s head with whoosh. She couldn’t see or breathe. She could only feel the sudden cold and the current grabbing at her skirt. The stallion was bucking and stomping. If she didn’t get out of the river, she’d be pulled downstream or trampled. She tried to stand but stumbled because of the weight of her clothing.

“Get back!” the Major shouted.

He had his hands full with the unruly horse. She didn’t know why it had bucked, but the medical case was slapping against its side. She had a horrible vision of it coming loose. Major Smith would lose the quinine, and she’d lose her only picture of Charles. Bracing against the sandy bottom, she pushed to her feet. She wanted to run for the shore, but if the case tore lose she’d go after it.

Cairo reared back and whinnied. She half expected Major Smith to land in the river with her, but he moved gracefully with the horse, aligning his body with the stallion’s neck and back. Behind her she heard Jon sloshing toward them on Grandma. Being caught between two horses terrified her more than drowning, so she hoisted her skirts and ran downriver.

She stumbled a dozen steps, tripped on her hem and went down. Rocks pressed into her knees and she cried out. She kept her head above water, but her skirt was tangled around her legs. Seemingly out of nowhere, male hands gripped her arms and lifted her from the current.

“Caroline.” She heard the major’s voice, the accent thick as he set her on her feet. “It’s all right. I’ve got you.”

She felt the strength of his arms and the sureness of his stance. As he steadied her, she wiped her eyes with her sleeve and became aware of his body shielding her from the current. She had no business noticing him in a personal way. She was merely an employee, a woman who was afraid of horses and had fallen in the river.

She pulled back from his grasp and staggered away. “I’m all right.”

He splashed closer, reaching for her. “Let me walk you to the shore.”

“No!” She didn’t want to feel his arm around her waist. “Go take care of your horse.”

“Jon has Cairo.”

She looked past him to the shore where Jon and Grandma were leading Cairo up the sandy bank. The black horse had calmed, but he still looked on edge . . . much like the major. He stepped closer to her, his hand extended as if he were giving her a peppermint. “Come now,” he said with authority. “There’s nothing to be afraid of.”

“Oh yes, there is!” She was afraid of him, afraid of her feelings because she couldn’t help but like this man. With malaria symptoms, he had no business jumping into the river to help her. He should have taken his horse to shore and let Jon come to her rescue. Instead he’d risked getting a chill. Even more revealing was the compassion in his eyes. He looked both sincere and commanding, a man of courage who understood fear. She could imagine soldiers following him into battle, trusting him to lead them to victory.

She trusted him, too. But she didn’t trust her feelings. How many times had she felt this spark of interest in a man only to have it dashed?


Don’t forget to leave a comment to be eligible for the drawing!  To order now  from Amazon, click here:  Marrying the Major

Wyoming Lawman . . . Book Giveaway!

It’s been a long time coming, but Wyoming Lawman, the second book in “The Women of Swan’s Nest” series, will be released on Tuesday, October 12th.  Some of you will remember Pearl Oliver from The Maverick Preacher.  She gave birth to a son out of wedlock and had plans to move to Cheyenne. This is her story and it’s got vigilantes, a little girl who needs a mother, and a deputy sheriff with a secret. 

To celebrate the coming release, let’s do a drawing. And to make the drawing more fun, let’s each include our home state or country.  That’s optional, but I thought it would be cool is see how far P&P reaches.  Three copies are up for grabs, so here we go . . .

Wyoming Lawman . . .

Matrimony? Never again for deputy sheriff Matt Wiley. The only good thing from his first marriage is his daughter. His little girl might want a mother, but Matt knows that no woman should have to deal with his guilty secret, or his anger at God. He’ll do his duty, serve the town of Cheyenne and keep his distance.

Yet when courageous single mother Pearl Oliver comes to town, watching from the sidelines isn’t an option—especially when Pearl lands herself in danger. His heart, Pearl’s life and the safety of their town are all at risk. Only the love and faith he thought he’d left behind can help him win his way to happily ever after.

Here’s an excerpt from the middle of Chapter One. It’s the moment Matt and Pearl meet. 

             “Get back!” Pearl shouted at the mob.

            The crowd parted but not because of her. Every head had turned to a man shouting orders as he shoved men out of his way. As he shouldered past the cowboy who’d whistled, Pearl saw a broad-brimmed hat pulled low to hide his eyes, a clean-shaven jaw and a badge on a leather vest. She judged him to be six feet tall, lanky in build but muscular enough to command respect. He also had a pistol on his hip, a sure sign of authority. The city of Cheyenne, fighting both outlaws and vigilantes, had enacted a law prohibiting men from wearing guns inside the city limits. Foolishly Pearl had taken it as a sign of civility. Now she knew otherwise.

            When the deputy reached the street, his eyes went straight to Pearl. They flared with recognition and she thought of Sarah calling her mama. Just as quickly, his gaze narrowed to a scowl and she knew this man and his wife had parted with ugly words. Loathing snarled in his pale irises, but Pearl didn’t take his knee-jerk reaction personally. She had them all the time . . . to crowds and stuffy rooms, black carriages and the smell of a certain male cologne.

            The deputy’s gaze slid to Sarah and he strode forward. When he reached the child’s side, he dropped to one knee, muddying his trousers as he touched the back of her head. “Sarah, honey,” he said with a hush. “Look at me, darlin’”

            Pearl heard Texas in his voice . . . and love.

            The child peeked from the folds of her skirt. “I’m sorry, Daddy. I was bad.”

            “Are you hurt?”

            She shook her head, but her father wasn’t convinced. He ran his hand down the child’s back, looked at her muddy knees and inspected her elbows. Apart from the scare, Sarah and her doll were both fine. Pearl watched as he blew out a breath, then wiped the girl’s tears with his thumb. When Sarah turned to him, he cupped her chin. “You shouldn’t have left the store.”

            He’d put iron in his voice, but Pearl knew bravado when she heard it. He’d been scared to death.

            Sarah hid her face in Pearl’s skirt. “I know, Daddy. But I saw a puppy.”

            The man frowned. “Sarah–”

            “Then I saw her.” She raised her chin and stared at Pearl.

            Instinctively Pearl cupped the back of Sarah’s head. She’d been close to grown when her own mother died, but she missed her every day, even more since Toby’s birth. If she’d caught a glimpse of Virginia Oliver in a crowd, she’d have acted just like Sarah.

            The deputy pushed to his full height, giving her a closer look at his clean-shaven jaw. Most men in Cheyenne wore facial hair, but the deputy didn’t even sport a moustache. He had a straight nose, brown hair streaked with the sun and the greenest eyes she’d ever seen. If her life had been simpler, she’d have smiled at him, even flirted a bit. Instead she pulled her lips into an icy line. Until she secured the job at Miss Marlowe’s School, she didn’t want to speak with anyone.

            He took off his hat, a sign of respect that made her belly quake because she longed to feel worthy of it. The intensity in his eyes had the same effect but for different reasons. He frightened her.

            “I can’t thank you enough, Miss.” His drawl rolled like a river, slow and unstoppable. “I was in the store. I had an eye on her, and then . . .” He sealed his lips. “The next thing I knew, someone said a child was down in the street.”

            Pearl knew how he felt. Toby had suffered a bout of croup and she’d been worried to death. Her heart swelled with compassion, but she blocked it. “As you can see, your daughter’s fine. If you’ll excuse me–”

            “But I owe you.”

            “No, you don’t.” She tried to step back, but Sarah tightened her grip.

            The man skimmed her dress the way he’d inspected his daughter for injuries. “Your dress is ruined. I’ll buy you a new one.”

            “No!” She could only imagine what kind of talk that would cause.

            Instead of backing off, the lawman thrust out his hand. “Forgive my lack of manners. I’m Matt Wiley, Deputy Sheriff.”

            If she accepted the handshake, she’d have to give her name. She’d be trapped in a conversation she couldn’t have until she spoke with Carrie and the school board. The less she said to this man, the safer she’d be. She indicated her muddy glove. “I don’t want to dirty your hand. I have to go now.” Before he could argue, she pivoted and headed for the hotel.

            “Wait!”

            The cry came from Sarah. Every instinct told Pearl to hug the child goodbye, but she couldn’t risk a conversation with the girl’s father. Walking faster, she skirted a puddle and stepped on to the boardwalk. Thinking of Toby, her father and the new life she wanted for them all, she hurried to the hotel.

 

Hope you all enjoy the book! Be sure to leave a comment with your name and home state or country. Winners will be announced later tonight.

Day Five: Filly First Lines Extravaganza

Get ready, ladies!  Tonight the Filies will be announcin’ the winner of the $25 gift card to Barnes & Noble.  As the official counter of guesses, Miss Felicia can tell ya it’s a real horse race.  Take your best shots. Today’s prizes are…

 

Give Me a Texas Ranger from Phyliss Miranda

An e-copy of Hearts Crossing Ranch by Tanya Hanson

Doctor in Petticoats by Mary Connealy

A Lady Like Sarah by Margaret Brownley

An e-copy of A Night of Miracles by Cheryl Pierson

 

Filly #10

 

1. Whoever said hell was hot had lied.

2. Jaret Walker crested the last hill and hauled back on the reins.

3. Thunder hauled him from a restless sleep.

 

Filly #11

 

1. Zeb Garrison didn’t think much of church or preachers, but he had to give Reverend Preston credit for striking a chord that hadn’t stopped echoing since Sunday morning.

2.  If Adelaide Clarke had been asleep like a sensible woman, she wouldn’t have heard the thump on her front porch.

3. Cassiopeia O’Rourke had been named for a constellation, but Heaven couldn’t have been further away as she stepped inside the Guthrie Corners sheriff’s office.

That’s all, ladies!  The Fillies are gonna tally up all the guesses for the winner of the $25 Barnes & Noble gift card.  Looks to me like they’l have to take off their boots and use their fingers and their pretty toes!  Check back for the winners of today’s prizes and the biggest prize of all!

Updated: July 2, 2010 — 8:21 am

Congratulations to the Day Four Winners!

 Y’all sure know the Filly books! You guessed ‘em all, but no surprises there.  You ladies are good at this!   Filly #7 is none other than Miss Elizabeth Lane.  Those first lines are from The Borrowed Bride, His Substitute Bride and The Horseman’s Bride.

 Filly #8 made things nice and easy. Miss Tanya Hanson even had a title in her first lines. She wrote Marry Mattie, Hearts Crossing Ranch and  Marrying Minda.

 Filly #9 is none other than Miss Winnie Griggs. Her titles are Something More, Lady’s Choice and The Christmas Journey.

 

Let’s get to the prizes! 

 

Congratulations to catlady!  You won a glass beaded bookmark and a book to go with it from Miss Cheryl St.John. Give her a shout at SaintJohn@aol.com

Doctor in Petticoats by Mary Connealy goes to . . .  ReneeC!   Give Mary a holler at Mary@MaryConnealy.com

Another shout-out goes to Tabitha.  She won Give Me a Texas Ranger from Phyliss Miranda. Email Phyliss at PhylissMiranda@aol.com

A hard copy of Marrying Minda  by Tanya Hanson goes to Laurie G!  You can find Miss Tanya at TanHanson@aol.com

Hello, ellie!  You won the title of your choice from Winnie Griggs’ back list.  Email Winnie at winnie@winniegriggs.com

And one more prize . . . Miss Phyliss is giving away an extra copy of Give Me a Texas Ranger. It goes to JackieW.  Email Miss Phyliss at PhylissMiranda@aol.com

That’s it for today, ladies! Tomorrow’s our last day for Fabulous Filly First Lines. The Fillies will be tallying up the right answers and announcing the Friday winners and the winner of that Barnes & Noble gift card in the wee hours of Friday night.

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