Tag: historical western romance

WHAT IS IT ABOUT A HERO? by TRACY GARRETT

Dear Readers,

 

What is it about the heroes we write that keeps you coming back for more? Cowboys, ranchers, Texas Rangers, Sheriffs, Marshals…

Today we remember many, many real-life heroes who sacrificed so much to save so many lives. Sixteen years ago, I was enjoying my first cup of coffee when my phone rang with the news that a plane had flown into one of the towers of the World Trade Center in New York City. I didn’t believe it, at first. Remembering the events of that day still feel a bit surreal.

 

 

And the stories that came out in the days that followed of a friend who was running late for his meeting at the top of the Twin Towers and was climbing out of a cab as the first plane hit; of a friend’s daughter who missed her usual train because the baby was fussy and emerged into the aftermath; of another one’s son who, though he didn’t drink coffee, was so groggy that he decided to go to the commissary for a cup just before the plane plowed into his desk at the Pentagon.

 

The police & firefighters that rushed into the buildings, the passengers on American Airlines Flights 11 and 77 and United Airlines Flights 175 and 93–those were heroes. Dona eis requiem sempiternam!

 

 

Though I write fiction, when I create a leading man for my stories, I try to embody him with some of those traits that make him heroic. The willingness to do whatever it takes, the iron will, the honor to stick by what is right no matter the cost to himself. And the humanity to learn to love that one special person.

 

 

 

Cain “Wolf” Richards of WILD TEXAS HEARTS is my latest HERO. He first showed up in my debut novel, TEXAS GOLD (aka Touch of Texas), riding with a notorious gang of outlaws. He had good reason to be on the wrong side of the law and he tried to minimize the damage the outlaws inflicted. But, when given the opportunity, he came down on the side of right, saved Ranger Jake McCain–and himself.

 

 

 

A broken man…

Revenge has driven Wolf Richards since the brutal murders of his wife and young daughter. Returning home with his son, Cal, he faces memories and loss at every turn. Raising Cal alone seems to be more of a challenge than he can handle. He can never replace his perfect Emily—until a rough-edged female falls into his arms—and living becomes a new adventure.

An unlikely woman…

Lizzie Sutter is as rough as a cowboy and as compelling as a stormy sky. Dressing as a man allows her to hire on with a cattle drive, only to be discovered and set adrift near Civil, Texas. When she stumbles onto an abandoned cabin, she makes herself at home. Then the owner of her newfound home shows up and Lizzie discovers just what’s missing from her life—and her heart.

Two wild hearts tamed…

Lizzie hasn’t a feminine thing about her, yet she calls to something deep inside Wolf, something he can’t deny.  Being a woman has always left her feeling lacking, until he shows her their WILD TEXAS HEARTS belong together…

 

Readers, what is it about a hero that draws you in, that makes you fall in love? Leave a comment and I’ll choose one of you to win an e copy of WILD TEXAS HEARTS! Meanwhile, here’s an excerpt to whet your appetite for more! 

 

WILD TEXAS HEARTS

The sun was setting when they rounded the last bend. The little house looked the same, almost eerily so. The yard was swept of leaves and debris, the porch looked freshly swept, and…

“Pa?” Calvin guided his little horse closer to his father’s side, fear and confusion in his voice. “There’s smoke comin’ from the chimney.”

Wolf had seen the wispy white trail more than an hour ago, but had convinced himself it was lack of sleep that had him imagining things. But if Cal could see it, it must be real.

Squatters. Some low life had moved into their home. “Whoever it is, they won’t stay long once we get there. Get behind me, son.”

He checked the load in both revolvers and his shotgun before bumping his horse in the ribs. As they neared the house, he spotted the lazy freeloader, on the roof of the barn. What the hell was he doing up there? When Wolf saw fresh patches, he realized the squatter was fixing the holes.

That made no sense. All the squatters Wolf had encountered moved into an empty structure and made use of what was there until they were forced out again. He should know. He’d made use of his share of empty houses while he searched for his children.

But the evidence was before him. “This should be interesting,” he muttered. Motioning Cal out of sight, he slid a revolver free and rode up to the barn, stopping just out of the shelter of the eaves.

“What the hell are you doing to my barn?”

The intruder spun around, forgetting his precarious perch. Wolf spotted the flash of sun on a barrel, but before he could react, the man lost his footing, let out a squeal, and started sliding off the roof.

Wolf was moving almost before the realization hit. The curve of hip, the narrow waist. He snagged the falling body just short of the ground.

“Damn it. You’re a woman.”

 

Thanks for stopping by!

Tracy

 

http://www.TracyGarrett.com

Facebook: TracyGarrett.author

Twitter: @TGarrett_author

Goodreads: Tracy Garrett

 

 

 

Go West, young man!

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

“Go West, young man!”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

My Favorite Small Town Getaway

Last summer after dropping off our youngest son at college in New Jersey, we visited wineries on the return trip to break up the endless miles. Once home we discovered quite a few wineries in our area. Now I had a goal I could really get behind–visiting local wineries!

I found Valley View, Texas because of a billboard advertising its local winery. What I never expected was to also find a Texas getaway gem in this town of seven hundred fifty-seven people.

The minute I drove into Valley View, my tension drifted away with the warm Texas breeze, and that was even before I had a glass of Firelight Vineyard’s sangria! The town reminded me of my childhood spent at my grandparent’s farm in northeastern Iowa. There was open space, trees, horses and cows. Often all in one front yard. There life doesn’t speed by. Neighbors know each other. Everyone’s friendly and laid back. Whenever I’m there I run into someone who wants to talk. Whether it’s someone at the winery, a local business owner, or an Army/Air Force Veteran. Whenever I hear Josh Gallagher’s “Pick Any Small Town” Valley View’s the one I’d pick.

The last year has been stressful, so for our anniversary, my hubby and I headed to Valley View for a getaway weekend. We wanted to spend time away from email, texts, social media, and other city commitments. For us, when we’re away from the city and in the country, life’s troubles fade away and we focus on what’s important—each other and family. The drive to our B&B, Towering Oaks Haven, took us on a gravel road, once again reminding me of my childhood. The fast-paced-need-to-get-ahead-world disappeared. We spent the weekend wandering around antique stores, shopping at my favorite boutique Rustic Ranch, and becoming reacquainted with each other. We weren’t on our phones constantly. We weren’t worried about spotty internet service. We connected with those around us, rather than those on social media sites. We listened to stories, told some of our own, and were simply in the moment. We ate fantastic gourmet pizza from Lil’ Brick Oven delivered to us at the winery. After that, we listened to the David Alexander Trio while sitting on the Firelight Vineyard’s patio chatting with someone my husband knew from years back and a wonderful couple from Oklahoma.

Life was simpler, personal and connected. And I loved every minute of it.

I remembered why I write stories set in small towns, because of the feelings I rediscovered in Valley View. Because of the way I felt at my grandparents’ farm and in their small town.

I can back rejuvenated and my head spinning with story ideas! A Texas winery owner heroine and a rancher in a small Texas town trying to revitalize the town square. Hmmm. It’s a start.

Now it’s your turn. Tell me about your favorite getaway spot that rejuvenates your body and soul. Enter a comment for a chance to win the wine charms and a wineglass from FIrelight Vineyards.

 

 

10 Snags of Writing Colonials vs. Westerns by Guest Author Pam Hillman

 

Please welcome guest author Pam Hillman! It’s always a pleasure to have her here at Wildflower Junction! Today she has a great giveaway planned and, with a nod to our 10-year celebration, has had the daunting task of coming up with 10 differences she’s had to deal with as an author between westerns and colonials. 

Pam Hillman Author

Happy 10th Anniversary Petticoats and Pistols!

Thank you for allowing me to be part of this celebration.

I proposed a 1790s colonial series set in the Natchez Mississippi District and, to my delight, my publisher bought it. Sure, I knew there would be a bit of a change in my writing style from westerns to the 18th century. But it’s only about 80 years difference. How hard could it be? How much could change in 80 years? Well…

Anachronistic Words

 On the off-chance that I’m not the only one who had to look up the meaning of anachronistic, it means “something or someone that is not in its correct historical or chronological time.”
Okay. Got it.
With a few exceptions of course, if I had been switching from writing colonials to westerns, my toolbox full of words would have carried over as they were already in use 70-80 years earlier. But since I was going backwards in time, I had a lot of favorite words that had to be cut because they weren’t in use in the 1790s. Words like smidgen (1845), howdy (1840), smokestack (1860), boilerplate (1860). The list goes on and on.

Patterns of Speech

A man of the colonial period had a different pattern of speech than the 1880s cowboy did. Their language was a bit more formal, more stilted, but it’s a little more subtle than that. It’s the cowboy lingo, the drawl, that sets the two periods apart. The words they used were important though, because that’s the only way we can really show that slow, sexy drawl of a cowboy. I’ll be honest, I missed that aspect of writing my cowboys.
Sigh.
But I still managed to make Connor O’Shea a swoon-worthy colonial-type cowboy, I think. 🙂
Pam Hillman

Good Day, Mistress Bartholomew

While Mister (Mr.), Missis/Missus (Mrs.), and Miss could be used in the 18th century, Mistress and Master are words we tend to associate for those in authority or as terms of respect during the colonial period. So, I used all of the above in my 1790s series, simply to provide variety. A little about ma’am, specifically. It’s associated closely with the cowboy vernacular as a term of respect to women, but it was in use by 1670. I used ma’am, but a lot less liberally than I would in a western, sprinkling in the more proper Mistress to help set the tone apart from a western.

Housekeeping and Tools

It’s the little things that jump out and bite you. Wood-burning cast iron stoves were invented in the mid-1500s, but it wasn’t until the industrial revolution that they were even remotely affordable for the general public. So I had to be careful not to use the word “stove” in my 1790s stories in that context. After writing several westerns where my heroines cook on a wood burning stove, pulled bread out of the oven, or the hero reached for the coffee pot in the cookhouse, that turned out to be quite a challenge. Unfortunately, I’m afraid one or two references might have slipped through.
Mostly pots and pans, tools, and things of that sort didn’t change much between the two periods. But when in doubt, I always check sources.
Pam Hillman Promise Kept

Let’s Eat

 Cobbler (1860) and sowbelly (1870) were two of a slew (1840 btw) of words I couldn’t have used in my 1790s series, but when I looked at a list of foods from 1790s, the only one that I would hesitate to use in the late 1800s was matelote (1730), which is a type of stew.

Let There be Light

I also had to be careful of the type lighting my characters used. In my westerns, the hero might just light the lantern, and readers immediately know what type of lantern I meant. While the word lantern goes back to 1300, during 18th century America, they mostly used candles with tin reflectors to reflect the light. Widespread use of kerosene lamps and lanterns came at a bit of a later time.

Catch Phrases

Probably the biggest hurdle for me was the catch phrases peppered throughout westerns. Phrases like “poker face” (1885, but my editor found evidence that the first poker game was played in 1829), “pipe dream” (1900), and the one that gave me the most sorrow to cut was “hook, line, and sinker” (1838).

Social Mores

The class structure of the haves and the have nots was still in place in the late 18th century in the Americas, but it was slipping. As hordes of immigrants, both bond and free, flooded into the colonies in the 18th and 19th centuries, they held the promise of freedom close. The cowboy, the gold miner, the railroad worker, the pioneers all had freedom of choice that their ancestors only dreamed of.
So, there was a bit of a shift in the way I portrayed my characters to the way I’d show a foot-loose and fancy-free cowboy.

The Cowboy Swagger and His Clothes

There’s just something about describing a cowboy, the way he talks, the way he walks, his clothes, his boots. Maybe it’s just ingrained in me after reading and writing westerns my whole life. They say clothes don’t make the man, but a Stetson and a pair of cowboy boots goes a long way. But, still it is possible to give that swagger to a man who’s been plunked down in a different time period.
Pam Hillman 3

The Word Cowboy

For the record, the word cowboy was in use by 1725, a noun to refer to a cow herder or a“young cowhand”. I just can’t really see Mel Gibson or Captain Jack uttering the word cowboy in The Patriot or any of the Pirates of the Caribbean movies, but stranger things than that have happened.
Now that I know the word was in existence, I’ll try to slip it in my next 1790s historical. 🙂
 
Pam Hillman The Promise

The Promise of Breeze Hill

 Natchez, MS; 1791
Anxious for his brothers to join him on the rugged frontier along the Mississippi River, Connor O’Shea has no choice but to indenture himself as a carpenter in exchange for their passage from Ireland. But when he’s sold to Isabella Bartholomew of Breeze Hill Plantation, Connor fears he’ll repeat past mistakes and vows not to be tempted by the lovely lady. The responsibilities of running Breeze Hill have fallen on Isabella’s shoulders after her brother was found dead in the swamps along the Natchez Trace and a suspicious fire devastated their crops, almost destroyed their home, and left her father seriously injured. Even with Connor’s help, Isabella fears she’ll lose her family’s plantation. Despite her growing feelings for the handsome Irish carpenter, she seriously considers accepting her wealthy and influential neighbor’s proposal of marriage.
Soon, though, Connor realizes someone is out to eliminate the Bartholomew family. Can he set aside his own feelings to keep Isabella safe?
Pam Hillman
It’s time for prizes, yes? It may be Petticoats & Pistols’ birthday, but you get the gifts! I’m giving away a bag of books today. Signed copies of Claiming Mariah, Stealing Jake, and The Promise of Breeze Hill.
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In addition, my publisher is sponsoring a Mississippi Gift Basket Giveaway to celebrate the release of The Promise of Breeze Hill. Click the graphic to the right to enter that separate contest.
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Leave a comment to enter the book giveaway mentioned above.
 
Pam Hillman Author 2
CBA Bestselling author PAM HILLMAN was born and raised on a dairy farm in Mississippi and spent her teenage years perched on the seat of a tractor raking hay. In those days, her daddy couldn’t afford two cab tractors with air conditioning and a radio, so Pam drove an Allis Chalmers 110. Even when her daddy asked her if she wanted to bale hay, she told him she didn’t mind raking. Raking hay doesn’t take much thought so Pam spent her time working on her tan and making up stories in her head. Now, that’s the kind of life every girl should dream of.

P.S. Don’t forget to enter the giant birthday bash giveaway (separate from this daily giveaway). You can find all the details along with the entry form HERE.

Ranch Names and a Giveaway!

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

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

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

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

Long Odds – Texas Mail Order Bride

Last Hope – Twice a Texas Bride

Wild Horse – Forever His Texas Bride

Lone Star – Men of Legend series

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

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

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

Here’s the back blurb for this book:

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

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

For an excerpt, click HERE.

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

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

Contemporary vs. Historical Western Stories

Contemporary vs Historical

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

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

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

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

Things you won’t find in a historical western:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Houston Legend Spills All

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Cover Reveal! Mail-Order Brides of Oak Grove

 

I am excited to share the cover of my newest book with you.

(First ~ a little introduction. By the way, this isn’t the cover…)

Old trains

When twins, Mary and Maggie McCary are caught selling
their family tonic without a permit,

they’re forced to agree to become mail-order brides to stay out of jail.
Taking the train to Oak Grove, the pair are separated–

For Mary, falling off the Oak Grove train
into Steve Putnam’s lap changes everything.
Could he be the cowboy to tempt her down the aisle?
And running from trouble, Maggie doesn’t intend to actually marry…
until she shares one sensational kiss with Jackson Miller!

When the mayor discovers the twins’ side business and their plans
to avoid the bride contract, 
things begin to fall apart for the sisters.
They both have a lot to learn about the men of Oak Grove…and likewise,
the men have a lot to learn about these two McCarys!

Join Maggie and Mary McCary in the first book of a new series from authors Lauri Robinson and Kathryn Albright that are all set in the fictional town of Oak Grove, Kansas.

So without further ado… TA DA!!

Mail Order Brides of Oak Grove

I absolutely loved collaborating with Lauri while she wrote Mary’s story and I wrote Maggie’s. These are two young women with a penchant for fun and trouble. In Taming the Runaway Bride, the second story in this book, Maggie’s youth and unconventional upbringing make her view of life slightly skewed from other “normal” folk. For her, rules don’t apply in the regular sense. She turns Jackson Miller’s quiet life into one big knot with her shenanigans!

It will be released on May 23  in paperback and on June 1st in eBook form.
Here is the link to Pre-Order

I hope that you enjoy this short excerpt~
Taming the Runaway Bride from Mail-Order Brides of Oak Grove

The worst of the screeching subsided as the engine shuddered and then slowed to a turtle’s crawl.

Her three companions created a fair wall with their noses pressed to the glass. Maggie could only see bits and pieces of the town moving by through the spaces between the three—Miss Know-it-all Rebecca, Miss Quiet-and Quaint Sadie, and Miss Gullible Anna. She couldn’t understand why they were excited about a new beginning and gaining a husband along with it. She certainly wasn’t. That’s all her life had been for as long as she could remember—always a new city, a new town, a new horizon. A seed didn’t have time to flower, nor dust to settle, the way her family lived. And she sure didn’t plan to get yoked to a man. A man would only complicate things between her and her sister. He might even separate them.

But while she was here, she would like to see a real cowboy. One with boots…and a Stetson. Or one of those ten gallon hats that the other girls had been giggling about. Did cowboys always wear spurs? These were things a girl should know.

She stored the deck of cards in her satchel. It wouldn’t do to lose them. She might have need of a little spending money or even a little “get out of town” money.

She stepped behind Anna to peer over her shoulder. From this position all she saw was a small sea of dusty and dirty cowboy hats and bowlers. A few men waved faded flags—bleached by the sun and whipped by the prairie wind.

She swallowed. Men. All men. At least thirty of them. She rose to her tip-toes in order to see better.

Some were really young, but most looked middlin’ to old. A few appeared…weathered. One thing was obvious—no two of the men staring back from the station platform were the same. They were all shapes and sizes. And whether they wore big grins or not as they vied for the front row, they all looked curious to see who would be stepping off the train. Some, she noticed uncomfortably, appeared eager—a bit too eager.

With that thought she shrank back and looked in the seat behind her for her sister. Where had she disappeared to so fast? This bride contract had been her idea from the start. She should be here.

“Oh! I see the one I want!” Anna squealed, her voice blending with the last screech of the brakes.

The train shuddered horrendously to a complete stop. With it, a band started up. A band? A trumpet played Oh! Susanna! and was joined by the beat of a drum and the trill of a fife.

Panic seized Maggie. She wasn’t ready for this! “I have to find Mary,” she croaked out. Swaying slightly, she headed toward the back end of the railcar. She wanted to be with her sister when she faced the men gathered outside—not with these women she’d known only a handful of days.

The door before her swung open.

“Well now, Miss McCary,” the conductor said, raising his bushy brows. “A bit anxious I’d say.”

She glared at him. He was in league with the sheriff back in Bridgeport—that scoundrel.

Behind him, a man from the platform climbed the steps, pausing when he arrived at the top as if the exertion winded him. He was dressed in his Sunday best, right down to the gold watch fob and chain dangling from his black satin vest. The suit appeared a bit small at the neck…and other places. Probably cutting off his breath judging by the redness of his face. He peered first at her and then at the other women behind her as he blotted a trace of sweat on his forehead.

“Welcome to Oak Grove, ladies. I’m Mayor Melbourne.” He paused, looking over the four of them. The welcoming mien dissolved and he turned to the conductor. “Where are the rest?”

The man fumbled in his pocket, withdrew a sealed envelope and handed it to the mayor.

Mayor Melbourne pressed his lips together. He slipped his wire glasses from his vest pocket and settled them on the bridge of his nose, bending the ear wires over his ears. Then he broke the wax seal on the envelope and quickly read the contents. If possible his face reddened further.

“Not coming!” he sputtered. “Not coming! I asked for twelve and all that answered the call are these four?”

“Actually, Mayor, that would be five,” Rebecca said from over Maggie’s left shoulder. “Mary McCary is also with us…somewhere.”

“Five, you say? The committee sent enough money for twelve. My brother has some answering to do.” He read the letter again, the perturbed look on his face slowly settling into resignation as he folded the paper and stuffed it in his pocket. “Very well. Ladies? Welcome. Please come meet your town.”

She sensed Anna, Sadie and Rebecca gathering in force behind her. “What about our things?” she asked quickly, hoping to stall a few minutes longer.

“Plenty of men here to see to them,” the mayor said. “Please follow me. As you can see, they are anxious to have a look at …I mean…meet you.”

Behind her, the others pressed forward, prodding her out the door and onto the steps. A blast of warm Kansas wind swirled around her and picked up her skirt.

“Whoo-wee!” a man in front called out. “Got a looker right off!”

Her cheeks heated as she struggled to subdue the billowing purple cotton and then she focused on the gawker, raising her chin defiantly and fixing him with a bold glare. She would make sure never to find herself alone with him.

He grinned. “Got spirit too! She’s mine. Might as well just check her off your list, men. She’s mine! Whoo-ee!”

“Not unless you take a bath and wash off that cow smell, Rader,” someone yelled back. A round of chuckles from a few of the others followed.

Behind her, Sadie, Rebecca and Anna must have crowded into view for a cheer went up from the men. “Hip-hip-hooray!” Several even threw their hats into the air and the small band played louder at a furious pace.

Four strong-looking men stepped forward and with a great deal more enthusiasm than the situation called for, took hold of her upper-arms and whisked her—her body floating through the air—down the last two steps to the platform.

She wasn’t ready for this! Where in heaven’s name was Mary?

~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~

Mail-Order Brides of Oak Grove
© by Harlequin Books & Kathryn Albright
Permission to reproduce text granted by Harlequin Books S.A.

Visit Kathryn to find out more about her books!

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Linda Broday: Cattle Drive and Trouble

Are you ready? THE HEART OF A TEXAS COWBOY (#2 Men of Legend) is galloping into bookstores and online on May 2nd! I’m so excited. Houston Legend has tons of adventure, romance, and suspense waiting. This book has more twists and turns than a roller coaster.

After his father, Stoker Legend, gambles away half of the Lone Star Ranch, he tells Houston they can get it back—if he marries the new owner’s daughter. Houston reluctantly agrees but makes one thing perfectly clear—love is out of the question.

Yet, all Lara wants is a name for her baby. And kindness.

He’s never met or seen Lara so he has no idea what to expect, but marry her he does. Two weeks later, he leaves on a cattle drive, taking two thousand head of longhorns up to Dodge City. At the last minute, his cook quits so Lara steps in and goes along. Of course, the baby who’s just started crawling has to come too.

Trouble starts two days out when Houston sees riders trailing them. Soon, he discovers that Lara is unsafe and it turns into an all-out fight. Houston will do whatever it takes to protect his wife.

As they struggle to stay ahead of Yuma Blackstone, love blossoms between them and passion flares under the looming threat.

But, the baby, Gracie, crawls into a dangerous situation and they have to find a doctor…somewhere in Indian Territory.

That took some research and I had to contact Dr. David Ciambrone for help. A very nice man by the way and also a mystery/suspense writer.

I also had to see if anything was available to relieve Lara’s severe discomfort while Gracie is unable to nurse.

Lo and behold! There were breast pumps in 1878. In fact, I discovered that these mechanical devices dated back to Ancient Greece. I couldn’t believe it. In the U.S. they operated like a hand pump. Problem solved.

Here’s a short excerpt following their short marriage ceremony:

Her vivid green eyes held misery. “It’s just that I don’t know what you expect of me.”

Her statement caught him by surprise. What did he expect? Certainly not a wife, given they were utter strangers. But not a cook and housekeeper either. That wasn’t right. No wife of his would ever fill the role of a maid to be at his beck and call.

Hell! He yearned for a stiff drink.

 “A friend.” His answer surprised him probably more than it did her. “I expect you to be a partner. We both have gaping wounds that have to heal and things in our past to forget. I need someone who’ll stand with me in good times and bad.”

 A smile transformed Lara’s face. She was a beautiful woman. He felt the urge to let his fingertips brush her delicate cheekbones and drift along the curve of her jaw.

 “I can use a friend,” she said. “I’ll try not to ever make you sorry for your decision.”

“You won’t.” The words came out gruff and he didn’t know how he could say them with such confidence. Yet, somehow deep in his being a calm surety settled like disturbed silt back to the bottom of a riverbed.

He felt a tug to his trouser leg and glanced down. Gracie had crawled to him and gripped the fabric in her tiny fist. He picked her up. They would face lots of ups and downs but they’d survive. For no other reason than the little girl giving him a toothless, slobbery grin.

The babe needed a father. Lara a husband.

And Houston desperately needed some reason to keep living.

* * * *

I’m giving away three copies of the book before release day. Just tell me if you have a favorite marriage of convenience story, either book or movie. Mine is Sarah, Plain and Tall. Maybe it’s yours too.

* * * *

Oh, and I almost forgot…TO LOVE A TEXAS RANGER (#1 Men of Legend) is on sale for .99 until next Saturday, April 22, 2017!  Just click on the cover.

Valentine’s Day – The Day of Love

Today is the day of love and all over the U.S. (probably the world) couples will celebrate. My husband never really liked celebrating too many things but he loved Valentine’s Day. He’d always buy me a box of candy and a card. Never gave me flowers because he had asthma. I think he chose candy because he loved it and always ate at least half of what he gave me.

There was no doubt in my mind that he loved me though. I still have one of the cards that he made by hand (including his own words) and it remains one of my most treasured possessions.

A whopping six million men (and yes women) will propose on this day. And why not? It’s the day of romance and the mating of hearts.

I’ve written a marriage proposal (and/or wedding) into every one of my books. I just love validating the way my characters feel about each other and that’s the perfect way. Love means commitment and spending the rest of your life together. I’ve written two Valentine’s stories. One was “Cupid’s Arrow” in Be My Texas Valentine anthology with Jodi Thomas, Phyliss Miranda, and DeWanna Pace. We had great fun writing those stories. By the way, that’s still available online.

The other Valentine’s story was in the Hearts and Spurs anthology published by Prairie Rose. Cheryl Pierson posted about this anthology yesterday. My story’s title is THE WIDOW’S HEART.

Skye O’Rourke thinks her imagination is playing tricks on her when a man emerges from the shimmering desert heat. No one would willingly take a stroll under the scorching sun with a saddle slung on his back. She’s shocked to discover it’s Cade Coltrain, a man she once gave her heart to only to have him give it back.

Can she trust him not to abandon her this time? Yet, trusting each other is the only way they can survive. And love might just save them if they believe….

Hearts and Spurs is FREE this week. Here’s the link to download it.  http://a.co/bBfM69A

And here’s a short excerpt:

Cade Coltrain was a dangerous man. He’d always been someone to reckon with, but adding in the hardness that swept the length of him now he could put the fear of God in a man with only a look.

In her heart, she knew the truth. He’d become an outlaw.

But, it didn’t matter. Nothing did.

A sudden need to be held in those arms washed over her. She rested her head on the thick window pane and let the tears fall.

The loud ticking clock reminded her she had dishes to do. Raising her head, she brushed away her tears. Glancing out the window once more, she found Cade standing beside Matthew’s grave with his head bowed.

What would he say to the brother who’d married the woman Cade had cast aside when adventure called?

She prayed he’d move on soon, before she gave in to the desire that created such a powerful ache in her body.

Just to be held again, feel warm breath on her cheek; lay her palm on the hard muscles that rippled beneath the skin. Those desires were something she couldn’t put a price on. But they were the things she’d buy, if only she could.

Skye wanted to be a woman again. Someone cherished.

* * * *

Download the book and you’ll find lots of wonderful stories by Cheryl Pierson, Tracy Garrett, Phyliss Miranda, Tanya Hanson, Livia Washburn, Kathleen Rice Adams, Sarah McNeal, and Jacquie Rogers.

What do you hope to get from your honey for Valentines? Candy? Roses? Or something else?

Petticoats & Pistols © 2015