Tag: #PetticoatsandPistols

Landscape Architecture from the Past

Recently, I was eyeball deep in research for an upcoming historical release. 

In the story, set in 1913, the heroine is a nanny and the hero is a landscape architect. 

The hero, Flynn, runs a landscaping business with his sister. Not only does he design elaborate (or simple) gardens and yards, he also has a huge greenhouse where he develops and experiments with plants. 

When I started working on Flynn’s character and his profession, I did some research into landscape architects and greenhouses.

The first recorded greenhouses were in Rome around 30 AD. Legend states that the physicians of Emperor Tiberius told him he needed, for health purposes, to eat a cucumber every day. Supposedly, his scientists and engineers brainstormed how to grow plants year round and the greenhouse came to be.

Greenhouses traveled to America in the 1700s. They grew in popularity in England in the mid-1800s when glass began to be widely manufactured. The inspiration for Flynn’s greenhouse comes from the spectacular Temperate House at Kew Gardens in London. My gracious, I’ve added this impressive garden to my bucket list of places I hope to someday see.

Temperate House is the world’s largest Victorian glasshouse and recently reopened after an extensive renovation process. Some of the world’s rarest and most threatened species of plants are among the 1,500 species of plants from Africa, Australia, New Zealand, the Americas, Asia and the Pacific Islands included on display.

Of course, Flynn’s greenhouse isn’t as magnificent as this or nearly as large, but it did give me some wonderful ideas of what his greenhouse might look like. And he has an interesting collection of plants and flowers he’s collected from his travels around the world.

When I first considered Flynn’s career, the term landscape architect seems so modern. But I discovered the roots of the profession go back to 1828 when Gilbert Laing Meason, a Scotsman, wrote a book offering insights into the art of relating architecture to landscape. William Andrews Nesfield was reportedly the first person hired as a “landscape architect. He designed garden areas for Buckingham Palace in London and Castle Howard in Yorkshire. In 1863, Fredrick Law Olmstead used the term landscape architecture for designing public open space (parks). Olmstead is known as the father of American Landscape Architecture. I like to think his work helped inspire my character Flynn.

In the story, Evie (releasing May 23), Flynn is hired to design and install an elaborate garden at the home of a well-to-do couple with three young children. Flynn finds himself falling for the nanny and scheming ways to spend time with the effervescent woman. 

Will love bloom between a spunky nanny and a distracted landscaper?

Unconventional nanny Evie Caswell views it as her duty to bring fun and laughter to the residence of her strict, aloof employers. Full of life and spirit, she is determined to teach the couple’s children how to be young and carefree. With hardly a minute to herself, she long ago surrendered her dreams of having her own home and a family. Then her employer hires Flynn Elliott, a landscape architect, to turn the yard into a spectacular garden. Enchanted with the intriguing man, Evie realizes after meeting Flynn nothing in her life will ever be the same.

Renowned for his landscape designs and ability to make anything grow, Flynn Elliott is a bit of an enigma. He spouts romantic poetry to the plants in his greenhouse and stealthily avoids social interactions, yet can charm birds right out of the trees when the need arises. While his sister handles the finer details of their business, he often loses himself in his work, forgetting the outside world exists. A chance encounter with a beautiful woman in a moonlit garden leaves him seeking opportunities to discover more about the effervescent Evie and the joy she radiates to those around her.

Will the two of them be able to set aside their doubts and fears to embrace a happily ever after?

Brimming with lighthearted moments, snippets of history, and the hope of true love, Evie is a sweet historical romance sure to warm your heart. 

Available May 23, you can pre-order your copy today! 

If you could travel back to 1913, what career would you choose?

Go-Carts and Baby Carriages

Recently, I was diving deep into research for a story set in 1913. 

Among the resource books piled on my desk was my trusty reproduction copy of a 1908 Sears, Roebuck & Co Catalog. I love all the little everyday details I can unearth in its many pages! 

I was searching for baby gear that day. Partly because it tied into the story I was writing (the heroine is a nanny to three little ones), and party because I’ve had baby on the brain for the last few months as we awaited the arrival of my niece’s first baby. 

In particular, I was interested in a description of baby carriages.

 

I wanted to see images of what they would have looked like during that time period.

Did they have any unique features or selling points? What would make a young mother decide to purchase this option or that one?

I had grand visions of ornate carriages with flowery details. 

What I didn’t anticipate was to be so surprised by the product description. 

Notice anything strange in the description?

They called them Go-Carts! 

I had no idea they’d ever been labeled as go-carts. 

On the following page they had advertisements for baby carriages. 

I studied both pages for a while, reading the descriptions, trying to figure out what the difference could be.

At first I thought that perhaps a carriage meant the baby could rest flat and a go-cart meant they were sitting upright. But the go-carts advertise being able to recline.

Then it a light bulb went off. I think the difference is that go-carts can be moved into different positions and many of them could be folded flat (how handy!) like a stroller. 
I tried to dig up some research to either confirm my idea or dash it, but I have yet to find anything that talks about go-carts from Victorian or Edwardian days. 

I did find an interesting history of baby carriages, though. 
William Kent, a landscape architect, designed the first carriage in 1733. It was created for the children of the Duke of Devonshire. Kent constructed a shell-shaped  basket on wheels the children could sit in and be pulled by a goat or pony. 

Wealthy families were Kent’s primary customers. 

The 19th century was a time when parks and recreational spaces were enjoyed as family strolls became popular. An economical way to take babies along needed to be developed. 

Benjamin Potter Crandall manufactured a new design in the early 1800s. He claimed his baby carriages were the first manufactured in the US, although it’s been argued

 the F.A. Whitney Carriage Company may hold the title. At any rate, Crandall developed a style that could could be pushed rather than pulled. His design was largely rejected. His son son, Jesse, eventually took over the business and made some additions, including a brake and added a model that folded as well as parasols and accessories. Reportedly, Queen Victoria purchased three of them which made his designs a must-have for mothers everywhere. 

Carriages were built of wood or wicker and held together with expensive brass joints. Often, they turned into ornamented works of arts. 

Models were named after royalty, like Princess and Duchess.

Charles Burton created the first “pram” or perambulator. It had a three-wheel push design and looked a little like an arm chair on big spoke wheels. Customers found it unwieldy and complained about the design, but Burton was determined to succeed. He took his design to England where he found popularity once the royals began using it. In the UK, the word pram is used to describe a carriage, because of the popularity of the perambulator.

In 1889, William H. Richardson patented the idea of the first reversible carriage. The bassinet was designed to face out or in toward the parent. Until that point, the axis didn’t allow each wheel to move separately, but Richard’s design increased maneuverability. 

Before long, go-carts were being advertised that could fold flat, recline and more. 

As the new century advanced, so did improvements with baby carriages and strollers until we reached today’s models, filled with accessories and safety features. 

If you’d like to find out more about the story that necessitated this research, look for Evie, coming May 23! It’s available now for pre-order on Amazon: http://tinyurl.com/y4gnadrk 

Will love bloom between a spunky nanny and a distracted landscaper?

Unconventional nanny Evie Caswell views it as her duty to bring fun and laughter to the residence of her strict, aloof employers. Full of life and spirit, she is determined to teach the couple’s children how to be young and carefree. With hardly a minute to herself, she long ago surrendered her dreams of having her own home and a family. Then her employer hires Flynn Elliott, a landscape architect, to turn the yard into a spectacular garden. Enchanted with the intriguing man, Evie realizes after meeting Flynn nothing in her life will ever be the same.

Renowned for his landscape designs and ability to make anything grow, Flynn Elliott is a bit of an enigma. He spouts romantic poetry to the plants in his greenhouse and stealthily avoids social interactions, yet can charm birds right out of the trees when the need arises. While his sister handles the finer details of their business, he often loses himself in his work, forgetting the outside world exists. A chance encounter with a beautiful woman in a moonlit garden leaves him seeking opportunities to discover more about the effervescent Evie and the joy she radiates to those around her.

Will the two of them be able to set aside their doubts and fears to embrace a happily ever after?

Brimming with lighthearted moments, snippets of history, and the hope of true love, Evie is a sweet historical romance sure to warm your heart. 

~*~

Oh, and if you’re wondering, my niece and her sweet husband welcomed a bouncing baby boy April 2! I was there for his arrival, but can’t wait to return for a visit and hold Baby T again! 

~*~

If any of you know any history about the difference in go-carts and baby carriages, I’d love to learn more.

In the meantime, feel free to share your favorite “baby” item. What makes your heart pitter-patter and think of babies when you see it? A blanket? An adorable pair of booties? Sweet little onesies?

 

Where Bustles and Spurs Meet

The thought of bustles and spurs and how at odds the two things can be just makes me smile.

I love (LOVE) writing about cowboys and anytime I can work in the jingling of spurs, even better! 

I also love writing about unlikely couples. You know the type… it might be city versus country or uptight versus laid-back. 

One book in particular, Crumpets and Cowpies, was such fun for me to write because the couple was about as opposite as they could be. She was an English Lady. He was a rough rancher from Eastern Oregon. How in the world could these two find common ground let alone fall in love? 

Well, that’s part of the joy of writing for me. 

In this story, Lady Jemma despises the rough cowboy who’s shown up on her doorstep. She’s as proper as they come and refuses to put up with what she views as his insufferable ideas and overbearing disposition. 

Thane Jordan is called to England to settle his brother’s estate only to discover he’s inherited much more than he expected. To claim his inheritance, he has to put up with the fussy, tightly-laced Lady Jemma. 

Here’s a fun little scene that illustrates how well the two of them get along:

“There’s one more thing we need to discuss.” Thane smirked in the familiar way that both aggravated and excited her as she looked at him again.

“What might that be?”

“This…” Thane reached behind her, grabbing her bustle and giving it a gentle tug. She sucked in a gulp of air at his outlandish behavior. “Has got to go.”

At her abhorrent glare, he let go of the bustle and took a step back, although his grin broadened. “You can’t work on a ranch with that thing flopping around behind you. You can dress however you like when we go into town, but for life on the ranch, you need to put it away. While I’m on that subject, you can’t go around with your corset laced so tight it makes you faint.”

She glared at him. “I did not faint.”

“You came darn close and I won’t have you putting your health in danger just to make an already tiny waist smaller. You can wear it, if you insist, just don’t lace it so tight. Since you’re going to be getting new clothes, make sure you get them to fit with the corset loosened.”

Jemma trembled with fury as she stood in front of him, about to combust with anger. She couldn’t believe he would dare converse about such personal, sensitive topics as her bustle and corset.  “You, sir, are a…”

“Save it, Jem. Unless you can invent some new words to call me, I’ve heard it before.”

Thane gave her bustle another tug as he walked by, returning outside to where he’d been hammering horseshoes at the forge.

You can find Crumpets and Cowpies along with the other Baker City Brides stories on Amazon here: http://tinyurl.com/yxer7bca

To enter for a chance to win a digital copy of the prelude to the Baker City Brides series along with the first three books, just post your answer to this question: 

If you were Lady Jemma, what would you do?

Set aside your bustle or continue to wear it?

Spring Babies

I love spring.

Really, I do! 

I love the sweet smell of earth coming back to life after a long winter’s rest. I love the scent of hyacinths in the air, while daffodils brighten days with their cheerful blooms. 
One of the things I love the most about spring are the babies – baby chicks, rabbits, (and my favorite) spring calves.

During my childhood years spent on the farm, I spent many a happy moment watching calves chase each other around the pasture in spring. Tails high, they would race and play and make me so glad we raised cattle. 

Last week, I was visiting family and my niece invited me out to her place to take photos of their spring calves. I went with Amanda and her husband as they did the evening feeding.

This little guy was playing peek-a-boo.

While Amanda and Marc fed, I decided to get out of the pickup and snap photos. 

I found a spot and hunkered down where I could take photos of the calves. They weren’t quite sure what to make of the stranger who’d infiltrated the pasture.

I could almost see a cartoon bubble above these two… “What is that thing? Do you think it’ll play with us?”

 

This little guy was by far the most adventurous of the bunch. If he’d come just another step or two closer, I could have pet him. Or given him a few fingers to suck on. There is nothing in the world like the sweet milky breath of a baby calf. 

Unless…

It’s the sweet fragrance of a brand new human baby.

 

 

Which Amanda and Marc will be welcoming soon. I can hardly wait! 

You can read about some animal babies (chicks and bunnies!) as well as a crazy assortment of rescue animals in my book Easter Bride that will release March 21! 

Will meddling matchmakers make a perfect match?

 Piper Peterson loves the small community of Holiday, Oregon. She resides there at a beautiful, old farm where she’s surrounded by animals she’s rescued. And she manages the feed store that’s been in her family for more than a hundred years. Despite her contentment with life, her grandfather’s plans to sell the store and farm leave her future up in the air. When a sly matchmaker works to set Grandpa up with the perfect woman, Piper jumps at the chance to lend a hand. But the last thing she expects is to fall in love while helping her grandpa find happiness.

Stuck at a crossroads in his life, Colton Ford can’t decide which direction to head. Then an invitation to stay at his brother’s ranch in Holiday provides an opportunity Colt can’t pass up. He hopes time spent at the Flying B Ranch will help him clear his head and sort out his life. Before long, he finds himself entangled in a matchmaking plot involving his widowed aunt and a charismatic old gent. When he agrees to give the budding romance a nudge, he has no idea the man’s delightful granddaughter will capture his heart.

A heartwarming story filled with country charm, laughter, and hope, Easter Bride is sure to bring readers the joys of budding spring and sweet romance.

 

 

Holiday Fever with a New Historical Release Today!

Are you enjoying our week of Holiday Fever? 

I hope you had a fabulous Christmas full of love, joy, and loads of fun (and goodies – goodies are so important)! 

I adore the holiday season. The sights, the sounds, the smells, the tastes – the magic that dances in the air and the hope lingering around each corner. 

In fact, I love the season so much (and my readers), I hustled to write one more Christmas novel and release it before the end of the year. 

So here it is! A brand new historical romance releasing today. 

I hope you’ll take a look! 

 

He needs a holiday miracle. . .

She’s prepared to deliver one

Claire Baker does nothing halfway. She makes it a point to follow her heart, even when it leads her to a small Eastern Oregon town to stay with relatives. In truth, she loves Hardman and the people there. Which is why she wants a recluse she met in the woods and his adorable daughter to join in the community holiday celebrations. The more time they spend together, the more she realizes she’s fallen hopelessly in love with both of them.

All Grayson Carter wants is to be left alone. That’s why he built his cabin in the middle of more than a thousand acres of woods, seeking to disappear from the world and keep his daughter, Maddie, safe.  Then a beautiful interloper appears and becomes quite determined in her efforts of drawing him back into the land of the living. As she brings him and Maddie Christmas cheer, he realizes falling in love with her could be the best and worst thing he’s ever done.

With Christmas fast approaching, a mystery to be solved, and old-fashioned holiday fun, this sweet historical romance will fill your heart with the joys of the season.
The Christmas Melody, available now on Amazon:  http://tinyurl.com/ya2sk7tr

 

 

 
The Hardman Holidays series is a full of fun characters who celebrate the holidays in a big way in their small town of Hardman, Oregon.

 

 The Christmas Bargain ( Book 1) — As owner and manager of the Hardman bank, Luke Granger is a man of responsibility and integrity in teh small 1890s Eastern Oregon town. When he calls in a long overdue loan, Luke finds himself reluctantly accepting a bargain in lieu of payment from the shiftless farmer who barters his daughter to settle his debt.

http://tinyurl.com/y8pldruv

 The Christmas Token ( Book 2) — Determined to escape an unwelcome suitor, Ginny Granger flees to her brother’s home in Eastern Oregon for the holiday season. Returning to the community where she spent her childhood years, she plans to relax and enjoy a peaceful visit. Not expecting to encounter the boy she once loved, her exile proves to be anything but restful. (99¢ today!) 

http://amzn.com/B00GU2BYBQ

Happy Holidays from my heart to yours! 

Racing Christmas

I love a good rodeo. There’s nothing quite like the excitement that snaps in the air while watching athletes, both human and animal test their skills as they compete.

It was while my husband and I were in Las Vegas for the granddaddy of all rodeos – the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo – several years ago that the idea for a series came to me. We were sitting in the airport, surrounded by cowboys as far as the eye could see, and I couldn’t help but ponder how fun it would be if a cowboy fell in love with a girl he met at the airport.

From there, the Rodeo Romance series was born and I recently released book six – Racing Christmas!

 

winter wedding

She’s racing to save the ranch

He’s struggling to win her heart. . . again

Brylee Barton has just one goal in mind: win the barrel racing world championship. Not for the glory, but for the attached cash prize that could save her family’s ranch. When an injury leaves her at the mercy of the very same copper-headed, silver-tongued cowboy she once vowed to loathe forever, she has no choice but to swallow her pride and accept his help.

Fun-loving, easy-going Shaun Price has a million dollar smile, more charm than he can channel, and a string of ex-girlfriends rumored to have started their own support group. When the one woman he’s never quite managed to get out of his head or heart needs his assistance, he jumps at the chance to help. Little does he realize how challenging it will be to keep from falling for her all over again.

With the holiday season fast approaching, will Shaun and Brylee discover the gift of forgiveness, and experience their own happily-ever-after?

This sweet Christmas romance warms the heart, lifts the spirit, and touches the soul with its message of forgiveness, hope, and redemption. Don’t miss it!

Amazon

Racing Christmas support group

Excerpt:

Brylee opened her eyes and tipped her head back, watching as the pickup men rode into the arena. One went to catch Rocket while the other hastened her direction. The announcer and the clown told a joke as the medical team hustled toward her as fast as they could make it through the mud.

Frustration battled with anger as the pickup man approached. The last person on earth she wanted to see was that man.

“Maybe today would be a good day to die,” she muttered as she tried again to move her foot from beneath the fence. If she freed it before he reached her, she could crawl over the fence and make her way back to her trailer without speaking to him.

Why couldn’t he have gone on ignoring her like he had the last five and half years? Why tonight, of all nights, was he going to force her to acknowledge him? Didn’t she have enough to deal with, like missing her opportunity to claim the winning title? Or the undeniable fact she looked like a half-drowned kitten that had been dragged through a pig wallow?

She thought of her wasted entry fee. Not to mention the hours it would take to get all the mud scrubbed off Rocket and her tack.

Wasn’t a no-score enough punishment without being forced to face the most arrogant, self-centered, childish man she’d ever known?

Trapped on her back in the mud, it seeped through her clothes, chilling her and making her fight the need to shiver. She questioned how she could exit the arena with even a shred of dignity when her pants oozed soupy mud like a toddler’s soggy diaper.

The slap of boots hitting the mud in the arena drew her gaze upward. A handsome face appeared above her as the pickup man leaned over her. Gray-blue eyes twinkled behind thick lashes and a smile full of even, white teeth gleamed in the arena lights. Shaun Price braced his gloved hands on his thighs and offered her an infuriatingly cocky grin.

Why couldn’t she have at least passed out and awakened far away from the infuriating, irritating, Adonis-like cowboy?

“Well, Bitsy, I see you’re still racing Christmas,” he said, his voice sounding as deep and rich as she remembered.

Brylee glowered at him. “You know I hate that name.”

“Yep, I sure do.” Shaun chuckled and stepped back as the medics surrounded her.

~*~

If you love cowboys as much as I do, I hope you’ll take a look at my Read a Book, Help a Cowboy campaign, too! It’s a great way to help injured rodeo athletes who need a hand up!

Wishing you all a very Merry Christmas! 

The Friendly Beasts of Faraday

It all started with a camel. 

And a living nativity in our little community.

A handful of years ago, Captain Cavedweller and I attended an outdoor living nativity performance. It was held in the parking light next to a drive-in burger place. The temps were below freezing. But there, among the people dressed in bathrobes and fake beards to create a wise man costume, along with a few bleating sheep and a cow who seemed more than ready to go home, stood a camel. 

Not just any camel, mind you, but one who was clearly there to steal the show. He loved the attention tossed his direction and eagerly accepted the affection of his new fans. 

As I stood there and watched CC pet the camel, the idea for a story began percolating in my imagination. Then, just as suddenly, the words to a Christmas carol began floating through my thoughts and I knew exactly what I wanted to do. I wouldn’t write just one story, but a series inspired by the Christmas carol.

If you’ve never heard The Friendly Beasts, it’s a lovely, old carol about the animals that gathered around the manager when Jesus was born. The verses include a camel, a donkey, a cow (all red and white, of course), a sheep with a curly horn, and a dove in the rafters high. 

How fun would it be to write a sweet romance series including all these animals… but have them be the matchmakers?  

Super fun! It was super fun to write this series. 

The only thing was that it took me a while to be able to sit down and write an entire series all at once. In fact, when Christmas came and went last year without a moment to work these stories in, I decreed I wouldn’t write anything else in 2018 until I finished these stories. Which is what I did. I created a fictional mountain town named Faraday. If it actually existed, it would be  near Mount Hood in Oregon.

The first draft to the books were completed by February. The four stories include a camel, a donkey (with a puppy named Bacon as his sidekick), a cow and her baby, sheep and a dove.  

I reached out to the illustrator who did such a wonderful job on my children’s book, Steve the Mule. He brought my goofy, wacky, lovable Friendly Beasts to life. 

Aren’t they so cute!  Jasper the dove is sitting on Ivy, there’s Lolly the camel, Bacon, Shep the sheep, and Pete the donkey. 

The books will release every Friday beginning this week, November 16!

Here’s a little more about the series:

Scent of Cedar

She needed a change of pace. . .

No one said anything about a friendly camel or a hunky mechanic

Cedar Haynes has a choice: change her high-pressure lifestyle, or end up dead by the time she’s thirty. Not one to do things by half measures, she quits her demanding corporate job, swaps her sports car for an SUV, and moves to the peaceful mountain community of Faraday. She envisions a quiet, peaceful Christmas, surrounding by silence and sparkling snow. When a camel takes up residence on her porch, she realizes small-town life may be more quirky and complicated than she imagined. Thankfully, the local mechanic seems to have all the answers – plus good looks, bad-boy charm, and a mysterious aura that leaves her wanting to know more.

Rhett Riggs left big city life behind the moment his small-town uncle needed his help. To make ends meet, he takes over Faraday’s one and only garage and gas station. He gets more than he bargained for, though, when Uncle Will passes away, leaving Rhett a run-down farmhouse, a wacky camel named Lolly, and a deep-rooted love for the community he considers his home. With the holidays approaching, he watches with interest as a new neighbor moves in next door. He waits for Lolly to send the woman running, like she has the last handful of residents. Only this time, if his beautiful neighbor leaves, she’ll take his heart with her.

Between spilled secrets, mistaken identities, and a camel determined to spread a little love, it will take more than mistletoe and holiday magic to help Rhett and Cedar find their happy ending.

(On sale for just 99 cents on pre-orders!) 

Tidings of Joy

Will a donkey, an adorable puppy, and a big-hearted man

prove tidings of Joy last beyond the holiday season?

Quiet and unassuming, Drew Miller is more than just a mail carrier in the small town of Faraday. A typical day on his route includes fetching cats out of trees, changing flat tires, and good-naturedly enduring the pranks of the octogenarian crowd. Unexpectedly, he rescues a lovely young woman in distress. Drew’s convinced she’d never make the tiny community her permanent home, but he’s determined to give her a reason to stay.

Among the brightest, happiest memories from Joy Cooke’s childhood are the days she spent with her grandparents in Faraday. When she inherits their home with a stipulation requiring her to live there for six months, she eagerly moves to the mountain town. Then a freak snow storm leaves her at the mercy of the mail carrier, a handsome man she’s spent weeks watching out her office window. Through his steadfast care, she learns the true meaning of giving and selfless love.

 

Boughs of Holly

He’d never met a more annoying woman. . .

She’d never met a more intriguing man

Seth Stafford loves every square inch of the ranch where his grandfather raised him. He’s built a good life there, even if it does get lonely. But he doesn’t have time for such nonsense as dating. If the crazy redheaded woman who terrorizes him when he drives into Portland for supplies is any indication of the available females, he’ll stick with tending his cattle. When his grandfather sustains an injury and requires extended care, Seth is forced to open his home to the woman. He just has to decide if he despises or loves her.

Nurse Holly Jones has never had a real home or stayed in one place for more than a year. She never wanted to, until she took a job in Portland working with the elderly. Surprisingly, she finds herself living on a remote ranch outside the small town of Faraday. There, among the cattle, horses, and cowboys, she considers all she’s been missing with her nomadic lifestyle. What would happen if she gave up her wandering ways and allowed her soul to set down roots or her heart to fall in love?

Can a cow named Ivy and a meddling grandfather nudge a reluctant couple together?

 

Wings of An Angel

The last thing she needs is a romance . . .

The first thing he intends to do is make her fall in love

Veterinarian Angela Carol escaped her past and started a brand new life in the friendly community of Faraday. Her charming little boy, Nick, a thriving practice, and a comfortable home are all she needs to be happy. At least that’s what she continually tells herself. But her traitorous heart longs for Nick’s teacher, a man who’s become her best friend. With no intention of falling in love again, she struggles to keep her thoughts and heart in line where Drake is concerned. 

Drake Miller had plans to be the next NBA star, but when an injury left him sidelined in college, he decided to teach and return to his hometown of Faraday. There’s nothing he enjoys quite as much as shaping the minds of the first grade students in his classroom, unless it’s making Angela Carol smile. The first time he saw her, he knew he was a goner, but the widow has made it clear she has no interest in getting involved in a relationship. How can he prove to her that it’s worth taking a chance on love?

The unlikely team of Nick, along with his pet sheep, Shep, and a dove named Jasper, work to spread a little romance along with holiday cheer. Will their efforts be enough to unite Drake and Angela in time for a Christmas miracle?

Find THE FRIENDLY BEASTS OF FARADAY on Amazon!

What Christmas carol do you think should inspire a story or series? Share your answer in the comments! 

 

Celebrating 68 Years of Marriage

Last week, my parents celebrated their 68th wedding anniversary. 

Sixty-eight years.

My mind struggles to wrap around that many years of wedding bliss.

My dad, always something of a character, informed me the day before their anniversary he’d been married to Mom for 24,820 days and counting. 

I laughed, but the enormity of spending nearly 25,000 days married to your high school sweetheart still boggles my mind.

Russ GraduationMy parents met their senior year of high school. 

Dad’s family had just moved to the area and he only knew the closest neighbor’s kids when school started that fall. He’s always been friendly and outgoing, never had any trouble making friends and fitting in. In no time at all, he was involved in sports, playing in the band, participating in Future Farmer of America activities, and watching a certain dark-haired girl who’d caught his eye.

Dollie GraduationMom was shy and quiet, had a few good friends, and didn’t participate in many extra-curricular activities, mostly because my grandparents’ farm was quite a distance from town and she had no way to get home if she stayed late after school. 

Right away, she noticed the new, cute boy at school, the one many of the other girls were buzzing about. However, they ran in different social circles and it wasn’t until spring when Dad finally asked her out on a date to the movies. 

By the time they graduated, they were an “item.” Dad was gone for a while, serving in the Naval Reserves, but the following summer, they made plans to wed in early August. 

The dimple-cheeked girl with stars in her eyes rushed through her swing shift at the telephone office then raced out to the farm where a handsome boy who had captured her heart waited to make her his bride.

 

She didn’t have a fancy, elaborate gown. They both wore gray suits.

Their flowers were gladiolas, pink and white.

And they said “I do” in the minutes before the clock struck midnight due to her working late.

Not the stuff of fairy tales, right?

But the lasting power of their love — 68 years — includes a little fairy tale, happily-ever-after sprinkled in the mix. 

Growing up, I watched some of my classmates go through the trials and tribulations of having their parents divorce. By then, my folks were middle-aged and settled into life and into each other. I never once worried about them separating. They were then and still remain a united front.

I don’t think either of them ever once considered leaving each other as an option. They were just eighteen and nineteen when they wed, but they made a commitment for a lifetime.

And I’m so glad they did.

If you want to know about true love and real romance, ask a couple who’s been married for more than six decades. I bet they’ll give you some good tips and probably a generous helping of humor.

M & D at park young

Life wasn’t always easy for them. Far from it.

They had plenty of rough patches to work through, but they remained committed to each other and the vows they made.

Their little family grew from the two of them to three with the arrival of a bouncing baby boy.

It expanded to four with the birth of another boy.

And then my sister came along making them a happy group of five.

I’ve heard stories of the adventures they all had, the many, many times they moved before my parents bought a farm in Eastern Oregon and set down roots that kept them there for more than fifty years.

four kids

Evidently, after twenty years of marriage, they still liked each other, because they had me. (Both of my brothers look like they’re waiting for me to do something awful.)

And the family continued to grow with the arrival of grandbabies… then great-grandbabies. 

For  68 years, Mom and Dad have been there for each other — through fights and fears, laughter and tears, celebrations and sorrows. 

If you ask them individually, they’ll both tell you the secret to a happy marriage is listening to your partner and not always trying to be right, even when you know you are.

If you ask me, though, I’d say a big part of their longevity and happiness comes from these things:

russ with dog and heart watch

*My dad’s great sense of humor and the fact that he absolutely adores my mom. He always has and, after 68 years of marriage, I think it’s safe to say he always will.

Dollie attitude

*My mom’s loyalty and devotion to my dad and her ability to be a perfect balance to him.

mom and dad

I, for one, am so glad they  fell in love and have remained in love all these many years. 

If you could give a newly-married couple a tidbit of advice, what would you share?

Cowboy Fever and Rodeo Fun

This week, we’re celebrating Cowboy Fever. I’m pretty sure I’ve been infected since I was old enough to walk.

I love cowboys, rodeos, and the country way of life.

Growing up on a farm about twenty miles from the closest town (population around 1,000), we generally took our excitement anywhere we could get it.

Each summer, I eagerly anticipated our small town’s biggest event of the year – the Fourth of July Rodeo.

Back in those days, it was a Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association-sanctioned rodeo. Some of the top names in the circuit would join hundreds of rodeo fans for four days of rodeo, events in the park, a parade through town, and the annual Suicide Race (a crazy horseback race down a steep butte, across the highway, through the river, and into the rodeo arena).

Our whole family looked forward to the celebration. My oldest brother regularly rode in the Suicide Race and a few cousins competed in the rodeo. My dad, brothers, and many cousins participated in the parade.

For a horse-crazy little girl who loved the smell of leather and the sight of cowboy hats, it was amazing. From an early age, I had a romance with the rodeo (and cowboy fever!).

One of the few stores we had in town was a saddle maker with a boot shop. When I was five, my dad took me to Leroy’s shop to pick out a new belt for the rodeo. It was the first time I could choose my own. Talk about excited!

As we walked inside, the welcoming aroma of leather filled the air. Dad led me to where Leroy worked on a saddle at the back of the shop and they talked a few minutes. Impatiently waiting to get down to the business of picking out my belt, they finally told me to go see what I could find. My gaze – and heart – immediately settled on a hand-tooled belt with little flowers stamped into the leather and a silver buckle with a gold saddle that glistened in the overhead lights.

I still have that little belt today along with my love of rodeo and cowboys.

I suppose that love is what inspires so many cowboy heroes in my stories. It’s awesome to write about modern-day ranchers in my Grass Valley Cowboys series, and about rodeo cowboys in my Rodeo Romance series. I also get a kick out of writing about cowboys in the old West. I think lawmen of yesteryear must be one of my favorites, since this coming Thursday I’ll release Lightning and Lawmen, my fourth story with a hero who works as a lawman in a rowdy western town.

How did a simple hello turn into something so complicated?

Love is about to leave one lawman thunderstruck in this sweet historical romance!

 Cultured and full of grace, Delilah Robbins agrees to accompany her meteorologist father to his new post in Baker City, Oregon. Expecting a primitive place, she’s delighted to discover an up-and-coming town with plenty of surprises as well as a place she can turn into a sanctuary for her beloved birds. As she settles into life in the western town, she unwittingly creates a riff between two deputies when they both fall for her charms.

 Deputy Dugan Durfey only meant to extend a friendly welcome to a newcomer. But the moment he set eyes on the meteorologist’s delightful daughter, Dugan’s heart was no longer his own. Since his best friend and fellow deputy suffered the same fate, Dugan struggles to do what’s right. He’ll fight jealousy, outlaws, and a wily raccoon to keep Delilah safe, but the greater battle lies in overcoming his fears to profess his love.

Filled with humor, adventure, and plenty of sweet romance, Lightning and Lawmen highlights the history of the era and blends it with the timeless feelings of discovering true love.

To enter for a chance to win a $5 Amazon Gift Card, answer this question:
What’s one special summer memory from your childhood?

http://www.amazon.com/dp/B07DLMXSGT/?tag=pettpist-20

Geiser Grand Hotel

I’ve been busy working on the next book in my Baker City Brides series, set in historic Baker City located right along the Oregon Trail in Eastern Oregon.

The series begins in the early 1890s when Baker City was experiencing its second gold rush period. (The first came in the 1860s). Baker City was the geographic center for booming gold, copper, and silver mines. It became a center for trade and commerce and was the second city in the state to boast electricity and paved roads.  In fact, it’s said Baker City almost became the capital of Oregon.

During the heyday of Baker City, new buildings and businesses were popping up all around. The town had earned the name “Queen City of the Mines.”

And one of those new buildings just happened to be a wonderfully luxurious hotel named Hotel Warshauer. Merchants Jake and Harry Warshauer opened the hotel in 1889. Built in an Italianate Victorian style, the building was designed by architect John Bennes and constructed using mined volcanic tuff from the region.

The hotel featured a four-story clock tower and a 200-foot corner cupola. Supposedly, the hotel cost $70,000 to build and included 80 guest rooms as well as seating for 200 in the elegant dining room.

A second-floor balcony overlooked the dining room’s marble floors, crystal chandeliers, and mahogany paneling. Presiding over it, was a beautiful stained glass ceiling (reportedly the largest in the Pacific Northwest) that allowed light to drift into the interior.

The Hotel Warshauer was innovative and ahead of its time. It offered electricity in every room along with hot and cold running water and bathrooms! The hotel also boasted the third elevator built west of the Mississippi River.

They even had a little gold tasseled cloth that hung in each room with a list of rules.

Rule #2: “Fires in rooms charged extra.” Presumably, this was the fire in a stove to warm the room, not setting the room ablaze.

Rule #6: “We will not be responsible for boots and shoes left in the hall. Guests desiring them blacked will please leave with the porter.” I love this one because in Corsets and Cuffs (book 3 in the series) the heroine leaves her shoes in the hall to be cleaned and polished, and they disappear. I wonder how many people had that happen back then?

The hotel was eventually purchased by the Geiser Family of the Bonanza Mine fame. They renamed the hotel the Geiser Grand Hotel, a name it carries to this day.

Baker City and the hotel did well through the 1920s, up until the depression. After that, the hotel began to lose business and fell into a state of disrepair.  One highlight was the cast of Paint Your Wagon staying at the hotel when the movie was filmed in 1968. (The movie starred Clint Eastwood and Lee Marvin. Several fun tidbits about the filming of the movie and even a few costumes are on display at the Baker Heritage Museum.)

The hotel was closed in 1969, though. The exterior cracked, the interior sustained massive damage and decades later, the threat to tear it down was real.

In 1978, the Baker Historic District was added to the National Register of Historical Places, including the hotel. Attempts were made to preserve the hotel, but it wasn’t until Dwight and Barbara Sidway purchased the Geiser Grand Hotel in the early 1990s and poured millions into a restoration and renovation that brought the hotel back to life.

Today, guests can step inside the hotel and find that it looks much as it did back in its days of glory. The stained glass ceiling still floods the restaurant with light, and the opulence of days gone by prevails from the mahogany wood in the lobby to the chandeliers in the guest rooms.

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To enter for a chance to win a digital copy of Crumpets and Cowpies, the first book in the Baker City Brides series, please post your answer to this question:

If you were traveling in the year 1890, what luxury item or amenity would you want to find in your hotel room?

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Baker City Brides