The village of Tierra Rosa, my fictional small town in northern New Mexico, is very, very loosely based on the picturesque, lost-in-time real village of Pecos. Situated about a half-hour west of Santa Fe on the southern edge of the Santa Fe National Forest, the village itself winds like a lazy roller coaster ride through a couple of miles of the Sangre de Cristo mountains, a charming, humorous mix of adobes, turn-of-the-century two-story foursquares and straightforward ‘sixties unadorned – as well as the usual complement of mobile homes in various stages of disrepair).
In the spring, I imagine profuse lilacs suffocate crumbling old adobe walls and “newer” post-and-rail fences alike, since they certainly do all over Santa Fe, infusing the entire town with their delicious fragrance. In the fall, when my husband Jack and I drove up from Albuquerque, the northern New Mexico landscape is nothing short of magnificent. Brilliant yellow aspen and live oak leaves flash against the bluest sky you’ll ever see, pollutant-free at 7000 feet above sea level; a few miles in any direction of the village lead to ranches and tiny farms alike, tucked against mountains, the Pecos river valley, the hauntingly stark red clay mesas that seduced Georgia O’Keefe into never leaving.
That seduced – eventually – this born-and-bred East Coast gal into never wanting to leave, either. For that, I have Jack to thank, since more than twenty-five years ago he suggested we pack up all our goods and chattel (including the first two of our five sons) and move back to New Mexico from New York City. Well, “back” for him – I’d never been farther west than Jersey. And, okay, it took me a few years before I could look up at a plane heading east and not whimper. But there’s a reason why this place is called the Land of Enchantment, because inevitably it cast its spell on me, just as its original inhabitants, not to mention the succession of settlers trooping through a hundred, two hundred, four hundred years ago.
However, until I was well and truly under that spell, I didn’t feel right about setting my stories here, as though I had no right writing about characters who called this fascinating, sometimes spectacularly beautiful place home until I could, too. It was therefore especially sweet that my first RITA award (in 2009, for Best Contemporary Series Romance) was also the first book in my Tierra Rosa-set Wed in the West series for Silhouette Special Edition. I’m also delighted that readers are loving the series enough to allow me to continue setting books there. My latest, WELCOME HOME, COWBOY, about a burned-out country singer finding healing in the last place he ever expected – and with a woman whose heart is even bigger than her butt! – is in many ways my favorite of the series thus far.
And Tierra Rosa – I mean, Pecos – will always hold a very special place in my heart, since my research trip there was the last time my husband and I drove up north before he passed away this past March. Unfortunately, it was already too late to dedicate WELCOME HOME, COWBOY to him…to say how grateful I am that he gave me this truly magical place to call “home.” That, and our five terrific (if sometimes exasperating) sons. So, thanks, honey, for thirty-one wonderful years. You’ll always be the reason I write romance.
Yee-Haw! Karen is giving away a copy of her new book. Leave a comment and you may be the lucky winner!
He’d never really had a place to call his own…
But the broken-down ranch in front of him was the closest he’d ever come. Now, pregnant widow Emma Manning was struggling to keep it, her children and herself going. She could use a hand. Well, that was all burned-out musician Cash Cochran could spare.
He’d never had a woman to call his own, either…
That was painfully obvious to Emma as soon as Cash knocked on her door. And though, with her ever-growing brood and her money pit of a ranch, she was the last woman on earth he could ever fall for, he was falling nevertheless. They both were.
But what would happen when they landed?