There’s a Reason New Mexico’s Called The Land of Enchantment


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! 


Welcome Home, Cowboy (Silhouette Special Edition) 

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?

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33 thoughts on “There’s a Reason New Mexico’s Called The Land of Enchantment”

  1. Hi Karen, welcome to Wildflower Junction. I was laughing out loud about the woman whose heart is bigger than her butt but then my own heart broke reading about your loss. May the magic never end.

    New Mexico is absolutely on our list of places to see now that we’re retired. Your post really has let me know what wonders we can expect.

    I love country singers and cowboys and and so look forward to your book. God bless.

  2. Karen, I too am sorry for your loss. I am at year 30 with my husband and I can only imagine your grief. I am glad you are in such a beautiful place. I consider Pecos to be one of those healing places.

    My heart about stopped when I saw the pictures before I even started reading your blog. I stayed at the monastery in one of their hermitages many years ago. I got lost on the trail and found myself having to cross the river to get back (fortunately it was really low but VERY cold from snow melt). I always tell people I got lost because I kept following one beautiful view to another.

    One thing I regret was not getting higher up the road where I was told there was a mountain meadow with wildflowers like in the Sound of Music.

    A magical place…thanks for the reminder!

  3. Welcome Karen,I am so sorry for your loss,the pictures you posted are just beautiful,actually makes me want to see more too,anyway thanks for coming today an hope the future will be brighter for you hon,God Bless

  4. I’ve never been to New Mexico. It does sound beautiful. My FIL mentioned a church that has some miraculous stairway to heaven. It goes up without supports?? I’ve always wanted to visit Santa Fe to see the artists and their crafts. I’d like to see the Native American influence on their homes, furniture, paintings and jewelry.

    I’m saddened by your loss, may your memories sustain you. I’m sure he knew how much you loved him. It sounds like your sons and their families will keep you occupied.

    I’d love to find out how Emma and Cash get their own HEA!

    Keep on writing!

  5. Hi, Karen! Thank you for a wonderful post, which I read, and then read over again. I am so very sorry that your husband passed away. You are quite generous to share your personal love story, both in your comments and in your writing. Five sons–what a wealth of story information–five times over! Your lovely description and photos of New Mexico made me long to visit!

    “Welcome Home, Cowboy” sounds wonderful : ) Sometimes what your heart needs is found where your mind least expects it!

  6. Howdy, Karen! New Mexico is such a beautiful state. When we moved cross-country, we went through it right after a huge rainstorm. The colors were stunning. Someday I want to visit it from top to bottom.

    Your book sounds wonderful. Love your description of Emma and Cash. And I am so sorry for your loss. Thirty-one years is quite a legacy of family, love, and adventure.

  7. Karen,
    We’re so happy to have you here today. Thank you for your post and for sharing your story. I admire your courage in writing this when your grief is still so raw. God bless you and your sons, and may the many years of happy memories comfort you during this very sad time.

  8. what beautiful pictures!
    thank you for sharing a little about your magical trip with us
    your book sounds very lively and interesting

    i’m very sorry you recently lost your husband
    it sounds like he’s left you with some wonderful memories and children to keep his memory alive

  9. What a wonderful tribute to your husband and to New Mexico. I’m glad you have so many happy memories of your last trip with him.
    Congratulations on your Rita award!
    Lilacs and blue skies and aspens, broken-down ranches and children and cowboys – You’ve made me want to visit New Mexico and read your series!

  10. So sorry to here about your loss of you husband!

    Thanks for taking the time to come here today and share these beautiful pictures of your trip with us! Your book sound fabulous and I would love to read it. Thanks for sharing your book and story today. I really enjoyed it!

  11. Hi Karen and welcome! We’re so glad to have you visit with us in The Junction.

    A few years ago I drove from Dallas to Santa Fe with my parents. I convinced them to go exploring. We found Pecos and I fell in love–for all the reasons you listed and probably a couple of more. What a gorgeous part of the country.

  12. Hi Karen, welcome to our little corner of the world. We love having you and hope you’ll come back again.

    You and I have several things in common. I spent the first 20 years of my life in Southeastern New Mexico. Funny, that I couldn’t wait to leave there but now I find myself yearning to go back. Parts of the state are truly a sight to see. I love the mountains best of all. Very breathtaking. Another thing we have in common is that both our husbands passed on. I definitely feel your pain. Words can’t describe the emptiness. Just try to keep going and focus on putting one foot in front of the other. It does get easier.

    God bless you! Love the cover and title of your book. The fact that the hero is a burned-out country singer drew my interest. I’ve got to have this book.

  13. What a wonderful post, New Mexico is one state I haven’t visited, (I’m from Canada) I have managed to visit 39 so far!
    Love the premise of your book and all the best for its release!

  14. Thanks so much, everyone — I’m delighted to be here!

    I’ve been getting some really nice feedback on WHC so far, which is gratifying since the story ended up being one of my favorites. Not that writers are supposed to have favorites, but…;-) Being able to write characters exactly the way they came to me — a country singer and a “big” gal — was a blessing in itself. More than that, however, this story plunges deeper into spiritual territory than I’d ever thought I’d be allowed to explore in a secular romance, making it indeed a true book of my heart.

    Not that I don’t love all my characters and stories, but this one is truly special. 🙂

    And thanks, too, for the kind words regarding Jack’s passing. The past three months have been all about finding my footing in this new “normal” — although, with two not-so-baby-birds returning to the nest (to add to the two who haven’t yet left!) life doesn’t seemed terribly inclined to let me find out what “normal” is anytime soon. 🙂

    Life may be unpredictable, but heaven knows it’s never boring!

  15. Sorry about your loss… thank you for sharing such beautiful pics and your words about your husband with us!

  16. I have been to Pecos many times and love the beauty of New Mexico. This is a great setting for a book. The book sounds really good and I have added it to my TBR list.

  17. Karen, I too am sorry to hear about the loss of your husband. Your description and pictures of New Mexico are beautiful. We will be traveling there in August for a wedding. We plan to do some sightseeing. We have been to Santa Fe already and seen the famous “stair” church but I want to take my daughters there this time.

  18. Looking out on the land that is New Mexico is awesome….I love to visit the state and have been to Pecos…I love to go to New Mexico to do my watercolor painting since there is such beautiful colors in the skies and lands.
    Sorry for your loss.

  19. Karen, What a wonderful man you must have been married to. I am sure he lives on in your heart and in your sons. What a beautiful place he left you.

    My husband of 47 years reminded me the other day that we had met and been together for 50 years this June. I would miss him terribly.

  20. I have a special place in my heart for New Mexico. I lived in Farmington for a couple of years and I would have loved to live in Santa Fe. I truly loved it there. Every time I went there I was enchanted by the city and the surrounding area. Welcome Home, Cowboy sounds wonderful and I would love to read it.

  21. Karen, I am so sorry to hear about your husband. We too often forget how short we may have those we love with us. I am glad you had such a wonderful husband. Your boys will be a legacy of your time together. Perhaps their returning home is a bit like circling the wagons. They may feel you need them and they may even need you.

    We lived on Colorado and traveled in New Mexico several times. We are from the Northeast, so it was quite a change. The Southwest has its own special beauty and charm. We miss it. If we could have, we would like to have retired there.

    WELCOME HOME, COWBOY sounds like a good story. I look forward to reading it. I’ll be thinking of you and your family when I do.

  22. Karen: I’m so sorry to hear about losing your husband. I lost mine several years ago now after being married 31 years too. It sounds like a beautiful place he left for you and your sons. And know that he is still there with you. I know that mine is still with me.
    And your newest book does sound heartwarming.

  23. Hi Karen,

    I’m very sorry to hear about your loss.

    Thank you for taking the time to talk with us. I enjoyed reading your blog, and the pictures you posted are beautiful and look like a place I’d love to visit.

    Best of luck with your book! It looks like it will be a wonderful read!

  24. Karen,

    My condolences to you and your five sons on the
    loss of your husband and their Dad. Sounds like
    he was a great fellow.

    I’m looking forward to reading this next book!

    Pat Cochran

  25. I too am sorry to hear about the loss of your husband. Your description and pictures of New Mexico are beautiful. I have never been there but have been to Mexico.

    I like the concept of your book and thanks for sharing.

  26. Hi!

    I’ll give you a different spin/take on your above post: congratulations on having had so many good years with Jack. I’m sure there were ups and downs at times, but those ups more than make up for the downs, I bet! It’s always nice to hear about marriages that have been enjoyed, as sadly there are so many marriages today that “don’t make it”. I hope you find much to enjoy during the coming months while you continue to find your new “normal”.

    As for the above book, I think you have captured what heroes/heroines and “real people” really want: to be needed. Sounds like Emma needs physical labour for her ranch (and perhaps help with her children), while Cash needs a job. I look forward to reading how you make this a win-win situation.

  27. Laney – that’s exactly the way I look at it. 🙂 It *was* a great marriage, even if it ended sooner than I would have liked, sigh.

    About the pics — actually, those aren’t mine, but lifted from the Pecos, NM website. And there’s a lot more where those came from. Aren’t they great?

  28. Karen, thanks for a wonderful, heartwarming post that no doubt came from the heart. Since I live in the Texas Panhandle, we frequent New Mexico and love that particular area. Did you get to visit the Georgia O’Keefe Museum in Santa Fe? It’s fabulous. She also taught in the Panhandle at what is now West Texas A&M University in Canyon. A most enjoyable post. Thanks for sharing.

  29. Phyliss, no, I never got to the O’Keefe Museum. LOL — we had so many kids at one point we were doing well to get to Walmart! We’d always planned on taking more daytrips, but circumstances seemed to always get in our way.

    Someday, though, I definitely need to get up there. 🙂

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