Bad Guy Turns Good Guy…all for love. Sigh.

I didn’t date any bad guys in high school. Matter of fact, I didn’t date much at all, being a dork. (Although in a major coup, after college I married The Football Team Captain/Boyfriend of the Homecoming Queen and it’s lasted for 36 years.) 

And I wasn’t attracted to hippies or bikers or Point Break surf dudes or anything like that. But I found myself more than interested in the outlaws of the Old West. I don’t know why. Maybe because many of them had been scarred by the horrors of the Civil War, parental abuse and deaths, or abandonment. Mental illnesses, which were scandalous and largely untreated at the time, likely played a part. And the dichotomy of the brutal James’ brothers dedication to their mom Zerelda and love for their wives let me think somewhere in the evil there maybe had been a spark of untapped good.

 So when I was asked to contribute to the Lawmen and Outlaws Christmas Anthology from The Wild Rose Press (released this week), I decided to invent a hero who was an outlaw and called my story Christmas for Ransom. My first time writing about a baddie. But I knew I personally couldn’t fall in love with a totally wicked guy, so I gave him some sparks of untapped good. Jack Ransom was raised by his beloved gram-maw and upon her death when he was 13, he promised her he’d live a righteous life and learn to read.

 Abandoned and alone, though, he found “family” in a gang of other young hopeless, homeless lads, the notorious Ahab Perkins Gang that rides roughshod through the West in many of my stories and wips, stealing horseflesh. The story takes place in the 1880’s in a nebulous portion of  northwestern Texas with pretend places of such names as Cahoots, Frying Pan, Sweetcream, Desolation, and Pleasure Ridge. (Thanks to the wonderful Linda Broday for answering many of my questions. However, if I got any geography or facts wrong, it has nothing to do with her.) 

Thieving the rich Stony Brook Ranch of its prize Morgans on a Thanksgiving night way back when stalls Jack in his tracks. The old lady owning them reminds him too much of his own gram-maw and his semi-evil heart starts to thaw. 

Things really heat up when, unbeknownst, he hires her schoolmarm granddaughter Eliza Willows to teach him to read…and she agrees. Only if he tracks the whereabouts of her granny’a missing horseflesh. And by now, Ahab Perkins is in hot pursuit of his runaway buddy.

 Sigh. There some bullets and snow and some really bad guys on the way to the HEA. 

I hope you’ll give Christmas for Ransom a whirl. It’ll soon be on Amazon for those Kindles out there. 

For an early Christmas present, I’ll be sending one name drawn from today’s commenters a pdf. copy of the anthology. They are all terrific stories, but I hope you’ll read mine first.

(Excerpt from Chapter Two

     Pinching herself, Eliza lost interest in everything except seeing what the stranger looked like in the lantern light. Brawny stalwart men were nothing new in a railroad town or on the ranch, but she never minded a good view.

     Her breath caught so hard her sore rib tweaked. He was magnificent. The big-brimmed hat and flowing duster reckoned him a wrangler of some sort coming in from the range. Although he needed a bath and truly looked the worse for wear, she didn’t mind one single bit. The scruffy cheeks, the long rag-taggle coat, even the scent of masculine sweat were far more her style than the slick-haired dandies and overdressed fops she’d met at Boston cotillions. 

     “This here’s Ransom,” Ben said helpfully.

     As the stranger moved closer, he removed his hat and tucked it under his arm with a polite half-nod. For a long luscious moment, eyes the color of manly liquor covered her with a mouth-watering gaze. Golden-brown hair touched the mountains of his shoulders like sunlight at dawn across the Guadalupe Mountains.

     Air left her lungs. A slow burn started at the top of her spine, her flesh desperate for the days’ worth of roughness adorning cheekbones carved like crags and valleys. She had to hold her hand still to keep her fingers from caressing the deep etches of his face.

     Eliza couldn’t move as she stared up at him, aching and eager. Oh, she was no stranger to fine-looking cowpokes and no simpering virgin to boot. Twice, to spite Granny, she’d lain with a hearty, handsome ‘hand from Desolation, but found the first time dreadful. So dreadful truth to tell, she’d been persuaded to try again a month later after she hadn’t turned up with child. Again, not so good. So what had brought on this urgent longing for a man she didn’t know?

     Not knowing what else to do, she held out her hand, organizing her trembling lips. “How do you do, Mr. Ransom.”

     “No mister, ma’am. Ransom’ll do.”

     “Here’s Miz Eliza,” Ben said. “Our schoolmarm.”

     Eliza silently thanked Ben for letting Ransom know she was unattached. Married women didn’t teach school.

     Slowly he removed his gloves and pocketed them, his gaze never leaving her face. In spite of the cold, heat rushed down from her head to weaken her knees. When their fingers met, her toes exploded. “Where are you from, Ransom?” she managed.

     “Sweetcream,” he said without hesitation, his voice low, mysterious, barely hearable. She liked it.

     “Why, I’ve got kin there. Luetta Lodge.”

     He stiffened at her words, from the cold most likely, and put his hat back on. “Good night now, Miz Eliza.”

     The way he said her name, slow, low…why, she’d not be able to sleep well tonight.

     If at all.

     Some of it might be jitters due to the school’s Christmas pageant, but more was the skittering up and down her spine brought on by his gaze wafting over her like a velvet hand. Her bosoms tingled as she imagined his fingers caressing them.

     He tipped his hat. From the outdoors look of him, he was likely a wrangler or a drover. Maybe a bounty hunter. No. The strong chin bespoke the law. She reckoned him a Marshal or a Ranger. Someday soon she’d know for sure.

     “’Night, Ransom.”

 

 

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A California beach girl, I love cowboys and happy-ever-afters. My firefighter hubby and I enjoy travel, our two little grandsons, country music, McDonald's iced coffee, and volunteering at the local horse rescue. I was thrilled last year to receive the CTRR Award at Coffeetime Romance for Sanctuary, my tribute to my cancer-survin' hubby!

39 thoughts on “Bad Guy Turns Good Guy…all for love. Sigh.”

  1. First,congratulations on the major coup! I am sure there is a story in there too 😉

    Ah, bad guys turned good. I have been in love with that theme ever sense I discovered A Christmas Carol.

    Thanks for this morning’s smile! And good luck on the anthology. Now I just have to get a kindle!

    Peace, Julie

    • Hi Julie, always so good to see you here! Aw, A Christmas Carol is absolutely one of my favorite books, and movies (the George C. Scott version.) I so appreciate your good wishes, and my Kindle is my new favorite thing. Glad I could make you smile! Thanks for the post.

  2. No bad guys in my past! Congrats on the 36th years!!

    I’d love to meet your outlaw Jack Ransom!

    I loved the movie Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. My kind of outlaws!

    • Butch and Sundance are heart-throbbers, to be sure, Laurie. I just love the teacher-lady scene. Now, I think I would have dated THAT bad boy LOL. I totally love Jac Ransom. In some ways he and Eliza deserved a longer story LOL. Thanks so much for posting today, and for the congratulations. My hubby is a very good guy but does have his moments of mischief LOL.

  3. I can’t get enough of ‘bad guys’…in fact I married one. 🙂 Thanks for the snippet of your book, it sounds awesome. I can’t wait to read it.

  4. No outlaws in my past either, but I’d love a good cowboy 😉 This book will be on my Kindle one way or the other… whether I win a copy or buy it!

    • Hi Melissa, oh, I love those cowboys, too…shoulda been a cowgirl but it was rather impossible in my L.A. suburb. I hope you’re enjoying your Kindle and hope you enjoy Christmas for Ransom. Thanks so much for posting today.

  5. Delicious excerpt, Tanya, and that great cover looks like it’s already gift wrapped.
    Your post-dork self (as a high school dork myself, I can’t believe I said that) capturing the football hero sounds like a great story. Is there a book in there somewhere? Congrats on 36 years.

    • Hi Elizabeth, my filly sister. Yeah, kinda…I just remember him and me reconnecting at a party the Christmas after college, and I looked across the crowded room and he caught my eye, and sparks flew. I still remember the tingle. Of course, I nearly ruined everything by picking the movie Deliverance for our first date… if ya haven’t seen it, get it from Netflix and you’ll understand why I was so horrified LOL. Thanks for the good wishes.

  6. Wow! 36 years — that in itself is a major coup nowadays. Congrats, Tanya, and keep it up. Takes quite a person in this day and age to keep their marriages alive and well.

    I, too, was attracted to the “bad boy,” and unfortunately for me, I did date one in high school. Broke my heart.

    However, that aberration did eventually wear off (thanks to the help of friends) — but as for outlaws, like you, I find that time and place fascinating. Great post.

    • Good morning, Kay. I am so sorry for your broken heart 🙁 but I’m sure those emotions make for realism in your books. Thanks for posting today and for the good wishes. We have been very blessed, that’s for sure.

  7. I never dated a bad boy, but I have to admit they make fun romantic heroes. Maybe it’s the fact that we know they’re going to turn out good in the end. Reformed rakes and all that.

    Fun post, Tanya. Your Christmas story sounds like a great read!

    • Hi Karen, I agree wholeheartedly about the romantic heroes. Nothing like a good women to get a baddie to see the light. And those HEA’s are the reason I read romance. Thanks for stopping by the Junction today and for the good words.

  8. Anthologies and Christmas stories are a favorite. Will be fun reading about a good bad guy. Amazing what caring for a good woman can do for yhou.

    • HI Patricia, I know exactly what you mean. I have a box of Christmas antho’s I bring out every holiday…when I have just enough time to read a short book now and again. I think Eliza did a pretty good job with Jack LOL. Thanks for making time to post today.

  9. Oh I love Christmas Anthologies, a bad guy that turns good sounds like a story I would love to read. Their was one guy I dated that some would say was a bad guy but really he wasn’t just had the rep for it. He was really a sheep in wolfs clothing.

    • Hi Quilt Lady, ooooh, I love the sheep in wolf’s clothing idea. There has got to be a story therein. I wonder what happened to your “wolf”. Thanks for posting today. It’s always so good to see you here in Wildflower Junction.

  10. Supposedly I’m related to the notorious John Wesley Hardin who was an outlaw (killed 32 men), went to prison was saved their and came out to serve as a sheriff in TX. At least that’s the story. It’s kind of interesting that he bore the name of John Wesley, the man who started the Methodist church in England. Anyway it’s a good story though I doubt very much I am related to him! Except that we’re all related when you go back far enough. GRIN

    • Hi Lyn, I confess, I always think of Hardin when I hear the the name of clergyman John Wesley. I wonder if his mama had hopes, way back when. I’ve gone back to the Civil War era on my mom’s side where I learned a (seveal) great-grampa marched with Sherman to the sea, but no baddies. At least not yet. My friend Nancy has a relative who has an old graveyard on her property in Mo. with some kind of (Cole) Younger clan graves. I do intend to research and blog on it. Thanks for posting today.

  11. lol–i love your major coup
    sweet victory 🙂

    and i LOVE bad boys!
    your excerpt was fantastic!! i love that you’ve got a bold girl in there and ransom is a pretty cool bad guy name
    oh i hope i win
    if not i’m going to have to add it to my “to buy” list

    • hi Tabitha, oh, yes, I think Eliza is plenty bold LOL. One thing about Western writing, heroines can be strong and rebellious and definitely not weenies. Thanks for the compliments about the excerpt. It was a very enjoyable book to write, and time-wise, I got to do it during last holiday season, not during a hot summer. (There is of course a snowbound scene, hard to do in 90 degrees.) I hope you enjoy it. I sure enjoy your good wishes today.

  12. Tanya, how wonderful to end up with the football team captain! There’s no explaining true love. I’ve always been drawn to the bad boys too. I loved that element of danger they presented. But I didn’t marry one, probably thanks to my mom’s fervent prayers.

    Intriguing, teasing excerpt of your Christmas story. I can’t wait to read it. I was thrilled to help with those research questions. I’m always available.

    Wishing you lots of success!

  13. Hi Tanya, I never dated a bad guy, but I was a hippie. Still am, most of the time. I’m old, so I can get away with it.
    Your story sounds great. Since I have finished your book that I won, I am ready for another one.
    Congratulations on 36 years.

  14. HI Mary J. Wow, I am honored that you liked my book. It’s always good to hear that! Your hippiness makes me smile. You are definitely not TOO old. Thanks so much for posting today. It means a lot.

  15. I love the sound of your character Jack Ransom! Love to see how he holds to his promise… congrats on this newest release!!! 😀

  16. What an awesome title for your story!

    Don’t you think most of us writers were dorks in school? Read a lot, enjoyed English and history class, that sort of thing…flunked algebra…hated PE…

    okay, I’m just speaking for myself here.

  17. Hi, Tanya. Love the reformed outlaw stories.

    I just watched an old Jesse James movie and at the end when he is shot they sing this song containing the words:

    And the Dirty Little Coward
    Who shot Mr. Howard…

    (Jesse James was using Howard for an alias when he died)

    And they made it seem like the guy who shot him was soooooooooo evil. And yet, it occurred to me that if you’re an outlaw…in a gang of outlaws…seriously…you probably don’t have any business expecting your ‘friends’ to be other than untrustworthy, right???

  18. Hi Colleen, aw, thanks for loving Jack. He is one of my favorite heroes so far…maybe the most of all. I love that he can’t read. That alone makes him heart-touching. I so appreciate your congrats!

  19. Hi Cher, I humbly thank you, my dear. But yes, you just descrribed me to a T. If it weren’t for my dear uncle who tutored me in Algebra, I’d still be in ninth grade, I fear. And PE, oh, the klutziness still persists. Gulp. Thanks for the great comment!

  20. Hi Mary! I used a cousin of Jesse’s as my first hero and he even borrowed Jesse’s alias for a while, Thomas Howard, so as soon as I read your post, I have that tune in my brain now. Blast it! LOL. I agree–same as with all the gangsters right now. I wouldn’t trust any of those blackhearted souls! I guess even with outlaws, though, shooting in the back is cowardly. Duh.

    I watched a History Channel episode once where there are two separate families who claim Jesse James did not die and they are descended from him. (These aren’t his real kids’ descendents.) One dufous claims he’s a “ringer” for Jesse yet looks nothing like the picture. That’s delusion for ya.

    Thanks for the great post.

  21. Thanks, Paty! I love the other stories, too. It was a real honor to get to part of this anthology with so many talented authors. 🙂 I sure know what my stocking stuffers are gonna be this year! I so appreciate you stopping by today! oxoxo

  22. There’s always the little “something” about the bad guys that draws us to them! Jack Ransom sounds
    quite interesting, I look forward to reading his
    story.

    Pat Cochran

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