When I began thinking up my next series for Harlequin Desire, I knew the stories would be about modern day cowboys and I knew that Worth Ranch would be set in Arizona.  I’ve come to love the Arizona landscape from historic Phoenix to picturesque Sedona, from the green forests of Flagstaff to the glorious Grand Canyon.  In this book, the setting plays a secondary role and I wanted my fictional town of Red Ridge to encompass the splendor of the majestic crimson mountain ranges. And when I think of beautiful landscape, I think of Arizona. 

Forbidden Love and Cowboys:

There’s something so compelling to me about forbidden love and I knew I wanted that for Tagg and Callie’s story.  Think of West Side Story, The Sound of Music, Twilight and Romeo and Juliet.   Those stories couldn’t be more different, but each one has an underlying theme of forbidden passion, tortured heroes and heroines, who try but never really succeed in denying their romantic feelings for each other.  Now, put that together with an illicit encounter between a beautiful heroine and a loner cowboy trying to do the honorable thing, and you have the makings of a modern day forbidden love story.

In Carrying the Rancher’s Heir, Taggart Worth has his own reasons not to get involved with Callie Sullivan, though Callie had always secretly looked upon Tagg as her fantasy man.  Tagg owned her teen-age dreams, even as her father forbade her to go near a Worth. She was forbidden to speak with any of the brothers. Their families were rivals in business, yes, but a secret from the past was what really kept them apart.  When Callie comes back to town, all grown-up and accidentally meets Tagg in a honky-tonk one night, all of her father’s stern warnings fly out the window.  Don’t you love it when that happens? 

How the Worth Men Came to Be:

When my idea struck, I knew I wanted all three of the Worth brothers to have ties to the family ranch but with their own different and unique back story.  Tagg was once an ex-rodeo champion, his older brother Clayton, a country superstar turned rancher, (his story, THE COWBOY’S PRIDE, will be released in December) and Jackson, the dashing, lady-killer is businessman extraordinaire, is still percolating in my head.  But here’s the fun part – Worth Ranch has history that goes back more than one hundred years. So next spring, my Harlequin Historical, tentatively titled, A COWBOY WORTH CLAIMING, will take us back in time to see how Worth Ranch got its start with Chance and Lizzie’s story.  Throw in a ruby necklace and a lake that claims the tradition of being the marriage proposal site of all the Worth men and we have my Red Ridge Series. 

The Fun Part:

Before the book goes to print, my editor asks me to send him photos or pictures of what my hero and heroine look like.  He also likes to have some scenes with the setting, to give the art department an idea of what the background of the cover should look like.  I was lucky with Carrying the Rancher’s Heir, they put two horses on the front cover! They are seen better on the actual book cover than online, but it appears one is a pie-bald and one is a bay mare.  I was thrilled!

It wasn’t a hard task for me to scan through some “hunky men” and “cowboy” sites to find my heroes in the story.  I think I found my next hero/Clayton Worth in The Cowboy’s Pride in Chris Young and Chance Worth in my spring historical in Timothy Olyphant. 

 Fun Facts about Arizona:

Arizona has the largest stand of ponderosa pines in the world.

Arizona also has more parks and national monuments than any other state, more mountains than Switzerland, and more golf courses than Scotland.

Arizona is the only state that has an official neckwear.  The Bola Tie.  (my hero wears one) 

Known as The Grand Canyon State, Arizona has other nicknames as well:
The Valentine State (Arizona became a state on February 14, 1912)
The Copper State (Arizona produces most of the nation’s copper)
The Grand Canyon State (for obvious reasons)
The Baby State (Before Alaska and Hawaii joined the Union, that is)

What landscapes appeal to you most?  Do you love the mountains?  Do you love the desert or are you a water person who loves lakes, rivers and the ocean?   What are your favorite places to travel and explore?  Rural areas or the city?  
Share your comment today and you’ll be entered to win a copy of Carrying the Rancher’s Heir and a book from my available backlist! 


Charlene Sands is a USA Today Bestselling author of thirty romance novels, writing sexy contemporaries and stories set in Americana – Old West.   Her stories have been honored with the National Readers Choice Award, the Cataromance Reviewer’s Choice Award and she’s a double recipient of the Booksellers’ Best Award.  Be sure to check out her contest for Three Grand Prizes WORTH Winning at .

Thank you Fillies for inviting me today!!

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  1. My two favorite places are Glacier National Park and Olympic National Park. I love green mountains with lots of vegetation and overlooks of lakes! Perfection. I prefer to live in smaller cities where you can do the shopping you need to do without being hassled by tons of traffic and stress!

    Your Worth brother’s series sounds fantastic! I’d love to read Tagg and Callie’s story Carrying the Rancher’s Heir!

  2. Welcome Charlene,,,one of my favorite reads is anything in the old west,,it keeps me wondering about those days an get lost in the book,,,this sounds like a good series for me,,thanks for the wonderful post Vickie

  3. Signed up for newsletter, I think. Computers are such challenges. Thanks for interview and offer.

  4. This series sounds great!

    Isn’t Timothy Olyphant great, I loved justified. But you know there is something about that Boyd.

    Arizona is on my list of places to see, I have always wanted to go.

  5. Hi Laurie G- I’ve never been to any of those National Parks, but I love lakes too and greenery. Right now in CA, from all the unusal rain, every mountain and field is healthy and green. Thanks for the compliment. I hope you do get a chance to read Tagg and Callie’s story!

  6. Hi Vickie – I bet you’re waiting to see Cowboys and Aliens. At first the title threw me and I thought it was dumb. But Then I saw the trailer with Daniel Craig/Harrison Ford and it’s Spielberg, so now I can’t wait. Us, lovers of Old West, will take it in any form. I do enjoy a good western book too and am glad some western movies are still being made.

  7. Hi Sherry – Oh, I hear you about Boyd. It’s all in the attitude, I think. And I hope you do get a chance to visit Arizona one day… a vastly unique state, park desert/part Grand Canyon!

  8. Charlene, your new book, and the series, sounds wonderful. I love Arizona, too, and have set several books there – something magical about the place. My favorite is the Sonora desert in the south, especially when the cacti are in bloom!

  9. Charlene, how wonderful that they got your cover right!!!:) The series really sounds wonderful and since you wrote it, I know it will be fab!:) I love mountains and a beautiful, but I especially love a walk on the beach. Water is magic to me.:) xo, Leanne

  10. Loved Carrying the Rancher’s Heir. I’m looking forward to the next two books in the series. Thank you.

  11. Hi Charlene, love cowboys no matter how they come weather its modern day or historical. I love any book set in the west. I can’t wait to read your new series. It sounds really good.

  12. Hi Elizabeth – I love Phoenix, Scottsdale, Tempe. Flagstaff, Prescott, Sedona especially. There is so much history there and I drag dh around to all historical sites and museums. Thanks for stopping by!!

  13. Hi Leannne – Oh, yes, I love my cover too. I thought it was neat they put horses on it. I really wanted that. I KNOW how much you love the beach and the water!!

  14. Hi Goldie- I’m so glad you loved the story. It was one, when I was through writing, I felt really good about. My editor’s favorite to date. Thanks for stopping by with your kind compliment!

  15. Hi Quilt Lady- I guess there’s such an allure about American cowboys, whether they are from the past or present. It was fun bringing Taggart Worth’s story to light. He is a tortured hero, of sorts…

  16. I LOVE cowboys. There is something about a man in a cowboy hat. I like how you’ve made each Worth cowboy unique in their own way.

    I like a variety of locations – although I’m partial to mountains, forest, and snow.

  17. Hi, Charlene! I’m a water person, but put Timothy Olyphant anywhere and I’m there. 😉 Love him! And I do really enjoy reading books set in every location, probably more so in places I’m not familiar with because then I get a peek into that world. I cannot wait to read this series!!

  18. This series sounds so good, as do your inspirations, I love Chris Young and Timothy Olyphant. I’ve never been to Arizona, but my parents vacation there quite often.

  19. Hi Charlene! Happy Mother’s Day! I love your books they are about strong, man and cowboys are my favorite but all kinds of hunky men are alright to me. I’m looking for one but it seems like only in the books,but thats ok. I’m probaly better off for now. I can’t wait to read your book, I just ordered it,thanks for all the enjoyment that i get from reading, one minute I’m in wine country the next on a ranch…love it! Thats the world that all writers give us!

  20. Hi Kathy – I’m watching the Celebrity Apprentice now and I have to admit, I have a little crush on John Rich. He never takes off his cowboy hat! Good to see you here!!

  21. Hi Charlene, so good to see you here. I completely love Arizona. Our trip to Sedona has inspired a wip that I’m preparing for Love Inspired…even though it wasn’t called Sedona at the time I’m writing. LOL. Oh, and yes to Timothy Olyphant. Sigh. I so love Justified.

    Happy mother’s day. oxoxoxoxox

  22. Hi Summer – Love your name btw. I used to be Charlene Summers, when I wrote for Kensington… There’s so many lovely places to visit in Arizona. It’s VERY hot there in the summer months unless you go north toward Grand Canyon.

  23. Hi Carole – I know. I really enjoyed writing my Napa Valley series, but it was time to move back to the ranch for the next books. I’m really enjoying writing the western, granddaddy Worth story that will be out in April. Hope you find that “right” man!! Thanks for the kind words!

  24. Hi Tanya – What is it with us (you and me) and Tim’s… McGraw, Olyphant…and you married one!! So funny. I’d love to see that Love Inspired on the shelves. Arizona is the perfect setting for so many stories. Thanks for the welcome!!

  25. Thanks for sharing with us today! Love background info… this series sounds like it will great!

  26. This series sounds good. I’ve only been to Northern Arizona to the Four Corners area and the Grand Canyon. Beautiful country! Would love to go back again some day.

  27. Charlene,
    Have enjoyed your westerns over the years. This series sounds like it will be a good one. I am glad there will b n historical series tie-in. I will be especially interested in that. Always nice to go back and find out what started it all.
    Thanks for the tidbits about Arizona, I’ll be printing those out and sharing them with my husband. We look forward to going back for another visit.
    Best of wishes with the release of CARRYING THE RANCHER’S HEIR as well as the rest of the series.

  28. Forgot to answer your questions. We love the mountains. We enjoy traveling and the wide variety the US and Canada offer. Each area has its own special beauty. We lived in Colorado for 3 years, coming from the Northeast. Very different mountains and the desert has its own character. We like lakes & streams and the ocean, have seen a wide variety of those. The one thing we aren’t is beach people. No lounging on the sand. Too much to see and do. Cities have much to offer and we do take advantage of them, but we prefer the wide open spaces.

  29. Your new series sounds fabulous! I like all of the settings mentioned, and love to explore rural areas.

  30. Hi Charlene,
    Sounds like a good series! I can’t wait to read the books!

    I love Sedona! I grew up near there in Camp Verde. Arizona definitely has some of the most beautiful scenery in the world.

  31. I live on the Texas coast so when I go travelling I go to see mountains and national parks ~ at least most of the time. I seldom spend time in large cities.

  32. I live in Arizona so I know why you would want your book set in this area. It is truly a beautiful place, however, if you want the settings for the real cowboy working ranches you need to go to the Wilcox area which is Souteast of Tucson.

  33. I love seeing different areas of the country. I have to admit though that I’m more of an ocean person than a mountain person. I like both landscapes, though, so an Oregon vacation is a surefire bet for me. 🙂

  34. Just lovely. I have Arizona on our wish list but will have to settle for these books for now!

    Peace, Julie

  35. This series sounds wonderful, Charlene! And I love that you’ve worked it so we meet the contemporary and historical Worths.

    My favorite place to visit and use as the backdrop for my Westerns are the mountains of Wyoming and Montana, and throw in a few vast plains for good measure.

  36. Charlene,

    I love the series but of course I would I live in AZ. This is a must read and on my list.

    My favorite landscapes are the desert and mountains. Here in AZ I am sure not many people know but on the San Carlos Reservation, there is a place that is a must see. It is the Old San Carlos Monument. This is the place where Geronimo walked. There is a lake and the mountains surrounding it are breathtaking, plus you get the desert with cactus too.

    Thanks Charlene I will make sure I pick this up

    Walk in harmony,

  37. I share your thoughts on beautiful Arizona…but of course I grew up there and went to high school and college there and I miss it terribly. I’ve lived in the San Diego area for many years since my work brought me here but I visit the desert more than I go to the beach which is only 10 miles away (I’ve never been fond of the beach)…once you’ve lived on the desert it draws you back.

  38. Hi Jackie, Melinda, Pat B, Kristen, Julie, Sara M, Joye, Ellen Too, Maria C, Colleen, Estella, Hilltop Farmwife (love that name!) — Just returned from sitting on a writing panel and signing at the Burbank Library!! I appreciate all of your comments.

    Happy Mother’s Day ladies!!

    You are all the very best!

  39. I do like landscapes with mountains and bodies of water. It’s got a serene atmosphere to them.

  40. I cannot wait for this series. I love visiting Arizona especially Tucson but that might be because of my cousin and his family. Sedona is another favorite place and I am really starting to enjoy Chandler, AZ.

  41. Hi Charlene! I’ve only been to Arizona once. We just loved Bryce Canyon, a hell of a place to lose a cow.
    I have to visit the mountains on a regular basis. They feed my soul.

    This series sounds very interesting. I love the idea of a couple from rival families.

  42. I have been to and through Arizona several times, starting when I was a teenager and my parents took us on a cross-country trip in a station wagon. I remember Yuma being over 100 degrees at night! I’ve been to the Grand Canyon three times, including the trip with my family. The second trip with my then husband was a business trip for him shortly before Thanksgiving and I insisted on going to the Grand Canyon. I’ll never forget his expression as he walked up to the railing along the South Rim and saw the majesty before him for the first time! We also stayed to see the sunset and then drove to a friends’ “cabin” in Flagstaff along an open road and I have never seen so many stars! My third trip was to the West Rim and it was just as fabulous. There’s nothing like the Grand Canyon to give you the sense of just how insignificant you are in the scheme of things.

  43. This series sounds really good. I will keep an eye out for these books.
    I love areas with mountains. I love being at the top and looking out over a valley. It is a very beautiful view. I also like having water nearby. I like listening to the sound of water running through a creek. I haven’t done much traveling, but I have been to the Grand Canyon. I love the view from the South Rim of the Grand Canyon. I wanted to take the mule ride down into the Grand Canyon, but at that time you had to make reservations a year in advance. That was something my husband and I didn’t know about, so we didn’t get to do that. I love living in rural areas.

  44. “Anywhere” is my favourite place in the world as long as I’m with those I love. We like to go with my sister and her family into the mountains whenever possible (but she lives over 2,000 miles away, so we don’t get to go as often as we’d like). One time, we went to help my brother-in-law’s brother take down a tree in the Rockies. As we were all climbing up what I considered a hill but was actually a mountain, I couldn’t get my footing as well as the others, as my legs were/are 5″ longer than all of theirs, so my bro-in-law and husband grabbed my arms to pull me up to them. I still couldn’t do it because my legs needed to bend, so they actually dragged me sideways along the mountainside until we got to an area where I could get my footing. I was laughing so hard (better than crying) and somehow got twisted around so that I was facing away from the mountain. This isn’t good for someone afraid of heights (even though I’m 5’10”). So now my objective became “don’t pee your pants” instead of “don’t lose your grip”. Yikes! After much thinking and praying, I managed to twist back around, get my footing, (not pee my pants) and continue upwards to the tree, but it took awhile. Funny how I’ve never tried to do that again….

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