In my latest book, Fresh-Start Ranch, the hero has been with me through the first two McClure books, which are his siblings’ stories. When I went to write Ethan’s book, who is the eldest, I was stumped. He was a nice guy—-a nice boring guy, who everyone depended on.
I wrestled with the man. What secrets did he have? Surely he hadn’t made it to age 35 without some sort of black mark. He had feet of clay. I will say Ethan McClure held on to his secrets, but I kept after him and discovered two things.
First, I discovered Ethan had been stood up at the altar. His bride-to-be sent a note to the church, telling Ethan she couldn’t do it. He stood in that little country church outside of Albuquerque with all his childhood friends and the area’s ranching families witnessing his shame. He hated the pitying and sympatric looks he got.
Then I discovered Ethan’s other secret. When he was in high school, he spent the summer between his junior and senior year in high school following the rodeo circuit. Ethan fell in with the wrong crowd and started gambling. He ended up $5,000 in debt to some unsavory characters.
Wow, those are some heavy secrets. And how often do we avoid telling our parents, when we’re 17, our mistakes. Ethan told the local vet, Doc Adams, what happened. Doc paid the debt, but told Ethan he had to work the debt off by working for him and if he gambled again, Doc would tell his parents what had happened.
That certainly was a black mark that I wouldn’t want to share with anyone, so the casino pa natet man’s reluctance made sense.
Now, who did Ethan fall in love with? Doc’s new partner, a petite woman who hates gambling. Dr. Tessa Grant past was marred by her father’s gambling, and she wasn’t shy about sharing her past with me. She was an open book, and had a hard childhood. There is a twist in the book, and Tessa doesn’t handle it well. I understood Tessa’s feelings. When something happens, or you stumbled across a devastating secret, it takes time to process it. Tessa had some hard truths to deal with and it takes her awhile to deal with them.
A little side note. I talked to a vet in Houston and asked about problems he’s dealt with. He told me a little secret. When a horse had colic and after you’ve walked the animal and wanting to get the horse’s system back to normal, he told me a trick—-load the horse in and out of a horse trailer and that usually will get things moving in the right direction. That was a little secret I didn’t know.
Ethan and I would welcome all comments and questions. And would love to give away two different copies of the book and one set of all three McClure books!