When I was a girl, my best friend’s family kept horses at their rural Houston-area home. They also owned a small ranch near Buffalo, Texas, and my family often vacationed there. (Our parents were best friends, too, and her father our family doctor.) My brother, Kent, and I fished, shot arrows into hay bales, and tramped through pastures, heedless of the bulls giving us the eye.
Our father pulled rolling beds outside for all four of us kids to watch meteor showers and search out the constellations at night. We paddle through livestock “tanks” on rafts made of fifty-five gallon drums. We attended services at the small church in town, and visited the local Dairy Queen. All in all, we had the grandest of times, and though they were the only times I spent “in the country,” they went a long way to cementing my love of and fascination with that life.
Setting out to write my Dalton Gang series, I knew I wanted to portray the reality of ranch life (or a close, fictional approximation) and not write stock “white-hat” cowboys. Dax Campbell, Casper Jayne, and Boone Mitchell are good guys, but they’ve got a lot of crust hiding that fact. The three became best friends in junior high, but went their own ways after high school, and haven’t seen each other, or the town of Crow Hill, Texas, for sixteen years. Now they’re back, tied to the land by a shared inheritance, and determined to make a go of a losing proposition.
Heroes and Heartbreakers gave UNFORGETTABLE, the 3rd book in the series, a “First Look,” and said: There’s a stark reality to this series in its portrayal of ranching life and small-town Texas. This is no cozy small-town contemporary. Even as it paints nostalgia of the way high school football rules in Texas and centers community camaraderie, it’s frank about the part that’s not pretty, the fact that drought and heat take down many more ranchers’ way of life than those that ever thrive.
I can’t even tell you how much I love this paragraph. This reader cut straight to the heart of what I’d wanted to show in the imaginary town of Crow Hill, Texas. The hard lives my characters face make their victories so much sweeter, and in the case of the Dalton Gang, the best victories are those Dax, Casper, and Boone find with the women meant to be their mates.
If you’re interested in reading UNFORGETTABLE, (and if you liked Friday Night Lights, I think you will) I’ll give away three digital copies (either Kindle or Nook, please specify). And I hope if you do read Boone’s story, you’ll revisit the series and read about Casper and Dax, too!