East/West, Home’s Best!


My new cowboy is a shepherd.

Now there’s an image crisis there, because we see shepherds differently than we see cowboys.

Cowboys are square-shouldered, horse-back riding, Stetson hat wearing, maybe even gun-totin’ working men. This is the cover of book one of my Double S Ranch Series….


Shepherds make us think of Bethlehem… long cloaks, robes, cinched waists and sandals.

But in the American West, that image doesn’t cut it. In my upcoming “Shepherd’s Crossing” series with Love Inspired, four sisters inherit a share of a sprawling, beautiful western Idaho sheep ranch developed by their uncle, one of the heirs to a publishing empire years before. When the girls’ father embezzles money from their mega-publishing empire, leaving millions of dollars in unanswered debt, the girls are left to fare for themselves… but when their uncle leaves them the ranch– well MOST of it– the girls see a chance to begin anew.

Of course the other part of the ranch goes to a smokin’ hot cowboy hero who has a significant past with the oldest sister, but that was a dozen years before… and the last thing he wants to do is share the ranch he’s worked for twelve years with a bunch of Steel Magnolias sporting impressive university degrees and no knowledge of sheep or the ruggedness of a northern winter.

But the west isn’t The West anymore… like so many changes in the past forty years, the demographics of sheep farming have weakened in the hills of Idaho. The fleece and lamb market faded, farmers sold off, and modern irrigation methods have made unprofitable land arable again, so that hay is beginning to edge the famous Idaho potato out of it’s esteemed #1 position. WHAT????? SAY IT AIN’T SO! Irish gals love their potatoes!!!!

And the big game hunters who lobbied for Bighorn sheep to be brought back to Idaho, don’t want farm sheep roaming the hills in the annual sheep walks… They’re afraid that the domestic sheep carry germs/bacteria that sicken the Bighorns.

An industry torn, and change ensues… with hay and cattle encroaching on what had been Spanish Basque shepherding practices for decades.

Setting a romance in the West is the easy part… making it real to the reader, bringing them into the hills of Western Idaho, the rolling bluffs giving way to mountain peaks, letting them see the sheep heading into the hills, guided by Peruvian shepherds now… Swarthy-skinned men, recruited from the mountains of Peru, here to make a new life, guiding sheep on the annual brush-clearing trek, now threatened by change.

So much has changed but brown-skinned cowboy shepherds still prevail, and in this series we bring the true diversity of today’s America to the helm… Mixed sheep and mixed races sprinkle the landscape like spring wildflowers, natural and good. And that’s the beauty of writing today’s romance.

Publishers want it real. They want it relevant. They want that romance front and center, and what better way to create conflict than thrusting people out of the comfort zone completely? Lizzie Fitzgerald wanted the career her father eschewed, the career crafted by her grandfather and great-grandfather, publishing icons in their time.ย  She was born to step into their shoes but her modern technology and her father’s greed left her with no company… and even cost her job with a Boston paper. And now she’s here, face-to-face with her first love, the man who fathered her lost child… and never lifted a finger to help.

Setting this series in the hills, mountains and valleys of Idaho is absolute pleasure. The Northwest allows all kinds of weather, excitement, danger and good old-fashioned ranching at its best, even as times change, people leave the land for urban development (oh, those SILLY PEOPLE!!!) and story-tellers like me re-create one of the most iconic and beloved images of our time and times past…

The American Cowboy.ย 

This series begins next year, but I’ve got a copy ofย  my just-released Christmas duo with Jillian Hart to give away today! Leave a comment and we’ll tuck your name into Colt Stafford’s big ol’ Resistol hat….ย  And as you read these beautiful holiday stories, you’ll share in the joy of the upcoming holiday season and sweet, sweet romance.

And while most of us live life in small towns, cozy nooks, or urban streets and suburban neighborhoods, the romance of cowboy lore… and the American West… goes on.


Except in Baseball where this New York Yankee will be cheering for PINSTRIPES all the way during the post-season!!! ๐Ÿ™‚



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34 thoughts on “East/West, Home’s Best!”

  1. Ruth this sounds amazing. Have a great day. I saw your books in my small town store, I just might go back and buy Back In The Saddle. ???

    • Tonya, first, huge thanks to your store for having my books in stock! And sure you should… it’s a great story and a wonderful Western, and I love that they put them out in such an affordable size…. That helped us to sell lots of books and reach so many readers, Tonya…. I’m tucking you into the drawing for the Christmas duo!

    • Estella, he’s smokin’ hot…. and strong and kind but a little bit narrow-focused… which the heroine HELPS HIM OVERCOME, LOL! ๐Ÿ™‚

      I think you’ll love Heath Caufield, my sheep-herding cowboy! And his friends. ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Sally, you’ll love the Shepherd’s Crossing series… it’s set in a beautiful part of Western Idaho, near the Payette National Forest, but far enough from amenities that it’s a total culture shock for 4 Steel Magnolia women.

      But they earned every bit of “steel” in that title, and I suspect they’ll do just fine! ๐Ÿ™‚

  2. Good morning, Ruthie…..There is nothing better for me than a landscape that stretches forever. That speaks to my heart. Add in a rugged cowboy who doesn’t know the meaning of quit and I’m in for life. I love the idea that your cowboy is a shepherd. That’s very unusual. Great cover with that smokin’ hot cowboy. And his horse, of course. ๐Ÿ™‚

    Your Christmas book with Jillian Hart looks awesome! Wishing you tons of sales!

    • Linda, hi!!! I’ve been working our real-life farm these past six weeks… it’s our busy season here, we’re a pumpkin farm, and it’s pumpkin time! So when I put these cowboys in time crunches, I feel for them! And those women, riding herd alongside.

      I’ve wanted to do a shepherd story for a while, and this ended up being the perfect opportunity. Sheep… ethnic celebrations… hot cowboys…. strong women… and cute kids, dogs, and kittens.

      How can that ever be bad???

      Thanks for stopping by today!

    • Aw, Carrie, thank you! And I love that 1K1HR is a source of encouragement for so many. We help each other there, and if any of you folks reading this are aspiring authors, e-mail me about coming on board our 1K1HR group on facebook… it’s managed by Carol Moncado and it’s a great place to help nudge each other into prioritizing the writing time of our day… and getting it done so we can get other things done!

      Carrie, thanks for being here!

  3. I really enjoyed your post Ruth. Very interesting.
    A sheep herding cowboy is a first for me I can’t wait to reads the series. I’m with you ion following the stripes living here in Jersey. ๐Ÿ™‚
    Carol Luciano

      • Hahahaha! I knew exactly what you meant… and we don’t get FS1 so this is BAD…. We tried FUBO last night, and it crashed 8 minutes in.

        OH MY STARS.

        And then the Yankees lost, and I couldn’t cheer them on except via radio feed through the TV. Our local station that carries Yankee baseball isn’t strong enough to reach us, it’s a tiny country station.

        We are a little sad right now, Carol! ๐Ÿ™‚

  4. Sounds like a good story! I live right next door to Idaho. Our northwest corner of the country is full of rich history and amazing pioneers who worked hard to build good lives among the elements. I am looking forward to reading this one!

  5. This sounds like a good series to look for. This summer I read Alex McGregor’s book “Counting Sheep”. It is a history of the McGregor family’s many years as successful sheep and wool producers in Eastern Washington and Western Idaho and the many changes that have led them to becoming one of the largest family owned agribussinesses in the Pacific Northwest. They do still raise sheep but not as many as they used to. I don’t think of them as “cowboys” but definitely cattlemen and sheepmen.(At one time’they operated a large cattle feedlot.) I know many people don’t think of sheep as part of “the west” but there was a time when they were more profitable than cattle. And, of course,profit allows you to keep the farm or ranch.

    • Alice! I haven’t read that, but I’m ordering it now. You’re so right, the sheep farmers of the 20th century helped build that part of the west. And it’s funny, a lot of folks don’t think of Idaho and Washington when they talk about The West… they see the prairie and the central North, Montana, Wyoming, etc.

      But the growth of Idaho and Washington brought us to the Pacific and linked us to so much. For a long time Idaho was a pass-through state when others were booming. Folks just rolled on through to get to Washington and Oregon.

      So it’s fun to explore the people who settled here. Who saw the potential. I’m hoping to get out there next spring to see it first-hand. I rolled through central Washington two years ago, but Idaho is its own kind of different!

  6. Your new cowboy series sounds wonderful. It’s always fun to read about the cowboy ways. I love Christmas stories too and would love to read your new book. Holiday stories add to the magic of the season!

  7. Times change, but the land keeps its steady influence over those who inhabit it. Some people may fight the influence, but in the end, they won’t win. This series should be an interesting exploration of loss and how people face it and move on. It sounds like Lizzie has worked hard for the life and career she has always wanted. To have it taken away through no fault of her own and then have to confront a painful part of her past is a story I look forward to. What are the reasons behind past actions and how are things worked out. I look forward to this series.
    I love Holiday stories. Christmas books, many anthologies, line a couple a couple shelves of a bookcase. I enjoy them and try to reread as many of them as I can every year.

  8. Thanx for the giveaway, Ruthy. I am looking forward the the Christmas duo AND the cowboy shepherd series. Please, keep writing.

  9. This was so interesting. I know for a time there were a lot of fights between cattlemen and sheepherders in the west. This sounds like a great series. Your Christmas book looks great, too. Thank you for the chance to win a copy

  10. Hi Ruthy. I love Cowboys, I love Christmas and I would love for my name to be thrown into the hat! Thanks for sharing!

  11. Hello Ruthie! Congrats on your Shepherdโ€™s Crossing series. I’m looking forward to reading it.

    Please toss my name in the Stetson.
    psalm103and138 at gmail dot com

  12. I love cowboys and their stories. Also Christmas stories. It sounding very interesting. Would love to win. maxie

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