Those Hunky Colorado Cowboys! (And a Giveaway!) with Jody Hedlund

Most readers know me for my historical romances about lighthouses, orphan trains, and bride ships. But a western? Whoa! What’s that all about?

No, I’m not switching genres. My friends here on Petticoat and Pistols have the western genre well covered! But I am delving into a five-book family saga set in the high country of Colorado in the ranching area of South Park.

The Colorado Cowboys Series has all my usual trademarks—deeply emotional characters, fun plot twists, and sizzling romance. But this time the package includes hunky cowboys!

Most of the time when we think about cowboys in Colorado, we think of the ranches on the eastern plains, not the mountainous high country. But believe it or not, ranches started popping up in the mountains very early in Colorado’s history.

One of the first ranches in South Park (near Fairplay), was Hartsel Springs Ranch, founded as a homestead in 1862 by Samuel Hartsel. He started his ranch by buying oxen brought into the mountains by men arriving to mine for gold. The oxen were often worn out and worth little after making the long trek to the West. But Samuel fattened them and then turned around and sold them as beef to the mining community.

By 1864 Hartsel decided to branch out and diversify his livestock. He went to Missouri and purchased a herd of shorthorns that he then drove to Colorado along the Santa Fe Trail. It was a tough trip, but he eventually completed the cattle drive and made it back to his ranch with 150 head of short-horned cattle. 

Figure 1 Picture in South Park that I took of a cattle ranch during my research trip

Hartsel went on to become a very successful rancher, capitalizing on the rich grassland in South Park that fed his cattle. He also took advantage of a natural hot spring near his land that he developed and used for tourists who wanted a chance to bathe in the “healing waters.”

A Cowboy for Keeps, the first book in the series, is inspired by this real life cowboy and ranch. The hero, Wyatt McQuaid, is attempting to make a go of homesteading and ranching. But with all the obstacles he faces, he’s having a hard time making a new home. When Fairplay’s mayor offers him a deal, one that involves taking a bride in exchange for cattle, Wyatt can’t resist.

If you like hunky cowboys, mail-order brides, and marriages of convenience, then I invite you to give A Cowboy for Keeps a chance!

Leave a comment on this post if you’d like the chance to win a signed copy of the book! (Sorry, U.S. mailing addresses only.) I will choose a random winner on January 16.

What’s your favorite thing about cowboy stories?

Jody Hedlund is the best-selling author of over thirty historicals for both adults and teens and is the winner of numerous awards including the Christy, Carol, and Christian Book Award. She lives in central Michigan with her husband, five busy teens, and five spoiled cats. Visit her at

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94 thoughts on “Those Hunky Colorado Cowboys! (And a Giveaway!) with Jody Hedlund”

  1. I loved this story, and I absolutely can’t wait for the rest of the series! It’s so interesting to learn inspiration stories like this one too.

  2. I look forward to reading your new, Colorado Cowboy series, and I’d love to start with a signed copy. I own 21 of your books and especially enjoyed the Orphan Train, Beacons of Hope, and Michigan Brides series. Keep them coming!

  3. Welcome Jody- Your book sounds amazing. Colorado has some of the most gorgeous landscapes and sceneries in the entire world.
    Ranching in the high country would be a dream, well from June through September, but then I imagine it’s a bit tougher during winter.
    I love cowboy books, the determination of their breed to work hard, never give up, and when they do finally fall in love, it’s a deep love.
    Thanks for coming and sharing your story and research with all here at P & P.

  4. Hi Jody,

    I just took my first trip out west to Utah, Idaho and my favorite was Colorado. We stayed in Ouray, Co for 4 days and it was glorious! The purpose of the trip was to visit the Hay ranches and get hay shipped here to Indiana where I live. I saw ranches at the base of mountains and thought how wonderful it would be to wake up to those mountains everyday!

    I look forward to reading your books and welcome to P&P!

  5. I enjoyed learning about the background to your book. I like how hard working and respectful cowboys are. And once they fall in love, it’s for keeps.

  6. Good morning! So glad you dropped by P&P and shared this history! I love cowboys, Colorado and cattle ranches! I am a cattle brokers daughter and this series sounds awesome. We have had ranches and feedlots in Tennessee, Texas, Kentucky, New Mexico, Utah, Arizona and Mexico. We have had cattle out on grass and bought and sold cattle all over the United States and Mexico. Eastern Colorado is definitely not the easiest of areas to decide to have a cattle ranch but it’s a beautiful place to have one! I’d love the opportunity to read your book and a giveaway is an awesome way to find a new author to add to my go to authors list! Being Texan this series sounds like it’s right up my alley! Stay safe in these uncertain times!

  7. Shorthorns are a wonderful, calm breed of beef cattle, not to be confused with the milking shorthorn breed of dairy cattle!! We have used shorthorn bulls in the past with our herd – thanks for the information!

  8. Hi Jody,
    I enjoyed reading the introduction to your story. I love the beauty of Colorado especially the San Juan Mountains and Rocky Mt. National Park..

    My favorite thing about cowboys?
    I like their endurance and steadfastness. Their innate ability to deal with animals and athleticism to work in an outdoor environment that is many times unforgiving.

  9. This sounds like a great book, and series!! I love reading about the Old West. The book has a lot of things in it that I love to read!!!

  10. Marriage of convenience stories are one of my favorite tropes in historical fiction. I think that the trip from Missouri to Colorado would’ve have been tough for everyone involved. I wonder how many ranch hands went along with Samuel Hartsel?

    • That’s a great question, Elizabeth! I didn’t run across that detail in my research, but I know on his way back to Colorado after purchasing his shorthorns, he ran into trouble with Indian wars and had to delay his travels quite a bit.

  11. Hi Jody … I like the attitude of hard working ranchers and their family. They protect each other, provide for their animals, help neighbors, celebrate life. No matter how hard it is, and find happiness in the simple things of life. Determination, grit, are words to describe them. And love … oh yes how fiercely they love and protect their one and only. You are a new author to me. So, I will be visiting your website to learn more. Thank you for coming today.

  12. Hi Jody. I am looking forward to this series. Your picture of the scenery is beautiful. Cheers to Colorado and cowboys!

  13. I can’t wait to read this new series. One of my favorite traits about cowboys is their hard work ethic and dedication to their animals.

  14. Since I am old fashioned I admire cowboys. They are trustworthy, have strength of character and represent everything that is admirable.

  15. I enjoyed your wonderful post. Cowboys are real men who confront life with strength and are not afraid to work, be loyal and never waver in times of difficulty.

  16. You are the author who first got me hooked on the Christian Historical Romance Genera with your “A Daring Sacrifice”. When I got a hold of it I stayed up all night till I had finished it! I have been a huge fan of your books ever since and can’t wait to read your newest book! It sounds amazing!!

    • Hi Zoe, I’m so happy to hear that A Daring Sacrifice got you hooked on Christian Historical Romance! And thank you for continuing to read my books ever since! Hope you enjoy this one just as much!

  17. I enjoy finding new authors to read especially when they are from my state of Michigan! Enjoyed the post today, sounds good!

  18. My husband was stationed in Colorado Springs for three years with the Air Force. It was the best assignment we had. Our house was on the very Eastern edge of town (urban sprawl has since extended town very much further our). We could see the prairie stretching out in front of us from the Front Range. On our drives throughout the West, we saw ranching occupying many different regions. While the prairie is good grazing, the foothills hold many ranches offering what the cattle need. Some ranches have lowland pastures and mountain valleys and meadows that serve well for summer pasture. Those were the ranches that to me were the best. They are likely more work, having to drive the cattle between grazing ranges with the seasons. But for me, the beauty of the country and the ruggedness of the foothills and mountains is preferable to the flat monotony of the the open prairie. It took a special breed of people to settle this area and make a success of it.
    Best of luck with the success of this series. It sounds like a good one.

    • Hi Patricia, I’ve been to the Colorado Springs area many times and it’s truly beautiful! As I researched for this series, I read about those early ranches on the plains on the Front Range. There were some big and powerful ranches! But alas, I decided to set my ranch up in the more remote area of South Park to add a little more flavor from that area which is also so rich in history!

  19. This book sounds great. Reading about cowboys, especially historical, is my favorite choice.

    I like cowboys for the way they treat and respect women.

  20. I’m so glad you’re writing a cowboy series! I love their hardworking ways and their persistence in keeping their ranches going. And of course, the cowboy hats, spurs, and other cool paraphernalia that goes along with it. I’ve read so many of your books, and I always love the romance. Add these all together, and I know it’s got to be fantastic! Can’t wait to read it!

  21. So excited for this series! I absolutely LOVE your books! Thank you for sharing your gift with all of us!

  22. That is really interesting! You have to give those early settlers out west credit for their ingenuity. Looking forward to reading this one.

  23. I love cowboys I feel the are hard working, honest, family oriented and the look great in a saddle. Thanks for this amazing giveaway.

  24. Cowboys are a rare breed! Hard working and courageous makes them very swoony. I’m excited to read Jody’s new series!

  25. I cannot wait to read this series. I truly enjoy every book of yours that I have read. Thank you for sharing your talent with us.

  26. I love the change in scenery (genre)! I live in Texas and always think of our state as “cowboy country,”. It should be very interesting to learn about a Colorado cowboy and the challenging terrain. It sounds most interesting to a Texas gal!

  27. Hi Jody – Welcome to P& P. Looks like your starting a new series in your writing of Westerns is a great change for you.
    The book, A Cowboy for Keeps, sounds Awesome! Who doesn’t love a cowboy….marriage of convenience & a ranch with beautiful country. Will add your series to my TBR list. Thanks, for the chance to win a copy.

  28. Hi, your book sounds like a great read and the cover is beautiful! I love reading about mail order brides, I am always interested to the reasons made a woman be a mail order bride. Thank you for sharing about your book. Have a Great weekend and stay safe. Thank you for the chance.

  29. I have loved your light house series and just finished Rebellious Heart and I couldn’t stop listening! The Bride ship books have also been great! Will this book be made into an audiobook? I’m losing my vision and can no longer read but I’ve loved your audiobooks and can’t wait for more!!

  30. I already read this a few weeks ago! This story still has me all mush, it was so sweet. Greta and Wyatt are wonderful. I love the strong themes of sacrifice and duty, yet still following one’s heart. It was an absolutely beautiful story! I’m so thankful I got the book as a birthday present for my 20th birthday. I can’t wait to see what you do with this new series!

  31. Hello and Thank you for sharing I have always wanted to visit Colorado and I Love reading about Cowboys! This book sounds awesome!

  32. I grew up in Colorado and passed by many ranches like the one you featured. At the time, they were not very big-now they are big enterprises

    Your book sounds really interesting.

  33. I love historical western romance, it is my favorite genre! This series sounds wonderful and I look forward to reading them. I will have to look for your other books too. It is always nice to find a new author to add to the ones I already love. Thank you for a great giveaway!

  34. I lived in Colorado Springs for a while, and would never have thought about cattle ranches being there! Really enjoyed A Cowboy for Keeps. Wyatt was amazing! Please don’t enter me in the giveaway, I already received a copy thanks to Bethany House Fiction blogger program.

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