Feisty Lady Ranchers…my specialty?

My most recent release is, A Man with a Past.

When I’ve talked about that book, I’ve mostly focused on the hero, Falcon Hunt.

The hero in this one is extra fun in two ways.

One, to me, the big one, Amnesia. Very interesting and tricky to write.

Two, he’s a Tennessee Mountain Man in 1870.

I played around a LOT with his accent, trying to catch that southern and mountain cadence that’s not really a western cowboy voice.

So anyway, those two things made writing Falcon Hunt really fun. But I haven’t spent nearly as much time talking about Cheyenne. The heroine. And I should because Cheyenne is the kind of character I just love to write. Tough western women who take care of themselves and everyone around them.

That’s Sophie McClellen from Petticoat Ranch. That’s Belle Tanner from The Husband Tree. That’s allllllllllllllll of Sophie’s Daughters. That’s Callie Kincaid from Over the Edge. That’s Ruthy MacNeil from Swept Away. That’s Mel (Don’t call me Melanie) Blake from Too Far Down, Bailey Wilde from Fire and Ice. Oh I could go on and on. In every three book series I can’t seem to control myself from making at least one of my hero a feisty lady rancher.

In the Brothers in Arms series, book #1, Braced for Love, the heroine. Win. is a sweet natured school marm with a fancy finishing school education. And in book #3 Love on the Range the heroine Molly, is a smart, quiet, intense little fairy princess. But book #2, A Man with a Past, Cheyenne Brewster, is a feisty lady rancher.

I really believe that probably, most women of the west were like this. I think when you lived a long way out, a lot of the rules and behaviors expected of women got shoved aside for the practical. Side-saddles? Maybe sometimes, mostly not. Hoop skirts? No, more like riding skirts if they didn’t just outright wear pants. I’ll bet those women were wearing long woolen underwear and had their hair tied back in a no nonsense braid…if they didn’t just plain cut it short.

So here comes Cheyenne Brewster, the toughest lady yet.  And why does she fall for the guy who’s inherited her ranch right out from under her? How does this tough lady face off against a very tough man she can’t steamroll?

Well, she admires strength. She admires his tracking ability. She ultimately trusts him and that is huge for Cheyenne who was so badly betrayed by her stepfather, not just in his will, but all of his life.

Cheyenne Brewster has been wandering in the wilderness trying to get over her killing fury since the beginning of book #1. She vanished from that story–I’m hoping that story was interesting enough that no one paid much attention to the fact that both Cheyenne and Falcon vanished. Now, she’s met up with her friend in the woods and both of the invading ‘surprise’ Hunt brothers, Kevin and Falcon. Cheyenne has some catching up to do.

She was honestly shocked to see Kevin holding Win’s hand and pulling her away from all this death.

            “What is going on with you two?” Cheyenne stood, her eyes shifting between the two of them and their clasped hands.

            “Uh…” Win looked at Kevin, then smiled. “We’re married.”

            “What?” Cheyenne shoved the hood all the way off her head.

            The rain had stopped and that was a shame. She could use a solid dousing to clear her muddled thoughts.

            “Yep, well and truly married.” Kevin put his arm around Win.

            Cheyenne considered knocking the arm off. Especially when Kevin smiled. Then Win snuggled closer like a brainless sheep, and Cheyenne figured attacking Kevin wasn’t going to go well with her friend.

            “You’re married. Falcon here has been wandering in the woods for days. Armed gunmen hunting you.” Cheyenne flung her arms wide, “I can’t leave any of you alone for a minute or trouble comes flooding.

            “This one’s dead, too.” Falcon knelt by the man he’d killed. He tossed him onto his stomach and retrieved his knife.

            Win said, “We were going to be kicked out of the ramrod’s house with Baker coming home. I guess we don’t have to worry about that anymore.”

            “What in tarnation is a ramrod?” Falcon wiped the blood off his knife and stuck it in his sheath.

            Cheyenne couldn’t help but admire the man’s style.

            Cheyenne led the way home.

            She had a lot of questions and mostly they were answered. Win being married, that just didn’t make a lick of sense. But what about Cheyenne’s life did?

            And Falcon Hunt. That’s who she’d been tracking. Despite hating these two men fiercely, she had to admit a deep respect for Falcon.

            They hiked for hours. She was the only one in good shape. And the only one who knew where they were going.

Do you have a favorite character type in a book? Do you like tough women? Damsels in Distress? Spies with near superpowers? Cowboys of any type, any time?

Leave a comment about a favorite character type to get your name in a drawing for a signed copy of A Man with a Past.

http://www.maryconnealy.com/

 

A Man with a Past

My next release is July 6. 

A Man with a Past

Book #2 of the Brothers in Arms series.

I thought, today I’d share an excerpt.

A bit of set-up. Falcon is the hero of A Man with a Past.

He and another brother, Kevin, showed up to claim their inheritance left them by a father they’d believed died twenty years ago.

Naturally they’re confused and angry.

They arrive to find a third brother who was supposed to inherit half his mother’s ranch–but his no account father inherits it when their ma dies, but never makes any use of it. Let’s Wyatt and sister Cheyenne do all the work while he lazes away and wanders near and far.

Wyatt was supposed to split the ranch with Cheyenne. Instead his older half-sister is cut out completely and this two ‘surprise’ brothers get a third along with Wyatt.

Cheyenne is so mad she’s dangerous to be around.

And even so, she’s drawn to Falcon and he to her.

But Falcon has amnesia. Every time he tries to remember his head hurts until it almost knocks him down. But he’d fighting to remember and flashes of memory make him worried he’s abandoned a wife just like his father. Too bad he got that flash of a wife while he held Cheyenne in his arms…and called her Patsy.

A Man with a Past

He wasn’t sure how long he’d been hunkered down there when a movement to his right brought his head up, his eyes were almost blurred through the pain.

“Are you bad off?” Kevin rushed to his side and dropped to one knee.

Falcon’s wavering memories slammed shut. Falcon wanted to swing a fist into Kevin’s face and tell him to go away.

Then he thought of what Kevin had just said, and the voice he’d said it in.

“Did you say, uh, once-once s-say,” his memory waivered, “Did you ever say ‘Pa is that you?’ I mean say it to me…ever?”

Kevin’s cheeks turned a ruddy color. One corner of his mouth turned up in an embarrassed smile. For some reason the expression helped Falcon push aside the pain in his head.

“Yep, when you stepped off the train.” Kevin gave Falcon a sharp look, worried, checking him over. Then he rose to his feet. “For just that one second, with you turned mostly away from me, you looked so much like my pa. Uh, our pa, a man I hadn’t seen for twenty years, that I let those words loose. I knew even as they left my mouth you were too young.”

“And you knew Pa was dead, the will and such.”

Kevin gave a little one-shouldered shrug. “Considering I’d known pa was dead for most of those twenty years, and I’d just found out he was dead again. Seeing you and not being all that sure he was dead was easy to flicker though my mind.”

“Makes sense.”

“Is your head still sore? Is it worse? You’ve been moving and acting like you’re feeling fine—except for losing your memory—”

“Yeah,” Falcon interrupted, “Except for that.”

Kevin smirked. “Anyhow, except for that, I thought you were pretty well off. But now you look like you’re hurting bad.”

Falcon didn’t like talking about how weak he felt when he was hunting inside his head. A man needed to hide if he was weak. The weak were prey. Supper. Animals and people were both dangerous. “Aren’t you supposed to be in the kitchen arguing?”

“I reckon. But I can’t add much to it, and they’re yelling just fine without my help.” Kevin reached a hand down to Falcon, who, after thinkin’ it over a bit, took the hand and let Kevin haul him to his feet.

It was a good strong yank. Falcon was eye-to-eye with his brother. Their eyes matched. They both had a little dip in the center of their chin. Beyond that, they didn’t look much alike. Falcon was an inch or so taller than Kevin. Probably broader. They both had brown hair but Falcon’s was darker, straighter.

“When you went missing,” Kevin swallowed hard, “when we thought you were dead, it made me sad to think a brother I never knew, was now a brother I never would know.”

Kevin clapped him on the shoulder and it was a gentle slap. Kevin was acting like Falcon was fragile. Prey. Though Kevin didn’t seem to be hunting.

Falcon met his gaze. “A brother. And you had a little sister and brother. I-I don’t think I had anyone else. Except, I think…a wife.”

“A wife?” Kevin’s brows arched.

“I had a flash of memory. Patsy. I can see her face and a cabin. We were married I think. Were or are married.”

“You don’t remember anything else?”

“I remember I had a mule named Harvey, and I remembered a man’s voice, you I guess, sayin’, ‘Pa, is that you?’”

“That was when you stepped off the train in Bear Claw Pass. You came out here on the train, and arrived the same morning I came riding in with my family. And you heard what Tuttle said about Independence. So you had a run-in with him back there.”

“And then I went missing later that day I got off the train?”

“Yep.”

“Did I say anything else?”

Kevin stood quiet, thinking. “When I said, Pa, is that you. You said, “Ain’t no one’s pa, Mister.”

Falcon straightened. “I said that?”

“Yep.”

“So, I didn’t abandon my children?”

That struck Kevin into a dead quiet. All there in his eyes. That their pa had abandoned them. That Falcon didn’t want to be that kind of man. “Have you been worrying that you might’ve done that?”

Falcon shrugged, but he was feeling better. The pain lessening in his head and his heart. “I thought of Patsy’s name when I was—was—” He snapped his mouth shut. He must’ve taken a beaten on his head to’ve almost blurted that out.

“What happened?”

Mary Connealy

Falcon didn’t know what he must look like but it had to be tellin’ Kevin something. And suddenly Falcon was glad he had a brother, because maybe talking to a brother would help him a little.

He looked at the door to the hallway which led to the kitchen. Plenty of squabbling in there still. Dropping his voice, looking between the door and Kevin, he said, “I thought of Patsy’s name, said it out loud, when I-I,” he cleared his throat ’cuz it was clogging shut. “When I had my arms around…Cheyenne.”

Kevin staggered back, caught himself, his eyes round as twenty-dollar gold pieces. Whispering didn’t hide the shock. “You and Cheyenne?”

Falcon nodded. Afraid now she’d somehow heard and would come charging into this room looking to pound on him worse than the rocks in that stream had. He’d already lost his whole past. What else did he have to lose?

His life.

“And called out another woman’s name after?”

Honest, it was more during, but Falcon didn’t see any reason to mention that. Bad enough he’d thought of another woman, but to have said her name out loud—and now Kevin saying it out loud, it all helped him feel even worse. Which surprised him because he wouldn’t’ve believed he could feel much worse.

“And you’re still alive?”

Falcon was alive. He was standing right there. And still… “I’m a little surprised myself.”

<<<<<<<<<<<<

Leave a comment to get your name in a drawing for a signed copy of A Man with a Past

Falcon Hunt awakens without a past, or at least not one he can recall. He’s got brothers he can’t remember, and he’s interested in the prettiest woman in the area, Cheyenne. Only trouble is, a few flashes of memory make Falcon wonder if he’s already married. He can’t imagine abandoning a wife. But his pa did just that–twice. When Falcon claims his inheritance in the West, Cheyenne is cut out of the ranch she was raised on, leaving her bitter and angry. And then Falcon kisses her, adding confusion and attraction to the mix.

Soon it’s clear someone is gunning for the Hunt brothers. When one of his brothers is shot, Falcon and Cheyenne set out to find who attacked him. They encounter rustled cattle, traitorous cowhands, a missing woman, and outlaws that take all their savvy to overcome. As love grows between these two independent people, Falcon must piece together his past if they’re to have any chance at a future. 

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Life without Cows

My Cowboy retired.

He did it a year ago, January 1st, 2020. A year that will live in infamy.

We have BIG PLANS.

Travel. See the kids. Oh, who knows what all.

And then Covid

And he sat and he sat all that long, long cold year.

Looking at cattle that weren’t his, oh dear.

Okay enough Dr. Seuss.

He’s a Nebraska cattleman and that seems to be more than skin deep. 

Like (I suspect) most people, there were parts of his job he loved. And parts he hated. I think if he could have skipped the parts he hated (getting up to check on pregnant cows at 2 am in February when it’s 18 below outside comes to mind) he’d’ve kept at it for much longer.

But you have to take the bad with the good. And the good was something we both loved….let me mention here that I was NEVER along on those 2 am checks. Oh, and 9 pm, sometimes midnight, then the 2 am visit. And often 5 am. 

I slept through all of that.

But oh we did love those pretty baby calves.

We mostly had black angus and those shining, furry black babies, so lively, so alert and interested, but shy, are just the prettiest little things.

We’d ride out in our Kubota, no horses for us for a long, long time…check the cows. My Cowboy would risk his life to tag (note the white ear tag on the baby and the red tag on the Mama…cows get tagged in eastern Nebraska and branded in western Nebraska…though this cow on the left had a freeze brand. 

It’s what it sound like. Instead of a red hot branding iron, they use liquid nitrogen and our vet knew how to do it, though we didn’t do it to our cows. Sometimes we bought replacement cows though and they’d come branded.

He’d get between the mama and baby. Mama often trying to kill him like he was a wolf attacking her calf, rather than the man who brought her food all year long. We respected her protective instincts at the same time we thought it a sign of a very small brain.

Sometimes the cows we’d buy were already pregnant and we’d get a little color in the herd. And this cow, with the white face, isn’t an angus, she’s a Simmental with what they call a BLAZE. Though that’s not what I’d call it. More like big white blotches. But no one consulted me when they named this type of cow a Simmi-blaze, so we’re stuck with it.

Anyway, I’m sidetracked.

We’ve lived through two springs now without any 2 am baby checks.

And also two springs without calves. 

My Cowboy is really good with retirement.

He said the other day that he doesn’t have time to do everything he needs to do everyday.

I laughed.

He snapped that it wasn’t funny.

I quit laughing but inside I was thinking it WAS kinda funny. He was really worried about what he’d do in retirement, because he is NOT a guy who does well sitting around.

Sort of an energizer bunny type.

But he’s doubled the size of our garden. He’s planted six? Seven? Fruit trees. Mows the lawn. Does all the cooking. Cleans the house. Washes the laundry. Oh, yeah, he does EVERYTHING.

And he golfs. 

 

Mama and Baby–most of our calves are pure black, but not all

I have to admit, I never saw that coming.

He golfs like…five days a week. He is now one of THOSE GUYS who mutter and complain when it rains because he can’t go golf. Add in, he has never done much golfing, so it’s not like he has this rusty game from his youth he’s trying to resurrect.

Anyway, again, sort of sidetracked. 

He missed the great parts of the cows. So do I. Like this pair to the left, also a Simmi-Blaze pair. They reflect each other. The mama’s blaze bends to the right, the baby’s to the left. I just LOVE THIS PICTURE!

But life without cows…is kind of sad. We drive down the road past herds of cows with their babies. And he really notices. He started early this spring saying, “No calves yet in that herd.”

Then we get to the same herd a week later. “Look there is one right against the fence. (note…these are STRANGERS cows).

Now these herds are just teeming with babies and they are so cute. We miss them.

Except at 2 am.

 

 

Leave a comment to win a free audio-book version of Braced for Love. Tell me if you do NOT want the audio book. I got a couple of free … codes? Coupons? Whatever, for audio books and I’m allowed to share them.

And tell me what you think you’d miss if you retired. And what you wouldn’t miss. Or if you are retired, what do you miss and not miss.

I know as a writer who has…it’s freaky to say…not minded being locked down all that much!!! There isn’t much I dislike about being an author. I suppose maybe someday I could quit…but I’m not sure. I have this vision of myself….105 years old, slumping dead over my keyboard, halfway through writing a book. 

BRACED FOR LOVE

Brothers in Arms book #1

After his father’s death, Kevin Hunt inherits a ranch in Wyoming-the only catch is it also belongs to a half brother he never knew existed. But danger follows Kevin, and he suspects his half brother is behind it. The only one willing to stand between them is Winona Hawkins.

Left with little back in Missouri, Kevin Hunt takes his younger siblings on a journey to Wyoming when he receives news that he’s inheriting part of a ranch. The catch is that the ranch is also being given to a half brother he never knew existed. Turns out, Kevin’s supposedly dead father led a secret and scandalous life.

But danger seems to track Kevin along the way, and he wonders if his half brother, Wyatt, is behind the attacks. Finally arriving at the ranch, everyone is at each other’s throats and the only one willing to stand in between is Winona Hawkins, a nearby schoolmarm.

Despite being a long-time friend to Wyatt, Winona can’t help but be drawn to the earnest, kind Kevin–and that puts her in the cross hairs of somebody’s dangerous plot. Will they all be able to put aside their differences long enough to keep anyone from getting truly hurt?

 

Also available for pre-order

 

A Man with a Past

Brothers in Arms book #2–Coming in July 2021

Falcon Hunt awakens without a past, or at least not one he can recall. He’s got brothers he can’t remember, and he’s interested in the prettiest woman in the area, Cheyenne. Only trouble is, a few flashes of memory make Falcon wonder if he’s already married. He can’t imagine abandoning a wife. But his pa did just that–twice. When Falcon claims his inheritance in the West, Cheyenne is cut out of the ranch she was raised on, leaving her bitter and angry. And then Falcon kisses her, adding confusion and attraction to the mix.

Soon it’s clear someone is gunning for the Hunt brothers. When one of his brothers is shot, Falcon and Cheyenne set out to find who attacked him. They encounter rustled cattle, traitorous cowhands, a missing woman, and outlaws that take all their savvy to overcome. As love grows between these two independent people, Falcon must piece together his past if they’re to have any chance at a future. 

 

Love on the Range

Brothers in Arms book #3–Coming in October 2021

Wyatt Hunt is temporarily bedridden and completely miserable. Somehow Molly Garner’s limited skills have made her the most qualified in their circle to care for Wyatt. But by the time he’s healed, she’s fed up with him and the whole ungrateful family. For even worse than his grumpiness were the few unguarded moments when he pulled at her heartstrings, and she has long determined to never marry.

Molly gets a job as the housekeeper at Oliver Hawkins’s ranch. But really she’s with the Pinkertons, spying to find out if Hawkins has abused women and if he’s guilty of murder.

Wyatt refuses to let her risk it alone, convincing Hawkins that he’s abandoning his own ranch, angered by his two brothers’ coming to claim a big chunk of it.

But when another Pinkerton agent gets shot, they realize Hawkins isn’t the only danger. The Hunt brothers will have to band together to face all the troubles of life and love that suddenly surround them.

 

http://www.maryconnealy.com

Casper, Wyoming…not as big as I thought

Research is tricky.

I once set a book such that it passed through Fort Laramie, Wyoming and the research I did sort of contradicted itself. I wrote it up best I could

Finally, when the book was done and I turned it into my editor, her comment was, “Did you know they moved Fort Laramie three times? And none of those are by Laramie, Wyoming.”

No, I didn’t know that. Yes, I’ll revise.

I once set a book in Fort Union, New Mexico. The only think I needed was…what fort is close to my story because I needed my characters to go to a fort. They stayed a day. No big deal.

So a fort is a fort is a fort right? They entered the stockade gates and searched for the commander.

Except Fort Union had no stockade. In fact, in 1878, the time of my book, it was barely a fort. It was a storage place for supplies. The west was settled for the most part. There were mostly warehouses and very few soldiers. Yes, I’ll revise.

So in my most recent book, Braced for Love–and all my books–I create a fictional town, in this case Bear Claw Pass, Wyoming, and set it near a real town, in this case Casper, Wyoming. It’s the CAPITOL. Sure Wyoming was still a territory, still it stands to reason that the future capitol of a state would have SOMETHING going on. (Mary responding to one of the comments below. This is WRONG. Casper is NOT the capitol of Wyoming. Duh! Thank you for the correction. But it is typical of my error. Even when I KNOW the right thing sometimes the wrong thing makes it into print!)

Nope. 

The key research line I found was about Fort Casper…and this sentence. The town of Casper itself was founded well after the fort had been closed. Instead of this bustling western town I found a quiet little place with the potential for growth because railroad tracks were coming through.

Research will trip you up if you make assumptions and I sometimes do make assumptions and they make it into print, then I just have to hope readers make assumptions along the lines I did and don’t notice, or they are forgiving.

 

So my next series is going to be set somewhere I’ve never written about before, California, near Sacramento and Yosemite, about twenty years after the Gold Rush. You know what? Big cowboy area. I’m having fun researching it and getting off onto side tracks. And learning, learning, learning. Especially I have a woman inventor and as much as we look at that time as being primitive, the industrial revolution was ON. New stuff coming as fast as they old patents aged out. I read once, there were over 100,000 patents taken out just for automobiles.

Guns…the history of guns is the history of America. The fortune that could be made by improving on the design. Every tiny step of progress could make a man a millionaire.

All this industry was built on inventions from before, and others would build on what was new. It’s fascinating reading. The four-stroke cycle engine isn’t invented yet in my books but it is THEORIZED. You get that. A man theorized it would work and it was wild. Explosions, inside a steel box, pushing pistons up and down. It took fifteen years before someone made this theory work.

Anyway, I’m kicking off what I hope is a journey of discovery for my inventor, genius heroine and her very confused cowboy hero who thinks his ranch is the best run place in America (not that he’s ever travelled). She wants to improve it by making explosions inside a metal container? It sounds dangerous and honestly, ridiculous. And she may be smart but it all sounds stupid to him. But he is fond of his pretty, energetic little wife so okay, go on and invent things, just be careful.

Hot and cold running water? Um…turns out that’s nice.

Irrigation on his ranchland? He liked that idea. 

I’m enjoying myself in that series, trying to write my way around the whole Casper, Wyoming debacle in my current Brothers in Arms series, and generally loving exploring history.

 

 

A special treat for Petticoats and Pistols readers.

Hearts Entwined ON SALE NOW. FOR $1.99

Hearts Entwined, a novella collection by Karen Witemeyer, Regina Jennings, Melissa Jagears and Mary Connealy.

Click to Buy

Hearts Entwined

 

Four top historical romance novelists team up in this new collection to offer stories of love and romance with a twist of humor.

In Karen Witemeyer’s “The Love Knot,” Claire Nevin gets the surprise of her life awaiting her sister’s arrival by train.

Mary Connealy’s “The Tangled Ties That Bind” offers the story of two former best friends who are reunited while escaping a stampede.

Regina Jennings offers “Bound and Determined,” where a most unusual trip across barren Oklahoma plains is filled with adventure, romance, and . . . camels?

And Melissa Jagears’ “Tied and True” entertains with a tale of two hearts from different social classes who become entwined at a cotton thread factory.

Each tale is a fun blend of history and romance that will delight readers.

Book Decor

Okay, I’m a book freak. I know it. Writing them. Reading them. And decorating with them.

This lamp is made of actual old books. Our local library used old books they no longer shelve, and makes them into lamps and sells them to raise money for the library. This one is a little bit sideways thanks to my 2-year-old granddaughter who KNOCKED IT OVER. This is why we can’t have nice things!!!

My faux old book tissue holder. I just saw it and loved it and there was no stopping me! It’s on the end table right next to my recliner and I used it every day!

This is a Christmas tree ornament. But I can’t even think of putting it away eleven months of the year. So it hangs form my bookshelf with my own books on it!

My daughter gave this to me for Christmas one year.

And the next year she gave me this Christmas ornament, also used to decorate my shelf of books.

Now I should start on my WESTERN decor. Maybe for another blog.

How about you? Do you surround yourself with books…that are just books? Or do you take it farther and decorate with them?

http://www.maryconnealy.com

Mary Connealy has THREE WINNERS!!!

The winner of an audio version of Braced for Love is

Kellie

The winner of an ebook version of Braced for Love is

Ginny Perkins

The winner of a print version of Braced for Love is

Deb Volkman

Deb, I’ve emailed you using the email address attached to your comment on our blog. It’s bounced twice now. Please contact me at mary@maryconnealy.com and I’ll connect with you to arrange to send your book.

I will contact each of you and

get you your book in the correct format!

 

Mary Connealy, author of romantic comedies with cowboys