Coming in March…Braced for Love

I will tell a little story that serves as the background of my upcoming three book series Brothers in Arms

I’m from a town that shall remain nameless, but it is old. It’s claim to fame (one of the few) is that it is old.

An old town.

So the man who founded the trading post and thus started the settlement, was a scoundeal.

He was married back east, had children, and at some point, he ran off, headed west, abandoned his wife and children to explore the frontier.

It got him as far as my hometown.

Where he married, had children and ran off. No mention of his wife back east.

He went to Colorado and (do we really need a drumroll?) he helped found a town, got married, had children and…his story is lost from then on.

But I’m assuming he ran off and who knows how many families he scattered across the west.

So my series is inspired by the scoundrel but of course I make it much worse when, if you really look at what my town’s founder did, it’s honestly hard to be much worse. Still, my scoundrel managed it.

Three families, each with one son. Each abandoned…except…his last wife was the owner of a large ranch. He first husband died and she inherited his ranch. Her father neighbored with her and after she because a young widow, she moved home to her father and the two of them, with her daughter, ran the ranches as one.

Then along comes the scoundrel. He has to be a charming rogue doesn’t he? To convince these women to marry him?

So then he runs off, but once in a while he wanders through. He has a son now with this third wife who has learned what a useless man she married. Then his third wife dies.

And suddenly, he is the sole owner of a huge ranch. And when he dies (this all happens before the book begins of course) instead of dividing it as his wife had laid out, between her daughter and her son…our scoundrel leaves it in three pieces to his three sons. None of these three men knew about each other.

And here come the heirs. And they all thought Pa was dead, only his final family knew when he really died. Two men who thought their father had been dead for around twenty years, are furious to find out what a horrible man he was. The brother and sister who own the ranch, their grandfather and mother’s ranches, are furious that the will reveals the cheating and lying. And they expect the very worst of the newcomers.

And then someone tries to kill one of them. Then another. Then a third.

They suspect each other. Distrust each other. And have to stick together to survive. It won’t be easy.,

Book one is Braced for Love, releasing March 2, 2021. More details about that next time.

Coming in July book #2 of the Brothers in Arms series is A Man with a Past.

And this year (and next) my publisher Bethany House Publishing is releasing three books from me. The whole series coming out in a single year!!!

Book #3 is Love on the Range. Coming in November.

Come along for a ride rooted in a true story…and then of course, taken into fiction without a qualm.

Mary Connealy


New Years Eve Tradition…and My Clever Mom

I’m talking today about my family’s New Years Eve traditions.

This is my family growing up, not my children and husband today.

I’m from a family of eight kids. Eight kids in a three bedroom farmhouse that was so old, before my mom and dad moved in, they were using it to store ears of corn. When Mom and Dad got married, there on the land my grandpa owned was this little old house.

Three rooms TOTAL. They did a bunch of fixing and turned it into (drumroll) a four room house.

Now, people didn’t always live in the mini-mansions they all do today, so it wasn’t that uncommon. But it was pretty squashed.

Mom and Dad slept on a fold out couch and the kids, which just kept popping up every year or two, slept in this cracker box upstairs, one room with a roof that slanted. When my SIXTH sibling was born, a brother, Mom and Dad added onto the house by…buying another house, hauling it in and setting it down by the current house. Now the house had THREE bedrooms.

But, I now slept on Mom and Dad’s fold out couch (which I did  not fold out). You can count that as a fourth bedroom, but it really wasn’t one.

All this to say, we were pretty poor and I was raised without much fancy stuff. And I really didn’t notice…much.

In the context of being poor, every New Years Eve, Mom would make this feast for us that was kind of expensive.

She’d get the pan out she used for deep frying, she had a wire basket to sink down into the hot oil, and she’d fry shrimp and chicken, French fries and onion rings.

It was DELICIOUS. My dad especially liked it which is why she probably did it.  But except for the shrimp, which she bought breaded, it was all made from scratch.

She’d peel and ‘french fry’ the potatoes. She’d dip pieces of chicken in a thin batter, and she’d make these onion rings that, every once in a while, I can find in a restaurant that is seriously trying to make delicious food. The onion rings would go in a thin batter, then she’d drop them in the hot oil and they’d kind of be all stuck together.

We’d just surround the poor woman and she couldn’t turn out that wonderful once-a-year food fast enough.

I’m fond of saying, I never knew there was such a thing as a cookie that wasn’t warm.

Same for shrimp and onion rings, deep fried chicken and French fries. We always ate this food as fast as she could cook it.

I found out much later that part of this annual deep-fried feast was Mom and Dad trying to come up with a way to keep us all home (as we got old enough to have driver’s licenses) She worried about wild behavior (for us) and drunk drivers on the road with us.

In fact we didn’t start the tradition until I was a little older, so there’s some truth to it.

I always have loved fried shrimp (honestly, I like every kind of shrimp!), and once in a while I get those really great batter-dipped onion rings like Mom used to make.

And they remind me of a simple time in a three-bedroom farmhouse with a herd of kids all surrounding a very special and clever Mom.


To celebrate the new year.


I am giving away an ebook.

I have new release that has been released before…in a novella collection.

So it may be one you’ve read before.

Dr. Tess and the Cowboy

An archeologist discovers dinosaur bones and wants to preserve an important site.

Her dream come true may destroy his ranch.

Or it may lead them to true love.


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A little slice of life

It’s been a weird month.

I’m a little scattered so instead of a thoughtful, cowboy centered, post with humor and heart.

I’m just going to list my odd December life.

My 92 year old mother, before she got locked down last March, with 10 of her 28 great-grandchildren…and three of her 29 grandchildren.

My mom had Covid-19. She was asymptomatic but she was isolated in her room at the nursing home she lives in and it was terrible for her.

She’s well now and back with her roommate. The nursing home was hit hard enough they are slow opening things up again. But as of yesterday, lunch is in the dining room instead of Mom being served a meal alone in her room. They have activities and a regular afternoon coffeetime all in the dining room and that’s going again.

I hope she gets some energy back. I’ve been going to see her, through her window, talking on her phone or FaceTime, she has an iPad but can’t use it, but the staff helps her answer and gets it situated, and it’s usually at least a little successful.

It’s cold here now in Nebraska so the window visits aren’t able to be very LONG these days. I went to see her yesterday and stood in 23 degrees for a while. Considering people go to Nebraska Cornhusker football games (in better years–Covid’s put the kibosh on that this year) and sit for three plus hours in this weather, I’m a major wimp if I can’t stand outside my mom’s window for a while.

A saying in Nebraska…there is no such thing as bad weather, only bad gear.

I saw an eagle yesterday. I live in a place where you can stop in the road, sit there for many minutes, and snap pictures of eagles and no one comes along. 

So the upside of country life…seeing eagles and stopping in the road, is also the downside of country life, if you need help on the road, because you’re alone, no one is there to help. But if someone DOES come along, you will always know them and they will always help you.

Also, I did Nano in November. A large part of my December weirdness, because I wrote a LOT, pretty successful for me. I’m a dependable 1000 words a day person, but for Nano, National Novel Writing Month, I hit about 40,000 words and only now do I realize it was so “Full Steam Ahead” that I didn’t do the revising-as-I-write thing I usually do. So I am REVISING all these 40,000 words and I’m finding ridiculous mistakes and so MANY of them. Yeesh. Example:

He was sure they were sisters. And well-off gentile sisters.
Another one that drove me nuts and I KNOW BETTER:
I named a character Cap. He was a former captain in the army, served in the Civil War.
Okay, dates were failing me. He can’t have served in the civil war, he’d be too old for my purposes.
Frontier forts? Nope. Okay, forget Cap.
So I changed his name to Zane.
And I did a find and replace for Cap to Zane.
To my surprise (duh) I changed every Cap in the book to Zane including the letters ‘cap’ tucked into the middle of longer words.
In my revisions I’ve now found esZaneed, and just now Zaneable
escaped, capable? It turns out I have three sisters…runaway brides and they did a LOT of escaping………….


Also at times, disguised as servants my heroines wore mob caps. or should I say Zanes….shaking my head. So many typos–beyond the Zane nonsense. So much annoying madness, it slowed me down fixing it until I’m not sure Nano even sped my writing up.

What else? My Christmas gifts are wrapped, my tree is up. Very minimal decorating this year, and that’s from a woman who does minimal every year, so that’s saying something. But no one is coming here. Unless the UPS man peeks through the window in the front door…which would be creepy…and yet…at least someone would see my tree!

And that include me…the tree lights show through the window but only I turn them on. So yesterday I turned them on and left the house (the eagle viewing) and thought,..when I come home, I’ll see my own lights.

Except I was home and inside and after about an HOUR I realized I forgot to look at the lights when I drove in…which probably means they aren’t real noticable, right?

So looking forward to a probably very quiet Christmas. And hopefully a huge improvement in 2021. 

And a new series begins in March.


Thanksgiving Idea of my very own

Today is going to be short


But VERY sweet.

It’s pie.

In the last 18 months we’ve found out my husband has celiac disease. So NO GLUTEN. It’s been a shocking change in lifestyle. He’s been heroic about it. But then I think his belly hurt BAD.

So now we’re a gluten free household (Okay, I occasionally sneak a slice of bread)

And I am the official pie maker in my family.

Well, guess what I found out. The crust in pie (that gluteny little devil) is not an essential part of the pie!

So here is the pecan pie recipe I’ve used for years for my family and it is COMPLETELY UNCHANGED.

Except I poured it into a well-buttered baking dish (I chose a casserole dish rather than a pie pan) without any crust.

It was delicious.

We had no complaints and no problem devouring the whole thing.

Give it a try if you’re trying to be gluten free.

Pecan Pie

This is the easiest pie ever.

In mixing bowl combine:

3 eggs

2/3 C. sugar

½ t. salt

1/3 C. butter (melted)

1 C. corn syrup


Mix all ingredients together just until they are blended, add:

1 C. pecan pieces

mix slightly. Pour into unbaked crust. Cover pie with sheet of aluminum foil, just lay it over the top don’t crimp the edges. Bake at 350 for 40 or 50 minutes, uncovering for the last 10 or 15 minutes. Pie is done when knife comes out clean. I like to over bake it. The pie gets a carmelly…delicious texture that only comes with time.

The pie will have a beautiful domed shape when its done, then you’ll take it our and it will fall. That’s normal.

To bake this pie with the crust…add crust. 🙂 For best results, add the crust UNDER the filling.

I made a lemon meringue pie this way and a pumpkin. You won’t even miss that crust.


I probably talked about this last time I did a post for Petticoats and Pistols. 

But THIS TIME it’s official.

Her Secret Song

Book #3 of the Brides of Hope Mountain Series is in bookstores now. Shipping now!

Click Here to Buy on Amazon

A woman who’s afraid of everything is falling for the scariest man in the world.


After a rough winter spent alone, Ursula Nordegren realizes she must overcome her fears of the outside world and begins a trek down Hope Mountain. Along the way she finds a badly wounded stranger and realizes God may have used her decision to leave as a way of saving the man. 

Wax Mosby was climbing Hope Mountain in part to atone for his terrible choices. He was hired to drive out the Warden family and now knows he was duped. But when he’s wounded during the climb, the last person he expects to rescue him is a beautiful blond woman with the voice of an angel. 

As both Ursula and Wax weigh the costs of living new lives, the two find an unlikely bond. And they’re joined by Ursula’s sisters and the Warden family as the final showdown over the family ranch looms with the coming of spring. 

The Back Cover

He hunts down outlaws.
She hides away from everyone.
When a long winter alone has each rethinking their lives,
Will they be ready to spring for unexpected second chances?

With both her sisters gone and married, Ursula Nordegren is the only one left clinging to their grandma’s fears about the outside world. But after a winter spent in isolation, even she is rethinking those warnings. She bravely starts to venture down Hope Mountain, only to stumble upon a badly wounded stranger and realize God may have had an extra special purpose behind sending her out.

Wax Mosby thought he was a skilled hired gun with principles. But that identity was upended the day he realized he’d been duped into wrongfully driving out the Wardens. He’s spent the winter planning to climb Hope Mountain to find the family and atone for his deeds. But when he’s wounded during the climb, the last person he expects to rescue him is a beautiful blond woman with the voice of an angel.

As both Ursula and Wax weigh the costs of leading new lives, the two find an unlikely bond. And they’re joined by Ursula’s sisters and the Warden family as the final showdown over the Wardens’ ranch looms with the coming of spring.

“Connealy concludes her Brides of Hope Mountain series with this charming tale. . . . Lush descriptions of the Colorado frontier and exciting gun battles make this a standout. Connealy’s fans will be pleased to see the series go out on a high note.” —Publishers Weekly


A Summer of limited Boot Scootin’ – Mary Connealy

This was going to be about my favorite trip this summer. And I guess I have one, but I didn’t TAKE the trip that was supposed to be my favorite. So the one trip is my favorite.

My Cowboy retired January 1st.


Among other things, I found out he’s got ADHD (maybe???) A hyperactive energizer bunny! Except he’s always worked so HARD I couldn’t tell!

So now, finally, he’s got some spare time and energy and we had PLANS!!!

We had TRIPS planned. A daughter who had a baby in March!! Grandma and Grandpa are ON THE WAY!

A research trip following the Oregon Trail.

A possible return trip to Durango. We went in the winter and my current book series is set there. (so it’s too late to help the book! Still I’m interested in the area! And I didn’t get to see Mesa Verdi when I was there!!! The Government was shut down!!!)

We had this one GRAND trip planned to see a friend in Missouri, then on to see My Cowboy’s brother in Pensicola, Florida, then maybe on that trip swing up to Washington DC where my daughter lives in time to see a newborn.

And then 


Shut down the country.


PionThe one trip we did manage this year was a very modest two day journey to some Nebraska museums I love and have only seen once before and My Cowboy, never. I posted one day about the Stuhr Museum and the Earthen Lodge of the Pawnee Indian tribe.

But there was so much more.

Pioneer Village in Minden, Nebraska, was on that trip. I seriously love that museum.

Pioneer Village in Minden, NE

And then on to the … well, we call it

The Kearney Arch…it’s really (I have to go look it up…The Great Platte River Road Archway Monument-imagine forgetting that!?)

Anyway, it’s super cool, all of it. And I’m glad my books managed to scoot at least that far.

And as a grand finale of my boots scooting!!! Or the lack thereof.

Here’s sweet baby Adrian

Grinning at me to mock my loneliness!

Boot Scootin’ Boogey one of these daysto see her!

Any favorite trips for this low down spook of a year? Leave a comment and get your name in the drawing for a signed copy of Her Secret Song.

Click Here to Buy Her Secret Song

Her Secret Song coming October 6th!!!




Her Secret Song 

(Brides of Hope Mountain Book #3)

The gunfighter and the recluse…what could go wrong?


Wax Mosby was climbing Hope Mountain in part to atone for his terrible choices. He was hired to drive out the Warden family and now knows he was duped. But when he’s wounded during the climb, the last person he expects to rescue him is a beautiful blond woman with the voice of an angel. 

As both Ursula and Wax weigh the costs of living new lives, the two find an unlikely bond. And they’re joined by Ursula’s sisters and the Warden family as the final showdown over the family ranch looms with the coming of spring. 

Publishers Weekly Review of Her Secret Song HERE!


Coming October 6th! The action packed finale to the Brides of Hope Mountain series!


Read an excerpt HERE

Buy Her Secret Song HERE

Leave a comment to get your name in the drawing for the FIRST EVER IN THE KNOWN UNIVERSE GIVEAWAY OF HER SECRET SONG!!!

Mary Connealy


Right now on sale!


in all ebook formats

The Accidental Guardian


Stuhr Museum of the Prairie Pioneer

Stuhr Museum of the Prairie Pioneer is a museum in Nebraska…not really near me because let’s face it, Nebraska is HUGE.

But it’s near enough that I’ve gotten there a couple of times.

It’s absolutely fascinating. A laid-out circle of buildings that have been brought it, that date to the 1800s.

I may write five blogs about it because there is SO MUCH. I could spend days there and just look and read and look and read.

But today I’m writing about the recreated Earthen Lodge built there.

In the early 1800s the Pawnee lived mainly in only a few towns. Six or seven.

In each town were 40 to 200 of these earthen lodges.

Each lodge held around 20 Pawnee and each village could contain from 800 to 3500 tribal members.

These were big towns.

The smallest one is larger than my hometown.


This first picture is a diagram of the lodge. It’s laid out to respect the power the Native people gave to the earth. It was called The Circle of Life. Both symbolic and literally the source of their family, their safety, their food, their shelter. Truly a circle of life for them.

For me, museums are most fun when there are lots of words. This picture above is for the Pawnee History that is celebrated with this earthen lodge. I hope you can read it. I spend more time READING in museums than looking at the objects contained there.

This is the side view of the lodge from outside. It’s exactly as you’d think it would be. A hole dug into a hill. Remember this is Nebraska. It gets cold! The insulation from dirt is excellent, though it still seems like it’s be a little cold to me. 

Here it is from the front, this is the entrance. It’s full size and we were able to go inside.

This is the inside edge of the lodge. You can see there is a layer of grassy seating off the ground. The Pawnee would sit here, around the fire, and could sleep here at night. A single lodge could house dozens of tribal members.

Here you can see the tree trunks that support the ceiling, even though it’s inside an earthen mount it is hollowed out and they need to keep the ceiling up. Note the opening in the ceiling. A fire was built in the center of the lodge and it would warm everyone, the smoke would rise up through the hole, they could cook over it and heat water to wash.

Stuhr Museum of the Prairie Pioneer. A fascinating slice of history in Minden Nebraska in the heart of the Nebraska prairie.

Mary Connealy