Cowboys and Christmas Party


You are invited!

 

I hope you’ll join me this coming Thursday, November 7, for the sixth annual Cowboys and Christmas Facebook Party!

The purpose of the party (other than to have fun with all those who attend) is to raise awareness of the Justin Cowboy Crisis Fund and celebrate the upcoming holiday season. 

For those who aren’t familiar with it, the JCCF offers a hand up to rodeo athletes who have sustained catastrophic injuries and will be unable to compete for an extended period of time. 

This is my sixth year to hold the party and my sixth year for the Read a Book, Help a Cowboy campaign that raises funds and awareness for JCCF. You can find out more about the campaign on my website.

The party gets underway Thursday at 10 a.m. Pacific Time (so that’s 11 Mountain, Noon Central, and 1 Eastern). Entries for giveaways will remain open until the following morning, so even if you can’t participate in the party during all the action, you can still check in after the fact and get in on the goodies! 

Among the participating guest authors are a few names you’ll recognize from Petticoats and Pistols!

10:15 – Pam Crooks

10:30 – Julie Lence

10:45 – Kit Morgan

11: – Heidi VanLandingham

11:15 – Melanie D. Snitker

11:30 – Kay P. Dawson

11:45 – Kristy McCaffrey

Noon – Josie Riviera

12:15 – Cyndi Raye

12:30 – Jacqui Nelson

12:45 – Laura Beers

1 – Ciara Knight

1:15 – Stephanie Berget

1:30 – Zina Abbott

1:45 – Magdalena Scott

Invite your friends and come join in a few hours of shenanigans and fun!

 

Cowboys and Christmas

When I was thinking about a title for today’s blog post, of course my brain went right to Cowboys and Christmas. But from there, it tripped along over a fun old Christmas song. Emmylou Harris’ version is my favorite and the one playing on the soundtrack in my head this morning.

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Truthfully, I’ve had Christmas on the brain for months and months (okay, maybe it’s been there since last Christmas!). But I have a good reason. Well, several good reasons, but I’m excited to share three of them with you today. 

The first reason I’m so excited for the holiday season is my newly released non-fiction book – A Cowboy Christmas.

 

The book features interviews with rodeo and ranch families who share their favorite holiday traditions. Readers will find holiday how-tos, gift ideas, decorating tips and recipes (more than 70 of them). Some of the recipes are my family favorites and others come from the ranch and rodeo families. I tested (and tasted!) them all. I also had fun taking all the photographs of the food and how-tos. It was a great learning experience and one I’m so happy I had the opportunity to explore. 

Several of the families mentioned in the book have had their lives touched by a special organization called the Justin Cowboy Crisis Fund. The JCCF steps in when a rodeo athlete sustains a catastrophic injury and is unable to work for an extended time. They’ve provided $8 million in funds to more than 1,100 athletes, giving the cowboys a hand up when they need it most. And every dollar donated goes directly into the fund without any administrative fees removed. 

Back in 2013, I was working on the first book in a new series and reached out to the Justin Sportsmedicine Team with some questions. They kindly helped me and that’s when I first learned about the JCCF. 

This is the sixth year I’ll donate ten percent of my book proceeds to the fund. 

Any Shanna Hatfield book purchased between now and Christmas counts and will help benefit a great cause. 

To find out more about the JCCF and my Read a Book, Help a Cowboy campaign, visit my website

 

Another reason I’m all excited about Christmas is the release of my first sweet romantic comedy written in first person.

Oh, my gracious! 

I had so much fun writing this story and I hope you’ll have fun reading it!

Between Christmas and Romance  is part of the sweet and wholesome Christmas Mountain series, set in the fictional town of Christmas Mountain, Montana. My story is book seven in the series.

Here’s a little about Between Christmas and Romance: 

There’s nothing like a little Christmas glow to light up a holiday romance. . .

When the bright lights and big city lost its luster, Carol Bennett returns to her Montana hometown disillusioned and ready to embrace a simple, quiet existence. After she takes over the Christmas Mountain bookstore, she is determined to forget the glitzy world that left her with broken dreams. The store provides the perfect place to hide from her past while indulging her secret joy of reading sappy romances.

Then she encounters a cowboy too handsome for his own good and too insightful for hers. Although she adores his grandmother, rancher Tim Burke is stubborn, bold, and opinionated. He refuses to let her hide when he sees her all too clearly and does his best to draw her out of her protective shell.

In spite of her determination to detest the man, the sparks sizzling between them could light up the town’s Christmas tree. Carol has to decide if she’ll choose being brave and latching onto happiness or staying safely tucked away in her store.

Will two such opposite people be able to find love somewhere between romance and Christmas?

You can find more details about the book on my website, including buy links.

 

Also in its sixth year, I’m thrilled to invite you all to join me for the annual Cowboys and Christmas party taking place on Facebook November 7! There will be guest authors, game, giveaways, and so much fun!  Hope to see you all there!

What about you?

What is one thing you are looking forward to about the holidays? 

Post your answer for a chance to win a digital copy of Between Christmas and Romance!

 

Pickup Riders

Our local rodeo season is about to head into full swing next week. We are fortunate enough to live in an area where we can attend four big rodeos, one every week, for a month.

Since Captain Cavedweller and I both enjoy rodeos, this is a grand thing. 

Thoughts of rodeos and the athletes that compete in them, both human and animal, made me think about a group of folks who largely go unnoticed at rodeo events — pickup men. 

(If you’re thinking about the drunk guys who hang around after the rodeo ends, wrong kind of pickup men!)

The pickup men I’m referring to today have one of the most important jobs at a rodeo because they are there to keep the athletes safe. In the arena, they look after the cowboy at the end of his ride as well as the horses and bulls used in rough stock events and they help with the overall production. They might work for the stock contractor or be employed directly by the rodeo association.

Regardless of how they come to be there, pickup men are often referred to as the ghosts of an arena. They ride in, sometimes seemingly out of nowhere, help a cowboy off a ton of twisting, bucking beast, then guide the animal from the arena before vanishing again. 

Depending on the size of the rodeo, you might see two of them working together while bigger rodeos have as many as six working at a time. 

Pickup men are in the arena from start to finish, but if all goes smoothly, rodeo fans might not notice them at all. Riding horses is second nature to many of the men who work as pickup men. They have to be able to rope a bucking bronc or a rank bull. They also have to be ale to think on the fly and make quick decisions. Out in the arena there isn’t time for talking and deciding what to do. They have to act intuitively. 

Once a cowboy and horse bust out of the chute, the pickup men are watching every move, ready to ride to the rescue or offer a hand when the eight-second buzzer sounds. 

During a ride, most anything can happen and does. 

Competitors can get hung up in rigging or stirrups and find themselves being dragged around the arena or getting an eyeball of dirt while dodging flying hooves. 

While their actions aren’t choreographed, the way pick up men work together can appear so flawless and performed with such ease, it looks like they’ve practiced the intricate dance that is based on their quick reactions and know-how.

Pickup men have cowboys crawling all over them and their horses which makes it essential they can handle a cowboy hanging off his shoulder.

 

Or his neck, or whatever else the athlete happens to get a hold of in his scramble to get off a wildly bucking bronc. 

The equipment a pickup man uses is vitally important to a smooth, successful rodeo, too. His saddle has to fit just right, many use specialized bits, and they all have a favorite brand of rope they use. Many use breast collars on their horses to keep their saddle from sliding back if they have to rope a bull. And it gives a little added advertising space to their stock contractor or sponsor.

The pickup man might wear shin guards, or kickpads, around their lower legs to protect from flying hooves, scrambling boots from the rodeo athlete as he tries to get off a bucking animal, or even just a saddle bronc saddle rubbing against it when he has the horse snubbed to get it out of the arena. 

Another piece of equipment no pickup man would work without is his chaps. They provide another layer of protection against the bucking horses and their saddles. 

It’s also important for their horses to be well-trained and able to keep up with a reaction that happens in a split-second. Many pickup men have a string of horses they use, rotating them out between each event.  One horse might do better picking up bareback riders while one might do better when it’s time to chase bulls out of the arena. Most pickup men will use splint boots for their horses for protection against injury. 

Some pickup men work smaller rodeos they can catch on a weekend and still keep their regular job (like ranching). 

Others travel non-stop on the rodeo circuit right along with the rodeo athletes, gone from home for weeks, sometimes months, at a time. 

At the end of the day, the pickup men are the unsung heroes who might have prevented a cowboy from receiving a serious injury, or kept a bull from charging into a crowd.

So, the next time you are at a rodeo, take a moment to watch these men at work and think about all they do to make the rodeo a safe place for everyone to enjoy. 

If you enjoy reading about rodeos, check out my Rodeo Romance series. Each book can be read as a stand alone and features a different rodeo event or personality. Right now, Racing Christmas is on sale for just 99 cents! The hero in the story just happens to be a pickup man.

“From the realistic rodeo scenes to the tender love scenes Shanna Hatfield keeps you reading.”

Jodi Thomas, New York Times Bestselling Author

She’s racing to save the ranch

He’s struggling to win her heart. . . again

Brylee Barton has just one goal in mind: win the barrel racing world championship. Not for the glory, but for the attached cash prize that could save her family’s ranch. When an injury leaves her at the mercy of the very same copper-headed, silver-tongued cowboy she once vowed to loathe forever, she has no choice but to swallow her pride and accept his help.

Fun-loving, easy-going Shaun Price has a million dollar smile, more charm than he can channel, and a string of ex-girlfriends rumored to have started their own support group. When the one woman he’s never quite managed to get out of his head or heart needs his assistance, he jumps at the chance to help. Little does he realize how challenging it will be to keep from falling for her all over again.

Will Shaun and Brylee discover the gift of forgiveness, and experience their own happily-ever-after?

Available on Amazon

Answer this question for a chance to win an autographed copy of The Christmas Cowboy, book 1 in the Rodeo Romance series! 

What is your favorite rodeo event? 

 

Grass Valley Cowboys

A few weeks ago, I was working on promotional plans for my books for the summer. As I browsed through my books, a little niggling thought kept popping up… one that said it was time for more book cover makeovers.

Every once in a while, I’ll give a book cover a new look. It’s fun and allows my brain to use some different creative skills. 

This time, the series I decided could use a new look is one of my favorites — the Grass Valley Cowboys. 

Set in the tiny Oregon town of Grass Valley, this series focuses on (as the title implies) the cowboys who live there. Specifically, cowboys from the Thompson and Morgan families.

I had such a good time writing these books and I do plan to write a few more before I bring the series to an end. The inspiration for the series came when I happened to drive through the area on the way to spend the weekend with my aunt and cousins. I just couldn’t help thinking what a fun setting Grass Valley would provide for a story.  Not only that, but one of my dear friends grew up in the area, and had stories to share about things that happened there.

The settlement of Grass Valley began with the establishment of a few stock ranches. Settlers began to arrive in the area and were soon plowing the cattle-sustaining grass to plant wheat fields.  Dr. Charles R. Rollins, a physician from New Hampshire, is credited with establishing Grass Valley when he arrived in the area with a small party of pioneers.  Dr. Rollins had an easy time choosing a name for the location since the rye grass grew thick and tall in the alkaline soil. Rollins built a large two-story hotel, which included a clinic from which he prescribed and sold medicine. 

The Grass Valley Cowboys series takes place in modern times, but as I wrote the stories, I often envisioned what life was like when the area was yet settled. When deer hid from hunters in the tall grass and those crossing the Oregon Trail pressed onward for the fir-dotted hills of the Willamette Valley. 

Here’s a little about the books and a look at the brand-spanking new covers!

The Cowboy’s Christmas Plan

Grass Valley Cowboys Book 1

Cadence Greer’s plans for a happy-ever-after are quickly derailed when her fiancé runs off with his secretary a week before their wedding. Homeless, jobless, and jilted, she escapes to Grass Valley, Oregon, where she takes a job as a housekeeper and cook to seven cowboys on a sprawling ranch.

Trey Thompson is a well-respected pillar of the community, running a successful ranch with his brother. All he wanted was someone to cook meals and keep the house clean. When he hires Cadence Greer for the job, he gets more than he ever planned on, including a sassy little redheaded orphan.

 

The Cowboy’s Spring Romance

Grass Valley Cowboys Book 2

Trent Thompson doesn’t have many secrets, except for the torch he’s carried for the new schoolteacher since she moved to Grass Valley more than three years ago. Instead of asking her out, he’s dated every single female in a thirty-mile radius, giving her the impression he holds no interest in knowing her.

Lindsay Pierce moved to Grass Valley to teach and quickly fell in love with the small community as well as the delightful people who live there. Everyone welcomes her warmly except for one obnoxious cowboy who goes out of his way to ignore her.

Will Trent be able to maintain the pretense when he has to babysit his niece, who happens to be in Lindsay’s class?

 

The Cowboy’s Summer Love

Grass Valley Cowboys Book 3

After six years in the service and two tours of duty in the middle of a war zone, Travis Thompson eagerly returns home to Grass Valley, ready to resume his life on the Triple T Ranch with his two older brothers. Ever the wild-child, Travis doesn’t disappoint as he rolls from one adventure to another in his quest to keep his adrenaline pumping. He needs a release for the tension constantly building inside him, especially after he discovers the girl he’s loved his entire life just moved back to Grass Valley.

In love with Travis Thompson since she was old enough to notice boys, Tess Morgan can’t stay away from him no matter how hard she tries. Convinced Travis sees her only as his best friend’s sister, she wants him to realize she is the woman who could love him deeply and passionately.

 

The Cowboy’s Autumn Fall

Grass Valley Cowboys Book 4

Brice Morgan thought love at first sight was some ridiculous notion of school girls and old ladies who read too many romance novels. At least he does until he falls hard and fast for an intriguing and thoroughly perplexing woman at a friend’s wedding.

Bailey Bishop attends her cousin’s wedding with no intention of extending her brief visit to Oregon. Married to her career as a paleontologist, Bailey tries to ignore her intense attraction to her cousin’s best friend, Brice. Ready to return home to Denver, Bailey instead accepts the opportunity to explore a new dig site not far from the family’s ranch in Grass Valley. Can she keep her feelings for Brice from derailing her plans for the future?

 

The Cowboy’s New Heart

Grass Valley Cowboys Book 5

Former bull rider Hart Hammond spent twenty years building a business empire while successfully avoiding love. He buried his heart the same day he made his last bull ride and has vowed to never make the mistake of loving a woman again. Then he meets the beautiful mother of the fun-loving Thompson tribe.

Years after her husband died, Denni Thompson can’t bear to think of giving her heart to anyone else. With three newly married sons, a grandchild on the way, and a busy life, Denni doesn’t entertain any notions of romance until she encounters the handsome new owner of Grass Valley’s gas station.

 

The Cowboy’s Last Goodbye

Grass Valley Cowboys Book 6

With his siblings and friends entangled in the state of matrimony, Ben Morgan is more determined than ever to remain blissfully single. Despite his vehement refusal to commit to a relationship, he can’t help but envision a future with the sweet, charming woman who unknowingly captures his heart.

Harper Hayes is an expert at bad relationships. After vowing never to wed, the idea enters her mind with alarming frequency after she meets Ben Morgan. Although the handsome cowboy makes it clear he’s only interested in having fun, Harper’s dog and crazy uncle have other ideas.

 

You can find all the books in the series on Amazon .

Also, for a limited time, The Cowboy’s Summer Love is on sale for just 99 cents! 

If you were going to come up with a name for a book in this series, what would you choose? 

An Interview With Tag Baker

Carolyn Brown Headshot
Author Carolyn Brown

Good mornin’ all y’all! Thank you for inviting me back to Petticoats and Pistols to talk about Cowboy Rebel. I’m so excited about this book, and can’t wait to begin to get reviews from the readers. It’s the fourth book in the Longhorn Canyon series. Don’t you just love looking at Tag Baker with his clear blue eyes on the cover?

I thought maybe I’d let all y’all hang out with him a little today, and get to know him. So I have him here with me to answer questions. He’s got a glass of sweet tea in his hand and has motioned that he’s ready so fire away.

Question: Why did you leave the huge ranch out in the Texas panhandle and come to the hill country in the north central part of the state?

Tag: Well, darlin’, it’s like this. My twin brother, Hud, and I’ve always wanted to buy a place that we could call our very own. We wanted something just like Canyon Creek Ranch with the potential of building it into a dynasty like our folks did with the Rockin’ B Ranch. Besides all that, our sister, Emily, married Justin Maguire over on the neighbor ranch a few months ago. We missed her when she left the panhandle a few years ago, and now we get to live close to her.

Question: What did you think of Nikki the first time you met her?

Tag: I met her at Emily’s wedding a few months before we moved out here to Sunset, Texas. She struck me then as a little independent and a whole lot sassy. My opinion didn’t change when I met her the second time in the hospital emergency room—but that time there were sparks between us, and I just had to get to know her better.

Question: So what did you do to get her to consider going out with you?

Tag: (With a chuckle) I bought her a gold fish.

Question: Why would you do that?

Tag: She said she’d always wanted a pet, but it wouldn’t be fair to leave it alone so many hours while she worked as a nurse at the hospital.

Question: I heard you were considered a bad boy before you came to Sunset. Is that right?

Tag: (Ducks his head) I’m afraid that’s the truth. I’m tryin’ to change my ways and be more responsible.

Question: Who all works on the ranch with you and your brother?

Tag: We hired two of our friends, Maverick and Paxton, and they’ve joined us on the ranch now. We’ve pretty much known them our whole lives, and we’ve worked right along beside them since we all got out of high school.

Carolyn: We’ve only got time for one more question, so that little lady in the back wearing a pink cowboy hat…what would you like to know?

Question: Will Hud’s story get told?

Tag: (With that brilliant smile that makes a woman’s bloomers begin to crawl down to her ankles) I believe that’s in the works, but first Maverick’s story, Christmas With a Cowboy, will come out in September.

Carolyn: Thank you all for letting Tag and I pop by today. I’m giving away a signed copy of Cowboy Rebel. Just tell me in the comments what it is about a good cowboy book that draws you to it? Cover, back copy, first paragraph, part of a series? Talk to me, folks!!

 

Jolene Navarro: Buckaroos and Buccaneers!

We’re tickled pink to have Miss Jolene Navarro visit us again. This lady writes some of the most interesting books and posts and I think you’ll agree so make her welcome and show her some good old Wildflower Junction hospitality.

 

Hello, there! Jolene Navarro here, checking in from the beautiful Texas Gulf Coast. 

 

We come down here from the Hill Country as often as we can. I love sitting on the banks of the Frio River, but every once a while I want to prop my feet up the balcony and watch the waves.

Over a year ago as I was enjoying the warm breeze and the sunlight glinting off of the waves, I spot a gorgeous pirate ship sailing across the waters. It was as exciting as it was bizarre, to see it.

There is a company in the South Padre area, called the Black Dragon Pirate Ship Cruise. They offer full experience cruises aboard their ship, which has been modeled into a 17th century galleon above water, while retaining all of the modern luxuries below water.

 

 

Seeing that pirate ship brought a single question to my mind – how could I make a modern-day pirate cowboy?

 

At first, I didn’t have any answers. But as I sat on the beach and mulled over this question, I came to a realization that cowboys didn’t just roam the Texas countryside, they also lived along the beaches of the Gulf. One of the largest and well-known cattle ranches runs along the coast. You might have heard of the King Ranch.

 

 

After that, it became a game to figure out how alike cowboys and pirates really are.

 

  1. Their style of life. They long for adventure and pitting themselves against the elements of natures. Both a cowboy and a pirate often would spend months, or longer, away from home. Either because they were sailing the seas in search of treasure, or because they needed to herd cattle from one place to another.
  2. The camaraderie. Both styles of life create a band of brother type of living. These men had to trust each other to watch their backs and keep them alive during the dangers of their chosen occupations. The close quarters formed bonds that could be stronger than birth family. Singing around the campfire or playing music on the deck, they have a strong camaraderie.
  3. Hard and dangerous. Whether a pirate or cowboy, there’s no denying that their lives included a multitude of perils. Being one or the other took a certain kind of person – they had to be tough, unbreakable and sturdy. Cowboys had to ensure that they could herd thousands of longhorns to a certain destination and protect them from predators such as coyotes and rattlesnakes, and the ever-perilous possibility that the herd could go haywire. Pirates also lived a rough life, out on the sea for years during bitter squalls that threatened to break their ships to pieces and stole lives. Both have a respect for nature and a code of honor.

 

Buckaroos and buccaneers aren’t that different after all. And when you remember that a lot of Texas is the coastline (almost 400 miles), well… It isn’t hard to imagine stunning ranches overlooking beaches, with gorgeous vista views. Or the pirates that might have sought refuge in the area, striking deals with local ranchers, and enabling these two worlds to mix.

 

 

On our most recent trip to the beach, we came across this message in a bottle. The writer in me thought of all the stories this bottle could tell and the secrets it held.

 

 

Just like this message in a bottle, there are secret stories waiting to be told along the Texas coast where cowboys and pirates meet.

 

Does the meshing of those two worlds spark a story in you? Would you love to set sail on The Black Dragon pirate ship? I’m giving away two copies (Ebook or Print) of The Texan’s Secret Daughter so leave a comment to enter the drawing!

 

In my newest release, The Texan’s Secret Daughter, Jazmine has a secret that she knows it’s time to share. The secret rocks Elijah De La Rosa’s world.

Can this rancher make up for his past? 

Cowboys of Diamondback Ranch book #1

Turning his life around was the hardest thing Elijah De La Rosa ever had to do—until his ex-wife, Jazmine Daniels, returns with their young daughter he didn’t know existed. Now this successful rancher will do anything to be a good father. But can he forgive himself for the past…and turn their second chance into a family for always?

 

 

AMAZON B&N  |   APPLE  |   IndieBound KOBO

 

You can contact Jolene through her website: http://jolenenavarrowriter.com/

The Music of Spurs by Linda Broday

I’m happy to kick off this Bustles and Spurs week. I just love writing everything about cowboys but especially the little visual details that can add so much to a story. The smooth way they walk. The way they talk—from the hard edge they add to their voice when they have to—to the quiet, gentle words reserved for their lady, kids, and animals. Then there are the sounds—the slap of leather chaps against their legs, their boot heels striking a wooden boardwalk.

Most of all, the clink of their spurs. Oh man! I love that music.

I began thinking about spurs and here are some facts that you might find interesting.

* The earliest spurs found go back to Julius Caesar and his Roman soldiers. Who knew?

* The type of metal used in those early spurs once indicated rank. Gold or gilded spurs were reserved for knights or royalty. Hence the expression, “earn your spurs.”

* The part of the spur that makes noise is the rowel that spins when the cowboy walks. The rowel is also the part he uses to make the horse do what he wants.

* The ornate Spanish influence is still evident today.

* Spurs from the second to about the fifteenth century were buried with their owners which is why few remain today.

* Any knight who failed to remove his spurs inside a church had them confiscated and had to pay a fine to get them back.

* The U.S. Cavalry uniform required boots and spurs and they were also worn during the Civil War. These were made of brass, slightly curved, with a small rowel, black straps, and a brass buckle.

* Today, artisan spurs are big business and depending on what they’re decorated with can be quite expensive. I recently saw a pair online selling for $925. Can you imagine?

* Sometimes cowboys attach jinglebobs to their spurs for even more noise.

I have a new book coming April 30 – SAVING THE MAIL ORDER BRIDE – #2 of Outlaw Mail Order Brides series. Jack Bowdre has been arrested and on his way to jail in a stagecoach the marshal flags down. The only other passenger is Lenora Kane who’s on her way to marry a man sight unseen. When the coach wrecks, Jack finds himself handcuffed to Lenora and they’re running for their lives, afoot, with nothing but the clothes on their backs and five days to safety. This has danger, suspense, humor, and romance and available for preorder.

AMAZON  |  B&N  |  iTUNES

Leave a comment mentioning some detail about a cowboy that really adds to what you love about him. Maybe it’s a bead of sweat trickling down his neck or the way he tips his hat to the ladies. Something small that gives you that tingle. You know the one. I’m giving away a western movie called Forsaken starring Kiefer and Donald Sutherland. It’s really good. I’m also giving a $10 Amazon gift card to another winner. Drawing will be Saturday.

 

 

Taking a Chance–A Big Chance–On Love

Wanted a Wife

I am looking for a lady to make her my wife

as I am heartily tired of bachelor life.

I’ve always loved mail-order bride stories and am delighted to be currently writing one.  My heroine has a good reason for taking a a chance on love, but what about the thousands of other women who’d left family and friends to travel west and into the arms of strangers?

Shortage of Men—and Women

The original mail-order bride business grew out of necessity.  The lack of women in the west was partly responsible, but so was the Civil War.  The war not only created thousands of widows and grieving girlfriends, but a shortage of men, especially in the south.

As a result, marriage brokers and “Heart and Hand” catalogues popped up all around the country. Ads averaged five to fifteen cents and letters were exchanged along with photographs.

According to an article in the Toledo Blade lonely men even wrote to the Sears catalogue company asking for brides (the latest such letter received was from a lonely Marine during the Vietnam War).

Cultural Attitudes

Marriage was thought to be the only path to female respectability. Anyone not conforming to society’s expectations was often subjected to public scorn.  Also, many women needed marriage just for survival.  Single women had a hard time making it alone in the East. This was especially true of widows with young children to support.

Women who had reached the “age” of spinsterhood with no promising prospects were more likely to take a chance on answering a mail-order bride ad than younger women.

Not Always Love at First Sight

Courtesy of the Smithsonian Postal Museum

For some mail-order couples, it was love (or lust) at first sight. In 1886, one man and his mail order bride were so enamored with each other they scandalized fellow passengers on the Union Pacific Railroad during their honeymoon.

Not every bride was so lucky.  In her book Hearts West, Christ Enss tells the story of mail-order bride Eleanor Berry. En route to her wedding her stage was held up at gunpoint by four masked men.  Shortly after saying “I do,” and while signing the marriage license, she suddenly realized that her husband was one of the outlaws who had robbed her. The marriage lasted less than an hour.

The mail-order business was not without deception.  Lonely people sometimes found themselves victims of dishonest marriage brokers, who took their money and ran.

Some ads were exaggerated or misleading. Men had a tendency to overstate their financial means. Women, on the other hand, were more likely to embellish their looks. The Matrimonial News in the 1870s printed warnings by Judge Arbuckle that any man deceived by false hair, cosmetic paints, artificial bosoms, bolstered hips, or padded limbs could have his marriage nulled, if he so desired.   

Despite all the things that could and sometimes did go wrong, historians say that most matches were successful.

No one seems to know how many mail-order brides there were during the 1800s, but the most successful matchmaker of all appears to be Fred Harvey. He wasn’t in the mail-order bride business, but, by the turn of the century, five thousand Harvey Girls had found husbands while working in his restaurants.   

Under what circumstances might you have considered becoming a mail order bride in the Old West? 

Meet the Brides of Haywire, Texas!

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Coming in May!

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How to Date a Cowboy By Brenna Gallagher

Born and raised in Scotland, I heard tales of the wild Highlanders who fought battles in little more than their plaids (if that). They slept beneath the stars and brandished swords and clubs, but I’d never heard of a cowboy until I ventured to Montana Territory in search of answers about my family. These men: cowboys, ranchers, horsemen, certainly are interesting specimens and I’ll admit I’ve become rather fascinated by them.

The first one I ever met stood tall and proud and behaved as a true gentleman. Of course, he was wearing strange and dusty clothes and an odd hat, but those deep, blue eyes of his bore through to my soul. His strong hands were warm to the touch, and his gruff demeanor couldn’t mask the heat in those eyes on that cold autumn day. Lucky for me, I married him. I’ve learned a few things since my first encounter and I’m here to share my meager expertise, so listen carefully.

  • A lady must know that a true cowboy is both charming and dangerous. He’s a little like the wild land on which he lives. It doesn’t take much more than a swish of skirts and a pretty face to get his attention, but he won’t be easy. If a lady wants to hold onto a cowboy, she must be strong and even a little stubborn. She has to show him that she has what it takes to survive in his world, but don’t worry ladies, he’ll make it worth your while.
  • A hard-working cowboy is independent, stubborn, and even a little fierce. He’ll charm you just as easily as he charms a bull so you’ll want to keep him on his toes. Show him you’re not a lady to be trifled with. He won’t be able to control you, but he’ll certainly want to keep you.
  • He’ll rarely tell you what’s on his mind and doesn’t like sharing his emotional feelings. If you want to understand your man, let him come to you. Don’t push or prod because he’ll make for the range. If you want to rope him in, you’d better learn how to handle the lasso.
  • Most importantly, a true cowboy is loyal to in life, and to the death. Be warned ladies—he expects that same in return. Treat your cowboy well and he’ll move heaven and earth for you.

WILD MONTANA WINDS

By MK McClintock

 

What happens when a mountain man tries to tame the heart of a Highland lass?

Ainslee McConnell turned down every eligible bachelor who asked for her hand, for she knew none could quiet her adventurous spirit. When she travels from Scotland to visit family and seek new experiences, she discovers a life more rewarding than she could have imagined.

Raised in the wilds of the Montana mountains, Colton Dawson lived as rancher, mountain man, and tracker. He was content . . . until one day a spirited Scottish lass crosses his path on her way to Hawk’s Peak. When a moment in Colton’s past revisits him, he fights to keep safe those he loves most.

COMING FEBRUARY 28, 2019!

Available for Preorder on Amazon

Return to Briarwood and Hawk’s Peak to experience a timeless western romantic adventure that will sweep you away on the wild Montana winds.

Don’t miss the other books in the Gallagher series . . . 

Gallagher’s Pride

Gallagher’s Hope

Gallagher’s Choice

An Angel Called Gallagher

Journey to Hawk’s Peak

 

Cavedwellers and Love

With Valentine’s Day almost here, my thoughts are tripping around romance and love even more than usual. 

In fact, Valentine’s Day always takes me back to the early days when Captain Cavedweller and I had just started dating. We met the day after Christmas (on a blind date), saw each other New Year’s Eve, then he went back to college nine hours away and I assumed that was all she wrote.

About two weeks later, he called to let me know he’d transferred schools and was back in town. After that, I don’t think a week went by that we didn’t see each other right up to the day we married. 

Under all that cavedweller exterior, he really is a romantic at heart (just don’t let him know I shared that little secret). 

That very first Valentine’s Day, he brought me gifts every day for a week. They weren’t expensive, elaborate gifts, just little tokens of affection that made this hopeless romantic’s heart melt and then melt again. 

Fast forward several years to a point where we were both so busy with life, we’d kind of forgotten about what it felt like when we fell in love. The “spark” had been replaced with getting through one day and then another. 

Unwilling to fully surrender what had once been an amazing romance to the mundane of everyday life, I decided we’d spend a year going on a weekly date, just like we did when we first met. And since this was an experiment, I thought writing our experiences in a journal might be fun.
You can read about all our dates and my feelings of each one (even when they were getting a little routine) in Fifty Dates with Captain Cavedweller. And it’s free right now on Kindle! 

A marriage that lost its spark.
A secret journal.
And a woman determined to light a fire under an introverted cavedweller.

Share the adventure of one couple’s efforts at reigniting their relationship in this G-rated journey through fifty dates.

Waking up one day to discover they’d gone from perpetual honeymooners to a boring, predictable couple, USA Today Bestselling author Shanna Hatfield and her beloved husband, Captain Cavedweller, set out on a yearlong adventure to add a little zing to their marriage.
This journal provides an insightful, humorous look at the effort they made to infuse their marriage with laughter, love, and gratitude while reconnecting on a new, heartfelt level.

And while I’m on the topic of cavedwellers and love, I have to share a little about another book with cavedweller in the title. 

Captain Cavedweller and I celebrated our 25th anniversary back in December. Way last spring, I started thinking of something unique and special I could give him as a gift. I finally decided it would be fun to write a book inspired by him. Then I landed on the idea of making the book about a time-traveling cavedweller. 

Oh, my gracious! The book was such fun to write! There’s the handsome cavedweller, a ranch with cowboys, and so much more!

Rob Foote, the amazing illustrator I hired to illustrate my children’s book and the covers of The Friendly Beasts of Faraday, took my whackadoodle ideas along with a wedding photo, and turned them into this fantastic cover.

 

I was so nervous when I handed CC a wrapped copy of the book on our anniversary. Would he love it? Hate it? Would he get that it was written with a heart full of love? 

He opened it and started laughing. And laughing. And he totally got that whole love part of it, too.

 

Can true love endure beyond the constraints of time?

Archaeologist Hannah Clayton has the unique talent of clearly imagining the past as she unearths artifacts in the present. When she stumbles across a cave with a wall of hidden petroglyphs, she’s giddy with excitement. At least until a man dressed like a caveman appears out of nowhere and scares her witless.

Inexplicably drawn to the cavedweller who calls himself Thor, Hannah has to decide if he’s involved in an elaborate hoax or if he’s a walking miracle. Thor is unlike any man she’s ever encountered. From the moment they meet, she knows nothing will ever be the same.

He acts as though he adores her, makes her laugh, and fills her world with more joy than her heart can hold. But are the bonds they share strong enough to keep Thor beside her and prevent his return to the past?

Capturing the Cavedweller’s Heart is available on Amazon in digital and paperback formats.

To enter for a chance to win a digital copy of Capturing the Cavedweller’s Heart, just answer this question:

Would you rather receive candy, flowers, dinner out, or jewelry from your sweetheart?

Wishing you all a beautiful, love-filled Valentine’s Day!