Rescuing the Rancher

I am all kinds of excited today because it is just a little more than a week until the release day for Rescuing the Rancher! The sweet contemporary romance is the second book in my Summer Creek series that debuted in June with Catching the Cowboy

Rescuing the Rancher is the story of Jossy Jansen, an energetic, stubborn, independent widow and Nathaniel Knight, an attorney from a big city who turns her world upside in just one visit to Summer Creek. 

When I was thinking about Jossy’s character, about the type of person she is and how it all would tie into the story, I found myself drawing inspiration from someone I’ve known since I was nine years old.

 

She’s a rancher. A wife. A mother. One of the hardest-working people I know. She’s also vibrant and beautiful, strong and stubborn. She can work on a tractor, chase cows through a bog, train a horse, then make a delicious dinner and tenderly tuck a little one into bed with hugs and kisses. 

And she provided so much inspiration for Jossy’s character. 

 

I thought you might enjoy a little excerpt from the story today.  And if you’d like to see more of what inspired the story, hop over to my Pinterest board!

***

Slowly, he raised his right hand and gently brushed it along the line of her jaw. His thumb caressed the curve of her cheek. The slight contact with her skin made waves of heat spiral through him, leaving him feeling reckless and energized.

“What are you doing?” she asked in a whisper. Her incredible blue eyes drew him in, held him prisoner. He could no more have walked away at that moment than he could have flapped his arms and flown home to Portland.

“I’m…” Truthfully, he wasn’t sure what he was doing. The part of his brain that had a few specks of common-sense still functioning urged him to step back and head out the door. To the very depths of his being, he knew that if he kissed Jossy, nothing would ever be the same again. Nothing.

Yet he lingered, trailing his fingers down her lovely face until he cupped her stubborn chin.

“If you think you can waltz in here and try to … seduce me, it won’t work.” She snarled her nose at him but didn’t move away. “I’m not that kind of girl.”

Absently, he nodded. “I know. And I’m not trying to seduce you. I’d have better luck trying to woo a wounded rhinoceros.”

***

Her hero has arrived

Even if she doesn’t realize it . . . yet

Widow Jossy Jansen intimidates people, mostly by accident. After all, her soon-to-be sister-in-law called her a cowboy version of Wonder Woman. Jossy can’t help it if she’s strong, capable, and bursting with restless energy. Never one who needed a man to rescue her, Jossy struggles with her feelings for an unlikely knight dressed in Armani.

Life as a corporate attorney has left Nathaniel Knight overworked, stressed, and going soft. He hardly recognizes the person he’s become. When his father insists he help out the small community of Summer Creek, Nate dreads spending time so far from civilization. Then he tangles with a rancher far too stubborn for her own good and far too lovely for his.

 Can Nate convince Jossy he’s more than just a city boy out of his element?

 A sweet romance brimming with heart, humor and hope, Rescuing the Rancher is a story of redemption, trust, and discovering true love.

 

Rescuing the Rancher is available for pre-order for the special price of $2.99. I hope you’ll check it out and get your copy ordered today! 

Amazon | Barnes and Noble | Apple | Kobo

 

Who are you rooting for?

Country girl Jossy or city boy Nate? 

 

Proud Wolf’s Woman — 25th Year Anniversary, Give-Away & Other News

Howdy!

Hope your July 4th celebration was wonderful.  July is such a terrific month, isn’t it?  Because this is the month of our country’s Declaration of ’76, I’m putting two of my books (which I call my freedom books) on sale for $.99 cents throughout the month of July.  Those books are BLACK EAGLE and SENECA SURRENDER.  Usually I give this little warning concerning these two books, which is that these two books are a little more sensuous than my usual Historical Romances.

Black Eaglehttps://tinyurl.com/vyygnvn

Seneca Surrenderhttps://tinyurl.com/wjj49nk

Then, PROUD WOLF’S WOMAN has just been released in its 25th Anniversary Edition.  This book has been out of print for about 25 years and is now back in print.

There’s really quite a bit of editing and that sort of thing that goes into these Anniversary books.  Often, when the books were converted from mass market books to e-books, there were errors due to the conversion.  So the extra editing is to find those errors and correct them.  It’s a beautiful edition and is on sale for $3.99 — regularly priced at $4.99.  The paperback edition is also on sale for $9.99.  Recently we’ve put our paperback books on sale from $13.99 to $9.99 because with this unusual world situation, sometimes it’s nice to lose ourselves in a story that ends happily.

So, in celebration of this book coming back into print after about 25 years, I’ll leave you with this excerpt and back blurb from the book.  Hope you will enjoy.

Proud Wolf’s Woman — https://tinyurl.com/y8x5p4qs

PROUD WOLF’S WOMAN by Karen Kay

He rescued her from slavery…now he is captive to desire.

Lakota Warriors, Book 2

Stolen from a cruel husband by the savage Kiowa, Julia Wilson’s life has gone from bad to worse. Just when she has reached the end of her endurance, salvation rides into camp. Neeheeowee, a proud Cheyenne brave who once filled her young heart with romantic dreams, has come to save her from everything—except the flames of desire that still burn.

Bitter and intent on vengeance against the man who killed his wife and unborn child, Neeheeowee has no room in his heart for love. His captured ponies and treasured robes were supposed to be traded for Kiowa weapons. Instead, to his annoyance, he must trade everything for his old friend’s life.

Hard as he tries to hang on to his anger at being set off his mission, he cannot deny that he yearns for the woman whose gentle, healing presence reminds him that happiness might exist beyond revenge. Her lips tease him with passion he dare not risk, for those who are long dead still haunt him. To take the love she offers risks his honor—perhaps his very life.

Warning: Sensuous romance might cause one to go West to find one’s own true love.

 

Enjoy this excerpt from PROUD WOLF’S WOMAN

 

They had been traveling that way for some time now, and always, after they had reached the Arkansas River, there had been buffalo. But before that, before they had reached the river, there had been nothing.

She remembered again the harshness of the last few weeks of traveling. It had been a cruel trek across what she now came to realize had been the Jornada, or Horn Alley, as the Americans called it: a desert march.

She remembered being glad to drink of the chalky white substance Neeheeowee had called mahpe, not even caring anymore if the water might be contaminated.

It was also during this time that she’d become aware that they traveled the Santa Fe Trail, and she remembered wondering if she might come across white travelers. So far, though, she had seen no one…up until now.

She looked down again upon the scene below her, her gaze taking in the herd of buffalo that seemed to stretch out to the horizon. Sometimes she and Neeheeowee had been forced to move amongst those numerous herds these past few days, Neeheeowee seemingly at ease over it, Julia half-afraid of the huge beasts. Often they would follow a buffalo trail, seeking out the hollows where buffalo had lain down and rolled over and over, these spots dotting the flat, endless land as though they were shimmering aqua beads strung out on a necklace of brown and green grasses.

It was in these hollows that she and Neeheeowee would water the pony and stock up on their own water supply, if low.

She smiled, watching the sun as it began to set in the western sky, the magnificence of color there, the golds and pinks, the reds and oranges, unlike anything she’d ever seen, and as Julia watched it, she experienced a sense of well-being that was as pleasurable as it was unusual. There was something about this limitless space that did something to her: the prairie that looked more silver than green under the hot, spring sun; the grasses that waved in the wind; the expanse of sky and high clouds. Even the air seemed magnified in purity, and she breathed it in now with a satisfied sigh.

She listened to the wind, the breeze blowing the faraway sounds of the trailblazers to her.

She supposed she might have gone down there to them, since they camped so close by, but she didn’t and she wouldn’t, content to continue her travels with her Indian companion, her proud wolf.

Yes, that was how she had come to think of Neeheeowee now: Proud Wolf. It was difficult not to picture him this way; not when he tilted his head a certain way, sometimes looking down his nose at her, although she knew it was all a facade.

She wondered again at how the white man had ever come to think of the Indian woman as a slave. Clearly there were divisions of labor as to the men’s and women’s work, but Neeheeowee did not balk at taking on her tasks when she didn’t know them or couldn’t do them.

And never did he scold her nor make her feel his inferior. Never.

In truth, she had never felt so cherished.

Still, there was something else: She had never asked, she had not thought to, but she had come to understand that Neeheeowee was taking her back to Fort Leavenworth. Another chivalrous move on his part.

She straightened up, away from the tree, looking out upon the camp that Neeheeowee had pitched. Stretched out beneath a canopy of cottonwood trees, their site disappeared into the landscape. And she knew it would take more than a little expertise for anyone, even an Indian, to find their camp.

She had noticed that Neeheeowee made no moves to light a fire this night, and Julia could only assume that was because of the close presence of the pioneers. And though she had come to realize that Neeheeowee did not much fear the white man, he did go out of his way to avoid them.

She glanced over to Neeheeowee now and watched him as he worked at camp chores, untying his bow, working over the wood, even chipping away at an arrowhead and shaft. These actions had become so commonplace to her of late, she barely even noticed him doing them.

As though aware of her scrutiny, Neeheeowee inclined his head just slightly before turning it quickly to his left, a gesture which had become familiar to Julia, and she couldn’t help but believe it an Indian custom, with some meaning to it.

He looked over to her, his expression stoic, unreadable.

“Ta-naestse,” he said, making a gesture toward her, indicating her voice. With a lift of his shoulders, he gave her to understand that he asked a question and Julia realized she had been humming, something she’d not been aware of until this moment. She stopped, but he motioned her to continue and then, possibly by way of a compliment, he smiled.

Julia was immediately captivated; so rarely did he honor her with such an expression.

She smiled back and continued to hum in tune along with the lazy fiddle, whose notes drifted up to them from the pioneer camp below. She knew the song being played down there and had she felt more at ease she might have sung along, but, being a little self-conscious, she contented herself with a mere hum.

At length, she rose, wandering to the edge of the ridge and there, looked over to the pioneer camp. Dusk had fallen all around her, bringing with it the scent of the pioneers’ campfire, the soft feel of evening air, and the nightly squawk of prairie hawks. Also, too, were the sounds of laughter and of happy music which filtered up to her. All at once, a sense of melancholy overcame her, and Julia wondered at the cause. Perhaps it was only her desire to be near to the things she had once known, or perhaps it was simply the melancholy which she had heard so often attached itself to the prairie traveler.

Whatever the cause, Julia began to recall the dances, the jigs, the excitement of being young, unattached, and in love, the thrill of being asked to dance by the most handsome of beaus.

Caught up in her reminiscence, she swayed to the rhythm of a jig, her feet finding their way into the simple steps of the dance. And all at once, she twirled once, again, until at length she spread her arms, spinning round and round, the leather fringe of her gown flowing outward and swaying like so much prairie grass in the wind.

She smiled as a slower waltz took over the beat and melody, remembering when she’d danced to this very song not so long ago.

And without even thinking about it, she curtsied as though to a suitor.

“Oh, my, yes,” she said to this most handsome of imaginary partners. “I’d be more than happy to accept this dance.”

Her arms came up to rest on her partner’s strong, invisible shoulders as he began to twirl her around and around the carpet of prairie grass, the hard earth beneath her feet her dance floor, the darkened sky overhead her ballroom.

“Are you planning to ask me to walk with you in the garden after the dance?” Julia asked into her shadowy partner’s ear, throwing her head back while the dark curls of her hair fell down around her waist.

She giggled as she pretended her fanciful partner’s reply, deeming it to be a most naughty of answers, and she feigned a blush, saying softly, “Why sir, how dare you speak to me as such.”

But when she smiled, it took the edge off her words, so that the dreamy figure holding her continued to whisper to her, the words so terribly naughty, it made Julia laugh.

She reached down, to sweep the train of her fictitious gown over her arm and then it happened.

Neeheeowee stood before her, stepping into her arms as though he were her fancied prince, his very real arms encircling her, his hand over hers.

His steps were smooth and slow, his look at her intense under the beginning shadows of a softened night.

She matched his steps, looking up to meet his gaze.

The moon appeared as an imperfect disk in the soft hush of evening, its radiance already beaming down, basking them in a glow of silvery light, and, as she looked up to him, Julia thought Neeheeowee more handsome than anyone of her acquaintance, and at this moment he bore more traits of what is considered the civilized man than anyone else, white or red.

Her one hand rested over his smooth shoulder, her other hand he clasped tightly within his own and he twirled her around their ballroom of softened prairie grass and hushed, moon-filled night. They danced as though to the tune of a hundred violins with thousands of spectators watching, yet they danced only for themselves.

The music from below had long ago ceased to play, but not so these two dancers. They swept around the circle there on the ridge, each twirl bringing her closer and closer into his arms, neither one aware that they danced to none other than the music of their own hearts.

His head came breathlessly close to hers, his lips hovering over her own and Julia, looking up, begged him silently for his kiss, her gaze pleading, her lips trembling.

She didn’t have to wait. As he completed the one last twirl, his lips pressed sweetly over hers and Julia responded as though she had waited all her life for this moment, or more particularly, seven and one-half years.

Proud Wolf’s Woman — https://tinyurl.com/y8x5p4qs

Be sure to leave a comment, as I will be giving away a free e-book of your choice:  Black Eagle, Seneca Surrender or Proud Wolf’s Woman.

 

PPS:  Won’t you consider signing up for the Petticoats and Pistols Newsletter?  You can now sign up off to the right side here.  We’d love to have you along with us.

CHERYL ST. JOHN IS HERE WITH A GIVEAWAY!

I’m delighted to visit Petticoats and Pistols and check in with all my friends. After twenty-five years under contract, I took a year and a half away from writing to care for and nurture a new grandbaby. During that wonderful and exhausting time, I refreshed my mojo so that I could write with renewed energy. I also promised myself that from then on, I would only write books I love. And that’s what I’ve been doing.

One of the things I especially like to do is take a character out of their place of comfort and put them into a new and difficult situation to see how they react. This is exactly what I did when I created Raylene Cranford, a gently-raised Southern belle whose new husband and father were killed in the brother’s war. She and her childhood friend survived through the winter in the burned-out remains of her family home, living on acorns and scrawny rabbits, and eventually made their way north to safety.

Determined and resourceful, the two are able to turn a family member’s home into a boarding house to support themselves. The system of male-dominated households existed to protect the weaker gentler sex. All Raylene knows how to do is maintain appearances and reputation, and to perfect the feminine graces—like modesty, piety and meekness—qualities that made a Southern woman the center of attention.

Here’s an interesting article about how the war left these young women at a loss with no way to fulfill the roles they’d been primed to fill:

https://daily.jstor.org/life-really-like-southern-belles-civil-war/

 

Raylene’s behavior does not go over well with the gaggle of more practical, capable and single women of Twin Springs, Colorado. Nor does her exaggerated drawl endear her to the former Union Army captain who spent months in a confederate prison.

But Tanner Bell has bigger problems. He’s just become solely responsible for a newborn. He owns a livery, where he lives in a tiny back room. His current arrangement will not do for taking care of a newborn. The most convenient solution is to rent a room at the boarding house. Also convenient is asking his industrious new landlady to help him care for the baby.

All Raylene knows is the past. Tanner is focused on the future. It might seem they have nothing in common, but the more they come to know about each other, the more similar they truly are. Both have faced loss and endured hardships. Both are acutely aware of racial injustice and are making a difference by helping change lives and hearts in their community. Both want the best for the tiny girl who has won their hearts.

Raylene’s journey is one of self-discovery. I enjoyed unwrapping these characters to get to the heart of matters, and I hope readers will enjoy reading their story as much as I enjoyed writing it.

 

Have you ever been out of your comfort zone and having to learn how to reinvent yourself? I’m offering three e-books from the choice of my backlist! 

Thank you so much to all the Fillies for the warm welcome, and a big howdy to all my friends!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

BUY LINK: https://tinyurl.com/ya3r25kt

Cheryl’s amazon author page:  https://tinyurl.com/y6js92y8

BookBub: https://www.bookbub.com/profile/cheryl-st-john

Like Cheryl’s Facebook author page: https://www.facebook.com/CherylStJ

 

The Magic of Small-Town Romance

My childhood was spent on a farm and trips to town were not a frequent occurrence. Perhaps that is why, when we did venture into the nearest town (population 1,200) it was such an exciting adventure.

When I was a little girl, my hometown was thriving. There was a department store, three grocery stores, a leather shop that I loved to visit, several restaurants, and more. Summer was my favorite time of year because there were baskets of blooming flowers, the smell of greasy burgers hanging in the air near the Dairy Queen (doesn’t every small town have one?), and everyone seemed so happy and friendly.

I think the small-town charm I experienced as child translated into a certain magical wonder for sparsely populated towns and all the possibilities they hold, at least to my writer’s mind.

It’s so much fun to build a world full of quirky characters set in an equally off-the-wall community.  

When I began thinking about a new series, set in what many would consider the middle of nowhere in the eastern Oregon desert region, I incorporated elements from my hometown into what would become Summer Creek, Oregon, population 497. Summer Creek also takes inspiration from a tiny little town near our current home. And I tossed in a liberal helping of my over-active imagination to round out the vision of how Summer Creek would look, feel, smell, and sound.

Summer Creek is an old town, one that used to be a great place to live,  but it’s fallen on hard times and is just on the verge of falling down around the ears of the hardy (or maybe it’s stubborn) residents who live there. There are old buildings nearing the need for demolition if they aren’t repaired soon. There’s a handsome sheriff’s deputy who lives there. Summer Creek also boasts a meandering goat named Ethel that can be found eating plastic bags at the grocery store or stealing lunches from the children at Summer Creek School. Of course, there’s also a gang of blue-haired senior women who ride around in a powder-blue Lincoln, thinking about matchmaking possibilities while dishing about the history of the town.

One of my favorite things about Summer Creek is the sense of community. The residents of Summer Creek are a supportive bunch, for the most part. They survive because of the support and encouragement they receive from their neighbors and friends, knowing whatever happens to the town, they are all in it together.

Summer Creek, if it really existed, is in ranch country, with cattle ranches and farms around it. It’s also an hour’s drive into the mountains. Which makes it the perfect setting for a sweet romance.

The moment I began thinking of ideas for this series, I knew there had to be outsiders coming in to Summer Creek and falling in love with the community as much as the hero or heroine.

That is exactly what happens in Catching the Cowboy, book one in the Summer Creek series.

 

Summer Creek is one of those small towns—the kind brimming with quirky inhabitants, pets with personalities (like a meandering goat named Ethel), meddling matchmakers, tumbling-down old buildings, and dreams. So many dreams. These sweet, uplifting romances explore the ties that bind a community together when they unite for a common purpose and open their hearts to unexpected possibilities. Heart, humor, and hope weave through each story, touching the lives of those who call Summer Creek home. Readers who love Debbie Macomber’s Cedar Cove series and RaeAnne Thayne’s Haven Point series will enjoy coming home to Summer Creek.

The first three books in the series release this summer.

Catching the Cowboy (read more below)

Rescuing the Rancher

Protecting the Princess

ABOUT THE BOOK

Catching the Cowboy

“When I feel the need for inspiration and comfort I reach for a book by Shanna Hatfield.”

Debbie Macomber, #1 New York Times Bestselling Author

 

She’s fresh out of jail . . .

He’s fresh out of luck.

Spoiled heiress Emery Brighton indulges in one mimosa too many, attempts to steal a horse, and winds up in jail. A sentence of community service leaves her at the mercy of strangers on a remote ranch near a small town in Oregon. Adjusting to country life is hard enough, but she has no idea how to handle her growing affection for a surly cowboy and his adorable daughter.

Steady and dependable as the day is long, rancher Hudson Cole just wants to raise his little girl and be left alone. When his grandmother invites a lawbreaker dressed in Louis Vuitton to Summer Creek Ranch, Hud is convinced Grammy has lost her ever-loving mind. Determined to detest Emery, he instead finds himself doing the one thing he vowed would never happen again: falling in love.

With one foot out the door, will love be enough to convince Emery to stay?

The book includes a Reader’s Guide, perfect for book club discussions.

For a limited time, the ebook is available at the discounted price of just $1.99.

Purchase today on

Amazon | Barnes and Noble | Apple | Kobo

Add to Goodreads

   

EXCERPT

When she bent closer to study the bruise, her hair brushed across his neck. A soft, floral fragrance ensnared his senses while the warmth of her breath fanning his skin made him teeter on the edge of combusting. He glanced heavenward, praying for divine intervention before he lost the tenuous hold he had on his self-control.

“I knew we should have taken you into the clinic. Is anything broken?” Emery asked, taking a step back and carefully placing the ice pack on his shoulder. At least it helped cool the fire created by her touch.

“Nah. It’s not even dislocated.” Hud made light of the injury, even if he knew he’d be stiff and sore for several days. “No big deal.”

“It looks like a big deal to me.” Although Emery backed away another step, her gaze melded to his.

The hypnotic, electric sizzle he’d done his best to ignore danced between them. Awed by the sheer strength of it, he wouldn’t have been surprised if whatever snapped between them illuminated the entire kitchen.

He wanted to take Emery in his arms, hold her close, and kiss her until he forgot about everything but loving a beautiful woman.

Instead, he gulped from the glass of milk in front of him.

“See you in the morning,” Emery said, then quietly left the room.

Hud released his breath and rubbed the throbbing pain that suddenly began pounding in his temples. The longer Emery stayed at Summer Creek Ranch, the harder it was to overlook the feelings, undeniable, deep feelings, he held for her.

And that was something he flat-out refused to allow.

 

 

TOUR GIVEAWAY

One (1) winner will receive a $50 Amazon Gift Card and a digital copy of Catching the Cowboy

For a chance to win, fill out this form.

The giveaway will run through June 25, 2020. The winner will be notified within two weeks of the giveaway ending and given 48 hours to respond or risk forfeiture of prize. Void where prohibited by law or logistics. The giveaway is subject to the policies found here.

 

 

Jodi Thomas Is Back in the Saddle Again

In this time of ‘house arrest’ we are all staying home most of the time.  Now I don’t know about other writers (haven’t seen any) but I started out the first two weeks thinking I’d write like crazy. 

Didn’t work.  I cleaned closets, cooked, watched TV, read books.

When the two weeks continued on and on, I made a list every morning of what I would do. Pretty soon I learned I could keep my Monday to-do-list all week and just change it to Tuesday, then Wednesday, then Thursday.

THEN I discovered a box of old music, country of course.  I bounced out of bed, put on my sweat pants, didn’t bother with shower or makeup half the time, and flipped on Only the Lonely by Roy Orbison. We danced around the house.

I know it sounds strange but it cheered me up. By the time I played it three times, I was ready to write.

Then I found a CD of Riders in the Sky with a song Gene Autry wrote.  Back in the Saddle Again. I learned to sing Whoopi-ty-aye-oh. Dancing again. To hear the song click here.

I played it as I saddled up for work.  When I was a kid I loved nothing more than riding across open country and today (as I have for thirty years) I love writing.

I’ve stepped into fiction in good times and bad.  When my heart’s been broken, I fall in love with my characters. When reality gets too much, I make my own world. When I simply want to have an adventure, I travel in my mind.

During this time of isolation, I still feel connected to my readers and all the writers I know. We may be home dancing to Only the Lonely but we’re together. 

After I took a bad tumble riding in my teens, the hardest thing I ever did was climb back on a horse, but the strange thing was, once in the saddle, I wondered why it had taken me so long.

 

My advice for this time: 

  1. Be good to yourself.  Get lost in a good book whether you’re reading it or writing it. Have a party every night.  Popcorn and a movie or cookies and milk on the porch watching the rain.
  1. Be happy.  Sure you don’t get to see the people you love, but the upside is you don’t have to be around all those folks who bother you.
  1. Dance.  Personally, I never learned to dance, but I do it anyway.  I told Tom once that I may look like I’m standing still, but I’m dancing inside.  He smiled and said, “I know.”

I’m in the middle of a series and I’m loving it. Book One, BREAKFAST AT THE HONEY CREEK CAFÉ came out last week. It’s packed with action and love stories that will keep you reading through the night.

Please add it to your reading list and ‘if you have time’ leave a comment and tell me what you’re dancing to during this isolation. One reader’s comment will be selected to receive my first book out of the box. 

Joke of the day from Riders in the Sky.  “If the world was logical, men would ride sidesaddle.”

 

 

Why do we Love Mail-Order Bride Stories so Much? Julie Ridgmont explains …

Mail-order brides who came west to marry suitors whom they had only corresponded with on paper are a popular subject among Western-themed blogs like this one, and among readers of Western romance. Why are we so fascinated with them? Perhaps because of the mystery and drama that must have ensued when a union was formed of such different means than our own? Or perhaps because this trope naturally makes a good romance because of the many aspects of marriage that will have to be sorted out between both parties?

If you look on Amazon, you will find almost as many mail-order bride stories as billionaire stories. So even though we as readers gravitate toward the same types of stories over and over, there’s still an element of intrigue that keeps drawing us to them.

As an author, I was wondering how to take this popular (and, let’s face it, overused) trope and turn it into something fresh, something that would stay in the readers’ minds a little longer than the average mail-order bride story. I was planning to write two stories about a widow and her grown daughter, both of whom had lost their significant others in the Civil War, and were moving west to start a new life. Then I was asked to write another story for the multi-author series, The Belles of Wyoming, after contributing three previous books. The fourth book, Daring to Love Again, proved to be more difficult than the others as I built a mystery around a sawmill owner and his family. The “bad guys” in this story had been terrorizing people in the surrounding area. When the law finally caught up to them, two of them were captured and hung. The third criminal committed suicide.

Melissa Burgess and her mother, Susannah Eversoll, were married to two of these men. After becoming widowed, Susannah decided to leave her husband’s memory behind and start over. She also decided to find a new husband for Melissa—without Melissa’s knowledge. And there is the fresh spin on this traditional trope—one that readers still love after reading hundreds of others like it. A Glimmer of Hope, Book 1 in the Brides of Hope Hollow series, is Melissa’s story, and Hope Springs Eternal, Book 2, is Susannah’s. Not every story in this series will be a mail-order bride story, however. I’ve taken care to build these stories around a town that cares for its own in southern Oregon (near modern-day Grant’s Pass and Medford). Book 3, Her Only Hope, has another fun twist in that the town blacksmith needs an assistant while recovering from an injury. What he doesn’t know is that the person who comes to his aid is a woman disguised as a man! I’ve been researching blacksmithing and even interviewed a farrier and watched him shoe his horse. It was a neat experience for a greenhorn like me. I can hardly wait to share book 3 with you. Thankfully, it won’t be too much longer. It’s slated to release on August 28, 2020. If you haven’t visited the town of Hope Hollow, Oregon yet, I hope you will soon. It’s a place that I wish I could visit for real.

 

 

As mentioned earlier, Susannah’s first husband was a rapscallion, and even though she married David shortly after becoming a widow, she is still trying to come to terms with who her first husband really was and the way he died. I’ve had a similar tragedy happen in my life, and so I’ve taken every precaution to tell this story in a sensitive manner and convey a message of hope and healing.

***Today I’m offering a signed paperback of Hope Springs Eternal, Susannah and David’s story. Are you a person of faith and been tested in some way? Or has your life turned out exactly as you planned?

Here is the blurb for Hope Springs Eternal:

Carving out a new life in Oregon isn’t for the faint of heart. Neither is becoming a mail-order bride.

For 36-year-old Susannah Eversoll, starting over after her husband’s suicide, not to mention betrayal, is what she feels the need to do. So she arranges for herself and her grown daughter, Melissa, to become mail-order brides farther west in the town of Hope Hollow, Oregon. But Susannah will be starting over in more ways than she planned. Although he is kind and caring, David didn’t tell her that his children are young and exhaustingly unruly. And when pushed to her breaking point, a freak accident wipes away her memory. Who is she? Who are these people? Where does she belong?

David Stratton’s hopes for the future died along with his wife two years ago. Now he’s doing the best he can to raise his rambunctious and sometimes quarrelsome children, but he needs help. More than that, though, he’s lonely. Now that he’s found Susannah, he isn’t about to let her go. When Susannah loses her memory in a skating accident, a traveling medicine man decides that he can help her. But is his interest in Susannah’s well-being genuine or does something sinister lie beneath? Can David unravel the mystery that shrouds his wife? Will Susannah regain her memory in time to save their marriage? Or will the love that began to blossom between them shrivel up and die in the wintry storms ahead?

Book 2 in the popular new series, Brides of Hope Hollow, is a story of hope and redemption, and a renewal of faith.

Universal purchase link for Hope Springs Eternal: https://amzn.to/2Mb5lDH

Julia Ridgmont’s author bio:

Julia Ridgmont grew up in the American West, but that doesn’t necessarily mean she knows how to ride a horse. What it does mean, however, is that she loves to weave the country’s rich history into riveting tales full of romance and intrigue.

When she’s not writing, Julia enjoys cooking, sewing costumes for her children, spending time with her husband, and watching her children perform in sports or plays—or, if she’s really bored or stuck on a plot twist, cleaning the house.

Follow Julia as she unveils heroes whose strength and courage are only surpassed by their tenderness, and heroines who hide their lonely hearts with a cover of steel. It will take overcoming insurmountable odds and an iron will for them to find a love that lasts forever. Luckily, they have Julia to help them along.

Not sure if you want to use these social media links, but here they are in case:

Julia’s NL: https://juliaridgmontbooks.com/subscribe

Bookbub: https://www.bookbub.com/profile/julia-ridgmont

Stories that Connect our Lives Facebook reader group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/1493800594035114

https://www.facebook.com/authorjuliaridgmont

Julia’s YouTube Channel: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCWecns0cO8kx2vHWUpRre-g

 

The Outlaw’s Daughter & Giveaway

He may be a Texas Ranger, but he only has eyes for the outlaw’s beautiful daughter…

I’m happy to announce that my new book has just been released!  This is book three in my Haywire Brides series, but each book stands alone. 

I’m giving away a book today to one of you.  So be sure to leave a comment!

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Texas Ranger Matt Taggert is on the trail of a wanted man. He has good reason to believe that Ellie-May’s late husband was involved in a stagecoach robbery, and he’s here to see justice done. But when he arrives in town, he discovers the thief has become a local hero…and his beautiful young widow isn’t too happy to see some lawman out to tarnish her family’s newly spotless reputation.

Ellie-May’s shaken by her encounter with the Ranger. Having grown up an outlaw’s daughter, she’ll do anything to keep her children safe—and if that means hardening her heart against the handsome lawman’s smiles, then so be it. Because she knows Matt isn’t about to give up his search. He’s out to redeem himself and find proof that Ellie-May’s husband wasn’t the saint everyone claims…even if it means losing the love neither expected to discover along the way.

Ellie-May has lived all her life in the shadow of her outlaw father.  Do you think a parent’s reputation has the same impact today as it did in the 1800s?

B&N

Amazon

Apple

 

Sneak Preview ~ Montana Homecoming by Jeannie Watt

Have you ever had a nemesis? Someone who challenged you, brought out your best and worst in the heat of battle? That’s what Cassie Callahan is dealing with in my latest sweet romance, MONTANA HOMECOMING, which is being released in July. Here’s a quick sneak peek:

NEVER GIVE THE opening bid.

Cassie Callahan gripped her auction paddle, determined to keep it on her lap until the proper moment. She was, after all, the queen of self-control. The embodiment of coolness under fire. As an assistant school district superintendent, she dealt with unpredictable school boards, principals, teachers and students by calmly addressing facts, laying out pros and cons, refusing to budge unless a decent compromise presented itself. And then she became a master negotiator. She loved it—or at least she used to love it. Lately she’d had the nagging feeling that she was putting more into her job than she was getting out of it.

Burnout, pure and simple, so it made sense that if she had something to occupy her time when she wasn’t on the job, she’d once again feel the thrill of battle as she headed out to work each morning. Thus, the auction paddle.

“Sold!” the auctioneer bawled as a nice palomino gelding was led out of the auction ring, and Cassie shifted in her seat. Showtime.

The palomino had sold for a lower price than Cassie had expected, as had the two horses before. Maybe she’d be able to buy McHenry’s Gold for a reasonable price; maybe the people attending the semiannual Gavin, Montana, horse auction didn’t understand the bloodlines the mare represented. Or perhaps they didn’t care.

Unlikely. McHenry horses were legendary, but that wasn’t why Cassie was bidding. This particular McHenry mare was a daughter of the mare that had seen her through her turbulent teen years. The last daughter. The mother, McHenry’s Rebel, had died the previous year.

“The next mare up is something of a gem, folks.”

No. Don’t make her look good. Just start the bidding.

Cassie clenched her teeth together, then instantly relaxed her jaw. No more of that. She’d promised her dentist.

The auctioneer continued singing the praises of McHenry’s Gold and Cassie had to fight to not stand up and tell him to just shut up and get on with the bidding.

Of course, she didn’t, because that was what old Cassie would have done, back before she’d had a couple thousand classes in management and psychology. Back before she realized that direct confrontation didn’t always work.

“We’ll open the bidding at ten thousand. Do I hear ten? Ten? Ten?”

Ten? The last horse had opened at three.

The ring steward led the mare in a circle. She had excellent conformation but wasn’t flashy otherwise. A bay with a broad white blaze and one white hind foot—a carbon copy of her mother, and Cassie wanted her. She practically had to sit on her paddle.

The auctioneer continued his patter. The guy in front of Cassie leaned forward as if to get a better view of the mare. His paddle hand twitched when the auctioneer lowered the opening bid to five thousand dollars and suddenly Cassie’s paddle was in the air.

The spotter pointed at her. “I have five,” the auctioneer announced. “Do I hear six? Six?”

No six. No six.

“Five and a half? Five and a—I have five and a half.”

Cassie leaned forward as she searched the crowd on the opposite side of the sale ring to see who had the temerity to bid against her. She couldn’t see who’d bid in the sea of cowboy hats. Well, she’d spot him next time if he dared do it again. She raised her paddle for a bid of six thousand, then narrowed her eyes as she spotted the man who bid six and a half.

No.

Really?

Her dentist would have hated what she did to her teeth when Travis McGuire met her gaze across the distance that separated them, looking very much the smug know-it-all she knew him to be.

She was in trouble, because when Travis wore that expression, it meant game on. She searched her memory, trying to remember who had won their last confrontation years ago.

Maybe it had been a draw.

This one would not be a draw. Or a loss.

No one appeared interested in bidding higher than six thousand five hundred. The auctioneer worked the crowd, then began intoning, “Seven? Seven? Six and three-quarters… No? Going…going…”

Cassie thrust her paddle in the air just after the second going. She didn’t look at Travis, because she told herself she was beyond their old rivalry. She’d thought he would be, too. They were never going to be friends, but after so many years, surely they could be civil?

“I have a bid of six and three-quarters,” the auctioneer announced.

Cassie could go to seven. That was her limit. But when Travis raised his paddle at seven thousand, she knew that she was going over budget. She wanted that horse.

“Seven and a half? Anyone? Sev—”

Up went her paddle.

“Eight?” He pointed at Travis, who sat motionless, giving Cassie a flicker of hope. “Seven and three quarters?”

Travis nodded and Cassie’s stomach fell.

The auctioneer pointed at Cassie. “Eight?”

She hesitated, then lifted the paddle. After that things became a blur as Travis continued to meet every bid and her blood pressure continued to rise. The seesaw continued until the auctioneer reached ten thousand five hundred. He pointed at Travis, who grimly shook his head. Cassie’s chest swelled. Unless someone had been waiting in the wings for just this moment…

“Sold to number 325.”

Only then, when the heat of battle began to ebb, did she fully process what she’d just done. Ten thousand five hundred dollars. Three thousand five hundred more than she’d allotted. She never got carried away like that. Her gaze strayed across the auction ring to where Travis sat with his forearms resting on his thighs, staring at the ground between his boots. She hadn’t seen the man in over five years, and he still had the power to bring out the worst in her.

And there you have it, the beginning of a new challenge for both Travis and Cassie as she temporarily returns to her home ranch before beginning a sabbatical. I wonder what’s going to happen with Travis and Cass?

AMAZON 

Have a great day!

Jeannie

Andrea Downing on how Wyoming Women Take the Lead

Before I was able to purchase a small place in Wyoming where I live part-year, I always thought of Wyoming as ‘the cowboy state.’ The symbol of a cowboy on a bucking horse is pervasive in the state, and shops and bars are plentiful in throwing around the word ‘cowboy.’ But the other nickname for the great state of Wyoming is ‘the equality state’ because, as any feminist historian may know, Wyoming was the very first place in the entire world to give women the vote. Although it’s often said that the decision to give women the vote had to do with the comparatively small population residing in Wyoming at the time, the pro-suffrage vote was generally along political party lines with the Democrats bringing in the law on December 10, 1869. At the time, there was something akin to five men for every woman in Wyoming.

Photo courtesy of Jackson Hole Historical Society and Museum

In September 1870, women finally got their chance to cast their ballots…and apparently predominantly voted Republican. Later that year, women jurists served, and in 1871, the first female Justice of the Peace was elected. Women went on to serve in several capacities, including in the state legislature. However, in my own neck of the woods, in the valley of Jackson Hole, things were a bit slower to take off, but when they did, women certainly made their mark.
It’s difficult to believe that the area in which the town of Jackson now sits was once called Marysvale, but that was the original postal address for the area. The first homestead claims had been filed in the 1880s, mostly by men, with women and families arriving later. In 1893, Maggie Simpson became the official postmistress sitting on a property that now is the center of town. She renamed the district Jackson and, as everyone now knows, that is the name that stuck.

Photo courtesy of Jackson Hole Historical Society and Museum

By 1900, the town was slowly developing and lots were being sold for housing and shops, but it remained a fairly laid-back place with no real government. It took another twenty years for a town council to be elected—all women! At the time, the population of Jackson was 307 and Grace Miller beat one Frank Lovejoy for the position of mayor, fifty-six to twenty-eight. The five-woman council was able to collect long-overdue taxes, improve road conditions, maintain the Town Square, control roaming livestock, give access to the cemetery, expand sewer and water systems, and install electric lighting and a phone service. They also employed the first Town Marshal, a woman! Pearl Williams had formerly been working at the drugstore as a clerk, but having been brought up on a ranch located between Jackson and Wilson, she had her own horse and could look after herself in the wild. Apparently, most of Pearl’s time was taken up giving interviews to reporters who loved the story of the female marshal in the wild west. The truth of the matter was that the town jail cells had no doors and the worst incidents Pearl apparently handled, aside from keeping stray cattle out of the town square, involved drunken cowboys.

My own first visit to Jackson was as a young girl in the 1960s. I don’t remember much other than going up to Yellowstone except that it was still a fairly quiet place reveling in its small-town life. I suppose in the 1970s when my book Always on My Mind is set, it was just beginning to evolve into what it is today—a vibrant place that welcomes men and women (!) from around the globe, pandemics permitting. And women, of course, continue to play a vital role in both the state government and the town of Jackson.

If you’d like to win an e-copy of Always on My Mind, comment below and let me know what you think it might have been like for a woman living in Jackson in the seventies. There certainly was a lot going on in the country at the time. Here’s the book’s blurb to give you some ideas: 1972 – Vietnam, the pill, upheaval, hippies.

Wyoming rancher Cooper Byrnes, deeply attached to the land and his way of life, surprises everyone when he falls for vagabond hippie Cassie Halliday. Fascinated and baffled, he cannot comprehend his attraction—or say the words she wants to hear.
Cassie finds Coop intriguingly different. As she keeps house for him and warms his bed at night, she admits to herself she loves him but she misinterprets Coop’s inability to express his feelings.
Parted, each continues to think of the other, but how can either of them reach out to say, “You were ‘always on my mind’?”

 

Find Always on My Mind at these booksellers:

Amazon

Barnes and Noble

Catching the Cowboy

 

The past few months, I’ve been working on a brand-new sweet western romance series set in a modern-day town that only exists in my head. 

I can’t speak for other authors, but I have the absolute best time dreaming up towns, businesses, and oddball characters. 

I first started thinking about a series set near Burns, Oregon, years ago. At that time, I jotted down a few notes, tucked them away, and thought about the characters and stories I wanted to write but just never had time to work into my schedule. Last summer, I began thinking of ideas for another ranch series, one with Summer in the title (inspired by a ranch sign I saw on the way to church one Sunday when I ventured along a back road). Finally, I landed on the idea of combining the two series into one and naming it Summer Creek. Of course, I came up with that idea ten minutes into a three-hour road trip with Captain Cavedweller. So the entire trip he was trapped in the pickup with me as I brainstormed ideas. Lucky for me, he’s great at brainstorming and tossing around “what ifs” so it was quite a trip! 

By the time we got home, I had the basics outlined for the first three books with oodles of notes for more in the series. 

I like to have a cover in finished before I start writing the book, or at least something in mind. And I knew I wanted the covers for this series to be different — original. After searching for hours (days!) online, I ended up asking a local photographer if she’d sell me three images from engagement sessions. She specializes in western photography and I fell in love with this image.

It was so incredibly perfect for the story I wanted to write and in fact, I wrote this image into the last scene of the book. 

I had such a great time creating not just the characters and story, but the town of Summer Creek. It’s an old town that’s been around for more than a century, but it’s fallen on hard times and when the heroine arrives, she boosts the population up to 497. Did I mention it’s a really small town? One where a goat named Ethel roams around eating grocery bags and tube socks. Where the mayor is also the barber and locksmith, and… you get the idea. 

Catching the Cowboy is the first book in the series and it will release June 9. I can hardly wait to share it with everyone. 

 

She’s fresh out of jail . . .

  He’s fresh out of luck.

 Spoiled heiress Emery Brighton indulges in one mimosa too many, attempts to steal a horse, and winds up in jail. A sentence of community service leaves her at the mercy of strangers on a remote ranch near a small town in Oregon. Adjusting to country life is hard enough, but she has no idea how to handle her growing affection for a surly cowboy and his adorable daughter.

 Steady and dependable as the day is long, rancher Hudson Cole just wants to raise his little girl and be left alone. When his grandmother invites a lawbreaker dressed in Louis Vuitton to Summer Creek Ranch, Hud is convinced Grammy has lost her ever-loving mind. Determined to detest Emery, he instead finds himself doing the one thing he vowed would never happen again: falling in love.  

With one foot out the door, will love be enough to convince Emery to stay?

 This sweet romance offers a funny, delightful happily ever after adventure in a quirky small town. Discover a meandering goat named Ethel, meddling matchmakers, and a community that feels like home in a story filled with heart, humor, and hope.

 

Here’s an excerpt:

“Sit by me,” Cricket said, snagging Emery’s hand and pulling on it.

Jossy feigned a pout. “I’ve been displaced as the favored seatmate.”

Emery glanced from Jossy to Hud. “I don’t want to steal anyone’s seat.”

“You’re fine,” Jossy said, giving Emery a warm smile then settling into the chair on the other side of Hud. “This looks and smells fantastic, Grammy. Thank you for making my muffins.”

“Of course, sweetie. It’s a treat to have you join us,” Nell said, lifting Jossy’s and Cricket’s hand in hers. “Let’s hold hands while I offer a word of thanks for this food and beautiful day.”

Hud would rather pet a rabid porcupine than hold Emery’s hand in his, but to appease his grandmother, he reached out and clasped it. Unprepared for the wild jolt of electricity that zipped from the point of contact up his arm, he would have dropped her hand and left the room if it wouldn’t have created a flurry of questions from his grandmother and Jossy.

Instead, he forced himself to sit still and listen to his grandmother say grace. As soon as he uttered “amen,” he released Emery’s hand, although his skin continued to tingle. He picked up the mug of coffee in front of him and took a long, bracing drink. He did his best to ignore the way it burned all the way down his throat as he picked up the platter of sausages. When he held it for Emery before passing it on to Jossy, he caught the woman eyeing him, as though she was equally disturbed by the unsettling, unexpected feeling that continued to linger in the air.

This …  whatever this energy was that pulsated between them, was not something he wanted to explore or even acknowledge. He’d vowed years ago he would never be stupid enough to let another woman into his heart and life, and he intended to stick with that decision.

 

You can pre-order Catching the Cowboy for just $1.99. After it releases, the price will increase to $5.99 for digital copies. It will also be available in paperback. 

To find out more, please visit my website, or order your copy today.