The Fillies welcome guest Kathleen D. Bailey. Please make her welcome.
Judge Henry Garth owns “Shiloh,” the largest ranch in and around Medicine Bow, Wyoming. When feuding ranchers and Indians from “up north” want to meet to settle their differences, Garth offers Shiloh as a neutral venue. He has two house guests: Ben, a city-slicker newspaperman come to visit Garth’s daughter Betsy, and the Indian Affairs agent who’s supposed to settle the whole mess. Garth wants a peaceful solution to the Indian/rancher problem, but his plans go awry when a group of thugs takes over Shiloh. He finds himself a hostage in his own home along with Betsy, the journalist, the Indian agent and Randy, his singing cowboy. His other hands are all at the roundup.
The hostages try various ways to foil the thugs. After the criminals take everyone’s guns, Randy mouths to Ben that there’s one in the desk Ben’s leaning on. Ben sneaks it out and aims it at the ringleader, but loses his nerve. When the captives discover a small bottle of laudanum they try to drug one of their captors’ coffee, but they are again foiled. The Indian Affairs guy turns out to be part of the problem when he reveals himself as allied with the criminals. There are other attempts at freedom, and each time the viewer thinks, “Well, they’ve got it now.” Except they don’t, because this is a 90-minute Western and there’s plenty of time for things to go wrong. Even The Virginian, Garth’s relentlessly resourceful foreman, can’t get them out of this one. He’s been shot.
Where will it all end? How will it all end, with every escape blocked?
Western movies and television have always known how to keep a viewer engaged. The classic stories hook viewers by baiting, switching and baiting again. Just when the viewer thinks the cowboy/wagon scout/marshal has figured a way out of their dilemma, someone or something will trip them up. Just when the viewer thinks there’s no hope, a solution appears, and they’ll wonder why they didn’t see it before. It’s like mystery writing only with horses.
The genre could be formulaic, especially in the early years. My husband and I are aggressive Western watchers and we’ve learned to recognize the archetypes such as the physician who won’t practice medicine any more, usually due to alcohol or losing someone precious to them. Or losing someone precious, then turning to alcohol. But it’s what they do with these archetypes that makes these tales stand the test of time.
I spent most of one summer watching “How The West Was Won,” the epic TV miniseries starring an aging James Arness as Zeb Macahan, one of the legendary Mountain Men. Arness was perfection in the role of his life, and supporting cast members included shoot-em-up royalty such as Slim Pickens and Dennis Weaver. But as I rolled through it a second time, I became hooked on the story itself. It wasn’t just Zeb meeting up with old cronies, or rescuing his kinfolk from one scrape after another. Oldest nephew Luke, played by a young Bruce Boxleitner, stumbled into serious trouble when he went back East to check on his father. He got conscripted into the Union army, ran away from same, stole a horse and shot a sheriff. The sheriff lived but lost the use of one arm, and that one rash act—and the sheriff’s lust for revenge—followed Luke through the entire series. Luke spent most of the show on the run, eluding the sheriff’s spies, hired guns and the sheriff himself. The threat to Luke’s life kept resurfacing, like Whack-A-Mole, every time he thought he had a chance at happiness. It’s perfect story structure, a thread that runs through the entire series and keeps the watcher hooked.
The best Westerns carry out the classic themes of guilt, shame, retribution and justice. They connect on a deeper level, as with John Wayne in “The Searchers.” It’s why I chose to write Westerns. Take two strong characters, give them something to fight about, give them an attraction—and set it against the Oregon Trail or a cattle drive or the Land Rush. Watch the magic happen.
What of Judge Garth? He solved his dilemma without a single bullet. Calling on his memories of a court case, he set two of his assailants against each other. A long-simmering grudge came to the front, and they destroyed one another. With all other escape routes blocked, Garth solved the problem with his mind.
The perfect ending to a not-so-perfect day.
The Western genre is adventure, romance and at its best something more. Western stories pack a satisfying experience for the reader. And if you’re a writer of Westerns, you can chalk up all that movie watching as research. You’re welcome.
So…what’s your favorite Western movie, mini-series or TV program? I’ll be giving away a paper copy of my first book, “Westward Hope”; an e-copy of the sequel, “Settler’s Hope”: and a New England gift pack to three separate winners. Leave a comment to enter the drawing.
Kathleen Bailey is a journalist and novelist with 40 years’ experience in the nonfiction, newspaper and inspirational fields. Born in 1951, she was a child in the 50s, a teen in the 60s, a young adult in the 70s and a young mom in the 80s. It’s been a turbulent, colorful time to grow up, and she’s enjoyed every minute of it and written about most of it.
Bailey’s work includes both historical and contemporary fiction, with an underlying thread of men and women finding their way home, to Christ and each other. Her first Pelican book, ‘‘Westward Hope,” was published in September 2019. This was followed by a novella, “The Logger’s Christmas Bride,” in December 2019. Her second full-length novel, “Settler’s Hope,” was released July 17, 2020. She has a Christmas novella, “The Widow’s Christmas Miracle,” scheduled for this December as part of Pelican’s “Christmas Extravaganza,” and is completing “Redemption’s Hope,” the third and final book in the Western Dreams series.
She lives in New Hampshire with her husband David. They have two grown daughters.
The gunfighter and the recluse…what could go wrong?
Wax Mosby was climbing Hope Mountain in part to atone for his terrible choices. He was hired to drive out the Warden family and now knows he was duped. But when he’s wounded during the climb, the last person he expects to rescue him is a beautiful blond woman with the voice of an angel.
As both Ursula and Wax weigh the costs of living new lives, the two find an unlikely bond. And they’re joined by Ursula’s sisters and the Warden family as the final showdown over the family ranch looms with the coming of spring.
Thank you to the ladies of Petticoats and Pistols for having me back again for the launch of my new series, Granite Junction! This is actually a spin-off of my last series, Redemption Ranch, continuing some favorite characters and the same world, but with new story arcs and new fun times.
The series features a favorite secondary character, Emma Holt, a guidance counselor who’s been in love with her best friend, rancher Cam Miller, for her entire life. Only, he doesn’t feel the same way and, in fact, is selling his ranch and leaving the town forever. Kind of a romance killer. His cousin, Gabe Buchanan, comes to town, completely blocked on his latest book, to help Cam with the ranch and looking for a little fun, nothing serious. His charming ways win over Emma and they begin a little affair, neither intending for it to go much further than a summer romance. Yet when the lines between casual and interested blur, neither can deny the chemistry between them.
Gabe is a fun loving guy, using his charm and wit to hide his insecurities and fears. One of their dates is fairly typical of dating today – a movie. Except in his case, it’s to the town drive-in theater to see City Slickers! Not your typical romantic first date movie, or even the scary one to get the girl in your arms. Nope, Gabe chooses a comedy to laugh and have fun. He sets out a romantic dinner in the bed of the truck, with all of Emma’s favorite foods (including French fries from the local diner) and they settle in for the movie.
Of course after, she has to ask about his loving the movie, especially since he grew up on a guest ranch and was supposed to take over that portion of the family business until he went rogue and decided to write books instead.
Here’s a snippet from their conversation:
“No, I’ve always found City Slickers to be oddly profound and thought-provoking,” he replied.
She lightly punched him in the arm and laughed. “Only a guy would say that. You probably think fart jokes are funny too.”
“Funny, yes. Profound, definitely not.”
She turned on her side and propped herself on her elbow and looked down at him. “What do you mean by ‘thought-provoking’? I don’t think anyone has a deep, philosophical discussion based on City Slickers.”
He shrugged, his hands pillowing his head as he stared up at the stars. “Well, they should. Or maybe it’s something only a guy would get. But think about the whole premise. Three guys at major crossroads, all trying to figure out the secret of life. And a grizzly old trail boss has the secret and it’s so goddamn simple.”
She laughed. “They’re having midlife crises because one wants to keep dating younger women, one is afraid of his wife, and the other hates his job. It’s all pretty normal stuff.”
“Maybe. But the trail boss tells them that they’re complicating things. They need to find one thing. Just one thing and you stick to that and the rest means nothing. Basically, find the one thing that means everything to you. Mitch found it in the river, right? His family. Nothing else mattered. How simple is that? Yet we all focus on so many things, so many distractions. Narrow it down to that one simple thing.”
She lay back down, her mind suddenly focused. “Oh my God. You found something meaningful in a comedy.”
He grinned. “In every good movie, there’s meaning. Even the cartoons have it. Why not a comedy?”
“What’s your one simple thing?”
The silence dragged on for so long that she wondered if he had fallen asleep. Finally, he replied, “I’m still looking for it. But I’m close. And you?”
She paused. It was a loaded question. Before that night, she might have answered differently, might have automatically replied with her outline for her plan, the one that had been clearly defined for ten years and followed her from year to year, planner to planner. But now she hesitated. “I’m not sure.”
“Good. That one simple thing is not so simple and should require thought.”
“What other pearls of wisdom came out of the movie?” She asked, desperately trying to get back on firmer ground.
“Nope, I think that’s enough philosophy for one night. It’s getting late and I should get you home, though I doubt anyone will pull me over. That’s Cam’s problem tonight.” He laughed.
“You devil. Jo will be hunting him down and giving him tickets.”
He sat up and folded the blanket that covered them. “He’ll probably make me pay the ticket since I’m somehow to blame.”
She remained lying on her half of the blanket under them, her stomach clenching as she realized he was seriously ending the date and was not even going to try to kiss her. Disappointment morphed into outrage. How dare he not even try anything? She knew he found her attractive. If he didn’t, he wouldn’t have come out here with her. No, he was putting distance between them, being careful with her, afraid to push her because of their earlier conversation, and it pissed her off. She had accepted her own issues and decided to go all in with him. She could have gone home, but now, damn it, she wanted the full date experience, especially now that they were at the infamous Granite Junction makeout spot, one she had never really experienced thanks to her overprotective brother and his best friend.
“You’re not even going to try and kiss me?”
He turned a hot gaze toward her. “I thought it might be best to end the night while I was ahead.”
She sat up. “You’re not ahead yet, Gabe.” She twined her fingers in his shirt and tugged him down so he lay half across her. “Now, let’s end this date properly.”
Of course, their date doesn’t end there. But you’ll have to read the book to find out who catches them and how Emma defines properly!
Check out The Wrong Cowboy, out now!
To get your name in the drawing for an electronic copy of The Wrong Cowboy, share what movie you find profound or thought-provoking that maybe other people might not? Let me know in the comments below!
Graduate from college? Check.
Land a school counselor job? Check.
Seduce her forever crush? Epic fail!
In fact, he’s not interested, period. But Emma is determined to change his mind until his cousin, Gabe Buchanan, puts a definite crimp in her perfect plans.
Gabe has come to help his cousin with work around the ranch while struggling to unravel his next book plot. The last thing he expected to find was literary inspiration in the curvaceous cowgirl pining over his cousin. Determined to prove he is the right match for her, he devises a plan to win Emma’s heart.
As much as Emma wants her childhood crush to finally take notice, she can’t help but be intrigued by the sizzling hot and funny Gabe. When he asks her out, she can’t say no. Besides, it’s just a friendly dinner. No big deal. Yet when the lines between casual and interested blur, neither can deny the chemistry between them.
Can Gabe fill every box on Emma’s checklist and give her what she needs the most? His heart and a future together?
Granite Junction is a spin-off from the Redemption Ranch series, with some of your favorite characters returning and making guest appearances, while others find their happy ever afters!
Hello everyone, Winnie Griggs here. I hope you all are enjoying your Labor Day and are able to celebrate. Unfortunately this year I am waaaaayyy behind on my current deadline book – long story I may tell you about soon – and will be spending the day furiously typing.
That being said, I hope you will forgive me for not creating a detail post for you. Instead I’m going to turn it over to you. Tell us how you normally celebrate Labor Day and whether or not you had to change things up this year. Later this week I’ll be selecting someone(s) from all the respondents to win their choice of any book from my backlist. That includes the current 2-in-1 reissue of my books Handpicked Husband & The Bride Next Door.
Regina Nash must marry one of the men her grandfather has chosen for her or lose custody of her nephew. But Reggie knows marriage is not for her, so she must persuade them—and Adam Barr, her grandfather’s envoy—that she’d make a thoroughly unsuitable wife.
Adam is drawn to the free-spirited photographer, but his job was to make sure Regina chose from the men he escorted to Texas—not marry her himself!
The Bride Next Door
Daisy Johnson is ready to settle in Turnabout, Texas, open a restaurant and perhaps find a husband. Of course, she’d envisioned a man who actually likes her, not someone who offers a marriage of convenience to avoid scandal.
Newspaper reporter Everett Fulton may find himself suddenly married, but his dreams of leaving haven’t changed. What Daisy wants—home, family, tenderness—he can’t provide…
I’m so excited for the release this month of the fourth book in my Wishing, Texas Series, To Marry A Texas Cowboy. Mark your calendar. September 28th is the day Zane Logan’s story arrives.
Zane is the playboy in this group of heroes. Women fall at his feet, and there’s never been one he couldn’t handle. Do you see trouble coming? Of course you do, and you’d be right. Here’s an excerpt from To Marry A Texas Cowboy. I hope you enjoy it, and don’t forget to mark your calendar.
“Are you okay?” Mr. Stop Traffic asked, stepping into the light. She must have showered him with champagne because his shirt lay plastered against his chest, revealing his well-defined abs. Oh, my. His chest looked as wonderful as his face.
“I need to get to the generator,” McKenna said, but she’d no sooner gotten the words out when the lights came on.
“What happened? There’s blood smeared on your face and sleeve, and your nose is swollen.”
McKenna resisted the urge to groan, his comment obliterating all her feminine warm fuzzy feelings. While she was thinking about how dreamy he was, he’d been worried about her bloody, swollen nose. She should’ve known something practical accounted for his interest.
“Something hit my nose when the lights went out.”
“Bet it was the cork from my champagne bottle. It got away from me when the lightning hit.” He glanced around. “Mrs. Severance, you’re a nurse. Come check this out.”
Thanks. Call more attention to the fact that I got hurt and probably resemble a rodeo clown, while you, dripping wet with champagne look…marvelous.
McKenna smiled and waved the older woman off. “No need. I’m fine.”
“If you’re sure,” Mrs. Severance replied.
She nodded as Mr. Stop Traffic moved past her, lifted a glass, and filled it with water from a nearby pitcher. Next, he grabbed a napkin, dunked the square into the water, and returned. Increasingly embarrassed and fighting the urge to run, McKenna reached for the napkin, but he pushed her hand away. “You’ll only smear it more.”
His brows furrowed in concentration as he wiped the blood from her face. His green eyes held tiny flecks of gold, making them almost sparkle. He had the most mesmerizing eyes. Paul Newman, never-forget kind, except in green instead of blue. Her breath caught in her chest. She couldn’t think. Oh dear. No man had ever sent such a warm rush of pleasure pulsing through her before. Not even during sex.
“You need medical attention. Your nose is really swollen.”
His words obliterating her sexual feel-good haze, she leaned forward, kept a smile on her face, and whispered, “Stop saying how swollen my nose is. I’ll deal with it later. Right now, I need to do my job.” Then she straightened and announced, “I’m fine, everyone. If I wasn’t, I’d say so. Now let’s get this party back on track and toast the happy couple.”
She placed her empty bottle in the tub and selected another. This one she opened before handing it to him. “Pour. Everyone’s waiting.”
“Hey, Zane,” came Ty’s voice again from the dance floor, “everyone okay back there? You about got that champagne poured?”
McKenna froze. Zane? While that wasn’t a common name, it wouldn’t be unheard of for two men named Zane to be in attendance tonight.
Right, and if you believe that then you’ve got less brains than God gave a fruit fly.
“Don’t get your britches in a knot, Ty. We’ll be ready for the toast in a minute,” Zane replied.
No, she couldn’t have done what it appeared she had—assumed her boss’s grandson was temporary hired help, ordered him around, and spilled champagne all over him.
This man couldn’t be Ginny’s grandson, the video game designer from Los Angeles, because nothing about this man said California. He was all Texas, including Wrangler jeans, a crisp black western shirt, a silver oval belt buckle with Texas written in the center, and freshly polished cowboy boots.
Despite the evidence, she had to be certain. “You’re not Ginny’s grandson Zane, are you?”
“The one and only.”
Despite their awkward first encounter, when Zane takes charge of his grandmother’s wedding planning business and becomes McKenna’s temporary boss, she doesn’t let him run roughshod over her. Zane doesn’t know quite what to do with a woman he can’t impress, and there are plenty of fireworks.
Today’s giveaway is a signed copy of book 3 in the Wishing, Texas series, To Tame A Texas Cowboy, and an insulated cup, Less Monday More Summer. Since Zane steps in to run his grandmother’s wedding planning business, to be entered in the random drawing leave a comment what you enjoy most about weddings, a wedding trend you like, detest or just don’t understand.
The Scots who came to settle the mountain regions of the United States were a hardy lot, especially those who hailed from the Scottish Highlands. They felt at home settling in these areas few other immigrants wanted – areas like the Appalachians or the Rocky Mountains. A large amount of my heritage can be found among this group. Eighty-three percent of my ancestry come from the British Isles with a mixture of Scot, English, and Irish.
This is what happens in Mountain Storms, the first book in my In from the Storms Trilogy. Ian MacGregor was wounded in the Civil War and left Maryland to hide away in a mountain cabin in Wyoming Territory. He had been rejected because of his war wounds and wanted to move from society. Aileas Campbell stumbles on the cabin in a snowstorm after she runs away from unwanted attention. Neither suspect the adventure they’re about to begin or the changes God has in store for them.
The family saga continues in Past Storms. Jeannie MacGregor, at seventeen, feels imprisoned in the secluded mountain cabin with her taciturn brother, so she runs away and goes back to her aunt in Maryland, hoping to have a social life and find a suitor. But nothing turns out as she expected, and within a few years, she finds herself on a train back to Wyoming with her young daughter in tow. The unexpected interest of three men there surprises her, but only one man makes her heart beat faster. However, he’s the new pastor, and what would a man of God want with someone like her. He could hardly find a more unsuitable wife.
In Dust Storms, Brady Sharpe, Aileas’s stepbrother, wanders his way to Texas after Aileas refuses to leave with him. He tries ranching and becomes a foreman but never feels he truly belongs. After catching some cattle rustlers, he decides to leave but discovers a young woman in desperate need of help. He does his best but ends up deciding to take her back to Wyoming and get Aileas to help her. In their journey, they battle many storms, including a major dust storm and storms of the heart.
I loved writing this trilogy. Originally, I hadn’t planned to write Dust Storms, but when I finished Past Storms, Brady said I needed to tell his story, so I did. This has happened before in my character-driven novels. Readers seem to like this series, too, because these books have been my best-sellers for months.
I would like to offer one of you the chance to win a free copy of Mountain Storms. In addition, as long as they last, I would also like to give free codes for audible editions of one of the 3 books to any who have an Audible account (which is free but required to redeem the code). You can email me at email@example.com, and I will send you the code for the book you request. Have a blessed day, ask me any questions you’d like, and I hope to hear from you soon.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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:
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!
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.
“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.
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.
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.