Kara O’Neal Shares Her Newest Series – Plus a Giveaway!

It’s such a pleasure to be here today! I’m so excited to share my newest series – Wildflowers Of Texas – with y’all. This series combines several of my favorite things – heroes, heroines, true love, romance, family, and last…


I adore them. I don’t care what kind they are, or what color, or how cheap, I love them ALL. And as long as my husband gets me flowers on Valentine’s Day, I couldn’t care less what else he gives me. There’s something about them that just makes my heart sigh.

My favorites are Texas wildflowers. God bless my state and what happens in the Spring, because nothing else equals it. Not in my opinion anyway. My absolute favorite flower is the Bluebonnet.

Growing up, we’d go on “bluebonnet hunts”. We’d search for the best fields that showcased all of the beauty God had to offer and got to tour Texas at the same time.

One of the coolest places to visit is the Antique Rose Emporium. They’ve been a nursery for over a hundred years and have centuries old roses. I can wander the Emporium’s meandering paths for hours, and I’m not even a gardener.

Flowers inspire me. I think each one has character. And I’ve decided to write heroines who match with the “personality” of Texas wildflowers.

The first is MISS GREEN EYES. It’s available for pre-order now and will release on April 30th.

I chose the Texas Green Eye for my first heroine in the series, Annalee Gillespie. Not only are her eyes a startling green, but her flower is hardy and strong. It can grow in dry soil.

And Annalee, despite the tragedy she’s had in her life, or perhaps because of it, is just as strong and just as hardy. I enjoyed writing her story so much!

I’d like to give away a copy of “MISS GREEN EYES” to two lucky winners! Please comment with your favorite flower and you might win!

Thank you so much for letting me be here today. I hope you “visited” the Emporium and saw how lovely it all is.


Jodi Thomas Celebrating Two Books!

Netflix started the shooting for Ransom Canyon in February, and I can’t help feeling it’s come full circle. When I first thought of writing this series, I had only planned on doing six books about ranches around a small canyon. Ransom Canyon is a few miles from Lubbock, Texas, and I used to drive around there when I was in college at Texas Tech. I always thought it was a beautiful place, and I wanted to write a story about ranch life around there.

I knew I wanted to write six books, but I wanted to keep one storyline of four kids, from the time they were fifteen to when they were twenty-three, threading through the series. So, when Random House formally offered me the contract for my Ransom Canyon series, buying only two books, I turned it down. I have never turned that much money down in my life. And I was thinking, “Oh man, I could use that money.”  But I still said no.

Afterward, I called Gail Fortune, my agent, and told her I had turned down the contract. And she said, “Harlequin has been waiting to talk to you.” So, I left the office, and I went for a walk in the mall. About an hour later, Harlequin called me, a conference call with the editor in chief, an editor, and their publicist; they wanted six books and two short stories. So, I went to work on Ransom Canyon.

I knew I was taking a risk with this series because I was writing a very Western series, even though it is contemporary. It was a risk because Westerns are not as popular as other genres. But I had to write it.

To begin this series, I turned the little room out back of our house that we call the bunk house into Ransom Canyon. HQN gave me six months to put the proposals together. And during that time, I built Ransom Canyon’s world and wrote the short story “Winter’s Camp.” I did a lot of research to make the series just right, and it’s very dear to my heart. I love it because it is so character rich!

The first book of this series is called Ransom Canyon. It set up all the stories in the books to come. My main character is Staten; he is a successful rancher, an honest man, a strong man, and totally broken because he has lost both his wife and his son. He turns to his life-long friend Quinn because they both need someone. I loved writing their story, and I can’t wait to see it come to life on the screen. I always dreamed of having one of my books become a movie or TV show, and it has been so exciting to watch.

I look back on when I first started this series, and I’m so glad I wrote the story I wanted. I’ve loved this journey, and I can’t wait to see where it goes from here. But before we all climb into the saddle this fall to watch the TV show Ransom Canyon, travel back with me to Someday Valley and read my new book The Wild Lavender Bookshop, coming out April 23!

For a chance to win this new book, tell me who you’re most looking forward to seeing brought to life on the screen.

The Last Week Hustle and a Give-Away


Gosh, doesn’t the title of this blog sound like a dance?  In a way, last week was a bit of a “dance,” and hustle.  And, although it’s a brand new week, the hustle continues.

So, let me begin with the news.  First, I have three (3) books on sale right now.








SHE STEALS MY BREATH is the first book in the Medicine Man series and is on sale for $.99.

WHITE EAGLE’S TOUCH is the second book in the Blackfoot Warrior series and is on sale for $2.99.

BRAUT DES EISERNEN WOLF’S — but wait isn’t this last book in German?  Yes, indeed, it is.  In English it is IRON WOLF’S BRIDE and it is on sale for $.99.

So this deserves a little bit of a story.

Slowly, I’m getting the Wild West series translated into German for the German market.  The Eagle and the Flame was the first book I put up on the German market.  But Iron Wolf’s Bride required a little more effort.  The original cover did not have the layered file included and so my cover artist and I decided to do a new cover similar to the old one.  And, this was the result.  I liked it a lot and so we now have this cover for Iron Wolf’s Bride in e-book format (paperbacks take several extra steps).

And so, in celebration, I’m putting this e-book on sale at $.99.

Then, in other news about chances to win give-aways, Authors XP is putting on a sale of Romantic suspense books.  And, I am participating in this event.  This book, IRON WOLF’S BRIDE is not only a Historical Romance/Native American, set in Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show, but it is also filled with suspense.  The event starts today, Tuesday and goes on until next Monday.  And here is the link to the event:  https://AuthorsXP.com/giveaway

And, just another bit of news, while my latest effort, SHE BRING BEAUTY TO ME, is in editing, I’m writing another Young Adult Story under the pen name of Genny Cothern.  This will be a little longer than my first Young Adult Story and its working title (what I call the book when I’m writing it), is:  THE ADVENTURE OF GOOD EAGLE AND MISS STARLING.  It is written a little differently than my Romantic Historical Books in that it is written in the first person (I saw the bird) as opposed to the 3rd person (She saw the bird.)  I think this is, perhaps, natural since these stories of true adventures I’m reading for research are all written in the 1st person.

And so, I thought I’d give you a little taste of this new Young Adult Story.  Remember, it is as yet unedited.



The Village of Saint Louis




As I waited to start my passage aboard the steamboat, NIMROD, tears streamed down my face, but I did nothing to curtail them.  I knew no one here in this far west fur-trading town of St. Louis, so what did it matter if I cried?

In my gloved hand was my paid ticket from Uncle Jed, who had also financed the various and different carriages that had brought me here.  Indeed, due to bad weather, I had only arrived here on the previous evening, leaving little time for me to enjoy the town—if there were any joy to be found in this village…or anywhere.

It has been said this town is where the West begins.  But, I little cared.  Having spent little more than a few unrestful hours in a boarding house last night, I cared not for this village nor for the Western Indian Country.  After all, I was journeying into the West not by choice, but rather by need.

My name is Starling Nelson.  I was so named after the bird of English fame, the European Starling.  When I was younger, my mother had told me the story of my grandfather gifting her a pair of the birds after he had returned from one of his visits to England.  My mother, who had been quite young at the time, had fallen in love with the Starlings’ songs consisting of whistles and she had especially loved the warbling of the male bird.  And so, when I had come around— I being my parent’s only child—I had inherited the name.

However, this was all in my past.  Only the present seemed to matter now, and, unfortunately, my present no longer included my mother and father.  Sadly, my parents had perished months ago on what should have been a short day cruise on the Hudson River.  I was supposed to have gone with them, but due to a bad head cold, I had stayed behind, bed ridden.

An unexpected storm had gathered suddenly, and a bolt of lightning had struck the boat, sinking it and leaving no survivors.  I had then been left alone in a world I was ill-equipped to survive in.

Because my mother possessed no living relatives—at least none we had ever spoken about—my father’s only brother had come to my rescue, offering his home to me, he who made his living in the dreaded Indian Country.  Not that I required his guardianship.  I was a girl of sixteen, after all.  I could take care of myself, or so I had told myself, until the bills had come due, and then, having no means to pay them, I had realized how vulnerable I really was.

Imagine my surprise when I had learned my parent’s legacy to me was not to receive any of their riches, but rather, it was to instead pay my parent’s debts; added to this was the legal threat of sending me to an orphanage.  This discovery, as well as the intimidation, had plummeted me into the depths of despair and, for a time, had caused me such misery, I thought I might never recover.  Luckily, Uncle Jed —a man I had never met—had somehow discovered my plight and had paid my parent’s debts.

I had rejoiced for a time, but then had come the reality of my situation, as hunger had caused me to seek employment in an environment unfriendly to a working youngster.  Imagine my surprise when I had received a letter from Uncle Jed, inviting me to come west to live with his family.  It had said:


“My dearest niece,


“Please allow me to tell you how deeply saddened I am at the loss or your mother and my dearly beloved brother.  I have now paid your parent’s creditors and hope I have taken this burden from your shoulders.

“It has come to my notice that the League of Presbyterian Ministers recommends sending you to an orphanage where you should stay until you reach your majority.  This has been done without consulting me.  I, therefore, would like to offer you an alternate plan by opening my home to you, humble though my abode might be.

“While it is true that the West might be considered to be a rugged country, it has many advantages, which I think you would soon realize if you decide to become a part of my family here.

“My wife, who is of the Blackfeet, Pikuni, tribe, bids me to encourage you to make the journey here.  She wishes me to tell you she will be the best mother she can be to you, and she adds that all she has will be yours.

“It is my hope you will look with a kind eye upon the arrangements I have made for your journey into what is known as “Indian Country.”  The tickets I am sending you in this letter do not expire.  Should you decide to come here, you have only to book the journey, which, as you can see, awaits you.

“Know that, upon receipt of your return letter and your wish to join me here, I will make arrangements for you to be met in St. Louis by the Captain of the steamboat, NIMROD, who will be tasked with the duty to bring you safely to the post that I command  via Fort Union, a few thousand miles from Fort Benton, where I reside.  Or, if my duties do not demand my attention, I should like to meet you at Fort Union, myself.

“You may, however, wish to remain where you are, and, if this is what you think would be best, I will honor your decision.

“I look forward to your letter informing me of your wishes.”


Yours truly,

Your father’s brother, Uncle Jed


Though the mere thought of traveling into Indian Country had frightened me, to be sure, I had yet answered my uncle’s letter at once, deciding a trip into the west was preferable to remaining where I was, where the threat of being constrained into an orphanage until I reached the age of twenty and one, loomed darkly upon my future.  Besides, the environment I now found myself to be in reminded me constantly of my parents and my losing them and their love.  At present, grief ruled my life.

And so, I had accepted my uncle’s offer to relocate myself and all my worldly possessions to his home…a home he had described to me in another letter as a fur-trading post, located deeply in the heart of Indian country.

“Are ye ready to board the steamship, Lassie?  Ye be Miss Starling Nelson, are ye not?”

I gazed up at the tall, heavy-set man, who, dressed in a sailor’s coarse, dark- blue coat and a Captain’s hat, startled me.  Yet, I found myself saying, as if by rote, “I suppose I am.”

“Good, Lassie.  Good.  As soon as I seen ye, I know’d ye to be Jed Nelson’s niece.  Who else but his niece would have the golden color of hair, so like yer Uncle Jed’s?”

I simply stared at the clean-shaven man, not knowing how to respond.  But, I was saved the effort because the man was continuing to talk.

“Well, now I be knowin’ yer uncle.  A fine man.  Aye, a fine man he be.  But, let me introduce me self to ye, Lassie.  Here be a letter from yer Uncle Jed.  It be a letter of introduction, I bein’ the capt’n of this steamboat.  Name’s Edward…Edward MacKenzie, though I be no relation to Kenneth McKensie, the Bourgeois of Fort Union.  But, because I be the best steamboat capt’n on the Missouri, yer uncle trusted no one but me to get ye safely to him.  So now, if’n ye be ready to board, I’ll be seein’ ye to yer quarters.  Yer uncle’s to meet ye at Fort Union, but ye probably know this already and I be a tellin’ ye nothin’ new.”

“Yes, sir,” I said, trying my best to smile at the man.  “I did know it.  Uncle Jed sent me a letter and in it he told me a great deal about you, Mr. MacKenzie.  I am glad to meet you.  I am glad, indeed.”  

“Pleasure be all mine.  Now, this way, Lassie.  Mind where ye step now.  Would na want ye to be thrown into the Great Mississippi down thar.”  He pointed to the river with a motion of his head.

“Thank you.  I will, indeed, step carefully,” I replied.


Coming Soon, SHE BRINGS BEAUTY TO ME. Here is the cover of the new story, book number four (4) in the Medicine Man series.

I’ll be giving away an e-book of  the English version of IRON WOLF’S BRIDE.

Sure hope you enjoyed the blog today.  Be sure to leave a post.  I very much look forward to reading your comments.















The Wild West: The Good, The Bad, and the Unexpected–Penny Zeller

Howdy, y’all! I’m so thrilled to be a guest on Petticoats & Pistols. Love’s Promise, Book #4, in my Wyoming Sunrise Christian historical romance series, releases this month. I cannot wait for you to meet Silas and Amaya.

We open the story with Amaya aboard a stagecoach with three other passengers. Following an accident, outlaws bent on preying on helpless individuals decide to commit a crime. Will dashing hero, Silas McFadden, come to the rescue?

Speaking of Silas, he’s a rugged and muscular rancher who sometimes rides with the Poplar Springs posse, which includes his best friend from Dreams of the Heart, Deputy John Mark Eliason.

Silas once spent time on the wrong side of the law. But God has a way of changing hearts—Silas’s included. Christian historical romance is my favorite genre to write. Of course, I couldn’t add in a bit of “western” flavor without including law enforcement. So, while writing both Love’s Promise and Dreams of the Heart, I researched Wild West lawmen.

This topic intrigues me, likely because since I was a young girl, my grandpa told us stories about his time on the San Diego police force.

Below are some interesting tidbits about the Wild West—the good, the bad, and the unexpected.

  • Some of the duties of Old West sheriffs included keeping the peace, collecting taxes, issuing liquor licenses, keeping the streets clear of dead animals, and cleaning up manure.
  • A Wyoming Territorial sheriff named Christopher Castle, along with his deputies, noted the amount of money an outlaw had in his pocket when arrested. Later, when a fine was assessed, it was that exact amount. Apparently, he didn’t have any concerns about leaving criminals penniless.


In Love’s Promise, a stagecoach carrying the main female character, Amaya Alvardo, is targeted by a gang of highwaymen looking for the strongbox. While researching stagecoach robberies, I discovered some interesting information about the cost of this lucrative crime.

According to my research, these robbers cost Wells Fargo & Co. an incredible amount of money. J.B. Hume, a detective for Wells Fargo compiled records over fourteen years (1870-1884), including how much the company lost due to those bent on stealing from trains and stagecoaches. He included in his report a variety of “expenses”—money taken in the heists, salaries of guards and agents, attorney fees, reward money, and miscellaneous expenses.

  • In total for all of the categories listed above, $927,726.55 was taken from Wells Fargo & Co. during this time period according to Hume’s 1885 report, which was published in a Nevada newspaper.
  • Further, J.B. Hume also reported the number of guards and passengers killed and injured, the number of robbers killed while resisting the guards, and the number hanged by citizens. In all, 33 lives were lost during these 14 years, including four stagecoach drivers, four passengers, 16 highwaymen, and two guards. Seven highwaymen were hanged by citizens for their crimes. Of note, Arizona and New Mexico led the other states (which aren’t specified) in the number of hangings.

While Silas has his share of “Wild West adventures” in Love’s Promise, I daresay he is content being a rancher and not dealing with outlaws and keeping streets manure-free as is the case for John Mark in Dreams of the Heart.

Thank you for joining me today. As a special gift, be sure to snag An Unexpected Arrival, a Wyoming Sunrise novelette, for free by going here.

Pretend for a moment you live in the Wild West in the 1800s. What is your occupation? Leave me a comment for a chance to win a copy of Love’s Promise (U.S. residents only, please).

Snag your copy of Love’s Promise at the following (soon to be available wherever books are sold).


Western Cinderella

Happy Valentine’s Day!

On a day built for romance, I thought we could celebrate one of the most classic romance stories ever told – Cinderella.

Next month, my western Cinder-fella story will release, and I can’t wait to introduce you to Asher Ellis (ashes instead of cinders) and Samantha Dearing (endearing instead of charming) to you. Can you tell I love playing with character names? Reimagining this fairy tale in an 1800’s Texas setting has been so much fun.

What’s a girl to do when the most interesting man at her matrimonial ball isn’t one of the bachelors on her father’s guest list? Hunt him down, of course, using the only clue at her disposal—the boot he left behind.

As any self-respecting rancher will tell you, boots don’t just fall off like ladies slippers do, so coming up with a reason for my hero to take his boots off at a ball he wasn’t invited to, created a tricky plot point. But once we got that figured out, the rest fell into place with adventure, danger, romance . . . and a pair of imaginary sewing mice.

Did I mention I love playing with names? I worked hard to create names that would harken back to the original Disney tale while still carrying meaning of their own. Instead of Cinderella, we have Asher Ellis – Ash being a synonym of Cinder, and Ellis playing off of Ella. The three key older ladies of the story all have names inspired by royalty as befits a fairy tale – Regina, Elizabeth, and Victoria. Asher’s step brothers are named Jonathan and Fergus. However, Jonathan goes by Jack, giving a nod to the mice from Disney’s Cinderella, Jaq and Gus. Asher’s horse is named Bruno in honor of the dog who saved Cinderella from the tower room. And don’t forget the cattle king with a foreman named Duke. 


While I used the classic Disney version of Cinderella that I grew up on as my main inspiration, there are other versions that I have fond memories of as well.

I adore musicals, and as a child of the 80’s, I adored seeing Whitney Houston as the fairy godmother in the Rodgers and Hammerstein’s version with Brandy and Broadway superstar Bernadette Peters.

And what romance lover doesn’t adore Ever After with Drew Barrymore? One of the best Cinderella movies ever!

As an extra bonus, I wanted to mention that there is a Goodreads Giveaway going on now for If the Boot Fits. You can enter here.

What is your favorite Cinderella adaptation?
Do you have any romantic plans for Valentine’s Day?

Winter Holiday Movies and Winter Realities

This holiday season I treated myself to watching a lot of Christmas romance movies. While I enjoyed the stories and loved the characters, I struggled to suspend my disbelief in the outdoor winter scenes.

In many of the movies—even those where a snowstorm closed airports, roads, and towns—the characters headed outside in below freezing temperatures wearing a light winter coat hanging open. They rarely wore mittens, boots or hats, and their scarves were merely stylish accessories.

Movie image

What would the reality be? I’ll simply say when I attended Iowa State University in Ames, Iowa, we called the open center of campus Little Siberia. To walk across campus, I wore two pairs of wool socks, hiking boots, long underwear, jeans, a turtleneck under a wool sweater, under a wool blazer and a down coat. Under my hood, I pulled my hat down to my eyebrows and wrapped my scarf over my nose.

realistic image

In one movie, despite conditions like above, the town managed to plow Main Street for the Christmas parade. Because other roads were impassable, the entire town walked to the event dressed more for October weather. One girl in the crowd wore nothing more than a knitted poncho with bare arms visible as she waved to those on vehicles easily navigating the freshly plowed street. In reality, the street wouldn’t have been plowed and if it had, the city still would’ve cancelled the parade.

More realistic image

In many movies, the couple have had conversations outside. Often the heroine wore a strapless ball gown or cocktail dress, but the hero generously offered his tux/suit jacket to keep her warm. The couple finish their discussion, usually involving a big emotional reveal, and share a romantic kiss. Really? In reality, after two minutes tops they’d be charging inside or turning into well-dressed icicles.

Another thing I found odd that pulled me out of the story was everyone drinking hot cocoa and no one asking for coffee. How often in a coffee or donut shop do you see anyone over twelve order hot chocolate rather than coffee? In addition, when the characters wandered into the kitchen because they couldn’t sleep and ran into each other, they drank hot cocoa, chatted, and shared a romantic moment. Don’t get me wrong. Give me a cup with a peppermint stick and a dollop of real whip cream and call me happy. But in the real world, if I had hot chocolate in the cupboard, chances are it’s expired or dried into a hard clump.

Movie hot chocolate
What we might have available.

I found myself developing a holiday decorating inferiority complex because every house inside and out looked as if the owners hired a professional decorator. The reality? Who knows how long it took the set director and crew to accomplish the task. For me, even if I started in September with an unlimited budget, I wouldn’t obtain those results by Christmas. And don’t get me started on stories where a Christmas shop provided the character’s sole income. No wonder she was having financial troubles.

Okay, I know they were movies, not documentaries. Maybe I had trouble suspending my disbelief because authors rarely get away with tweaking reality that much and my last novel, Aiming for His Heart, was set in winter. I considered how would my characters get around if the roads were closed. What would they eat? How long would they be cut off from the world?

Would I give up a moment of watching any of the movies? No way. But while I enjoyed these movies, I couldn’t help but think, would it hurt the story and destroy the mood for characters to wear hats (okay my cover heroine doesn’t have one, oops), gloves, and decent boots and for the character who adores Christmas to own a store that sells other items during the year?

What do you think ab0ut Christmas romance movies? What’s your favorite thing or your pet peeve about them? 

Cowboys Always Place Horseshoes Up

This week we welcome award-winning inspirational author Linda Goodnight and she has an interesting blog for us. She also has a GIVEAWAY so don’t miss that at the bottom.

How many of you, as kids walking down a sidewalk, chanted, “Step on a crack and break your mama’s back” and did your best to skip over those cracks? Are you superstitious? I’m not really, but I think it’s fun to hear about them.

Athletes in particular are a superstitious bunch, whether for fun, ritual, or whatever. For instance, one famous basketball player wore the same pair of ankle-flopping socks throughout his career. Serena Williams, the tennis champ, is known to always tie her shoes exactly the same way before a game. Some athletes insist on eating the same pregame meal or wearing the same (sometimes unwashed) article of clothing. Instead of superstitions, they call these “routines” or pregame rituals. Putting their uniform on in the same order. Stretching in the same spot on the nine-yard line. Regardless of whether the behaviors are routines or superstitions, athletes do them because they think they’ll play better if they do. They’ll laugh about it, but they still do it.

Cowboys, including rodeo cowboys, have their own set of unique superstitions. According to one rodeo source, as many as 75% of rodeo athletes adhere to at least one superstition.

Walker Littlefield, the hero in To Protect His Brother’s Baby would quietly grin and shake his head if asked if he was superstitious. He wasn’t. But some of his rodeo buddies were. That’s why I thought it would be fun to discuss some cowboy and/or rodeo superstitions that are still around today.

Let’s look at ten.

  1. Never put your hat on a bed, especially brim down. All the luck will run out. Several theories about the origin exist, including warnings of impending injury or death. Eek! But a more reasonable origin could be the fact that cowboys back in the wild west only bathed occasionally and had headlice. A hat on the bed could spread the vermin. The only thing to do if your hat is accidentally placed on the bed is spit in it, throw it down, and stomp it flat. Problem solved. ?
  2. Place your hat upside down on the table or other surface when removing to keep the good luck inside. Better yet, hang it up.
  3. A horseshoe over the door or tack room brings good luck as long as it’s “heels up.” “Heels down” drains out all the luck.
  4. Never eat chicken before a rodeo. Eat a hotdog instead. You are what you eat.
  5. Don’t wear yellow in the arena. It means you’re a coward.
  6. Never carry change in your pocket when competing. That’s all the money you’ll win.
  7. Don’t kick a paper cup that someone tossed on the ground. It’s bad luck. And could spook your horse!
  8. Never cross your boots when removing them to keep from getting “tripped up.”

       9. Never accept a gift of old boots. You will step into the old owner’s troubles.

 * *10. And my very favorite: Finding a feather in the arena is good luck. It’s a reminder that angels are watching over you.

 So, there you have them, just in time for Halloween!

Leave a comment about a ritual or superstition you or someone you know has. You’ll go into a drawing for a copy of my latest book, To Protect His Brother’s Baby.  GOOD LUCK in the drawing!


About Linda:

Linda has appeared on the New York Times, USA Today, Publisher’s Weekly, and Christian bestseller lists, and her romance novels have been translated into more than a dozen languages. A  former nurse and teacher, Linda loves writing fiction that carries a message of hope and light in a sometimes dark world. Linda enjoys cooking, reading, and travel. Next on her bucket list are Israel and Scotland. She lives in Oklahoma with husband, Gene, who, ironically, doesn’t travel at all.

A Chef, a Cook, and a Sweet Romance

Tomorrow is the day!

Release day for Challenging the Chef!

I’m thrilled to share this book with you because it was such a joy to write Owen and Tawni’s story.

Owen had it all. A skyrocketing career as a celebrity chef, a life in New York many only dream of. But when his uncle needed him, Owen walked away from it all. After his uncle’s death, he stayed in Summer Creek, a small-town full of people who flock to Owen’s restaurant, and not just because it’s the only place open for dinner.

Tawni loves to cook, and is excited about learning from the celebrity chef she had a crush on during her enter last year of college.

But when these two meet, nothing is like their expectations.


When an interloper arrives in his kitchen, will romance start to simmer?

Chef Owen Thorpe left behind his celebrity status when he moved to Summer Creek. The quaint town and country atmosphere allow him to seek solace in his recipes. His peace and quiet is threatened when he’s coerced into being part of a big auction package that includes the winner spending a week cooking with him in his restaurant. The last thing he wants is some chef wannabe in his way. However, the real danger he faces is losing his heart when the winner turns out to be a beautiful woman who knows her way around a kitchen.

Burdened by the weight of her demanding career as a school psychologist, Tawni Young turns to cooking and gardening to escape from the never-ending stress of her work. When her aunt gifts her an auction package that includes cooking lessons in the small town of Summer Creek, Tawni realizes the chef she’ll be working with is none other than a celebrity she had a huge crush on during her college years. From the moment the two of them meet, an undeniable attraction sizzles while wits collide.

As they embark on a tantalizing journey of culinary delights, will Tawni and Owen discover the most important ingredient is love?

In this heartwarming and deliciously wholesome tale, Challenging the Chef takes readers on a savory adventure filled with sweet romance.

You can read the first chapter here!

Read the entire Summer Creek Series!

  • Catching the Cowboy
  • Rescuing the Rancher
  • Protecting the Princess
  • Distracting the Deputy
  • Guiding the Grouch
  • Challenging the Chef

What’s one thing you do to relax or unwind? 

Please share your answer in the comments.

I like to bake!

Also, if you haven’t yet, you can download a free Summer Creek themed bundle of goodies that includes a short story, printable bookmarks, a puzzle, coloring pages, and a recipe!

The Little Cannon That Started A Revolution

The Fillies are proud to welcome Debra Holt to the corral with an interesting post. She has a giveaway at the bottom.

Once upon a time, nearly 200 years ago, there was a cannon…

It’s the 1830s, and Texas is a vast expanse of untamed beauty. Rolling plains stretch as far as the eye can see, punctuated by cacti and the occasional hum of wildlife. However, this tranquil landscape conceals rising tensions. American settlers, known as Texians, are growing restless under the Mexican government’s tightening grip. Central to our story is a small cannon gifted to the settlers of Gonzales by Mexican authorities to defend against potential Native American attacks.

Fast-forward a few years to 1835. As tensions reach a boiling point, the Mexican government, possibly regretting its earlier generosity, sends a detachment of 100 soldiers to Gonzales. Their mission? Retrieve the cannon. But the people of Gonzales, sensing the symbolic significance of this request, aren’t willing to comply that easily.

A Symbol of Defiance

The Texians, demonstrating their spirit of resistance, crafted a flag as a powerful retort. On it was a depiction of the very cannon in question, a lone star, and a daring message: “Come and Take It.” This wasn’t merely about a piece of artillery. It was a statement of autonomy, a declaration of their rights, and a refusal to be subdued.

Envision the Standoff

On one side, 100 Mexican soldiers were determined to carry out their orders and return with the cannon. On the other, a group of settlers, their improvised flag catching the wind, the small but symbolic cannon beside them, prepared to defend their principles.

The Skirmish

On October 2nd, as dawn broke over the Texian horizon, a confrontation became inevitable. With a burst of activity, the Texians mounted an offensive. Though the ensuing battle was brief, its repercussions were profound. The Mexican troops, perhaps taken aback by the settlers’ resolve, soon retreated, their mission unfulfilled.

Remarkably, this “battle” saw minimal casualties: one injured on the Mexican side, with the Texians emerging unscathed. Yet, its significance cannot be understated.

Ripples of Revolution

Given its scale and immediate impact, the Battle of Gonzales might seem like a mere footnote. However, in the grand tapestry of history, it was the matchstick that ignited the Texas Revolution. Word of this defiant stand spread rapidly, galvanizing Texians across the region. The “Come and Take It” banner became emblematic of their cause—a tangible representation of the Texian spirit.

In the following months, that spirit would be tested in conflicts like the Battle of the Alamo, culminating in the decisive Texian victory at the Battle of San Jacinto in 1836. All of this traces back to that small cannon in Gonzales and the unyielding will of those who stood by it.


Today, “Come and Take It” remains an enduring symbol of Texan pride, identity, and resilience. It’s a testament to the notion that even in the face of overwhelming odds, steadfast determination can prevail.

The Battle of Gonzales teaches us about the significance of symbols, the importance of standing up for your beliefs, and the ripple effects a single event can generate. So, if you ever find yourself in Gonzales, Texas, take a moment to remember the little cannon that stood at the heart of a burgeoning revolution.


I’m excited to send one of you a copy of my new book, The Texas Cowboy’s Christmas Miracle. It’s the 4th and final book in my Texas Heritage Series. Tell me, what’s your favorite part of Texas’ history? And what makes it your favorite?



Born and raised in the Lone Star state of Texas, Debra grew up among horses, cowboys, wide open spaces, and real Texas Rangers. Pride in her state and ancestry knows no bounds and it is these heroes and heroines she loves to write about the most.  She also draws upon a variety of life experiences including working with abused children, caring for baby animals at a major zoo, and planning high-end weddings. (ah, romance!).

Debra’s real pride and joys, however, are her son, an aspiring film actor, and a daughter with aspirations to join the Federal Bureau of Investigation.  (more story ideas!)  When she isn’t busy writing about tall Texans and feisty heroines, she can be found cheering on her Texas Tech Red Raiders, or heading off on another cruise adventure.  Writing romances, both contemporary and inspirational, is both her passion and dream come true, and she hopes her books will bring smiles…and sighs… to all who believe in happily-ever-after.

Fun Facts about Western Women by Carmen Peone

Being a Western woman means different things to different women. However, there are principles we all live by.  

But let’s begin by defining a Western Woman.  

She is: 

  • A woman who loves the West. 
  • A woman who lives the lifestyle: writer, poet, artist, horsewoman, working ranch woman, musician, singer, rodeo cowgirl, etc.  
  • A wife. 
  • A mother. 
  • A single woman.  
  • Entrepreneur within the Western lifestyle: agriculture, ranching, horse trainer, veterinarian, etc.    

And we all have our favorite quirks and sayings. Some of them include: 

  • The ranch is hard work from sunup to sundown, and love’s work is always near.  
  • Be quick to mend fences.  
  • You can’t keep trouble from visitin’, but you don’t have to offer it a seat at the table. 
  • If a man thinks a woman who can wrestle steers, ride broncs, and rope the wind is too much for him, he’s darn tootin’ right.  
  • A Western woman stands up for what’s right, even if she stands alone.  
  • Catch your own horse, don’t let anybody else do it for you.  

You can find these gritty traits in Rita Runninghorse, the heroine of my latest Contemporary Western Romance, Broken Bondage 

She’s tough, tender, a fighter, a horsewoman, a rancher, a daughter, a fiancée, and a sister. She’s also on the run from her abusive fiancé.  

He’s nothing but trouble, and she’s had enough.  

More about Broken Bondage 

A Road Trip to Redemption

Rita Runninghorse is about to marry the wrong guy. She has to get away from him. Now. She flees to a guest ranch in Eastern Washington State that offers a safe haven for women in need only to find the owner on a month-long speaking tour.

Robert Elliot has one thing on his mind: bronc riding. The Indian National Finals Rodeo is within reach, and he’s not about to let anything ruin his chances of going pro. Not even the woman he finds asleep in the stall of their rankest horse.?

When Rita’s fiancé discovers where she’s hiding out, she takes Robert’s offer to go with him on the road and prays her fiancé gives up the hunt. Saddled together, Rita and Robert must rely on each other as they go on the road to keep her alive. 

Grab your copy here!  


Leave a comment about a trait you admire in western women for a chance to win a copy of Broken Bondage. 

Winner can select either e-book or a signed print copy (US only for print).

About Carmen 

Carmen Peone is an award-winning author of Young Adult and Inspirational Western Romantic Suspense and lives with her husband in Northeast Washington and on the Colville Confederated Indian Reservation. With the love of history and the Western woman’s lifestyle, she weaves threads of healing, hope, and horses that lead to happily ever after. 

Connect with Carmen 

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