How to Date a Cowboy By Brenna Gallagher

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

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

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


By MK McClintock


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

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

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


Available for Preorder on Amazon

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

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

Gallagher’s Pride

Gallagher’s Hope

Gallagher’s Choice

An Angel Called Gallagher

Journey to Hawk’s Peak


The Wells, Fargo & Co. Shotgun Messenger and Give Away by Tracy Garrett

Today we are thrilled to welcome former Fillie Tracy Garrett back home for a visit! Please join us in welcoming her!

I’m so happy to be back at Petticoats & Pistols. Hey there, Fillies! I get to see old friends and make some new ones. I’m also glad to be here because I get to share my new release with you.

GRACE is one of a seventeen-book series set in Wildcat Ridge, a small mining town in the Uinta Mountains, Utah Territory, in 1884. The mine was devastated by two explosions, killing men, women and children, and leaving mostly widows in town. Each book introduces a widow who struggles to find a way to survive—and finds new love in the process.

When I started the book, I chose to have the hero work for the Wells Fargo & Company, and the stagecoach line serving Wildcat Ridge. As I learned more—and researched more—I discovered a television series called “Tales of Wells Fargo.” I watched a few episodes and, when Michael Landon appeared on screen as a young man wanting to be a shotgun messenger on the Wells Fargo, I knew I’d found my hero.

The shotgun messenger was literally that: he rode shotgun beside the driver, with the treasure box between his feet, holding a sawed-off shotgun loaded with buckshot. A shotgun messenger had to stay alert, identify danger in an instant and not be afraid to act on his decision to shoot. Though Wells Fargo policy said to let a robber have the money rather than risk lives, the shotgun in the hands of a good shooter was an effective deterrent.

“But the real security of the treasure boxes came from who was guarding them — the Wells Fargo shotgun messengers. They were ‘the kind of men you can depend on if you get into a fix,’ according to Wells Fargo detective Jim Hume. If thieves were foolhardy enough to try and steal a treasure box in transit, they would find themselves staring down the barrel of a sawed-off shotgun, loaded with 00 buckshot, possibly held by Wyatt Earp himself.” [from]

The shotgun messenger gave me a strong hero, sure of himself and capable. All I had to do was add… Well, you’ll have to read the book to find out.

— Now Available —


Book 10 of The Widows of Wildcat Ridge series

When a woman who has always done what she was told decides to take matters into her own hands—she just might discover her future waiting

Grace Hill has spent most of her life caring for others. When her beloved little sister is in trouble, Grace defies those who tell her she can’t, and rushes to her aid. Joining the other widows in Wildcat Ridge struggling to survive, she discovers the woman she is—a woman strong enough for a man like Benjamin Sloane.

Benjamin Sloane rides shotgun on the Wells Fargo stagecoach line through the rugged Utah Territory. He’s big-hearted, tough and about as civilized as a grizzly bear. But there’s something about a fancy lady from the big city makes him want to clean up his ways and give her his heart.


     Grace Hill stared in horror at the article in the several-weeks-old Denver newspaper. “No. This isn’t possible.”

     “What’s that, Grace? Speak up. I’ve asked you not to mumble in my presence.”

     “I apologize, Mother Hill. There was a mine collapse in—”

     “There’s always a disaster, Grace. A mine today, an earthquake tomorrow. God will have his vengeance one day soon, mark my words. Close that drape. I swear the sun is hotter this April than ever before.”

     “Yes, ma’am,” Grace rose to do as she was told. “But this collapse was in Wildcat Ridge, Utah Territory, where my sister, Eleanora lives.”

     “Scandalous place for a woman of breeding to live. Why ever did she settle there?”

     “Her husband is a miner, ma’am. He moved his wife there soon after their wedding.”

     “Is he dead?”

     The emotionless question shocked Grace and sent a shaft of sorrow through her. Could Eleanora actually be the widow of Darvin Cavender? “I don’t know. A list of th-the deceased isn’t included.”

     “If it’s God’s will, he lived. If not, she’ll find another husband to provide for her and give her children. It is the task for which woman was created.”

     Grace clamped her teeth around her tongue to keep the retort inside. God created women with minds and dreams, just like men. Woman was created for more than marriage and procreation, not that she’d say that to Mrs. Hill.

     “She has a child. A daughter.”

     She read further in the article, her brain stuttering to a halt as she realized men weren’t the only victims. “It says townspeople were killed in a second explosion while trying to rescue the miners.” Townspeople? Women? Children? “I have to go.”

     “Go where, young lady?”

     “To this place. Wildcat Ridge.” She waved the newspaper. “My sister might be…” She swallowed hard and blinked back tears. Her employer thought tears a useless luxury and Grace didn’t want another lecture. She’d had her fill of her mother-in-law’s opinions. “This article was published in the Salt Lake City paper nearly a month ago. The Denver Rocky Mountain News released the story three weeks ago. I haven’t had a letter from my sister since before the accident. She would have written if she could. I have to go to her.”

     “You will not. I forbid it.”

     Grace rose, clutching the newspaper in her fist. “My sister could be injured, even de—” She forced air into her lungs. She refused to even give voice to the possibility. “My sister and niece might need me. I have to go, Mother Hill.”

     “Don’t be ridiculous. It’s probably still winter at that elevation. Some of the passes may not even be open. How will you get there? Who will go with you? A decent woman may not travel alone all that way.”

     Grace stared over the woman’s head into an ornate, gilded mirror. She hardly recognized the image staring back. Her dark eyes seemed lifeless. Her long, dark hair tamed into a simple chignon at her nape was dull, as dull as her life had become. She wore an unflattering high-necked black gown and her only jewelry was her wedding ring and a mourning pin, woven of Theo’s blond hair, at her throat. Little remained of the happy girl she’d once been.

     If she didn’t get away from this house soon, she would become as dead inside as her husband was in truth.

GRACE, Book 10, The Widows of Wildcat Ridge

Amazon link:


In honor of the release of GRACE, I’m giving away one copy, ebook or print (U.S. only for the print), to one person who leaves a comment about ~

Do you like to read connected books by multiple authors?


Happy Reading,



Bookbub  @TracyGarrett

Twitter  TGarrett_Author

Lori Austin & An Outlaw in Wonderland


The second book, AN OUTLAW IN WONDERLAND, in my western historical romance series “Once Upon a Time in the West” was released on June 4th.  This series is set in the post-Civil War period.  However the incidents that set the heroes and heroines on their path occurred during the war.  This second book begins at Gettysburg in 1864 and moves to Chimborazo Hospital and Castle Thunder Prison in Richmond.

As the hero of OUTLAW is a physician, and the heroine a matron at the hospital (when they aren’t spying for opposite sides) I did a lot of research about Civil War era medicine and became fascinated by it.  They knew a lot more than we thought they did back then, or at least a lot more than I thought they did.

The casualties of the Civil War were the greatest in our history.   Most estimates put the death toll at 620,000, though some go as high as 700,000.  For the Union, over twice as many died of disease as died in battle.  The names of the diseases were as colorful as their symptoms–the King’s evil, a strangery, erysipelas, pyemia, paroxysms.

Most physicians were aware of the connection between filth and infection, however they had no idea how to sterilize equipment.  Because of the conditions–an overabundance of wounded, tents and barns used as field hospitals, a lack of any water, let alone clean water– doctors often went days without washing their hands, thus transferring bacteria from one man to another.  A small cut on a hand could result in a “surgical fever” for the doctor himself.   And penicillin wouldn’t be discovered for another seventy odd years.

In AN OUTLAW IN WONDERLAND, Ethan Walsh believes that putrefaction is a result of invisible particles in the air. If they entered an open wound, infection set in. The particles could travel on the instruments used, the sutures, even the surgeon’s, the nurse’s, or the patient’s hands.  Therefore, Ethan washes everything that touches his patients, including the doctor, with a mixture of alcohol and water.  Fewer of his patients die than any of the other physicians’.  Most think him insane.  Annabeth Phelan sees him as both beautiful and brilliant.

While the concept of “biting the bullet” has become legend, in truth most operations were performed after the administration of ether or chloroform.  Reports of screaming from the operating tents were most likely the screams of men who’d just learned they would lose a limb rather than their screams as they were losing it.

Chloroform and ether was administered by dripping the liquid onto cloth then holding the cloth over the patient’s nose.  When he went limp, the operation commenced.  Not the best technique, but better than the alternative.  Many soldiers were only half asleep when the operation began.  Stonewall Jackson was said to have remembered the sound of the saw cutting off his arm.  In the Civil War, speed was often a surgeon’s best technique.

If a soldier survived surgery and escaped fever, pain might be alleviated by laudanum or morphine, which was made from the opium poppy.  Often the drug was rubbed directly onto the wound in powder form.  The liquid form could also be injected.  As laudanum, the drug could be added to water and made more palatable with sugar.  The drug in either form was highly addictive.  Such addiction, its symptoms and cure, also plays an important part in OUTLAW.

In this trilogy, brain injuries play a significant role.  During the Civil War, as now, the brain is a mystery.  Injuries to it–be they from a Minié ball, or a knock on the noggin–are treated with a combination of guesswork and hope. 

I became fascinated with Civil War era medicine, and enjoyed filtering it through the “Once Upon a Time in the West” series.

Do you enjoy learning about other time periods?  What’s your favorite time period?  What’s the most interesting thing you’ve learned about it?


I’ll be giving away a copy of the first book in the “Once Upon a Time in the West” series, the RITA nominated, BEAUTY AND THE BOUNTY HUNTER to three of today’s commenters, chosen at random.

Donna Alward: Wild Cow Milking

Years ago, when I attended my first rodeo, I had a great laugh at the Wild Cow Milking event. These days when I write rodeo scenes, it’s usually the bull riders or saddle broncs that get my attention. But when I was writing LITTLE COWGIRL ON HIS DOORSTEP, I was faced with a unique challenge.

My hero is a dairy farmer.

In the middle of ranch country.

Callum Shepard bought the place from a retiring farmer. Dairy is what he knows. He spent lots of time working on his uncle’s farm on lower mainland BC.  When he’s looking for his own little slice of heaven, this small dairy operation is just the thing. But Callum’s also a bit of a loner, and doesn’t make friends easily.  The only people he seems to trust when Avery comes on the scene are the Diamond brothers who run a local ranch.

Throughout the book Callum mellows out and comes out of his shell bit by bit. And since it’s summer, there’s the annual rodeo to think about. Is he going to go? Sam and Ty Diamond seem to think it’s time he become a part of the community, so they drag him into a fun event: Wild Cow Milking. Right up Callum’s alley. Sort of. Because Wild Cow Milking isn’t like putting a Holstein in a milking parlor. It looks more like this (only more often a 4 man team and not 2):

Well, you’ll have to read  to find out if they win or not, but I will tell you that Callum is a great sport, and even receives a proper

cowboy hat at the end from rodeo royalty.

What’s your favorite rodeo event? Answer in the comments and we’ll draw for a copy of LITTLE COWGIRL ON HIS DOORSTEP!

And please visit me at my website at! You can find out more about my new releases…and the Cadence Creek series. Next up at the creek is A COWBOY TO COME HOME TO… coming in July.

USA Today Best-Selling Author Jo Goodman's THE LAST RENEGADE

I’ve always been drawn to romance novels.  I don’t necessarily mean love stories, although I certainly have nothing against them.  I’m talking about romance as a broader concept, the idea of adventure and drama and mystery and characters that are moved as much by ideals as they are moved by ideas.  If someone gets kissed along the way, well, that’s all to the good. Is it any wonder that I found my way to the popular fiction of a century ago – the dime novel?

Dime novels figure prominently in The Last Renegade.  Most of the townsfolk in 1880’s Bitter Springs, Wyoming are of the opinion that Nat Church, the titular hero of over twenty novels, is a flesh and blood adventurer.  They have good reason to harbor that notion since people like Buffalo Bill Cody and Wild Bill Hickok did appear in serialized stories. Like many readers (me included), they want to believe in the Western hero: a man who will right wrongs, stand up for the oppressed, shoot the eye out of a one-eyed jack at ten paces, and save the town.  He might even get the girl, although he’d be real gentlemanly about it.

Dime novels, with their lurid covers, violent content, and heroic themes, were choice reading for adolescents, especially boys.  Certainly they were more exciting than the moralizing primers of the day, and along with newspaper accounts that read more like fiction, they romanticized life on the frontier to the extent that they might have contributed to the Western movement.   

In the tradition of dime novels, fact and fiction rub elbows in The Last Renegade.  Nat Church’s murder on his way to Bitter Springs has far reaching consequences for a town held hostage by a tyrannical family, a determined widow who wants justice for her sister’s death, and a stranger on a train who is chosen to serve and protect – not, it seems because of any particular skills – but because of the dime novel he is reading.

Let the adventure begin!

If this blog piques your interest, please leave a comment.  I will send a $10 gift card (reader’s choice) to

the winner (drawn from the comments by Petticoats and Pistols) along with a copy of The Last Renegade (if you would like one).  Wow.  Three parenthetical expressions in one sentence.  That might be some kind of record for me.

[This blog was originally published in USA Today online]

Alison Henderson ~ Real or Make Believe

It’s lovely to be back at Petticoats and Pistols, one of my favorite watering holes on the web. Today, I want to talk about mixing fiction and history.

How do you feel about real-life historical figures in romance? I occasionally like to use them as minor characters—possibly because I’m a research junkie and can’t resist including some of the most interesting bits I come across in my reading. I had great fun brushing shoulders with Jesse James in my first book, Harvest of Dreams. He only appeared in one scene and had few lines of dialogue, but his presence added a nice sinister touch.

My current novella, The Treasure of Como Bluff, is set in Wyoming in 1879, during the fascinating period known as the Bone Wars. In 1877, enormous deposits of fossils were discovered in the barren hillsides of Como Bluff, about one hundred miles northwest of Cheyenne near Medicine Bow. Two eastern professors, O. C. Marsh of Yale (photo on the right) and Edward D. Cope of the University of Pennsylvania, waged war on each other (largely through surrogates) in a decades-long campaign. They instructed their hired bone hunters to do everything in their power to gain the upper hand, from misdirecting shipments of fossils to dynamiting the rival’s dig site.

It might seem an unconventional choice of setting for a romance, but I had wanted to write a story about the Bone Wars for several years before starting The Treasure of Como Bluff. I love feisty, independent heroines, and a female paleontologist in the American West seemed just the ticket. I also wanted to capture the excitement of the blossoming of scientific discovery in this country in the last quarter of the nineteenth century.

My search for source material took me to Mark Jaffe’s terrific book, The Gilded Dinosaur. It’s a detailed account of the long rivalry, complete with original documents such as a letter to Marsh from a pair of bone hunters using the aliases of Harlow and Edwards describing their initial finds and asking for financial support. That letter painted such a vivid portrait of the two railroad workers-turned-dinosaur hunters that I included them in a scene but had them working for Cope (a valid choice since they changed sides depending on whichever sponsor paid the best at the moment).

I gave Professor O. C. Marsh a more prominent role, although he, too, has limited page time. My heroine, Caroline Hubbard, is excavating at Como Bluff, having tricked Marsh into hiring her, believing her to be a man. When the professor arrives unexpectedly to check on her progress, she has to persuade Nick Bancroft (the hero) to play the part of her husband, the paleontologist Marsh believes he hired. As you can imagine, mayhem ensues.

I don’t always include historical characters in my books, but when I do they mingle happily with the fictional ones. How about you? Do you enjoy real-life historical figures popping in to visit your make-believe world, or do you prefer that they confine their activities to sedate non-fiction? Let me know, and I’ll send a pdf of The Treasure of Como Bluff to one lucky commenter.  Here’s the blurb to whet your appetite:

In her race against rival bone hunters, the last complication paleontologist Caroline Hubbard needs is an unconscious stranger cluttering up her dig site. Nicholas Bancroft might have the chiseled features and sculpted physique of a classical statue, but she’s not about to let him hamper her quest to unearth a new species of dinosaur and make her mark on the scientific world.

Nick has come to Wyoming in search of silver but, after a blow to the head, finds himself at the mercy of a feisty, determined female scientist. Despite his insistence that he’s just passing through, he agrees to masquerade as Caroline’s husband to help save her job. Once their deception plays out, they face a crucial decision. Will they be able to see beyond their separate goals and recognize the treasure right in front of them?

Thanks so much to the lovely fillies at Petticoats and Pistols for hosting me today, and thank all of you for stopping by to visit.  You can read more about me and my books at


Western Poet Doris Daley: Notes From the North Country

Petticoats, pistols…and now poetry! I”m honoured to add my voice to the talented women at this wonderful site who write about the west.

I make my living as a western poet; the page and the stage are my two workplaces. The “page” is wherever you find me working with notebooks, coffee cup and rhyming dictionary at hand. The stage can be in Elko, Nevada; Alpine, Texas; Valentine, Nebraska; Calgary, Alberta: I go wherever the gig is. With the re-birth of cowboy poetry in the 1980s, this rhymed and metered form of storytelling is enjoying a popularity that shows no sign of waning. And in my experience, the west is not only a geographical and/or historical concept, but is alive and well and thriving in hearts and imaginations all over North America.

My own performances have taken me to the Smithsonian Institute, the eastern townships of Quebec, private girls” schools in Virginia, and the national library in Ottawa. My attitude? No road too long, no campfire too small, no convention stage too big…my privilege and passion is to celebrate my own western heritage and lifestyle with audiences who want to listen.  And what a delight to recently be at the fabulous Santa Clarita Cowboy Gathering in California which is where I met Margaret Brownley and participated in panel discussions about women writing the west.

Research for my work is simply an extension of the skin I”m in. I come from a gene pool that includes Irish stowaways, pioneer ranchers, petticoated bushwhackers, English homesteaders, sorry team ropers, fancy two-steppers, rough and tumble bronc peelers, and great cooks: the perfect pedigree for a cowboy poet!

I grew up on a cattle ranch on the edge of the Porcupine Hills in Southern Alberta. My great grandfather came west with the North West Mounted Police (the Mounties)in the 1870s. His wife Mary wrote about the great adventure of being a pioneer ranch couple forging a life under a big western sky before Alberta was even a province. But she also wrote about the terrible loneliness. Jim gone to Fort Benton for supplies, Fort Macleod 18 miles away, a Chinook wind howling relentlessly out of the south west: “If it weren”t for the knowledge of winter coming, and the certainty of so many rivers to cross, I would start tomorrow to walk back home to Ontario,” she wrote in her diary. But she stayed and stuck it out…so did all the grandmothers who did the heavy lifting for my generation.

My mother”s mother was born on Dec. 15 in the middle of the Saskatchewan prairie, surrounded by nothing but a frozen world of white blowing snow. They kept her alive by heating grain in the oven and scooping it into a butter box. Into the improvised incubator went the new baby…oblivious to her dramatic entry into the world. Meanwhile, in South Dakota, the Weber family…Mother, Father, 9 kids (one of whom would grow up to marry and give birth to my dad)…were making plans to make the long wagon trek to Alberta where good farm and ranch country was still available for homesteading. So many disparate stories and threads of stories waiting to be woven together beneath Alberta”s Chinook Arch.

And here I am all these generations and decades later…the product of risk-taking, adventure-seeking  men and women of ingenuity, fortitude and good humour.  Stories like this were the norm at the turn of the last century. Every family in my town would have similar family stories to tell.


Your Cowboy Poetry Primer:

Cowboy poetry is rhymed, metered verse with themes and stories that celebrate the heartbeat of the historical west and/or today”s working west.

The cowboy poetry world in general honours authenticity and honesty. What it”s not: actors or literary writers dressing up in costume to roll-play a cowboy story on stage. What it is: real people, men and women, young and old–auctioneers, ranchers” wives, feedlot cowboys, veterinarians, farriers, rodeo cowboys, buckaroos, saddle makers–telling their own stories about their own patch of the west.

Cowboy Poetry and Music Festivals are held all over the west, often to crowds numbering in the thousands. In keeping with the oral tradition, poems are memorized and recited (not read).

My own inspiration comes from the working west and from the English language. I am a stickler for perfect rhyme, marching meters, clever metaphors, interesting word play. If my name goes on it, I want it to be the best I can write.

Website: the best website for all things cowboy poetry (essays, classic writers, contemporary profiles, news and announcements, a calendar of poetry gatherings) is My own website ( has a link.

What I”m excited about: my latest book, West Word Ho! is a compilation of my most recent work, with poems chunked into categories like Fun and Nonsense, Grit and Grace, Christmas on the Range, and tributes to western icons Dale Evans, Charlie Russell and Will James.  My brand new project (released June 1, 2012) is a collaboration CD called 100 Years of Thunder: a salute to the 100th anniversary of the Calgary Stampede. The CD contains 10 original poems and 10 original songs by internationally acclaimed singer-songwriter Bruce Innes, himself a native Calgarian who followed his own musical star to a lifelong career in the music biz based out of Los Angeles and Sun Valley, Idaho. We pay tribute to the rip snorting, hell-bent-for-leather, gritty and grand traditions of The Greatest Outdoor Show on Earth.

I love what I do. I love my two offices: the page and the stage. I”m living proof that if you love to write, and write about what you love, then there”s a trail waiting for you to follow. It”s not without risk…but I think back to pioneer women who nestled their babies into butter boxes full of warm grain and realize that risk taking just comes with the territory. Happy trails and happy rhyming!

Doris has a copy of West Word Ho! for one person who leaves a comment today.

Janet Dean ~ Last Minute Bride & Giveaway

 The Fillies Welcome…


Janet Dean



I’m excited to hang out with the fillies and their terrific friends here at Petticoats & Pistols! This visit marks the release of my first novella and sixth Love Inspired Historical. Last Minute Bride, Brides of the West, is on bookstore and discount store shelves now. The anthology also includes wonderful stories by authors Victoria Blyin and Pamela Nissen. Three for the price of one, a romance bargain.


Here’s a peek at Last Minute Bride:


Elise Langley was stung to the quick when her would-be suitor suddenly left town. But when David Wellman returns and they are thrown together organizing their friends’ wedding, can she open her heart again?


In the dedication to Last Minute Bride, I tell my husband that our wedding day was the best day of my life. The days our daughters were born rate as best days, too, but my husband gets top billing. He was first after all.


Our wedding took place on a perfect June evening in a flawless ceremony…if you overlook that no one thought to turn off the sanctuary lights for our candlelight service. The bridesmaids wore aqua floor-length dresses and matching pillbox hats with short flirty veils. The flower girl, my five-year-old cousin, not only looked adorable, she performed like a pro, scattering petals down the aisle. The groom, groomsman and dads were debonair in black tuxes. We all either carried bouquets or wore boutonnieres of white daisies. Lace daisies adorned the scooped neck of my short-sleeved floor-length white gown. The dress graced the cover of Brides Magazine. I still have the picture, the dress, veil, even a packet of rice that wasn’t thrown as we left the church. We found rice in our Chevy convertible for months afterward. The reception consisted of a tiered wedding cake, punch, coffee, mints and nuts. The entertainment was the gift opening, nothing like the elaborate sit-down dinner and dancing at our daughters’ receptions. Though our simple reception was typical for my hometown, it does sound kind of, well, boring. But when you’re surrounded with love and well wishers and feel like the bride and groom cake topper come alive, you’re not bored. J Anyone else have this kind of a reception?


Not all weddings go as smoothly as ours did. We’ve all heard, perhaps some of you have even experienced, fainting or giggling grooms/brides/bridesmaids, screaming flower girl/ring bearer toddlers refusing to take a step down the aisle, dropped rings, and a pastor who messed up the couple’s names. If you want to see the funny and the not so funny, check out YouTube.


No matter what happens, most couples end up married. I’ve heard that brides and grooms have been stood up at the altar, but never witnessed it. The weddings I’ve attended have been beautiful, deeply meaningful ceremonies that strengthen my commitment to my own vows.


These days, with our family and friends and their children married, we attend very few weddings. I miss them. I love everything about weddings. The sacredness of the vows, the stunning clothes, lovely music, smiling faces, wedding cake. I soak up the romance of it all. My husband and I are great guests, if you need extras. LOL We stay late and love to dance. We’re no Ginger and Fred so the crowded dance floors suit us fine. I’m sentimental and get weepy during the ceremony so take a fancy handkerchief. Not sure why I get teary, except that watching the starry-eyed couple take this important step, eager to embark on their new life together, full of hopes and dreams, zips me back to the best day of my life, our wedding day. A happily ever after ending that isn’t fiction.


I realize that not everyone finds Mr. Right. Lots of marriages don’t end happily. If that’s the case for you, I hope you will be blessed with peace in your circumstances and optimism for the future. It’s never too late to write a new story, to have a new beginning, to find contentment in the now.


I’m giving away a copy of Brides of the West and Wanted: A Family. Perhaps you can share yours or someone’s wedding story. Or if you’re brave, a wedding calamity. Better yet, something funny during the ceremony that made everyone laugh. Whatever is on your mind, leave a comment for a chance to win.


The Best of Enemies – Janet Dean

I love spending time here at Petticoats and Pistols with the fillies and all their fantastic fans! I’m grateful to have my fifth book, An Inconvenient Match, Love Inspired Historical, on the shelves this month. The release of a new book is always exciting!

In past visits I’ve shared tidbits of history I discovered while researching such topics as orphan trains, medicinal herbs and Victorian houses. Today I want to chat about romance. First let me give you a peek at my story.


His family destroyed hers. But Matthew Cummings’s job offer—to care for his recuperating father—is impossible to decline.

Schoolteacher Abigail Wilson can swallow her pride for the sake of a summer paycheck that will help her sister. And when Abigail’s employment ends, old loyalties will separate the feuding families once more.

If there’s anyone in town stubborn enough to deal with Matthew’s cantankerous father, it’s Abigail. It’s just a business arrangement—and a temporary one, at that. Her good opinion shouldn’t matter a lick to Matt. Yet their different backgrounds belie a surprising kinship. Perhaps unexpected love will be their reward for the summer’s inconvenient match.

As the story unfolds, the hero and heroine struggle to reconcile loyalty to family with their growing romantic feelings for one
another. To see if they overcome the obstacles between them is one reason I love to read romance novels. Another reason is  romance novels guarantee a happy ending. Still, getting to the “happily ever after” isn’t easy. Bottom line, conflict is story. No conflict, no story.

So expect trouble. 🙂

Abby and Wade have plenty. The feud between the Wilsons and Cummings isn’t their only problem. Wade hurt Abby when they
were courting in high school. She’s not forgiven him. Ah, the heartache of young romance.

Anyone relate? I do.

My first boyfriend dumped me. That hurt. Not that I was in love, but I liked him. I was fifteen. He was sixteen, tall, dark,  handsome and a driver. 🙂 We met at 4-H camp and dated that summer. He was the first boy I kissed. Unless you count the silly kiss that followed the spin of a milk bottle. Toward summer’s end we had plans to attend the county fair. He never showed up. Even then I had a creative imagination and visualized an accident or at the very least, car trouble. Surely he was hurt or stranded somewhere. I called his house. First dumb move. His mother answered and said he’d gone to the fair with friends. Friends? I’d been stood up. I’m sure he had a lot in common with Danny, John Travolta’s character in “Grease.” Danny dumped Sandy, Olivia Newton-John’s character, no doubt running from a summer romance that wouldn’t make him look cool to the guys in school. Sadly, I was not cool. I went from hurt to mad. What a coward he’d been not to tell me face to face. When school started, I never spoke to him again. Second dumb move. We were both pretty childish. But, the experience proved to me that Abby’s refusal to talk or eat with Wade could happen.

I dated a few more nice guys before I went steady in my junior year. That boy broke up with me. See a pattern here? He had the
guts to do it in person, probably because he wanted his class ring back. What a waste of angora and pillows of tape painted with different colors of nail polish to match my skirts and sweaters. Does anyone remember the creative ways to make a boy’s ring fit your finger?

I persevered in the romance department until I met my husband in college. I’m grateful I waited for Mr. Right and got my happily ever after. But wait, I’m ignoring poor Abby and Wade. The feud and heartache over the breakup wasn’t all that stood between them. They clashed over a student of Abby’s. Like most of us, they saw the situation from the bias of their past experiences. Thankfully, they matured and changed. Thanks to me. 🙂  Yes, romance isn’t easy. But, Wade and Abby got their happy ending.

Can anyone relate to romance woes? Have a breakup story to share? Are you grateful you broke up? Does it hurt still? No full names, please.

For a chance to win a signed copy of An Inconvenient Match, please leave a comment.

Visit Janet online at:, and at her group blog

The Rodeo Cowboy – Lisa Mondello

Hello everyone! I want to thank the Petticoats and Pistols gals for having me on the blog today. I’m giving away a copy of my ebook, NOTHING BUT TROUBLE, to TWO readers who leave comments.

I’d like to talk about the appeal of the sexy rodeo cowboy. We love them ‘em, don’t we? I sure do. I fell in love with my first cowboy many years ago when I was on a business trip to Tucson. But it’s not just the cowboy that we’re drawn to in romance novels. It’s the rodeo cowboy.

I’ve often wondered what it is about the rodeo cowboy that has such appeal to a New England gal like me. I think it’s the fearlessness about them. It makes a woman feel safe. Let’s face it. You have to have some pretty tough cookies to get on the back of 1200lbs of dusty, sweaty bull, and hang on for dear life for 8 seconds. And have you ever seen these cowboys ride bronc bareback? It gives tall, dark and dangerous a whole new meaning.

The hero in NOTHING BUT TROUBLE is this kind of cowboy. Fearless and fiercely protective and he does his best to keep a determined debutante safe for 1 month in the Wyoming wilderness. It makes a great combination for romance.

I love writing stories featuring cowboys. NOTHING BUT TROUBLE was my first and is currently available online at Amazon, iTunes, Barnes and Noble, Sony and Kobo. Keep your eye out for HER HEART FOR THE ASKING, book 1 in my Texas Hearts series, featuring sexy bronc bareback rider, Beau Gentry.


His jaw tightened. Yes, there was something definitely wrong here. And money had nothing to do with it. It had everything to do with this beauty standing in front of him, who was clueless about what she was getting her pretty little hide into. “No,” he replied tersely.

“Mr. Buxton, I need your help.”

“Tourist season is in full swing. I’m sure you’ll have no trouble finding someone else.” He turned his back to her and began walking along the fence toward the barn, almost forgetting…

 Abruptly, he glanced up and saw the charred remains of the barn. The place where all his troubles had started just one year ago. It hadn’t taken but a second for him to hear her boots digging into the dusty gravel behind him, jarring him from his thoughts.

“Then I’ll do it myself,” she said to his back.

His whole body stiffened. He angled back to read her face, to see if she was just being a spoiled rotten rich kid, trying to get her way, or if she was actually serious. Seeing her head held high and her arms crossed in front of her, he realized she was dead serious. And dead she’d be if she stepped one boot into those mountains alone.

 “You’ll do no such thing.” Frustration flaring, he lifted his dusty hat and forced his fingers through the thick crop of black hair before returning the hat to his head.

“You just don’t get it, do you? You’re not asking me to take you on a theme park ride where you’ll get to see the wonders of the world at a nice safe distance. This is God’s country. The creatures that live up there don’t know civilization, and you are no better than them. You could–probably will–get killed if you go out there alone.” His lips twitched, taking a good long appraising look at the woman in front of him. “You might even chip a nail on that pretty hand of yours.”

Remember, I’m giving away a copy of NOTHING BUT TROUBLE to TWO commenters today. So don’t be shy. Leave a comment and tell me what you love about the rodeo cowboy.