It’s Fun to Research Western Romance!

Howdy! Jan Scarbrough here! Before writing The Dawsons of Montana, I surfed the Internet for the setting and found a dude ranch in Southwestern Montana near Yellowstone National Park. I had also researched professional bull riding for an earlier book. Most of the setting for my fictitious dude ranch was made up and, of course, so were the characters.

In January, I added the fourth book to the series, Ben, and completed The Dawsons of Montana.

When my husband and I had a chance to go out west in 2016, I wanted to go to a dude ranch. After Internet research, I discovered The Covered Wagon Ranch in Gallatin Gateway, Montana. We made reservations and planned our trip for three days in July.

OMG! It was fun—two days on horseback riding into the mountains, gourmet meals prepared by a professional chef eaten in a rustic dining room with other friendly “dudes.” The owners, wranglers and staff were super friendly. Like many of the returning guests, we felt right at home at the ranch.

And yes, there were real working cowboys, men and women who make a living wrangling horses and caring for us city slickers. Their knowledge, love and respect for the land, and their devotion and caring for the horses impressed me.

I was given my own horse for the two-day stay. He was a six-year-old Tennessee walking horse named Mr. Black. He didn’t trot but performed a running walk. We never got up enough speed to go that fast because we were climbing up the sides of mountains! The view from the top looking down over the ranch property was scary. Believe me!

I could have had more fun trail riding but acquired a case of altitude sickness. The 6000+ feet of southwestern Montana mountains were very much higher than the 500 feet Ohio Valley where I live. I began to feel better on the second day, just in time to leave.

We also took a day trip to Paradise Valley, the actual setting of the Dawson ranch in my series, and ate lunch at a place called Chico Hot Springs near Emigrant, Montana.

On the trip, I got to see firsthand the mountains, canyons, and valleys that make this part of Montana so beautiful. Sagebrush is real. And so are lodgepole pine trees and aspens with their green and silver leaves shimmering in the wind. Of course, I came home pondering another Western series set in this beautiful part of the United States of America.

If you were going to write a Western novel, where would you like to visit?

Check out my two Contemporary Western Series, both on Kindle Unlimited.

The Dawsons of Montana tells the stories of rancher Jim Dawson’s widow Liz, and his children Brody, Mercer, and Ben. Can they find happiness and love in the aftermath of the heartache of the patriarch’s untimely death?

Hank brings two series together: the romantic The Dawsons of Montana and the romantic mystery Ghost Mountain Ranch!

Ghost Mountain Ranch, where old secrets are stirring, secrets someone might be willing to kill to keep. Can they finally lay the old ghosts to rest, or will the echoes of a decades-old murder destroy their second chance at love?

I’ll give away two ebook copies of Darby drawn from the comments left on the blog. Please answer my question: If you were going to write a Western novel, where would you like to visit?

About the book. DARBY: Thirty years ago, Darby Heston fled her family’s Montana dude ranch. Now she must return to help her father. Would the boyfriend she’d abandoned still be there? Hank Slade has never stopped loving Darby, but is he willing to risk his heart again? Secrets tore them apart once. Given a second chance at love, will more shocking secrets from the past destroy their hopes for the future?

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