Second Chance at Love


What is it about reunion / second chance at love stories that make them a favorite? There are a few readers here who have mentioned knowing a boy in school, only to then be separated by circumstances, and then to come back together at a class reunion, a wedding, or a chance meeting years later. I’ve read of some couples in the newspaper where they reconnected after sixty years and a marriage in-between, tying the knot again at eighty years of age! I LOVE such stories!

What is their draw? Is it hope? Is it that love truly can conquer all? Or is it that we never forget our first love…and the rush of new emotions and experiences that made up that roller coaster of a time? The romantic in me say it is all these things.

My newest release (April 2016) is a story about second chances. It is a novella in the Western Spring Weddings Anthology ~ His Springtime Bride. I hope you enjoy the excerpt here…

His Springtime Bride 

Blurb ~

Released from prison, Gabe Coulter must work for his enemy to earn back the deed to his own ranch. But when his boss’s daughter, Riley Rawlins, returns home with a rebellious son after years away in the east, nothing will stop him from discovering the truth.

Riley no longer trusts the man she once loved so completely. Years of old hurts and his violent past make it impossible to forgive and allow him back in her life or that of her son.

But one thing Gabe has is pure cowboy grit. Will it be enough to make Riley see that she and his son should be a part of his future?

Western Spring Weddings

Excerpt ~  

The coach rounded a rocky bend in the road and the village of Nuevo came into view. If she remembered correctly, the station and pen with fresh horses stood on the south side of the dusty town. From his seat overhead the driver called out announcing the place. The stagecoach slowed and finally pulled to a stop in front of the change station.

The dirt yard was empty; however, a buckboard sat off under the shade of a juniper tree. Perhaps that was her ride. The caw of a Steller’s jay broke the silence of the afternoon. A lean, broad-shouldered man stepped through the station door and out into the sunlight. She recognized him and froze. Scuffed boots, brown canvas pants, a cotton shirt with rolled-up sleeves, a green bandanna at his neck and the darkest brown eyes Riley had ever seen under a tan felt hat. Gabe Coulter.

Her breath whooshed from her like a deflating balloon. What was he doing here? When had he been released from prison? She stared at him, captivated and at the same time annoyed that after all these years he had grown more handsome. His collar-length black hair framed a face chiseled and sharp with angles, his nose straight as always, his jaw firm and square. The only thing not hard on the man was his lips…and they looked exactly as she remembered…enticing and kissable.

Abruptly, she pulled away from the window, hoping that he would walk away and never know she was there. Her heart raced. He still packed quite a presence. She swallowed, angry with herself for feeling anything at all. No amount of time was sufficient to make her forget what he’d done. She would never forgive him.

The driver placed the box step and swung open the door. “All out! Nuevo!”

She didn’t move.

“Aren’t we going, Ma?” Brody watched her.

She took a steadying breath. Perhaps it was silly to be nervous about running into Gabe after all this time. Hadn’t she just been telling herself to leave the past in the past? This was a test of her resolve. That’s all. Nothing more.

She tugged down on the hem of her shirtwaist and then straightened her straw bonnet. Ready. She stepped through the doorway and onto the box the driver had set for disembarking passengers. The bright sunlight blinded her. She wobbled slightly, her legs unused to activity and stiff after riding for four hours.

A strong hand grasped her upper arm, steadying her. The grip hardened to steel. “Riley? Riley Rawlins?”

His voice was richer, deeper, than she remembered, and he sounded astonished. Careful to keep all of her colliding thoughts contained and squashed deep inside, she looked up and met his eyes. “Hello, Gabe,” she said with cool reserve.

Gigi Hadid: Actor inspiration for Riley Rawlins (Photo by Dave Lee)

Then she stepped down to the ground and promptly stumbled.

He grabbed hold with his other hand and steadied her. Both grips were tight bands on her upper arms. He stared at her with unveiled shock in his eyes. “You are the company that Rawlins is expecting?”

She stiffened. “I am.”

He let go immediately. “Then I guess I’m here to fetch you.”

Her pulse raced. Her entire body felt on edge, as though half of her wanted to bolt one way and the
other half run another. “You are working for my father now?”

“Started not too long ago.”

With their exchange of letters, her father had known for over a month that she was coming home and yet he had hired Gabe? It didn’t seem possible. Years ago when he discovered they were involved in something more than friendship, Father had been dead set against them being near each other. He also knew how upset she’d been when Gabe had deserted her. Was this his own brand of retribution he was forcing on her?

She squared her shoulders, resigned that this “new beginning” had taken a decided turn for the worst. “Very well.” It wasn’t the most gracious of responses, but at the moment it mirrored how she felt.

His eyes narrowed as he took a closer look at her.

It was as if he was reaching back through the years and trying to read what had happened to her since then…and perhaps wishing she would return to where she had come from. Heat mounted on her cheeks under his scrutiny.


She startled at her son’s voice behind her and turned to him. “Brody, this is Mister Coulter…a ranch hand of your grandfather’s.”

Gabe’s brow raised at the last, just the slightest bit, but he turned and watched Brody disembark. If Brody’s size…nearly five feet six inches…surprised him, not a muscle moved on his handsome face. When her son lifted his sullen gaze, all Gabe did was thrust out his hand.

Her son hesitated but then grasped Gabe’s hand in a firm shake.

“Brody,” Gabe said, as if testing his name and committing it to memory. His shake slowed and he glanced at Riley with a question lighting his eyes. Then he let go. “I’ll get your bags transferred to the wagon.”

Tom Welling: Actor inspiration for Gabe Coulter.

“I can do it,” Brody said, his voice challenging. He scrambled to the top of the coach and tossed down their traveling cases with enough force Riley worried they might break open. It didn’t seem to faze Gabe as he caught them. What was her son trying to prove? When he had climbed back down and Gabe had left them to carry two of the cases to the wagon, she took Brody aside. “What was that all about?”

“I don’t like the way he looked at us—at you.”

It wasn’t the first time her son had acted protective of her, but it had been a long time since he had even cared—more than year.

“I hope you are a bit friendlier upon meeting your grandfather.” She also hoped her father was a bit friendlier than Gabe had been. Then squaring her shoulders, she braced herself for the long ride to the ranch and followed her son to the buckboard.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Gabe’s entire body was shaking on the inside when he settled the luggage in the wagon bed. Riley was back—and with a son! Just the thought of her with another man made Gabe knot up inside, stupidly jealous of something that happened years ago. He hadn’t expected her to stay unhitched. She was too beautiful to stay single for long. He darted a look at her as she walked toward the wagon. Still slender, still with that long, wavy, honey-colored hair—although it was up in a knot under her hat. He’d never forgotten her eyes—gray-green with long dark lashes. They’d haunted him for as long as he could remember.

He helped her onto the wagon seat, irritated that his hands tingled when he let loose of her. Brody gave him a penetrating look before climbing up beside her. It wasn’t hard to decipher the stare. Gabe had felt possessive often enough with his own mother whenever Rawlins had come slinking around. The boy didn’t have a thing to worry about. As much as he had once loved Riley, he had learned his lesson there. He was just the hired help in her family’s opinion and nowhere near good enough for her.

His Springtime Bride/Western Spring Weddings Anthology   ©  2016  by Kathryn Albright
Permission to reproduce text granted by Harlequin Books S.A.

For more information about Western Spring Weddings or my other books,
please check my website ~

Now ~ I’ve admitted to my favorite kind of stories. I also love coming-of-age stories and the-underdog-wins stories. What about you? What type of story draws your interest over and over. If nothing strikes you ~ just name your favorite book from the past five years…( I always need new recommendations for great reads!)

Comment for a chance in my drawing! I’ll give away one copy of Western Spring Weddings (or another story from my backlist) to one lucky commenter. 

My Beautiful Daughter’s Beautiful Wedding

WG Logo 2015-04

Hi!  Winnie Griggs here.  Three weeks ago we had one of those milestone events happen in our family – my youngest daughter got married.  Although there were the requisite number of bumps in the road as far as executing ‘the plan’ for the wedding, the ceremony itself was absolutely beautiful. As the proud mother of the bride, I thought I’d share a few pictures from the big day with you.

White SpacerThese first two are before-and-after shots of the bridesmaids


Here’s a shot of me and my husband with the bride.  Remember me mentioning there were a few bumps in the road?  You can see the evidence of one of those ‘bumps’ in this shot.  Just before the wedding, I had an allergic reaction to either my make-up or hair spray or both.  As a result, my right eye was swollen almost shut for the whole ceremony and reception.  Needless to say, I tried to duck out of as many photos as possible!

MW-Bride & parents

Here is a shot of all four of my children just before the ceremony started.

MW-4 kids

The next two are of my husband escorting the bride down the aisle.  I especially like the second shot – the two bridesmaids visible over my husband’s shoulder are our other two daughters and to the right of the bride are me and my mother.

MW-Bride & father

And here’s the happy couple!

MW-Bride & groom

Here’s one last shot to show you the cake

MW-Cutting the cake

I hope you enjoyed this little peak into what was a very special day for our family.


And to celebrate the release this month of Second Chance Hero, the sixth book in my Texas Grooms series, I will be giving a copy to one person who leaves a comment on this post today.

18 SCH medium


Winning the Widow’s Heart 

To help his dying sister, Nate Cooper once broke the law and paid a heavy price for his actions. Now the ex-con turned saddler hopes for a quiet life and new beginning in Turnabout, Texas. Being declared a hero for saving a child’s life, however,  leaves Nate feeling like a fraud.

Since the violent death of her husband, single mom Verity Leggett has attempted to lead a safe life, avoiding danger and excitement at all costs. And her daughter’s handsome rescuer Mr. Cooper seems like a perfectly responsible man, one she can finally rely on.

When his secrets come to light, however, will Verity be able to get over his past and see Nate for the caring man he’s become?

Here Come the Brides–True Love!

Welcome to our final day of


as Cheryl Pierson and Tracy Garrett share scenes of  


from their novels, Fire Eyes and Touch of Texas!




Fire Eyes was my debut novel in 2009. It has since been re-edited and re-released with a new publisher, WESTERN TRAIL BLAZER. When wounded U.S. Deputy Marshal Kaed Turner is left in Jessica Monroe’s care, they both find a love they didn’t bargain for.

A gritty, sensual western novel not meant for the faint of heart…

Love’s healing power…

Wounded by sadistic renegades who rule the borderlands, U.S. Marshal Kaed Turner understands he faces certain death. Then Fate and a war party of Choctaw Indians intervene, delivering him instead to an angel with the skill to heal him.

Jessica Monroe has already lost a husband and a brother to the outlaws who tortured Marshal Turner. As


 the rugged lawman lies bleeding on her bed, she faces a difficult decision. Can she afford to gamble with her heart one last time? For when Kaed recovers, he is sworn to join the battle to wipe out the renegade gang—once, and for all.

When vengeance is done, will Kaed keep riding? Or will he return to claim his future with the beautiful woman the Choctaw call Fire Eyes?

Marshal Kaed Turner has been deposited on widow Jessica Monroe’s front porch by a band of Choctaw Indians with orders from the chieftain:  “Do not let him die.” He’s been severely beaten by Andrew Fallon’s band of renegades that run the borderlands between Arkansas and Indian Territory. The last man the Indians brought to her doorstep died.  As the relationship between Kaed and Jessica deepens, she vows to move heaven and earth to heal him, even though it means he must leave her. There can be no future for them as long as Andrew Fallon lives.  

Jessica Monroe was a woman he could love. A woman he did love. That realization was not easy to face. Love was for other people. Not for him. He had his job, and that was enough.
Or was it? More and more lately, thoughts of a place of his own, a family, a yearning to put down roots, had begun to plague him.
     His lips twisted. It was too soon. He’d had a fever, and what he thought he’d seen in the depths of her eyes had probably been a trick of the faulty workings of his own mind. Yet, he was drawn to her, not just her outward beauty, but her determination and strength. She was like a draught of strong liquor that he couldn’t put down once he had tasted it. Fire Eyes. A question formed in his mind, even as he tried to crush it, to evade the answer that might devastate him more completely than he thought possible. But it escaped his lips before he could thrust it away.
“Do you love me, Jessi?”
She turned slowly from where she stood beside the crib to face his level look.
The firelight touched her dark hair, setting it aglow with auburn highlights, and Kaed thought she could never be more beautiful than she was at this moment. Her eyes registered disbelief at what she thought she had heard, her sensual lips parted, as if she wanted to reply, but was unsure. She stood, motionless.
He made his expression unreadable, but he couldn’t stop the ragged edge to his breathing that had suddenly developed. He forced the fingers of his left hand to unclench and relax, let the veil cover the tell-tale surge of need in his eyes as he lay looking at her. He knew not to speak again, even to say her name, until he gained control of his emotions.
She came toward him, and stood between the bed and the baby’s crib, need and want and fear all written on her beautiful features.
Kaed swallowed hard, and despite the chaotic rush of blood pounding in his ears, he made his voice even. “Do you love me?”
Jessica put her hand to her throat, tears filling her eyes. Before she could speak, he went on.
“You said the next time you married, it would be for love. I wouldn’t want you to make a mistake. But, from where I’ve been the past three days, I could swear I’ve seen love in your eyes. Like you said, though, sometimes it’s hard to recognize. So, I need to know, Jessi. Is what I see real?”

* * * * *

     She knelt beside him on the floor, her breath catching in her throat. She looked into the depths of Kaed’s dark gaze. He loved her. She was right about not mistaking it again. Slowly, she nodded, unable to find her voice, afraid it would crack if she did.
Relief flooded his pain-shrouded eyes. He reached to spear his fingers through her hair, pulling her to him. Her lids drifted closed in anticipation of his kiss, but he held her a hairsbreadth from him. When he spoke, his voice was husky, as if tenderness was not a thing he was accustomed to.
“When I take you tonight, Jessica, I want you to understand something.”
His clean breath was warm on her cheek, and she opened her eyes slowly to look at him once more. “When I come into you—” He swallowed hard. “—that’s my promise to you that I take you for my wife. This isn’t something I do lightly, and it isn’t something I haven’t thought out.”
“Marriage? Kaed, you need to be sure—” She stumbled over her words like a schoolgirl, her cheeks flaming.
Kaed’s eyes crinkled, and he smiled at her incredulous tone. “It’s all I’ve thought about. That’s why it’s important that you…that you love me. That I’m what you want. So you don’t marry for the wrong reason again.”

The love was there, lighting his eyes. She didn’t doubt what she’d seen. She bit her lip, wanting him to continue. No one else had ever said such things to her.

I’m giving away a copy of FIRE EYES to one lucky commenter today. Just leave a comment and your contact information—it’s that simple! I’ll draw a name out of the hat and announce the winner.

The e-book version of FIRE EYES is available now at Amazon, Lulu, Monkeybars, Barnes & Noble, Sony and Apple, as well as many other e-book retailers. The new print version will also be available soon! (Or drop me a note at and I will be glad to send you an autographed copy for only $10, including the shipping!)

Here are the links for Smashwords and Amazon: 

Don’t forget to comment to be entered in the drawing, and thanks for coming by today!




I’m thrilled to be wrapping up our week of Happy-Ever-After. Brides and Grooms—I just love them. All the lace and candlelight and promises of forever. 

In my first book, Touch of Texas, Texas Ranger Jake McCain was convinced he would never have the kind of forever his adoptive parents had. He was a half-breed, good enough to kill outlaws, but never worthy of a seat at the dinner table of society folks. Of course, he was wrong. Rachel Hudson, school teacher, orphaned early, raising her little brother on her own, was strong, beautiful, intelligent—and the perfect match for Jake. 

At this point in the story, Jake has dispatched one of the bad guys and is going to have to leave Rachel & Nathan, her eight-year-old brother, for good.  

I had such fun writing the scene where Jake finally realizes he doesn’t want to go on without her in his life. So he gathers his courage, walks in to propose—and comes face to belt buckle with loaded rifle.

     Jake sat in the dark, watching the cabin. It was where he’d been for the last hour, trying to gather the courage to go in and face Rachel. “Damn it.” He cursed the night and the lack of any proof someone had been near the cabin. Mostly he cursed himself. How did he make her see he was the wrong man for her when he no longer believed it himself?
     Somewhere during the long day, he’d realized he didn’t want her to find someone else. He wanted to be the man she turned to, the one she relied upon.
     “I love her,” he whispered to the stars. How the hell had that happened?
     It wasn’t possible. He waited for the familiar panic, the trapped feeling he always got when he considered marriage and a family. But it never came. Instead, a warmth filled him when he pictured Rachel, heavy with his child, and guiding Nathan as he grew into a man any father would be proud of.
     He must look ridiculous, sitting in the dark with a stupid grin on his face, but he didn’t care. He wanted Rachel and he would have her. What if she’d changed her mind? That gave him pause. Maybe a half-breed renegade lawman wasn’t what she wanted after all? Then he’d convince her to change her mind right back. Nothing could be as hard as facing a future without her.
     He caught himself before he straightened and presented an easy target to whoever might be watching. He didn’t doubt someone was. Though he’d found no evidence, his instincts were screaming at him that Rachel was in danger. Checking the shadows, he slipped up to the house and made a complete circuit before setting foot on the porch. He came up on the far end, near the window where the candle that saved his life had burned.
     “Rachel?” He kept his voice low, not wanting to wake the boys. “Honey, it’s me.” He leaned closer to the window, but he couldn’t hear anything inside. Was she asleep? Hoping he wasn’t destined to a night on the ground with no bedroll, he called out a third time. Finally, sounds of movement came from inside, then an uneven shuffle as she approached the window.
     “It’s safe, pretty girl. You can open up.”
     He heard her drag the bar from the door and lower it to the floor, but the door didn’t open.
     “Come inside, slowly. I have a gun and I know how it works.”
     Jake grinned. He couldn’t help it. Here he was, anxious to tell the woman he wanted forever with her, and she met him at the door with a loaded rifle. It was a story they could tell their grandchildren. He opened the door with his left hand, careful to stay out of her line of fire, just in case Wolf wasn’t as good a teacher as he thought.
     “Rachel, honey, I’m coming in. Put the rifle down.”
     “Are you alone?”
     “I’m alone, pretty girl.”
     “Then come on in.”
     Relief was evident in her voice. He peeked around the doorframe to be sure she knew it was him before stepping into the open.
     She faced the door from across the room, the rifle cradled in her arms. It wasn’t pointing at him, but she wouldn’t have to move it far to find a target.
     Jake came inside and closed the door, barring it again. When he looked back, Rachel had pointed the rifle at the far wall and was struggling to uncock it.
     “Let me, honey.” Taking it from her shaking hands, he eased the hammer forward and set the gun aside. When he opened his arms, she stepped into them without a word. Hugging her close, he let the last of his resistance melt away. Whatever it took, this woman was his and he wasn’t letting her go.
     “I’m sorry. I needed to be sure. You were gone so long,” she admonished without looking up. “I was worried.”
     “You were safe. I wasn’t far away.”
     “I wasn’t worried for me, I was scared for you.”
     Jake swore he heard a muttered dammit as she turned away to the stove. He snagged her hand and pulled her back against his chest. “What did you say?”
     She squirmed in his arms but didn’t answer.
     “I don’t think I can have any wife of mine using language like that.” He felt her stiffen and struggled against a grin. “It wouldn’t be proper.” He glanced down and felt himself drowning in twin pools of azure. God, she had the most beautiful eyes. He leaned forward and placed a gentle kiss on her lips.
     “Wife?” Her voice quavered on the single word.
     “If you’ll have me, honey.” Jake loosened his hold and dropped to one knee in front of her. “I know I’m no prize, and you’ll probably spend the rest of your days wishing me to Hades, but I don’t think my heart will go on beating if you aren’t part of my life.” He kissed the fingers of her right hand. “Will you marry me, Rachel Hudson?”
     When she tugged on his hand, he rose to his feet and waited for her answer. When a smile curved her lips, he thought his heart would stop.
     “I’d be proud to be your wife, Jake McCain.”
     A whoop from behind her brought them both around. Nathan raced down the stairs to throw his arms around Rachel. Calvin followed close behind. She returned her brother’s hug with tears in her eyes.
     “Well,” Jake muttered, shaking his head at Nathan. “I intended to ask your permission, son, but it looks like we already have your blessing.”

This week we’ve shared Marriage of Convenience, Forced Marriages, Wedding Surprises, Funny Stuff & True Love. Tell me, readers, what’s your favorite kind of nuptial situation?

In honor of brides and weddings and happy-ever-afters, I’ll give away a copy of both TOUCH OF TEXAS and TOUCHED BY LOVE, my second release, to one reader who joins the discussion. 

Please come see me on FaceBook – – or follow me on Twitter – @TGarrett_Author.


Thanks for visiting Petticoats & Pistols this week for HERE COME THE BRIDES! We hope you had as much fun reading about all the wedding surprises, hugs, tears and laughter as we had sharing them with you.

 Here’s wishing you all the happy-ever-after you could ever hope for!

The Fillies

Wedding Memories

My youngest son is getting married on Saturday!  I couldn’t be happier for Dave and Whitney, my new daughter-in-law. It’s our second wedding in eight months. My oldest son and his wife tied the knot in October. In honor of both brides, I thought I’d talk about family wedding memories.

My husband and I had a whirlwind courtship back in 1980.  We’d been acquaintances in high school and later became friends. He rode up to my house on a big red motorcycle one evening, suggested a movie and off we went to see the first Star Trek movie.  Four months later we got married in a very small ceremony in my parents’ living room. I wasn’t the girl who always dreamed of a big wedding.  In fact, Mike and I planned to elope until my dad said, “I think your mother would like to see you get married.” 

Well, my mom said, “You’re getting married here? I thought you were eloping?” She liked the idea of eloping  just fine. It was my dad who wanted to see the big moment and he did.  Short and sweet. Family. A wedding breakfast, where I found out my husband of 45 minutes didn’t like quiche.  Thirty-one years later, we’re going strong and he hasn’t had quiche since.

My parents’ wedding in 1954 was much more traditional My mom wore a beautiful white dress with a sweetheart neckline, lots of lace and a veil. Her bridesmaids wore shades of aqua, ballerina length dresses and cute little hats. The best picture, I think, is “the kiss.”  No wonder my folks were together for 42 years!  A lot of love was there from the beginning. So was faith and a willingness to talk, talk, talk things through.

My mom’s wedding dress got worn again in 1993. When my brother and future sister-in-law got engaged, she had trouble finding just the right dress.  My mom’s gown fit her perfectly. Not only did she wear the dress, she and John got married on my parent’s 39th wedding anniversary. My oldest son was the ring bearer. He looked great in a tux! He looked even better on his own wedding day,which leads us to . . .

The most recent wedding is my oldest son and his wife.  Awesome day!  They got married at Woodlawn Plantation in Alexandria, Virginia.  String quartet. Delicious food. Lovely flowers. Gorgeous pictures. Best of all, family got to celebrate with them.

So those are my wedding memories. What are yours?  Of maybe you have a favorite wedding scene in a book?  I’d love to hear about them.

I’ll be in and out today . . . The wedding ramp-up is starting.  Can’t wait for Saturday!  P.S.  Sorry not to have family pictures . . . I don’t have the older ones on the computer, and the newer ones are on the old computer which isn’t here today.  They were on this computer until I had a virus a few months ago.  They’re safe, just not easily accessible.

Cheryl St.John Shares How She Got Started Writing

Today I’m responding to another of the most often asked questions writers hear:

How did you get started writing?

I’ve always written in one form or another. As a child I wrote stories, drew the covers, and stapled them into mini-books. My first rejection came at age fourteen when I submitted a romantic short story to Redbook Magazine. I still have the form rejection. I was crushed.

I wrote long hand off and on after that, occasionally typing a story on my Grandma St.John’s manual typewriter. For years I pretty much dedicated myself to my family, and raised my four kids.

I used to read only horror, mystery and main stream novels, but I read a few Victoria Holts I’d received from the book club and found them appealing, yet somewhat unsatisfactory in some way I couldn’t define at the time. On a whim one day, while browsing the store shelves, I bought Lisa Gregory’s The Rainbow Season and LaVyrle Spencer’s Hummingbird. Imagine that out of all the books available, I chose two classic romances for my first taste of romance!

Needless to say, I was hooked from that day forward. I devoured everything either of those two authors ever wrote, and went on to Janelle Taylor, Jude Devereaux, Johanna Lindsey, Francine Rivers, and Kathleen Woodiwiss.


When my youngest daughter went to Kindergarten, I was lost without her. In retrospect, it was empty nest syndrome, but instead of having another baby, which many women do, I decided it was time to write the novel that would launch me to stardom.

Yeah, right.

All The Tender Tomorrows and Soft Summer Magic are still on a shelf in my closet, along with a few other manuscripts, and rightly so. Looking back on the manuscript preparation, the stories with no plot or conflict, and the volume of editors I sent them to is a humiliating, yet laughable experience. I can’t believe I did that! I was rejected by the best in the business. Repeatedly.

I wrote in a vacuum for years, reading outdated how-to books from the library and sending stuff out to anyone in The Writer’s Market that I hadn’t already pounced on.

My mom, who’s always been my biggest fan, even when I was producing crap, clipped an article about Diane Wicker Davis from the newspaper. An Avon writer, she and her husband had recently been stationed nearby. Diane had started an RWA chapter. I was impressed.

But not in that league! So I continued on my solitary way.

Then one day in 1989, by brother, who is also a writer, brought me the Sunday paper with an article about another local writer from the local RWA chapter. It took me weeks to get the courage to call that number. I was terrified that they’d all be professionals with history and journalism and English degrees, and here was little old clueless me, puttering along on my used Selectric. (I had upgraded – lol)

Well, I garnered all my bravado, attended a meeting, and discovered that though they were elementary teachers, criminal justice teachers, and newspaper reporters, many of the members were moms, and they were all regular people just like me. (Some would beg to differ that I’m regular, but that’s a topic for another day.)

Later, as the group grew and evolved, I served as program chairman, vice president, president, and PAN liaison of my local chapter, the greatest bunch of writers I could ever hope to know. They’ve become my critique partners, my teachers, my mentors, and my supporters, but most of all, my friends.

With the networking in RWA, the teaching and guidance of my local chapter, and a terrific agent who took me on and believed in me, I sold my first book in 1992. Rain Shadow was released as part of Harlequin Historical’s March Madness promotion in 1993, and my second book followed in October of that same year. After the sale of my third book, I quit my job as a merchandising artist and started writing full time.

This month Western Winter Wedding Bells is my 35th published book, and I have two more scheduled in June and July 2011 and a Christmas 2011 novella—contracted just yesterday—to write.

And that’s how I got started writing.

Bridal Showers Then & Now

 My oldest son is getting married!!!!  Yes, we’re excited.  Before I get into bridal showers, can I brag a bit? He pulled off one of the best proposals ever.  He went to grad school in Egypt, and he’s done a lot of travel in the Middle East. He and his soon-to-be fiance were backpacking in Syria where he took her to the highest tower of the Crac des Chevaliers, a castle from the Crusader era.  At the top, he asked a British tourist to take a picture.  Clever to the core, he faked having a rock in his shoe. When his girlfriend turned around, he was on bended knee with a ring on display, asking her to marry him.

She said yes and we’re so glad she did.  She came to Lexington this past weekend for a family bridal shower and we had great time.  We shopped for my “Mother of the Groom” dress together, ate Chinese food for lunch and came home to presents, games, food and Skype.  My son is still overseas, but we got things set up so he could watch the festivities via webcam. 

Imagine Skyping to a bridal shower. The world has sure changed . . . or has it? We had a kitchen themed shower much like mom had in in 1954.  As a kid I remember looking in the hope chest she’d filled with sheets and towels and an assortment of what-not for her new home. As long as I can remember, she had special things in that chest.  The history of hope chests would be an interesting blog. Since I have weddings on my mind, maybe I’ll do that next.  Today, though, I’ve been thinking about bridal showers.

My husband and I got married in 1980.  We practically eloped so we skipped the bridal shower tradition, though we made up for it with baby showers a few years later.  We started out with a set of everyday dishes, pots and pans, bedding and a lot of hand-me-downs. What we didn’t have, we bought at Pick n’ Save.  It’s been 30 years and would you believe I’m using the same red-handled can opener?

Bridal showers are a special time for the bride and family alike.  The custom as we know it in America originated in the 1890s.  It’s a gift-giving party for the purpose of getting the bride and groom set up in their new home.  In some cases, where the bride’s family was poor or perhaps opposed to the marriage, the bridal shower made sure the wedding could take place. It provided the bride and groom with what they needed to set up house and sustain their marriage.  Bridal showers also have ties to old dowry practices.  If a woman’s family refused to support her decision to marry, friends would come together and bring gifts to fill in the lack of a dowry.

Did you ever wonder why we call these events “showers” and not just parties”?    I figured it referred to showering the bride with gifts, but the word has more literal roots.  In the 1890s, it was the custom for the bride’s family and friends to put small presents in a parasol and open the parasol over her head.  Small should be the key word.  We gave my future d-i-l a set of pots and pans.  If they’d hit her in the head, she’d have been knocked unconscious . . . Same with the flatware! 

Bridal showers started as an urban tradition among wealthy families, but the custom quickly moved to rural America. Over the years, showers have evolved into a celebration that can be anything from a couples party to a bachelorette party to the traditional kind of party my mom enjoyed.

What about you? Have you given a bridal shower?  Been the bride at a shower in your honor?  What did you like best?  My favorite moment was watching my son on Skype as he joked with his bride-to-be.  It was just so sweet . . . I’ll never forget it.

Cowboys at Christmas – Donna Alward

donna-alward-christmas-coverYou know, I’m getting kinda used to this cowboy thing.  And while it’s nice to go off the ranch once in a while and write something different – I had scads of fun doing an office romance – it’s getting more like writing cowboys and ranchers is what I know.  Somehow, no matter what kind of story I’m working on, elements of those cowboys come through. 

I think part of it has to do with setting, to be honest.  I’ve always felt a strong connection to the land (even if it’s not ranch land per se) and so my characters often do too – there’s a respect and reverence for it.  It’s in the way the leaves on the cottonwoods rustle, or how the fields stretch out to touch the horizon, or just the sense of fulfillment one feels breathing in the fresh air, ripe with harvest.  Or, maybe even ripe with something else.  Even that – I don’t mind so much.  It smells to me of hard work and sustenance and roots.

Hard work – roots – those are things you’ll find over and over again in my books, so when I started work on my novella, “A Bride For Rocking H Ranch,” (Montana, Mistletoe, Marriage) I knew those twocowboysnow2 elements would play a big part.   After all, what could be better than a hard-working cowboy at Christmas?  *Pauses to ponder*…..

(I know.  I’m thinking sheepskin jacket, cowboy hat, snow dusting his shoulders as his dark eyes…)

But wait.  This time I did something different.  I put in a twist.

My hero’s not a cowboy.  He’s a CHEF.

My heroine’s the cowboy – or rather, cowgirl.  In fact, she’s the de facto manager of Rocking H Ranch outside Helena, Montana.  Kelley can hold her own and no one works harder – looking after the land AND the family.  She likes her jeans and boots and no-fuss flannel shirts.  She can’t cook and leaves the domestic side of things to her sister Amelia.  And due to some troubles within the Hughes clan, she’s agreed to cook Christmas dinner for the family.

Of course this is where Mack comes in.  Mack, despite being a chef, is still a Montana man even as he tries to deny it.  As the story goes on, that really starts to creep through until you realize he and Kelley aren’t so different after all. 

Hard work ethic.  Putting down roots.  Honour.  All things that our cowboy and rancher heroes have in spades, and maybe that’s why writing contemporary westerns is so much fun for me.  Those are the kinds of guys I’d want to marry.  I did marry one – not a cowboy, though he has the boots to say otherwise – but someone who believes in hard work and a fair shake and family.

Setting it all at Christmas?



Well, that’s just the bow on top of the present, now, isn’t it?

I’ll pick a random commenter to win a copy of Montana, Mistletoe, Marriage – featuring my novella A Bride For Rocking H Ranch as well as Snowbound Cowboy (Amelia’s story) by Patricia Thayer.


Stilettos and Glossy Lips … When do you feel oh, so sexy?


Recently in a Redbook article, women were asked what made them feel desirable, then the same question was asked of their smitten men. Their answers may surprise you. Mind you, these are men ALREADY in love with their mates.  


According to Redbook:


“When a man is in love, what he finds really attractive is the feeling that he’s seeing you for who you truly are,” explains REDBOOK Love Network expert Scott Haltzman, M.D., author of The Secrets of Happily Married Women. “To a guy, the makeup, the sexy outfit, it’s all a mask. He wants the woman behind the mask. Openness, vulnerability, an air of contentment — those things are what really turns him on.”


Do you believe that?   It seemed a bit hard to swallow, but as I read on I realized that what made women feel sexy, wasn’t really what the men found sexy about them.


Case in point, take the woman learning how to belly dance.  She feels sexy when she makes those sensual moves. She feels really in touch with her body.  But when asked, her husband found her most sexy when she could hold her own in a political debate.  Her political views are not popular yet she defends her ideas and stands her ground.  Her intelligence and her passion for the subject really turns him on. 


Go figure?


Another woman married for 15 years feels close to her mate when they reconnect as a couple.  They take walks on the beach, read together and feel the closeness of their bond, which she states is powerful.  That’s when she feels most desirable.   Her husband finds her most desirable when he watches her speak to friends in a large group, telling a story and drawing them in with her passion and warm inviting smile. Her sweetness and generosity is quite an elixir. 



Another married woman finds herself most sexy when she dons black stilettos, wears low-cut blouses and colors her lips with shiny red gloss.  Add candlelight to the scenario and she’s a happy camper.  But ironically, her husband likes her natural beauty.  He finds her most attractive when she’s vegged out on the sofa watching television and totally relaxed.  Often, he grabs his camera and takes a shot, because she looks so inviting and beautiful.


I’m one too, who is amazed that my husband doesn’t like seeing me in sexy clothes. He’d rather I wear no make-up, loving my brown eyes and natural skin tones.  But the one thing that he really likes (pardon my being forthright here) is when I put on this pale pink plain cotton ancient nightie that I’ve worn nearly to shreds.  He claims it’s the sexiest piece of clothing I own.  Honestly, I was ready to toss it out.


Gee, I’ve been writing romance a long time. I’ve been married forever and I never realized that it’s not the stilettos and red lipstick that turn a man on once they’ve fallen in love. 


Do you think women harbor misconceptions about what their men find sexy in them?  


And what makes you feel good about yourself?  


If you could pick one couple who despict a true married couple, who would they be? 













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Western Weddings: Rocky Mountain Bride\Shotgun Vows\Springville Wife (Harlequin Historical)