TROUBLE IN DISGUISE!!! NEW RELEASE BY GEM SIVAD!!!

YEEEEE-HAAAW!! GEM SIVAD is back at the campfire with her newest Eclipse Heat release, TROUBLE IN DISGUISE !! I haven’t seen this much excitement round the fire since a jackrabbit ran through camp and one of the hounds took after it and knocked over Cookie’s bean pot!! Why some of the boys got so worked up they went and took a bath before they thought better of it! I can’t wait to read Deacon and Miri’s story and you won’t want to miss out on this one folks!

I’ll be away from camp for a bit today, but I’ll check in from time to time. Meanwhile, Cookie will be here keeping the coffee hot and the beans burned (and sidlin’ up to Gem the wily ol’ coot).

Enough from me, here’s Gem and her HAWT new release!  

Good morning, Kirsten. Pour a cup of brew and help me celebrate the release of the fifth title in my Eclipse Heat series—Trouble In Disguise! As soon as my coffee mugs arrive, I’m sending one your way. J And—since I mentioned mugs—the winner of my Wild and Wicked Cowboys  Eclipse Heat mug give away is *drum roll…* Cindy H. Congrats Cindy!!

If guests dropping by the campfire today leave comments, I’ll give away another mug.

 TID Mugs with EH wrap (small)

Trouble In Disguise is a steamy historical western with a former minister as the hero. It took me a while to figure out where and with whom Robert “the Deacon” McCallister would find love. But after revisions, edits, more revisions and painful cuts (picture doing surgery on your own child) my third McCallister bounty hunter is here. J Since we’re already at the campfire, I’d like to share a scene.

Trouble-in-Disguise-3D-small 

Excerpt:

Even before Ketchum trotted to Possum’s side and sat down, Miri knew they were being followed. Since she preferred knowing who was on her trail, she figured it was time to find out. She camped for the night, built a small fire and made a show of grooming Possum before fading into the surrounding shadows with Ketchum leading the way in their investigation. Any predators lurking in her path scurried away at the approach of the big wolf guiding her.

She and Ketchum were squirming on their bellies on the ground using the twilight and half darkness for cover when her quarry struck a lucifer and lit his cigar.

“Lose something?” Deacon drawled.

Miri felt like a fool. Ketchum growled at the same time his tail thumped. Evidently her wolf couldn’t decide whether to bite Deacon McCallister or lick him. Miri had the same problem. She stood and brushed the dirt off her buckskins before she answered in Beau’s voice, “You followin’ me fer a reason, McCallister?”

“I decided to hold back from coming into your camp for the night until you’d made a fire and put the coffee on. Catch.”

Miri caught the jack he tossed.

“I brought supper. You cook.”

“Maybe I don’t want company.”

“Get used to it. Until we find the counterfeiter’s plates, we’re partnering.” Deacon delivered his astonishing opinion before he grunted and rode past her toward her camp, leaving her standing in the dark holding a dead rabbit.

“Ketchum,” she muttered in her best Beau voice, “I think we’re looking at trouble. What say you?” The big wolf whined, nudging the rabbit in her hand and reminding her to get moving. Now this was a quandary for certain. She’d ridden away to put distance between her and Deacon McCallister and he’d followed her.

I don’t think I can sleep across from him and not crawl into his bedroll. She groaned. Darn it, she’d been planning on stretching out by the fire and reliving her Pleasure Dome experiences. Now here was the real-life version of Deacon stomping all over those plans as he bullied his way into her camp, dogging Beauregard’s heels and impeding Miri’s happy dreams.

Her theory that one taste of Deacon would be enough was not proving true. She swallowed, trying to tamp down her lust. Reminding herself to focus on reclaiming her prisoner, she returned to camp where Deacon had made himself at home. He’d already removed his saddle and commenced brushing down his horse when she and Ketchum entered the camp.

“McCallister, you’ve got a lot of nerve showing up here.” She threw the rabbit back at him. “I’ve got my own food.”

“So be it,” he agreed amiably enough. He didn’t say another word.

Miri pulled her hardtack and jerky from her saddle bags and sat by her fire, daring him to pour himself a cup of her coffee. She was mesmerized by her proximity to the man who simultaneously enraged and aroused her.

She chewed her tough jerky watching as Deacon deftly skinned, cleaned and spit the carcass of the rabbit. Then he set the meat aside to build his own fire. He finished grooming his horse as the flames burned low enough for cooking.

Using a metal rod he pulled from his saddle bag, Deacon propped the meat over the coals, rotating the spit and browning the meat on all sides. Juice sizzled as it dropped on the fire. Miri’s stomach growled as she watched. It was almost less torture to look at Deacon.

Whiskers had grown back, covering the lower half of his face. The new growth looked more black than red in the half light of camp. She shivered and hunched closer to her fire, remembering how she’d watched him shave his beard off. Desperately she snarled in Beauregard’s meanest tone, “McCallister, I don’t know what yer up to, but I’m guessing it ain’t to my benefit.”

“Sure it is. You think too small, Beauregard. I’m going to help you find the plates, catch a gang of counterfeiters and collect the bounty on all of them. In return for my help, you’re going to introduce me to the young woman I met at the Pleasure Dome.”

Miri choked so hard on her biscuit she spilled her coffee. Deacon crossed the space between them and thumped her back until she wheezed and quit coughing. Then he filled his cup with her coffee, handed her a plate with a piece of rabbit meat on it and retreated to his side of the camp.

Well don’t that beat all? I guess he was partial to how it felt too. But I can’t very well say hello, Deacon. Nice seeing you again. By the way, I’m a female…

Blurb:

 Eclipse Heat series

Since both his partners have married and retired from the hunt, Deacon McCallister is alone when he visits the Pleasure Dome, an infamous brothel in Fort Worth’s Hell’s Half Acre. He’s tracking a counterfeiter but what he finds is TROUBLE—dressed in a man’s ruffled shirt and nothing more.

 

Bounty hunter Miracle Beauregard pretends to be male, calls herself Beau and for years has fooled the general public concerning her gender. But underneath Miri’s disguise, beats a feminine heart in lust for Deacon McCallister. Though she spends a lot of time dreaming about her rival, she never expects to act upon her longings.

 

When Miri follows an outlaw to the fanciest whorehouse in Texas and crosses paths with her heart’s desire, she trades her buckskins for bare skin to play the part of Deacon’s paid companion.

 

Inside Scoop: Miri figures wrong when she thinks one taste of Deacon will be enough and quickly discovers her undercover lover has forever on his mind.

A Romantica®/Lawless erotic romance from Ellora’s Cave

~~~

If you enjoyed the excerpt from Trouble In Disguise, it releases this morning from Ellora’s Cave. Later today it should be available at Amazon so I’m also posting the link for my Gem Sivad Amazon page.

Thanks so much for sharing your campfire today, Kirsten.

Gem-Eclipse-Banner-animated

___________Gem Sivad___________

Web Twitter / FB / Amazon

 

 

 

WESTERN ROUNDUP!!! SHATTERED SILENCE BY MARGARET DALEY

Whoo-eee, y’all, it’s been a coon’s age and a year since we’ve had a Western Wednesday feature! I’m pleased to have Ms. Margaret Daley back ‘round the fire with the second book in her Men of the Texas Rangers series, SHATTERED SILENCE!

Once again, Ms. Daley tackles some of the toughest issues facing our society and packages it all within a fast-paced thrilling romantic suspense!

So come on ‘round the fire and make sure you read the excerpt from SHATTERED SILENCE and then read on to learn a bit about Margaret Daley in an interview she graciously provided!

A serial killer is targeting illegal aliens in southern Texas. Texas Ranger Cody Jackson is paired with a local police officer, Liliana Rodriguez, to investigate the murders. 



While the case brings Cody and Liliana ever closer, the tension between Americans and Mexican Americans heightens. As Cody and Liliana race to discover who is behind the murders and bring peace to the area, what they uncover isn’t what they expected. Will Cody and Liliana’s faith and love be strong enough to survive the storm of violence?

This book in the series (each book stands alone) is about bullying in various situations in society from high school to the workplace to a marriage.

KIRSTEN’S THOUGHTS:   Margaret Daley’s MEN OF THE TEXAS RANGERS series just gets better and better. In SHATTERED SILENCE, Daley addresses bullying, domestic abuse, racism, workplace relationships, faith, love, forgiveness and redemption, and does it all while authorities race to find a serial killer in a small Texas town.  Daley does a superb job of weaving all these facets together without the reader’s head spinning, or left feeling overwhelmed.

Liliana Rodriguez  is a strong female detective, but in many ways is content hiding behind her job to avoid any romantic relationships. Her journey was touching to watch as she battles to find a serial killer and fights her own fears.

On the outside, Cody Jackson is confident and unshaken Texas Ranger, but inside he is battling his own insecurities and turmoil threatening his faith.

Both Liliana and Cody come across as real people in extraordinary circumstances forced to work through their own issues and trust each other and God before they can solve those things tearing their families and the town of Durango apart. I was drawn to each character from their first appearance on page. Once again, Daley created characters the reader really cared about, and could identify with and learn from.

The secondary characters were genuine, as well. Each representing a facet of our society and yet well rounded, and therefore avoiding becoming two-dimensional. Even the “villain” wasn’t a melodramatic caricature, but someone faced the same obstacles as others, but choosing to pay evil with evil. There were moments when the “villain” evoked as much sympathy as many of the other characters.

As always, Margaret does and exceptional job of weaving faith and the love of God through SHATTERED SILENCE, and using her characters as wonderful examples of what He can do for and with ordinary humans if we give everything to Him.

EXCERPT FROM SHATTERED SILENCE:

No one sees me. They walk right by me and don’t even know I am here. I’m invisible.

But that’s all going to change today. The woman who has agreed to marry me will be here soon. The world will finally know someone cares about me. It was worth all my savings to bring her across the border.

I’m tired of being alone. Being nobody. I’m getting married. I won’t be invisible anymore—at least she’ll see me.

* * *

Maria Martinez lay flat on the dust-covered wooden planks, her right eye pressed against the hole in the floor of the abandoned house. Pedro won’t find me here. I’ll win this time.

A sneeze welled up in Maria, and she fought to stop it. She couldn’t. Quickly she looked through the small opening to make sure Pedro hadn’t come and heard her. Her older brother always thought he could do everything better than her. Not this time. He’d never think to look here. He’d think she was too afraid to hide here. A rattling behind her sent a shot of fear through her. She went still. Her lungs held her breath and wouldn’t let go.

There’s no such thing as ghosts. He just told me that to scare me. I’m not a baby. I’m eight.

Her words fueled her courage, and she popped up to look over her shoulder. Nothing. Just the wind blowing through the broken window. Maria sank to the floor in relief and took up her post again. Watching through the hole. If Pedro came into the house, she’d be ready to hide. He was not going to find her. For once, she would have the last laugh. He was just two years older, but the way he acted, you’d think he was Papa.

Another sound caught her attention. Down below. Footsteps. She started to hop up and scramble to her hiding place nearby, but a gruff, deep male voice stopped her. Not Pedro. Who?

With her eye glued to the hole again, she waited to see who it was. Another voice—a woman’s—answered the man, then she laughed. A funny laugh—like Pedro when he made fun of her.

“Dumb. Evil eye,” the woman taunted in Spanish.

The man raised his voice, speaking in the same language so fast Maria had a hard time keeping up. Mama insisted on only speaking English at home. Now she wished she was better at Spanish. But she heard some words—the ones he slowed and emphasized, repeating several times in a louder voice a few cuss words that got Papa in trouble if he said them at home. The deep gruff voice ended with, “You will pay.”

The woman laughed again, but the sound died suddenly. “What are you doing?” she said in Spanish.

Maria strained to see the two people. The lady moved into her line of sight as she stepped back, shaking her head, her long brown hair swirling in the air. Maria glimpsed the top of a tan cowboy hat that hid the man’s face from her.

The beautiful lady held up her hands. “No!”

The fear in that one word chilled Maria.

Before she could think of what to do, a gunshot, like she’d heard on TV, blasted the quiet. The lady jerked back. She glanced down at her chest, then up, remaining upright for a few heartbeats before crumbling to the floor.

Maria froze. Her mind blanked.

The man came closer to the still lady on the floor, her unseeing dark eyes staring right at Maria, pinning her against the wooden planks. She saw the gun as he lifted his arm and aimed it at the woman. He shot her in the stomach then the forehead.

Maria gasped.

The man must have whirled away. Suddenly he wasn’t in her line of vision. She bolted to her feet as the sound of heavy footsteps coming up the stairs echoed down the hallway.

Terror locked a vise about Maria and held her in place.

INTERVIEW WITH MARGARET DALEY:

Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?

I have been writing for thirty-four years and sold my first book in 1981 in the secular market. After twenty books, I was introduced to the Christian market by the Lord, who gave me a story I could only tell with a faith thread in it. I have gone on to sell sixty-three books since that happened in 2000.

I have been married for forty-two years to Mike and we have one son Shaun and four granddaughters from ages 3-12. I also have three cats that adopted us and think they rule the household. Don’t tell them but they probably do.

When did you first discover that you loved writing?

I’ve always been a storyteller since I was a little girl. I never wrote those stories down, but after reading many books, I decided to try to write one. Since that first book, I’ve been continually writing–all with a romance thread in the story.

Why do you write the type of books that you do?

The first books I remember reading and really enjoying were the books in the Nancy Drew series. From there I grew to love suspense and adventure (usually with a love interest). I wanted to write what I enjoyed to read the most.

Has writing changed your life in any way?

I taught special education for 27 years before I retired to write full-time. My writing allowed me to do that and not go crazy. I have to have something to do. I couldn’t just retire and have nothing to do. My writing also allowed me to research a lot of different topics and visit many different places.

What Bible scripture has impacted your life the most?

I love the 23rd Psalm and what it tells us. God is with us through the worst. That is comforting to know.

What’s one of your favorite books you’ve read?

Amazonia by James Rollins (secular–pure suspense/adventure)

What’s the funniest thing you’ve ever done?

I once came out of a bathroom with toilet paper hanging out of my waistband of my pants. I turned ten shades of red.

 

Bio for Margaret Daley:

Margaret Daley, an award-winning author of eighty-three books, has been married for over forty years and is a firm believer in romance and love. When she isn’t traveling, she’s writing love stories, often with a suspense thread and corralling her three cats that think they rule her household. To find out more about Margaret visit her website at http://www.margaretdaley.com.

 

Where can readers learn more information about you?

I love hearing from readers.

Website: http://www.margaretdaley.com

Blog: http://www.margaretdaley.com/margarets-blog/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/margaretdaley

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/margaretdaleybooks

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

WEDNESDAY WESTERN ROUNDUP!! CINDY NORD AND GIVEAWAY!!

Please won’t you all come over to the campfire and join Mr. Cookie and me in a refreshing beverage, or perhaps finger sandwich?  *swoops into a deep curtsey and sweeps arm in grand gesture pointing to the campfire*

Yeah, I know Cookie, that ain’t gonna work!  But I tried…So YEEEE-HAW, Folks!! Come on over and grab yerself some Arbuckle’s and a plate of grub!! Cookie and me, we tried real hard…for about thirty seconds…to put on some airs ‘cause today ‘round the campfire Cindy Nord, good FB friend and debut novelist, brought with her Colonel Reece Cutteridge, yes sir and ma’am a bonafide Yankee colonel!!  A man in uniform…commence with the wolf calls gals ‘cause this man is H-O-T and not just ‘cause he’s forced to wear that darned wool uniform in the heat of August in Virginia. No, Siree, Reece would cause the vapors in nothin’ but what the good Lord…well let’s not even go down that trail or Cookie will have to use the smellin’ salts to revive us all!

**runs hand over Reece’s wool jacket covering a nice broad chest**  “Sorry, I seem to have drooled a bit on yer fine uniform” **keeps runnin’ hand over the jacket long after the stain is gone.  A whirlwind of satin plops down between me and the Colonel**

**Cindy laughs behind the ever present sandalwood fan**

**I glare at Cindy and the pile of satin now between me and Reece**  Now normally only the hero and author swing by to share a cup and jaw, but today I’m pickin’ Cookie’s jaw off the ground cause Emaline McDaniels a spitfire of a Southern belle has graced our presence…mostly cause I couldn’t keep her away…an army couldn’t keep her away…

Folks we’ve got so much goin’ on ‘round the campfire today y’all better keep sharp, or you’ll miss somethin’!

Cindy, when she’s not causin’ dust storms flutterin’ her sandalwood fans and makin’ eyes at my cook, is an expert on Victorian fashion and she’s kindly supplied a bit of information on pantalettes!!  Yep, folks today we’re mentionin’ the unmentionable!! Cookie, get yer doggone eyes off the split-crotch pantalettes!!

AND Cindy provided an excerpt from NO GREATER GLORY! If y’all can read the excerpt and not run off and snatch up a copy…well all I can say is good luck with that!  When this lady comes to a shindig, she comes prepared!!

AND  if’n I can tear Cookie away from those split-crotch thingmebobs, I’ll be puttin’ the names of those who take the time to leave a comment in his hat and we’ll giveaway an ebook (kindle or nook) copy of NO GREATER GLORY to one lucky commenter…

Let’s this soiree started folks, or we’re gonna run out of daylight! So let me proudly introduce y’all to Colonel Reece Cutteridge and the widow Mrs. Emaline McDaniels…

 

Amid the carnage of war, he commandeers far more than just her home.

Widowed plantation owner Emaline McDaniels has struggled to hold on to her late husband’s dreams. Despite the responsibilities resting on her shoulders, she’ll not let anyone wrest away what’s left of her way of life—particularly a Federal officer who wants to set up his regiment’s winter encampment on her land. With a defiance born of desperation, she defends her home as though it were the child she never had…and no mother gives up her child without a fight.

Despite the brazen wisp of a woman pointing a gun at his head, Colonel Reece Cutteridge has his orders. Requisition Shapinsay—and its valuable livestock—for his regiment’s use, and pay her with Union vouchers. He never expected her fierce determination, then her concern for his wounded, to upend his heart—and possibly his career.

As the Army of the Potomac goes dormant for the winter, battle lines are drawn inside the mansion. Yet just as their clash of wills shifts to forbidden passion, the tides of war sweep Reece away. And now their most desperate battle is to survive the bloody conflict in Virginia with their lives—and their love—intact.

KIRSTEN’S THOUGHTS:  It has been a long time since I’ve read a love story so powerful and endearing as Cindy Nord’s, NO GREATER GLORY!  I never believed there would be another story set during the American Civil War that reached my heart and hit me at such a gut level (forgive my vulgarity Emaline) as John Jakes’ NORTH AND SOUTH (the book that started a pre-teen down a path eventually focusing on Civil War history in college and graduate school), but NO GREATER GLORY meets and in some ways far exceeds my visceral reaction to NORTH AND SOUTH.

Cindy breathes life into not only her fictional characters, but into the historical figures and into the very history itself. Her battle scenes breath and roar like a dragon unleashed on the page, and the scenes between Reece and Emaline cut and bleed like an open wound as they try to deny their love and then soothe like a balm as they accept that while on opposite sides of a war, they will never be enemies. And though I’ve visited many Civil War battlefields and plantations, and live just down the road from most, it was Cindy’s writing that placed me smack in the middle of the sights, sounds, smells, and emotions of a nation torn apart by a war that severed and united a country just as it severed then united Emaline and Reece. From muddy battlefields, and field hospitals, to the lemon oil used to shine the wood at Shapinsay Plantation house, you are there with the characters through rich, historically accurate details.

Reece enters the scene a natural leader among men, and there is no doubt he is in command at all times, except where his heart is concerned when it comes to Emaline. His rugged exterior, while showing tenderness the only way a soldier during wartime can, by seeing to her safety, melts my heart even now.  The heartbreak that drove him to war keeps Reece enslaved to the past.

Emaline is a brave, determined lady, but dragged down with the chains of responsibility and unwavering in her desire to protect the only child she believes she will ever have, her plantation. Emaline has known respect and admiration, but she has never really known love and acceptance…Until Reece.

I give NO GREATER GLORY my highest recommendation. You do not want to miss these two wonderful, sad, proud people find the true freedom no President can proclaim (even one as great as Lincoln) but only love can bring!  OH, and you’ll LOVE Jackson and Brennen, too, I’m just sayin’!

NOW here’s a peek at what I’m talkin’ about!  (The picture is the cover to the Audio version of NO GREATER GLORY!! And  that’s Cindy’s real life hero Tom leading the charge across the cover!! )

NO GREATER GLORY

October 1862

Seven miles west of Falmouth, Virginia

A bitter wind slammed through the tattered countryside, sucking warmth from the morning. Emaline McDaniels rocked back in the saddle when she heard the shout. She glanced over her shoulder and her eyes widened. Across the fields of ragged tobacco, her farrier rode toward her at breakneck speed. Lines of alarm carved their way across the old man’s ebony face.

Emaline spurred her horse around to meet him. “What’s wrong?”

Tacker pointed a gnarled finger eastward. “Yankees, Miz Emaline! Coming up da road from Falmouth!”

“Yankees?” Her heart lurched against her ribs. She’d heard of their thievery, the fires and destruction left in their wake. Teeth-gritting determination to save her home flashed through her. She leaned sideways, gripping his work-worn sleeve. “Are you sure they’re not the home guard?”

“No, ma’am. I seen ’em, dey’s blue riders, for sure. Hundreds of ’em.”

Two workers moved closer to listen to the exchange, and the farrier acknowledged them with a quick nod.

“Everyone back to the cabins,” Emaline snapped, sinking into the saddle. “And use the wagon road along the river. It’ll be safer.”

“Ain’t you comin’ with us?”

“No. Now move along quickly, all of you. And keep out of sight.” She flicked the reins and her horse headed straight across the fields toward the red-brick mansion that hugged the far edge of the horizon.

The spongy ground beneath the animal’s hooves churned into clods of flying mud. Aside from a few skirmishes nearby, the war had politely stayed east along the Old Plank Road around Fredericksburg.

Her mare crested the small hillock near the main house, and Emaline jerked back on the leather reins. Off to her far right, a column of cavalrymen numbering into the hundreds approached. The dust cloud stirred up by their horses draped in a heavy haze across the late-morning air. In numbed fascination, she stared at the pulsing line of blue-coated soldiers, a slithering serpent of destruction a quarter of a mile long.

Waves of nausea welled up from her belly.

“Oh my God…” she whispered. She dug her boot heels into the mare’s sides and the nimble sorrel sprang into another strong gallop. Praying she’d go unnoticed, Emaline leaned low, her thoughts racing faster than the horse. What do they want? Why are they here?

Her fingers curled into the coarse mane as seconds flew past. At last, she reached the back entrance of the mansion. Quickly dismounting, she smacked the beast’s sweaty flank to send it toward the stable then spun to meet the grim expression fixed upon the face of the old woman who waited for her at the bottom of the steps. “I need Benjamin’s rifle!”

“Everythin’s right dere, Miz Emaline. Right where you’d want it.” She shifted sideways and pointed to the .54 caliber Hawkins, leather cartridge box and powder flask lying across the riser like sentinels ready for battle. “Tacker told me ’bout the Yankees afore he rode out to find you.”

“Bless you, Euley.” Emaline swept up the expensive, custom-made hunting rifle her late husband treasured. The flask followed and she tumbled black crystals down the rifle’s long muzzle. A moment later, the metal rod clanked down inside the barrel to force a lead ball home.

She’d heard so many stories of the bluecoats’ cruelty. What if they came to kill us? The ramrod fell to the ground. With a display of courage she did not feel, Emaline heaved the weapon into her arms, swept past the old servant, and took the wooden steps two at a time.

There was no time left for what ifs.

“You stay out of sight now, Euley. I mean it.” The door banged shut behind Emaline as she disappeared into the house.

Each determined footfall through the mansion brought her closer and closer to the possibility of yet another change in her life. She eased open the front door and peered out across Shapinsay’s sweeping lawns. Dust clogged the air and sent another shiver skittering up her spine. She moved out onto the wide veranda, and with each step taken, her heart hammered in her chest. Five strides later, Emaline stopped at the main steps and centered herself between two massive Corinthian columns.

She squared her shoulders. She lifted her chin. She’d fought against heartbreak every day for three years since her husband’s death. She’d fought the constant fear of losing her beloved brother in battle. She fought against the effects of this foolhardy war that sent all but two of her field hands fleeing. If she could endure all that plus operate this plantation all alone to keep Benjamin’s dreams alive, then surely, this too, she could fight.

And the loaded weapon? Well, it was for her fortitude only.

She knew she couldn’t shoot them all.

“Please, don’t turn in,” she mumbled, but the supplication withered on her lips when the front of the long column halted near the fieldstone gateposts at the far end of the lane. Three cavalrymen turned toward her then approached in a steadfast, orderly fashion.

Her gaze skimmed over the first soldier holding a wooden staff, a swallow-tailed scrap of flag near its top whipping in the breeze. The diminutive silk bore an embroidered gold star surrounded by a laurel wreath, the words, US Cavalry-6th Ohio, stitched beneath. Emaline disregarded the second cavalryman and centered her attention directly upon the officer.

The man sat his horse as if he’d been born in the saddle, his weight distributed evenly across the leather. A dark slouch hat covered sable hair that fell well beyond the collar of his coat. Epaulets graced both broad shoulders, emphasizing his commanding look. A lifetime spent in the sun and saddle added a rugged cast to his sharp, even features.

An overwhelming ache throbbed behind her eyes. What if she had to shoot him?

Or worse—what if she couldn’t?

The officer reined his horse to a stop beside the front steps. His eyes, long-lashed and as brown as a bay stallion’s, caught and held hers. Though he appeared relaxed, Emaline sensed a latent fury roiling just beneath the surface of his calm.

Her hands weakened on the rifle and she leaned forward, a hair’s breadth, unwillingly sucked into his masculinity as night sucked into day. Inhaling deeply, she hoisted the Hawkins to her shoulder, aiming it at his chest. Obviously, in command, he would receive her lone bullet should he not heed her words.  “Get off my land!”

Cindy’s bio: A member of numerous writing groups, Cindy’s work has finaled or won countless times, including the prestigious Romance Writers of America National Golden Heart Contest. A luscious blend of history and romance, her stories meld both genres around fast-paced action and emotionally driven characters. Indeed….true love awaits you in the writings of Cindy Nord

WHOO-EEE!!  But don’t go yet, although I know y’ave got a bur to get yerself a copy!  But you DO NOT want to miss the following discussion on…hm umm…underdrawers…!!!

Victorian Unmentionables…Oh My!

1865 pantalettes

Today we call them panties, underwear, or ladies briefs.  Even a few brave souls, might wear and call them thong. But in the 1860’s, modesty was foremost.  And the proper ladies of the era might call these items her…‘unmentionables” if in a crowd, but behind fluttering fans she’d address them by the name they actually were: split or crotchless pantalettes (two separate tubes of material joined to a band only at the waist, the crotch    left open for hygienic reasons). When we say we’re wearing a ‘pair of panties’– THIS is where that saying derived.

 

Men’s long drawers
courtesy employees.oneonta.edu

Originating from France in the early 19th century, the feminine pantalettes were designed after men’s leggings or long drawers. Up to this time, ladies did not wear anything other than a long chemise or shift. The acceptance by females of these pantelettes soon spread to Britain and quickly swept across the pond to America.

 

 

 

pantelettes 1866
courtesy Metropolitan Museum

The pantalettes of an 1860’s woman were loose trouser-like pieces made mostly from white linen or silk and decorated with tucks, lace, and cutwork or broderie anglaise. Also called drawers (so stated because the undergarment was ‘drawn on’), they were worn mid calf-length with an open leg and the hems were decorated with scallops or elegant embroidery. Secured at the waist with a tie or a back button closure, these garments were always part of the wardrobe and worn for decency’s sake as ladies limbs at the time were never exposed. And the split-crotch made going to the “necessary” a whole lot easier.

 

 

 

Godey’s Lady’s Book pattern

Beginning as simple fashions of the early 1800’s, by the Mid-Victorian era, pantalettes had become an exquisite work of art. Women found fashion inspiration and patterns from Godey’s Lady’s Book and Petterson’s — and both popular periodicals featured new looks each month. Pantalettes patterns were no exception, and issues during this time-period included patterns with measurements, and an illustration of the completed garment.

 

Details at bottom of piece
courtesy abitiantichi.it

 

By the end of the 1860′s decade, however, pantalettes legs were no longer separate tubes attach to a simple band. The split-crotch opening disappeared into one complete garment seamed into one piece, most likely joined to prevent chafing caused by damp skin rubbing together. And soon thereafter the length of the garment rose from mid-shin into gathers just below the knee.

1869 split-crotch pantalettes
courtesy of mum.org

There were numerous layers of undergarments worn by a properly dressed 1860′s Victorian lady. But by far the most important piece of clothing other than the corset (which so defined a woman’s silhouette of that era) was the pantalettes.

Girls with pantalettes showing
Godey’s Ladies Book, 1855

 

Cookie!! Dagnabbit, yer embarrasin’ me in front of the Colonel, starin’ at those bloomers!!  And don’t be askin’ Emaline for a close-up look!  Though if Reece was so inclined…

Anywho folks, this shindig is just startin’ and the fun is fixin’ to last all day!! So, come on over and jaw a bit, or swoon at the Colonel’s feet!  Feel free to ask Cindy about pantelettes!  (I defer all bloomer questions to her)!  Do you like Civil War novels?  What color does your hero usually don (I have to admit the couple I’ve written about wear the Gray)?  What’s your favorite Civil War novel, if ya have one…other than NO GREATER GLORY, of course!!   Heck talk about anythin’!  It’s a free country…now!

 

WEDNESDAY WESTERN ROUNDUP!! GEM SIVAD AND BOOK GIVEAWAY!!

WHOOO-EEE, Cookie, did ya park this wagon on the sun?!   Guess it just must be the super H-O-T cowboys Ms. Gem Sivad brought along to share the campfire! These are the heroes of her Eclipse Heat series and when Gem says HEAT she’s not just whistlin’ Dixie! These men know how to turn it up with just a look…and they are lookin’ mighty fine!  But even as I settle on down in between all this blazin’ man flesh I’m a might careful not to touch, cause these men are roped, tied and branded by some of the bravest and iffin’ I can complain the most uncharitable bunch of women in Texas!  Why all I’m askin’ for is just one or two or three…okay I’d take all these hunks!

As though it wasn’t already hotter than a lizard on a rock in the middle of the Texas desert, Gem is offerin’ up not one but TWO ebooks!  One lucky commenter (the first name out of the Stetson) will win a copy of QUINCY’S WOMAN! While another lucky person (second name out of the Stetson) leavin’ a comment will win a copy of PERFECT STRANGERS!  I tell ya folks y’all thought your summer was hot, wait ‘til ya meet the men of Eclipse! There’s not enough iced tea in the world!

And don’t miss Gem’s message after all my jawin’s done to find out what’s in store for Eclipse!!

So grab an iced coffee from Cookie, and a bucket of ice water to pour over yer head, and let me make all the proper introductions!

Fresh from the post-Civil War salons and drawing rooms of Boston, Lucy McKenna considers herself a sophisticated young woman. But when she meets Texas rancher Ambrose Quince, she turns into a flustered girl. He’s too old, war roughened and unrefined and she has no idea how to deal with the sensual hunger he arouses within her.

Ambrose falls fast and hard for the innocent debutante visiting Eclipse, Texas. Persuading Lucy to accept his pursuit becomes a duel of wits and passion as he awakens her desire.

Lucy leaves Boston and childhood behind when she becomes Mrs. Ambrose Quince. Her lonely days on the Double-Q ranch are filled with work and frustration. But she spends each night in her husband’s arms learning carnal awareness one molten caress at a time.

KIRSTEN’S THOUGHTS:  QUINCY’S WOMAN is the journal of Lucy McKenna Quince. I have to admit I’m a bit leery of first person narratives and when a book is supposed to be the journal of one of the characters. But Gem sold me! From page one it was like truly reading a journal I found in a dusty attic of a young woman struggling in an unfamiliar world and as a new bride to a rough Texas rancher who represents everything she detests and everything she desires.

When we’re introduced to Lucy McKenna she is spoiled and while intelligent doesn’t have much common sense. But I never found her an unlikable young lady, even during times when I’d like to shake some sense into her, she just seemed to be exactly what she was a young woman forced to move from everything and everyone she knows to a country that is worlds away from her comfort zone, so she tries to make everything and everyone around her conform to what she used to have and know.

Enter Ambrose Quince who is 100% man and 100% Texas rancher, but wants Lucy and is willing to give her anything to have her.  At the same time he is unyielding and believes he knows best in any and all circumstances.

The two start a journey toward meeting in the middle in QUINCY’S WOMAN, but it will take another book and a lot of heartache before they reach a real understanding and appreciation for what they can be together.

 

Lucy and Ambrose Quince share fiery passion in and out of bed; they love hard but fight often, both having opinions and tempers. But Lucy mysteriously disappears in 1874, leaving the Double-Q ranch and all she loves behind. Three years later, scarred in mind and body, Lucy is drawn back to Eclipse and the life she’s forgotten—including a snarling, lustful husband.

Although she claims she can’t remember him, Ambrose hasn’t forgotten a damned thing. Lucy left him and he owes her nothing. Trouble is—his heart remembers too, and Lucy’s the only woman who’ll ever own it.

KIRSTEN’S THOUGHTS:  PERFECT STRANGERS is a go to book for me. I don’t know how many times I’ve turned to Ambrose and Lucy’s story when I feel like reading, but want to delve into a story I know will satisfy me every time. It’s certainly not a fluff piece, or really even a feel good book, but I love it. It’s real and gritty and I just fall in love with the characters and story every time delve into the world of Eclipse and the Double-Q Ranch.  Really, it’s a good thing I have this book on kindle because the pages would be falling out of a paperback by now.

I read PERFECT STRANGERS before I read QUINCY’S WOMAN. When QUINCY’S WOMAN was released I read it and then read PERFECT STRANGERS again to follow Ambrose and Lucy’s story from the beginning.  This was enlightening as to how the couple got to where they were at the beginning of PERFECT STRANGERS both as a couple with great passion for each other, but two extremely stubborn people not willing to give an inch.

At the beginning of PERFECT STRANGERS Lucy is pretty much the same woman we left at the end of QUINCY’S WOMAN. She is still spoiled with a tendency to fly off the handle.  Boy does that change when she reenters the picture after suffering memory loss from a brutal attack. I don’t want to give anything away, but her initial reintroduction to Eclipse is one of my favorite scenes from any western.  But what I enjoyed more than Lucy’s transformation to a stronger, more self-sufficient woman, was her new found strength of heart.  My heart ached for Lucy as her children, Ambrose, and the citizens of Eclipse revealed her past nature and she had to restore relationships, but at the same time assert herself as who she was, not who she had been.

At the same time Lucy is learning and dealing with her past, Ambrose, too, must face his past and mistakes he made in their relationship and his part in its destruction.  Ambrose is gruff, rough and bossy, and I just love him to death, because most of his gruffness comes from loving Lucy so much and not wanting her to have control over his heart yet being unable to control how much he loves her (and Ambrose hates not being in control). As he fumbles, seduces and strong-arms his way into her heart he’ll claim your heart, as well.

The tender moments between the couple were made the sweeter because of the iron resolve of each, so when it bent to meet the other halfway it meant more than a weak spirit, which bends whenever the wind blows.  Ambrose and Lucy are a dynamic, unbeatable team when they set aside all the misconceptions and distrust to rebuild their lives, restore their family, and destroy those who tried to separate them.

 

Although Sam McCallister’s watching a poker game the first time he sees Eden Pace, he loses all interest in the cards when the thought of playing stud with the lady gambler stirs lust to life. Eden’s the prettiest woman and the best card sharp Sam’s ever met. She’s only interested in poker but Sam has other games in mind.

Sam, being a bounty hunter, discovers Eden’s wanted for murder. He plans on keeping her safe–a prisoner in his bed. But Eden’s doing her own outlaw hunting. She’s on the trail of her husband’s killer and Sam’s in her way. To get free from the hard-headed, soft-hearted, gorgeous man, she uses every sensual trick she knows–and Sam soon discovers she knows plenty.

Eden’s planning a showdown with a monster only she can identify. Protecting her puts Sam at risk. He’s in a high-stakes poker game with hearts on the table and forever on the line. Winning’s the only option because one taste of Eden will never be enough.

KIRSTEN’S THOUGHTS:  I read FIVE CARD STUD when it was first released and loved the story. Then a few days ago I decided to skim through these books again just to make sure I was remembering everything correctly. Well my skim through FIVE CARD STUD turned into reading the whole thing and finding out I didn’t just love this story and the characters, but I adored this story and wondered what medication I was on the first time through that I didn’t recognize how remarkable this story is.  Sam and Eden are fabulous multidimensional characters!

Sam is the boy in school who pulls the girl’s pigtails until she either decks him, realizes she likes him, or both.  He’s just plain irresistible and the more his character is revealed the more he just moves right into your heart.  His playful nature brings splashes of light into a dark story of murder and revenge. But don’t get too comfortable with his smile, because he’s as deadly as they come, which just adds to his appeal. Who doesn’t love a man who can make you laugh even when you’re spitting mad at him and at the same time his very name strikes fear into your enemy?  Add to that he has more swagger than any man should be allowed, but inside wants to find acceptance and love. Sam is definitely not afraid to use tenderness…or whatever else he’s been graced with to win Eden’s heart.

Eden is a woman in desperate need of a man to tug on her braids as well as her heart strings and bring her back to life. She’s a passionate woman who has forgotten that passion until Sam reminds her (and whoa baby does he remind her).  Gem does a magnificent job of bringing the reader inside Eden’s head, heart and pain as she learns to let go of the past and hold fast to what the future can hold.

This is an ace-high story with characters who go straight to the heart as they pit iron will against iron will in the ultimate game of Texas Hold ‘Em.  (Okay I’m done with the card references. Aren’t ya glad I didn’t say Sam and Eden will be the king and queen of your hearts?)

 

Naomi Parker needs to follow the trail of marauding Comancheros who have kidnapped her students. But the best tracker in the state is Charlie Wolf McCallister and he works for cash.

Not one to let unfavorable circumstances stand in her way, Naomi bargains with him–a night of seduction for his services. Though their sexual encounter leaves her amazed and bemused, she has no illusions. Charlie Wolf agreed to help because he’s after a huge outlaw reward.

Charlie laughs a lot at the know-it-all school marm’s ideas. For all her smarts, sometimes she doesn’t have a lick of common sense. He has a whole different reason for joining Miss Parker’s hunt. The bounty Charlie’s after is Naomi’s heart.

KIRSTEN’S THOUGHTS:  WOLF’S TENDER was actually the first book I read of Gem’s and I was hooked. It was published by a different publisher, and I cannot wait to read the new expanded version! Hey, I’ll take all the time I can get with Charlie Wolf McCallister! Watch for this one folks! You don’t want to miss Charlie and Naomi’s story! I mean seriously NOT to be missed. This story is packed full of action, the McCallister dry humor, heart and scenes so hot you’ll crank up the air conditioner in January!

 

 

 

 

 

Necessity breeds strange bedfellows. Making a devil’s bargain, Julie Fulton agrees to marry Grady Hawks and produce the son he needs to inherit Hawks Nest ranch. At the end of a year, child or not, Julie will receive enough money to escape to San Francisco and leave behind the rough existence she lives.

Grady intends to breed back to the fair skin and Scottish features of his father and Julie meets every requirement. Her red hair and pale skin are an excellent way to dilute Grady’s half Kiowa blood and save his land from an Eastern business consortium.

The formula is right, but the outcome unexpected. Siring a son is the last thing on Grady’s mind when he discovers pleasure in Julie’s bed. And San Francisco no longer seems like paradise to Julie when she finds heaven in Grady’s arms.

KIRSTEN’S THOUGHTS:  BREED TRUE is another of the Eclipse series that has been expanded and will be re-released. And it is another must read!  This story doesn’t have quite the hero and heroine going up against a visible enemy storyline like the McCallister stories, or even PERFECT STRANGERS.  BREED TRUE  is about Julie and Grady finding and fighting their way through preconceived ideas and prejudices to discover where they belong. And do I have to mention the heat level, just look at that cover!!

That’s all I’m going to say about WOLF’S TENDER and BREED TRUE as I’m hoping *smiles at Gem* to feature those after their re-release.

 

Gem’s westerns are some of the best I’ve read.  They don’t gently tug you into the town of Eclipse, they yank you right off the chair and slam you onto a Texas road leaving you sputtering thick Texas dust and baking in the sun. And just when you think things couldn’t get hotter she strikes the lucifer and turns up the fire with those chiseled, uncontrollable, unpolished, always sizzling, charming devil heroes and teams them up with iron willed, intelligent, resourceful women.  What I love most about this series is while there’s plenty of action, in and out of the bedroom and bedroll, they’re also amazing stories.  She doesn’t just take you from one sizzling moment to the next. Her stories give a complete picture of the men and women of Eclipse, Texas, from their struggles to keep their livelihood to their battles against enemies, and then the internal conflicts to be accepted and find the one to share their lives. The people of Eclipse are authentic from the main characters to the supporting cast. You’re introduced to vibrant, colorful, real characters and thrown right in the middle of their lives to laugh, cry, and cheer them on, or in the case of the villains you wish someone would pass over a Colt .45 so you could help ‘em meet a painful end.

A bonus to her hero and heroines is each knows and respects the strengths and weaknesses of the other. The heroines, even if begrudgingly, accept the hero’s expertise and skill, and defer to them when necessary. The heroes respect and admire their heroines’ abilities and encourage them to use their talents.

If you’re looking for sonnet spoutin’ heroes who use flowery words and heroines who fawn all over them, or scream and get in the way during a showdown, DO NOT read these books. If you want Western heroes and heroines you could believe walked off the pages of a history book then load up the kindle, nook, or grab paperbacks (when available) of this series!

These aren’t people you’ll forget anytime soon, and if you’re anything like me, you’ll visit Eclipse over and over again.

GEM’S MESSAGE!

Hi  everyone. *waving* Thank you, Kirsten, for inviting me to your blog, today and giving me the opportunity to talk about my historical western series published by Ellora’s Cave. To date, I’ve written six books in the Eclipse Heat series and I’m currently working on a contracted seventh—Whispering Grace.

Available now—Quincy’s Woman; Perfect Strangers; Five Card Stud

Coming in 2012 (or early 2013)—Wolf’s Tender; Breed True

Coming in 2013— Trouble in Disguise; Whispering Grace

Each book is a stand-alone romance linked to the others by the setting—1880’s Eclipse, Texas. I hadn’t planned to write a series, but during the research process, I became addicted to that particular time period and landscape.  If you’re interested in reading the series, I recommend that readers begin with Quincy’s Woman and Perfect Strangers, the two titles I’m giving away today. Leave a comment and Kirsten will let me know who wins the drawing.  Good luck. Hope you enjoy.

Thanks for stopping by,

Gem

Sweet summer rain, folks! I’m soaking in tin tub of ice cubes before I combust! Cookie keep ‘em comin’!!  We’ve got four more Eclipse stories to wait for, I’m about to have a heart seizure!  I’ll just hang onto Ambrose…or maybe Sam…or Charlie…or Grady…Well ya see the dilemma!  While Cookie tries to keep me away from all this Texas heat; come ‘round the campfire and jaw a bit.

In most of Gem’s Eclipse Heat books there is a paranormal element revolving around an Apache warrior priestess, Lozen (who is an actual historical figure and sister to Apache leader Victorio) and her encounters with the characters in the story.  I really enjoy this element of the stories.  Do you enjoy when authors use paranormal elements in their stories (even if based on history) or not?

WESTERN ROUNDUP BLOG HOP AND GIVEAWAY!! JULY 20-26!!

Celebratin’ the Cowboy!! Yeee-haw and sign me up!

A big ol’ HOWDY to all stoppin’ by the campfire on the Western Roundup Giveaway Hop, whether you’ve been followin’ Cookie and me for a time, or you’re new to the trail! (Just so ya know Cookie is my trail cook, ramrod, trail guide, and all around pain in my backside)!

I hope after readin’ this blog y’all will make yourself to home and gander about the whole site and past gatherins’ round the campfire.

At the end of the hop, I’ll be tossin’ the names of those who left comments in the Stetson and givin’ away ONE e-book (Kindle or Nook) copy of any of the books featured ‘round the campfire to TWO lucky commenters! So make sure to comment, and Cookie will get yer name in the hat! This is for books mentioned during the hop and also those featured on past Wednesday Western Roundups!!

Now let’s get hoppin’!

What’s romantic about the cowboy?  Ya might ask (iffin’ you’ve been under a rock for a hundred or so years).  What’s not romantic about the cowboy? Cowboys have been icons of hard work, hard play, and hard lovin’ since they shot onto the American landscape in the 19th Century.

To kick off the blog hop celebratin’ the Cowboy and American West, I’m bringin’ ya a bit of the softer side of these gunslingin’, chap wearin’ heroes!

Below are just a samplin’ of songs, poems and letters showin’ the heart of the Cowboy, and just one of the many reasons we Western Romance writers fell in love with this particular breed of man!

If there’s one thing a cowboy knew it was loneliness on the trail, and the fear another might win his lady’s heart while he was gone for months on a cattle drive.  Some put their fears into lyrics, or wrote them in letters home.

 

 

 

 

LONELINESS

At nights I think of her a heap,
These quiet nights when shadows creep
Down thro’ the sage, and ev’ry tree
Looks like a black hearse plume to me.
Oh, lonely land and lonely heart,
It surely seems when I ‘m apart
From her I hain’t the least excuse
Fer livin’, and I sees no use
In even daylight comin’, fer
It’s always nighttime without her.
@Robert V. Carr, 1912

Mittie and Fred

Fred Tucker and George Oathanile Bacus both vied for Mittie Richardson’s attention. In 1902, Mittie was sent east to Boston apparently to resolve the situation. In correspondence from family members, it appears that Mittie’s mother did not approve of either George or Fred. Mittie’s mother referred to George as “Backhouse.” In one letter, Mittie’s mother wrote, “I sat there and looked at Fred while he was eating dinner and I though of the old saying that love would go where it is sent if it went into a dogs – - – and I just thought if anybody fell in love with that thing they aught to have him why he can’t even talk I was pleasant to him but O dear.” Both Fred and George wrote Mittie while she was in Boston, each expressing their love. After Mittie’s return, in June 1903 things boiled over in the bunk house with Bacus shooting Fred (Fred survived but fled Wyoming). Bacus sent Mittie a letter of explanation (excuse George’s spelling and grammar):

 

George Bacus

Casper Wyo
June 14, 1903

Miss Mittie Richardson

My Loved One, I sit down to drop you a few lines to let you know that I am on deck yet. I will be back soon to see my littel love again and se what they do weath me for what I have don. I see now where I was foolish for leaven Elmer [LaPash, Mittie's brother-in-law] toald me to give up and I am sorry I didnt. I took the horse exptoan [expecting] to go to town if I could of seen you before I left, I would not have left there. Now Darling, pleas donant let eny one out side of your folks see this letter I toald ProSiak that I was to blame for shooting and would not give up, but I gess I well now doant tell Fred I am coming back I donant want any more trubele weath anyone. Darling I would like to have a talk weath you. I was not to blame for what happened in the bunk house but had not [illegible] of shot atall but I was excited then and could not help it Well Dear this is cloast to your birth day and I will send you all I can from here that is thre of the pretest fours I can fiend I must close the tears will not lit me rite eny more best washes to you as ever your Love
G O Bacus


…These air sweet for get me nots [forget me nots] it is all I have and hoap they will be recped weath pleasher Hope to see you soon and Mittie when I am in Jale in Laramie Will you come and see me I would like to tell you all about every thing but can not rite it as I havent time no neather have I go paper this is all I have I will be back as soon as I can rais money anouff the countey would send for me but I doant want that I will come back weath out thair assistants if they will let me

P S I will be back to hay if thay will let me out in time

Mittie was not loyal to George or Fred and married another man altogether.

Of controversial origin and changing lyrics, a cowboy standard is a song known as the “Cowboy Love Song,” and reflects the sorrow of a cowboy whose sweetheart, unable to withstand the harsh conditions of the West, leaves him. We know this song as…

Red River Valley

From this valley they say you are going.
I will miss your bright eyes and sweet smile.
For they say you are taking the sunshine.
That has brightened our pathway awhile.

Come and sit by my side if you love me.
Do not hasten to bid me adieu.
But remember the Red River Valley
and the cowboy that loves you so true. (Chorus)

From this valley they say you are going.
I will miss your sweet face and your smile.
Just because you are weary and tired,
You are changing your range for awhile.

I’ve been waiting a long time my darling
For the sweet words you never say.
Now at last all my fond hopes have vanished.
For they say you are going away.

O there never could be such a longing
In the heart of a poor cowboy’s breast.
That now dwell in the heart you are breaking.
As I wait in my home in the west.

Do you think of the valley you’re leaving?
O how lonely and drear it will be!
Do you think of the kind heart you’re breaking.
And the pain you are causing to me?

As you go to your home by the ocean,
May you never forget those sweet hours
That we spent in the Red River Valley,
And the love we exchanged mid the flowers.

 

Many early drovers who came up the Texas Trail were Confederate veterans. During the war one of the most popular songs with southern soldiers was the sad and haunting Lorena about a lost love, and it remained a favorite among cowboys.

Lorena
Words by the Reverend Henry DeL. Webster
Music by Joseph P. Webster

The years creep slowly by, Lorena,
The snow is on the grass again;
The sun’s low down the sky Lorena,
The frost gleams where the flowers have been;
But the heart throbs on as lovely now,
As when the summer days were nigh;
Oh, the sun can never dip so low,
Adown affection’s cloudless sky.

A hundred months have passed, Lorena,
Since last I held your hand in mine,
And felt that pulse beat fast, Lorena,
Though mine beat faster far than thine;
A hundred months — ’twas flow’ry May,
When up the hilly slopes we climbed,
To watch the dying of the day,
And hear the distant church bells chimed.

We loved each other then, Lorena,
More than we ever dared to tell,
And what we might have been, Lorena,
Had but our loving prospered well –
But then, ’tis past, the years are gone,
I’ll not call up their shadowy forms;
I’ll say to them, “Lost years, sleep on,
Sleep on, nor heed life’s pelting storms.”

The story of the past, Lorena,
Alas, I care not to repeat,
The hopes that could not last, Lorena,
They lived, but only lived to cheat;
I would not cause e’en one regret,
To rankle in your bosom now;
For “if we try, we may forget,”
Were words of thine long years ago.

Yes, these were words of thine, Lorena,
They burn within my memory yet;
They touch some tender chords, Lorena,
Which thrill and tremble with regret;
‘Twas not thy woman’s heart that spoke;
Thy heart was always true to me –
A duty, stern and pressing, broke
The tie which linked my soul to thee.

It matters little now, Lorena,
The past — is in eternal past,
Our heads will soon lie down, Lorena,
Life’s tide is ebbing out so fast;
There is a future — Oh, thank God –
Of life this is so small a part,
‘Tis dust to dust beneath the sod,
But there, up there, ’tis heart to heart.

 

For some, love came hard. As was the case of Wyoming sheep rancher John Love in his pursuit of Ethel Waxham. For four years John sent letters that followed Ethel from Colorado to Wisconsin back to Colorado, until finally in June 1910, Ethel became John’s wife.  For more of their story go to: http://www.pbs.org/weta/thewest/program/episodes/eight/psilikeyou.htm

John Love

Muskrat, Wyoming
September 12th, 1906
Dear Miss Waxham,
Of course it will cause many a sharp twinge and heartache to have to take “no” for an answer, but I will never blame you for it in the least, and I will never be sorry that I met you. I will be better for having known you. I know the folly of hoping that your “no” is not final, but in spite of that knowledge… I know that I will hope until the day that you are married. Only then I will know that the sentence is irrevocable. Yours Sincerely,
John G. Love

 

 

November 12th, 1906
Dear Miss Waxham,
I know that you have not been brought up to cook and labor. I have never been on the lookout for a slave and would not utter a word of censure if you never learned, or if you got ambitious and made a “batch” of biscuits that proved fatal to my favorite dog… I will do my level best to win you and… If I fail, I will still want your friendship just the same. Yours Sincerely,
John G. Love

April 3, 1909
Dear Mr. Love,
There are reasons galore why I should not write so often. I’m a beast to write at all. It makes you — (maybe?) — think that “no” is not “no,” but “perhaps,” or “yes,” or anything else… Good wishes for your busy season
from E.W.
P.S. I like you very much.

October 25th, 1909
Dear Miss Waxham,
There is no use in my fixing up the house anymore, papering, etc., until I know how it should be done, and I won’t know that until you see it and say how it ought to be fixed. If you never see it, I don’t want it fixed, for I won’t live here. We could live very comfortably in the wagon while our house was being fixed up to suit you, if you only would say yes.
John Love

Ethel Waxham

Dear Mr. Love,
Suppose that you lost everything that you have and a little more; and suppose that for the  best reason in the world I wanted you to ask me to say “yes.” What would you do?
E.

 

 

 

For the lucky cowboys their true loves came without a fight and remained true to the end. These cowboys settled into lifetime partnerships, either building empires (both large and small) of their own, or seeking new adventures wherever the trail took them.

John and Eula Kendrick (John Kendrick was a Wyoming Cowboy, Governor, Senator with Eula his partner in ranching and politics)

Eula Kendrick

In 1889, following time at finishing schools in Boulder, Colorado, and Austin, Texas, seventeen-year-old Eula was reintroduced to one of her father’s former employees, a cowboy named John B. Kendrick. She remembered meeting him before: at age seven she had climbed into the lanky cowboy’s lap and announced that when she was old enough, she intended to marry him. In 1891, she did just that.

Following a church wedding in Greeley and a reception at the Wulfjen residence, the newlyweds left immediately for New York on the afternoon train. When their two-month wedding trip through the Eastern U. S. was over, Eula had to face the reality of her new home: a mud-chinked log cabin fifty miles from the nearest town.

It would be several months before Eula would get to live in that cabin, however. Upon their return from the East, Eula went back to her parents’ home while John went to Montana to finish construction. He felt that the rough bachelor digs he’d left behind were not good enough for his cultured bride. It was a lonely time for both John and Eula and letters flew back and forth between them. For a man accustomed to solitude, separation from a loved one was a new thing for John and he expressed his loneliness eloquently and often during this period:

John Kendrick

Do you miss your old man? Not one half so much as I miss “the girl I left behind me.”  Somehow the feeling of loneliness is inexplainable. Everything lacks interest: the scenes along the road, the different views of the snow peaks of the Big Horns, things that I used to enjoy so much.

By the end of April 1891, the cabin was still not finished. Fed up with living apart, Eula announced to her husband that she was going to Montana, even if she had to sleep on the floor and cook for herself. This response delighted John to no end:

You can never know how many false notions you have driven from my mind in your proposal to come out and do your own cooking, not that I want you to do it, but I did want so much for you to show the spirit of a true little wife and helpmate and the one thing needed to fill my cup of happiness you have supplied.

The OW Ranch in southeastern Montana was Eula’s home for the next eighteen years. Though isolated and far from friends, she had no time to be bored: she cooked, cleaned, ironed, sewed and did all the bookkeeping for the ever-growing Kendrick Cattle Company.

To read more about the Kendricks go to: http://www.kirstenlynnwildwest.com/blog/?p=5

Or http://www.trailend.org/

 

Frank Butler and Annie Oakley:

Frank Butler, an immigrant from Ireland, developed a shooting act, banking on the growing popularity of marksmanship displays in America in the 1870s. He and his partner would perform as one of up to 18 acts in a variety show, rattling off trick shots for about 20 minutes. Butler often issued a challenge to any local shooting champion. In November 1875, while he was performing in Cincinnati, someone took him up in it. There would be a match nearby, Butler was told, with a prize of $100. He accepted.

The last opponent Butler expected was a five-foot-tall 15-year old named Annie. “I was a beaten man the moment she appeared,” Frank later said, “for I was taken off guard.” His surprise continued when his young challenger scored 25 hits in 25 attempts — Butler missed his last target and with it lost the match. But he recovered quickly enough to give Annie and her family free tickets to his show, and soon he began courting her. Butler was 10 years older, had been married and already fathered two children. He never drank, smoked, or gambled, traits that appealed to Annie’s Quaker mother. The couple was married on August 23, 1876, although Butler would later claim June 20, 1882, as the date. Perhaps Butler was not yet divorced when he first met Annie, or maybe the later date was given because Annie had lopped six years off her actual age in the midst of her rivalry with the younger sharpshooter Lillian Smith. Either way, the marriage was a happy one, lasting for some 50 years.

Frank often included poetry in his letters to Annie.

“Her presence would remind you, Of an angel in the skies, And you bet I love this little girl, With the rain drops in her eyes.”

After they were married Frank Butler continued to tour with his marksman act while Annie returned home to complete her schooling. On May 9, 1881, Frank sent Annie this poem outlining his plans for their future.

Some fine day I’ll settle down
And stop this roving life;
With a cottage in the country
I will claim my little wife.
Then we will be happy and contented,
No quarrels shall arise
And I’ll never leave my little girl
With the rain drops in her eyes.

The famous couple never really did settle down in a cottage in the country, but spent the majority of their years together traveling the world in various wild west shows.

 

 

 

 

 

Whether riding the range, building a ranching empire, or trailing an outlaw the cowboy’s mind often wondered…

To Her

Cut loose a hundred rivers,
Roaring across my trail,
Swift as the lightning quivers,
Loud as a mountain gale.
I build me a boat of slivers;
I weave me a sail of fur,
And ducks may founder and die
But I
Cross that river to her!

Bunch the deserts together,
Hang three suns in the vault;
Scorch the lizards to leather,
Strangle the springs with salt.
I fly with a buzzard feather,
I dig me wells with a spur,
And snakes may famish and fry
But I
Cross that desert to her!

Murder my sleep with revel;
Make me ride through the bogs
Knee to knee with the devil,
Just ahead of the dogs.
I harrow the Bad Lands level,
I teach the tiger to purr,
For saints may wallow and lie
But I
Go clean-hearted to her!

@Badger Clark

Wylie and the Wild West put some music behind “To Her,” and it’s a beautiful song! Take a listen!

TO HER (WYLIE AND THE WILD WEST)

Since we’re at the beginnin’ of the trail, and talkin’ about strong cowboys with soft hearts, I thought it might be fittin’ to feature three of my favorite books by an author who’s turned many a soul to the joys of the Western!

He was etched by the desert’s howling winds, a big, broad-shouldered man who knew the ways of the Apache and the ways of staying alive. She was a woman alone raising a young son on a remote Arizona ranch. And between Hondo Lane and Angie Lowe was the warrior Vittoro, whose people were preparing to rise against the white men. Now the pioneer woman, the gunman, and the Apache warrior are caught in a drama of love, war, and honor.

 

 

 

 

 

As far as the eye could see was a vast, empty horizon. Evie Teale had finally accepted that her husband wouldn’t be coming home. Now she and the children were alone in an untamed country where the elements, Indians, and thieves made it far easier to die than to live.

Miles away, another solitary soul battled for survival. Conagher was a lean, dark-eyed drifter who wasn’t about to let a gang of rustlers push him around. While searching the isolated canyons for missing cattle, he found notes tied to tumbleweeds rolling with the wind. The bleak, spare words echoed Conagher’s own whispered prayers for companionship. Who was this mysterious woman on the other side of the wind? For  Conagher, staying alive long enough to find her wasn’t going to be easy.

 

He left the West at the age of seventeen, leaving behind a rootless past and a bloody trail of violence. In the East he became one of the wealthiest financiers in America—and one of the most feared and hated.

Now, suffering from incurable cancer, he has come back to New Mexico to die alone. But when an all-out range war erupts, Flint chooses to help Nancy Kerrigan, a local rancher. A cold-eyed speculator is setting up the land swindle of a lifetime, and Buckdun, a notorious assassin, is there to back his play.

Flint alone can help Nancy save her ranch…with his cash, his connections—and his gun. He still has his legendary will to fight. All he needs is time, and that’s fast running out….

 

 

 

“Cookie! Wipe that sappy grin off yer face!”  Ya start talkin’ ‘bout love and the man turns as mushy as his oatmeal!

While I get the stars out of Cookie’s eyes, go ahead and jaw a bit! Why do you love cowboys? What keeps ya buying Westerns or Western Romances? And if ya don’t, why not?  Are ya plum loco?

Leave a comment to get yer name in the hat for one of those e-books! And don’t forget this is just day one! Keep stoppin’ in and jawin’ and I’ll keep tossin’ yer name in the hat, the more I hear from ya the better yer chances are! Ya can’t get that guarantee at any faro table in town! (Next chance to comment is Saturday, July 22)

CONTINUE HOPPIN’!!   

SOURCES:

http://www.pbs.org/weta/thewest/program/episodes/eight/psilikeyou.htm

http://www.wyomingtalesandtrails.com/cattle.html

http://www.trailend.org/

Chartier, JoAnn and Chris Enss.Love Untamed: Romances of the Old West. The Globe Pequot Press: Guilford, CT, 2002.

SPECIAL FRIDAY WESTERN ROUNDUP!!! CHARLENE SANDS AND GIVEAWAY!!

Whoa Nellie!! Hope y’all are in the mood for more fireworks, cause today Ms. Charlene Sands is joinin’ us ‘round the campfire and she’s brought enough hot cowboys to have y’all seein’ red, white, and blue stars!! Why I had Cookie douse the ol’ fire since the heat from the Worth cowboys was heatin’ up my coffee near to boilin’!!

Keep readin’ after ya pick yerself off the floor, cause Charlene is sharin’ her top ten truths about cowboys! If ya didn’t know why we love these men before, Charlene clears it right up for ya!!

As a special treat Charlene is sharin’ the covers and blurbs for her upcomin’ releases EXQUISITE ACQUISITION and WORTH THE RISK!! So keep yer eyes on the blog ‘til the very end folks, ya don’t wanna miss a cowboy they’re thick as flies ‘round here today!

And Charlene is addin’ a real firecracker of a prize for one commenter, a $15 Amazon gift card!! Whooo-eee and pass Cookie’s sonofagun stew!! Ya could get yerself the whole Worth clan for that!! Just leave a comment and Cookie will get your name in the hat!

Here at the campfire we tend to focus on historical westerns, but I enjoyed this series so much and thought it was a fun idea to include a historical givin’ us a look at where it all began for the Worth family! I had to feature the Worths of Red Ridge!

So let me introduce ya to the Worth cowboys and the women strong enough to rope, tie and brand ‘em…

The passionate, impulsive evening Tagg Worth had spent in the arms of brown-eyed beauty Callie Sullivan was madness. Visions of their tryst still haunted him, but their one-night stand was a mistake the wealthy rancher swore he would not repeat. Hawk Sullivan’s daughter was strictly off-limits—especially since Hawk’s main goal in life was to put Tagg out of business.

Then, suddenly, there was a baby on the way. His baby. Tagg vowed to do the right thing, no matter what it cost him. But his inconvenient new bride tempted his solitary heart down a path a Worth didn’t dare follow….

KIRSTEN’S THOUGHTS: Okay, so I read this series a little out of order and actually read THE COWBOY’S PRIDE first, but after meeting Tagg and Callie in that story I instantly clicked “buy” for CARRYING THE RANCHER’S HEIR. They were such a great couple, and I had to read their story. I’m SO glad I did. Tagg and Callie’s romance is a page turner that’s sure to blister your fingers.

Both Callie and Tagg are people you instantly like, and Charlene does a beautiful job of bringing them and their story to life. Since the premise of the story is laid out in the blurb, I’ll say I was a little worried Callie might be a doormat heroine, letting Tagg walk all over her just to hold onto him. But she is anything but, and I found myself drawn to her character. A smart, resourceful, capable woman who could raise a child without Tagg, but a woman who is tenderhearted and  wants to build a life with the man who holds her heart. I appreciated that she didn’t play games, or keep the baby hidden forever, but was open and honest with Tagg throughout their relationship, even when he was holding back.

Get ready to meet a cowboy “worth” sighing over in Tagg. He has his moments when you wonder if he was bucked off too many times as a rodeo star, but his doubts are understandable when he’s marrying the daughter of his family’s fiercest competitor and his first marriage ended in tragedy. Plus, Tagg isn’t a jerk, or is hurtful on purpose. Despite his past heartache and current business issues with Callie’s father, Tagg is determined to make it work with Callie and give their child a home, he just doesn’t realize the harder he “works” at it the more he fails, until he realizes what’s really needed in the relationship is his heart.

This is a couple you’ll really pull for, and will be riveted to their story until the final HEA, as Charlene takes you right into the heart of Red Ridge and the Worth family.

                                                                                                                                                 

He’d been ready to move on, to marry a woman who’d provide him with heirs. But  a  year of separation hasn’t slaked rancher Clayton Worth’s raging desire for his soon-to-be ex-wife. And Trish is as unpredictable as ever. Her mysterious reluctance to have kids was what drove them apart. Now Trish is back in Red Ridge, mother to a baby girl. The irony is maddening.

Trish urgently needs to finalize their divorce before Clayton’s irresistible charm can melt her resolve. Because his touch awakens a consuming hunger that hasn’t died. They’d thought it was all over between them…but their hearts have other ideas.

KIRSTEN’S THOUGHTS: I have a confession; I bought this book for the cover! Because…well are you blind, look at that cover. Rugged Cowboy + Baby= Adorable. But that being said once I started reading I was hooked and fully involved with Clay and Trish’s story, and I was hooked on Charlene Sands’ books. Charlene gives us two people we can rally behind and I so wanted these two people together. They just belonged together, and it was obvious the moment they’re on the page together.

Clay Worth is in the sometimes unenviable of being the eldest son. It falls on his shoulders to carry on the Worth legacy, and in typical older brother fashion he often carries more than he has to instead of sharing the load.  He’s also a man used to hard work, but always getting what he wants on his terms. But as much as Clay wants to hold onto his resentment being around Trish and little Meggie breaks down his resistance and watching him charm his wife and baby Meggie was a tender journey.

Trish is a woman who’s worked hard for everything and you could feel her need for someone to care enough to work hard for her and her heart. I liked Trish, and sympathized with her desire to have Clay’s understanding about her needing to keep the business she built going, since she’d put her heart into it and at that time it was her baby. But while building her own business and struggling with her own doubts she added to the distance between her and Clay. Through the story Trish learns to trust and to lean on someone else leading her to the truth of what she’s wanted all along.

Both as stubborn as a mule it was sometimes fun and sometimes heartbreaking to see these two slowly let their walls down and find the truth behind all the misunderstandings and hurts of the past. Again Charlene’s characters are so real and she places you so deep in their lives you wish you could call them up and tell them to wake up and smell the burnt toast (because these two have enough passion for each other to burn toast without a toaster), they were made for each other. :)

Penny’s Song, founded by Clay and Trish, is a sweet thread that runs through both CARRYING THE RANCHER’S HEIR and THE COWBOY’S PRIDE, as each person adds their own touch to the charity.

 

Cowboy Chance Worth gets more than he bargains for when he saves damsel in distress Lizzie Mitchell. He has come to Red Ridge, Arizona, to rescue her family’s failing ranch and find Lizzie a suitable husband. Too bad it wouldn’t be honorable to keep the little spitfire for himself!

Lizzie may be innocent, but she’s not naive. Fully determined to find her own way in life, she doesn’t welcome Chance’s intrusion. But when he plans to leave she realizes she may not be ready to see the back of him just yet!

KIRSTEN’S THOUGHTS: As much as I loved Clay and Tagg, I was thrilled when I found out Charlene was giving us “the rest of the story” and providing a look into the past and where it all began for the Worths of Red Ridge. In Chance Worth and Lizzie Mitchell, I saw where the Worths inherited not only their land, but their honor, passion, pride, and hard heads, as well as their legends.

It’s been a long time since Chance has known what a real home and family are, but he comes to Red Ridge to honor a debt to the one man who’s been most like a father to him, Edward Mitchell.  Chance’s loyalty to Edward and Lizzie, and his teasing nature along with all that cowboy charm makes it easy for this hero to stroll right into your heart.

Elizabeth, “Lizzie,” Mitchell took a little longer to warm up to, but once you saw beneath all the sass to the woman who worked as hard as any man, loved her grandfather with all her heart, and just wanted to be treated like a woman it was easy to appreciate why Chance admired her and fell for this brave woman.

Chance and Lizzie’s romance is filled with tough times on the trail, both literally and figuratively, and sweet moments that warm the heart. Their mutual desire for home and someone to accept them just as they are, and the moment they recognize they found that person in each other will melt your heart. Their romance builds slowly as they learn to trust and rely on the other’s strengths, so by the time they admit their love you fully believe it, because you’ve seen it grow from reluctant partners on the trail to lovers and friends.

One of the most interesting and enjoyable aspects of this series is that the stories revolve around the relationships. There are villains, but their role is minor compared to the couples working through their inner demons and doubts to tough it out and build a lasting relationship. I also liked the Worth family’s legacy of giving to ill children, Penny’s Song in CARRYING THE RANCHER’S HEIR and THE COWBOY’S PRIDE and Sarah Swenson in A COWBOY WORTH CLAIMING is a wonderful link from generation to generation.

These are all brilliant stories and if you’re looking for a great summer read, look no further! But you’ll love them just as much in spring, fall, or winter, too!! Don’t miss out on the Worths of Red Ridge!

Don’t get all jittery like a cat on caffeine there’s still a Worth Cowboy lined up to keep us hotter than an Arizona summer…Jackson Worth’s story, WORTH THE RISK, will be release October 2012!!
What a Cowboy Does
in Vegas…

Cowboy entrepreneur Jackson Worth wakes up next to trouble…literally. His new business partner, boot boutique owner Sammie Gold, should have been off-limits, but something about her sweet vulnerability has gotten under his skin. Working with her is torture, as are the memories of what happened in Vegas….

A one-night stand with the cowboy? What on earth was Sammie thinking?
Jackson Worth is drop-dead gorgeous and completely out of her league. But if
Sammie wants her happily-ever-after, she’ll have to shed her girl-next-door image to seduce the confirmed bachelor once and for all!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Iffin’ you’ve read all about the Worth boys and are just sittin’ there waitin’ for Jackson’s story ride on over and get a copy of EXQUISITE ACQUISITIONS! Go Ahead and start fannin’ now, this book sounds HOT!!

For Macy Tarlington, the only good part of seeing her legendary mother’s possessions sold at auction is ogling Carter McCay, the tall Texan who buys the famous diamond ring. Even better is seeing him again when he rescues her from the paparazzi like a white knight in a Stetson.

Carter whisks her to safety at Wild River Ranch, hiding her identity by day and lusting after her by night. Yes, he’s sworn off love. But with the Hollywood runaway starring in his every fantasy, Carter may find Macy too much temptation—even for a hard-hearted cowboy.

 

TOP 10 TRUTHS ABOUT COWBOYS BY CHARLENE SANDS

We all have our own interpretation of what a cowboy truly is.  In romance novels, we tend to gloss over the reality of what it takes to be a true cowboy.  We take our fantasies seriously and dive in, head first and our cowboys have a lot to live up to.

But take it from this greenhorn, who once spent 2 hours in a saddle riding a tall horse named Champion over hills, through tunnels and along pastures of sunny downtown Burbank; the trail is a dust bowl of grit, horses are total fly magnets and without shade, the perspiration rate requires more than a woman’s Secret deodorant.  In short, there is nothing really romantic about what cowboys do.  Sigh….

But as readers, we suspend our disbelief and like to think of the cowboy, rancher hero as Adonis in leather boots.  Okay, admit it.  Who doesn’t love a hunky man who sports day old stubble, has incredible deep-set eyes and a rugged, muscled body?  A man who saunters, knows no fear and can hold his liquor?

So, instead of thinking of grime and sweat when we think of cowboys, we think in other, more positive terms.  Here are my truths about the Cowboy, whether present day or from the Old West.

Truth #1 –His sex appeal knows no bounds  – He’s the kind of guy that makes a woman do stupid things.

Truth #2–He’s handsome – who can resist a man with a sharp profile, high cheekbones and deep penetrating eyes (that rake over the heroine at every opportunity)

Truth #3  – He’s built tough – like a Ford Truck, this cowboy is ripped and strong.

Truth #4  –He’s savvy – He’s no greenhorn and his intelligence keeps him in the $$ green $$

Truth #5 — He’s perceptive – He can read a woman’s desire and knows exactly what she likes. (We are talking behind closed doors)

Truth #6– He’s honorable.  Even if he’s a bad boy, he will always uphold his honor.

Truth #7 — He’s charming – when he shows his softer side, he can (and will) charm the pants off the heroine.

Truth #8 – He’s not a fashionista – but when he tips his black Stetson he’s got your attention.

Truth #9 – He’s decent.  It might take him a while to figure it out, but in the end, he will always do the right thing.

Truth #10 – He’s rugged and a man of the earth.  He will die fighting for his land, his honor or the woman he loves.

Charlene Sands is a USA Today Bestselling author of thirty-five romance novels, writing sexy contemporary romances and stories of the Old West. Her books have been honored with the National Readers Choice Award, the Cataromance Reviewer’s Choice Award and she’s a double recipient of the Booksellers’ Best Award. She belongs to the Orange County Chapter and the Los Angeles Chapter of RWA.

Charlene knows a little something about true romance–she married her high school sweetheart! When she’s not writing, she enjoys sunny Pacific beaches, great coffee, reading books from her favorite authors, spoiling her two cats and her new baby granddaughters!  She invites you to read her Worths of Red Ridge Series and her newest Harlequin Desire from the Highest Bidder continuity entitled, Exquisite Acquisitions.  You can find her on Twitter and Facebook.  Be sure to visit her website for fun blogs and her ongoing contests at www.charlenesands.com

Is it hot ‘round the campfire, or is it just all these cowboys?! Gracious sakes, now I see why it’s been so hot…Charlene Sands’ cowboys!

Come on and join us for a jaw session! Do you have your own Cowboy truth to add to Charlene’s list, or which one of her top ten was your favorite?!!

WEDNESDAY WESTERN ROUNDUP!! LORRIE FARRELLY AND BOOK GIVEAWAY!!

Jumpin’  Je-hos-ha-phat !! The boys done it again, wranglin’ Ms. Lorrie Farrelly and two of her heroes, Michael Cantrell and Robert Devlin, ‘round the campfire!! Lorrie sure does know how to serve up heroes Western style, and these men fit the bill like Wranglers fit cowboys!!  And they’re from the Wind River Basin area in Wyomin’!!  Hooo-Rah!! Did the temperature just spike or was that my blood pressure?

Hold on to yer hats folks that’s not all! Lorrie is givin’ away a signed copy of either “Terms” book, winner’s choice, to one lucky commenter today!  You heard right all it takes is a comment and Cookie will toss yer name in the hat! Just like that, easier than butterin’ bread!

But Cookie, true to form, has his little side note:  Due to the high cost of sendin’ Pony Express riders on cruise liners, the drawin’ is open for U.S. and Canadian residents only. We’re sorry folks, but don’t let it stop ya from commentin’! We want to hear from everyone!

And don’t forget to read Lorrie Farrelly’s post at the end about her inspiration for pennin’ these not-to-be-missed stories!

So come on now and grab a mug of hot thick-as-mud, black-as-tar coffee from Cookie, pull up a seat and let me introduce y’all to the Cantrells and Devlins…

The War Between the States not only destroyed all Michael Cantrell loved, it left the young, former Confederate cavalry officer without faith or hope, a solitary, haunted man trying to escape his demons in the vast western frontier. Then, one spring day along the Wind River, he finds himself suddenly in the thick of another life-and-death struggle — Annie Devlin’s war.

Desperate to hang on to her ranch and her life, waylaid by gunmen hired by a powerful rancher who covets her land, Annie and her young brother, Robbie, fight a furious, rapidly losing battle for their lives.

When all seems lost, into the fray steps a cold-eyed, steel-nerved stranger — Michael Cantrell — who saves Annie and Robbie, but is himself grievously wounded.

With Annie’s care, Michael recovers not only his strength but a portion of his embittered soul as well. Fighting his powerful feelings for her, convinced he has nothing to give, Michael determines to stay with the Devlins only long enough to ensure their safety against the treachery that would destroy them.

Reluctantly, Michael, who for years has known only loss, allies himself with a stubborn, courageous young woman who will take his heart by storm and test the limit of his honor, his mettle — and his passion.

KIRSTEN’S THOUGHTS:  Both in reading and writing I tend to be character oriented, and when an author can take compelling characters and weave them into an exceptional story that keeps me turning pages when I should be sleeping you’ve got a first-rate read!  Michael and Annie are both fighters willing to go the distance even when the battle seems hopeless, but both put their whole hearts behind the war for Annie’s ranch and for the love they find in each other, and the forces against them better watch out!

Michael is a natural warrior and a Southern gentleman both characteristics lead him to get involved with Annie’s struggles. He’s a man who needs a purpose and a cause to fight for, and he finds both of these in helping Annie save her ranch. But he also needs to heal, heart, body, mind and soul, and he finds that in Annie’s heart and arms. The War Between the States hardened him and aged him beyond his years, but with Annie and Robbie he softens and finds the spark of youth.

Annie is a fighter and a Western woman born to share the load and hold on tight. She’s lost much, just like Michael, but she refuses to give up on her ranch or on life, her life and Michael’s.  I loved watching as this strong woman learned to release some of the burden and lean on Michael’s resourcefulness and muscle while combining their strengths to defeat their foe.

The secondary characters round out the story adding humor, tenderness and show us and Annie and Michael why they deserve love and each other.

TERMS OF SURRENDER is clearly a story of Lorrie’s heart, as there is a lot of heart in every page as Michael and Annie find out just how much they’re willing to surrender to hold onto each other. This is an endearing story has enough action, passion, humor and lovable characters to keep you enthralled to the end, then closing the book and looking around wondering where everyone you just met went, and why you aren’t still in the Wind River region of Wyoming.

 

Wyoming Territory, 1885. On a train in the middle of nowhere, a young woman suddenly collapses. Fellow passenger Dr. Robert Devlin, a widower traveling with his five-year-old daughter, responds immediately to the medical emergency. What he finds when he examines his new patient both shocks and outrages him, and soon he is tangled up in her no-way-out, life-or-death plight.

Teresa Rutledge has taken her toddler son and run for their lives. Fleeing her wealthy, cruelly abusive husband, knowing there is nowhere they will be safe for long, she is at the end of her strength and at the end of her rope.

Determined to protect Tess and her child, Rob takes them home to his sister, Annie, and her husband, former cavalry Captain Michael Cantrell. As Tess regains her health, she and Rob fall passionately in love. But she is trapped in a brutal marriage, and on a desperate flight from a powerful, violent man determined never to let her go.

KIRSTEN’S THOUGHTS: It is always a treat to read the next book in a series and get the chance to visit old friends. I loved Robbie in TERMS OF SURRENDER as a rambunctious ten-year-old waiting for the former Reb to die, so he could have his horse :)  But Robbie grew into Dr. Rob Devlin and a strong, amazing hero (almost as wonderful as Michael).

First, I LOVED the family dynamic in this story. The large, loud family that supports Rob and Tess and backs each play they make. The teasing between family members and then arguments, but all weaved with love, it makes you want to pull up a chair and join the Cantrells and Devlins for Sunday dinner.   And all the children were so fun to watch, and drawn so perfectly. It’s difficult to write realistic children, and Lorrie’s are magical, each one with very distinct personalities and not cookie cutter caricatures. It was fun to see Annie and Michael again and to meet their family.

Though Tess has suffered years of abuse, her husband has not completely broken her spirit, and watching her find her strength and smile again under the attentions of Rob and his family was heartening and heartbreaking as she realized past choices might keep her from the promise of real love and family. Tess is such a charming heroine. She’s not a woe-as-me heroine who constantly complains about her situation. She recognizes her mistakes and is willing to accept the consequences as long as her son is happy and safe.  In her desire for happiness and love, she’s also willing to take advantage of the moment she’s given with the Cantrells and Devlins and pitches in becoming a part of the family. But I applauded Tess’ determination to fight for her chance at a new life despite the odds.

Rob is just the man to heal Tess in every way, and recognizes in Tess the woman who could heal his own pain.  Rob is such a compassionate man, and it’s as easy for the reader to fall in love with Rob as it was for Tess to fall for him.  And even though he’s suffered loss, he still believes things can be mended, from broken bones to getting Tess a divorce from her abusive husband leaving her free to build a life with him.  He tenaciously holds on to those he loves offering unwavering loyalty and support.  And he knows how to use his brain, as well as brawn to win the day.

Like Michael and Annie, Tess and Rob work together to battle against the enemy. Lorrie does a superb job of making it clear neither Rob nor Tess take her married status lightly just because her husband is a monster.

The lighthearted moments in TERMS OF ENGAGEMENT are all the sweeter for the sour Tess and Rob have to go through.  And you will fall in love with them and Gracie Rose and Scottie (their little ones). Heck, you’ll fall in love with the whole clan!

Lorrie draws the reader into her world through realistic dialogue and people so true to life you have to remind yourself it’s fiction.

THE INSPIRATION BEHIND THE “TERMS” BOOKS BY LORRIE FARRELLY

“Terms of Surrender” came straight from my heart. When my folks passed away, I found they’d kept copies of the parole papers and oath of allegiance my great-grandfather, a Confederate soldier, had had to sign in order to be allowed to go home – to whatever home he had left – after the war. My dad was born in Georgia in 1909, and folks were not much different then than they’d been in 1865. He was a U.S. Navy officer and an Annapolis graduate, but he was also a boy who’d been raised as though the Yankees had ravaged his homeland the week before, not in the previous century. I started to imagine how terrible it must have been to choose between country and home, family and friends, duty, honor, and love. Defeat, bitterness, and loss of home and family would be overwhelming; love and hope surely would seem gone forever. How would a man who no longer believed in either ever come to find them again? That was my inspiration for “Terms of Surrender.”

The sequel, “Terms of Engagement,” came about because I just had to find out what had happened to Michael, Annie, and Robbie, and what their family had become. It took me a little while to wrap my head around an adult Robbie, but once I did, I knew right away he’d be a doctor. Then the story was, suddenly, just there. I also love writing about kids – all of my books have at least one important character who is a child or teen – so I had a lot of fun with Gracie Rose and Michael and Annie’s children. Kinley is a whole book in herself. I’m thinking about it! The other feature I love putting in my books is a touch of the paranormal. The first story I ever wrote (which is still in the “drawer” of my computer files) was a ghost story. When I first started writing, editors told me no one liked paranormal stories. Obviously, they hadn’t met “Edward” and “Bella.” (Oh, it’s good to have the last laugh. Evil probably, but good!)

Katy bar the door!!  I know y’all are chompin’ at the bit to get Lorrie’s books, and well ya should.  But don’t run off right yet!  First, leave a comment to see if you can win a signed copy!

How about you, do y’all like a bit of the paranormal in your stories?  And how about children, do ya like when a whippersnapper is included to keep the grown-ups on their toes?

Grab another cup o’ Joe, it’s only been sittin’ a few hours, and chat a bit!

 

WEDNESDAY WESTERN ROUNDUP!! ELAINE LEVINE AND BOOK GIVEAWAY!!

Folks, I am…Fit. To. Be. Tied! Cookie even had to fetch the smellin’ salts case I get the vapors. Today ‘round the campfire we have Elaine Levine and her get this….Wyoming cowboys (insert wild hoots and hollers) from Defiance!! I’m havin’ a time just drawin’ air!

And like bringin’ these fine cowboys wasn’t enough, Elaine provided a great article on why she set the MEN OF DEFIANCE series in Wyoming and the real life inspirations for the town of Defiance and it’s location in Wyoming!  So keep on readin’ cause it’s a real treat! (Though settin’ your stories in Wyomin’ just makes sense to me)! :o)

Then to put an extra spoonful of sugar in your coffee, she’s givin’ away a paperback copy of Logan’s story…LOGAN’S OUTLAW!!  So for the price of just a comment one lucky reader is walkin’ away with a whole lotta cowboy!

Cookie’s Disclaimer:  I’m sorry but due to the cost of sendin’ the Pony Express overseas (the horses don’t care for the long distance swim) the drawin’ is open to U.S. and Canadian residents only.

But please come on in and chat with us a spell no matter where y’all are from we love to hear from ya!!

Now let’s get to what y’all are here for…THE MEN OF DEFIANCE!

 

Running from a brutal past to the father she’s never met, Rachel Douglas must rely on the survival skills of the hard-edged gunman her father sends to guide her across the rugged terrain of the Dakota Territory. But Sager’s got another plan and a blood debt to settle.

Time doesn’t always heal all wounds. Sometimes it takes a little vengeance.

KIRSTEN’S THOUGHTS:  I bought RACHEL AND THE HIRED GUN as an impulse, since Elaine was a new author to me. Oh WOW, did that impulse pay off in a BIG way! This book has it all: family feuds, vengeance, rustling, gunfights, and most importantly a hero and heroine you will LOVE, I mean L-O-V-E!! And it all begins with a wolf attack, so there’s no beating around the bush with the action. Elaine Levine does a superior job of making all of this come together without making it cliché, but she weaves the plot and characters together into a story you will treasure.

Rachel is such an emotionally strong character and so tender and sweet she’s exactly what Sager needs, and what her father, Old Jack, and her father’s enemies the Taggerts need, as well.  Rachel is coming from an abusive situation with hopes of finding a new life and peace on her father’s ranch, and build a relationship with her estranged father.  She’s soon faced with the reality that she’s only wanted as a pawn by both families in their feud. But I think it’s her gentle spirit and her unwavering faith and love for Sager that makes her such a remarkable woman.  But don’t get me wrong, Rachel’s no pushover she has the courage needed to survive in the vast Dakota Territory and when push comes to shove she’ll fight side by side with Sager to see their livelihood protected.

Sager is a hero that transfixes you from his first appearance, when he’s on the page his presence commands the attention of other characters and the readers.  His muddied past and hurts have set him on the trail to vengeance, but his honor and Rachel’s sweetness alter his course.  Sager is a man caught between two worlds, both as a man raised by Shoshone’s and living the white world, and a man desiring revenge, but desiring Rachel and the peace she brings more.

You’ll be roped in from page one to the end and then want to turn around and start at page one all over again…But there’s more men from Defiance to meet so keep reading.

 

Virginia financier Julian McCaid has put his troubled past behind him. His plans for the future don’t include Audrey Sheridan, the extraordinary frontier woman he met just once, but it’s because of her that he’s come to the Dakota Territory to investigate problems at his ranch. And it’s all the more surprising when he discovers she isn’t the innocent he believed. Now nothing but her complete surrender will purge her from his soul.

If it weren’t for the children she cares for in her makeshift orphanage, Audrey would have left Defiance long ago. Now the sheriff is blackmailing her to distract the man who might derail his corrupt schemes, a man who can offer Audrey not just protection, but a passion bold enough to make them claim their place in this harsh and beautiful land.

KIRSTEN’S THOUGHTS:  I instantly bought AUDREY AND THE MAVERICK after finishing RACHEL AND THE HIRED GUN for a good story, and I got GREAT!  Julian is an outsider and a sheep rancher and in Dakota Territory both of those things cause trouble, but in a corrupt town they could get you killed. Again Elaine Levine pens a great Western full of action and more importantly bringing together two great characters. Julian and Audrey are a bit more high-spirited than Rachel and Sager and their relationship starts like a prairie fire fueled by a wild wind.

Audrey is high-spirited, proud and desperate to save her family from the crooked sheriff and his men who have destroyed the town of Defiance.  Though she is in a tough spot I admired her grit, and her love for her brother and the children she’s taken in as her own.  Like many women in the West, she does what needs to be done to care for her own, while risking her heart to love a man whose plan for his life is destined to keep them apart.  I think in this Audrey illustrates the character of the West, to risk everything for a dream.

Julian is a man who never truly felt like he fit in, anywhere, and is hoping to start a new legacy thinking it will bring him the esteem he desires.  But unfortunately this plan and his passion for Audrey don’t meld and he has to decide which legacy is more important…blood lines or love. Julian is brave and possessive, and willing to fight for what’s his. Like Levine’s other heroes he also has a quick wit and charm as smooth as good whiskey.

Then you add in the children, who add a lot to the story and actually help us see a very different side to Julian and Audrey than they show at other times adding a new dynamic to these characters, and a bit of fun.

 

To Leah Morgan’s mind, the last thing her hometown of Defiance needs is another gunman stalking its dusty streets, especially one as sweet-talking and fine-looking as Jace Gage. Despite her warnings, the infuriating man seems determined to meddle in her life and risk his own, all for a town that can’t be saved and a heart she locked away long ago.

Professional bounty hunter Jace Gage has cleaned up plenty of corrupt towns in his lifetime, and he knows he can handle whatever Defiance’s thugs have to offer. But the town’s most lawful citizen is another story. Beautiful, willful and exasperating at every turn, Leah is the one person capable of bringing the ruthless gunslinger to his knees, and capturing his desire with a single kiss.

KIRSTEN’S THOUGHTS:  Jace Gage is brought to Defiance in AUDREY AND THE MAVERICK and you can’t wait to find out more about this man they call the Avenger…And he does not disappoint.

Leah is fierce, hot-tempered, self-sufficient and only a man like Jace is strong enough to hold on tight until the heart she thought was dead starts beating again. Leah has witnessed some of the worst atrocities people can do to one another, and she has lost hope that anyone or anything can change the evil hanging over her town.  As secrets are revealed Leah must come to terms with everything that’s revealed and accept the love, acceptance and hope in the future Jace offers.

Jace saunters onto the pages calm, cool, and caring less rather he lives or dies. War, death and years of hunting evil have almost drained any misguided belief in human goodness Jace had.  In Leah he sees his chance to hang up his guns and find peace, but first he has to convince her.  Jace has a very dry humor that I caught myself laughing out loud at remarks delivered without a hint of emotion. But Jace is loaded for bear and he’s determined to clean up the town of Defiance and when Jace is determined action ensues and the job is done. Leah learns this applies to his heart, as well.

Leah and Jace are two strong-willed individuals and they clash on streets of Defiance, but their hearts being every bit as strong as their wills means neither stands a chance of escaping their love.

 

Sarah Hawkins survived capture by the Sioux, but after her escape she faced public scorn. Now, she’ll do anything to start over, and the small town of Defiance promises the anonymity and security she needs. Before she melts into the shadows, though, it’s her mission to put a great injustice to rights, and that means jeopardizing her safety once more. But this time, she’s not alone.

Without meaning to, Sarah has fallen under the protection of Logan Taggert, a rough-and-tumble trader unused to caring for others – and yet unable to ignore the tempting, tenacious woman’s plight. Though she refuses to trust him, Logan won’t leave her side, keeping her one step ahead of danger…even as she takes hold of the very thing he never thought he’d risk: his heart.

KIRSTEN’S THOUGHTS:  This story is ACE-HIGH, WHOO DOGIES, SIX GUNS BLAZEN…Well it’s just a must read!  It is heartrending, beautiful, and really some parts are so tender make sure you have tissue at hand. It also has plenty of gun fire, danger and good ol’ Wyoming action to get your blood pumping.

Sarah has to rank right up there in the all-time favorite heroines chart. She is so misused, abused and scorned, but she refuses to let it all crush her. There are just no words for what this woman has endured and yet she has such grace, strength, and such a kind heart she instantly threads her way into yours. There are times, as she heals through Logan’s patience and care that you are almost verbally cheering her on.  There are moments of bitterness, as there should be, but even then she doesn’t hold onto it or let it consume her she fights against it and for the new life she wants with Logan.

And who wouldn’t want to fight for Logan Taggert? First, before I get into his amazing relationship with Sarah, I have to mention I love his occupation. As a trader, Logan is able to give the reader insight into the Sioux culture, and it was such a beautiful way to weave the Sioux way of life into a story to show both the good and bad in both the Sioux and White cultures and to be able to expose Sarah to the best of both worlds when she’d only seen the worst.

Now for Logan as a man. Be still my heart.  I first met Logan in Rachel and Sager’s story and I genuinely liked him in that story, but I NEVER would have imagined the difference years and becoming his own man could make.  Like Sarah he has wounds in his past that could have made him bitter and hard, but instead he chose to become a successful businessman and a leader both White and Indian cultures respect.  His care and thoughtfulness for Sarah are so kind and expose a tender heart. But his ability to remain calm and sure in extremely dangerous situations and to take care of business in those situations leaves no doubt of his bravery and strength.

Seriously, I’m even getting a bit choked up thinking of some of the melt your heart words he speaks to Sarah and the way he works with her as a team to bring her out of the shadows.  Just read the book folks, before I breakdown right here on the blog!

Elaine Levine’s MEN OF DEFIANCE series is an auto-buy for me. I don’t even have to read the description before clicking purchase.  She knows Wyoming and her characters reflect the land and history she writes about so well you think they might be in the history books. Her stories are gritty and real.  Buy one and you’ll be hooked.

ELAINE, WYOMING, AND THE MEN OF DEFIANCE…

What a fun blog Kirsten has started! If you haven’t had a chance to wander through her Wagons West blog, grab a cup of coffee and sit down for an entertaining read of Wyoming’s historical places and people.

There’s something seductive about Wyoming. I once read a quote (I wish I could remember the source) that said, “I could tell you the truth about Wyoming, but I’d have to lie to do it.” I thought that was the perfect way to explain Wyoming. The space is so big, it’s hard to grasp. It’s green and lush in some places and arid like Mars in others. There are so few people in Wyoming—urbanization has lagged behind most of the country. I don’t know why. I don’t care. I love that it is just the way it is.

The wind is a persistent presence—sometimes as a sweet breeze, sometimes in gale force. It sounds different crossing a wide-open prairie of short grass than it does circling the edges of an isolated dwelling. It whines around a cabin, but sings across a field. You can stand anywhere in the state and hear whispers of the people whose lives passed through that spot.

Wyoming is full of surprising places, like the town of Ten Sleep. My husband and I took a trip up there a few years ago. We were coming up from Colorado. After several hours of empty, flat prairie, we crossed the Big Horn Mountains, through a breathtakingly steep ravine, down into the town. The ravine seemed to pop out of nowhere. After the blistering heat of the prairie, the ravine and the town were cool and green like an oasis.

19th Century Wyoming was an exciting place, full of interesting people and dangerous events. Heartbreaks and triumphs. Towns started and died in short spans of time, supporting the needs of the various trails west, gold rushes, and railroads. Times of such chaotic upheaval bring out the best and worst in people—and they make for a fabulous backdrop for Western Romance.

All of the Men of Defiance stories are set in a fictional town called, Defiance that looks something like South Pass City but is located near present-day Centennial at the foot of the Medicine Bow Mountains. I’ve had a blast following the lives of the characters in this series. Every time I write one story, new characters pop up who need their own story told. I’ll be releasing the next in the series late spring 2013. It’s Chayton’s story, tentatively titled AGNES AND THE RENEGADE. After that comes DULCIE AND THE BANDIT. I’m sure the sheriff in LOGAN’S OUTLAW will have his own story—he just hasn’t told me what it is yet.

I’ll be giving away a print copy of LOGAN’S OUTLAW today. Feel free to visit my website at www.ElaineLevine.com to get updates on the series and my next releases!

Kirsten—thanks so much for featuring my series and letting me make a visit to your site!

WHOOEEE, folks!!  Ms. Levine sure does know her Wyoming! The first clue bein’ she mentioned the wind.  ;o)   I always enjoy hearin’ about and seein’ the places authors use for inspiration and setting. It helps bring their stories to life.

And a Big Ol’ Thanks for mentionin’ the Wagons West posts! Me and Cookie we love travelin’ over the place we call home are glad to share it with the less fortunate who weren’t born and bred in big beautiful Wyoming.  :o)

Now don’t pack up yer bedrolls and head out, yet. Come on and jaw a bit. The coffee’s just gettin’ thick enough to use as tar, so pour a cup and tell us what ya think of the Men of Defiance. If you’ve been to Wyomin’ …Where? What did ya think?  A comment gets yer name in Cookie’s hat…once he gets that coon he caught for supper out.

WEDNESDAY WESTERN ROUNDUP!! PAM CROOKS AND BOOK GIVEAWAY!!!

By thunder! I’ve done had four hot flashes! One for each of the hunky heroes Pam Crooks brought with her to converse ‘round the campfire! I just can’t light on any one spot too long as I feel the need to be all proper and sit by each of the HOT men! If they weren’t already snatched up I’d have Cookie ridin’ hard to town and the nearest preacher man!

Not only did Ms. Crooks bring by somethin’ good to look at, but she’s givin’ us all the low down on the covers! So, after ya get done readin’ about the stories sure to be y’all be puttin’ some coin down for keep readin’ cause this is a fun and interestin’ post! Seriously, y’all it’s worth the read!

And if that wasn’t enough to get us all kickin’ up our heels, Pam is offerin’ up a copy of one of her backlist Harlequin Historicals to one lucky commenter! Easy as campfire biscuits folks, just leave a comment (Ms. Crooks even gave a topic) and your name goes in Cookie’s hat smooth as Aunt Betty’s silk bloomers!

Okay, Cookie, give yer dadblame disclaimer: Due to the high cost of sendin’ the Pony Express ‘cross the ocean the book giveaway is only open to folks in the United States and Canada.

Let’s get ta jawin’ folks! Let me introduce y’all to some fine Western gents and ladies!

All Sonnie Mancuso wants is to be needed by her father. Unfortunately, he already has a daughter–six, to be exact–and all he needs is a son.  Orphaned in the slums of New York, fifteen-year-old Lance Harmon needs a home. Sonnie’s father gives him one, on the cattle-rich Rocking M ranch. Through the years, Lance learns to love the land, the work . . . and Sonnie.

But Vince Mancuso’s health is failing, and there’s trouble on the Wyoming range. Sonnie returns home to claim the legacy that’s rightfully hers . . . but learns Lance has already claimed it.

KIRSTEN’S THOUGHTS: WYOMING WILDFLOWER is a story of two people both searching for their place in the world…a home, and they both think they’ve found it on the Rockin M ranch in Wyoming. By birth the Rocking M is a part of Sonnie. By years of blood, sweat and hard work it’s a part of Lance.

Lance is a strong hero with a tender heart. He’s spent most of his life working hard to become more than a boy from the slums of New York. His devotion to the land and work he’s come to love, Vince who rescued him from the slums, and Sonnie who he’s always admired and loved will draw you to this man. His struggle against past demons and the desire for a future and a home will cement’s his place in a reader’s heart.

Sonnie may come off a bit condescending, but when you consider all the years she’s worked and studied to be a valued member of her family and a daughter her father would love, her initial abrasive attitude toward Lance, who she sees as the man who stole her inheritance and father, is understandable. While growing up with all the “fine things” in life and sent to fine schools and trips to Europe, it becomes clear Sonnie is just as lost as Lance and just as desperate for a home.

Pam Crooks does a brilliant job of bringing these two lost people together, as they learn how to cooperate and lean on each other’s knowledge and strengths in order to fight a common enemy, and save the Rocking M and make it a home they can share.

 

Hannah grew up on the wrong side of the law, daughter of a master thief and student to his trade. But when he dies at the hands of an angry mob, she flees to a monastery to escape the world and her sins.  Quinn is betrayed by his brother and sentenced to a life in prison. Only the thirst for revenge keeps him alive. He will do anything to escape . . .

Together, they must run for their lives to survive their pasts. And in the journey, they find truth . . . and an unlikely love in their hearts.

KIRSTEN’S THOUGHTS:  HANNAH’S VOW starts out with a bang and then things really get good! Hannah Benning is a woman longing for peace and safety. Quinn Landry is a man full of rage and the need for vengeance. I really loved both Hannah and Quinn right from the start, and Quinn is a bit hard, to say the least, but there’s something so vulnerable about both of these characters like a magnet your pulled into their story and rooting for their HEA!

The story itself is different (at least for me it was) a woman raised by a thief, serving as a novitiate at a monastery, and thrown back into using the skills her father taught her this time for survival and to help the man she loves who happens to be an escaped convict. And a woman who so desires peace and safety who is thrown into danger and turbulence, add the complication of struggling with the life she thought she wanted and the new love she could have there’s no lack of conflict for this poor woman. Hannah is one of those heroines who when you close the book you really feel like she’s worthy of the title heroine.

Quinn is hardened by betrayal and focused on revenge, but he longs for the peace he finds with Hannah and is determined to keep her with him. It was fun to watch as his appreciation of her skills she learned from her father grew, and as he relied on her as a partner. Quinn is a hero you can respect throughout the story and gals you’ll find him completely sigh-worthy while you’re respecting him.

As mentioned this was an original storyline. The daughter of a master thief, turned novitiate partnering with a respectable rancher turned escaped convict. HANNAH’S VOW is action packed, but has moments of sweet humor and sizzling scenes.

 

She belonged to no world of her own.  Not the world of the Gypsy, and not of the Gaje, the non-Gypsy . . . until their worlds collide.

Liza was born to roam the land with her mother’s people, but she is shamed by the sin that made her forever different.  Reese has set down roots deep in the Nebraska prairie. His dreams are sure to come true with a new railroad and a proper wife and child.  But Liza is accused unfairly by Reese’s people, and she is forced to flee the security of her world to see safety in his. When Reese’s careful plans for success are threatened, he must fight to save all he’s ever worked for.

Will it cost him the love he’s found with the beautiful, black-eyed woman with red-gold hair? His Lady Gypsy?

KIRSTEN’S THOUGHTS: LADY GYPSY was another of Pam Crooks’ books that I enjoyed for the characters, but also found the story so engagingly different this time teaming a gypsy with a railroad tycoon. I learned a lot about the Gypsy culture, trestle bridges, and the railroad as well, which made it that much more enjoyable. And another great hero and heroine, Reese and Liza are wonderful!

Reese is a man with the plan. His life is carefully sketched out. He knows what he wants and he’s on track to getting it all, and then he meets Liza. And after a surviving a literal cyclone his world is tossed into another twister. Reese is an all-around good man. I know that might sound boring, but Reese is anything but boring, and I mean that as a high compliment. He’s a good man with a strong heart who’s worked hard to see his dream of a railroad come true. But it’s entertaining to see him try to keep up with his wife, and to learn the Gypsy ways and follow a few of their traditions to please her.

Liza is warm and fun and I loved her from the beginning. Her heart is so open to Reese and even as she struggles in his world she wants to see his dreams come true. Her love for her people and for Reese and being torn between the two is heartbreaking. Really there just wasn’t a moment in this story that I didn’t just love Liza.

This is one of those great stories, like I’ve mentioned before, where two people who have no business on the same side of the street are tossed together (this time literally) and you can’t imagine them being with anyone else.

 

When Carleigh flees her San Francisco home in a frantic flight through the California wilderness, Trig is blackmailed by her unscrupulous father to chase after her. Though the blossoms of her innocence are crushed forever, revenge for the death of Trig’s younger brother leaves him no choice but to outwit her escape attempts time and time again.

Carleigh must untangle the web of deceit in her past. Trig knows the truth can destroy her. But as a special agent for the United States government, he is drawn into an opium smuggling ring only Carleigh and her mother can help expose, and he is forced to choose between two loves–Carleigh or his country.

Will it cost him the only family he has left in the world? Or will he find new life with the beautiful woman whose very blood marked her his enemy?

KIRSTEN’S THOUGHTS:  BROKEN BLOSSOM’S is a bit like HANNAH’S VOW in that by the end of the book you’re exhausted for the hero and heroine, but it’s a fun ride. Again Ms. Crooks paints such a vivid picture of the places and people; you will have a hard time putting this one down.

Carleigh is headstrong and determined and gives Trig a run for his money. Her character goes through a real transformation throughout the journey to Mexico and then back to San Francisco. She goes from the sheltered, willful daughter of a rich judge to a caring and self-sufficient woman.

Trig is not only a wonderful hero, but he’s work for the United States government makes him an interesting one, as well. Though he tries to hate Carleigh for her father’s sins, he realizes he cares for her and is determined to help her find her mother and to keep her safe even as he completes his mission.

Not only is the story between Carleigh and Trig fascinating, but the history of the Opium dens and San Francisco in the late 19th Century intriguing and Ms. Crooks’ research and the history she weaves into every story bring the places and people to life.

Pam Crooks tells such wonderful stories and her characters both the hero and heroine and the secondary characters drag you into their worlds, and you hate it when it’s time to leave. Thank goodness I can put these enjoyable stories high on the keeper shelf and visit many, many times.

PAM CROOKS:  THE STORY UNDER THE COVERS

Writing a book is hard work. It’s stressful for a whole wagonload of reasons. It’s time-consuming and scary. And it may–or may not–be particularly profitable. Throughout the whole months-long process, we writers will bang our heads, chew our nails and agonize over every character, plot point and word choice until at last! We type “The End” and send the whole thing to our editor.

But it’s all worth it when we get our covers.

Most of the time.

Covers are the icing on the cake for us. They’re the final step in the process–the one thing that makes our book a real BOOK. They’re the reason why many of us write in the first place–beyond telling the stories we’re compelled to tell–seeing our name in bold, colorful print and knowing the rest of the world will see our name, too.

But waiting for that first glimpse often takes several months. Sometimes we have input, sometimes we don’t. Sometimes we’re blessed with great art departments–or not. Sometimes the models on the cover are just who we picture how our characters should look, and sometimes–well, you get the idea.

Despite all this, getting the cover is THE most exciting thing about the book for me. I get my covers in jpg format, and when I find that email in my Inbox, my heart beats a little faster, and my finger hovers over the mouse for a sweetly agonizing moment while my brain worries … will I like it, or won’t I?

Covers are often hotly debated, sometimes collected, autographed and always promoted. They usually have a story or two behind them. Here’s a few of mine:

I just had to include my very first cover in today’s blog. It’s so darn special for that very reason. My first four books were released by Dorchester Publishing and their Leisure books line. We must not have had jpg’s back then, because the Production Assistant was kind enough to print me a color copy and mail it to me. I still remember standing in my kitchen with my jaw hanging down to the floor. I didn’t know that’s what the envelope held, and the surprise–and awe–at seeing my precious first cover will always stay with me. I didn’t put that paper down for 3 days.

I’ve always loved the model. He’s so-o hunky and more mature than most. The look is romantic, and the heroine is realistic and beautifully coy. My one complaint? Her gown looks like a negligee–and not a dress a woman at the time would’ve worn.

My third book with Leisure was HANNAH’S VOW. The same production assistant from above was a huge Titanic fan. When someone from the Art Department happened to stroll through her office, she noticed a photo of Jack and Rose tacked on the assistant’s bulletin board. She pointed to the picture and said–”I want a cover just like that for a book I have coming up.”

Here’s what I got. Cool, eh?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Now, for those of you who think that every author’s book gets oodles of special attention, or that an entire department slaves away for untold hours making each cover just perfect, well, think again. The reality is that some covers get–ahem–recycled.

In this age of computer graphics, it’s easy to do, and it saves the publisher piles of money. For the author, however, it’s a bit disconcerting to see that a cover she sees and loves as her own has been used for another book.

Case in point:      My Spring Brides anthology came out in June, 2005. You can’t see it well here, but there’s a horse and buggy parked next to the church. And of course, the chair with the hat and wedding dress in front.

This was inside the front cover. Same church, but no horse and buggy, and of course, the chair was gone, too. I really liked the black and white shot of the bride walking toward the church. It fit well with the whole book.

When the book came out in the United Kingdom in May, 2006, they used the inside cover from the first book, but in color. Note that the sky is lighter than the North American version, and so is the grass, but the church is distinctively the same.

Imagine my surprise in February, 2008, when I found Jillian Hart’s cover was an exact match. Hers was the second book to launch the Love Inspired Historical line, and she got tons of promo. I suspect the cover will be laid to rest for awhile.

Below is the front and back of THE MERCENARY’S KISS, my very first book with Harlequin Historicals. I call it my infamous sausage pizza cover, and I’ll let you figure out why, but I’m told the model on the front was hugely popular with the readers, even voted Number One on eharlequin the year before the book came out.

                                                                      

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I did find it strange that on the back of the cover they used a different model. Perhaps a cost-saving measure. Note that they’re both wearing the same shirt and vest, but the one on the back is older and more rugged. One of my favorites.

       

 

 

 

 

He’s such a cutie, I’m glad they gave him his own cover on my UK and Italian versions.

Now this one had me scratching my head bigtime. This is the cover to HER LONE PROTECTOR. I fell in love with this guy from the get-go, and so did virtually all my readers.

This is UNTAMED COWBOY.

 

When HER LONE PROTECTOR came out in the UK, this is the cover they gave me:

 

They put the cover for UNTAMED COWBOY on HER LONE PROTECTOR. Why they didn’t use my gorgeous cowboy from the North American version of HER LONE PROTECTOR is beyond me. I was um, dismayed, because not only were the covers switched, the cover had absolutely nothing to do with the story. Nothing, nothing. I was sure someone goofed since I’ve always been given my North American covers on foreign editions, but when my agent inquired, she was assured the cover chosen was a calculated decision to give the book a western look and feel.

Now I’ve entered a new avenue for covers.  When I received the rights back for my first four books, all previously published with Dorchester, I had 100% control.  Finding an image meant hundreds of hours of trolling through galleries, but luckily, my daughter, Katie, has an eye for these things.

So after I formatted the books to self-publish on Kindle, Nook, etc., once again the covers were the icing on the cake.

Here’s what we came up with:

Well folks we have had a full blown, two-steppin’, fiddle playin’ fandango today ‘round the campfire! WHOOOEEE! Hope ya found at least one, and if not all yer crazy, of Pam Crooks books ya’d like to pick up to read while the sun is bakin’ ya like a loaf of Cookie’s bread!

Now don’t forget to leave a comment! Today, let’s talk covers. Those of you who are pubbed, have any cover stories to share?

Does cover mistakes bother you? Do you even notice? Or care?

Have you noticed any recycled covers lately? 

Come on and don’t be shy!

To learn more about Pam and her books, visit www.pamcrooks.com

 

WEDNESDAY WESTERN ROUNDUP!! KAKI WARNER AND GIVEAWAY!!

We have our six-guns out and firin’ in the air ‘round the campfire today! Ms. Kaki Warner is sittin’ down with a mug of Cookie’s coffee and two of her heroes from the Runaway Bride series, Declan Brodie and Angus Wallace, Lord Ashby! Yessiree, a real live dyed in the wool Scottish aristocrat! Don’t know whether to curtsey or faint dead away, ‘cause these men are all man and as temptin’ as honey to a bear cub!

The good times they don’t stop there folks!! Kaki is givin’ away a copy of her newest release in this series, BRIDE OF THE HIGH COUNTRY!!  All ya have to do is leave a comment and I’ll toss yer name in Cookie’s Stetson. I’ll pull the winning name out (with caution cause who knows what else is in that Stetson) with the first ray of sunlight tomorrow morning.

Doggone Cookie has his disclaimer, can’t keep the old coot quiet. Due to postage costs the giveaway is only available for residents of the U.S. and Canada.

Now that Cookie’s had his say let’s get to what y’all are here for!!

Honest, hard-working widower, age thirty-three, seeks sturdy English-speaking
woman to help with mountain ranch and four children.  Drinkers, whores, and
gamblers need not apply.  Not very romantic, but after one disastrous
marriage, widowed Edwina Ladoux isn’t looking for romance.  What she wants is
safety for herself and her half-sister, and a way out of the war torn South, even if she has to offer herself up as a mail order bride to a stranger a thousand miles away in the Colorado Rockies.  But she hadn’t reckoned on Declan Brodie.

KIRSTEN’S THOUGHTS:  HEARTBREAK CREEK is the first in a series where we meet four women, Edwina, Maddie, Lucinda and Pru; all very different, but all trying to escape troubled pasts and looking for hope and a future in the West.

The first book in the series is Edwina Ladoux and Declan Brodie’s story. Some of the greatest stories are those where people from completely different worlds who should never be in the same room end up married and much to their mutual astonishment attracted to each other and eventually in love.  And what worlds could be more different than a sassy Southern belle with no domestic skills or ability to tend children with one disastrous marriage to her name, marrying a stoic Colorado rancher who needs a wife to tend his home and care for his children and who also suffered from a disastrous end to his marriage?

Edwina is a fun heroine. She’s completely out of her element, but determined to do her best and find her place among Declan and his four children, and in Heartbreak Creek. Her loyalty to her sister Pru and her new family is endearing.  Though initially a bit overwhelmed by her new husband and challenged by his children, she plucks up and shows Declan and herself just how much she belongs in his world and life. And when an unexpected obstacle arrives threatening her new life, Edwina learns just how much fight she has in her to hold on to the love she’s found with Declan and the Brodie children.

I have to say, I love Kaki’s heroes. They’re real men. They’re tough, and they grunt, give monosyllabic answers, and they don’t wax eloquent, they show they care and protect their own and Declan is a man’s man. But what makes Declan such a believable hero and a lovable hero is the tenderness he shows, and the vulnerability he lets Ed (as he calls Edwina, which is just too cute) see once he realizes he can trust her with it.

HEARTBREAK CREEK is the perfect place for the two worlds of Edwina and Declan to collide and find the healing and acceptance needed to build a new life and mend their hearts.

After only three letters and one visit during her six-year marriage to a
Scottish Cavalry Officer, Maddie Wallace decides to build a life without him.
Accepting an assignment from a London periodical to photograph the West from
a female perspective, she sails from England, determined to build a new life
as an independent woman.

After an injury ends his military career, Angus Wallace returns home to find his wife gone, his family decimated by fever, and himself next in line to an earldom. His
new mission is clear–find his wife and sire heirs. His search
takes him across an ocean and half a continent, but he finally
tracks her to Heartbreak Creek, Colorado. There his biggest
challenge awaits–to convince his headstrong wife to return
home as his viscountess.

KIRSTEN’S THOUGHTS: In COLORADO DAWN, Kaki takes two different people from the same world and drops them in a new world where they can sort through misunderstandings and past hurts and find a common ground. Maddie and Angus are married, but strangers. They shared passion, but need love. And both desire independence, but are bound to each other.

Maddie was a favorite of the women heading to Colorado. I looked forward to her story, and it exceeded my expectations. She’s easy to love with a soft heart, spirited personality, and unwavering devotion to her new friends. She’s the kind of person you want as a friend whether you’re a Southern belle with insecurities, a woman soured on life and men, an old man scorned by others, or a Scottish Lord and former soldier carrying wounds both external and internal. I liked how Maddie didn’t let Ash (Angus’ nickname) walk all over her, but neither was she so bitter that she became cruel and uncaring. She heard him out concerning his reasons for past actions, and hurts he never intended to cause.  She simply wanted him to accept her, her photography, her life in Colorado, and to be allowed the freedom to choose her own path. It was refreshing to see a heroine act like a real woman finding herself in an awkward and confusing situation, and deciding which road to take.

I absolutely hate to give away spoilers and I hope this isn’t considered one: But a scene where Maddie is showing Ash the ins and outs of photography is one of my favorite scenes in any book.

Angus Wallace, Lord Ashby (Ash), is a different kind of hero in a Western, the tip off to this being his title. But like so many that came West, he fits in with all the misfits. He blusters and pontificates a good bit, but Ash stole my heart the minute he arrived in Heartbreak Creek. As a former cavalryman of the highest order and Scottish pier, he expects complete obedience, but doesn’t get it from his wife or her friends.  Like Declan, Ash is strong man needing a woman who could accept what he perceives as his weaknesses. But he’s also a man torn between family loyalty and responsibility and the freedom he desires to go his own way.

It takes thousands of miles and many heartbreaks for these two strong headed, passionate individuals to find what they want, need and what they’re willing to sacrifice to get it.

This series rates high on the “keep forever” shelf.

I really enjoyed how these books had secondary characters that almost served as the conscience to the heroes and heroines. Their methods are sometimes subtle and sometimes akin to bringing a cast iron skillet down on a few heads, but their presence keeps the hero and heroine on their toes and evaluating their prejudices and preconceived notions.

All of the supporting characters (including animals) in these stories are the best. They do their job well, supporting the hero and heroine with humor, encouragement, wisdom, or adding danger and obstacles. And Kaki does a superior job of incorporating many cultures and people who converge at Heartbreak Creek.

Kaki writes with a skill that takes the reader from gritty and raw to laughing out loud like an idiot, usually with dry humor or even a bit of slapstick fun, and then sighing with a lump in the throat at a moment of tenderness between the hero and heroine, or even between sisters and friends.

She doesn’t waste time with her people beating around the bush with issues best solved over a cup of coffee, but gets everything out in the open and then places real issues and obstacles in their way to a happily ever after.

The bond shared by Edwina, Maddie, Lucinda and Pru keeps the women, and the reader, grounded as only the dearest of friends can. And I look forward to continuing the journey of these women in BRIDE OF THE HIGH COUNTRY (Just released June 5th)!!!

I’ve been anxious to read Lucinda’s story as her past has been the most shrouded in mystery. She can be an abrasive character, but showing glimpses of a heart needing tenderness, and I look forward to learning about her past, and what formed her into the woman she is when she meets Edwina, Pru and Maddie.

Sorry I don’t have insights to share for this story, only to say I just started it and…WHOOEEE!  But Kaki was kind enough to share an excerpt that certainly has me grabbin’ the book from Cookie’s hands and sendin’ him off as Night Watch so I can get some readin’ in.  So if y’all have read the first two in the series, I’m sure your nose is buried in this one, too. If not, what are ya waitin’ for folks, an engraved invite, get all three and get ta readin’ ya won’t be sorry!

And read to the end for a bit of news about upcoming releases by Kaki Warner!

Snatched from unspeakable abuse at the age of twelve and given a new identity as the ward of a Manhattan society widow, Margaret Hamilton thinks the safety and security she craves is at last within her reach.  But as she exchanges wedding vows with a ruthless and charismatic railroad mogul, a shocking revelation sends her fleeing her own wedding…with a valise full of railroad stock certificates.

Now calling herself Lucinda Hathaway, she follows the rails west, desperate to make a new start.  But her pursuers are not far behind—one man who wants vengeance—one who wants to silence her about events long in the past—and a third who only wants the truth.  But the truth is too ugly to share, so Lucinda keeps running…all the way to Heartbreak Creek, Colorado where she finds three other women struggling to start new lives. Deciding she’s finally found the home and family she so desperately needs, she puts her ill-gotten railroad shares to use, determined to make their crusty little town a place they can all call home.

But it’s never that easy, and as her pursuers close in on her, Lucinda finds that her new start comes with a higher price, but a greater reward, than she ever expected.

 

 

 

BRIDE OF THE HIGH COUNTRY

Chapter 1

March, 1870, New York City

 

It had been written and talked about for weeks.

A fairy tale romance,” the gossip columns called it. “Doyle Kerrigan, dashing railroad mogul brought to bended knee by Margaret Hamilton, ward of Ida Throckmorton, widow of the late Judge Harold Throckmorton.”

Margaret supposed there was a certain make-believe quality to their whirlwind courtship—the penniless nobody plucked from obscurity and thrust into the world of opulence. Who would have guessed that an Irish orphan from Five Points would someday be mistress of a home as grand as Doyle’s new townhouse in the most fashionable area of New York?

Hopefully, no one. The only way to protect herself was to ensure that no one ever found out about her Irish immigrant roots. Especially her fiancé. It was a betrayal on every level—not just of Doyle Kerrigan, but of her homeland, her parents, and especially little Cathleen Donovan. But she would do it. She would do anything to stay alive. She had already proven that.

Margaret studied her reflection in the cheval mirror in her third-floor bedroom at Mrs. Throckmorton’s Sixty-Ninth Street brownstone.

The lilac silk gown Doyle had chosen brought out the green of her eyes. The diamond and amethyst necklace he had given her shimmered against her skin. More gems glittered in the pins securing her blond upsweep. Everything was the finest. Proof of Doyle’s success. At the engagement ball tonight in his lavish new home, when he introduced his unknown but well-connected fiancé to Manhattan’s elite, he would be proclaiming to the world that he had reached the highest level of society that money could buy. And she would finally be safe.

A triumph for the Irish in both of them.

Then why did she feel such a sense of loss?

Irritated that she had let her happy mood slip away, and having almost forty minutes to spare before Doyle came to pick her up, Margaret moved restlessly about the room, finally coming to a stop at the tall window that overlooked the street three floors below.

The day was fading. Smoke from thousands of coal stoves hung in sluggish layers in the still air, adding bands of deeper gray to the overcast sky. The distant oasis of the still-unfinished Central Park project seemed less green, as if painted with a muddied brush, and even the sheep dotting the Sheep Meadow looked dingy. She scarcely remembered what stars looked like.

“So you’re going through with it,” a querulous voice said from the doorway.

Bracing herself for another argument, Margaret turned with a smile. “Yes, ma’am, I am. And you shouldn’t be climbing those stairs on your own. I was just about to come down to you.”

With the hand not gripping the ivory handle of her cane, Mrs. Throckmorton impatiently waved aside the notion that she would need help. “He’s a ruffian and a thug. Do you know the kind of people who will be there tonight?”

Margaret waited, knowing the question didn’t require an answer.

“Jay Gould, that’s who.  And Jim Fisk, and even that Tweed fellow from Tammany Hall. Crooks, all. The Judge would never have countenanced an association with such disreputable types. My word, they’re Democrats!”

Margaret knew that despite her criticisms, her guardian had only her best interests at heart. But she would never understand Margaret’s driving need for the security this marriage would provide. How could she?

Having been insulated by wealth all of her life, Mrs. Throckmorton had little knowledge of the squalor that prevailed in the Irish tenements of the sixth ward. She could never have imagined the kind of depravity that went on behind the closed doors of the house on Mulberry Bend. Yet when Father O’Rourke had appeared on her doorstep fifteen years ago with a frightened, twelve-year-old Irish orphan, Ida Throckmorton had honored her late husband’s debt and taken her in.

But the benign tyrant of this staid brownstone on Sixty-Ninth Street had her rules, so she did—the foremost being no Irish tolerated.

From that moment on, Cathleen Donovan had ceased to exist. Margaret Hamilton had taken her place—a distant relative of some twice-removed cousin of the late Judge. She had been fed, clothed, and patiently tutored in academics and deportment and elocution until all her rough edges had been buffed away and she was able to pass for one of her guardian’s own class.

It hadn’t been that difficult. Most of Margaret’s Irishness had been beaten out of her by Smythe during the two years she had spent at Mrs. Beale’s. And with her blond hair and rosy cheeks she looked more English than Irish.

But sometimes, in that dark hush just before dawn, when the silence was so heavy it pressed like a weight on Margaret’s chest, the ghost of Cathleen Donovan would come calling, bringing with her a confusing mix of good memories and choking terrors that would send Margaret bolting upright in her bed, gasping and clawing at her throat as if Smythe’s hand was still there.

Don’t know about y’all but I’m at the edge of my seat! Literally folks, I’m about ready to fall off the saddle here!! 

Ms. Warner tells me we’ve not seen the last of old Heartbreak Creek.

KAKI WARNER:  I just signed a contract for 3 more books set in Heartbreak Creek, blending the old characters with a bunch of new ones.  And the current brides books will be released in mass market late this fall/winter.  I can’t show you the covers yet, but they’re all the guys.  Sort of like the Wilkins mass market books.

If that don’t get yer blood pumpin’ well maybe ya  oughta go visit the old sawbones.

And after you’ve read this series…Cause I know you’re gonna read this series, pick up the BLOOD ROSE TRILOGY from Kaki Warner! It’s another must read and keep and read again and again series!!