Tag Archives: culpepper cowboys

Status Update – Why Series End

Mar 01, 2017

In my writing career so far, I have written eight different series (and a few odds and ends). Of those series, I only have two “active” right now (The Brides of Paradise Ranch and Nerds of Paradise). Four of those series are definitely done (The Noble Hearts, Montana Romance, Hot on the Trail, and Culpepper Cowboys). And the other two (Second Chances and Grace’s Moon)? Ugh, that’s where my heart and my head get into serious debates.

But first things first….

Why does an author choose to end a series? If you’re a reader, it might be heartbreaking to say goodbye to your favorite characters and a world you’ve fallen in love with. The same is true for the author too, but sometimes things have to end. Like with my Noble Hearts series. That decision was easy, because I realized Medieval Romance wasn’t the way I wanted to go. Or with Montana Romance, I felt like I’d told all the stories I needed to tell in that world and wanted to move on to other things. Hot on the Trail was a slightly different story, because I just got burnt out of writing about the Oregon Trail. I mean, there are only so many stories you can tell about people headed west in wagons. But you’ll notice, I sort of just rolled that world into Paradise Ranch, so it doesn’t really end, it just shifts.

Incidentally, I’m thinking that later this year, I might spin-off Paradise Ranch into a 3-5 novella series about the girls that Bonnie has rescued, educated, and helped to find a new life. And thanks to Elspeth and Gunn, those lives are as servants in British households…which would be a great transition from my historical westerns to the British Victorian stories I really want to start writing. It’s all organic, and everything fits together!

But I digress. For me, the Culpepper Cowboys books ended because the well went completely dry for those books. I got to the point where I was just blank. I had no new ideas for the length, tone, and atmosphere of that world. But that sort of rolled into Nerds of Paradise, which are longer, deeper, more complex, and deal with more serious issues. So if that’s the case for those books, what about Second Chances, my contemporary series set in Maine?

This is where I start to cringe on an emotional level. Because I LOVE those Maine books. I love Maine! And I’m very proud of what is now a trilogy. I have people asking me if I’m going to write more in that series all the time. And I hate to say it, but the farther away I get from the last one of those that I published, the less likely I am to continue the series. Because the thing about writers is that their writing brains are not static. I am constantly coming up with new ideas, new worlds, and new characters. Which is a wonderful thing! But the consequence is that other things can be left behind because there just aren’t enough hours in the day. Also, when other series and types of books start to pick up in sales, it’s really hard to forego that income to write something that will need a bigger marketing push. We gotta eat!

And finally… Grace’s Moon. *epic sigh* So, so few people have read my Sci-Fi books or even know they exist. The thing is, I love that genre. I love the books that I’ve already published in that series, and I love the ones that are still floating around in my head. And I keep saying that someday I AM going to come back to that series and write more. Unlike Second Chances, I’m unwilling to say, willingly or grudgingly, that I’m done with Grace. Because I have generation after generation of those characters already planned out. In my mind, that world is epic! Someday I’ll get back to it. Someday!

Release Day! – Architect’s Angel

Dec 30, 2016

Here it is, folks! The last book from me in the Culpepper Cowboy series (although I know Kirsten Osbourne is planning at least one more)! I hope you enjoy Architect’s Angel and the super fun rivalry between Arch O’Donnell and Tabby Ross. Sometimes two people are just meant to be, in spite of how they get in their own way. Architect’s Angel is currently available at Amazon and for Kindle Unlimited, but in three months it will be available wherever eBooks are sold. Wanna get started reading Chapter One? Her you go!

Christmas was only two days away, but so far, Dr. Tabitha Ross, Culpepper’s premier OB/GYN, had yet to get into the spirit.

“I just haven’t felt like celebrating,” she explained to her patient and friend, Elvie Lipinski, as Elvie sat in the chair on the other side of Tabby’s desk.

Elvie shrugged. “It takes a while for me to get into the Christmas spirit every year. Everyone rushes things so much. Why can’t we just focus on Thanksgiving before charging into all the consumerism and grabbiness?”

Tabby smirked. “Is grabbiness a word?”

“If it isn’t, it should be.” Elvie chuckled, then tilted her head to the side, a dreamy smile coming to her face. “Although, I’ll admit, this year has been so good that I was already blissed out—even before December.”

Tabby smiled for her friend and handed her the piece of paper she’d been explaining. “Totally understandable. That tends to happen when you meet a hunky guy out of the blue, marry him three seconds later, inherit a fortune, and settle down to raise a family. You’ll want to start taking prenatal vitamins now, by the way. Then, when you do come back in here with good news, you’ll be ready to go.”

Elvie took the paper with a beaming smile. “I can’t wait. I’m determined to beat both Doc and Nancy and Sly and Rachel in the whole baby race.”

“Still nothing from either of those pairs?”

“Not yet, but I know Doc and Nancy have started trying.” Elvie paused. “I think Sly and Rachel are too concerned with their businesses to get started on a family at the moment. You know those two, they have a five-year plan for everything.”

“Yeah.” Tabby laughed, but a part of her was unsettled. The part that sped instantly from thinking about the three older O’Donnell siblings and straight to the youngest.

Arch O’Donnell. She couldn’t even think about the man without pangs of…well, lots of pangs. The man was a menace. He was arrogant, self-involved, and petty. He’d gotten in her way at the class reunion six weeks ago, messing up her plans, arguing with her decisions, and generally making her job way more difficult than it needed to be. He’d been doing the same thing since their senior year of high school too. Just thinking about him set her teeth on edge.

Arch and his smarmy grin, that twinkle in his eyes, the smooth way he had of moving. He’d been away from Culpepper for years, first at school, then building his architecture business. But now he was back. Back in all his buff, snappy-dressing, male glory. He’d wound her up so tightly at the reunion, then had the nerve to ask her to dance. And the extra nerve to hold her close during that dance, his warmth seeping into her, his cologne intoxicating, his—

“Whoa! Earth to Tabby.” Elvie waved her hand to snap Tabby out of her thoughts.

“Sorry, what?” Tabby cleared her throat and sat straighter, pretending to fuss with the paperwork on her desk. It was almost quitting time anyhow.

Elvie wasn’t fooled. She fixed Tabby with a lop-sided grin. “I wonder what you were thinking about.”

“I was thinking about what I’m going to have for supper,” Tabby bluffed.

“No, you weren’t.”

Tabby stopped fussing with the papers and frowned at her friend. “How do you know?”

“Because you have that look in your eyes.”

“What look? I don’t have any looks,” she answered, a little too fast.

Elvie just leaned back in her chair and smiled. “So, no Christmas spirit this year?”

Tabby could see Elvie was trying to lure her into talking about Arch, but she took the bait anyhow. “I just don’t feel like it. Mom is in Tahiti with her new boyfriend this year.”

“Ooh, Tahiti!”

“And Dad…” She let her sentence trail off with a sigh. “Dad is Dad.”

“He still living in Haskell?” The corner of Elvie’s mouth twitched into a grin.

“Yeah,” Tabby answered, avoiding her eyes. “He and his partner have expanded their law firm, now that Paradise Space Flight is drawing more people to town. He says they’re up to their eyeballs in work.”

“Haskell isn’t that far away. Are you guys going to get together at all on Christmas day?”

“Well, Sammy and I are doing a little Christmas something together, though we haven’t decided what yet. Probably just brunch at her place before heading to church.”

“I see.” Elvie nodded and hummed. Her expression turned innocent…or rather, fake innocent. “Things are going to be way different in the O’Donnell family this year too, what with three out of the four of us getting married in the last year. Doc and Nancy already have plans to do their own thing on Christmas morning. Sly and Rachel keep talking about heading out to the ski lodge for a romantic getaway. And Evan and I are heading down to Colorado for a quick visit with his family.”

“Oh?” Tabby shouldn’t have commented on the plans at all. She knew just what Elvie would do with her single syllable.

She was right.

“You should get in touch with Arch to see if he wants to do something on Christmas,” Elvie said.

“No.” Tabby’s answer was swift and definitive.

“He’ll probably be feeling left out,” Elvie went on, tugging on exactly the right heartstrings. “With Evan and I gone, he’ll be all by himself in that old house.”

Tabby still couldn’t believe that with all of Evan’s new money, he and Elvie were still living in the old O’Donnell house with Arch.

“He could at least use some food after church,” Elvie went on. “Poor guy.”

Tabby sighed. “No.” This time, her argument was less solid. Probably because the unaccountable desire to be there for Arch on Christmas, to wrap her arms around him and tell him everything would be all right, that someone did actually care about him, reared its ugly head. “Arch and I hate each other,” she reminded Elvie…and herself. “We have since high school.”

“I was under the impression that you two dated in high school.”

Tabby’s face flared red. Her heart thumped faster. “That was only for a few months in the summer before senior year.”

“Yeah, but I remember that really well,” Elvie argued. “You two were all over each other. Head over heels. Arch couldn’t talk about anything else, and neither could you.”

“It was a long time ago, and it ended badly.” Tabby pushed her chair back and stood. She took off her white coat and hung it on the rack to the side of her desk. Elvie was the last patient of the day, and suddenly all Tabby wanted to do was go home and fix herself a comfort food dinner full of fat and carbs.

Elvie stood and joined Tabby at the rack, getting her coat as Tabby shrugged into hers. “How did it end again?”

Tabby huffed out a breath and stared hard at Elvie. “You know how it ended.”

“There had to have been more to it than that silly election for class president,” Elvie said.

Tabby focused on her coat’s zipper to keep the old hurt of that election from showing on her face. “Nope. It was the election. Or rather, the rivalry of the campaign.”

“I still can’t believe Arch ran against you, even after you told him you were running.”

Coats on, purses in hand, Tabby and Elvie headed for the door. Night had fallen on the other side of the windows they passed. Already, the days were getting longer, but only barely. It would be months still until Tabby left her office in the daylight.

“I can’t believe he ran against me either,” Tabby muttered as they reached the front desk.

Release Day! – Hairdresser’s Honey

Nov 18, 2016

It’s finally here! Denise Bonneville is finally about to meet her Hero. Hairdresser’s Honey, book 14 in the Culpepper Cowboys series, is finally available, exclusively at Amazon and for Kindle Unlimited for now, but available everywhere in 90 days! Want to get a head start and see what Denise has been up to since the last time we saw her? Read on!

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“So then Andy actually had the nerve to admit that he was getting paid for each day that Evan didn’t come forward to claim the Kissie Lips fortune.”

“No way!” Denise Bonneville exclaimed, keeping her eyes on the road as she drove. Everything about her friend, Elvie O’Donnell-soon-to-be-Lipinski’s story shocked her, but also made her laugh.

“Yeah, and he had the nerve to think I would still want to marry him,” Elvie went on. She snorted. “Why would I want a hot dog when I can have a juicy steak?”

“I suppose it depends on how big the hot dog is,” Denise joked.

The two of them bubbled with laughter. Elvie doubled over as much as her seatbelt would let her. Denise beamed from ear-to-ear, half because of the joke, but half because one of the nicest, most popular women in town counted her as a friend. Sure, she wasn’t in high school anymore and shouldn’t be thinking of people as popular and unpopular, but not only had she never been able to shake the specter of high school, her fifteen-year class reunion was in a matter of days. It had been a massive relief when Elvie had asked her for a ride out to the Mountain View Spa for a pre-wedding overnight stay with Evan.

“Oh! Oh!” Elvie suddenly sat straighter, flapping her hands as she giggled. “And then, once Andy actually got the probate paperwork filed and turned everything over to Evan last week, he actually had the nerve to ask if Evan would hire him to be a financial advisor for the company.”

“You’re kidding!” Denise gaped, peeking sideways at Elvie for a moment. It wasn’t like anyone else was on the roads so far away from Culpepper proper. And since the roads were all pretty much straight and flat, she could have taken her hands off the wheels, rested back in her seat, and driven with her knees if she had to.

“Not kidding.” Elvie shook her head and rolled her eyes. “Evan said no, of course. His great-aunt had a whole team of financial advisors and business advisors and every kind of advisor you could want. Andy was also holding back on that.”

“How could he get away with that?”

“I don’t know,” Elvie sighed. “Here, this whole time, Evan has been so worried that the Kissie Lips business will be too much for him to handle, that he won’t know what he’s doing, but his great-aunt built all of that help into the company, knowing Evan would have a steep learning curve. All he really has to do is listen to what the advisors and CEO of the company have to say, and he can be involved as much or as little as he wants.”

“So what’s he going to do?”

“He started out thinking that he wanted to do nothing, just continue working for the Culpeppers. But now he thinks he wants to buy some land of his own. Not a lot, mind you. Just enough to build a house, keep some horses, and maybe ease into the cattle business.”

“That’s so sweet.” Denise grinned, happy that her friend was getting the life she deserved.

That happiness melted into a sad sigh. Elvie was the kind of person who got a happy ending. She, on the other hand, was not. She wasn’t pretty, like Elvie or Nancy O’Donnell or any of the women the Culpepper boys had married. She wasn’t well-liked either. That was her own fault, if she was being honest. Well, it was the fault of high school Denise. High school Denise had been a real bitch, bullying the people she thought were nerdy, forming nasty cliques with other popular girls, and sucking up to the football players…in every way.

“Hey, what’s that sudden gloomy face all about?” Elvie asked.

Denise sighed. “Oh, nothing. I’m just thinking about my class reunion.”

“Yeah, that all happens a couple days after the wedding,” Elvie answered with a voice infused with cheer, probably in an effort to boost Denise’s spirits, which was sweet. “Arch’s class has their reunion this year. I’m so glad I don’t have one.”

“I wish I didn’t have one either,” Denise sent her a quick look before turning off of the main highway and onto the road that led to the spa. “High school wasn’t exactly the best time of my life.”

Elvie hummed and nodded. “At least you’ve made a substantial change in who you are,” she said softly, with respect that Denise wasn’t sure she deserved. “I wouldn’t have picked you to be my bridesmaid if I didn’t genuinely think you were a great person.”

That put a smile on Denise’s face and brought a few tears to her eyes. “Thanks so much, Elvie. I still can’t believe we’re friends after…” There was no point denying the truth. “After how mean I was.”

Elvie shrugged. “Hey. We all have bad days.”

“My bad day lasted for about fifteen years,” Denise snorted.

“But those days are behind you. That’s all that matters,” Elvie insisted as Denise pulled into a parking space in front of the spa. “And if your old classmates don’t appreciate that, then they aren’t worth knowing.”

“I suppose so.” Denise did her best to think positively. “And as crappy as high school and everything afterwards was, I got Destiny out of the deal.”

She smiled with pride, heart filling with love, at the thought of her daughter. Destiny had meant the world to her, even if her father was a gigantic, neglectful, ex-boyfriend jerk who had knocked her up senior year then dumped her to run off to college. As hard as it was, there were times when she was glad Wes hadn’t stuck around, hadn’t shown much interest in Destiny.

Okay, so that wasn’t very fair to Destiny. Every girl deserved a father. But as much as her daughter pined for a father figure, she didn’t really know what she was yearning for when she wished her real daddy would swoop back into town and make her life better, like some fairytale. If anything, Wes was the troll who lived under the bridge.

And he would be in town for the reunion.

“Hey, it’ll be okay.” Elvie assured her, squeezing her arm like a true friend. “And if it isn’t, you can always ditch your reunion and come hang out with us.”

“You and Evan will be on your honeymoon, won’t you?”

“We decided to delay leaving for a few days so that we can help out with Culpepper’s homecoming events.”

Denise let out a breath, shaking her head. “You are the nicest person I’ve ever known, Elvie. I have no idea how we’re actually friends.”

Elvie laughed, opening her car door and stepping out. “Hey, you’re the one who drove me all the way out here into the middle of nowhere so I could meet up with my future hubby to be slathered in mud together.”

“Have fun with that.” Denise laughed, waving as Elvie got out of the car. Evan was already waiting for her on the sidewalk in front of the spa. Elvie skipped into his arms and threw her arms around him in a big hug. Evan—manly hunk of awesomeness that he was—hugged her back and planted a kiss on her lips that made Denise ache with sentimentality and regret.

No one would ever kiss her like that. She’d spent too long being too horrible to everyone. And she was all bloated and chubby. She wasn’t the super-cool cheerleader dating the captain of the football team anymore—she was the loser who barely managed to graduate and faded into obscurity after being shunned by everyone else. Girls who had made the mistakes she had didn’t get the chance to have a happily ever after.

But she had Destiny. As she pulled out of the spa and headed back to the highway, that thought made her smile. She had her beautiful, bright, hard-working daughter. And sure, Destiny had turned into a total teenager lately, getting moody, stomping around the house slamming doors, and giggling on the phone with her girlfriends, but Denise wouldn’t trade her for the world. So help her, if Wes complained about his daughter in any way during this stupid reunion week or if he broke Destiny’s heart by ignoring her, Denise would cut the man’s balls off with an old pair of her haircutting shears.

That’s right, Hairdresser’s Honey is available now at Amazon and for Kindle Unlimited!

Release Day! – Drifter’s Darling

Sep 30, 2016

It’s Release Day for Drifter’s Darling, book 12 in the Culpepper Cowboys series! I know you’ve been waiting for it, so here you go, I won’t make you wait! Get started reading Chapter One right here, and then zip on over to Amazon to pick it up!

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Chapter One

Culpepper, Wyoming had never been a particularly hopping metropolis, but after eight years running the rat race in Denver, it was exactly the speed Elvie O’Donnell was looking for. There were more cows than people per square foot throughout the state, which was good for the vet business Elvie’s brother, Doc, had going in the remote ranching town. It was a vet business Elvie had happily joined when Doc floated the idea to her a couple of months ago. Culpepper was where her heart was.

Culpepper was also a great place to hide.

“Here you go, Raspberry Rush.” Denise Bonneville pulled a tube of lipstick from its display in the cosmetics aisle of Culpepper’s one and only convenience store and handed it to Elvie’s newly-minted sister-in-law, Nancy. “This one will match your complexion much better than the shade I saw you wearing the other day.”

Nancy took the lipstick with a dubious expression. “I’m not used to wearing make-up in the first place.” She rolled the tube in her fingers, reading the ingredients on the back, of all things.

Denise snorted and brushed away Nancy’s comment. “Honey, I’ll help you out all you want.”

“You will?” Nancy’s eyebrows inched up.

“Sure I will. I’ll do your colors too. Oh! Then maybe we can go on a big shopping trip to Cheyenne or something!”

“You planning to do my colors too?” Elvie asked. Her smile reached all the way down to her gut. She hadn’t had a fun group of girl friends since high school.

“I’d love to.” Denise brightened. “Although you’ll be easy to beautify. You’re so pretty already.”

Elvie blushed. The last thing she ever felt was pretty. Competent, yes. Powerful, occasionally. But pretty just wasn’t something she’d ever cared about.

“Thanks,” she managed at last. “I credit whatever prettiness I have to the O’Donnell genes.”

“You guys sure have a lot of them,” Denise grinned, that look coming into her eyes that all women wore when talking about her brothers. “I had such a crush on Doc for all those years. Not that I do now,” she rushed to add for Nancy’s sake, holding up her hands to prove her innocence. “He’s all yours now, and I don’t believe in chasing other women’s men.” She paused. “At least, not anymore.”

Denise’s lighthearted expression drooped. Elvie reached out to squeeze her arm. “We know you don’t.”

“Yeah, and you’re right about the O’Donnell genes,” Nancy said, steered away from the painful subject. “I still can’t believe I managed to bag such a hot guy.”

“They’re all hot, Doc, Sly, and Arch.” Denise perked up a little, then burst into a full, naughty grin. “I don’t know how you and Doc ever manage to leave the bedroom.”

“Let me tell you,” Nancy drawled, arching one eyebrow. “There are days when we don’t.”

“Eew, eew!” Elvie clapped her hands to her ears, laughing. “That’s my brother you’re talking about.”

“Yes it is,” Nancy teased her, licking her lips. She held up her tube of lipstick. “And pretty soon, he’s going to have Raspberry Rush marks all over his body, including his—”

“No!” Elvie laughed even louder. “Who do you think you are, Chastity Culpepper?”

The three of them giggled like a pack of teenagers talking about the guys on the football team. It was the kind of thing that helped Elvie’s soul breathe. The few friends she’d made in Denver didn’t understand why she wanted to leave the vibrant city for Nowheresville, as they called it. But this was it. There was just something about the friendships a girl could make in a small town. These were the ladies she would call in the middle of the night if her crying baby was running a fever.

Not that she had a baby.

Not that she was likely to anytime soon.

“So what shade would you recommend for me?” She turned back to the shelf of cosmetics. “Ooh! I like this one. Cinnamon Sunset.”

She reached for the tube, but Denise pulled it out of her hands. “Not with your coloring. This one is too warm. You need a cooler shade.” She put the Cinnamon Sunset back and reached for a dark rose tube. “This one. Dusty Rose Dreams.”

“Ooh!” Elvie took the tube, and turned to the tiny mirror built into the display, holding the lipstick up to her face. “I like it. Now all I need is someone to make kissy marks all over.”

The other two laughed.

“I’m sure you won’t have any trouble with that,” Denise said, growing wistful again. “Everyone and their brother is probably falling all over you, considering how few women there are around here these days.”

“Not after Sly and Rachel’s stunt,” Nancy corrected her. “The hotel has been packed full of husband-seeking ladies from as far away as Seattle.”

“That was a smart move on my brother’s part,” Elvie added. “And last I heard, Rachel’s underwear company had so many orders that it pushed them way into the black for the year.”

“So she’s going to be able to keep the company?” Nancy asked.

“Yep.” It felt incredibly good to say that.

But as triumphant as Elvie felt, the feeling deflated as soon as she noticed Denise mulling over the lipstick with a sad frown. Elvie exchanged a look with Nancy. Neither of them were going to stand by and let Denise get depressed. Not since discovering how nice the woman really was underneath the layer of prickles and tragedy that Chastity Culpepper had started to scrape away back in the spring.

“I think we need to find a great shade for you,” Elvie said, scanning the tubes of lipstick still in the display.

“Yeah.” Nancy joined in. “We do have a town full of single men, after all. You’re bound to snag one of them.”

“Sriracha Siren?” Nancy held up a spicy-looking tube of lipstick with a hopeful look.

Denise tried to smile. “It’s not going to work,” she sighed.

“Why not?” Elvie put an arm around her and hugged. “If you think it can work for me…”

“Yeah, but you’re thin and pretty and everybody likes you,” Denise said. “I’m fat and mean and I have a reputation.”

“No!”

“That’s not true!”

Elvie and Nancy spoke over each other in their haste to set Denise straight.

Denise held up her hands to stop them. “It’s true. You can’t argue with it. I’m all puffy and doughy.”

“Men like curves on a woman,” Nancy argued.

“And everybody knows all about how mean and spiteful I’ve been all these years,” Denise went on. “I’ve been a royal bee-otch since high school, since Wes Fulbright knocked me up and dumped me.”

“Yeah, well, you ended up with the best part of that whole thing, Destiny,” Elvie argued.

“It’s true, Destiny is an awesome kid,” Nancy agreed.

“She is,” Denise admitted.

“She’s been a super big help over at the clinic,” Elvie added.

“I’m so grateful to you for hiring her after school,” Denise said, then rushed on with, “But that doesn’t change how I’ve behaved since she was born. It doesn’t erase years’ worth of being rotten. And every guy in town knows just how easy I was.”

Was being the operative word,” Nancy rushed to clarify.

“Still, I don’t think I’ll ever find a guy who can love me,” Denise finished, taking the Sriracha Siren out of Nancy’s hand and shoving it back in the display.

“You don’t know that,” Nancy persisted. “I ended up with Doc, even after a billion misunderstandings and false starts. Well,” she cocked her head to the side, “not a billion. But I found him, and I’m lucky.”

“Yeah,” Elvie added. “And I never expected to find a guy who made my heart skip a beat and my girly bits tingle, not after—”

She stopped, clamping her mouth shut. She’d just come way too close to blurting out the big secret she’d been sitting on since the rodeo last month. It wasn’t even a secret either, just something she hadn’t planned on telling anyone. How could she even begin to explain her excitement at the memory of those blue eyes and those shoulders, as broad as the Wyoming horizon, even if she’d only seen them once? Guys like that didn’t come around every day and—

She blinked as soon as she realized her friends were staring at her. “What?”

Nancy grinned and peeked at Denise. Denise smirked and crossed her arms. “You get the feeling there’s something she’s not telling us?”

“Uh-huh.” Nancy crossed her arms as well and stood shoulder-to-shoulder with Denise. “Spill it, sister.”

Elvie’s cheeks suddenly went hot. The only way she was going to get out of this with her dignity intact was to act like it was no big deal. “It’s nothing. I was just thinking about the one that got away.”

 

Drifter’s Darling is out NOW! At the moment, it’s exclusive to Amazon and for Kindle Unlimited, but in three short months, it will be available at iBooks, Barnes & Noble, and Kobo as well!

Weekend Excerpt – Drifter’s Darling

Sep 16, 2016

It’s almost the weekend, folks, and you know what that means. It means it’s time to take a sneak peek at something up and coming! And I know you’re eager to get a little taste of the next Culpepper Cowboys book, Drifter’s Darling. So here you go!

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“Here you go, Raspberry Rush.” Denise Bonneville pulled a tube of lipstick from its display in the cosmetics aisle of Culpepper’s one and only convenience store and handed it to Elvie’s newly-minted sister-in-law, Nancy, Doc’s wife. “This one will match your complexion much better than the shade I saw you wearing the other day.”

Nancy took the lipstick with a dubious expression. “I’m not used to wearing make-up in the first place.” She rolled the tube in her fingers, reading the ingredients, of all things, on the back.

Denise snorted and brushed away Nancy’s comment. “Honey, I’ll help you out all you want.”

“You will?” Nancy’s eyebrows inched up.

“Sure I will. I’ll do your colors too. Oh! Then maybe we can go on a big shopping trip to Cheyenne or something!”

“You planning to do my colors too?” Elvie asked. Her smile reached all the way down to her gut. She hadn’t had a fun group of girl friends since high school.

“I’d love to.” Denise brightened. “Although you’ll be easy to beautify. You’re so pretty already.”

Elvie blushed. The last thing she ever felt was pretty. Competent, yes. Powerful, occasionally. But pretty just wasn’t something she’d ever cared about.

“Thanks,” she managed at last. “I credit whatever prettiness I have to the O’Donnell genes.”

“You’ve sure got a lot of them,” Denise grinned, that look coming into her eyes that all women wore when talking about her brothers. “I had such a crush on Doc all these years. Not that I do now,” she rushed to add for Nancy’s sake, holding up her hands to prove her innocence. “He’s all yours now, and I don’t believe in chasing other women’s men.” She paused. “At least, not anymore.”

Denise’s lighthearted expression drooped. Elvie reached out to squeeze her arm. “We know you don’t.”

“Yeah, and you’re right about the O’Donnell genes.” Nancy deftly steered away from the painful subject. “I still can’t believe I managed to bag such a hot guy.”

“They’re all hot, Doc, Sly, and Arch.” Denise perked up a little, then burst into a full, naughty grin. “I don’t know how you ever manage to leave the bedroom.”

“Let me tell you,” Nancy drawled, arching on eyebrow. “There are days when we don’t.”

“Eew, eew!” Elvie clapped her hands to her ears, laughing. “That’s my brother you’re talking about.”

“Yes it is,” Nancy teased her, licking her lips. She held up her tube of lipstick. “And pretty soon, he’s going to have Raspberry Rush marks all over his body, including his—”

“No!” Elvie laughed even louder. “Who do you think you are, Chastity Culpepper?”

The three of them giggled like a pack of teenagers talking about the guys on the football team. It was the kind of thing that helped Elvie’s soul breathe. The few friends she’d made in Denver didn’t understand why she wanted to leave the vibrant city for Nowheresville, as they called it, but this was it. There was just something about the friendships a girl could make in a small town. These were the ladies she would call in the middle of the night if her crying baby was running a fever.

Not that she had a baby.

Not that she was likely to anytime soon.

“So what shade would you recommend for me?” She turned back to the shelf of cosmetics. “Ooh! I like this one. Cinnamon Sunset.”

She reached for the tube, but Denise pulled it out of her hands. “Not with your coloring. This one is too warm. You need a cooler shade.” She put the Cinnamon Sunset back and reached for a dark rose tube. “This one. Dusty Rose Dreams.”

“Ooh!” Elvie took the tube, and turned to the tiny mirror built into the display, holding the lipstick up to her face. “I like it. Now all I need is someone to make kissy marks all over.”

The other two laughed.

Only two weeks to wait until Drifter’s Darling is out!