Tag Archives: his dangerous bride

Release Day! His Dangerous Bride/Eden: The Dangerous Bride

Jan 10, 2016

It’s time! It’s here! Although technically tomorrow is release day, I’ll let you in on a secret… The books are live on most platforms right now! And, you guessed it, both are available for an introductory price of 99 cents for a VERY limited time only! Grab ’em cheap while you can! So are you ready for some adventure with Luke and Eden? Here’s a taste of His Dangerous Bride (spicy version) aka Eden: The Dangerous Bride (sweet version):

HisDangerousBride_Eden_2Covers

“Miss Eden Gardner?”

Eden spun as her name was called. Right away, she spotted a distinguished gentlemen in an expensive suit, a gold watch fob glistening across his waistcoat, and an attractive older woman in sensible but stylish cotton.

“Miss Eden Gardner,” the woman said, a statement this time instead of a question. She picked up her pace, coming forward with outstretched hands. “I’m Mrs. Josephine Evans, and you have no idea how overjoyed I am to welcome you to Haskell.”

“She took the words right out of my mouth,” the gentleman said. He came to a stop in front of her and touched the brim of his hat before taking her hand in a firm shake. “Charlie Garrett, at your service.”

“It’s a pleasure to meet both of you.” She wasn’t even lying at that. Her shoulders relaxed and her back stopped aching. It was because of these two, and Mrs. Piedmont, that she was getting this one-in-a-million chance to start over.

As soon as she let go of Mr. Garrett’s hand, she searched behind him, scanning the area around the station. “Where’s my husband?”

Mrs. Evans’s brow shot up. Mr. Garrett sputtered, then burst into a hearty laugh. “No beating around the bush with you, I guess.”

Eden crossed her arms and smiled at him. Handsome, tail end of his prime. Confident, competent, and likely able to take her down before she knew what was happening. Yes, she liked Charlie Garrett at first sight.

“I never saw much point in beating around any bushes,” she told him and Mrs. Evans. “It’s a waste of time when seconds matter.”

“Is that so?” Mr. Garrett’s lips twitched as he worked to get his grin under control. His eyes held experience, understanding, knowing. She’d have to watch out for him.

A slow but equally satisfied grin spread across Mrs. Evans’s face. “Oh yes,” she said, rubbing her hands together as though relishing a prize. “She’ll be perfect. Luke won’t know what hit him.”

Damn. By the sound of things, Eden would get along with Mrs. Evans like they were two peas in a pod. And if what Mrs. Breashears had said was right, Mrs. Evans was Luke Chance’s adopted mother, which meant she’d be Eden’s mother-in-law. Haskell was growing on her already.

“I’m here, I’m here!” a call came from the row of hitching posts to one side of the train. “Sorry I’m late.”

Mr. Garrett and Mrs. Evans turned, and Eden leaned to the side, arms still crossed, to get a look at the man who was climbing down from a handsome chestnut gelding. He moved with the horse as though the two of them had one mind, looping the reins around the post with hardly a glance. When he turned in Eden’s direction, her heart stuttered in her chest.

“Well, hello,” she hummed.

The man strode forward with wide, sure steps. Cocky steps. The kind of steps that said he could handle any situation and keep smiling while doing so. His shoulders were broad, his arms strong under sleeves rolled up past his elbow. A hint of dark blond hair was visible under the brim of his worn hat, and straight, white teeth flashed as he smiled. He hopped up onto the platform with ease. Eden had half a mind to ask him to turn around so she could get a look at his backside.

“Are you Eden Gardner?” he asked, striding to a stop between Mr. Garrett and Mrs. Evans. He raked her from head to toe with a fiery gaze that said he liked what he saw.

Hot damn.

“That’s me.” She stepped toward him, holding out a hand.

He took it, his grip firm and warm. “Luke Chance. Pleased to meet you.”

His confidence, his strength, that hint of mischief in his eyes as he smiled at her—yep, she could have done much worse in a man. Now all she needed to do was make sure he sealed the deal before he saw right through her and called it all off.

“All right.” She looked at Mr. Garrett, then Mrs. Evans. “He seems like he’s got all the right parts in all the right places. I’ll marry him.” She nodded. The faster the better.

 

Like I said, His Dangerous Bride and Eden: The Dangerous Bride are live on most retailer platforms right now. And remember, they’re only 99 cents for a VERY limited time!

Click here to be taken to Eden: The Dangerous Bride on Amazon and Kindle Unlimited.

Click here to be taken to His Dangerous Bride on Amazon.

Click here to be taken to His Dangerous Bride on iBooks.

Nook link coming soon.

Kobo link coming soon.

Weekend Excerpt – His Dangerous Bride/Eden: The Dangerous Bride

Jan 02, 2016

Happy New Year everybody! I hope you rang in 2016 in style. I’ll admit, I spent both New Year’s Eve and part of New Year’s Day working. Why? So I could bring you the next book in The Brides of Paradise Ranch series, of course! So here’s a little snippet from Chapter One of His Dangerous Bride (spicy), aka Eden: The Dangerous Bride (sweet), coming to you January 11th!

HisDangerousBride_Eden_2Covers

“What happened to you?” Muriel balked when he burst through the kitchen door.

“Saloon fight. Is Ma home?” he rushed on without further explanation.

Muriel gaped and sputtered, but Luke was already at the door leading to the hall and on to the front parlor when she called, “She and Mrs. Piedmont are having morning tea in the front room.”

Luke marched down the hall and into the parlor, where, sure enough, Josephine and Virginia leaned toward each other over a fancy tea set, like two gossiping schoolgirls.

“Ma, I want you to find me a wife,” Luke announced, planting his hands on his hips and smiling with all the confidence of a conquering hero.

Josephine and Virginia snapped straight, brows shooting to their hairlines, and turned to gape at him.

A moment later, their expressions transformed into sly smiles of triumph that were anything but surprised. The grin slipped from Luke’s face, and dread pooled in his gut. Maybe he’d been a bit hasty in this decision.

“I knew you’d come around sooner or later,” Josephine said. She stood and swept across the room to Luke, Virginia right behind her. “I’ve been hoping, and more importantly, planning, for this day for months.”

“Yes,” Virginia added as the two of them pushed him toward a flowery sofa against one wall and nudged him to sit. “Mrs. Breashears has sent us profiles of all of the young women at Hurst Home, and we’ve been pouring over them since then, working out exactly which girl would be right for you.”

“You…have?” This might have been a good time for him to run after all.

“Of course, my boy,” Josephine said. “I love you dearly, and I want nothing but the greatest joy for you. And as we all know, the greatest joy comes from a happy and successful marriage to a woman who suits your temperament in every—good heavens, Luke, what happened to your face?”

Josephine’s expression hardened to something midway between alarm and anger. She reached out and touched her fingertips to his swollen, purple eye.

“You’re just noticing my shiner now?” Luke flinched away from her.

“You finally asked me to find you a bride. What else was I supposed to think about?” Josephine’s tone turned scolding.

“Land sakes, Luke. You were in that stupid saloon fight last night, weren’t you?” Virginia sighed crossed her arms. “Almost all of Howard’s ranch hands and a few of mine were involved. Picked a fight with Bonneville’s men, or so I hear.”

“We did not pick that fight,” Luke growled. “They started it with that lousy, crooked deal Bonneville worked out with Dashiell’s Stockyard.”

“And you decided to take it to the next level, I suppose?” Josephine pursed her lips.

“We couldn’t just let them gloat like they were.” It wasn’t much of an excuse, and both women hummed and clucked over it.

“In light of this mess, I think I’d pick Eden Gardner over Talia Lambert,” Virginia said.

Josephine leaned back, nodding at Luke and humming her assent. “Definitely Eden. Talia seems like such a sweet, sunny girl, but I think you’re right about Luke needing a firmer hand after all.”

“A firmer hand?” Luke scowled, leaping off the sofa to pace the room. “What’s this about a firmer hand? I’m a man, Ma, not some snotty kid.” He puffed up his chest and stood tall to prove the point. If only his side wasn’t so sure and his left eye could open all the way.

“Come now, son, you’ll like Eden Gardner.” Josephine smiled and patted the spot on the sofa where Luke had been sitting. “The report Mrs. Breashears sent indicates that she’s sharp, quick-witted, and tough. Apparently, she’s at Hurst Home because there was some trouble with her family. Mrs. Breashears isn’t specific, but it sounds like they abandoned her.”

“Abandoned her?” Luke’s shoulders dropped from their tight bunch. Long-dormant emotion from those painful days when his sour old grandfather had dumped him and his siblings at the orphanage door and walked off, two days after his parents succumbed to fever, flared. He rubbed the back of his neck. “Is…is she pretty?”

Josephine and Virginia shared a grin. “Mrs. Breashears doesn’t make judgements about the girls’ appearances in her reports, but she does say that Eden has dark hair, brown eyes, and freckles.”

“Freckles?” Luke’s mind conjured an image of a girl of no more than fifteen bearing a face full of freckles, a shy smile, and eyes glowing with adoration. Well, he wasn’t so keen on a girl that young, but the adoration and the face he could take. He nodded in consideration, then said. “All right. Sounds good. How soon can she get here?”

Josephine laughed. “In a hurry, son?”

“Yep,” Luke answered before he could think better of it. He inched sideways to the tea table, searching for pastries. He hadn’t eaten that morning, after all. “The cattle drive is only a month away, and Franklin will need to make a decision before that.”

“Cattle drive?” Josephine asked.

“Franklin?” Virginia echoed.

Luke selected a warm muffin from a plate on the table, took a bite, and said while chewing, “I asked Franklin to let me lead the cattle drive to Culpepper. He said he needed proof that I was stable and responsible. That’s why I’m here.”

“Ah,” the two older women said in unison.

Josephine cleared her throat, lips twitching as though she was trying not to giggle. “I’ll telegraph Mrs. Breashears this afternoon to see what we can arrange.”

“If she’s willing, I’m certain Eden could be here by the end of the month,” Virginia added. “It doesn’t take that long to journey from Nashville to Haskell.”

“Good.” Luke stuffed the rest of the muffin in his mouth. “I’m pleased.”

Still, Josephine and Virginia tried not to laugh.

“In the meantime, you’d best clean yourself up and think about the qualities a sober and mature husband should have,” Josephine said. “I’m sure Pete would be more than happy to let you know what you should expect in your new role as husband.”

“I think I can manage that on my own, Ma.” Luke winked and started for the door. “I’m no spring chicken.”

The two older women giggled and snickered. Luke paused as he reached the door and turned to them with a scowl.

“What?” he demanded.

“Nothing, nothing.” Virginia held up a hand to hide her grinning mouth.

“It’s just that you may want to consider that married life is not what you’re thinking it is,” Josephine added.

“Ma. I’m twenty-seven years old. I’ve heard all about Bonnie’s business,” he admitted, though his cheeks flared red as he did. “I know what goes on in a marriage.”

Virginia burst out in snorting chuckles.

“If you say so, my dear.” Josephine’s lips twitched as she gave him a downright patronizing look. “If you say so.”

 

So there you have it! Intrigued? His Dangerous Bride and Eden: The Dangerous Bride release on Monday, January 11th. If you haven’t read His Perfect Bride, aka Corva: The Perfect Bride yet, well, they’re not essential for understanding book 2, but they sure are fun! Pick up a copy today!

Western Wednesday – Home, Home on the Range

Dec 30, 2015
Vaqueros, or Mexican cowboys

Vaqueros, or Mexican cowboys

One of the most iconic aspects of life in the Old West, something that plays a prominent role in my new series, The Brides of Paradise Ranch, is the whole idea of the ranch itself. When settlers first poured out West as the various trails, and later the railroad, opened things up, many of them thought about farming the rich land or mining for gold or silver. It wasn’t until slightly later that someone looked around and said, “You know what? We could raise  livestock here.” 

Okay, so right about now I bet you’re wondering… How did cows get to the Old West? The short, stupid answer is “Just like everybody else.” Livestock was originally brought over by settlers from Europe. Not just English settlers in the original colonies, though. Quite a few cattle were brought over to Mexico by Spanish settlers. In fact, the whole cowboy, cattle drive industry that we think of today when we think of the Old West really started in Texas around the time of the Civil War. And if you remember, “around the time of the Civil War” is not all that long after the Mexican-American War ended in 1848. Mexican rancheros had been raising longhorn cattle in the area for quite some time. 

The interesting thing to me is that by 1861, with Texas now part of the United States, there was actually a huge surplus of longhorn cattle. Beef was incredibly popular back East, but the problem was getting it there from the remote, railroadless ranches of Texas. A clever, forward-thinking man by the name of James McCoy realized that shipping cattle by rail back east would send profits through the roof. McCoy began buying up land around the village of Abilene, Kansas where the railroad already ran. He built up the area and made it more than just a sleepy frontier town, he made it a destination. All, of course, designed so cattle could be driven from the ranches in Texas to the railhead in Abilene, enabling McCoy and other enterprising ranchers to make money hand over fist. 

This great diagram of how to drive cattle proved very useful in writing His Dangerous Bride!

This great diagram of how to drive cattle proved very useful in writing His Dangerous Bride!

And so, the iconic cattle drive was born. I once had someone tell me that the term “cowboy” wasn’t actually in use in the 19th century, but as far as I have been able to tell from my research, it actually was. But so were the words “cow-poke” and “cow-hand.” Whatever the term, cowboys were, in a way, like glorified shepherds. They were hired to mind the vast herds of cattle that lived out on the Open Range and were owned by specific ranchers. The advantage of the Open Range was that cattle were mostly allowed to just roam free, with little maintenance or interference by ranchers. Cowboys would keep the cattle from getting entirely lost, and once a year, usually in the fall, they would bring the herd together and drive them up to the railhead. 

So who were these cowboys that we’ve all heard so much about? A lot of them were men who were displaced at the end of the Civil War. The war had vast and far-reaching effects, particularly on the economy of the South. Too many of the men coming back from war had no jobs once they returned, especially if they were undereducated or unskilled. The West was just beginning to open at that time, and the advantage of ranches and the boom in the beef industry was that strong men were needed, whether they had education or connections or not. Being a cowboy was a tough life, but it beat a life of poverty and struggle in the decimated economies of the South and East. 

Texas wasn’t the only area where ranching sprouted. In my new series, The Brides of Paradise Ranch, much of the action takes place in the town of Haskell, Wyoming, which was founded by enterprising rancher, Howard Haskell (this is fiction, btw, but based off of a few very interesting actual people). The Wyoming ranching industry began to grow and boom by luck. Yes, the land was ideal for raising cattle (as my character Howard saw from the first), but the luck came about in the decision to bring the Union Pacific Railroad through Wyoming instead of Colorado. That decision made all the difference. 

Cattle drive, 1876

Cattle drive, 1876

The Open Range and the cattle industry were one of the things that gave the Old West a huge boost. Ranching is almost if not more important to the settlement of the West than the discovery of gold and silver. It brought men and money to an unfolding land, gave hopeful young men jobs at a time when they were scarce back East, and helped to settle the frontier. (All, sadly, at the expense of the Native Americans, but that’s a whole other blog post) 

Of course, nothing lasts forever, and neither did the Open Range and the era of the cowboy. Believe it or not, one tiny invention changed everything…barbed wire. But we’ll talk about that next time.

If you’re curious, the first book in The Brides of Paradise Ranch series, His Perfect Bride is available now!

 

(Photos are public domain, courtesy of Wikicommons)