Riding With McKay

Rounding up romance!

Page 3 of 7

City Boy, Country Heart – With Andrea Downing

Today on my blog, I have the incredible Andrea Downing. She will be discussing her new story, City Boy, Country Heart from the upcoming A Cowboy To Keep Anthology, but first we had a little fun. Andrea was a good sport and answered all kinds of goofy questions.  Her sharp wit will make you laugh out loud.


Do you have another job outside of writing?

Yes, that of Mother.

Did you always want to be a writer?

It was interspersed with wanting to be an actress; my first great love is theatre.  I did attend American Academy of Dramatic Arts for a summer but life took me in another direction.

What was your journey to become a writer like?

Bumpy with a lot of flat tires. I get very nervous about showing my work to others so it took me quite a while before I actually sent anything to a publisher.

What do you find to be the most difficult challenges in writing?

Getting my ass on the chair.  I have a Blue Ribbon in Procrastination.

How do you come up with your ideas for a book? What comes first – the plot or the characters?

Generally, the plot and then the characters start talking to me, whispering little sweet somethings.

Most writers have certain quirks or rituals when they write – my must haves are endless cups of coffee, my dog by my feet and complete silence. What are some of yours?

I do like silence but I wrote my first published book, Loveland, while the kitchen was being remodeled so I can’t say it’s an absolute must.  For someone who is basically a quirky person, I haven’t any writing quirks, though I do like a view to daydream by, and I don’t like anyone near me really—so I can’t write on planes or buses or whatever.

What does your writing den look like?

Here at the house, I use my dining table because it has a better view than the desk in the office/tv room. Then there’s the time I’m in Wyoming with a splendid view of the Tetons…if I stretch a bit!

What genre do you prefer? And have you written in any other genres?

I can’t seem to escape the West, though the first book I completed (now in my cupboard at over 600 pages!) was a Georgian romance of the Peninsula War.  Still, since then, it’s been all western romance pretty much, although Dances of the Heart I actually consider Women’s Lit/Romance.

How many stories have you had published?

2 full length novels, 2 novellas, and now City Boy, Country Heart is the 3rd story in an anthology.  I guess that makes 7!

What is one of your favorite stories you’ve written or had published? Please give a brief description of the work.

Oh, come on, that’s like asking which child you prefer! Loveland, my first published work, still makes me happy though I’d like to both re-write it and continue it as a family saga one day.  But Dearest Darling is the story of which I’m most proud—it’s won a ton of awards (to boast!) and I really felt I’d ‘nailed it’ as a mail order bride story.  That’s got quite a twist to it, and Loveland incorporated the British in America as ranchers—which was a bit of history I really had to research thoroughly.

What is your current work in progress about? Or do you have an idea for a future novel?

I’ve semi-started a non-romance book, and have a number of ideas for more western romances.  Let me just get through my daughter’s wedding first please!!!!

Out of all the books you’ve written, published or not, who were your favorite characters and why

I’m in love with all my cowboys.  Who wouldn’t be—not a bad one in the lot!!

How do you come up with your titles?

By imagination!  Loveland had another title I’ll use at some stage but the publisher’s editor rejected; the others just popped into my head, either very quickly like Dearest Darling, or after some consideration, like City Boy, Country Heart.

If one of your books were to be made into a movie who would you cast as your main characters? And why?

Now that is really tough!!  I have a very clear idea of what Jesse in Loveland looks like and no one comes to mind, but I’ll accept Scott Eastwood for almost any of the men characters in my books!

Do you have any words of advice for a new writer?

Don’t be afraid to submit and keep at it—you’ll get there!

What would be something a reader would be surprised to learn about you?

That I lived most of my life in the U.K.?

Do you have any pets? And if so, do they help you write?

No pets, sorry.  We had horses for a while but not now…. Dogs gratefully accepted folks….

Who are a few of your favorite authors? Or the title of the most cherished book you’ve read?

Too many to mention! A Prayer for Owen Meany by John Irving always come to mind because I think it’s one of the most perfectly rounded novels I’ve ever read.

What are some of the things you enjoy when not writing?

I love traveling, particularly road trips—the open road definitely calls to me—especially if the route takes me west!

When it comes to food or deserts, name at least one of your guilty pleasures.

Chocolate, what else?

Who is your favorite actor or actress?

I really don’t have any, but I’ll see most things with Morgan Freeman in them, as well as Clint Eastwood and Robert Redford.  Yes, I am that old….

What is your most favorite movie?

I’m a sucker for The Blind Side—it just reaffirms my faith in mankind.

City Boy, Country Heart Blurb:

Rodeo star and rancher Chay Ridgway has left Wyoming to follow his girlfriend, K.C. Daniels, to New York. Leaving behind all he knows for a small bite of the Big Apple, Chay discovers the canyons of city streets may be too claustrophobic for this cowboy, especially when the trauma is compounded by the fact K.C.’s parents dislike him, their housemate is a harridan, friends are few, and the only job he can get is rounding up dinner plates.

As K.C. continues her two years of study for her Master’s degree, can she also continue to keep a rein on Chay’s heart? Will this cowboy become a city boy, or will the wide-open spaces of Wyoming call his country heart home?

City Boy, Country Heart Excerpt:

“Chay.” K.C. knew this late at night, the thought of starting a long discussion about anything was not on his cards.

He turned to head for the bathroom.

“Chay,” she repeated. “My parents want us to go for dinner Saturday night, the night you’re off.”

He turned in the bathroom doorway, shirt hanging open, belt undone, his arms up either side of the door frame as if he were supporting it. “Us or you?” he asked before twisting toward the sink. To the silence he repeated, “Us or you, K.C.?” He squeezed some paste on his toothbrush and raised it to his mouth before peering back at her over his shoulder.

She sat still, silent, the papers in her lap.

“They asked you, didn’t they, and you said you’d only go if they had me as well, didn’t you?”

“We’re a couple! They have no right. And it’s time you got used to being part of the family, and they got used to you being a part of me.”

“I don’t have to get used to ‘being a part of the family.’ I’m not going to be a part of your family; we’re not going to be living here. At least I’m not.”

“Chay. If…if we stay together, you…have to see them, have to put up with them, at least on some occasions.” She paused. “You know darn well they’ll visit us in Wyoming.”

Chay ignored her for a bit, the brush at his teeth. Spit hit the sink as if he were ridding his mouth of the taste of K.C.’s parents. He grabbed a towel and gave his face a peremptory wipe before throwing down the toothbrush, stripping off his shirt and confronting her. “We will stay together. I hope. But that doesn’t mean I have to like your parents, and it doesn’t mean you can’t go see them without me. There’s no point in shoving me in their face if they are so antagonistic to the thought of us being a couple. Go see them, K.C., give them my regards.”

She watched for a moment as he stepped out of his jeans and yanked his socks off. “Will you go for Thanksgiving and Christmas?”

He looked at her, a crooked smile just turning up his mouth, his eyes glinting. “Are you going to cook a turkey?”


“Then I’ll go. If I’m really, truly invited. I’ll go. Now will you go on your own, on Saturday?”

“I’ll go on my own, but not on Saturday when it’s your day off. I’ll phone her tomorrow and arrange another evening.”

Chay slipped into bed and slid the papers she was holding out of her hands. “That’s my girl,” he whispered as he moved in for a kiss. “That’s my girl.”

Andrea Downing Bio:

A native New Yorker who has spent most of her life drinking tea in the U.K., Andrea Downing now gets her coffee from Zabars in New York or drinks Jackson Hole Coffee in Wyoming. Her background in publishing and English Language teaching has transferred into fiction writing, and her love of horses, ranches, and rodeo is reflected in award-winning and best-selling historical and contemporary western romances.

WEBSITE AND BLOG:  http://andreadowning.com

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

Twitter:  @andidowning  https://twitter.com/AndiDowning

AMAZON AUTHOR PAGE:  http://www.amazon.com/Andrea-Downing/e/B008MQ0NXS/ref=ntt_dp_epwbk_0



All In For Love

On my blog today, I’m lucky to have six talented authors debuting their new anthology – All In For Love.


An Inn Decent Proposal By Sharon Buchbinder

Perfect Odds By Lashanta Charles

A Ghost To Die For By Keta Diablo

Raising Kane By Kat Henry Doran

For Money Or Love By Margo Hoornstra

Take A Chance On Me By M.J. Schiller

Genre: Contemporary Romance/Romantic Suspense Anthology

Release Date: June 1, 2017



Six award-winning authors bring you six *sweet to sensual* romances filled with suspense, thrills and maybe even a ghost or two—for less than the price of a cup of coffee99 cents!

Welcome to La Bonne Chance Resort & Casino!

With thousands of people passing through the casino’s doors on a daily basis, it’s no surprise that a variety of lives and loves are on the line there. It’s said that you’re more likely to lose your heart at La Bonne Chance than a hand of poker. Whether you are the Director of Casino Operations or the guy who created its software, a jilted bride or a black jack dealer, a past guest’s ghost or a sous chef–when it comes to love, the stakes are high.

Thank goodness what happens at La Bonne Chance, doesn’t always stay at La Bonne Chance….

Ready to roll the dice?

An Inn Decent Proposal, Sharon Buchbinder
Can an hotelier with a past and a chef with a future revive the grand dame in a neglected old inn?

Perfect Odds, Lashanta Charles
When a jilted bride meets the man of her dreams, will she embrace the new plan, or cling stubbornly to the old one?

A Ghost To Die For, Keta Diablo
She didn’t believe in ghosts…until one showed up in her room.

Raising Kane, Kat Henry Doran
Funny how a night in jail will change a woman’s outlook on life.

For Money Or Love, Margo Hoornstra
She’s the one woman he can’t afford to lose.

Take A Chance On Me, M.J. Schiller
Who do you count on when the chips are down?


To add to the fun, we are giving away one gambling themed handmade item to ONE lucky commenter who will be selected by a Random Number Generator.


Buy Link https://www.amazon.com/dp/B071V94BWM

Facebook Page https://www.facebook.com/allinforloveanthology/

Goodreads https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/35052000-all-in-for-love

Webpage http://lucky6authorsblog.blogspot.com/  

Tagline (20 words) What happens at La Bonne Chance, doesn’t always stay at La Bonne Chance. Are you ready to roll the dice?

* * *

Excerpts and Author Fun Facts

Excerpt from An Inn Decent Proposal by Sharon Buchbinder

After the hotel auction, a stunned Jim Rawlings and excited Genie King go to Sips, a local coffee house. Overwhelmed with self-doubts verging on buyer’s remorse, Jim begins to question his sanity. Genie, on the other hand, is bursting with enthusiasm and ideas…


“Why did you want this place?”

“The old girl called to me, begged me to save her.” He gave Genie a wistful smile. “Do I sound crazy?”

“You call the Inn ‘she,’ too?”

“Yes, she’s like a grand old dame who’s fallen on hard times.  Remember the parties? The famous people who stayed and played there? Celebrities came to the Inn because they knew their privacy and secrets were safe with us. If those walls could talk!  Every day was new and exciting. I would love to bring back her glory days.”

Genie leaped up, ran around the table and hugged him. “I have the same dream. We can do it.”

He hesitated for a moment, then returned the gesture, his hands unable to resist lingering on her luscious curves just a tad too long. Genie’s inviting cleavage made him wish they were somewhere private. He could scarcely breathe and had to shake his head to dispel naughty images of nuzzling her soft breasts. “We can do what?”

She sat down again, but clung to his hands. “I’ve done the research. The Inn should be in the National Park Service Historic Registry—but it isn’t. If we can get her added to the Registry, there are laws and standards about how we make the rehabilitation. We can bring it up to modern codes, but have to use certain treatments—”

“I hate to burst your bubble, but where will we get the money to do all this?” He wasn’t sure he could afford too many more big gambles like this last one.

Her face flushed and her sapphire blue eyes sparkled. “If we can get her added to the Registry, we’ll qualify for special low interest loans. And for a major tax credit. And we have a million dollars in equity.”

“Pretty, smart—and you say you can cook? If you can do all that, you are a genie.”

She released his hands, pulled her shoulders back, and inadvertently gave him a better glimpse of her bosom. Genie gave him a scalding look. “Are you challenging my cooking, Mr. Rawlings?”

Uh-oh. He never dreamed of Genie having a little temper. He couldn’t resist tweaking her. “I’m sure you’re a solid cook.”

She stood, almost knocking her chair over. “Solid? What the hell does that mean? Average? Good enough to make the turkey for Thanksgiving dinner for the family—but not good enough to cook for guests? Tell you what, Mr. Critic, you come to my house for dinner tomorrow night.” She scribbled her address on a business card and threw it on the table. “My food makes men go weak at the knees.”

Hypnotized by the sway of her voluptuous ass as she stalked out of the nearly empty café, Jim bet it wasn’t just this saucy woman’s cooking that made strong men weak.


About Sharon Buchbinder

Sharon Buchbinder and her husband used to breed and show Egyptian Maus and Color Point Persians (formerly called Himalayans). If you’ve ever seen the mockumentary, Best in Show, you have an idea of what life was like 24 out of 52 weekends a year for this wild and crazy couple. When Sharon returned to school for her PhD in 1986, she decided a doctoral program plus a toddler plus a full time job was more than enough and they placed all their cats in good homes—including their own.

* * *

Excerpt from Perfect Odds by Lashanta Charles

Callista is meeting her fiancé at the airport so they can fly out to N.Y. where they’re supposed to get married, but it seems plans have been changed without her knowledge.
“James? Where are you? They’re boarding everyone now,” I say when I answer.

“I’m not coming,” he says.

I pause in making my way to the attendant station. Surely I heard him wrong.

“Hang on a sec, let me ask them how long we have before they can no longer wait. If you’re here already it shouldn’t be a problem. You’ll just need to hurry. Like, sprint through the airport or maybe get one of those guys on the carts to give you a ride somehow.”

The attendant smiles at me and holds her hand out for my boarding pass. I move to give it to her, but hear James speaking again.

“Cali, you’re not listening. I’m not there. I’m not coming,” he says.

Pulling my boarding pass away from the attendant, I force a smile and step away for privacy. “What are you talking about, James? I’m here waiting for you.” As if he doesn’t know that. He helped me load our luggage into the car before I left this morning. Is this some sick joke he’s pulling right now?

“I’m not coming, Cali,” James repeats for the third time.

I stare numbly at the ‘now boarding’ screen above the attendant. I heard him the first two times. It makes as much sense now as it did then – none.

“I don’t understand. You can’t not come. I can see if they’ll schedule us for a different flight. I’m sure it’s not too late. We’re getting there early enough that one day won’t really matter,” I tell him.

He lets out an exasperated sigh. He’s annoyed? We’re two weeks away from our wedding and I’m at the Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport in Atlanta, Georgia, sans fiancé. I battled an hour and a half of traffic to get here and get us both checked in two hours early, lugged all our suitcases – overweight, I might add – only for him to call when it’s time to board the flight to New York and tell me he’s not coming, yet, he’s the one who’s annoyed?

“I don’t know what else to say, Cali. I’m trying to do right by you here. We both knew this wouldn’t end well.”

I splutter. Try as I might, I can no longer get the words to flow from my mouth to have this conversation. We didn’t know anything of the sort. Do right by me? How is standing me up for our wedding doing right by me? I didn’t ask to marry myself. I didn’t insist on us having a short engagement or me moving in with him. I definitely didn’t count on any of this.


About Lashanta Charles

So I don’t really have anything too witty, but I have a 6-year-old with a sharp tongue. One of the things I always tell my kids is that mommy and daddy knows everything. So one day I’m taking my daughter to the store to buy toys with her birthday money. This is how the conversation went:
Her: So, who gave me this birthday money?

Me: Poppy (Grandad)

Her: Oh, I really miss Poppy. I want to go see him.

Me: Well, you have to wait until this summer, when you’re out of school.

Her: Why?

Me: Because you have to learn things in school and if you miss a day, you’ll miss what you need to learn and then you won’t know everything.

Her: Ohhhhh, you mean like you and daddy don’t really know everything even though you say you do?

Me: *speechless*


* * *

Excerpt from A Ghost To Die For by Keta Diablo

Rooney encounters a stranger in her hotel room and soon finds out he’s a ghost!


Rooney looked at the man through narrowed eyes. “You weren’t at the séance on stage, so what then, were you in the audience?”

No, I was on stage, but kind of hanging around in the background. He put his hands in the air, palms out. I swear, I won’t hurt you, but I been lurking around this hotel for two months now wondering how I was going to get out of this mess. Then you arrived at La Bonne Chance with your sister, you know, the fabulous Fontaine sisters, the crème-dela-crème of psychics, and my prayers were answered.

She snorted. “I’m not a psychic, mister, so if that’s your angle, you picked the wrong sister.”

No, I picked the right sister. Now if only I can get her to hear me out.

“I don’t want to hear you out; I want you to get the hell out of my hotel room. Like now!” When he didn’t comply, she moved the can of hair spray until it loomed inches from his face. “I’m going to count to three. If you aren’t out of that chair and out that door by then, I’m giving you a face full of hair spray.”

Go ahead. Maybe then you’ll realize what I am and listen.

“You asked for it.” She held the nozzle down and let him have it right between the eyes. He didn’t move a muscle, didn’t react at all. Much to her dismay, she didn’t even have the satisfaction of seeing him blink. The drizzle and aroma of hair spray hung heavy in the air but didn’t seem to bother him nearly as much as it did her. Through a series of chokes and chortles she managed to eke out the words. “What are you, some kind of weirdo with inhuman defenses?”

A ghost.


You asked me what I am and I’m telling you. I’m a ghost.

Eyes wide, voice in shriek mode, she fell onto the edge of the bed and glared at him. “You can’t be a ghost. I don’t believe in ghosts!”

Understandable. Neither did I until I became one.

She reached out and touched his arm, more to prove him wrong than anything else. A startled scream escaped when her fingers danced through vacant air. Coming to her feet, she paced a small area beside the bed. “This can’t be happening. It isn’t possible.”

That’s exactly what I said when they pushed me off the balcony and I wound up in this state.

She resumed her prior position on the bed. “Someone pushed you off a balcony?”

More like tossed me over, right here at the La Bonne Chance Casino, seventh floor, two months ago.

“Two months ago? You’ve been wandering around here for two months?”

He released an exasperated sigh. I thought you might be a good listener, but I’ve said that twice now. Two months ago I died, and yes I’ve been hanging out here, twiddling my thumbs and trying to figure out what to do next.

“You can’t leave the hotel?”

Not yet, anyway. I’m working on it, but you have no idea how much energy it takes just to project my voice. No one else has been able to hear me, or see me, until you, Rooney, and now I seem to be experiencing a renewed sense of energy.

“Stop saying my name as if we’re besties.”

Well, after that séance and the conversation you had with Violet about your little sister, Vanessa, I kind of feel as if we are.


About Keta Diablo

Keta once dressed up as old man on Halloween and picked up her 9th grader at school in costume! Needless to say, he wasn’t pleased. In fact, he refused to get in the car. She followed him out of the parking lot and down the street for two blocks before he’d even look at her. Yes, he finally got in, but didn’t appreciate her humor…at all. Update: He’s in college now and says the “old man” incident is now one of his fondest childhood memories.


* * *

Excerpt from Raising Kane by Kat Henry Doran

Lt. Kieran Pollack signs in to work and comes up against the woman of his dreams: Mallory Kane, ace investigative reporter. Unfortunately she’s just spent the night in jail and is in no mood to speak with anyone–particularly a cop.


“Anything I need to know before I head upstairs, Sarge?”

“It’s all there.” The night duty man passed him the report from the previous platoon. “The usual pugs, thugs and mugs threw themselves a circus down at The Dirty Dawg last night.”

Kieran scrawled his name on the sign-in roster. “Again? Somebody ought to look into closing down that pest hole.”

“I bet the Mayor is thinkin’ along those same lines. With the Chief on vacation and the Deputy Chief at a meeting out of town, as PIO it’s your job to handle the fallout. Lucky man.”

Fall-out? “What are you talking about?”

A woman with mile-long legs and hair the color of roasting chestnuts strode past the desk, heading in the direction of the revolving door.

“Overnight guest,” the sergeant advised under his breath. “TV Reporter. I was you, I’d head that one off at the pass.”

In addition to a talent for scoping out shapely legs, Kieran possessed the good sense to act on sound advice. After shooting both cuffs and ensuring his tie hung straight, he glided up beside the woman. “Excuse me, miss?”

She stopped, threw back her shoulders, then turned. “Yes?”

In the shimmer of an early morning sun he saw a nasty bruise blossoming across one cheekbone and winced. “Does that hurt as bad as it looks?”

“Who are you and what do you want?”

She possessed a voice designed to make a man think of hot nights and cool sheets. Extending a hand, he launched into his usual PIO song and dance. “Kieran Pollack, Public Information Officer for the Victory PD. What’s a pretty thing such as yourself doing in a joint like this?”

The screech of tires on the street outside obscured any response she might have made. Panel vans bearing the logos of the local TV affiliates disgorged reporters and camera-persons who wasted no time in storming the doors to the Public Safety Building.

Kieran attempted to head her off at the pass with a fast two-step and a faster line of bull. “Look, can you help out this hard working public servant?”

She raised one hand to shield her injured cheek. “Not without my attorney.”

“Aw, now. Why do you want to go and do something like that? We don’t need no lousy lawyers to make things right, do we?”

“I believe it’s somewhere in the Bill of Rights,” she murmured, eluding his out-stretched hand with a fast step to the left.

“Please. Hear me out,” he pressed, one eye on the camera-persons now jockeying for position just inside the doors. “I can make this all disappear―if we could go someplace to talk. It would be to your advantage, I promise.”

A spark flared in those dull, pain-filled eyes. “I’d sooner walk barefoot through a nest of pit vipers than spend one second alone with any member of the Victory Police Department.”


About Kat Doran

There was the time I played private duty nurse for my uncle, after he underwent a resection of an aortic aneurysm. Very scary for a number of different reasons. It became my job to ensure Father Joe got sufficient rest which boiled down to playing traffic cop and time-keeper on visitors. On one afternoon, I could see Joe was fatigued and needed a nap. As I rounded up the crowd to send them out the door, one smirked at me. “Who’s Nurse Ratched, Joe?” he asked.

I said, “Who are you, the Pope?”

He said, “Close to it, honey. I’m the Bishop.”

Aw geez.


* * *


Excerpt from For Money or Love by Margo Hoornstra

Lindsey Carr’s two best friends, Rita and Anne, discuss exactly why she and her mega-millionaire boss, Daniel Montgomery, are no longer romantically involved.
Shooting Lindsey a quickly manufactured smile, she turned her full attention to the eye candy. “No doubt about it. Those are bedroom eyes.” She trailed her fingertips over Daniel’s forehead, down his cheek and onto the outline of his lips.

Lindsey brought both hands to her lap under the table, locked her fingers together and squeezed. It was a four-page spread in Today’s Tech magazine. The picture of Daniel’s forehead, cheek and lips.

An important distinction to remember. If that had been her boss in the flesh he’d be blushing beet red from all the fluttery female attention. Daniel Montgomery was different than most other powerful millionaires. Those she’d heard about anyway. Certainly drop dead gorgeous as had been established. With a mile wide shy streak not many people knew about or even suspected. Hands still clasped, Lindsey leaned away from the display.

Anne slid her glass aside and moved up to fill the void, her critical gaze focused on Daniel’s picture. “I’m never sure what the term ‘bedroom eyes’ means.”

“Not droopy or sleepy.” Rita didn’t bother to look up. “Sexy. There’s no other word for it. Well, maybe erotic would fit. I must say, Lindsey. It amazes me you can work side by side with this man day in and day out and manage to keep your hands to yourself.”

“It’s easy.” She murmured the blatant lie. Very easy. He does the same and then some.

“You and this marvelous specimen.” Rita waited until Lindsey glanced up then met her eye to eye. “As a couple, are old news, right? That’s what you’ve said.”

“Absolutely.” Purposely lowering her voice, she mentally counted to five before she spoke again. “We did the dating thing for a while.” She shrugged one shoulder for effect. “It didn’t work for us.”

Lindsey took a small gulp of wine to avoid having to share more, and was relieved when Rita and Anne went back to hunk browsing. Trying her best to ignore the fact it was Daniel’s hunk they browsed, she gave up to give into her own thoughts about the man.  Bowing to a mutual attraction that became evident soon after they met, Lindsey and Daniel dated for a time. A very short time, consisting of a few casual dinners, a couple of movies.  That one night in….

“Why didn’t it work for you exactly?”

Unsure who asked the question, Lindsey looked up then blinked. “It just didn’t.” She slowly let out a breath. “I don’t think of Daniel Montgomery in that way.” Much anymore.

“Then why are you blushing?” Her sharp gaze unrelenting, Rita leaned considered her from across the table. “Care to share?”

I’ll have no peace around here until I do. Taking her time to indulge in another sip, she completed a long, slow swallow then licked her lips.


About Margo Hoornstra

Becoming a coffee connoisseur wasn’t an instant fall head over heels event for Margo Hoornstra. Initial cups were loaded with milk and sugar. When the children arrived, two AM feedings coupled with six AM risings for work necessitated more indispensable caffeine. Flavored, iced, lattes and such, a true coffee aficionado, she covets them all.


* * *

Excerpt from Take A Chance On Me by M.J. Schiller

After chasing leads at the station, Cash returns to his home where his partner, Ian, is supposed to be watching over the murder witness, Harper…


Cash slowly pulled his keys out of the door, examining the pair. “What’s going on?”

“Nothing. Right, Ian?”

Ian nodded loosely. “Nothing. Like she said.”

Cash closed the door and set his keys on the end table. “Uh-huh.” He stuck his hands in his pockets. “What’s behind your back?”

Ian shot a glance at Harper. “You’re on your own.” He ducked into the kitchen.

“Coward,” she mumbled out of the side of her mouth.

Cash moved forward, and she took a step back. He lunged, catching her, and causing her to scream. He wrestled the bottle from her hand and brought it out where he could see it. Ian ran in, his concerned gaze darting to Harper. He stopped and put a hand over his heart, leaning against the side of the archway between the two rooms.

“Hmm.” Cash took a step back, tilting the bottle. He fought the smile tugging on his lips. “Is this my Jäger?”

Ian and Harper looked at each other with open mouths, but neither spoke.

Cash ambled over to the coffee table and clinked the bottle against the shot glasses as he set it down. “So—and correct me if I’m wrong—it looks like, while I’ve been out working my ass off, the two of you were busy getting snockered.”

“Oh, no.” Harper shook her head. “We were working hard, right, Ian?”

Ian made an attempt to stand straight, but swayed comically. “We were working hard.” He nodded, but turned to Harper. “What were we working hard at again?”

“Looking at the mug shots.”

“Oh. Yeah. That’s right. We were looking at the mug shots.” He faced Cash. “And doing shots.”

“Sh-sh-sh. It’s a secret.” Harper laughed.

Ian chuckled along with her. “Oh, yeah.”

Cash put his hands on his hips. “Well, I hate to tell you, friends, but the cat’s out of the bag now.”

“Cat? What cat?” Harper laughed, seeming to be slightly more sober than her partner in crime, his partner.

“He has a cat?” Ian seemed genuinely confused, looking around for the feline. “You never told me you had a cat.”

Harper sputtered and broke into laughter again.

Cash sat, hiding his chuckle. She was so damned cute. He put his feet on the coffee table, spreading his arms out along the top of the couch. “Whose idea was this anyhow?”

They pointed at each other.

“It was mine?” Harper asked. Ian nodded. “Oh. It was mine.” She smiled and didn’t appear to try to hide her pride.

Cash shook his head, staring at them for a moment. He stood and pulled out his phone. “Okay, Ian. I’m calling you an Uber.” He punched some buttons. “Chrissy’s gonna kick your butt. And the next time she sees me, she’s gonna kick my butt.” He looked at his screen. “Two minutes away.” He came over and put his arm around Ian, steering him to the door.

“I’m leaving?”

Cash grabbed his jacket off a recliner. “Yes, you are. Maybe the night air will sober you up some.”

“I doubt it.”

Cash laughed. “I doubt it, too. And you, little missie—” he swung around to point to her.

She looked about, then put a finger on her chest and mouthed “Me?”

“Yes, you. Don’t think you’re off the hook. I’ll deal with you when I get back.”



About M.J. Schiller

One day–when M.J.’s triplets were about two, and her eldest four–she was doing laundry and matching up the socks, one of her least favorite chores. She lined them up all along her arms as she hunted for their mates. After a bit of fruitless searching, she glanced at the time and realized she needed to hustle to be on time for a prayer service she was attending at her church.


She made it in time, her four children in tow, and removed her coat before kneeling to say a prayer. An half hour later, as she piously prayed along with the congregation, her eldest asked, “Mommy, why do you have a sock on your shoulder?” She had missed removing one of her husband’s long, mateless gym socks!






Phoenix Heat with Patti Sherry-Crews


Today on my blog I’m interviewing the Amazon bestseller Patti Sherry-Crews.

Patti’s recent release is PHOENIX HEAT, one of seven stories featured in the



Do you have another job outside of writing?

I had an Irish and British import store for 15 years. I gave it up to be a stay-at-home mom, but I work from home. I cane and rush chair seats, which I learned from my mother when she wanted to stay at home with us! I don’t advertise anymore because I stay busy enough by word of mouth.

Did you always want to be a writer?

I don’t remember thinking I wanted to be a writer when I was young, but looking back I always had a writer’s mind. Like I make up stories to daydream by or put myself to sleep since I was little. And then I was always someone who hoovered around in the background observing the action. I love words too! There is such power in word choice. I did toy with the idea of writing when I was in my twenties, but I finally gave myself permission to write when I turned 50 as a present to myself.

What was your journey to become a writer like?

Once I sat down to write my first novel, the words just poured out. I thought I was writing an important novel, but it was really just a thinly veiled memoir! But, they say, write your own story first.

In the beginning I felt guilty taking the time to write and did it in secret for maybe an hour a day. Then one day I accidentally deleted the whole thing! I had to ask my husband for help retrieving it and so outed myself. He’s been incredibly supportive.

The next important step occurred when I did a NaNoWriMo challenge. I realized I could spend hours a day writing and still have time to take care of business. It was a revelation! People still ate and the laundry got done same as always.

In the early days I had to work at giving myself permission to write. Writing is such an odd thing to do in some ways especially in the beginning when you don’t have the outside validation (or financial reward!). One great thing about being a writer is you can put your fantasies down for others to see. I don’t think of myself as a historical western writer, but I had a storyline in my head for one. I wrote Margarita and the Hired Gun and submitted it to Prairie Rose Publications and they accepted it! Since then I’ve written both historical western and medieval romances for some of their anthologies.

Now I devote most of my day to writing.

What do you find to be the most difficult challenges in writing?

Writing is easy. It’s what comes after writing “The End” that’s hard, starting with the question what next? What is the right path for my book? I have one completed manuscript now I’m spending time writing query letters for, and that’s a lot of work.

Whether you self-publish or get published, much of the promoting is up to you. One reason I like writing for anthologies is that it is a group effort, and I learn from others who are good at promoting.

One challenge I face when writing an historical piece, is that I have to do research. The first time I tackled a medieval story I was petrified! I sat at my keyboard trying to convince myself to plow ahead with the project, wondering if every word I typed was historically inaccurate. I have to check every little detail from the food eaten to the clothes worn hundreds of years ago. It’s also a challenge to keep an authentic voice but still be understood by the modern reader.

How do you come up with your ideas for a book? What comes first – the plot or the characters?

I like this question. I probably have a different answer for every book I’ve written. A couple of times I woke up from vivid dreams and then built a story around the scene in my head.

Other times I’ve had or seen an incident that caught my interest and then worked backward and forward from that. Phoenix Heat in the anthology A Cowboy to Keep is an example of that. Once I thought I was doing a neighbor a favor by letting her dog into her house before a storm, except it wasn’t her dog as it turned out. That dog did some damage.

So I took the wrong dog incident, had the heroine throw the dog into the hero’s house, and then I built the story around that. What brought her to his house? What was their relationship before? After? Who are these people?!

For me the characters come after the plot, and they develop pretty much on their own, and then they take the reins from me, sometimes changing the course of the plot.

Most writers has certain quirks or rituals when they write – my must haves are endless cups of coffee, my dog by my feet and complete silence. What are some of yours?

I don’t know if I’d call it a quirk, but I have a set routine I stick to starting with a long walk in the morning. And I mean a long power walk not less than 5 miles. I write in my head as I walk. When I sit down to write in the afternoon my pump is primed. I write in the late evening now too. Oh, and music is very important! I can’t write without Spotify playing in the background.

What does your writing den look like? 

So, for many years my writing den was my kitchen, which was not ideal. People looking for food pestered me all the time. Now I’ve set up a place on the second floor. It’s a long narrow room that runs the length of our house. I look out at my neighborhood and watch the commuters going to the train or the children walking to school. I live north of Chicago, where we get all four of seasons, so I see them change from my window which looks out over my yard.

What genre do you prefer? And have you written in any other genres?

I love chick lit! That’s what I prefer to read lately. I’ve written a few novels I’d call chick lit because they’re funny and deal with the situations modern women face in life and love. Those have been my favorites to write.

How many stories have you had published?

Three western historical romances for Prairie Rose. One medieval for the same publisher, and I’m currently working on my second. I’ve self-published five contemporary or chick lit novels, and I have two completed manuscripts I have yet to publish. I’ve also been in three Indie author boxed sets, including A Cowboy to Keep.

What is one of your favorite stories you’ve written or had published?

My favorite book is Patrick III, a Quest Tale. It was inspired by a trip I took with two generations of women in my family to Newfoundland to trace our roots. We found our ancestor, Patrick Nugent, escaped an Irish prison ship bound for Australia and ended up in Newfoundland. First of all the idea of taking family dynamics on a road trip interested me. And then, how in the world does someone escape from a prison ship? What did he do to get arrested? I worked all that into the story.

I published the book and after years of searching for the answer to my questions, I found the entry online in Irish prison records: Patrick Nugent, 1800, Dublin, robbery, sentenced to deportation. I found this almost literally after hitting the “publish” button!

I had fun with this one throwing in references to quest tales from the Odyssey to Don Quixote. Everyone in Patrick III is on a quest, though they’re not all on the same quest and the matriarch of the family is on a secret quest.

I also jump back in time twice to tell the stories of a couple of the family’s ancestors (Patrick I and II), exploring at the same time what qualities are valued or dominant that get passed onto future generations.

Oh, yes, there is a romance too! The traveling family frequently cross paths with a mysterious young man on a motorcycle, who is on a quest of his own. Our heroine, Gwen, decides to lose her family and continue her journey on the back of his motorcycle. Loses her family, but she gains the thing she’s been looking. True love.

What is your current work in progress about? Or do you have an idea for a future novel?

Currently working on a medieval romance. It’s for a boxed set for my publisher. A knight has to protect a lady with a secret that could not only get her killed but could even topple the monarchy. He puts her in a nunnery for safe keeping, where she gets herself into more trouble by uncovering yet another secret.

I’m also itching to get back to one of those previously mentioned unpublished manuscripts for a final edit. This is the book I wrote during NaNoWriMo and because I wrote in such a hurry, it was a bit of a mess. I keep going back to it, because there are parts I really like. Chick lit set in Chicago about a young woman who’s feeling stuck. One morning an odd, almost mystical incident prevents her from going to work. Had she been at work she might have been killed when a driver steps on the accelerator instead of the brake and crashes through the window of the salon she manages.

The close brush with death makes our heroine rethink her life. She decides to make a list of all the things she wants to accomplish. Except she watches in frustration as the people around her, inspired by her story, make changes in their lives, while she can’t think of a thing to put on her list. What she almost misses is right under her nose: the handsome contractor there to repair the damage to the salon.  He opens new possibilities to her, but can she open her heart to him?

Out of all the books you’ve written, published or not, who were your favorite characters and why?

I think my favorite character is Des Costello in Love with an Expiration Date set in Dublin. He’s an independent filmmaker who falls for a visiting American professor. He’s funny and charismatic. It was fun to write his dialog lines because he’s such a quick-witted tease. It was also fun to make him lose his temper. At six foot five, he’s larger than life in both appearance and personality. And player that he is, it was satisfying to make him fall in love, and he fell hard…for a woman who would be leaving. He’d be the character I’d most like to spend time with.

How do you come up with your titles?

With a great deal of pain! I hate coming up with titles.

Do you have any words of advice for a new writer?

Just do it. Make time everyday if you can. Don’t question yourself. The first person you have to please is yourself, and if you like what you’ve written, chances are somebody else will too. Also, not everyone will like what you write so don’t get hung up on a negative comment. Read the reviews of your favorite authors to see that you can’t please everyone. Even the most popular writers get bad reviews. Lastly, I’d say establish a routine.

Do you have any pets? And if so, do they help you write?

We have a puggle named Gracie May and a cat named Lucille Ball. They’re both rescue pets and both are characters. They hang out with me while I write.

What are some of the things you enjoy when not writing?

Just tooling around. Walking around aimlessly with or without friends and dogs. Jigsaw puzzles. I like to travel but haven’t done much of that lately between one thing (college tuition) and another (roof blowing off in a high wind and other disasters).

How can readers reach you or find you on online?

Patti Sherry-Crews lives in Evanston, Il with her husband and two young adult children. She writes historical western and medieval romances for Prairie Rose Publications. She also writes contemporary romances.

You can find her at:



Facebook as Patti Sherry-Crews, author


PHOENIX HEAT by Patti Sherry-Crews

Harper Donovan thought she had it all when she turned her dream into a reality—opening a restaurant in New York City. But when the venture fails and her fiancé leaves her, Harper has little choice but to return to her family in Arizona.

When she meets handsome firefighter and cowboy Frank Flynn, she decides it’s time to get in the dating game again. Except Flynn shows no interest and dodges her, but not before claiming they’ve met before. Solving the mystery of the complicated Flynn gets under Harper’s skin, making her even more determined to seduce him.

When the two finally come together, the smoldering passion ignites into a heat that rivals the Phoenix desert. Now that Flynn has opened his heart, can Harper handle this wounded cowboy who’s playing for keeps? And will the romance survive their differences?



She heard the rasping of the curry comb in the background. The sound stopped all of a sudden, followed by a heavy sigh.

She turned to see him standing in the doorway. “Is this an exterior door or an interior door?”


“Well, you better let me take a look at it. We can’t leave you unsecured up there. Give me a minute to put my horse back in the stall.” He had a pained expression on his face.

She followed him out. “Is that your horse?”

“Yes, I keep him here.”

“What do you call him? Horse?”

He looked back at her, a small smile threatened to break out on his face. “I put some thought into it. Lucky is his name.”

“You’re pretty good at naming animals. How’s Dog? Did you find his owner yet?”

“Nope. Dog is fine.”

“Did you repair the damage yet?”

“Excuse me,” he said, brushing past her while leading his horse into a stall. He spent a few minutes there, while she stood sweeping the toe of her boot back and forth until he came back. “All right, let’s see about this doorknob. Did you find the right screw?”

“I think so,” she said, holding out her hand.

He reached for the small screw in her palm. When his hand touched hers, she took in a sharp breath, surprised by the currents it sent through her.

He held the screw up to the light. “No, this is too short. It will wriggle free again. Come on.” He led her back into the tack room.

The sight of his broad shoulders and narrow waist bent over the workbench nearly undid her. She stepped in and stood close behind him. Close enough to smell the horse and sweat on him. In her imagination, he spun around and pulled her into an embrace. How his lips would feel on hers….

“You’re blocking the light standing there,” he said, jolting her to attention.

She stepped to the side. From here, she watched his long, tapered fingers flicking through screws. “This will do. Come on. Show me this door,” he said.

“Up the stairs.”

“I figured that much.” He stood back and let her go up the stairs first, much to her embarrassment.

Now he’d get to watch her ass from below. Great. She started up the stairs, picking out a deliberate pace that wasn’t too fast, not too slow—the pace of the unconcerned. About the time she hit step four, she heard his tread hit the steps below her. The dry, hot air enveloped her body sucking the moisture out of her, yet sweat still beaded on her upper lip. She heard him take in a breath, and the soft tapping of his boots on the steps. The railing beneath her hand shook with their movement. All the time all she thought about the view she must be giving him. The ascent seemed interminable. She had the jarring sensation of walking up a down escalator, time and movement out of synch. Her hand slid up the railing, and out of corner of her eye, she saw his hand sliding in step behind hers. Just when the tension was becoming unbearable he broke the silence. “How’s that car working out for you?”

“It’s great, thank you.”

“You don’t have to thank me. It was your daddy who bought the car for you.” There it was again that hint of disapproval in his voice.

“I couldn’t talk him out of it. Here we are.” At last they’d reached the top landing.

Flynn fit the doorknob back into place and took a screwdriver out of his back pocket. She took the moment to admire his tight jeans with her fingers itching to grab his bottom.

“Could you hold this?” She swallowed hard. He handed her his Stetson.

She held the hat by the brim and worked it around in her hands to see the sweat stain running around it. She fought the impulse to put the hat on her head to feel the moist heat on her skin. “Do you lead trail rides?”

“No, I don’t. I do real ranch work. Your Uncle Pete doesn’t think I’m suited to taking out parties. Something about my people skills.” He looked up and winked at her.

“Is that right? I hadn’t noticed your lack of people skills. But I suppose it’s good to know your own strengths and stick at what you’re good at.”



Border Romance With Hebby Roman

Hello world! Today I’m honored to share a moment with award winning  and great author Hebby Roman.

Grab a cup of coffee or your favorite beverage as we talk about her road to writing and Hebby’s new release BORDER ROMANCE.  Border Romance is one of seven entertaining stories in A COWBOY TO KEEP.


Good Morning, Western Romance Fans,

I’d like to thank Devon for offering to host our boxed set collection of contemporary western romances, A COWBOY TO KEEP, by spotlighting each of our authors on her awesome site, “Devon McKay’s Chat Stew.”

Devon has posed various questions for me to answer so readers can get to know me better. I hope you have as much fun reading my answers as I did writing them. Here goes:

  • Did you always want to be a writer?

I must have because I remember being a voracious reader from the third grade of full-length novels. I loved the Black Stallion series and CALL OF THE WILD. And at ten years old, I wrote a one-hundred-page book about a girl who tames a wild mustang. I even did research about wild mustangs in Glacier National Park and set the book there—good ole encyclopedia research. We didn’t have Google then. LOL By the time I entered high school, I had read all the classics, though “Moby Dick” was tough sledding. Of course, I loved Austen and the Bronte sisters. Summary answer, I started writing because I loved to read. I still read a lot, it’s my go-to relaxation activity, and I don’t understand writers who say they can’t read anymore because they’re constantly editing in their head. I just let it go and enjoy the ride!

  • What was your journey to become a writer like?

My husband brought home a romance by Catherine Coulter, and I fell in love with the romance genre, and like so many aspiring writers, I believed I could write a romance, too. But at first, I was so afraid of writing dialogue that all I did was an outline for the book. 😊 Then I took a creative writing course at my local university and plunged in. I knew some fellow authors in the area, and I joined Romance Writers of American and began attending local chapter meetings, learning about the craft of writing. At my first National RWA conference, I had an agent appointment and when I pitched my book, which was set in Puerto Rico with Latino characters, the agent told me Kensington was looking to do a multi-cultural line. The agent took me on and submitted BETRAYED, the second romance I’d written. Kensington bought it, but they took three years to bring it out! I stayed with Kensington for several years and sold them ten books. Unfortunately, they were restrictive about what I could write. Due to Kensington’s restrictions and family considerations, I quit writing professionally for twelve years. I got back into writing a few years ago because of the lure of writing what I wanted in our new digital world. I rewrote several of my Kensington books and had them professionally edited and self-published them. For my new book (at the time), a medieval romance, I shopped it around and signed with The Wild Rose Press. So, now I’m what is called a “hybrid author,” publishing independently and with TWRP.


  • What do you find to be the most difficult challenges in writing?

How about everything? But for me, nowadays, promotion is the big bugaboo. It’s so tough in this new digital world to know what works and what doesn’t. I always feel like I’m doing the wrong thing or not enough. If you’re talking about the “craft of writing,” I have to say I was and still am “freaked out” at how hard it is. It never gets any easier—you just go up a level and then another and another and … You just keep learning more and more, getting deeper into characterization and effective ways of showing rather than telling your story, down to certain body movements that give emotional cues, as well as subtext, where your characters don’t really say what they mean, but the reader gets “it” anyway. Always more and better ways to learn to write. For me, I doubt I will ever say I’ve mastered the craft.

  • How do you come up with your ideas for a book? What comes first—the plot or the characters?

This is a tough question, as sometimes, I get the concept for the basic story or plot. My first published book, BETRAYED, I specifically wanted to be a Puerto Rican “Gone with the Wind” and set it during the time Puerto Rico revolted from Spain. The basic plotline had to be an arranged marriage with the heroine loving her childhood friend, and I had to show the two men in her life as being on opposite sides in the revolution. For my medieval romance, THE PRINCESS AND THE TEMPLAR, I wanted to do a medieval “Thornbirds” concept, with the man being restricted by his vow of celibacy. I didn’t want to tread on religious ground and use a monk or friar, so I researched and learned about the Templars (I did this before Dan Brown’s “Da Vinci Code” and I can tell you there wasn’t much about Templars out there then).

On the other hand, characters come to me in bits and pieces, some of them share traits with me, others are completely opposite of how I am. I use character traits from family members and friends, and I try to have my heroine/hero on the opposite end of the emotional spectrum to heighten the conflict. In THE BEST BET, I crafted a very closed-off heroine who had been raised by an ambitious immigrant father because she lost her mother when she was young. In the companion book, THE BEST GAME, I wanted to write about a small-city girl from San Antonio who went to New York and was a successful fashion model, but she learns to hate her occupation because New York relationships revolve around her being “arm candy” for rich and powerful men. So, she gives up her success and money, returns to San Antonio to attend college, and falls in love with the boy next door. In short, I’m all over the place with plots and characters, and they usually come to me in pieces, and I just keep fleshing them out and going deeper into my characters.

  • How many stories have you published?

Only 16 if you count BORDER ROMANCE in this anthology. But as I mentioned before, since I returned to writing, I’ve re-published 8 of my originally New York published romances. And when I redid them, I rewrote large chunks and cut certain scenes out and added scenes, so it seems like I’ve written more—not to mention that my first four historical romances exceeded 100,000 words each.

  • What is one of your favorite stories you’ve written or published?

This is a trick question. Right? I know I’m supposed to say BORDER ROMANCE. Right? And I did enjoy writing it, especially adding the suspense element. But I have to say my most favorite story (as of today) is, LUANN AND THE LATIN LOVER, #3 in my Snowbird Series, which are “seasoned romances” or romances with couples who are over forty. I’m partial to seasoned romances (BORDER ROMANCE is one, too), and I guess I also like “LuAnn” because it’s the “grittiest” romance I’ve ever written, tackling subjects such as children born out of wedlock and even drug addiction. The blurb goes like this:

“LuAnn Sparks and Joaquin Sandoval were childhood friends—but not on equal terms—Joaquin’s parents worked for LuAnn’s wealthy family.

LuAnn marries the son of her parents’ best friends and lives the life of a privileged society matron. But when her husband retires and they move to south Texas, tragedy strikes. LuAnn loses her husband and their money. Trying to piece her life back together, she moves into an RV Park and discovers her sexy new neighbor is Joaquin.

Joaquin grows up to be a bad-boy, Harley-riding rebel with a raw talent for golf. But when he realizes he’s not good enough to turn pro, he gets into trouble and drifts until he creates an invention that makes him an overnight millionaire. Despite his success, an unexpected tragedy takes the life of his fiancée. Now he’s determined to obtain custody of his eight-year-old daughter.

Between the sheets, they’re perfect for each other, but otherwise, they’re as different as chalk and cheese. Can an up-tight socialite and a tattooed-biker find a forever-after-kind of love and forge a new family together?”

  • How do you come up with your titles?

Kind of like my characters—they come from everywhere, from sound-alike movie titles, from other author’s titles (I shouldn’t admit this), titles of songs, a saying, etc. Sometimes, the plot or the characters give me the idea for the title. And my first four long historical romances were given their titles by my publisher, Kensington. I wanted to call TEMPT FORTUNE, one of those first four, THE WEDDING WAGER, but another one of their authors had just released a book with that title. It’s hard but fun, coming up with titles. I’m kinda proud of the #2 Snowbird book title, ESMERALDA AND THE SECOND-HAND SUITOR. I thought a lot about that one a lot. LOL

  • Do you have any words of advice for a new writer?

First, please refer to my answer in #3 about learning your craft as a writer. And then I would say to remember that writing is a journey. As my answer in #3 hints, don’t expect to master writing overnight. It takes a long, long time and lots and lots of practice. And the more you write, the better you get. Just like anything else you want to master or get good at—it takes practice, practice, and more practice.

  • When it comes to food or desserts, name at least one of your guilty pleasures?

Short answer—chocolate, anything chocolate, especially chocolate mousse!

  • What is your most favorite movie?
  • This one is easy—“Charade” with Cary Grant and Audrey Hepburn. It has just the right amount of romance, suspense, and mystery, along with lots of action and very smart dialogue. Not to mention such a good-looking heroine and hero. I could watch that movie a million times and not get tired of it!




When Leticia Villarreal, a lonely widow, considers adding Quarter horse racing to her ranch, she finds she has a lot to learn. John Clay Laidlaw, a millionaire rancher and old acquaintance, races Quarter horses and offers to help. But he also cares for her and wants a relationship. Remembering his high-handed tactics when they were young, she doesn’t trust him. But when someone tries to harm her horses and John Clay rushes to her rescue, can she open her heart to him?



John Clay swung back into the saddle and said, “You might think that calf is stupid but compared to sheep, she’s a virtual Einstein.”

Leticia threw back her head and laughed.

“But why cattle?” He asked. “I thought your ranch was all about horses?”

“Yes, this is a horse ranch. The cattle are just a sideline. We don’t keep a bull, but for some of the better-bred heifers, we use our neighbor’s Angus bull. Keeps the herd young. We cull the older ones and sell them, of course.”

“I’m surprised you bother.” He inclined his head toward the ranch house. “Must keep you busy, considering you said you’re short-handed.”

“Oh, that, it’s only temporary.” She removed her Stetson and wiped her arm across her brow. The spring day was heating up. “We need the cattle to properly train our horses. Our charro horses are our pride and joy, but we’re just getting back into them. Mostly, we train working Quarter horses, and you can’t train a cutting horse or calf-roping horse without cows.” She pursed her lips.

He slapped the side of his head. “Stupid of me. I wasn’t thinking. I’m all about sheep, except for my racing stable.”

She laughed again. “Hey, don’t get overwrought and knock your hat off.”

“Yeah.” He grinned and shook his head. “Kinda silly.”

And how right she was, he was acting like a goofy middle-schooler, just being around her. “So, your manpower shortage is temporary. Does that mean I won’t usually find you rounding up cattle?”

“No, not usually. I always have plenty of paperwork to keep me from riding out. But today has been a nice break.”

“I like the mare you’re riding; she’s a good-looking horse.”

“Why, thank you, Mr. Laidlaw, how nice of you to say.” She patted her horse’s neck. “Yep, Pearl is a sweetie. Rusty and Camila brought her back from Ponder last year, and she was so good at everything, we couldn’t make up our minds how to train her, cutting horse or calf-roping or…”

She’d moved ahead to a thicket of live oak and ducked her head under a low-lying branch. “My mare, Sally, was getting old, so I decided to keep Pearl for myself.”

He followed her into the thicket, staying behind her horse to navigate the rough, one-horse trail through the trees and undergrowth.

She cleared the thicket and stopped, waiting for him. He could see the ranch house ahead. He drew alongside her. “At least you have the grass for horses and cows. My ranches only support sheep. We keep some milk cows for the ranch hands, but other than that, it’s mostly mesquite and cactus and patchy prairie grass on my spreads.”

She raised up in her stirrups. “Yes, Eduardo chose well. This land is fertile, and we irrigate some, using Las Moras creek to grow our own hay.”

She gathered her reins and smoothed them, half-turning toward him. “But I can’t wait to show you my new charro horse foal. Midnight Princess just threw a beautiful colt a couple of weeks’ ago.”

“I won’t say no to seeing one of your charro horses. I remember how talented Eduardo’s horses were. I was sorry when I heard you’d quit breeding them for a time.”

John Clay gazed at Leticia, and he thought he could see the faintest glimmer of moisture on her eyelashes. It was obvious she was still grieving for Eduardo? Where did that leave him?

She dropped her head and fidgeted with her reins, smoothing the long ends. “Yes, Eduardo was magic with the horses.” She bit her lip.

He wished he was the one biting her lip, her neck, and lower…


Hebby Roman Biography

 Hebby Roman is a New York traditionally published, small-press published, and Indie published #1 Amazon best-selling author of both historical and contemporary romances. Her first contemporary romance, SUMMER DREAMS, was the launch title for Encanto, a print line featuring Latino romances. And her re-published e-book, SUMMER DREAMS, was #1 in Amazon fiction and romance. Her medieval historical romance, THE PRINCESS AND THE TEMPLAR, was selected for the Amazon Encore program and was #1 in medieval fiction. She was selected for the Romantic Times “Texas Author” award, and she won a national Harlequin contest. Her book, BORDER HEAT, was a Los Angeles Times Book Festival selection. Her contemporary romance, TO DANCE AGAIN, was a 2016 RONE Finalist.

You can find Hebby Roman at the following sites:

Amazon Page




Blue Sage with Kristy McCaffrey

Today on my blog, I’m spotlighting the incredible Kristy McCaffrey and her new release from The Cowboy To Keep anthology,  Blue Sage. I’ve personally read the book and its excellent! Before we get to more about Blue Sage, I wanted to learn more about the author behind the story. 


Thank you for having me, Devon. I’m Kristy McCaffrey and I’ve been writing professionally for 14 years. In college, I studied engineering (I’ve got a B.S. and M.S. in Mechanical Engineering), but writing has always been my passion from the moment I could read and write. I pen mostly historical western romances, but this year I’m venturing into the contemporary romance genre with my story, BLUE SAGE, in the anthology A Cowboy To Keep, and later this year with the publication of my first contemporary adventure romance, DEEP BLUE.


Do you have another job outside of writing?

Yes. I work for my husband. He’s an independent salesman for industrial products (mostly steel rolls for rolling mills). I do most of his bookkeeping.


Did you always want to be a writer?

Yes. I’ve been compelled to write since I was very young.


What was your journey to become a writer like?

As a child, I wrote fan fiction and short stories. It wasn’t until I was married with four young children that I attempted my first novel.


What do you find to be the most difficult challenges in writing?

Everything! Seriously, every book I write is a lot of hard work. I keep waiting for it to get easier but it doesn’t.


How do you come up with your ideas for a book? What comes first – the plot or the characters?

Story ideas generally pop into my head. I form characters and plot together.


Most writers have certain quirks or rituals when they write – my must haves are endless cups of coffee, my dog by my feet and complete silence. What are some of yours?

I can only write at my desk and usually in the afternoons. My brain doesn’t function creatively in the morning. I drink a lot of tea, chew sugar-free gum, and listen to 70’s music on my iPod.


What is your current work in progress about? Or do you have an idea for a future novel?

My current wip—titled DEEP BLUE—features Dr. Grace Mann and her obsession with great white sharks. She travels to Guadalupe Island in Baja Mexico to freedive with the whites who come there each fall to mate and feed. Filmmaker Alec Galloway is also along to film a documentary about her. This will be the first book in a new adventure series I’m launching, and I’m really excited about it. These stories combine my love of adventure, romance, environmental awareness, and animal conservation.


Do you have any words of advice for a new writer?

Always be writing—that will be your best teacher. Read widely to understand how stories affect you emotionally so you can tap into that when drafting your own stuff. Study craft. Surround yourself with writers better than you and learn from them. And the thesaurus is your best friend.




Blue Sage Blurb

Braden Delaney has taken over the family cattle business after the death of his father, but faced with difficult financial decisions, he contemplates selling a portion of the massive Delaney ranch holdings known as Whisper Rock, a place of unusual occurrences. Archaeologist Audrey Driggs has come to the remote wilderness of Northern Arizona for clues to a life-altering experience from her childhood. Together, they’ll uncover a long-lost secret.


Blue Sage Excerpt

There was no trail. They plodded a haphazard course through pinyon pines, overgrown bushes, and rock-strewn terrain, and several times Audrey turned to look behind them to make certain she recognized the makeshift trail so they could get back to the horses and Stevie. But Braden didn’t seem concerned.

From the distance, a muffled cackling sound echoed back to them. Audrey scanned the sky, expecting to see the ravens that had passed by already, but the birds didn’t reappear. Instead, the honking and bird chatter increased as she and Braden continued forward.

When it had finally become a cacophony of squawking, Braden halted and looked back at her, his face set in a frown. From the deafening volume of the chattering birds, it had to be a huge gathering.

Braden waited until Audrey stopped beside him.

“Do you think something’s dead up ahead?” she asked. It might explain such a large gathering of birds who routinely dined on roadkill.

Braden squinted. “I don’t know why all these birds are here, but I should tell you that this place has always had a strange energy to it.”

I know. “Strange how?”

“You’ll probably think I’m crazy, but it feels tilted here.”

 Interesting explanation.

She sensed that Braden was a down-to-the-earth kind of man, a cowboy who lived his life with decency and respect. She doubted he was prone to flights of fancy, and he seemed uncomfortable sharing his thoughts on this place.

“Are we talking woo-woo stuff?” she asked, arching an eyebrow.

He scoffed. “Look, I don’t know about flying saucers and Martians from outer space, but this place is strange, and you’re looking for areas that are off, right? That might harbor artifacts or some clue to other civilizations? I just wanted to warn you. Honestly, this could all be nothing.”

She grinned. “You’ve totally peaked my interest. We have to check it out now.” She started to move toward the bird sounds but then turned back. “And I don’t think you’re crazy, Delaney. In fact, you’re beginning to grow on me.”

Copyright © 2017 K. McCaffrey LLC

Kristy McCaffrey Bio

Kristy McCaffrey writes historical western romances set in the American southwest. She and her husband dwell in the Arizona desert with two chocolate labs named Ranger and Lily, and whichever of their four children that are in residence. Kristy believes life should be lived with curiosity, compassion, and gratitude, and one should never be far from the enthusiasm of a dog. She also likes sleeping-in, eating Mexican food, and doing yoga at home in her pajamas.

Website: http://www.kristymccaffrey.com

Blog ~ Pathwayshttp://www.kristymccaffrey.blogspot.com/

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

Twitter:  https://www.twitter.com/McCaffreyKristy

Newsletter: http://www.kristymccaffrey.com/Newsletter.html

Amazon Author Page:  http://www.amazon.com/Kristy-McCaffrey/e/B004NXSCNC/


It’s finally here! Release date for A COWBOY TO KEEP!!

It’s finally here!

And on sale for .99 cents!

Today is the release date for A COWBOY TO KEEP! I’m so excited, I can hardly breathe! This anthology not only includes yours truly, there are six other authors telling their stories and they’re all great reads. To celebrate the day, I am a blog guest on Cowboy Kisses at:


I’d love it if you check it out…maybe even leave a comment or two. I’d appreciate it!

Thunderclap support needed please!

Hi friends! I have started a thunderclap campaign for an anthology I am in that will be released on June 1st and would appreciate help. It only takes a moment and it’s easy to do. Just press the button on whichever site you’d like to support with ~ Facebook, Twitter, Or Tumbler. Here’s the link:


Thanks so much!

I won 1st place!

I won 1st place in the Maine Romance Writers Strut Your Stuff Contest!!!

Whoo! Hoo!!

I got a perfect score!


Maine Romance Writers

2017 Strut Your Stuff Contest

Title of Entry: Lead Me Into Temptation By Devon McKay

Category: Historical

Judge Number: J20



Violet Webster is a bride on the run. The last thing she’d wanted to do was get married…especially to a stranger twice her age. However, agreeing to be a mail order bride had been her only option and it paid the steep passage to San Francisco so she could locate her father. She’d find him too, if only her betrothed’s son would stay out of her way.

Garrett Sutherlin is on a mission. Delivering the striking, ebony haired beauty to his father’s doorstep not only pays off his debt, the effort will grant him freedom from the man’s condescending hold. As far as he’s concerned, Miss Webster’s made her own bed.

Unfortunately, his father will be the one to lie in it.


Judges: Rank the following questions on a scale of 1-5. Feel free to use ½ point values (3.5, 4.5, etc). Please also include one or two sentences in the comment section to give more information to the author.


5 = Wow! This really grabs me!

4 = Makes me want to read the Book!

3 = Intriguing: I want to know more

2 = Looks interesting

1 = So so



**  Judging Criteria Blurb  **


_____5_____ 1. Hook – Does this blurb grab your attention right from the start and make you want to find out more?


_____5_____ 2. Setting – Does this author’s blurb give you a sense of time and place for the story?


______5____ 3. Characters – Are the hero and heroine clearly defined and likeable? If there is a

villain, does this character seem to up the stakes?


_____5_____ 4. Conflict and Goals – Are the stakes (goals and conflicts, internal and external) for the hero and heroine clear and emotional, and do they appear to be strong enough to carry through the story?


_______5___ 5. Voice – Do you get a sense of the author’s voice in the blurb?


_______5___ 6. Tempo – Is the pacing of the blurb appropriate for the genre? (Is it too fast or too slow?)


_____5_____ 7. Length – Is this blurb the right length, offering enough information to make sense for the storyline, but not over-detailed with unnecessary information?


_____5_____ 8. Overall Effectiveness – Does this blurb do its job in intriguing you enough to buy this book?


_____40_______   TOTAL (40 points possible)





This portion of the score sheet is NOT judged

 Note: The following items have no bearing on the final score; they are for the author’s benefit only.

What, in particular, do you feel the author did very well in this entry?

It was perfect. It was engaging and intriguing with just enough of a hint to draw the reader in and make them want to read the rest of the story.

What, in particular, would you like to have seen the author do better in this entry?


A Hundred Kisses with Jean M. Grant

Today on my blog, I have the talented Jean M. Grant and her new release, A Hundred Kisses.

This sounds like such a great read and the cover is amazing!

A Hundred Kisses

by Jean M. Grant



Two wedding nights. Two dead husbands.

Deirdre MacCoinneach wishes to understand her unusual ability to sense others’ lifeblood energies…and vows to discover if her gift killed the men she married. Her father’s search for a new and unsuspecting suitor for Deirdre becomes complicated when rumors of witchcraft abound.

Under the façade of a trader, Alasdair Montgomerie travels to Uist with pivotal information for a Claimant seeking the Scottish throne. A ruthless baron hunts him and a dark past haunts him, leaving little room for alliances with a Highland laird or his tempting daughter.

Awestruck when she realizes that her unlikely travel companion is the man from her visions, a man whose thickly veiled emotions are buried beneath his burning lifeblood, Deirdre wonders if he, too, will die in her bed if she follows her father’s orders. Amidst magic, superstition, and ghosts of the past, Alasdair and Deirdre find themselves falling together in a web of secrets and the curse of a hundred kisses…


She sensed no colors in the murky, lifeless water, and it was freeing. All breath escaped her. Muted visions passed before her eyes—her mother, her father, Gordon, and Cortland. Just a moment longer, she thought…

Suddenly, a burst of warm light invaded her thoughts as air filled her lungs. Red-hot hands burned her shoulders and ripped her from her icy grave. She breathed life into her body. She coughed, gagging on the change.

Muffled words yelled at her.

Oh, God, so hot. His fingers were like hot pokers. Her head pounded as she slowly returned to the present. Heat radiated from her rescuer. Somebody had pulled her from the water.


“Hush, lass. You nearly drowned.”

His voice was as soothing as a warm cup of goat’s milk on a winter’s day. A red-hot glow emanated from his body. Never before had she felt such a strong lifeblood, and it nearly burned her. She struggled in his arms to get free. She blinked, only seeing a blurry form before her. “Release me!”

She splashed and wriggled, and he did as told. She clambered to the shoreline. Numb and shaken, she began to dress. It wasn’t easy as she fumbled with slick fingers to put dry clothes over wet skin. She instantly regretted her naked swim. She pulled on her long-sleeved white chemise first.

She faced the forest, away from her rescuer. He quietly splashed to shore. His lifeblood burned into her back. He wasn’t far behind, but he stopped. She refused to look at him until she was fully clothed, not out of embarrassment of her nudity, but for what had just happened. He released a groan and mumbled under his breath about wet boots. His voice was not one of her father’s soldiers.

When she put the last garment on, her brown wool work kirtle, she squeezed out her sopping hair and swept her hands through the knotty mess. She fastened her belt and tied the lacings up the front of the kirtle. Blood returned to her fingertips, and she regained her composure. Belated awareness struck her, and she leaned down and searched through her bag for her dagger. She spun around.

She gasped as she saw the man sitting on the stone-covered shoreline, his wet boots off. Confusion and the hint of a scowl filled his strong-featured face. She staggered back, caught her heel on a stone, and fell, dropping the dagger. Dirt and pebbles stuck to her wet hands and feet, and she instinctively scrambled away from him.

His glower, iridescent dark blue eyes, and disheveled black hair were not unfamiliar. Staring at her was the man she had seen in her dream—it was the man from the woods.


Pre-order link (Amazon):  https://www.amazon.com/Hundred-Kisses-Jean-M-Grant-ebook/dp/B06XPH5XX2

Links on TWRP:

E-book: http://catalog.thewildrosepress.com/all-titles/5014-a-hundred-kisses.html

Paperback: http://catalog.thewildrosepress.com/paperback-books/5070-a-hundred-kisses-paperback.html

Author bio:

Jean is a scientist, part-time education director, and a mom. She currently resides in Massachusetts and draws from her interests in history, science, the outdoors, and her family for inspiration. She enjoys writing non-fiction articles for family-oriented and travel magazines, and aspires to write children’s books while continuing to write novels. In 2008, she visited the land of her daydreams, Scotland, and it was nothing short of breathtaking. Jean enjoys tending to her flower gardens, tackling the biggest mountains in New England with her husband, and playing with her sons, while daydreaming about the next hero to write about…

Website: http://www.jeanmgrant.com

Twitter: @JeanGrant05

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




A Cowboy To Keep – Pre-order today!

Catch a cowboy … Keep a cowboy …

Don’t miss this great collection from USA Today, Amazon Bestselling, and Award-Winning authors!! Pre-order A Cowboy To Keep today!

You don’t want to miss this little beaut–seven entertaining stories and it’s only 99 cents.

It’s sure to entertain!




Sheriff Ben Hammond is finally over the woman who shattered his heart, but when Dinah Horne suddenly returns, can he ignore the passion still burning bright between them?

Trading horses for subways for two years seemed like a good idea to cowboy Chay Ridgway, but can city girl K.C. Daniels keep a rein on his country heart?

BLUE SAGE by Kristy McCaffrey
Archaeologist Audrey Driggs rolls off a mountain and lands at the feet of rugged cowboy Braden Delaney. Together, they’ll uncover a long-lost secret.

Determined to take back what belongs to her, Addison Reed will do anything. Even trust a complete stranger.

HER MAN by Hildie McQueen
Deputy Mark Hunter falls for Eliza Brock during a murder investigation. Is it fate or bad luck, especially when she may be involved?

Widow Leticia Villarreal wants to establish a horse-racing stable and old acquaintance John Clay Laidlaw offers to help. But can she trust him with her business and her heart?

PHOENIX HEAT by Patti Sherry-Crews
After losing her fiancé and her New York City business, Harper Donovan returns to Arizona and meets cowboy Frank Flynn. Will his past and their differences extinguish the heat between them?

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