Tuesday, July 9, 2019

Teaser Tuesday: Sweet Montana Outlaw



Sweet Montana Book 4
SWEET MONTANA OUTLAW

He did time for killing a man he should have killed to save the woman he loved...

Brody Whitebear had the reputation as a bad boy and people won't let him forget.  His past has come back to haunt him when he returns to Sweet, Montana at the request of an old friend who wants to help give him a second chance. Some people won't let him forget or move on.

Tara Mitchell knew her brother wasn't a saint but he didn't have to die because of it. She'd tried for years to forget what she'd seen and to focus on building her little novelty shop in Sweet.  But now that Brody is back in town, the fantasy that her brother was blameless is hard to ignore. Can she forgive Brody for what he did without losing her heart and falling in love?


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Excerpt:

“You’ve got a sick sense of humor. You know that, buddy?”

Brody Whitebear stared across the thick polished table at a local pub called Bojangles to one of the few friends he’d had for life, a friend who’d stuck with him in his darkest hour and didn’t judge. Hunter Williams.

“Have I ever lied to you?” Hunter asked, motioning to the waitress to signal they needed a refill. “No, strike that. Bad choice of words.”

Brody lifted his eyebrows. “Yeah, they are.”

The two of them were drinking coffee, not beer or whiskey like all the others in the pub.

“It’s a sure thing,” Hunter said, almost too excited about the prospect he was telling Brody about for it to be real.

“Sure things usually come with a barn full of sure trouble.” Brody looked at his old friend across the table at Bojangles Bar and Grill with a skeptical eye. “I can’t believe you’re even suggesting I step foot in Sweet.”

“Why not? Just because Tara Mitchell has a business there, doesn’t mean you can’t work as a ranch manager on one of the ranches.”

The waitress came to the table, filled their coffee cups, and then dropped a bowl of peanuts on the table. When she left, Brody said, “Somehow it doesn’t sound that simple.”

“Be positive for once in your life,” Hunter said. He’d met Hunter a long time ago when they were young teens on the rodeo circuit. He’d never been very good, but Hunter had been until an injury set him on the path that ended his rodeo days. Now he worked with horses as a farrier on most of the ranches in the area.

“See, there you go again. This isn’t about being positive. It’s the sure thing notion that gets dicey for me. Nothing is that good, and certainly not worth my running into Tara.”

“Look, I’ve known Trip a long time. I worked on the Lone Creek Ranch as a ranch hand right after I stopped rodeoing. He’s a good man. He’s given me a chance. He’ll give you one, too. He’s an old rodeo man himself, and now he raises rodeo stock.”

Brody grabbed a handful of peanuts and started to shell them. “How come you’re not working for him yourself?”

“I still do farrier work for the ranch. I’m just not a ranch hand. I’m usually out there at the ranch every week to shoe horses. He boards horses for some people, mostly the people who use Sweet as a temporary home. There’s a lot of work there.”

“There are plenty of ranch managers he could choose from. Why can’t he get enough help out there?” Brody asked, leaning back in his chair as another waitress walked by with a tray full of drinks.

What he wouldn’t give for a beer right now. The terms of Brody’s parole prevented him from drinking in public. Just being in Bojangles was questionable if not for Hunter being there to vouch for him that he’d only had coffee. Still, he’d make sure the waitress gave him a receipt before they left so he could prove all he had was coffee.

“Trip was close to Levon. He’d been with Trip for a while. He’d tried a few cowboys as replacement but he hasn’t really clicked with anyone else.”

“Did Levon take a better job?”

Hunter’s expression grew dark. He grabbed a peanut from the bowl and shelled it. “He was killed last winter.”

Brody was about to drop a few shelled peanuts into his mouth but stopped abruptly. “Killed?”

Hunter glanced up at him and then gave him an idle shrug.

Brody’s eyebrows stretched on his forehead as he stared at his friend. “You are one sick dude to bring me into this, Hunter Williams. You want to hook me up in a job where the former ranch manager was killed after I’ve done time for murder?”

He said the last part quietly despite the noise in the pub. He didn’t need to broadcast it to the world when it followed him to every new job opportunity he’d had since leaving prison.

“We both know it was an accident,” Hunter said, glancing around quickly. “I was there. And I know the truth about what went down even if the prosecutor didn’t see it that way and managed to prove otherwise.”

“Twelve jurors saw it that way too. No one wanted to believe it was an accident.”

“We don’t have to re-litigate this, do we?”

“I have no intention of doing that. But I have a feeling my being in Sweet isn’t going to go over too well. People have long memories.”

“They are forgiving people. I should know. I get a lot of work from them.”

“Not everyone.”

Hunter looked down at his hands as he twirled his coffee mug on the table in the wet spot the waitress made when she’d refilled his mug. “I get that. Tara probably won’t be happy. And she will find out. But she’s going to have to get over it one way or another because you did your time.” Hunter leaned forward. “You shouldn’t even have been in prison. But even if you did serve time, everyone deserves a second chance. Everyone. The question is what you want to do with it.”

It seemed so simple when Hunter said those words. But it was far from easy and Brody knew it.

He’d spent eighteen months in prison for manslaughter and had six months left on his parole. It had taken a long time for him to shake off the stench of prison and the stigma of his past. He was finally seeing the light at the end of the tunnel. Although he’d been sorry his actions ended up taking a life, he wasn’t sorry that it had stopped Doug Mitchell from taking his sister, Marie’s, life.

“It was a long time ago, Brody. None of us can change it. We did stupid things. And some of us paid a higher price for it. But this is a chance for a new start.”

He grabbed another handful of peanuts from the bowl and thought about Hunter’s proposition.

“I sure hope you’re right.”


Tuesday, July 2, 2019

Teaser Tuesday: Sweet Montana Rescue



Sweet Montana Book 3
SWEET MONTANA RESCUE

Sometimes the person you are rescuing...becomes your rescuer.

Dangerous Montana snow storms are no surprise. So when police dispatcher, Harper Madison, heads to the mountains to bring supplies to a survivalist/scientist who is renting her invalid grandmother's remote cabin high in the mountains for the summer, she doesn't take chances. But when a elk runs in front of her car and it tumbles down an embankment, nearly killing her, and leaving her stranded on the mountain until she can be rescued.

The only thing Nash Webber wants is to be left alone. Working in the Montana mountains will give him much needed perspective. But as soon as he arrives, his quiet retreat is quickly compromised when a sudden blizzard leaves a stranded woman perched precariously on the cliff of the mountain road leading to his cabin.

The cabin is certainly big enough for two. But can they be forced in close proximity for days on end without losing their minds and their hearts?


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Tuesday, June 25, 2019

Teaser Tuesday: Sweet Montana Outlaw



Sweet Montana Book 4
SWEET MONTANA OUTLAW

He did time for killing a man he should have killed to save the woman he loved...

Brody Whitebear had the reputation as a bad boy and people won't let him forget.  His past has come back to haunt him when he returns to Sweet, Montana at the request of an old friend who wants to help give him a second chance. Some people won't let him forget or move on.

Tara Mitchell knew her brother wasn't a saint but he didn't have to die because of it. She'd tried for years to forget what she'd seen and to focus on building her little novelty shop in Sweet.  But now that Brody is back in town, the fantasy that her brother was blameless is hard to ignore. Can she forgive Brody for what he did without losing her heart and falling in love?


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Release Date: August 21, 2018

Tuesday, June 18, 2019

Teaser Tuesday: Sweet Montana Rescue



Sweet Montana Book 3
SWEET MONTANA RESCUE

Sometimes the person you are rescuing...becomes your rescuer.

Dangerous Montana snow storms are no surprise. So when police dispatcher, Harper Madison, heads to the mountains to bring supplies to a survivalist/scientist who is renting her invalid grandmother's remote cabin high in the mountains for the summer, she doesn't take chances. But when a elk runs in front of her car and it tumbles down an embankment, nearly killing her, and leaving her stranded on the mountain until she can be rescued.

The only thing Nash Webber wants is to be left alone. Working in the Montana mountains will give him much needed perspective. But as soon as he arrives, his quiet retreat is quickly compromised when a sudden blizzard leaves a stranded woman perched precariously on the cliff of the mountain road leading to his cabin.

The cabin is certainly big enough for two. But can they be forced in close proximity for days on end without losing their minds and their hearts?


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Tuesday, June 11, 2019

Teaser Tuesday: Sweet Home Montana



Sweet Montana Book 2
SWEET HOME MONTANA

Dumped by a cheating husband, Katie Dobbs' life had gone off the rails and she is now back to square one, living in her parents' home in Sweet, Montana and working a job she hates. She refuses to stay in a dark and empty house as a constant reminder of her mistakes. So she did the only thing that made sense. She breaks into an old dilapidated chapel to figure out her next move, and is nearly arrested by Caleb Samuel, her brother's high school friend who is now a handsome police officer in town.

Caleb had heard Katie was having a hard time. Sweet was a small town and everyone knew everyone else's business. Except for one thing. No one knew where his sister Julie disappeared to 10 years ago and no one had heard from her since. Katie had been good friends with Julie before they'd both left Sweet. Now Katie is back. Buying a broken down chapel to renovate as a house is nuts when you don't know the difference between each end of a hammer. And Katie didn't. But she did know Julie, and maybe she'd be able to give him some insight into where Julie had gone. Caleb offers to help Katie renovate. But one problem after another threatens the project, and leaves Katie thinking she'll never realize her dreams. Until she realizes she's falling in love with her brother's friend. Even as everything seems to be falling apart around them, can love help heal their hearts?


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Excerpt 

Katie sat in one of the pews in the back of the chapel and thought about how her life had gone off the rails. She rubbed her fingers together as she laid them on her lap and tried to ward off the bitter Montana cold. A gust of wind swept into the building, making a sudden chill race through her body. It was probably the flimsy plywood door she’d pulled away from the wall.

But then a beam of light swept through the chapel, illuminating features she couldn’t see in the dark until the beam of light landed on her. She quickly turned and saw the stark light source but did not see the person holding the flashlight as they moved through the open door and into the chapel.

“Katy Dobbs? What on earth are you doing in here?"

Katie shielded her eyes with her fingers. "Do I know you?"

The man’s low chuckle sounded familiar, but she still couldn't place it.

“I hope so. I've known you and your brother practically my entire life.”

He dropped the flashlight enough so that it wasn't shining in her eyes directly. She squinted her eyes and looked at the man's silhouette.

“Caleb? Caleb is that you?”

”You were the last person I expected to find in here.”



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Tuesday, June 4, 2019

Teaser Tuesday: Sweet Montana Sky



Sweet Montana Book 1
SWEET MONTANA SKY

Someone is using superstition to cause trouble on the rodeo circuit.  An upside down horseshoe made Tabby Swanson’s skin crawl, but it wasn’t enough to keep her from training her prize horse, Tenderhook, for barrel racing so she could get a sponsorship.  When Kasper Dobbs shows up the ranch, she’s intrigued and hopeful.  The handsome businessman, and former local hockey star, has deep pockets.  It doesn’t hurt that he’s devastatingly handsome and makes her heart pound in her chest more than barrel racing.   It almost makes her forget about the strange happenings on the ranch until someone turns up dead, and she and Tenderhook suffer a near fatal accident in competition, threatening her rodeo days forever.

Kasper knows Tabby’s fall was no accident.  Being told you may never compete again is a fate he knows well.  He won’t let Tabby give up and insists on getting her back into training as soon as he can.  But how can he know if whoever caused her accident will try again?  He calls the Knight brothers to investigate the mysterious death and strange happens surrounding Tabby in the whole they can catch whoever is responsible before she takes another fall.  He wants to believe he’s doing it all in the name of business.  But he’s fallen hard for the cowgirl whose sunshine smile makes him want more than just to ride again.  He wants the girl for life!


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Excerpt 

The rusted horseshoe above the old weathered crossbuck barn doors was turned upside down. Tabby Swanson’s stomach fell just a notch. Not everyone would notice a little thing like a downturned horseshoe. Not everyone would care. But Tabby did.

The nail holding it upright must have broken and caused it to slip. That is the only reason she could think why the horseshoe was upside down. Trip, the owner of the Lone Creek Ranch, was more superstitious than she was, and that said a lot.

She’d ask him about it later. When he was in a good mood. Right now Tabby just wanted to get on her horse and do a couple of good barrel runs to warm up and get ready for the day.
She grabbed the bridle in the tack room and walked the few yards down the center aisle of the horse barn toward Tenterhook’s stall. All the while, she fought the nervous tension building inside her.

Trip had been on edge all day. In fact, he hadn’t been this edgy since she moved to the Lone Creek Ranch nearly eight years ago. A stupid upside down horseshoe wasn’t the reason. She knew that. The rodeo world had many superstitions. Most people didn’t pay any mind to them even though they secretly knew all of them, like the upside down horseshoe.

Tabby wasn’t someone who went around wearing the same socks under her cowboy boots during the rodeo season like a few of the barrel racers she knew. But she wasn’t completely immune. She talked herself out of superstitious talk all the time and preferred to think that she was in control. Well, as in control as anyone could be. No one could be ready for swerving cars on the wrong side of the road, like the one that had taken both of her parents’ lives and shattered her world in a single moment.

But on that same day, she had taken control. And an upside down horseshoe was staying in the locker room for her ride today. Tenterhook was waiting for her.

As she walked down the center aisle of the barn, she saw a strange man standing in front of Tenterhook’s stall. She had never seen him on the ranch before. But that didn’t really mean anything. She mostly kept to herself and had a few friends in town and on the rodeo circuit.

She walked closer, but he didn’t seem to hear the sound of her footsteps. She did hear the soft crooning he made while talking to Tenterhook. He was completely out of place here with his freshly pressed dark suit and expensive shoes. She noticed an overcoat slung over the gate of the stall. She got within ten feet of him before he finally turned and looked at her.

“Is this your horse?” the man asked.

Now that she was close to him she could smell the scent of his aftershave. It was an odd thing to be smelling in a barn that usually smelled of hay and animal.

“He is,” she answered. “Can I help you with something?”

He shook his head and turned his attention back to Tenterhook. “I’ve seen this horse before. But I couldn’t have. He would be about twenty years old by now and this horse doesn’t look that old.”



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Tuesday, May 28, 2019

Teaser Tuesday: Her Knight, Her Protector



Rodeo Knights Book 1
Her Knight, Her Protector

As a former Marine Police Officer and rodeo bull rider, Jesse Knight is no stranger to dangerous situations.  But when animals in the rodeo circuit start mysteriously falling sick and dying, he knows someone is behind the deed and can't just walk away.  Especially when the lovely stock contractor starts receiving death threats.  Jessie had been ready to retire from Rodeo and settle down on small Wyoming ranch, but how can he sit back while defenseless animals are being targeted and a woman he's come to love is in danger?

Carly Duggan doesn't need a cowboy to help her investigate why her beloved stock has suddenly fallen sick and contacting the local police to investigate only led to more trouble and resulted in her getting death threats.  She turns to Jesse Knight, whose training in law enforcement and his knowledge of the rodeo circuit gives him the unique ability to investigate what's happening to her livestock without causing further suspicion.  Although Carly downplays the threats to her life, Jesse knows Carly's life is in danger if she gets too close to the truth.  He insists on being on her shadow to keep her safe.  But Jesse can't possibly keep Carly's heart safe...from falling in love with him?


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Excerpt 

“What do you mean another one of my bulls is failing?” Carly Duggan bolted from the seat behind her desk so fast the chair practically spilled over and crashed to the floor.  If her ranch manager, Colin Rodgers, hadn’t been standing directly next to her, it would have.

Anger simmered beneath her skin, making her blood run hot as she looked at the young ranch hand standing in the doorway.  Thad Ferrer had been working on her family ranch for just over a year and was only a few years younger than Carly. He was too skinny for his tall frame despite the hard work of being a ranch hand.  But Carly had no complaints about his performance.  He pulled his weight.  The anger she was trying her best to contain wasn’t his fault.

Don’t kill the messenger… She could hear her father saying those very words right now.  It had been over a year since Zebb Duggan had stepped his boots in this office, but Carly could swear she still smelled the tobacco from his pipe as if he were standing over her, judging her next move.

Thad twirled his straw cowboy hat in his hand.  “The bull this week collapsed in the pasture.”

“Which bull?”

“Does it matter?” Colin asked.

She glared at her ranch manager.  “Thad, which bull?”

“Cotton-Eye.  I think they’re eating something.  But I don’t know what it is.  I checked the feed and it’s clean.  I suppose it could be a virus infecting the herd.”

“A virus?”  Her heart sank deeper than the floorboards.  A virus could race through the ranch and wipe out everything three generations of Duggan’s had built on this Wyoming ranch. “What makes you suggest that?”

Thad glanced at Colin and then at Carly.  “If it’s not the feed and it’s not something he ate, what…what else could it be?  If we don’t do something soon, we’re liable to lose all the ranch’s stock.”

Carly turned her attention to Colin as irritation tumbled forward by leaps.  “How long have you known about this, Colin?”

The elder ranch manager sighed, but didn’t try to hide his guilt.  “A day or two.”

“And I’m just hearing about this now?”

“I didn’t want to cause you alarm unless it was something to be alarmed about.  Sometimes a sick bull is just nothing.”

“And now we’re talking about two.  Bulls don’t just collapse for no reason, Colin.”

He gave her a strong look that made her want to shrink where she stood.  But she held her ground.

“And sometimes a bull bounces back from a belly-ache without any fanfare,” he said.

“What was the other bull?”

“Dusty Mule.  But the bull is fine.  It was groaning with a bellyache for a few hours and then grazing like there was never anything wrong.  I didn’t even have to call Doc Cunningham.”

“If you’d been standing next to my father, would you have been so reticent to share this information?”

He lowered his head slightly.  But not enough to hide the slight smile that lifted his lips.  “Well, no—”

“Then I fail to see why you kept it from me.  I decide what is important on this ranch.  Don’t you forget it.”

The smile was gone.  She saw the anger simmering inside Colin, but he kept his temper, most likely because he knew she was right.  He just didn’t want to admit it to Zebb Duggan’s baby girl.

“Look, I’ve spent the last twenty years working with stock.  I’ve seen a sick bull a time or two before.  I’ll give you that it’s strange to have two bulls failing for what seems like unknown reasons.”

“They are unknown reasons.  We haven’t identified the cause.”

Colin sighed.  “I don’t want to be responsible for causing ranches to panic all over the state just because a bull has a bellyache.”

She’d grown up with Colin working for the Duggan Stock Company.  After her father passed away, it had been a struggle to get all the ranch hands acclimated to taking orders from her.  It was clear Colin still saw things that way.  Change was never easy.  It hadn’t been for her.  But she wasn’t going to sit back and let her ranch hands make foolish decisions that ultimately might destroy Duggan Stock Company.

“The responsibility lies where it’s always belonged.  With me.  And there is no reason for panic since there is no reason for word to leave this ranch until I say so.  Are you both understanding me?”

Thad nodded.  A moment later, Colin conceded.

“Good.  I’m glad to see we have that settled.”

Carly thought of Cotton-Eye, her two year old futurity bull who’d gotten his name because of the prominent round white spot around just one of its eyes.  She saw great potential in that bull.  He had a lot of spirit.  She hated the idea of losing him.

She turned to Thad.  “Call Barry Cunningham.  See if he can get out to the ranch this afternoon.  Get the rest of the hands to move the cattle away from any stock that appears sick.”

“But what about the—”

“I don’t care if it takes all day,” she interjected.   “There is no more important job on this ranch than protecting the healthy stock.  If this is a virus, I don’t want any more bulls to become infected.”

“What is a veterinarian going to do now?  It may be too late,” Colin said.

“And whose fault is that? A few days ago I might have been able to contain something like this a little better.  Now I have to do damage control.  For your sake, let’s hope this bull really does just have a serious bellyache from something it ate.  Either way, I’m not sitting by and watching my stock get sick without a veterinarian checking out all the possibilities.  To be safe, move Dogged Ear and Widow Maker to a separate pasture where they won’t be among the rest of the herd.  I don’t want my prize bull getting sick and losing whatever value it has.”

She grabbed the phone and flipped through her address book, using her finger to scroll down through the names until she found who she wanted.

“Who are you calling now?” Colin asked.

Carly ignored the fact that Colin was questioning her.  She was disappointed in the way he’d handled this situation, but he’d meant no harm.  He was an old fashioned cowboy who still believed a woman could cook on the chuck wagon and be that pretty face to come home to at the end of a hard day’s work on the range.  It was part of his DNA.

As the dialed the number and then waited for the phone to start ringing, she said, “Melanie Summers.”

“The zoologist?  What’s she going to do?”

“She works for the park services in the Grand Tetons.  If there is a virus that is killing animals in Wyoming, she’ll either know about it or want to know about it.”

“Look, Carly.  I can’t tell you how to run this ranch.”

“I’m glad you remembered that.”

“But I have been working here a long time.  I’ve seen a thing or two over the years.”

She looked over at Colin and felt a pang of guilt as she put the phone back in the cradle before the call connected.  “I know you have.  And I also know that my father regarded you as one of the best, both as a ranch manager…and as a friend.”

Colin’s face softened.  “That’s why I promised him I’d look after you.”

Her eyes widened.  “You did?”

He ignored her response.  “I’m not sure that calling on people to investigate something that might not need investigating is the best way to go.  You know how rumors end up like dry grass fires.  Me, hell even Thad, know this herd better than anyone.  If there is really something wrong, we should be keeping things in house, if you know what I mean.”

She thought about it a few seconds.  “You may be right.”  Sitting down in the leather chair behind the desk that had been her fathers.  A chair that some days felt too big in responsibility as well as size.

“For now,” she said, glancing up at Colin.  “We’ll see what Barry Cunningham has to say.”



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