Tuesday, July 17, 2018

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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Sunday, July 15, 2018

Have you been properly introduced to Hawk and Regis?

With so many books in the DAKOTA HEARTS series, it's easy to forget that there was a recent release, DAKOTA BLUES. Hawk and Regis were originally introduced to readers in BADLAND BRIDE.  DAKOTA BLUES is an update to their romance. I thought you might like a sneak peek of DAKOTA BLUES in this newsletter.  Check it out.
The story of the McKinnon family continues...

Hawk McKinnon has been waiting for his lady love, Regis, to marry him ever since she stepped foot in Rudolph, South Dakota. Now that they're expecting a baby, he's determined to finally make her his wife. But Regis has doubts and fears Hawk can't possibly understand given his upbringing in such a big and loving family. As Hawk works to make Regis fall in love with him again, making her believe in the power of love and family, will he succeed in making Regis his bride?
 
    
Excerpt:
Regis walked through the main hall of the Wounded Veterans Center toward her office in the back of the building, rubbing her hands as she went. Her office was located right next to Ian's. But Ian barely ever used his office except to deal with paperwork he didn’t want his twin boys to get into. She peeked in his office anyway, and found it empty. She hadn’t heard him moving around anywhere else in the banquet hall or one of the other rooms. He must have gone home for lunch to be with Abby and their small three children, who were still not in school yet.
There were some days Ian strolled in late, and left early. He did the work of two men, but he worked with purpose and took joy in being with his family any chance he got.
Regis also knew that just because she couldn’t hear Ian anywhere in the building, it didn't mean he wasn't working somewhere on a project. He’d scared her on more times than she could count. He now teased her and made a lot of noise when he was approaching so she wouldn’t jump out of her skin.
Ian was one of the reasons she worked so hard. He had been wounded during a battle in Afghanistan and lost his leg below the knee. Upon returning to the states, he had fallen into a deep depression and had found it hard to move on with his life, much like many of the military personnel who came to the Wounded Veterans Center.
He was an inspiration, and he understood exactly what these brave men and women were going through. On occasion, a veteran who had heard about the Center would wander through the door even though nothing was on the schedule that day. Ian would drop everything and give his complete attention to that veteran, allowing him or her to vent if that’s what they needed.
Keith had been Ian’s rock when he’d returned from Afghanistan. The two cousins were more like brothers than cousins. He’d found happiness with Abby and the kids. And he loved what he did at the Wounded Veterans Center and loved the days when they had a lot of activity here.
But today Regis knew they didn’t have anything on the schedule. Today would be nice and quiet as long as Ian didn’t start banging a hammer. She’d be able to get a lot of work done. She liked the quiet when working. And when it became too quiet, she’d put on a little bit of music and listen while she worked or made phone calls.
She needed to make a quick call to Joel about the application deadline and to make sure nothing new had been added to the grant requirements. She was just about settled in her office with her notes placed in front of her when she felt a sharp pain below her belly. It was strong enough to make her stop breathing for a second, struggle to catch her breath until the pain subsided. She held onto her desk with one hand and placed her hand over her abdomen with the other.
Oh, God, no! Is this really happening?
She drew in a deep breath. And then another. She needed to stay calm. When she trusted her legs not to collapse beneath her, she slowly got up from her desk and carefully walked to the bathroom to see if she was bleeding.
As she walked, she held the wall to steady herself, calling out, “Ian? Are you here?”
She paused only so she could listen without hearing her movement. Nothing.
“Ian?”
Oh, God, what if there was blood? That could only mean one thing right?
She got to the bathroom and shut the door. Something made her keep it unlocked. She didn’t know what she was wishing for. What kind of person thinks this way? What kind of woman doesn’t know?
And then it became all too real and there was no wondering. Blood.
She wiped the sweat budding up on her forehead with the back of her hand. She felt numb. Unable to move. Unable to even process what was going on.
She was bleeding and it terrified her.
She tried to breathe but she couldn't catch her breath. Tears springing to her eyes. She needed to call Keith. He would know what to do. He would hate her for losing a baby he wanted to desperately. And she wasn’t altogether sure that hate would be undeserved.
She’d seen a gynecologist in Rapid City once, who’d confirmed her pregnancy and that she was still very early. Given her schedule, he’d urged Regis to slow down but she didn't listen to him. And now she might be losing this baby.
If Keith hated her, it was completely deserved. Even if she was unsure, she should have taken better care of herself.
She quickly cleaned herself up, and carefully walked to her office with wobbly legs. Her head was spinning, and she blinked to focus. She’d made it to her chair, and with trembling hands, she picked up her cell for and pressed the quick icon to dial the Keith. His voicemail picked up. After the beep, she said, “It's me, honey. I'm coming over to the clinic right now. If you not there already please go there. I think…I think I’m having a miscarriage.”
She waited until she hung up the phone to cry. But it was short lived. She shoved her cell phone in her pocketbook and then searched for her keys. Then she got up and walked as quick as she could through the Center. When she got to the Center door, she called out for Ian one more time, but didn’t get a reply.
As soon as she stepped outside, the bitter cold slapped at her exposed skin. She realized she'd forgotten her coat in her office, but she didn't bother to go back to get it. Instead, she watched the ground for ice patches as she walked, and then pressed her remote keychain button to unlock the car doors. She climbed inside and then held the steering wheel.
It wasn’t supposed to be like this. She was supposed to have choices now. Not like when she was little and she had no choice at all.
Once she settled in the driver’s seat, she closed the door and turned the key in the ignition. They were going to lose this baby. She knew it. She felt another cramp and thought her world was crumbling around her. It was all her fault.
Order DAKOTA BLUES

Saturday, July 14, 2018

Christmas in July Freebie!

Dear Readers:
One of my most downloaded books is now FREE at all retailers. Maybe you already have a copy of ALL I WANT FOR CHRISTMAS IS YOU or maybe you have it on your TBD list. If so, now is the time to read it! It may be July, but there is nothing like a heartwarming Christmas read any time of the year to melt your heart.
ALL I WANT FOR CHRISTMAS IS YOU
Fate with a Helping Hand, Book 1
Santa Claus is going to have a rough season... Lauren Alexander is raising her daughter alone. Abandoned by her family for her decision to keep her daughter Kristen, she has done a pretty good job for the last six years. Or she thought she had. That's why she is crushed when little Kristen gives up her wish for a toy or goodie and instead asks Santa for a present for her mother. She wants Santa to bring a Daddy. Delivering Daddies isn't Santa's bag.
But this Santa has a plan...
Kyle Preston knows what it is like to be abandoned too. Luckily he found the support of loving adoptive parents and has turned himself into one of the most successful Real Estate developers in town.
Building a house is easy. Building someone's trust is a whole other story. But with a little helping hand, a little Christmas magic can make all the difference in the world.
Download ALL I WANT FOR CHRISTMAS IS YOU for FREE now!
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Also included in the same series is my New York Times Bestseller THE KNIGHT AND MAGGIE'S BABY. This is an emotional read and has all the beloved tropes that romance readers love. Jonah Wallace is a dashing billionaire Knight who is transplanted in Boston. Maggie is a pregnant coffee shop owner who longs for her baby to have a father she never had. Both enter into a one year marriage of convenience. Like I said, lots of tropes and lots of emotion. It's one of my all time favorite books.
THE KNIGHT AND MAGGIE'S BABY
Fate with a Helping Hand, Book 3
Jonah Wallace knows what it’s like to grow up without love. Despite having more money than the Queen of England, his childhood was cold and stale as he grew up in boarding schools. He’s dedicated his life to helping homeless and displaced children find the love and support they need by creating the Haven House Foundation, work that resulted in him being Knighted by the Queen.
Now that he’s living in America, his work is going along just fine…until his grandfather gives fate a little nudge by insisting he take a wife before he can inherit.
Coffee shop owner, Maggie Bonelli, is pregnant and the baby’s dad has gone AWOL. She knows too well the pain of growing up without a daddy. So when Jonah Wallace comes into her shop proposing marriage for a year, she takes him up on his offer, even if it’s only for a year. Live in a mansion and give her baby a name and a daddy to call his/her own. But can they keep their perfect arraignment strictly business…or will fate’s helping hand bring them love at last?
Purchase THE KNIGHT AND MAGGIE'S BABY now!         
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Next is THE MARRIAGE CONTRACT, a romantic comedy complete with a meddling match-maker mother and a zany grandmother to give you a few laughs with this friends to lovers romance.
THE MARRIAGE CONTRACT
Fate with a Helping Hand, Book 2
What would you do to get a second chance at love?
When Ruthie Carvalho finds an old birthday card with a marriage proposal scribbled on the back, she figures she's hit pay dirt and is destined to get her 35 year old daughter married.
The trouble is, Ruthie can't stand Cara's boyfriend and Cara is just stubborn enough to push in the opposite direction of what her mother wants.
When Devin Michaels gets a phone call from his old friend's mom, he knows Ruthie is up to something. But he's at a crossroad. It's been 17 years since he's seen Cara and memories of their soulful talks and walks on the beach make him long to reconnect.
Going back to the seaside town of Westport Massachusetts to reconnect with Cara seems like just the thing to do. One look at Cara and the years seem to melt away. With a little help and “creative” planning from Ruthie, can these old friends become lovers and have a second chance at happiness?
Purchase THE MARRIAGE CONTRACT now!
Order Here:  https://books2read.com/u/4jKLp5   
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Last is MY LUCKY CHARM, another romantic comedy with a sexy biker surgeon (oh, what a combination) and a young woman trying to fall in love and make her way in life. Not an easy task. Zoey Preston just happens to be the kid sister of Kyle Preston, hero in ALL I WANT FOR CHRISTMAS IS YOU! She's all grown up and living in Boston with her besties. I had quite a few laughs writing this book.
MY LUCKY CHARM
Fate with a Helping Hand, Book 4
A little thing called desperation had Zoey Preston under the gun. She had two choices, find a job that would help pay enough for her to stay in Boston...or face moving back to the country to a house full of family and various animals. The last thing on her mind was love...until she meets the devastatingly handsome surgeon Marcus Drake. He's like her lucky charm. He's nothing like any of the doctors she's ever met. He drives a Harley and has a thing for Irish music. Too bad she's leaving town.
Hard work never bothered Marcus until the night he returned home after a bad day and realized there was nothing there for him. At a crossroad in his life, he decides it's time to make a change. Then he meets Zoey Preston. The green-eyed girl who can't stand the sight of blood is nothing like the woman he'd imagined would one day be his wife. But he soon realizes, she's is everything he wants...for life.
Purchase MY LUCKY CHARM now!

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Wednesday, July 11, 2018

On Conversations: #AAMBC #author Nikesha Elise Williams

Please join me in welcoming author Nikesha Elise Williams to Conversations today! Nikesha is here to talk about her novel, Four Women! So be sure and check out the cover, blurb and excerpt below! And don't forget to check out her interview too and get to know Nikesha Elise Williams.

Lisa ~

__________________________________________



Four Women
 

What happens to four strangers when the present meets the past and the whole world is watching?

This is the story of four women. Soleil St. James, Dawn Anthony, Ebony Jones, and Dr. Jonelle "Johnnie" Edwards all live, work, and love in Jacksonville, Florida. The women from four different backgrounds don't know each other, but when one tragically triumphant event brings their worlds together the women's jobs, relationships, and exponentially budding connections get tested in ways they've never imagined.

In a post Ray Rice, Trayvon Martin, Jordan Davis, and Michael Brown world, Soleil, Dawn, Ebony and Jonelle all question their place as African-American women. Is the Black woman still the mule of the world? Can justice be served when the suspect is also the victim, and the victim has a hidden criminal history that's never been reported or prosecuted, and whenver faced head on is swept under the rug? In a world where stand your ground is immunity from prosecution for murder, or a license to kill, and domestic violence is scarcely recognized, what options does any one woman have?





Excerpt from FOUR WOMEN

Johnnie hangs up the phone and pushes it into the thigh pocket of her scrubs. Before getting out of her car, she reaches for her water bottle in the side pouch of her book bag in the passenger seat. Johnnie brings the bottle to her lips, pulls the black cap open with her teeth, and drains the contents inside. She smacks her lips and releases an “ah” as she tosses the bottle back into the seat, gets out of her car, and makes her way inside her own personal hell.

For Dr. Jonelle “Johnnie” Edwards, the grocery store after 5 p.m. on a Thursday is the second worst place to be in the world on a Thursday after 5 p.m. The first worst place being the Shands emergency center operating room. The former name of the hospital before the University of Florida decided to assert all of its monetary authority with the eponymous UF Health. That’s the worst place to be in the world on any day.

Johnnie found herself able to leave early, if you call stopping at 36 hours instead of going for the full 48, leaving early. The week had been one shooting victim after another. Some victims were women and children; most of them were men. If they made it to the operating room the majority of them lived.

Johnnie praised God for her quick, nimble fingers. But sometimes victims died. A regrettable feeling she let worm its way inside her heart until she was standing in the grocery store after 5 p.m. on a Thursday, looking for something quick and effective to erase the memory of the face who died on her table two hours ago. Johnnie plans to drink away her failure today, and again after her victim’s funeral. A ritual she began when she lost her first patient two years after her residency.

Maneuvering the grocery side of one of the world’s largest discount retailers, Johnnie finds herself facing the back racks of cheap wine and no spirits. She desperately searches for a 12 dollar bottle of anything hoping the higher price will mean better quality, but the shelves filled with nine dollar bottle after nine dollar bottle force her to settle on Beringer’s White Zinfandel deciding, you don’t have to be fancy to be drunk.

Wine bottle in hand, Johnnie pushes her way to the front of the store where she stands in the long line for people with 20 items or less; reminded once again why she hates the grocery store on a Thursday after 5 p.m. 18 cash registers man the front of the store. Only six are open, not including the chaos of the self-checkout square.

Johnnie waits, tapping her feet. Crossing and re-crossing her arms. She sighs loudly, clears her throat, and stares down the cashier, daring her to say anything other than “May I help you?”

The line crawls until finally, Johnnie is able to set the wine bottle down on the conveyor belt. She brings her hands to her temples and massages her head, regretting not picking up the bottle of aspirin from the pharmacy when she had the chance. Stretching her neck to each side, muscles and tendons crack. Forcing herself to relax, Johnnie scans the racks of magazines. Paper tabloids that make no bones about what they are, stand next to glossy tabloids putting on airs as respectable publications. They are all the same — telling the same story from cover to cover. One fat pop star; one skinny celebutante. A picture of a post-pregnancy, wedding-planning Kim Kardashian on every cover, even if she isn’t the cover story. None of the pictures are new. Stock photos plaster the covers of the tabloids; all of them old and outdated. The only thing separating one from another are their headlines; each one more sensational than the last.

Johnnie roves across the magazines stacked high on the display shelves, until her eyes fall to the candy crates where children can easily reach and beg their tired parents for a sugar high.

“Will this be all for you today, ma’am?” The cashier asks dryly.

“No,” Johnnie says. “Add these too.”

She places four cans of Altoids on the sliding conveyor belt thinking, I need to restock anyway.




Interview with NIKESHA ELISE WILLIAMS

What inspired Four Women?

There are many inspirations for Four Women. The first is Nina Simone and her song “Four Women.” I have loved that song since I first heard it when I was 8 so it played a big role in shaping and describing the four women of the novel. The other major inspiration were the events going on at the time. I am a news producer by trade so when I first started writing Four Women the George Zimmerman trial was going on, Michael Dunn was going through court proceedings for killing Jordan Davis, Marissa Alexander was in prison for attempted murder for firing a warning shot, and I was covering these stories at work and they never let me. They bothered me so much that I wanted to tell a story about the inherent biases in laws like Stand Your Ground and self-defense, but most importantly I wanted to tell a story about Black women. Women like myself and ones I know who show up for the cause and hold the family and our community down but are rarely put at the forefront of anyone’s story. I wanted the women in my story to inhabit every role possible: the victim, the suspect, the media person, etc, so that I could put the fullness of Black women and all that we are on display in the foreground instead of in the background.

The women presented in the novel are very relatable who is your favorite of the four, and are any of them based on you in real life?

My favorite character is Ebony. She popped up on the page and took over. There is something beautifully flawed about her and I love all of her messiness. As for the second part of that question. None of them are based on me. All of the characters have a part of me but none of them are me or anyone I know.

What motivates you to write?


The ideas that I have. I’m not the kind of writer that writes everyday. I may have the intention to but as a wife and a mother life happens. But my phone is always with me so when ideas come to me I let them ride out for awhile, but if they keep coming back to me, in the same way, I pay attention and begin to take notes in my phone. By the time I sit down to write the book is outlined from start to finish, with room to play, and I have no choice but to get the story and the characters out of my body and make them real. I am obedient to the spirit. No matter how many days or how many hours I work or even how little sleep I’ve gotten, when I sit down to write there is nothing else that I’d rather be doing.

How long did it take for Four Women to go from an idea in your head to a book in your hand?

This is a question that I always laugh at. This book took an extremely long time to go from idea to publication. The first chapter in the book started as a short story that I wrote in 2010 because I was bored. I sent it to my best friend and saved it but didn’t do anything with it. The second chapter was an idea that I had for a television script proposal in 2012 that I never did anything with, but it never left me. In 2013 I was between jobs. So while I was waiting on call backs for employment I made the most of my days by taking the characters from 2010 and 2012 and writing this story for a contest I saw. You write the first 10,000 words of a novel and get professional feedback. I figured I could do that and Four Women was born. After the contest I kept writing. In March of 2014 I was seven chapters from the end, when I lost my manuscript because my flash drive failed. All I had were those 10,000 words I happened to have saved in one other place. So I started over in May of 2014 when I realized data recovery specialists couldn’t help me. That’s when I found out I was pregnant with my son and I wrote all through my pregnancy and finished the novel in 2015 when he was about six weeks old. From there I looked for agents, found agents, and did two major revisions and waited to be “discovered.” That didn’t work out for me, and by the end of 2016 I decided the novel was going to come out in 2017 whether it was through a traditional publisher or on my own. The traditional route didn’t work for me, so I started my own company and released Four Women on Thanksgiving Day 2017.

What advice do you have for other writers who want to make the leap to pursuing their passion and dreams but are currently working day jobs?

Do both. If you want to write, sit down and write. If you have to write and work, write and work. Eventually the one that is your true calling will prevail, but you have to be patient and persistent.

Four Women ends on a cliff hanger, can we expect a sequel?

Yes. There is a sequel to Four Women. It’s called The Appeal of Ebony Jones. It will be out in August.



What do you see for your future beyond Four Women and The Appeal of Ebony Jones?

More books. Definitely more books. I have a lot of ideas that I’m currently working on that will be released over the next couple of years. Beyond that I definitely plan to get into screenwriting and possibly playwriting. As a producer I’ve been trained to write for an audience and to see a show in my head before it’s ever broadcast. That has translate to the way I write. I am writing what I am seeing the way it’s being acted out in my head, so naturally television and film and scripted stuff I think is the natural next step for me.



Nikesha Elise Williams is an Emmy award winning news producer and author. She was born and raised in Chicago, Illinois. She attended The Florida State University where she graduated with a B.S. in Communication: Mass Media Studies and Honors English Creative Writing. In addition to winning an Emmy, Nikesha also won the Florida Associated Press Broadcasters award for Best Breaking News in 2014. Nikesha lives in Jacksonville, Florida, but you can always find her online at www.newwrites.com, Facebook.com/NikeshaElise or @Nikesha_Elise on Twitter and Instagram.

 



Tuesday, July 10, 2018

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, July 3, 2018

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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