Thursday, July 28, 2011


Time Plains Drifter is a different kind of romance novel than anything I’ve ever read. I think that’s why I enjoyed writing it so much.

After being released in December of 2009 with an unscrupulous publisher, I took my rights back after only three months and spent the next year searching for another home for it. Just this past spring, it was placed with WESTERN TRAIL BLAZER, an imprint of PUBLISHING BY REBECCA J. VICKERY. This is a marvelous company that handles some much “bigger” names than I have, such as Peter Brandvold, Jory Sherman, and Madeline Baker, among others. Print books are important to me, although I understand that e-publishing is growing by leaps and bounds. I’m sure that WESTERN TRAIL BLAZER will prove to be the perfect place for Time Plains Drifter, and I’m glad to say I now have the sequel in the works.

That being said, let me tell you why Time Plains Drifter is so hard to pigeonhole and why that may be a bit scary in today’s market.

I knew Time Plains Drifter was going to have to be classified as a time-travel romance; that’s how the H/h meet one another. She’s from 2010—he’s from 1879. That was the easy part. The part that was a bit harder to work around was that he was dead. I just couldn’t get past the premise that Rafe d’Angelico was going to be the “paranormal element” of the story. I didn’t want him to be a werewolf, vampire, or shapeshifter. So that left angels, demons, zombies and so forth. I chose for him to be an angel.

Working with Rafe—an angel who didn’t want to be an angel—was a challenge. I told him he had a pretty good deal going. He told me, “I want to be human again.” In the end, I realized he was right, and that was the only way to resolve the issue of time-travel-paranormal-angel-demon-human issues.

Jenni Dalton, the heroine, was completely unsuspecting in all this. She went out on a stargazing field trip with seven of her high school students one night and they never came home. Instead, they ended up in Indian Territory, 1895; one hundred-fifteen years in the past.

Jenni’s got it rough, trying to deal with her seven charges, four of them the senior class troublemakers. It takes Rafe to bring them to heel and get them to toe the mark, until the gravity of their situation causes them to all make some surprising adjustments.

As Rafe and Jenni realize their growing attraction to one another is fated, they also understand there is no way anything can come of it on a permanent basis—Rafe is an angel, and Jenni is human.

The twists and turns that finally bring the book around to the HEA were the most fun to come up with for me. But the story itself, being so unique, is tough to categorize.

Time Plains Drifter is special to me because it’s the first project my daughter, Jessica, and I have had the chance to work on together. She designed the cover art. I absolutely LOVE what she did.

Time Plains Drifter was the recipient of The Reviewer’s Top Pick Award by Karen M. Nutt, PNR reviews. It also received a 4.5 star review from Romantic Times Magazine. I was selected as the recipient of the Honorable Mention—Best New Paranormal Author category in PNR’s PEARL Awards last year (March 2010), based on Time Plains Drifter.

The sequel has been a delight to work on, with a different twist than the first book, and some familiar characters will be the stars of the show this time around since the story is built around Rafe’s brother, Cris, and Jenni’s sister, Victoria.

Time Plains Drifter is now available in all formats, including print, Kindle, and Nook. Take a look at my Amazon page to order. (See link below.)
Cheryl's Amazon Author Page:

I’ve included the blurb and an excerpt below. Please leave a comment! I always love to hear from readers and other authors. Visit my website at

Trapped in Indian Territory of 1895 by a quirk of nature, high school teacher Jenni Dalton must find a way to get her seven students back to 2005. Handsome U.S. Marshal Rafe d’Angelico seems like the answer to her prayers; he is, after all, an angel. In a race against time and evil, Rafe has one chance to save Jenni’s life and her soul from The Dark One—but can their love survive?


He closed his eyes, letting the pleasurable feel of her wet mouth on his body wash over him, along with her voice. “Some things never change,”she’d said earlier. Her Oklahoma accent was a slow waltz to his mind, its lilting cadence urging him to accept what they had between them. Still, he couldn’t let it go. Couldn’t ever be dishonest with her, of all people.

“Don’t you want to know—”

She stopped him, placing two cool fingers across his lips, smiling at the tickle of his moustache against her skin. The smile faded as she absorbed the worry in his expression, the smoldering fire in his eyes, and made it her own.

“Not now, I don’t. You asked me—earlier—if I felt it. Whatever it is between us. I do.” Debating with herself, she hesitated a moment before coming to a decision. “I want you, Rafe,” she murmured. “I trust you.” She nuzzled his neck.“It doesn’t matter now, who—or what—you are.”

His hand closed in a fist around the shimmering satin of her copper hair, his chest filling with a sweet peace at her quiet words.

His mind churned as Jenni kissed him once again. Accepting him, for whoever he might be. She loved him. She hadn’t said it yet, but he knew it by the gentle way her lips grazed across his, then claimed his mouth completely, as if that was the only way she had to let him know how she felt. They breathed together, as one.

He answered her wordlessly, his tongue going into her mouth, fingers splaying and tightening against her scalp as he pulled her to him.

She came across his bare chest, the stiffness of the material of her own blouse gliding with gentle abrasion across his nipples. He groaned in pleasure and felt her smile against his mouth. She made the move again as she lifted her lips from his, emerald eyes sparkling into his searing gaze.

“We’ll talk later,” she assured him.

“It’ll be too late to change your mind about me then,” he said, half-jokingly.

“I won’t change my mind, Rafe.”

The sweet sincerity in her voice and the promise in her eyes reassured him. He pulled her down silently. As their mouths melded once more, he rolled, taking her with him, changing their positions so he lay atop her.

She gasped, yielding to him, her cool palms sliding over the fevered heat of his skin, across his chest and shoulders. He began to unbutton her blouse as he kissed her, his fingers moving deftly. He pushed away the first layer of material with his customary impatience, then started on the stays of her corset.

She twisted beneath him at the loosening of the undergarment. He pulled her upright momentarily, whisking blouse and corset over her head, dropping them in a heap on the floor.

In silent invitation, Jenni lifted her hand to him. She touched his side, and he flinched slightly as her fingers lingered over the very place the Bowie had gone into him earlier that day. Even though a red scar marked the spot, there was no pain for him, and he saw no puzzlement in her eyes...only concern.

“Does it hurt?”

It was as he had suspected. She’d seen what had happened, how bad it should have been...but wasn’t. And she had accepted it, unconditionally. They would talk later, as she’d said, but somehow, he felt he would find the words he needed to explain things to her. He shook his head slightly. “No.”

A vulnerable uncertainty crossed her face for a moment. “Well, then, Marshal—what’re you waiting for?” He unfastened her skirt and petticoat, then made short work of the stockings and underpants.

God. Rafe swallowed hard, reaching to trace the faded tan lines across her shoulders. He moistened his lips, his teeth sinking into the lower one momentarily. His pulse raced as his gaze moved over her face—then lower, to her breasts, her flat belly, and the triangle of soft hair, below.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011


My hero, Roy Rogers, and
the hussy who stole him
from me.
By Caroline Clemmons

You know I love the West, which is why I'm here. My love began very early with my dad telling me how his family came to Texas after the Civil War and some of the events that followed. Fascinating. Those Johnson boys sure got into a lot of trouble--especially when they teamed up with the Hardemans and others! Then I discovered cowboys. Sigh. Love those cowboys and ranchers! I loved the movies, but read western comic books when I couldn't go to a movie theater. At least I was reading, right?

High plains cotton field
The summer before I was eight, my family moved back to Texas from Southern California. I was soooo excited, because now I would see real cowboys. I was a dorky kid and in my mind, as soon as we crossed the state line into Texas, I'd be able to see cowboys everywhere. Not. We moved to a farming community where my dad managed a cotton gin. Cotton fields, not ranches and cowboys. Let me tell you, I was disappointed, but I was still certain cowboys rode just over the horizon.

My poor dad--hounded by requests to show me the cowboys--kept telling me my idea of western life was just in the movies. Alas, on our first trip to Oklahoma to visit my grandmother, we drove through the ranching area near Shamrock, Texas Yep, one of the ranches was having a roundup and I saw cowboys, lots of cowboys. I was in heaven. Picture me bouncing up and down for joy in the back seat and my dad having to eat his words. (Poor dad. He was a great father, and I'm sure I was a trial to him and my mom.)

Lubbock, Texas
My love of the West continues. Most of my growing up years were in Lubbock, Texas, known as "The Hub of the Plains." Not a bad place to grow up, in spite of the sand storms. In my latest release, HOME, SWEET TEXAS HOME from The Wild Rose Press, the hero is a rancher. The book is set in and near Lubbock. (Write what you know.) I hope readers will enjoy this book. This modern Cinderella story is a departure for me, in that it is a sweet contemporary romance rather than sensual.

Courtney Madison grew up in Dallas and manages in a small bookstore near where a large chain has opened. To stave off closing the store, the owner has come out of retirement to replace Courtney and her assistant manager. Saving two salaries may keep the store going. Unfortunately, that means Courtney is out of a job at a time when the brother for whom she's guardian has found bad companions and begun skipping school. Add all that to the mound of debts she has from her late mother's illness and Courtney is desperate with a capitla D. Her fairy godmother--make that godfather--steps in with a legacy worth two million dollars! An elderly man she befriended while her mom was in the hospital, has left her his home in West Texas, along with other properties, on the condition she live there for a year. Wow! She can stop looking for a job, get her brother away from his punk friends, and pay off her mother's debts. How lucky can a girl be? But wait--there's a catch. Isn't there always? And Courtney learns that money may be the answer to some problems, but it creates new challenges.

The hunky hero, Derek Corrigan, is a rancher who was raised by Courtney's benefactor. Derek's judgement regarding financial matters is amazing. With women, not so much. Right now, he wants a secure and loving home for his two children, Meg and Warren, and to prevent them learning the kind of woman their late mother was. Never works, does it?

Okay, you know how this book is going to end, right? HOME, SWEET TEXAS HOME is not an instruction manual for brain surgery. This is a light romance with pathos, humor, and a hunky hero--just the book to chase the summer doldrums. Here's an excerpt:

When Jimmy saw his sister in bed, he rushed over. "Sis, what happened? What’s with the towel and the ice packs?" He frowned at Derek. "What’s going on?"
She opened her mouth to explain, but nothing came out.
Derek figured the bizarre situation defied description. He patted Jimmy on the shoulder. "Don’t worry, she’s okay now. We were at the cemetery putting flowers on Sam’s and Maggie’s graves and your sister got trapped in the bathroom."
Jimmy shook his head. "I don’t understand. How could that hurt her?"
Courtney sighed. "The knob came off in my hand and I couldn’t open the door. So, I climbed out the window."
Derek held out his hands to indicate the small rectangle. "A small, high window."
Jimmy looked from his sister to Derek. "I still don’t understand what happened."
Courtney snapped, "I got stuck, okay?"
Now that he knew her to be okay, the week’s tension suddenly snapped Derek and he lost his perspective on the whole situation. He grimaced at Jimmy. "She, um…" He coughed to keep a straight face. "When she tried to go out the window, she got stuck with her head and one arm sticking outside and the rest of her inside." He stood like a bird with a broken wing to imitate Courtney’s position. A grin spread across his face in spite of all his efforts not to smile.
Jimmy gaped at his sister. "Courtney? But she’s always so sensible. She’s never does anything stupid." He began to smile also.
Both males burst into laughter.
"Listen, if you two are so amused, go into the other room to discuss my apparently hilarious antics and leave me to suffer in peace." In spite of her strained muscles and injuries, she threw a box of tissues in their direction. "Go on, get out of here. Now."
Derek glanced over his shoulder before he left.

She’d stuffed a pillow over her ears, to block out their laughter.

I hope you'll take a chance on HOME, SWEET TEXAS HOME. It's available in print and e-book from

Thanks for letting me talk about my new release instead of a post about western history. 

Now, it's your turn. What sparked your love for the West?

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Looking for a HOT Summer Read?

Dear Sweethearts of the West readers,

I'm Sandra Crowley, author of a spicy romantic suspense, CAUGHT BY A CLOWN. If you're looking for a great read to relax with, one that will carry you across the country and introduce you to settings you might not have encountered before, CAUGHT BY A CLOWN, is the book for you. Amazon readers have given it two 5-Star reviews, and it garnered three 4-Star reviews from Sizzling Hot Book Reviews, The Romance Reviews and The Romance Studio.

If this bit of shameless promotion intrigues you, the blurb and two excerpts follow: 

Blurb:  A spontaneous freelance journalist on a mission of mercy finds herself entangled with a methodical undercover FBI agent out to settle a score. 

Stacie Monroe's spontaneity lands her in hot water again when her best friend's little brother disappears and Stacie trails him to a nudist resort. To get inside the exclusive oasis and convince him to return home, she must blend in, a move tailor made to shock her oh-so-proper family and renew efforts to bring her in line. 

That's exactly what Special Agent David Graham intends to do when she interferes in his case. Yet, the soft-hearted temptress challenges his resolve, revealing the path to a love he thought impossible. Will that love survive when he betrays her in order to unravel the final twist in his case and convict a vicious killer?

Excerpt 1: 
       The tissue box on her desk shifted. Stacie kept her gaze on the colorful page filling her screen while the tropical scent of sunscreen blended with the faint tang of a citrus and spice after-shave lotion. Oh no, another dangling dandy hung too close for comfort.
       A long, slow rasp warned her someone was easing a tissue upward. With a sideways glance, she spotted a man’s blunt, tanned fingers spreading the blue tissue to its widest, highest extent, yet leave it anchored in the box. This man cloaked in secrecy what others at the resort openly displayed. She assessed thick wrists and an athletic build that registered in her drool range. Stacie sat straighter and focused on his hands. No ring bound his finger. No pale circlet of skin betrayed the recent removal of one. Looking up, she saw a square jaw shadowed by dark blond stubble. Thick lashes fringed gray eyes. He wore his blond hair long and pulled back, the complete opposite to her riot of short black curls.
       “He can’t be David Graham. I am. Always have been.”
       Snapping back to reality, Stacie realized the new hero of her dreams thought her guess about Alan changing identity was wrong. She agreed with him. Seeing David Graham in the flesh, yummy hunky flesh, proved he looked nothing like Alan Walsh.
       “Why do you think he’s me?”
       “It doesn’t matter.” Concerned she’d upset a legitimate member, she introduced herself and offered a warm smile.
       “What does this Alan Walsh look like, Stacie?”
       A distinct tan line slashed low across the man’s abdomen, dividing sun-gilded skin from virgin white. A faint alarm sounded in her mind.
       “Maybe I’ve seen him and could point you in his direction.”
       His fidgeting hands and taut body mirrored her reaction to public exposure. Stacie relaxed. She would have signed in using a fake address and name if she’d come as a guest. He probably thought helping her would ease him into this new and daunting experience.
       “Alan has cinnamon brown hair. Styled, not cut. The hundred dollar appointment kind instead of the twelve dollar walk-in type.”
       Graham’s attention remained intent without a hint of reaction.
       “He’s five, maybe seven years younger that your...thirty-three?”
       Graham shifted his weight from one foot to the other, but he stayed silent.
       “Shorter by several inches than your...what...six-three or four...?”
       A tight smile pulled his firm lips. “Some people think I throw a long shadow.”
       She figured they should be more worried about the heavy muscles that slabbed his arms, shoulders, and chest. “Where you’re built like a weight-lifter, Alan’s a long distance runner.”
       “I know the type.”
       David Graham’s flat comment implied it fit Alan’s personality as neatly as it did his body. Goose bumps prickled Stacie’s arms for the second time that day.
       She looked at him without attraction fogging her senses. What was an intensely private man doing in a nudist resort? One possibility chilled her. Mick Caputo had sent him.

Excerpt 2 from later that night: 
     Stacie tapped one sandal-clad foot on the floor while Agent I'd-Rather-Scare-You-Than-Confide-In-You ignored her. She glanced toward the bathroom, crossed her legs, and wished she hadn't finished that last glass of wine.

     "Aren't you going to search that closet or open those two bottom drawers in the dresser?" she asked when he tucked his camera inside his pack.


     A nasty suspicion raised its head. "Why not?"

     "Don't have a search warrant. That limits me to a visual inspection of what's in plain sight."

     "I won't tell," she pushed, despite being certain of his response.

     "There are laws."

     She groaned over the close match to a pronouncement she'd heard her whole life. There are rules.

     Boring. Snoring. Gone. Think of something else.

     Like how Agent By-The-Book caused this mess. If he'd mentioned being from the FBI when they met in the office none of this would have happened. He ignored her interest in Alan Walsh and her intelligence in favor of treating her as if she were a child in need of a lesson.

     Nature threatened to float her teeth, but Stacie refused to ask for relief. She fidgeted on the hard chair and crossed her legs the other way. The backs of her thighs pulled where her skin had stuck to the wooden seat. That twinge of pain reminded her she ought to be thrilled Graham claimed a badge and not a rap sheet. Instead, she rattled the handcuffs that shackled her to the chair and worried how far he meant to carry her arrest.

Find out how far David carries Stacie's arrest and learn who's CAUGHT BY A CLOWN.

BUY paperback at TWRP or Amazon

BUY Ebook (all formats) at TWRP, DigiBooks Café  and
Amazon Author page
Sandra's Facebook page
Caught by a Clown's Facebook page

I appreciate your consideration. Thank you and have a wonderful summer!!!

Sandra Crowley

Friday, July 22, 2011

Social Etiquette in the 1800s

As a writer, I’m usually leery of challenging myself, but there are times when it turns out to be fun. And I don’t merely mean making the leap from historical writing to contemporary and back again.  I’m talking about moving outside of my comfort zone.  To put it quite simply: my heroes have always been cowboys. *G*  Well, cowboys, gunfighters, lawmen, bounty hunters—in other words, men who don’t have “purty” manners and are basically take-me-as-I-am kind of guys.  And pairing them with a heroine who will at least pretend to be offended when he cusses, spits or smokes is a lot of fun.  But lately my heroes have been moving in another direction, and I find myself writing about men who either need to fit in with polite society, or who already belong to it. 

And that’s what has led me (kicking and screaming!) out of my comfort zone into the cold, frightening land of the unknown, LOL.  Sure I knew the basic customs of the era, but I’ve never written a character that had to—or wanted to-- adhere to them.  Some I already knew and have had fun deliberately ignoring in past stories. Others were no-brainers (ex: it’s bad manners to pick one’s teeth at the table. LOL. I’ll bet even my most trail-weary cowboy knows that one!) But they were all fun and chock full of "what if's" for having one character or another break the rules.  

Here are some of the more interesting tid bits my research has turned up:

It was not considered appropriate for a young man to approach a young lady. Even if they had already met, he must still be introduced by a mutual friend a second time before he can speak to her freely.

In any stage of courtship, the couple always walked apart - the only contact allowed was for him to offer her his hand over rough spots while walking.

Women never rode alone in a closed carriage with a man who was not a relative. (oooh isn't that what made Rhett Butler so scandalous?)

Women did not call on an unmarried gentleman at his home.

Men could not be received into the home if a woman was there alone, a family member must be present at all times.

A true gentleman always tips his hat when greeting a lady, opens doors and always walks on the outside.  (Sigh.)

When introduced to a man, a lady should never offer her hand, merely bow politely and say “I am pleased to make your acquaintance.”

A gentleman may delicately kiss a lady’s hand, forehead or at most, her cheek. (I suspect even my most noble heroes’ have broken this rule a time or two. *G*)

A lady should never be neglected.  A gentlemen should help her with her cloak, shawl or any other outer garment she may wish to remove. (A safe bet to say my heroes are quite capable in this area.)

When ascending a staircase with a lady, a gentleman is to go at her side or before her. 

Happy Writing! 

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

A Civil War Love Story--THIS TIME FOREVER--LASR Five Star Book of the Week-by Linda Swift

 If you haven't met Linda Swift, now is your chance. I consider her one of the best "classic romance authors" in the business. She has a long history of publication when Kensington was her publisher. Now, she's discovered small presses and is enjoying a resurgence of creativity. Meet her in her own words.
A four-year commemoration of the American Civil War Sesquicentennial has begun. And with an existing plethora of Civil War books, both fact and fiction, why should I feel compelled to write another one? Hasn't Margaret Mitchell said it all? Since reading Gone With The Wind, I have been fascinated with this period in our nation's history. The magnificent plantations, southern belles in their exquisite gowns, not to mention Rhett Butler, are the stuff dreams are made of.

I was born in the border state of Kentucky. I attended university in South Alabama. And I lived for a few years in Chattanooga, Tennessee with its hallowed battlegrounds at Chickamauga Creek, Missionary Ridge, and Lookout Mountain. Swept up in the tragic history of this location, I wanted to tell a story of my own. Although the setting of the book is mainly Chattanooga, I have also included Oswego, New York and a family loyal to the Union.

I usually dedicate my books to  my husband but I have dedicated This Time Forever to three other people. First, my deceased mother, who loved all things related to the "old South." Then to my late cousin, a professional educator, who was terribly worried about my "wasted mind" when I began writing romance books. I think the research required for this story proves that my brain cells are still intact. And last, to a dear friend's son, a Chattanooga newspaper photographer who died from a staph infection following elective surgery. It saddens me to know that these three who would have enjoyed this story best of all I've written, will not have that opportunity.
My dedication is: "I wish you could have read this book."
And now I extend the invitation to you. If you only read one new book about the Civil War this year, I hope you will read this one. I will take you behind the battles into the hearts of both Yankees and Rebels as they live and die for the cause they believe in.
THIS TIME FOREVER is available from:
  Or you may find out more about it from my website at

The Civil War brought casualties beyond the bloody battlefields as North fought South. Philip Burke, against his family's wishes, volunteered to defend the Union and became a prisoner of war who bartered his medical expertise to remain out of prison. When the Union Army invaded Tennessee, Clarissa Wakefield's antebellum mansion became a Confederate hospital.  Philip was placed in charge and against propriety she volunteered to stay on and help nurse the wounded. Clarissa's husband was a Confederate soldier and Philip's fiancée waited for him in Oswego but the fire between them soon raged out of control. As the opposing armies fought for possession of Chattanooga, Clarissa and Philip faced their own battle. Caught in the passions of war and love, with hurt inevitable either way, would they be faithful to their vows or listen to their hearts?

Tip-toeing past the snoring guard, Clarissa stepped onto the moonlit veranda and made her way toward a wicker chair facing the river. It was only as she sat down that she saw the glow of Philip Burke’s pipe.
“Oh, excuse me, I thought—”
“That you would be alone? I was just finishing my pipe.”
 He made a move to stand but she said quickly, “Please don’t go. It is I who have intruded.”
“I scarcely think so. This is your home after all, Mrs. Wakefield.” He settled back in his chair and took another puff.
“Let’s not belabor such a trivial matter, Captain Burke. I’m glad of someone to talk to.”
“Then I’ll stay for a while longer with your permission.”
“Yes, do. The quiet seems eerie. As if we’re suspended in motion,
waiting for something to happen.”
“Waiting for all hell to break loose.” He didn’t appear to notice his offensive language and she forgot it with his next words. “I’ve experienced this before. It’s the lull before the battle.”
“Do you really think so?”
“It’s inevitable, with the Army of the Tennessee on the march and the Army of the Cumberland right on their heels.”
“Perhaps General Bragg will just go on to Atlanta.”
“With thousands of battle-ready troops at his command?” Philip asked drily. “Not likely.”
“When do you think it will begin?” Clarissa asked with dread.
“Perhaps tomorrow. If not tomorrow, soon.”
Clarissa shivered. “I wish my son was back at Fleur-de-Lis. What if the Union…?”
“Have you forgotten I am a Union officer? You and yours will be safe as long as I’m here.”
“Thank you, Captain.”
Clarissa silently regarded the man who sat near her, his features highlighted each time he drew on the coals of his pipe. It was difficult for her to remember that he was a prisoner but that must have been the thought
uppermost in his mind all these months.
The night sounds of early autumn filled the silence—dry flies and tree frogs and raucous insects too numerous to be identified. Clarissa became aware of Philip’s eyes on her and a warm sensation began in the pit of her
stomach and spread to her breasts and thighs. She watched his slender hand as he knocked the ashes from his pipe and imagined the hand touching her.
She felt her heart flutter and said with a catch in her voice, “I should go in now. It’s getting quite late.”
He stood at the same time she did and they were only inches apart.
Clarissa felt his warm breath on her face and dared not look up.
Her hair was luminescent silver flowing about her shoulders in the moon glow. Philip reached out to touch it and willed himself to stop. But his hands with a will of their own moved to her shoulders and she raised her
head and met his eyes.
In a dream-like motion they closed the space between them as their mouths slowly met and with a long-repressed hunger they sated themselves. Their bodies melded, soft against hard, silk against wool, and a fire blazed between them that blotted out all else except their awareness of each other.
He brought his hand to the back of her head and wove his slender fingers into her silken tresses; the kiss deepened as his tongue became a licking flame in her mouth. When the kiss finally ended, the flame licked the hollow of her throat and the rise of her breast as he pushed aside the fabric of her gown. Fire burned against her flesh in every place his tongue touched and she arched against him, eager to be consumed by it.
“Clarissa, my beautiful Clarissa,” he whispered. “No matter how hard I fight this, I can’t stop wanting you. There’s never an hour that you’re not in my thoughts. I am obsessed by you.”
She moved her hands from his chest to caress the sides of his face and he groaned with pleasure. “And I you.”
He cupped her against him and she linked her arms at the back of his neck as he bent his head to take her mouth again with greater intensity. “I tell myself that you are married but it doesn’t matter in what I feel. And I think you feel it, too.”
“Yes, oh yes,” she whispered.
Thank you, Linda. Guests—please leave a message to be eligible to WIN a pdf copy of THIS TIME FOREVER.


Monday, July 18, 2011


Jeanmarie Hamilton is unable to post today, so I'm reposting an article I wrote for the Seduced By History Blog.

The Legend of Mustang Jane

Let me share the legend of a woman about whom I’ve recently learned. Sally Newman, the woman later called "Mustang Jane" by her vaqueros, was born in Illinois in 1817 to Rachel (nee Rabb) and Joseph Newman. Her parents followed her maternal grandparents through several states to eventually settle in southeastern Texas and become part of Stephen F. Austin’s "Old Three Hundred." (If you’re not familiar with Texas history, Stephen F. Austin’s 300 families who were early settlers is a big deal there.) As a pioneer wife, Mrs. Newman was no stranger to conflict. On at least two occasions, she thwarted attacks from Comanche or Apache with quick and decisive action while young Sally watched.

When Sally was sixteen, she registered the brand for the cattle she had inherited from her father. Although she registered the brand in her maiden name, she noted on the application that she was the wife of Jesse Robinson, a man eighteen years her senior. The alliance lasted for ten years. Custody of their children, Nancy and Alfred, was ceded to Jesse when the couple divorced in 1843. Sally kidnapped Nancy, but was forced to return her to Jesse.

Sally’s luck was no better with her second, third, fourth and fifth husbands. Through her third through fifth marriage, she continued to go by the last name of her second husband, Scull. It was while she was married to George Scull (sometimes spelled Skull) that she developed her love for and interest in horsetrading.

While she was losing husbands (with some speculation that she might have assisted a couple of them in departing this life), Sally was gaining a reputation for marksmanship. Whether in skirts or pants, she always wore two pistols belted to her waist and usually wore a bonnet. She was a dead shot with both pistol and rifle, in either hand.

No known photograph exists of her, but accounts say she was a tiny woman with steel blue eyes and weighed 125 pounds at most. Her rough language was notorious, and she spoke Tex-Mex as well as if it were her native tongue. When she wasn’t traveling alone, she rose in the company of several Mexican vaqueros. She roamed the wide territory between the Sabine River and the Rio Grande, making her headquarters at a small settlement called Banquette, about twenty miles west of Corpus Christi. The vaqueros who worked for her and other Mexicans who knew her called her "Juana Mestena," Mustang Jane. She could outshoot any of her ranch hands, roped and rose with the best of them, and could drive a herd better than any of the wranglers in her employ.

Horsetrading was her primary business, a profitable one, and often under questionable circumstances. After a trip into Mexico, she always returned with a nice herd of stock, yet her money belt was still full. Sally knew all the ranches in the area. Ranch wives sometimes hinted that while Sally made eyes at the menfolk, her vaqueros were busy cutting the best horses from the herd. There were also rumors that she had assistance from the Comanche. If Sally admired particular horses and the owner refused to sell, Comanche raiders mysteriously visited the ranch shortly after Sally’s departure. No one ever caught Sally in possession of a horse for which she couldn’t show rightful ownership because she never let anyone inspect her herd.

Sally worked hard and played hard. She was an avid poker player and her favorite haunts included Old St. Mary’s Saloon at Copano Bay, Pancho Grande’s in Corpus Christi, and several places in Refugio. She attended many a fandango due to her love of dancing. Can’t you imagine her dancing while wearing those two pistols belted around her waist?

During the Civil War, Sally’s knowledge of the southern Texas backcountry served the Confederacy. Union forces blockaded Texas ports, stopping all shipments from England. The United States could not block ports south of the border, so Mexico’s ports were open. Sally sold her stock of horses, bought wagons, and turned her vaqueros into cotton haulers. Her wagons became a common sight on the roads from San Antonio to Matamoros on what became known as the Cotton Road. Cotton was traded in Matamoros for guns, ammunition, medicines, coffee, shoes, clothing and other goods vital to the Confederacy and supplies needed by inland Texas settlements. When the war ended in 1865, Sally sold her wagons and resumed the horse business.

Sally had little to do with her son, Alfred, who lived with his father and stepmother and their eight children on Ramerania Creek, about fifty miles northwest of Corpus Christi. No one knows what happened to Alfred Robinson. Nancy and her mother were closer. Sally sent her to one of the best boarding schools in New Orleans. Nancy returned to Texas, married, and lived up to her mother’s dreams. They were close until one visit when one of Nancy’s family dogs growled at Sally and she shot the dog.

No one knows what happened to Sally Scull. Texas mothers used to cajole their children to behave or "Old Sally Skull will get you." Not a nice remembrance, but Sally Scull had defied all expectations of womanhood for her era or any other. She walked tall in a world of strong men and made anyone in her path step aside.

Historian J. Frank Dobie wrote, "Sally Skull belonged to the days of the Texas Republic and afterward. She was notorious for her husbands, her horse trading, freighting, and roughness."

Sally Scull had defied all expectations of womanhood for her era or any other. She walked tall in a world of strong men and made anyone in her path step aside. Since no one knows where she's buried, it's nice that she's been honored with a Texas State Historical Marker in Refugio that says:

Sally's marker
Women rancher, horse trader, champion "cusser". Ranched NW of here. In Civil War Texas, Sally Scull (or Skull) freight wagons took cotton to Mexico to swap for guns, ammunition, medicines, coffee, shoes, clothing and other goods vital to the confederacy.

Dressed in trousers, Mrs. Scull bossed armed employees; was sure shot with the rifle carried on her saddle or the two pistols strapped to her waist. Of good family, she had children cared for in New Orleans School. Often visited them. Loved dancing. Yet during the war, did extremely hazardous "Man's Work".

Thanks to FROM ANGELS TO HELLCATS: LEGENDARY TEXAS WOMEN 1836-1880, by Don Blevins;;;

Find out more about Caroline Clemmons at or visit her blog at    

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Wild Hog Explosion

This month the second book in my Rodeo Rebels series for Harlequin American Romance hits store shelves. The Bull Rider's Secret takes place in Bandera, Texas. Known in the Hill Country as The Cowboy Capitol of the World, Bandera is a unique town with lots of western flavor and a tradition of welcoming the Biker community. I love adding a bit of reality to my stories and that's exactly what I did in The Bull Rider's Secret when my hero Brody enters the Wild Hog Explosion contest at Mansfield Park in Bandera, Texas.

This real life event features a wild hog catch. Teams of two enter a ring to try and catch a real Texas wild hog and then put the hog into a burlap sack. I haven't had the fortune to attend this event in person but one day I hope to return to Bandera to watch these crazy hog-catching people!

The Bull Rider's Secret

Home, sweet home? Not for this cowboy.

Brody Murphy lives one day—one ride—at a time. No home, no responsibility, no one depending on him. As long as the bull rider keeps moving, he can keep it that way. But when Brody meets Ricky Sovo and his mother, rancher Katarina, he finds himself lingering in one place for the first time in years.

Kat’s unlike any woman he’s ever known—feisty, stubborn and determined to make it on her own. But that independent streak has gotten her in trouble with a couple of local ranch hands. She needs Brody's help. Only helping means sticking around, and that’s not something Brody can do. For Kat makes him want more from life, more that he doesn’t deserve. She may be his only chance at accepting his past... but he's not sure he can ever stop running from it.

★★★★ ½
Brody Murphy is a man with a painful past who lives with no ties, moving from rodeo to rodeo, until he meets Ricky Sovo and his mother Katarina. Stubborn and independent, Kat finds herself in need of a ranch hand in a hurry and she really needs Brody's help, if she can talk him into sticking around. Brody's not sure he can stop running, even for the woman who may be able to save his life. Be sure to have tissues handy because Thomas has heartwarming characters who evolve and work to overcome tragedy. Pat Cooper, RT Book Reviews Magazine


The thunder of Harleys roaring down Main Street threatened to deafen Brody Murphy as he used the pay phone outside the Silver Dollar Saloon in Bandera, Texas.

"Ma'am." Brody tipped his hat to a wannabe cowgirl who sashayed by, leaving a scented cloud of expensive perfume in her wake.

"What's that God-awful noise?" Brody's buddy, Drew Rawlins, shouted through the phone connection.

"The Hell's Angels are in town."

"Where are you?"

"I'm in Bandera."

"Bandera? You were supposed to be here—" meaning Drew's ranch, Dry Creek Acres. "—three hours ago."

Brody ignored his friend's rant as he studied his choices for lunch across the street—Southern Comfort Bakery, Mi Pueblo, Busbee's BBQ and Bandera Saloon & Grill.

"Hey!" Drew snagged Brody's attention. "What are you doing in Bandera?"

Hell if Brody knew. He scanned the area, willing the answer to pop up in front of him. His gaze landed on a flyer attached to the saloon's over-sized red door.

Bandera, Texas
Cowboy Capital of the World
Wild Hog Explosion
Saturday March 20th at Mansfield Park

"Think I'll enter the Wild Hog Explosion." Whatever the heck that was.

"You're kidding, right?"

Maybe. Brody was down to twenty bucks in his wallet and half a tank of gas. Speaking of fuel, Brody gagged on fumes as a second motorcycle gang drove past him.

"I offered you a job," Drew said.

Turning his back to the busy road, Brody rested his arm atop the pay phone. This wasn't the first time Drew suggested Brody quit the rodeo circuit and work for him as a ranch hand. Brody had been a ranch hand most of his adult life—punching cows in Montana where he'd been born and raised. Hell, he loved—make that had loved—working cattle and horses, wide open spaces and the soul-searching loneliness of riding the proverbial range. Two years ago Brody had quit his job at the Black Stone Ranch and now he lived one day and one bull ride at a time.

There was a part of Brody that yearned to hang up his bull rope. He was tired. Lonely. Downright lost. But working for Drew would be like walking around all day with a red-hot poker stuck in his eye.

His buddy understood the demons chasing Brody. He was the only person Brody had confided in about his past. Even so, Brody didn't care to witness the former bronc rider's happiness. Drew had retired from rodeo this past December after he'd scratched at the National Finals Rodeo in Vegas. He'd given up a world title for love and a chance to be a father to a son he hadn't known existed until recently.

Drew was happy. Brody was miserable. It would only be a matter of time before Brody's unhappiness ruined their friendship. If that wasn't enough to deter him from accepting a job at Dry Creek Acres, then taking charity from a friend was. Drew had offered the job, not because he needed help, but because he felt sorry for Brody.

"Thanks, but I've got a ride coming up," Brody lied.

"When are you gonna admit you aren't a bull rider?"

Never. "I'll be in touch."

"The job's yours anytime you want it."

"Thanks." Brody hung up and eyed the advertisement on the saloon door. What the hell. He'd head to Mansfield Park and check out the exploding pigs.

Happy Trails!
Marin Thomas
Buy Marin's books here!

With this post, Marin Thomas begins a new phase on her life. She and her husband are moving across the country, with a new job for her husband, new home, and an empty nest. Because of the multitude of changes she faces in her life, Marin is leaving Sweethearts of the West. We hate like everything to see her depart, but understand that family always comes first. Marin, Happy Trails to you and your husband on this new chapter in your life!

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Cooking on the Western Trail

by Anna Kathryn Lanier 

Wow.  You’d think that the diaries of those who travelled West would be full of cooking trials and tribulations.  But no. After choosing this subject, I searched through my many ‘wagon trail diary books’ and found very few references on cooking. In fact, several of the books didn’t even have ‘cooking’ in the index. However, I think I found enough references to make this blog worthwhile.
One of the many tasks women performed on the trail was cooking. Though cooking and baking was second nature to most women (the highly born women didn’t always know how to cook, as they had hired help to do that job back East), cooking on an open flame was not something the women were familiar with. Even Keturah Belknap, who had never cooked on a stove, but rather a hearth, had to learn the ins and outs of cooking on a camp fire.

Helen Carpenter, a new bride making her way west on her honeymoon, wrote: “Although there is not much to cook, the difficulty and inconvenience in doing it amounts to a great deal—so by the time one has squatted around the fire and cooked bread and bacon, and made several dozen trips to and from the wagon—washed the dishes….and gotten things ready for an early breakfast, some of the others already have their night caps on—at any rate it is time to go to bed.” (1)  She also comments, “It is hurry scurry to get breakfast and put away things that necessarily had to be pulled out the last night…nooning is barely long enough to eat a cold bite—and at night all the cooking utensils and provisions are to be gotten about the camp fire, and cooking enough to last until the next night.” (2)

When the wagon train took a break from traveling, either to observe the Sabbath or to give the animals a rest, women “boiled a big mess of beans, to be warmed over for several meals,” relates Catherine Haun in her diary. (2)

Even in wind and rain, the cooking must go on.  According to Amelia Stewart Knight, “(Dreary times, wet and muddy, and crowded in the tent, cold and wet, uncomfortable in the wagon. No place for the poor children [she has seven].) I have been busy cooking, roasting coffee, etc. today….” A month into the journey she writes, “Fine weather; spent this day in washing, baking, and overhauling the wagons” and the next day, “I have been cooking, and packing things away for an early start in the morning.” (1)
When food was found on the trail, it was not wasted.  Eliza Ann McAuley writes “In cutting a way for the road, the boys find thickets of wild currants. There are several varieties, the black, the red and the white. The boys cut the bushes, some of them ten feet long and loaded with ripe currants, which we strip off and make into jelly, currant wine and vinegar, dried currants and currant pie.” (3)

I’ve camped out with my Girl Scout troops and we did a few campfire meals, so I know from experience how much work it is.  I have to admire the women who did it day in and day out, rain or shine for five to six months at a time!



(2)    PLAINS WOMEN: Women in the American West by Paula Bartley and Cathy Loxton

             (3) COVERED WAGON WOMEN:   Diaries & Letters from the Western Trails, 1852 by Kenneth L. Holmes

Promo alert: Next month, I’m doing a month-long workshop PIONEERING WOMEN OF THE WEST on Hearts Through History’s Campus.  Click HERE to find out the details and to register. WIN A FREE WORKSHOP - Just leave a comment and with a contact email and you will be eligible for the drawing.  I'll draw for a winner on July 16th.

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Anna Kathryn Lanier