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!


  1. MARIN--WELL, this is a first for me. I'm a lifelong Texan, don't live too far from Bandera, and I've never heard of the Wild Hog Explosion.
    I absolutely loved your excerpt--and loved that Brody! Congratulations on your newest release--Celia

  2. I'd never heart of the Wild Hog Explosion, Marin. Thanks for sharing and giving me a smile. Best of luck with the new phases of your life.

  3. I wish you well in your new life. Sometimes even though a change can be scary, it is also a time to expand and experience new things. Good luck to you and your hubby.

  4. Marin,
    I've never heard of the Wild Hog Explosion, but it sounds like alot of fun to watch (don't think I would be able to participate.) LOL Great excerpt--now I am going to have to go find this story and see what comes of the Wild Hog Explosion.

    I am so sorry to hear that you are leaving SOTW. But I do understand life changes and everything having to be adjusted, for sure! Wow, hubby's new job, moving across the country and empty nest all at once. My thoughts are with you! Take care, and let us hear from you once in a while.


  5. Marin,
    You know I love your cowboys! Can hardly wait to get my hands on this book. I loved this character in your previous story, Rodeo Daddy. I know I'll enjoy A Bull Rider's Secret just as much. :-)

    Have a good trip! Come back when you have a chance. We'll be thinking about you and missing your great posts. :-)



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