As seen in the May issue of Uncaged Book Reviews
Uncaged: What can you tell readers about your Love Inspired Historical series? What inspired you to write in the historical western genre?
My series is set during the silver mining boom in Leadville, Colorado. Believe it or not, I started writing historical westerns because my agent dared me to. I never wanted to write historicals because I love them so much that I was afraid of turning my first love into work. However, my agent twisted my arm, I tried it, and decided to write about an area I knew well- Leadville, CO. When my husband’s family came to America, they went to Leadville, so the area is steeped in family history, and we spend a great deal of time there. Fortunately, even though writing about Leadville is a lot of work, I still find it very fun and rewarding.
Uncaged: You also write in the contemporary genre, but all your books are clean and inspirational romances. Can you tell readers more about your other series?
I have a contemporary series, Legacy of the Heart, which is part of a larger series called Arcadia Valley. It’s set in Idaho and the series focuses on natural living and foodie culture, a couple of my favorite topics. Legacy of the Heart is about a group of grandchildren determined to keep their parents from taking Bigby Farm, which has been in the family for generations, from their grandmother. And, of course, they all fall in love along the way.
My third book in the series, The Taste of Romance, is out in June.
Uncaged: What are you working on next?
LOTS!! Because the Love Inspired Historical line is closing, I’ve moved to writing for Love Inspired. My first series with them, tentatively called Three Sisters Ranch, will begin in February 2019. It’s about three sisters who inherit a ranch from a long-lost relative, and use it as a means of rebuilding their lives after suffering tragedies.
In the meantime… I have a novella coming out right around the time of WDR as part of the Legacy of the Heart collection (different from above, weird, I just noticed it was the same name!). We have five different stories, two historical and three contemporary, based on a locket that is passed down from woman to women. My story, Heritage of Love, is a historical featuring a young lady who meets a member of Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show at the Chicago World’s Fair and falls in love- but her family objects to his Lakota heritage.
I also have my first book with the Brides of Blessings series coming out in May. It’s called A Blessed Dream, and it’s about three sisters who come to the gold mining town of Blessings, CA during the California Gold Rush to avenge their father’s murder. Each of my three books will follow a different sister, and this one is about Louisa, who has given up her dream of being a schoolteacher to help her family, and ends up having to manage her neighbor’s unruly children. Love isn’t in the plan for either of them, but love always has other plans!
I’m also hoping to have another Brides of Noelle book out this summer.
Uncaged: You are an attending author at Wild Deadwood Reads this year. What are you looking forward to the most from this convention?
Wow, so much!! I’ve never been to Deadwood, so I’m super excited to just be there. Also, in case you haven’t guessed, I am a total history nerd, so I plan on doing ALL THE THINGS historical, and I’m really excited to be experiencing it with fellow history nerds. I love that I’m going to connect with people like me who love books and history, and I think it’s going to be so much fun!
Uncaged: Do you read your reviews? What do you take away from them?
No, I don’t! I’m too thin-skinned to be able to read them, especially because people can be really mean in what they say online. I hired an assistant who reads them for me, and she lets me know the things I need to know. The main takeaway she gives me is to let me know who my fans are and what they’re looking for. I can’t please everyone, but I really want to do right by the people who look forward to my books.
Uncaged: What is one of the nicest things someone has said to you about your books?
Good question! Anytime a reader lets me know my books have made a difference in their lives is something very special to me. I’ve had that happen a few times, and I love knowing that I’ve been able to touch someone’s heart in a special way.
Uncaged: What is your favorite parts about being an author? What have you found to be the least favorite?
I love writing. It’s kind of a sickness, because I would write 24/7 if I could. All I want to do is write. Anything that is not writing is my least favorite, and I’m doing my very best to let others do those things, because they make me grumpy.
Uncaged: What do you like to do when you aren’t writing? Where is one of your favorite places on Earth?
I love to travel! Seriously, my dream life is to travel the world and write. But come home sometimes, because I also love being home. We bought our dream-in-progress home in the mountains three years ago, and while it is definitely a work in progress, I love being here. The joke is that when my kids leave, I will be a recluse and never leave my house, except to travel, because I love it so much. My other favorite place on Earth is England. If I could live there a month out of every year, I totally would.
Uncaged: What is the hardest part of a book to write? What is the easiest? From start to finish, how long does it take to finish a complete book?
The hardest part for me is the ending. I am so in love with the book, I don’t want it to end, but I’m also usually tight on word count, so I don’t have room to mess around. I just want to keep writing and writing because I seriously love to write.
The easiest is starting, because I love getting to know a new story.
Start to finish… ugh. I don’t know. I have a weird process. My books percolate for a long time, but when it’s time to write, I write! Percolation can take months, but the actual writing is usually less than a month.
Uncaged: What would you like to say to fans, and where can they follow you?
I think my fans are awesome, and I love getting to know them.
Honor Bound Lawman
Her Rancher Bodyguard
When Laura Booth’s dangerous ex-husband escapes from prison, she turns to the one man who can protect her: Owen Hamilton. Living with the widowed former lawman—who once helped put her ex in jail—and his adorable twin daughters on their Colorado ranch is a welcome respite. For the first time, Laura feels safe—but after her troubled past, she’ll never trust her heart again.
Owen would like to say only obligation draws him to Laura’s side. But in his gut he knows his feelings for the gentle beauty run deeper than duty—and it stops him cold. After guarding their wary hearts for years, can Owen and Laura give love a second chance?
Owen Hamilton shielded his eyes against the sun as he tried to make out the rider coming toward him. His small ranch outside of Leadville, Colorado, was too far from town to get many visitors.
His sister, Lena, stepped out of the house. “Were you expecting company?”
“No. Get inside and bar the door. Keep the girls close. You know what to do.”
Lena hesitated. “Should I get your shotgun?”
“I’ve got my belt,” Owen said, patting his hip. “No sense in drawing trouble if there is none.”
They’d had this conversation enough times that Lena gave a nod. “We’ll be inside. I’ll wait for the signal.”
Owen walked off the porch and headed down the path toward the oncoming horse. Now that the rider was closer, Owen recognized him.
He called over his shoulder at the house. “It’s just Will. Put on some coffee and see what you can round up for refreshment. I’m sure he’s tired after his long ride.”
Though he sounded cheerful, his stomach filled with dread. The only reason Will would come to see Owen unannounced was if it was about a case. When Owen had turned in his badge several months ago, he’d made it clear he wasn’t available to help his friend. Both Will and the sheriff had tried talking him into at least remaining a consultant. But after Owen’s last mistake, he couldn’t bring himself to potentially endanger anyone else. True, on that last case, no one had died. But Owen had gotten distracted, and because of it, a woman and her children nearly died. Though everything turned out all right in the end, he still couldn’t forget how easily things could have gone bad.
As Will dismounted, Owen walked over to greet him. “Go ahead and put your horse by the barn. There’s plenty of hay, and I’ll get some water for him.”
“Thanks,” Will said, sounding out of breath. He must have been riding hard. And from the horse’s sweaty flanks, Owen could tell that initial instinct that this wasn’t a social call was correct.
“Lena is fixing some refreshments. Then you can be on your way.”
“You haven’t even heard what I have to say.”
“I figure already I already know what you’ve got to say. When I turned in my badge, it was for good.”
Before Will could respond, Owen’s six-year-old twin daughters, Anna and Emma, came running out the door. “Uncle Will!”
“Pipsqueaks!” Will gathered the girls in his arms and gave them a big hug. Though Owen had no regrets in moving out to the ranch, sometimes he thought about how isolated they were out here. Living in Leadville, Owen’s children had the chance to socialize with a number of families, including Will’s. Though Will wasn’t their real uncle, their families were close enough that it felt like it at times. Leaving behind their social connections had been a small price to pay for his privacy. If he wasn’t living in town, no one could ask him to help on a case.
Maybe it sounded selfish, but Owen knew that if his fellow lawmen could just run down the street to ask for his help, keeping his badge hung up would be near impossible. Besides, he and Lena had grown up here. Lena hated the city, and they’d both agreed that they wanted the same kind of how childhood for Owen’s daughters that they’d had.
Lena had given up so much for Owen, quitting her job as a teacher to move in with him and help take care of his daughter’s when his late wife left him nearly six years ago. It seemed only fair that Owen took looked toward Lena’s comfort. Lena had no intention of ever marrying, and after Owen’s disastrous marriage, he wasn’t interested in finding a wife either. Which made being out here, several miles from town, perfect for both of them.
But as Owen watched Will laughing with his daughters, he couldn’t help but wonder if the best thing for him and Lena was not the best thing for his girls. Even though they had each other, the twins missed their friends in Leadville.
“Are you going to spend the night?” Emma asked.
“Why didn’t you bring Mary and Rosabelle?” Anna added. The girls loved spending time with Will’s wife, Mary, and doting on baby Rosabelle.
Will laughed and gave the girls another squeeze. “I’m afraid I’m here on business. I can’t stay long because I need to get back. But hopefully, you can come to town soon and stay with us.”
“Then you’d best come in and have some coffee, so you can be on your way.” Owen gave his friend a firm look. “Any business you have for me is no business I want. I told you, I put that life behind me.”
“You haven’t even heard what I have to say.”
Will’s stubborn expression matched Owen’s. They’d been friends long enough that they could spend hours staring each other down in this manner. They’d done so often enough in the past, with each of them having their share of wins and losses. But this time, Owen wasn’t going to lose.
“Don’t need to. I won’t turn a friend away without refreshment, but you might as well go back on the horse and go home. Nothing you have to say is of interest to me.”
Lena stepped out of the farmhouse, wiping her hands on her apron. “Now, Owen, that’s no way to treat a friend. After all he’s done for us, you at least need to hear him out. Will, nice to see you again.”
Growing up, Owen used to tease Lena that being a schoolteacher was her destiny because of the way she always bossed everyone around. Even having quit her job, she was still good at giving orders. Lena was also his elder by a couple of years, which meant Owen got more than his share of Lena’s commands.
“Good to see you, too, Lena. Mary sends her regards. Even though this is a quick trip on business, there are some cookies in my saddlebags that she insisted I bring.”
“Cookies!” The girls spoke and jumped up and down in unison. “Please, Papa, maybe go and get them?”
Owen sighed. Getting rid of Will wasn’t going to be so easy. Not that Owen wanted to get rid of his friend because entertaining guests was always a pleasurable endeavor. But business, that was another story.
“Let’s go get Will’s horse settled in the barn. Then we can get the cookies and bring them in the house. It’ll be a nice treat for all of us.”
His daughters didn’t need further encouragement. Laughing, they ran to the barn.
Owen looked at his friend. “I guess that settles that, then. Go tie up your horse, and I’ll get a bucket of water.”
Before Owen could head over to the water pump, Lena stopped him. “I don’t know why you’re being so prickly with him. You don’t even know he wants.”
“It doesn’t matter. He’s wearing his badge, which means it’s official business. This isn’t the first time he’s tried to drag me in on another case. I can’t do it anymore, Lena, I just can’t.”
His sister looked at him sympathetically. “I know it’s hard. Don’t you think he knows that, too? If anyone understands the difficulties you have with going back, it would be Will.”
“Then why is he here?” Owen shook his head as he looked at the ground. “All these years Will has been telling everyone that I’m the lawmen he knows. But I’m not. Will has more faith in me that he should. He’s better off without me.”
The crunch of boots on gravel made Owen turn. “I stand by my assessment of your abilities. That’s why I’m here.”
Owen stared at his friend. “You’re wasting your time. Our friendship has blinded you to my faults.”
“I wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t important.”
Lena stepped in beside Owen. “That’s just what I was telling Owen.”
He’d been prepared to fight Will. But with Lena on Will’s side, it seemed almost impossible to consider doing battle.
“Fine. What you want?”
Will shoved his hands in his pockets and leaned back on his heels. His face squeezed tightly into an expression of a man bearing the worst kind of news. Owen had seen that expression on his friend’s face often enough, probably too often, that had Will opened with this expression, Owen wouldn’t have had to debate with himself. The words that were to come out of his mouth were irrelevant. No matter what they were, Owen would help his friend.
“James Booth has escaped from prison.”
The words were shocking as if Will had pulled his gun out of his belt and shot Owen.
“How can that be? They had him in maximum security.”
Will’s brow furrowed. “Apparently not maximum enough. Two guards are dead, and they aren’t sure the third will last the night. When they catch him, he’ll hang for sure.”
“When did this happen?”
“A few hours ago. The prison sent a telegram right away. They think he’s headed to Leadville.”
Owen’s heart sank to the pit of his stomach. This wasn’t supposed to happen. He’d promised Laura Booth, James’s ex-wife, that this wouldn’t happen. Every day, when he’d escorted her to the courthouse for James’s trial, Owen promised her that James would go to prison for the rest of his life and never bother her again. One more promise Owen had broken as a lawman.
“Does she know?”
Will nodded. “Laura’s scared, but she thinks he’ll head to Mexico, where he has connections, something he’s always talked about doing. Laura believes that James will value his freedom more than anything else. She doesn’t think he’ll risk getting caught again.”
Unfortunately, Owen knew better. The man thought he was invincible, which meant he wouldn’t consider the risks to come after Laura.
“Has she forgotten how many times he threatened her? At the trial, at his sentencing and even when I went with her to give him divorce papers. The last time she saw him, he was like a madman, giving in graphic detail a list of all the horrible things he would do to her before he killed her in revenge for testifying against him.”
When Owen had met Laura, she was terrified of her husband. James Booth was a womanizing charlatan, hurting everyone in his path who did not give him his way. He’d beaten Laura into submission, making her one of his victims. But Owen, along with Will and several of their friends in Leadville, had convinced Laura to testify against James in a case where he’d been accused of murdering his mistress. At the time, Laura had been hesitant to speak out against him. He had many friends and associates, and she feared that they would help them avoid the consequences of his actions.
Owen had been the one to convince her otherwise.
And now James had done the very thing Laura was afraid of. He’d gotten out of jail, and he was coming after her.
Will had been right to ask Owen to come out of retirement for this. He’d made a woman a promise that he would keep her safe.
Hopefully, Owen would be able to keep that promise.
A story about love, trust and second chances with a good dash of suspense and danger thrown in. When Owen comes to Laura’s boarding house to take her into protective custody as her abusive ex-husband has escaped from jail, Laura goes, with strong objections, thinking her ex will just high tail it to Mexico. But when the danger looms and people are killed, Owen takes Laura to his ranch, a hidden gem that very few people know about.
The two people will need to learn to trust each other, and also trust the feelings that they have for each other, brewing under the surface.
This is a nice romance, with enough humor, suspense and danger thrown in, along with some great family moments. Nice series. Reviewed by Cyrene