Seven men as tough as the west…
Seven women who know how to…
A boxed set of seven romantic novellas by seven award-winning authors experienced with writing about the men of the West.
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Enjoy an extended excerpt from THE HEARTSONG COWBOY by Melissa Keir,
one of the stories included in the Cowboy Up box set.
Blood dripped down Taylor’s neck, the deep red contrasting with the pale whiteness of her skin. Trapped, unable to stop the blood flow, she was helpless to prevent each drop from falling to her daughter’s lap. Whimpers escaped Taylor’s lips, and Angela bit down on her own, the taste of sharp copper washing over her tongue. The cries became louder as the evil man sliced the knife across her daughter’s throat. “No!”
A scream echoed through her mind, startling her from sleep. Shaking, Angela sat up in bed. It was only a dream.
Soft cries came from Taylor’s bed, and she turned toward the sound. Her daughter lay curled in her covers, holding tight to her stuffed horse.
These nightmares are getting more frequent. Both hers and mine. She pulled back the covers and crossed the small space to her. Bending over, she brushed the hair off her daughter’s face then placed a kiss on her forehead, but the distressing whimpers continued.
Usually a touch wakes her. This must be a bad one. Sitting on the edge, she pulled her daughter into her arms to cradle her tight against her heart. “Shhh. I’m here. Wake up. It’s okay.”
Small arms flailed, smacking Angela’s face. She held her daughter tighter and shook her gently.
“Honey, it’s Mommy. Wake up.” Her voice was louder, more demanding.
Her daughter’s eyes shot open. Her stare latched onto her mom’s as a silent scream formed on her lips, her body stiffening.
When will this trauma ever go away? She brushed the hair from her own eyes, her fingers swiping the wetness on her cheek. “Honey, Mommy’s here. I have you. There’s no bad man here.” She choked on her tears. “I won’t let anything happen to you.”
Her gaze focusing, Taylor relaxed, but her brow puckered in what Angela called her question face. Her small hand reached up and touched the tear trailing down her mother’s cheek.
“It’s okay. I’m fine now that you’re fine. It must have been another bad dream.”
Their family counselor, Justine, helped them through the trauma right after it happened. She’d helped Angela with her guilt and brought them closer as a family. Ever since her husband died three years ago, the weight of responsibility had fallen on her shoulders. Taylor was just three when her dad had died, and she didn’t remember him. Naturally shy around men, her attack only made things worse.
“I’m proud of how far you’ve come since you started here.” The counselor always began by talking about Angela’s progress. “Have you had any problems with flashbacks? Fear of driving or going to the bank with your deposits after work? I realize it’s not where the original accident happened, but we know fear doesn’t stay in one location.”
They’d moved to North Dakota to escape the memories and give them a fresh start. “I’m better. I’ve taken your advice and make sure I don’t do the deposits alone. Still, some people frighten me. But I take a few deep breaths and try to relax. I’ve started some yoga at home, even have Taylor doing it with me. Anything to calm my mind.”
“I’m glad to hear that. Exercise is important for children of trauma.”
Angela stared at the woman seated behind the desk. Her short, blonde hair showed off her striking face, her clothes neat and unwrinkled, and her fingernails were polished. As she looked at her own broken and chewed nails, doubts about the woman’s effectiveness crept into her mind. She looks like a model or movie star. It’s obvious she’s not been up all night worried about a child. I’ve had enough of this pleasant talk. I need to know my daughter will be fine.
“When is my daughter going to speak? She’s said nothing except grunts and whimpers for the last six months.” Angela tried to keep her frustration under control, but exasperation rang in her voice. “And the nightmares are getting worse. Last night I could hardly wake her. Is there more we can do? What else do you recommend?”
Justine tapped her pen on her notepad. “We’ve been through this before. Your daughter’s hiding from the pain. While the junkie didn’t physically cut Taylor’s voice out, he did prevent her from screaming for help. The very real pain she felt from the knife at her throat has made her mute.”
“But for how long?”
“There’s no telling. Let’s get her in here and see if we can get her to talk this week.” A smile crossed her face.
“Okay. I’ll grab her.” Angela walked to the outer office. I know she’s trying to reassure me, but I can’t help feeling lost. My baby used to sing and dance. She was such a happy girl, even with the loss of her dad.
Sitting in the chair closest to the secretary’s desk, Taylor stared at a magazine in her lap. Her daughter’s light-brown hair and deep-brown, almond-shaped eyes reminded her so much of Mike. Oh, but her personality is all mine. A pang of remorse flowed over her heart. Mike would have known just what to do.
She stood watching her for a moment as she flipped through the pages. Photos of animals filled the pages. Animals have always been her favorite. She connected with them.
While looking at one picture, Taylor reached her fingers out as if to pet the animal. What did I do to deserve this angel? Pushing her shoulders back, Angela walked over and tapped her on the shoulder. A tentative smile lit up her daughter’s face.
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Always, Cowboy by Allison Merritt
The past is better left behind, unless it offers a brighter future.
Brody Longtree’s first love was bull riding, but he loved beauty queen Libby Dempsey equally as hard. When she turned down his marriage proposal, everything from his rodeo career to his love life went to hell. His love ran too deep for blame, so he made the best of what life threw at him. Things finally get back on track…and then she almost runs over his dog.
When her pageant dreams died in an embarrassing display of nerves, Libby made a new, cowboy-free life for herself. One where she could train other girls who want to be pageant princesses. One that doesn’t give her any reason to dwell on what might have been with Brody until his dog bounds into her heart. And she bounds into Brody’s bed.
Despite the differences in their lives, they mesh together, the way Brody always knew they would. No matter what, he’s waiting until he’s certain Libby is ready to get married before he asks again, but their relationship comes under fire when one of her friends reveals a secret about a little girl Libby is awfully attached to—a girl who’s the right age to be Brody’s daughter.
About Allison Merritt:
A love of reading inspired Allison Merritt to pursue her dream of becoming an author who writes historical, paranormal and fantasy romances, often combining the sub-genres. She lives in a small town in the Ozark Mountains with her husband and dogs. When she’s not writing or reading, she hikes in national parks and conservation areas.
Allison graduated from College of the Ozarks in Point Lookout, Missouri with a B.A. in mass communications that’s gathering dust after it was determined that she’s better at writing fluff than hard news.
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Cowboys Don’t Cry by Vickie Taylor
A broken cowboy with nothing left to lose…except his heart.
Dash Connaway is hell-bent down a highway to nowhere. But he can’t outrun fate. Just a few months ago, he’d had a new album shooting up the country music charts, a luxury tour bus prepped for gigs in 39 cities, and a live-in girl friend he’d been thinking of asking to marry him. Now he’s just another drifter with an old guitar, a beat-up pickup, and a dog named Bill for a bed mate…until he meets Maggie McCain.
Maggie isn’t your ordinary Oregon rancher. She’s more into organic gardening and hand-spinning yarn from the fleece of her prized alpacas than breeding stinky old cattle. She’s a nurturer, a giver, so when Dash steps into her life from nowhere, she’s ready to trade in her solitary existence on the farm in favor of a husband to grow old with and a passel of children to care for.
But when she learns the real reason for Dash’s commitment to life on the road, she’s faced with a difficult choice and a lesson in the fallacy behind the old saying “Cowboys don’t cry.” Only time will tell just how potent the healing power of love can really be.
About Vickie Taylor:
Vickie Taylor published her first book in 1999 and quickly rose to the ranks of national best-selling and award-winning author. She enjoys all types of books, but especially paranormal, suspense, and western contemporary with the unifying theme being romance. Vickie always enjoys a good love story. She is the author of sixteen published novels and is a four-time nominee for the Oscar of the romance world, the Romance Writers of America Rita award. When she’s not writing or reading, she’s usually out riding horses, training search and rescue dogs, or volunteering with her local humane society. She is an avid supporter of the campaign to preserve America’s wild horses, and her latest release, Cowboys Don’t Cry is the first book in a new series featuring her beloved mustangs. Sign up for her newsletter to be notified when the next book in the series, The Horseman’s Widow, coming October, 2014, is available. Vickie loves to hear from readers and can be contacted via the methods below:
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A Cowboy’s Heart by Leslie Garcia
Teenage lovers torn apart by betrayal. Have seventeen years changed everything—or nothing?
Star-crossed lovers in their south Texas hill country high school, torn apart by a best friend’s lie, a mother’s cold hatred, and a father’s lack of trust…
High school junior Illy Kingston turns to varsity football star and cowboy in training Gil Salas when her father, a Border Patrol agent, is killed under suspicious circumstances.
Their hormone-fueled, all or nothing affair ends when betrayal tears them apart.
Years, later, Illy returns home, at loose ends after her disastrous marriage to a reality show rock star ends with an embarrassing photo gone viral and a divorce.
When Gil and his mounted Border Patrol make an unannounced civic call at a local elementary school, Gil is shocked to see Illy lurking in the shadows, threatening to upend his existence once again.
The old passion still burns—but neither can go back to the innocence of their high school affair. Illy swore never to love a man wearing a uniform that didn’t involve jeans, a western hat, and boots. Gil has a price on his head.
And star-crossed love doesn’t usually work for cowboys, either.
About Leslie Garcia:
Leslie P. García grew up lost among a crowd of six siblings and a menagerie that included more than twenty horses and ponies, uncounted dogs and cats, possums, raccoons—even a lion and monkeys. Then she moved to Texas, fell in love, was disowned—and embarked on her real adventures, raising 4 children, teaching hundreds, and loving 9 grandkids through forty years of marriage. The fabric of that colorful life has always been writing. In A Cowboy Heart, Leslie celebrates two of her passions—cowboys and the ever present chance at redemption in spite of past mistakes. Leslie loves hearing from readers and can be found all over cyber space, including these places:
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The Heartsong Cowboy by Melissa Keir
Can two people, one horse and the power of love cure a little girl?
Angela French blames herself for her daughter’s lack of voice. Determined to do anything to correct the situation, she seeks out Jake Kyncade, the owner of The Heartsong Ranch.
Jake Kyncade hides his own sorrows behind his no-nonsense demeanor. Helping children becomes one way to correct his past. Using equine therapy, he sets out to make a difference.
Can Jake help Angela’s dreams come true or will Jake’s past bring more heartache? Will love save them all?
About Melissa Keir:
Melissa Keir has always wanted to be an author when she wasn’t hoping for a career as a race car driver. Her love of books was instilled by her mother and grandparents who were avid readers. She’d often sneak books away from them so that she could fantasize about those strong alpha males and plucky heroines. In middle school and high school, Melissa used to write sappy love poems and shared them with her friends and still has those poems today! In college her writing changed to sarcastic musings on life as well as poems with a modern twist on fairy tales and won awards for her writing. You can find many of these musings along with her latest releases on her website and blog.
As a writer, Melissa likes to keep current on topics of interest in the world of writing. She’s a member of the Romance Writers of America, Mid-Michigan RWA Chapter, and EPIC. She is always interested in improving her writing through classes and seminars.
Melissa doesn’t believe in down time. She’s always keeping busy. Melissa is a wife and mother, an elementary school teacher, a movie reviewer, an owner of a publishing company as well as an author. Her home blends two families and is a lot like the Brady Bunch, without Alice- a large grocery bill, tons of dirty dishes and a mound of laundry. She loves to write stories that feature happy endings and is often seen plotting her next story.
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Cowboy Trouble by Autumn Piper
She’s decided to make some bad choices this weekend.
Susie Howell has always done what her family expects of her, but they don’t know about the divorce papers she’s just signed, or the secret torch she carries for sexy ranch hand Cash. When keeping the secret gets to her, she flees her brother’s wedding reception. Determined to live a little, she swipes the nearest truck from the ranch and heads to Sin City.
Cash Acosta has worked hard for everything he has, and nobody is taking off with his truck. When he sees it driving away, he jumps in—and becomes the unwilling passenger of a ready and willing woman he’s forbidden to touch. Hell-bent for trouble, the boss’s sister has already earmarked him as one of her “bad choices”.
And Susie intends to get what she wants.
About Autumn Piper:
Born and raised in itty-bitty Rifle, Colorado, Autumn Piper studiously avoided trouble…but is now inclined toward it, particularly in her novels. She thinks the best things in life are funny, and the runners-up, romantic.
An admitted carb addict, Autumn writes, edits, manages two teenagers, two cats, a box turtle with a huge personality, one husband and many supersize houseplants, and does the cooking and cleaning when forced to.
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Chasing a Cowboy by Sara Walter Ellwood
He’s running from heartbreak. She’s chasing after love… Their hearts will never be the same.
Paige Morgan has lived her entire life in the glare of her fraternal twin sister’s star. Although the sisters are as different as sun is from the moon, Paige fell in love with the same man as her famous swimsuit model sister. When country superstar Chase Jordan is dumped at the altar by her twin, Paige sees an opportunity to go after the one thing of her sister’s she’s always wanted. She finds Chase in Cabo San Lucas nursing his broken heart in the true country song fashion—with a bottle of Jose Cuervo—and reminds him of the desire he once felt for her. Will this singing cowboy change his tune as they set the tropical nights on fire? Or will Paige be the one singing the blues when her sister shows up wanting her man back?
About Sara Walter Ellwood:
Although Sara Walter Ellwood has long ago left the farm for the glamour of the big town, she draws on her experiences growing up on a small hobby farm in West Central Pennsylvania to write her contemporary westerns. She’s been married to her college sweetheart for over 20 years, and they have two teenagers and one very spoiled rescue cat named Penny. She longs to visit the places she writes about and jokes she’s a cowgirl at heart stuck in Pennsylvania suburbia. Sara Walter Ellwood is a multi-published author and publishes paranormal romantic suspense under the pen name Cera duBois.
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Cowboy Bred, Cowboy Born by D’Ann Lindun
Freedom or family? Only love can make the choice.
Photographer Alannah Murphy refuses to be tied down. She watched her parents struggle to hold onto their dairy farm until it killed them. The mere thought of the same fate makes her shudder. When she meets rancher Sterling Gentry she has to face her fears, or lose him.
Sterling Gentry longs for someone to hand his ranch down to. Like his father before him, he has sacrificed everything to hold onto the land his ancestors settled. But finding Ms. Right proves harder than he imagined. Then he meets Alannah Murphy with her big city ways. How he can ever take a chance with a woman exactly like his mother, who abandoned him when he was a child?
Despite their determination to stay the course they’ve each chosen, attraction pulls them together as steadily as a nail to a magnet. Can these two find a way to mesh Alannah’s need for freedom and Gentry’s desire to hold onto his land?
About D’Ann Lindun:
Falling in love with romance novels the summer before sixth grade, D’Ann Lindun never thought about writing one until many years later when she took a how-to class at her local college. She was hooked! She began writing and never looked back. Romance appeals to her because there’s just something so satisfying about writing a book guaranteed to have a happy ending. D’Ann’s particular favorites usually feature cowboys and the women who love them. This is probably because she draws inspiration from the area where she lives, Western Colorado, her husband of twenty-nine years and their daughter. Composites of their small farm, herd of horses, five Australian shepherds, a Queensland heeler, two ducks and cats of every shape and color often show up in her stories!
D’Ann loves to hear from readers! Please contact her at:
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