Hebby Roman took a loose rein in organizing A Cowboy to Keep and I greatly enjoyed working with her. Hebby is a New York traditionally published, small-press published, and Indie published #1 Amazon best-selling author of both historical and contemporary romances. Her first contemporary romance, SUMMER DREAMS, was the launch title for Encanto, a print line featuring Latino romances. And her re-published e-book, SUMMER DREAMS, was #1 in Amazon fiction and romance. Her medieval historical romance, THE PRINCESS AND THE TEMPLAR, was selected for the Amazon Encore program and was #1 in medieval fiction. She was selected for the Romantic Times “Texas Author” award, and she won a national Harlequin contest. Her book, BORDER HEAT, was a Los Angeles Times Book Festival selection. Her contemporary romance, TO DANCE AGAIN, was a 2016 RONE Finalist.
Hebby has very kindly agreed to give away books to Charlotte O’Shay. Thanks to everyone who stopped by.
First, I would like to thank Andrea for offering to host our boxed set collection of contemporary western romances, A COWBOY TO KEEP, by spotlighting each of our authors on her awesome blogsite, “Andrea Downing, My Word, My World, My Work.”
Our collection of seven authors’ stories has a little bit of everything for a lover of western romance. We have ranchers and rodeos, mavericks and marshals, mysteries and suspense, feisty cowgirls and handsome cowboys, and one story contains strong paranormal elements. It’s truly a collection of what makes western romance a joy to read.
Today, I’m going to blog about the quintessential question put to authors: “where did the inspiration for your story come from.” My story in this boxed set is entitled: BORDER ROMANCE, and it’s the third book in my “On the Border Series.” How I came to write this particular story was an evolutionary process, carrying me through three books. Finding the nucleus for this particular book is a bit long and convoluted, so if you’ll stay with me, I’ll try to explain.
The beginning of my Border Series stretches back into the 1990’s, and the first book features the Texas-Mexico border as I remember it, growing up there as a girl. Before the alarming state of our southern border, brought about by the ascendancy of the drug cartels, border residents lived an international life. We crossed back and forth freely for work, shopping, leisure, and even doctor and dentist appointments. Today, all of that has changed dramatically, and the border has turned into an international boundary few residents dare to cross.
For my series, the Texas-Mexico border is an integral part of the stories, taking on the aspect of a background character and shaping my books.
The heroine in my first book, Leticia Rodriguez, is, in some ways, unabashedly autobiographical. At a young age, she inherits her family’s furniture store when she loses both of her parents. After a disastrous first marriage, she tries to revive her family’s store and start a charity with international implications. When she meets Eduardo Villarreal, an international lawyer and Mexican politician, her life changes forever.
In the second book of the series, Leticia’s daughter, Camila, is featured and her May-December romance with Leticia’s ranching partner, Rusty. In this book, the changing face of the border is shown when Camila is abducted on a horse buying trip to Mexico.
At the end of the second book, Leticia, now widowed, needs help training her charro horses. Charro horses are specially trained “trick” horses, much like the famous Lippizzaner stallions of Austria. They appear in Mexican rodeos, doing tricks and dancing around the arena on their back legs.
Leticia hires Franco Ramos, a Mexican national, for his superb credentials, particularly with regard to training charro horses. When they meet, he reminds her of her late husband, and she’s attracted to him. And that’s where the second book ends.
As an author who likes to write “seasoned romance,” or romances between couples older than forty, my imagination immediately started churning out the story of Leticia’s second chance at love. Thus, the kernel of the story for BORDER ROMANCE was born. What if, Leticia, lonely and grieving for eight years, falls in love with her new handsome horse trainer?
How will they overcome the sticky situation of Leticia being the employer of a macho Mexican national? And even if Ramos falls for her, is he willing to give up his native country, along with his children who still live there? The built-in conflict seemed perfect for a seasoned romance.
But when I started writing the book, it suddenly veered off, going in a very different direction. Leticia’s foreman purchases a Quarter horse who’s been bred for speed, and she considers starting a Quarter horse racing stable. Her new venture brings her into contact with an old boyfriend. An old boyfriend whose high-handed tactics when they were young and both newly-divorced, helped to drive her into her late husband’s arms.
To show the changing face of the border, Leticia is confronted with someone trying to harm her precious charro horses while balancing the two new men in her life. She’s faced with the daunting challenge of stopping her horses from being hurt while opening her heart to a new love. But who will she choose, her hunky horse trainer or a way-too-handsome millionaire rancher she’s known since high school?
I hope you’ll read our boxed set and my story to find out what happens to Leticia.
When Leticia Villarreal, a lonely widow, considers adding Quarter horse racing to her ranch, she finds she has a lot to learn. John Clay Laidlaw, a millionaire rancher and old acquaintance, races Quarter horses and offers to help. But he also cares for her and wants a relationship. Remembering his high-handed tactics when they were young, she doesn’t trust him. But when someone tries to harm her horses and John Clay rushes to her rescue, can she open her heart to him?
John Clay swung back into the saddle and said, “You might think that calf is stupid but compared to sheep, she’s a virtual Einstein.”
Leticia threw back her head and laughed.
“But why cattle?” He asked. “I thought your ranch was all about horses?”
“Yes, this is a horse ranch. The cattle are just a sideline. We don’t keep a bull, but for some of the better-bred heifers, we use our neighbor’s Angus bull. Keeps the herd young. We cull the older ones and sell them, of course.”
“I’m surprised you bother.” He inclined his head toward the ranch house. “Must keep you busy, considering you said you’re short-handed.”
“Oh, that, it’s only temporary.” She removed her Stetson and wiped her arm across her brow. The spring day was heating up. “We need the cattle to properly train our horses. Our charro horses are our pride and joy, but we’re just getting back into them. Mostly, we train working Quarter horses, and you can’t train a cutting horse or calf-roping horse without cows.” She pursed her lips.
He slapped the side of his head. “Stupid of me. I wasn’t thinking. I’m all about sheep, except for my racing stable.”
She laughed again. “Hey, don’t get overwrought and knock your hat off.”
“Yeah.” He grinned and shook his head. “Kinda silly.”
And how right she was, he was acting like a goofy middle-schooler, just being around her. “So, your manpower shortage is temporary. Does that mean I won’t usually find you rounding up cattle?”
“No, not usually. I always have plenty of paperwork to keep me from riding out. But today has been a nice break.”
“I like the mare you’re riding; she’s a good-looking horse.”
“Why, thank you, Mr. Laidlaw, how nice of you to say.” She patted her horse’s neck. “Yep, Pearl is a sweetie. Rusty and Camila brought her back from Ponder last year, and she was so good at everything, we couldn’t make up our minds how to train her, cutting horse or calf-roping or…”
She’d moved ahead to a thicket of live oak and ducked her head under a low-lying branch. “My mare, Sally, was getting old, so I decided to keep Pearl for myself.”
He followed her into the thicket, staying behind her horse to navigate the rough, one-horse trail through the trees and undergrowth.
She cleared the thicket and stopped, waiting for him. He could see the ranch house ahead. He drew alongside her. “At least you have the grass for horses and cows. My ranches only support sheep. We keep some milk cows for the ranch hands, but other than that, it’s mostly mesquite and cactus and patchy prairie grass on my spreads.”
She raised up in her stirrups. “Yes, Eduardo chose well. This land is fertile, and we irrigate some, using Las Moras creek to grow our own hay.”
She gathered her reins and smoothed them, half-turning toward him. “But I can’t wait to show you my new charro horse foal. Midnight Princess just threw a beautiful colt a couple of weeks’ ago.”
“I won’t say no to seeing one of your charro horses. I remember how talented Eduardo’s horses were. I was sorry when I heard you’d quit breeding them for a time.”
John Clay gazed at Leticia, and he thought he could see the faintest glimmer of moisture on her eyelashes. It was obvious she was still grieving for Eduardo? Where did that leave him?
She dropped her head and fidgeted with her reins, smoothing the long ends. “Yes, Eduardo was magic with the horses.” She bit her lip.
He wished he was the one biting her lip, her neck, and lower…
You can find Hebby Roman at the following sites:
Catch a cowboy … Keep a cowboy …
Don’t miss this great collection from USA Today, Amazon Bestselling, and Award-Winning authors!! Available at https://www.amazon.com/Cowboy-Keep-Contemporary-Western-Collection-ebook/dp/B072869SGV/
THE LEGEND OF BAD MOON RISING by Carra Copelin
Sheriff Ben Hammond is finally over the woman who shattered his heart, but when Dinah Horne suddenly returns, can he ignore the passion still burning bright between them?
CITY BOY, COUNTRY HEART by Andrea Downing
Trading horses for subways for two years seemed like a good idea to cowboy Chay Ridgway, but can city girl K.C. Daniels keep a rein on his country heart?
BLUE SAGE by Kristy McCaffrey
Archaeologist Audrey Driggs rolls off a mountain and lands at the feet of rugged cowboy Braden Delaney. Together, they’ll uncover a long-lost secret.
THE DRIFTER’S KISS by Devon McKay
Determined to take back what belongs to her, Addison Reed will do anything. Even trust a complete stranger.
HER MAN by Hildie McQueen
Deputy Mark Hunter falls for Eliza Brock during a murder investigation. Is it fate or bad luck, especially when she may be involved?
BORDER ROMANCE by Hebby Roman
Widow Leticia Villarreal wants to establish a horse-racing stable and old acquaintance John Clay Laidlaw offers to help. But can she trust him with her business and her heart?
PHOENIX HEAT by Patti Sherry-Crews
After losing her fiancé and her New York City business, Harper Donovan returns to Arizona and meets cowboy Frank Flynn. Will his past and their differences extinguish the heat between them?