This blog is for those 18 and older.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Did They Really Say That?

Have you ever picked up a book and the dialogue simply exploded off the page? Have you ever been struck by the sparkling, witty exchange between hero and heroine? Or sarcasm so thick, you needed a chainsaw to cut through it (sorry, that’s a cliché but I couldn’t help myself)? Or the fights, where the words are thrown like missiles through the air (and not one of them is the F bomb)? Have you ever wished you could have said that in the heat of an argument? Or wished your loved one could be that romantic?

I’ve often wondered how authors do that – you know, take simple ordinary words and make them come alive, make the reader feel the anger of a quarrel or feel the romance blossoming just by the dialogue. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve giggled out loud by something the heroine said or gasped because the venom in the words hit me like a sledgehammer or sighed because the hero said something so sweet, so beautiful, it made my heart melt.

As a writer, I find this the most difficult thing to do – twist those common place, everyday words into something that makes the reader gasp or sigh or laugh, but there are some authors who do it effortlessly (or so it seems). And isn’t that one of the pleasures of reading? To see what a normal, mundane word can become in the hands of a master?

Happy reading!


Sunday, March 27, 2011

Guest Author Interview: Terri Brisbin

Alexis: Hi Terri. Welcome to Happily Ever After Thoughts. Thank you so much for coming. Your website is so beautiful. It puts me in the mood for one of your many books right away! Why did you decide to write historical? I mean, besides the hunky men and strong willed women :-)

Terri: I have always loved history and loved reading historical romances, so I’m not sure it was a choice? Actually, my first book (which is now hidden away in a closet) was a contemporary and I discovered quickly that I enjoyed writing historicals more and that my voice is definitely historical.

Alexis: As a lover of historical romances, I have to say I’m glad you found your voice in historical :-) And speaking of, you have a new romance being released this month. Can you tell us about HIS ENEMY’S DAUGHTER?

Terri: HIS ENEMY’S DAUGHTER is a story of a man who has survived a horrifying battle wound fueled by hatred and the need for vengeance who discovers that vengeance isn’t enough to live on.

Soren lived on his looks and was called the ‘beautiful bastard’ but all that changed at the Battle of Hastings. Seeking out the family of the man who destroyed all that he was, Soren finds the daughter who has been blinded in his attack on her home. And he finds the only woman who cannot see the monster he has become.
Sybilla knows she is the only one who can protect her people from this conqueror’s wrath but she wonders if she can survive blinded and as his wife. Slowly, the man within the monster begins to live again and she falls in love with him, helping him even more than he helps her.
But, when her sight is restored, Soren knows he will lose her and the love he never expected to find. Can love overcome the terrible wounds of the flesh and the soul and help him be the man he should be rather than the monster he is?

Alexis: Wow, I’m so hooked on this. What a wonderful, emotional plot. Where did you get the idea for this story?

Terri: Hmmmm. I’m not sure where the idea of the three bastard knights fighting for William the Conqueror came from but once I got that idea, I began thinking about who the knights should be and what linked them together. I knew they must have been raised together and then began playing ‘what if…?’ with that idea. When Harlequin asked me to write a short story (A KNIGHT FOR HER PLEASURE) to introduce them before the trilogy began, I got the chance to show Soren before the battle. And when I did, I realized he would have to lose everything in order to become the hero I knew he could be. What better way to bring that hero out than to take away the one thing that made him who he was – his looks? So I did that and Soren came to me as he is in his story – wounded, damaged, half-blind and not knowing who he should be. Sigh…. I guess I love ‘beauty and the beast’ stories so much, they just run to me now? LOL!

Alexis: Those are my absolute favorite types of stories as well. What are your favorite character traits of Soren and Sybilla?

Terri: I think both of them are fiercely loyal and I like that about them. I think what drew me to them is that they’re both lost and damaged and seeking a way to be a better person.

Alexis: What kind of research did you have to do for this novel?

Terri: I had to do lots of research about the time period and specifically about William the Conqueror, Normandy, Brittany, warfare, England and so much more to write this series (there are three novels and the short story all connected as the Knights of Brittany). I did discover that the Bretons got a bad rep in the Battle of Hastings for running and nearly causing William’s defeat, but I decided to change history a bit for my stories after meeting a very sexy Breton harpist and deciding that they were a noble, courageous breed of men! LOL!

Alexis: I guess that is one advantage to writing fiction; you can make your characters how you want them. Now, you just released a Scottish Romance KIDNAPPING THE LAIRD. You are one busy lady. Can you tell us a little about that book? I have to admit to loving a good Scottish romance.

Terri: Actually KIDNAPPING THE LAIRD is a short story that was released in the print collection – MAMMOTH BOOK OF SCOTTISH ROMANCE in January. Since I retained the digital rights to the story, I decided to make it available to readers. So, it’s now available for Amazon’s Kindle and B&N’s Nook. It should be available for Sony ereaders and in iBooks later this month!

KIDNAPPING THE LAIRD is about a marriage of (in)convenience which fails miserably on the wedding night. The laird and lady live almost separate lives, each though secretly wanting more. Catriona, the lady, finally decides she’s had enough and wants a husband. . . HER husband and kidnaps him in order to give him her ultimatum and to find her happily-ever-after.

I set this story in a location I visited while in Scotland in late 2009 – there really is a ‘lady’s house’ of stone next to the River Moriston just before it meets Loch Ness. I realized it was a perfect location for a kidnapping and the designer even used one of my photos from my trip in the background of the coverart!

Alexis: I love Scotland and have been inspired myself by the buildings and scenery there, so I can understand the draw. How wonderful that your cover is so in-line with your story!

You have over 16 romances published now, right? Which one has your favorite hero?

Terri: Actually, I have had 25 or so romances published since 1998! Overall, I would say that I have 2 favorite heroes – Orrick of Silloth (from THE KING’S MISTRESS and “Love at First Step”) and Rurik Erengislsson (from SURRENDER TO THE HIGHLANDER and all the HIGHLANDER stories). Orrick was a real beta-hero in an alpha-male and I just loved him! Rurik. . . well. . . sigh. . . Rurik is just a man who loves women who love him and I fell hard for the half-Norse/half-Scot warrior who lives life to its fullest!

Alexis: Hmm, they do sound perfect, at least for those of us who love historical men :-) Do you have any other men, I mean, romance novels in the works that we can look forward to?

Terri: Yes! I am currently working on the first book in a new trilogy for Harlequin Historicals – I’m returning to the Highlands with a kind of ‘Highlanders-Next Generation’ series about the children of those relationships from my previous HIGHLANDER books! The first one features the daughter from POSSESSED BY THE HIGHLANDER – Ciara – and the Highlander she swore to marry when she was five years old! No titles or release dates yet but I’ll post info on my website when I know it.

Alexis: I love continuation stories and Ciara sounds like my kind of heroine.

We like to give our readers some great stories to check-out, but we also like to learn a little about the wonderful authors who create them. Could you share something about yourself with our readers that they may not know about you?

Terri: Hmmmm….not sure if there’s anything readers don’t know? LOL! But I’m open to questions!

Alexis: Thank you so much for visiting Happily Ever After Thoughts. We like talking about romance novels here and learning about the writers who create them :-)

Terri: Alexis, thanks so much for having me visit today! I hope readers will check out my website – or friend me on Facebook at
Alexis: Ask Terri a question or make a comment and you will have a chance to win one of her romances. Terri will be giving away TWO of her stories so you have double the chance to win :-)

Check out Terri's excerpt from HIS ENEMY’S DAUGHTER:

Sybilla, Lady of Alston, stood up straight and moaned as her back spasmed in response to the movement. Pressing her fists into her lower back, she tried to ease the pain caused by leaning over too much and by carrying too many large rocks to the wooden palisade. They must shore up the defenses, Gareth said. So, she helped as much as she could. Lady or not, another pair of hands lightened the work of all and gave her the hope that the wall could be strengthened to protect the keep from the coming invader.
Sybilla accepted a cup of water from the servant girl passing by, tightened the leather ties around her braid and began anew. They had little time to finish this task before the invader king’s pawn arrived at their gates. After receiving the message that he traveled there to claim the lands of her father, Sybilla and her late father’s steward and the commander of those who yet defended her and the keep decided to protect themselves from the devastation committed on their neighbors and kin when faced with the same situation. She did not believe they could hold out long, but if they presented their strength, she and they hoped to negotiate a peaceful transition—one that allowed her people to live and her to travel to her cousin’s convent and live out her life there in peace and contemplation.

With her father and her brother dead, with no other Saxon kin able to come to her rescue or to stand against these invaders as they moved inexorably north towards her lands, Sybilla knew she and her people had few choices and little power.

They worked until nightfall, taking advantage of every moment of summer’s daylight to build the wall as high and strong as they could. Gareth had nodded his approval of their efforts in that stern, serious manner of his, but Sybilla knew it was not enough. Still, they had two days, possibly three, before the invaders arrived and they would take every moment given to them to prepare.
The birds’ song that heralded the dawn also brought terror to their doors, for the invaders crested the hill across from the keep and formed their lines to attack. Sybilla quickly gathered the children and took them to the back of the keep and carried out whatever Gareth ordered. Though she’d lived there for all her life, never once had they needed to defend it from outsiders. Even when her father and brother went off to fight alongside their king, her brother to Stamford Bridge and then her father to Hastings, their defenses here were perfunctory and never needed.
Now though, it meant the difference between life and death.
When things were settled in the keep, she climbed to the top of the wall to see what forces they faced. Gareth ordered her away, but Sybilla thought that meeting the enemy face to face might ease the situation. If the duke’s man thought them no threat, he might not attack before they could negotiate. Holding her hand over her eyes to shade the growing light of the rising sun, she shivered when she saw him.
Black. Everything he wore was black, except for the slash of red on his shield, angling to the left that she understood spoke of his bastardy. Or his duke’s? She knew not which, but once more her body trembled. His armor was black, not reflecting the rays of the sun above him. His horse, a huge, monstrous destrier, was the color of midnight, without any markings to lighten his coat. And Sybilla felt as though death stood before her on the field.
Or the devil incarnate?

Alexis: Don't forget to leave a comment for a chance to win one of two of Terri's stories!

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Review: Rainwater by Sandra Brown

I must say that I have been choosing the best books to read lately. Sandra Brown’s Rainwater reminded me how incredibly powerful characters are. The plot is very touching also, set in Texas during the Dust bowl.

A proclaimed widow, Ella, has little time for herself as she manages a boarding house and dotes on her young, autistic son. During the early twentieth century, her son, Solly, was labeled an idiot savant, a harsh stigma as the medical field knew little about his condition. Ella does her best to care for him, manage his outbursts, and avoid sending him to the suggested asylum.

Dr. Kincaid, friend and medical advisor for the town, requests a room at the boarding house for Mr. Rainwater. Ella accepts the plea under duress as she worries how much of her time Mr. Rainwater will need considering he’s terminally afflicted with a disease she prides herself with not asking about.

During this time of economic disaster, there’s little to depend on except yourself and the helpful hand of your neighbor. Mr. Rainwater unobtrusively assists Ella and begins a communication with Solly. An action here and a comment there, Ella finds it unacceptable to admit the slight electric reactions she feels between herself and her new boarder.

The desperate conditions and sincerity of Ella and Mr. Rainwater simmer throughout, as I find myself urging them to allow their deserved happiness. This is a must read to rediscover the pure intentions of love and how it can wipe away problems, even for a brief time.


Sunday, March 20, 2011

Guest Author Interview: Beate Boeker

Alexis: Hi Beate. Welcome to Happily Ever After Thoughts. Thank you so much for coming. Your website is entitled “Happy Books.” I’m guessing there is a story behind this. Am I right?

Beate: Absolutely. My first name is of Latin origin and translates as “Happy”, and my last name means “Books” in a northern German dialect. I never even noticed what a fitting name I have until my husband surprised me one day with the information that he had now created a website for me that was called

Alexis: Wow, talk about fate. I guess you were meant to write books with happy endings :-) But you live in Germany, so why did you decide to publish with an American publisher?

Beate: I wrote my very first novel in German. That only makes sense, as I'm a native German speaker. However, when I realized that I might need a teeny bit of help to make it perfect and tried to learn more about the craft of writing, I realized that most of the information was available in English only and geared toward the US market. Luckily, I have studied English and felt comfortable writing in that language, so I finally decided to write another novel all in English. I'm glad I made that decision because I would still not be published if I had stuck to German.

But I have yet another other reason why I like to write in English. It's a lot easier to write a love scene in English than in German. I don't know why, but if you express your feelings in English, people are touched. If you express them in German, they will roll their eyes and say “my, aren't we being emotional today.”

Alexis: Oh, that is too funny. I guess there are a few cultural differences to be aware of. So what is A Little Bit of Passion about?

Beate: It's about Karen, a woman who's fiercely independent. She has organized her life in two perfect halves – she's a skiing instructor in winter and sells books in her partially owned bookstore on Long Island in summer. Her best friend Leslie owns the other half of her bookstore, and she writes e-mails to her whenever something exciting happens in her life. That's why the entire book is written in the form of e-mails. But then Karen meets John and realizes that she has to give up some of her independence if she wants to be with him – but she dreads that due to her personal history.

Alexis: I’m sure a lot of readers will be able to relate to Karen’s predicament. Where did you get the idea for this story?

Beate: I went skiing as a child and loved it, and every autumn, as the first snowflakes fall, I yearn for glistening mountains and frosty winter air. That's how it all started – I wanted to transport myself into that world. And then the book took on a life of its own, and suddenly, I was deep inside this struggle and just couldn't stop. It was a bit like a fever – I had to continue with hot cheeks and hot ears, even if it was getting late.

Alexis: I completely understand that place where you just can’t stop writing the story going on in your head. That is so fun! So, what are your favorite character traits of Karen and John?

Beate: I love Karen's humor and the way she describes things. She makes a lot of fun of herself, and I found myself chuckling so often while writing it. About John, I love that he's patient and gives her the freedom she needs.

Alexis: A guy after my own heart ;-) What kind of research did you have to do for this novel?

Beate: I poured over maps of the Teton Mountain Range and looked for hours at ski trails and lifts and that kind of thing. I also checked pictures to get a feeling for the place and had to find the closest airport and hospital to my chosen location.

Alexis: Of course, being over there in Germany, I’m sure you know all about snow, but specific trails and the locations of specific facilities would definitely need research. We tend to think of research as only for historical authors, but contemporary authors must do some too. But this isn’t your first book. What other books have you had published?

Beate: Two other contemporary romances, both with Avalon Books, too. One is called Wings to Fly, and the other Take My Place. Take My Place was nominated for the Golden Quill Award in 2010.

Alexis: Do you have any other romance novels in the works that we can look forward to?

Beate: Yes, I do. Avalon already has two other manuscripts to decide on, and I've started to write a series that mixes mystery and romance. I haven't yet sold this one, but I have endless fun creating it.

Alexis: Thank you so much for visiting Happily Ever After Thoughts. We like talking about romance novels here and learning about the wonderful authors from around the world who write them :-)
Beate: And I love to talk to other authors and readers all over the world! The Internet is a fascinating thing – this would not have been possible twenty years ago. Thank you for inviting me as your guest!

Alexis: For more information on Beate, visit her at Check out this excerpt from Beate's book, A Little Bit of Passion.

Teton Mountain Range

Dear Leslie,

 Do you remember the guy who made me think for the first time that I’m too old to teach skiing? I was so glad when he finished his course last year and took his turtle-y head elsewhere.

 Well, he’s back.

I greeted my new ten o’clock group this morning, and the instant I finished presenting myself, he sidled out from behind someone else’s back and stared at me with his half closed eyes. A shiver ran down my spine, and I’m sure I looked as if I had discovered a huge spider amongst the Easter eggs. He must have hidden at the guest-house this morning, or I would have been on my guard.

I turned my back on him as soon as I could, but I knew he continued watching me, his head swiveling from left to right like a hundred year old turtle. That image really fits, right down to the wrinkles all over the face and the folds in the neck. You can’t imagine how stiffly I moved all at once, like a wooden doll, waiting for his first filthy comment.

I didn’t have to wait long. Just as I showed them how to swing into an arc, he muttered in that penetrating voice of his, “Show me again how to swing that hip, baby. It’s so inspiring.”

I ignored him with clenched teeth.

But of course he didn’t let go. He lifted his voice and repeated: “Baby, I said show me again how to swing that hip. I’m here to learn, and you’re here to teach.”

The group stared at him.

A woman called Minnie started to giggle.

I fixed the turtle with a stare as hard as I could. “My name is Karen.”

“Oh, my, baby, I’m so sorry. I forgot. I thought you’d given me leave to call you some other names.”

What could I say? The management has made it clear to me that I have to keep the customers happy no matter what. Every time I complain about the turtle or other types, they say I should “endeavor to be a little bit more skilled in the art of flirting”. After all, the other instructors don’t complain, so it must be me, right? Why, oh why, do so many men think the skiing teacher is part of the package tour?

I closed my eyes and tried to remember why I love my job. The purple mountains. The air like chilled white wine. The joy of flying across the snow. Meeting many wonderful people, teaching them how to ski better. And the nasty ones don’t stay long, so it’s easy to bear. Usually.

I knew I had to put a stop to it right away; he would only make it worse if I laid down now. “I can’t remember giving you leave to call me anything but Karen,” I said and swished around to show them the arc once again.

Without giving them time for comment, I made them go through the motions. It’s a mixed group, aged from thirteen to fifty, I would say. I’ll separate them into beginners and advanced tomorrow, but unfortunately, I have promised Steve to take the advanced group this time, and the turtle is advanced, there’s no denying that.

When I asked the turtle to take his turn, he managed to brush by me and yelled, “Oh, my, I’m so sorry, Kare-een, I lost my footing.”

My face burnt so much, it’s a wonder I didn’t melt a hole into the snow, but I clenched my teeth and didn’t comment.

Next came the youngest of the group. He made a very creditable arc, and when he pushed past me on his way back, I said “Well done”.
The youngster cast me a glance and said in a low voice “Don’t mind that jerk.”

Underneath his red cap two gray eyes fixed me earnestly. He has lashes every female will envy, thick and long and straight. But what floored me was the spattering of freckles across his nose.

I swallowed and promised myself to dispatch the turtle somehow, to avoid spoiling that kid’s Easter holiday.

So if you read about the murder of a turtle in the Teton Mountain Range, make sure you get a good attorney, because it’ll be hard to wriggle out of this one.


Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Book Lovers R Us

Have you ever met someone for the very first time and something between you just “clicked.” I’m not talking about romance (although, who among us doesn’t relish that feeling?). No, I’m talking about a fellow book lover. Someone who loves the written word as much as you. Someone who loves the feel and smell of a book in their hands.

I felt this amazing connection the first time I met my late mother-in-law (she was in the hospital in traction for her back). Perhaps it had something to do with the fact that I loved her son (and still do). Perhaps it had something to do with the fact she asked me to call her Mom.

The second time I met her, I knew why we’d hit it off so well, why I felt that instant bond with her. She was a booklover! Indeed, the moment I walked into her house, I fell in love with her. One entire wall of her living room was a bookshelf. I’m not talking fancy wood cabinets. I’m talking huge metal things, strictly utilitarian, to hold her massive collection. These books were piled three deep and three high. There were also piles beside it on the floor and another stack on the kitchen table (she also had a problem with her To Be Read pile taking over her house). And she read EVERYTHING! She introduced me to Nora Roberts and Lavyrle Spencer and so many authors I hadn’t yet read.

My mother-in-law is gone now but I still, to this day, want to call her and tell her about a new story I just love or a new author I’ve found. And isn’t that the most amazing thing about reading? Sharing your love of books with someone else?

Happy reading!


Sunday, March 13, 2011

Guest Author: Kim Bowman - Casting Your Characters

Chance to win! See below :-)

I don’t know about other writers, but trying to express what my characters look like is the hardest part of writing for me. I know what I want to happen and how I want my characters to react and feel, but I have trouble picturing what they look like. Maybe that’s what writer’s block is. Maybe it’s a lack of knowing the right words to use.

Anyways, I digress.

My problem with character description was solved when I bought my husband the Hoyle Card Games. He LOVES Euchre, Hearts, etc. and I thought it would be great if he could sit with his Net book and play cards while I wrote to my heart’s content. Guess what? You get to design your own player! I thought I’d have some fun, so I started designing my husband’s avatar. When I finished I couldn’t believe what I saw. I had created the likeness of my hero. WHAM! I just stared at the screen. I grabbed a piece of paper and started writing a description of what I saw: strong chin, wavy auburn hair, deep, soul-searching blue eyes. I suddenly saw what was in my mind’s eye.

I decided to try it with my heroine. I already knew she had emerald green eyes, but I couldn’t visualize how to turn a spirit guide into a human. I started moving face shapes around, trying different noses, lips, eyebrows. All of a sudden she was looking out at me. Her beautiful, raven hair and emerald green eyes accentuated her oval face and sharp chin. Her eyes were striking but sad. She was carrying the weight of the world on her shoulders.

Amazingly, if you look at the heroine and hero on my book cover, you see how spot on Elaina Lee got them. They were so close to the images I had in my head and the avatars I came up with (she didn’t have a clue I had created these) it was uncanny. The only thing she had to go on was the general description I provided her with, yet she captured the essence of my characters perfectly.

So now, the Hoyle Card Game character creator is my new best friend when it comes to constructing characters in my stories. It has solved the whole brain freeze problem I had going on. A strange and unusual way to write, but it works for me!

Images created in Hoyle Card Games © [2011] Encore Software, Inc. All rights reserved.

Excerpt from Wayward Soul.

Zanna awoke gasping for air. At first, she thought it was the impact of her spirit body returning to her physical body. The force of the two slamming back together after astral travel was uncomfortable. She expected the heavy pressure on her chest, the elevated heart rate, and the momentary paralysis reentry caused, but she’d never been breathless.

Fear took over when the weight increased, crushing her ribcage. Zanna’s hands flew to her throat where they encountered fingers wrapped around her neck, squeezing the life out of her.

She blinked many times before her burning pupils adjusted to the bright overhead lights. The swirling white beacons made her eyes water, blurring her vision. Tears streamed down her face and her empty lungs screamed.

Panicked, she placed her feet on the floor and bucked. She clawed at the hands around her neck desperate to loosen their grip. The vice-like hold only intensified, continuing to push down until she was sure her neck would break. Biting pain stung her smashed windpipe and deflated lungs.

“Cease,” a male voice ordered. The authoritative sound resonated all around the space.

Her attacker’s lethal hands fell away. Her compressed arteries opened, sending blood coursing through her veins so fast her head spun. She took a deep breath. The air stuck in her crushed throat made her gag and cough. She rolled into a ball, clutching her chest. Several agonizing moments passed before her aching lungs filled with oxygen.

As her physical pain subsided, the dam in her mind broke, flooding her senses with the sound of gunfire, the smell of burning gunpowder, and the sight of blood spraying. Her heart cried out in grief as the horrible memories assaulted her mind. The man she loved was dead.

For a chance to win a copy of Wayward Soul and a signed hard copy of Sylvia Browne’s Lessons for Life, post a comment by Tuesday night. Winner will be drawn Wednesday morning.
If you don't want to wait, my book is available at Astrea Press as well as online at Barnes and Noble and
If you would like to keep up with me, feel free to drop by my blog 

Special thanks to the ladies here at Happily Ever After Thoughts for having me.  I enjoy giving readers a little insight into my writing process.


Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Review: Too Hot to Handle by Robin Kaye

Waking up with the man of your dreams, hot in every way, is more like a nightmare when Annabelle glances his way. The man resembles her former fiancé who happens to be dead. Although, the living man who accompanied her home the previous night after a wedding has a different name, Mike.

Annabelle feels a disaster is imminent with any future man considering her past. There aren’t enough in Brooklyn to chance another relationship. Her first fiancé died and her second fiancé she was lucky to get rid of. Any thoughts about a third revolted her.

Mike has his own problems. They come in the form of his unknown father wanting to jump back in his life and being a doctor isn’t such a perfect job.

Robin Kaye makes her readers laugh and cry along with the characters as they stumble through their own misfortunes, not wanting to admit at the same time that they need each other. Annabelle may need an extra nudge or two after she discovers who Mike’s father is. Money means nothing when it comes to love.

I suggest staying up all night for this funny and sexy romance.


Sunday, March 6, 2011

Guest Author: Cathy McDavid

When Alexis moved away from Arizona last year, I was devastated. Yeah, I know she went to an island paradise to live, which is totally cool, but I still miss her terribly. Guest blogging at Happily Ever After is like spending the week with her, and I'm so happy to be here.

Alexis asked to share news about my newest release, THE COMEBACK COWBOY, and my upcoming three-book series, Mustang Valley. Of course, I'm happy to do both!

THE COMEBACK COWBOY is an anything-you-can-do-I-can-do-better story about a down on his luck professional tie-down roper who comes to Cowboy College, a roping school for recreationalists, in the hopes of honing his skills and — you guessed it — making a comeback. The school is run by a woman roper, one of the best in the country, who is unable to compete professionally because she's not a man.

The idea came to me a few years ago as I watched my neighbors over the fence. They have a private roping arena on their property and, often, young women practiced roping calves alongside the men. Some of these women were pretty darn good. They certainly earned my admiration, and I couldn't help imagining one of them as the heroine of a story.

Trust me when I tell you that researching this book was no hardship. Cowboys happen to be some of my favorite romance book heroes (go figure). While I did read about tie-down roping online and in books, the best part of researching the sport was going to rodeos and seeing all those guys up close and personal. Last summer, I also went to a tie-down roping 2-day event in Young, Arizona. While these guys were all amateurs, it was still fun to watch and a real education. I was only sorry there were no women competitors. I'd like very much to see that happen one day. Come on, guys, what's the problem? Are you scared? :)

In August, my next book, LAST CHANCE COWBOY, will be out. This is the first book in my Mustang Valley series. This series is very special to me for several reasons. First, it takes place in the McDowell Mountains. I live in McDowell Mountain Ranch and have a stunning view of the mountains from my backyard. I also walk the nature trails in the foothills weekly when the weather is nice. Great way to jumpstart the imagination. Another reason I'm so excited about this series is that the hero in book two has a prosthetic leg. He's a former Marine who was injured in a car bomb explosion while in the Middle East. I wasn't sure my editor would go for the idea when I first proposed it and am so glad she did. Lastly, I'm loving these books because the heroine in book two is named Caitlin after my daughter, and the hero in book three is named Clay after my son. I've been wanting to name characters after my children for a long time, and it finally was right.

Thanks again, Alexis, for inviting me to share your digs this week. And thanks to all my friends, old and new, for stopping by. We've got some books to give away, so don't forget to post a comment! And if you haven't had enough of me, drop by my website at: for more updates.

Warmest wishes,
Cathy McDavid

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

. . . and they lived Happily Ever After

Why do you read romance novels, whether historical or contemporary? Is it the characters? The setting or time period? Love?

For me, it’s the Happily Ever After ending. I’m a sucker for it. Need it. Crave it.

No other fiction – and I enjoy mysteries, horror and suspense – gives you that deeply satisfying ending like a good romance will. The knowledge that the hero and heroine have overcome all obstacles to find their soul mates leaves me (and maybe you) filled with hope, filled with optimism this kind of happy ending can happen for us.

Real life, as we know, is not like romance novels – unless we’re very fortunate. My husband and I celebrated thirty (yes! Thirty!) years of marriage in January and I can truthfully say, I’m still in love with the man (and I think he with me). Like the heroine, I’ve found my soul mate and like romance novels, we’ve had our own obstacles to overcome but we’ve managed. We can still laugh with each other, trust each other to accept us for who and what we are, talk with each other or share quiet moments.

Happily Ever After. Yes, it can happen! And isn’t that why we read romances? To dream? To wish? To have faith we’ll have this kind of ending too?

Happy reading!