Monday, August 19, 2019


Love in Scrubs Book 1
AJ Renee

Genre: Contemporary Romance 

the author of the St. Fleur series comes a fun tale of finding love
in the emergency room. 

The single life had been treating Hazel Rivera better than she’d
anticipated. With no one to report to, she did as she pleased, which
included if and when she’d have a man in her bed. She felt no shame
in satisfying her own needs, but when toy-play goes wrong, she earns
herself a visit to the emergency room.

Squirming in pain, the last thing she expected was to find a sexy nurse
assigned to her room. She could lose herself in a man like him—sinful
eyes, full lips, and a kindhearted attitude—but before she can
catch Joshua Bradley again, she’s sent home.

When life hands them a second chance, will they risk their hearts?

**Get it FREE Aug 22nd – 26th!!**

Love in Scrubs Book 2

Being stood up for a first date was the last thing on Ava King’s mind.
Yet Mr. Wrong opened the door to Mr. Sexy, who’s already sitting
next to her at the bar. One drink becomes two, and going against her
own code, she goes home with the charming stranger.

Waking in Jason’s foreign bed sends her into a panic, and she escapes
before any morning-after awkwardness can ensue.

Can fate bring them together again to see if their chemistry transcends
one steamy night of passion?

Love in Scrubs Book Three

Nurse. Mom. Daughter. Natalia Kruze wore many hats, but mom was the role she
was most proud of. As a single mom, she couldn’t be everywhere at
once, but she had been blessed with a patient son and helpful
parents. Dating wasn’t high on the priority list, so it was safe to
say it had been years since she’d experienced any kind of
electrifying spark from a man.

With her defenses low after missing another soccer game, a patient catches
her eye. Sexy and decidedly stubborn, Wes Wilkins succeeds in leaving
his ER visit with her number.

Had they finally found the love they deserved, or will they put their
dreams second to their kids’ needs?

Chapter One

“Jeremy!” I yell and stare at the pile of clothes next to the hamper.
My eyes narrow on my son’s beautiful face, and I remind myself how much I adore him. “Excuse me?”
“Yes, ma’am?”
I nod. “Were you working on your basketball skills and failed?”
Jeremy looks from me to the pile I’m still pointing at. “Oh.”
I exhale with exasperation. “Look, honey, we need to work like a team. Please clean up. I need to get you to school so I can start my shift. Don’t forget I won’t make it to today’s game. I’ll be home right after, so grab a ride with Mrs. Sanders if Grandma and Pops aren’t there.”
After kissing his temple, seeing as I can no longer reach the top of his head, I rush to plate the breakfast I threw together for us. This is my life. It may not have turned out like I dreamed, but I wouldn’t trade Jeremy in for the world.
I was a young mother at twenty-one—not quite a teen pregnancy but still hard. Jeremy’s father decided rather quickly fatherhood wasn’t for him and left us the moment two lines appeared. Thankfully, my parents stepped in and helped us. I managed to finish my Bachelor of Science in nursing with their assistance. I can’t count the number of times I showed up to class with spit-up on me. I’m sure if they swabbed my clothes in one of my labs, they would have found all sorts of new-mother fun.
After fourteen years of doing the parenting gig on my own, I can safely say it’s still a challenge. Dating is rare, and my parents are still around to help. I don’t ask for a lot of help now that Jeremy is older, but they still have us visit often.
Jeremy runs into the kitchen, backpack in hand, and picks up the fork on his plate. In a matter of moments, the plate is devoid of the eggs and toast I put on it. My kid looks up at me and to the stove, looking for the pan I already put in the dishwasher. “No more?”
“Grab a banana. We gotta go,” I tell him and toss my wallet into a small bag.
He grunts and carries his plate straight to the dishwasher without rinsing it. I sigh but don’t say a word. Over the years I’ve become better at picking my battles, and this isn’t one.
When we get to his school, we exchange “I love yous,” and I pat his thigh good-bye. When he leans over and hugs me, I smile. Squeezing him, I enjoy the rare treat of a teenage hug at school.
“Bye, honey.”
“Bye, Mom.”
My next stop, after watching him walk up the steps, is coffee. Thursday mornings are my designated java pick-up days. I rattle off four different orders and drive the last few blocks to work once I have them.
“Thank God!” Jenna cries and plucks her order from the carrier.
“One of those mornings?” I ask and set the rest on a table.
“One word. Puberty.” Jenna drinks a healthy gulp of joe.
I nod and lock up my things. “Gotcha. I’ll be missing yet another of Jeremy’s games if it makes you feel any better.” Jenna shoots me a meaningful look. She may not be a single mom like I am, but she misses her own share of activities. “Well, here’s hoping today is an easy one.”
Later that evening, I look at the clock and sigh. Jeremy’s game is halfway through by now, which means my guilt is high and I’m almost through with my twelve-hour shift. I hate missing so many of his games. These are moments I know I can’t get back. It hurts the worst when I see understanding in Jeremy’s eyes versus anger or frustration.
He’s a great kid. He does well in school, gives me very little attitude, and is talented in sports. I’m hoping if he keeps it up, he can earn a scholarship for college, but we have a few years left to really worry about that.
“Hey, stop that!” Jenna scolds.
“Stop what?” I ask and set down the marker I was using.
Jenna waves her hand around my face. “That. Honey, I know you hate missing his games, but he understands, so quit beating yourself up about it.”
“That’s the problem, Jenna.” I sigh. “He’s only a boy. He shouldn’t have to be this understanding about all the games I miss.”
“No, he shouldn’t, but life isn’t fair. You’ve got a great kid, girl. No matter what you think, you’re doing really well by him.”
“Natalia?” Kara, another nurse on shift, calls out.
“You’ve got a live one in room one.”
I nod and squeeze past Jenna who pats me on my back. “On my way.”
Pulling up the patient’s admittance tab on the computer, I read the notes and frown. Forty-year-old male with testicular pain. Walking down the hall toward the triage room, I sift through my knowledge of all the possible things responsible for testicular pain.
Once I learned I was having a boy, I put in extra focus into male anatomy and physiology. I was determined to keep my boy safe and healthy to my best ability. This thankfully helped me tackle those not-so-fun talks about puberty.
“Good evening—”
Any other words centered around good bedside manners blank in my brain the moment our eyes meet. Crap.
His crew-cut hairstyle highlights his strong jaw. A light smattering of hair grows along it, and my hand itches with the need to see if it will feel soft or rough along my palm. His jaw twitches, and I find a sheen of sweat on his brow. The pain reflecting in his hazel eyes pulls me back from my fog.
I clear my throat and hope I’m not blushing. “What brings you in this evening, Mr.—”
“Wilkins. Call me Wes. I don’t suppose there’s a male nurse on staff?”
My brows knit at his tone. “Sorry, there’s not,” I say. “What’s bothering you that a female nurse can’t help you with?”
“No, it’s not—” He attempts to sit up, and he grunts in pain.
I move to his side. “Lie back down,” I tell him gently.
“S-sorry. Don’t mean to be an ass.”
Concern fills me at his words and the way his eyelids lower in pain. “Talk to me. There’s no reason for you to suffer any pain. I assure you I can help even if I don’t have the same parts as you.”
“Definitely don’t have the same parts,” he mumbles. He draws in a deep breath and clears his throat. “My testicles hurt, and they’re swollen.”
“Okay, did you sustain an injury to them?” I ask reassuringly.
He looks away, and his words are too soft to hear.
I place my hand on his shoulder, and a weird sensation travels up my arm at the contact. He turns toward me, and I see he felt whatever just happened. “I can’t help you if you don’t talk to me,” I say, ignoring the strange event and removing my hand.
“I had a vasectomy yesterday.”
“Okay.” I think of common complications that could occur with the procedure. “Swelling and discomfort are common in the first forty-eight hours—”
His lips pull into a hard line. “It looks like I have three testicles.”
My eyebrow raises. “Three?”
“Okay. We’ll look at it in a second. What have you done in the last twelve hours?”
His eyes dart away again, and I realize whatever he’s been doing was not what his doctor ordered. “Come on, fess up. If your testicles are this swollen, you weren’t lying down and resting like I’m sure your doctor ordered,” I say in my mom voice.
“I was at my kids’ baseball game…”
The way he says it leaves me thinking there is more. “Mhmm… sitting on the stands?”
He shakes his head. “No, coaching.”
“I see. Did anything happen, since I expect you weren’t sitting in a chair relaxing while you coached?”
“One of the boys fell. I, um, helped him up, and that’s when I stumbled in pain.”
“I don’t suppose you coach toddlers?” I ask, knowing he’s going to say no.
“No, freshmen.”
“Definitely surpasses the ten-pound weight restriction.”
His eyebrows snap together. “Look, I wasn’t going to miss the game!”
I raise my hands in the air. “I’m sorry. I didn’t mean any offense. If it makes you feel any better, I’ve been here all day, and I missed my son’s baseball game tonight. One of many.” I whisper the latter and turn away. “I’ll go see if the doctor is available to perform your exam.”
“Wait!” he calls out when I reach the door.
I stop but don’t face him. I can’t. If I do, he’ll see the tears forming. I’m never this short with my patients. I chalk it up to my emotions after missing out on another event in Jeremy’s life.
After a moment, he apologizes and I walk out. This handsome stranger has pressed more conflicting buttons than I care to admit. Ignoring the fact that a man hasn’t managed to fluster both me and my lady bits in… well, ever, he’s a patient and therefore off limits.

AJ Renee, Author

AJ Renee is the author behind the St. Fleur series, Beauty Unmasked,
Winter's Surprise, Surviving Paris, Finding Love at the Falls
..., and
Kylie: Crossing Lines. She's a military wife and mother to three
young girls. She graduated from the University of Central Florida
with her Master of Science in Criminal Justice and a Bachelor of
Science in Psychology while working at the library.

She loves to write steamy romance with suspense and a happily ever after.
When she isn't writing or interacting with her readers, you can find
her spending time with her family or reading. AJ enjoys traveling,
researching family history, and all things New Orleans.

the tour HERE
for exclusive excerpts, guest posts and a giveaway!

Friday, August 16, 2019


Being invited to write in the Pinkerton Matchmaker Series was a thrill for me. I’ve enjoyed reading this series and am honored to participate. Since AN AGENT FOR MAGDALA released last week, I wanted to share some of my research with you.

In writing this book the first problem I encountered was that there were NO rail lines where I needed them. So, my hero and heroine had to travel by stage from Denver to San Antonio. That required a long trip, but I only included a portion. Otherwise, most of the book would have been about their journey. They couldn't travel in a logical straight route due to lack of roads, availability of water, and Comanche, Kiowa, and Apache.

Red lines are railways
in 1870 map

The hotel in the book, The Menger Hotel, is a real place built in 1859 and remains a luxury hotel today. Over the years many renovations and additions have been made and ownership has changed. At the time of the story, William Menger had died and his wife and son were in charge.

Menger Hotel as it was in 1871
(it's much larger now)

Mary Menger’s meals were locally famous. She planned menus, shopped for excellent produce, and cooked. The menu included wild game as well as the usual meats. Mango trees grew in the courtyard which has since been enclosed. She used the fruit to make mango ice cream. That surprised me. I didn’t realize the trees would grow in San Antonio, even in a protected courtyard. I grew up in Texas but hadn’t tasted a mango until I’d been married several years. 

No, you didn’t miss it in geography class—there is no country called Bayergrovenia, the place from which Magdala and her parents immigrated. After all, this is fiction. I patterned it after Luxembourg and tucked the small country in beside France, Switzerland, and Bavaria. Like Switzerland and Luxembourg, Bayergrovenia is neutral. I first used this country several years ago in SAVE YOUR HEART FOR ME. In case you haven't read this novella, the link is 

1838 Alamo sketch by Mary Ann Maverick

As a died-in-the-wool Texan, I was embarrassed to learn the Alamo was not as I had imagined or how I found it in visits. At the time of AN AGENT FOR MAGDALA, the Alamo had not been rescued and was in ruins. There was talk of leveling the chapel as had been done with the plaza. Fortunately, saner heads prevailed. Now the Alamo and her sister chapels--Concepcion, San Jose, San Juan, and Estrada plus the remains of the aquaduct are protected as UNESCO world heritage sites.

Talented Virginia McKevitt designed the cover for each of the Pinkerton Matchmaker Series books. She also did the covers for the Proxy Bride Series. I really love the covers she created for my books, don’t you? Her design business is Black Widow designs. I've not met her in person but I don't think she actually is a black widow spider. 

I enjoy reading and writing marriages of convenience stories. They add a new dimension to the developing romance. Of course, we know there will be a happy ending but learning how the couple develop their romance is fun.

I hope by now you’ve read AN AGENT FOR MAGDALA, book 37 of the Pinkerton Matchmaker Series. If not, the Universal Amazon link is and it’s available in e-book and print and is enrolled in KU.

Wednesday, August 14, 2019


I have the pleasure of interviewing romance author Luarean Brooks today. She lives in Dukedom, Tennessee with her husband and three furbabies. Laurean is a fine writer whose fun sense of humor carries over in her writing. She has so many hilarious stories about her life that talking to her is a joy. 

Laurean Brooks, Author

Enjoy her interview:

Where did you grow up?

I grew up in the small town of Palmersville, Tennessee, where everyone knew everyone's business. Our school included grades 1 through 12 and we struggled most years to maintain the required 300 students to keep it open. But, somehow it stayed open 30 more years after I graduated.

Married, single? Children?

I've been married to the same man 30 years. Between us we have three children and 5 grandchildren. His two children work in the medical field and live in our locality My son lives and works in D.C. Due to a 700-mile distance, I don't get to see him or my daughter-in-law and precious granddaughter often. But, I thank the Lord for internet and phones.

Were you considered a “bookworm” or a jock?

I was probably considered a bookworm since I made good marks. Truth was, I had my share of fun, too. In 7th grade, several girls in our class, including a few 8th graders, discovered the wonders of swinging on background curtains on the stage. We set metal folding chairs behind selected curtains, grabbed onto the canvas material and swung out. Wheee! So much fun!

One day, about a week into our “fun”, three swung out at the same time. We stared in horror as the curtains and heavy metal rods attached to them came crashing down around us. Thankfully, no one was hurt in the event.

Complete Silence. Then Nancy, the leader of our group and an 8th grader announced, “We will all go to the office and tell Mr. Mac (our stern principal), that we were straightening the curtains when everything fell. So, we marched single file into his office. Mr. Mac studied each face with narrowed eyes as Nancy and two other girls told him the story we'd agreed on.

After the explanation, he pushed his horn-rimmed spectacles higher on his nose with one finger. “Are you sure you girls weren't swinging on the curtains?” Fear showed on every face, but no one answered. Then Mr. Mac stood to his full 5-ft. 4 inches, and said, “Follow me, girls, and we'll have a look at the problem.”

Our principal took in the war zone scene of canvas curtains and iron rods piled in disarray around us, We breathed easier when he propped his hands on his hips and gave an order. “Run over and tell Mr. Austin, I need to borrow a few boys from ag class to come to the gym. Ralph, Joseph, Gary, Hugh, and Charles will have these back up in no time.”

Then he scanned our faces with those stern eyes and said, “And don't ever let me catch you straightening these curtains!”

In unison, we answered, “We'll never, ever--.” Nancy interrupted and finished with, “straighten these curtains again!”

Who are your favorite authors and favorite genres?

As a child I liked mysteries by the same author, but for the life of me I can't remember her name. It was a group of kids who solved local crimes. As a teen, I read Victoria Holt, Emilie Loring, and Phyllis Whitney.

Today, I read both contemporary and historical romance by too many authors to mention. But, I prefer historical romance. Narrowing it down, to a specific genre, Westerns are my favorite, especially mail order bride romances. I could live off them.

What’s your favorite way to relax and recharge?

An outing and a nice seafood and salad buffet with my husband, walking my lab-mix dogs, (the cat walks with us at his leisure), and spending time coddling all three pets. They make up for the Empty Nest syndrome.


Reading and writing, but forget arithmetic. My best grades were in English Grammar, English Lit, Home Ec, and Spelling. I couldn't wait to get to those classes. I was okay in the sciences and history subjects, but I refuse to discuss Algebra.

Ha! How can I discuss it when I'm clueless after taking both Algebra, I and II. Enough said. Algebra leaves a bad taste in my mouth. I'm off to the kitchen to wash it out. (Be back in a minute, folks.)

Do you have a favorite quote that sums up how you feel about life?

(I'm back.) The first thing that comes to mind are a few lines from an old poem by Edmund Vance Cooke which we as 5th graders were assigned to memorize. It begins, “Did you tackle that trouble that came your way...:?” The lines that left a lasting effect on me were:

Oh, a trouble's a ton, or a trouble's an ounce.
Or a trouble is what you make it.
And it isn't the fact that you're hurt that counts,
But only how did you take it?

How long have you been writing?

My first book was published 10 years ago. The title? Journey To Forgiveness. My, how time flies! I started writing it on January 1, 2004 as a tribute to my mother. Between my work schedule and lapses where I lost focus, it took three years to finish. I held onto it for months before submitting while I revised and proofread it, etc. After a publisher accepted it and following 10 months of back and forth edits, the book finally released in 2009.

Where do you prefer to write? Do you need quiet, music, solitude?

Yes. All of the above. I focus better in a quiet place away from all distractions, and sometimes with soft music. Sometimes I hole up in a recliner in my bedroom with the laptop on my lap. Other times, I sit at the computer desk and type. Still other times, I use the dining room table and laptop. But, if the TV noise becomes too much, I move to another place

PC or laptop?

I use either one.. It depends on my mood.

Are you a plotter or a pantzer?

Pantzer, but I'll bet you've guessed it. Why outline an entire book, plot it out, when you're going to make drastic changes anyway? I can't stick to an outline. I draw this bubble thingy with branches extending from it--and write things I want to happen on those attached branches. Just so I don't forget my ideas—whether I use them or not. I decide as the story grows. I will jot down other thoughts as the story emerges, but that's the extent of my plotting. 

Do you use real events or persons in your stories or as an inspiration for stories?

Yes, but these people will never recognize themselves....I hope. I've even used personal events and embellished them...a lot.

What do you hope your writing brings to readers?

Laughter, tears, the release that follows forgiveness, I want my stories to warm their hearts and take them to a place they've never been before.

Would you like to tell us what you’re working on now?

It's not titled yet. I'm considering “Second-Choice Bride.”

It's another mail order bride story set in Abilene, Texas. Emily Hammons's sister-in-law wants Emily out of the house. The house belonged to Emily's family, but her brother won't stand up and fight for her to be able to stay. To keep peace, Emily takes the train from West Memphis, Arkansas to Abilene, Texas in answer to a mail order bride ad.

When she arrives, no one picks her up at the station. After a two-hour wait, she gets up and takes a walk down the street. At the sound of church bells, she decides to investigate. When she arrives at the church, the crowd is so large, many are standing on the porch. Emily manages to climb the steps and peek inside.

What she hears, shocks her. The man she was supposed to marry is saying his vows to another woman.

Then the bride at the altar squeals, “I can't do this!” and races down the aisle and out the door, shoving her bouquet in Emily's midsection. Emily falls off the porch, taking a handsome cowboy with her. She sprains her ankle and since he's already looking for the doctor to treat his ailing mother, and needs someone to tend her...

(I won't give any more away at this time. Just be on the lookout for it.)

What advice would you give to unpublished authors?

If writing and publishing a book is your dream, never let that dream go. Some may discourage you, tell you you're not good enough. Some of these people may be those close to you. Try to avoid Dream Stealers, or at least ignore them, knowing that if God put this dream in your heart, He will make it come to pass.

My second tip is: Join groups of like-minded authors where you can share what you are working on. You can help each other develop better writing skills and get fresh ideas. If you have a local writing group that writes a similar genre to yours, join it. Read each others' work and give encouraging input. If you don't have a group in your area, seek out other authors and wanna-be-authors, and form your own. Ask the local library if you can use one of their rooms on, say, the 3rd Saturday afternoon of each month.

Share a fun fact readers wouldn’t know about you.

I keep a plastic spoon and napkins in my glove compartment. That isn't the shocking part. Shhh! My husband doesn't know this. Sometimes I open a carton of ice cream, on my way home from the supermarket, set it on the passenger seat with a plastic bag beneath it, and eat the melted ice cream around the edges. Don't judge me. I need something on the 35-minute drive to sustain me.

Can you give readers a blurb about your book?

When Carrie Franklin struggles with a drunk, leaving him unconscious, or perhaps dead, she flees. Forgetting the promise to her deceased mother she deserts her feckless brother and takes the train to Abilene, Texas

Carrie shares a seat with Molly, who is a Mail Order Bride enroute to meet her fiancé. Molly's confides that her friend, also set to embark on this adventure, backed out of her betrothal due to suspicious wording in the letters. When Molly discovers that Carrie will disembark in Abilene, she asks her to explain Katy's absence to the waiting cowboy, Josh Kramer.

Without letting her explain, and assuming she's the woman his aunt ordered, Josh picks up Carrie and plops her down on the buckboard seat, and heads back to the ranch. Carrie’s empty purse makes her think twice about arguing with him. Carrie assumes the name of the other woman, and goes by Katy Davis.

Carrie wants to tell Josh the truth, but when his sweet aunt pulls her aside to reveal another secret, Carrie finds herself in a quagmire. Aunt Em will suffer, too, if she reveals her true identity.

Josh is leery of Katy Davis, never suspecting his aunt performed a trick of her own. Is Katy out to get the ranch? His attraction for her grows, but he was burned by a woman and swore, “Never again.” 

Carrie's secret threatens to destroy any love Josh has for her. Did she kill the drunk? Is the law looking for her? 

Find out when you read NOT WHAT HE ORDERED.

How about a PG excerpt?

Carrie Franklin had never set foot inside a saloon. Mama would tan her hide if she could see her now. But Mama was in heaven, and Blake was inside that sinful place drinking and gambling away his wages. The same as he'd done the past two months. She'd warned her brother she would leave if he didn't quit his riotous living. And this was the last straw.
Carrie's sharp-toed shoes clopped against the boardwalk, making hollow sounds. Coal-oil street lights dispelled the darkness, lighting her steps. Just as she'd thought, Blake's horse was tethered to the hitching post alongside two others. How should she approach him?
Standing before the swinging doors, she wiped sweaty palms down the sides of her skirt. Loud piano music and raucous laughter reached her ears and disturbed the otherwise peaceful town. Carrie hiked her shoulders and drew in what might be her last breath of fresh air for a while.
As she stepped up to the bat-wing doors, they flew open, and a giant of a man staggered out. Jim Counce, known as “Big Jim,” stumbled across the boardwalk. Carrie clapped a hand to her chest and jumped out of the way, or he would have flattened Carrie her.
The drunk man grabbed at air, then fell against a support post. Gripping it, he raised his head. His glassy gaze raked her. Carrie's heart pounded when he graced her with a toothless grin.
As she whirled to push through the swinging doors to a safer place inside, his large hand clamped onto her arm, and he dragged her toward him. Rank body odor and stale whiskey stung her nostrils. She coughed, then held her breath.
“Well, well, purty lady, did you come by to see Big Jim?”
Carrie struggled to free herself. “Take your grimy hands off me or I'll--”
He threw his head back and laughed. “You'll what. . .scream? Nobody'd hear ya.”
She inhaled, then regretted it. Her stomach lurched. If she didn't get free soon, she'd throw up. Recalling her mother's saying, “You will catch more flies with honey than with vinegar,” Carrie brandished Big Jim with a smile. Patting his arm with her free hand, she spoke in a sugary voice. “Nice to see you, Mr. Counce, but I have to go. My brother's in there. I need to see him.”
Big Jim threw his head back and laughed. “That Franklin kid's your brother?” His grip on her arm tightened. “Well, don't you worry your purty little head none. Your brother's havin' hisself a good time, buyin' drinks for ever'body. They're settin' up for a game of poker.”
How dare he! Blake had promised Carrie he wouldn't squander his wages this month.
Big Jim bent and brushed his mouth against her ear. His hot breath burned her earlobe. “If you'll just relax, Big Jim will show you an even better time.”
She wrenched to free herself, but his vise-like grip tightened. “Please. . .you're hurting me.”
“Sorry, but quit tryin' to git away.” He graced her with a gap-toothed grin. “I like a little spunk in my women. Makes for a good time.” He shook his head. “Don't like prudes. Cain't have no fun with one. A purty gal like you wouldn't be a prude, would ya?”
Carrie eyed him without replying.
He fingered a lock of her hair near her shoulder. “Treat Big Jim nice and he'll show you a night you'll not likely forgit.”
He traced her jawline with a callused thumb. “Smooth as silk. Mmm, Mmm, you sure are a cute little thang. How about a little kiss for a lonely ol' man?”
Carrie flung his hand from her face. She'd never been mauled by a man and didn't aim for this to be the first time.
The drunk dragged her closer. “You're a feisty one. What's wrong, Big Jim ain't good enough fer ya?” His hairy arm snaked around her waist, yanking her closer, and smashing her face into his sweaty shirt. If she quit struggling, would he loosen his grip? Carrie paused to catch her breath and to plan her next move.
Big Jim mistook her pause for surrender. “That's more like it, gal. Just relax and give Big Jim that kiss he's been wantin'.” He slackened his hold and lowered his head. The coarse stubble of his beard stung as it grazed Carrie's cheek.
Anger and adrenaline raced through her. She pushed against him, then raised her foot and kicked him in the shin.
“Ow-w-w!” He let go and hopped around on one foot, cursing under his breath. “You little wench! You'll pay!”
The menacing gleam in his eye told Carrie it was now or never. Before he could grab her again, she shoved him. The big oaf stumbled backward to the edge of the boardwalk, flailing his arms as he hit the ground with a thud.
Carrie clenched onto the support post, a hand pressed to her pounding heart. Big Jim lay spread-eagle, flat on his back in the dusty street beneath a dim street light. A rock lay beneath his head. He was not moving.
What had she done? Was he unconscious or...? No! She would not even consider it. But what if...? She had to get out of town, and fast!

Where can readers find your books?

How can readers learn more about you? (the 20th of each month)  

Is there anything else you’d like readers to know about you?

I enjoy interacting with my readers and do a happy dance every time a reader tells me she or he has read one of books and enjoyed it. I squeal like a child when they leave a good review on Amazon or GoodReads.

I would give my books to everyone I met, if I could afford to, because knowing my stories bring readers enjoyment means more to me than anything else.

Thanks for sharing with us today, Laurean!  

Tuesday, August 13, 2019


Defenders of the Texas Frontier
David R. Gross
Historical Fiction
Date Published: April 2019
Publisher: iUniverse

 photo add-to-goodreads-button_zpsc7b3c634.png

It was 1837 when John Coffey (Jack) Hays, only nineteen years old, arrived in Texas. He was too late to join the fight for Texas Independence but joined the ranging company of Deaf Smith and started his long history of defending Texans from raids by Comanche bands and Mexican bandits. By the time, he was twenty-three he was a captain of the Texas Rangers, known throughout Texas as a fearless fighter and a leader whose men would follow him anywhere, under any circumstances. Amongst his lieutenants were Samuel H. Walker, Ben McCulloch and William (Bigfoot) Wallace each of whom became leaders of Texas Ranger companies, and forged their own legends in Texas history.

Hays, more than any other man, symbolized the Texas Rangers during the era of the Texas Republic. During the Mexican War, Colonel Hays’ Rangers scouted, defended U.S. supply and communication lines from attacks by Mexican guerrillas, and fought with regular units of the U.S. Army. They earned a significant reputation for bravery and success.

Hays’ Rangers were almost always outnumbered in their battles with Comanche and Mexicans, but more than held their own because they had early access to the revolver. Hays made certain every one of the men under his command was a skilled marksman with the revolver and their other weapons. This novel tells the story of Hays’ life, loves, and the sense of honor and responsibility that motivated him to embrace hardship and danger.



Chapter 1

My name is John Caperton. I have known and been a friend of Jack Hays since we were young boys teaching ourselves how to hunt and fish and live rough in the forests of Tennessee. I am six months younger than Jack. I followed him, and now I leave a record of his story.

            We arrived in Nacogdoches thirsty and decided to have a beer. Jack stood at the end of the ten-foot bar sipping at the mug of beer he held in his left hand. I was leaning against the far wall, no more than six or seven feet away. Jack was then nineteen, but he appeared to be maybe fourteen or fifteen years old. He’s still slight and is an inch or two shorter than most of the men in any room. His complexion is fair, his nose slightly aquiline. His mouth is firm with thin lips. His chin is square. His beard struggled to be noticed. He didn’t move his head, but his deep-set hazel eyes moved continuously, taking in everyone and everything in the room.

All the men in the room, with the exception of the bartender, were dressed roughly. Their wool pants were baggy and dirty with constant use, their shirts dirty and frayed at their collars and cuffs. The men’s coats were a variety of styles, including some uniform coats from 1812. Almost all the men wore wide leather belts with one or two pistols jammed in between belt and coat. Some held rifles. Most had large knives in sheaths hanging from their belts. All wore battered hats of indeterminate style and age.

Jack was also wearing wool pants, but his were less baggy. The collar of his homespun shirt was stained but not frayed, and his coat was a heavy wool with a tight weave. His hat was beaver felt, the crown crushed flat, the brim drooping. He had two pistols jammed in his wide belt, the heavy grips facing each other. His bowie knife resided in a sheath close to his right hand. A Tennessee long rifle was slung by a leather strap over his left shoulder.

The continuous murmur of men in quiet conversation pervaded the cramped room. Occasionally, the sound of chairs and boots scraping on the wide-plank pinewood floor penetrated the hum. The floor planks, apparently nailed down while green, were twisted. Men often stumbled while making their way to the bar, not always the result of having imbibed too much alcohol. Every time a newcomer entered the room, there was a shout of greeting. Adding to the ambiance was the sharp sound of playing cards slapped with enthusiasm onto the three rickety tables crowding the space. All the sounds were punctuated by the noise of shot glasses and beer mugs set down on the bar and tables. Chunks of thick, sticky Nacogdoches mud dried in the warm closeness of the room and fell in clumps from the boots of the men who were in the bar longest. This was all accompanied by the stench of stale beer, rough whiskey, cigar smoke, and the stink, rising like steam, from the filthy clothing of unwashed males.

Jack watched as some men left and others arrived, crowding past one another through the narrow doorway. The single room of the rough board cabin that served as the bar filled as more men crowded in.

“Shut the damn door!” someone yelled.

It was late April 1836. Wind and rain pounded the town of Nacogdoches in the new Republic of Texas.

The door crashed open again, and a very large man pushed through. This time nobody shouted a greeting. He shoved men aside to claim a place at the bar.

“Whiskey, damn it, George,” he shouted at the harried bartender, who, after glancing to identify the speaker, stopped pouring beer into the three mugs he held in one hand. He set the mugs down and poured a shot of whiskey, sliding it through the spilled beer lubricating the bar top.

The big man took up the glass, turned to survey the room, and then drank the cheap whiskey in a gulp. He returned the shot glass to the bar without turning.

“Hit me again, and keep them coming, George. Don’t just stand there with your thumb up your ass.”

I leaned in toward the man standing next to me and whispered, “Who is that guy?”

“The local bully,” he whispered back. “Before long, he’ll taunt somebody and wave one of those fists in his victim’s face.”

 I noticed all the men in the bar did their best to avoid looking at him, except for Jack, who didn’t take his eyes from the huge fellow.

The man standing next to me whispered again. “I noticed you came in with that young man at the bar. If he’s your friend, you best tell him not to do anything to provoke. After a couple shots of that rotgut, Big Al will try to pick a fight with someone, and if that youngster doesn’t stop staring at him, he’ll be the one.”

Jack kept his place at the bar and continued to gaze at the bully.

The big man quickly consumed three more shots of whiskey and then suddenly shoved the man standing next to him. “Back off, shithead. Don’t crowd me, or I’ll beat the crap out of you.”

The man backed away, gulped what was left of the beer in his hand, put the mug down on a table, and ran from the bar.

The bully smiled, pleased with the reaction he forced. Then he noticed Jack looking at him. “What you smilin’ about, twerp?” he shouted, pushing past three men to stand very close to Jack.

I left my place at the wall to move closer.

The bully was a full head taller and at least ninety pounds heavier than Jack. His broad shoulders tapered into a thick neck. Although I was three feet away, I could smell his rotted teeth. Jack did not back away from the stench. The bully clenched his fists.

“Wipe that smile off your face, shithead, or would you rather I wipe it off for you?” The bully raised his right fist and waved it in front of Jack’s face. “I said to wipe off that smile, or I’ll wipe it off for you.”

Jack continued to smile while gently placing his mug on the bar. The bully pulled back his fist. The pistol on Jack’s left side was in his right hand. The fist started forward, a cap exploded, and the coat over the big man’s heart burst into flames. He fell straight back, stiff as a felled tree. He was dead when the back of his head hit the floor, pushing his hat over his still snarling face.

Jack pushed his pistol back through his belt and then swept his eyes around the room. “Anybody think that man was not about to hit me?” he asked.

One man pushed his chair back from the table where he sat. The feet of the chair screeched and then caught on a twisted board. The man stood, pushing the chair over backward.

“That son of a bitch beat me near to death three weeks ago, and others in this room have suffered at those fists. Thanks, young man. We are well rid of that scum.”

Several other men in the room voiced their agreement.

“Is there a lawman in this town?” asked Jack. “I suppose I’m in deep shit for killing this man, but I wasn’t going to allow him to hit me.”

“It was self-defense. We all saw it,” said the man as he extricated his feet from the turned-over chair on the floor.

The door slammed open, hitting the wall on the hinge side. A gray-haired man with a four-day-old beard, his potbelly hanging over his gun belt, entered with a pistol in his hand and a badge pinned to his coat.

“I heard a shot. What the hell has Big Al Cranston done now?”

Jack motioned at the body on the floor with his chin. “Is that Cranston?”

One of the men in the room spoke up. “It was completely justified, Sheriff. Couldn’t expect the young man to wait until that asshole hit him. I want to buy our hero a drink.”

I finally found my voice. “I can verify that man on the floor was about to hit him, sir.”

Several men shouted at the bartender to pour Jack a drink.

Jack waved a hand in the air. “Thanks, gents. I’ve had all the alcohol I need. Maybe another time. We’re just passing through.” He grabbed my right arm above the elbow. “Believe we’ll be on our way, unless there is something else, Sheriff.”

“I’ll need you and your friend to come to my office and sign a statement, young man. You too, Sam, and anyone else who agrees Big Al was asking for it. I’ll have to file a report with the judge whenever he comes around again. What’s your name, youngster?”

“John Coffee Hays, sir,” Jack answered.

“Any relation to Harmond Hays of Tennessee?”

“Yes, sir. He’s my daddy.”

“How’s he doing?”

“He and my ma both died of the cholera about four years ago.”

“Sorry to hear that. I served with him in 1812 under General Jackson. Didn’t one of your uncles marry Andrew Jackson’s sister?”

“Yes, sir. She’s my great-aunt Cage, my ma’s side.”

“Well, boys, the tree this lad sprouted from is one tough giant of the US of A. Let me shake your hand, John Coffee Hays. Nobody in this town is likely to weep over the loss of Big Al. Some of you boys haul his carcass out of here. Leave him on the porch of my office until I can order a coffin, but wrap him up in a tarp first. No sense in spreading his blood all over town. George, looks like you’ll have a mess to clean up.”

The bartender replied. “He rarely paid for what he consumed, so no great loss. A bucket of water sloshed on the floor will get most of it. The rest will just mix with the dirt.”

As we followed the sheriff to his office, Jack whispered, “So that’s how it feels to kill a man. Glad I didn’t take the time to think about what I was doing. Just a reflex. Still, I’m glad I’m not in trouble. Wonder if Big Al has family who will mourn him?”

About the Author

Dr. David R. Gross has co-edited three multi-authored textbooks and more than one hundred scientific articles. The first, second, and third editions of his single author text, Animal Models in Cardiovascular Research, can be found in most medical libraries. Since retirement, he has published Man Hunt, a historical novel, Animals Don’t Blush, a memoir, Travels with Charlize, a memoir, Succeeding as a Student, a how-to book, and most recently, A Mexican Adventure, a memoir, the sequel to Animals Don’t Blush.

Contact Links

Purchase Links

RABT Book Tours & PR