Saturday, April 30, 2016


By Annemarie Brear

Thank you so much for having me today. I hope you and your readers enjoy learning a little about my latest release, Where Dragonflies Hover, a contemporary story that also features a WWI story, when Lexi, the main character finds a diary written by a wartime nurse.


Sometimes a glimpse into the past can help make sense of the future …

Everyone thinks Lexi is crazy when she falls in love with Hollingsworth House – a crumbling old Georgian mansion in Yorkshire – and nobody more so than her husband, Dylan. But there’s something very special about the place, and Lexi can sense it. 

Whilst exploring the grounds she stumbles across an old diary and, within its pages, she meets Allie – an Australian nurse working in France during the First World War.

Lexi finally realises her dream of buying Hollingsworth but her obsession with the house leaves her marriage in tatters. In the lonely nights that follow, Allie’s diary becomes Lexi’s companion, comforting her in moments of darkness and pain. And as Lexi reads, the nurse’s scandalous connection to the house is revealed …


The late sunshine enveloped the house in a golden glow. Again, it seemed to call to her, begging for attention. A path on the left of the drive looked inviting as it meandered through a small strand of poplars. Lexi grabbed her keys, locked the car and took off to explore again. She had nothing to rush home to now, and if she got caught for trespassing, then so be it.

The overgrown pathway brought her out on the far side of the grounds near the end of a small lake. She gazed over the water towards the back of the house and noticed a paved terrace area. From there the lawn then sloped down to the water. She’d not been around the back before and fell even more in love with the property. She could imagine the serenity of sipping a cool drink on a hot summer’s day and looking out over the lake.

Lexi stepped out along the bank. A lone duck swam by, its movement serene on the glassy, dark surface. This side of the lake was in shadow from large pine trees, and she stumbled on fallen pinecones hidden in the long grass. On the opposite side of the water were some small buildings, a garage, fruit trees in early blossom, and an overgrown vegetable patch, complete with a broken, rejected-looking scarecrow.

She wandered over to a narrow shed on her left and peered through its sole, dirty window. Unable to make out much in the dimness, she walked around to the front and was surprised when she was able to pull the bolt back on the door. Why didn’t people lock things? A covered rowboat took up most of the space inside. She smiled, seeing herself rowing it on the lake. Growing more excited, Lexi edged around it to peer at the workbenches and the odd assortment of tools and useless things one found in abandoned sheds. It was like treasure hunting in an antique shop. She used to love doing that with her grandfather.

She glanced about and spied a dusty painting leaning against the wall. The scene was of a child and a brown dog. Behind the canvas were more paintings, some framed, some not. Lexi flicked through them. The ones that caught her attention she took out and set aside.

She looked for somewhere to sit and study the paintings. A small tin trunk wedged under a workbench seemed the only offering. Thinking it empty, she went to tug it out, but it remained fast.

Using both hands, she heaved it out and was showered in a puff of dust. Squatting down, she inspected the latch that was held tight with a small lock. ‘Why are you locked?’ she murmured. The shed was open to anyone passing by, yet this ugly little chest had a lock on it. The trunk was nothing special, plain and in parts rusted. No ornament or writing hinted at its use.

Intrigued, she grabbed a hammer from the workbench, but then hesitated. She had no right to open someone else’s property. Lexi closed her eyes momentarily. What was she thinking of breaking into the trunk? What am I doing? Never had she broken the law and here she was guilty of trespassing and breaking and entering! She looked around the rowboat as though expecting someone to jump out and arrest her.

Something inside urged her on. She knew she couldn’t stop now. Sucking in a deep breath, she bent and hit the lock hard. The ringing sound was loud in the quiet serenity of the garden. The metal dented and with another few solid whacks the lock gave.

Shivers of excitement tingled along her skin. Gently, she eased up the lid.


Also available in Apple ibooks, etc.

Annemarie Brear, Author
Australian born Annemarie Brear writes historical novels and modern romances. Currently living in England, her passions, apart from writing, are reading, researching, genealogy, roaming historical sites, buying books, and gardening. She is an author of historical women's fiction, contemporary romance, and several short stories. Also a lover of chocolate, good movies, and her family!

Annemarie on the web:
Twitter @annemariebrear

Friday, April 29, 2016


For many years, Jodi Thomas has been one of my favorite writers—an automatic buy for me. I think I’ve read all of her books since I first read the McClain series many years ago. That was when all her books were western historical.

Her new Ransom Canyon Series began with a historical novella to introduce the series. Now they are all contemporary, but the western atmosphere is definitely there. Her characters are so well drawn that the reader sees them and becomes their friend. For me, I visualize these characters going on about their lives, worry about them.

Jubilee Hamilton has grown up in the shadow of a prettier sister who is favored by her parents. Nothing she ever does is quite as good as Destiny, or so it seems. When she inherits Lone Heart Ranch from the great grandfather only she had time for, Jubilee is happy to have a place to go that is far away from her failure in Washington, D.C. Her family wants her to sell the place, but she is determined to make Lone Heart Ranch her home.

Charley Collins has been disowned by his family. He lacked only one semester graduating with a degree in agriculture management, but he can never save enough to finish his degree. His five-year-old daughter, Lillie, comes first with him. He is determined she’ll grow up secure in the knowledge that her father loves her and will always be around for her. The job offer from Jubilee seems like the answer to a prayer—at least if the crazy woman can make a go of the place.

Thatcher Jones is a smart young man who is failing school because he’s seldom there. His absentee mother is home only between “husbands” and doesn’t appear to notice or care that Thatcher is on his own most of the time. But one lucky day, he becomes part of Lone Heart Ranch. There he finds what he’s been searching for—a family—and discovers he’s far braver than he’d imagined.

Once again Ms Thomas has interwoven stories around new and recurring characters.  The new characters captured my heart immediately. This is my favorite of this series—but then I thought that of the last one. This series just gets better and better. Although the story is tied up nicely, there are loose ends to entice us into the next book. I’m eager to learn if Weathers remains in town and if Lauren sells her book and if Tim completes his and if Sheriff Brigman can remain on the job and...

This book is definitely a five star of five stars! Do yourself a favor and read this book. 

Monday, April 25, 2016


Will independent spirits yield to hearts bound by love?


Although widow Beth Dodd has agreed to wed Val Caldwell, she puts their marriage off until the end of the year. She still desires to have a place of her own that she and her little sister can fall back on should something go wrong in the future. Widowed in California, she has an estate coming to her that is worth far less than her portion from the Ohio farm that her pa sold to her late husband for the express purpose of providing Beth with a husband and a secure place to spend her life and raise a family. That was before her late husband sold out and left her behind so he could return to the mines in the eastern Sierra-Nevada Mountains. Now, she is in the eastern Sierras, but it is land, not gold and silver, she seeks.

Beth Dodd has made a promise to help “Lulu”, a young prostitute at the Blue Feather, keep her baby if she decides to leave the whorehouse and become a respectable woman. But Beth hadn’t counted on the obstacles she and the new mother will face from society in the mining town of Lundy. From the obstinate landlady, Mrs. Ford, to her intractable German boss, Gus Herschel, Beth must fight for the woman she’s promised to help. But Beth Dodd never gives in, and she keeps her word with a stubbornness that Lundy folks are not accustomed to seeing from a woman.

Lulu has a decision to make. Will she give up her baby in order to resume working as a prostitute at the Blue Feather brothel? Or, will she take Beth up on her offer to keep her baby, leave prostitution behind, and work as a cook? And, will the stubborn German cook, Gus Herschel, who owns the chop shop at the back of the Arcade Saloon where Beth works, give in to Beth’s badgering and promises? Knowing Louisa’s past, will he allow Louisa to bring her baby there and work as a cook in spite of the Arcade Saloon’s strictly-enforced policy of “no upstairs girls”?

Gus' kitchen would include these

Once Lulu, now known as the more respectable Louisa Parmley, starts working for Gus in his kitchen, she proves that Beth was right to take a chance on her. She has every intention of making a good life for her new daughter. But can she also hope to find happiness with Gus? And will Gus be able to accept her and baby Sophie Ann as his? Love was never in the cards for Gus, but Louisa dreams of happiness with the stoic man, and Beth is determined to bring them together through HER INDEPENDENT SPIRIT.


Lulu pulled her two week-old daughter away from her breast and straightened her nightgown. her eyes never strayed from the face of the little cherub in her arms until she gently placed the baby on her shoulder to pat her back. Yet, instead of the joy that should have filled her heart as she gazed at the child’s sweet face framed by a fine down of golden brown hair, all she felt was a sense of loss.

After losing everyone important to her, she was threatened once again with the loss of the most important person in her life, her baby, Sophie Ann.

As she gazed down at the child now sleeping peacefully in her arms, her mouth occasionally moving in sucking motions as if she continued to nurse, Lulu realized she needed to decide what to do about Sophie Ann. Did the baby’s future belong with her? Or, was it best for her daughter if she heeded Miss Flora’s directive to find a home for the baby so she could resume working by the end of the month?

In spite of the money she would earn, Lulu cringed at the thought of once again subjecting herself to being pawed by men—and more.

Flora had offered to let Albert drive her into Bridgeport during the next week so she could leave the baby on the doorstep of one of the local churches. Flora insisted that someone would find the baby, fall in love with her, and the child would be well taken care of as she grew in her adopted family.

But, Lulu worried, what if no one came for a long time and Sophie Ann grew hungry? What if a pack of feral dogs roaming the streets in search of food found her first? What if she was not found right away and had to spend the night outside and the temperature dropped and she became seriously ill?

Lulu clutched her baby to her chest with enough force that Sophie Ann squeaked out a protest in her sleep. In response, Lulu loosened her grip, but would not let the child out of her arms. No, never. She could not turn her out and let her take her chances. That is what had happened to her, but at least she had been almost fifteen, not a helpless babe slightly over two weeks old.

Lulu’s body involuntary jerked in response to the loud rap on her bedroom door. After checking to be sure the front of her nightgown was securely buttoned, Lulu pulled the edge of her wrapper over the side of her chest that was not covered by her sleeping daughter. Prostitute or not, she maintained her modesty when she was not working.

It was morning, almost time for the girls to wake and stumble down to eat breakfast. Surely it wasn’t an old customer trying to get in to see her.

“Who’s there?”

“It’s Albert, Miss Lulu.”

“Come in.”

Albert, the muscle Miss Flora hired to enforce order in the brothel entered the room holding what appeared to be a small folded bundle of flannel. “Miss Lulu, this is for your baby.”

“Who would bring the baby a gift? Not that many people know me let alone know I have a baby.”

Bewildered, Lulu reached for one edge of the fabric and shook it free of its folds. One side was solid white flannel. The other side had a checkerboard patchwork design of striped blue blocks and red flannel blocks alternating with white flannel blocks. It was a quilt with a thin fabric center instead of heavier cotton filling. It was not the most artfully designed quilt Lulu had ever seen, but the corners of the squares matched up and the stitches that held all the layers together were neat and even.

“It was the midwife. She said no matter what, baby Sophie Ann needs a blanket.”

“The midwife! She brought the baby a blanket?”

Lulu recalled the woman, Jim Dodd’s widow, not much older than she was, who had come to help with the birth of Sophie Ann. That day she had offered to help Lulu get work as a cook so she could keep Sophie Ann but only if Lulu gave up being a prostitute and be the one to walk away from the Blue Feather. Had she said that just to be nice, or had she meant what she said?

 “Oh, Albert! Where is she? I need to talk to her.”

Purchase links for HER INDEPENDENT SPIRIT:

Amazon  |  Barnes & Noble  |  Smashwords  |  Kobo  |  iBooks

Zina Abbott, Author

 Zina Abbott is the pen name used by Robyn Echols for her historical novels. Her novel, Family Secrets, was published by Fire Star Press. Her novelette, A Christmas Promise, along with the first two novellas in the Eastern Sierra Brides 1884 series, Big Meadows Valentine and A Resurrected Heart, was published by Prairie Rose Publications. Her novelette, He Is a Good Man, was published in the Lariats, Letters and Lace anthology.

The author is a member of Women Writing the West, American Night Writers Association, and Modesto Writers Meet Up. She currently lives with her husband in California near the “Gateway to Yosemite.” She enjoys any kind of history including family history. When she is not piecing together novel plots, she pieces together quilt blocks.

Please visit and follow the Zina Abbott’s Amazon Author Page by clicking HERE.

Zina Abbott Author Links:

Website  |  Blog  |  Facebook  |  Pinterest  |  Goodreads  |  Google+  |  Twitter 

Friday, April 22, 2016


About twenty years, I met author Anna Jeffrey at an RWA chapter meeting in Fort Worth. With her sister Pam Cumbie, the two make up the romantic comedy/mystery writing team of Dixie Cash. On her own, Anna is a very talented author. (As a friend, she is a hoot and a half.)

Like me, Anna grew up in West Texas. She’s a fifth generation Texan who loves most things western from the customs and culture to the philosophy of life. Most of her family members were farmers and ranchers or worked in the oil fields.

For those of you who have never lived in West Texas, it’s another world. That’s not a criticism, just a fact. Anna and I didn’t grow up in the same town, but the atmosphere was the same. We grew up during the great oil boom, an era filled with “real-life” fictional characters who cry to be written into a story. As well, farms and ranches were a part of the landscape. 

Talented in many areas, Anna painted a scene anyone from West Texas would recognize. Many little crossroads in farming communities had a cotton gin, a cafĂ©/store which sold gasoline, and at least a couple of houses for the gin’s manager and head ginner. By the way, the white in Anna’s painting is not snow, it’s cotton/cotton lint blown from the gin. The stuff drifted for hundreds of yards.

Store/post office of Peacock, Stonewall County, Texas
Anna has worked in various areas from store owner to realtor and author. Thank heavens she has kept writing sexy contemporary romance with an edge as Anna Jeffrey and the romantic comedy/mystery series written with her sister as Dixie Cash. In fact, Anna is a USA Today bestselling author. Her books have won the Write Touch Readers’ Award, the Aspen Gold, the More Than Magic, and the NEC Readers’ Choice awards.

Here’s a painting multi-talented Anna did of her husband’s coat hanging on the door of his mountain cabin in Idaho. The medium is opaque water color.

Coat belonging to Anna's husband George
in his Idaho mountain cabin

Also an Idaho subject is the painting of this old abandoned gold mining dredge. Can’t you just imagine the stories that went on while this was in use?

Gold mining dredge, Idaho
A subject I love is this old barn Anna painted in oils. I love the colors and the contrast of the yellow at the bottom and the green forest behind.

I love old barns and this one appeals to me
After leaving Texas for a while, Anna lived in California, Arizona, Oregon, and Idaho. The latter is the setting for her first books written as herself, the Callister series. These were my first introduction to her writing and I loved each of those books.  Her series set in Texas include the West Texas series, the Strayhorns, Miranda’s Chronicles (erotic), and—if you crave longer books—the Sons of Texas series. I’ve read each one and highly recommend them. You can find out more about her at her Amazon Author Page:

Anna's latest book is as Dixie Cash, a romantic comedy/mystery in the Domestic Equalizer series. The series features Debbie Sue and Edwina, hair stylists whose shop was converted from an old gas station. The duo is zany and inquisitive and know everyone in the community. Due to their success solving crimes, they set up their private detection service called Domestic Equalizers. 


After two divorces, Sandi Walker (Edwina's niece and entrepreneur extraordinaire) is on her own and loving it. As a devout animal lover, she has made a success of the only gourmet pet food bakery in Midland, Texas. She's also a pet foster parent and has fifteen assorted abused and unwanted animals at home. When a golden-colored stray dog with an abundance of personality appears at her door, she can't refuse him and she can't keep from falling in love with him. She names him Waffle and gives him a permanent home.

General Manager of the Flying C Ranch, Nick Conway, has searched for months for his lost dog, Buster. Giving up on ever finding him, he looks for a new dog and finds a puppy at a pet grooming shop.  While he went to the shop to see a puppy, he also encountered a beautiful redheaded woman he can't put out of his mind. Little does he know that she found Buster in an alley and has now claimed him as her own. Sparks fly between Sandi and Nick when he steals Buster and sues her in court for custody. It will take a mouthy parrot, a sitting judge, the matchmaking skills of the Domestic Equalizers and Cupid himself to resolve this conflict.

"Nick…began to unload everything off the tray and set it on the table. Two baskets of hamburgers and fries and a couple of Hogg’s locally-famous fried pies enclosed inside parchment wrappers. They were half the size of a dinner plate.
She stared at the array of food. “That’s a lot of food. I don’t see a small hamburger.”
“A child’s hamburger is the size of a quarter. Not enough to eat. I got you a regular size.”
Controlling jerk. Sandi made a huff of annoyance. “You also got fried pies. What kind?”
“Apricot. The kind my granny used to make when I was a little tyke. Hogg’s uses lard in the crust, just like my granny did. That’s why they taste so good.”
She made a mental groan. “A fried pie made by these people probably has about five thousand calories.”
His brow scrunched into a frown. “You’re not gonna eat a fried pie after I got you one?”
She shook her head. “I am not. I did not ask for a fried pie. You obviously aren’t concerned with your diet, but I try to limit the carbs I eat. I don’t want to have a heart attack before I’m thirty-five and I want to be able to pass through the front door of my shop.”
He scooted the fried pie across the table toward her. “One little fried pie is not gonna give you a heart attack or put twenty pounds on you. Maybe a dose of sugar will put you in a better mood.”

Find YOU CAN HAVE MY HEART BUT DON’T TOUCH MY DOG on Amazon at this link:

Anna Jeffrey/Dixie Cash

Anna's social media links are:

Dixie Cash--Pam Cumbie
and Anna Jeffrey

Wednesday, April 20, 2016


Please welcome Barbara Donlon Bradley to the blog. Barbara’s latest release is TIMELESS DESIRE, a futuristic Sci-fi with humor. She’s agreed to an interview, which I hope you enjoy as much as I did.

Who are your favorite authors and favorite genres?

I love romance – mostly the futuristic one but I have favorite authors from all genres – Stephen King, Issac Asimov, Steven R Donaldson are a couple I love . Romance wise I love Joanna Lindsey, and Kathleen E. Woodiwiss, to name a few.

When you’re not writing, what’s your favorite way to relax and recharge? Hobbies?

The only time I don’t write is when my sister comes into town or I go visit her. We have a wonderful relationship and when we get together we’ve been known to stay up all hours talking. Being around her recharges my battery. Hobbies? I used to draw and paint as well as do embroidery but now I write all the time.

How long have you been writing?

Professionally? Since 1991 I think, but as far as puting ink to paper since I was a teenager.

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

I can write anywhere. Normally I sit in front of the TV with my laptop in my recliner. I started this when my son was young because I got tired of everyone constantly interrupting me when I tried to write at my desktop. I noticed that if I was working on my computer away from my husband and son they would constantly ask when I would be done, or did I want to watch this or that show, but if I sat and watched TV with them they kinda ignored me. So I got a laptop and have been using it since.

Are you a plotter or a panzer?

I’m definitely a pantser – I like letting my characters take control and tell me the story as I go. I still keep control, but they help me by giving me some great ideas that keep my stories alive.

Do you do your research before you begin a new project, or as you go along?

I’m working on a SF/Futuristic series (almost done with book 10) so most of the world building has been done. But in the past it depended on the book. I do the research I need to start the book off then go after the things I might need as the scenes unfold.

Tell us about your writing schedule. Do you set goals? Do you write daily?

I try to write every day and have set goals in the past but when I started caring for my mother-in-law 6 years ago I couldn’t keep to that. Now that she has passed I might try going back to using a schedule, but I kind of like not having something other than the thrill of writing pushing me.

Do you write full time or do you have a day job. If you have a day job, what is it?
I have a day job of merchandiser for the military exchange system here in Tidewater, VA. I also am an editor for Melange Books.

Tell us something about yourself that might surprise readers.

I’m a 3rd degree black belt in Taekwondo. Of course I haven’t practiced it in seven years so I don’t think I’d frighten anyone but it was fun to learn.

What is something unusual you learned while researching and writing this book?

Well I’m drawing off of old info for this one. Back in the 1800’s when a woman told people she had the vapors she didn’t mean she was having fainting spells. It meant she had gas. I just loved this so haven’t forgotten it.

What do you hope your writing brings to readers?

My stories are light hearted with a touch of humor so I hope to give them a little escape from the real world for a little while. We all need that from time to time.

What advice would you give to unpublished authors?

Write every day – whether it’s just a few words or pages and pages. The more you write the better you get at it.

Tell us about your latest release.

Someone keeps altering the timeline and only Sam and Skye are aware of the change. The culprit doesn’t want Heather and Storm together, yet they keep finding each other, no matter how many times it is changed. Everything needs to be righted and the person messing with it needs to be stopped. It’s up to Sam and Skye to get things back the way it should be.

Their ship landed in the cave they used as their tarmac. Fridon stepped up to them the moment they disembarked.
“Reasta has attacked another one of our posts.” He led them to the main computer room, where everything that had been going on was up and viewable. “We keep moving them and she keeps finding them.”
“How many people have we lost?” asked Heather as she studied the data.
“Five so far.”
Heather swore under her breath. She hated losing their soldiers. “And her people are still attacking?”
“Yes, we can’t stop them.”
Heather turned to Bert. “I’m sorry, but you’re sort of trapped here until we can stop her.”
“Then let me see what I can do to help you end this.”
“Thank you.” Heather turned to her mate. “Storm, each person we lose – ”
“What the hell?” Skye ran his hands over the control panel, trying to get a response. Any response. All the power in the ship went out for a second before it powered back up. Now everything worked fine. He wondered what caused that.
“That was odd.” Sam ran a few tests. She looked at him. “Everything seems to be fine now.”
Skye slowed their ship down as they got close to Vespian space. Protocol needed to be followed and he knew who would be the one yelling at him if he didn’t follow it. He sent the proper message and waited for clearance. They’d figure out what happened to the ship once they landed. “I wish I knew what caused that. I’ve never had any trouble with this ship before.”
“We’ll check with Bert once we’re through.” Sam sat in the copilot seat. She pressed a few buttons and cupped her ear. “Skye, security is contacting us.”
“That’s odd.” He activated the communication system. “This is Skye Latimer.”
“What is the purpose for your visit?”
“Purpose?” He looked at Sam. Why were they asking that? “We’re returning home.”
“We have no record of your citizenship.” And they cut the line.
“What are they talking about? Sam leaned forward. “I’ll get them back.”
“Wait.” He reached out and took her hand in his. “I don’t want to end up in a jail while we try to figure out what happened. Let’s leave like we’re supposed to, and once we’re out of their radar, we’ll come back and use the ship’s cloaking device to go to Bert’s ship. He’ll have the answers for us.”


Barbara Donlon Bradley’s writing started innocently enough, she kept diaries, journals, and wrote an occasional letter but her vivid imagination had her writing scenes and short stories, adding characters to her favorite shows and comic books. As time went on the passion for writing became too strong to ignore. Humor dominates her life. Writing something deep and dark, will never happen. That humor bleeds into her writing. Since she can’t beat it she’s learned to use it to her advantage. Now she lives in Tidewater Virginia with two cats, her husband and son.

How can readers learn more about you? (website, blog, Facebook, etc?)

Monday, April 18, 2016


Please welcome a new friend, Margo Bond Collins, who I met when we joined the COME LOVE A COWBOY anthology at Margo is a fellow Texan and clever as can be. Here’s the information on her book in the anthology, LEAVING NECESSITY. (I love the name of the town!)

Can they strike love again?

At nineteen, Clara Graves left Necessity, Texas, to try to heal her broken heart. She swore she would never come back, and she's kept that promise. Until now. When she returns for her uncle's funeral, she inherits a small oil company that may keep her tied to Necessity for a few days longer than she expected. But as soon as she can close or sell the business, she’s pointing her boots toward greener pastures. 

To this day, Mitchell MacAllan regrets letting Clara go without a fight. But his whole life was in Necessity, and leaving town wasn’t in the cards. As the foreman of Aerio Oil and Gas, he works hard to keep the townspeople employed and maintain the business, despite a recent downturn in petroleum prices.

Now Mac has less than a week to convince Clara that she should give Aerio a chance, and maybe even forgive him in the meantime. Otherwise, she will once again be leaving Necessity—and taking his heart with her, this time for good.


I’ve inherited an oil company?
Maybe she had misheard. After all, her attention had drifted away a little in the midst of a long list of small assets Uncle Gavin had left to friends. Not family, though—Clara and Gavin were each the only family the other had.
Her eyes had misted up a bit at that thought, until she was jerked out of her thoughts by the sound of her name and something that sounded suspiciously like a business name with “oil and gas” in it.
Clara stared at the attorney sitting behind a desk at the front of the room, and had to remind herself to close her mouth before she spoke up to interrupt the older man’s reading of the will, waving her hand in the air a little to catch his attention. “I’m sorry, Mr. Pritchard. Could you back up a little?”
He blinked at her from behind rounded glasses. “Certainly, Ms. Graves. What part should I repeat?” Clara had known John Pritchard for most of her life, and even when she was a child, he had called her “Ms. Graves,” as if she were as important as the adult clients of his law firm. She had adored him for that. But at the moment, she wished he were less courtly, and more direct.
“The part where it sounds like you said Uncle Gavin left me some kind of oil company.”
“Ah. Yes.” Mr. Pritchard pushed those glasses up on his nose, scanning the papers in front of him, then read the passage again. It said something about the company and its holdings and rights and some other things that didn’t quite make sense to Clara about the company’s vitality and viability and conferring with the company’s current foreman.
“Just to clarify: that means that Aerio Oil and Gas, LLC, belongs entirely to me?” She tried to keep her voice from squeaking, but she didn’t entirely succeed.
 “We can discuss it in detail momentarily, but almost, yes,” the attorney replied. He raised an eyebrow at her, as if making certain she was ready for him to keep reading.
Almost? What did that mean?
Slumping back into her chair with a surprised whoosh, Clara nodded and waved her hand again, this time motioning Mr. Pritchard to keep reading.
An oil company? What had Uncle Gavin been thinking? When had he acquired an oil company? More to the point, why hadn’t he told Clara about it?
She listened with only half her attention as Mr. Pritchard finished out the reading of the will.
The rest of it was pretty simple. With the exception of a few mementos and monetary gifts left to people like the woman who had cleaned his house every week for as long as Clara could remember, Gavin Graves had left everything to Clara. Much of it was specified in the will—the house and all its contents other than those otherwise disposed by the will, an old Mustang he had restored years before, a new Dodge pickup truck, and several bank accounts—but the document also closed by noting that everything not otherwise mentioned went to Clara.
“Thank you all for coming,” Mr. Pritchard said, standing. “In the next few days, I will be contacting those of you to whom Mr. Graves bequeathed personal gifts.”
Clara kept her seat as several townspeople came to offer their condolences, some for the second or third time that day. A cynical part of her couldn’t help but wonder how many of them were more interested in getting a better look at her after ten years in order to add fuel to the gossip fire than their sincere expressions and kind words might otherwise suggest.
That’s not fair, Clara. She could almost hear her uncle’s kind voice chiding her.
With a sigh, she finally stood up. “Tell me more about this oil company, Mr. Pritchard?”
The attorney nodded. “Of course. But really, Mac will be able to tell you more.” He gestured behind her.
When she turned to look, though, all she caught was a bare glimpse of a dark-haired man in jeans and a cowboy hat as he shut the door behind him.

Amazon buy link:

About the Author; Social Media Links

Margo Bond Collins, Author
Margo Bond Collins is addicted to coffee (mmm...caffeine) and SF/F television, especially Supernatural (mmm...Winchesters). She writes paranormal and contemporary romance, urban fantasy, and paranormal mystery. She lives in Texas with her daughter and several spoiled pets. Although she teaches college-level English courses online, writing fiction is her first love. She enjoys reading urban fantasy and paranormal fiction of any genre and spends most of her free time daydreaming about heroes, vampires, ghosts, werewolves, and the women who love (and sometimes fight) them.

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Friday, April 15, 2016


Recently I met Julie A. D’Arcy, but only online. She lives in Australia but writes a variety of genres that include contemporary western romance. Her book THE SHAPE OF DESTINY is a paranormal in this genre. Her book appears in the eight-author anthology COME LOVE A COWBOY, contemporary western romance that released April 1. These eight books are all new, never before released. You can snap it up at: for only 99 cents for the time being.

Cole is a shape shifter on the run from the man who murdered his parents. Shannon is a
well-educated owner of a ranch who refuses to acknowledge her Indian heritage and
their beliefs. When danger threatens and Cole’s secret is revealed, can Shannon find it in
her heart to believe in the unbelievable and change their destiny?

Cole awoke to the sound of a loud crack. His eyes fluttered open and stared into the
barrel of a gun. He should have recognized the sound of a rifle being cocked. His first
thought…Granger has finally found me.

This wasn’t a man’s voice at all, but a woman’s. “What are you doing here? Who are

He climbed to his feet, knowing instinctively she wouldn’t shoot. He could read people
and knew she wasn’t the type to take the life of another human being. An animal he
wasn’t sure about. He laughed inwardly and glanced to where his sister had slept. Gone.
He frowned and forced himself not to look around for her. Mia knew to hide at the first
sign of danger.

Cole had to get the woman out of the barn. “I was just passing through.” He bent to pick
up his backpack. “I’ll leave now. I needed somewhere to crash for the night, that’s all.”
The rifle followed his movement as he bent to retrieve the shirt he’d used as a pillow.

“You’re not going anywhere.”

“Why is that?”

He straightened and looked at her then, really looked at her. She was quite beautiful in
an unusual sort of way. Dark eyes, almost black, her skin a shade darker than most, and
high cheekbones. If it wasn’t for the long pale blonde hair he would have sworn she was
Native American. Maybe she had some of their blood in her gene pool. And he wanted
her; he’d been a long time without a woman. He ignored the lust in his gut and headed
for the door.

Her voice quavered. “Stop or I’ll shoot. I swear I will.”

He stopped but didn’t turn. “I don’t think so.”

He sensed her falter as she lowered the rifle. A head shorter than him, she came to stand
beside him. “I just want to know what’s going on here.”

“Nothing is going on. I was hiking across country. I needed somewhere to sleep and
spied the lights in the distance.” He shrugged. “Thought there was no harm in sleeping
in your barn. I’d be gone before anyone found me. Guess I was wrong.”

* * *

Why didn’t she believe him? When she’d first found him sleeping on the hay a gamut of
emotions ran through her body—fear, anger, and she had to admit, he was the most
amazing looking man she’d ever seen. Most guys she knew were either old, scrawny, or
had a gut the size of six watermelons. He pulled on his black t-shirt to cover his six-pack,
and broad, muscled shoulders. She couldn’t help but finish her inspection by running
her gaze down his stomach to where a line of dark hair disappeared past his belt buckle
into his pants, and then lower to the thick thighs covered by his faded blue jeans.

When she looked up again into his yellow-green eyes, his lips held a smirk, as if he knew
her thoughts as she perused his body. What was he thinking? She didn’t want to know,
but for some unknown reason she wanted him to stay. She glanced away, and that was
when she saw her, a little girl in long white nightgown with curly black hair. She clung to
the barn wall and Shannon realized then she had the rifle trained on the child.

The man whipped around and pushed the rifle down before Shannon could lower it. And
then he glowered at her.

“I wouldn’t have pulled the trigger,” she said. “I didn’t know she was there.” She spoke
to the child, her voice soft. “Don’t be afraid. I didn’t mean to frighten you.” Offering her
best smile, she added, “You startled me.”

She was a pretty little thing, with the same coloring as her father. She wondered about
the story behind that. Why wasn’t the child in school? Had he kidnapped the girl from
her mother and they were on the run? And where was her mother?

She turned her attention to the man again. “I presume the girl is with you?”


She put his age at around twenty-six…twenty-seven, a little young to have a daughter
this age.

“Mia, go behind the bales and get dressed, we’re leaving.”

The child picked up her backpack did as she was told.

Shannon remained silent wondering what to say or do next. A child was the last thing
she expected to see in her barn. There was a story here, but she wasn’t sure she wanted
to pursue it. Questions lingered on her lips but halted in her throat when she took in the
thunderous look on the man’s face.

“Want to tell me your name?”

“Why?” he said with a slight sneer. “We are not staying. There’s no reason to know our

For a moment she thought she saw something akin to fear flicker in his bright eyes.

“Look, Mister, don’t make me out to be the bad person here. You were the one

His shoulders slumped. “Sorry. As I said, we needed somewhere to sleep.”

Mia came running toward him and slipped her small hand into his before they turned
away and headed for the door.

“Stop!” she said a little too loudly. “Do you need a job?” Where the hell did that come

He stopped and pivoted toward her, a half-laugh erupting from his throat. “First you
point a gun in my face, threaten to kill me, now you offer me a job?” He raised a brow.

“Something is killing my cattle and I need them moved closer to home. They’re about
five miles from here, near the base of the mountain. I was going to take the pickup into
town to hire someone, but thought I’d ask if you might be interested, or perhaps you
could use the money.

Mia looked up at the man with an indefinable look on her small face.

“Well do you?” Shannon asked again.


“Need a job?”

The little girl spoke for the first time. “Can we stay?”

His features softened as he looked down at her. “I suppose we could stick around for a
few days.”

“We have several bunkhouses for the ranch hands and one sitting empty right now.
Simple and clean but it does have a stove and a bathroom.”

“Seems Mia’s made her mind up,” he said.

He still had that wary look in his eyes, but she ignored it for now. It was none of her
business where they had come from or where they were going. She needed help on the
ranch, and he was here. Maybe he’d even decide to stay for more than a few days.

“Good, it’s settled. I’ll show you to the bunkhouse and have some food brought over.
“Oh, by the way, you do know how to ride a horse, right?”

“Well enough,” he replied. “But horses don’t like me much.”

“I’m sure we can find one or two that do.” She smiled. “And my name is Shannon. Can I
know yours now that you’re going to be working for me?”

“It’s Cole.” Mia answered for him and slipped her hand into Shannon’s. “He doesn’t talk

“I gathered that.” Shannon thought it strange Mia should answer for her father, but that
was their business, not hers. “Have a last name to go with that?”

“No. No last name.” Cole shot back. “We won’t be staying that long.”

Shannon was taken aback. “Fine, but it might be hard to pay you with no last name.”

“Cash will do fine.” He headed for the door. “You said something about showing us a

“Of course,” she answered him in the same short tone he’d used on her. “And then I’ll
meet you at the stables in an hour.”

“I don’t have a watch.”

“How about a cell phone?”


“Use the digital alarm clock in the bunkhouse then.”

“Fine. Where are the stables?”

“That would be the building next to the barn.”

He pushed a hand through his long black fringe. “Looks like I’m yours then, at least for a
few days. Lead the way.”

What influenced my story?

At a young age, my father encouraged me to watch western movies on the television as
they were his favorite. Out of this grew a glamorous but somewhat glorified view of the
Old West. I grew to love all the westerns staring John Wayne, who to me encompassed
the ideal western hero.

As to why I chose a shape shifter, black Panther, for the hero of my novella? Fantasy and
Paranormal are the usual genres I write. Also, when I was around twenty and driving
out in the country I could have sworn I saw a black Panther run into the trees at the side
of the road. The incident never left me.

When asked to write a novella for the COME LOVE A COWBOY anthology I have combined all these elements into my story hopefully to a satisfying conclusion.

Julie A. D'Arcy, Author
Julie A. D’Arcy was born in Bendigo, Australia, lived her formative years in Melbourne, then moved to Wangaratta. After leaving college, she returned to Wangaratta where she set up her pottery business, specializing in fantasy pottery, in which she still dabbles. She married and has two beautiful daughters, Errin and Tegan. She has since divorced and now lives with her life partner, Phillip. She also has a spoiled Tonkanese named Jessalyn and a big, gray fluff ball named Jasper. She is an award winning author of numerous novels and novellas and founder of Entangled Press. You can find her here: