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Wednesday, December 21, 2016


Do you have a favorite romance story that takes place at Christmas? One that really stands out and makes you smile to remember it?

You would think a Christmas romance would be one of the easiest tales to tell, wouldn’t you? I mean, what could be better than a backdrop of snow and mistletoe, the warmth of a fire in a great room, a twinkling Christmas tree…but what about creating a little excitement?

As romance readers, we want something that’s going to keep us turning the pages, no matter what time of year it might be—and let’s face it, sitting in front of a fire, half-asleep, with a book on our laps and a full stomach is not all that exciting—or romantic, either.

But sometimes, it can be a little tough to create a full length novel around a short time span—with the entire story being told in a month’s (or less) time. And for me…I’m not ever sure if my characters are going to decide if a short story is going to do their tale justice—or if they’re going to want MORE.

I’ve written quite a few WHR novellas for Christmas boxed sets and anthologies, with some single-author collections of my own that take place for the most part during the Christmas season. But as for full-length novels that take place a Christmas, I haven’t tackled that yet, though I’d love to write one someday. This year, I DID write my first Medieval story--a Christmas wedding tale that appears in the boxed set ONE WINTER KNIGHT!

What are your favorite romance stories that take place at Christmas? Got some to share? I always love holiday Regency stories—and it seems there are more of those that are full-length novels than other genres.
Lisa Kleypas is a favorite of mine with her older Wallflower series. Each takes place in a different season, but there is the Christmas installment, A WALLFLOWER CHRISTMAS. It’s not a western, but this is a wonderful series, and I especially loved the Christmas tale.

Here are some heartwarming tales that make for some good holiday reading for yourself and for others!

Here's one by Livia J. Washburn (Reasoner) that's sure to please--and right now, it's FREE!

A touching novel of redemption and love by Angela Raines! Only .99!

An oldie but a goodie!

A mail-order bride Christmas story!

What are some of YOUR favorite holiday romance tales? Be sure to leave a comment for a chance to win your choice of ONE of our fabulous PRP titles in this post in e-book format! I'll be drawing three names--you could be a lucky winner!

Monday, December 19, 2016

Mariposa - City of Butterflies

Mariposa is the county seat of Mariposa County, California. It is not a very big city, coming in with a population of only 2,173 on the 2010 census. At 1,949 feet in elevation, it lies in the rugged foothills of the Sierra Nevada. Mariposa County includes much of Yosemite National Park. In spite of its small size, it has a big history.

Originally the home of the Southern Miwok Indians, the Mariposa area was said to have been named by a Spanish Priest under the direction of explorer, Gabriel Moraga, who was the leader of a 25-man troop that explored central California in 1806. When he and his expedition came upon a creek laced with thousands of yellow butterflies, they named the area “Mariposa,” which is the Spanish word for butterfly.

Street art along Highway 49 in Mariposa
The county lies at the southern end of the Mother Lode. Europeans were attracted to Mariposa by gold during the California Gold Rush. The original town site was founded as a mining camp on the banks of a seasonal stream known as Aqua Fria located about 6.0 miles (9.7 km) to the west of present-day Mariposa.
Agua Fria - Original Mariposa County Seat

After a flood during the winter of 1849/50, and fires, the town was moved to the location of today's Mariposa, although mainly due to better terrain and the presence of Mariposa creek, a large producer of placer gold. 

Juan B. Alvarado, Mexican governor of California (1836-1842) was awarded the Las Mariposas Grant,  a “floating” grant, meaning that it had no fixed boundaries. It was ten square leagues (approximately 44,400 acres) located generally on the Mariposa Creek between the San Joaquin, Chowchilla, and Merced rivers and the Sierra Nevada Mountains.

In 1846 John C. Fremont gave $3,280 to Thomas O. Larkin, the U.S. Consul to the Territory of California, to buy the Santa Cruz Ranch in the San Jose area. Instead, Larkin purchased for Fremont the Las Mariposas Grant, considered a desolate land grant in the middle of Indian country. Before Fremont could rectify this mistake, word came from Coloma that gold had been discovered along the American River. Fremont immediately sent a group of Mexican miners, under the direction of Alex Godey, to the Grant area to determine if gold was also to be found there, as well. They soon traced a large vein – a mile long – which they called the “Mother Lode.”

Before Fremont could solidify his grant boundaries and substantiate it through the legal establishment of the day, thousands of miners arrived on the scene. Few miners acknowledged Fremont’s claim, and Fremont was tossed into a legal battle that would take until 1856 to settle, and 1859 to finalize. The Las Mariposas Grant finally began to take shape along this wide vein that stretched from Mariposa Creek to the Merced River.
Street art along Highway 49 in Mariposa
In book #1 of Mariposa county records, originally filed in Aqua Fria, on Page 2, there is a claim known as the Spencer quartz mine and adjacent millsite. This claim was just hundreds of feet from Fremonts grant line, and its owners were Lafayette H. Bunnell, and Champlain Spencer, who became rather wealthy from the placer gold in Whitlock and Sherlocks creek. They later erected a 40' waterwheel and steam mill, along with several arrastras.
Original California Counties in 1850
Mariposa was one of the original counties when the state of California was formed in 1850. It reached from almost Los Angeles to almost Lake Tahoe. Mono County and the region known as Big Meadows east of the Sierra Nevada Mountains where my Eastern Sierra Brides 1884 is set was originally part of Mariposa County. The same is true of where I live in the San Joaquin Valley.
Mariposa in 1860
Throughout the early 1850s stores, hotels, saloons, and stables sprang up, while state and county governments began to take shape, as Mariposa grew and prospered. The Mariposa Mine produced $200,000 in gold between 1849 and 1859. In five short years, Mariposa evolved from a tent-mining camp to a city of several thousand people. In 1851 the "new" town of Mariposa became the county seat. By 1854, in addition to a newspaper, Mariposa had a grand courthouse which is still in operation. It is the oldest courthouse in continuous use west of the Rockies.

Mariposa County Courthouse
Mining remained the driving force in the community, but the tourist trade began to pick up with the opening of the Yosemite Valley to stage roads. Today, a good deal of the local economy is related to Yosemite National Park and to tourism.

The reason I chose to feature Mariposa this month is because of its special significance to me. It is where my husband and I spent our wedding night many years ago. Most years, we celebrate our anniversary by driving up to Mariposa and having dinner at the Miner’s Inn, a local motel and restaurant on Highway 49. Merry Christmas to all this coming Sunday. As for me, tonight I’ll be in Mariposa celebrating my wedding anniversary. 

Hubby with the old miner's mule at the Miner's Inn


Mariposa Museum & History Center: 

History of Mariposa:

Zina Abbott is the author of five novellas in the Eastern Sierra Brides 1884 series, Big Meadows Valentine, A Resurrected Heart, Her Independent Spirit, Haunted by Love  and Bridgeport Holiday Brides published by Prairie Rose Publications. 


Thursday, December 15, 2016

New Release -- DANCE WITH DESTINY by Becky Lower -- Giveaway!

William Myers feels it’s his duty to answer the call to fight for the Union Army—but his wife, Susannah, doesn’t agree. How does he expect her to survive with four small children in the cold Ohio winter during the three-month enlistment period? Angry and abandoned, Susannah learns soon after William leaves that she is also pregnant again. 

Raoul Lafontaine is a half-Ojibwa, half-French-Canadian drifter who is more Indian than white. Also known as Lone Wolf, he has recently left the Ojibwa village in search of a fair-haired woman both he and his grandfather have seen in visions. She is important to him—but how? He will never allow himself to care for another—not after losing the wife he loved so much.

But Raoul could not have planned for the sizzling emotions that surface when he comes near Susannah, nor the love he feels for her children. When he realizes that Susannah returns his feelings, he knows he must leave—for how can he stay close by knowing she can never be his? William will return to his homestead, and they’ll once again be a family. One in which Raoul has no place. Or does he?

Will Fate relent and grant the love between Susannah and Raoul in this DANCE WITH DESTINY?


     Susannah Myers pummeled her husband's shoulders as her lips pressed together in a tight, angry line. “Running off to war and leaving me alone to care for our four little ones is not right. I can’t do this on my own. How will we ever survive? We are only good if we can face our hardships together.”
     William took hold of her hands and stilled them. He kissed her callused fingers and then grazed her lips. She stopped fighting him and laid her head on her husband’s broad shoulder, letting her hot tears fall.
     "It'll only be for a few months, Susannah. Summer’s coming on, so it won’t be so hard for you to get by. There are plenty of chickens for food and eggs, I’ve stocked the smoke house with deer, and Jacob can start on the planting, so you’ll have potatoes and fresh vegetables. I have no choice as to whether I stay or go. I have to volunteer. Every able-bodied man in southern Ohio is being asked to do his part. Daniel was out here just the other day to make sure I'd sign up."
     Susannah straightened up and took a deep breath. She moved away from him, trying to distance herself from the feeling of abandonment. To get used to the feeling of abandonment. "We have four children, William, and the oldest of them is only nine years old. Is volunteering for service worth it when, by leaving, you’re putting the lives of your children in jeopardy?”

Be sure and leave a comment to be entered in the giveaway of the free ebook, DANCE WITH DESTINY.


Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Deck the Halls with books and stories by Kaye Spencer

Since there's no place like home for the reading holidays, and I'm dreaming of a white Christmas and cowboys here in southeastern Colorado, plus we could all use a little Christmas reading right this very minute, let's take a look at these western romance holiday-themed anthologies from Prairie Rose Publications.

Each anthology is available at for purchase or free with KindleUnlimited. So, jingle your bells all the way, keep your chestnuts roasting by the open fire, and have yourself a merry little Christmas.

But mostly...

Happy Reading to all, and to all a good night.

Until next year,


Writing the West one romance upon a time

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Historic Hotels of the West

By Kristy McCaffrey

This holiday season, how about a visit to a historic hotel in the Western United States, built during the glory days of leisure travel.

Arizona Biltmore
Located in Phoenix and opened in 1929, the Arizona Biltmore was built by Albert Chase McArthur with famed architect Frank Lloyd Wright’s collaboration. It was constructed with pre-cast blocks made from desert sand that was found at the construction site. Chewing gum magnate William Wrigley, Jr. once owned the resort, which has hosted many famous celebrities: Marilyn Monroe, the Reagans (they spent their honeymoon here), and Irving Berlin (who penned White Christmas during a stay). Also, a bartender created the famous tequila sunrise cocktail for a guest at the resort. Of note is The Mystery Room, a Prohibition-era speakeasy that once had a light to warn partiers of approaching federal agents.

Arizona Biltmore, circa 1931.

Arizona Biltmore today.

Camelback Inn
Opened in 1936, this resort was the dream of a young hotel manager who convinced investors to help him build a resort in the desert outside of Phoenix, Arizona. When it opened, visitors endured a 12-mile bumpy ride along a dirt road from the train station to the secluded property. Early guests included Clark Gable, Jimmy Stewart, and Bette Davis. In 1967, frequent guest Willard Marriott, Sr., purchased the Inn and made it the company’s first resort. Camelback Inn is the only Arizona resort with its own chapel, built in 1959.

Camelback Inn, circa 1936.
Camelback Inn.

Camelback Inn today.

Hotel del Coronado
In 1888, the Hotel del Coronado opened on Coronado Island in San Diego, California—a seaside resort that would become “the talk of the Western world.” The all-wooden structure was a technological marvel—it had its own ice machine, electrical generator, and a steam-powered hydraulic elevator. It has been the backdrop for dozens of movies, and Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz developed their “Ricky and Lucy” personas here. The Crown Room’s expansive ceiling is paneled in Oregon sugar pine, and some reports say Wizard of Oz author L. Frank Baum designed the massive chandeliers. The author spent his winters at the hotel from 1904 to 1910, during which he wrote four books.

Hotel del Coronado in San Diego.

Hotel del Coronado today.

The Brown Palace Hotel

Opened in 1892 in downtown Denver, Colorado, the Brown Palace Hotel was made with Colorado red granite and Arizona sandstone, and cost $1.6 million, an astronomical sum at that time. Dwight Eisenhower used the hotel as his presidential campaign headquarters in 1952, and The Beatles stayed here on their U.S. tour. Tunnels beneath the hotel reportedly once led to a brothel across the street.

The Brown Palace Hotel in Denver, an example
of Italian renaissance architecture.

The Brown Palace Hotel today.

Happy Holidays!!

Connect with Kristy

Monday, December 12, 2016

There's No Place Like My Favorite Reading Chair for Christmas!

 Tracy Garrett

Are you one of those readers who plan what you’ll read when you get those few extra hours once the presents are open and the dinner is a memory? I am! I love having time to dig into a new story—or three—once all the Christmas gatherings and church services are over.

This year, I have far more to choose from than usual. Some would say I have a book-buying problem. I think I have a not-enough-time-to-read problem!

Now, I readily admit that my tbr (that’s to be read for those not sure) is more a mountain—or it would be if it wasn’t all housed on my handy dandy e-reader. I remember the days of taking a larger suitcase on a week-long vacation just so I had enough books along. The e-reader is much lighter. But, it has it’s issues, too. Mostly, I don’t see a teetering stack of paperbacks so I think, hey, I need something new to read, and off I go. Again. Anyway—

I have so many books I really want to read cued up to start the moment I get a, well, moment, but I think I’ll start with something from Prairie Rose Publications:

Check out Angela Raines’s newest, The Gift of Forgiveness.

And Livia Washburn's adorable short story, Naughty or Mice.

Want a few more? Something a little different? These are next on my list:
   The Viscount and the Vixen by Lorraine Heath – I’ve been waiting for this character’s happy ever
       after forEVER!
   And, for you Sherlock Holmes fans, A Study in Charlotte by Brittany Cavallaro, which I started
       this summer, but had to put away when real life interferred.
   And At Last & Just Once by Addison Fox.
   And The Christmas Match by Allie Burton.

Okay, I'll stop now.  You get the idea.

Of course, that list doesn’t even scratch the surface.  Prairie Rose Publications has so many more new books out, I could start there and not come up for air until spring. Check out … Oh, forget it.  Just go HERE to choose your own.

Your turn.  What’s whispering to you from your TBR mountain? If we all share, there's still time to add to that list of books we want from Santa!

Saturday, December 10, 2016

Wanted Book Reviewers

Everyone loves getting free stuff. Here is a chance to get free books.  Prairie Rose Publications is looking for reviewers. If you're interested, please email with a list of what you enjoy reading and you will join our reviewers list to receive free books.  If you are wondering what we publish, well we publish a wide assortment of genres, including Romance, Historical Western Romance, Contempory Western Romance, Westerns, Medieval Romance, Native American Romance, Mysteries, Paranormal, Science Fiction, Thrillers, Young Adult, etc.

Thursday, December 8, 2016

New Release -- THE GIFT OF FORGIVENESS by Angela Raines -- Giveaway!

An Agate Gulch Story

When Nettie Hascall’s husband, Jacob, is killed, she knows she must move away in order to make a new life for herself and her two children, Ila and Albert. But tragedy seems to follow the little family to Agate Gulch, and Nettie feels more and more as if she’s running from Fate. The memories of the evil that had almost befallen now-thirteen-year-old Ila  resurface with cruel pranks…and then, the unthinkable happens—seven-year-old Albert is kidnapped. But why? And at what should be the most joyous time of the year, Christmas, the heartbreak is almost too much for Nettie to bear. She must find her son—no matter what.

John Flemming also is haunted by memories of things he did that he can never forget. Happiness will never be his, but he finds himself caring for Nettie and her children, and wanting to protect them all. When Albert goes missing, John knows he must break a vow to himself he made long ago—to lay down his guns forever. Now, he must take up his guns again to save Nettie’s young son—no matter the cost to himself. Going after Albert’s kidnappers spells the end of any relationship he might have hoped for with Nettie, but there is no other choice. Once he rescues the boy, he will move on…again.

Nettie and John have lost so much in their lives…can a Christmas miracle bring them the love they both hope for? Can THE GIFT OF FORGIVENESS spell a new beginning for two lonely people?


     "Jacob Hascall, I stood by you during the trial. I even went along when you made Ila leave out the real reason for the shooting, but that's no reason to just give up. You still have a family."
     Nettie had been so tired of doing everything while Jacob sat around just staring at the walls. Even to herself, she had sounded shrewish—but she could only take so much. Yes, Jacob was justified in what he'd done. The jury had found him innocent, but the thought of killing the young man, despite what he had tried to do, seemed to take everything out of Jacob.
     "Nettie, just leave me alone," Jacob had growled, slamming the door as he left the kitchen. Later that day, his wagon, with its load going to Leadville, had gone off the edge of the road and down an embankment. Jacob had fallen to his death, his neck broken.
     Months had gone by since that awful day, but tears flowed through her fingers today, just as they had almost two years ago. How many times had the scene played over and over in her head? Was there to be no end to it? Nettie remembered the last time she saw Jacob alive. Six months later, she, Ila, and Albert had moved to Agate Gulch. Slowly, she and the children were putting their lives back on track. Up here, they were far away from the notoriety of the trial, the threats and the stares of those who hadn't understood.
     Time to stop feeling sorry for myself and get something done. Nettie dried her tears.

Be sure and leave a comment for a chance to win the drawing of a free ebook.

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Mom’s Unique Raisin Substitute


I don’t know if the Great Depression was an influence on Mom when she made oatmeal cookies and fruitcake, but let me just say, her ingredients were not the norm.

Now I know the Depression did cause some differences in the things people consumed in their daily lives like canned milk. Pop used canned milk in his coffee his entire life as opposed to cream, half & half, or even plain milk. There was no Coffemate or Creamora type products back in the day, but even when they evolved, Pop had nothing to do with them. I would not have thought this use of canned milk had anything to do with the Depression until I met a couple who lived down the street who were older, about the age of my parents would have been. The couple invited us over for homemade ice cream one summer afternoon. To our surprise, the ice cream was made from canned milk. So, I concluded from this event that canned milk must have been a staple in households during the Depression instead of regular fresh dairy products.


Well, apparently, dried fruit including the dreaded raisin, must have also been hard to come by during those Depression era years because Mom made oatmeal cookies with an alternative to raisins—gumdrops. Not being a fan of the raisin, I loved those oatmeal cookies. 

Gumdrop Oatmeal Cookies

But Mom expanded her unique “raisins” to include dried fruit and she made fruitcakes the same way she made oatmeal cookies with delightful, colorful, sweet gumdrops. I know. Some of you may feel that gumdrops have no place in the iconic fruitcake, but, in my opinion, those gumdrops took the traditional, but miserable fruitcake to a whole new level of exquisite and tasty cuisine. Those little sugary nuggets of spicy flavors perked up that dreary cake. I did not miss those raisins or those little bits of chewy dried up fruit one bit.

"Fruit Cake"

Some of you may judge or turn your nose up at Mom’s unique substitute for dried fruit, but I can tell you right now from my anti-dried fruit (especially raisins) taste buds, I loved her innovative “fruitcake”. 
My sister visited me one day about a year or two ago with a little present. She made oatmeal cookies with gumdrops instead of raisins. Memories of Mom washed over me in a cloud of warmth and love. I hadn’t tasted those wonderful cookies in over 40 years. 


Just for fun because it’s Christmastime, I’m giving away a Kindle copy of the Christmas anthology, WISHING FOR A COWBOY which includes my story, A Husband For Christmas to someone who comments.



Jane Pierpont and her son, Robin, survived the Titanic, but her husband went down with the ship and the emotional scars of that night have kept her and her son locked into that frightening event. Robin is terrified of deep water and Jane has nightmares and survivor’s guilt. She yearns for a family, a loving husband and maybe another child, but she feels disloyal to Michael’s memory whenever Teekonka Red Sky comes near her.

Teekonka Red Sky loves Jane and her son, but all his efforts to help them past their painful memories of the night Michael Pierpont died have been unsuccessful. Unwilling to give up, can his Lakota beliefs help him bring peace to Robin and free Jane to love again?


He laughed, the sound rich and deep, interrupting her. “I know your name…Jane.” He spoke her name softly, reverently as if it were a treasure.  He chuckled a little. “My first name’s about as long as my last.”

“Does Teekonka mean something in Lakota, like brave or warrior, or some such thing?”

“It means ‘talks too much.’ Figures, doesn’t it?” He did laugh then, and Jane couldn’t help laughing along with him.

He touched her face at the corner of her mouth with his finger. “Your face brightens when you laugh.”

Jane backed away. “You’re just flirting with me now.”

He flashed her a wide grin. “Yes ma’am, I am, but I also mean it. You are very pretty.”

She stood speechless unable to respond to him. She couldn’t remember the last time a man complimented her, let alone blatantly flirted with her. It felt good, like a warm hug on a cold day. He bent his head and kissed her. His lips, warm and supple, took hers in a tender way, so sensual, yet asking nothing more. Jane’s heart beat against her ribs, and heat flooded her core. All too soon, Teekonka pulled away and grinned.

Buy link: 
For the short story, A Husband For Christmas:   AMAZON
For the anthology, Wishing For A Cowboy: AMAZON

Sarah J. McNeal is a multi-published author of several genres including time travel, paranormal, western and historical fiction. She is a retired ER and Critical Care nurse who lives in North Carolina with her four-legged children, Lily, the Golden Retriever and Liberty, the cat. Besides her devotion to writing, she also has a great love of music and plays several instruments including violin, bagpipes, guitar and harmonica. Her books and short stories may be found at Prairie Rose Publications and its imprints Painted Pony Books, and Fire Star Press. Some of her fantasy and paranormal books may also be found at Publishing by Rebecca Vickery and Victory Tales Press. She welcomes you to her website and social media: