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Monday, September 13, 2021

LOVE STILL REMAINS

While driving one day, a song came on the radio. The lyrics were about how good it is to know love still remains, that some things never change. That’s certainly true for romance readers. We believe—we know, in spite of everything, love still remains.

That’s why I write and read romance. Love is always there, in the story, and at the end. You know the bad guy will get his come-uppance and the good guy will get the girl. (I do write westerns, after all.)

In my novel, TEXAS ROSE, published by Prairie Rose Publications, the good guy isn’t really a good guy—at least not to begin with. But there’s nothing like the love of a good woman to show him the light. And if she leads him on a merry chase along the way, so much the better. He should have to work to have her, don’t you think?

Let me introduce you to Jaret and Isabel from TEXAS ROSE.


A TEXAS PROMISE…
Texas, 1847. Jaret Walker is a loner, a gun for hire with a heart of ice. He’s never had anyone to call his own, and he likes it that way. But when a promise made to a friend leads him on a ride through the desert and to remote Two Roses Ranch where he meets Isabel Bennett, the woman he’s supposed to protect, all he can think of is making her his. She’s the kind of woman a rough-riding cowboy like him can never have. But her hot gaze tempts him like no other woman has before…

A SCORCHING DESIRE…
The moment Isabel Bennett lays eyes on Jaret Walker, she remembers the dreams she’s denied for so long. She’s sworn never to marry. It’s the only way to protect her ranch. But when Walker rides into her life, she decides to let herself taste what she’s giving up—a passion that burns through her with each kiss—and a desire that won’t be denied…

Now I don’t know about you, but I’m a sucker for a good “meet” – that moment when the hero and heroine see or meet each other for the first time. That first glance that you and I know starts them down the path to happily-ever-after. Here’s the scene where Jaret Walker and Isabel Bennett first encounter one another:


EXCERPT from TEXAS ROSE:

Rising again, Isabel pushed the curtain aside to take a closer look at the stranger. He was tall, sitting easily in the saddle of an equally leggy buckskin horse. He’d been on the trail for a while, judging by the dust on his clothes and the sheen of sweat on the animal’s coat.

The sun sharpened the angles of the man’s face, making his high cheekbones and square jaw look as if they’d been carved of granite. A long mustache framed his upper lip, setting off his sharp, straight nose.

The muscles in his arms shifted beneath his black shirt as he brought the horse to a stop. His sleeves were turned back to combat the rising heat, and tanned skin showed below the roll of fabric. Then he tipped back his hat with one finger and turned toward the window where she stood.

“Oh, my,” she whispered. Even from this distance she could see his eyes were the icy blue of a winter lake, and his hair was the color of the sable fur her mother had loved, dark brown and luxurious. It brushed the collar of his shirt and she was embarrassed to find she wanted to run her fingers through it. Unfamiliar warmth that had nothing to do with the sun washed over her.

Straightening with a jerk, she stepped away from the window and smoothed her skirts. Her hands were shaking. Who was this man? How could he affect her with only a look? She shook her head to try and break the spell he’d cast over her. Whoever he was, he was a guest on her ranch. She should be welcoming him, not ogling from behind a window curtain. Hoping her upset didn’t somehow show, she followed her uncle outside to greet him.

Jaret Walker set up a stir among the ranch hands when he rode his dun-colored mare into the yard. The horse’s dark mane lifted with each step as he guided her toward the house. Without moving more than his eyes, he counted a dozen. There should be ten more working close to the house and another thirty or so out with the herds, if his friend’s information was accurate.

He ignored the urge to turn back to the east and ride hard to get far away from this remote spot on the Texas desert. Being among people made him itchy. Give him the wide open prairie and his horse for company, and he’d ask for nothing more. But he was here because of a promise, and he always kept his word.

One of the ranch hands stepped out of the shadows, directly into his path. Jaret stopped his horse with a slight tug on the reins. Though he was taller than most men and broad enough to intimidate people just by being, this man looked to be nearly his equal. When he reached up to grab the bridle to hold the horse in place, Jaret moved the animal out of reach with a touch of one heel.

“Afternoon.” He nodded in the general direction of the other hands who’d stopped what they were doing to size him up. “I have business with Nick Bennett. Would he be around?”

“Perhaps I can be of assistance?” A short, rather round man separated from the shade of the porch. “I am his uncle, Don Enrique Antonio Ferdinand de la Rosa.” The man puffed up with importance and lost his balance, staggering into the porch railing. “I run the estate in his absence.”

Estate? The man had a pretty high opinion of this plot of dirt in the Texas desert. While it looked like decent grazing land with the only water he’d seen for hours, it was still only dirt. True, someone had put a lot of caring into the place. The dusty wagon road leading to the house had been lined with smooth-cut fence rails that were placed with precision for nearly a quarter of a mile. And the fence was nothing compared to the house.

It looked like it had started life as a small, stone and mud shotgun house, with a door at each end of the hallway to let the breeze through. But the structure had been added to over the years. The two-story extension in front of him was part wood, part native rock, and sported large glass windows and lace curtains.

There was a stone building off to the right of the main house and the dozen or so structures spread out on both sides were probably the homes of the ranch hands and their families. Each building was painted a different color, bright splotches on the dry brown land offering plenty of places to hide, and lots of eyes to see you, too. He turned away from the layout of the homestead. It wasn’t his problem at the moment. The man watching him from the porch steps was.

“Jaret Walker.” He touched the brim of his hat but didn’t bother to take it off. “No offense, Mr. de la Rosa, but my business is with Nick Bennett.”

“My nephew is not here, nor, sadly, is he expected to return. You’ll have to take your business up with me.”

“Any business on this ranch will be handled by me, Uncle.”

Though Jaret couldn’t see who was standing in the shadow of the doorway, it was definitely a woman who spoke. Her warm, rich voice carried the authority of one accustomed to being in charge.

“Welcome, Mr. Walker. Won’t you come inside? I want to hear how you know my brother.”

Jaret pulled the dusty hat from his head automatically as she stepped into view. She was a sight worth a three-day ride. Eyes the color of obsidian sparkled in the sunlight. Her long black hair was tied back with a silk scarf and looked as rich and soft as the fabric that bound it.

The light yellow dress she wore made her skin glow like sun-warmed honey. Its puffed sleeves accented her straight shoulders and made her waist seem small enough for his hands to span. She was taller than the man she called uncle and well formed, with enough curves in all the right places to get a man’s attention. She met his stare with a look of confidence and more than a little arrogance, to his thinking.

She was going to give him trouble.


I’m glad TEXAS ROSE has a home here at Prairie Rose Publications. Now it’s your turn. Of all the books you’ve read, which “meet” is your favorite?

3 comments:

  1. Fabulous excerpt! I think my favourite meeting scenes have to be either Scarlet and Rhett in 'Gone with the wind', or Jane Eyre meeting Mr. Rochester on his horse.

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    1. Good morning! Thanks - and those are two great meets.

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  2. Love the tension between these two! The air fairly sparkles between them.
    Super blog, Tracy!
    Favourite meeting scene - I like the Jane Eyre/Rochester encounter as well.

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