A few months ago, the wonderful sci-fi author Eileen Troemel hauled me away from my historical fiction books to co-write The Moon Crossing – a story of life on the moon after the 1969 landing. It was quite a trip!
Here are a few words from one of the main characters
Hi, I’m Susan Cooper. My life was uninteresting and rather empty until I became aware of a huge conspiracy hidden behind the walls of a renowned philanthropic organization. To start at the beginning, my brother Micky, a well-known archeologist was the achiever in our family. I know now I used that as an excuse to drink too much and drift from one job to another until he was convicted of embezzlement and sent to the world’s worst prison, on the moon. Micky can be a mind-numbing nerd but he’s no thief and I wanted answers. That’s when I met Greg Tanner searching for his brilliant linguist cousin Samantha, convicted of treason and sent to the same prison. When it was obvious someone wanted us silenced, there was no option but take the shuttle to the moon. The dark side of the moon.
Here’s the blurb –
USA Today Bestselling Author Eileen Troemel and Coffee Pot Book Club Historical Fiction Silver Medal author Jan Selbourne present an alternate history, sweet romance of life after the Moon Landing in 1969.
In 2030, World Correction Center – the Earth’s most secure prison – is a miserable place to land. Since it’s on the moon, it’s inescapable. It contains the worst criminals Earth has ever seen. So why are the brilliant minds across the globe being sent to this black hole of the justice system. When renowned archaeologist Micky Cooper is charged with embezzling, his sister Susan knows it’s a set up. It’s up to her to prove his innocence. Susan thinks she might be paranoid but she swears she’s being followed and should she trust the nice man whose cousin has disappeared as well? Was it a chance meeting or is he against her too? Teaming up with Greg Tanner, a man equally resolved to prove the innocence of his cousin, Samantha Tanner – a word leading linguist – Susan and Greg seek clues wherever they can find them, but they’re barely keeping one step ahead of those who want them to stop. They begin to unravel the web of lies, fraud and cover up. Just when they start to put pieces together, Susan and Greg are forced to run for their lives. With a nudge from Samantha they find someone to help. Is this woman an ally? Or simply part of a greater conspiracy to hide the truth? What exactly is on the moon and why are the Earth’s greatest minds being sent there to serve time?
Jan Selbourne was born in Melbourne Australia and her love of literature and history began as soon as she learned to read. After graduating from business college her career began in the dusty world of ledgers and accounting, working in Victoria, Queensland and the United Kingdom. On the point of retiring, she changed course to work as secretary of a large NSW historical society. Now retired Jan is writing historical fiction. She has two adult children, a lovable dog and lives near Maitland, New South Wales.
USA Today Bestseller Author Eileen Troemel writes action packed and emotionally powerful fantasy, scifi, romance. She’s versatile and writes in many genres. She’ll try almost any genre if it means she can tell a good story. In addition to her writing, she loves to read, crochet, and research genealogy. Her best days are spent with her family of three adult daughters and her husband or writing.
Inspiration for a book can comes from unusual places and at crazy times. What inspired What Happened in Bangkok? A song on the radio. Hubby and I were in the car on the way to visit with our daughter. Gloria Gaynor’s I Will Survive was playing and I turned around, grabbed my laptop, and wrote the first 3 chapters of a book that I had no idea I was going to write which turned into a trilogy.
If you are scratching your head thinking this sounds familiar – this is a re-release. I received my rights back from my publisher and decided these stories needed to be back out there.
To save Darien’s life his brother asks, “Can you walk in high heels?”
Erika Bailey, owner/manager of a drag queen club in Bangkok, Thailand has happily settled into all aspects of her new life, except for her lack of a love life. When a new diva auditions, Erika is bewildered over her instant attraction to the blond God, Apollo.
Darien Scott is on vacation after a world tour and mistakenly figures the safest place to be is at The Black Dragon with the head of a Triad. When the club is hit, Darien is the only person to get out alive. Now he’s running from the police and a Triad. Mistake number 1.
Disguised as a drag queen, he’s hired by Erika, but falls hard for his new boss, then struggles with not coming clean with her. Mistake number 2.
Can he fix his mistakes and find a life filled with love or is he headed straight for mistake number 3?
“Simple.” He placed his menu on the table and picked up a chip. “Get one of each, but make sure there’s room for dessert. ‘Cause I want a Churro. Or maybe the Sweet Chimichanga.”
“Or both.” She popped a salsa-covered chip into her mouth.
“Awesome.” Darien dipped a chip and bit into it, trying not to look like he couldn’t tear his gaze from her. The elegance of her moves as her fingers unfolded and reached for a chip. The curve of her wrist as she scooped some salsa. The jolt in his body when she opened her mouth and licked her lips. Watching the chip disappear past her teeth was too much for his control. His cock sprang to life. He’d never be able to look at chips and salsa the same way again.
The waitress placed the tray of monkey wings on the table. Erika squealed as they both reached for one. The happiness spread from her face to her body. Her nipples were visible, pressing against her dress. The pressure in his slacks increased. Her lips parted. He stifled a groan. She slid the piece of meat into her mouth and lightly bit into it. Her teeth grazed against the chicken meat, pulling it from the bone. A dribble of sauce escaped. She flicked her tongue across her bottom lip, closed her eyes and heaved a delighted sigh. Sweat ran down Darien’s back. Yes, the wings were spicy. But the vision across from him was twenty jalapenos hotter. She picked up another wing. Darien trembled, grabbed his drink and chugged half of it. It did nothing to cool his soaring temperature or reduce the swelling in his pants.
The visual of her lips wrapped around the chicken wing morphed into her lips around his fully aroused cock. As she pulled the next wing from her mouth, he swallowed–hard. He wiped his brow. “This is hot.”
“Not too hot for you?” She placed her index finger in her mouth and slid it out, licking off the sauce.
“Not really, but I just might have to take a cold shower.” He grabbed another wing. She reached for one. Darien shuddered. He never knew eating Mexican could be so erotic.
Great news! To celebrate the upcoming re-release of A Hero’s Heart–my spicy, second chance, romantic suspense novella–I’m giving away a $30 digital gift card to Amazon or Barnes and Noble (winner’s choice).
Sounds awesome, right? But what do you gotta do?
It’s easy-peasy. Fill out the Rafflecopter below, but to earn the most points, PreOrder yourself a copy of A Hero’s Heart. It’s only .99 cents. Grab it from any online retailer, and email me a copy of the invoice. That’s it!
The contest will end on November 9th. I’ll contact the winner soon after. Open Internationally.
After an undercover mission goes awry, DEA agent Jarrett Brandt hides out in the last place he wants to be—his hometown. Now he’s stuck with his judgmental parents and the memory of his perfect brother hanging over his head. His one bright light? Marissa Reinn Brandt—his high school sweetheart and former sister-in-law.
Marissa lost Jarrett once before. No way will she let him back in; then her son offers him their guestroom. His wicked charm and smoldering stares are hard to resist, but she’ll make him work to reclaim his spot in her bed.
When his enemies close in, how will Jarrett keep Marissa and her son safe, or will he lose his shot at redemption?
Interested in an Excerpt? Here you go…
Jarrett seethed. Fuck it. He’d make peace with Joel’s death in his mind—no need to see the damn tombstone. He trudged back through a few inches of snow and strode down the cracked sidewalk. Rock salt crunched under his boots.
His heart somersaulted. He flipped around as the woman who haunted his dreams hurried down the hill. Her curly, snow-flecked auburn hair cascaded around her shoulders like silken strands. The grin splitting her face sucker-punched him. She jumped into his arms, and the impact knocked him back a few steps. The sweet aroma of sugar cookies filled his nostrils. Had she been baking that morning? Or maybe she’d bathed with dessert-scented body wash?
Idiot! He better not think about her bathing—or her naked flesh. Period.
She grabbed his back and burrowed closer to his chest.
“Marissa.” A shudder rolled through him. How many times had he dreamed about holding her again? He should have married her, fathered children with her, and lived his life to make her happy.
Instead, he’d chosen something just as intoxicating and beautiful to his ignorant mind and abandoned her on the curb outside his family’s home.
She leaned back with tears shining in her puffy, dark-green eyes. “It’s good to see you.”
“Likewise.” Jarrett licked his dry lips and released her. “It’s hard to believe so many years have passed. You still look eighteen.”
Marissa hid a laugh behind her hand. “You’re still a charmer. God, I’ve missed you. So much has happened here. What—where do you live now? How are you?” She shrugged as if she didn’t expect him to answer. “I mean, how long will you be in town?”
“Probably just today. My parents weren’t thrilled to see me.”
She flicked a button on her gray pea coat. “Your mom was, but this time of year is hard for them, for all of us.”
His cheeks burned. “Their opinion of me doesn’t matter—never did. All that really mattered was yours.”
“It was always high, but you still didn’t stick around.”
He flinched and backed up. “Marissa, I’m sorry. You remember how it was, right? I always butted heads with my dad. I needed to live my own life.”
“Harold Brandt can be hard to handle sometimes. It’s his way or nothing. In your father’s defense, though, you needed a firm hand.” She stumbled but righted herself as something bumped into her from behind. A pair of little arms wrapped around her legs. She smiled and half twisted to ease the child out from behind her.
What the fuck? Jarrett normally saw everything and everyone around him, but he hadn’t seen the child coming toward them. After everything he’d been through, he knew better than to lose sight of his surroundings.
“This is my son, Jason.” She ruffled his dark, damp hair and grabbed the fuzzy blue hat from his hands to stuff it on his head. “Sweetie, I’d like you to meet your uncle.”
Tension dug into his lower back as the kid clung to Marissa’s black slacks. The boy—no, he had to call him by his name—Jason, would be his son if he hadn’t run away. He definitely saw his brother’s eyes and nose—his eyes and nose—in the boy’s face.
“Since you found the obituary, I’m sure you know Joel and I married. Jason was two when we lost him.”
He nodded. Even though he had no right to bitch about who she dated after him, why did she pick his brother? And why the fuck did Joel cross that line and marry her? Marissa should’ve been off-limits. Wasn’t that part of the brother code?
Leonora Harris fled her newly wedded husband’s home in Georgian England, 1725, and took shelter in a cave during a rainstorm. She woke up in a cold, barren land and a handsome stranger with a mechanical carriage offered her shelter.
Undercover American operative Rodger Ramsey never expected to find a runaway bride in the magnificent Salar de Uyuni. Assigned to Bolivia to investigate Communist activities, he just wrapped up his two-year mission in 1963 and followed his heart to the salt flats one last time.
Sparks flew and attraction sizzled. The lost, stubborn woman kicked his protective instincts into overdrive. Rodger took her home with him, determined to help her before he returned to the States, and Leonora flourished under his guidance. Their hearts intertwined. He wanted her, needed her, but could he truly love a woman who believed she jumped two hundred years in time?
Will they find a way to stay together, despite the obstacles between them, or will Leonora survive in this strange new world alone?
“May I make a suggestion about your clothes?” Rodger’s soft plea drew her attention. He stood in front of her, she didn’t even see him move around the coffee table, and he reached out as though to stroke a few tendrils of damp hair away from her face. Heat curled in her womb, her heart skipped a beat, but he stepped back before contact and clasped his hands at his sides. “Certainly.” Leonora swallowed hard to steady her voice as she glanced down at the thick bands of braided yarn and ribbon woven into the skirt. “Is something the matter?” “You should tuck in your shirt. That’s how the native Bolivian women wear it.” “Oh?” She turned away from him for a modicum of privacy, grasped the hem and sucked in her stomach to push the excessive fabric beneath the waistband of the skirt. “Is this right?” A low hiss echoed behind her. Rodger clasped her waist with his strong hands and held her still as she tried to face him. Delicious warmth enveloped her despite the thick cotton between them and his fingers trailed from her waist to the small of her back. She gasped as he grazed her bare skin, his touch seared her, and he tucked the back half of her shirt into the skirt. “Th—thank you,” Leonora stuttered as she peeked at him over her shoulder. “Face me, dearest.” He turned her gently around in the cage of his arms until she stared up into his eyes. “That’s a good girl.” Air thundered through her lungs and not even a hurricane could propel her away from him. She yearned for the heat of his kiss, the feel of his skin against hers, but Rodger likely considered her too young. Several of her friends back home already married, their husbands were little more than strangers to some of them before they wed, but Leonora didn’t expect a declaration of matrimony from Rodger. Despite her uncertain situation and future, she only wanted to experience pleasure in his arms. The want embarrassed her, but she couldn’t help the way she felt. “I’m shocked you like your new clothes.” His voice sounded as rough as a carriage that traveled on a gravel road. “None of the women in those magazines wore clothes like this.” “I noticed that, but the fashions in England aren’t the same in France, Spain or anywhere else. Each country has its own style of dress. Isn’t Bolivia the same?” His throat bobbed. “Yes, very much so.” She braced her hands on his chest, his wool sweater cushy under her palms, and she traced one of the ribbed designs from his broad shoulder to his hard stomach. Strength coiled beneath the surface, his body thick and solid, and his chest heaved under her exploration. She slowly lifted the hem of his sweater but Rodger grasped her hand and pulled it back. “Yes?” Leonora licked her dry lips and could barely breathe as he teased his fingers up and down her spine in a slow caress. “I can’t do this, Leonora.” “Because of my age?” “No, because of mine.”
Let’s welcome Linda today as she talks all about her characters, writing, her latest book, and more. I LOVE author interviews, so let’s get started…
What process did you go through when you picked your characters’ names for Love, Death, and the Art of Cooking?
I usually use a variety of methods, including baby name books and census records, but I didn’t have to choose at all this time. Reid is a name I like and had planned to use for my next story, regardless, and I had also been thinking about naming sisters or roommates Jane and Alyssa. The lesser character names were more or less random.
Do any of your characters take over and write the book themselves sometimes? Who?
All of them! When they start talking to me and to each other, all I can do is take dictation as fast as I can. They often refuse to do or say what I suggest. I particularly enjoy writing mouthy women, and I can never shut them up.
What do you prefer: ebook or print? Why?
I infinitely prefer print for myself, but I’m glad some people like e-books, because they have a better royalty! I do see their convenience, but love books as physical objects, and I’m gratified to see that many younger people do too. Like Reid in Love, Death, and the Art of Cooking, I stare at too many screens when I’m working to want a Kindle for pleasure reading.
How long have you been writing? When did you decide to become an author?
My passion for the printed word began with my first Dick and Jane reader, and as soon as I figured out that somebody had to create those words, I knew I wanted to be a “book maker.” I wrote my first story, “Judy and the Fairies” when I was six, with a plot stolen from a comic book.
Sometimes the romance genre gets a bad reputation for being cliché and full of Fabios. How do you respond to that?
I suspect the people who say those things haven’t read any. Romances come in astonishing variety, from fluffy rom coms to grim romantic suspense, with heat levels from chastely sweet to extremely erotic. Most real men don’t look like Fabio, and romance novels are full of real men. Cliches are as often subverted as followed. In my novel The Rebound Effect, when Frank suggests he’d like to tear Teresa’s clothes off, she replies, “Yeah, well, I have to go back to work, so you’d better not tear anything,” and Alyssa in Love, Death, and the Art of Cooking warns Reid, “Don’t be corny.”
We all need a little inspiration in our lives. What’s your favorite quote and why?
“A novel in the making is, to its author, literally as huge as an ocean, no matter how mere a glass of water it may be to a reader.” – Richard P. Brickner, My Second Twenty Years. It reminds me to keep indifference and criticism in proportion. If readers don’t like my glass of water or just aren’t thirsty, it’s still my ocean, and I enjoy the swim.
Besides writing and reading, what are some of your hobbies?
I love to travel and look forward to resuming that soon. For the last several years, my sisters, oldest niece, and I have planned a big autumn trip together each year, most recently to Hawaii. I also like movies, photography, and visiting art museums and galleries, and I’m very lucky at Scrabble!
Software engineer Reid Lucas loves to cook and has a history of falling in love with married women. When he leaves his complicated past in Chicago for a job in California, he runs into trouble and must call a virtual stranger to bail him out of jail. Alyssa Knight, a tough street cop waiting for a church annulment from her passive-aggressive husband, is the roommate of the woman Reid calls for help, and she reluctantly provides bail for him. He falls for her immediately, and cooking for her is an act of love. She just wants to be friends, but they keep ending up in bed together. When his boss is murdered, Reid is a suspect—or is he the intended target?
At the door he kissed her goodbye and was surprised by her response. She met him more than halfway, her lips soft and willing. The scent of her hair and her subtle perfume filled his head with a dizzy sweetness. She had drawn a line—did she want him to cross it? Better not—such assumptions could be dangerous. Knowing what making love with her was like and being denied it was hard, but the longing he had for her now had nothing to do with the way their bodies fit together.
Linda Griffin is a native of San Diego and has a BA in English from San Diego State University and an MLS from UCLA. She retired as fiction librarian for the San Diego Public Library to spend more time on her writing. Her stories have been published in numerous journals including Eclectica, Thema Literary Review, The Binnacle, and The Nassau Review. Love, Death, and the Art of Cooking is her fourth romantic suspense novel from The Wild Rose Press, following Seventeen Days (2018), The Rebound Effect (2019), and Guilty Knowledge (2020).
Love Comes in Many Shapes, a story by Alice Renaud in Rainbow Desire
An anthology of LGBTQIA+ romance stories by BVS
Why Love Comes in Many Shapes is a special story for me
Of course all my stories are precious. They’re all my beautiful babies. But this one is special. When my fellow BVS authors first floated the idea of an anthology of LGBTQIA+ romance stories, I wasn’t initially sure I’d be able to participate. I’d never written a gay romance or menage story. But the more I thought about it, the more enthusiastic I became. Short stories are a great way to experiment with new themes or new ways of writing. I wrote my first sci-fi romance, Space Cowboy Blues, for the BVS anthology Cowboy Desire, out now. So I thought why not try a love story between two women? Plus one man? The worst that can happen is that the story won’t be any good. So I set about writing my tale. I had had the idea of a mermaid in Las Vegas for a while. I’d read about the mermaid shows they have in Vegas, where girls dress up as mermaids with fake tails and swim in aquariums. I’d always wanted to put one of my real shifter mermaids in one of these shows. Here was my opportunity. I love witches as much as mermaids. My story “The Sweetest Magic of All” in the BVS paranormal romance anthology “Mystic Desire” is about an apprentice witch. So I decided to pair my shifter mermaid with a hot witch.
And the warlock? Well, Ariel Wolfsbane, leader of the London warlocks, is a secondary character in my latest Sea of Love novel, “Mermaids Marry in Green.” I love him and several readers told me they love him too! I made him the witch’s ex and gave him an excuse to go meet the girls in Las Vegas. What happens next? You’ll have to read the story to find out!
I am proud of my first gay romance story. I wrote it in November, when the UK was in full lockdown, and the weather and the news were as depressing as could be. It was lovely to escape to sunny Las Vegas with my hot mermaid, witch and warlock. I hope you enjoy reading this story as much as I enjoyed writing it.
Blurb for Rainbow Desire
Rainbow Desire is a celebration of life and love in its kaleidoscope of exotic rainbow colours. The stories within the book also reflect its vibrant shades of romance from light to dark. I hope you will enjoy the wealth of narratives in this glorious LGBTQ+ anthology.
Blurb for Love Comes in Many Shapes
Bryony, a shifter mermaid, has run away with sexy witch Maia, and now they’re living the dream in Las Vegas. But Maia is hiding a secret. When her ex, a super-hot warlock, turns up, Bryony can’t fight her attraction to him. Will she choose him? Or Maia? Or both?
Bryony cleared her throat. “They’re very conservative on the Islands. Even my Clan, the Benetynns… they never understood that I was attracted to women. When Maia came and we fell in love… things were hard.”
Ariel’s dark gaze was full of sympathy. “I get it. I’m not angry with Maia anymore. But she took something from me when she left London. Something of value. And I want it back.”
A dull weight settled in Bryony’s stomach, almost squashing the excitement. “Maia stole from you?” So that was what she’d been hiding. No wonder she’d been afraid of Ariel coming after her.
Ariel sighed. “I’d entrusted her with a powerful amulet and asked her to test its powers. She chose to take it to a remote part of Wales… the Morvann Islands.” His lips curled in a half-smile. “Who could have predicted she’d fall in love with a gorgeous mermaid?”
He leaned towards Bryony and brushed a strand of hair from her face. The tiny contact was enough to reawaken the embers between her thighs. His eyes held hers, drawing her in, as if she were a planet suddenly caught in the orbit of a powerful sun. “The amulet gave her the opportunity to take you away, to a place where you could live and love in peace.” He inclined his head towards her. “And now I know you, Bryony, I don’t blame her.” His breath caressed her face, as fresh as a breeze over a summer meadow. “I would have done the same.”
All she could see was his mouth. All she could feel was how much she wanted it. As if in a dream, she brought her head nearer to his… and nearer… until her lips brushed his. Only a fleeting touch, but it reverberated in her entire body, filling her with trembling sparks of arousal.
His hand caught the back of her head, pulling her closer. His mouth captured hers, and his tongue parted her lips. A deep shiver shook her, and she surrendered to the kiss, opening her mouth wide so he could explore her better. He tasted delicious, like her first stolen sip of whisky when she was a teenager… like the first bite into a forbidden fruit.
“What the hell do you two think you’re doing?”
Maia’s scream tore through the air, yanking Bryony out of her sensual daze. A tidal wave of shame slammed into her. She broke off the kiss and jumped to her feet to face her furious lover. “Maia…”
“Don’t you “Maia” me, you little tramp!” Her girlfriend planted her hands on her hips. Her face had turned beetroot red. “How could you do this to me… and with him!”
Alice lives in London, UK, with her husband and son. By day she’s a compliance manager for a pharmaceutical company. By night she writes fantasy romance about shape shifting mermen, water monsters and time-travelling witches. Her first book, “A Merman’s Choice,” was published in January 2019 by Black Velvet Seductions. It is the first book in the Sea of Love fantasy romance series, inspired by the landscapes and legends of Brittany and Wales. The second and third books, “Music for a Merman,” and “Mermaids Marry in Green,” are out now. Both the Sea of Love series and Mermaids Marry in Green won their categories in the Paranormal Romance Guild Reviewer’s Choice Award 2020. Alice has also contributed short stories for the BVS anthologies “Mystic Desire,” “Desire Me Again,” and “Cowboy Desire,” all available now, and “Rainbow Desire” on pre order. Alice loves reading and writing stories, and sharing them with anyone who’s interested!
MY BOOK WAS NOMINATED AS ROMANCE NOVEL OF 2019 BY READERS CHOICE.
SECRET DESIRES is now on sale at Audible.com and on iTunes. Now, you can listen to Margo’s story and cheer her on as you commute to work or sit back and adjust your headsets at home. It is also available on B&N.com and Amazon.com –eBook and paper.
Nothing in Margo Simmons’s life comes easy. She can’t claim the inheritance on a condo apartment her uncle has left to her until she is gainfully employed in a job for a year. She meets the man of her dreams but anguishes over a loving relationship because he is still emotionally tied to his deceased wife. With great difficulty, she becomes the guardian to a recently orphaned child she had been tutoring. Margo evolves from an insecure, newbie elementary teacher into a woman determined to fulfill the secret desires locked in her heart. My story speaks to anyone who has suffered a loss and had to start over.
J.L. Regen’s book was inspired by a real life story of lovers who join hearts against many odds. She lives in the New York metropolitan area, is a published photojournalist, has short suspense stories online, and has taught English as a Second Language to students around the globe. This is her first contemporary romance. She has also published three nonfiction books and is crafting a historical suspense set in World War II.
Sultry Summer Sizzle brings you 17 torrid and taboo tales of sin, seduction and sweet scandal. Featuring hot stuff by: Liv Honeywell, Ava Night, Viv Velvet, Kerry Killeen, River Steele, N.J. Adel, Charlotte Storm, Lily Wickes, Layla Piper, Fern Fraser, Amber Daulton, Kaia Bell, Adele Morè, Geneva Maunder, A.K. Lilith, Carmen Webb, and Steph Brothers.
This sexy summer anthology will be going out of stock in early July. Grab it while you still can!
Recently I spent a long weekend at one of my favorite writing spaces: a ranch owned by two of my best friends. Nature abounds here, as the Powder River cuts through the acreage, and various species of plants and trees take root, providing habitat for a variety of songbirds and four-legged creatures. Livestock, including horses, cattle, and sheep, also live on the ranch, many freely grazing alongside white-tailed deer and the occasional sandhill crane.
I sit inside the guest house, gazing at the fields and forests surrounding the home. Occasionally, a stray cat wanders on the porch, eating the food my friends and I leave out for the abandoned felines that frequent the ranch. Years ago, my rancher friends took pity on the numerous “dumped” cats and began providing nourishment for them, half-way taming many, and completely taming another who is now their house cat. Her name is Fancy, and she is regal with her long golden hair and her delightful personality.
It’s spaces and places like this that inspire much of my writing.
Living in Wyoming, open spaces and special animal welfare places are found throughout the state. Yellowstone National Park is a six-hour drive from my home. Custer State Park in South Dakota lies within a four-drive. I spent time there a few weeks ago where I observed baby bison frolicking in greening meadows; petted and fed donkeys as they came to the car looking for handouts; and encountered eight bighorn sheep near the roadway.
A favorite place for me in my state is Kindness Ranch; this unique animal sanctuary takes in dogs, cats, horses, and other animals that have undergone various types of research, from food trials to veterinary school surgeries. Hundreds of acres provide reprieve for these animals as they are socialized and trained, and some are later adopted by loving, compassionate families.
This month, which has a special week known as Be Kind to Animals Week, marks the first anniversary of the release of a sweet, contemporary second-chance romance novel I wrote titled Finding Love at Compassion Ranch. The setting is based on Kindness Ranch. In the book, I introduce animal characters awaiting adoption and ones living at the ranch – all in need of a second chance. My human characters also find a second chance at love. I enjoy weaving pet rescue and adoption into my human love stories, and thus I have created the Pet Rescue Romance series. Finding Love at Compassion Ranch is the second book I completed in the series; I chose the setting based on a real animal rescue organization in order to bring this issue into greater light – and to remind readers both human and animal often need a second chance.
I’m thankful to live in a place where I’m surrounded by natural beauty – and endless story possibilities.
What is your special place for writing – or reading – inspiration?
Erin Christiansen is still adjusting to life as a widow. She seeks additional healing by volunteering at Compassion Ranch, a sanctuary for former research animals. Upon arrival at the majestic and unique northwestern Wyoming ranch, she meets Mike, a man she knew in high school, whose compassion for animals and people might be the balm Erin needs. Retired veterinarian Mike Jacobs is no stranger to loss. Five years after the accidental death of his wife, he now serves as ranch manager of Compassion Ranch. He not only fixes fence and provides tours, but he applies his veterinary skills and his heart for animals to his work. Upon recognizing Erin from high school, he can barely believe his first love will spend a few weeks at the sanctuary. Can Erin and Mike span the years since they have seen each other or do they, like many of the rescued animals, have wounds that run too deep to trust and love again?
Mike spent time with the new horses in the corral he’d constructed. He groomed each animal with the livestock brush and currycomb. He spoke in a calm tone, helping them accustom themselves to his voice and hand. Although the animals were not skittish, neither were they exceedingly happy with his presence. He still marveled at the tri-colored paint’s reaction to Erin last night. He and Cisco shared the same bond and established that at first meeting, so he knew what he was talking about when he whispered to Erin last night.
He startled when he heard her voice from the gate. “How’s that horse of mine?”
Mike turned around to find her smiling. He returned the facial expression.
“Come find out for yourself.”
He watched her open the gate, walk into the corral, and then close the access. At that moment, the horse they talked about broke from the group and trotted to her new human friend. Erin, just inside the enclosure, stood still. The mare slowed her pace and walked to her. She again pressed her cheek to Erin’s face. Mike observed the woman stroke the horse’s chin and then behind her ears. Erin then ran her hand down the mare’s neck. The horse shuddered, not in fear but with gladness, and nuzzled Erin’s neck. She wrapped her arms around the creature. Mike heard Erin’s soft cries. He turned back to the other horses and let Erin and the paint have their moment. He knew the therapy that animals provided, and the way the horse had sensed Erin’s need for comfort caused him to choke up. He concentrated brushing the appaloosa’s shoulders and didn’t hear Erin walk up behind him. However, he felt her gentle touch upon his shoulder.
“Thank you,” she whispered. He turned. Startled to see his misty eyes, she stepped back. “I’m sorry. I didn’t mean …”
He smiled and shook his head. “Nothing to be sorry for.” He slipped a hand into hers while the currycomb remained in his other hand. “I know how connected one can get to an animal. I’ve seen it, I’ve experienced it. Dogs, horses, cats, even rabbits. People and animals bond, there is no doubt.”
He kissed the top of Erin’s hand. “I’m glad for you … and for her.” Mike nodded at the paint who stood just behind Erin.
“My spaniel Winston and I had the same connection when he came into my sister’s rescue,” Erin said in a low voice. She wrapped an arm around the horse’s neck as her hand remained tucked into Mike’s. “There was no doubt I’d take him to Florida with me, but what am I going to do with a horse? She’s not even trained to ride, and I don’t have a place to keep her down there.”
Mike smiled. “She can stay here. I’ll work with her, train her, and when you come back for a visit, she’ll be all ready for you to ride.”
Erin looked at him. “I haven’t said I was coming back.”
His smile didn’t fade. “Perhaps you have a reason to … or maybe a couple of reasons.”
Gayle M. Irwinis an award-winning author and freelance writer, being recognized by Wyoming Writers, Inc., and the Wyoming Press Association for several of her works. She is the author of The Pet Rescue Series, a collection of romance books that weave pet rescue and adoption into the love story. She is also a contributor to seven Chicken Soup for the Soul books and the author of many pet books and stories for children in which she subtly weaves important life lessons, including friendship, courage, self-confidence, and the importance of pet rescue and adoption. An animal advocate, Gayle volunteers for various dog rescue and humane society organizations, and she donates a percentage of all book sales to such groups. Learn more about the author, her writing endeavors, and her pets, and receive free stories and resources by visiting her website: www.gaylemirwinauthor.com.
Trell Langois escapes a thousand-year-old curse. Being trapped as a tree wasn’t on her bucket list, but now she can continue as a healer. Traveling with her dragon, Torkel, she seeks out new cures to help others and meets Gren, an unfortunate soul who suffers from a dreadful disease.
Gren Oyg Har is a prince on a mission. In order to rule his father’s kingdom, he must first find a healer. Not just any healer, mind you, but one with a dragon. Yet, it is Trell who finds and rescues Gren, but wants nothing to do with him. If not for Torkel, she would leave him behind.
Separate goals soon become entangled, and both Trell and Gren are on their way to falling in love until secrets better kept hidden become known—and threaten to destroy all they hold dear.
“The music. The human stopped playing. ‘Tis all your fault.”
Trell shook her head. Sometimes… “Return to the dragon circle, if you dislike my methods.”
“I follow where you go.”
She gave up and paused to listen. Sure enough, the sounds returned to normal where people conversed with one another. The stomp of iron-hooves striking the ground added a low tremor as they continued to nicker.
Squaring her shoulders, Trell replaced the lantern to where she round it. She put water on the fire and wiggled under the wagon. Gren sat with his legs crossed, the flute in his lap.
“You must be weary,” she said. “I didn’t expect you to play while I was away.”
“I missed you, and playing allowed the time to pass quicker.”
Her heart fluttered at his flowery woods. “How do you feel? I’ve put a kettle on for Grandmother Lurri’s tea. I could make you some chamomile as well.”
“That’s unnecessary,” he answered. “My neck is just still, is all.”
“Allow me to make you feel better while the water heats.” She reached for him.
He jerked back. “Touching me is unwise.”
“Don’t be silly,” she said, continuing to scramble over to him. Her fingers brushed over his neck and shoulders. Much to her surprise, his muscles felt like the cords of a warrior, not those of a sick man.
He scrambled away and stretched his arm to prohibit her from getting closer. “Stay back.”
That fleeting touch caused a tingle to run up her fingers like warm water. The sensation flowed up her arms, seeping into all her pores until her head spun.
How sick was he? The disease caused a person to lose extremities due to repeated injuries and infection. They had to be amputated. Some people died within five years, others lasted for several decades. No one knew why.
She liked Gren and wanted to help him. Yet she was sure he hid something from her. How sick was he? Or was he sick at all? She hated having doubts. His feelings mattered to her. It wasn’t fair such a kind, decent man suffered. She watched him tuck away the flute with care. A task hampered by rags covering his large hands. Yet those same hands created beautiful music.
She eyed him and smiled. “I would say you have magic in your hands.”
“What you do mean?” He repeated her earlier words.
“You create powerful music. It brings joy to all who hear.”
She examined the back of his head from under her lashes as if her gaze could pierce his ragged cowl. His music tugged at her heart with its appeal, but something deeply earthy pulled her to the man himself.
That was wrong.
Award-winning author, Darcy Carson, grew up reading everything her mother brought home from the library. Reading romances became her favorite genre. Eventually her love of those novels led her to start writing them. She resides in a Seattle suburb with her husband and a prince of a toy poodle.