Monday, October 8, 2012

Lori Austin: Beauty and the Bounty Hunter

Beauty and the 
Bounty Hunter
by Lori Austin

Romancing The West is excited to host western historical romance author Lori Austin this week. Lori Austin is the pen name for NYT Bestselling Author and RITA® winner Lori Handeland. She's published world wide in several genres--historical, contemporary, series and paranormal romance, as well as urban fantasy and historical fantasy--by such publishers as: Dorchester, Kensington, Harlequin, St. Martin's Press, Harper-Collins, Simon and Schuster and Penguin/Putnam. You can learn more about Lori at either her Lori Austen website or her Lori Handeland website.

RTW: Welcome, Lori! First of all, let's hear about your new book, Beauty and the Bounty Hunter.

LA: Bounty hunter Cat O’Banyon, will stop at nothing to find the man who murdered her husband. When he places a bounty on her head, she knows she must get him before he gets her. So she teams up with con artist Alexi Romanov, who taught her every trick she knows. Alexi is a master of deceit, of disguise and of desire. He's difficult to trust and even more difficult to resist. And just like before, the two of them together are nothing but trouble.

See details at the end of this post.
You won't want to miss this one!

RTW: What aspect of life in the Old West intrigues you the most? Did you work that into Beauty and the Bounty Hunter?

Lori Austin
LA: I've always been fascinated with the possibilities people found in the Old West. A person could leave their life behind in the east and start over completely. Cat and Alexi make the most of this possibility, over and over again, in my book.

RTW: If you lived in 1870, what modern convenience would you miss the most?

LA: Indoor plumbing. Always and forever, amen.

RTW: Three cheers for hot showers! Are there any common errors in western historical romances that bug you? If so, please set us straight.

LA: Most historical romances gloss over the filth, the disease, the smell. But I don't mind. If I want to read about reality, I read a research book. I'm not looking for that much truth in my fiction.

RTW: Why is Alexi perfect for Cat?

LA: Alexi knows everything about her and loves her anyway. No matter what she does, he's done worse and he'll never let her face her past alone.

Excerpt of
Beauty and the Bounty Hunter
by Lori Austin

"Names don’t bother me.”

Men like Clyde did. Cat had devoted what was left of her life to bringing them in, and if she checked each and every one to see if he was the one . . . Cat gave a mental shrug. It was nothing less than she deserved for doing this job at all.

“Obviously not,” he drawled, “since you use so very many.”

Cat stilled. Did he want her to kill him?

The man flicked an elegant, dark finger at the lightly snoring Clyde.  
“Does he know who you are?”
“I’m—“ Cat’s mind groped for the name she was presently using and came up blank.

“That is often the problem with lies,” he murmured. “So difficult to keep straight. Shall I help you to remember . . . Cat?”

Her trigger finger itched. Should she set it free? This man had seen what she'd done; he knew who she was. She really didn't have much choice.

"You plan to kill me with that?" A dip of his stubbled chin indicated the derringer pointed at his chest.

"You have been asking for it."

Laughter erupted, as startling as the applause had been. "Kitten, that wouldn’t even slow me down."

He might be right. She should get a little closer.

“They say Cat O’Banyon always gets her man.” He indicated the gun, the bound Clyde, then the room with a languid twirl of one gloved finger. “Is this how?”

“This?” She smoothed a hand down the satin-covered ladder of her rib cage, brushing the un-corseted weight of her breasts with her fingertips, curving her palm beneath one ripe swell. “Sometimes.”

If she kept his attention on her body he wouldn’t notice anything else. Like how close she was getting. Just another step and--

He snatched the gun and tossed it onto the bed. His other hand came down on hers where it still rested beneath her breasts. Then he whirled her into the shadows, his large, hard, male body aligning with hers.

Cat wanted to shriek and kick. Instead she went still and quiet. She’d learned disguise from a master, and it involved not only the outer trappings but also the spirit within. Cat O’Banyon wouldn’t panic at the brush of a man’s thigh along hers. Cathleen Chase on the other hand--

Cat shuddered, deftly turning the quiver from fear to arousal with the almost undetectable addition of a moan. She wasn’t stronger; she couldn’t fight. Not with fists. So she lifted her mouth, and she placed it on his.

She’d planned to take charge, to ensure he thought of nothing beyond this until the time he no longer thought at all. She failed miserably as soft and gentle, his lips countered hers. Slow and easy, as if he had eons of time to do anything that he wanted, and what he wanted was her.

This was nothing new. Men had desired her--it was how Cat made a living, or at least how she pretended to often enough—but they hadn’t desired her. Because she wasn’t Sissy the whore, or Betsy the barmaid, or Dorothy the dance hall gal. She was Cat—the woman who’d been born from the ashes that had tumbled across Billy’s grave nearly two years ago.

A sob nearly broke free. She trapped it in her throat, and the stranger set his hand there, as if he’d heard, as if he knew, as if he cared. His tongue flicked out, testing the seam of her lips.

Lust flooded in and, shocked, Cat gasped. He slanted her head with clever fingers, letting his thumb trail across her chest, leaving goose flesh in its wake.

She wrapped her arms around his shoulders. Funny, but when she touched him he didn’t seem so broad, and she had to reach higher than she’d thought, as if he were taller than he appeared. Her brow furrowed; memory flickered--a mirage—there and then gone and then—

He deepened the kiss, and he tasted like blue night, something dangerous but exciting, something that pulled you in even when you knew you had to get out. She drew in a breath, and he smelled even better—his scent reminding her of places that were green and sunny and gone. Warmth rolled off him; she wanted to bask in that heat like her namesake.

And as long as he was kissing her, he wasn’t paying attention to her hand, which had, seemingly of its own accord, slid across his shoulder—definitely more lithe than large, how peculiar—down his arm, across his oddly slim hip.

Her sigh masked the shift of her palm from his body to her own, the arch of her spine, the press of her breasts into his chest concealing the track of her fingers as they disappeared beneath her skirt.

His tongue traced her lower lip, tickled her teeth, slid through and danced a bit with her own. What would it be like to give in? To feel something more than nothing for a minute?

Cat was tempted, and because she was, she got careless. She concentrated on his mouth when she should have been concentrating on his hands. Ain’t that always the way?

He cupped her breast, one finger dipping beneath the lace and trolling across the nipple. A sharp tug shot through her, awakening sensations she'd forced into slumber long ago. That sob she’d been stifling erupted, becoming a howl of fury as it flew from her mouth. She yanked up her skirt and reached for the Arkansas toothpick strapped to her thigh.

“Looking for this?” He pressed the tip to Cat’s throat, and she froze.

She didn’t much care about living, but she wasn’t ready to die yet either. Not until she found the owner of the voice that whispered through her nightmares. Even if the interminable searching made her feel as if she were just chasing the wind.

Cat lifted her gaze, prepared to beg if she had to. Hell, she’d done it before.

Then her eyes met his, and everything changed

Whew! Can't wait to read it?
Buy links are all

RTW: What are you cooking up for us next?

LA: The second book in the Once Upon a Time in the West series, An Outlaw in Wonderland, will be released in June, 2013. In it you'll discover more about Dr. Ethan Walsh, who appears briefly in Beauty and the Bounty Hunter.

RTW: Anything else you’d like to add?

LA: I am so thrilled to be writing westerns again. I just love them. I hope we see a huge resurgence of the genre. It's been abandoned too long.

RTW: A lot of us have been looking forward to the resurgence of westerns, and I'm so happy you have this new series. Best of luck with your books, and thank you for gifting all of us with such wonderful stories. And now, let's hear about your giveaway!


I'm giving away a $25 Amazon gift certificate to one random commenter today so you can purchase your choice of new books along with Beauty and the Bounty Hunter, released October 2.

RTW small print: Drawing will be held Saturday, October 13, 2012, at 9pm Pacific Time. Be sure to include your email address with your comment or we'll have to choose another winner.

Thanks for being with us this week, Lori!


  1. Hello, Ladies : ) So nice to visit with you both! Lori, I am so excited about "Beauty and the Bounty Hunter"! I would love to read this book for two reasons: 1) I am truly enamored of the Old West and western romance; 2) You have stated that this is your best book ever, and that's saying a whole lot!!!

    Best Wishes : )

    gcwhiskas at aol dot com

  2. Hi, Virginia!
    I am enamored of the Old West as well. Totally in love with the show "Hell on Wheels!" Hope that gets renewed.

    I'm extremely proud of this book. I'd been wanting to write it for a very long time.

  3. I love reading about the old West. This book sure sounds awesome. Thanks for the giveaway.

  4. One of my favorite genres. I can't wait to read it!

    aadegroot3 @

  5. I loved the interview and am looking forward to reading this! I agree there's been a resurgence of western genre books lately and they all seem so wonderfully written. Can't wait to dig in to them all!

    1. I do hope the western genre comes back. It's such a wonderful place to visit.

  6. Can't wait to read your stories of the Old West. I grew up in Southern California as a rancher's daughter in the 50's. My Dad started me on my love for Old West stories...he read the paper magazine back then called "Ranch Romance"! It amazes me still today that a man back in the 50's read stories like that...but I'm forever grateful he started me on that road! Jan Hougland

    1. Your dad sounds wonderful. Great memories!

  7. Great interview! I love reading western romances. I'm looking forward to reading Beauty and the Bounty Hunter. This new western series of Lori's is something that I think I'm going to enjoy. I'm adding Beauty and the Bounty Hunter to my wish list.

  8. I can't wait to read it! It sounds so interesting!!

  9. Love the fairy tale titles. Can't wait to read them.

    1. Thanks, Caroline. I do too. Though I won't tell you how long they took to come up with. At present, I'm writing Western #3. Hopefully a new title will come to me like the magic in those tales.

  10. Congrats on the book! Nice excerpt.


  11. I don't think that westerns will ever be out of favor - certainly not with me. I love them.


  12. I see a lot of kindred souls here. the old west is wonderful to read about, too. But I agree on the dirt/filth----been watching "Hell on Wheels" and, although it has some dirt and mud, I am thinking it probably is not enough.

  13. Congrats on the release! Looking forward to reading it

    bacchus76 at myself dot com


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