Wednesday, January 30, 2013

When Dinosaur Hunters Duked it Out by Alison Henderson #western

When Dinosaur Hunters 
Duked it Out

The Rise of Modern Paleontology in America

I’ve always been intrigued by the Bone Wars, that period from 1877 to 1892 when professors Othniel Charles Marsh and Edward Drinker Cope battled each other in the trenches and in the press for supremacy in the rapidly developing field of American paleontology. The men had started their careers in the 1860s as friends and colleagues, but their relationship quickly soured under the pressure of their massive ambitions and egos. In the end, they made major contributions to science, discovering and describing 142 new species of dinosaurs, but managed to bankrupt their personal fortunes in the process.

Just after the end of the Civil War, Marsh and Cope began their explorations of the newly-discovered fossil beds in Colorado, Nebraska, and Kansas. By the early 1870s, word trickled out of Wyoming of massive dinosaur graveyards, and both men set out to see for themselves. Cope accompanied another established paleontologist, and Marsh led several expeditions of Yale undergraduates, the last in 1873, accompanied by a large troop of soldiers to keep the Native American tribes at bay. 

Marsh and his armed “assistants”
I set my novella, The Treasure of Como Bluff, in 1879, at the peak of the professors’ rivalry. By that time, they had largely stopped working in the field and conducted their battles by proxy through hired bone hunters. However, these diggers were opportunists of the highest order, often working for both Cope and Marsh at the same time or selling their services alternately to the highest bidder.

The fossil fields of Como Bluff, Wyoming were unimaginably rich, and since the bone hunters were only interested in their patrons’ money, they shoved scientific methods to the wayside (records indicate Marsh and Cope encouraged their destructive ways). Working out of multiple quarries, they did everything possible to thwart their rivals, from locking each other out of the train station to prevent a shipment to dynamiting a carload of fossils. It will never be known how many specimens were destroyed in the name of scientific discovery.
Como Bluff
The late 1870’s were a lively time in Como Bluff, to say the least. I used two of the most colorful and active bone hunters as secondary characters in The Treasure of Como Bluff. These two first wrote to Professor Marsh in July of 1877, using the aliases of Harlow and Edwards, to describe their initial finds and attempt to enlist his support. They were actually a pair of railroad employees named Carlin and Reed who ultimately played major roles in the excavation (and destruction) of the fossil fields of Como Bluff.

Excavations in the area continued long after Cope and Marsh exhausted their funds, and the museum at the site catalogues their numerous finds that dramatically increased modern knowledge of New World Jurassic dinosaurs. I enjoyed writing about Como Bluff, and would love to visit someday. How about you? Be sure to leave a comment for a chance to win a copy of my new western novella, The Treasure of Como Bluff.

Free Book!
Alison will send one lucky commenter a pdf of
Small print: Drawing will be held Saturday, February 2, at 9pm Pacific Time. Please leave your email address with your comment or we'll have to draw another winner.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Alison Henderson: The Treasure of Como Bluff #historicalromance #western

The Treasure of Como Bluff
by Alison Henderson

Romancing The West welcomes western historical romance author Alison Henderson. (bio on her website)

RTW: Thanks for being here with us this week, Alison. To start off, please tell us about your book.

AH: In 1879 Wyoming, the bone wars are raging between rival fossil hunters, and paleontologist Caroline Hubbard is not about to let a handsome, but unconscious, stranger hamper her quest to unearth a new species of dinosaur and make her mark on the scientific world.

After a blow to the head, Nick Bancroft finds himself at the mercy of a feisty, determined female scientist. To help save her job, he agrees to masquerade as Caroline's husband, but once their deception plays out, will they be able to see beyond their separate goals and recognize the treasure right in front of them?

RTW: Why do you write Westerns? What aspect of life in the Old West intrigues you the most?

AH: I’ve loved Westerns as long as I can remember. I grew up watching cowboys on TV. That might date me, but why try to hide it? When I was growing up, my siblings and I watched Roy Rogers every Saturday morning at my grandmother’s house. It was a huge treat for us (and for my mother, although I didn’t recognize it at the time). For years, we never missed an episode of Bonanza. Maverick? The Rifleman? Rawhide? I loved them all. Something about those Western heroes resonated with me as a young girl and still does.

The concept of “The West” has stirred the American imagination since we first became a nation. The West was a wide open place full of limitless possibilities—a place where a person could invent, or reinvent, himself. For better or worse, the realities of life on the frontier stripped away the veneer of civilization and exposed a man for who he really was. Caroline Hubbard, the heroine of The Treasure of Como Bluff has come to Wyoming for the same basic reason—to re-create herself as a person and find out what she’s made of.

RTW: If you lived in 1879, what would you visit first?

AH: [laughs] I know I should say I’d love to visit Como Bluff and see the bone wars in person, but I’m afraid I’m too much of a modern wimp. Although the town had a railroad station and a few basic services, conditions at the excavation site were extremely primitive, and I tried to capture some of that in my story. The land is treeless, barren, and windblown, and the situation with the local Native American tribes was unsettled at best. Truth be told, I probably would have enjoyed the relative “civilization” of Dodge City more.

RTW: If a person who had never read a Western asked you for a recommendation, what novel or movie would you recommend and why? What did the author do to bring the story alive for you?

Alison Henderson, author
AH: My favorite Western novel has to Lonesome Dove, by Larry McMurtry. I was absolutely riveted from the first page to the last by his brilliant characterization. As far as movies go, I think High Noon with Gary Cooper and Grace Kelly epitomizes the best of the genre. Sheriff Will Kane is the embodiment of true courage—not the lack of fear but standing resolute in the face of it. And in the end, he’s saved by the courage of the woman who loves him. Amy conquers her own fears and acts against deeply held beliefs to save her man. It just doesn’t get any better than that.

RTW: In The Treasure of Como Bluff, why must Caroline take this particular story journey? What does she have to prove? How does Nick affect her journey?

AH: Caroline has come to Wyoming to prove to her protective older brother that she can make a mark on the world in her own right. Nick is there for much the same reason—to find a new life and make his fortune prospecting for silver after learning that his fiancĂ©e has married his older brother while he was away at sea. Both Caroline and Nick set out on their journeys alone, determined to forge their own way. But when fate literally dumps him in her lap, their dreams collide and intertwine to form a single, stronger, vision for the future.

Excerpt of
The Treasure of Como Bluff
by Alison Henderson

Nick laughed. “Are you always this grumpy when you’re working?”

“I’m about to face the biggest challenge of my life, one that will affect my entire future, and you refuse to take it seriously.” She glared at him through narrowed eyes. “I have every right to be grumpy.”

“Perhaps, but remember, you asked for my help. You need me to pull off this deception.”

He was right. She did need him, and if she wasn’t careful he’d get back on his horse and ride out of her life forever. The thought pushed her near the edge of panic. “I know, and I’m sorry. It’s just that this is so important to me.”

Nick slid his arm around her shoulders. “I know. Don’t worry; I won’t abandon you. I owe you. You saved my life, remember?”

When he didn’t release her immediately, Caroline breathed a tiny sigh and allowed herself the luxury of leaning against him, wrapped in the safety and comfort of his arm. She closed her eyes and rested her head against the warm solidity of his chest, absorbing the reassuring rhythmic thump of his heartbeat. She’d always been alone in her quest; it would be a relief to have someone to share it with, even if only for a few days.

She thought she felt something whisper-soft touch the top of her head, almost like a kiss of breeze, but the air was still. It couldn’t have been Nick...could it? She lifted her head and turned until she could see his face. The devil twinkled in those sea-blue eyes, and a lazy smile played across his lips.

“Flip you for the bed.”

Available at Amazon and

RTW: What’s next? Is The Treasure of Como Bluff part of a series?

AH: The Treasure of Como Bluff is part of the Love Letters series from The Wild Rose Press, in which a letter serves as the initial impetus of each story, although the stories themselves are unrelated. I’m currently about half-way through another novella for the new WRP Lawmen and Outlaw series. Set in Salvation, Kansas, Delilah and the Badman features the reluctant owner of a saloon and the slippery gambler who’s accused of murdering her father.

Free Book!
Alison will send one lucky commenter a pdf of
Small print: Drawing will be held Saturday, February 2, at 9pm Pacific Time. Please leave your email address with your comment or we'll have to draw another winner.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Enchanted by the Old West by Mary Montague Sikes #arizona

Mary Montague Sikes
Enchanted by the 
Old West
by Mary Montague Sikes

As a child growing up in Virginia, stories of the Old West enchanted me. I especially enjoyed seeing the double feature movies on Saturday afternoons at our small town theatre. That's where I met Gene Autry, Roy Rogers, the Durango Kid, and many others.

I loved the horses, the excitement, and, most of all, the scenery. For the very first time, I saw the Red Rocks of Sedona, Arizona—not so spectacular as in real life because the movies were mostly black and white at that time.

Then, I discovered the stories of Zane Grey, and I loved them. The art work on the covers of his books was especially appealing to the artist I always wanted to be.

How exciting it was to visit Arizona last November and find that the Sedona Arts Center had an exhibition featuring Lillian Wilhelm Smith, the artist who illustrated the books of her cousin, Zane Grey. Smith who lived from 1882 to 1971 must have been enchanted by the Red Rocks that she painted. She and her husband lived in Sedona for 10 years (1937-47). Their property was located on the banks of scenic Oak Creek. Strangely, the Smiths, who believed they had purchased the land and were paying a mortgage, were evicted from the property after George Black, the man they "bought" it from died. His wife claimed they were only renters, and the couple wound up homeless and camping at the end of Dry Creek Road.
Grand Canyon, Arizona

While in Sedona, Lillian designed dinnerware for Leigh Ware Potters of Ohio. She also allowed Max Ernst and other artists to use her studio. Some pieces of her dinnerware were included in the exhibition. The couple eventually moved to nearby Cottonwood and died in Prescott.

Arizona did not become a state until 1912 and is celebrating its Centennial this year. As a Virginian used to historic buildings that date back to the 1600s, I was surprised to stumble upon an historic house built in 1930.

Arizona inspires me to write. My novel, Eagle Rising, is set there. Sedona and the Grand Canyon are part of my coffee table book, Hotels to Remember.

Whenever I get a chance, I revisit those old black and white western movies. It's quite a nostalgic experience.

A Rainbow for Christmas
by Mary Montague Sikes
Amazon,, Oak Tree Books

A Rainbow for Christmas: Mary Montague Sikes #western

A Rainbow for Christmas
by Mary Montague Sikes

Romancing The West welcomes Mary Montague Sikes. She's an award-winning author, freelance writer, photographer, and artist who loves to travel, especially to exotic tropical locations. The settings for her books and articles include Jamaica, Antigua, Trinidad, and St. Martin. Her most recent research trips carried her to Los Cabos on the western coast of Mexico and to Yellowstone National Park where she took over 500 photographs. Author of award-winning books, she has presented workshops on promotion and marketing to state and national conventions as well as to many local writers groups. Hotels to Remember, a coffee table book, is illustrated with her artwork and photographs. Her paintings are exhibited widely in Virginia and are in private and public collections in the United States, Canada, and the Caribbean.

RTW: Tell us about your book, A Rainbow for Christmas, please!

Meg, her niece and brother set out on a wagon train headed for Denver where Meg's fiance in an arranged marriage awaits. When a senseless murder claims her brother's life, Meg determines to push on. However, when she meets handsome Cade Russell, the wagon master, her conviction to enter a loveless marriage wavers. Will Meg honor her father's wishes and marry John O'Sullivan, whose dowry will save the family farm from foreclosure?

RTW: Why do you write Westerns? What aspect of life in the Old West intrigues you the most? Did you work that into A Rainbow for Christmas?

Mary Montague Sikes
MMS: A Rainbow for Christmas is my first western. Because I loved the old western movies with the cowboy riding off with the pretty girl, I grew captivated by the West and its amazing scenery. I suppose my story is that of the rugged cowboy and the pretty girl out there together on a rustic wagon trail.

RTW: If you lived in 1869 what would you visit first? Is there something you’ve been curious about that you can’t find in your research sources?

MMS: I would have visited one of those huge ranches, probably in Texas. I don't think that Yellowstone had been discovered at that time, but that's another place I would have liked to see. I'm thankful for the National Parks System that has managed to save so many of our natural treasures. In A Rainbow for Christmas, I used material I found in diaries of actual women who crossed the prairie by wagon train. I would love to find more of those diaries. They have wonderful information of hardships experienced by those who traveled under difficult and dangerous conditions.

RTW: If a person who had never read a Western (any sub-genre) asked you for a recommendation, what novel or movie would you recommend and why? What did the author do to bring the story alive for you?

MMS: I would suggest some of the Zane Grey books. He lived during a time when the West was still wild. I think those closely connected to a time write more realistically about it.

RTW: Why must Meg take this particular story journey? What does she have to prove? How does Cade affect his journey?

MMS: Meg cares deeply about her family. When her father in Ohio can't pay the money he owes the bank, the family and their farm are in danger. He meets a wealthy man from Denver who needs a wife and arranges for Meg to travel there to marry him. After the wedding, her father will receive the money he needs to save their farm. Meg believes it is her duty to help those she loves. She doesn't know that before the journey even begins she will lose both her brother and her sister-in-law and will be forced to travel alone with her little six-year-old niece. She also doesn't realize she will fall in love with Cade, the wagon master.

Excerpt of
A Rainbow for Christmas
by Mary Montague Sikes

"Miss Smith?"

A deep baritone voice interrupted her dismal thoughts. Meg turned and looked up to discover a giant of a man staring down at her.

"Yes. I'm Meg Smith."

"Cade Russell, wagon master," he announced, tipping his wide-brimmed leather hat.

Even in the gray morning light, Cade Russell cast a shadow. A big one. From his steel gray eyes and rigid jaw to the scuffed toes of his boots, this man was a rugged no-nonsense cowboy. He was a legend on the prairie trails. Once he learned who their leader would be, her brother told her about Cade's rough and ready reputation

Cade Russell. Without thinking, Meg took a step backward. She’d overheard some of the men talking. They claimed the wagon master was downright ornery.
Beneath the wide-brimmed leather hat, Cade's face was in shadow, but still he did not appear quite as intimidating as she expected. In fact, she watched him smile ever so slightly.

Moments later, when Cade looked over at Eliza playing next to the wagon, Meg caught the hint of a twinkle in his eyes. He liked children. She could tell, and a man who liked children could not be all that bad.

But Meg swallowed a gasp when Cade bent and gathered Eliza into his arms. Like her brother used to do, Cade swung the little girl through the air and then he placed her with care on the wagon seat. The child squealed and giggled. Meg’s eyes widened. She had not heard Eliza giggle for weeks.

Cade turned to Meg. "You need to get ready to move out now.” He strode past her to check the yoke of the six oxen that stood ready to pull the bulky covered wagon. "I'll ride next to you for a while once we get underway."

Meg looked at him in astonishment. "That is really not necessary, Mr. Russell," she declared; but her heart did a small wobble of pleasure.


"Cade," she repeated.

"After your brother died, when the others agreed to let you continue on the trail, they decided to take turns riding with you.” Cade shrugged. "I'll take my turn today."

A sense of relief swept over Meg. She knew nothing about driving a team of mules along a wagon trail. But she intended to learn.

Cade climbed onto the back of his sleek brown stallion and smiled down at her. Deep dimples slashed his cheeks, giving him a youthful, carefree appearance, if only for a moment. Meg smiled back.

RTW: What’s next? Is A Rainbow for Christmas a part of a series?

MMS: A contemporary romance, Daddy's Christmas Angel, came out right before Christmas. A Rainbow for Christmas is not part of a series, but I may work on another book with a western setting in the near future. I have one started that has part of the setting during the Civil War. I'm also working on another contemporary story, Necklace in the Rain, which will be part of my Passenger to Paradise series, featuring tales set in exotic destinations.

RTW: Anything else you’d like to add?

MMS: A writer's journey is filled with twists and turns, just like her stories. So many ideas come into my mind. I want to write about all of them. I wonder if there is time.

Thank you so much for having me as your guest.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Sara Luck: Tallie's Hero #western #historicalromance

Tallie's Hero
by Sara Luck

Today's guest at Romancing The West is Sara Luck, who has lived the life that other novelists write about. A retired school teacher, Sara taught in Alaska, 200 miles above the Arctic Circle. She has traveled to every state in the United States and has watched Bowhead Whales breaching in the Chukchi Sea, cavorting Dahl Sheep in the Brooks Range, leaping cutthroat trout on Oregon's McKenzie River, roaming grizzly bear and mountain lions in the Absorka Range in Wyoming, and dolphins at play from her beach home at Gulf Shores, Alabama.

Married to NY Times Best Selling novelist, Robert Vaughan, Sara has for over 30 years been Robert's research assistant, editor, librarian, sounding board, and story consultant. She now has several books published, the latest is Tallie's Hero from Pocket Books.

RTW: Welcome, Sara! To start us off, please tell us about your book.

SL: Tallie Somerset, an English novelist, is forced into a divorce by the scandalous behavior of her husband. She comes to America to attend the wedding of the sister of Lady Randolph Churchill and from there, goes to Wyoming for an extended visit. She is captivated by the American West, and by a handsome cattleman named Jeb Tuhill. He is equally taken with her, but he thinks she is still married because she is ashamed to tell him she is divorced. Tallie writes a novel of the West with Jeb as her hero . . .and all ends well.

RTW: Why do you write Westerns? What aspect of life in the Old West intrigues you the most? Did you work that into Tallie's Hero?

SL: I have always loved the West, and my husband and I have traveled extensively through the West...often renting a place far from the nearest town and staying several months. We spent two months in Wyoming, and the beauty and remoteness of the area inspired the book, Tallie's Hero.

RTW: If you lived in 1881, what would you visit first? Is there something you’ve been curious about that you can’t find in your research sources?

Sara Luck, author
SL: I think if I lived in 1881.... I would take a train trip across country. I would love to visit all the small towns which...while so small and so remote are, by railroad, connected to the rest of the country. It was the beginning of the "mobile American. I love research, I especially love newspapers and authentic diaries from the time I am writing about.

RTW: If a person who had never read a Western (any sub-genre) asked you for a recommendation, what novel or movie would you recommend and why? What did the author do to bring the story alive for you?

SL: My favorite Western novel and movie is Shane. I love the setting, I love the determination of the men and women who...despite hardship and odds, are bound to build a community. And I like the character Shane, who is quiet, and with a mysterious past. It is obvious that there is a very strong attraction between Shane and Marian, but there is too much honor between them for either to act. And, of course, I love the exciting resolution of the conflict, and the mysterious, into the sunset, denouement.

RTW: Why must Tallie take this particular story journey? What does she} have to prove? How does Jeb Tuhill affect her journey?

SL: Finding herself in the middle of a scandal, Tallie is forced to leave England and come to America. Her journey takes her to the Powder River country of Wyoming, where she meets, and falls in love, with Jeb Tuhill. At first, because of the tumult she left behind, the relationship seems only to complicate things. But love wins out.

RTW: Please set the scene for your excerpt.

SL: Moreton Frewen, an authentic person of history, invites his English guests to go on a hunt in the Big Horn Mountains. Buffalo Bill Cody and Jeb Tuhill act as guides for these hunts. When Moreton's wife, Clara, insists that she and Tallie go on the hunt, Jeb reluctantly acquiesces. This excerpt takes place on one of those hunts.

Excerpt from
Tallie's Hero
by Sara Luck

The grizzly bear was just coming out of the tree line, drawn by the smell of the buffalo’s blood.

“Don’t shoot!” Jeb said. “A shot from your rifle won’t stop him, and he could charge.”

Despite Jeb’s shouted caution, Boughton fired. Jeb saw a puff of dust fly up from the animal’s shoulder where the bullet hit. The bear roared loudly, then started running toward them. Tallie saw the bear and, instinctively, started to run. Her running got the bear’s attention, and he turned toward her.

Jeb had his big Hawken in his hands by now, but Tallie was between him and the bear, and he had no open shot.

“Tallie! Get on the ground!” Jeb shouted. “Get on the ground!”

Boughton stood frozen, watching the bear advance toward Tallie, while Clara was screaming hysterically. Tallie continued to run, but the bear was closing on her.

“Fall down, Tallie! Do it right now!” Jeb yelled, his rifle on his shoulder, ready to shoot as soon as Tallie was clear.

Jeb knew that Tallie’s natural instinct was to run, but he was counting on her to be courageous and, he hoped, to trust him enough to do something counterintuitive.

Tallie fell to the ground, but it was almost too late. The bear was upon her just as Jeb fired. Jeb’s bullet was perfectly placed and penetrated the skull sending blood, brains, and bone spewing from the head. The bear fell, collapsing with Tallie partially under its dead body.

“Tallie!” Jeb shouted, running to her. She was lying facedown, her arms covering her tucked-in head. Jeb rolled the bear carcass off her, seeing her coat ripped and bloodied. His heart was pounding rapidly as he knelt beside her, saying over and over, “Don’t die, Tallie, please don’t die. I’ve just found you and I don’t want to lose you. I love you.”

When he gently turned her over, he was surprised to see a smiling Tallie looking up at him.

“Do you mean that? Do you really love me?”

He knelt to kiss her and held her to him. “I do, Tallie. I do love you.”

Available at: Amazon Print, Kindle, Print, Nook

RTW: What’s next? Is Tallie's Hero a part of a series?

SL: Rimfire Bride is next. It is not part of a were Susanna's Choice, Claiming the Heart, and Tallie's Hero, it is a stand alone.

RTW: Anything else you’d like to add?

SL: The thing I like most about writing historical fiction, is finding authentic characters and situations from history, to interact with my fictional characters.

Want a Free Book?
Tell Sara what you love most about western romance--what little tidbits enhance a story for you?  What types of storylines do you prefer?

One commenter wins reader's choice of print or digital copy of Tallie's Hero.  Be sure to include your email address so we can get in touch with you if your name is drawn.  

Small print: Drawing will be held Saturday, January 19th, at 9pm Pacific Time.  Winner will be notified by the email provided in the comment.  USA mailing only.

Extra special thanks to Sara for visiting with us today!

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Beth Williamson: Living Live by the Code #western @authorbethw

Beth Williamson, author
Living Life 
by the Code
by Beth Williamson

Many people think I'm a little looney to continue to write (and read) historical western romances. I mean, it's a small genre without the giant sales or big shiny bling in the publishing world, right? Ah, but I have loved western romances from the moment I read my first one, which was Elizabeth Lowell's Only His.

I was hooked. HOOKED! The reason why? For many reasons, not the least of which was the fact that western men, cowboys live life by a code of honor. Even the most alpha male has a sense of honor, an ingrained code he abides by.

What does that mean? Why, cowboys are like modern knights. Fierce warriors who carry a weapon, defend those who are defenseless, protect damsels (whether in distress or not), and are just waiting for a strong woman to tame them.


Oh yeah, that's exactly it. I am all about the strong man and the strong woman finding that balance between them, the love that blossoms, and of course, the conflict that arises because of all of it. :)

Cowboys to me are always alpha, whether flamboyantly or just quiet and fierce.

It appeals to me as I have my own ingrained sense of honor, to always make the right decision even if it sucks, and to stand true to what I believe in. I find it incredibly sexy in a man to be hard, unmoving and stubborn. LOL. A cowboy can be tamed if he finds the right woman. ;)

Then of course, it's the whole appeal of a man on a horse. There is just something the sight of a man's behind on a saddle that's just... magic (not to mention the chaps that can frame a nice package ;). They're up high on a horse, thighs gripping the leather saddle, and riding past. It's a thing of beauty, isn't it?

My heroes are usually that hard riding alpha man just simmering with issues and emotional, and sometimes physical, scars. However, they live by the code. Their souls are entwined with honor, even if they're a pain in the ass at first.

I have many favorite cowboys of course, but I'll have to pick Caleb Black in Only His by Elizabeth Lowell. Of my own heroes, I'd have to say that Zeke from Devils on Horseback series and Grady Wolfe from Ruthless Heart are my favorite.

How about y'all, who's your fav and why?


One lucky poster wins an e-ARC of Caleb! 
Your comment on  either of Beth's articles this week will enter you to win.  Be sure to leave your email address so we can contact you.  Drawing will be held January 5, 2013, at 9pm Pacific Time.

Circle Eight: Caleb will be available Feb. 12 at 
AmazonBN.comSmashwords, and ARe.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Circle Eight: Caleb by Emma Lang @authorbethw #western #romance

Circle Eight: Caleb
by Emma Lang
(Beth Williamson)
Release date: Feb. 12!

Romancing The West welcomes Beth Williamson, who also writes as Emma Lang, who's an award-winning, bestselling author of both historical and contemporary romances. Her books range from sensual to scorching hot. She is a Career Achievement Award Nominee in Erotic Romance by Romantic Times Magazine, in both 2009 and 2010.

Beth works full-time and writes romance novels evening, weekends, early mornings and whenever there is a break in the madness. She is compassionate, funny, a bit reserved at times, tenacious and a little quirky. Her cowboys and western romances speak of a bygone era, bringing her readers to an age where men were honest, hard and packing heat. For a change of pace, she also dives into some smokin’ hot contemporaries, bringing you heat, romance and snappy dialogue.

Life might be chaotic, as life usually is, but Beth always keeps a smile on her face, a song in her heart, and a cowboy on her mind.

RTW: Glad to have you here, Beth!  To start, please tell us about your new book to be released February 12.

A Texas Ranger, a lady blacksmith, a fierce passion, a dangerous game.

Caleb Graham has spent the last four years in too many dangerous situations to count. As a Texas Ranger, he knows no fear, or at least he never shows it. When he’s sent to force a blacksmith off government seized property, he runs face to face into the woman who will change his life.

Aurora Foster grew up on the very land the obnoxious Ranger is trying to throw her off of. Her parents and her husband died for it and there is no chance she would leave without a fight. A lady blacksmith might be an anomaly but she has the strength of the steel she forges and the courage to fight for what she believes is right.

When Aurora is inadvertently injured by Caleb, he seeks medical help from a neighboring ranch. The sprawling hacienda is full of the finer things in life and the one person Caleb never expected to see again… his youngest brother Benjamin. Forced to flee from a man who has kept the boy captive, the trio become traveling companions in a deadly game where no one wins.

Life turns upside down and sideways for Caleb and Aurora, caught in a game neither of them expected while they desperately try to save the boy who was lost to his family. Pursued and hunted, the three of them ride for the Circle Eight ranch. The unlikely pair of rescuers fight their attraction and for their lives.

RTW: Why do you write Westerns? What aspect of life in the Old West intrigues you the most? Did you work that into Circle Eight: Caleb?

BW/EL: I've always loved westerns, since I was a little girl. I grew up watching all the great western movies. The first time I read a western romance, I was completely hooked. I believe it was a Leigh Greenwood book - Rose - and then I devoured everything I could find. When I decided to write romances, I picked my favorite genre, saddled up and took off! :)

RTW: If you lived in 1840, what would you visit first? Is there something you’ve been curious about that you can’t find in your research sources?

BW/EL: Ooh, that's a great question! This series takes place in the Republic of Texas, which is an amazing period of time in Texas history. I think I would love to visit Austin and potentially meet the great Sam Austin myself. There is nothing like being able to talk to a legend!

RTW: If a person who had never read a Western (any sub-genre) asked you for a recommendation, what novel or movie would you recommend and why? What did the author do to bring the story alive for you?

Beth Williamson
writing as
Emma Lang
BW/EL: My very favorite western romance is Only His by Elizabeth Lowell. I was completely captured by Caleb Black and Willow - they personified a hero and heroine for me, ones who find the strength in themselves by overcoming the incredible challenges of the amazing American west.

RTW: Why must Caleb take this particular story journey? What does he have to prove? How does Aurora affect his journey?

BW/EL: Caleb is a Texas Ranger and he goes/does what he is told to do by the Republic. He has no choice - unfortunately he is going to run smack dab into Aurora, who is as stubborn as he is. His duty has become his life, to the detriment of his personal life. After distancing himself from his family and any ties, Aurora brings home the notion that there is more to life than your job and duty.

RTW: Please set us up for your excerpt.

BW/EL: Caleb's story is the third in the Circle Eight series, and a conclusion to the missing Graham sibling, Benjy, who disappeared before book 1 began. When he meets Aurora, he is flummoxed to run into a woman who doesn't fall for his good looks or quell before his guns. Aurora is a lady blacksmith and she knows how to swing a hammer. Hee!

Excerpt from
Circle Eight: Caleb
by Emma Lang

Caleb was pleasantly full of meatloaf and green beans, and even a piece of peach pie. The restaurant in the tiny town of Marks Creek was a treasure. He hadn’t had such a wonderful meal outside of the Circle Eight. He was in a good mood, surprisingly good.

Not only had he located Rory Foster but he had directions to the smithy. The mission was by far the easiest he’d ever been sent on. Now he had to convince Foster to leave the property. Texas had plans for that particular parcel of land and they had let him squat there long enough. Caleb didn’t know the particulars, and he didn’t want to know. All he had to do was carry out his orders and then ride back to headquarters for his next assignment.

It should be easy as the ride out to Foster’s smithy. Regardless of what a good mood he was in, Caleb made sure his pistol and rifle were both loaded. He was about to evict a man of what was perceived as “his” property. There would be resistance, but if Caleb was smart, he would control the situation from the moment he stepped foot on the property.

The area was beautiful with rolling hills, a plump creek running freely and the kind of thick grass cattle could get fat on. It was clear why the smithy stayed when the Republic of Texas told him to leave. Caleb might have stayed too if he’d been smack dab in the middle of such rich land.

He followed the smell of smoke and rode up to a square building with a sign that read “Foster’s Smithy” in faded red letters. It was a typical blacksmith’s shop, with large windows controlled by hinged wood panels. The smoke and heat could get fierce inside the building. There was an enormous stone forge inside and a large number of tools scattered around, not to mention an anvil that probably weighed more than a team of horses. It was a solid shop and a smidge of guilt pinched Caleb for arriving to take it all away from Foster.

He dismounted and finally noticed the tiny shack in the shadows behind the smithy. It wasn’t quite a house, but it did have a door, one tiny window and a smoke stack, which meant there was a heat source inside, likely a stove of some sort. It must be where the blacksmith lived, modest as it was. There was great care taken in the actual smithy, which told Caleb the man might be more difficult to remove than he expected.

“Foster?” Caleb walked into the larger building. The forge wasn’t fired up, the embers glowed orange. “Is anybody here?”

He hoped like hell nobody told the man there was a Ranger on the way. If so, his job got even harder. Caleb kept his hand on his pistol as he walked around the building. Whoever the blacksmith was, he had skills. The iron work was top notch, even in the pieces that weren’t finished yet.

“Who are you?” A woman’s voice startled him from his perusal.

He turned to find a man wearing a leather apron and cap, and trousers that had seen better days. Caleb shook his head and frowned at him.

“Ranger Caleb Graham. Who are you?” He couldn’t equate the husky woman’s voice with the blacksmith. Was he hiding her in the apron?

“Aurora Foster.”

The voice came from the man’s mouth. The ground shifted beneath his feet as realization hit him. Sweet heaven above. Rory Foster. Aurora Foster. Holy hell. The blacksmith he was there to evict was a woman? When he got back to headquarters, he’d give his commander a piece of his mind about this particular assignment.

“You’re a woman.”

“I can see why you’re a crack man of the law, ranger.” She raised one brow. “You’re trespassing.”

He swallowed his response to her sarcasm. She definitely wasn’t a wilting flower, but the leather apron should have told him that. “You have that backwards, Mrs. Foster. You are the one trespassing. This property belongs to the Republic of Texas.”

Her mouth twisted. “That’s ridiculous. My parents settled this land twenty years ago. The Republic can go find someone else to harass.” A very large, lethal looking sickle appeared in her hand from beneath the apron. “Now leave.”

Caleb took a few moments to study her. Taller than the average woman, she also had muscles most women didn’t. Honed, lean arms and long hands, a heart-shaped face with an upturned nose. The one thing that set her apart were the amber eyes currently staring holes in him. They were an unusual shade, like the colors of the embers in the forge behind him.

“I can’t do that.”

“Then I will make you.” She pulled a huge cleaver out with her other hand. The woman was a lethal weapon with all the blades she made.

Caleb decided to appeal to the woman’s logical side, if she had one. Truth was, he was distracted by the way she looked and spoke. He’d had plenty of experience with females, but no one like Aurora Foster. “You’re the blacksmith Rory Foster. Is that correct?”

“Only my friends call me Rory. You can call me Mrs. Foster as you ride off my land.” She ran the sickle down the edge of the cleaver. It made a screeching sound that made the hairs on the back of his neck stand up. Was she going to chop him into pieces?

“It’s not your land.”

“That’s a pile of horse shit. This land belonged to my father and now it belongs to me.” Her tone and her expression told him he had a hell of a fight on his hands.

“Females can’t own property in Texas, Mrs. Foster. I’m guessing no one ever told you that. It’s understandable that you think this is yours—”

“I don’t think anything. I know.” She stepped closer, her hands tightening on the weapons. “Now get out before I make you leave.”

Caleb sighed. “I can’t leave.” He didn’t want to pull his pistol on the woman. Hell, even the most aggravating female deserved respect. “Ma’am, this is my job. I have an assignment to remove an illegal squatter off land owned by the Republic of Texas. I can’t leave until it’s done.”

She bared her teeth. “Get out of my smithy.”

“It seems we are at an impasse. I’ll go wait outside while you gather your things. We can ride to Marks Creek and get the legal paperwork in order.” Caleb watched her hands, her strong, capable hands, as she edged closer with the sharp implements.

“I have work to do. I’m not going anywhere least of all to town. No one there for me and the legal paperwork means nothing.” She threw her arm wide. “This is all I have. This is who I am. I can’t leave either.”

Well, shit.
Available Feb. 12 at Amazon,, Smashwords, and ARe.

RTW: Whew!  Looks like Rory's gonna give Caleb a run for his money.  What’s next? Is Caleb a part of a series?

BW/EL: Next in the Circle Eight series is Elizabeth's story, book 4, Vaughn. Elizabeth is the second oldest Graham sister, the smartest and most serious of all of the family. Vaughn is a shyster, a con man who cannot seem to get over the serious Elizabeth and what she does to him. That should hit shelves in July!

RTW: July can't come too soon. :) Anything else you’d like to add?

BW/EL: I'd like to thank you for the opportunity to be on your blog. I love to spread the word about western romance and my love of all things cowboy!


One lucky poster wins an e-ARC of Caleb!  Your comment on  either of Beth's articles this week (next one on Friday) will enter you to win.  Be sure to leave your email address so we can contact you.  Drawing will be held January 5, 2013, at 9pm Pacific Time.