Monday, January 20, 2014

#NewRelease HEARTS & SPURS: Hollow Heart, by Sarah J. McNeal #western #romance #valentinesday

Hollow Heart
a short story in

Nine days—nine stories from nine veteran western historical romance authors
Just in time for Valentine’s Day!

Romancing The West welcomes Sarah J. McNeal, a multi-published author of several genres including time travel, paranormal, western, contemporary and historical fiction. Sarah is a retired critical care/ER nurse who lives in North Carolina with her four-legged children, Lily and Liberty. Besides her devotion to writing, she also has a great love of music and plays several instruments including violin, bagpipes, guitar and harmonica. Her books and short stories may be found at Publishing by Rebecca Vickery, Victory Tales Press, Western Trail Blazer and Prairie Rose Publications.

Sarah J. McNeal
RTW: What intrigued you to write this story?

Stories that take place in the Great Depression interest me. People suffered then, and yet, they had this stalwart ability to find ways to overcome the depravation and tragedies that occurred during that time when most Americans were struggling to survive. There were no programs like Welfare, Social Security, Medicaid or Medicare in place to help people through the rough times. No one even knew when or if the hard times would end. I am fascinated by the strength of these people and their willingness to help one another. Families worked together sometimes three generations living together in one house.

About Hollow Heart

Lost love and the hope for possibilities

Madeline Andrews is a grown up orphan. Sam Wilding made her feel part of his life, his family and swore he’d come home to her when the war ended, but he didn’t return. With the Valentine’s Ball just days away, the Wildings encourage Madeline to move forward with her life and open her heart to the possibilities. But Madeline is lost in old love letters and can’t seem to let go.

Hollow Heart
a short story in
Hearts and Spurs
by Sarah J. McNeal

Madeline folded the letter and slipped it back into its envelope. Her heart ached as she put the envelope back into the box. Reverently, she placed it on her dresser beside the picture of Sam and her, laughing into the sun on that beautiful summer day, years ago. She twisted the gold ring with the little heart-shaped ruby around her left ring finger. Sam had given it to her the day he left for deployment to Europe. He said it was a promise ring. The ring would remind her of his love, his promise to return, and his pledge to wed her when the war ended. A sigh escaped her. None of his promises had come true.

RTW: Oh, but the story's not over yet!  What else do you have for us to read?

Coming Soon!

Fly Away Heart
by Sarah J. McNeal

The Great Depression…
Rum Runners and Old Fears…
Love Against the Odds

Lilith Wilding can’t remember a time when she didn’t love the English born Robin Pierpont, but she knows he loves another so she hides her feelings beneath a hard veneer of self-protection.

Robin Pierpont dreams of flying airplanes and winning the heart of the one he loves, but when he gets involved in illegal rum running to help a friend, those dreams seem to turn into just a fantasy. When he is called upon to face his worst fear to save Lilith’s life, his fate may be sealed in death.
Painted Pony Books

♥ ♥ ♥
How do you capture a cowboy's heart? Hearts and Spurs is a collection of nine stories by some of western romance’s best—just in time for Valentine's Day! Following up their Christmas collection Wishing for a Cowboy, these ladies have done it again with new stories of handsome cowboys and the women who captivate them in Hearts and Spurs.

The Widow's Heart by Linda Broday
Skye O’Rourke thinks her imagination is playing tricks on her when she sees a man emerge from the shimmering desert heat. No one would willingly take a stroll under the scorching sun with a saddle slung on his back. She’s shocked to discover it’s Cade Coltrain, a man she once gave her heart to only to have him give it back.

Can she trust him not to abandon her this time? Yet, trusting each other is the only way they can survive. And love might just save them if they believe…

Guarding Her Heart by Livia J. Washburn
Julia Courtland was on her way west to marry a man she had never met. Henry Everett, the marshal of Flat Rock, Texas, was the grandson of her uncle's best friend. It seemed like a good match for both of them, and the wedding was scheduled to take place on Valentine's Day.

Grant Stafford thought the young woman who got on the stagecoach at Buffalo Springs was the prettiest thing he had seen in a long time. She wasn't too friendly, mind you, but she was sure easy on the eyes. Not that Grant had time to worry much about such things. He was the shotgun guard on this run, but more than that, he was an undercover Texas Ranger on the trail of the vicious outlaw gang responsible for a string of stagecoach robberies.

Fate threw Julia Courtland and Grant Stafford together on a cold February day in West Texas, but it also threw deadly obstacles in their path. A runaway team, a terrible crash, and bullets flying through the air threaten to steal not only their lives but also any chance they have for happiness. If they're going to survive, they will have to learn to trust each other...and maybe steal their hearts back from fate.

Found Hearts by Cheryl Pierson
Southern belle Evie Fremont has lost everything — except hope. When she answers an advertisement for marriage to Alex Cameron who lives in the wilds of Indian Territory, she has few illusions that he could be a man she might fall in love with — especially as his secrets begin to unfold.

Ex-Confederate soldier Alex Cameron needs a mother for his two young half-Cherokee sons more than he needs a wife — or so he tells himself. But when his past threatens his future on his wedding day, he and Evie are both forced to acknowledge their new love has come to stay — along with their Found Hearts.

Open Hearts by Tanya Hanson
To honor her brother’s last request, Barbara Audiss takes on his identity. Letting loose her secret will land get her arrested. But keeping it prevents her from giving her heart to handsome sheriff Keith Rakestraw.

Furious at “Judge Audiss’s” latest verdict, Keith discovers she’s a fake and consequences seem easy: toss her in jail. Instead, he finds himself eager to give her his heart.

Hollow Heart by Sarah J. McNeal
Madeline Andrews is a grown up orphan. Sam Wilding made her feel part of his life, his family and swore he’d come home to her when the war ended, but he didn’t return. With the Valentine’s Ball just days away, the Wildings encourage Madeline to move forward with her life and open her heart to the possibilities. But Madeline is lost in old love letters and can’t seem to let go.

A Flare of the Heart by Jacquie Rogers
Celia Valentine Yancey has no illusions she’ll ever enjoy wedded bliss, so chooses marriage over spinsterhood even if she has to marry a man her father picked. On the way to meet her groom, she endures armed robbery, a stagecoach wreck, a dozen hungry baby pigs — and an incorrigible farmer. 

Ross Flaherty retired from bounty hunting to become a farmer but now Celia has brought his worst fear to his door — in more ways than one. A ferocious wolf-dog and a dozen piglets are no match for this determined lady. 

Which is more dangerous — the Sully Gang or Miss Celia Yancey?

Coming Home by Tracy Garrett
Sometimes it takes two to make dreams come true.

When a man who believes he’ll never have a home and family…

Former U.S. Marshal Jericho Hawken should have been shepherding a wagon train to new territory, but he unwillingly left them vulnerable to a vicious raider. The murder of the settlers he was supposed to be guarding is the hardest thing he’s ever had to face…until he meets the sister of one of the settlers.

…finds a woman who has lost everything…

Instead of a joyous reunion with her brother, Maryland Henry has come to River’s Bend to take responsibility for her three orphaned nieces. Fired from her teaching position and with no other family on whom to rely, Mary believes Jericho Hawken is responsible for all her woes. Or is he what she’s been searching for all along?

It takes a lot of forgiveness and a few fireworks to realize that together their dreams can come true.

Tumbleweeds and Valentines by Phyliss Miranda
When Amanda Love finds a tumbleweed lodged against her fence with an invitation to a Valentine Day dance stuck to it she thinks someone must be playing a joke. No one would invite her. No one ever had. Besides, she has no time for such things. She has a candy store to run. Curiosity gets the best of her though. Finding her name scrawled on it as bold as can be sends ripples of surprise through her. As she embarks on a quest to find the sender’s identity, she examines herself and the secret dream she harbors of having a husband and children.

Maybe, just maybe, someone had seen the yearning in her heart. But who?

The Second-Best Ranger in Texas by Kathleen Rice Adams
His partner’s grisly death destroyed Texas Ranger Quinn Barclay. Cashiered for drunkenness and refusal to follow orders, he sets out to fulfill his partner’s dying request, armed only with a saloon girl’s name.

Sister María Tomás thought she wanted to become a nun, but five years as a postulant have convinced her childhood dreams aren’t always meant to be. At last ready to relinquish the temporary vows she never should have made, she begs the only man she trusts to collect her from a mission in the middle of nowhere.

When the ex-Ranger’s quest collides with the ex-nun’s plea in a burned-out border town, unexpected love blooms among shared memories of the dead man who was a brother to them both.

Too bad he was also the only man who could have warned them about the carnage to come.

♥ Hearts and Spurs ♥


  1. Sarah, your story touched my heart. I love these glimpses into the Depression. It was such a difficult time in our nation's history. My mom and dad told us kids of the awful things they were forced to do just to survive. My oldest sister was born just as the Depression hit. Another sister and a brother were born a few years later. Very hard times for sure. When I was born in 1948 we lived in a tent. No house, just a tent and was very fortunate to have it. I was about 6 years old when we got into something more livable. But my parents did the best they could and we all knew we were loved.

    Wishing you much success!

    1. Linda, it's no wonder Tom Brokav dubbed our parents generation as the Great Generation. Their values far exceeded my generation's. They were hard working, industrious, inventive and fiercely family oriented. I don't know how they did it. My parents talked about the Great Depression and how things were for them until I felt I had lived it, too. They looked for mushrooms in the woods to eat because they had nothing else. That's scary to me since I don't know the good mushrooms from the bad. My grandmother would save bars of scented soap in a dresser drawer denying herself the pleasure of using it because she didn't want to "waste it." What they endured made the following generations seem spoiled in comparison. Pop used to laugh it off and said it didn't feel all that bad because everyone was poor.
      Thank you so much for coming over and sharing part of your family history.

  2. Sarah, "Hollow Heart" has one of those timeless, warm-all-over endings that leaves a glow. Readers will suspect what's coming; nevertheless, when the ending arrives it's even sweeter than they will have imagined. That's a tough trick to pull off. Bravo, lady!

    1. Wow, Kathleen, what a compliment. Thank you! You are such a dear. I so appreciate your kindness.

  3. Sarah, I loved Hollow Heart, but I just love your Wildings! LOL I was so glad that Madeline never gave up on Sam. True love.

    So glad you thought up this wonderful family -- your imagination knows no bounds, dear friend!

    1. Cheryl, isn't it odd how things work out? I never would have thought that I'd be writing westerns when I first published. I imagined time travel, paranormal and science fiction would by my particular genres, but then I wrote Harmonica Joe's Reluctant Bride and something just came together. My Wildings are so dear to me now. It isn't easy writing about Wyoming when I've only been there once, but that state really struct me with its beauty. The more I learn about the character of the people in Wyoming, the more I know I made the right choice in chosing it as home for the Wildings.
      I have to thank you, Cheryl, for your influence and support. Because of you, I'm here. There are no words for me to express how much that means to me.

    2. Sarah...that means so much to me, but you know you are here because of your talent. I'm just the "helper" (the worker bee)LOL and you are the one who created this wonderful family. You have such an imagination, Sarah! Thanks for being a dear friend!

  4. Hi Sarah, I know how attached we get to our "families." And the Depression setting is a fascinating one. My mom was a little girl then, and the stories of just what all my
    grandma--a Kansas farm girl transplanted to suburban Los Angeles-- had to do to pull the family through are just legendary. Maybe a book someday! Congrats on your wonderful story. And I share your admiration for Cheryl and her faith in all of us.

    1. Tanya, isn't it cool that most of us have a relative that lived through the Great Depression and told us their stories? Yes, you should write that story about your mom.
      Thank you so much for coming by and commenting.

  5. WWII is such a fascinating time, and your story really captured the worries and trials of the Wildings.

    1. I'm just thinking that those fears certainly apply to the war in Aghanistan as far as worry is concerned. So many have lost their lives or come back with lifelong injuries or PTSD.
      Thank you for your kind words about my story.


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