Top Ten Ways Cowboys and Wine Are Alike

Once TastedGuest Blog by Laura Moore, author of Once Tasted

Hi, Everyone!

First, I’d like to thank Love, Romance and Passion for inviting me to blog today. I’m so glad to be here and to talk about my new release, ONCE TASTED.

So, today I’m going to give you a top ten list. It’s an unusual one, but completely appropriate for my hero, a laidback blue-eyed cowboy by the name of Reid Knowles, and for my heroine, Mia Bodell, who owns a vineyard next to Reid’s ranch. Mia and Reid have known each other forever and, since a mortifying episode in high school, have been doing everything they can to avoid each other…until now, when Mia’s uncle asks Reid to help manage the vineyard.

Mia’s high school crush on Reid is a thing of the past and the budding winemaker knows better than to fall twice for a cowboy with no interest in settling down. But her new business partner has matured into a very seductive man and she can’t help but imagine how his kiss will taste…

So here’s the list I’ve compiled–with my heroine Mia’s help–of the Top Ten Ways Cowboys and Wine Are Alike.

Let’s have a drumroll, please…

  1. Both are best sipped slowly so their unique flavors speak to you.
  2. Both go great with chocolate.
  3. When they leave a bad taste in your mouth, it’s best to toss them.
  4. Both can smell absolutely amazing; both can stink to high heaven.
  5. They can be unforgettable.
  6. Both can make you dizzy, crazy, and leave you with a headache in the morning.
  7. Both can be dark, bold, sweet, and oh-so robust.
  8. They’ll warm you up on a cold night.
  9. The good ones improve with age.
  10. They’re good for the heart.

Hope you enjoyed the list, and I hope I’ve whetted your interest in Once Tasted!

Happy Reading!

~Laura

Laura Moore’s Bio: I write sexy contemporary romances and love wine, chocolate, and rugged heroes. In a pinch I could give up the wine but never the other two!

You can find me at:
Website: www.lauramoorebooks.com
Facebook: www.facebook.com/LauraMooreBooks
Twitter: www.twitter.com/LauraMooreBooks

Blurb:

Three siblings, an extraordinary family, a lasting heritage—in the irresistible Silver Creek Ranch trilogy, they’ll fight for the land and the people they love.

Everything has come easily to Reid Knowles, the middle son of a California ranching family. But his charmed life is suddenly complicated when his neighbor, Thomas Bodell, persuades him to help with the business management of his winery, which he is leaving to his niece, Mia.

In a life marked by loss, nothing has ever come easily to Mia Bodell. Love included. In high school her heart was crushed by Reid. The hurt lingers. When Mia learns of her uncle’s plan, she makes it clear that she’d rather be roped to a steer than to Reid Knowles.

A night of unbridled passion changes things. One taste of Mia awakens an unfamiliar yearning in Reid, and he vows to find a way to win her trust.

Mia is achingly aware that her teenage heartthrob has matured into a devastatingly handsome man. But can the budding winemaker trust her heart to a playboy with no interest in settling down? From Reid’s first intoxicating kiss to his unexpectedly tender seduction, Mia is swept into a passionate affair that could leave her heart in pieces . . . or give her everything she has ever wanted.

Buy: Once Tasted

Get into Bed with B.J. Daniels (Author Interview)

bj danielsKeira: Tell us a little bit about your upcoming release, “Atonement?”

B.J. Daniels: I wanted to write about Dillon Lawson, undersheriff in my Beartooth, Montana series. I’m also fascinated by twins – especially the identical ones who have taken different paths in life. With all my heroes the hard part is finding them a woman who is equal to them. Dillon deserved a strong, capable woman as a partner. A year ago, he buried his twin who he feels he failed, so he has his own demons when Tessa Winters comes into his life. Nothing is easy for Dillon so it should come as no surprise that Tessa is pregnant – and claims it is his brother’s child.

Keira: You moved to Montana at a very young age and many of your stories take place there. How do you think living in Montana has shaped you as a person and as a writer?

B.J.: Life in Montana from the age of five has had a huge impact on me and the stories. I first lived in a cabin my father built from logs in the Gallatin Valley. My brother and I had the run of the mountains with all its rocks and trees and creeks and river as well as wildlife. We often had black bear, moose and deer in the yard. My brother and I even had pet squirrels.

Later I lived on Hebgen Lake. We didn’t have electricity or a phone, but we waterskied for hours, played in the woods and had grizzly bears on the patio. I still live in a wild isolated place three hours from the closest Target store. Today, I am pretty much snowed in as a blizzard just blew through and all the roads out of town will be icy and snowpacked. But this is what I love writing about, my experiences growing up in the state I love.

Keira: What’s your go-to snack when you’re writing?

B.J.: Coke Zero. I made a rule about eating at my computer. When you’re writing you lose track of time – and anything you might be eating.  I have a friend who had a bowl of dried bananas next to her computer. One minute it was full, the next…she realized she’d just eaten 18 bananas. That’s what I would do if I had snacks while I was writing.

Keira: Where do you do most of your writing? Do you have a certain place that inspires you the most?

B.J.: I love taking the pickup and driving out into the wilds. I have written many scenes sitting on the tailgate staring out at the country. I have an office three blocks from my house, but if I am stuck on a book – I’m a seat-of-the-pants writer, so I never know what will happen next in a book — I hit the road. For some reason, the story really comes once I leave town. Where I now live there is something like .03 people per square mile so there is a lot of space to create in without seeing another soul.


Keira: You’re an avid quilter. Tell us a bit more about that creative process and how is it different from the writing process?

B.J.: Actually, it is a lot like writing. You start with nothing but a vague idea. (At least that’s the way I write – and quilt.) I often buy fabric without any clue what I am going to make with it, then I let my imagination run wild.

What I love is that a bunch of quilters can take the same fabric and yet make something so entirely different. Same with a book. Give a group of writers the same basic plot and you will get completely different books. With quilting and all the different fabrics and pattern ideas, you can get as crazy creative as you want.

Also quilters are as creative and fun as writers, so I love that.

Keira: How did you find the courage to pursue your dream of writing?

B.J.: I come from a family of storytellers. When I was a child my family camped a lot. I used to lie in the tent at night and listen to the adults sitting around the campfire telling stories. It made me want to be a writer. My father always told me I could be anything I wanted to be. I believed him. He also taught me that if I wanted something, I had to work to get it. So I went at being a writer by learning as much as I could, writing a whole lot and not giving up.

Keira: Do you have any special techniques for writing effective suspense plots?

B.J.: I love to scare myself. If I am on the edge of my seat while I am writing a scene, then I figure my readers will be too. I’m the kind of person who always looks in the back seat of my car at night to make sure there is no one back there.

Recently I was working on my next HQN and I realized I was breathing hard – and it wasn’t the love scene. I was anxious, afraid my heroine wasn’t going to get away. That is why I love writing so much. 

Keira: What is your favorite fairy tale?

B.J.: Cinderella. I think we all want to have that kind of magic in our lives – not to mention love and a handsome prince. I lucked out and got mine, but it took kissing a couple of frogs.

Cinderella is also about justice. The stepmother and stepsisters got what they deserved at the end. So that appeals to me because I write mysteries where the bad guy is going to get his.

Keira: With more than 40 short stories and 70 books published, how do you come up with new and compelling stories that capture your readers’ attention?

B.J.: It’s funny, but the ideas are always there. I’ve been fortunate that way. As I’ve mentioned, I’m a seat of the pants writer. I start with a blank page and just begin typing. I never know what is going to happen – and I love that. I couldn’t write a book that I knew the ending. I would feel as if I’d already read it. So mostly I write books that I want to read. I think that keeps me from writing the same book over and over.

Keira: Who is your fictional character crush?

B.J.: Right now it is Dillon Lawson from Atonement. He’s the kind of man we know we can depend on. You just want to curl up in his arms and ride out the winter.

I love strong men, men who would fight for their woman. Montana cowboys live by a Code of the West and Dillon is no different. There are lines he won’t cross, so he fights his growing feelings for his brother’s woman.

Keira: What are the latest trends that you are noticing in romance/romantic suspense novels these days?

B.J.: I don’t read a lot of romantic suspense because I write it. But I feel that we all take a different approach to it. Some are more romantic. Most of mine are more suspense, I think. They’re hard to write because you need a balance between the two. But I think that is what a lot of readers really like. They love suspense and romance. Kind of like chocolate and peanut butter.

Keira: What is your favorite line or phrase from “Atonement?”

B.J.: It’s the first time my hero and my pregnant heroine meet:

“Look, I’m not sure what your story is, but that baby you’re carrying? It isn’t–.”

“If you dare say it isn’t yours…” Her right hand dipped into her shoulder bag. An instant later he was staring down the barrel of a .45.

Keira: What are you working on next?

B.J.: I just finished my next HQN titled MERCY. It was the hardest book I have ever written but now that it is done, I love it. I wanted to do a different take on serial killers, so I did. I am fascinated by how two people can grow up in the same house, same genes, etc. and turn out so differently. I find it interesting also that the same horrible childhood that makes a serial killer can do just the opposite to someone else.

I also love seeing what happens to the continuing characters in the series. While each book stands alone, I like some characters who I can check back in with and see how their lives are going.

Buy: Atonement

Review: Who Wants to Marry a Cowboy? by Abigail Sharpe

who wants to marry a cowboy?Hero: Riley Pommer takes care of his family and is glad to do it. He strives to keep them together and keep the peace, but it’s hard not to blow a gasket when he finds out they’ve roped him into a “Bachelor” style event hosted on the ranch with him as the prize steer. He goes through with the event because otherwise they might have to foreclose on the ranch. He can’t imagine what sorts of women he might end up meeting in this dating competition…

Heroine: Ainsley Fairfax loves being a small business owner of a florist shop. What she doesn’t love is her mother’s constant interference into her love life. She also doesn’t love her ex… a man her mother wants her to marry. So when her sister offers to get her out of a cruise with Edward and send her instead to a Wyoming ranch with the lure of a hunky cowboy, Ainsley gladly boards a flight out west.

Review: Ainsley and Cecelia have relationship issues with their overbearing mother, Sophia. Ainsley is their mother’s last hope of securing a good marriage for the family. Cecelia is the wild child and constant disappointment. Edward lets others dictate what his life should be like and with whom he should spend his life. It’s easier than thinking things out for himself. It’s hard to sympathize with a bunch of adults letting the same person tell them all what to do. Riley was a good sport about the whole dramatized dating scenario his siblings cooked up for him. He and Ainsley had good chemistry. I felt the dating competition added just the right amount of back-and-forth-is-he-is-she. It’d be tough to figure out your feelings in such a short span of time, and more so with a bunch of other women trying to snag the same cowboy. I very much liked Meagan. She was an excellent side character and her romance was subtle and mostly background.

Rating: ★★★☆☆

Buy: Who Wants to Marry a Cowboy? (With This Ring)

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Review: Catch Me a Cowboy by Katie Lane

Catch Me a CowboyReviewed by Mailani

A woman whose lost it all and doesn’t even know it until it’s too late… that’s Shirlene Dalton. Growing up was rough on her, but she and her brother made it to the top of their little town in Bramble, Texas. Shirlene, who’s widowed by her lucrative older husband, losses a great deal of her fortune through a mismanagement of her funds. A Texas damsel in distress, she works at covering up her financial problems from the town and family. She’ll do anything to appear
unscathed by her loss, even moving back into an old unused trailer, a childhood home, after losing her substantial house to foreclosure.

Upon moving into the trailer, she finds out she’s not the only tenet… but one of four others. A teenager with a chip on her shoulder, a little preteen salesman, and a screaming baby… whatever is she to do? She makes a deal with the children, that she wont turn them in… in the processes of helping them, finds out what’s she’s been missing in her
posh life… motherhood.

Through all this growth, you’d be shocked to find out that she just so happens to be living next to a crude sexy cowboy, whom she just can’t get enough of. His boyish good guy ways, strike a cord in her heart… until she finds out who this man truly happens to be, and why he’s come to her town. The man she falls in love with came to destroy her town and all in his path… including her. The Banker… a man whom plans revenge on Bramble to right a curse that’s affected his family for generations.

All in all, I felt like the romance wasn’t a great build up; the infatuation was a little too immediate; but the description of the banker will live forever in my good old Texas boy fantasies. Swoon.

Rating: ★★★½☆

Buy: Catch Me a Cowboy (Deep in the Heart of Texas)

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Review + Giveaway: Big Sky Country (Parable, Book 1) by Linda Lael Miller

big sky countryHero: Divorced Sheriff Slade Barlow’s father is the richest rancher in Parable, Montana, but illegitimate Slade was never acknowledged… until his passing. Slade is claimed for the first time in John Carmody’s will and given half of the Whisper Creek Ranch. Hutch, his half-brother and the legitimate heir, is not thrilled. He is not inclined to share – the ranch or the girl.

Heroine: Joslyn Kirk used to live as a spoiled popular rich girl, until her stepfather cheated many in town of their life savings. After his death in prison, Joslyn returns to Parable hoping to make amends for his actions. She sells her software company and quietly pays back those who were defrauded. Her return to town is not an easy one, many are suspicious of her.

Romance is complicated by life – Joslyn is Hutch’s high school sweetheart and Slade’s teenage stepdaughter, Shae, wants to come live with him.

Review: Two feuding cowboys? I’m in! The competitive give and take, back and forth, between Hutch and Slade really make the book. Nicer still is the positive turn to the rivalry later in the story.

I never really understood why Joslyn wouldn’t continue making computer software as she could always start another business for it. It seemed strange to waste her college education by switching over to work as a receptionist in a small town real estate agency.

I love Slade – strong, quiet, muscles, gentleman, dreamer, a good stepfather, a hot lover, a sense of humor, plus he’s a sheriff!

Rating: ★★★★☆

Buy: Big Sky Country

Excerpt from Linda Lael Miller’s Big Sky Country:

John Carmody had never once acknowledged him, in all Slade’s thirty-five years of life, and it wasn’t likely that he’d had a deathbed change of heart and altered his will to include the product of his long-ago affair with Callie.

No, Slade thought, Carmody hadn’t had a heart, not where he and his mother were concerned, anyway. He’d never so much as spoken to Slade in all those years; looked right through him, when they did come into contact, as if he was invisible. If that stiff-necked son of a bitch had instructed Maggie to make sure Slade was there for the reading of the will, it was probably so he’d know what he was missing out on, when all that land and money went to Hutch.

You can stick it all where the sun never shines, old man. Slade thought angrily. He’d never expected—or wanted—to inherit a damn thing from John Carmody—bad enough that he’d gotten the bastard’s looks, his dark hair, lean and muscular build, and blue eyes—and it galled him that Maggie, his mother’s friend, would be a party to wasting his time like this.

Buy: Big Sky Country

Follow along on the blog tour: http://booktrib.com/blog-tour-big-sky-country-by-nyt-bestselling-author-linda-lael-miller/.

GIVEAWAY: I have 1 print copy of Big Sky Country up for grabs. Open to readers living within US or Canada. Enter by leaving a comment. Last day to enter is June 8, 2012. Good luck!

Secrets, Wagon Trains, and Traveling West

WildestDreams

Guest Blog by Rosanne Bittner, author of WILDEST DREAMS

Hello from Rosanne Bittner!

Glad to visit in response to the publication of my book, WILDEST DREAMS, this month! Be sure to visit my “virtual” Valentine Party at http://rosannebittner-virtualvalentine.blogspot.com/.

In response to the subjects you proposed I comment, I’ll do my best to answer.

Secrets that Scar:

Interesting topic. I wasn’t sure what you were looking for on this, but when I thought about it I realized that I have used this within my plots in many of my books, including WILDEST DREAMS.

In the beginning of the story, a secret the heroine tries to hide keeps her from allowing herself to fall in love and from believing the hero could really love her in return. The secret she carries truly has “scarred” her heart and her self confidence. In the brand new book I recently finished and which is now being shopped by my agent (PARADISE VALLEY) the heroine carries a secret all the way through the story – one that she knows could ruin the hero’s love for her. As is usually best, she should have told the hero to begin with, rather than allow him to find out in the wrong way, which only makes the secret more damaging once discovered – but as always in a good romance, loved wins out!

Finding Love on a Westbound Wagon Train:

Well, how could this not have happened in real historical journeys west? Of course, with the hardship of such a journey, there really wasn’t much in the way of “romantic” atmosphere on those real trips west. The journey was very difficult, with no bathing facilities, heat, mosquitoes, robbers, arguments, breakdowns, deaths, cooking on the trail, sleeping on the ground, endless chores, endless walking … well, it just wasn’t conducive to finding love.

Anyone on such a trip was probably too worn out to care. But human nature being what it is, love was bound to happen. Too often, a man and woman would marry for convenience and find a way to fall in love later. A man might lose his wife along the way and need a woman to cook for him and take care of young ones. In return, a woman who became widowed along the way needed a man to help with the arduous chores and to protect her and provide for her children. In such situations people married for practical reasons and fell in love “later” simply through living together and being grateful they found a partner who fulfilled their needs. Love in such circumstances was a far cry from what we think of love in modern times. I call it “necessary love.” In my books my characters sometimes found this necessary love and ended up truly falling in love, but usually, because I write romance, there is strong attraction to begin with.

Creating Historical Authenticity:

This is something I work very hard to do in my stories. Naturally, if an author was “down to the bones” realistic in writing 1800’s westerns, people would be dead by 35, have no teeth, not smell very good and not be in the best of health. I don’t go that far in my stories, but I do try to be as realistic as possible to lend authenticity to situations in my stories. I also work hard on writing authentic locations, clothing, mannerisms and such – and I use real locations and real historical events, into which I wrap my fictional characters and my own fictional story. I have often heard from readers who feel they learned some real American history in a very entertaining way through reading my books. That makes me very happy. I do a tremendous amount of research for my books. I have visited nearly every location mentioned in my stories and have been traveling the West for over 30 years. Most of my research books come from the libraries of the University of Oklahoma and the University of Nebraska.

Thanks so much, and I hope everybody enjoys WILDEST DREAMS!

Buy: WILDEST DREAMS

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Review: Love Drunk Cowboy by Carolyn Brown

by Susan S., guest reviewer

Love Drunk Cowboy roped me right into its pages, branded my heart, and busted my review-o-meter. Best Western Romance…I’ve ever read!

Spikes & Spurs Romance Series: Book One

Summary: Granny Lanier passed away; leaving behind her home and watermelon farm to her granddaughter, Austin. One would think it a small comfort knowing they’ve just inherited acres and acres of land. Well, Ms. Lanier isn’t entirely sold on the idea. She’s a city gal who’s about to earn the promotion of a lifetime; becoming the dept. head of Humphrey’s Oil Co. in Tulsa.

Austin has plans for her future. So she’ll just sell the farm and continue living her dreams. But after spending the best two weeks of her life in Terral, Oklahoma, Lanier begins to question if her dreams are really her own, or her mother’s. Not only that, Granny’s neighbor (Rye O’Donnell) has started working his way into Austin’s heart. Who wouldn’t fall madly in love with a green-eyed cowboy with a sexy drawl and a stagger that’ll make anyone with eyeballs faint? Rye (hero) is everything a “cowgirl” would want. He’s hard-working, sexy, funny, and passionate. There’s only one problem. She’s… not… a cowgirl!

Will Austin find her hillbilly bone before she loses her cowboy, or will she run from Terral screamin’ and clutchin’ her sexy spikes?

Review: Review-O-Meter: Out of Order!

My review-o-meter’s busted! After reading Love Drunk Cowboy I set it so dang-high, it ticked its last rating. (Now’s a good time to play, “Some Beach” by Blake Shelton). In case you missed it, I just made a funny.

I enjoyed the Lucky trilogy and loved every second of the Honky Tonk Series, but hot-d-damn…loved everything about book one of the Spikes & Spurs Series. It’s funny and sweet and romantic. I’m not sure how the author intends to top book one, but I have every intention of finding out. This was just a crazy fun read. What draws me to Carolyn Brown’s novels again and again is her ability to take the mundane activities of daily living, then mold them into something fun. Her books also give me that happy feeling not unlike the feeling I get when I hear, “Red Dirt Road” by Brooks & Dunn. You know…that happy feeling that makes you want to sing. No matter who’s looking, or listening.

Favorite Scene(s): There were so many. I had to narrow it down to two, just to avoid giving away a hundred spoilers. I suppose the first would be where Rye carries Austin across the road to her place…while they’re kissing…in the rain. The runner-up scene would be when Lanier is in a business meeting. She’s distracted because she’s sexting with O’Donnell.

Recommendations: Recommended for readers who enjoy the friends-to-lovers trope, western romances, and feel-good reads which leave you sporting permanent smiles.

What’s Next? Book two, Red’s Hot Cowboy, will be released this fall. Will I read it? Do I enjoy reading while drinking a great cup o Joe? Insert Y-E-S (here).

Review-O-Meter arrow stuck on Rating: ★★★★★

Buy: Love Drunk Cowboy

Sourcebooks Casablanca, an imprint of Sourcebooks, Inc. Western Romance, Copyright May 2011, Mass Market Paperback, Print Pages 395. ISBN-13# 978-1-4022-5358-4

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Review: Heart of Stone by Jill Marie Landis

by Zarabeth, guest reviewer

I liked this novel a lot, but I can’t quite give it a 5. Let me tell you why I liked it first.

Great characters and a fantastic job setting up their backgrounds at the very front of the book. I felt like I knew them all by page 30.

Excellent knowledge of the period and landscape of the frontier– especially for a woman alone.

Wonderful cultivation of the relationship between our Heroine, Laura, and Hero, Brand. Landis gives us awesome little glimpses inside both of their minds throughout the book.

There isn’t much love/sex/intimacy or whatever you want to dub it, but this one didn’t need any at all. It was better without it. This one got to be about the relationship– hooray!

So what’s with the 4.5? The heroine commits one of my romance novel pet peeves- she keeps everything in her head and runs away because he’ll be better off… I promise that wasn’t a spoiler, not really.

So 4.5 but a glowing 4.5. Do we do 4.9999 on LRP??? :P

Rating: ★★★★½

Buy: Heart of Stone: A Novel (Irish Angel Series)

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