Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Pam Crooks on The Cattle Drive

There are few things that smack of the Old West as much as a cattle drive and all that one entailed--cowboys, drovers, rowdy cowtowns. Remudas of horses and thousands of head of longhorn cattle. Dust and sweat--and fortunes made at the end of the line.
But one lesser known facet of the era is the cattle queen, that rare and intriguing breed of woman who owned her own ranch and herd. A hard life made harder without a man at her side.
I had long wanted to build a story combining those parts of America’s history, and UNTAMED COWBOY was born.
But once I had the plot in mind, my creativity stalled. What did I know about cattle drives--besides almost nothing? So I hit the Internet and found some lovely rare book sites. Along the way, I uncovered some intriguing tidbits of information. I’ll share a few with you:

1. The horns on longhorn cattle had a spread of up to seven feet wide and were strong enough to rip bark off a tree.

2. The average size herd during the peak of the cattle drive era was 3,000 head. It took a remuda of 75 horses and 7 - 10 cowboys to drive the herds. Trail bosses were paid $100/month, the cook $50/month and each cowboy, $30/month. Minimal expenses for herds that when sold netted their owners $100,000 for a trip that took anywhere from several weeks to several months. Do the math. That’s a hefty profit for the time.

3. The usual fare for cowboys was beans, bacon, hard biscuits and strong coffee. Ironically, though they were surrounded by beef, the outfits rarely killed a beef on the trail because only a smart part of the meat could be eaten before it spoiled.

4. In dry country, thirsty cattle could smell water ten miles away.

5. Lightning was the most common cause of death on the trail. During a storm, the cowboys would hide their silver (metal spurs, knives, even six-shooters) to avoid being struck.

For those rare times when beef was available, the camp cook would make his own version of “Sonofabitch Stew.” Here’s one yummy-sounding recipe:
2 lbs. lean beef
Half a calf heart
1 ½ pounds calf liver
1 set sweetbreads (thymus gland)
1 set brains
1 set marrow gut
Salt, Pepper
Louisiana hot sauce

Kill off a young steer and cut up beef, liver and heart into 1 inch cubes. Slice the marrow gut into small rings. Place in a Dutch oven or deep casserole. Cover meat with water and simmer 2 - 3 hours.

Add salt, pepper and hot sauce to taste. Take sweetbreads and brains and cut in small pieces. Add to stew. Simmer another hour, never boiling.

I’m writing the sequel to UNTAMED COWBOY now, and it should be out next spring. Stop by my website to learn about my upcoming book, a Christmas anthology, out in October. While you’re there, sign up for my newsletter, too. It’s free!

Saturday, July 07, 2007

Victoria Bylin: A Perfect Cover

The handsome guy on the cover of MIDNIGHT MARRIAGE is Andrew Larsen. Andrew won the Viewers’ Choice Award in the 2005 Mr. Romance reality show aired on the Oxygen Channel.

In real life, Andrew’s a fishing guide in Alaska and Oregon. Judging by the pictures on Kingmefishing.com, he’s caught more than his share of big fish . . . and I do mean big! Take a tour through the photo gallery and you'll see Andrew with a fish almost as tall as he is.

Andrew may be a fisherman by profession, but he’s Rafe LaCroix to me. Of all my covers, this one is my favorite. Andrew is perfect as the bounty hunter who kidnaps Dr. Susanna Leaf. Susanna’s dress is the perfect shade of blue, and the candles capture the romance of a clandestine marriage.

Harlequin recently set out to find everyday men for their covers. An outdoorsman and an entrepreneur, Andrew fills those shoes--make that cowboy boots--perfectly.

Sunday, July 01, 2007

July HHRelease: Untamed Cowboy by Pam Crooks

Untamed Cowboy
Carina Lockett is tough—she lives only for her ranch and daughter. So when her girl is kidnapped and the cattle demanded as ransom, Carina stands to lose everything! She needs the best there is to help her, and that's Penn McClure—a mysterious, darkly handsome cowboy….

Penn is hell-bent on revenge, and Carina's cattle will lead him to it. As they ride the trail together, they share more than a passion for justice—Penn has made Carina feel like a woman again. But with all that's at stake, can she save her legacy and tame his heart?

Read the excerpt

Buy Untamed Cowboy

July HH Release: Seduction of An English Beauty by Miranda Jarrett

Lady Diana Farren is no stranger to scandal. She's been sent abroad and instructed to behave herself. Diana has all the best intentions, but soon she is swept away by the passion of Italy—and of its most notorious seducer, Antonio di Randolfo!

Tall, dark and smooth as silk, Antonio draws out all of her sensual longings. But when Diana's past catches up with her, danger looms on the horizon, and Antonio might not be everything he seems….

Read the excerpt

Buy Seduction of An English Beauty


July HH & MBH Release: The Roman's Virgin Mistress by Michelle Styles

Silvana Junia knows what the gossips say about her—and doesn't care! Until a mysterious, dangerous stranger rescues her from the sea, and she's instantly drawn to him.

Lucius Aurelius Fortis is rich and respected. But his playboy past could come back to haunt him if he cannot resist his attraction to beautiful Silvana. And in the hot sun of Baiae, their every move is watched….

Tempted beyond endurance, Silvana will become his mistress. But she has one last shocking secret…which will change everything between them!

Read the excerpt

July HH Release: The Stranger by Elizabeth Lane

A terrifying encounter with a band of desperados left Laura Shafton a fearful widow and a scarred beauty. So when a tall, dark stranger came knocking on her door, she greeted him with a rifle—cocked and loaded.

Every instinct told her to turn Caleb McCurdy away—except she needed a man's help. Soon Laura discovered his hard body hid a warm heart that melted all her fears away. But the dark places in Caleb's past would divide them, unless Laura could learn a tough lesson about forgiveness.

Read the excerpt

July HH Release: The Daring Duchess by Paula Marshal

The Daring Duchess
Sir Neville Fortescue MP comes from a long line of rakes and hell-raisers—and he's determined to live a decent life. He certainly doesn't associate with women like the notoriously unconventional Diana, Duchess of Medbourne.

But when Neville and Diana are forced together to help a servant girl, they plunge into a shady world of brothels, plots and murder. Neville realizes that he has underestimated the beautiful young widow—and his own love of danger and adventure. Could staid Sir Neville be a fit match for the Daring Duchess?

Read the excerpt

The Daring Duchess

July HH Release: The Rogue's Kiss by Emily Bascom

The Rogue's Kiss
Under cover of darkness, a highwayman silently waits. In an approaching carriage travels a beautiful woman—entirely alone.
Lady Roisin Melville is escaping London and the fortune-hunting gentlemen of the ton, only to be held up by a masked figure. He demands her money or her life—she will sacrifice neither. But something about his broad shoulders and soft Scottish burr keeps her from immediately firing her pistol.
With her gun trained on this daring rogue, can Roisin persuade him to take nothing more than a kiss?

Read the excerpt

The Rogue's Kiss