Do you wonder why authors choose a particular location for their books? Peggy loves Yellowstone National Park and used its beauty before it became a national treasure as a background for her wonderful stories. As a Texan, I enjoy setting my books and novellas in my state. Texas is a big state, though, with diverse landscapes.
How do I choose?
First, I write about locales I enjoy visiting. That’s what happened several years ago when my husband and I learned of the open house at an historic ranch about forty miles from our home. We visited the Belding-Gibson Ranch in Palo Pinto County. Part of this ranch was taken in by the formation of Possum Kingdom Lake, known locally as PK. The occasion of the open house was to announce the release of Barbara Belding Gibson’s book about the ranch, PAINTED POLE: The Beldings and Their Ranches in Palo Pinto County – Pioneer Days to Computer Age by Sunbelt Eakin Press.
I had used this lake for a modern story, OUT OF THE BLUE, featuring a heroine who travels from the past to help a modern police detective solve several murders. This was my first visit to this ranch. The Belding-Gibson Ranch started in 1859 with a 12 by 12 cedar log cabin. Fortunately, the Gibsons who own what remains of the ranch have preserved the cabin, the smokehouse, and as much of the original homestead as possible. The ranch is beautiful with huge live oaks dotting the pastures and offering shade for cattle.
The old cabin now is a bathroom in the Gibson’s home. Hard to visualize a family living in a room that size, and at first only the Belding forefather lived there. The smokehouse is now a storage room/pantry. A cold room, actually a furrow filled with running water, kept milk cool. Now it’s a part of a hallway leading to a family room. I so appreciate people like the Beldings and Gibsons who value their heritage and preserve it.
The area was inhabited by cedar cutters and hunters in 1854—and Comanche and Kiowa. People from Colorado might laugh at the Palo Pinto Mountains and say they look like big hills. Geographically, they are genuine mountains covered in live oak, scrub oak, cedar, and other native trees such as elm hackberry, and cottonwood. The scrub oaks turn lovely colors in the fall, which is why the Native Americans named them palo pinto, or painted stick or post.
No, they’re not as pretty as Vermont’s fall colors, but give us a break. They are beautiful in their own rite. Cedars and live oaks retain their dark green foliage among the fall hues of the scrub oaks. My favorite time to drive through this area is spring when trees and grass are green and wildflowers abound.
Live oaks are a species of oak, not an oak this is living. Of course it is living, but the tree gets its name because while it is deciduous, it bears thick clusters of dark green leaves year round. I used that feature to help the heroine of HIGH STAKES BRIDE, Men of Stone Mountain book 2, escape capture. Which brings me a chance to segue to my book BLUEBONNET BRIDE, Men of Stone Mountain, book 3.
The three Stone brothers have settled in the Palo Pinto Mountains to raise cattle. In book one, BRAZOS BRIDE, they face a drought and a heroine someone wants dead. By book three, the first two brothers have married and only Joel Stone, eldest, is single. He’s sheriff of the fictional town of Radford Springs, and an excellent lawman. While his brothers each have ranches of thousands of acres, Joel’s smaller ranch is managed by a foreman. I love setting a series of books in this locale, and I’m sure it will pop up again with spin off characters from the Men of Stone Mountain series.
BLUEBONNET BRIDE is Joel’s story, and he finally meets the woman for him. Too bad she isn’t receptive to his attention. Joel is not a man to give up easily, but he doesn’t know the terrible secret Rosalyn hides.
He’s a by-the-book Texas sheriff; she’s on the run from a murder conviction...
When a tornado provides Rosalyn with the opportunity to escape the gallows, she collects her daughter Lucy and flees. They travel far enough West that Rosalyn believes she’s gone to the ends of the earth. She hopes she and Lucy will be safe in this remote North Texas town where she embarks on a new life as a dressmaker. If only she could avoid contact with people, especially the handsome sheriff who pops up every time she turns around. She fears either she or her chatterbox daughter may slip and reveal too much.
Joel Stone has been content with his life, even if it’s not the one he’d dreamed. His younger brothers are married and living nearby, his aunts have moved to Radford Springs, and he is respected for the efficient job he does as sheriff. When he meets the new widow in town, his instant attraction staggers him. She appears uninterested, but he is determined to win her hand in marriage.
But life doesn’t turn out the way either Rosalyn or Joel plan. They overcome temporary obstacles, but what of the secret she protects? Can he save her from the gallows?
Does that tempt you? BLUEBONNET BRIDE is my favorite cover so far. My friend Nelda Liles in Frisco, Texas gave me several of her excellent bluebonnet photos taken at the annual Ennis, Texas “Bluebonnet Trail.” I found the photo representing Rosalyn on iStock. I hope you find this cover irresistible. My sweet husband combined them and completed the cover.
Here’s an excerpt from BLUEBONNET BRIDE where Joel has just hung a swing for Rosalyn’s daughter Lucy:
Lucy did as he asked. He thought he could shinny down the rope so he wrapped his legs and hands around it. He would have been all right if Mrs. Dumas hadn’t chosen that moment to come outside. She shaded her eyes with her hand, but the sunlight hit her hair and turned it molten golden red.
He stared at her and lost his concentration. His legs drooped and his fingers tired of supporting him. He dropped to the ground in a tumble. The fall knocked the breath from his lungs and he lay there amid twigs and leaves. He blinked and tried to focus through watery eyes.
Mrs. Dumas knelt beside him. “Oh my word. Sheriff Stone, are you all right? Is anything broken?”
He sat up and conked his head on the swing seat. He rubbed the spot and grinned. “Not my most glorious moment, but I’ll survive.” He stood, wincing at the pain in his back where he’d hit the broken limb.
“Please let me help you inside. Lucy, get his coat and hat.”
Going anywhere with her sounded good. She took his arm and led him into the kitchen. He didn’t feel at all guilty throwing a limp into his walk.
“Sit at the table and tell me where you’re injured.”
“I’m fine, ma’am. Just need to sit a while and clear my head.” He remembered this kitchen from when the Brown family lived here. Already she’d begun changing the appearance by moving furniture around. The table was much nicer where diners could look at the back yard while eating.
She pumped water into a glass and set it in front of him. “What were you thinking? You could have broken your neck.”
“I realize that now. At the time, it seemed an easy enough task.” He downed the water then smiled at Lucy. “I had a good helper.”
Lucy giggled. “Giant sheriffs can fall after all.”
“Apparently so. The swing’s strong enough for you, though.”
“Mommy, may I go swing now?”
“Just be careful of that broken limb until we can clear it away.”
“I’d better do that.” He started to rise.
She pushed him back onto his seat. “You sit right there until I’m sure you’re all right. Does your head hurt? How’s your vision? Do you see double?” She tilted his head so their gazes met.
“My vision is fine, ma’am, and I sure am glad. You have the prettiest eyes I’ve ever seen.”
She jerked her hand back so fast you’d think she’d been burned. He savored the warmth where her fingers had touched his jaw.
“Humph. Apparently there’s nothing wrong with you, sheriff.” She fisted her hands on her hips. “At least no damage from your fall.”
“I’ll just move that branch out of Lucy’s way and then get back to my business.” He stood and bent to grab his coat from where Lucy had dropped it.
She grabbed his arm. “Wait. There’s blood seeping through your clothes. Sit down and take off your shirt.”
He froze and considered following her request before sanity gained a toehold. “Nothing I’d like better, Mrs. Dumas, than having you tend my cuts and scrapes. Seeing as how you’re a widow on your own, I reckon I’d better get on to Doc Ross’s and let him see if there’s a problem. This is a small town, and I sure would hate if anything I did caused gossip to smirch your good name.”
Her expression softened. “Thank you, sheriff. I appreciate that more than I can say. I’m pleased you’re truly a gentleman.”
Joel pulled on his coat and left. He kicked himself all the way to the doctor’s office.
I’m sorry the book has not yet reached iTunes, Nook, or Kobo, but can be purchased for those e-readers at Smashwords, https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/287177?ref=CarolineClemmons
The print and e-book version are available from Amazon at
Caroline Clemmons is an Amazon bestselling author of historical and contemporary western romances whose books have garnered numerous awards. Her most recent novel, BLUEBONNET BRIDE, is a poignant tale of tender redemption. A frequent speaker at conferences and seminars, she has taught workshops on characterization, point of view, and layering a novel.
Caroline and her husband live in the heart of Texas cowboy country with their menagerie of rescued pets. When she’s not indulging her passion for writing, Caroline enjoys reading, travel, antiquing, genealogy, painting, and getting together with friends. Find her on her blog, website, Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, and Pinterest.
Thanks to Peggy for having me as her guest today. And thank you, readers, for stopping by.