For those just now finding this countdown, here’s what’s going on! This is what I said when I began the countdown at the start of this week:
“In only fifteen days, DOWN IN TEXAS, will hit the shelves. So, it’s my mission to make sure that you are all so pumped about the book that you a) beg your local bookstore to make sure they have a copy ordered for you, or b) pre-order the book so that it’s shipped as soon as it’s available. And be warned, I’m going to make it irresistible for you to ignore my siren’s call. I love this book. I believe 100% you’re going to love it, too. But don’t take my word for it now. Let me seduce you for the next fifteen days.”
Today, I’m heading to Little Rock to attend a meeting with the Diamond State Romance Authors. My friend Layla Chase is flying up from San Antonio, and together with Shayla Kersten, we will go from the meeting straight up to north Arkansas for some location research. ROAD TRIP! I promise I’ll take a lot of pictures, but for now, what that means here is that I won’t be posting tomorrow’s reason. So, I thought I better have one great big reason to satisfy you for the next two days.
What better and bigger reason than DOWN IN TEXAS is set in TEXAS!
Okay, groan if you like. But I lived there for nine years until very recently, and another four when I was a teenager. I love it. It inspires me to write stories as big and rugged as the country. For Kensington alone, I’ve written three novellas set in that great state—one each for WILD, WILD WOMEN OF THE WEST I and II, and HOT BLOODED, which will be in TO TEMPT A COWBOY next summer. DOWN IN TEXAS is my first single title book, but will be followed by TEXAS MEN next year.
This is how I described the opening scene, based on my own experiences in the southwest Texas. And remember, setting is more that just the scenery to a writer–it’s everything we do to set the stage and tone for the story that follows:
Her daddy had always told her a man’s worth wasn’t measured by the size of his bank account or the square footage of his house. Rather, it could be seen in the proud set of his shoulders or a gaze that didn’t waiver.
Her mama had said a man’s strength was in his hands—strong and soothing when an animal or a child needed comfort—hot and wild when a woman needed shaking up.
Looking at Brand now, Lyssa McDonough knew exactly what they’d both meant.
If she had any sense at all she’d turn tail and run. Everything about the man screamed heartbreaker.
Only she couldn’t. Instead, she settled her shoulder against the fence post, kept her breaths shallow and even, and pretended she wasn’t melting inside.
As long as she could remember, Brand had that effect on her—long before she admitted, even to herself, how much he moved her. Today, dressed in a wash-softened chambray shirt that stretched across his broad chest, blue jeans that hugged lean hips, and leather chaps encasing thick thighs, he was the embodiment of any woman’s favorite cowboy fantasy.
Once again, she wished she affected him the same way—that just looking at her made him breathless. Only the sight she presented him this moment would never inspire lust.
Covered in dust and sweat, with hair straggling from the confines of its rubber band, she was grimy, bloody, and anything but attractive.
Too far away to read his expression, she watched how he stood in the stirrups as he topped the hill, head turning to scan the countryside. When his gaze landed on her, his back stiffened, he settled into his saddle, and his boots spurred his horse to bring him fast down the hill.
Things could have turned out worse.
The day might have broken with a cloudless, blue sky and a white-hot sun beating relentlessly on her unprotected face. Early summer in southwest Texas could be ruthless, but thick gray clouds had gathered, shielding her from the worst of the heat. Still, she was thirsty, and her canteen was deep in the satchel of the horse that had to be halfway back to the ranch house by now.
She might not have worn the industrial-padded bra that was the only thing keeping one nasty barb from tearing the tender flesh of her breast like the other that pierced the back of her shoulder. The pointed barb only pricked, a reminder not to take deeper breaths. Vanity had guided her choice. She’d chosen the thick-cupped bra hoping she’d see him today, hoping he’d finally take a closer look and realize she was more than his best friend’s little sister.
More than an obligation he’d accepted.
The promise he’d made was the crux of her problem with Brandon Tynan.
Read yesterday’s entry where we meet Mac McDonough, and you should “see” a difference in the setting. He’s miles away from open ranch country. He’s in the rugged Hill Country.
Let me know how well I did my job. Also let me know how well I’m doing with convincing you that DOWN IN TEXAS is a book you can’t miss!
Remember, you must post comments to be eligible to win one of the prizes I am giving away during this countdown. The next winner will be announced Tuesday AM!