Some days I feel old because I remember long before Internet, long before video on demand and MP3s, I listened to .45 records, watched black and white westerns on Saturdays and had showdowns in the apartment complex corral everyday as we battled it out for the roles of cowboys and Indians.
The Simple Joy of Being a Cowboy
Cowboys always seemed to have the freedom to live life on their own terms. As an adult, I recognize that living on your own terms also means surviving against the odds. Beyond the simple romance of riding the trails, there were the sore muscles, the threat of disease, the lack of medicine, the constant search for viable drinking water, dealing with wild animals, hostiles and again, the natural fury of Mother Nature whether it was a storm, the landscape or something else.
Yet, cowboys remain romantic. They are the dusty knights of the Old West, with jingling spurs instead of suits of armor and six guns instead of swords.
Back in Time
When it came to writing Marshal of Hel Dorado, I imagined that I was diving into a novella, a short romp back in time to world that mingled the spaghetti westerns of Clint Eastwood with the sweeping epics of John Wayne and some good old-fashioned Saturday afternoon fun ala Big Valley and Bonanza (both series that heavily featured brothers), but an odd thing happened when I started to write.
I immersed myself, I found that by eliminating modern conveniences, a ten-mile ride on a horse could take half a day or more instead of twenty minutes in a car. These opportunities were tremendous for character interaction and development, but also challenging because the very elements that attracted me to writing the story were the same elements that stretched my novella into a full-length novel.
But the best part of Marshal of Hel Dorado was taking those risks, taking the time to ride for weeks, to take risks in an unfriendly environment. I would find myself imagining the soreness after riding all day (fortunately, I rode horses for years so I knew what would hurt) as well as spending time trying to figure out what you can eat when you’re on a trail all day, what options you have for treating wounds and better yet, what kisses were like if they weren’t drugged kisses…
A Whole New Adventure
I think the Fevered Hearts series represents a personal challenge, but it’s also a chance to go back to those days when I played cowboys and Indians, when there was a distinct line between right and wrong, honor meant something and the world was doused in shades of gray.
Admittedly, it doesn’t hurt that the brothers are hot. Some are bad boys, some are easy-going and more than a few have hidden mysteries. If I’ve piqued your curiosity, you meet most of the boys in Marshal of Hel Dorado.
Won’t you come play cowboy with me?
Marshal of Hel Dorado Excerpt
A welcoming whicker from Dawn jerked her eyes open and lightning split the sky wide open, backlighting the figure filling the cave entrance.
She couldn’t believe it.
Sam stalked inside the cave, water rolling off the brim off his hat and dripping down the sides of the horse he led inside. He dropped the reins and pounced her before she could go for the gun.
Water from his oil coat soaked through her britches and undershirt as he plucked the gun from the holster. She scrabbled, but he was already flipping her over, sitting on her abandoned rock. She landed on her stomach, across his knees. She turned her head, glaring up at him.
“You wouldn’t dare!”
“Oh wouldn’t I?”
She yelped as his hand landed on her backside with a stinging slap.
“That’s for running.”
The second slap wrung tears of surprise and outrage from her eyes.
“That’s for hitting me.”
The third set her lower lip trembling as a fire of tingles burned through the numbness of her backside.
“That’s for charming Micah into letting you keep going.”
By the fourth slap, Scarlett’s cheeks burned in humiliation and fury.
“That’s for taking my damn gun.”
He stood, dumping her onto the rock floor in front of him before retrieving his gun and going to his horse. Her ass stung worse than the time Wyatt had switched her for nearly burning down the outhouse.
With Wyatt in it.
Sam stripped off the horse’s gear, rubbed him dry and pulled out a pouch of feed from his saddlebags. She eased over onto her side, careful to not sit. Her bottom protested even that little movement. It took Sam minutes to feed both horses and then he was turning back to her, walking over, and reclaiming the rock to sit on.
Even in the half gray light of the cave she could read the thunderous look on his face, the tightness to his jaw, the outline of a bruise on his cheek and the red lump swelling just below his hairline. He opened a canteen, a twin for the one that Micah passed off to her, and held it out to her.
“Now, you were going to explain…”
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About Heather Long
You can keep up with Heather and her releases via her website at http://www.heatherlong.net Heather Long lives in Texas with her family and their menagerie of animals. As a child, Heather skipped picture books and enjoyed the Harlequin romance novels by Penny Jordan and Nora Roberts that her grandmother read to her. Heather believes that laughter is as important to life as breathing and that the Easter Bunny, the Tooth Fairy and Santa Claus are very real. In the meanwhile, she is hard at work on her next novel.