Monday, December 18, 2023

Falling for a Real Cowboy by Karen Baney



About the Book


Book: Falling for a Real Cowboy

Author: Karen Baney

Genre: Contemporary Christian Cowboy Romance

Release Date: November 21, 2023

She’s trying to resurrect her career. He’s sworn off women. Will this city-meets-country duo find love where they least expect it?

Dalton J. Vargas the fourth has sworn off love. Women are just a distraction that keep him from running his family’s multi-million-dollar guest ranch near Wickenburg, Arizona. After his father announces an early retirement, the full burden of the ranch rests on his shoulders. When a city-slicker romance author stays at the ranch, Dalton’s perfect world turns to chaos.

River Sloane’s last workplace romance novel flopped—big time. Now her publisher wants her to write a modern-day cowboy romance, which she has resisted for years. When her publisher sends her to a dude ranch in the middle of nowhere Arizona, she must learn about cowboys and ranching to get her career back on track. One hunky cowboy stirs her heart and unexpectedly becomes her muse.

Will she let herself fall in love with the real cowboy or will she return to the life she left behind? Will Dalton open his heart to a new, lasting love?


Click here to get your copy!

 I received a complimentary copy of this book. All opinions given are my own and not an endorsement of all authors opinions. 

Author Interview


1. What/Who inspired you to write on the main themes found in the book?

I had so much fun writing my historical Colter Sons Series about a big family, and I wanted to write another series about a big family in a contemporary setting. So, I started researching dude ranches (guest ranches) in Arizona and the stories about the wonderful, entrepreneurial families I discovered inspired the idea behind Vargas Guest Ranch & Resort.

One dude ranch made it very clear from their About Us page they were strong Christians and they also cared deeply about wheelchair-bound guests. My heart was deeply touched. This inspired how I developed the Vargas family. The second book in the series, Falling for a Shy Cowboy, deals with a single mom of a little boy whose legs were amputated.


2. Which character in your book do you relate to the most?


As a romance writer, choosing to branch into a new-for-me subgenre, it was a lot of fun putting my heroine, River Sloane, in the same position. I identified with her. Many of her feelings, thoughts, and prayers about this change are ones I felt and prayed throughout writing Falling for a Real CowboyI enjoyed poking fun at my career through her character. I hope you enjoy some of the tongue-in-cheek Easter eggs.


3. What made you choose the setting/time period for this book? 


I love writing stories set in Arizona. I love the beauty of the desert and the rich history of the state. For thirteen years, I’ve traveled all over the state, researching the history and visiting many wonderful small cities and towns. During that time, my husband and I attended a parade and cowboy show in the fall in Wickenburg, Arizona. I’ve been dying to use the small city and surrounding area in a contemporary story. When brainstorming and researching for the Vargas Ranch Series, I discovered a wonderful dude ranch in Wickenburg (and one in Mohave) that provided the inspiration behind the ranch, even though I decided to locate Vargas Ranch about 30 minutes to the west just north of Forepaugh. There’s a beautiful stretch of Bureau of Land Management land there with a peak—which I named Dalton Peak in the novel.


4. Did you have to step out of your comfort zone to write this book? If so, how? 


This is my first contemporary cowboy romance series. I know it may sound odd since I’ve written plenty of historical cowboy romances set on a ranch, but I felt intimidated thinking about writing on a modern ranch setting. In hindsight, I don’t know why. I’m glad I pushed through the feeling, completed my research, and moved forward anyway. I really enjoyed building Vargas Guest Ranch & Resort as a setting and getting to know the town of Wickenburg, Arizona more.

5. What message do you hope readers take away from your book? 

The underlying theme is about God’s timing. We see His hand in both Dalton’s and River’s characters as they face some huge challenges and experience love after some heartbreaking bad relationships in their pasts. Through it all, they grow, and dreams come true, though not in their desired timing, but in God’s perfect timing. It’s hard to wait for the Lord when we want things to happen on our timeline. But when we do, we will find his peace.

About the Author

Karen Baney is passionate about writing stories full of flawed characters. She enjoys weaving together stories of second chances, redemption, and overcoming personal trials. As a transplant to Arizona in the late 1990s, she loves researching the state’s history and finding ways to seamlessly incorporate real history and real settings into her novels. In addition to writing and speaking, Karen works as a Software Development Manager for a Christian ministry.

Her faith plays an important role both in her life and in her writing. Karen and her husband, Jim, make their home in Gilbert, Arizona, with their two dogs, Bella and Daisy. Both Jim and Karen are active at Rock Point Church in Queen Creek, Arizona.


More from Karen

Inspiration Behind the Vargas Ranch Series Brand

How many books about ranches and cowboys have you read, whether historical or contemporary and you wondered about their brand?

Hardly anyone describes the brand. Me either. In my historical series, I don’t think I’ve mentioned the brand for my ranch that appears in eleven books!

Well, for the Vargas Ranch Series, the brand plays a central role in describing both the family and their faith. In many of my series, I start with a theme verse, and the Vargas Ranch Series is no exception. When I read these verses in my morning devotion time, I knew this would be the anchor for the series.

With regard to the works of man,

by the word of your lips

I have avoided the ways of the violent.

My steps have held fast to your paths;

my feet have not slipped.

—Psalms 17:4-5 ESV

Then the family motto formed based on the second verse:  I do not deviate from the Lord’s plan.

Immediately, I latched onto the word “deviate” and how it might be represented in a brand: “dV8”. I sketched out the design, and then I had to back into how else the letters “d” and “V” might relate to the series.


Then next thing I knew, I was searching for Spanish last names beginning with a “V”. As soon as I saw Vargas, I knew it was the perfect name for my Arizonan ranching family. The idea to make all the men’s name begin with a “d” also took shape. I scanned through my running list of cowboy names and quickly settled on the five brothers’ names: Dalton, Dylan, Derin, Devon, and Drake.

Now, I could have probably stopped there, but I love developing a rich family history for series like this. So, I decided to set the founding of the ranch in 1952 with Dalton J. Vargas, Senior. His son, Junior, named his son, Dalton J. Vargas the third, and Diego Vargas. The third or “Tres”, is the father of the five sons in the series.

I’ve really enjoyed weaving the family’s “dV8” brand, family motto, and theme verses into the first book in the series. They will make an appearance in all five books. So, I’ll leave you with:

“I do not deviate from the Lord’s plan.”

Blessings, dear readers!

Blog Stops

lakesidelivingsite, December 12

Gina Holder, Author and Blogger, December 13 (Author Interview)

Happily Managing a Household of Boys, December 13

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, December 14

Jodie Wolfe – Stories Where Hope and Quirky Meet, December 15 (Author Interview)

Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, December 16

Tell Tale Book Reviews, December 17 (Author Interview)

Locks, Hooks and Books, December 18

A Reader’s Brain, December 19 (Author Interview)

Life on Chickadee Lane, December 19

Texas Book-aholic, December 20

A Modern Day Fairy Tale, December 21 (Author Interview)

For Him and My Family, December 22

For the Love of Literature, December 23 (Author Interview)

Labor Not in Vain, December 24

Holly’s Book Corner, December 25


To celebrate her tour, Karen is giving away the grand prize package of a $50 gift card and a signed paperback copy of the book!!

Be sure to comment on the blog stops for nine extra entries into the giveaway! Click the link below to enter.

Sunday, December 3, 2023

Countin on Jesse by Mary Pat Johns



About the Book


Book: Countin’ On Jesse

Author: Mary Pat Johns

Genre: (Inspirational) Contemporary Romance

Release Date: September 12, 2023

Peeps’ gym owner Jesse seeks accreditation. Accountant Brenna wants to help Jesse reach his goal. They’re a great team, but can she count on him when trouble strikes?

Accountant BRENNA MCKINLEY only wants what’s best for Peeps, the wildly popular gym in Valiant, Texas. But when money goes missing, and she’s the obvious suspect, will she be able to clear her name or face criminal charges? Keeping her dream job matters, but falling in love with her boss isn’t part of the plan. Neither is the creepy guy stalking her.

Young veteran JESSE JACOBS manages and co-owns Peeps, an exercise facility in Valiant, Texas. He needs help to gain accreditation for the gym, and his new accountant is all in. But is she who she seems? Too bad he’s falling for her like a man with no parachute. When the pressure builds, PTSD renders him moody and volatile, risking everything he loves.


Click here to get your copy!

 I received a complimentary copy of this book. All opinions given are my own and not an endorsement of all author’s opinions. 

Author Interview

What step of writing this book was the most challenging and why? 


Countin’ On Jesse was my first full-length novel and I found every step challenging. LOL. To say I didn’t know what I was doing would be a massive understatement. I had trouble getting Brenna’s personality to shine, and a bajillion rewriteslater, I learned how to plot a story. Most of my previous writing was narrative, so the concept of show versus tell was new—banged my head often on that one.  



What/Who inspired you to write on the main themes found in the book? 

             My son was the main inspiration for the Romance in Valiant series. After he deployed to Afghanistan, the adjustment back to civilian life was difficult. I translated his journey through writing into people, especially vets, who experience traumatic events, their journeys, and how they find their happily ever aftersI struggled with the idea of story themes, until I realized the same themes appeared organically over and over again in my books—rescue and redemption. It’s what Christ did for us. We were lost in our sin with no way of ever making it right until Christ rescued and redeemed us through His sacrifice. 



What made you choose the setting/time period for this book?

            Basically, I used the same time period as my son’s deployment. It’s contemporary, but before COVID. I chose this time period because I was very familiar with it. Pragmatism also played a role. I knew writing my first book would be an enormous learning curve, so I didn’t want to add historical research to the mix.    



Did you have to step out of your comfort zone to write this book? If so, how? 

          What I didn’t realize was how much time it would take. I couldn’t continue some of my social outlets, and I particularly missed the regular Bible studies and lunches withfriends. I had to make new friends who understood the writing process and learn how to be part of a writing community. Theearly critique groups I was part of and the Scrivenings Press family of authors have been true blessings.  


What message do you hope readers take away from your book? 

          In Countin’ On Jesse, the message I want readers to take away is it’s okay to ask for help. God didn’t make us to operate solo, and even though we can know Christ, love Him, and serveHim to the best of our abilitywe need other people to help us through the seasons of our lives. Jesse, the main character, learns this through what I hope is a rollicking good story. 


About the Author

Mary Pat Johns’ writing career began once she retired from years of teaching speech and writing. She’s written devotions for an online publication and had short stories published by Chicken Soup for the Soul. She currently writes a biweekly faith column for the local newspaper.

Countin’ On Jesse is her debut novel, and she’s hard at work on the rest of the Valiant series. God put it in her heart to tell stories of brave veterans and their reintegration into civilian life after suffering the traumas of war. As she kept writing, her focus generalized to include ordinary people who learn how to move forward after devastating events. Her writing has a strong spiritual thread since she considers a return to faith in God the solution for what ails the civilized world.

She lives in South Texas with her husband and their two dapple dachshunds. Her grown children and five grandchildren are useful sorts who keep her grounded with her reading/writing obsession. You can find her at the gym, at her computer, or reading a good book.

Countin’ On Jesse placed second in inspirational contemporary romance in the TARA contest. It was also a finalist in the Crown and the Maggie contests for unpublished authors.

More from Mary

I wrote Countin’ On Jesse because I couldn’t NOT write it, though learning to write fiction was an act of faith. My son is an army vet and deployed to Afghanistan during the war. When he returned, the adjustment back to civilian life was difficult. The PTSD he suffered was real. His dad and I prayed often for his restoration. I also experienced an urgency to share how people recover from traumatic experiences, but it’s not my MO to tell a sad story. I used humor, but never downplayed the seriousness of the hero’s issues with PTSD and anger. My goal was to impart hope.

One added sweet note. My son helped me craft a short story as a prequel for the series. I believe it was healing for him to revisit the Afghanistan setting through the perspective of time and distance. Readers have shared they felt like they were in the story. In truth, there was an eyewitness. I’m forever grateful that he came home to tell me of such events.

Blog Stops

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, November 27

Gina Holder, Author and Blogger, November 28 (Author Interview)

The Lit Lady, November 28

Texas Book-aholic, November 29

Locks, Hooks and Books, November 30

Back Porch Reads, December 1 (Author Interview)

Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, December 2

Happily Managing a Household of Boys, December 3

A Reader’s Brain, December 4 (Author Interview)

For Him and My Family, December 5

Beauty in the Binding, December 6 (Author Interview)

A Modern Day Fairy Tale, December 6

Cover Lover Book Review, December 7

Holly’s Book Corner, December 8

For the Love of Literature, December 9 (Author Interview)

Pause for Tales, December 10


To celebrate her tour, Mary is giving away the grand prize package of a $50 gift Amazon gift card and a signed copy of the book!!

Be sure to comment on the blog stops for nine extra entries into the giveaway! Click the link below to enter.