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