To me, reading a great book has always been the ultimate escape. I love books in which I find myself fully immersed in the story. As a writer, it is my dearest wish to take my readers on this kind of journey.
Those of you who have read the first three books in my Hot Cowboy Nights series already know how important it is to me to create a very genuine feeling story—through the characters, and real events as well as the backdrop. Although I also try to use many real world events, the setting always plays a huge part in my stories, both historical and contemporary.
In SLOW HAND, Georgia native Nikki Powell is awestruck by the majesty of Montana. My characters Janice and Dirk in ROUGH RIDER are both involved in the gritty world of rodeo where she is a stock contractor and he is a bullrider. In SHARP SHOOTIN’ COWBOY, the reader is transported with my hero and heroine from Camp Pendleton, to Iraq, Alaska, and then finally Wyoming.
My setting is also very much a part of the story in SADDLE UP. The story opens in southern California where my heroine, Miranda is an aspiring cinematographer and then moves on to the barren but beautiful desert landscape where my hero is involved with wrangling wild horses in the Calico Mountains of Nevada. There are many scenes in which the setting plays an equal part with my characters. In the following sample, the barren landscape plays a very big part in revealing my hero’s inner struggles.
It is my hope that SADDLE UP will appeal to readers in many ways— that the characters will be both sympathetic and believable, that the setting will touch all of the reader’s senses, and that they will be deeply and emotionally engaged in this story.
Award-winning author Victoria Vane lets loose the fourth in the Hot Cowboy Nights seriesWILD HORSES COULDN’T BRING THEM TOGETHER...With exceptional talent and looks, cowboy “horse whisperer” Keith Russo once had the world at his feet — until his career was unwittingly destroyed by an aspiring filmmaker. After being rejected by his family for exploiting his Native American heritage, Keith has no choice but to turn back to his humble beginnings as a wild horse wrangler.BUT MAYBE THEIR PASSION CAN...Miranda Sutton always dreamed of making films, until wild mustangs captured her heart. But turning her grandmother’s Montana ranch into a wild horse sanctuary proves harder than she thought. She needs someone who knows wild horses. Keith and the mustangs need each other. And while working together to save the herd, Keith and Miranda discover a passion as wild as the mustangs they love.
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Driving out to Nevada a few days ahead of the crew, Keith sought out the local ranchers and inquired after the location of the horses and the water sources. After making camp on the Donnelly Flat, he set out on horseback to scale Donnelly Peak and get a better lay of the land.
Cresting the barren butte, he scanned the equally desolate horizon, devoid of all vegetation but clusters of cactus and scattered thickets of sage. It had been years since he’d spent any time alone in the desert. He’d once loved it, but now the landscape felt as arid and bleak as his own soul. His cousin, Tonya, had been right when she’d said he’d been “performing” for so long that he’d lost himself. If he was ever going to get his life back together, he needed to leave the rez.
From his elevated position, Keith spotted half a dozen small family bands of mustangs. The knowledge of their fate pulled at his conscience. Tomorrow the wranglers would gather up hundreds of these horses, mainly for the crime of competing for the limited resources that had recently worsened with wildfires and drought.
Was it better to round them up and save them from death by keeping them in captivity? Or was there greater dignity in a quiet death? Which would the horses choose if they knew?
His own father had chosen death over life in a prison.
Suddenly he was thirteen again, standing on the top of Crow Heart Butte, the most famous landmark in all of the Wind River Valley. He and Grandfather had come to scatter his father’s ashes. “This is the site of a great battle,” Kenu said. “It was here that our people fought for hunting rights after the Fort Laramie Treaty granted the Crows the same privileges we’d been given in the Fort Bridger Treaty. After four bloody days of battle, the two great warrior chiefs met in an attempt to end the bloodshed. Washakie of the Shoshone raised his fist to Big Robber of the Crow. ‘You and I will fight to the death, and when I beat you, I will cut out your heart and eat it!’”
“Who won, Grandfather?” Keith asked.
“Chief Washakie was the victor. As promised, he cut out Big Robber’s heart and displayed it proudly on the end of his spear. That is why this place is named Crow Heart.”
“Did he really eat it?”
His grandfather replied with a secretive smile. “No one really knows. When questioned later in his life, Washakie said only that young men do foolish things.” He laid a tremulous hand on Keith’s shoulder. “Your father had the heart of such a warrior, but he let bitterness and hatred take root. That is how he earned his Shoshone name, Kills With Words.”
Keith recalled with a sharp pang the look of desolation in Kenu’s eyes as tears trickled down the old man’s weathered face. Placing the urn in Keith’s hands, he said, “Take this, my son, and cast the ashes to the four winds and we will pray that his troubled spirit will at last find peace.”
Looking out over the vast desert plains, Kenu murmured a Shoshone prayer to the Great Spirit. Keith had never forgotten his grandfather’s words. Now he uttered the same prayer for himself.
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