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I can’t get enough of cowboys

I have a new release coming from Tule Publishing on September 21st.

Branded with a Kiss is the second book in the Sweetheart Brand series, based in Sweetheart, Montana. (Sweetheart, btw, is named for a variety of cherry—your trivia tip for the day.) It’s available for preorder! au

Those of you who read Her Sweetheart Brand (book 1) may or may not remember Damon Brand’s friend Patterson Campbell. Patterson is sitting at the bar during the cherry festival dance, using his cellphone, when Damon stops to talk. What Damon doesn’t know it that Patterson is trying to reach Damon’s youngest sister Alayna.

When Patterson does connect with her, it’s not until a year later and it really doesn’t go well:

“Why wouldn’t you return any of my calls?” Patterson asked.

His father was still watching. Either Patterson hadn’t noticed or he didn’t care.

Alayna, however, was cautious and remained civil. “You’d already said all I needed to hear.”

“You stood me up for the cherry festival dance. I deserve to know why.”

She kept her jaw from flapping open, but it took serious effort. The ego. The nerve. He’d asked her to go to the dance with him before their disastrous sexual encounter. “You didn’t really expect me to show up.”

“Damn straight I did.”

The way his gaze flicked from hers for a brief, guilty second suggested otherwise.

“I didn’t show up,” Alyana said, fighting hard to display nothing but pride, “because upon reflection, you were right. I do need to use some common sense. The men I date these days treat women as equals. They accept that I know my own mind.”

She took advantage of his inability to find a response to brush past him and dive into the front seat of her car. As she backed out of the parking space, he had his hands in his pockets and a dark frown on his face.

Alayna’s not really the ‘forgive and forget’ type. She makes him work for it:

Patterson was twenty-nine years old and could think of a million things he’d rather do than discuss his love life with his father. But his father was also his boss, and the boss half was expressing a valid concern. He tried to think of what he could say that would satisfy James T. on both fronts, and yet not end up exposing laundry Alayna wouldn’t want aired.

“She and I had a misunderstanding last year,” he said, rubbing the back of his neck. “She’s still a little angry with me about it. Let’s just say she’s not the type of girl who’s willing to forgive and forget and leave it at that. You’ll have to trust me when I tell you I’m doing my best to make amends. And I’m confident she’s interested too,” he added, “so you can rest easy on that front. There won’t be any reports to file.”

James T.’s expression grew more severe. It appeared he wasn’t at all reassured by the explanation he’d been given, but accepted that it was the only one he was likely to receive. “Did she read the staff handbook?”

“She did.”

“Did she give you the message?”

Patterson weighed the merits of honesty. “Yes,” he conceded.

“She’s not a toy, son. Or a prize you can win. What if she decides not to forgive and forget?” his father asked. “Are you going to be a man about it and let her go?”

He’d cross that bridge when—if—he came to it. “Of course.”

“Then why don’t you start practicing right now. I might have some experience in the begging forgiveness department, and a little goes a long way, so pace yourself, boy. Give her some space. A thoughtful gift sometimes helps.” James T. clapped him on the shoulder. “Now help me get these steaks on the grill, or pretty soon you’ll have twenty hungry people mad at you, too.”

Patterson hated to admit it, but James T. could well be right. It wasn’t as if his current approach was gaining him any headway with her. He’d love to understand her better, but she made it almost impossible for him to get close enough. Every time he thought he’d made progress, she backed away.

So. Give her some space and a thoughtful gift. He could do that.

“One more question,” James T. said, interrupting his train of thought. “Then I’ll let it alone.” Smoke rolled off the grill as fat from the first steaks started to sizzle. He searched his son’s face, then went straight for the jugular. “Is she the one?”

“I can’t say for certain,” Patterson said, unable to contain his frustration. “You’re making it damned hard for me to find out.”

There are five books planned in the Sweetheart Brand series, and I’m working on the third book right now. It features Claire Brand, another of Damon’s sisters, and Ben Nichols, Patterson’s partner in crime. The Sweetheart Brand books are all about redemption and the main theme is forgiveness.


I know. They sound amazing, right?