Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Lonestar Sanctuary Giveaway Winner!

Thank you to all who entered the Lonestar Sanctuary giveaway!
All entrants names where put into a hat and one was drawn randomly.

And the winner is . . .
Terry Parman!
Send me an email, Terry, at with your address, and I'll get it in the mail immediately.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Lonestar Series by Colleen Coble + Giveaway!

An amazing series of books by award-winning author Colleen Coble set in the Texas desert. After reading the first book, I had to read them all.



Though tragedy has wrecked her life, Allie Siders holds on to the hope that her five-year-old daughter, Betsy, will speak again. But with a stalker out for revenge, all Allie can think about now is their safety. She must sever all ties and abandon life as she knows it. She heads to the peaceful Bluebird Ranch, nestled deep in Texas hill country, and to the only person who can help them.

The ranch is a sanctuary for abused horses, and also for troubled youths: the perfect place for Betsy to grow and recover. Ranch owner Elijah DeAngelo eagerly welcomes the duo. But Rick Bailey--the foreman and DeAngelo's right hand man--hasn't decided to let his guard down . . . yet.

Promises made long ago soon force Rick and Allie to work together to escape danger. Will they discover love along the way?

Author: Colleen Coble
Publisher: Thomas Nelson, 2007
Genre: Romantic Suspense

My Thoughts
Colleen had me hooked from the first page. The beginning is high-tense, action-packed. Secrets spill throughout the story, which made me unable to put the book down. Rick and Allie are raw, wonderful characters, and Betsy will steal your heart. After reading this book, I couldn't get my hands on the rest of this series fast enough!



Five years ago, Shannon Aster left the beautiful high-mountain country of west Texas as a single mother. She was desperate for a fresh start and a way to keep the secrets from her past buried. It almost worked.

Until a chance to make a better life for her daughter leads her right back home. To the very place of the past betrayals.

But it also leads Shannon to the horse-trainer of Jack MacGowan--her handsome high-school nemesis, now a widowed father. His daughter looks so startlingly like her own that Shannon can't help but question the circumstances surrounding her daughter's birth. Wary of each others intentions, Shannon and Jack reluctantly join forces to untangle a deep mystery that swirls around Shannon's parents, a lost Spanish treasure, and a legendary Black Stallion.

If Shannon can learn to entrust her secrets to the man falling in love with her, the truth might just set her free.

Author: Colleen Coble
Publisher: Thomas Nelson, 2008
Genre: Romantic Suspense

My Thoughts
What a ride! Again, Colleen had me hooked from the first page. This book is a "Parent Trap" type story in reverse with lots of twists and turns along the way. I LOVED every book in this series, but this story was my favorite. Jack and Shannon are a match made in heaven, and teach a great lesson in the power of love.



With nothing but five dollars and the wedding dress she's wearing, Gracie Lister flees with her daughter by train to West Texas, to the town she ran away from so long ago. There they find refuge in the home of Michael Wayne--devoted single father, seasoned soldier--who gives Gracie a job caring for his two children and the hiding place she needs from her former fiance.

Michael and Gracie aren't looking for love, but it finds them right away. And then trouble comes to call in the form of Gracie's ex-fiance who is now on the FBI's most-wanted list. Together, Michael and Gracie must find the strength they need to protect their newly forged family.

Author: Colleen Coble
Publisher: Thomas Nelson, 2009
Genre: Romantic suspense

My Thoughts
Action-packed from the first page, Gracie runs into the reader's heart in a tattered wedding gown with a too-precious daughter and no where to go. Big-hearted--and loyal soldier--Micheal rescues them right away. Of course Gracie accepts. What girl can resist a man in uniform?
From adjusting to their new lives to facing constant sabotage around every corner, this book is full of both suspense and love.



Five years ago Eden and Clay Larson's baby was stolen and never found. Eden blamed herself, Clay lost himself in work. Their young and rocky marriage ended. Or so Eden thought.

Now Eden's moved to a new town. She's found faith and is trying to rebuild her life. She's even dating again--a sweet guy who plans to marry her someday. But then Clay arrives out of the blue and delivers shocking news: they're still married. What's more, Clay has been searching for Brianna all this time. And he believes he's found her: their daughter is in Bluebird, Texas, at a youth ranch.

To uncover the truth, Eden and Clay sign on as counselors at Bluebird Ranch. Working together, they rediscover their love for each other. But danger is closing in--Eden, Clay, and their youth charges are in jeopardy. As they fight to save their family, Eden realizes that God has been fighting for them all along. And His plans are for a more abundant life than they've dare to hope.

Author: Colleen Coble
Publisher: Thomas Nelson, 2011
Genre: Romantic Suspense

My Thoughts
This story was a great way to end the series. Eden is a city girl, who's out of place on the ranch in her dress slacks and pumps. Clay is an air force photojournalist, who, five years ago, was at the wrong place at the wrong time (or perhaps the right place at the right time). He's determined to salvage his marriage to Eden and restore their family. They've been told their daughter is one of the five girls they're mentoring at the ranch. But which one?
A great mystery that had me guessing to the end.


I'm giving away a copy of Lonestar Sanctuary (the first novel in the Lonestar series) to help you get started!

To enter, leave me a comment with anything you'd like to say about horses or Texas (to keep with the theme). It can a memory, a past or current experience, a fact, anything.
A winner will be drawn on Wednesday, July 31st and announced on this blog and my Facebook page. Don't forget to tell your friends!

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

American Honey

I recently read "Bees in America: How the Honey Bee Shaped a Nation" by Tammy Horn, for research on a story I've been working on. Though this book didn't explain how to be a beekeeper, it did detail, extensively, the history of beekeeping.

Bees have had a significance in history since biblical days. "...I will bring you up out of the affliction of Egypt...unto a land flowing with milk and honey."-- Exodus 3:17. But reading this book, I was amazed by how significant bees have been to American history alone. Bees shaped our nation alongside our founding fathers, and I'd like to share with you some of what I've learned.

Bees Before the New World
England flourished under Queen Elizabeth I. During this time, the honey bee image was used as a symbol of stability, responsibility, and industry. But after the queen's death, the economy tanked. Weather disasters played a part, along with overpopulation and land transfers due to federal policies. The queen's beekeeper, Charles Butler, defined the male honey bee as a drone in 1609. Drones are male bees who wait around until summoned by the queen...
From then on, the poor people of England were labeled as drones and encouraged to "hive off" to the Americas by political leaders and ministers. They believed that if the poor migrated to The New World, England's economy would flourish again, so ministers began preaching of America being the poor and destitute's "land of milk and honey."

When colonist's arrived, they realized this to not be the case. If they wanted America to be the land of milk and honey, they were going to have to work for it. Luckily, the colonist's brought their beekeeping skills with them. Bees provided sweeteners, wax for candles and waterproofing and honey for bartering with the Indians. These "drones" from England soon became "busy as bees."

Revolutionary Bees
Images of beehives were printed on currency, certificates, and wax seals (to prevent counterfeiting) after the Revolutionary War to symbolize a commitment to order, moderation, and knowledge. The skeps (man made hives made with wicker, straw, wood, etc.) in these images had thirteen rings, symbolizing the thirteen colonies.  
Civil War Bees
Many women became prominent beekeepers during the Civil War, taking over the duty while their men were fighting, wounded, or dead. Beekeeping was the only "respectable" outdoor job for women to do during that time and into the early 20th century, and the exposure to nature lessened many women's weak spells and ailments.
Bee Platoons
After both World Wars, beekeeping was used by the government to help soldiers transition back into normal everyday life. The job provided a wage, got the soldier outdoors, and provided their country with a needed commodity. Since beekeeping could be done alone, this gave the soldiers time to heal and ease themselves back into society.
Buzzing Advertisements
Bees and honey have graced the advertising world for years. Hopalong Cassidy was very popular in promoting Spun Honey in the 1930's, and Brigham Bottling Works thrived with their Beehive Beverages--made with honey--promising energy, health, and mobility.
Modern Bees
The 1970's brought the attacks of killer bees, along with Irwin Allen's The Swarm.
In 1980, a terrible mite epidemic plagued bees, the keepers, and bee farms.
Mites, federal quarantines, African honey bees, and even El Nino, brought threats to American beekeepers in the 1990's.
What will bees bring to the 21st century?
Though I write romantic fiction, and I generally only read fiction, my stories require non-fiction reading material. In reading about the wonderful world of bees, I've become fascinated by the winged creatures. They work hard, are extremely sanitary, produce a delicious golden liquid that holds many health benefits, as well as vital to crop production--they pollinate the blooms of fruit trees and vegetables. I now stop to watch them when I'm outside, especially when they're on our peach and apple trees. My kids now have a new found respect for them as well and have signed up for beekeeping through our local 4-H fairgrounds.
I highly recommend this book to anyone who loves history--the book is full of interesting historical facts I didn't mention!--is interested in beekeeping, or just loves bees!
Next time you cross paths with a bee, stop and watch them, listen to their song. God made an amazing insect.