This week I’m hosting a wonderful group of women who’re launching a contemporary western romance boxed set. Help me welcome Hebby Roman, Carra Copelin, Andrea Downing, Kristy McCaffrey, Devon McKay, Hildie McQueen, and Patti Sherry-Crews. They’re bringing you seven modern day stories that will thrill your heart and keep you sighing into the night. Catch a cowboy, Keep a Cowboy? You betcha.
Good Morning, Western Romance Fans,
I’m Hebby Roman and my book in the collection is entitled, BORDER ROMANCE, the third book in my “On the Border” Series. This series is set in southwest Texas near where I was born and raised, in the small ranching community of Del Rio, Texas on the United States-Mexican border.
In this series, my heroine owns a horse ranch where she breeds, raises, and trains Quarter horses. In the second book of the series, I feature the training of Quarter horses for working ranch occupations, as well as rodeo events, such as cutting horses, calf roping horses, and as barrel racers. For this, the third book of the series, I thought it would be fun to have my heroine consider adding a Quarter horse racing stable to her ranching operation.
The modern Quarter horse has a small, refined head with a straight profile, and a strong, well-muscled body, featuring a broad chest and powerful, rounded hindquarters. They usually stand between 14 and 16 hands, and they come in nearly all colors with the most common color being sorrel, a brownish red.
Most people are familiar with Thoroughbred racing, especially with regard to famous races, such as the Kentucky Derby. Quarter horse racing is similar to Thoroughbred racing but with some special distinctions.
The American Quarter horse is an American breed that excels at sprinting short distances. Its name comes from its ability to outdistance other horse breeds in races of approximately a quarter of a mile or less, ranging from 220 yards to 870 yards with 440 yards being a quarter of a mile. Some Quarter horses have been clocked at speeds up to 55 miles per hour. And the Quarter horse is the most popular breed in the United States with around 3 million Quarter horses currently registered.
In 1940, the American Quarter Horse Association (AQHA) was formed by a group of horsemen and ranchers from the southwestern U.S. dedicated to preserving the pedigrees of their ranch horses. The horse honored with the first registration number, P-1, was Wimpy, a descendant of the King Ranch’s foundation sire, Old Sorrel. The King Ranch is a vast ranch encompassing millions of acres in the far southern part of Texas.
With the AQHA centered in the southwestern U.S., most Quarter horse races are found there, stretching primarily from Montana in the north to Louisiana in the south and all states in between and including California where pari-mutuel horse racing is held. Most pari-mutuel tracks host both Thoroughbred and Quarter horse races with a special season of several weeks devoted to Quarter horse racing. There is a circuit for Quarter horse racing throughout the Southwest with Grade 1 races drawing large crowds, such as the All American Futurity, the Ruidoso Futurity, and the Louisiana Breeders Futurity.
Unlike Thoroughbred racing, all Quarter horse racing takes place on the dirt part of the track, there are no turf races. And Quarter horse races are held on the straight part of the track with no turns and no advantage to the post horse.
Another distinction is that most Quarter horse races, with the exception of certain Grade 1 events, features mares racing against their male counterparts. Many of the male race horses are geldings, though stallions are also raced before entering a breeding program.
Like Thoroughbred horses, youngsters are first raced in trials at two years old. These trials are known as short sprints at 220 yards. Mature horses are normally raced at distances of 300 to 400 yards. Any distance over 400 yards are known as long sprints. Conventional starting gates are used and because the distances are short, clearing the gate cleanly is the most important ingredient to winning a Quarter horse race.
Quarter horse racing is fun and exciting to watch. The races are fast and action-packed and enjoyed by thousands of fans around the U.S. as well as other countries, particularly Canada and Mexico.
I enjoyed researching and writing about Quarter horse racing and including it as a backdrop to my romance. I hope you, the reader, will enjoy learning about this equestrian sport, along with all the wonderful stories in our boxed set, A COWBOY TO KEEP.
Here’s a rundown of the stories:
THE LEGEND OF BAD MOON RISING by Carra Copelin
Sheriff Ben Hammond is finally over the woman who shattered his heart, but when Dinah Horne suddenly returns, can he ignore the passion still burning bright between them?
CITY BOY, COUNTRY HEART by Andrea Downing
Trading horses for subways for two years seemed like a good idea to cowboy Chay Ridgway, but can city girl K.C. Daniels keep a rein on his country heart?
BLUE SAGE by Kristy McCaffrey
Archaeologist Audrey Driggs rolls off a mountain and lands at the feet of rugged cowboy Braden Delaney. Together, they’ll uncover a long-lost secret.
THE DRIFTER’S KISS by Devon McKay
Determined to take back what belongs to her, Addison Reed will do anything. Even trust a complete stranger.
HER MAN by Hildie McQueen
Deputy Mark Hunter falls for Eliza Brock during a murder investigation. Is it fate or bad luck, especially when she may be involved?
BORDER ROMANCE by Hebby Roman
Widow Leticia Villarreal wants to establish a horse-racing stable and old acquaintance John Clay Laidlaw offers to help. But can she trust him with her business and her heart?
PHOENIX HEAT by Patti Sherry-Crews
After losing her fiancé and her New York City business, Harper Donovan returns to Arizona and meets cowboy Frank Flynn. Will his past and their differences extinguish the heat between them?
More about BORDER ROMANCE by Hebby Roman
Leticia Villarreal is lonely. Widowed for eight years, she keeps busy with her ranch and charity work, but they don’t fill the empty place in her heart. When she considers establishing a Quarter horse racing stable, her new endeavor reunites her with an old acquaintance and exposes her horses to danger.
John Clay Laidlaw, a handsome, self-assured, millionaire rancher, has been attracted to Leticia since high school. When he was young and first divorced, he tried to get Leticia to date him, but she didn’t like his arrogant and high-handed ways. Separated from his second wife, John Clay offers to help Leticia with her new racing horse. Remembering how he acted when they were young, she doesn’t trust him. But when someone tries to harm her horses and John Clay rushes to her rescue, can she open her heart to him?
John Clay swung back into the saddle and said, “You might think that calf is stupid but compared to sheep, she’s a virtual Einstein.”
Leticia threw back her head and laughed.
“But why cattle?” He asked. “I thought your ranch was all about horses?”
“Yes, this is a horse ranch. The cattle are just a sideline. We don’t keep a bull, but for some of the better-bred heifers, we use our neighbor’s Angus bull. Keeps the herd young. We cull the older ones and sell them, of course.”
“I’m surprised you bother.” He inclined his head toward the ranch house. “Must keep you busy, considering you said you’re short-handed.”
“Oh, that, it’s only temporary.” She removed her Stetson and wiped her arm across her brow. The spring day was heating up. “We need the cattle to properly train our horses. Our charro horses are our pride and joy, but we’re just getting back into them. Mostly, we train working Quarter horses, and you can’t train a cutting horse or calf-roping horse without cows.” She pursed her lips.
He slapped the side of his head. “Stupid of me. I wasn’t thinking. I’m all about sheep, except for my racing stable.”
She laughed again. “Hey, don’t get overwrought and knock your hat off.”
“Yeah.” He grinned and shook his head. “Kinda silly.”
And how right she was, he was acting like a goofy middle-schooler, just being around her. “So, your manpower shortage is temporary. Does that mean I won’t usually find you rounding up cattle?”
“No, not usually. I always have plenty of paperwork to keep me from riding out. But today has been a nice break.”
“I like the mare you’re riding; she’s a good-looking horse.”
“Why, thank you, Mr. Laidlaw, how nice of you to say.” She patted her horse’s neck. “Yep, Pearl is a sweetie. Rusty and Camila brought her back from Ponder last year, and she was so good at everything, we couldn’t make up our minds how to train her, cutting horse or calf-roping or…”
She’d moved ahead to a thicket of live oak and ducked her head under a low-lying branch. “My mare, Sally, was getting old, so I decided to keep Pearl for myself.”
He followed her into the thicket, staying behind her horse to navigate the rough, one-horse trail through the trees and undergrowth.
She cleared the thicket and stopped, waiting for him. He could see the ranch house ahead. He drew alongside her. “At least you have the grass for horses and cows. My ranches only support sheep. We keep some milk cows for the ranch hands, but other than that, it’s mostly mesquite and cactus and patchy prairie grass on my spreads.”
She raised up in her stirrups. “Yes, Eduardo chose well. This land is fertile, and we irrigate some, using Las Moras creek to grow our own hay.”
She gathered her reins and smoothed them, half-turning toward him. “But I can’t wait to show you my new charro horse foal. Midnight Princess just threw a beautiful colt a couple of weeks’ ago.”
“I won’t say no to seeing one of your charro horses. I remember how talented Eduardo’s horses were. I was sorry when I heard you’d quit breeding them for a time.”
John Clay gazed at Leticia, and he thought he could see the faintest glimmer of moisture on her eyelashes. It was obvious she was still grieving for Eduardo? Where did that leave him?
She dropped her head and fidgeted with her reins, smoothing the long ends. “Yes, Eduardo was magic with the horses.” She bit her lip.
He wished he was the one biting her lip, her neck, and lower…
Hebby Roman is a New York traditionally published, small-press published, and Indie published #1 Amazon best-selling author of both historical and contemporary romances. Her first contemporary romance, SUMMER DREAMS, was the launch title for Encanto, a print line featuring Latino romances. And her re-published e-book, SUMMER DREAMS, was #1 in Amazon fiction and romance. Her medieval historical romance, THE PRINCESS AND THE TEMPLAR, was selected for the Amazon Encore program and was #1 in medieval fiction. She was selected for the Romantic Times “Texas Author” award, and she won a national Harlequin contest. Her book, BORDER HEAT, was a Los Angeles Times Book Festival selection. Her contemporary romance, TO DANCE AGAIN, was a 2016 RONE Finalist.
Do you like going to horse races? If so what part do you like best? Hebby is giving away 3 Kindle copies each of Border Heat and Border Affair–the first two books before this new one! Leave a comment to enter .