Shannon here: Talking books in a crazy world. Hope everyone is well. I’m sharing an excerpt from my latest release, Hill Country Redemption. Since I shared the first chapter in my newsletter, this scene is on into the second chapter of the book. Comment or answer the question in any post dated March 17 – 20 to enter the drawing for a copy. Deadline: March 28th, 11:59 pm central time.
In Hill Country Redemption, Larae Collins has returned home to sell her childhood ranch. But once she realizes it’s in the red and her marketing job for a large indoor rodeo gets downsized, she considers starting a rodeo on the ranch. The problem, her high-school sweetheart lives next door. Rance Shepherd doesn’t know he fathered her child back before they became Christians. He’s ready to put down roots and run a stock contracting business.
Excerpt from Chapter Two – Hill Country Redemption by Shannon Taylor Vannatter
The rodeo could work whether Larae stayed or not. She could get it going, then go back to Dallas.
To do what? The rodeo in Mesquite was out of the picture. It was fully staffed and comfortably set up, and it ran only three months each year anyway. Besides, she couldn’t let Rance think she was running away because of him. He needed to think he didn’t matter to her one way or the other.
But she couldn’t hire him. Her heart couldn’t survive working with him. And she had to keep him away from Jayda. Maybe she was right about him, that he wouldn’t stick with stock contracting for the long run. He’d leave, and this constant pressure in her chest would dissipate.
“Here comes just the guy you need.” Denny gestured behind her.
As if on cue, Rance strode down her drive, headed straight for her. Had he gotten even better looking in the past eight years? Definitely. A shadow of dark hair edged his cowboy hat, bottle green eyes sparkling in the sun, cleft chin. Oh, if only a sinkhole would open up in the baked earth and swallow him whole.
He and Carson spoke in passing as she tried to come up with a reason to escape. What if Jayda woke up and came outside looking for her? What if Rance saw his daughter?
Calm down. Jayda didn’t look like him, and everyone assumed she was five or six instead of seven. Her secret was safe.
Rance’s steps stalled a few feet away from Larae. Even after all these years, she still held him captive. “Since Carson was here, I assume you’re going ahead with the rodeo.”
“He’s getting me some stats to help me decide.”
“Well, I’m here to convince you to hire me if this thing gets real.”
“Why would I do that?” She hooked her thumbs in her pockets and peered up at him.
“Because I’m guessing all the stock contractors you know are in the Dallas/Fort Worth area. Using them would cost more. I’m right next door—willing and able—at a lower price. And you’re in the thinking stage of this rodeo to make a profit, right?”
“I know it’s none of my beeswax, Larae.” Denny propped his boot on the fence rail. “I know you want an experienced contractor and Rance is just getting started. But he knows his stuff. You’re shooting yourself in the foot if you don’t hire him. There aren’t any other stock contractors outside of San Antonio.”
Way to put her on the spot. “There you have it, Denny’s stamp of approval.”
“Just my way of watching over you, like your daddy would want.” Denny headed for the barn. “I best get to work.”
“Thanks, Denny.” Larae leaned her elbows on the fence and kept her gaze on the foreman’s retreating back, instead of looking at Rance. “How did Denny become your biggest fan?”
“Several men from the area eat breakfast at the Old Spanish Trail just about every morning. Tex Warren, my dad, and Denny included.”
“So he thinks you’re awesome because your dad does?”
“Tex Warren is Ty’s dad and Clay’s granddad. Both Warrens won the Championship Bull Riding title four times apiece. Tex was impressed with some of my bulls.” But no matter who his bulls awed, Larae would remain unconvinced. “The rodeo is a great idea. I want the job. Do you have any idea of how much stock you’ll need? You do your marketing and publicity thing. I’ll handle the livestock.”
She faced him and propped her hands on her hips. “How do you know what I do?”
“I trained under the stock contractor who supplied the rodeo you work for.”
One eyebrow lifted. Aware of how smoothly his old boss’s stock operation ran for her rodeo, she couldn’t help but be impressed. Could she?
“I can check with Carson on the arena sizes he’s running, then give you numbers, cost and prospectus for each.”
“What? You didn’t think I knew big words like prospectus?”
“Actually.” She pursed her lips. “I must admit I’m impressed. I didn’t know you handled the business end of things. I figured you tended to the cattle and let somebody else crunch numbers.”
A compliment? “Listen, can we call a truce and work together on this? I really think your rodeo could be successful here. Area businesses could use a new influx of tourist dollars. Keeping costs low would allow the competitors a bigger purse, which would line the cowboys’ pockets and put your rodeo on the map. Everybody wins.”
She blew out a sigh that ruffled the long layers framing her face. “I’m sorry for the way I acted yesterday. I just wasn’t expecting you, and I lashed out. If we’re to work together, we need to forget the past and focus on the rodeo.” Her glance strayed toward the house as if she had somewhere to be…or was waiting for someone.
Was she married? His gaze dipped to her left hand, then back to her face. No ring. “I’m in. I’ll run some numbers and get back to you. Tomorrow?”
“Sure. Just give me a call. We still have the landline, and I’ll give Carson a heads-up on working with you.” Her gaze snagged on something, and her eyes widened.
He followed her line of vision. A little girl skipped in their direction.
“I have to go.” Larae bolted toward the child.
About Shannon: Award winning author, Shannon Taylor Vannatter writes contemporary Christian cowboy romance and has over a dozen published titles. A romance reader since her teens, she hopes to entertain Christian women and plant seeds in the non-believer’s heart as she demonstrates that love doesn’t conquer all—Jesus does.
She gleans fodder for her fiction in rural Arkansas where she spent her teenage summers working the concession stand with her rodeo announcing dad and married a Texan who morphed into a pastor. In her spare time, she loves hanging out with her husband and son, flea marketing, and doing craft projects. Learn more & connect:
Sign up for her Newsletter to get a free e-book, recipes, behind the scenes info, & enter exclusive giveaways:
About the book – Hill Country Redemption:
This cowboy has one more chance to make it right…
He already lost her once…
Now he’s fighting for her—and their daughter.
When Rance Shepherd takes a job stocking cattle for a local rodeo, he’s shocked that his new client is his ex-sweetheart, Larae Collins. Now he’s determined to prove to the single mother that he isn’t the restless cowboy she remembers. But when he discovers her little girl is his, they both must forgive past mistakes for a second shot at a future together.
Can’t wait for the drawing or worried you won’t win? Get your copy now!
(Available at Walmart from mid-March until mid-April)
Question for Readers: I know we’re all sick of it, but it’s the elephant in the room we can’t ignore. How many books have you read since the Coronavirus shut things down? Have you had any plans that got cancelled?