Convincing the Rancher
by Claire McEwen
Benson, CA, represents all that Tess Cole doesn't want. So she intends to keep her business trip there brief. Too bad her idea to quickly change the mayor's mind about some planning issues dissolves the moment she recognizes him! That one night with Slaid Jacobs remains a personal favorite for Tess—and for him, too, it seems.
Even though he's gorgeous and hot, it's clear to Tess that the single dad wants a commitment—something she avoids. It's also clear Slaid is bent on convincing her they can build a future out of their passionate past. And that's a very tempting offer…
TESS WASN’T PREPARED for a Jeep that looked like an ice sculpture. With a pang of longing, she pictured her underground parking space in San Francisco, where even on the rare frosty morning she never had to worry about a frozen car. Reluctantly she opened her wallet and stared at her rainbow assortment of credit cards, wondering which one she could sacrifice as an ice scraper. The Saks Fifth Avenue card was nice and thick and would work the best, but she didn’t want to risk ruining it. Same with Bloomingdale’s. And there was no way she’d sacrifice Nordstrom—their annual shoe sale was coming up.
She finally settled for Talbots and started scraping at the frosted windshield. The ice came off in a spray coating her bare skin. “Ow!” she exclaimed and pulled her hand away abruptly, shaking it to try to get the frost off and the heat back in.
“Don’t tell me you didn’t bring gloves?” The deep voice had her whirling to confront the mayor. He looked warm and comfortable, his thick parka advertising the fact that he was prepared for the weather. The battered leather cowboy hat on his head was one more reminder that she’d left San Francisco far behind.
“It’s probably seventy degrees at home today,” she said by way of an answer.
“It’s seventy degrees in San Francisco most days. Didn’t you check the weather report before you drove out here?”
She hadn’t. She’d been in denial until she’d pulled into town yesterday. Despite all the arguments with Ed and the cramming she’d done to understand wind power, she’d ignored the fact that she’d be living in this tiny town in the middle of nowhere for the next month or so. Tess could safely say that denial was one of her strongest abilities.
1) What sparked your interest in becoming a romance writer?
I am a total romantic, so the idea of immersing myself in romance was pretty appealing! Plus, I wanted to tell stories about everyday people who were trying to figure life out, and contemporary romance is perfect for that. The genre takes the characters on a journey of learning and growth. I also felt strongly that my stories had to have a happy ending. So romance seemed like a great match for me.
2) What is one of your favorite quotes?
I firmly believe that most of the best quotes on writing, or pretty much anything else, come from Anne Lamott. If you haven’t read her book on writing, Bird By Bird, Some Thoughts on Writing and Life, I highly recommend it. One of the many pearls of wisdom in this book is “Don’t look at your feet to see if you’re doing it right. Just dance.” You can apply it to almost any situation but for writing it’s truly perfect. We can get so caught up in trying to make our work perfect, or pleasing to everyone, or a bestseller, or better than someone else’s, that we can lose our spark and dull our creativity.
3) Do you plan all your characters out before you start a story or do they develop as you write?
Well, they seem to show up out of the blue, but then I spend time writing about them in a notebook, learning their backstory. For example, the heroine, Tess Cole, in my new release, Convincing the Rancher, walked into a scene in my first book, perfectly clear to me! Not just how she looked, but her personality. But to write her book I had to understand more about her. What had happened to her that made her the way she is? So that took more focused thinking. Then I had to figure out who the hero would be. What kind of man would be able to capture her guarded heart? Slaid Jacobs came into my imagination right away. I knew he was the mayor and that he was a single dad. I could see him sitting at his desk. But then again, I had to think more about what made him the way he is. Why was he mayor? Why was he a single dad? What about Tess appeals to him? What about her makes him frustrated?
4) What type of book have you always wanted to write?
I love writing my contemporary westerns but I also love to travel in Europe and I’ve always wanted to set some books there. So I started one of them recently. It’s a romance, but with some art history and mystery thrown in. It’s set in Paris and I’m stumbling through the rough draft whenever I get a chance to work on it. It’s a challenge, but I love trying something new!
5) How did you get the idea for this particular novel?
It seemed like bits of my life came together and contributed to this plot. We were trying to adopt a baby, so I guess I had adoption on my mind. And some friends of mine who had adopted told me that they had paid for a PO Box for their child’s birthmother, so she’d always have an address where their child could write to her. That was so poignant to me, such a beautiful thing to do, that I knew I had to put something like it in my book. It really helped me develop the rest of Tess’s story. What I’d first imagined as sort of a light-hearted book took on a lot more depth. And as I mentioned before, I could picture Slaid in his faded jeans, cowboy hat and flannel shirt, with his cowboy boots up on a big desk with an American flag behind it. I knew he was the mayor. But I didn’t know what type of conflict he’d have with Tess. Then my sister went camping in the Eastern Sierras and came home early because it was so windy everyday. That’s when I knew the conflict would have to do with windmills and wind energy.
1)Hey, baby! What’s your sign?
I’m a Libra. And the funny thing is, my husband is too. And one of the traits of Libras is that they can see both sides of every issue, which sometimes makes it really hard to make a decision. So you can imagine how difficult it is for my husband and I to get anything decided and done!
2) What’s an absolute no-no in a relationship?
Cheating! I’ve been cheated on before and it feels so awful. I guess I’m still processing it because it shows up in a lot of my books!
3) How did you meet your significant other?
Well, it’s quite an odd story. I was going through a divorce and had sworn off men forever. My sister and I attended a Pogues concert at the Fillmore (a historic club) in San Francisco. She spotted a handsome man and dragged me over to stand near him, despite my protests. I refused to even look at him. But during the concert some drunk men started bothering me, trying to get my name and phone number. They wouldn’t leave me alone, and finally the handsome man next to me intervened and got them to go away. At the end of the concert I thanked him, but refused to speak with him any more than that. My sister was so convinced I should meet him that she dragged me through the crowds in pursuit of him as he was leaving! I was so mad at her and went the opposite way. So I didn’t meet him.
But a couple of days later, while searching online for an apartment to rent, I noticed a page on the Craigslist website called Missed Connections. When I clicked on it, I found all kinds of messages from people trying to find someone they’d spotted around the city. It was all very romantic and I kept reading, just for fun. Much to my surprise, I found a message addressed to “You of the Curly Red Hair, at the Pogues Concert.” I have curly red hair, so of course I clicked on it. It was from the man next to me at the concert - the handsome stranger my sister had been so sure I needed to meet. It was such a bizarre coincidence that I realized my sister was right - I did need to meet this man! So I answered the ad. And we’ve been together pretty much ever since.
4) If you could take a romantic trip, where would it be?
Well, as a parent, I think it would be really romantic to go to a nice resort in Hawaii that had fun kids activities for my son. So then my husband and I could have a few hours alone together in a tropical paradise every day. But last fall, my husband, son and I took a very romantic journey all together. We rented an apartment in Paris for a week, then drove through France and stayed at an ancient castle for a few days, then went on to Italy to stay in Venice for a week. It was such a lovely trip. We were so surrounded by romantic beauty every day. I’d love to take that entire trip again if I could!
5) Do you believe in love at first sight?
I believe in love at second sight! The second time I saw my husband was when we had our first date - after the crazy coincidence where we found each other via Craig’s List. I was walking toward the bar where we’d arranged to meet. He showed up at the same moment and when I saw him walking toward me, something in me just gave a jolt and I thought “Oh no. I am in trouble. I am going to fall in love with this guy.” And I did.
Facial hair or clean shaven? I have to admit, I’m not a fan of beards. I don’t mind when my husband is a little scruffy, but when he grew a beard earlier this year? I wasn’t too excited about it!
Planner or Pantster? I’m a strange combination of both. I plan a bit, then I fly by the seat of my pants for a while, then I plan a little more.
White wine or red? Red… it goes really well with dark chocolate!
Coffee or tea? Coffee. I love it. It makes everything better.
Vanilla or chocolate? Chocolate. There is nothing like dark chocolate truffles, or chocolate cake, or chocolate mousse… yum.
Laptop or desktop? Laptop. I do a lot of my work while drinking coffee in cafes!
Beach or mountains? Impossible to choose! I live a block from the ocean and I never get tired of walking along the shore. But I write about the mountains and love it there…
Cat or dog? Dog, for sure! I love my wacky little terrier mutt.
Twilight or Fifty Shades? Twilight. I didn’t love all of it, but a few of the scenes, especially in the first book, were really romantic!
Backpacking or luxury hotel? Over the years I’ve morphed from a hardcore backpacker to a luxury hotel kind of gal. It’s just a lot more relaxing then schlepping my gear up a mountain!
Christmas or Halloween? Christmas! I love it all, the lights, the yummy smelling tree, church during advent, buying gifts for my son… it’s such a sparkly time of year!
AUTHOR Bio and Links:
Claire McEwen lives by the ocean in Northern California with her family and a scruffy, mischievous terrier. When not dreaming up new stories, she can be found digging in her garden with a lot of enthusiasm but, unfortunately, no green thumb. She loves discovering flea-market treasures, walking on the beach, dancing, traveling and reading, of course! Convincing the Rancher is her third book for Harlequin Superromance.
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