Montana Hearts: True Country Hero
Montana Hearts #3
By: Darlene Panzera
Released May 17, 2016
For Jace Aldridge, the chase is half the fun. The famous rodeo rider has spent most of life chasing down steers and championship rodeo belts, but after an accident in the arena, his career is put on temporary hold. When he’s offered a chance to stay at Collins Country Cabins, Jace jumps at the opportunity to spend more time with the beautiful but wary Delaney Collins.
Between trying to make her family’s business a success, raising her daughter single-handedly, and volunteering at the local wildlife shelter, Delaney doesn’t have time for love. Even though she’s determined to not let the handsome cowboy under her skin, Delaney can’t deny how much she looks forward to every day with him. She's determined to be friends with the handsome cowboy, nothing more, even though Delaney's heart flutters every time he draws near.
But all is not well in Fox Creek and when a violent poaching ring escalates out of control, Delaney must trust that Jace is the true country hero she hopes he is.
Link to Follow Tour: http://www.tastybooktours.com/2016/05/montana-hearts-true-country-hero-by.html
Goodreads Link: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/29539775-montana-hearts
Goodreads Series Link: https://www.goodreads.com/series/150555-montana-hearts
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Except he wouldn’t stand still. He climbed off his buckskin horse, handed the reins to a nearby gatekeeper, gave a young kid in the stands a high five, and then walked straight toward her.
Delaney tightened her hold on the camera, wishing she could stay hidden behind the lens, and considered several different ways to slip away unnoticed. But she knew she couldn’t avoid him forever. Not when it was her job to shadow the guy and capture the highlights from his steer-wrestling runs. Maybe he only wanted to check in to make sure she was getting the right shots?
Most cowboys like Jace Aldridge had large egos to match their championship-sized belt buckles, one reason she usually avoided these events and preferred capturing images of plants and animals. But when the lead photographer for True Montana Magazine called in sick before the event and they needed a fill-in, Delaney had been both honored and excited to accept the position. Perhaps after the magazine viewed her work, they’d hire her for more photo ops. Then she wouldn’t have to rely solely on the profits from her share of her family’s guest ranch to support herself.
She swallowed hard as the stocky, dark-haired figure, whose image continuously graced the cover of every western periodical, smiled, his eyes on her—yes, definitely her—as he drew near.
He stretched out his hand. “Jace Aldridge.”
She stared at his chapped knuckles. Beside her, Sammy Jo gave her arm a discreet nudge, urging her to accept his handshake. After all, it would be impolite to refuse. Even if, in addition to riding rodeo, he was a hunter, an adversary of the animals she and her wildlife rescue group regularly sought to save.
Lifting her gaze to meet his, she replied, “Delaney Collins.”
“Nice to meet you,” Jace said, his rich, baritone voice smooth and … dangerously distracting. His hand gave hers a warm squeeze, and although he glanced toward Sammy Jo to include her in his greeting, it was clear who held his real interest. “Are you with the press?”
Delaney glanced down at the Canon EOS 7D with its high-definition 20.2 megapixel zoom lens hanging down from the strap around her neck. “Yes. I’m taking photos for True Montana.”
The edges of his mouth curved into another smile. “I haven’t seen you around before.”
“I—I’m not around much, but Sammy Jo here,” she said, motioning toward her friend to divert his attention, “used to race barrels. You must know her. Sammy Jo Macpherson?”
Jace gave her friend a brief nod. “I believe we’ve met.”
“Del’s a great photographer,” Sammy Jo said, bouncing the attention back to her.
Jace grinned. “I bet.”
“It’s the lens,” Delaney said, averting her gaze, and Sammy Jo shot her a disgruntled look as if to say, Smarten up, this guy’s into you. Don’t blow it!
Except she had no desire to get involved in a relationship right now. And definitely not one with a hunter. She needed to focus on her two-and-a-half-year-old daughter, Meghan, and help her family’s guest ranch bring in enough money to support them. Especially since her ex-husband hadn’t made a child support payment for the last nine months. The money she did make she spent on lawyer fees trying to sort it all out.
Jace pulled his straw hat off his head and held the brim flat against his chest. “What are you two lovely ladies doing after—”
“Hey, Aldridge,” a balding, middle-aged man with gray sideburns cut in with a shout. “Have you given any more thought to my offer to come hunt big game this fall?”
Delaney stiffened as Gavin McKinley joined them. His property lay a short distance down the trail behind her family’s ranch and sometimes he crossed the line. In more ways than one.
“Don’t have the time,” Jace told him, then turned his attention back to her. “Del—”
“Delaney Collins,” Gavin exclaimed, interrupting again. “Is that you?”
She’d already taken three steps back, hoping she could slink off while the others were talking, but she hadn’t been fast enough. Gavin grabbed hold of her arm and spun her around. “It is you. I suppose you’ll need to pick up some extra photography jobs now that Labor Day’s approaching. Isn’t Collins Country Cabins about ready to close up for the season?”
Delaney shook her head. “No. Actually, we’ve decided to stay open during the fall this year.”
“Stay open?” Gavin’s jaw dropped and he squinted at her as if he hadn’t heard her right. “What for? Is your family trying to steal my business?”
“My family does not steal.” Delaney swallowed the bitter saliva gathering at the back of her throat.
He also rented out guest cabins, not nearly as nice as her family’s, but perfect for the barbarian hunters he housed, equipped, and led on backcountry expeditions.
Jace stepped between them, forcing Gavin to drop his arm away from her. “Mr. McKinley, you’ll have to excuse us. I’m scheduled for a private photo shoot before it’s my turn to compete and we only have twenty minutes.”
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In my new release, Montana Hearts: True Country Hero, rodeo champion Jace Aldridge comes to stay at Collins Country Cabins and meets Delaney, a beautiful, sweet, single mother of a two-year-old. He needs her to help heal his injured horse. She needs his endorsement to save her family from financial ruin. Jace also hopes to win her heart, but Delaney isn't too keen on rodeo cowboys. She thinks they have large egos to match their over-sized belt buckles. Can Jace convince her otherwise?
As an author I've had so much fun writing about cowboys in this series. How many of the facts below did you already know?
1. The term "rodeo" comes from the Spanish word "rodear" which means 'to surround.'
2. Rodeo is a competitive sport that originated from the techniques cowboys used on the ranch to round up cattle when an animal required medical attention.
3. Rodeo clowns aren't just in the arena to entertain the crowd. They are highly skilled athletes whose top priority is to distract the bull when a cowboy falls so the cowboy can escape unharmed.
4. William F. Cody, also known as Buffalo Bill, organized the first U.S. rodeo and wild west show in Nebraska in 1882.
5. Another term for steer wrestling is "bull dogging." Some claim the event started in the 1930's when Bill Pickett, a Wild West Show performer is said to have caught a runaway steer by wrestling it to the ground. Others say he developed the idea after watching cattle dogs work with feisty animals.
6. Human skin is 1mm-2mm thick, horsehide is 5mm thick, and bull hide is 7mm thick.
7. The harder a bull bucks, the higher the cowboy's score, with 100 points being the highest.
8. A cowboy's belt buckle is for more than just holding one's pants together. It is usually a trophy they win in competition to show off their accomplishments. Before the 1920's most cowboys wore suspenders or a type of belt that did not require a belt buckle.
9. The first real cowboy hat was created by John B. Stetson in 1865.This hat, with its high crown and wide brim, was called "Boss of the Plains," and could protect one's eyes from the sun's glare. The hat could also be used as a cup to scoop up water, or as a pillow, if folded over.
10. Cowboys often sang to the cattle they guarded at night to keep them calm. They worried about the danger of stampede from thunder and lightning or other unexpected noises, and singing calmed jittery cows.