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Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Get Galdin the final book in the Legends Lost Trilogy

The Golden Age of the Cowboy

by: Andrea Downing 

     A short ride down the road from me in Montauk, New York is Deep Hollow Ranch. At 350 years old, it is the oldest ranch in the country and the purported birthplace of the American cowboy.  But we rarely think of cowboys as creatures of the east.  Say ‘cowboy’ to someone and they invariably envisage the heroic male kitted out with Stetson, chaps and Colt, riding across the plains.  Strange to think, then, that the cowboy whom that picture presents did not truly come into existence until after the end of the Civil War.
When the war ended in 1865, thousands of men were returning to homes destroyed, land ravaged and family and friends dead or gone.  There was little prospect of making a living, especially in the war-torn south.  West in Texas, meanwhile, longhorn cattle had been driven to markets in Missouri and Louisiana to try to feed the Confederate Army.  But as these routes had been closed, a surplus of cattle ensued while new markets in the east and California opened.  The Homestead Act was signed into being in 1862 and a transcontinental railway was being built.  The life of a cowboy out in the newly opened west showed promise.
Cattle drives started from Texas to MO and KS railheads in order to get the beef to Chicago where Armour’s meat packing plant opened in 1865.  As the railways expanded, cow towns sprang up in Kansas and later in Nebraska, Wyoming and Montana.  At the same time, investors saw the chance to take advantage of the open range and start huge ranches as beef prices increased.  To give you an idea of how the industry was expanding and numbers of cowboys increasing, up in Wyoming in 1874 the round-up only required two divisions.  A division is how the range is partitioned for the sake of branding so that each ranch may cut out its own cattle.  Reps will go from one division to another to get their own strays.  By 1884, however, Wyoming required thirty-one divisions.  In a single division two hundred cowboys with approximately two thousand horses worked four hundred thousand head of cattle over a period of six weeks.  Down in Colorado in 1885 over 12,000 brands were registered.  So what ended this prospering business, this ‘golden age?’  Well, the answer is several things converged on the industry at once. 

First of all, in the summer of 1885, President Cleveland gave notice that all stock must be removed from Indian Reservations in Indian Territory.  This took over nine million acres out of use, and threw about nine hundred thousand head of cattle onto already overcrowded northern ranges. And those ranges were constantly depleting.  The Homestead Act and land sales by the railways were inviting increasing numbers of emigrants.  Where once cowboys had signed up for homesteads and then signed over their land to their ranches, parcels going to farmers and others were taking chunks out of the open range, reducing it and causing problems such as the Johnson County War.
 Beef prices in 1885 were already low due to overproduction so some ranchers were  keeping cattle over winter in the hope prices would go up.  Unfortunately, added to this was a plague of grasshoppers, lower than normal rainfall and a number of range fires, all reducing winter forage.   Finally, total disaster struck.  In late 1885, the winter came early and particularly harsh.  Losses were great.  But that winter was nothing compared to the winter of  ‘86/’87, which plays a pivotal role in my book, Loveland. That year, temperatures dropped as low as -47 in some parts of the high plains.  With losses at 60-75% of their stock, many ranches went under and the ‘golden age’ of the cowboy came to an end.

About Andrea Downing 

Andrea Downing likes to say that, when she decided to leave New York, the city of her birth, she made a wrong turn and went east instead of west.   She ended up spending most of her life in the UK where she received an M.A. from the University of Keele in Staffordshire.  She married and raised a beautiful daughter and  stayed on to teach and write, living in the Derbyshire Peak District, the English Lake District, Wales and the Chiltern Hills before finally moving into London. During this time, family vacations were often on guest ranches in the American West, where she and her daughter have clocked up some 17 ranches to date. In addition, she has traveled widely throughout Europe, South America, and Africa, living briefly in Nigeria. In 2008 she returned to the city of her birth, NYC, but frequently exchanges the canyons of city streets for the wide open spaces of the West.  Her love of horses, ranches, rodeo and just about anything else western is reflected in her writing.  Loveland, a western historical romance published by The Wild Rose Press, was her first book and is a finalist for the RONE Award of Best American Historical to be announced in August, 2013.  Lawless Love, a story, comes out as part of The Wild Rose Press Lawmen and Outlaws’ series on Sept. 4.  Andrea is a member of Romance Writers of America and Women Writing the West.

From her book Loveland


When Lady Alexandra Calthorpe returns to the Loveland, Colorado, ranch owned by her father, the Duke, she has little idea of how the experience will alter her future. Headstrong and willful, Alex tries to overcome a disastrous marriage in England and be free of the strictures of Victorian society --and become independent of men. That is, until Jesse Makepeace saunters back into her life...

Hot-tempered and hot-blooded cowpuncher Jesse Makepeace can’t seem to accept that the child he once knew is now the ravishing yet determined woman before him. Fighting rustlers proves a whole lot easier than fighting Alex when he’s got to keep more than his temper under control.

Arguments abound as Alex pursues her career as an artist and Jesse faces the prejudice of the English social order. The question is, will Loveland live up to its name?

From the back cover:
The two men looked over at Jesse who was leading his own horse into the stable, anger etched in every muscle of his face. Joe nodded toward the chuck house and they followed the others in to leave Alex alone when Jesse came out.
She was starting back to the main house when Jesse grabbed her arm and turned her around. “You ever do that again,” he said in a voice she had never heard, intense in its anger, rage just below its surface, “I swear to God, Alex, I’ll...I’ll take you over my knee and give you a lickin’ once and for all.”
“How dare you!” She shook him off. “How dare you talk to me like that! How dare you! Who the hell do you think you are?”
Jesse jabbed his finger at her to emphasize he meant what he was saying. “Who do I think I am?”he snarled back. “Who do I think I am? You ever, ever take a gun off me again and point it at someone, you’ll find out who the hell I think I am. You know that coulda gone off? You know you coulda killed someone? I told you—out there yonder—I told you, you never point that thing at anyone less’n you mean bus’ness.”
“I did bloody well mean business! They were destroying that horse. Furthermore, I knew, and you knew, and they both knew, there wasn’t a shot under the hammer. You taught me that, didn’t you? So there was no chance of an accident!”
“That don’t matter none. You coulda pulled the hammer back twice. Way you was, you were nothin’ better’n a loose cannon, Alex. You ever do a thing like that again—”
“You’ll what?” She shook with her rage as tears pooled against her will. “I apologized to them both and they accepted my apologies. It’s none of your concern—”
“None of my concern! You pulled my gun! You ever do that again— Don’t you walk away when I’m talkin’ to you!”
She turned back to him after a few steps. “You’ll what? You’ll what, Jesse? What will you do? I want to hear it! Say it again. What will you do?” And she stood there in the evening darkness, facing him down, wearing him out like she’d faced down the stallion.
 Buy the book here:

Monday, June 24, 2013

Heir to the Luima Legacy (Luima Legacy Series) Review

3 Stars.

I was given this book as a gift from a friend, but I really should have read book one in the series.

Heir begins at the end of a battle where Prince Nestor has been kidnapped by enemy forces. Merl, a contender for the throne, is taken to the castle, where the king is basically on his deathbed. There is a lot of political intrigue, but mostly, a debate is waged as to whether Meryl really is next in line for the throne. Apparently his mother was a princess and had him in secret so no one knew about his existence until he had grown.

In the meantime, two kingdoms plot against Bahadi using Nestor as a pawn in their schemes. Nestor allows himself to be used even after he learns to use a Jebo staff. A magical staff.

As the story progresses, Nestor continues to be corrupted while Meryl learns to use the Light Sword and harness his skills. He grows form the boy that he is into he leader he needs to be at the end. The book ends with a battle and leads into the third book in the series.

This isn't a bad book. It reads fairly easily. I think my biggest problem was that I didn't read book 1 first. So make sure you read the first book in the series before this one; otherwise you might get a bit lost like I did. My only other complaint was that it seemed to tell the story rather than show it. I would have liked more descriptions during the battle. But it does end in a way that makes you want to read the third book. I am interested in how Meryl continues in his role as prince and i what happens to Nestor after he is banished.

You can buy the book here:

Monday, June 17, 2013

And I thought I was a Cat Person

by: Paula Lawes

And I thought I was a ‘Cat’ Person….

Tommy is his name, rather scruffy looking; likes to wear a dark brown coat and has a light brown wayward beard with very bushy eyebrows.

You’d be wrong if you thought I was describing my boyfriend (well now ex-boyfriend).  Tommy is someone more loveable, honest and intelligent than you could ever imagine.   Yep, got it in one! Tommy is my dog, in fact my 7 month old Patterdale Terrier puppy he is the best thing I’ve ever done in my 38 years on this planet, too date that is!

And THAT’s saying something!

You see I grew up until the age of 15 with a house surrounded with cats.   Cats who loved to climb over me to get to the middle of the bed just to get a piece of the duvet cover. Cats meowing first thing in the morning to be let in; let out and whatever else they requested!  Cats, in my view, are the ones in charge. They come and go as they please in a nonchalant kind of way, with not a care in the world other than when their next meal was coming from!

As an animal lover I still felt that I tended to take our cats for granted as I knew they were always there, getting under my feet and yes, annoying the hell out of me!

But I never considered in my wildest dreams that I would ever grow to love a dog!  I’d laugh when a work colleague or friend would regale me with tales of what their dog did, where they went and forever shoving photo’s in my face to prove that the dog was really THAT cute.   I guess it’s a bit like having a baby isn’t for those of us less fortunate, well if you think that way, not to be able to have a child of your own.   It’s something to look after isn’t it?  I guess we all have that need in us somewhere.

So yes, Tommy came into my life on the 2nd November 2012 and to this day I have never regretted it one bit. Ok that is a little white lie. Of course he has tested me and still does on MANY occasions.  He worries me, especially when he goes off lead and runs so far and fast away from me that I think he’s never going to stop! 

 But most of all Tommy is my best friend. I am sure you’ve heard this before but it is true.  There is nothing like the love you get from a dog, respect and unconditional and unwavering trust that beats anything or anyone I have come across in my life.

So this is Tommy, he is what he is and there is no-one else like him and the most important thing he teaches me is patience, trust, love and tolerance.  I only wish and hope I can say the same about the humans in my life. But I guess that’s why he is here…….