LOL :-)) Too funny!
Okay, first the back hoe.  My dh and I bought some acreage a few years ago for an investment along with a used back hoe.  He taught me how to operate it.  Now I can clear land, build roads, move rocks…etc. Not that I do this on a regular basis or anything. It’s just another skill.  I haven’t used this skill in a story yet but I probably will at some point.

My heroines are definitely not the wimpy types.  I try to make my girls strong but vulnerable. They are take charge, damn the torpedoes, meet whatever comes down the pike kind of women.  I don’t write the Alias or Mrs. Smith kind of characters, who go around shooting people or performing death defying stunts–at least not yet. Who knows, maybe I will some day. :-)  I have a future book planned in which my heroine is a former FBI agent.
My most recent book, The Secret Truth at Dare Ranch from Wings ePress–available in POD from the publisher is a secret baby story with a twist–and no, Bonnie, not that kind of twist.   I’m a quick study.  Now I know how your mind works. :-))

I wrote this book a few years ago and at that time I did character outlines and wrote a list of their GMC both external and internal.  Nowadays, I write a synopsis first, before I begin writing.  This book went through several revisions.  I was lucky to have help from a former Silhouette editor, Melissa Senate.  She was wonderful and helped me tremendously.  In this book, I identified with my heroine because she is a mother and loves horses as I do.  Although I don’t own any myself.  I live in suburbia now.  Here is a blurb and an excerpt from the book.  Enjoy!

The Secret Truth at Dare Ranch


A Contemporary Western Romance released February 1, 2007 from Wings ePress

He was back. Ranch owner, Lexie Dare never thought she would see her child’s father again. Now Mitch Quinn not only wants to buy her ranch but also be a father to the child she has kept secret for seven years.

Set on a ranch in the Colorado high country The Secret Truth at Dare Ranch tells the story of a woman struggling to save her failing ranch and overcome the tragedy of her brother’s death and one man’s determination to preserve his best friend’s memory.

When hardworking ranch owner and devoted mother, Alexa “Lexie” Dare learns that Mitch Quinn, her heart-stopping cocky friend from childhood wants to buy her failing ranch, she is stunned and desperate to stop him. But as the days go by, mutual attraction, shared kisses and time spent with their daughter draw them closer together emotionally. Has the passion they shared one long ago night truly ever been extinguished? Or is the tragedy of the past too much for love to overcome?


The doorbell rang twenty minutes after Lexie stepped inside the house. She reluctantly strode out of the kitchen and down the hallway to the front door. She stopped beside the door, looked through the sidelight and saw Mitch standing on the front porch.

Lexie tried to calm her racing heart and ease the cold knot of anxiety forming in her stomach. She was thankful Dani was upstairs doing her homework. She flicked the lock on the door and swung the panel open. Lexie squared her shoulders. His tie was gone, his eyes clear and focused. He looked calm, unruffled. She’d been churned up since the moment she’d laid eyes on him earlier in the barn.

“Can I come in?”

“Sure, I’m making dinner. Come into the kitchen.” She moved to the side so he could enter. He followed her down the hall, close on her heels. The sound of his footsteps echoed on the wood floor like a death knell. Her nerve endings burned. Oh God, she had to tell him the truth.

She walked into the kitchen and headed for the stove. “Have a seat. Would you like something to drink?” she asked over her shoulder.

“No, thanks.”

Lexie felt Mitch’s gaze bore into her, move over her. Slowly, deliberately, she removed the chicken from the pan and laid it on a platter. Her hand shook when she reached for the spoon to give the pot of green beans a stir. The kitchen clock ticked, ticked, ticked away the time. The refrigerator hummed. Everyday, normal sounds. Only today was far from normal.

A chair scraped over the kitchen floor. Her heart leapt into her throat. She spun quickly at the noise. Mitch lowered his tall, very male frame into the chair. His gaze watched her every move; his mouth curved, but it wasn’t a smile.

“Ready to talk?” he asked in a flat tone.

How will I ever make him understand?

Lexie turned down the flame under the beans and walked to the table. She sat down slowly, mechanically, and rubbed her sweaty palms over the top of her jean-covered thighs. There was only one way for her to say it. “Dani’s your daughter,” she blurted, following it with a heavy sigh at finally being able to say the words out loud to Mitch.

She waited a few seconds then flicked her gaze up to his. Mitch slumped back in his chair and nodded as understanding dawned on his face. “I thought she looked a little like my dad. How could I not have recognized my own child?”

He flicked his gaze to hers, his eyes probing to her soul, a frown creasing his brow. “Why the hell didn’t you tell me?”

Shudders of uneasiness quaked through her body. Tension sparked along her nerves. Lexie reached out, laid her hand on his warm, strong arm. If only those arms could have held her through the last seven years. He moved his arm away from her touch, letting her hand settle on the table’s hard surface. His rejection of her touch hurt her but she pushed the hurt aside. “I didn’t want you to feel trapped into coming home to Chimney Rock.”

She stared at the stubborn set of his jaw, the grim line of his mouth. “We didn’t love each other, Mitch,” she said in a matter-of-fact tone. “That night we were just two people reaching out to one another. When I asked you to marry me, I was desperate,” she said with a slight lift of her hand. “Nothing more. I realized later it wouldn’t have been fair to you. Or to me.  And certainly not to Dani.”

She said the words softly and prayed with all her might that he would understand.

He turned his head and stared at her. “Fair? That’s a lousy excuse.” He bit the words out in rapid succession.

Lexie straightened her shoulders, refusing to let him make her question her decision. “I did what I thought was right.”

“You think it was right to keep my child from me?” he asked in a harsh, incredulous tone.

Lexie’s heart lay panting in her chest. I did the right thing. She rose from her chair and walked to the kitchen window. She stared at the rose bushes in the back yard, their bright yellow petals turning brown, like the passion that she and Mitch once shared. She turned her head and looked at him. “I know you’re mad, but please try to understand.”

He laughed, chilling her to the bone, the sound cold, mirthless. “Understand? I’m Dani’s father for Christ’s sake and I never knew about her until today,” he said with a bitter edge of irony in his voice.

His scathing words clawed over her already frayed nerves. She heard him exhale in frustration. “Tell me what happened,” he demanded in a cross tone. “Tell me everything.”

Lexie walked back to the table and sat down. She put her palms together and clasped her hands between her knees to keep them from trembling. Anger and confrontation never failed to upset her. “Eight weeks after you left I started getting sick to my stomach first thing in the morning. I went to the doctor and discovered I was pregnant.”

She looked at Mitch. His face appeared calmer now, the anger faded, but he held his mouth in a tight line. “How did you feel about it?” he asked in a more composed tone.

Lexie exhaled and massaged the tense muscles in the back of her neck with her fingers. “I was terrified, excited, happy. I told Vivian right away since she was my best friend and swore her to secrecy. When I knew I could no longer hide my pregnancy I told your father.

“They both wanted me to tell you and tell my father. I refused both,” she said quickly not giving Mitch a chance to interrupt her. “They threatened to tell you if I didn’t, but I begged them not to. I knew in my heart you didn’t want to be caught in a loveless marriage.” Her voice was a ragged whisper.

“How did you know what I wanted? You never asked me.” His brittle words like dry fallen leaves scraped over the ball of guilt spreading through her chest.

“I wanted you to succeed. If you had been saddled with a wife and child you would have ended up resenting us both.” Lexie paused to restore her composure. Her voice broke with emotions she’d kept bottled up for years. Didn’t he understand she had cared enough about all three of them to let him go? “I would have suffered, you would have suffered, but Dani would have suffered the most.” Her voice was steadier now as the fear over telling Mitch the truth receded. Frustration bloomed in its place. “I didn’t tell you because I knew you didn’t want a commitment and I wasn’t sure about my feelings for you. I was sure of only one thing: I wanted to have the baby.”

Mitch shifted in his chair. He locked his jaw and his lips thinned. Her reasons seemed only to infuriate him more. She understood why. He’d just found out he was a father.

Lexie looked down at her jeans and brushed some dust away. “Dad blew a gasket.” She lifted a hand and let it fall in a what-else gesture. “He got raging drunk and called me a whore.” The hurt she felt in that long ago moment still stung, pricking her heart dead center poking at the wounds that had yet to heal. She swallowed against the anguish, blinking back her tears. “He couldn’t bear the thought of his daughter bearing your child, the son of the man he blamed for killing Parker.” Her voice still sounded fragile to her own ears. She inhaled a deep breath to help ease the pain she felt at the memory.

His gaze cut to hers; he impaled her with anger, misery filling his eyes. “Go on,” he insisted in a rigid voice.

She licked her lips and swallowed. “He kicked me out. I had no place to go except to Vivian. I lived with her until Dani was born. The night she was born a snowstorm blew in. We barely made it to Doc Grant’s clinic,” she said with a slight smile remembering the most joyful and frightening moment of her life.

“Vivian stayed with me the whole time. She even helped me with the baby after the birth.” Lexie chuckled as the memories of caring for a newborn came flooding back. “We knew next to nothing about babies, but boy did we learn fast.”

He leaned forward, his hands resting on his thighs. “So everybody knew about Dani but me,” he stated in a scornful tone.

Compassion for his anger at her deception nudged her heart but she was so damn sick of feeling guilty. She needed to finish this, she needed to expunge her guilt, she needed to tell him everything. “My father came to see me at Vivian’s house. He said tongues were wagging about him abandoning his daughter and he wanted me to come home. Since he’d been on the city council and even served one term as mayor, he was worried about his precious reputation,” she said in a voice laced with sarcasm.

Mitch rose from his chair, placed his palms on the table and leaned close to Lexie. He looked down at her, his face a hard mask of anger. Fear ravenously nibbled at her insides as instinct had her pressing against the back of her chair. She’d never seen him so furious.

“How could you hurt me like this? And my father was in on it, too?” His voice grated with animosity.

How could she hurt him? She was tired of shouldering the guilt about keeping Dani a secret. She was tired of Mitch’s holier-than-thou attitude. She was tired—period. Lexie straightened her shoulders and leaned forward until they were eye to eye. “You didn’t come back to Chimney Rock for seven years, not even to visit your father. He always visited you. You didn’t call. You didn’t write. For all I knew you were never coming back. When, during that time of not receiving even one token communication from you, was I supposed to tell you about Dani?”

He straightened, clenched his hands into fists at his sides and glared at her. “I’ve got to get out of here before I say something I’ll regret.”

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