E.E. Burke's BEST OF THE WEST with Award-winning Author Laura Drake

Today, my Best of the West guest is Laura Drake. A Texan at heart (now in residence), she writes women's fiction and contemporary Western romances featuring uber-hunky bull riders. Check this one out.

A Love as Bold as a Texas Sunset . . .

Ex-army medic Katya Smith has always healed other people's pain. Now she has to deal with her own. Taking a job as an athletic trainer on the Pro Bull Riding circuit seems like the perfect escape from her grief--except Katya doesn't know anything about bulls, and even less about the tough men who ride them. She doesn't expect to fall for the sport, or for one tantalizing cowboy who tumbles her defenses.

For rodeo champion Cam Cahill, fifteen years of bucking bulls have taken their toll on his body. Before he retires, he wants a final chance at the world title--and he doesn't need some New Age gypsy telling him how to do his job. But when the stunning trainer with the magical hands repairs more than his worn muscles, everything changes. Soon Cam finds himself trying to persuade Katya to forgive her past so she can build a future . . . with him.

Here's an excerpt

Katya’s heels echoed as she entered the white tiled hallway. The long, emotional day left her wilted, feeling as if she’d worn this suit for days. And she still had to nail this job. She rolled her shoulders. This next hour would be the crossroads of her future.

Buck up, soldier. She straightened her spine, tightened her core muscles, and marched.

She turned the corner of the white tiled hallway. Her step faltered. A cowboy strode ahead of her, head down, spurs jingling. What Maydelle had called chaps hugged his slightly bowed legs, fringes bouncing. She hadn’t seen a cowboy from the back before. Wide bands of smooth leather curved from between his thighs to cup his butt, creating a frame for a perfect picture. Not that the jeans were tight. They were a working man’s jeans, used and dusty. Which made them all the sexier.


He held the vest the riders wore in one hand and a rope in the other, a bell on the end dragging behind. The bright red Western shirt he wore tightly tucked at his small waist widened to broad shoulders, his blond hair was cut short beneath the dark brown hat.

Nice. A muscle under her ribs fluttered. Walking behind men in those chaps would be a sweet perk of this job.

He hurled the rope in a sudden vicious burst. The bell clanged and echoed as it hit the wall.

“Shit!” The cowboy squatted, clutching his shoulder and swearing like a drill sergeant.

She almost stopped, to see if she could help. When he rolled his shoulder, she knew he hadn’t dislocated it.

Dr. Cody was waiting. If she didn’t nail this job, she’d never be able to help anyone.

He swore viciously.

“Well. Excuse me.” Figures. No matter how studly they may look, star athletes were at heart tantrum-throwing toddlers. She had two years of locker room stories to prove it. New sport, same infantile behavior.

“Pardon me, ma’am.”

He sounded sincere, but she glanced back, just to be sure.

God save the world from baby-faced men. Washed, blue-sky eyes with sun-squint lines at their corners, a strong jaw, and full lips. Lips, that as she watched, quirked as his eyes took a long, slow trip up her legs.

She faced forward so fast her neck popped. Why do the good-looking ones have to be assholes?

Meet Laura 

Laura Drake is a city girl who never grew out of her tomboy ways, or a serious cowboy crush. She writes both Women's Fiction and Romance.

She sold her Sweet on a Cowboy series, romances set in the world of professional bull riding, to Grand Central. The Sweet Spot (May 2013), Nothing Sweeter (Jan 2014) and Sweet on You (August 2014). The Sweet Spot won the 2014 Romance Writers of America®   RITA® award in the Best First Book category.

Her 'biker-chick' novel, Her Road Home, sold to Harlequin's Superromance line (August, 2013) and has expanded to three more stories set in the same small town. The Reasons to Stay released August, 2014.

In 2014, Laura realized a lifelong dream of becoming a Texan and is currently working on her accent. She gave up the corporate CFO gig to write full time. She's a wife, grandmother, and motorcycle chick in the remaining waking hours.

Website:  http://LauraDrakeBooks.com
Twitter:  @PBRWriter
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/LauraDrakeBooks
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/247709.Laura_Drake

E.E.: What’s the first book you remember reading?
Laura: Aside from the obligatory Dick and Jane stuff, I remember getting Misty of Chincoteague by Marguerite Henry for my birthday. Loved the story, and especially the watercolor paintings of that round-belly pinto with flowers woven in her mane, standing on a beach with a blue sky background. Sigh. Horse stories were like crack to a horse-crazy little girl from Michigan!

E.E. What sound or noise do you love? 
Laura: The sound of water. Fountains, rain, the ocean . . . but my favorite is the sound of water, chuckling over rocks in a stream. I fly fish (catch and release only-and I still feel sorry about hurting the trout!), I think fully half the reason is just to be out in nature with the shadows of leaves sliding over me, and the sound of the water… Oh, this is making me want to go fishing!

E.E.: What do you do to unwind and relax? 
Laura: Aside from fishing, I love to ride my motorcycle. I rode 100,000 miles behind my husband before learning to ride my own, and I now have more than 100k under my belt!  All our vacations were taken on the motorcycles at one time and we were putting more than 10k a year on them. I’ve been to all the Western states, and Western Canada as well. It’s an amazing way to see the country. Your destination is just an excuse to go – the important part is the journey going there! 

E.E.: Do you have stories that inspired your books?
Laura: Boy, do I have stories! In fact, the first book I wrote, Her Road Home (first book in my Widow’s Grove series), was sparked by coming around a sweeping turn on the back of my husband’s motorcycle in Central California, and seeing an old Victorian on a grassy hill all by itself, shabby and abandoned. Its white paint was gray with age, but it was still regal, sitting atop that hill. I wanted to stop and buy it. Hubby nixed that idea, so I gave it a fictional family, instead.

E.E.: What one thing about your hero drives his heroine crazy? And what one thing about your heroine drives her hero nuts?
Laura: In Twice in a Blue Moon, my heroine, Indigo Blue, makes Danovan DiCarlo nuts because he wants her - but not only is she his boss, she’s a widow, grieving for her septuagenarian husband. Why would a Hollywood ‘arm-candy’ wife want to run a winery, when she admits to knowing nothing of the business? She doesn’t even drink, for cripes sakes! He just doesn’t ‘get’ her at all. Danovan makes Indigo crazy because he keeps lying to her! Every time she relaxes, and starts trusting and caring for him, she discovers another untruth. And a lie out of kindness is still a lie.

E.E.: If you were given a chance to travel to the past where would you go?
Laura: The old West, of course! But I’d want to come back as a man – I’m not sure I’m tough enough to be a woman back then. I’d just love to know what it was really like. 

Cribs Birdcage, licensed under GFDL via Wikipedia
The best glimpse I ever had of that past was when I visited the Birdcage Theatre in Tombstone, Arizona. Have you ever been? It is amazing. It looks like the patrons locked it up and walked away, a hundred years ago. There are poker tables on the main floor, a stage up front with the original red velvet drapes, dusty and falling apart. On both sides, above your head, are the ‘cribs’ where the soiled doves plied their trade. Oh. My. Gosh. Each was about seven feet long, and five feet deep, and had only curtains covering the view to the floor below! Can you imagine? Below the stage is a small room where the world’s longest poker game was held. One continuous game went on there for 8 years, 5 months, and 3 days! If you ever get the chance to visit, don’t pass it up.

E.E.: What dreams have been realized as a result of your writing?
Laura: I’ve been lucky enough to have a bunch of them – from signing at conferences to meeting real live fans (they like me! They really like me!) But the biggest thrill of my life (but don’t tell my husband, he thinks he is) was winning the RITA for Best First Book at the RWA National conference last year! In case you don’t know, the RITA is the ‘Oscar’ of the Romance writing industry, and they are given away at a black-tie dinner for 2,000. 

I figured it was my only chance in my life to legitimately ‘go glam’, so I rented a sequined dress that looked like molten gold in the lights – when they called my name, I couldn’t believe it was actually happening! It was the high point of my life. Here’s a link to my acceptance speech, and that gorgeous dress! 

E.E.: What drew you to write in the genre(s) you do?
Laura: I write romance and Women’s Fiction with uplifting outcomes. Books have sustained me through some very hard times in my life. I’d like others to know that though it may not seem like it in those moments, things do get better, and there’s always an HEA just waiting to happen . . .

Today, Laura will offer three autographed copies of Sweet on You (mailed in the U.S. only). Just comment and enter the drawing.

Where would go on a "dream trip? and why?"

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  1. When I grow up, I want to write with Laura Drake's voice. It's phenomenal.

    1. Aw, thanks, Liz! But yours is pretty awsome as it is!

  2. Welcome back to GLIAS, Laura! I'm delighted to feature you for BEST OF THE WEST. Love the excerpt. Can't wait to read the book. I remember sitting in the audience when you won the RITA last year thinking how fantastic you looked in that dress. It was amazing. I applaud you for selecting "molten gold." Classy!

    As far as dream trips, I'd love to take a leisurely drive around (versus a walk about) hitting all the historical high spots across the western United States. This is not, I might add, my husband's idea of a dream. He gets car sick. I may have to settle for short jaunts. But I'm definitely putting the Birdcage Theatre on my list of "must sees." Thanks for sharing it!

    1. Oh E.E., so sorry! You may have to leave him home and go on a road trip! The whole town of Tombstone is pretty amazing - yeah, there's the tourist stuff, but go to the courthouse, and the Birdcage - the past is still hanging in the air, there. The house where Doc Holiday rented a room is still there, too!

      Thanks SO much for having me!

  3. Welcome back to GLIAS, Laura. Dream trip --no cost worries? Australia & New Zealand...for a very long time. But then it's back to Texas...where my hesart is.

    1. Angie, I'm a fly fisherman, so New Zealand is on my bucket list, too!

  4. A dream trip of mine would be to visit Ireland... see and hear it with my own eyes and ears. greenshamrock at cox dot net

    1. I'm with you, Coleen - I want to see all the British Isles!

  5. Brazil- haven't been

    bn100candg at hotmail dot com