Kimberly Rocha's TOP TEN "Best of the West" for 2015

If you've been reading Romance for long, you've heard of the book club, Book Obsessed Chicks

Kimberly Rocha is the founder, as well as reviewer-blogger. She lives on Long Island with her family who patiently moves out of the way on book club night.  They lend a hand for the Book Obsessed Chicks annual BBQ, bringing authors and readers together on Long Island, NY.   

Kimberly is also a talented photographer with an infectious laugh.  She contributes the monthly column “Western Roundup” to the Romance at Random blog, romanceatrandom.com.

She's also a voracious reader and respected reviewer. Each year, she publishes a "Top 10" list of her favorite Western romances, both contemporary and historical. We've been finding some great reads on these lists, as well as fantastic authors to feature on Get Lost in a Story. 

Let's see what she has in store for us this year...

Kim's TOP 10 BEST OF THE WEST for 2015

1. Texas Rebels: Egan by Linda Warren
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Big-city art instructor Rachel Hollister isn't back home in Horseshoe, Texas, for more than a few hours before she's lost and stranded in the woods surrounding Rebel Ranch. But Rachel's bad luck takes a sudden turn for the better when a ruggedly handsome cowboy manages to save her life, not just once, but twice, in the same day.

Rancher Egan Rebel can't resist helping someone in need, even an enemy—or the daughter of one. It was Rachel's father who unjustly sentenced Egan to prison years ago. As attracted as he is to Rachel and her bright, creative energy, Egan can't forgive the man who stole his freedom. Can Egan let go of the past, or will he turn his back on the only woman he's ever loved?

2. Fugitive Hearts: E.E. Burke 
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FUGITIVE HEARTS the fourth book in the Steam! Romance and Rails series is an exciting follow-up to A DANGEROUS PASSION. Claire Daines has a lot on her plate with a husband who suffers from his memories of the war, the boy she has taken in due to his poor circumstances and the fact that her husband goes behind her back to sell her hotel. Even a strong woman can only take so much until breaking. Frank Garrity has also suffered loss in his lifetime and has ended up using alcohol as his solace. He does his job well but beyond that, his life doesn't have a whole lot of meaning until Claire Daines disrupts it.

Both Claire and Frank are strong and intriguing characters with fascinating beginnings. Billy is also a pivotal part of this story and for someone so young, he has a lot going on. FUGITIVE HEARTS is a well-written and engrossing tale that takes place during a very unsettling time in U.S. history. Ms. Burke has gone and effortlessly captured the aura of Westward expansion within the railroad and has made it her own. E.E. Burke has given the reader excitement and romance wound up in a gripping tale called FUGITIVE HEARTS.

3. Texas Prey: Barb Han
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TEXAS PREY, the first in the Mason Ridge series by the very talented, Barb Han is a fast paced and wonderfully scripted tale. Her characters are interesting and have depth, they are real and emotional.

Rancher Brody Fields stops cold when he receives a plea for help from Rebecca Hughes. The onetime love of his life, who was abducted along with her brother fifteen years ago, now believes the kidnapper has returned to tie up loose ends. Rebecca needs Brody's help bringing the kidnapper—or killer—to justice.

This story, teeming with hope is just the sort of read this reader is looking for. TEXAS PREY had me biting my nails and then finally succumbing to tears. 

I thought I was going to get away without those tears, how silly was I?

4. Wild Cowboy Ways: Carolyn Brown
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Sometimes all love needs is a little luck.

Allie Logan isn't the type to land a hot hunk of cowboy. Truth is, she's given up on dating since shedding her no-good ex. But the new owner of the most ramshackle ranch in Texas might just change her mind about that. He's six-foot-plus of tall, dark, and charming—the kind of guy who could make a girl throw caution to the wind . . . or the kind of guy who could break her heart.

Blake Dawson hopes he can make Lucky Penny Ranch finally live up to its name, but the property needs a ton of work. Allie and her carpentry skills are his best shot at getting things in order. Besides the fact that her brown eyes and dangerous curves have him roped and tied. Now Blake only needs to convince her that a wild cowboy can be tamed by love—and she's just the one to do it.

5. Lone Wolf Lawman: Delores Fossen

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A Texas Ranger must protect the daughter of a serial killer from becoming his next victim…

Breaking into the home of the woman who shared his bed three months ago isn't Weston Cade's usual MO. But the Texas Ranger is on a personal vendetta to catch a killer, and Addie Crockett is the man's biological daughter. The beautiful rancher also happens to be carrying Wes's child…

Addie can't remember her birth father, but she'll never forget the lover who took her to bed -- and then disappeared. Now she has to trust Wes with her life. And the life of their unborn baby. As desire reignites, Addie quickly discovers that with this lawman by her side, she just might escape the target on her back

6. Lucky Shot: B.J. Daniels

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When hotshot reporter Max Malone gets a rare shot of Buckmaster Hamilton with a blonde woman near Beartooth, Montana, he chases down one of the senator's daughters to verify that the woman is his supposedly long-dead first wife. But Kat Hamilton won't give him the time of day, let alone any information about her mother.

With his tousled blond hair, sexy stubble and an old straw cowboy hat topping off his long, lean frame, Kat can just tell Max isn't used to female sources denying him anything. But when her own life is put in jeopardy, it's Max who comes to her rescue. Seems someone is prepared to kill to keep the past in the past. Kat can't deny she needs Max to find out what happened to her mother, but will getting closer and closer to each other lead them to the truth... or to danger?

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7. The Widow’s Choice: Hildie McQueen

Comely widow Charlotte Kennedy is in over her head. Between running a huge ranch and keeping a cruel rancher at arms length, she doesn't need the added distraction of romance. 

Colter Valley calls to Rafe Preston, who decides to purchase land and settle there. When he accepts a temporary job at a beautiful widow's ranch, he has no idea how much it will impact his plans.

Passion, deception and treachery, blend into a beautiful love story, set in 1860s Montana Territory.

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8. Contract to Wed: Holly Bush

I simply love this book. I can honestly admit that I have never been let down by one word that Holly Bush has ever written. 

Ms. Bush's writing is solid and fraught with emotion. Taking a much hated character and turning the tides on her is an undertaking that Holly Bush has done with success. 

Max and the menagerie of colorful characters in his Hacienda, makes Contract to Wed a story not to be missed.

9. Adam: Beth Williamson

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Devils on Horseback: Generations, Book 1
Sometimes the universe has to turn your life sideways so love can find its way in.

As the oldest of five, Adam Sheridan’s life is full of obligations. He longs to do something, anything, besides working his family’s flour mill in Tanger, Texas. His mama always says the universe moves in its own sweet time. Apparently the universe was waiting for his wagon load of flour to overturn so he could meet the woman he was destined to love.

Eve Tate is a woman from nowhere with a shady past and an uncertain future. When she is left behind in Adam’s care, she reinvents herself again to be his perfect mate. Little does she know who she was will haunt who she tries to be. And, just like the couples of old, Adam and Eve must find a way to live together—or lose everything they have

A Cowboy Of Her Own by Marin Thomas is a superbly written ending to an amazing series. Every single character Ms. Thomas writes is an old friend the reader wants to help find his or hers HEA. The Cash family are real people, with real issues that make her books so delightful to read. Watching the Cash Family grow from just the siblings to all the significant others and their offspring and then-some is a wonder to watch. 

Porter has been a favorite from the very beginning, with his easy-going manner, his loyalty to his family and his great sense of humor, it's a sublime feeling to see him come full circle and get all he dreams of. I will miss this family and this series, but I know that, Ms. Thomas has so much more in store for her readers. I so highly recommend A Cowboy Of Her Own. It is a story that will stick with you.

As this year draws to a close and we enter 2016, we wish for you, our readers, many happy hours with books from your favorite authors and the joy of discovering new stories to get lost in!


Meet Violet, Bride of North Dakota from bestselling author Heather Horrocks

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Free on Kindle Unlimited
Violet, Bride of North Dakota, is the 39th book in the unprecedented 50-book series, American Mail-Order BridesToday, we're talking to USA Today bestselling author Heather Horrocks and get a peek at her heartwarming story.

Violet Keating is thrilled to be a mail-order bride—until she arrives in North Dakota and discovers she has a runaway groom! 

Feeling protective of her, confirmed bachelor Daniel Lund vows to help this jilted beauty find another husband—until he realizes he’d like to change his own status from “confirmed” to “eligible.” Can a man who’s given up on love and a jilted mail-order bride find magic under the northern lights?

Here's an excerpt:

To the woman of my dreams...
I am searching for my soul mate, a woman with whom to share my life. Though I am but twenty-three, I have ample funds to take on the support and care of a wife. I am currently preparing my home more to the liking of the refined woman I seek. I want someone who can serve as hostess to my parties, who reads and likes to discuss interesting topics, and who is pleasing to the eye (I hope it will ease your mind somewhat that I have been told on numerous occasions that I am the proverbial tall, dark, and handsome.). I have not been married before nor do I have any children, yet I am ready now to begin a family of my own—of our own. I look forward to meeting you.
Nathaniel James Evans of Minot, North Dakota
(Advertisement placed in the Grooms’ Gazette on September 5, 1890)

Lawrence, Massachusetts
October 11, 1890

    Violet Keating watched as the sum total of her possessions was tossed into the baggage car of the train. Having worked as a seamstress for the past three years, she’d made the bag as pretty as she could, with a floral pattern of blues and greens and purples that evoked optimism to her. And it seemed quite pathetic that everything she owned fit into one lonely bag, even if that bag was a brightly colored one.
    “There could only be two like it in the world.” She’d made one for Rachel West, too, of the same material. She turned back to her dear friend.
    They had other friends, mostly coworkers at the now-burned-out Brown Textile Mill. Laurel, Cora, and Darby had already left on their own frightening, exciting adventures. She worried especially for Darby, for her groom specifically requested no Scotswomen, and Darby’s Scottish brogue tended to escape when her temper flared—a fairly frequent occurrence.
    It had been hard enough to say goodbye to the others, but Rachel was not only her roommate, she had become Violet’s family. How could she possibly say farewell to her and be alone in the world again? Who knew how long it would be before they would see each other again. Blinking back tears, she promised, “I’ll write you often and tell you all about my new life—and my new husband.”
    “And I will write you back.” Her dearest friend pulled her into a fierce hug. “Are you sure about this, Violet? North Dakota is so far away—much farther than New Hampshire.”
    Violet clung to her friend. “I’m no more sure than you are. But we both have to move on with our lives. We already know this is the best decision.” The fire at the factory where they’d worked had left them with very few choices, but now she was scared to take the next step. “New Hampshire will be as foreign to you as North Dakota is to me. And we both have wonderful men waiting for us.”
    They released each other and smiled. It was a bittersweet moment she would remember forever.
Rachel said, “I’m still amazed I let you talk me into it.”
    “It surprised me, as well.” A surge of excitement flowed through Violet. “In mere days, you’ll meet your Thomas and I’ll meet my James. And our new lives will begin.”
    Rachel shrugged. “You are such a romantic. I still would prefer a job to a marriage—but it can’t be helped.”
    “Surely you will fall in love once you arrive in New Hampshire. And I do not believe he will be angry with you for long simply because you are so beautiful and he asked for a homely bride.”
    “Look at my unruly red hair, and my freckles, and my skinny frame,” Rachel’s tone teased. “I am nothing if not homely. Thomas and I will get along swimmingly.”
    “I know you will.” Violet sighed. “I will miss you, Rachel. You are truly my sister.”
    “And I will miss you, dear friend.”
    The train whistle blew, and Violet’s heart tapped against her chest quickly.
    Rachel touched her arm. “It is time for you to take flight.”
    “I think flight is more frightening when it comes time to actually flap your wings and leap off the branch.” She sighed. “Just think. The next time we meet—when we exchange our first letters even—we will both be wed.” Violet smiled and held out her left hand. “All our dreams will have come true.”
    Rachel drew in a short breath and nodded.
    The train whistle sounded again, insistently, and the conductor called out, “All aboard!”
    She hugged Rachel once again. “I really must go.”
    “We will see each other again,” Rachel assured her.
    Violet wasn’t sure it was true. Her friend was simply acting like a mama bird, encouraging her, pushing her from the nest into the big world outside.
    She wondered if baby birds were as scared as she was at this moment, perched on the edge of the nest, their little feet clinging to the only safety they’d ever known.
    And then, struck with anxiety, wondering if she was doing the right thing, her breathing quickening, she forced herself to draw in a deep breath to calm herself and climbed aboard the train, turning to wave to her friend once more before stepping inside and finding her seat.
    The car was only two-thirds full, so the seat next to hers was empty.
    Soon enough, the train had lurched a few times and then began to pick up speed. She watched her friend and the station until they were out of sight.
    Fear nipped at her, and she opened her beaded reticule and pulled out the letter that had changed her life. Perhaps if she read his letter again, she could remind herself why she was on this train and she would calm down.
    She unfolded the paper, smoothing it carefully. And read it again in full, from “Dear Miss Keating, I was delighted to receive your correspondence. I believe in true love and—though I have received many responses to my advertisement—I did not feel the stirrings of it until I read your sweet letter” to the sweet ending of “So you will become Mrs. James Evans. Yours faithfully and forever, James Evans.”
    Violet Evans—that had a nice sound to it. And Mrs. James Evans sounded even better.
    The man was twenty-three, handsome, wealthy—and thrilled to be marrying her. What more could a woman want?
    The thought sent shivers up her spine.
    By this time next Wednesday—four long days from today—she would indeed be Mrs. James Evans. She hoped he was as honorable of a man as his words made him sound.

Meet Heather

Heather Horrocks is the USA Today and Amazon bestselling author of numerous books (Who-Dun-Him Inn mysteries, Chick Flick Clique and Christmas Street romantic comedies, the unprecedented American Mail-Order Bride series and Women Who Knew inspirational books). Raised overseas for her first seventeen years, she hid under the bed with her mother during a South American coup, waterskied through an oil slick in the Persian Gulf, partied with a Kuwaiti princess classmate, flew in and out of the blacked-out Cairo airport mere moments before it was bombed during the Six Day War, rode a camel (and ate a camel steak), crossed the finish line first at Utah's Miller Motorsports Park—and walked on hot coals—without getting burned—at a firewalk workshop! She loves anyone who can make her laugh, which explains why she adores her witty husband, her funny friends and sisters, Anne George mysteries, and her cute little dog Gus. She loves to cook for friends, siblings, and especially her children and their families. She and her husband reside in Utah. 

Here's where you can find more information on Heather and her books: 

WEBSITE (Free story for signing up for Heather’s New Releases Newsletter):

            https://Twitter.com/HeatherHorrocks (@heatherhorrocks)


E.E.: How did you come up with the idea for your book?
Heather: After I came up with my heroine’s name (Violet) and the cover artist picked the picture of a woman who could be a “Shrinking Violet” I knew she wanted very much to get married. And, since all my books are based on a situation that can be inherently funny, I thought it would be funny (well, not for her—but for us) for Violet to arrive in Minot, North Dakota, and have no one waiting for her. Especially since her future (runaway) groom painted such a wonderful picture of how he would meet her and drive her around town and then to the pastor’s home to be wed. Then I have her see a man come onto the platform and think he’s perfect! Only he’s not her groom. (Yet.) I loved seeing these two get together. 

E.E.: Where do you read and how often?
Heather: An easier question would be when do I not read! I read ebooks on my Kindle and listen to Audible audiobooks while I fix dinner, drive to the office, or walk my dog around the block. I slip in reading whenever I can—and force myself to leave other people’s books and worlds to write in my own! 

E.E.: What’s your favorite movie of all time?
Heather: Just one? I owned a video store during the ‘80s and watch a gazillion movies. Though I love many, many movies (Return to Me, Murphy’s Romance, Steel Magnolias, Galaxy Quest), my favorite of all romance has to be While You Were Sleeping. She’s just such a nice character, trying to do the right thing, caught in a situation where she doesn’t dare speak up because she could kill Grandma if she does. And he’s such a good guy who, on the stairs when she asks him “Is there any reason I shouldn’t marry your brother?” you can see his angst before he says, “I can’t.” And Joe Jr. is great as the obnoxious guy next door. I love books and movies with happy endings, where the good guys/gals win and the bad guys/gals lose. 
E.E.: What is your hero’s “kryptonite”—What will bring him instantly to his knees?
Heather: My hero, Daniel, is a confirmed bachelor. My heroine, Violet, is his kryptonite. He is immediately über-protective of her, determined to help her find another, better husband out of the men in Minot. He never considers himself as an appropriate choice for her—but she has him from the first moment he sees her, all alone, on that train platform.

E.E.: What drew you to write in the genre(s) you do?
Heather: I write funny books because I love to laugh and to make other people laugh. I write romantic comedies because I love happily-ever-afters and putting two people together and seeing them spark off of each other. I write funny cozy mysteries because I love to kill off obnoxious people (those who “deserve” it). (So don’t tick me off! Just kidding.) 

Today, Heather is graciously giving away three copies of her new release. Just leave a comment and enter the drawing.

What do you think would be the three most difficult things about becoming a mail-order bride?

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