E.E. Burke's Best of the West with Kathleen Rice Adams

I've got a new favorite for my BEST OF THE WEST collection. Prodigal Gun by Kathleen Rice Adams. This is more than a great love story, it's also a thrilling Western, beautifully written. This Texan knows her history, and she also knows how to spin an exciting, enthralling tale that will reel you in and hold you captive until the last page. 

Here's a blurb:
    Widowed rancher Jessie Caine buried her heart with the childhood sweetheart Yankees killed on a distant battlefield. Sixteen years later, as a Texas range war looms and hired guns arrive to pursue a wealthy carpetbagger’s agenda, Jessie discovers the only man she ever loved isn’t dead.
    At least not yet.
    Embittered by a brother’s betrayal, notorious gunman Calhoun is a dangerous man, come home to do an unsavory job. A bushwhacker’s bullet nearly takes his life on Jessie’s land, trapping him in a standoff between the past he tried to bury and the infamy he never will.           One taste of the only woman he ever loved puts more than his life and her ranch in the crossfire.
    With a price on his head, a debt to a wealthy employer around his neck, and a defiant woman tugging at his heart, Calhoun’s guns may not be enough to keep him from the grave.       
     Caught between his enemies and hers, Jessie faces an agonizing choice: Which of her dreams will die?


    She had barely cleared the jamb when an arm cinched her waist and yanked her backward into a wall of solid muscle. Her hat tumbled to the floor, and Jessie’s throat seized around an audible gasp.       A choked grunt escaped whoever held her as a leather-gloved palm clamped over her mouth.
    A bristly jaw scraped her temple. “Not a sound.” The stranger’s raspy whisper bore traces of whiskey and tobacco; they overrode the sweat and trail dust clinging to the rest of him. Another scent lay beneath—sharper, metallic. Blood?
    The rasp came again. “Lose the gun. Now.”
    Heart pounding a hole through her ribs, Jessie nodded. With slow, careful movements, she unbuckled her belt and lowered the Remington to the floor.
    The man relaxed his grip enough for her to squirm. When her elbow dug into his side, a breath hissed between his teeth and he turned her loose. Fool. She was no helpless waif or half-grown boy.
    Jessie whirled to face a broad expanse of chest; tipped back her head, then farther, seeking features within the shadows of a hat pulled low to hide the stranger’s eyes.
    He kicked the door shut and backed against the wall. With a halfhearted flick of his fingers, he knocked up the black hat’s wide brim…
    …and Jessie stared into the face of a ghost.
    Her heart skidded to a stop.
    “Hello, Jess.”
    That wasn’t the voice of a ghost. Deeper than she remembered, the whiskey-smooth tone rolled over her like fog.
    Her knees nearly buckled. Disbelief vaulted from her lungs in a single, incredulous breath. “Mason?”
    He didn’t answer—just watched her without a shred of emotion. How could he be so composed, so distant? Sixteen years, and he could manage only two words?
    She shut her mouth and returned his unflinching gaze. Deep grooves marked the outer corners of haunted eyes and echoed matching trenches between the dark slashes of his brows. A grayish cast infused the depths of weathered skin beneath days-old stubble and the wave of warm-molasses hair pasted to his forehead by a thin veneer of sweat.
    Her gaze inched down the tall, lean frame, scraping the sharp line of his jaw, shoulders wider than she remembered, and a deep chest that didn’t belong to the boy she had known. Her meandering stopped where one arm crossed his body and his hand disappeared inside the open front of a dusty range coat.
    Jessie’s gaze swept back to his face.
    Some brief sensation flirted with his angular features but never claimed them. Pain. He drew a ragged breath before he spoke again. “Where’s Will?”
    The voice sounded thinner this time, less sure, but her husband’s name darted through Jessie on a hot stab. Three years hadn’t dimmed her memories of an extraordinary man…or the guilt.
    And neither had sixteen. Mason.
    The longcase clock at the foot of the stairs ticked once for every three of Jessie’s heartbeats, but neither rhythm marked the passage of minutes as Mason matched her stare. Funny how time came to a standstill when truth intersected a lie. A monumental lie.
    The mantel clock chimed. Jessie jumped on the first note. By the eighth, she remembered how to speak. “You’re…dead.”

Here's where you pick up a copy:
Smashwords: http://bit.ly/1zFNI0W

Meet Kathleen

     Descended from a long line of Texas ranchers, preachers, and teachers on one side and Kentucky horse thieves and moonshiners on the other, Kathleen Rice Adams had no choice but to become an outlaw. Maybe that's why in her stories, even the good guys wear black hats.
     For the past thirty years, she's stayed two steps ahead of a lynch mob as an award-winning journalist. She also has ghost-written or edited several nonfiction books. A Texan to the bone, she spends her days chasing news stories and her nights and weekends shooting it out with Wild West desperados. Leave the upstanding, law-abiding heroes to other folks. In Kathleen’s stories, even the good guys wear black hats.

Find her on the web at:
Group blogs:
           Petticoats and Pistols: http://petticoatsandpistols.com/
           Prairie Rose Publications: http://prairierosepublications.blogspot.com/
           Sweethearts of the West: http://sweetheartsofthewest.blogspot.com/
•           Western Fictioneers: http://westernfictioneers.blogspot.com/

E.E.: Why western historical romance? What drew you to this genre?
Kathleen: The Old West is unique to America, but that historical era has captured the imagination of people worldwide. In part, I think that’s because classic western tropes portray strong men and strong women forging something out of nothing in an inhospitable land. The environment is fertile ground for romance authors. Even before “romance” became a genre, western authors incorporated the notion that love drove people to commit extraordinary acts. Read anything by Zane Grey for evidence. There’s satisfaction in the knowledge that no matter how wild and wooly things get for the characters, love will triumph in the end.
Plus, I just adore hunky men with big…guns.

E.E.: How often to you get lost in a story?
Kathleen: As often as possible. My schedule’s a bit hectic with one full-time job, one part-time job, six group blog posts monthly, writing, and the occasional meal, bathroom break, and nap. When it’s time to relax, though, I read. My first choice is always western historical romance or traditional western, but I enjoy everything from cozy mysteries to epic sci-fi. About the only thing I don’t read is graphic horror.

E.E.: What’s the first book you remember reading?
Kathleen: Maybe The Cat in the Hat? I hated that stupid cat. Even as a kid, I thought he needed a good spanking. The first western I remember reading is Zane Grey’s Robbers’ Roost. I still love that story. In fact Latimer, Calhoun’s partner in Prodigal Gun, is a hat-tip to a character in Robbers’ Roost: Sparrowhawk Latimer. Is that the best outlaw name ever, or what?

E.E.: Who’s your favorite cartoon character?
Kathleen: Yosemite Sam. He’s adorably inept and prone to the most ineffectual temper tantrums. Plus, his mustache is kinda cute.

E.E.: Fairy Tale or Action Adventure?
Kathleen: Definitely action-adventure. I’m an armchair adrenaline junky. I have to admit, though, there are some really good fairytales out there. If you haven’t read William Goldman’s The Princess Bride, do so immediately—or watch the movie. Goldman also wrote the screenplay, and the result is one of those rare cinematic jewels that doesn’t disappoint people who encountered the story in print first.

E.E.: Is there a “Blooper” in your story (it may have been changed before printing)?
Kathleen: There was almost a huge one, but we got it fixed before publication, thank goodness. A hawk appears in the story’s very first sentence. The bird is symbolic. He appears a couple more times, and he was supposed to show up again at the end. I left him out at the end! My forehead still hurts. So here Cheryl Pierson (the editor) and I are at the 11th hour sneaking the hawk into where he was supposed to be without making a mess of everything else in the process. You have never seen such a flurry of convoluted emails in your life. Finally, we both threw up our hands in surrender: “That’s it. I’m done. It’s going to press the way it is no matter how embarrassing.” As God is my witness, I will never, ever, put a hawk in a story again.

E.E.: What is your hero’s “kryptonite” – in other words, what will bring him instantly to his knees?
Kathleen: Harm to his family. Mason, the hero in Prodigal Gun, has spent more than half his life denying he has a family. Once he gets within spitting distance of the home he swore he’d never return to, a couple of pieces of family-related news blindside Mr. Tough Guy and he cracks right down the middle. Fortunately Jessie, the heroine, is quick on the scene with a bottle of glue.

E.E.: What one thing about your hero drives his heroine crazy? And what one thing about your heroine drives her hero nuts?
Kathleen: Jessie is a risk-taker, and she’s pigheaded about the risks she takes. Mason spends the entire book worried she’s going to get herself killed. Somewhere around the middle of the story, I started wondering when he’d flip his Colts backward and put himself out of his misery. He’s also the king of mixed signals, leaving Jessie ready to throttle him. He refuses to be pinned down—about anything—but he gives her distinct impressions about where he wants their relationship to go…and then he runs in the opposite direction. All of that keeps her off-balance and frustrates her to no end. Maybe she should shoot him and put them both out of their misery.

E.E.: What will always make you smile, even on a bad day?
Kathleen: My four tiny overlords: Dog, Underdog, Mr. Ed, and Li’l Ol’ Biddy. Collectively they’re the Hole in the Web Gang, but individually they’re better known by their outlaw names: I Don’t Care, I Don’t Wanna, I Don’t Know, and I’m Not Putting Up with this Foolishness Any Longer. (She’s called Li’l Ol’ Biddy for a reason.)

Today, Kathleen is giving away 10 copies of her debut novel, Prodigal Gun, to ten lucky commenters. Enter the drawing and leave your answer to the question: 

Pick one kind of hero (no cheating and saying “both”): Outlaw or a lawman. Why?

a Rafflecopter giveaway


  1. Thanks for hosting me today, Elizabeth! I admire y'all's blog, and I'm just tickled to death to be here. It's always a pleasure to chat with one of my favorite western historical romance authors. HUGS!!!!

  2. Sounds like a great story, Kathleen. Can't wait to read more!

    1. Thanks, Becky! Nice to see you over here. :-)

  3. This Texan thinks your book sounds truly great. I loved your excerpt. I like lawmen who have an edge...often an outlaw past! I'd say an example would be like Wyatt Earp!!!

    1. Connie, Wyatt Earp's a great example of lawmen with outlaw pasts. Brothel owner, gambler, horse thief, and alleged murder -- he seems to have done it all. :-D

      Thanks for the compliment about the book. :-)

  4. This Texan thinks your book sounds truly great. I loved your excerpt. I like lawmen who have an edge...often an outlaw past! I'd say an example would be like Wyatt Earp!!!

  5. The excerpt sounds great! Love bad boys and the women who tame them. I'll be reading this one as soon as I finish the book I'm working on.

    1. Thank you, Sylvia! I hope you enjoy Prodigal Gun. You'll let me know either way, right? :-)

  6. Hi, Kathleen! and welcome to GLIAS. Oh my, was I hooked with the "You're...dead" line. Congratulations on your book.

    1. Thanks, Vicki! Poor Jessie. She spends about half the book convincing herself not to kill him herself. :-D

  7. Lawman. I prefer a hero of honor & integrity though an outlaw need not necessarily not have those traits

    1. There's one of each in Prodigal Gun -- and they're both charmers. I had to give in and promise the Texas Ranger his own story before he'd promise not to arrest me for aiding and abetting a criminal. ;-)

      Thanks for stopping by, Linda!

  8. Outlaw or a lawman? Well for me, it would be the lawman! Love the good guys especially after growing up around cops and firefighters!
    Enjoyed the Q&A! Thanks for sharing! :)

    1. Colleen! You grow up around a group of real-life heroes. I'll bet that taught you to walk the straight and narrow pretty darn quickly, didn't it? ;-)

      Cops and firefighters have my admiration and gratitude. Those men and women chose a tough career. That takes a special kind of person. :-)

  9. Wonderful book. Great interview. ♥

    1. Thank you, Owl! No, you're not getting in the drawing, you mangy Yank. :-P


  10. outlaw- more interesting to read about

    bn100candg at hotmail dot com

    1. They are interesting to read aren't they, bn100? They're fun to write, too. Lawmen can be fun to write, as well. I made the hero in a short story a Texas Ranger, and he was a handful. Fun, but a handful. :-D

  11. Replies
    1. Thank you, Angi! I love this blog. I come by and read often. :-)

  12. That is a tough question and both for a number of reason but since I have to pick one it would be the lawman he servers and protects, knows how to protect and treat a lady. He gets his man or women, he knows how to carry his self and is a hero.

    what a lovely interview and the book sounds like it will be an outstanding read.


    1. Cyn, you backed up your choice darn well, lady! Lawmen are definitely hero material. Now I'm wondering if there's a way to make a hero both at the same time. Hm. May have to give that a try. :-)

    2. You better believe there is....both can be wonderful hero's. One can be both an outlaw and an lawman.....Outlaws do protect their woman but not as much as lawman do. The is always an exception to every rule...both have wonderful qualities and both work well in stories.

    3. I agree! I love the exceptions to the rule. I'm rebellious that way. ;-)

  13. I'm so glad to be able to share your book today, Kathleen. I fell in love with Mason (who wouldn't) and adore Jessie. Great characters, great storytelling. Who could ask for more?

    Far as my favorite? Well, I've got a soft spot for bad boys, white or black hat.

    1. LOL! I could tell that from YOUR books, Elisabeth. :-D

      It's REALLY a pleasure to visit with y'all today, and thank you so much for the compliments. I don't think I'll ever stop blushing.

      BIG HUGS, dear lady!

  14. Great post! I'm not in the running for a copy of the book, Kathleen. I already read it. Great story! Those who win a copy are in for a treat.

    Robyn Echols writing as Zina Abbott

    1. Thank you, Prairie Rose sister! We sure have a lot of talent in our group, don't we? And prolific authors! You and Rustler must have worn out at least a dozen keyboards apiece by now. :-D

      Your stories are always wonderful, Robyn. I don't think I tell you that often enough. :-)

  15. Great post, I would love to read this book. Entering under the name of Virginia

    1. Quilt Lady! It's nice to see you here. I run across you all the time over at P&P. Thanks for entering the drawing, sweetie! :-)

  16. Sounds like a great read! Thanks for the enjoyable post

    1. BookObsessedChicks, I love your username! The obsession I hope I never lose is the one with books. Thanks for stopping by! :-)