~ By Melissa Cutler
Sexy. Modern. Real. Those are three words I’d use to describe HOW TO ROPE A REAL MAN, my latest western-set contemporary romance. With this book, I really wanted to play with romance tropes to make them realistic and modern, so the secret baby daddy is NOT the hero, the cowboy hero is Jewish, the small town isn’t all it’s cracked up to be, and the “woman in peril” is a single mom who got pregnant as a teenager and who is about to graduate college with an engineering degree. I think readers are in for a treat with this book. I’m extraordinarily proud of it.
This is my third visit to Catcher Creek and it’s been one hell of a fun ride, one that started for me as an unpublished writer when I wrote the first book in this series, THE TROUBLE WITH COWBOYS. In the two years since the publication of that book, I’ve gone on to publish a lot of books. I’m just now finishing up writing my thirteenth, in fact. When I look back on all the stories I’ve written, a few things stand out.
One: I love my heroes to be blue collar and rugged, with a strong work ethic and an anchored sense of loyalty and purpose, whether they be cowboys, soldiers such as those in my ICE: Black Ops series, or the hockey players in my upcoming Bomb Squad series.
Two: I love writing about sibling relationships. The heroine of HOW TO ROPE has a rich relationship with her two sisters that I found very rewarding to write throughout all three books of the series. Siblings, or lack thereof, seem to find their way into all my books, and I think that’s because, as adults, sibling relationships are one of our most unique. A shared upbringing and inherited genes combined with wildly varying personalities and a bond that can’t be broken all make for wonderful storytelling fodder.
Three: the third thing that stands out to me across all the books I’ve written so far is that I love writing complicated, intense, explicit love scenes that are integral to the romantic bond forming between the couple I’m writing about. Jenna and Matt of HOW TO ROPE A REAL MAN are perfect for each other—in and out of the bedroom. I hope you’ll agree!
My thanks to the Contemporary Romance Chapter for hosting me today. I love hearing from readers and am really easy to find at www.melissacutler.net, on Facebook (www.facebook.com/MelissaCutlerBooks ), and Twitter (@m_cutler). And you can always email me at email@example.com or sign up for my newsletter (http://www.melissacutler.net/newsletter/ ) to find out about my latest books and upcoming events.
Melissa Cutler knows she has the best job in the world, dividing her time between her dual passions for writing sexy contemporary romances and edge-of-your-seat romantic suspense for multiple publishers, including Harlequin, Kensington, Penguin, and St. Martin’s Press. She was struck at an early age by an unrelenting travel bug and is probably planning her next vacation as you read this. When she’s not globetrotting, she’s enjoying Southern California’s flip-flop wearing weather and wrangling two rambunctious kids.
Here’s the scene from How to Rope a Real Man:
A clatter of boot heels had both men turning to find the source of the noise. Jenna shouldered her way between Matt and Kellan and waved her phone, her eyes wide. “We’ve got a problem. A big one. You were right to have me take that call,” she said, pointing her phone in Matt’s direction. “It was Philomena, the florist.” Her eyes shifted to Kellan. “You know, the one I told you about who Marti at the salon recommended because she did her sister’s wedding?”
Kellan fiddled with his beer, wide-eyed and clueless, as if to say, I’m just a guy—don’t expect miracles. “Was that the night the Cardinals beat the Dodgers?”
Jenna gave a little head shake. “Anyhow, the van bringing the flowers in from Texas broke down outside of Amarillo this morning. Complete engine failure in the middle of nowhere. With this summer heat, by the time the tow truck got there, every flower in the back had languished.”
“Languished?” Matt and Kellan echoed at the same time.
Jenna held up her palms. “Philomena’s word, not mine. And when I asked her to clarify, she said she’d mail back the deposit, along with a bouquet of stargazers as an expression of her apology.”
Kellan lifted his hat and ran a hand over his hair, his vibe turning desperate. “She can’t pull out now. The wedding’s tomorrow.”
“I know that, sweetie.”
“She should have called you hours ago.”
“I know that too.” Her smile was serpentine, her voice low and tight. “And I fully plan on shoving those stargazers up Philomena’s you-know-what where they won’t ever see the stars again, but that’s going to have to wait until after I’ve thrown my sister the most beautiful, most perfect wedding Catcher Creek has ever seen.”
Kellan cursed and turned away to stare at the wall like he was thinking about kicking a hole in it.
Matt tried a smile on for size and attempted to lend some perspective to the crisis. “It’s not like the reception hall burned down or something catastrophic. They’re just flowers, right?”
Until that moment, standing before Jenna, Matt wasn’t sure he’d ever seen the full capacity of a woman’s wrath. It made him take a few cautionary steps back in case she burst into flames right there in the middle of the Sarsaparilla Saloon.
Her eyes got small. Beneath her dusting of freckles, her skin turned pink. She rose up to her full height, then higher still, as if anger were a substance lighter than air, making her body levitate.
“For your information, all Amy wanted—her only request—was a wedding filled to bursting with flowers. We planned for flowers lining the pews and altar at the ceremony, bouquets, boutonnières, and corsages for the bridal party”—with each word, her body levitated higher—”flower centerpieces for the tables at the reception, topping the limousine, topping the cake, and fashionably nestled in her updo. Think of her updo, Matt!”
Matt didn’t know what an updo was, but he sure as hell wasn’t about to ask. He looked to Kellan for rescue, but he was still drilling a hole in the wall with his eyes. Turning his focus back to Jenna, Matt held up a finger like a timid kid hoping the teacher would call on him to speak.
She didn’t. “It’s nine o’clock on a Friday night, the wedding is eighteen hours away, and Catcher Creek is smack in the middle of Bumfuck, Egypt!”
Those were all valid points, but Matt knew something she didn’t. Something that had a high certainty of fixing the problem. “Take a breath, Jenna. I have a solution.”
Kellan’s head whipped their way, his eyes pleading, but Jenna was unconvinced. She wagged a finger in warning. “This better not be more of your glass-half-full optimistic bull—”
He wrapped one hand around her finger and the other over her lips. “My sister Tara is a florist.”
Could’ve been another optical illusion, but she seemed to drop her boots back to solid ground. Even her expression relaxed a shade. He shoved his hands in his pockets lest he was tempted to pull her closer and help her relax even more.
“Where?” Kellan asked.
“Santa Fe. If we left right now and called her from the road, we’d get there in under three hours.”
Jenna flattened her hand against Matt’s chest. Her lips twitched and then spread into a smile, her expression no longer panicked, but amused and maybe a little awed. “You’re going to save me, aren’t you?”
He wrapped a strand of her wavy blond hair around his finger, then let it spring away. “I’m going to try.”