Release Day ~ Healing a Heart

healing-heart-3d-cover-2It’s here! Finally! It’s release day for Healing a Heart! In honor of the occasion, I’ve added a new excerpt. Hope you’ll stay and read a little more about Healing a Heart. It’s a sweet story about forgiveness, second chances, and leaving yourself open enough to find love again.

As cowboys, the Langston brothers of Cattle Creek, Texas, know it’s easy to mend a fence. Mending a broken heart, however, takes time…
 
Rancher Jake Langston prides himself on being the sensible type. But five years after the loss of his wife left him to raise their daughter alone, he indulges in a one-night stand with a sexy stranger. He thought he’d never see the woman again. Four months later, though, she’s standing in his drive with a big surprise.

Bryn Talbot wants nothing from the hunky cowboy who got her pregnant, but her Southern nature demands she at least tell him about it. When Jake’s family persuades her to stay for a while, she’s soon won over by their charms—and by Jake. But with the losses the two of them have suffered in the past, neither is sure if they’re ready to take the leap to forever…

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Leave a comment and be entered into this week’s drawing for an audio copy of Loving a Lawman.

When you read a series, do you always read in order, or do you read them as you find them?

And as always, thanks for reading!

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Countdown to Healing a Heart

Guess what? We’re just a little over two weeks till the release of Healing a Heart! Can you tell I’m excited? Excited is a mild word. I’m downright giddy!healing-a-heart-meme-for-website

I grew up with a love of cowboys and all things Western. So I guess it only makes sense that I would want to write books about them too. To me, there’s something inherently special about a cowboy hero. And Jake Langston is no exception.

Jake is Seth’s brother (Loving a Lawman). Jake is the second oldest in the Langston family and runs the family ranch in the absence of Mav, the oldest.

Jake has had a rough spell, beginning with the death of his wife in childbirth and continuing on as he does his best to raise his daughter with the help of his family, namely his mother and grandmother. And he has no intentions of ever getting married again. Ever.

Then a one night stand turns his life upside down.

Even the mighty fall.

Now Jake is torn between his vows to himself and his responsibilities to this new child entering his life. But Bryn Talbot, the mother, is unlike any woman he’s ever met, and Jake finds himself thinking about more than visitation rights and financial support.

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Bryn looked out over the pool to the ranch beyond. The buildings and other fenced areas created an L around the property, and she wondered what they were all used for. She had no idea the ranch would be this . . . sprawling. But it seemed as if that was the measure of Texas. Sprawling.

Even the table they had eaten at was a huge entity that seemed to go on for miles.

But it had been fun. She had worried about sitting at a table with a bunch of strangers. That was what they were to her, strangers. Even Jake.

And that was the weirdest part of all. They were having a baby and they didn’t know the first thing about each other. But come tomorrow, that was one thing they were going to have to work on. Just how did one go about getting to know the father of their child?

She moved a little further out onto the patio, staring up at the billion stars in the sky. Maybe it was because the land was so flat or maybe things really were bigger in Texas, but it seemed that there were twice the number of stars here than in Georgia.

She heard a clicking noise and looked to see Kota padding across the patio. She didn’t know a lot about dogs, but he seemed friendly enough. What was it Jake had said? As long as she didn’t break from the herd. She wasn’t exactly sure what that meant but she could guess.

“Come here, doggy.” She lowered her voice and stooped over a bit, holding her hand out toward the pooch. He really was the craziest-colored dog she had ever seen. Mostly black, white, and gray with rusty patches thrown in for good measure. Kind of like a German shepherd that had been liberally flecked with bleach. She supposed he was some sort of herding dog, though she had no idea of the exact breed. Wait, weren’t they just called cow dogs?

Kota came closer, slowing and finally coming to a stop right in front of her. He sat on his haunches and stared up at her expectantly.

“You’re a good dog, right?” She hesitantly scratched him behind one ear.

He tilted his head to the side and she took that as a good sign.

“Yes, you are,” she said, gaining more confidence where he was concerned.

“Nice night.”

She nearly jumped out of her skin. Dog forgotten, she whirled around, hand pressed to her pounding heart. “Jake! You scared me!”

“I didn’t mean to.”

She lurched to the side and apparently Kota considered her breaking from the herd. He nipped at her heel, effectively keeping her in place.

“Ow,” she exclaimed more from surprise than pain.

Concern immediately took over Jake’s expression. “He didn’t hurt you, did he?”

She shook her head. “He just scared me a bit.”

Jake nodded, though he let out a high-pitched whistle. Kota immediately left Bryn to stand at his side, though she could tell Kota really wanted to make sure she behaved. Well, according to a cow dog’s standards anyway.

“What are you doing out here?” she asked.

“Same thing as you, I guess. Enjoying the evening.”

“Wesley in bed?”

“Finally.” He chuckled “She was pretty wound up at supper.”

“She’s a wonderful little girl.”

A silence fell between them, broken only by the sound of the night. There were no cars or horns. No sirens out here, just the low of the cows and the occasional bark as one of the other dogs heard something it didn’t like.

Kota’s ears stood up and he let out a small whine, but he never left Jake’s side.

“Go on,” Jake commanded.

The dog took off into the night.

She could hear the dogs barking, then things grew quiet once more.

“What are we going to do?” she quietly asked.

“Get married.”

She shook her head. “I can’t marry you.” Though her heart leapt at the prospect. Down, girl. He might be one of the most handsome men she had ever met and the fifteenth most eligible bachelor in the entire state, but she didn’t belong here. And he surely wouldn’t pick up and move to Georgia. So where did that leave them? “I guess we should talk about visitation and that sort of thing.” It sounded cold, like they were talking about something other than a living, breathing child. Something less.

“Why not? I have a good job, enough money to take care of you and the baby, and all my own teeth.”

“This is not why I told you about the baby.”

He took a step toward her. A menacing step, or was that a trick of the shadows where he stood? “Then why did you tell me, Bryn? You obviously don’t want money or a ring. So why come here and tell me when you have no intentions of letting me be a major part of the child’s life?”

“Maybe this was a mistake.”

“You think?” He took another step, this one bringing him close enough that she had to crane her head back to meet his cold green gaze.

“Not the baby.” She waved a hand around as if to dismiss that idea. “Coming here.”

“That’s what I’m talking about as well.”

She swallowed hard as he continued to tower over her.

“So why did you?”

“I don’t know,” she whispered in return.

Something changed between them, shifted, until the night seemed to hold something each one had been searching for but had never managed to find.

“Could it be you want to know if what we shared that night was real?”

“Of—of course it was real,” she sputtered. Deliberately obtuse was not her best look.

“You know what I mean.” He reached up a hand and brushed her hair back from her face. “I don’t remember the purple,” he murmured.

“Rick—my friend I was with that night—he thought it would be fun.”

“Does he always advise you?”

“Sometimes.” When had he gotten this close to her, and why had she only noticed now? It would take only a breath and he could swoop in and capture her lips with his own. Or maybe she should raise up on her toes and see if his kisses were as hot and sweet as she remembered.

And if they were? What then?

She wrenched herself from his embrace, only then realizing that somehow his arms had gotten wrapped around her.

“No.” The one word was breathless with anticipation and disappointment. “You can’t manipulate me this way. It’s not fair.” She backed away from him and fled to her room.

She could not fall under his spell again.

Healing a Heart will be available in paperback and ebook formats on February 7, 2017.

Hope you’ll check it out!

And I hope you’ll leave a comment. I’m giving away a signed copy of Healing a Heart (paperback version) to one luck commenter. Tell me, do you prefer paper or digital books? (I’m a paper girl myself.)

Thanks for reading!

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Loving a Lawman is here!

At last…

Can you hear Etta James sing? I can! At last Loving a Lawman is on the bookstore shelves! This book was a long time coming and I’m so excited to be able to share it with you.

LOVING A LAWMAN 1 Amy Lillard romance author http://www.amylillardbooks.com #AmyLillardBooks

LAL bothSheriff Seth Langston is head over heels for local wild child Jessie McAllen and has been for years. The trouble is she has eyes only for Seth’s rodeo star brother, Chase. Even though he considers Jessie his girl, Chase is an incorrigible ladies’ man with a wandering eye and no chance of settling down soon.

Jessie is ready to move away from Cattle Creek to put her feelings for Chase behind her, but after she shares a white-hot kiss with Seth, things get a little complicated. Jessie realizes her heart should have been his all along. And in the face of sudden tragedy, they’ll discover if their newfound passion will tear the Langston men apart or make the family stronger than ever. . . .

Here’s a tiny peek at Loving a Lawman.

Jessie sat at the end of the building farthest from the door. Her breathing had returned to normal and her head was down as she contemplated only heaven knew what. Her hands were braced her on her knees, and her hat was pulled low over her eyes.

Seth didn’t need to see them. He knew what color they were, had memorized it long ago—storm-cloud gray and just as dangerous, with dark rings around their irises that made them look twice as big as they really were and sooty lashes that should have belonged to a brunette.

“Jessie?” he said softly. It was the voice he used when talking to frightened mares and skittish colts and red-haired angels who had fallen from grace.

She didn’t look up, just raised her arms out in front of her, wrists lax, hands dangling, anger spent. “I’ll go peacefully. Just get it over with, Seth. Handcuff me and take me to jail.”

Handcuff her.

Now, there was an image Seth could’ve lived without.

He swallowed hard.

Despite his brother’s tomcat morals, and the fact that he didn’t deserve . . .

Well, despite everything that Chase didn’t deserve, including the sassy redhead, Jessie was Chase’s girl. Always had been. Always would be.

“I just want to talk to you about what happened tonight.”

She dropped her hands back to her lap and shrugged. But he still couldn’t see her face, couldn’t read what was going on inside that pretty little head of hers.

Uh-hum . . . did he say pretty? He’d meant . . . well, he’d meant something else, that was all.

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Why Romance

I recently read a post on Facebook where a Christian author was complaining that it was getting to the point where Christian books should be labeled as to whether or not they contained described and/or graphic sex, profane language, excessive on camera violence etc. Her chief complaint was that since these books were written for Christians, they shouldn’t have any of that in it.

romantic blogI didn’t think too much of it. IMHO, Christian books should reflect the world they portray. If any author writes a book that has a drug dealer in it or dirty cops, gang bangers or rock stars, chances are–even if the characters redeem themselves by the end of the book–there’s going to be some language along the way. It just seems natural to me.

But I realize now that she was just trying to protect her genre. And how did I figure this out?

A friend of mine just wrote a fantastic book. It’s gritty and raw. It’s the story of a disillusioned rock star and a graphic designer with a brain tumor. Her book does not end happy. No HEA equals no romance in my world. But so many people are calling her book a romance. (Don’t get me wrong: it’s a fantastic book, most probably the best thing she’s ever written. It’s brilliant.)

Yet to me, it’s not a romance.

But it goes beyond that. I get a Bookbub and eBook Soda email each day. On one such email I received an ad for a book that was a forbidden stepbrother priest romance. Huh? And it was in the inspirational category. Whaaaat?

I’ve prowled around on amazon and I’ve seen the warnings, “This book contains (enter undesirable behavior here.)” Rape, bondage, incest. And these are labeled romance! Some have husbands and wives cheating on each other, hitting each other, and even the unmarried heroes and heroines having sex with other people in the book. Not. Romance. Not to me anyway.

This makes me as indignant as the author who wants to keep Christian fiction clean. I want to keep romance…romantic.

When I first started writing romance there were certain rules that had to be followed. The hero and heroine couldn’t kiss anyone else in the book. I was even turned down once because my hero was in a relationship at the beginning of the book. Never mind that the reader knew before they even did that the relationship was for convenience only and would never stand up in the face of love. The editors didn’t like it.

The words used to describe the actual sex act were nicer. Cleaner, maybe even a little euphemistic, but hey, this is romance, woman’s fantasy. It should be romantic.  It needs to be romantic. The relations between the couple should be beautiful. The way love should be.

Language was also cleaner. I can remember when the ‘s’ word couldn’t be used in Harlequins. And the language in single title books, might cross that line from time to time, but definitely not on a regular basis.

So what does this have to do with you?

In July the first book in my new series will be released. It’s a contemporary secular romance. Heartwarming, which means it’ll leave you with the warm fuzzies, and western which means it takes place in Texas and there are cowboys involved. But the main thing is that it’s a little old school.

Yes, it has described love scenes, just a couple. They are beautifully written and very much necessary to the plot. In fact, without the first one, there is no story. There is a touch of language, but you can count the words on one hand, maybe two.  And what is used keeps the book firmly in the PG-13 category. Not above.

My main focus for this tale, as it is with any of my books, is the story. I wanted to bring the reader the best story I could.

I love Seth and Jessie. Their love is nearly impossible and has to be weighed against the needs of the Langston family and Jessie’s need to get away from the town that won’t allow her to outlive her undeserved reputation. It’s a poignant story about second chances and unrequited love. But it won’t need any warnings. Unless I say:

Warning: this book contains sweet love scenes between a small town sheriff and his brother’s girl. It may cause feelings of wistfulness and nostalgia. After reading this book people have been known to want to move to Cattle Creek and take up residence. Unfortunately it only exists in the author’s imagination but you can visit again in the next book in the series.

Until then, check out my new website dedicated to the Cattle Creek series.

www.CattleCreekSeries.com