Monday, November 12, 2012

Sarah And Ty Drop In For A Visit

      Down here in sunny Florida, fall is (barely) in the air. No, we haven’t turned off the air conditioner. At our house, it runs practically twenty-four/seven twelve months a year. But the temperatures outside have dropped into the very pleasant mid-seventies, and the humidity isn’t quite as oppressive as it was in the middle of the summer.  With palm trees and evergreens dominating the landscape, the occasional flame tree provides a burst of bright red against all that green. 
 
Citrus ripens on the neighbor’s orange and grapefruit trees. The fruit promises a taste of sunshine when the temperatures drop lower.  

      Which they’ll do for, maybe, a day or two.  

      In January or February.   

      In the midst of all this fall-ish Florida weather the Chinese Ting that grows outside my office window has produced a bumper crop of berries.  Flocks of robins and butterbutts that have escaped colder, northern temperatures are drawn to the tree.  The birds cover the ground and roost in the wooded lot behind my house. 

      All these visitors remind me of the way I get the heroes and heroines for my books.  They drop in sometimes when I’m going about my business.  That’s how it was with heroine in Rancher’s Son, available later this month.  You’ve all met social worker Sarah Magarity before.  She played minor roles in The Daddy Catch and Rodeo Daughter.  But, when I sat down to draft the proposal for Rancher’s Son, Sarah practically took up residence in my visitor’s chair.    
      Over tea she told me about the cattle drive she’d sent two older foster kids on, and how a certain hunky cowboy had let her down when he abruptly returned the boys to DCF’s custody.  She showed me how passionate she was about improving the foster care system.  Unfortunately, her tendency to go out on a limb for the children in her care had not only broken her heart, but jeopardized her job.  So, she’d sworn to remain aloof, to keep her distance the way her boss insisted.  All her pent-up love went into raising orchids and plumeria instead. 

      The more she “talked” the more I thought Sarah deserved her own Happily Ever After.  But to give it to her, I needed a hero.  And I didn’t have one.

      I was at a loss until the Christmas Eve a five-year-old orphan landed on DCF’s doorstep with nothing but a birth certificate naming Ty Parker as his father.  Right away, I knew my hero had arrived on the scene. 

      Of course, a piece of paper didn’t prove anything in Ty’s book.  Any more than the protests of a self-righteous social worker.  A fourth-generation Florida rancher, this cowboy demanded paternity tests.  And as much as he insisted the child couldn’t be his, on the off-chance he was wrong, Ty refused to let the little boy go into foster care while they waited for the results. 

      Taking a young boy on Ty’s cattle drive made perfectly good sense to someone who’d grown up on a ranch.  But not to a city girl like Sarah.  She insisted on accompanying the boy.  To watch out for his safety, and see for herself if Ty Parker was daddy material.

      Clearly, Ty and Sarah both needed each other as much as they needed the little boy who’d been dumped in their laps.  That’s where my job—and a cattle drive through Florida’s version of the Old West—came in.  The result was Rancher’s Son, a book I hope you’ll enjoy when it’s released, just in time for the holidays, on November 27th.
 
 

      Don’t forget—we give away copies of recent Harlequin American releases by drawing the names of people who comment out of a proverbial hat each month.  So leave a comment to be included in the drawing. 
 
     Oh, and another surprise—the printer sent a double order of bookmarks for Rancher’s Son!  Would you like one?  Or a dozen?  (LOL)  If so, send me an email (leigh@leighduncan.com). Include your snail mail addy in the email—not here on this loop—and I’ll drop a signed bookmark in the mail to you.    
     

4 comments:

BW said...

I'm suprise that there are ranches in Florida. I thought they were out west.

Leigh Duncan said...

We have h-u-g-e ranches in Florida! Ever since Ponce de Leon left 7 head of Andalusians here, the cattle industry has thrived in this state. Enough to make it the 3rd biggest beef producer east of the Mississippi.

Amanda Renée said...

I can relate to your weather in Florida. It's not much cooler here in South Carolina, although I could do without the humidity. While it may be great for the skin, it does a number on my hair! :)

This cover is still one of my favorites and after doing research on the foster care system and adoption process for the book I'm writing now, my heart goes out to every person involved in the system whether it be a child or a social worker.

Your book is sitting on my end table and it is on my list to read very soon!

Leigh Duncan said...

Amanda,

Can't wait to read your next book, Amanda! I have such respect for those who work to make a difference in our foster care system.

Leigh