Now...grab a seat... here's D'Ann.
A few years ago, my dad was the cowboss on a large cattle ranch. I loved to tag along with him. There’s nothing about being around cattle that I don’t love. Okay, I don’t love branding. There. I admitted it. I’m a softie and I don’t like hurting the calves. I love baby bovines. Their soft hair, their big brown eyes. The way they buck and play and kick up their heels tickles me. They’re not pets. I understand that, but they are, to use my daughter’s favorite word, adorable.
In A Cowboy To Keep, Cody is a World Champion bull rider, but he’s not been around calves much.
Excerpt: As they began to cross the field, Justin pointed. One of the heifers had calved during the night. He drove up close to her, and they saw the baby calf lying in the snow, shivering.
“He needs to get to the barn to get warmed up,” Justin said. “I’ll hand him up to you. His mama should follow if we drive slow.”
Cody took the shaking calf in his arms and cradled it against his chest as Justin turned the tractor around. The mother cow didn’t take her eyes off her baby and willingly followed them as Justin drove into the barn. Waiting until he stopped, Cody stepped off the trailer.
“Where do you want him?”
Justin pointed to an empty box stall. “There. I’ll fork the mama some hay if you’ll put baby inside.”
Cody did as instructed and moved out of the way when the Angus heifer came into the stall. He watched as she nuzzled her baby, checking him over, but she lost interest when she found the fragrant alfalfa Justin tossed into the manger. The calf continued to shiver in the corner.
“We need to warm him up or he’s not going to make it,” Justin said. He darted into the tack room at the end of the barn, returning in a minute with a few burlap bags. He slid the latch back. “If you’ll hold up the calf, I’ll rub him down.”
Cody nodded. He lifted the baby to his feet, steadying him as Justin vigorously rubbed its little body with the gunny sack. Cody’s arms ached just watching but, gradually, the little animal ceased shaking.
Justin dropped the sack on the floor. “I think he’s warm now. He needs something to eat.”
Taking the calf from Cody, the boy guided the animal to his mother’s flank and showed him where to nurse. No slow learner, the calf went right to work on his first meal.
Cody marveled at Justin’s ability. He didn’t make a show out of it but just did what needed done. This was probably the thousandth time he’d taken care of a newborn calf but, to Cody, Justin had done an impressive job. He said as much.
Blurb: After Laney Ellis’ husband is killed by a bull, she is left to run their small cattle ranch and raise their son, Justin, on her own. Despite some of Laney’s worst fears, the dream Justin holds dearest is to be exactly like his dad, a champion bull rider. He finds his chance when world champion bull rider Cody Utah moves in next door.
Although attraction between Cody and Laney flares, neither act upon it. Laney refuses to get her family involved with another bull rider, and Cody has heard rumors Laney trapped Wyatt, her late husband, into a high school marriage by getting pregnant.The last thing Cody wants is children.
At a rodeo, Justin is thrown and knocked unconscious. As Justin lays in the hospital, Cody begs Laney to forgive him. He realizes he loves her enough to discourage Justin from the sport. Will Laney let Cody into their lives? Will Justin ride again?
D’Ann's particular favorites usually feature cowboys and the women who love them. This is probably because she draws inspiration from the area where she lives, Western Colorado, her husband of twenty-nine years and their daughter. Composites of their small farm, herd of horses, five Australian shepherds, a Queensland heeler, two ducks and cats of every shape and color often show up in her stories!
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