When Charli bets everything on a secret, will she find the deck stacked against her?
Former runaway-turned heiress Charli Monroe is hiding her sordid past and planning a future in Colton, Texas. Attending the local college for a degree in social work, she intends to raise cattle on her newly purchased ranch, which she plans to open as a home for troubled teens. Only a few glitches—the Victorian mansion is crumbling, the barn needs a roof, and her oilman neighbor wants more than friendship. When she meets Dylan Quinn, Charli is willing to take a chance on the town drunk to help her rebuild the rundown ranch.
Dylan has his demons, too. The former Special Forces commander can’t get past his ex-wife’s betrayal and the botched mission that left him with much more than a bad limp. Certain the greedy oilman next door to Charli wants much more than just her heart, Dylan’s even willing to stop drinking in order to protect her.
When things get dangerous and secrets of the past are revealed, is he only looking out for his new employer, or is she the new start he so desperately needs?
CONTENT WARNING: Details abuse of a minor, drug abuse, alcoholism, swearing, spicy sex, murder.
“Full of intrigue, tangled pasts, and raw emotions, this one is guaranteed to keep you turning pages from start to finish and then wishing for one more chapter!”
Carolyn Brown, New York Times bestselling author of Just a Cowboy and His Baby.
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Hi Sara, thanks for stopping by can you tell us a little about your current release.
Gambling On A Secret is the first book of The Colton Gamblers. All six books are romantic suspenses set in the fictional Colton, Texas, and surround the loves, lives and lies of descendants of the three founding families—The Cartwrights, The Blackwells and the Fergusons. In book one, we meet Dylan Quinn and Leon Ferguson, both of the Ferguson clan and Charli Monroe who buys the original Blackwell ranch out from under the other members of the Blackwell clan.
What was your inspiration behind this book?
The metamorphosis of butterflies, teenage runaways, and soldiers with PTSD. I know, what the heck does any of them have in common? But that’s what inspired Gambling On A Secret.
Why did you choose this particular genre?
That’s the really weird thing. I didn’t choose either of the genres I write in. They chose me. I started coming up with story ideas with cowboys as heroes and set in the West. Soon I was reading more Westerns and before long I was writing them. I’ve had a ton to learn, but I love this genre and don’t foresee me leaving it. I pull a lot from my experiences of growing up on a farm and my love of wide open spaces—well, as wide open as the Appalachian Mountains can be.
Tell the readers a little about you.
When I was a kid, I loved the TV show Dallas. I think this is the reason behind my fascination with Texas…LOL. I grew up on a small farm where we raised Herefords and Black Angus—and chickens. God, I hate chickens. I actually had a pet pig named Betty and a turkey named Tom. We also sold produce locally that we grew in our very, very large garden. Today, I live in Central Pennsylvania with my hubby of 20 years and our two teenagers. I’m an avid flower gardener and work full time as a medical secretary for the Army.
What inspired you to become a writer?
It’s something that just came naturally to me. I’d come up with entire stories when playing with my dolls or with other kids. Before we started any game—like house, school, cops and robbers, or cowboys and Indians (yep, we still played this), I’d tell my playmates, who were my baby brother and younger cousins, exactly what our story was, and who we were. Of course they would just look at me like who died and made me boss, but by the time I finished my stories, they were as anxious as I was to play out the characters. Guess I always was a storyteller. Or maybe it was my threatening to tell Grandma send them all home if they didn’t do what I wanted them to.
Any tips for new writers?
Don’t give up. Simple as that.
Any other books in the works?
Heartstrings is set to be released on April 1. And tentatively in September is book 2 of The Colton Gamblers—Gambling On A Heart. Currently I’m working on Gambling On A Dream, book 3 of the series and a standalone called A Family for Jesse.
How/where can readers find you?
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~First Grand Prize is a SWAG PACK, including a signed copy of Carolyn Brown’s Just a Cowboy and His Baby. Also included is a copy of D’Ann Lindun’s Shot Through the Heart, a pen, a notebook, a horse themed mini calendar, a patriotic themed day planner, and more all tucked away in a reusable tote bag at the end of my blog tour.
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(The winners of the Swag Pack and Gift Card will be announced on March 1, 2013.)
(Swag Pack is only eligible for US residents to win.)
“Ferguson, what are you doing here?” Dylan barked.
Leon ambled toward them on the stone path. “I’m saving a young maiden from torment. What are you doing here, playing the part of the devil?”
“I’m Miss Monroe’s new manager.” The deadly edge of his voice matched the flintiness of his eyes. “If there’s anyone to save the young maiden from, it’s you.”
“Mr. Quinn, please.” She turned to Leon. “Leon, is there something I can do for you?”
He smiled, showing off perfect white teeth in a face handsome enough to belong to an actor. “I was just passing by on my way home and decided to stop. How are the boys working out?”
Dylan’s stance widened and his hands flexed at his slides. “What boys?”
“Charli and I have entered into a business arrangement.”
She lost the battle with the urge to wrap her arms around herself. As much as she appreciated Leon’s kindness, respected him, and was even a little attracted to him, something about him didn’t sit right with her. He represented her peers in the community. According to Mrs. Pratt, besides the Cartwrights, she and Leon were undoubtedly the wealthiest residents in the county. No one in Colton could learn about her past. It would ruin her, and Leon, no doubt, had the means to dig up the dirt.
“Really?” Dylan stepped closer to her in a protective manner. Whiskey tainted his breath as the warmth of the exhalations tickled her cheek. “What kind of business arrangement?”
She could protect herself. Dylan Quinn wasn’t any safer than Leon Ferguson. Stepping away from him, she forced her arms to her sides. “Mr. Quinn, I can handle this.”
She faced Leon. “I’m amazed by how much the men got done since starting on Monday. The foreman told me last evening they’d be reseeding another fifty acres for hay this morning. And they have the corrals fixed and started on the fencing in the north pasture.”
“Good, good.” He glanced at Dylan. “I’ll be going, unless you need a more reliable exterminator. I couldn’t help but overhear about your snake infestation. I can give you the name of the company that has gotten rid of the snakes in our lakes over on Oak Springs for years.”
Although he presented the perfect solution, she didn’t the like way Leon had looked at Dylan as he said the word exterminator. “No, Mr. Quinn is quite capable of getting rid of the snake.”
“Oh, I’m sure he is.” Leon tipped his hat. “Let me know if there’s anything else I can do for you, Charli.” Dylan’s jaw tightened as his uncle glanced at him. “It’s good to see you up among the living again.”
Leon headed back to his Porsche. With no pretense of lowering his voice, Dylan said, “Now, there’s a snake no one wants in their garden.”
Upon hearing the jibe, Leon’s shoulders jerked in mid-stride.
Rattled by Leon’s attention and the snake fiasco, she turned on Dylan. “You aren’t off the hook. I want those snakes gone.”
“I hate snakes.” She shuddered and put her hands on her hips. “Maybe I should have asked him who the exterminator is.”
Sara Walter Ellwood is an award winning author whose novel Gambling On A Secret was named by bestselling author Carolyn Brown in the Happy Ever After Blog on USA Today as one of her favorite romances of 2012. Although Sara has long ago left the farm for the glamour of the big town, she draws on her experiences growing up on a small hobby farm in West Central Pennsylvania to write her stories. She’s been married to her college sweetheart for nearly 20 years, and they have two teenagers and one very spoiled rescue cat named Penny. She longs to visit the places she writes about and jokes she’s a cowgirl at heart stuck in Pennsylvania suburbia.
She also writes paranormal romantic suspense under the pen name Cera duBois.
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Lyrical Press: http://lyricalpress.com/category/series/colton-gamblers/