Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Merry Christmas to all y'all from Carolyn Brown

I know it's only October and Halloween hasn't even come and gone yet, or Thanksgiving but October is the month when Christmas romance appears on the shelves and just looking at that little velvet box in Raylen O'Donnell's hand on the cover of Darn Good Cowboy Christmas...well, dear hearts, it puts me in the mood!

Mood for what?

Cold nights with a good sexy romance book, chocolates, glowing fireplaces, and oh, yes, hunky cowboys! So with the spirit of Christmas, let's make this launch party a holiday affair. Egg nog in the punch bowl, those tasty little Martha Washington Candies and fancy finger foods galore and Raylen coming through the door to visit with us all. Pick up a bib to catch the drool, ladies.

Liz has visited her Uncle Haskell's place twice in her life and both times she was enamored with the cowboy on the next ranch, Raylen O'Donnell. Of course, as handsome as he was, there's no doubt some woman has snagged him and he's probably got two or three kids to boot over there at the horse ranch next door.

She's grown up in a traveling carnival and from the time she could remember all she ever wanted for Christmas was a house with no wheels. When she was a teenager she did add a sexy cowboy of her very own to the list. Now her Uncle Haskell has left her twenty acres, a house on a foundation but the cowboy part she'll have to take care of on her own. And then Raylen shows up and guess what, folks, he's not married.

Would you look at that? Folks are raising their champagne glasses and yelling for an excerpt. Well, 'tis the season...It was just a white frame house at the end of a long lane.

But it did not have wheels.

Liz squinted against the sun sinking in the west and imagined it with multicolored Christmas lights strung all around the porch, the windows, even in the cedar tree off to the left side. In her vision, it was a Griswold house from The National Lampoon's Christmas that lit up the whole state of Texas. She hoped that when she flipped the switch she didn't cause a major blackout because in a few weeks it was going to look like the house on that old movie that she loved.

Now where was the cowboy to complete the package?

Christmas lights on a house without wheels and a cowboy in tight fittin' jeans and in boots...that's what she asked for every year when her mother asked for her Christmas list. She didn't remember the place being so big when she visited her uncle those two times. Once when she was ten and then again when she was fourteen. But both of those times she'd been quite taken with the young cowboy next door and didn't pay much attention to the house itself. The brisk Texas wind whipped around ferociously as if saying that it could send her right back to east Texas if she didn't change her mind about the house.

"I don't think so," she giggled. "I know a thing or two about Texas wind, and it'd take more than a class five tornado to get rid of me. This is what I've wanted all my life, and I think it's the prettiest house in Montague County. It's sittin' on a foundation, and oh, my god, he's left Hooter and Blister for me. Uncle Haskell, I could kiss you!"

The wind pushed its way into the truck, bringing a few fall leaves with it when she opened the door. Aunt Tressa would say that was an omen; the place was welcoming her into its arms. Her mother would say that the wind was blowing her back to the carnival where she belonged.

The old dog, Hooter, slowly came down off the porch, head down, wagging his tail. Blister, the black and white cat, eyed her suspiciously from the ladder-back chair on the tiny porch.

Her high heels sunk into the soft earth, leaving holes as she rushed aross the yard toward the dog. She squatted down, hugged the big yellow mutt, and scratched his ears.

"You beautiful old boy. You are the icing on the cake. Now I've got animals and a house. This is a damn fine night."

The key was under the chair, tucked away in a faded ceramic frog, just where her Uncle Haskell said it would be when she talked to him earlier that afternoon. But he hadn't mentioned leaving the two animals. She'd thank him for that surprise when she called him later on.

She opened the wooden screen door and was about to put the key in the lock when the door swung open. And there he was! Raylen O'Donnell, all grown up and even sexier than she remembered. Her heart thumped so hard she could feel it pushing against her bra. Her hands were shaky and her knees weak, but she took a deep breath, willed her hands to be still, and locked her knees in place.

"If it's religion you're sellin' or anything else, we're not interested," Raylen said in a deep Texas drawl. He'd been pouring a glass of tea in the kitchen when he heard a noise. Hooter hadn't barked, so he figured it was just the wind, but when he opened the door he'd been more shocked than the woman standing there with wide eyes and a spooked expression.

She wore skin-tight black jeans that looked like they'd been spray painted on her slim frame. Without those spike heels she would've barely come to his shoulder, and Raylen was the shortest of the O'Donnell men, tipping the chart at five feet ten inches.

Her jet-black hair had been twisted up and clipped, but strands had escaped the shiny silver clasp and found their way to her shoulder. Her eyes were so dark brown that they looked ebony.

"Raylen?" she said.

Her voice was husky, with a touch of gravel, adding to her exotic looks. It made Raylen think of rye whiskey with a teaspoon of honey and a twist of lemon. He'd heard that voice before. It had been branded on his brain for eleven years, but she couldn't be Haskell's niece. Liz wasn't supposed to be there until the first of the week at the earliest.

"That's right. Who are you?" he asked cautiously.

"I happen to own this place," she said with a flick of her hand.

"Liz?" Raylen started at her toes and let his gaze travel slowly all the way to her eyebrows. She'd been a pretty teenager, but now she was a stunning woman.

"Surprise! I guess this chunk of Texas dirt now belongs to me. What are you doing here?" she asked.

Can a belly dancing, fortune telling carnie really give up her wings and grow roots? Would the very cowboy of her dreams be worth it?

And now for an O'Donnell Irish blessing for the holiday season:
God grant you lightness in your step, a smile on every face you meet, Loved ones gathered at your hearth, and at your door, good friends to greet. A holy hymn upon your lips, a window candle burning bright, And may the Good Lord bless your Heart and come to dwell there Christmas night. And may you find a copy of Darn Good Cowboy Christmas in your stocking of green and red.
Okay, okay! I slipped that last part into the blessing but I do hope lots of lists have Darn Good Cowboy Christmas right up there at the top! It's never too early to make your Christmas list: so what are you asking for this year?


  1. Ah yes, the holidays run all over each other, Carolyn! I was looking for a couple of Halloween decorations for work, and found a bunch of Christmas decorations at the store already too! Sounds like a cute Christmas story!!! I can always do with a little Christmas in my life no matter the season!

  2. Carolyn, what a fun way to set off the holiday season! DARN GOOD COWBOW CHRISTMAS sounds great.

  3. What a great excerpt! I'm so excited for this book, Carolyn. It's already doing really well in sales, and that's no surprise. I love Christmas books, and now that the weather is only in the low 90s in Texas, I'm ready to snuggle up with a holiday read.

  4. I WAS going to ask Santa Claus for an EasyBake oven, but now I want a handsome cowboy with a velvet drawl and a little box in his hand to show up under the tree I'm soon going to put up in my bedroom.

    I have been a very good girl... long enough.

    Congrats on releasing a wonderful book, Carolyn, and many happy returns to the lists!

  5. Good morning, Terry! After this long, hotter'n hell summer we've had, I'm ready for the holiday season, too!

  6. Hey, Tracey: Let's go to a Sourcebooks Christmas party and sit together. Betcha we could have a good time, especially if we bring Raylen with us!

  7. Shana: Thank you! I was excited when Deb called and said that we did indeed need a Christmas book. But I had no idea what to write about. That very day Husband and I were driving out west of town and a carnival was setting up and there was my story!

  8. Mornin' Grace,
    From your lips to the readers' ears on that lists idea. Darlin', Santa is already out of Easy Bake ovens but he's got a room full of sexy, drawlin' cowboys for you to pick from! Oh, oh! I never thought of putting a tree up in the are a genius!

  9. All I want for Christmas is my two front teeth! Oh, wait, that was my COUSIN who wanted that... my bad! All THIS gal wants for Christmas is another CAROLYN BROWN book to read! Go, Carol!

  10. Andrea, what a delight to see you at my launch party! And I'm glad that you've got Carolyn Brown books on your Christmas list!

  11. Thanks for hosting another fabulous launch party, Carolyn! I love the yummie treats and who can say no to a handsome cowboy in tight-fittin' jeans? A stronger woman than me! LOL.

    I loved the excerpt and can't wait for some downtime to read it!

    I'm hoping Santa thinks I've been a good girl this year because I've only got three things on my list this e-reader, a half a bathroom, and a dishwasher. Odds are pretty good that I might get the e-reader...LOL!

  12. Colleen: You deserve all three things on your list! I'm remembering when my last dishwasher went to that big appliance center in the sky (aka dumpground) and I made the crazy decision not to replace it since we had two daughters and one son who really should know how to wash dishes. Now the kids are grown and I wish I would have replaced it!

  13. Carolyn, you put me in the mood to hang up the Christmas lights! They are in the garage, but where can I find a cowboy in tight jeans?

  14. Carolyn, I can't wait for Christmas for this one - I'm going to get it TODAY! I love the premise and I've been looking forward to it for ages. I just know the steamy parts are going to set off fireworks just like on the cover, so if you hear sirens coming from Wyoming, you'll know Raylen and Liz are burnin' down the house!

  15. Amelia: you make me smile, darlin'! Texas is full of cowboys in tight jeans. I'll pack one up and send him your way to help hang those Christmas lights.

  16. Joanne, I can't wait to see what you think of Darn Good Cowboy Christmas. I'll look for blazes up to the north! Quick story: A couple of elderly ladies went into Fish Tales, a restaurant in Tishomingo (which is my home town) and asked the owner if he knew me and did he know I was a romance author? He assured them that he did know me and he had all my books on a Kindle. To which one of them whispered, "That last one was a little racy wasn't it?"
    They were talking about Red's Hot Cowboy. When I told Husband the story, his comment was, "Better get them some nitro pills if they read Darn Good Cowboy Christmas!" LOL

  17. Aside from a whole sled of books, I want an ereader or tablet of sorts. Mostly a dedicated ereader so I can finally experience ereading. I have been stocking up on ereads but mostly they haven't been read and the ones I have are short because reading on my PC isn't fun. I would wish for snow but only if it melts right away so the commute isn't too nightmarish :)

  18. Na: Sit on Santa's lap and whisper what you want in his ear. He heard Liz Hanson and gave her exactly what she wanted. I bet he'd do the same thing for you!

  19. Oh, I'm so looking forward to reading this...Congratulations on your release, Carolyn!

  20. Hey Robin: Thank you! Hope you enjoy Raylen and Liz's story. They were so much fun to work with in the telling of it.

  21. Congrats on your release, Carolyn! What a fabulous stocking-stuffer!