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Book Review: Sagebrush Knights by Erica Vetsch

[I’m getting caught up on reviews – so look for a bunch to come in the next few days :).]

Journey along with the four Gerhard sisters as they head to Wyoming Territory in search of husbands and discover that happy endings are not ready-made. Evelyn arrives in Wyoming with a secret and a grudge, only to find her prospective groom holds a secret, too. Jane vies for the attention of her workaholic husband who is bent on saving his ranch even if it means losing love. Gwendolyn’s would-be husband dies, leaving her to the will of another man. And Emmeline’s knight-in-shining-armor herds sheep instead of cattle. Will love prevail, or will their journeys have not so happy endings?

As soon as I finished this book – a set of four novellas – I expressed my displeasure to Erica.


Because they were NOVELLAS!!!!

Yes, I knew this going in but the more of them I read, the more I wished there was… MORE!

While I would have loved it if all four of the stories were full length novels, there was plenty here to sink your teeth into as it were. All four stories were fully fleshed out with an angst filled beginning, tumultuous middle and satisfying ending.

After the death of their father, the sisters were forced to vacate their home – provided for them by the school where he taught. Desperate for somewhere – anywhere – to go, they found four men out West in Wyoming willing to marry them. One of their stipulations was that they be “close” to each other.

Of course, close in Wyoming is a far cry from close in the city…

I’d be hard pressed to pick a favorite, but I think it would likely be sister #2. For “Lady in Waiting” from the cover:

Jane longs for the love and attention of her new husband but is stuck with Harrison Garvey – a man obsessed with making his ranch a success and proving his father wrong…even if it means forsaking love along the way.

I loved all four of the sisters, but this one story I wished more than the others was full-length. Jane feels plain next to her beautiful sisters – something many of us struggle with  – but, as it turns out, Garvey like the way she looks, much better than he liked the way her sisters looked [imagine that ;)] but it’s a good reminder for us that beauty is in the eye of the beholder and, more importantly, that we need to rely on God for our worth.

[But it’s awfully nice when it comes from external sources as well ;).]

From the cover for “Knight and Day”:

Evelyn travels to Sagebrush with a secret and a grudge, only to find her prospective groom holds a secret, too. Now she must face Gareth Kittrick and his mischievous daughter and try to make these strangers a family.

From the cover for “Shining Armor”:

Shocked Gwendolyn arrives in Sagebrush to discover that her would-be husband has died. Suddenly she finds herself left to the care of the late man’s grandson, Matthew Parker, and the center of an unexpected scheme.

From the cover for “On A White Charger”:

Emmeline’s visions of her knight-in-shining-armor come crashing down when she meets her new husband…a sheep herder. As Joseph Barrett struggles to show Emmeline the reality of the West, events occur that threaten more than their love.

All four are quick, easy reads and well worth the time.

Overall rating: 8.25 out of 10 stars

Thanks to NetGalley and Barbour for a free ecopy of the book [though I also bought my own hard copy] in exchange for my unbiased review.

Book Review: Doctor to the Rescue by Cheryl Wyatt

Combat doctor Ian Shupe returns home from overseas with his most important mission: to raise his little girl. But Ian’s a single dad, and working at Eagle Point’s trauma center means having to find child care. When bighearted, struggling lodge owner Bri Landis offers babysitting in exchange for construction work, Ian accepts. He vows to keep his emotional distance from Bri, yet can’t deny that his daughter is blossoming under her tender care. But is he ready to believe that his heart’s deepest prayer may finally be answered?

Cheryl is one of the most amazing people you’ll ever meet. She’s a sweet friend and I thank God for her on a regular basis. At the ACFW conference, she took time out of her busy schedule to give me a big hug and pray over me when I needed it most [well, almost most – the second “downest” time I had at conference… but she wasn’t around the first one or I’m sure she would have then too :D].

So… the book.

I LOVED Tia – Ian’s little girl – and hated how her biological mother treated her. I respected Ian [mostly] for how he dealt with it and how he did his best to take care of both Tia and Bri. Bri is strong and stubborn with a bit too much pride and has a hard time accepting help from others but in the end she realizes that sometimes being strong means knowing your own limitations and asking others for help.

The towns of Eagle Point and Refuge are wonderful places I wish were real so I could go visit someday, but alas, it’s not to be.

Both Ian and Bri have issues to work through before they can be together, but they are, of course, able to do so in a [mostly*] timely manner. Little Tia is cute as can be and doesn’t hesitate to play matchmaker when she thinks the time calls for it.

Through one struggle after another, Ian and Bri learn to turn to the Lord for the help they need – help that often comes in the form of friends, family and each other. We also got a hint of what’s going on with Lauren and Mitch from The Doctor’s Devotion.

The sweet romance is no surprise to fans of Cheryl and they won’t be disappointed with this offering.

Be sure to pick it up soon as it’s a Love Inspired release and only on the shelves for a month [but on Amazon, etc. after that, of course ;)]. This is one you want to make sure you pic up sooner than later.

Overall Rating: 8.5 out of 10 stars

*I say mostly because I always want smoochies earlier 😉
Thanks to Cheryl for a free copy of this book in exchange for my review.

Ideas of Grandeur or “Angel with Hooves”

Picking up from yesterday, my two older kids are at the car [or supposed to be]. Me and the two younger kids have our backs to the tree [and thorns from some sort of plant poking through the leg of my jeans].

A different brown horse came from my left, sort of poking at me, poking near my feet where those two bags of food were.

The big horse? He moved closer to us. Went nose to nose with the new guy and finally sort of butted the other horse in the nose. The other horse backed off and [eventually] walked away.

I came to realize [much earlier than this – before my older girls walked away really] that this big horse was watching out for us. Protecting us.

Me with the horse two days later :).

Me with the horse two days later :).

He stayed nearby, prevented other horses from getting too close and just basically stood guard.

It’s weird, I’m sure, but that’s how I felt. That’s what I told the kids [while praying I was right and that he wasn’t just waiting for his shot at all the carrots ;)].

I never doubted this horse, who I’d never met, was looking out for me and the kids.

Red swoosh arrow is where the horses came from.

Red swoosh arrow is where the horses came from.

Eventually, it was just the big brown guy and another white horse. The brown horse walked away [maybe he knew we were safe with the white/gray one?] and eventually, the other one followed. Once they were far enough away, the little two kids and I gathered our things [out of the thorny plant at the base of the tree – pricked right through my jeans], and walked to the van.

Once I got to the fence, the kids changed their tune :p.

“Mom, can you see if the horses will come here so we can feed them over the fence?”


Horses around the gate

Horses around the gate

I walked back up the hill and spent about ten minutes trying to get their attention and get them to come my way while trying to stay close enough to get back to the fence without getting overtaken.

My focus was on one horse who seemed to be thinking about it. All of the sudden, about ten of them came around a stand of trees [I’d been keeping an eye on it but hadn’t seen movement]. I didn’t dawdle, but made it over the fence with plenty of time to spare. We got the carrots and apples back out, but by then all of the horses were crowding the gate area and after a couple minutes, I decided it was time to cut our losses and just leave.

So we did. I’ll likely take the rest of the carrots and apples over tomorrow and drop them off for a horse or two to find. From the time we climbed the fence until the time we were back in the van was a bit over an hour. No wonder I’m sore! Most of it was spent trying to get two little kids to be calm and quiet ;).

God took care of us. He sent us a four-legged angel with hooves to keep an eye on us. None of us were ever truly scared. None of us were ever really in danger, despite tons more horseflesh than we’re used to.

The whole time I thought of my sweet friend Candace Calvert and this picture.

Candy Calvert and Winter Winds

Candy Calvert and Winter Winds

It makes me smile. It made me smile as the big angel horse got near us.

We got to pet a couple horses on the nose and feed apples to a few of them.

And I got a story to tell ;).

Ideas of Grandeur or “Angels Watchin’ Over Me”

So, we’re in the field. Horses all around. Food between my feet. Four kids under my “wings”. Big, huge horse right behind me.

Breathing in my ear.

The big huge horse [pic taken later].

The big huge horse [pic taken later].

And I prayed.


Like I said yesterday, I was never scared. Not at all. Scared my kids were scared, but not actually scared.

But I prayed, in a nice, calm voice. “Dear Jesus, please send your angels to stand around us [the horse behind me never moved] and to make the horses back off some.”

Sure enough. Within thirty seconds, several of the horses had started to amble away.

I prayed again. And again. With less immediate results but soon enough there was a bit of breathing room.

While standing by the tree, this is the furthest away as I could get and still take a pic.

While standing by the tree, this is the furthest away as I could get and still take a pic.

Except for that sucker right behind us.

Who sniffed my 11yo’s rear end.

Or so she said.

She said it was weird ;).

There was a clear path toward the “road” leading back to the fence/gate and the van. By road, I mean tracks in the grass [see the satellite picture for our egress route].

I don’t know if I did the right thing or not, but here’s what we did.

My older two girls are very responsible. They don’t generally scare easily and, especially in a situation like this, they do what they’re told.


Our tree. We stood on the right/north side of it.

So, I told them to stay together, walk back the way we came, slowly, calmly and… go. They did just that. One or two of the horses took a few steps after them, but ultimately, they weren’t followed.

My plan had been for the other three of us to follow a minute later, but as soon as we started moving the rest of the horses did, too.

Including the big fellow behind me. [Yes, a fellow. There was… visual evidence of that later.]

So we stopped. I kept my arms around the kids. Decided to tell them to try to go, just like my other two, but after they got about ten feet, I had them stop. The horses were a bit too interested. If the two of them had been left completely alone, they would have been fine, but I didn’t trust them enough not to scare.

[As I write this, an hour or so after we got home, I’m sore. My legs hurt [I’d injured one over the weekend anyway], my shoulders are carrying tension in them still, and my arms and legs are sore [or more so] from being still and tense the whole time.]

X marks our tree.

X marks our tree.
Backwards along green arrows for kids’ egress.

We ended up near this tree. I’d been hoping the horses wouldn’t follow us there, but they did [there was a path there too but I couldn’t see it until after we got over there]. That big horse? Yep, right next to me still. Or in front of me. Depending on the moment. Other horses all around. After a few minutes, me and the two littles ended up back to the tree, big horse right in front of us.

I saw my older two girls coming back a couple of times [we really weren’t FAR from the fence/van, but far enough and out of the line of sight]. Firmly and loudly enough they could hear, I told them to go back. Over the fence. Stay put. We won’t mention how many times I had to say that. I even heard a bit of “Marco! Polo!” going on…

My 7yo LOVES horses. The girl is all about them. Last year, she even got a horseback riding lesson for her birthday.

7yo at her first [and only, to date] riding lesson a year or so ago.

She was pretty calm the whole time. She had her cowgirl hat with her and the horses were a bit too interested in that at times. My 5yo wasn’t scared, but I think he was born with ants in his pants. In that moment, however, he stayed still. Mostly.

Tomorrow: Angel With Hooves

For size comparison purposes. Guy on the left is the one standing behind me. The one on the right is smaller. That's all I'm sayin' :)Big horse.

For size comparison purposes. Guy on the left is the one standing behind me. The one on the right is smaller. That’s all I’m sayin’ 🙂
Big horse.

Ideas of Grandeur or “Stampede! ;)”

One of the mules [picture taken later].

One of the mules [picture taken later].

So, yesterday, I told about how and why we were in a field with about 17 horses, apples and carrots [no donkeys after all, but two or three mules]. With horses heading straight toward us. Fast. Well not fast. But fast enough.

Yes, the number of horses keeps changing depending on what part of the story I’m telling ;). I’m not sure how many it is. Somewhere between 15-18, including the mules [which apparently keep the wolves away].

Me, four kids [girls ages 11, 9 and 7 and a boy age 5], horses, and a bunch of apples and carrots.

Field 2

The 50 acres where the horses are. The blue dot is the “driveway” where the van was parked.

I want to be quite clear.

I was never scared.

Let me repeat that.


Concerned? Sure. Wary? You betcha. Exceptionally respectful of animals that weigh, literally, thirty times more than my two younger kids? Absolutely.

But never scared.

And neither were the kids*.

Horses are big. Really big. Especially when you’re little. Two of my kids especially are fairly small and we’re not really horse people, so I was… a bit concerned when my [very much on the small side for her age] 7yo kind of got separated from me. Not very far, but far enough with two horse heads between us. 😉 She got back to my side, the Walmart bags of food between my feet and my arms around my kids, like a mother hen.

I told the kids over and over, in my best calm-while-there’s-a-spider-crawling-on-you voice. “They’re not going to hurt us. We’re going to remain calm and quiet and still. We’ll wait for them to go away. They’re just curious, but they won’t hurt us.”


Blue dot: Van
Green arrows: Our path of ingress and egress
Red star: Where the horses were when they started toward us
The rest to be explained tomorrow 😉

Even as one, particularly big [at least to me] horse stood right behind me, nose in my hair, sniffling at the kids, and cheek to cheek with my five-year-old.

And still… Not. Scared.


Tomorrow – Angels Watchin’ Over Me.

Candy Calvert and Winter Winds

Candy Calvert and Winter Winds

*The 5yo later told me he was scared one of them was going to poop near him. But that’s not quite the same thing.

Ideas of Grandeur or “The Saga Begins”

This post has to do with horses.

For those of you who read this “teaser” on my Carol Moncado Books Facebook page:

Working on a series of blog posts regarding today’s four legged guardian angel. Wanna know how big an animal? And what happened? Keep an eye open for the links to the first post later tonight :).

the first statement above may seem like a “spoiler” for what kind of animal, but you’ll have to read on. We have lots of animals around here – we even saw three wild turkeys today!

But because this story has to do with horses, it brings to mind a number of people who will likely be tagged when this posts to Facebook ;).

Home for Good
Jessica Keller

Candy Calvert – my very dear writer friend. Brenda and Becky – my first horse owning friends [Brenda was my bestie in 1st and 2nd grade, her twin Becky and I didn’t particularly get along, unless Brenda was sick – but Becky and I outgrew it ;)]. Penny, Angie, Paula, Ed, Amanda, Sarah, and assorted other people who work with my hubs. Mary Connealy, Karen Witemeyer, Erica Vetsch and assorted other writers of historical/western fiction. NovelSista Jessica Keller whose first book [out next month!!!!!!] has horses in it.

So yeah – lots of peeps, but mostly Candy honestly, for reasons that I hope will be apparent a couple of segments from now – running through my mind.

Okay – so my husband is a licensed therapist – he runs a group therapy program at a local residential facility for boys, mostly ages 12-18 or so. This facility is also a working ranch. They have cattle and horses and a couple donkeys and some ranch dogs [they stink!] and so on.

Candace Calvert and Winter Wind

Candace Calvert and Winter Winds

There’s a guy who lives not too far from my house who lets them hay his land and right now, about 15 of their horses are living on about 50 acres. It’s a couple miles from my house and I drive by there on the way to work. The ranch folks had asked us to drive by every so often and, you know, make sure the horses are there ;).

So, last night, when I heard we’re supposed to get snow next week, I thought, “Hey, I should take the kids over there and feed the horses and take some pics and stuff.”

[No commentary on anything, please. It was an idea. We can debate how good the idea was later ;).]

I mentioned it to Matt who talked to the peeps at the ranch and they okayed us going out there. Said it would be best if the horses came to the fence but – at least from what I got from Matt – didn’t seem too concerned about us climbing over/through the gate. The horses out in the field are horses the boys at the ranch ride regularly and are comfortable with people etc.

I had to be at the kids’ school for a meeting at 230, so the kids didn’t get on the bus but went with me when school got out. We went to Walmart, picked up apples and carrots, talked to a nice checker-out lady who owns horses about how to feed them, went home for a quick bathroom break then headed to the field.


Only one apple. We really had a whole bag.

We parked, emptied the apples and carrots out of the bags into the Walmart bag and climbed over/through the gate.

Telling the kids to avoid the horse doo whenever possible, we walked up a hill and around this bit of trees [there will be pics tomorrow]. On the far side of the field, all the horses were congregated.

Then they saw us.

Tomorrow: Stampede! 😉

NaNoWriMo: Day 31 or “What? It’s Not November Anymore?”

Okay – I know – it’s not November. But I need to keep going on this second manuscript so maybe I can trick myself? It’s worth a shot ;).

Day 30: 390 words
Total: 56617 words

Goal for December: 50-55K words and a finished first draft of book 2 in the Montero series.

I’ve been using Dover Castle as my template for the Montero Palace:


Dover Castle
(I didn’t take the pic but got it off the WIKI which says it’s Creative Commons…)

When I posted it on Facebook, Jason said Edinburgh was better.

Edinburgh Castle(Creative Commons)

Edinburgh Castle (Creative Commons)

So maybe a combo of both? Not sure. What’re your thoughts?

Another question for you…

My hero in book 2 is the little brother of the heroine in book 1. The heroine in book 1 is a princess who is about to become queen. If the heroine from book 2 is the cousin of the hero from book 1…

Is it plausible that she won’t recognize the hero has a prince since she’s never met him and only seen a few pics?

Have written a bit today but it’s Can Film Festival Day at one of the local theaters. Bring cans of food, get movie tickets. Hubs already took the food and got the tickets so taking the kids to see Wreck It Ralph in an hour so I’ve gotta get ready. Plus I’ve got to figure out dinner for the night before we leave. I’ll get some more in later, I’m sure :).

NaNoWriMo: Day 29 or “Love It When Friends Get Good News”

So today, I heard about three bits of good news from writer friends. Two aren’t public so I won’t be mentioning what they are here. One I heard in person and I did squeal and hug her [right in the adjunct office with about 4 other people around 😉 – people who don’t ‘get’ writers, I might add :D].

The other one I got in text. I was giving a test at the time and had a hard time containing my Snoopy/Cliff-and-Claire-Huxtable-Table-Dancing Combo [hey – I was in a spinny desk chair!] but I managed to remain semi-composed ;).

The third I’ll share in a minute.

As absolutely ecstatic I am for all three of them, there’s that little piece of me [okay – I’ll admit it – it’s a much bigger piece than I wish] that is… jealous isn’t quite the right word. But where as soon as I’m done with my Spinny-Sitting-Snoopy-Huxtable-Dance thing I want to cry. Because other people are seeing success where I’m not.

I emailed with a couple other friends [without giving details] and one of them wrote this back:

“Their success is not your failure.”

Um… Let me repeat that.

“Their success is not your failure.”

It’s something God whispered to her at one point when she was going through the same thing. It’s not like we were going for the same job or the same award or the same whatever. Their success has nothing to do with my success, failure or waiting game.

This came on the heels of a couple of days where I felt really good about my writing and about that manuscript I’ve mentioned the last couple days. Really, really good.

And I felt body-slammed.

In talking with my Other-Mom, she said this:

Because God confirms your calling before you hear the news to reassure you and encourage you to keep pressing on. Your time will come.

I love how God puts people in my life who knows just what I need to hear – and when I need to hear it. I am so so so so so so stinkin’ happy for them. And less… unhappy [for lack of a better term] for me.

Thank God for those kind of people. And for a God who knows me better than I know myself. Who knows beforehand when these kind of days will come and boosts me up ahead of time. If only I’d remember that a bit quicker ;). I’m getting better :D.

So… yesterday’s NaNo:

Day 28: 34 words
Total: 55680 words

I’ve done a bit better than that today. Off to try to wrack up a few more :).

And the third one?

Dear friend Jessica Keller got her box of books today!!!! Her first release!!! So so so so awesome!!!!

NaNoWriMo: Day 28 or “The Day After ‘Girl Meets World’ Became a Reality”


Girl Meets World.

Sequel to Boy Meets World.

Has been green-lighted.

TGIF fans around the world squee-ed.

I was one of them.

Just one of many similar articles.

And we’re not the only ones. Ryder Strong seems to be excited about it [though he’s not officially involved at this point].

Ben Savage and Danielle Fishel are back as Cory and Topanga Matthews. Still married after 14 years [Thank God! A bitter divorce between those two would likely be a death knell for GMW before it even starts.] and parents to a 13yo daughter [which coincides with the timing of the end of BMW – more or less – it was 14 years ago and the pilot likely won’t air until at least late summer – I don’t know anything about that, just the way it seems to usually work]. Cory is apparently a junior high school teacher – having turned into a Mr. Feeney.

Who will be back for guest spots? Well, that’s anybody’s guess. But Ryder as “Uncle Shawn”, Uncle Eric, Shawn’s half-brother [whose name is escaping me at the moment], maybe Angela. Of course, Grandma and Grandpa Matthews.

And Mr. Feeney.

We need Fee-eee-eee-een-eh.

Sorry. Channeling my inner Eric.

Yes. My inner fangirl is still squeeing.

And since it’s on Disney, it may not quite live up to my memories of the original [or it’s reruns on MTV2 of all places], but it highly unlikely it’ll be something I won’t let my kids watch either.



This is about NaNoWriMo. Today, I got to hang out with Margie for a few hours – love that gal. Plus we had Chick-fil-A for lunch and I got to see some of my friends there [including the owner’s wife who thought I’d been ignoring here – I’d replied to her texts – she just hadn’t gotten them :p].

Yesterday: 20 words
Total: 55644 words

I should probably try to beat that today… 😉

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