**BELLS, WHISTLES, CONFETTI**
I'm so excited because my friend and fellow author, Lori Connelly, is here today with her hot-off-the-press release The Outlaw of Cedar Ridge! Whoo Hoo!! Check this cover, people!
The day Evie met Benjamin Rolfe, a man with unbridled enthusiasm and grandiose plans, she knew they’d marry and live happily ever after…
Five years later, the charming rancher is now a bitter, cynical stranger with a shaky moral compass. She no longer believes in fairy tales, too many shattered dreams.
When they lose the homestead, it's already strained to breaking point. Can their love survive this second chance?
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Lori, I am thrilled for you and so excited to have you here on your release day! Huzzah! To get things started, tell us how your writing career began.
I believe my writing career began when a lovely lady, by the name of Charlotte Ledger, saw potential in my SYTYCW 2012 contest entry and wanted to read my full manuscript. I never dreamed that less than a year later I’d have a contract with Harper Impulse. My debut book, THE OUTLAW OF CEDAR RIDGE is out today and I can’t stop smiling.
I know, right? So thrilling!! And I totally agree with you about Charlotte. She couldn't be more lovely. With the break-through you achieved with Outlaw, do you think you'll continue writing westerns, or do you plan to branch out write across genre lines?
I love to write about cowboys, but I also have contemporary and paranormal works lurking in my files.
Oh, that's fantastic! I can't wait! What are you working on right now?
I’m working on the third story in The Men of Fir Mountain series.
Oh awesome, this is a series of books! Lovely! What about your reading preferences? What's on your nightstand (or downloaded onto your Kindle) that is waiting to be read?
Sinfully Summer by Aimee Duffy and On the Scent by Angela Campbell and over fifteen other books in my TBR list.
LOL Sounds like my overloaded Kindle. I've got Aimee's book in there somewhere too, I believe. Let's talk a little about your home life. Does your husband read your work? And, if so, what's his reaction?
He does. He says he’s always left wanting to read on about my characters, however he’d like me to write more fantasy.
He's a man after my own heart, darling. I love me a good fantasy. To give our readers a better idea of what Lori is all about, list the five top words your best friends would use to describe you.
Compassionate, imaginative, loyal, klutzy, and shy.
A glass of Irish Crème Whiskey. I’m afraid that’s as fancy as I get.
Sounds perfect! What are your hobbies?
We’ve two dogs at home. Technically, Bart, who’s ½ English Mastiff, ½ St. Bernard and 100% love, is my middle son’s dog and Roxy, the Rat Terrier, who’s 15lbs of moxy without an ounce of fear, belongs to my husband, but I call them my fur children all the same.
AWESOME! Thank you so much for stopping in on what is sure to be a very busy day! And congrats on your release!!
Thank you for having me.
Lori was born, raised and still lives in Oregon with her best friend who also happens to be her husband. She has three sons, one daughter-in-law, one grandbaby to be and two very spoiled dogs. Although she made up stories as a child, wrote them down as a teen, life delivered a number of challenges and pursuing her writing career had to wait. Now her dream has become a reality. Her favorite pastime is getting lost in a story be either writing or reading. She also enjoys camping, rock hounding, and long walks with her husband.
Cedar Ridge, Idaho--Spring 1891
Her eyes popped open. In the darkness that enveloped her, Evie Rolfe swallowed hard. Sometime during the night, her lamp died and left the young woman alone. Her fingers tightened into a white knuckled grip around the rifle while she listened for anything unusual. She didn’t dare move, waited untold minutes locked in fear until light trickled through the cabin’s only window.
While ebony grayed, shadows faded, she gained a measure of courage. Evie scanned the modest room in search of what had woken her. A simple chair sat beside her in front of the stone fireplace. Cast iron pots and a frying pan were stacked on the hearth by short rounds of pine. Along the walls was a long low bench with towels folded neatly on top, a four-drawer dresser, a metal pail then a bed in the corner. Nothing appeared out of place so far.
Nervous Evie twisted so she could look at the wall behind her. A gap in the window curtains allowed a glimpse of crimson sky. Against the door, a crudely made wood table remained snug with the oil lamp in the center. To the right of that her cloak and a large tan wicker basket hung side by side. A rough broom she’d fashioned stood propped in the corner. Relief seeped through her.
The breath she’d held released. Evie sagged against the chair her grandfather made. Her left hand lifted, rubbed over her face then lowered to slide palm down over a scarred, oak arm. Loneliness, a muted ache, haunted. The worn rocking chair was all she had left from her family. She sighed, soft almost soundless.
A distinct thud carried through the log walls. Her short-lived calm vanished. Blood raced through her veins. Heart in her throat Evie gathered the edges of the quilts close around her. Slow, cautious, rifle cradled to her stomach, she pushed up to her feet then turned to face the window.
A minute then another passed. Evie heard nothing, saw nothing. She drew in a breath and stepped close to the glass pane. With the rifle muzzle, she pushed the washed out material aside. Her gaze found the source of the sound, what likely woke her, right away. Fear evaporated.
Drained, her grip loosened. The blankets slipped, sagged around her waist. Anger whispered. Evie turned around and, jaw clenched, stalked to the fireplace. She hung the weapon back on the hooks above the mantle where it belonged. The hard packed dirt floor chilled her bare feet, hastened her pace as she moved to the corner.
Beside the empty bed, Evie stilled, stared at it for a few seconds, her lips compressed into a hard thin line. With a snap of her wrists, she spread the thin patchwork quilts over the mattress. Sadness, resentment and frustration crashed over her in waves as she pulled her nightgown over her head, tossed it on the covers. Goose bumps soon dotted her skin. In quick, jerky movements, she donned stockings, undergarments, a faded blue long sleeved shirt and a brown ankle length skirt.
Another thud sounded. Evie ground her teeth. She sat down on the bed and pulled on well-worn black boots. Her hair fell across her face in the process. Exasperated, she plucked her hairbrush off the wall where it hung by a leather thong.
With the ease of long practice, she swiftly tamed her waist length dark brown hair into a single thick braid that hung down her back. Evie stood and slapped the brush back in place. Her hands shook as she stomped over, shoved the table away from the door.
A mare, all black except for a short white stocking on each leg stood just outside the barn. Its open door swung in the gentle wind. It hit against the wall, and again created the sound she’d heard while inside. Evie hissed through clenched teeth, irritated, as she moved with swift steady strides to the horse.
Her temper simmered as she led Sugar into the fenced area attached to one side of the barn. Evie stripped off the mare’s tack, propped the saddle against a fence post. With bridle in hand, a pat and promise of oats later, she headed to the barn.
Evie stepped into the shadowed interior of the weathered structure. While her eyes adjusted to the low light, she took a couple of hesitant steps forward, one hand on the interior wall for assurance. She hung the bridle where it belonged then moved on.
It didn’t take long before she found him near Sugar’s stall sprawled face down on some loose hay.
For a second, intense emotion seized her. Evie shook with the force it. Although the desire to turn around and leave held strong appeal, she just couldn’t do that. She knelt down beside him, leaned in and whispered his name. He didn’t react. With both hands, she shook him, called his name with force. As she half expected, Ben still didn’t respond.
Evie got to her feet and with some effort, rolled him onto his back. Shaggy brown hair fell across his face. She crouched down, reached out and swept the mass to one side. His familiar features stirred a storm of conflicting emotions.
Tears burned tired eyes. It’d been some time since they’d been affectionate, intimate and, unable to resist, her fingers ran down the side of his neck, a light caress. Scratches and purple bruises marred his skin. Her hand came back up to rest her palm on his cheek. As upset as she was, Evie savored this simple physical contact.
Caught up in the moment, his groan startled her. She gasped. A hand came up, covered hers. His eyes opened and sorrow pierced her. The amazing forest green eyes that had captured her fancy years ago were so bloodshot it was painful to witness. A crooked smile spread across his face.
“Hey doll,” His voice low, rough, almost playful.
Strong whiskey fumes slapped her and Evie reared back as if physically struck, sparking her temper. His hand dropped to his side when she pulled away. Words she’d mulled over for months were on the tip of her tongue, about to explode from her when she noticed he’d passed out again. An incoherent sound of pure frustration passed her lips.
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Find The Outlaw of Cedar Ridge here: Harper Impulse Author and The Outlaw of Cedar Ridge on Amazon.
Here's where you can find Lori on the web: My Blog Facebook Twitter
THANKS FOR VISITING EVERYONE!
XO AJ XO