Monday, March 25, 2013


Don’t you love a nice series where a favorite hero and heroine reappear as secondary characters in a later book? Characters become our friends and we applaud when a hero or heroine we admired reappears in the cast of a new book. Series and linked books apparently remain popular through the ebbs and flows of subgenres.

A series can center around members of the same family, as in my Men of Stone Mountain series about the three Stone brothers. Others series feature characters who live in the same locale, such as Jacquie Rogers’ Hearts of Owyhee/Much Ado series. Lyn Horner’s Texas Druid series features siblings who share paranormal traits and come from Ireland to Texas. In fact, I believe the other authors on this blog each have had well-received series.

When setting up my Men of Stone Mountain series, I chose North Central Texas due to a fondness for the region in which I live. The site of fictitious Stone Mountain is near where the current Possum Kingdom Lake stands, plus surrounding ranch land, and is only an hour away from my home. A tour to the pioneer Belding-Gibson Ranch inspired me and I chose that ranch as it now stands and as it was for my stories--with a few fictitious alterations, of course. 

BRAZOS BRIDE is set at the main ranch, but with a Spanish-style hacienda instead of the actual home. HIGH STAKES BRIDE is set adjoining the first ranch for the most part, with parts on and in a mountain. BLUEBONNET BRIDE is set in the fictitious town of Radford Springs, which would be near Possum Kingdom Lake. 

The original Belding cedar log cabin on the right
and the smokehouse on the left are
now incorporated into the ranch house.
The Belding family descended from Henry Belding, a man who pioneered this area back when Comanche, Kiowa, and Apache were genuine threats. In spite of hardships, the ranch prospered and grew, but has been divided over the generations. Currently, the Belding-Gibson Ranch is operated by Barbara (Belding) and Charles Gibson. They honor their heritage and preserve the ranch's traditions. Theirs is a beautiful land and their home incorporates the original cabin as a bathroom and the smokehouse as a storage room/pantry. The cold room is now part of a hallway. I loved visiting this beautiful ranch when it was open for touring one day several years ago. Barbara Belding Gibson wrote a book about the ranch, PAINTED POLE: THE BELDINGS AND THEIR RANCHES IN PALO PINTO COUNTY, 2001, Sunbelt Eakin Press, that aided me in my research.  

Part of the Palo Pinto Mountains from a valley

This region is the Palo Pinto Mountains, which look like large hills to people from some areas, but geographically are genuine mountains. The Comanche named them Palo Pinto, which means painted post or painted pole, due to the way the scrub oaks covering them turn bright colors in the fall. There are also cedar and live oaks as well as the usual elm, cottonwood, hackberry, and other native trees to give a nice variety to the landscape. Fat cattle graze on this land and oil wells dot the area. 

Money on the hoof in good times;
a liability in drought times

 In my Men of Stone Mountain series, as well as being linked by siblings, poison plays a role in each book. Finding the right poison was an interesting task, and I think I came up with three that will prove perfect for the stories. Research on native Texas plants that could be used as poison proved interesting and, on the other hand, frightening that deadly poisons are so plentiful and easy to locate. Scared yet? Of course not, because you know these are romances and that by the end of the series all major characters will have found true love. But getting there is a pleasant experience (I hope) because there are surprises and mysteries in store along the way. 

Posionous Pokeweed, which some people
boil three times, pour off the water each
time, then serve as greens. But not to me!

Oleander blooms. Lovely but
don't taste any part of them!
Needless to say, I didn't conduct actual experiments from my poison research. Um, that's my story. Honest.

Here’s a brief glimpse of the Men of Stone Mountain series.

BRAZOS BRIDE, book one: Hope Montoya knows someone is poisoning her, but who and why elude her. She’s grown weak from the poison, and needs help. To whom can she turn? Both her parents have died, and she suspects they also were murdered by the same person targeting her. She seeks help from Micah Stone. He is outside the circle of people who might have wanted her dead. Micah’s cattle are dying from lack of water in the current drought. He needs access to the Brazos River. When Hope proposes a paper marriage, his is offended. He’s loved her since the first time he met her, and he can’t refuse her. His brothers Zach and Joel pitch in to help protect their new sister-in-law. Trouble dogs them with one disaster after another. Can Micah discover the killer before he and Hope become victims?
Buy Link:

HIGH STAKES BRIDE, book two: Zach Stone envisions himself as the head of a ranching empire with a dutiful wife by his side seeing to his comfort and a passel of children. When he comes across Alice Price, nothing goes as he plans. Alice is “event prone” and either stumbles onto or causes once crisis after another. She’s on the run from two stepbrothers who’ve promised her as payment in a gambling debt to the meanest man in Texas or Mexico. She throws in with Zach to escape, and that’s when Zach’s life gets interesting—more so than he intended. Along the way Zach and Alice find an orphaned boy and his dog to accompany them to Zach’s ranch. His aunts are staying with him to chaperone. Can Alice evade her stepbrothers and make her getaway to New Orleans? What if she decides to stay with Zach? Life is just too complicated for this pair, that is, until fate takes a hand.
Amazon buy link:

BLUEBONNET BRIDE: Joel Stone is proud of his brothers and the lives they’ve created. Each is married, and he wonders why, as the eldest, he is still single. He’s settled into the life he has as Radford County Sheriff, with his small ranch and his large house in town. As long as his brothers are happy, he’s happy. That is, until he meets the new widow in town and her little girl. Rosalyn Dumas is a dressmaker who captures Joel’s attention the first time he sees her and hears her sultry, Southern voice. Her daughter Lucy takes a shine to Joel right away and calls him Mister Sheriff. Joel knows Rosalyn hides a secret from her past, but he doesn’t care. Rosalyn knows her secret would send her to the gallows if she’s discovered, and she resists her attraction to Joel. A woman on the run from a murder conviction certainly doesn’t need to associate with the sheriff, but he pops up every time she turns around. How long can she evade capture?
Amazon buy link:

I hope that whetted your appetite for this particular series. There are more books planned about people living in Radford Springs, Radford County, Texas. The next one will be released late May, 2013. Watch for substitute mail-order bride Tabitha's story and then a Christmas story in November. Each book is available at iTunes, Kindle, Nook, Kobo, Smashwords, and in print from Create Space.

Here’s the link to my website where you can find my books listed with an excerpt from each:

Thanks for stopping by!


Tanya Hanson said...

Hi Caroline, oh how I love the name Possum Kingdom. And everything else about this blog. I also love re-appearances of characters and tie-ins to other books. We're sure kindred spirits. Your covers and stories are amazing. Keep up the good work.

Paisley Kirkpatrick said...

They couldn't find anything other than poisonous plants to cook three times to make sure they wouldn't die?? I would hve thought twice before accepting a dinner invitation. Beautiful country and I love the name Possum Kingdom. Wonderful, Caroline.

Lyn Horner said...

Caroline, thanks for the mention! My Texas Druids thank you to. Jessie, Tye and Rose would get along well with your Stone brothers. They're all people of character who sacrifice and fight for ones they love.

I absolutely agree with you, linked books are a pleasure to read because we get to see more of characters we love from the earlier book(s). Keep on writing your wonderful series!

Meg said...

Great photos of the poisonous plants, Caroline. And your series sounds great. Love the intrigue in all of them, and the cover for Bluebonnet is lovely!

Paty Jager said...

I do like series. That way I always have another character to write about. LOL I think readers like becoming part of the family and that's why they like series books. Good post!