Months ago, I was chatting with my beloved Captain Cavedweller, bouncing around ideas for a holiday novella I needed to write. I wanted the hero to be a cowboy, but he needed to work in a city. What job would bring a cowboy to downtown Portland where he'd run into the heroine?
Captain Cavedweller suggested the hero be a mounted police officer and I loved the idea.
I dug into my research on Mounted Patrols, particularly those in Portland. In the Rose City, Mounted Patrol Units served as an effective deterrent to crime because of the high visibility of the mounted officers and their ability to quickly respond to problems in congested areas.
MPUs are used to enforce any number of laws and ordinances including everything from drug offenses and assaults to petty thefts and pedestrian violations. During the years of their peak staffing in the 1980s, the MPU made thirty percent of all the misdemeanor arrests in Portland.
Another perk of the MPU was the visibility in and interaction with the community. The equine officers created a sense of approachable accessibility in the public, generating rapport between the citizenry and the mounted officers.
Officers worked 10-hour days, four days a week and handled preparing and tacking up their four-legged partners.
The MPU used only geldings (of various breeds) and normally selected those in the eight to twelve years of age range. The horses had to meet weight and height specifications and pass a rigorous entry test.
Riders used Australian stock saddles with saddlebags. (And every time I see an Australian stock saddle my mind flashes to The Man From Snowy River scene when he's riding down the side of the mountain.)
Sadly, after I started writing my story, I discovered Portland disbanded their MPU in July after decades of continuous and successful service.
In spite of that unexpected news, I left my hero as a Mounted Patrol Officer. The officers (both human and animal) work so hard to keep the peace, keep people safe, and extend a gentle hand of friendship to the area they serve. They have my admiration and appreciation for their service.
Saving Mistletoe releases Sept. 26 as part of the Sweet Christmas Kisses 4 boxed set of 14 new heartwarming and wholesome romances.
Hotshot attorney Ellen Meade seems to have it all: a powerful position with her firm, a posh downtown apartment, and a bright future ahead of her. But for Ellen, the future grows dimmer with each passing day. Her apartment is lonely without her best friend, and the demands of her job are slowly killing her soul. She’s simply surviving until she bumps into a police officer who changes everything.
Burke Tipton loves his job as a Mounted Patrol Officer in downtown Portland. The life he’s built away from his family’s ranch is simple and uncomplicated. At least it was until a beautiful woman bumps into him and turns his world upside down.
Add in Burke’s partner Sugar Bear, Lovey the dog, and a child named Mistletoe in need of a Christmas miracle, and you get a heartwarming, holiday romance.
Here's a little excerpt from the story:
In the distance, he could see two men arguing and gave Bear a little pressure from his knees, urging him forward. Before he could reach them, a woman darted around the corner of a building and slammed into his leg. The force knocked her backward and she fell to the sidewalk. The files she carried flapped open and papers scattered in the breeze like jumbo-sized snowflakes.
Burke jumped out of the saddle and knelt beside her as she looked at him with a dazed expression. He held back a groan as recognition set in. The last thing he needed was to have the snippy, beautiful attorney who willingly defended crooks bump into him, again.
What was it with her blindly walking into him and Bear? Maybe the woman needed glasses, although he’d hate to see anything cover up those mesmerizing whiskey-colored eyes.
Small of stature, it wasn’t any wonder she’d landed on her backside as hard as she hit his leg. The tidy knot of hair pinned up on her head listed to one side, giving her a comical appearance. He tamped down his urge to laugh and gave her a questioning glance.
“Are you hurt, miss?” he asked, keeping his voice low and soothing.
“I… I don’t think so.” All at once, she snapped out of her trance and noticed the papers from her files floating all around them. “Oh, my files!” she gasped, struggling to rise.
Burke took her hand in his and stood, pulling her upright. Together, they quickly gathered the papers and she stuffed them back into a folder.
He offered her a stern glare as he handed her the last few wayward sheets. “I ought to write you a ticket, Miss Meade. If you don’t start paying attention to where you’re going, you could really hurt yourself or someone else.”
Surprised at his gruff tone and sharp words, she lifted a curious gaze to his. “What, exactly, would you write on the ticket, Officer Tipton?”
The fact she recalled his name pleased him more than it should have. He mustered a fierce scowl, but then he looked into her face. Dang, she sure had gorgeous eyes. And her skin appeared silky smooth. Then there were those soft pink lips just begging for a kiss.
Man, he needed to get his head on straight, at least where this woman was concerned. “You’re a public menace. This is the second time you’ve run into me. I could haul you in for assaulting not one but two officers if I wanted to,” he warned. “Do you make it a habit of plowing into people, objects, and animals?”
You can find the boxed set for only 99 cents at these retailers:
After spending her formative years on a farm in Eastern Oregon, hopeless romantic Shanna Hatfield turns her rural experiences into sweet historical and contemporary romances filled with sarcasm, humor, and hunky heroes.
Her historical westerns have been described as “reminiscent of the era captured by Bonanza and The Virginian” while her contemporary works have been called “laugh-out-loud funny, and a little heart-pumping sexy without being explicit in any way.”
When this USA Today bestselling author isn’t writing or covertly hiding decadent chocolate from the other occupants of her home, Shanna hangs out with her beloved husband, Captain Cavedweller.
Shanna loves to hear from readers. Follow her online at: