A few years back, I watched a show called The Last American Cowboy, and as I was watching I made a note to “remember the dogs” when writing another western. Maybe I noticed them because my parents used to have a kennel and I was drawn more to the obedience training rings and their incredibly smart dogs than the “gussied up” purebreds who were trotted around like princesses. And I knew that border collies are popular on farms because they are so freaking intelligent. The dogs on a cattle ranch are no different.
When I was writing Jake in No Accounting for Cowboys, I knew I wanted him to have a connection to his dogs, more than just as working animals. Which meant I had to figure out what type of dogs he’d have. Unlike his brother Ben, Jake doesn’t ride a horse, he’s more into using quads. (There’ll be more about that in Wrangling the Past) At the start of the story he doesn’t wear a cowboy hat either—that comes later. So I didn’t figure he’d have the standard border collie or Blue Heeler. Instead I decided he’d have a soft spot for a couple of rescue dogs. (I had this whole backstory for how he rescued the two dogs, but I could only fit so much into his story without losing the thread of the romance.)
I confess, I didn’t rely completely upon my imagination for Jake’s dogs. I borrowed my street team leaders’ doggies. In the book, Brewskie is a shepherd crossed with something orange and fuzzy (Paige never learns what the other part is—I’m not sure if Jake knows either.) In real life, Brewskie is a chow/shepherd mix, hence the orange fuzzies.
Pebbles is a beagle in real life as well – who like Jake’s dog is a scrounger with big soft brown eyes. Like the fictional Pebbles and Brewskie, the real life Pebbles and Brewskie are rescue dogs who found great homes with caring owners.
Do you have any pets you’ve adopted? Or love reading about heroes or heroines with their pets?
No Accounting for Cowboys
Jake Grady loves Bull’s Hollow ranch and all the challenges and hard work it entails. But the past year hasn’t been easy—his father’s good name has been tarnished, and new financial problems are threatening to destroy everything the Gradys have built. Performing live under a stage name has become his escape, a way of blowing off some serious steam.
Accountant Paige Reynolds found Jake’s guitar-playing alter ego intriguing, but her connection with the real Jake sends her attraction into overdrive. When she’s summoned to make order out of the chaotic paper trail at Bull’s Hollow, he sets her world a-rocking—both in bed and out. But Paige has a plan; she’s determined to create her own path for the future, but is soon left scrambling for firmer ground.
Good news about Jake’s potential singing career is followed by the revelation of another family secret, one that has him questioning whether he belongs at Bull’s Hollow at all. But leaving the ranch would mean leaving his family…and Paige. How much is he willing to give up for a real shot at fame?
Here’s a snippet to see a little bit of how Pebbles and Brewskie fit into Jake’s life…
Copyright © 2014 by Leah Braemel
He grabbed his ball cap from the hook beside the door, jammed it on his head. Fumbled on top of the fridge until he found his sunglasses. “I gotta get some air.”
Pebbles and Brewskie jumped up the moment the door opened, their tails wagging so fast they blurred. At least someone was happy. He was halfway off the porch when he heard Paige’s “Jake, hang on. I’m coming with you.”
If it had been anyone else but Paige, he’d have told them to leave him alone. But he slowed, waiting for her to catch up. The moment her fingers closed around his and gave a gentle squeeze, something inside him quieted. “You don’t have to talk if you don’t want to, okay?”
The dogs jumped down and trailed him, Pebbles’ excited yips bouncing off the barn and echoing around the yard as Jake started the double-seated quad Paige had left parked beside his.
Unwilling to trust his voice, he nodded. Where last time he’d ridden his quad with Paige he’d deliberately raced across the fields, now he stuck to the paths and kept his speed slow, the dogs racing ahead of him chasing grasshoppers and the occasional frightened bird.
Bull’s Hollow had been his whole life—he’d never imagined living anywhere else, doing anything else. While he could probably find work on some other ranch, up in Wyoming or Oklahoma maybe, he’d always be reminded of what he’d lost. But he didn’t know anything other than ranching—which meant he’d probably have ended up working at a shipping yard or driving a truck like Cam.
If Paige had any hint of his debate, she stayed quiet.
The lower speed let him soak in the sight of every cow in the field, and the way the wind rippled through the grasses like waves on a lake.
Not knowing where to head he angled the quad across the winding creek bed, the water low again this year thanks to the lack of rain, though the clumps of pampas grass thrived, the dense plumes dipping in the slight breeze as the quad passed.
The motor whined as he gunned it up the bank on the far side, dirt and rocks spitting out behind him. He slowed as they approached the heavy steel fences with wire extended another two feet bordering the fields. In the distance, a half dozen massive beasts grazed peacefully, ignoring the quad and its riders.
He didn’t consciously stop, but he realized they were sitting still.
“Which one hurt you?” Paige asked. “Which bison, I mean.”
It wasn’t the question he’d been expecting. He’d figured she’d ask him to share his feelings or some other touchy-feely female crap. Figured he could trust Paige not to poke a stick at the resentment festering deep inside.
“See the one over by himself? That one.” As if he understood Jake, the damned beast raised its head and eyed him. Keep lookin’, buddy. You’re not getting a second round with me.
“Why do you keep bison anyway?”
Thank God he hadn’t turned her away. He seized on the opportunity to focus on something different. “They’re great for training cutting horses, but they’re murder on fences.” The more he talked the more his throat loosened. “It’s not just how they rub up against them, but they can jump six feet from standing still. It’s the damnedest thing you’ve ever seen.”
He focused on one of the females rubbing its horns on a fence post. Gonna need to check that post in a couple days. Someone would, he amended. He wouldn’t be here.
The breeze lifted her hair, feathering it over her cheek. He caught a pink tip and rubbed it between the pads of his fingers. Her hair would have driven his grandfather crazy, but he loved the way Paige defied convention. Not streaks or extensions like some of the girls he knew had. But like someone had dipped the ends in a paint pot. Dark and light.
Leah is the only woman in a houseful of males that includes her college-sweetheart husband, two sons, a Shih Tzu named Seamus and Turtle the cat. She loves escaping the ever-multiplying dust bunnies by opening up her laptop to write about sexy heroes and the women who challenge them.