2019 Casa Christmas Blog Tour – Guest Blog and Giveaway

Long and Short Reviews welcomes Casa authors who are letting us know their thoughts about Christmas. Enter the Rafflecopter at the end of the post for a chance to win a winter reading survival kit.

Can you believe Christmas is right around the corner? To celebrate, we asked the authors of our 2019 Christmas titles to answer some fun, wintry and Christmas themed questions!

Fall in love this Christmas and be sure to read:

  • Longing for a Cowboy Christmas by Leigh Greenwood, Rosanne Bittner, Linda Broday, Margaret Brownley, Anna Schmidt, and Amy Sandas
  • Wish Upon a Cowboy by Jennie Marts
  • Cowboy Christmas Kiss by Kim Redford
  • Cowboy Christmas Homecoming by June Faver
  • A Dash of Christmas by Samantha Chase
  • Puppy Christmas by Lucy Gilmore
  • Silver Town Wolf: Home for the Holidays by Terry Spear


Keep reading to get in the Christmas spirit and check out the books over at Romance Reads!




What’s the best part about writing a Christmas book?

Rosanne Bittner:        The best part about writing a Christmas story is that it takes me into that “miracle” mood that seems to be a part of the Christmas holiday. I always try to include some kind of little miracle in my stories. In last year’s anthology, Christmas In A Cowboy’s Arms, my story miracle was the healed awakening of an unconscious little girl. This year, in Longing for A Cowboy Christmas, my miracle surrounds the birth of a baby boy the mother wasn’t sure she could love.

Anna Schmidt:             For me the holidays are a magical time of sharing and giving and FORgiving. To be able to tell stories that convey those things is a gift in itself.

Jennie Marts:              Capturing all the magic of the Christmas season and giving it to both your characters and your readers as you create touches of that magic in the story.

June Faver:                   The absolutely best part of writing a Christmas book in Texas is that I’m wearing shorts, tank top and flip-flops while writing about slogging through the snow. It helps with the endless summer heat when my brain is hauling hay to cattle in the snow blanketed fields.

Kim Redford:               Magic! A larger-than-life theme that touches many lives always arises when I’m writing a Christmas book. In Cowboy Firefighter Christmas Kiss, Fernando, the stolen bull, escapes and heads for home where an eight-year-old girl awaits him, hoping he’ll get there in time for Christmas. In A Cowboy Firefighter for Christmas, troubleshooter Misty Reynolds arrives in time to help Trey Duval stop a brushfire, investigate a Christmas tree farm fire, and be dubbed his “Christmas Angel.”

Lucy Gilmore:              One of the best (and sneakiest) things for an author to do is put their own family traditions into the book. We all have our unique ways of celebrating and enjoying the holidays, many of which are passed down from generation to generation. By writing a Christmas book, I can share some of those traditions with the world, and you don’t even know I’m doing it!

Margaret Brownley: I always seem to be writing a Christmas book during the searing heat of summer. To get in the right mood, I try to imagine a reader curled up in front of a blazing fire, hot chocolate in hand and smiling as she reads my story. The image usually puts me in the Christmas spirit.  On the few occasions it fails to work, I stick my feet in a bucket of ice water.

Samantha Chase:       There is something about writing a Christmas book that just gives me joy from the first word to the last. I think it’s because everyone always seems happier during the holidays and that gets to be portrayed in the book. The plot doesn’t have to be quite so angsty – everything is lighter and sweeter and always ends with a Merry Christmas!

Terry Spear:                 I always end up having to write them during the hot Texas summers, so when I write a Christmas book, I look for Christmas recipes, make up pictures of wolves and snow, and cool myself down.


What is something you can’t live without during the holiday season?

Amy Sandas:                Cozy socks. I’m not much for slippers, but my feet are always cold so I love to warm them up with thick, super-soft socks.

Anna Schmidt:             Traditions from my childhood—my family was very into giving to others especially those who might not be blessed with family at that time of year so I love finding ways to shop and wrap and give to others.

Jennie Marts:              We have a tradition of our family going to the Candlelight Service at church on Christmas Eve then coming back to my house for homemade lasagna and my Christmas Butter Bundt cake. I wouldn’t want to miss any of this special night.

Lucy Gilmore:              My heated ice scraper for the car. Seriously. It snows a ton where I live, and we don’t have a garage, so having a quick, easy, and warm way to get the ice off the windows is like holiday magic.

Margaret Brownley: I couldn’t live without knowing the true meaning of Christmas and what we are celebrating. This keeps me from becoming overwhelmed by the commercial part and focused on the things that truly count.

Samantha Chase:       My decorations. We have a TON of Disney decorations we’ve collected over the years and I always look forward to taking them out and putting them all over the house.

Rosanne Bittner:        Something I can’t live without in the Christmas season is, of course, having my 3 grandsons over on Christmas Eve. They love my apple pie!

Terry Spear:                 Decorating for the holidays–a Christmas tree. I feel I’m in my own Christmas story, my home is now a holiday scene. It’s warm and the Christmas lights make it cheery and special mementos handed down from our family or that I’ve picked up in special places or from friends and family are brought out and cherished all over again.


What’s your favorite holiday or winter tradition?

Jennie Marts:              My two sons and I have a fun tradition of inviting the grandma’s over to our house on December 23rd to make all the Christmas cookies. We used to have the great grandmothers participate and those were great memories, and even though my sons are grown, we still do this tradition.

Linda Broday:               The candlelight service on Christmas Eve puts joy and thankfulness in my heart and I look forward to it each year. There’s something very moving about sitting in a church lit only by candles, singing Christmas hymns. The service brings such a sense of peace.

Lucy Gilmore:              I hate, hate, hate being cold, so winter can be a tough time for me. I’d stay inside all day, every day if I could. However, I also have two very large, very active Akitas who adore everything about the snow, so that’s not really a choice. One of my favorite traditions is taking the two of them to a nearby hiking spot as soon as we get fresh snow (which, to be fair, is most days). The cold matters a lot less the moment I see them prancing around and throwing the snow to each other. They’d probably love it if we moved to the Arctic year-round. (Sorry, dogs. That will never happen.)

Margaret Brownley: A favorite family tradition began by accident. When the children were small, I habitually bought Christmas presents throughout the year and hid them. The problem was, some presents were invariably forgotten until after Christmas.  One gloomy January, while organizing my closet, I found a set of cars I’d intended Santa to leave under the tree.  Not knowing how else to handle it, I entered the room where the boys were playing and announced, “Look what Santa left on the roof.”  This was a big hit and every year after that, Santa always left something on the roof.  The funny thing is that no one ever thought to ask what Mommy had been doing on the roof.

Terry Spear:                 Seeing the Nutcracker or some other play like that over the holidays.


What’s your favorite holiday memory?

Anna Schmidt:             Wrapping presents with my Dad—he always had us shop for him and then gathered us kids one night to wrap everything on his list for my Mom (usually 10-12 gifts). He wrote these wonderful cards to attach to each gift and there always was one small gift (usually jewelry) he hid in the tree.

Linda Broday:               What parent hasn’t worked hard on Christmas Eve putting toys together? I remember one Christmas when my husband and I tried for most of the night to assemble a bicycle for my oldest. We hunted and hunted for one important part and finally found it in the trunk of the car where it had fallen out of the box. Exhausted, we fell into bed and I still remember the warmth of his arms around me. We fell asleep whispering to each other. He passed away a few short years after that. But I can’t look at a bicycle without remembering that night.

Terry Spear:                 Having both kids and their spouses here for the holidays. That’s the best time ever.


What’s your favorite Christmas movie?

Amy Sandas:                It’s gotta be a tie between Home Alone because it’s so nostalgic and fun for the whole family… or Die Hard (Yes, it is a Christmas movie!) which has become an annual tradition in our house.

Anna Schmidt:             The vintage version of A Christmas Carol w/ George C. Scott—he made the BEST Scrooge!!!

Jennie Marts:              The Santa Clause with Tim Allen. I love all three of them, and we watch at least one every year.

June Faver:                   I love, love, love Love, Actually. I can watch it over and over, and tear up every time. But, on the other hand, I also have to watch Die Hard. Is this why I write romantic suspense? Gotta have both.

Kim Redford:               It’s a Wonderful Life (1946) stars James Stewart, Donna Reed, and Lionel Barrymore. Frank Capra directed this film based on the short story, “The Greatest Gift” by Philip Van Doren Stern. Over the years, this magical tale of a man whose guardian angel shows him the true value of his life has become one of the most beloved holiday films. George Bailey (James Stewart) gave up his dreams to help his family and friends in his small home town and so always lived what he considered a small, unimportant life. When a financial disaster strikes, he turns suicidal until Clarence Odbody (Henry Travers) arrives as his guardian angel to reveal all the lives George has touched in positive ways and how different the town of Bedford Falls would have been if he had not been born.

Linda Broday:               This is a little old-fashioned, but I always have to watch The Homecoming at least once. It was the first Walton’s episode about Christmas on Walton’s Mountain during the Depression. No matter how many times I watch it, I always get a lump in my throat at how little they had, yet they were a happy family, taking joy in just being alive and together. This has suspense when the father can’t get home and they fear he’s been killed in a bus accident. Christmas wouldn’t be the same without watching this.

Lucy Gilmore:              My go-to holiday movie every year is While You Were Sleeping. Granted, it’s not the most Christmas-y of Christmas movies, but I love everything about it. Never, in my wildest dreams, would I picture Bill Pullman as a romantic lead, but he absolutely sells it in this movie. Plus, the dinner scene with the family is SO MUCH like my own that I start giggling just thinking about.

Rosanne Bittner:        My favorite Christmas movie would have to be the original “Scrooge,” A Christmas Carol. But I also absolutely love the original Miracle on 34th Street.

Samantha Chase:       Um…The Christmas Cottage (based on my book!) of course!

Terry Spear:                 A Christmas Story. I loved how he wrote his Christmas wish list at school and he didn’t get the “A” he expected for such a brilliant piece of work. “You’ll shoot your eye out” comes to mind whenever I think of what he wanted for Christmas.


What’s your favorite holiday/winter song?

Anna Schmidt:             “The Christmas Song” or “Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire”

Jennie Marts:              “O Come All Ye Faithful” and “Oh Holy Night” are probably my favorite Christmas carols. I love belting them out in church or when they come on the radio. When my second son was born, he had colic and I used to sing to him in the middle of the night, and I would often sing “O Come All Ye Faithful” because it was one of the few songs I knew all the words to.

June Faver:                   I have two favorite Christmas songs for totally different reasons. When I was in college I was a member of the Acapella Choir <alto> and one song we sang was so gorgeous with all the voices chiming in can still make me tear up: “Do You Hear What I Hear”

The other song is “I’ll Be Home for Christmas”. I think of all the people who are separated from loved ones at the holidays. That was why it was so important for me to write Cowboy Christmas Homecoming, to chronicle the return of a soldier to his home town and how he adjusts and settles in after the horrors of his deployment. It’s also a sequel in the Garrett family saga, so there are old friends to celebrate with him. And finally, it’s about an amazing heroine, based on a female firefighter friend of mine, who in effect, rescues the big strong and emotionally isolated hero. Love it.

Kim Redford:               “Pretty Paper” recorded by Roy Orbison and written by Willie Nelson. In downtown Fort Worth, Texas, a handicapped (pre artificial limbs) street peddler always had a smile on his face and a kind word on his lips when he sold pencils from a tin cup affixed to his back. At Christmas, he peddled paper and ribbons, calling out “pretty paper, pretty ribbons” to everyone who happened by. Willie Nelson lived in Fort Worth at the time and wrote this heartfelt song that is a lasting tribute.

Lucy Gilmore:              I love this question because my answer is always, always “Snoopy vs. the Red Baron.” I also hate this question because I can’t explain why I love it so much. I mean, it’s catchy and fun, but it’s also about a cartoon dog who takes down an enemy WWI pilot on Christmas Eve. What? I’ve decided there must be some deep childhood association with it that I can’t recall, but that leaves me with a happy feeling all the same.

Margaret Brownley: It’s not Christmas for me without seeing at least one production of The Nutcracker Suite. I love the music so much I wrote a story called The Nutcracker Bride.  I also wrote a story titled after another Christmas favorite: “Do You Hear What I Hear?”

One story I’ll never write isGrandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer.” This isn’t my favorite by any means, but it always makes me laugh. That’s because the first time I heard it, I had four grandchildren in the car, ages five to nine.  All at once they started singing it. It was the first time I’d heard the song and I honestly thought they’d made it up. I was shocked and that only added to the backseat giggles.

Samantha Chase:       “All I Want for Christmas is You” by Mariah Carey

Rosanne Bittner:        My favorite Christmas song is “White Christmas.”

Terry Spear:                 “Carol of the Bells” It’s like listening to angels’ music. It always makes me feel good.


What’s the best bookish holiday gift that’s not a book?

Kim Redford:               Throw a Holiday Book Exchange Party! You provide the comfy location in your home with tasty treats, delicious drinks, and cute little gifts like bookmarks. Your friends bring books they’ve read, loved, and want to exchange. What could be better for the holidays than reading books, talking books, and sharing books?

Linda Broday:               I love buying those collections of tea for all my author friends. Also, a variety of popcorn works nicely as well as warm booties or throws.

Lucy Gilmore:              My family excels at giving me bookish gifts that aren’t books, mostly because they know that books are my life and they can’t possibly keep track of everything I’ve read. My favorites are the alcohol-themed ones. I’ve gotten Writer’s Tears whiskey, Harlequin Romance wine, the Tequila Mockingbird cocktail book, and various literary wine stoppers. Books + booze = a win!

Samantha Chase:       Oh, there are so many, but something that I’ve seen that I love, are Christmas ornaments that are made from pages of a favorite book or even miniatures of a beloved book cover!

Terry Spear:                 A friend sent me a waterproof writing pad I could use when I have those miraculous scene ideas in the shower. lol


Do you have a go-to stocking stuffer?

Amy Sandas:                I always put gift cards to Barnes & Noble in my kids’ stockings. Then we go to the store together to pick out new books.

Rosanne Bittner:        This isn’t my favorite stocking-stuffer, but rather, it’s my GRANDSONS’ favorite stocking stuffer – MONEY! They are all in their teens, so no more toys and candy canes! They want that green stuff so they can buy gasoline. All 3 of them are now driving!

Terry Spear:                 Candy. Unfortunately, I don’t have a fireplace, the only thing I regretted about not having in the house I bought. I worried that Santa would be able to come when I don’t have one. I love decorating a mantle. It’s part of Christmas. Plus, they’re great if your electricity goes out in winter. But the advantage is that I can stuff all kinds of chocolate treats in stockings. No heat to melt them!


If you could travel anywhere this winter, where would you go?

Anna Schmidt:             Denmark…mostly because my next book is set there.

Jennie Marts:              My dream trip would be to go somewhere warm to a gorgeous beach and stay in one of those luxury bungalows out over the water and spend the days swimming, snorkeling, and reading.

June Faver:                   I’ve spent a lot of time at the Texas coast, so I am quite familiar with the term “Snow Birds.” These are people who live up north and become “Winter Texans.” Anyplace from Corpus Christi to South Padre Island, where there is a beautiful beach and gentle waves. I also love Mexican coastal areas. My freckles need sunshine and I need waves frizzling out over my bare feet as I walk along, looking for sand dollars.

Rosanne Bittner:        Hubby and I have been going to Nevada every winter for about 20 years now. We stay 2-3 months. We always stayed in our condo in Vegas, but we’ve sold that and this year we will go to Laughlin, NV, which is right on the beautiful Colorado River across from Arizona. My vacations are ALWAYS somewhere in America’s Great West. It’s what I love and almost the only thing I write about!

Terry Spear:                 Scotland. I love Scotland. I’ve traveled there in September and October, but I wouldn’t mind going there any time of the year. But I’d love to just stay there for a month and soak up the Scottish beauty and write.


What’s your go-to treat to take to the pot-luck holiday party?

Amy Sandas:                Sugared pecans! Such a simple snack but so, so yummy…especially when warm from the oven. We’re lucky if we make it to the party with half a batch left.

Anna Schmidt:             I make a dynamite chili, but if something less ‘entrée’ is called for, then how about a chocolate cheesecake???

Jennie Marts:              I like to take a crock-pot full of meatballs. The recipe is so easy: Mix an 18 oz jar of grape jelly with an 18 oz jar of BBQ sauce in the bottom of your crock pot (Sweet Baby Rays is my favorite). Then dump in a big bag of frozen meatballs and stir it up. Let cook on high for 2 or 3 hours and enjoy! So good and so easy!

Kim Redford:               Cowboy Cookies! Now these fun cookies are real, downhome Texas with a twist—that’s Texas whiskey. Quick and easy, too. Grab a Texas Tea Cake recipe (sugar cookie), throw all the ingredients into a bowl, mix well, add whiskey to taste, spoon the batter onto a cookie sheet, and bake just right. They’re sure to be a hit at any holiday party. If you want my personal recipe for Cowboy Cookies, it’s in my new release Cowboy Firefighter Christmas Kiss.

Margaret Brownley: I don’t know that you can call this a treat, but I always volunteer to bring the paper goods. Hey, someone has to do it, right?

Rosanne Bittner:        My “go-to” treat for holiday parties is my special home-made apple pie that I make from real peeled apples.

June Faver:                   There are usually plenty of desserts, so I take my broccoli casserole. Not the usual broccoli casserole where rice is the main ingredient. Blah! This is a recipe my kids loved and demanded growing up. Now they make it for people they love. Sharing recipe because we’re such close friends. Easy to double.

Broccoli Casserole

1 large bunch (4 cups) cooked, fresh broccoli spears, cut into 1 inch pieces
3 stalks celery, chopped
1 2-oz. jar sliced pimentos
1 4-oz. can sliced mushrooms
1 can cream of mushroom soup
8 ounce carton sour cream
8 ounces Cheddar cheese, grated

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a large bowl, mix mushroom soup and sour cream well. Add broccoli, celery and pimentos. Mix well. Turn into a 1-1/2 quart casserole, sprayed with cooking spray. Sprinkle with cheese and dot with butter. Bake for 25-30 minutes until heated through and cheese is bubbly. Serves 4.

What’s your go-to drink in the winter?

Amy Sandas:                I love egg nog with a bit of rum or homemade Irish cream, but I also made a batch of hot-buttered rum one year. Sooo rich!

Anna Schmidt:             Winter/spring/summer/fall = COFFEE

June Faver:                   I seem to always be watching my weight, but I cannot resist getting a carton of egg nog in the winter. It’s so rich and flavorful. I know it loves me as much as I love it. It’s like a hug in a cup.

Linda Broday:               Without a doubt, it’s hot apple cider. When I still at home, my dad would load us all up each October and we’d head for the mountains that was a day’s drive from where we lived. They’d be fruit stands set up all along the highway and we’d stop. Before the day was done, we’d have a carload of apples. My daddy would make the best apple cider and mom, her apple cake. The house would fill with the fragrance of apples and I’d lie in bed, taking deep breaths, feeling so loved. I did it with my kids and my heart returns to that treasured time when I smell apples.

Lucy Gilmore:              I have a weirdly specific answer to this: maple tea from the Metropolitan Tea Company. A friend brought a box back to me after a trip to Canada a few years ago, and I’ve been hooked ever since. It’s warm and a little bit sweet and makes even the darkest winter days seem cozy.

Rosanne Bittner:        My “go-to” drink in winter is Eggnog. I have to be careful not to drink too much of it because it’s so fattening, as are most holiday treats!

Terry Spear:                 Peppermint mocha, though I have to admit Starbucks now has it year-round, yay! So I get to feel like it’s Christmas any time I want to get one during the year.


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Renegade by Anna Schmidt – Spotlight and Giveaway

Long and Short Reviews welcomes Anna Schmidt who is celebrating tomorrow’s release of Renegade, the second book in her Cowboys & Harvey Girls series. Enter the Rafflecopter for a chance to win the first book in the series Trailblazer.

He’ll protect her reckless heart.
No matter the cost…

Lily Travis may be a Harvey Girl, but she’s a rebel—and a romantic—at heart. Too bad her impulsive nature led her to marry a man who promised a life of ease and prosperity, only to disappear the very next day. She’s kept her secret as best she can, and now she’s convinced she’ll never find true love…not even with the handsome local sheriff she can’t get off her mind.

Cody Daniels knows Lily isn’t the right woman for a by-the-book lawman with political ambitions. She’s brash, headstrong…and entirely too tempting. But when Lily’s past catches up with her and the villain she married threatens everything she holds dear, Cody is determined to defend her honor and show her the future they could have together—no matter the consequences.

Enjoy an Excerpt

February 1899

Lily Travis stood with the rest of the Harvey Girls, eyes brimming with happy tears at the sweet scene before them. Grace Rogers, former Harvey Girl, was repeating her vows with Nick Hopkins, the handsome ranch foreman they’d all met on the train from Kansas City just five months before. The lump in Lily’s throat was as much about her own sadness, however, as her happiness for Grace. A few years earlier, Lily had made a huge mistake— one that promised to prevent her from ever finding the true love Grace and Nick shared. She forced a smile when her friend Emma nudged her. This was Grace’s day, after all.

At the reception that followed, Lily helped pass slices of the wedding cake as Grace and Nick cut them. She nodded in agreement at guests bubbling with joy for the couple, until, cake in hand, she found herself face- to- face with Sheriff Cody Daniels. He was his usual serious self, a blessing considering Lily’s mood that day. On the rare occasions when he did smile, the man had dimples, and Lily was a sucker for a man with dimples. Emma and Grace used to tease her about that, and Lily couldn’t deny that the lawman was definitely good- looking. But he also played life by the rules— something Lily had trouble doing. Something that had been the source of her problems from the time she was sixteen. No, it was best to keep her distance from Cody Daniels.

Excerpted from Renegade by Anna Schmidt. © 2019 by Anna Schmidt. Used with permission of the publisher, Sourcebooks Casablanca, an imprint of Sourcebooks, Inc. All rights reserved.

About the Author: Award-winning author Anna Schmidt delights in creating stories where her characters must wrestle with the challenges of their times. Critics have consistently praised Schmidt for the reality of her characters—exposing their flaws as well as their strengths as she delivers strong tales of hope and love in the face of seemingly insurmountable obstacles. She resides in Wisconsin and Florida. Readers can visit her online.


Buy the book at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, iBooks, IndieBound, or BAM.

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Trailblazer by Anna Schmidt – Spotlight and Giveaway

Long and Short Reviews welcomes Anna Schmidt who is celebrating the recent release of Trailblazer. Enter the giveaway at the end of the post for a chance to win a copy of the book.

These real-life pioneering women were symbols of elegance in the wild frontier: taming rough manners, falling in love, and changing the face of the West forever.

Grace Rogers is ready for the adventure of a lifetime. With her family’s farm falling on hard times, she accepts a position with the prestigious Fred Harvey Company and heads for Juniper, New Mexico. There she meets a handsome cowboy who quickly turns her head. Too bad the Harvey Girls are forbidden to marry…

Nick Hopkins has a plan: buy a little land, marry, and raise a family—in that order. But after meeting Grace, he can’t keep away. Their only choice is to marry in secret…but Nick isn’t the only man entranced by Grace’s charms, and this unexpected rival doesn’t plan on taking no for an answer. He will have her, no matter the cost: to Grace, to Juniper, or to the happily ever after Grace and Nick fought so hard to make their own.

Enjoy an Excerpt

She glanced at him, saw his lips quirk in what might be a smile and then turn his attention to the window. His skin was tanned to a burnished gold except for a lighter stripe across his forehead. His head was probably usually protected—her father had the same line on his face for the same reason—though in the cowboy’s case, it would have been by that black hat on the seat next to him. His thick, chocolate-colored hair kept falling over his forehead even though he repeatedly brushed it back with his fingers. He needed a shave, but there was something appealing about the stubble of whiskers. He was tall; that much was evidenced by the fact that even when occupying a seat meant for two, he seemed to need more space. He had broad shoulders that stretched the limits of the dark-gray sack coat he wore. The tan cotton shirt underneath it was in need of a good ironing. His trousers were a dark brown and his boots black, with fancy tooling.

“Do I pass inspection?” he asked, jarring her back to reality—and the realization that she had been studying every inch of him.

Her cheeks grew warm and red. “I…”

He waved away any excuse she might offer. “Look, Miss…” He waited.

“Rogers,” she said, her voice cracking. “Grace Rogers.” She saw no harm in giving him her name, and she didn’t want to be rude.

“Pleased to make your acquaintance, Miss Rogers.” He hesitated, then added, “Like Ollie said, I’m Nick Hopkins. I wonder if you would do me the honor of joining me for supper?”

The offer was more tempting than it should have been. She had looked forward to dining in a real Harvey eatery, but even though her first-class ticket included meals, having dinner with this stranger—even paying her own way—simply would not do. “I have food with me. Apples and cheese and some bread.” She nodded reluctantly toward the carpetbag and the sack of food inside it that Miss Culver had given her at the station.

“But did you ever eat in a Harvey House, Miss Rogers?” he asked.

“Yes. In Kansas City.” She took pleasure in his surprise. He probably saw her as some country bumpkin. She straightened her back and shoulders and met his gaze directly for the first time. “You see, I work for the organization.” She flashed the practiced smile she’d developed in training.

His return smile took her breath away. How could any man be this good-looking? She felt her cheeks begin to turn pink, but she shook off the attraction. She had no time for flirting. She was on her way to a job, a new life that would hopefully provide adventure for her and much-needed financial assistance for her family.

Still, she couldn’t help but cast him a quick look from beneath her lashes.

“Well now,” he drawled. “In that case, it seems to me it would be to your advantage to try as many of Mr. Harvey’s establishments as possible. You could look at things from the customer’s view and see how the one we’ll be stopping at soon is different from the one where you’ll be working.”

“Oh, there are no differences, Mr. Hopkins,” she replied, parroting the information she’d absorbed during her training. “At least not when it comes to service and quality of food. Our organization adheres to the same standards no matter where we are. It’s the Harvey way.” As the train pulled into the station, Grace pressed her hands over her skirt. “Enjoy your meal, Mr. Hopkins,” she said brightly.

Nick Hopkins grinned and stood. He reached past her and took her carpetbag from her, lifting it into the overhead rack, then stepped back to allow her to go ahead of him. “If you change your mind, Miss Rogers…”

A dozen different thoughts flashed through Grace’s mind. She reminded herself that going with this man might be construed as breaking the strict rules for conduct set forth in her training. She reminded herself of her mother’s warning not to talk to strangers. She reminded herself that she had no time for exploring a possible friendship with a man—or more.

She was a Harvey Girl now and, as such, represented the high standards of the company. “I won’t,” she said, “but thank you for your kind offer, sir.” With that, she made her way to the exit.

The establishment was a far cry from the place her train to Kansas City had stopped. Greeters met passengers at the entrance and discreetly directed them to the appropriate washroom. By the time Grace returned to the dining room, Mr. Hopkins was already seated at a table near the door. He looked up, arching an eyebrow and nodding toward the empty place across from him in question.

She hesitated. The truth was, now that she was actually standing in the dining room filled with people, it struck her that she was alone and knew no one—other than Mr. Hopkins. Where would be the harm in sitting opposite possibly the most handsome man she’d ever seen, a man who also appeared to be quite intelligent, and genuinely concerned for her welfare? After all, the conductor had vouched for him.

On the other hand, given how strict Mr. Harvey’s standards were for his employees, how did she know someone wouldn’t be watching and report her? Maybe Mr. Hopkins worked for Mr. Harvey and was supposed to be testing her.

She straightened to her full height—just over five feet—scanned the room quickly, and made her way to a vacant chair at a table occupied by two other women. Seating herself, Grace smiled up at the waitress in her pristine uniform: a black dress covered by a crisp white pinafore apron, black shoes polished to a sheen, and black hose, all topped off with a perky white bow in her upswept hair. “Milk, please,” she said and watched as the waitress set her coffee cup next to its saucer, its position a simple cue to the girl who served the beverages.

As soon as the waitress walked away, the drink girl arrived, glanced quickly at the way the cups had been set, and poured coffee for Grace’s tablemates, leaving a full pot on the table in case they wanted refills. Moments later, she delivered a tall glass of milk to Grace, presenting the beverage on a small silver tray. A girl could be fired for simply carrying a glass or plate to a customer. Serving on a tray was the Harvey way.

This is my future, Grace thought, not some cowboy who is far too handsome for his own good.

About the Author: Award-winning author ANNA SCHMIDT delights in creating stories where her characters must wrestle with the challenges of their times. Critics have consistently praised Schmidt for the reality of her characters—exposing their flaws as well as their strengths as she delivers strong tales of hope and love in the face of seemingly insurmountable obstacles. She resides in Wisconsin and Florida.

Buy the book at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, iBooks, or Indiebound.

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Last Chance Cowboys: The Rancher by Anna Schmidt – Spotlight and Giveaway

Long and Short Reviews welcomes Anna Schmidt who is celebrating the recent release of her latest book Last Chance Cowboys: The Rancher, the fourth book in her Where the Trail Ends series. Enter the Rafflecopter at the end of the post for a chance to win a copy of the book.

“You can’t be sure we’re doing the right thing,” she said.

He drew closer to the barbed wire separating them. “It’s impossible to know what’s right. But it doesn’t stop me from wanting you.”

The world is changing, and the West isn’t as wild as it used to be. Trey Porterfield welcomes a new era of law and order—and the influx of settlers coming to the Arizona territory. But not everyone is willing to see the old ways change, and as the cattlemen and the herders take sides, a full-blown range war may be inevitable. There’s only one way Trey can see to bring peace to his feuding neighbors.

Marry the enemy.

Nell Stokes is a young widow fighting just to stay alive. In Trey, she sees a chance to heal old wounds and start over. Love was never in the cards, yet as Trey and Nell fight to unite the feuding land, they’ll discover a passion neither could have expected…and a danger far greater than either has ever known.

Enjoy an Excerpt

When Trey reached home it was after dark and he rode straight to the bunkhouse. Javier sat on the banco outside the door, his arms folded across his chest, his legs outstretched and his hat covering his face.


Trey reined in his horse and dismounted. By the time he had covered the distance between the horse and his friend, Javier was standing, watching closely as he clearly tried to judge Trey’s mood.

¿Qué más, jefe?

Trey grabbed his friend by his shirtfront and backed him up to the wall of the bunkhouse. Never before had he laid his hands on Javier in anger, but this time the man had crossed a line that friendship couldn’t forgive. “You tell me.” He stared at Javier, who met his gaze briefly, then glanced away.

“Not sure what you’re….”

Trey shook him. “The Stokes place last night—and the night before. You have anything to do with that?”

He had his answer before he finished the question. Javier scowled up at him, meeting his eyes directly. “You gotta choose a side, Trey.”

Trey felt an anger unlike any he had ever experienced in his life. It was born of frustration and exasperation, and fear. The fear that after the decades that his parents, his sister Maria and her husband had managed the ranch successfully, despite all kinds of human and natural disasters, he might be the one who failed. He gave Javier one more shove and then released him.

“Why do there have to be sides? Why can’t we all just live here and work the land and….”

While Trey might be quick to anger and quicker to let things go, Javier had no trouble showing his rage. He stepped closer to Trey and, with no pretense of modulating his voice, shouted, “You know why, Trey, and stop pretending you don’t. Them damned woolies chew the grass down to the nub, all the while their sharp hooves finish the job by digging up whatever’s left by the roots. This used to be open range—cattle range—and now we’re supposed to share it? You got any idea how far we’ve had to drive the herd to find decent pasture for the summer? That’s because of them.”

“And that makes it all right to terrorize a widow and her sick son for two nights running?” Trey roared in return.

Javier studied him hard for a long moment. They were both flushed, their fists clenched, their bodies poised for a fight. Javier was the first to step away. He stared down at the ground waiting for his breathing to calm, then looked up at Trey. “You falling for that sheepherder’s woman, my friend?” His tone was sympathetic.

Trey pulled off his hat and ran his fingers through his sweat-slicked hair. “She’s an innocent in this fight, and I just don’t want to see anybody else get hurt, Javier. There’s got to be a way we can work this out. They aren’t going away—and neither are we.”

“We were here first,” Javier said, his voice petulant.

Trey allowed himself a wry smile. “Technically the Indians were here first and look what we did to them. After that it was the Spaniards—your ancestors. And they raised sheep, my friend, long before cattlemen showed up.”

The two of them leaned on the corral fence and gazed out into the black night for a long moment. “This isn’t just about sheep versus cattle, Javier. The truth is things are changing—everything about the life our parents knew is different. Every year another new town springs up or spreads out. We either learn to live with that or we spend the rest of our time on this earth fighting against progress that’ll surely beat us in the end.”

“So what’s your plan?” Javier asked.

Trey shrugged. “Don’t have one—just the notion we need to make this more about how we’re gonna live in peace and less about needin’ to be right.”

“Let me ask you something, Trey. If that woman and her boy weren’t part of this, would that change the way you look at it?”

“I hope not—but yeah, maybe.”

Javier pushed away from the split rail fence. “Got to give you one thing—she’s awfully pretty, and from what I saw of her at the church social, she’s not afraid to stand her ground. She’s got conviction. You need somebody like that, Trey. Too bad she’s on the wrong side of things.”

Trey bristled. “Need someone like her? Is that how you see me? As a man who needs somebody to speak for him because I’m too weak to do it myself?”

“You’re strong in ways I’ll never be able to understand, Trey. But you’ve got this way of thinking that everybody’s as good as you are. Few are. Most folks are a blend of good and bad. Nell Stokes appears to know that.”

“I know that.”

Javier shook his head. “Trouble is you have this idea you can change those other folks to come around to your way of seeing things.”

“It’s called hope,” Trey argued.

“It’s called impossible.” Javier glanced back at a couple of the other cowboys coming out of the bunkhouse, stretching and yawning. “We got the night shift,” he said, as he pulled on his hat.

Trey turned to the other hands. “You boys head on out. I need Javier here to help me.”

“With what?” Javier’s eyebrows lifted with suspicion.

“Come morning we’re gonna pay a call on Henry Galway and see if we can work something out—a council or something to start decidin’ what’s fair. And then you are going to apologize to Mrs. Stokes for scaring the bejesus out of her and her son. But before we do any of that we’re gonna head for the Stokes place and see if we can repair any of the damage done there before she and her boy get home. Get some rest, Javier—we leave at daybreak.”

About the Author: Award-winning author ANNA SCHMIDT delights in creating stories where her characters must wrestle with the challenges of their times. Critics have consistently praised Schmidt for her ability to seamlessly integrate actual events with her fictional characters to produce strong tales of hope and love in the face of seemingly insurmountable obstacles. She resides in Wisconsin.

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Buy the book at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, iBooks, Kobo, or IndieBound.

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