A fresh start—for both of them
As a kid from a shattered family, Kathy Harris couldn't wait to get out of Harmony Valley. Yet here she is, back home, determined to rebuild her life and regain her young son's trust. But she doesn't expect to work miracles—unlike Dylan O'Brien, the enigmatic cowboy rumored to be a healer of misfit horses.
As they work to save an injured colt, Kathy starts to believe in a future with Dylan that she never thought possible. But one of Kathy's new rules is no more secrets...and Dylan has a big one. One that could destroy the life he and Kathy are building together.
Heat level: As with all Harlequin Heartwarming books, this story is sweet (has no overt sensuality, rated PG).
Time for Love
When Kathy Harris was a teenager, she’d dreamed of being a fashion designer, a professional basketball player and an airline pilot—anything to get out of her small hometown.
So much for dreams.
She shoveled another pile of manure into the wheelbarrow.
She was back in Harmony Valley, the smallest of small towns in the remotest of remote corners of Sonoma County, California.
She made a clucking noise with her tongue and gave Sugar Lips a gentle shove in her chestnut haunches. The former racehorse turned brood mare nickered softly, and ambled to the other corner of the paddock. Kathy scooped her manure-filled shovel again, beginning to feel warm in her jacket despite the brisk breeze that had the last reddish-gold leaves of fall swirling around her feet.
“You must be Kathy.” An unfamiliar, masculine voice.
Kathy looked toward the veterinary clinic where she worked, trying to identify the source, but the afternoon sun was in her eyes and all she could see was a silhouette of a man—tall, broad-shouldered, a baseball cap on his head.
“I’m Dylan.” His voice was smooth as molasses, sweet as honey to a fly. It drew her closer. “I’m here to help with the horses."
The Story Behind the Story
Like everyone, I have friends who are recovering from addiction. These braves souls deal with internal demons/doubts and stigma. This was the inspiration for Kathy (first introduced in Summer Kisses). Kathy is a bit of a smart-ass, but inside, she’s a softie. I wanted to test the strength of love with a hero who was a child of an alcoholic. Enter Dylan.
I live in the central valley of California. We’re surrounded by farmland and horse people. And…other wildlife. I came to the gym one day and heard a woman talk about a mountain lion attacking her father’s horses. She said one horse needed to be put down because he went crazy anytime anyone touched him. What that horse needed was a horse whisperer! I’d recently seen a documentary on Buck Brannaman, a well-known horse whisperer. There was one horse he couldn’t save that just tore at my heartstrings. I knew that I wanted saving a horse (or two) to be part of the storyline.
I don’t want readers to be scared away from this story because of the themes. Although Kathy and Dylan have pasts that involve alcohol and alcoholics, it’s not “an issue book”. It’s told the same way I tell all my stories, with humor and heart.