One of our favorite historical authors is Beth Williamson aka Emma Lang. Under the name Emma Lang she writes the Circle Eight series which I have to say is one of the best American West historical series I’ve read. We are super excited to have her on today sharing a bit about herself, her writing and her latest hero Caleb.
TBRG: Who has been the biggest influence on your writing?
EL: There are so many I could say have influenced me. First, I think it was Shakespeare. I studied many of his plays, both comedy and tragedy, and he taught me of love and romance. Then I read, read, read my entire childhood, so many books I couldn’t even possibly list them all. As far as what authors influenced me, Stephen King is an amazing storyteller. He crafted adventures (my favorite is The Stand) mixed with drama and the supernatural. I don’t write in his genre, but he definitely is on my top list. Then of course, I found romances and all bets were off! LOL
TBRG: What is the one thing your readers would be the most surprised to know about you?
EL: Most people are surprised to hear that I work a full-time job. I’m a senior level manager with 45 people who work for me. Bazang! Believe it or not. J
TBRG: Where is the one place you have always wanted to go, a place on your bucket list?
EL: Australia and New Zealand. Gorgeous land, lovely people, expensive air fares. Definitely want to get there some day!
TBRG: What was the first romance book that you read?
EL: I’ve no idea the title but it was a Harlequin historical romance in the late 1970s. OMG, I was blown away. HOOKED!
TBRG: Who are some of your go to authors, and what are you reading right now?
EL: I have so many! I adore Meljean Brooks, Elizabeth Hoyt, Kaki Warner, Lisa Kleypas and a whole host of others. Too many to choose! I am currently reading Loving the Marquess by Suzanna Medieros.
TBRG: If you weren’t writing and keeping us in books (thanks for that by the way), what would you be doing?
EL: *blank stare* I don’t know. Reading maybe!
TBRG: What is your guilty pleasure?
EL: Watching Firefly or Castle. I am a Nathan Fillion fan girl. Have every episode of each show. *big grin*
TBRG: Who is on your playlist when you are writing?
EL: Depends on what I’m writing. I’ll listen to country music if I am writing something romantic. I’ll listen to AC/DC when writing sex scenes. Hoot! Or if I’m writing an action scene, definitely rock music.
TBRG: Where do your ideas/characters come from?
EL: Everywhere. I see something and it inspires me. I particularly love old houses or historical sites. It gets me thinking, who built this and what were they like? Were they married or single? And so on. No matter what I see, my imagination engine hums happily when I’m conscious.
TBRG: Are you a planner or a fly by the seat author?
EL: Both. But I lean more toward the fly by the seat of my pants for much of the books I write. If I’m under contract, the book has a synopsis only. Otherwise, it’s game on between me and my keyboard.
TBRG: How did you come up with the Circle Eight Series?
EL: I love to write series, particularly those centered around families. I wanted to start a new series since Devils on Horseback was nearly almost finished. I chose the Republic of Texas timeframe because I hadn’t written anything in that era before. I love history and learning all I can. I chose eight siblings because if you turn the number on its side, it’s an infinity symbol. Neverending family support and love.
TBRG: Tell us about the series?
EL: The series is about the Graham siblings, eight of them, whose parents are killed at the very beginning of Book 1, Matthew. The books follow each of the siblings in turn as they find their path and their mate in life. Lots of adventure, violence, love, sex, blood and most of all, family.
TBRG: Tell us about Caleb and Aurora.
EL: Ah, Caleb and Aurora. He is a Texas Ranger sent to evict a squatter off the government’s land. She’s the blacksmith who is positive she owns that land. When they meet, battle of the titans, y’all.
TBRG: What do you want us to know about Caleb and Aurora?
EL: Their story has less heat than other books, but it’s an intense, non-stop adventure, full of emotions.
TBRG: Using 3-5 adjectives describe Caleb and Aurora.
EL: Caleb – arrogant, honorable, stubborn. Aurora – strong, stubborn, courageous
TBRG: What are you working on now?
EL: I’m working on something completely different – a space opera, as in cowboys in space. It’s tentatively titled Six Shooter, and I’m having an absolute ball with it! Lady captain, mysterious pilot, smugglers, slavers and a cast of memorable characters.
TBRG: We want to thank Emma for coming on today and sharing a bit about herself and this amazing series. As a special treat we have an excerpt of Caleb AND we’re giving away a copy of Caleb to one commenter simply tell us what you love most cowboys.
Caleb jumped to his feet the moment the first tree branch broke. He expected her to jump on him while he slept. What he didn’t expect was her to come slamming down out of the tree, screaming like a banshee and bleeding like a stuck pig.
“Son of a bitch!” She rolled to her side. “Goddamn fucking tree!”
Caleb was momentarily nonplussed by the cussing. Then he found his common sense. She had fallen a good twenty feet or more and needed help. He crouched beside her and waited until she stopped to take a breath. She even threw out a few curses he’d never heard.
“I fell out of the tree, you jackass.” She pressed her hand to her side. Fresh blood oozed through her fingers.
“I realize that, Rory. What happened to your side? Was it a weapon?” He didn’t want to touch her until she was aware of what was going on. Right now she was still ranting and caught up in the shock of falling.
“Damn branch gouged me. I think I left a few important parts up there too.” She finally looked at him, her face a mask of pain. “I’m hurt really bad.”
“I can see that. Will you trust me to help you?” He held up his hands. “I promise not to hurt you on purpose.”
“This is your chance to bring me in belly down, Ranger.” Her voice was rough but her meaning clear.
“I won’t bring anyone in like that. You have my word on my mother’s grave.” His mind flashed to the idyllic spot beneath the big trees in the yard at the Circle Eight, where both his parents rested side by side. She must have seen something in his face because she nodded.
“It hurts. It hurts worse than anything I’ve ever done, even burning myself on the forge.” She loosened her hands and blood flowed steadily from her side.
He got to his knees and took a closer look at the wound. It was a jagged hole at least an inch in diameter with bark and dirt caught in the gore. She had to be in agony.
“I need to rip your shirt to get to it.” He needed to warn her.
“Rip it to shreds, just help me.”
He tore the shirt open until he could see more clearly. The blood wasn’t gushing but it was definitely still coming out in a steady stream. He pulled off his shirt and pressed it to the wound. She groaned and bit her lip.
“We need a doctor. That wound has to be cleaned and stitched. And we need to check for other damage inside.” He squeezed her hand. “Is there a doctor in town?”
She shook her head. “No. The only doc within fifty miles lives at the Garza hacienda. It’s about ten miles north of here.” She winced and sucked in a shaky breath. “You don’t have a shirt on.” Her gaze traveled his chest and it made him want to go find a new shirt. It was the pain making her act that way, nothing more. There wasn’t a possibility there should be anything between them. They were on opposite sides of the law and that was the end of it.
“Do you think you can ride ten miles?” He didn’t want to move her, but if he left her here, she might die before he could return. The possibility was real enough to make his blood run cold. Her antics in the smithy and the tree weren’t supposed to result in a life-threatening injury. Fate was a fickle bitch.
“I’ll do whatever I have to.” She waved a bloody hand in the general direction of the smithy. “First make sure the fire is low enough not to flare up and open the windows to air it out.”
He frowned at her. “You want me to take care of your business before I save your life?”
“That building is my life.” A few drops of blood stood out on her cheek like macabre freckles.
“Fine, but I won’t be as careful as you. We’re getting on Justice and riding for the Garza place.” He put her hand on the shirt. “Hold the pressure here while I do your bidding.”
She snorted. “I don’t think you’ve ever done anyone’s bidding.”
Caleb wasn’t about to tell her she was right. Damn woman already knew she was. He hesitated for only a few seconds before he sprinted for the smithy. The fire was still burning but it was low. He doused it with a bucket of water, knowing she would have to clean out most of the ashes to start it up again. That would slow her down for a while.
After he pushed open the windows again, he propped them open with the wooden planks she’d used. Ingenious really. With the hinges on the flap, she could open and close them easily. Even without glass, the windows were efficient. He left the building and ran back to her.
Her eyes were closed and he thought perhaps she’d passed out. However, as soon as he knelt beside her, her eyes flew open. They were glassy with pain and were an even more remarkable shade of amber up close. Flecks of a darker shade swirled in the depths.
“Did you check the fire?”
“Shut up about the fire, Rory. I’m going to pick you up and it’s going to hurt like hell.” He slid his arms beneath her knees and neck. “Are you ready?”
“No but that doesn’t matter. You sure you can pick me up? I ain’t a lightweight.” She appeared to be serious.
“You are a ridiculous female. Shut up about everything now.” He scooped her up fast so she didn’t have time to spout anymore nonsense.
She groaned and made a funny little sound like a kitten yawning. He got to his feet with the now unconscious woman in his arms. He had to get her to the Garza hacienda but he had no idea how to get there, only that it was ten miles north.
Shirtless, he walked over to Justice with the unconscious, bleeding woman in his arms. It wasn’t the first wound he’d seen but it bothered the hell out of him. Perhaps because she was a woman.
He didn’t have time to be soft. The woman truly needed a doctor and he had to move. Justice was well trained, standing by patiently, no matter the coppery smell of blood. Although he didn’t want to do it, he had to set her belly down on the horse. He vaulted into the saddle and then picked her up, rolling her over until she lay across his lap.
Her head lolled as he started off. He could only head north and hope to find the hacienda with the doctor. If he didn’t, he’d have a dead woman in his arms within twelve hours. The blood hadn’t soaked through the shirt but she was pale as hell. That might have been caused by the fall or the loss of blood. He didn’t know which and it frustrated the hell out of him.
There was a trail of sorts through the tall grass. It appeared wagons rolled through pretty regular. He followed the well-worn path at a trot. He really wanted to gallop but was afraid the jarring of the horse might cause more damage than the additional time to get where he was going. She was pretty torn up from the branch and more injuries were the last thing she needed.
“You need to wake up Rory. I don’t know where the hell I’m going.” He jiggled her a little and her hat fell off but she didn’t respond. No doubt when she woke up she’d be annoyed he lost the ugly thing. He wasn’t about to stop for it.
Without the leather cap, her appearance softened. She looked more like a female, with soft brown hair the color of a fawn’s pelt. Too bad it was cut short. Women should have long hair. It looked nicer. He would be sure to keep that opinion to himself or she might throw one of her hammers at him.
“You finished ogling me?” Her words were slurred but she was awake.
“Nope. It’s the first time you haven’t been talking at me. Good Lord, woman, but you could talk the bark off a tree.” He looked down into her eyes. “I hope I’m going the right direction but you passed out before you could give me details on how to find the Garza ranch.”
She tried to sit up and gasped. “Shit.”
“That’s another thing. You sure as hell cuss a lot for a female.”
“Oh why don’t you shut up, Ranger. Hell, man, I can’t imagine the outlaws you chase are on their Sunday best behavior.”
She had a point yet he didn’t concede it. If she was mad, she wouldn’t pass out again.
“I found a trail back yonder, maybe fifty yards from that big tree in your yard. I’ve been following it and hope like hell it’s the right direction.” He didn’t see anything that told him there was a big hacienda nearby.
“It’s the right way. Stay on the trail until you hit the creek, then follow it north about a mile. There’s a bridge across that leads into the ranch. There will be men at the bridge with guns. Don’t shoot them. Mr. Garza protects his property.” Her face relaxed and she snuggled into his chest. “You have nice skin.”
“Jesus.” He regretted not putting on another shirt. The woman was out of her mind with pain and that made her spout nonsense. “I won’t shoot anybody unless they shoot at me.”
“That’s a good policy.” She put one blood-crusted hand on his arm. “Can I call you Caleb? It’s such a nice name.”
He choked on his own spit. “You are really going to regret everything you just said. Probably want to throw yourself in the forge to purge it from your memory.”
She giggled, startling him. “Your lashes are ridiculously long, did you know that? Do you feel a breeze when you blink?”
He shifted her in his arms, wondering if it were possible another woman had taken her place in the tree. Where was the tough Aurora Foster who had kicked his ass a few hours ago? The silly girl who had taken her place put him completely off balance. He knew what to do with a stubborn woman, but a flirty one? He had no clue.
“Don’t make me tell you to shut up again. Stop talking now. You need to save your strength.”
She stuck out her tongue. He shook his head and kept quiet. The blood loss or the knock on the head from falling out of the tree made her foolish. Either way, she would regret what she said if she remembered it. He regretted it already and it wasn’t coming out of his mouth.
The easy assignment to push off a squatter had turned into a strange battle with an unusual woman and now a life-threatening situation. A ranger was prepared for anything, but this went beyond any of that. For God’s sake, she was flirting with him. He had no idea how to respond to it. She was the least feminine woman he’d ever met.
Caleb Graham has spent the last four years in too many dangerous situations to count. As a Texas Ranger, he knows no fear, or at least he never shows it. When he’s sent to force a blacksmith off government seized property, he runs face to face into the woman who will change his life.
Aurora Foster grew up on the very land the obnoxious Ranger is trying to throw her off of. Her parents and her husband died for it and there is no chance she would leave without a fight. A lady blacksmith might be an anomaly but she has the strength of the steel she forges and the courage to fight for what she believes is right.
When Aurora is inadvertently injured by Caleb, he seeks medical help from a neighboring ranch. The sprawling hacienda is full of the finer things in life and the one person Caleb never expected to see again… his youngest brother Benjamin. Forced to flee from a man who has kept the boy captive, the trio become traveling companions in a deadly game where no one wins.
Life turns upside down and sideways for Caleb and Aurora, caught in a game neither of them expected while they desperately try to save the boy who was lost to his family. Pursued and hunted, the three of them ride for the Circle Eight ranch. The unlikely pair of rescuers fight their attraction and for their lives.