January 16, 2014
By Laura Drake
I grew up outside Detroit. The only time I slept in a tent was at summer camp, and I remember my dad cooking outdoors exactly once.
So how did a city girl end up addicted to bull riding?
I married a Texan. I didn’t realize what that meant when I met Alpha Dog. It meant when his dad said we had a mixed marriage because I was a Yankee, he was only half kidding (luckily, he liked me in spite of my flaws.)
The annual pilgrimage to Texas for the Holidays included legacy tickets to my very first Rodeo. I was hooked from the opening, when a pretty girl on a flashy horse galloped around the arena carrying a huge American flag as we sang the National Anthem. The events were a revelation; what the heck is mutton-busting? If you don’t know, watch this YouTube video – it’s pure cuteness!
But it was the cowboys that hooked me. I loved every ma’am and sir, their old-fashioned manners and their old-school values.
Okay, so I admit, the wrangler clad butts in chaps had something to do with it.
My favorite event was the bull riding. All ‘rough stock’ riders are tough, but horses don’t try to run you down at the end of the ride to dance on your dangly parts.
Then I discovered that bull riding was on TV every week! I rooted for my favorite riders and cheered on my favorite bulls. I think things got out of control when I started following the bulls on Twitter. I even joined the PBR fan club, for cripes sake, and the last fan club I joined had a mouse at the helm!
They say write what you know. So I did. I wrote three romances set in the world of professional bull riding. They became my Sweet on a Cowboy series.
The amazing thing about getting involved with this sport in its infancy is that I had access to the riders, bull contractors and the people behind the scenes. Everyone I’ve met has been polite, open and interested. They’ve answered hundreds of my questions, helping a city girl get it right.
In case you’ve never watched bull riding, here is a great video featuring Chris Shivers, one of the greatest riders of all time, getting it done. To me, it’s a like a perilous ballet; two partners dancing together in the best disguise possible. I used Chris as a model for my hero, Cam Cahill, in the last book in the series, Sweet on You.
To celebrate the release of Nothing Sweeter, the second in my Sweet on a Cowboy series (January 28th) I’m giving away free copies of the book to two commenters (sorry – U.S. Residents only.)
But wait – that’s not all!
I’m blog touring with the incredible Christie Craig for her release of Texas Hold ‘Em. We’ll be over at her blog on January 28th. Stop by – you could win this Western purse! Just go to: http://christie-craig.com/blog/
“The second entry in Drake’s Sweet on a Cowboy series (after The Sweet Spot) is another character-driven contemporary western with more heart than heat. Rancher Max Jameson, stunned by the unexpected death of his father, is determined to keep the family spread in Steamboat Springs, Colo., despite pressure to sell to a greedy neighbor. His brother, Wyatt, tries to help out, though the sibling relationship is strained due to Max’s discomfort with the fact that Wyatt is gay.
Bree Tanner is scarred physically and mentally after being wrongfully convicted of and imprisoned for her ex-boss’s shady financial dealings; now exonerated and free, she decides to start over by helping to raise rodeo bulls on the Jameson ranch.
Max’s tough exterior masks relatable fear, his relationship with Wyatt is handled gracefully, and Bree’s genuine shame about her past makes her sympathetic. While Max and Bree’s romantic relationship is secondary to their internal and interpersonal struggles, complex characters and some fun full-riding scenes balance out the seriousness.”