Researching Romance on a Ranch: Laura Moore Turns Cowgirl
I’m so pleased to be here with you to celebrate the release of Once Tempted, the first book in my new Silver Creek series! Thanks to the wonderful art department at Ballantine, Once Tempted has a cover you could stare at for hours on end. It shows my hero, Ward Knowles, a modern day cowboy-businessman. Ward isn’t just tall, dark, and handsome. He can sit a cutting horse as easily as he can put together a business plan for Silver Creek Ranch.
Silver Creek Ranch is the three thousand-acre guest ranch owned by Ward’s family. My hunky cowboy loves every acre and animal on it. Silver Creek is not just his legacy; it’s his life. He’s immensely proud of each aspect of the guest ranch and is determined to make it a success. But for all his good looks, talent, and drive, Ward guards a deep hurt. Rejected by his fiancée, he’s grown cynical about letting anyone too close.
It will take a very special woman to unlock Ward’s heart.
Tess Casari is from Queens, New York, and is a city girl through and through. By a twist of fate she arrives at Silver Creek Ranch looking for employment and is hired by Ward’s mother to be her assistant. For Tess, the sprawling ranch, where cattle, sheep, and horses graze, is a real culture shock. She’s used to the busy metropolis, not a place where the animals outnumber the humans. And coming from a family where it was impossible to own a pet, she’s reached adulthood without having ever patted a dog, let alone a horse. And a cow? Forget about it!
Tess has no desire to set foot near any of the animals that roam the place. She also has no interest in a certain dark-haired cowboy, either.
As you can doubtless guess, Silver Creek Ranch and its four-legged inhabitants play an important role in Once Tempted. And because the ranch will feature in the other books in the series, I wanted to get its details just right.
Which brings me to the most excellent research trip I got to take last summer!
Although Silver Creek Ranch and the California town of Acacia where the ranch is set are both products of my imagination, I wanted to make them ring true for my readers—you all can be very picky! Luckily, one of the things I most enjoy about writing—other than dreaming up wonderful heroes and the heroines they’ll lose their hearts to—is doing the research for my stories.
And this new series definitely demanded some in-depth research. Last summer, I took a trip to California to soak up the atmosphere of a working ranch. During my stay I spent hours on horseback, following miles of trails that hugged the mountains and circled lakes. On my rides I was sometimes lucky enough to spot a shy bobcat or a herd of deer resting in the copse of fir trees. I also got to see a massive bald eagle’s nest constructed in the upper branches of a tree. Then there were long stretches where the landscape was simply mountains, trees, and sky—without a single building in sight. Back in my cabin, I wrote notes and sketched scenes in my mind that would illustrate Ward and Tess’s characters as well as the magnificent location I’d found for them.
My research trip ended all too soon. When I returned home, I relied on pictures of all the things I wanted to include in the story to jog my memory. I’ve included some of them to share with you.
Of course, nothing is as wonderful as experiencing these things in person, as my heroine, Tess Casari, soon discovers. I hope you’ll enjoy reading about Tess and Ward as they find love at Silver Creek Ranch and that they come alive for you in your imagination.
This blog made me curious about your favorite settings in romances. What ones do you find particularly appealing and evocative? Please feel free to share!
Thanks so much for joining me and I hope you enjoy the photographs…and, of course, Once Tempted!
Once Tempted will be available in stores on March 26, 2013. You can preorder the book at any one of these retailers. Laura Moore lives in Rhode Island with her husband, two children, and their Labrador retriever.