I was thrilled when author CJ Carmichael invited me to write a book for the Love at the Chocolate Shop series. This is my first Montana Born story and I can honestly tell you that it was so easy to fall in love with Marietta, Montana and all its inhabitants.
When I brainstorm new books, I focus on one single character first—I call him or her my anchor character. Once I know who the anchor character is, the other characters easily fall into place as well as the setting and the plot. In the case of Sweet Home Cowboy I already knew the setting was the charming town of Marietta, Montana, so I only needed to focus on characters and plot.
You might assume the anchor character in this story was the heroine Elena Puente, a first-grade teacher from Las Vegas, Nevada, or local Marietta cowboy Wesley Banks. Not so. This time a secondary character tugged at my heartstrings. Years ago Keith Urban came out with a song called “But for the Grace of God”. The verse below has stayed with me for years and I knew one day the right book would come along where I could tell this man’s story.
I can see that old man
He’s walking past our door
And I’ve been told that he’s rich
But he seems so poor
‘Cause no one comes to call on him
And his phone it never rings
He wanders through his empty home
Surrounded by his things
In Sweet Home Cowboy the man Keith Urban sings about is my anchor character Judge Alistair Kingsley—the estranged great-grandfather of my heroine Elena Puente and the employer of my hero, Wesley Banks. Judge Kingsley is the lynch pin that holds this story together and allowed me to explore one of my favorite themes…the meaning of home. Home is more than a place. Home is forgiveness, acceptance and unconditional love. Home is your shelter and your path forward.
I’ve always been most comfortable writing about imperfect people who struggle through life—people who accept the life they’ve been given but always strive for better. Imperfect characters, dysfunctional families and small-town settings are the heart of my stories and Marietta, Montana is the perfect backdrop for Sweet Home Cowboy—a story that reminds us of how resilient the human spirit is and that everyone deserves their very own happy ever after—even cranky old men like Judge Alistair Kingsley.
What’s your definition of Home?
Marin Thomas is an award-winning author of over 35 western romances for Harlequin books and she also writes women’s fiction for Berkley. She loves small-town stories with quirky characters that revolve around the importance of family and is thrilled that her Tule debut will release in the Montana Born line and Chocolate Shop Books series.