Thursday, March 22, 2012

Lost in Lone Creek - Mary Manners

Welcome, Mary! And may I say, WOW, before we go any further! I love cowboy stories and you certainly bring out the best in 'em! I can't  wait to read more of the Lone Creek Ranch series! I realize Lullaby in Lone Creek is releasing today and I wish you many blessings with it, but since I missed this one, I think others may have also.

So I'll be hosting Lullabye in Lone Creek on Monday, but for today, I'm spotlighting Lost in Lone Creek. Let's start at the beginning, after all.

So, let me share a little bit...


Carson Merrill loves only one thing more than Lone Creek Ranch—high school sweetheart Jessica Tate. He has plans to marry her, until one fateful night a devastating accident nearly kills her brother, James, and claims the use of his legs. Jessica flees to Nashville, blaming Carson for her brother’s paralysis. She avoids him—and James—for more than a year.

Jessica returns to Lone Creek as one of the top producing land developers in the area, and she has one goal—to banish Carson forever from her memory while taking what he still loves—Lone Creek Ranch. But God has other plans—to draw the two together in a development project that will satisfy both their desires, and help them to reclaim the love they once shared.


Carson cleared his throat and drew his gaze away from the curve of her waist, the creamy skin that peaked from the jacket’s collar. “I asked you a question, Jess. What do you want?”
“I want Lone Creek Ranch, Carson.” She struggled to keep up with him as the heels of her pumps snagged pasture grass. “I want the land it sits on.”
“What?” He choked, sputtered, and swung around so fast he nearly collided with her. Vanilla mingled with spring hay and dank cow manure. “Why?”
“I’m in the business of land development now, Carson, and this area is untapped.” She swept a hand across the horizon framing an endless emerald pasture back-dropped by smoke-hazed mountains. In the distance, water danced beneath sunlight as it raced along a generous creek. “Lone Creek Ranch is prime land.”
“No.” He held up a hand to stave off any further discussion. “Forget it. My answer is no.”
“Oh, for goodness sakes, Carson.” She rushed after him, her fingertips grazing his shoulder. Her touch scalded, and he shrugged off the sensation and quickened his pace, his long strides attacking the ground. “You can’t manage it alone. You need—”
“Don’t tell me what I need, Jess.” His voice was a low, dangerous growl as he entered the cool shade of the barn. “Lone Creek Ranch belongs to me now…and my brothers.” It had for nearly a year, since his mom passed on. Dad had been gone much longer.
Jessica waved her hand with a flourish as she struggled to keep up with him. “Funny, but I don’t see your brothers here. How long has it been, Carson, since they’ve been home to help carry the load?”
“You’re one to talk.” Carson’s eyes burned as he stared her down. “You left me, and you left James when he needed you most. Neither of us has seen you around here for over a year. Where did you run to, Jess?”
“This isn’t about my brother.” Her chin came up, and she tossed her hair back as her gaze challenged. “Besides, you’d know where I’ve been if you bothered to call.”
“You said you didn’t want me to. Was that just a line, Jess? Was I supposed to read your mind and know you really meant something else?”
“Of course not.” She sighed and tugged the collar of her jacket. “Look, Carson, I’m not here to rehash the past. I want Lone Creek Ranch. I’m prepared to make you a very generous offer.”
“I’m not interested in your offer, or anything else from you.” Carson’s blood boiled. He wondered if she could see smoke pouring from his ears. He clenched his fists at his sides. “Get off my land.”
“Carson, wait!” Her voice raised a notch as she crossed her arms. “Be reasonable, please.”
“I like that, listening to you beg.” He speared her with his gaze. “But this conversation’s over, Jessica. You’d better slip back into your shiny SUV and drive your self-centered, snooty little attitude back to town.”
“You heard me.” Carson pointed toward the road. “Leave, before I say something I’m sure to regret.”
She readjusted the sunglasses propped on her head and waited a heartbeat, two, before taking a step forward and jabbing a finger into his chest. “Haven’t you already done that, Carson?”
“Have I? Are you sure about that, Jess?” He turned his back to her and stomped past freshly-mucked stalls, fists clenched again. He wove his way to the cramped office in the back left corner of the barn and slammed through the door. A gelding palomino, Lucky Lou, lifted his head and whinnied in protest from the stall across the aisle. And Sunshine, due to foal any day, paced restlessly in the largest stall, her belly round and swollen.
Carson kicked the door shut. A moment passed, when all he heard was the rush of blood through his ears and Lucky Lou’s nervous grunts. Then sharp heels tapped against concrete, and he drew a deep breath as Jessica strode toward the door. He bit back an onslaught of ugly words when she gave the splintered wood a light rap.
“I’ll go, Carson,” she called, her voice muffled through the wood. “But I’ll be back.”
He counted to ten, his hands fisted so hard his knuckles whitened. Then he blew out a heated breath, slumped into the battered leather desk chair, and tossed his hat onto the scuffed metal file cabinet, doing his best to ignore Jessica. An ivory square of paper fluttered as she slipped a business card beneath the door. He recognized her flourish of handwriting in the number she’d scrawled across the back.
It had a lot of zeroes—more than he’d seen in a long time.
“Here’s my offer.” Her voice carried a smooth molasses drawl. “Call me when you cool off and come to your senses.”
“Don’t hold your breath.” Carson covered the card with the toe of his boot and ground it into the soiled tile. “The earth will freeze over before I let you get your hands on Lone Creek Ranch.”


Lost in Lone Creek is such a sweet tale of losing your way along this road of life - so easy to make wrong choices based on misunderstandings - to lose perspective of what's truly important.

Ms. Manners has done a wonderful job of intertwining the emotional memories that bind Carson and Jessica with the possibilities of what the future could be. She shows us what love really is, and that it doesn't just give up.

I loved Carson and Jessica from the start, both of them acting and reacting out of a pain from the past. Carson is such a gentleman. The epitome of what we all think of as a cowboy. When Jess rolls back into his life you can feel the emotional tension jump off the pages.

This story just pours emotions over your soul - the heartache, the longings...the joy in the welcoming arms of God.

Wonderful story!

buy link: 

Mary Manners is an award-winning author of inspirational romance who lives in the beautiful foothills of the Great Smoky Mountains of East Tennessee with her husband and teen-aged daughter. She is a member of the Romance Writers of America and Smoky Mountain Romance Writers. 

For more about Mary, you can find her at:


  1. Welcome back, Mary, I love the Lone Creek Ranch. How do I get an invitation? I want to meet them all! I can't wait to read the new one!

  2. Donna,

    THANK YOU so much!!! You are welcome at Lone Creek Ranch anytime. I know...the Merrill brothers are a little rough around the edges but, oh my, also so loveable!!! Who can resisit a handsome cowboy?

    I'm looking forward to Monday, too!

    1. Handsome cowboys...I'm with you there! And I'm ready to rent one of those cottages right now!

  3. Looks like another great series Mary!


    Good luck & God's blessings ladies!

    1. Thanks so much, Pam! And thanks for all you do with The Wordsmith Journal.

  4. Mary, I'm hooked...again...on your wonderful writing. Anxious to read the Lone Creek series. Looks like another bestseller in the works! Congrats.
    Carol Ann

    1. Thanks, Carol Ann. I'm so glad you're enjoying the Lone Creek Series. I'm fond of the Merrill brothers, too!!!

  5. I loved LOST IN LONE CREEK and can't wait to settle back and read LULLABY. Congrats, Mary!

    1. Thanks, Dora! Just two more weeks until the RT convention. I can't wait to see you and Marianne there!!!

    2. :-( wish I could be there to meet you ladies, too! God bless!

  6. Whoa, Mary! No one can accuse this story of lacking conflict. You've dished it out aplenty. I LOVED the excerpt, but am trying my best to LIKE Jessica. I'm sure the rest of the story would make me see a reason behind her scheming.

    Great going and may God multiply your sales.

    1. Thanks for stopping by, Laurean. The reason for Jessica's behavior does become clear. I think you'll grow to adore her when you get to know her a little better. She's the perfect match for Carson!

    2. I absolutely agree with Mary here. Jessica is really a sweetheart - just a little lost along the way...

  7. Congrats, Mary. I'm kindling this as soon as I can. I love cowboy stories, and conflicts with land developers are always high on my list, too. ( I'm kind of a tree hugger.) best wishes for much success, my friend!

  8. Great post, Donna! God bless, Mary - and I can't wait to read and post my review as well! :-) The Lone Creek Ranch series is amazing. Can't wait to hug you and Dora for real in Chicago pretty soon! Keep up the GREAT work!!!!

    1. I'm sending cyberhugs - exchange them for me!

  9. Mary has such a wonderful talent for creating living, breathing characters! I can't wait to dive into this series. In fact, I think I may just do that right now...

    1. Thanks, Delia. Right back at ya! I have thoroughly enjoyed your Soloman's Gate series. Congratulations on the release of Gypsey's Game!

  10. Cowboys and babies, what could be finer. Loved the first in the series, and look forward to the second one.

  11. I love the sound of this book! Can we say "conflict"? Great excerpt and congratulations on the release of Lullaby in Lone Creek!

  12. I really enjoyed this book! Looking forward to more.

    1. I'm so glad to hear that, Sheila! Two more books are coming in the Lone Creek Series...Lesson in Lone Creek and Love in Lone Creek.