Saturday, April 27, 2013

A Secret Hideaway in "Montana Matched"

"Montana Match" was the first book Avalon Books published for me. Being newly published was very exciting, and I enjoyed every minute of the process.

More than ten years have passed since my first novel was published, and "Montana Match" has morphed into "Montana Matched." The new edition is about ten thousand words longer, updated and even more fun to read than the initial well-received contemporary romance was.

Attracting a woman has never been a problem for wealthy, handsome Montana rancher Jake Ruskin, but finding a woman to marry…that’s quite a different dilemma.

Fortunately, Chicago matchmaker Becky Montoya, whom many happy clients have called the best in the business, has promised Jake she can find him precisely the kind of woman he’d like to marry.

Becky’s been dreaming of expanding her business, and, once she finds Jake his perfect mate, she’ll be able to do just that with the windfall fee he’s promised her. Considering the amount of money involved, Becky flies to Montana to handle every detail of the Ruskin case personally.

To her surprise, she soon finds her personal dealings with Jake have become a bit too intimate, and, before long, sworn-single Becky is beginning to wonder--should she give in to her feelings for her handsome cowboy client or should she fly straight back to Chicago before she breaks every moral rule she’s ever believed in?


Setup: Caught in a rainstorm, Jake and Becky spend the night in a country cabin.

Becky awoke as the first rays of light filtered through the windows. She didn’t know where she was at first, but it didn’t take her long to remember she was in the little cabin in the beautiful meadow--alone with Jake.

As she surveyed her surroundings she caught sight of her handsome host.

He lay cramped on the tiny sofa half naked and deadly asleep. Her gaze drifted from his handsome face to the black and gray curls covering his well-built, expansive chest. She watched his ribs expand and contract.

Her cheeks burned as she remembered the looks, the touches, the embraces she and Jake had shared over the last days. She thought about the first night she was with him and recalled how he’d engulfed her cheeks with his hands. They’d dropped the “Mr. Ruskin” and “Miss Montoya” titles as they’d gazed at the stars, the horses--and each other. They were Becky and Jake that night, not a matchmaker and a client, just a man and a woman.

She’d wanted him to hold her, touch her, kiss her. He almost had kissed her the very first night they were together.

He’d wanted to be with her too. He hadn’t tried to hide his interest in her.

Last night--Becky sighed and pulled the quilt to her chin.

She had no idea how they got through last night without getting close. Each of them half clothed, alone and vulnerable with nothing to keep them out of each other’s arms but their own restraint, she’d feared they’d get much closer than they should have.

She’d tried to shield her desire for him, but Jake was a very intuitive and intelligent man. She had no doubt he was as aware of her attraction to him as she was of his attraction to her.

If she hadn’t fallen asleep--passed out was more like it--on the sofa…

She bolted forward. She’d fallen asleep on the sofa!

Her cheeks began to burn again when she realized Jake must have carried her to bed.

She closed her eyes.

The thought of her half-dressed body being pressed into that magnificent, bared, masculine chest sent heat rushing through her.

A deep groan from the couch prompted Becky to gaze at Jake again. She watched him raise his arms over his head. He stretched and wriggled as his eyes slowly opened. “Becky?”


"Montana Matched" is available in e-book at Amazon, B&N, I-Books, Kobo Books, Sony Bookstore and other places on the Internet. The paperback will be available in a couple of weeks at Amazon in a two-book edition along with its sequel "Montana's Magic."

I hope your April was good and your May will be even better.


Fran Shaff, Award-Winning Author
Fran's Web Page

Friday, April 19, 2013

Retribution, an Excerpt

Dear Readers, I thank you for your wonderful feedback on "Resurrected" and "Restitution," the first two books of the new Historical Romance "Tender Mysteries Series."

However, according to you, "Retribution," the third book of the series, is your favorite. (It's my favorite too! -- at least until the next books come out later this year and next.)

"Retribution" is a powerful story with an amazing, totally gripping confrontation that takes place when a gun-wielding Susan faces the man responsible for kidnapping her younger sister Bonnie.

April, 1896: Susan Willet vows to capture and boil in oil the man who’s kidnapped her sister Bonnie.

Sheriff Sam Feist realizes Susan is a passionate woman. Her feisty verve is one of the things he finds most attractive about her. However, when she insists on going after a ruthless kidnapper, he’s got no choice but to tell her to stay out of lawmen’s business.

Susan promptly ignores the handsome sheriff’s advice. No one is going to stop her from going after Bonnie. Neither will anyone hinder her from keeping her pledge to seek retribution for her sister’s kidnapping.

As Susan and Sam separately pursue a dastardly abductor, they cross paths. Tensions soar, and hearts break when dangerous liaisons put lives in peril and lead to a violent confrontation which changes Susan’s life forever.


Setup: Susan and Sam have crossed paths on their separate pursuits of the kidnapper.

He’d expected she might pull her hand away, but she didn’t. Instead, she squeezed his hand tightly and let him take her safely away from the campsite and onto the road.

When they’d walked west and covered about fifty yards along the road he asked, “Are you feeling better now, Miss Willet?”

“Maybe…I don’t know…” She let go of his hand, stopped walking and looked up at him.

In the dim moonlight, below the twinkling stars and scattered clouds, she was more beautiful than ever. Her lovely auburn hair, which had been wet from a fresh washing when he’d held her earlier, had dried into a mass of soft curls, framing her face in a most elegant way.

“I don’t expect I’ll begin to feel better until Bonnie is safely home.”

He touched her chin. “I wish I could take away your pain. You don’t deserve to suffer another loss, not after all you’ve been through.”

She turned away from him. “Never mind my pain. It’s Bonnie’s sufferings I’m concerned about,” she said, looking at him again. “We’ve got to bring her back! I’ve got to see to it she’s home with us again.” She spun away and folded her arms. “Oh, why didn’t I go to the school to meet her?”

She suddenly bent over and began to retch.

Sam went straight to her and held her hair away from her face until she finished being sick.

“Please, Miss Susan,” he said, placing an arm around her shoulders when she straightened up, “you’ve got to stop second guessing your actions. You did nothing wrong. The man who took Miss Bonnie is evil, and evil does what it desires. You couldn’t have stopped him.”
She pulled a frilly hanky from the pocket of her pretty dark green dress and wiped her mouth. “I suppose you’re right.” She sighed and returned her hanky to its home.

She took him by surprise when she turned inside the embrace of the arm he had around her shoulders and wrapped her arms around him.

Instinctively, he held her close.

“I’m cold,” she said as she laid her head on his shoulder. “I’m cold and tired, so cold and tired. I haven’t felt this spent since Deborah, Molly and I endured the misery of recovering the lifeless bodies of our family members after the flood.”

Sam tightened his hold on her and closed his eyes as a queasy feeling stirred in his belly. Dear heaven, she’d had to participate in recovering the blanched, hard bodies of her family and friends after the flood had destroyed the wagon train? She was still a child back in eighty-eight!

He stroked her hair as he realized he was holding the strongest woman God had ever created.

“If you’re cold, Miss Willet, we’d better return to camp. It’d be best if you put on your wool coat and snuggled into your pallet for the night.”

The last thing Sam wanted to do was let go of her, but she needed a bed and a night’s sleep more than she needed anything else. If she could get some rest she’d feel much better.

He reluctantly eased her out of his arms and took her hand. Without saying another word he led her toward the campsite.

To his surprise, Miss Elizabeth met them about twenty yards from the fire. She was bubbling with excitement.

“She left us a clue!” she exclaimed. “I searched the history book, and I found a clue from Bonnie. I know exactly where she’s been taken!”


"Retribution" is now available in e-book at: Amazon, B&N, I-Books, Kobo Books, Sony and other places on the Internet. The paperback edition will be available later this spring.


Best wishes for a good week!


Fran Shaff, Award-Winning Author
Fran's Web Page

Saturday, April 13, 2013

A Tribute to my Sister, Arlene

Dear Readers, I'm going to pause from posting excerpts from my books in order to pay tribute to my sister whom I lost to cancer last week.

Arlene and I were very close, and I don't know how I'm going to get along without her. She was a hard-working, highly successful single mother who was devoted to her children.

Though we came from a large farm family of meager means, both Arlene and I, along with one of our brothers, fulfilled our dreams of becoming college graduates. All three of us paid our own ways through school, me until I completed my bachelor's degree, Arlene until she'd finished her master's degree and our brother completed his doctorate. Both of our parents had only eighth grade educations.

Arlene taught school at a small college for a while before she began a career in accounting. Eventually, she became the vice president of business at a college, where she worked until she was too ill to continue.

Her children, now aged 29 and 30, are both college graduates. One of them has just completed her master's degree, the other has a bachelor's degree.

During her last few months with us, her children took very good care of her. They were at her side throughout her illness and with her when she died.

Arlene loved babies, and, whenever a colleague or a coworker's family member would bring a baby into work, she set everything aside to take time to hold the baby. She'd always hoped that when she retired she could volunteer at a hospital in the pediatric ward.

When I think of Arlene now, I will see her in heaven, sitting in a white chair, smiling on a baby as she holds the little soul in her arms. I wish babies never had to die, but sometimes they do, and now, until their mommies and daddies join them in heaven, Arlene will hold them and coo to them and love them as though they were her own.

And that's a whole lot of love.

Fran's Web Page