Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Guest Author: Leah Braemel

Most of my stories start with a premise. “What happens if someone suggests they have a threesome and then halfway through realize it really wasn’t a good idea and they don’t want to do this anymore?”  (That’s the premise for my very first published novella, Private Property.) Sometimes I imagine a single incident (for Deliberate Deceptions, I originally envisioned a man in a suit walking through a cemetery and laying a stuffed rabbit against a gravestone. Although in a strange twist of fate, I ended up having to cut that scene.)  Unfortunately this usually leaves me with no idea who the characters are or what they want or, more importantly, need. I often don’t figure it out until I’m done the first draft then have to go back and make major adjustments to the second draft to properly reflect the characters. 

But every once in a while I get really, really lucky. A character walks into my head fully formed, prepared to tell me their story.  Sam, the third person in that infamous ménage from Private Property, walked strutted into my head fully-formed. He made writing Private Property that much tougher because he was supposed to be a secondary character but he very nearly took over, and in her initial email offering a contract, my editor asked if Sam was going to get own story. Which, of course, he did -- and in true Sam-style he wouldn’t settle for a novella. His story, Personal Protection, took a full length novel to tell. 

Jackson and Nate from Tangled Past were like that too. From the first moment the idea behind Tangled Past started niggling, they were both front and center. Side by side, chap-wearing, Stetson-wearing hard-working old-fashioned cowboys. Who loved each other. And once they realized they’d got my attention, they persisted until I told their story. 

Of mixed blood – half white, half native American, Jackson Kellar’s endured a lot of rough treatment from others. But he’s persevered. Jackson isn’t rich, but what he does have, he values. Including his friends. And his word. Just as he explains to Sarah on their wedding night and she’s feeling guilt that he got trapped into marriage with her:

“Well, before you go doubting me, I had a choice. I could have saddled my horse and rode away. Not that I would have.”
“Why not?”
“Because I gave my word.” The brush paused midstroke. “I don’t got much in this world, ’cept for my word. I break that, I ain’t got nothing.”

Like many of the farmers I grew up around, Jackson prefers to let his actions speak for him. That made his character quite easy to write. If there was a problem he just buckled down and got it done with no whining and not a lot of talk. Of course, as anyone who has been married can attest those first few years when you’re dancing around trying to establish your identity as a couple, lack of communication can create huge conflicts out of tiny incidents. But as long as I stayed true to his nature,  the story chugged along with few hiccups.

Nate was equally co-operative in telling his story. Like Dillon in Texas Tangle, he hasn’t suffered the same hardships that Jackson has (though Jackson’s suffered nowhere near the torment Brett endured.)  Nate inherited his ranch and by extension became Jackson’s boss, though he’s never thought of himself that way. They were friends first, and lovers next. As a white man he’s never been shunned by society the way Jackson has, so he’s more light-hearted:

Grinning, Nate took the steps two at a time. His spurs jangled as he strode across the porch and stepped into the front hall. He inhaled a lungful of the heavenly scent filling the house. Nothing smelled as good as Miss Martha’s cooking. His belly already growling its approval, he’d taken two steps when the kitchen door swung open. 

“You stop right there and take your boots off, Nate Campbell.” His housekeeper folded her arms and glared with that same look his mother had given him when he was six and he’d pried the chair rails off the walls—not only in his bedroom, but the entire upstairs hallway. “I just swept, and I’ll not have you fillin’ the house with your dust again.”

But for all his good nature, Nate has his own secrets that have him terrified that he’ll end up swinging at the end of a rope. (Yeah, there’s that whole “I’m in love with Jackson” issue, remember?)  Having Sarah living in their home just mixes him up even more…

Jackson hefted the bundle from the dress shop and tucked it under his arm while escorting Sarah into the house. Nate kept his lids lowered in an attempt to hide how he watched the gentle swing of Sarah’s skirts. It wouldn’t do to be caught ogling another man’s wife.
He hadn’t lied when he said he would have been proud to take his vows as her husband. Though it left him disturbed that he still fantasized about being in bed with Jackson, Sarah had been appearing in those fantasies lately.

These two were really fun to write, and because of it the story almost wrote itself even though all that research for a historical is…well, it’s a challenge. 

By the way, the bit about Nate removing the chair rails? That’s based on a true story – my parents’ best friends had a son whom I’ll refer to as G, who was the same age as me. I suspect if he was in school nowadays they’d say he was ADHD, but my parents just said he was precocious. And a handful. One day G’s parents had locked him in his room as punishment – my mother still delights in telling how “the little devil” took out a child’s toolset he’d been given for Christmas and proceeded to remove all the chair rails and baseboards off every wall in his room, and then dismantled the lock, got out of the bedroom and started taking apart the hallway. Did I mention that G and I didn’t always get along so in an effort to smooth some tensions between our four year old selves, my parents and G’s parents staged a mock wedding with me as the bride and G as the groom? What the heck were they thinking? Needless to say that was one “marriage” that didn’t last long. I don’t think they’d finished playing Wagner’s Lohengrin before we were already battling…hmm, I wonder if I’ve ever mentioned to Gizmo Guy that he wasn’t technically my first husband?
Forced to marry a man she just met, Sarah McLeod clings to the hope that she’ll finally find the love and acceptance she’s always craved. But her tenuous dreams of a happy life on the frontier are in danger of being dashed by the one thing she can’t change—her husband’s love for another man.

Jackson Kellar’s determined to do right by his bride, yet he’s torn between his newfound love for Sarah and his still-burning desire for Nate.

Ranch owner Nate Campbell loves them both. He hates to see Jackson’s loyalties so divided, and doesn’t want Sarah hurt either. But how can they fix the tangled mess they find themselves in? Nate suggests a possible solution – a permanent threesome.

With the open frontier closing in around them, is Nate’s solution their path to happiness? Or will others destroy what they’ve found together?

Want to read more? Visit my websiteYou can also find me on Facebook and follow me on Twitter.

Want to buy Tangled Past?  Carina Press | Amazon | Barnes and Noble | All Romance eBooks | Kobo

I’m going to give away a copy of Texas Tangle, the story that inspired Nate and Jackson’s story,  to a random commenter – just tell me if you did anything naughty like prying off the chair rail when you were a kid. I won’t tell anyone…honest! (I’ll draw a winner and announce them on Sunday)


  1. Did you tell Gizmo Guy?

  2. Great post, you had me snickering in a few places. I did plenty of things I wasn't supposed to as a calling a joke hotline and running up a huge phone bill.

  3. I was a perfect child and I didn't do anything wrong. *heh heh

    Once I wanted to be all fancy like so I took one of my mom's crystal wine glasses and drank gingerale out of it. It all would have been fine except I broke it. Even to this day, I get blamed for the set of 7.


  4. Interesting post - I enjoy reading the background on characters and how they wandered into their books.

    Awwww - I was a good child . . . more of the amusing variety than the naughty!

    I went to the hairdressers with my Mother one time when I was 3 or 4 and they popped me on a chair to wait . . . the old fashioned domed dryer was above me and apparently I pulled it down on my head and sat there saying 'I am a dalek, I am a dalek'

  5. Phew! I finally managed to get in -- Blogger wasn't playing nice.

    Toni -- I'm not sure if I have or not. I'll mention it tonight. Of course, I made up for it since I married him TWICE (we renewed our vows on our 15th wedding anniversary.)

    Emma -- ooops, bet the parents weren't pleased with that. We lived out in the country and were on a party line (does anyone know what they are anymore?) so we couldn't stay on the phone long enough to run up a long bill.

    Michelle -- not too bad, but isn't it funny how it still is held over your head. Okay, maybe funny isn't the right word...

    LMAO Willa! That is so cool. I'd like to do that nowadays!

  6. Can't wait to read this book! I love your stories. Now onto what I did naughty as a kid... I played hairdresser with my little sister a few times -lol gave her a "punk rock" cut when I was 6 she was 4 and another time I shaved her head ( she asked for it). Also when I was 3 I was learning the write my ABC's and I took a maker and wrote then down the hallway of my house. I was so proud of myself my mom told me.

  7. Me, do anything wrong? Absolutely not, I was the perfect child. :-) LOL

    I've been waiting for this book and thankfully its out now. Problem is, between the A/C repairman, the day job, and trying to finish the WIP, when exactly am I supposed to get any reading done?

    Congratulations on the release, Leah.

  8. What did I do as a kid? LOL. I once put earthworms in the salad. :) Some people are just meant to be biologists :)

  9. Daydrmz, LMAO about your sister's hair cut. I was the younger sister so... might explain some of the sibling rivalry that still goes on even now we're in our 50s. And LOL about the marker down the wall - our eldest did that when he was about four. Multiple times.

    Toni! Akk, earthworms in the salad? I'm not coming to your house for dinner, LOL.

  10. ROLF about the wedding - the things our parents do to us!! Love the insight into how your stories come together, it's always great when the characters play nice and don't one a headache.

    I've been looking forward to this book since I read Tangled Texas, so glad it's finally here

  11. Cool post, Leah, and congratulations on the new release.

    I, like just about everyone else who commented, was a perfect child. However, I did know a guy who got mad at his mom once and went through all her house plants, lifting the root system out of the pot and cutting the roots off before replanting the plants. She never figured out why all her plants died...

  12. I was a pretty good kid when I was younger - my 4 younger brothers made up for that! LOL The two below me were irish twins, and used to get into all kinds of trouble together, and also used to group-torture me!!

  13. Just give me a pail and shovel and I was happy but I did try smoking a cigarette one day, heard my mom's key in the lock and threw it in the hamper. "If you want to smoke, smoke," she said. "Just don't burn the dirty laundry."

    Fun post, Leah.

  14. I was basically a good kid. I did sneak out at times though.

    Hollybwright atcomcastdotnet

  15. i have to say that i was a good kid overall... i did hide in the clothes racks at stores, though, and scare my mother silly! or i'd find a book and tune out everything around me, including my frantic parents yelling my name throughout the store...

  16. Ooops -- I gave Toni an unclear addy in my email -- Sorry about that. Susan, if you could email me at "contest @" without the spaces...

  17. The winner is...

    Congratulations, Susan. Please email Leah at

    Thanks for everyone for commenting :) And special thanks to Leah for sharing her story with us. I'm looking forward to reading this one.