Author Name: Laura Stone
Book Name: Bitter Springs
Release Date: December 3, 2015
In 1870s Texas, Renaldo Valle Santos, the youngest son of a large and traditional family, has been sent to train with Henry “Hank” Burnett, a freed slave and talented mesteñero—or horse- catcher—so he may continue the family horse trade. Bitter Springs is a sweeping epic that takes themes from traditional Mexican literature and Old Westerns to tell the story of a man coming into his own and realizing his destiny lies in the wild open spaces with the man who loves him, far from expectations of society.
Pages or Words: 302 pages
Categories: Fiction, Gay Fiction, Historical, M/M Romance, Romance, Western/Cowboy
The day before the wedding, a visitor arrived at Vista Verde an entire week early. Renaldo, ready to wash up and eat dinner after a long, hard day—his side ached from roping cattle as a part of Paloma’s training, his hands were full of bits of raw hemp from the stock lassos, and one of the calves had kicked him high on the thigh—walked back from the barn using his hat to slap at the dust on his chest and thighs. He noticed a tall, striking young black man standing at the door to their home speaking with their father. They didn’t see many black men this far from civilization—with the Civil War ending so recently, many were staying close to where they’d been forced to live, were heading far out west where there were more opportunities to make a new life or were going north seeking less hostile society. Who he could be?
He was about as tall as Renaldo, maybe an inch or two more, broad-shouldered and whip-thin, dressed in well-worn, simple clothes. He had a close-cropped beard, but instead of hiding the shape of his jaw, it accented its sharpness. His light eyes, almost luminescent even at this distance and glowing like amber, were ringed with thick lashes, nearly to the point of being girlish, but there was nothing feminine about the man. With his lean but strong-looking chest, muscular arms and curved backside, he managed to carry himself with a confident air while standing idly; his body was still, but in a way that made Renaldo think of a raptor sitting on an abutment, watching and waiting.
“Oh, here he is,” Estebán said, motioning for Renaldo to join them, saying, “Señor Burnett, allow me to introduce to you my son, Renaldo.”
This? This was the legendary mesteñero, Henry Burnett? He couldn’t be much older than Renaldo, who realized his jaw had dropped. He closed his mouth quickly and moved toward them as if drawn like metal shavings to a magnet.
Burnett, however, looked amused, as the edge of his mouth quirked up. “Pleased to meet you,” he said, his voice deep and husky.
Renaldo couldn’t look away, shocked that his expectations couldn’t have been more wrong. This was a vibrant young man. But… this was the man he would be alone with on the prairie for months? His stomach twisted at that thought, and at how unexpected it all was, causing his heart to race and face flush. Yes, it was unexpected. That Burnett had come so much sooner than they’d expected had to be why Renaldo couldn’t find his voice and felt so upended.
“Mijo,” his father said sharply.
Renaldo shook himself slightly, and then nodded, saying, “Señor Burnett, it’s very good to meet you, finally. Please forgive my shock, as I don’t believe we expected you so soon.”
Burnett laughed, a rolling, melodious sound, and replied, “Well, then just imagine my shock when I come here all the way from Nacogdoches expecting one Valle man, only to find him gone and you in his place.” He smiled. “Your padre seems to think you’re a better match, so that works for me.”
That smile, bright teeth framed by full lips, eyes crinkled at the corners, helped lessen some of Renaldo’s shock and, if he was being honest, some of the worry that he carried about spending a lot of time with a hard, taciturn man Renaldo knew he would be unable to please. At the realization that this was who he would be with on the plains, just the two of them with no one else for weeks on end, Renaldo became excited, finally looking forward to this task. A young man with an infectious grin wouldn’t be such a chore to be stuck with after all.
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Today I’m very lucky to be interviewing LAURA STONE author of BITTER SPRINGS.
Hi Laura, thank you for agreeing to this interview. Tell us a little about yourself, your background, and your current book.
I’m so excited to be here today, so thank you very much for the opportunity! I’m a writer, Texas master Gardener, and was trained in the Apocalypse Arts, aka, canning, tanning, fire building, etc. I can tie most knots with one hand, because you never know what could go wrong! A lot of that know-how came in handy when writing Bitter Springs, as our two fellas, Renaldo and Hank, spend months out on the prairie living off the land. I’ve eaten most of the foods they come across out there. It was so much fun to write about these two, quiet yet passionate men who honor the relationship between Man and Nature, especially the relationship between horse and rider. The story follows them in the 1870s when most people today wouldn’t think it would be possible for two men to openly be in love, especially given the hyper-masculine nature of their jobs.
List the first five things you would do if you suddenly had millions of dollars.
You know, as a single mom, this is something I think about a lot. Can you imagine? I know there’s somewhat of a curse for folks who win the lottery, apparently, but that’s because they go nuts and just start flinging cash around willy-nilly. Plus, a massive chunk is taken out in taxes. To offset that, you have to buy a primary residence. But let’s make it a good one, a dream house!
I would so be up for buying a fabulously modern home in some place with both mountains and the ocean. Let’s say Chile (but not too far south, because I’m a wimp with bitter cold). Oregon would be cool, too. I’m talking one of those tall glass jobs, minimal wood. And because I’ve raised three teenagers, I want, like, a chair, bookshelves, and a cement floor with a drain in the middle so I can just hose it down. (If any of you raised boys, you will understand.)
Okay, so maybe two chairs. I’m now a multi-millionaire, right?
Next up would be to spread the wealth. My dad has worked his fingers to the bone his whole life, so let’s get him the sports car he always dreamed of owning. He’s a simple man with simple needs, and just wants a Jaguar. Dad, you’re welcome. I expect to be called the favorite child now. (My sisters aren’t reading, are they?)
I have some friends who could use a hand up, so I’d pay off any debts they had, help them with new cars, maybe some mortgage payments for a long period of time, anything to help them breathe easy. I have so many amazing girlfriends who have been there for me, it’s the right thing to do!
Then… take those friends on an extended vacation, say two months traveling across New Zealand, Australia, maybe somewhere exotic like Micronesia? Done. And since this is with my best friends, we’d spare no expense! We’d be pretty worn out at the end of it, so we’d probably have to stop off in some place like Fiji for a week for massages and spa treatments. I’m thoughtful like that.
The last thing: stock up my 3000 bottle wine cellar that my amazing new house would have.
(Bonus thing: have a cheese cellar! Oh my gosh, can you imagine? Wait, that might make the house stink. Hmm, better buy a cheese monger shop or something. Yes, much better idea!)
Meet the author:
Laura Stone is a born and bred Texan, but don’t hold that against her. She’s a former comedian, actress and Master Gardener, and currently keeps busy as a media blogger, ghostwriter and novelist when not busy raising her three children. They’re not fully raised, but then, neither is she.
She lives in Texas as proof that it’s not completely populated by hard-line right-wingers. And because that’s where the good tamales are. Her first novel, The Bones of You, was published by Interlude Press in 2014 and was named a finalist for two Foreword Reviews IndieFab Book of the Year Award. Laura Stone at Laura-Stone.com and on Facebook at facebook.com/9LauraStone
Where to find the author:
Goodreads Link: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/26223113-bitter-springs
Publisher: Interlude Press
Cover Artist: Collen M. Good
Rafflecopter Prize: Grand Prize: $25 Interlude Press Gift Card, First Prize: One of five e-copies of ‘Bitter Springs’
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