It’s been a while, but today I’d like to welcome Irene Vartanoff to the Writer Wednesday feature on my blog. Take it away Irene!!
Captive of the Cattle Baron
He’d Abducted Her!
Abducted by rancher Baron Selkirk—okay, it was an accident, but now he won’t let her go—former TV child star turned horse whisperer Addie Jelleff enjoys a respite from the media circus that ruined her quiet retreat in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, but she’s due back to town to defend her actor pal at his trial very soon. Baron’s vast, isolated ranch is only one of his many attractions, but he’s awfully domineering and she can’t possibly give in to their growing attraction while she’s virtually his prisoner, can she?
Baron sees the situation differently. He wants to save Addie from he thinks is a sordid drug connection. Forced to drop his geology career and take over the family ranch, he’s frustrated by too many people saying no to him. Isn’t he in charge? Why is Addie so mysterious about her past and her commitments to another man? Why won’t she give in to Baron, when every time they touch, they catch fire?
It’s a battle of wills—with neither one backing down. Addie can tame the wildest stallion, but restraining her own growing attraction to the high-handed rancher and keeping him from breaking through her defenses requires all her strength—and some help from unexpected sources.
Now that you’ve heard what the book is about, let’s hear from Irene.
How did you get the idea for the beginning part of this novel?
Diana Palmer once did a story about a country guy who didn’t want to be involved with a glamour girl from the city. That rejection of the glamour life was key to my initial thinking about Captive of the Cattle Baron. I thought, “What if some glamorous woman hid out from the media in some rancher’s car? And then he got the wrong idea about what kind of person she was?”
That was the start, but then I had to build my heroine as someone who had glamour but did not want to lead the in-the-spotlight Hollywood life. She couldn’t have a believable happy ever after on a ranch if she had constant commitments elsewhere. That’s when I started thinking that my heroine could be famous but not want to be anywhere near the fast lane. From there, making Addie a former TV actor who had spent years while a child on a sitcom was the next logical step to keep her as normal a person as possible.
Tell us a little bit about the setting. How did you choose Wyoming?
I chose Wyoming as the setting because I went there once on a car trip with my mother and sister. My mother had driven the west with her dad when she was a mere kid and most of the roads were single-lane dirt—and mud. She thought nothing of piling us into her car decades later and taking off on modern paved interstates, although without motel reservations, cell phones, or solid plans. After visiting Yellowstone National Park, we came down from the Grand Tetons into Jackson Hole and it was just so beautiful there I’ve always wanted to go back. So far, I haven’t. I did read up on the state and talk to a geologist who knows the rock formations in the southern part. I believe my descriptions of Wyoming’s geography and plant life are accurate. As to the hotel and the mention of a casino in Jackson Hole, I made those up entirely. I made up the overly ambitious, glory-seeking district attorney, too.
What is your favorite thing about your female character?
What I like about Addie Jelleff is that although most people think of actors as volatile personalities, she is a very logical and sensible person. She spent her childhood doing a weekly television show and adhering to legal work rules and having to memorize her scripts, and do schoolwork, and so on. She still thinks the rest of the world is run logically, the way the TV show was. She can’t quite understand how illogical and irrational real people can be in the grip of emotion. Including herself.
What is your favorite thing about your male character?
My favorite thing about Baron Selkirk is that he’s got the instincts of a hero. He wants to save Addie. He’s not the alpha pig his emotions keep pushing him to be, although he does make mistakes. He thinks he has to be the big tough boss, and he feels a huge sense of responsibility to do right by running the family ranch, but it’s a massive burden on his shoulders, a burden he’s carrying alone. His parents have checked out. His brother has his own problems, and his sister is acting up. No wonder he’s trying to control his world and everyone in it. Especially Addie, to whom he’s tremendously attracted and whom he desperately wants to save from what he believes is a sordid life situation. Unlike a genuinely abusive man, Baron’s motives are pure. Sometimes his actions are over the line, though. After all, abducting someone is a crime!
Baron acts very domineering with Addie, but she gives as good as she gets. She is never intimidated by him. In more than one scene, she’s the one who starts the fight. She also has a lot more control over her sexuality than he has over his. Well, he’s a guy. What do you expect?
Are other books planned in this series?
As I was writing this story and fleshing out the circumstances that make Baron behave as he does, I realized that by giving him a wounded warrior brother and a nearly off-the-rails sister, I was opening the door to sequels. Who wouldn’t want to know if J.D. will ever get out of the V.A. hospital and attempt to resume a normal life? How can an outdoors type cope with serious permanent injury and still lead that kind of existence? Did being in war change him drastically? What about Paula’s so far hopeless love for him? She’s rich, but mere money can’t solve his problems. And poor Tess, who thinks she wants to be a movie star. How will she ever find fulfillment? This family has big problems to solve, and it won’t be easy. Readers will have to tell me whose story they want to read next.
Baron Selkirk watched the beautiful blonde weave a meandering path until she turned a corner and drifted out of sight. Only then could he breathe again. The hot blood pounding in his veins finally began to cool off. He allowed the elevator doors to close.
He punched the Door Open button. As the metal walls parted, he lunged between them. He charged down the hotel corridor. Sure enough, once he’d turned the corner, he found her leaning against the wall, half-fainting.
“You’re ill,” he said. “I’ll call the desk for a doctor.”
Her eyes widened at his words.
“No, don’t,” she said. “Don’t call anyone.”
Was that fear in her expression? What was she afraid of?
“I’m not leaving you alone here to keel over,” he said. Although he wasn’t touching her, he stood close enough to catch her if she crumpled. Close enough to notice that her blue eyes were very dilated.
She half-lifted one arm and pointed down the hall to double doors. “Help me to that suite?”
“Lean on me,” he said, putting an arm around her soft shoulders. The moment he touched her, a thrill shot through his body. He willed himself to concentrate on getting her to safety.
When they reached the double doors, she disentangled herself and rested against the doorframe. “Thank you. I’ll be all right from here.”
He frowned. “Where’s your key?”
She shook her head. “It’s not my suite.” She knocked softly on the wood.
Baron spotted a doorbell and reached over to jab it. He kept his finger on the bell until he heard someone approach the door.
“Who is it?” a muffled voice asked.
“It’s me,” the blonde said.
The person inside must have used the peephole, for his next words were, “I can see you’re not alone. Who’s he?”
She glanced up at Baron. “A hotel guest. I’ve been feeling weird. He helped me here.”
“Make him leave.”
She shrugged. “Thanks for your help,” she said to Baron, “but you’d better go now.”
He got it. The door wouldn’t be opened until he left. “Are you sure you want to do this?” He angled his eyes at the door, indicating his doubts about who and what awaited her inside.
“I’ll be okay,” she said. “Thank you.”
Baron didn’t move. This was wrong.
“Please,” she said.
He tipped his hat. “Your call. Have a nice life.”
Her sudden look of dismay almost made him refuse to budge, but he turned and walked to the elevator, forcing himself to not look back. Once he was a few steps away, he heard the suite door open and muffled words. At the corner, he looked behind him. She was gone.
Award-winning author Irene Vartanoff started reading romances and comic books as a teenager. Emilie Loring and Superman were her gateway drugs, which led to the serious stuff, Gothic novels and Lois Lane comics—and romance comics. Writing comic books and working on staff at Marvel Comics and DC Comics absorbed her early career years, aspects of which are gently spoofed in her superhero adventure novel, Temporary Superheroine. Editing for major publishers of romance Harlequin, Bantam, and Berkley inspired her next career shift to writing novels. Captive of the Cattle Baron is her first sweet contemporary romance. Visit the author at www.irenevartanoff.com.
A Note From Lily
I don’t always had time to read the books that I present on Writer Wednesday, but in this case, I just finished it, and I highly recommend it. Despite the captive/abduction theme, it’s not heavy on sex or BDSM. I found it a sweet read with a lot of sizzle.