Read of the week: One Shingle To Hang by DeAnn Smallwood

Hello Everybody! Today I am hosting DeAnn Smallwood and her book One Shingle To Hang. Included in this post are not only the book cover, author photo but also an exciting excerpt and some fun questions with some equally fun answers This book speaks to all that is decent and hardworking in us and shows us that love, even unexpected love, is worth fighting for, though we may not necessarily realize it at first. This is a great read and one that will surely warm your heart. Enjoy!!

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A woman with too much knowledge was at risk for insanity. Their fragile mind couldn’t handle it. That’s what Lil had been told when she went against convention and became an attorney. The 1800’s had fewer women lawyers than women doctors. Her pride knew no bounds when she hung her shingle—L.M. Wentfield, Attorney At Law.

Drew was a struggling cattle rancher, building a fledging Hereford empire. He was working toward that goal when he was accused of rustling and faced possible hanging. He needed a lawyera good onea man. Chesterfield had one lawyera new oneL.M. Wentfield. He wasn’t prepared for a beautiful blonde with a sharp tongue and fiercely won independence.

Lil had no homemaking abilities. Her love was the law. And if the thoughts of the gray-eyed cowboy, who had the audacity to refuse her legal help stayed in her mind, she’d push them aside. She had nothing to offer a rancher . Even her wealth wouldn’t be considered an asset to a prideful man. And Drew Jackson was proud. So proud, he knew he couldn’t ask a woman of Lil’s stature to share his lifebut he wanted tofrom the moment he’d stolen that first kiss.

An Excerpt From One Shingle to Hang:

Everyone knew Lil Wentfield would never marry. What man would want her? She was too old, too set in her ways, and too damned opinionated. Granted, she was a real beauty, if you could get past all the other flaws. Long blonde hair, equally long legs, sparkling blue eyes, flawless skin, with just a hint of a European ancestor in the coloring. And lips, well to call them kissable would be doing them an injustice.

But spinster she was, with her hair coiled into a tight knot at the nape of her neck, as tight as the expression habitually worn on her lovely face. Wire rimmed glasses perched on her small nose, obscured flashes of emotion in those beautiful eyes. Except when it came to outrage. Then her eyes snapped, her spine stiffened, her chin raised, and she peered disdainfully at the offender.

Lil was like a badger when it came to proving her point and winning an argument. Her mother liked to say Lil was born arguing. What her father liked to say was more colorful and filled with disappointment. His only child compounded being born female, by having a mind of her own. Once Lil made a decision, she planted her feet firmly on the chosen path, and didn’t step off until her goal was accomplished.

Men found her unnerving. Lil Wentfield wouldn’t be any man’s ‘little woman’, her place in the home, serving her husband, and mothering children. She was unsettling; not material necessary for being the calming homemaker and acquiescent wife needed to soothe and support a man as he went about his business.

***

A loud knock broke into her thoughts. “Come in,” she called out.

Nothing happened, then another knock. “Please, come in,” she called again.

Getting no response, Lil came around her desk and, with some irritation at the interruption, jerked open the door, nearly toppling the tall man who held the doorknob on the other side. He muttered something under his breath, and tried to regain his balance only to bump into Lil, throwing her off stride. She stumbled backwards and would have fallen if not for the man’s quick reaction. He grabbed Lil and, wrapping both arms around, pulled her to him. Then, in a parody of the two-step, he danced her to safety.

Lil felt herself falling, then rescued by two strong arms. Not only was she pulled up short, but she was wrapped tightly against a rock hard chest, her nose buried in the man’s damp shirt. A very pleasant smell greeted her nose. The scent of summer rain and witch hazel. She found the masculine odor intoxicating.

Neither moved. Then Lil raised her head and looked into a pair of dancing gray eyes. His arms never relaxed their grip; in fact, they seemed to tighten around her as his mouth twitched, then broke into a smile.

“Didn’t expect to end up with a beautiful woman in my arms. For a moment there, I expected to land on the rug, Ma’am. With you alongside me,” he added with a chuckle.

He loosened his grip and gently pushed her away from the warmth and safety of his chest. Lil stepped back, feeling as though she’d just had something precious taken from her. She realized her hands still gripped his arms. Like a hot potato, she dropped them and turned away from the man’s disturbing presence. Like a fox heading for her den, Lil scurried behind her desk and gratefully lowered her trembling body onto the waiting chair.

With the desk between them, she was once again in charge. “May I help you?” she asked coolly, hoping the tremble in her voice went unnoticed. “I called come in not once but twice.”

“Sorry, Ma’am. Guess I didn’t hear you. I was just fixing to open the door when you did just that. Are you okay?”

“Yes.” Lil answered with no desire to elaborate. “II appreciate you catching me. Now,” she hurried away from that topic, “to repeat myself, how may I help you?”

He smiled, as if knowing her thoughts. Walking over to the desk, he removed his hat and stood with it in his hands. “I apologize for dripping on your floor, but it’s raining like hel, uh, like heck out there.”

Lil tried not to look at how the ends of his eyes crinkled when he smiled. She focused instead on his hair, black and shiny with rain drops glistening on the wavy strands not covered by his hat. She didn’t realize she was staring at him until he shifted from foot to foot.

“Ma’am?”

“Yes,” Lil answered, pulling herself back to reality.

“What I’m here for is to see L.M. Wentfield, Attorney At Law.” He pointed at the window, in the direction of the sign.

Lil nodded. “Yes,” she said again. At this rate, he’d think she only had a one word vocabulary.

The man tilted his head to one side. “Could you direct me to L. M. Wentfield, Ma’am?”

“Of course I can. How may I help you?”

Two small furrows appeared between the man’s eyes. He peered closer at her. Perhaps he needed to try another approach.

“Ma’am, could I speak with your husband?”

“There is no husband,” Lil said with a hint of asperity.

“Oh,” he nodded as if finally understanding the problem. “I beg your pardon. I guess the person I need to see would be your father.”

“What for?” Now the furrows were between Lil’s eyes.

“Well, because I’m looking for him.”

“You’re looking for my father? Are you in need of a banker?”

“No. Not at all.” The smile was gone and those long lashed gray eyes of his had lost their twinkle. “A banker? Now why would you think I’d need a banker?”

“I didn’t think that, sir. You said it.”

“I did?” He shook his head and took a step back. He’d been thrown from horses and had his brain addled, but nothing compared to what this lovely young woman was doing to him.

“You did.”

“I guess I don’t rightly recall that. But,” he offered a weak smile, “I do remember asking to see your father.”

“Yes?” Lil let the word hang in the air. What was the matter with him?

His hands nervously fingered the brim of his wet hat. “I would like to see L.M. Wentfield, Attorney. If L.M. Wentfield isn’t your husband, and it appears he isn’t your father either, then who is he?”

“Me.” Lil sucked in her cheeks, delighted with the look on his face. Now it was all coming clear. Standing before her was a gorgeous specimen of man. Alas, it seemed he was also a specimen of man that had a preconceived notion of a woman’s role. And judging from the look on his face, it apparently wasn’t sitting behind a desk, attorney at large.

“You? You are L.M. Wentfield, Attorney At Law?”

Question 1: What is your favorite book of all time?

My favorite book of all time was Little Women. I still love it, but I’d have to say my adult favorite is The Thorn Birds. I read on an average a book a day, so I really have many favorites. It’s hard to pick just one.

Question 2: Where do you draw your inspiration for your books from?

I draw most of my inspiration from life. I also draw it from other books. I seem to live in a book world where stories waiting to be written swim around in my head. I can go camping, or for a drive, and get inspiration. I have to jot down my thoughts and title my ‘to be written’ books as they come to me. I love to write and have many stories waiting.

Question 3: Do you ever think of your characters as real people?

Yes, I tend to feel like my characters are actual people. Take for example my book Tears In The Wind. I know that if I drove to Sheridan, Wyoming, especially over the Big Horn Mountains, I’d run into Matt and see his ranch. That’s why I feel so sad whenever I finish writing a book. It’s as if there’s been a death and for days I miss my characters.

Question 4: Did you always know that you wanted to be a writer?

Yes, I always knew I wanted to write. When I was much younger, I wrote in my head-always cowboy stories. I love doing the research for my historical westerns. Medicine has been a large part of my life so you’ll find a hint, if not more, of medicine in most of my books. The 1800’s fascinate me. My life seems empty if I don’t have a book in progress. Thankfully, my husband understands and supports me. And my two Yorkies, Eli and Stormy stay beside me throughout the process. Eli is usually curled behind me on my office chair. And Stormy has a pillow in the window sill where she keeps an eye out for birds and cats.

Question 5: If you could be anything other than a human, what would it be and why?

Hmm. If I could be anything but a human being…I’d have to say a Yorkie. I love these smart little guys. They are loyal and fun. But beware, they are high maintenance. As a human, I’d say I’m high maintenance so that characteristic would fit. But you know what? I wouldn’t trade what I’m doing now for anything. Since I’ve retired and can spend more time writing my pleasure in the craft rises each day. I love seeing my books in print. And words fail me to describe what absolute joy I feel when someone tells me they’ve read my book and like it. I can live for months on a compliment. I have to hold myself from coaxing for more, more. I want to ask things like: did you like chapter three, how about when she…, could you see that scene, etc.

AUTHOR BIO

I live in Colorado with my husband and my two Yorkie kid dogs: Stormy, four pounds, and Eli, six pounds. I’m a native of Colorado, but I lived several years in Wyoming and Montana. I draw from these beautiful states for most of my books. My Western Historical Romances are: Montana Star, Sapphire Blue, Unconquerable Callie, Wyoming Heather, One Shingle To Hang, and of course my most recent, Montana Man, out in March. Tears In The Wind is a contemporary romance. Then I branched out and wrote, under the pen name of D. M. Woods, my first suspense/thriller: Death Crosses The Finish Line. The second book in this ‘death’ series, Death Is A Habit, came out January 8, 2014. I am currently working on the third book in the ‘death’ series, Death Walks C Dock as well as another historical western. I sincerely mean it when I say my greatest pleasure next to writing is having my books read and enjoyed. There are many more stories just waiting to be written.

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