Award winning author, Shannon Taylor Vannatter writes contemporary Christian cowboy romance and has over a dozen published titles. A romance reader since her teens, she hopes to entertain Christian women and plant seeds in the non-believer’s heart as she demonstrates that love doesn’t conquer all—Jesus does.
She gleans fodder for her fiction in rural Arkansas where she spent her teenage summers working the concession stand with her rodeo announcing dad and married a Texan who morphed into a pastor. In her spare time, she loves hanging out with her husband and son, flea marketing, and doing craft projects.
Do you have a specific place where you write?
For a while, my husband and I shared an office. It didn’t really work. He can chat and come up with sermons. I need quiet to write a book. About that time, he went from bi-vocational pastor to full-time and his office is now at the church. We ended up turning the old office into a den/TV room and putting my office in a corner of the living room.
It still didn’t work. Not enough quiet and my husband and son didn’t like my seashell office decor in the living room. This year, we had to get a new roof and heat and air system. We decided to build me an
office on the back of the house too. Now I have my own space.
It’s not finished—the door isn’t installed yet, the flooring isn’t down, it needs trim, and all my seashells and decor are boxed up at the moment. But it’s functional. I painted it a pretty, beachy green, hung one painting, and got a bookcase for my books and my muse, Charcoal the cat.
That’s a great view for Charcoal. What was the most surprising thing you learned about yourself as you wrote this book?
I really do love the country. Devree, my heroine in the book was raised in the country, but longed for city life and left for Dallas as soon as she graduated high school. I based her on me and my friend through high school. I grew up in the city and moved to the country when I was twelve. I hated it, until I met my future husband, and country life grew on me. I live in a town of 586 people eight miles from a city of 7000. That would be way too big for me to live in these days.
My friend couldn’t wait to get out of our one horse town and explore the world. She went to college in Indiana and never came back. It was easy for me to write the part of Devree that hates getting dirty, is afraid of farm animals and snakes since I feel the same way. But it was hard for me to write her dying to get back to Dallas, since I totally don’t feel that way any more.
Ahh, I grew up in the suburbs and longed to live in the country. I’m still in the suburbs, but it has more of a country feel to it. Tell us about your latest book.
I already talked about the heroine. The hero, Brock McBride is all country. He was raised on the dude ranch and his dad was the handyman until he died. Brock has the job now. But he gets saddled with Devree who’s there to help her pregnant sister. While wedding planner Devree plans a wedding, she also decorates newly built guest cabins, where Brock is assigned with finishing touches.
He’s all about the country and she can’t wait to get back to Dallas. And they’re both soured on romance. But of course there’s an attraction.
Can you give us the first page?
Help! There’s a goat on the roof!
Devree Malone typed the frantic text to her brother-in-law while edging the engaged couple she was showing around the ranch closer to the chapel.
If the goat would just keep quiet up there, maybe the soon-to-be newlyweds wouldn’t notice and she wouldn’t lose this gig. At least it was still April, as the cooler not-quite-seventy degree temperature meant the farm animal odors were at a minimum.
A dark truck turned into the drive and a cowboy climbed out: Stetson, Wranglers, boots. Maybe a ranch hand? His gaze went to the goat, then met hers as a smirk settled on his lips. One so charming she almost forgot about the goat.
Almost. Do something, cute cowboy. Hopefully, her mental plea would span the thirty or so feet between them. She guided the couple inside the chapel and tried to concentrate on the bride’s excited chatter.
“Imagine burgundy roses on the lattice arbor with tulle trailing down the sides.” If only she could have gone ahead and decorated. But the wedding was still two weeks away. “We’ll put big poufy bows on the end of each pew.”
For now, she needed to wow them with what she could. She flipped the switch, setting off a sea of twinkle lights woven among the exposed rafters above.
“Oh.” The enchanted bride leaned her head against her groom’s shoulder.
Why put so much into the wedding when the marriage would probably be history in less than a year? In her eight years of wedding planning, just under half her couples had divorced. And then there was the ceremony that got canceled when Devree discovered her boyfriend of six months was the groom-to-be.
Just stomach this last wedding.
A month in Bandera serving as the event planner at the Chasing Eden Dude Ranch would provide Devree the chance to help her owner brother-in-law. It would help make sure his very pregnant wife stayed on bed rest and brought Devree a healthy niece or nephew into the world.
If she nailed this nuptial, maybe the bride’s wealthy father, Phillip Brighton would hire her to plan his Brighton Electronics company retreat. And she just might be able to leave her I do planning behind.
Something caught her eye out the window. The cowboy, feed bucket in hand, walking backward toward the barn. The goat clambered from the top of the pavilion, across the storage shed, onto the old storm shelter and then down to the ground.
Her gaze bounced back to the couple. Still enthralled with the twinkle lights.
“Instead of walking off to the side for the unity sand ceremony, what do you think about having a couple of groomsmen move it here in the middle of the aisle?” Devree positioned herself where she thought it should go. “That way all you’d have to do is turn around.”
It would be difficult enough to maneuver the bride’s mile long train up and down the aisle once without adding the possibility of it getting tangled up in vases of sand.
“I love it.” Miranda Brighton’s eyes lit up. “That way I won’t have to fight with my dress and our families and friends will be able to see better if we’re up front and center.” She pressed her face into her groom’s shoulder. “I can’t wait to be Mrs. Joel Anderson.”
“I can’t wait to be Mr. Joel Anderson.” The couple’s giggles mingled, ending in a sweet kiss.
Devree looked away. She used to love weddings. Almost as much as the brides and grooms she’d worked with. Until Randall.
Just one more ceremony. If the goat didn’t ruin it for her. Then if she never got another glimpse of tulle and twinkle lights, she’d be a happy woman. And maybe, just maybe this charming couple would make it.
“Thank you so much for meeting with us, Devree.” Miranda never took her eyes off her groom-to-be. “I wanted Joel to see the chapel since he’s only seen pictures online.”
“I don’t care where the ceremony takes place. The married part is all that matters to me.” The requisite sappy response from Joel.
It would be nice if he kept feeling that way. But odds were—he wouldn’t.
“Okay, I’ll see you both for a consultation in a week.” Please let the goat be all lassoed and out of sight.
I love it.
More about Counting on the Cowboy:
Ranching is his whole life… until he meets one special city girl
Texas Cowboy Brock McBride knows better than to fall for a city girl. She’ll leave and break his heart—just like his ex-fiancée did. But his job at Chasing Eden Dude Ranch requires working alongside Dallas wedding planner Devree Malone. And despite fierce resistance, he’s falling hard. Yet with Devree’s business back in the city, can he convince her she’s found her home…with him?
Get your copy now: Counting on the Cowboy
Thanks for joining me, Shannon.
Readers, stay tuned. Shannon will be back next week with a character interview and a giveaway. I’m looking forward to learning more about one of these characters. 🙂