July 15, 2012

Travis Archer

This Texan is the "he" in hero. The oldest of four brothers, he has spent too many years protecting his land and his family the only way he knew how. No one comes in, no one goes out. He's used to running the show, leading by example, and solving any problem that penetrates their reclusive, secluded existence with his wits or his Winchester, whichever is most effective. When Meredith Hayes, the courageous young girl he once rescued, comes to warn them of a threat against their land, an accident leaves her reputation in shreds. Travis comes to her rescue once again. But what Travis doesn't know, and Meredith comes to understand, is Travis is the one in need of rescue, from the burden of his past and the fears of the future. How Travis comes to terms with the wound in his past and rises to be a better protector of his family by learning to trust more than his rifle is what earned him a Fiction Hero Feature slot.

From Short Straw Bride by Karen Witemeyer:

     Travis slid his brown wool vest over the scratchy cotton shirt, wincing as the stiff material pressed against his back. He did up the buttons and grabbed his hat, catching a glimpse of himself in the mirror as he turned for the door.
     Meredith wasn't getting much of a prize in their arrangement. Travis frowned at his razor-nicked face and saddle-bum clothes and thought about how pretty she'd looked stepping out of his room with her hair done up and her eyes glowing shyly at him. Seeing her only in a shapeless sleeping gown the last couple of days, he'd nearly forgotten what nice curves she had. The faded dress she wore with its snug bodice and trim waist brought all those memories rushing back.
     Meredith Hayes was a fine specimen of a woman. And sometime later today, she was going to be his.
     A rogue with a devilish grin stared back at him from the mirror. Travis winked at his reflection, settled his hat into place, and fought the urge to whistle as he headed outside to tend his chores.

Excerpt used with permission. All rights reserved.

Gallant Score: Travis earns himself a three. One for marrying to save a damaged reputation. The second because marriages are typically followed by honeymoons and the way Travis handles his and Meredith's is a great part of the story. It would be a spoiler to tell you why he deserves that third one, but for those who already know Travis Archer, it involves an ink pen.

Wounded Score: Travis carries the blame and the burden of a promise made at fifteen that's hurt him more than he knows. That pain has defined him so long he doesn't even know it's not supposed to be that way. :-/

Softie Score: The tough exterior isn't a facade. Travis Archer's determination to keep his promise to protect his brothers and their land at all costs have taken a toll on his softer side, and Meredith is in for some rough and tumble scrapes and misunderstandings because of it. Occasionally the bit that's in there comes out, especially when Meredith first meets him but that's all I can say without giving away one of the best parts. =)

Stupid Strikes: Again, I find this runs in correlation to the wounded score, and Travis earns this one for a pretty hurtful statement he makes in an argument and of course, for drawing straws to see whose going to marry Meredith! An incident with their locked gate almost earned him another one, but he takes that so hard himself I teared up a little feeling his regret in the moments that followed that I couldn't give him the second one.

Swoon Score: Travis Archer starts with an automatic orange head because he's a Karen Witemeyer hero and Karen Witemeyer knows how to write a great hero. He gets a second orange head because he's a Texan, I'm partial to the name Travis, and he looks absolutely fantastic on his cover. I can't decide if I like the vest or those pants more... so I won't! That third orange head is well-earned at a rock down by the creek you'll want to take your time reading through and for the way that for all his gruffness and swagger (see excerpt above, hehe), his moments of vulnerability and tender care for Meredith and family will endear him to you way more than his name and his clothes.

About Travis Archer's novel (Released June 1, 2012):

Four brothers. Four Straws. One Bride.

No one steps on Archer land. Not if they value their life. But when Meredith Hayes overhears a plot to burn the Archer brothers off their ranch, a long-standing debt compels her to take the risk.
Years of constant vigilance harden a man. Yet when Travis Archer comes across a female trespasser with the same vivid blue eyes as the courageous young girl he once aided, he can't bring himself to send her away. And when an act of sacrifice leaves her injured and her reputation in shreds, gratitude and guilt prompt him to attempt to rescue her once again.

Despite the fact that Travis is no longer the gallant youth Meredith once dreamed about, she vows to stand by his side. But will love ever be hers? Or will Travis always see her as merely a short-straw bride?

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About Travis Archer's author:

Two-time RITA® Finalist and winner of the coveted HOLT Medallion, CBA bestselling author, Karen Witemeyer, writes historical romance fiction for Bethany House, believing that the world needs more happily-ever-afters. She is an avid cross-stitcher, shower singer, and bakes a mean apple cobbler. Karen makes her home in Abilene, TX with her husband and three children. Learn more about Karen and her books at: www.karenwitemeyer.com.

Now for the Fiction Hero Feature Exclusive from the author not found in the novel:

Travis named his horse Bexar in keeping with the Alamo tradition his mother started. We all know that he and his brothers were named for heroes from the Alamo, but you might not know that Bexar is the name of the Alamo's location. San Antonio de Bexar was the name of the settlement that was home to the Alamo at the time of the revolution. Today we know the city as San Antonio, but the county it resides in is still called Bexar.

NOTE: Nancy Kimball is a descendant of Gregorio Esparza, a defender of the Alamo. She is very proud of this part of her heritage. =)

Now for the giveaways:

We are giving away one print copy of Travis Archer's novel Short Straw Bride to a randomly chosen commenter. If your comment contains an Alamo or Battle of the Alamo fact previously unmentioned in this post, you will get two entries in the drawing for Short Straw Bride that closes at midnight central time on July 30th.

And because anyone who calls themselves a Karen Witemeyer fan already owns this book and likely her others as well, you can tell us Travis already has a home on your shelf or e-reader and be entered for a $10 Amazon or Barnes & Noble gift card, winner's choice. BUT, so that I believe you, LOL, you have to tell me the name of a character that isn't Travis or Meredith, and once that character is named in the comments, you have to pick someone else.

<This isn't complicated, but it will take a touch more synapses firing than usual so make me proud!>
As always, if you aren't a blog follower, leave me your e-mail address in an anti-spammer format like travisarcher (at) awesomehero dotcom so that I can notify you if your name is drawn.

July 1, 2012

Sean O'Brien

          This hero has no trouble filling the tall boots of a small-town Texas Sheriff. The readers that remember him as a child from Unlawfully Wedded Bride will be pleased to know Sean's need to protect even then has grown along with him to encompass their entire town. But Sean is also protecting his heart, especially when his childhood sweetheart Lorelei Wilkins becomes his best friend's girl. And since the best defense is a good offense, sparks fly when he goes out of his way to convince himself, and her, he doesn't care for her anymore. The only problem is he does.
          A problem that gets worse when he is sent to retrieve her, the runaway bride, who left his best friend at the altar. When an innocent mistake compromises both their reputations, Sean does what heroes do. He agrees to a forced marriage with this girl who has no problems letting him know she considers marriage to him a fate worse than death. Can Sean battle through his fears and win her over, while protecting their town from nefarious bank robbers, dodging the town gossip that could ruin everything at any moment, and contending with baby sister Ellie who is up to her old matchmaking schemes again?

From The Runaway Bride:

                He definitely didn’t want to talk about this. What was going on with everyone lately? Was he doing such a bad job of managing his life that everyone felt he needed to listen to their advice? He was glad that Lorelei wanted to talk about spiritual things. It signified a deepening in their relationship. But, why this? Why now, when he was finally getting things in hand? He cleared his throat. “That’s a lot to take in.”
                She left it at that to glance up at the sky thoughtfully. He should probably have done the same, but he noticed a long hairpin working its way loose from her fashionable chignon. “Your pin is falling out.”
                She found it but couldn’t seem to fix it with only one hand free, so he reached over to do it for her. He barely touched the silly thing before it wobbled and fell from her hair. Lorelei gasped, then turned her head toward him abruptly, sending her long brown curls spilling over her shoulders. “Thank you so much for helping.”
                “Anytime.” He grinned as the wind took complete control of her hair, tossing it across her face and teasing his cheek. At its fleeting touch, the tension immediately fled. He caught his breath. How is that possible?
                He brushed her hair out of her face, then allowed his hand to stray into her curls. They were soft and full and like nothing he’d ever felt before. He met her wide blue eyes. Suddenly, he recognized the girl he’d known at eighteen when past tension seemed easily buried and new possibilities were at hand. He saw the future they could have had if a misunderstanding and childish pride hadn’t stood in the way. He saw the woman she was now. The woman he was beginning to care for. It scared him, and he was tempted to bring the past between them again but he didn’t want to. He wanted for one day, one moment to let his guard down enough to see her as she really was—the woman he’d always longed for.

Excerpt © Harlequin Enterprises 2012. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.
Gallant Score - Sean earns his three for much more than marrying to save a compromised reputation. He carries his heroine through mud and rain, protects her from the bank robbers, and rode across Texas for days to rescue her from the perils facing a single woman traveling alone.
Wounded Score - Sean's done a terrific job of hiding his pain from all but his closest family. The tragedy of his parents' death taught him all about love and loss. That wound deepened when he was finally ready to express his intentions to Lorelei but before he could, she chose his best friend and he lost her too. It's too much of a spoiler to tell you what the affliction is, but Sean's early loss has given him a physical condition he's hiding from everyone too that made my heart need a band-aid.

 Softie Score - For being a no-nonsense Texas Sheriff, Sean hasn't lost what readers loved about him in Unlawfully Wedded Bride. He loves his family as much as ever and isn't afraid to show it and keeping spoiler free prevents me from justifying this score but trust me, between a picnic and a precious little girl and a swing he makes for Lorelei, Sean earns it.

Stupid Strikes - Sean gets zero. Yes, he should have trusted his gut and put more thought into the chaperone situation after retrieving Lorelei, but he's the Sheriff and he needed to get back to town quickly. Yes, he should also have told Lorelei how he felt sooner, but he was still sorting out how he felt so I won't fault him for that.

Swoon Score - A perk of what I do is sometimes getting to see the author's images of their hero. We wanted to share it with you but weren't able to get permissions. So sorry! You'll learn this from reading but Sean is oh so handsome with green eyes, light hair, and that two day beard trapped between stubble and soft. Then he pins that star on the vest and goes to work saving the day for the town and whether she likes it or not, for Lorelei too and the faces start turning orange pretty fast!

About the novel (Releasing July 3, 2012):

The only husband Lorelei Wilkins ever wanted was Sean O'Brien, but she's wasted too much time waiting for him to love her back. When another man proposes, she accepts—until she stands at the altar…and realizes she can't marry without love. Bolting out of town toward a fresh start, she never suspected her parents would send Sheriff O'Brien to bring her home!

After an innocent mistake leaves Lorelei and her reluctant rescuer with compromised reputations, marriage is their only option. But first they must triumph over suspicious locals, shady characters, an inconvenient groom and the bride's own stubborn heart. Will it take putting their lives on the line for Sean and Lorelei to realize that only love can conquer all?

Amazon     Harlequin     Barnes & Noble     Christianbook.com

About the author, Noelle Marchand:

Noelle Marchand's love of literature began as a child when she would spend hours reading beneath the covers long after she was supposed to be asleep. Over the years, God began prompting her to write. Eventually, those stories became like "fire shut up in her bones" leading her to complete her first novel at fifteen. Now, at the age of twenty-three, that fire of inspiration continues to burn.
Noelle is a Houston-native who graduated from Houston Baptist University in May 2012. She received a bachelor's degree in Mass Communication with a focus in Journalism and Speech Communication.

Find her on her website, noellemarchand.com where she blogs or follow her on twitter @noellemarchand or over on Goodreads.

Now for the Fiction Hero Feature Exclusive from the author not found in the novel:

Despite Sean's denial in Unlawfully Wedded Bride, the first book in the series, he did receive his first kiss from Lorelei at the age of twelve.

Now for the giveaways:

FHF has three copies of Sean O'Brien's novel The Runaway Bride to give away on July 14th when the drawing ends at noon. Print or e-book, winners choice. Winners will be randomly chosen from among the comments, so if you are not a blog follower please leave your e-mail address in a format to help you avoid spammers such as nancykimball (at) hotmail (dotcom) so I can notify you. I want to know what you think of Sean and if you like the new format of FHF, if you've read Unlawfully Wedded Bride or not, or who your favorite fiction hero is and Noelle will be dropping by when she's able so make her and Sean feel welcome!
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