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Author Spotlight: Barbara Ankrum Is Back with a New Book and a New Series!!

Y’all know how much I love celebrating my fellow Tule authors, right? Today is a big party because I have the amazing Barbara Ankrum in the Author Spotlight with a new release coming out tomorrow and a fun giveaway!

Barbara Ankrum has a thing for the West and has written both historical and contemporary romances, all set in that magical place. Twice nominated for RWA’s RITA Award, her bestselling books are emotional, sexy rides with a touch of humor. Barbara’s married and raised two children in Southern California, which, in her mind, makes her a native Westerner.

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Barbara, tell us about tomorrow’s new release…

First, thanks so much Nan, for having me here to talk about the first book in my newest series from Tule Publishing The Hardestys of Montana. The series is set on a generationally owned Marietta ranch called The Hard Eight and follows four Hardesty siblings—Will, Shay, Cami and Liam Hardesty—who decide to save their struggling cattle ranch by converting it into a lux guest ranch.

The first book is The Cowboy’s Bride and I’m so excited for you to read this one. The wedding that starts the book is what inspired the whole story for me. Is there any more pivotal time for reinvention and happiness than a wedding? But… when a wedding goes terribly wrong, we know that someone, somewhere ignored all the warning signs. It’s that gut feeling I wanted to explore in this story. What happens when you ignore it and how do you come to trust it? I love exploring themes like this because (spoiler!) there have been plenty of times when that little voice has sailed right over my head. How about you?

Isabella Stanton had always been the good girl, following the rules and expectations of her family. But when her Dallas society wedding slides into disaster, she knows she has gotten it all wrong and there’s only one thing to do: Run. Enter Will Hardesty, a former NFL player, now owner of a limo company hired to drive the happy couple away from the wedding. But instead, Isabella hires him to help her escape to the other side of the country—getting her as far away from her controlling family as she can. It’s a road trip that leads them unexpectedly to each other and takes them home to the Montana ranch that Will left behind long ago.

Here’s a snippet:

They slid in on opposite sides of the king-sized bed and a long, awkward moment passed before he scooted toward the center and held out his arm to her in the dark. Heart pounding, she rolled closer to him, feeling his strong, warm arm beneath her shoulder. Tentatively, she rested her cheek against his chest—and took a deep breath.

She shouldn’t have been surprised at the instant relief she felt at the skin-to-skin contact. As if someone had flipped a switch in her brain, distracting her from all the awful thoughts that had been jabbing at her all night and replacing those thoughts with the white noise of human contact. A buzzing comfort.

Her insides took a tumble as his hand moved slowly against her back, against the white shirt that belonged to him. Like a cat, she leaned into his comforting touch that skimmed over her hip and back.

“I’m sorry,” she murmured against his chest.

“Don’t be.”

“You must think I’m—”

“I don’t,” he said. “I don’t think anything. Shh-hh. Just try to relax.”


That was, after all, the whole point of this. The idea of this had made perfect sense when she was tossing and turning in this big bed alone. She’d needed someone to hold her. Someone to hold as well. Though, before tonight, never in a million years could she have imagined instigating the idea of holding a man she hardly knew, half naked in a strange bed.

I mean, where should I put my hand? My leg? Why hadn’t she thought this through?

Awareness fluttered deep inside her, at the feel of his strong chest against her cheek. His heartbeat thudded against her ear, strong and steady. She could feel his warm breath against her hair as he pulled her closer, fitted her against him.

With his free hand, he reached for hers, and settled it flat against his ribs, then pulled her knee up gently across his firm thigh. An experienced cuddler. She wondered what woman he’d held like this before. The thought made her inhale sharply. Was he even married? She’d never asked.

“This is strictly a friendly cuddle,” she reminded him. “So, if you’re married or have a girlfr—”

“I’m not. I don’t.”

Relief swept through her. “Okay. I-I just didn’t want to be that girl. Which, as we all know, can lead to things which shall not be spoken of.”

She felt more than saw him smile. “You’re not. You’re safe,” he murmured. “Sleep.”


This was possibly—aside from almost marrying a serial cheater—the most unsafe thing she’d ever done. But somehow, she believed him. She felt protected in his arms. As if he’d keep her safe from anything. Including her own despairing thoughts.

His hand moved slowly, deliciously against her back.

He was probably as exhausted as she was. But at his tenderness—the way he held her, willing her to sleep—a tear leaked from her eye and wetted his chest. Behind that one, she felt a full-on, emotional crying jag threatening, but she ruthlessly shoved it back. Was it even sadness she felt over Theo? Or simple gratitude for this tenderness? Too many emotions to sort. To be simply held, without expectation or strings … this was all she needed.

“Thank you,” she murmured against his warm skin.

“Tomorrow will be easier,” he whispered.

She hoped. Squeezing her eyes shut, she felt the deep tension that had settled in her soul begin to recede. And that was all she knew.

 Giveaway: One lucky commenter will win an eBook copy of The Cowboy’s Bride. Just tell me your favorite place to run away to. Is the beach, the mountains? A cabin? The spa? There are no wrong answers! Winner will be chosen on June 1rst. Please check back to see if you’ve won!

The Cowboy’s Bride

Drive, she said…

When Isabella Stanton’s Dallas society wedding becomes the most humiliating day of her life, there’s only one thing to do: run—hard to do in a wedding dressShe begs a ride from the handsome wedding limo driver offering him a huge bonus to help her escape. After a lifetime of trying to please everyone but herself, Isabella has no plans, no job, and no set destination. Her only certainty–she can never go home again.

Will Hardesty understands escape. Growing up heir apparent cowboy on his family’s ranch in Marietta, Montana, he left behind his difficult father to play football in college and the NFL. After an injury costs him his career and his wife, he buys a limo company, focusing on business not romance. Initially he thinks he’s Driving Miss Crazy, but even his inner cynic can’t resist his adorable passenger who’s funny and consistently finds the bright side of everything.

But will an emergency detour to his family’s ranch coupled with a convenient lie about their blossoming relationship be the romantic nudge they both need or their undoing?

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