Charlene is visiting us today from her home in Utah where we hear the temperatures are dropping dramatically for the season. Brr!
A writer from early one, Charlene is no stranger to the world of fiction. She wrote her first novel in college and went onto published half a dozen titles. Today, she brings us Taming Jenna, a novel near and dear to her heart.
Jenna Leigh-Wittington is a pip. A real western tomboy if ever there was one. Deserted by her father when she was young, Jenna taught herself to survive on her own. Now, an agent for the famous Pinkerton National Detective Agency, she puts her life-skills to work hunting down criminals. A dedicated agent, Jenna has vowed to steer clear of men and focus on her job. Home, hearth, little ones are not in her future.
Enter hired gun, Branch McCauley, who's on a mission of his own. When he meets Jenna, his own agenda is thwarted. Rather than being agry, he refocuses his attentions on this little hellcat, and a battle of wills begins.
Steamy, erotic, adventurous, and a step back in time are all words I use easily when describing Charlene's writing. And never more so than with Taming Jenna. Branch certainly has his work cut out for him if he's going to tame the feisty heroine of this story. Charlene has taken what would normally be a run of the mill western romance and lit a fire under it, inflaming her characters and giving them a fiery, and somewhat volatile, relationship. Those are the funnest to ready, IMO. I want edge-of-my-seat reading, and that's what I get reading Charlene's stories. Taming Jenna is a fast paced gallop across the American west as it was being discovered and forged. And the love story that develops between her characters will go down in time as classic historical romance.
Before we check out the excerpt, remember, Charlene is giving away a copy of Taming Jenna to one lucky commenter today. Be sure to leave your email address so we can contact you.
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Deserted by her good-for-nothing father at the tender age of seven, Jenna Leigh-Whittington taught herself to ride, shoot, brawl...and steer clear of the opposite sex. But now, in a lonely Utah canyon, the Pinkerton agent has drawn her six-gun on a rugged stranger -- only to discover that, far from the dangerous outlaw she's been tracking, he is Branch McCauley, hired gun . . . and the most irresistible rascal ever to tempt and torment a woman.
The Right Woman
If there's one thing McCauley trusts less than a female, it's a female that packs a six-gun. Vowing to bring the sensuous hellcat to heel, McCauley has no inkling that their passionate battle of wills has just begun. Taming Jenna will be the most seductive -- and satisfying -- job he's ever taken on . . .
A man’s naked chest was one thing, Jenna Leigh-Whittington told herself as she crept through the brush. After all, this was 1879, not the dark ages, and she was no stranger to the sight of an unclothed male. Back home in Illinois, farmhands often went shirtless, toiling under a broiling sun.
Besides, Jenna had decided fifteen years ago at the ripe age of seven never to make the same mistake her mother had in giving her heart to a man. So a chest was all Jenna had expected to see of the masculine form.
Now she was fully grown and over a thousand miles from home, in Utah, dressed as a boy and doing a cold, dangerous job no one believed a woman could do. Scary, but worth it because it would insure her freedom. At the moment, rather than fearing for her life, she was fretting over the possibility of having to inspect a man’s bare bottom.
Jenna’s short Indian-style bow tangled in the bushes as she sneaked closer to the camp she’d discovered thanks to its telltale scent of coffee. She worked the bow free without a sound. The damp ground beneath her knees smelled of summer growth. She gave a mental grunt of disgust at the dirt and grass stains being ground into her coat and trousers. Hopefully, they would not be her only souvenirs from tonight’s adventure. She needed the reward money success promised.
Rewards didn’t truly matter, though. All in the line of duty. A man’ s duty. Which she was doing.
For days, Jenna and her sorrel, Gent, had tracked her quarry from Denver to Cheyenne and on west through every godless whistle-stop along the Union Pacific Railroad. So far he had escaped her without granting her a single peek at him. He knew good horseflesh, she had to give him that.
But now she had him—trapped in a dead-end draw west of Evanston, surrounded by aromatic sagebrush, sego lilies, jackrabbits, and the red crenelated sandstone cliffs called Echo Canyon.
To avoid detection, she had left the sorrel in the main canyon and threaded her way up the draw on foot. The branches thinned and she could see him now, leaning against a saddle on the ground and gnawing a stick of jerky. Beyond the campfire, a horse stomped and swished its tail. Jenna envied the horse that long tail. A whole hoard of mosquitoes were sucking on her hide. She didn’t dare slap at the pests. Too noisy.
Muscles of iron strained the seams of the man’s chambray shirt and tan denim trousers as he sat up to dig another strip of jerky out of his saddlebag. A black Stetson shadowed his eyes. The dim light from the fire made determining the color of his mustache and beard was difficult, but they looked dark. Dark enough for her to feel confident that he was indeed the man she sought.
Black Jack Mendoza, cardsharp, frequenter of saloons, consort of soiled doves, train robber, and murderer.
A desperate, dangerous man.
Jenna’s mouth went dry as gunpowder at the thought that she was about to face him alone. Too late to worry over that now. Swallowing convulsively, she drew her .44 calibre Starr army revolver and prepared to confront the man. She eared back the hammer with her thumb and the click shattered the still night like the roar of a cannon.
The man lunged to his feet, his gun drawn so fast she never saw his hand move.
• • •
Charlene began her writing life at an early age, often penning stories where she cast herself as the heroine. It was after college when she dug out her old college typewriter and started her first novel, which came from a spirited dream she'd had the previous night.
While that book never sold, her second novel did. Tender Touch became a Golden Heart finalist and earned her an agent who signed the book, and two others, in a three book contract with Kensington Publishing. Kensington went onto publish five of Charlene's western historical romances: Taming Jenna (1994); Tender Touch (1994 Golden Heart Finalist); Forever Mine (1996 Romantic Times Magazine Reviewer's Choice Award Nominee and Affaire de Coeur Reader/Writer Poll finalist); To Have and To Hold (1997 Affaire de Coeur Reader/Writer Poll finalist); and as Rachel Summers, The Scent of Roses (1999).
Charlene took a break from publishing, but not from writing. A Kiss and A Dare is Charlene's first paranormal romance.
Divine Gamble is Charlene's most recently completed work and earned her first place at the 2010 Romance Through The Ages contest in their western historical romance category. Currently, she's reworking that first book she wrote that resulted from a spirited dream.
When Charlene isn't writing, she loves to travel, research genealogy, create digital scrapbooks and dye eggs in the Ukrainian style. She also enjoys camping and fishing with her husband in the Utah wilderness.
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