Darlene Panzera is a multi-published author of sweet, fun-loving romance. Her career launched with THE BET, included in bestselling author Debbie Macomber’s FAMILY AFFAIR. Her newest 3-book series, MONTANA HEARTS, debuts October 2015 from Avon Impulse, a division of HarperCollins. Darlene lives in the Pacific Northwest with her husband and three kids and says, “I love writing stories that inspire people to laugh, value relationships, and pursue their dreams.”
Tell us about your new release.
I write sweet, fun-loving romance. In MONTANA HEARTS: Her Weekend Wrangler, three adult siblings are drawn back to their family’s guest ranch after their father is injured. Out of loyalty to their mother and beloved grandma, and also because their time away hasn’t been as rewarding as they’d hoped, Bree, Luke, and Delaney Collins must put aside past grievances and work together to salvage the home they had once been so eager to leave behind. Bree finds she must also set aside her differences with the handsome cowboy, Ryan Tanner, and convince him to lead the guests on mini roundups. But can she trust him with her heart?
What led you to write this book?
Before writing THE CUPCAKE DIARIES series, I had written a book about a horse ranch titled, BET YOU’LL MARRY ME. I really wanted to get back to writing about a ranch with horses because I love the rustic atmosphere and love horses. (I have a black and white paint named J-R.) So I sat down and sketched out a three book proposal for the Montana Hearts series with each title focusing on one of the three siblings.
Did you have an interesting experience in the research of this book?
I do! My husband and daughter accompanied me on a road trip to Bozeman, Montana where I attended a writer’s conference that took us on different field trips around the area. We visited the historic Sacajawea Hotel, the local air and rescue helicopter team, and a cowboy rodeo where they shot salt pellets from their guns to pop balloons on poles. We also hiked up to the big white ‘M’ on the hillside at the crack of dawn and visited the nearby Three Forks Saddlery where I bought a new saddle pad. In fact, I base my fictional two block town of Fox Creek in Montana Hearts on the town of Three Forks because I fell in love with the area.
Which is more important characters or setting?
Definitely the characters. My stories focus on relationships, not only between the hero and heroine, but between all of the other people they come into contact as well.
Do you people watch for character inspiration?
Yes, guilty! I was in a restaurant the other day and couldn’t help but overhear a guy telling a girl at the table next to me, , “You’re making a bigger deal out of this than it is.” I saw her hurt expression and my heart went out to her as I realized what was really going on. The guy was being insensitive and wasn’t recognizing her emotions and the fact it was a big deal to her. He proceeded to ignore her and they ate the rest of the meal in silence.
What do you do when you are not writing?
I love spending time with my family, hanging out at the barn with my horse J-R, rooting for the Seattle Seahawks, crafts, photography, camping, hiking, skiing, and swimming at the lake. I’m also a big fan of taking off on spontaneous day trips to the beach or up into the mountains. I gain some of my most creative ideas while on these trips.
Do you have a reoccurring theme to your books?
I love underdogs who find the resolve they need to persevere. I also write about families and mending relationships. I tell people, “I love writing stories that inspire people to laugh, value relationships, and pursue their dreams.”
What’s next for you?
MONTANA HEARTS: Sweet Talkin’ Cowboy releases December 15th 2015, and Book 3 in the series releases May of 2016.
Excerpt MONTANA HEARTS: Her Weekend Wrangler:
Bree stayed a few more minutes to watch the couples sway in time to the music, then spun around to search for the three CEO’s and collided straight into a hard, chiseled chest. A soothing warmth spread over her entire body as she glanced up into Ryan’s handsome face and gasped. “You’re here.”
“I wouldn’t miss it.”
She leaned to the side and glanced at the three men behind him. “And you brought your brothers!”
“Yeah, they’re the reason I’m late. They didn’t want to come but I knew how much it meant to you, and why,” he said, giving her a mischievous grin. “So I had to negotiate a deal to get them here.”
Bree smiled because of the way his mouth twitched when he grinned, because of the excitement in his eyes when he looked at her, and because of the way his dark navy blue dress shirt and jeans clung to his splendid physique. Whoa, girl! Remember to keep it casual. Recollecting her thoughts, she met his gaze and asked, “What kind of deal?”
Ryan placed a hand on either side of her waist, his touch firm and…pleasantly possessive. “I had to trade them my earnings from working your ranch so they can buy a set of new tires for their quad.”
He did that for her?
“Which means,” he continued, flashing her another pulse-kicking grin, “I’m a little short on money and I’d be willing to be your weekend wrangler for the rest of the summer, if you’ll have me.”
Stunned, Bree sucked in her breath and stared at him, unable to speak, unable to process exactly what this would mean for her family, unable to think of anything except that Ryan Tanner was absolutely, undeniably, the very, very best! With a little hop, she squealed, unable to hold back her delight, and with her heart taking the lead, she impulsively flung her arms around his neck and…kissed him.