Bitter Springs by Laura Stone
Release Date: December 3, 2015
Publisher: Interlude Press
Cover Artist: Collen M. Good
Today we’re happy to be interviewing Laura Stone, author of BITTER SPRINGS, here at Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words. Hi Laura, thank you for agreeing to this interview. Tell us a little about yourself, your background, and your current book. I see you also brought along a character to interview. Welcome, Hank!
Oh my goodness, thanks for having me! I’m a single mother of three, and with the older two off to college, I have a bit more breathing room to write. BITTER SPRINGS is both my attempt to tackle a challenge—I’d never been invested in Western literature, honestly—and to write a love-letter to my home state, Texas. I’m a desert gal at heart, and nothing makes me happier than being out in the dry lonesome prairie or desert for days on end. It’s so fantastic.
And here is Hank to answer some questions as well:
Hank, what do you find attractive in a man?
How much print space can I have? Lord, but I love men. First and foremost, give me a kind man. I’m pretty tired of giving rude, hateful, arrogant men a pass by claiming they’re “complicated”. Nope, they’re self-absorbed. Take it from me, any younguns reading along: You can tell a lot about a man by the way he treats an animal or someone who works for him. Family should mean something. Creatures in your care should be treated with respect. If a man can’t do that, then I don’t think he’s much of anything, especially a man. You didn’t hear this from me, but hair you can tug on is pretty nice, too.
The first thing that went through your head when you saw Renaldo?
“Well, that doesn’t look like the runt of the litter.”
Do you think you’ll insist the author visits you again?
I don’t believe too much on insisting, but I’ll just say she’s barely scratched the surface.
Before you met Renaldo, what was your ideal man?
A family man. One who wasn’t afraid of working hard and who could appreciate the value in it. A man who could understand when it was time to be quiet, and maybe when they needed to draw me out of my head a little. I like a man with a passion for living, one who understands how you can’t take anything for granted. Life’s too precious for that.
You’re going out for dinner. What’s your favorite food?
Not too many opportunities for eating beyond Vista Verde, so I better just say anything Señora Valle Santos is cooking. That woman can work magic. Pretty fortunate that she likes cooking for me, I suppose, because Lord know I like eating it.
In 1870s Texas, Renaldo Valle Santos, the youngest son of a large and traditional family, has been sent to train with Henry “Hank” Burnett, a freed slave and talented mesteñero—or horse- catcher—so he may continue the family horse trade. Bitter Springs is a sweeping epic that takes themes from traditional Mexican literature and Old Westerns to tell the story of a man coming into his own and realizing his destiny lies in the wild open spaces with the man who loves him, far from expectations of society.
Pages or Words: 302 pages
Categories: Fiction, Gay Fiction, Historical, M/M Romance, Romance, Western/Cowboy
The day before the wedding, a visitor arrived at Vista Verde an entire week early. Renaldo, ready to wash up and eat dinner after a long, hard day—his side ached from roping cattle as a part of Paloma’s training, his hands were full of bits of raw hemp from the stock lassos, and one of the calves had kicked him high on the thigh—walked back from the barn using his hat to slap at the dust on his chest and thighs. He noticed a tall, striking young black man standing at the door to their home speaking with their father. They didn’t see many black men this far from civilization—with the Civil War ending so recently, many were staying close to where they’d been forced to live, were heading far out west where there were more opportunities to make a new life or were going north seeking less hostile society. Who he could be?
He was about as tall as Renaldo, maybe an inch or two more, broad-shouldered and whip-thin, dressed in well-worn, simple clothes. He had a close-cropped beard, but instead of hiding the shape of his jaw, it accented its sharpness. His light eyes, almost luminescent even at this distance and glowing like amber, were ringed with thick lashes, nearly to the point of being girlish, but there was nothing feminine about the man. With his lean but strong-looking chest, muscular arms and curved backside, he managed to carry himself with a confident air while standing idly; his body was still, but in a way that made Renaldo think of a raptor sitting on an abutment, watching and waiting.
“Oh, here he is,” Estebán said, motioning for Renaldo to join them, saying, “Señor Burnett, allow me to introduce to you my son, Renaldo.”
This? This was the legendary mesteñero, Henry Burnett? He couldn’t be much older than Renaldo, who realized his jaw had dropped. He closed his mouth quickly and moved toward them as if drawn like metal shavings to a magnet.
Burnett, however, looked amused, as the edge of his mouth quirked up. “Pleased to meet you,” he said, his voice deep and husky.
Renaldo couldn’t look away, shocked that his expectations couldn’t have been more wrong. This was a vibrant young man. But… this was the man he would be alone with on the prairie for months? His stomach twisted at that thought, and at how unexpected it all was, causing his heart to race and face flush. Yes, it was unexpected. That Burnett had come so much sooner than they’d expected had to be why Renaldo couldn’t find his voice and felt so upended.
“Mijo,” his father said sharply.
Renaldo shook himself slightly, and then nodded, saying, “Señor Burnett, it’s very good to meet you, finally. Please forgive my shock, as I don’t believe we expected you so soon.”
Burnett laughed, a rolling, melodious sound, and replied, “Well, then just imagine my shock when I come here all the way from Nacogdoches expecting one Valle man, only to find him gone and you in his place.” He smiled. “Your padre seems to think you’re a better match, so that works for me.”
That smile, bright teeth framed by full lips, eyes crinkled at the corners, helped lessen some of Renaldo’s shock and, if he was being honest, some of the worry that he carried about spending a lot of time with a hard, taciturn man Renaldo knew he would be unable to please. At the realization that this was who he would be with on the plains, just the two of them with no one else for weeks on end, Renaldo became excited, finally looking forward to this task. A young man with an infectious grin wouldn’t be such a chore to be stuck with after all.
Buy the book:
- Interlude Press Web Store: store.interludepress.com
- Amazon: http://amzn.to/1Ybi7Ab
- Barnes and Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/bitter-springs-laura-stone/1122753096?ean=2940152391107
- Apple iBooks Store: https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/bitter-springs/id1046777460?mt=11
- Smashwords: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/582322
Meet the author:
Laura Stone is a born and bred Texan, but don’t hold that against her. She’s a former comedian, actress and Master Gardener, and currently keeps busy as a media blogger, ghostwriter and novelist when not busy raising her three children. They’re not fully raised, but then, neither is she.
She lives in Texas as proof that it’s not completely populated by hard-line right-wingers. And because that’s where the good tamales are. Her first novel, The Bones of You, was published by Interlude Press in 2014 and was named a finalist for two Foreword Reviews IndieFab Book of the Year Award. Laura Stone at Laura-Stone.com and on Facebook at facebook.com/9LauraStone
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Enter to win a Rafflecopter Prize: Grand Prize: $25 Interlude Press Gift Card, First Prize: One of five e-copies of ‘Bitter Springs’. Must be 18 years of age or older. Link and prizes provided by the author and Pride Promotions.