Ranch Romances is one of my real favorite tales. If you might wonder now and then what life was like in the no-longer-wild but still developing and far from modern west in the post WWII era, here is a glimpse into that time. Nobody had heard of politically correct at that point and gay rights were a very distant dream. That meant life could be pretty had for a gentle young man who'd been put out of the army with a bad conduct discharge for the mere rumor of having possibly indulged in homosexual activity.
There really was a magazine called Ranch Romances and I read it avidly some years later than the time when this tale takes place. It did have pen pal columns, too, and before anyone had come up with eHarmony or Match.Com that as an acceptable method of finding friends and potential romance. I kept the Post Office busy corresponding with several lonely cowboys and servicemen while they did their share, too. This story was my small tribute to the service that and similar pulp magazines provided when telephone connections were a bit iffy and the main entertainment in rural areas was the radio and events at the schools and churches.
Here is the blurb for this story and the cover, which I loved since it really reflects the style of art used in the 1930-1970 period by this and similar publications! I got permission from the artist (Trace Zebar) to use it on the re-release.
Widowed Wade is desperate to find someone to help him care for his two motherless children while he runs his hardscrabble ranch. After seeing a “match” column in a pulp magazine, he sends off a letter, unsure what he will get. When it turns up quiet, gentle Darnell, he is both shocked and intrigued. Can this unorthodox arrangement possibly work?
Darnell is at the end of his rope when he finds an ad in a magazine that appears as if put there for him. He takes a desperate chance and ends up on a remote ranch in
He finds the motherless children very loveable and their father scarily
attractive. But how, in the stiff and conservative environment of 1949, can he
dare reach for intimacy with his new hero? Will he end up back in dire straits
or settled in the home he deeply craves?
Red Tails celebrates the heroic pilots who carry water and slurry into the rugged terrain of the west where again this year wicked wild fires are raging in the forest and open lands, often threatening small towns and rural farms and ranches. Hot, dry conditions create a virtual tinderbox, ready to explode with the catalyst of lightning, untended campfires or even a carelessly tossed cigarette butt. Then these daring pilots lift off into danger to help battle the blazes. What heroes!
Former military pilot Blaine Darby carries a load of guilt and pain from harm he may have caused in wartime. Now he seeks to earn some balancing good karma by fighting wild land fires while he holds
Freelance investigative journalist Daz Contreras is convinced terrorists are behind at least some of the wild land fires plaguing New Mexico. All he needs is enough proof to break a story. As he pursues this he begins to follow pilot Blaine Darby and develops a big case of hero worship. Allowed to ride with his hero one time, he may have gotten the proof he seeks. But a heroic rescue may be an even bigger story. Will the reclusive Darby allow him to do it?
This is another of Trace Zabar's fantastic covers which he graciously permited me to reuse. I love those eyes!! Yes, I know Blaine is gay and would not be drawn to me but I would gladly chase such a man around the block and do my best to catch him! However, I think he is going to find a good match with Daz once he gets over his prejudices about jounalists. Read the book to find out.