Please give a warm welcome to Darlene Panzera, who is celebrating the release of her debut full length novel: BET YOU’LL MARRY ME, a cute and funny contemporary romance full of sexy cowboys, small town folks and … horses! Read on to learn how Darlene, a Jersey girl became infatuated with horses and how they inspired her stories, you could even win a copy of her novel! Darlene, take it away. 😀
Horses: A Writing Inspiration
I’ve had rabbits, cats, and dogs, but never a horse while growing up. I lived in New Jersey with populated neighborhoods and no one I knew had a horse. Taking lessons wasn’t even a consideration. The only time I’d been near a horse was when the farmer’s across from my grandparents house let me ride in the corn cart as the horse went up and down the field at harvest time. I can’t say I was crazy about horses like some girls, but I have always been fascinated by them. Each year when I went to 4-H camp I longed to be in the horseback riding class, but was disappointed when I never got in. The girls who already had horses were always chosen first.
Then when I was eleven I finally had my chance! I was on a three week trip across country with my grandparents and my aunt, and we camped at a place that had horseback riding. My aunt and I went on a trail ride and loved it so much we signed up for a second hour.
My next chance to ride was on my honeymoon. I dreamed of riding a horse along the beach like the couples I saw in all the bridal magazines. The reality wasn’t quite like the magazine photo— my horse wanted to go fast and I felt like I was going to fall off. But I still enjoyed riding.
Then my husband and I followed a group of our friends to Washington State where we all vowed to buy lots of land and ride horses. Instead we had three kids. But my daughter must have been born with my ‘horse dream’ gene when I delivered her, because at age one and a half she was enthralled by pony rides. Whenever there was a circling pony ride available in town or at the local fair she would want a pony ride. At age five I signed her up for riding lessons. My daughter had no fear and was soon cantering around on a horse like a flea on a dog’s back. I loved watching her, and I loved driving out to the farm and the fields. Just being there was so peaceful.
Then one day the lesson instructor looked at me and said, “So when are you going to ride?”
I gasped. “Me? But I need to watch my two little boys.”
The instructor said she had a teen girl who could watch my sons in her house and so—I finally found myself riding horses every week. Riding with my daughter around the open outdoor arena surrounded by beautiful scenery was amazing. My favorite time to ride was sunset when the sky would turn all orange and give the fields a golden glow. The rest of my week could be filled with all kinds of stress, but it would all disappear once I was at the horse farm. I began to dream of our future family outings on horseback, while my husband dreamed of us all on dirt bikes. This is when the girls separated from the guys. My husband and two sons would go dirt bike riding on weekends and my daughter and I would go to the barn.
No twelve year old girl has ever screamed louder than my daughter when we bought her a horse for her birthday. The bay mare was an older Morgan named Riki, who we had been taking lessons on. The following year we bought a young black and white paint named J-R (show name Heza Superhawk) so my daughter could compete with him in dressage classes, although he also can ride western. We joined the 4-H pony club where I was co-leader for the girls at the stable.
So naturally my longing to ride and love for horses went straight into my writing. The heroine, Jenny O’Brien, in my new release, BET YOU’LL MARRY ME, owns a horse ranch with barns and stables and open fields. Some of the horses in her barn were modeled after the real horses I see every day at the stable where we board our horses. I hope you enjoy the story as much as I had fun writing it, and please leave a comment below sharing your own hopes and dreams as a kid or if you have horses of your own.
Originally published in shorter form under the title The Bet; first appeared within Debbie Macomber’s Family Affair.
In Darlene Panzera’s debut full-length romance, an entire town places a bet on just whom pretty Jenny O’Brien will marry . . . and her choice surprises them all!
When tall, handsome out-of-towner Nick Chandler first sets eyes on Jenny O’Brien, she’s storming into the Bets & Burgers Café, wielding a broom and threatening the safety of every man in sight. Hey, he figures, she’s got the right to be annoyed—the whole town seems to be laying bets on whom Jenny will marry.
Nick’s annoyed as well. He didn’t think he’d have to propose to romance the land away from her, but to save his sister and his ill-fated business, he jumps into the fray and bets $10,000 that Jenny will marry him.
Now the only thing stopping him from seizing her land . . . may be his own heart.
Darlene Panzera is the winner of the “Make Your Dreams Come True” contest sponsored by Avon Books, which led her novella, THE BET, to be published with Debbie Macomber’s FAMILY AFFAIR released July 2012. The full length novel, retitled, BET YOU’LL MARRY ME, releases December 12, 2012. She is currently working on a 3 novella set for Avon Books, a division of HarperCollins, to be published May 2013 titled, THE CUPCAKE DIARIES.
Darlene is a graduate of the Writer’s Digest advanced novel writing school, The Christian Writer’s Guild apprentice program, and a member of Romance Writers of America’s Greater Seattle and Peninsula chapters. Born and raised in New Jersey, Darlene is now a resident of the Pacific Northwest where she lives with her husband and three children. When not writing she enjoys spending time with her family and her two horses, and loves camping, hiking, photography, and lazy days at the lake.
Connect with Darlene at her website.
Author Rescue has generously offered an ebook copy of Bet You’ll Marry Me by Darlene Panzera to a lucky reader!
All you have to do to be entered is to leave a comment sharing your own hopes and dreams as a kid or if you have horses of your own
and complete the Rafflecopter form below.
(You can read our full giveaway policy here)
This giveaway is open to all!
Giveaway ends on Saturday, 17 December 2012; winner will be contacted by Author Rescue.