Gambling on a Secret with Sara Walter Ellwood

I'm delighted to welcome romantic suspense author Sara Walter Ellwood to My Place. She chats about an old Western town, Colton in Texas. Fascinating!

Sara is also doing a giveaway on her blog tour so read on for your chance to win!

So, without further ado, we delve into the wild west...

Welcome to Colton, Texas!

When you crack open the cover of Gambling On A Secret, you are also opening the door to the little town of Colton in Forest County, Texas. A place seeped in history and Texas pride. So, in good Southern hospitality, c’mon in, hang your hat, and grab a glass of sweet tea—or a long neck bottle of brew or even a shot glass Jack. I’ll show you around.

Forest County gets its name from the oak forests that covered the land along the creeks running through it, but the majority of the land is grassland. Colton comes from the shortening of the original name for the cattle town Cole’s Town. The frontier town was nothing more than a Southern Baptist Church, a general store, a one room school, and the all important saloon. The large oak tree in the center of the town eventually became the spot for the courthouse. Fitting, considering it was from the massive branches the town’s founders hung anyone who questioned their law.

Today, the saloon is still standing and is still an important outlet after a long day to catch a beer and to listen to the local band. Several other churches joined the Baptists, and the educational system includes the small university, Colton College. And the old oak tree still stands before the courthouse as a reminder of Wild West justice. 

The people of Colton have a sense of community and look out for each other. They are patriotic to a fault, but proud of their Southern heritage. They love football, rodeo and good gossip. But don’t let the idyllic quaintness fool you as the members of the founding families are about to find out.

Murder, theft, deceit, fraud and secrets are about to shake this little town to its very foundations.

And the only way to survive is to rediscover the only thing that matters….


When Charli bets everything on a secret, will she find the deck stacked against her?

Former runaway-turned heiress Charli Monroe is hiding her sordid past and planning a future in Colton, Texas. Attending the local college for a degree in social work, she intends to raise cattle on her newly purchased ranch, which she plans to open as a home for troubled teens. Only a few glitches—the Victorian mansion is crumbling, the barn needs a roof, and her oilman neighbor wants more than friendship. When she meets Dylan Quinn, Charli is willing to take a chance on the town drunk to help her rebuild the rundown ranch.

Dylan has his demons, too. The former Special Forces commander can’t get past his ex-wife’s betrayal and the botched mission that left him with much more than a bad limp. Certain the greedy oilman next door to Charli wants much more than just her heart, Dylan’s even willing to stop drinking in order to protect her.

When things get dangerous and secrets of the past are revealed, is he only looking out for his new employer, or is she the new start he so desperately needs?

CONTENT WARNING: Details abuse of a minor, drug abuse, alcoholism, swearing, spicy sex, murder.

COVER QUOTE: “Full of intrigue, tangled pasts, and raw emotions, this one is guaranteed to keep you turning pages from start to finish and then wishing for one more chapter!”
Carolyn Brown, New York Times bestselling author of Just a Cowboy and His Baby.

“Ferguson, what are you doing here?” Dylan barked.

Leon ambled toward them on the stone path. “I’m saving a young maiden from torment. What are you doing here, playing the part of the devil?”

“I’m Miss Monroe’s new manager.” The deadly edge of his voice matched the flintiness of his eyes. “If there’s anyone to save the young maiden from, it’s you.”

“Mr. Quinn, please.” She turned to Leon. “Leon, is there something I can do for you?”

He smiled, showing off perfect white teeth in a face handsome enough to belong to an actor. “I was just passing by on my way home and decided to stop. How are the boys working out?”

Dylan’s stance widened and his hands flexed at his slides. “What boys?”

“Charli and I have entered into a business arrangement.”

She lost the battle with the urge to wrap her arms around herself. As much as she appreciated Leon’s kindness, respected him, and was even a little attracted to him, something about him didn’t sit right with her. He represented her peers in the community. According to Mrs. Pratt, besides the Cartwrights, she and Leon were undoubtedly the wealthiest residents in the county. No one in Colton could learn about her past. It would ruin her, and Leon, no doubt, had the means to dig up the dirt.

“Really?” Dylan stepped closer to her in a protective manner. Whiskey tainted his breath as the warmth of the exhalations tickled her cheek. “What kind of business arrangement?”

She could protect herself. Dylan Quinn wasn’t any safer than Leon Ferguson. Stepping away from him, she forced her arms to her sides. “Mr. Quinn, I can handle this.”

She faced Leon. “I’m amazed by how much the men got done since starting on Monday. The foreman told me last evening they’d be reseeding another fifty acres for hay this morning. And they have the corrals fixed and started on the fencing in the north pasture.”

“Good, good.” He glanced at Dylan. “I’ll be going, unless you need a more reliable exterminator. I couldn’t help but overhear about your snake infestation. I can give you the name of the company that has gotten rid of the snakes in our lakes over on Oak Springs for years.”

Although he presented the perfect solution, she didn’t the like way Leon had looked at Dylan as he said the word exterminator. “No, Mr. Quinn is quite capable of getting rid of the snake.”

“Oh, I’m sure he is.” Leon tipped his hat. “Let me know if there’s anything else I can do for you, Charli.” Dylan’s jaw tightened as his uncle glanced at him. “It’s good to see you up among the living again.”

Leon headed back to his Porsche. With no pretense of lowering his voice, Dylan said, “Now, there’s a snake no one wants in their garden.”

Upon hearing the jibe, Leon’s shoulders jerked in mid-stride.

Rattled by Leon’s attention and the snake fiasco, she turned on Dylan. “You aren’t off the hook. I want those snakes gone.”

“We’ll see.”

“I hate snakes.” She shuddered and put her hands on her hips. “Maybe I should have asked him who the exterminator is.”

Sara Walter Ellwood is an award winning author whose novel Gambling On A Secret was named by bestselling author Carolyn Brown in the Happy Ever After Blog on USA Today as one of her favorite romances of 2012. Although Sara has long ago left the farm for the glamour of the big town, she draws on her experiences growing up on a small hobby farm in West Central Pennsylvania to write her stories. She’s been married to her college sweetheart for nearly 20 years, and they have two teenagers and one very spoiled rescue cat named Penny. She longs to visit the places she writes about and jokes she’s a cowgirl at heart stuck in Pennsylvania suburbia.

She also writes paranormal romantic suspense under the pen name Cera duBois.

Buy Links: 
Amazon:  (Since the book releases on Jan 7, I won’t have bookseller links until then)
Barnes and Noble:

Author links:


~One poster from every stop will win a Gambling On A Secret ebook
~One commenter from each stop will win a piece of custom jewelry. 
(The winners of these two prizes will be announced the day after the tour stop.)

I also have 2 Grand Prizes!

~First Grand Prize is a SWAG PACK, including a signed copy of Carolyn Brown’s Just a Cowboy and His Baby. Also included is a copy of D’Ann Lindun’s Shot Through the Heart, a pen, a notebook, a horse themed mini calendar, a patriotic themed day planner, and more all tucked away in a reusable tote bag at the end of my blog tour.

~Second Grand Prize is a $10 Gift Card to either Amazon or Barnes and Noble. If you follow the tour and comment as often as possible, you increase your chances of winning!
(The winners of the Swag Pack and Gift Card will be announced on March 1, 2013.)
(Swag Pack is only eligible for US residents to win. The jewelry and gift card are eligible to US and Canada residents only. The ebook is eligible to anyone, unless prohibited by law.)


a Rafflecopter giveaway


  1. Thanks, Cathie, for having me here today to talk about my imaginary hometown!!!

    1. Pleasure to have you on board, Sara! We've had lots of hits on the page. Wishing you much success with Gambling on a Secret.

      Well, I'm curious, for one, about that secret... so I just got my copy! ;-)

    2. Thanks Cathie!

      Hope you won't be disappointed...

  2. I loved learning about the history of your town, Sara! Congrats on your release!

    Kristi_writes_romance @ yahoo . com

  3. Loved the story about Colton and the excerpt!

  4. Nice one Sara, Colton sounds wonderful, I can't wait to go there when reading Gambling on a Secret. It sounds like a wild west town I visited when I was in Phoenix -- touristy thing you know? but good for ideas :) I can't wait to read Secret, it's burning up my kindle saying read me read ME!

  5. I enjoyed the post thank you. I do love the wild west.


  6. Thanks everyone for stopping by. Hope you all have a great week!

  7. Thanks to you all for stopping by. Fabulous excerpt, I agree. Downloading to my Kindle now.

    Happy reading!

  8. Thanks everyone!

    I'm back to announce some winners.

    For the ebook: Mary Preston
    For the jewerly: Kristi Knight

    Congratulations, Ladies!

    Remember everyone is still in the running for the grand prizes!

    1. Many congratulations to Mary and Kristi! :-)


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