Spotlight & Giveaway: Tougher in Texas by Kari Lynn Dell

Posted August 16th, 2017 by in Blog, Spotlight / 99 comments

Today it is my pleasure to Welcome author Kari Lynn Dell to HJ!

Hi Kari  and welcome to HJ! We’re so excited to chat with you about your new release, Tougher in Texas!


Tell us about the book using the title:

Tougher, because both Shawnee and Cole have had to bear the nearly unbearable, and it hasn’t broken them…yet.
Tougher, because as pickup riders they are the lifesavers, the rescuers, and the ones who put their necks on the line for cowboys who are counting on them to be strong enough to handle the horses and the bulls and any unexpected potential catastrophe.
Tougher, because for these two, it isn’t an act. Their toughness runs generations deep and clear to their bone marrow.
Tougher, because despite everything they’ve overcome, letting themselves believe they can love and be loved will be the hardest thing they’ve ever done.

Please share your favorite quote from the book:

Shawnee scowled at Cole, suddenly annoyed by how much he reminded her of one of his precious bulls, a massive pile of man flesh all smug and satisfied.
“Do you ever do anything for fun?” she demanded.
His sleepy gaze ran the length of her, and his eyebrows raised.
“Besides me,” she snapped.


Please share a few Fun facts about this book…

  • The emblem on the cowboy’s shirtsleeve on the cover is real, the logo for Black Eagle Rodeo, which is owned by my cousin and her family.
  • My son is high-functioning autistic in a similar range of the spectrum as Cole, so many of the quirkiest parts of his personality are drawn directly from my daily life.
  • The twin truck drivers, Lester and Leslie, were named after my father-in-law and his brother who actually were twins and truck drivers.


If your book was optioned for a movie, what scene would you use for the audition of the main characters and why?

I would use the scene I called Staking His Claim, because it’s the moment when Cole throws his almost pathological caution aside and makes his move:

“Apparently I haven’t made myself clear.” He yanked the trailer door open, gesturing her inside. When she only folded her arms and glared at him, he huffed out a gust of air. “Please.”
She hesitated, then scowled. “Fine, if it pries that burr out of your shorts.”
He followed her in, banged the door shut and clamped his hands on her shoulders when she spun to face him. “You are the burr,” he said, walking her back, step-by-step, until she came up against the closet door. “You go out of your way to be irritating and pushy and downright obnoxious, and unless you knee me in the nuts, I’m going to kiss you anyway.”
Her eyes went wide. “I don’t think—”
“Good. I’m probably safer that way.”


If you could have given your characters one piece of advice before the opening pages of the book, what – would it be and why?

I wouldn’t bother trying. They’re both too damn hard-headed to listen.


What are you currently working on? What other releases do you have planned for 2017?

My next book, Fearless in Texas, is due out April 2, 2018 and stars Wyatt and Melanie. The fifth book in the series will be out in the fall of 2018 and will be my first ever Christmas story.

Thanks for blogging at HJ!


Giveaway: Print copy of Tougher in Texas (Texas Rodeo) by Kari Lynn Dell


To enter Giveaway: Please complete the Rafflecopter form and Post a comment to this Q: One of the most frequent comments I get from readers is that they’ve never been to rodeo because there are none in their area. I beg to disagree—to the point that I have a standing challenge on my Facebook page. If you live in the lower 48 states, tell me where you are and I’ll either find a rodeo within 150 miles (what we in Montana consider an easy day trip), or I’ll give you your choice of a signed copy of any of my Texas rodeo books. Go ahead, give me your best shot.

a Rafflecopter giveaway


Excerpt from Tougher in Texas:

Shawnee slowed and turned into the driveway of the saddle club. The parking lot was already crowded and a good number of riders circled the arena, warming up. Her pulse did an eager shimmy of anticipation.

Cole gulped audibly. “I thought this was just some little local deal.”

“It is.” Shawnee wheeled into an empty slot and shut off the engine. “Looks like there are a lot of locals.”

Cole trailed behind her like a bewildered child as she strolled over to the entry office/concession stand. He got a Coke while she gave the secretary their names. They both paid their entry fees. As they stepped aside to make way for the next in line, Cole froze, staring at the poster that described the roping, taped to the table for quick reference.

“It’s progressive?” The horror in his voice suggested she’d invited him to a ritual sacrifice.

“Almost all of the ropings are nowadays,” she said, ignoring the curious glances from the others in the line to enter.

“If I miss the first steer, we’re done. You won’t even get to rope.”

He sounded so desperate, on the verge of panic. “Well, then, don’t miss,” she said, and walked away.

If only it were that simple. When the position draw was posted, she and Cole were the fifty-seventh team out of ninety-eight, and with each successive bang of the chute gate, he got a little paler, sat a little more rigid in his saddle, until Shawnee was afraid if she tapped his arm he’d keel over.

As team number fifty-one rode into the roping boxes, she nudged Roy closer until her knee bumped Cole’s. His eyes were glazed and he was barely breathing. She crooked a finger. When he leaned down within reach, she clenched her fist in the front of his shirt and slapped a long, hot kiss on him. By the time she let go, he had regained some of his color.

“Just a reminder,” she said. “What you get later for being a sport.”

“Even if I miss?”

“Especially if you miss. Then you’ll owe me. Big. And I already know how I plan to collect.”

His smile was a pitiful thing, but at least he seemed to be taking in air again.

And he didn’t miss. The loop wasn’t a thing of beauty, but it fit. Cole dallied up and went left, and Shawnee was able to snag both hind feet. Roy buried his rear end and the big steer hit the end hard enough to jerk two feet of rope through her gloved hand. Like a junkie snorting a line, her blood sang at the hot slide of nylon against her palm and the smell of burning rubber from her saddle horn.

God, she loved this game.

Her grin was made of pure joy. Cole’s held the petrified relief of a man who’d taken a single step into a minefield and hadn’t blown up…yet.

While they waited for their next run, Shawnee wallowed in the singular aroma of horses and ropes and dirt, Roy’s quiet strength beneath her, the laughter and banter of the other ropers filling the air. Not a particularly friendly bunch. Or Cole was scaring them away with his Grim Reaper face. Shawnee stuck by him, rather than wandering around to chat up strangers. Funny, how much easier it was to make friends after they saw her double-hock a steer or two.

Yeah, kiss this, boys.

Almost half of the teams dropped out in the first round, so their turn came up quicker the second time. As the team ahead of them tracked their steer to the catch pen, Shawnee stuck out her chest and flipped back one side of her button down shirt to flash Cole some cleavage. “Don’t forget.
Catch now, or pay later.”

He caught. Farther down the arena than Shawnee would have preferred, but her own loop was quick and deadly, so their time was still respectable. The two runs combined put them eleventh out of the top twenty that got to rope a third and final steer. Not bad. And as the saying went, a bad day roping was better than the best day doing anything else. Shawnee was buzzing with adrenaline. Cole looked like he was going to puke.

Shawnee put her hand on his thigh and squeezed. “Dude. It’s a fifty-dollar jackpot. We’re not roping to win the world.”

He just shook his head and rode over to the corner where he sat alone, muttering to himself.
By the time they backed in the roping boxes for their final steer, he’d gone from pale to green. He nodded his head, took three swings, and threw a balled up mess of a loop that swatted the steer on the side of the head and fell on the ground. Cole dropped his head, reined Salty up, and turned to ride straight out the gate, his rope trailing behind, without even glancing at Shawnee. He was already off his horse and jerking at the cinches when she caught up with him at the trailer.


“Don’t try to tell me it doesn’t matter.” He wadded up the rope and slung it in general direction of the tack room. “I’ve heard Tori talk. You rope to win, not just show up.”

Shawnee paused, knowing she needed to tread carefully. Not exactly at the top of her skill set. She listened instead—to the times being announced while Cole yanked his saddle off and slammed it onto the rack so hard it almost went through the wall. Finally, she said, “You did rope to win.”

Cole made a noise packed so full of disgust it practically turned the air purple.

“Quit your tantruming and pay attention.”

“I am not—”

“Oh please. You’re two seconds away from throwing yourself on the ground and holding your breath until you turn blue.” Shawnee pointed at the nearest loudspeaker, now droning out the final results of the roping. “Listen to the placings.”

Cole scowled, but listened, then punched a frustrated fist into the other palm. “If I’d caught, we would’ve won third or fourth.”

“Assuming I caught two feet.”

He glared at her. “You never miss.”

She laughed outright. “If only. Then I’d be a legend in something other than my own mind.” She hitched her thumbs in his belt loops and dragged him close, wishing she had a bucket to stand on so she could glare straight into those stony blue eyes. She gave him a shake instead. “You threw to win. Gave it your best shot. That’s what matters. I know how hard this was for you, and I really appreciate it. If you hadn’t gutted it out, I wouldn’t have been able to rope at all.”

He shook his head, jaw set, rejecting every word.

Shawnee sighed. “How long do you intend to mope about this?”


She laughed again, then realized he wasn’t joking.

“I can list every steer I ever missed for Xander at a rodeo,” he said, his voice flat. “And every free throw in basketball in high school. This is why I don’t play team games. I don’t forget anything.”

She had to blink a few times to take it in. “What about the good runs? The shots you made? Do you remember those?”


“But you focus on the mistakes.”

“I can’t help—”

She wanted to call bullshit—would’ve if it had been anyone else—but Cole’s brain didn’t work like other brains, so maybe he couldn’t stop himself from obsessing. Either way, he’d known this day would be torture and he’d come with her anyway. Her heart did a complicated, slightly terrifying whirl and swoop. This man. This strange, wonderful, maddening man.

What the hell was she going to do with him?

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.

Book Info:

He’s got five rules
And she’s aiming to break them all

Rodeo producer Cole Jacobs has his hands full running Jacobs Livestock. He can’t afford to lose a single cowboy, so when Cousin Violet offers to send along a more-than-capable replacement, he’s got no choice but to accept. He expects a grizzled Texas good ol’ boy.

He gets Shawnee Pickett.

Wild and outspoken, ruthlessly self-reliant, Shawnee’s not looking for anything but a good time. It doesn’t matter how quickly the tall, dark and intense cowboy gets under her skin—Cole deserves something real, and Shawnee can’t promise him forever. Life’s got a way of kicking her in the teeth, and she’s got her bags packed before tragedy can knock her down. Too bad Cole’s not the type to give up when the going gets tough…
Book Links: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Books-A-Million | Indiebound | iTunes | Kobo | Chapters

Meet the Author:

KARI LYNN DELL brings a lifetime of personal experience to writing western romance. She is a third-generation rancher and rodeo competitor who works on the family ranch in northern Montana, inside the Blackfeet Nation. She exists in a perpetual state of horse-induced poverty along with her husband, Max and Spike the (female) Cowdogs, a few hundred cows and a son who resides on the same general segment of the autism spectrum as Cole Jacobs and doesn’t believe names should be gender-limited.





99 Responses to “Spotlight & Giveaway: Tougher in Texas by Kari Lynn Dell”

  1. Mary Preston

    I actually have been to a rodeo. It was hot, dusty and I was too young to appreciate the cowboys. Must go again.

    • Kari Dell

      🙁 Maybe you could start a western romance book club, then you’d have a whole group of cowboy fans to drag along. I’d even volunteer to Skype in for your first meeting.

    • Kari Dell

      We just had our 4-H fair and one of the dads had to have both bones of his lower leg pinned back together after being trampled by a steer, so I’m not so sure that’s any safer. Of course, this is coming from the person who never seemed to get around to halter-breaking her prize cattle until two weeks before the show, so I’ve suffered some 4-H related trauma.

    • Kari Dell

      Yessiree! There’s a reason I’m writing the TEXAS Rodeo series. Just don’t ask me about those other Cowboys. (Signed, Die Hard Broncos fan).

    • Kari Dell

      I should have added, if you’re anywhere near DFW I’ll be in Richardson Oct. 20-22nd for a literacy fundraising event. Great time to mingle with a lot of really awesome writers. I’ll be the one fangirling with all the readers:

  2. Tonya Lucas

    Hello Kari- I love you’re question. I grew up in the rodeo world. I barrel raced, goat tied, & breakaway roped. So I agree with you rodeos are everywhere. As a matter of fact I live in SW KS away from really anything, but I grew up in Stephenville, TX., until I had to move to KS for my job. But in the last month here in the middle of “nowhere” KS, we have had rodeos everywhere and this week it’s the PRCA rodeo in Liberal, KS – 30 miles from me. So I’m glad you’re challenging others on their statement that there are no rodeos nearby. Rodeo is the best family entertainment left in America. Your book sounds amazing. Have an amazing day.

      • Tonya Lucas

        We have a lot in common. Kyle Parks is a great singer. Yep, nothing like roping like a girl. I’m going to have to get your books and read them. Very few I trust to write true rodeo, but I can tell you can truly pull it off. So excited to have met you through this blog. I’m so excited. Keep swinging that loop.

        • Kari Dell

          Come and hang out on Facebook, I post my own ranch and rodeo stuff there: Right now I’ve got five rodeos to go in the Canadian Senior Pro Rodeo season, and if all goes well I have a shot at the season championship, plus we’ll be hitting the National Senior Pro Finals in Panguitch, Utah in October with a shot at that title.

          • Tonya Lucas

            That is so awesome. I went and signed up to your page and liked your fb page. You go get them up and bring that championship back to MT!!!

        • Kari Dell

          BTW, I of course encourage people to read the Texas Rodeo series in order, but if you want to grab just one you will love Shawnee and Tori as roping partners in Tangled in Texas.

          • Tonya Lucas

            Kari- I just bought your Tougher In Texas book today. I saw it at Walmart and scooped it up. I am going to download the others to read. Super excited. It’s great to read an author that truly knows what’s what in the rodeo world.

  3. lyn212

    I live in Ontario Canada and I know there;s a rodeo nearby annually. My parents took my daughter last year. I don’t think I’ve ever been.

    • Kari Dell

      Ontario has quite a few rodeos in the International Professional Rodeo Association, it just depends what part of the province you’re in. And as it would happen, I spent the afternoon with a writer friend from north of Toronto who was passing through on vacation. So cool to finally meet one of my longest running online buddies.

  4. Glenda

    I wouldn’t take you up on that bet, ’cause I know there are plenty of rodeos within 150 miles – I live in central Texas. I haven’t been to a rodeo in ages though. The last one I went to was when I was in high school and we went to watch some friends. Let’s just say one of them wasn’t ready for the bull they put him on. It was not pretty.

    • Kari Dell

      If I could go to anything in Texas, my number one choice would be the George Strait Team Roping event. Sadly, the tickets are almost impossible to get because of limited seating and the fact that George is there hanging out the whole time. My second choice would be the San Antonio rodeo, but it’s at the same time that we’re calving, so no leaving the ranch. ;(

    • Kari Dell

      I should mention, I will sort of be in your neck of the woods Oct. 20-22nd at the Buns and Roses Literacy Tea in Richardson. If you’re in the mood for a jaunt to the DFW area come and hang out with an awesome bunch of writers.

  5. Delia Chavez

    I just moved to El Mirage, Arizona and was just talking to my family about finding out where the Rodeos are out here I go every year for my birthday <3 I love the rodeo 🙂

  6. Teresa Williams

    This book sounds great .Can’t wait to read this.Never been to the rtodeo.Live in Good Hope Alabama

  7. carissa

    just moved from Illinois to Colorado and went to my first PBR end of July at my towns state fair! It was definitely different!

  8. Kari Dell

    As the PBR itself says, this ain’t no rodeo. They put on a good show, but as a roper who’s married to a roper and the daughter of a roper, bull riding only events will never be my favorite.

    • Kari Dell

      Tennessee has quite a few, including the Junior High National Finals Rodeo in Lebanon for the past two years. But hey, it’s horse country and the center of country music, so rodeo makes sense.

  9. laurieg72

    I was shocked to see that you are right.There’s a rodeo in Westfield and OshKosh, WI. I never see them advertised.

  10. kermitsgirl

    I don’t know if there are rodeos near me (but there probably are) – but I have been to several in my lifetime because we used to live in Texas and my older brother still does 🙂

    I always have a good time.

  11. Kate Sparks

    When my sister started teaching Social Work at Murray State University [KY], I was surprised to learn that they have a Rodeo program.

  12. Joanne B

    I live in West Des Moines, Iowa and saw the rodeo advertised on the tv. I asked for tickets for Christmas, got them, and went with my sister. It was fun.

  13. Lilah Chavez

    I live in California. In the South San Francisco bay area. I’ve seen a small rodeo in my youth at the county fair .

  14. Colleen C.

    There is a small one that comes to my town… literally around the corner from my area… went once to see their practice runs… never watched the actual events though…

    • Kari Dell

      Being roping geeks, our favorite thing at the big pro rodeos is to go watch the timed event slack, which is when all of the contestants that don’t fit into the faster paced performances compete. They’re still going head to head with the others for the big money but you get to see a lot more contestants, usually from better seats and often at no charge. At Pendleton, OR every single timed event contestant makes one run on Tuesday in a marathon, all day session that’s the equivalent of a cowboy reunion in the grandstands. Good times.

  15. Andrea McParland

    I live in Northwestern Ontario, Canada. Most of the rodeo activity is in the western provinces.

  16. lesley McIntosh

    I live in Otago ,New Zealand , and I have been to a rodeo , held not far from where I lived on a farm . They are quite common in NZ

    • Kari Dell

      Yes. Occasionally a New Zealander shows up at our pro rodeos. It seems like there might be a bull rider right now, but the name is escaping me. Also, I would LOVE to visit you….if teleportation ever becomes a thing. I barely survived a flight to Hawaii.

  17. Vicki Clevinger

    I live in Washington state and we have lots of Rodeos. I love going to them. We even use to have an arena next to our house and my dad use to team rope.

    • Kari Dell

      I can talk Washington rodeo all day long. We lived in Hermiston, OR for ten years and covered pretty much every corner of your state while competing in the Pro West Rodeo Association. We even took the glorified raft they call a ferry across the Columbia to Republic, drove the North Cascades highway from Winthrop to Sedro Wooley, and failed to convince my horse the ocean wouldn’t swallow her at Long Beach.

      • Vicki Clevinger

        I live in Clarkston & across the river is Lewiston, ID and the Lewiston Roundup is coming up in Sept. In April we have the Asotin County Fair & Rodeo as well. Which has been a Pro West Rodeo in the past.

        • Kari Dell

          Yep, we went to Asotin every year. Usually Grangeville, too, and a couple of times we lost our minds and went to Weippe. Never Lewiston because I’m a breakaway roper and the pro rodeos don’t have my event, so that weekend we were always up in Okanogan, WA.

        • Kari Dell

          The only thing worse than that road to Weippe was the time we got the bright idea to go from northeast Washington to Halfway, Oregon by way of Enterprise. Rattlesnake Grade. I still have nightmares.

          • Vicki Clevinger

            The rattle snake grade is quite fun all right. Growing up that’s the way we always went to Wallowa Lake for vacation every year

  18. BookLady

    I have never been to a rodeo. I live in Charlotte, NC. Loved your favorite book quote. Thanks for sharing.

  19. Patricia Barraclough

    I never paid attention to rodeos except on TV for there were none in our area when I was growing up. That was a long time ago. We moved to Colorado Springs, CO and that solved that problem. They do have rodeos in my home area now, I did leave over 40 years ago. We live in NE TN now and in addition to small local rodeos, larger ones do come through. PBR shows are here at least once a year.
    We started with the Little Britches Rodeo and worked our way up to adult events. We have attended rodeos in 4 different states now. We are volunteer ushers at the local venue, so have seen most of the rodeos and PBR events that come through.

    • Kari Dell

      150 miles here is only about 2 1/2 hours because we have no traffic and either 70 or 80 mph speed limits. Whole different world where you live. But there is a rodeo at N. Washington this Saturday and that shouldn’t be more than an hour from you, I’m guessing? Here’s the rest of the APRA schedule for this year:

      • lindamoffitt02

        That’s The Truth
        I went and looked myself just to see In Sept There is some kind of Bull Rodeo actually about 15-20 mins from my house if that 🙂
        We might actually go there this year since we missed our local 4H fair which is 1 minute from my house but no rodeo stuff there just animals and Demo Cars, Trucks, Vans etc…

  20. Meredith Miller

    I’ve been to them when I was younger–they used to have them at the state fair. I haven’t seen one around here in years though. I’m in Tampa, FL.

  21. Irma

    Well, I’m from Europe and I truly have never been to one but would love to go. I’ve watched tons of movies with the rodeo theme.

    • Kari Dell

      So maybe you could explain to me about St. Paul? I never made it there in the ten years we lived in Hermiston, and even after working with the sports medicine crew for all that time on the grass at Pendleton, which is mildly insane, I could never wrap my head around why someone looked at a rodeo arena and thought, “You know what this needs? Trees. A couple of rows of cute ornamental bushes would be just perfect.”

    • Kari Dell

      This seems like an ideal reason to take a US vacation. San Antonio in March would be lovely compared to your weather, I’m thinking.

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