About the Book
Author: Chautona Havig
Genre: Historical Western Romance
Release Date: January 26, 2016
Women are trouble—lying, cheating, untrustworthy bundles of trouble.
Jack Clausen doesn’t need anyone but his horse and a boss who won’t interfere in his personal life—or lack of one.
Sure, he’s a lonely cowboy, but better lonely than brokenhearted.
If only he hadn’t met a girl who made him hope that honest and true women do exist. Maybe he wouldn’t be riding off into a snowstorm with a fresh determination to avoid women—indefinitely.
When Hazel Meissner sees a cowboy risk life, limb, and horse to save a child, she knows he’s someone special. When he finally gives her his heart, she considers herself the most blessed woman alive.
However, when he rides off without a word, she wonders if her heart will survive the loss.
One broken man. One trusting woman. One orchestrated misunderstanding that tears them apart. What’ll it take to bring Jack home again?
It’s Shakespeare’s Much Ado about Nothing mashed up with the old ballad, “Cowboy Jack.” Don’t miss a cast of characters inspired by the Bard himself—especially Dirk and Deborah (Benedick & Beatrice).
Jack: a lot of hullaballoo on the prairie.
Click HERE to get your copy!
About the Author
Chautona Havig lives in an oxymoron, escapes into imaginary worlds that look startlingly similar to ours and writes the stories that emerge. An irrepressible optimist, Chautona sees everything through a kaleidoscope of It’s a Wonderful Life sprinkled with fairy tales. Find her at chautona.com and say howdy—if you can remember how to spell her name.
More from Chautona
The Inspiration I Hate to Love
The plaintive notes of a ballad filled the living room. People sat on couches and chairs or stood in the doorway, listening. Three steps up the staircase, out of view of most of the room, a little girl sat, chin in her hands, listening.
If you looked close, you’d see freckles dotting her nose and crooked teeth that never were too large for her mouth like most children’s were. Just a bit closer, and you’d see wide, hazel eyes riveted to the man with the guitar seated on the hearth. To his right, a cup of coffee and sometimes a shot of whiskey.
With a voice like Jim Reeves (the non-twangy Reeves, mind you), the songs told stories, like all ballads do—a little blind girl praying for her father’s future happiness, a girl of thirteen who barely escaped a massacre in 19th century Wyoming. “Hazel eyes,” the man called her. California Joe—he was a real man, although not as good of one as the song made out.
Sometimes the man sang happier songs, but most of them were slow, western ballads that could keep Nicolas Sparks writing for decades.
And the little girl loved them all—especially California Joe and one about a cowboy who left his sweetheart alone on the prairie after a quarrel. One called “Cowboy Jack.”
As you’ve probably surmised, I was the little girl, and that man who sang and stirred the hearts of our family at nearly every gathering was my father.
How I miss those days.
For years, I wanted to give Jack a happier ending. See, the song goes like this. A lonely cowboy (with a heart so brave and true) meets and falls in love with a maiden (with eyes of heaven’s own blue). Alas, as with all good romances, the couple quarrel and Jack rides away. He finds a new band of cowboys and would have been just fine, but someone asks him to sing a song to “drive all cares away.” Alas, the song he devises is one about a “lonely maiden who waited for her Jack.”
Of course, he rides off to ask forgiveness. It’s all his fault. He arrives too late. She died of a broken heart on the “lonely prairie where skies are always blue.”
After I began writing, the idea came to me to turn those songs Dad sang—old ones that had been passed on and down through many different versions—into novels. I’d write all the subtext the songs left out.
I’d give them happy endings.
Of course, that’s easier said than done. One by one, I figured out how to do it, but Jack… well, I didn’t want to change the stories. I just wanted to leave on hope instead of despair.
Shakespeare to the rescue!
I was watching Kenneth Branagh’s Much Ado about Nothing adaptation, and the answer came to me so clearly. It had the solution I needed. So, I smooshed the song and the play together. Inside, you’ll find the characters Shakespeare created (including Dirk and Deborah and their biting repartee—they steal the show!) in the setting and with the elements of the ballad, too.
Dad’s older now. His hands are gnarled with age, swollen with arthritis. His mind is slipping away. Today, you’ll find his guitar at my house. My son now owns it, but he doesn’t know the songs I heard played on the old Goya. Still, when I take it out of the case, tune it up, and pluck the strings, everything shifts. Suddenly, I’m nine years old again, sitting on my uncle’s stairs, just out of sight, watching. Listening. Heart breaking.
See, I’ll never hear my father play again, and I can’t play either. So, the songs will have to live on with stories of Mary, Jethro, Maggie… and of course, Jack.
Hearing the word ballad calls to mind images of Davy Crockett and of men sitting around a campfire. I love the author’s inspiration for this novel, basing it on a ballad she heard as a child and simultaneously remaining true to the original while also handling the ending a bit differently. In literature, a ballad and an epic poem can be very similar, so with that in mind it does not seem much of a stretch to go a step further to novel format. Although not necessarily a defining attribute, I tend to associate ballads with highly dramatized action and heroic feats, and with a subtitle of “a lot of hullabaloo on the prairie”, I figured that this book was going to fit the bill.
One aspect of the (too few) Chautona Havig books that I’ve read to date that I particularly enjoy is the combination of sincerity and humor, and Jack showcases this especially well. On the one hand, there is the cowboy Jack, a drifter of sorts with a checkered past that began on the streets of New York as a young boy and has caused him to keep his distance from women—until he meets Hazel Meissner, who could marry into high society but chooses a wary cowboy instead. However, the course of true love never did run smooth, and the same can be said for Dirk and Deborah, whose clever verbal jousting belies their mutual affection. The most amusing character, by far, is Sheriff Hawmutt, whose brief interlude offers a reprieve from an emotional section of the story and provides comic relief in the form of hilarious malapropisms.
A strong Christian faith element suffuses the narrative, focusing on forgiveness and trust. One of my favorite quotations from the book sums it up so well: “You can’t have it both ways. Either the Lord is good and what He says is also good, or the Lord is a liar and a liar cannot be good.” While it is easy to become frustrated with Jack because he trusts someone he knows is dishonest over Hazel, who has never given him reason to doubt her, it’s the same thing that we do all too often. We listen to the lies of the enemy rather than the truth of God. Our reaction when hurt or wronged should be to forgive others and trust God, as Hazel does, but how often do we actually do that? For as implausibly perfect as I found Hazel to be, I have to admire her Christlike attitude throughout the story. As the apostle Paul implores us in Ephesians 5:1-2, “Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children; and walk in love, just as Christ also loved you and gave Himself up for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God as a fragrant aroma.”
I received a complimentary copy of this book through Celebrate Lit and was not required to post a favorable review. All opinions are my own.
My rating: 5 stars ♥♥♥♥♥
Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, September 21
Musings of a Sassy Bookish Mama, September 21
Connie’s History Classroom, September 22
deb’s Book Review, September 22
For the Love of Literature, September 23
Bigreadersite, September 23
Texas Book-aholic, September 24
lakesidelivingsite, September 24
Inklings and notions, September 25
Sara Jane Jacobs, September 25
For Him and My Family, September 26
Reviewingbooksplusmore, September 26
Locks, Hooks and Books, September 27
Hookmeinabook, September 27
Abba’s Prayer Warrior Princess, September 28
Artistic Nobody, September 29 (Guest Review from Joni Truex)
21st Century Keeper at Home, September 29
Ashley’s Bookshelf, September 30
Lots of Helpers, September 30
She Lives To Read, October 1
Mary Hake, October 1
Daysong Reflections, October 2
Godly Book Reviews, October 2
Simple Harvest Reads, October 3 (Guest Review from Donna Cline)
Captive Dreams Window, October 3
Spoken from the Heart, October 4
Pause for Tales, October 4
To celebrate her tour, Chautona is giving away the grand prize package of a paperback copy of the book and a $25 Amazon gift card!!
Be sure to comment on the blog stops for nine extra entries into the giveaway! Click the link below to enter.