BY: PINKIE PARANYA
She hadn’t expected anyone to read the love messages she tossed away…but he did.
Recuperating from an abusive marriage, Casey Nichols flees with her asthmatic, six-year-old son Jake to Colorado, hoping to improve his health. She moves them into an isolated cabin on a remote ranch. It’s a lonely life, and Casey resorts to putting notes in the ever-present tumbleweeds, casting them to the winds in an effort to ease some of the pain in her heart. But when the poems she thinks will never be read are found by the one person she doesn’t want to see them, her whole world is turned upside down.
He hadn’t expected anyone to get close enough to hurt him again…but she did.
Matthew Tyree is a reclusive rancher who lost his wife and unborn son in a car accident. Devastated, he has vowed never to love again—a vow he keeps until Casey and Jake worm their way into his heart. But his hopes for a second family are dashed when Casey mistakes his marriage proposal as nothing more than a convenient business arrangement. Unable to express his feelings in the words Casey needs to hear, Matt watches his chance for love crumble like the mysterious poems he’s been finding inside the tumbleweeds.
Can these two wounded souls learn to trust again or will their only chance for happiness fade away like love letters cast to the winds?
TAYLOR JONES SAYS: Love Letters in the Wind by Pinkie Paranya is a contemporary western romance guaranteed to twirl the lasso of the cowgirl in all of us. A reclusive rancher, Matt Tyree has shut out all those he loves in an attempt to shield himself from the pain of losing his wife and their unborn son in a car accident. What he hadn’t counted on was Casey Nichols and her young asthmatic son, Jake, moving into an isolated cabin on his ranch and in the process turning his structured, emotion proofed world on its head. Casey is starting over, leaving an abusive marriage and her interfering in-laws back in the city. She is desperate for her son, Jake, to have a life free of stress, to gain back his health, and to live in the sure knowledge he’s loved and wanted. That’s something Casey longs to have for herself, too. Meeting the brooding rancher, Matt Tyree, she catches a glimpse of the red-blooded man hidden behind the cast iron veil of guilt and regret. It takes a quirk of fate—the breeze carries Casey’s private messages hidden inside tumbleweeds straight to Matt—to allow these two stubborn souls to begin to trust in the possibility of…hope.
Pinkie Paranya has woven strong characters into a well-defined plot. We are drawn to rancher Matt, who longs to put his ghosts behind him but doesn’t believe he deserves a second chance. Our hearts open to embrace Casey, wanting her to break free of her fears and find the peace and security she so desperately craves for her and her son. Ah, yes, Jake, a little boy who’s open, trusting heart and brave smile smashes through Matt’s barriers, leaving the strong man more raw and vulnerable than the harshest of Colorado winters. Love Letters in the Wind is no simple hearts and flowers tale. It interweaves real life medical issues with daily existence on a remote western ranch. Supporting characters add depth and provide challenges to Matt and Casey’s journey, especially when Casey’s past follows her to the ranch, threatening to destroy the new life she’s built for her and Jake and any future she’d hope for them with Matt. The heat count on this romance is set to mild, but the romance is strong. Paranya concentrates on the building of trust and the struggles faced by our leads, ensuring a fine romance and a wonderful read.
REGAN MURPHY SAYS: Love Letters in the Wind is the heart-warming story of two wounded souls, trying to put the past behind them and start life over. They are afraid to trust and equally afraid not to. A new novel by Pinkie Paranya, the book has a western flavor that I enjoyed very much. It also features an asthmatic six-year-old boy who is just adorable. The plot has some interesting twists and turns that capture the reader’s attention and refuse to let go. I was riveted up to the last page, wondering when the hero and heroine would get their heads out of their butts and do the right thing. In fact, I wasn’t sure right up until the end what was going to happen. Because it was a romance, I knew it would have a happy ending, or I assumed it would. But at times I wasn’t sure. Which was a major feat in itself as not every author can pull that off. But Paranya did an excellent job.
Love Letters in the Wind had some sex in it as well, which the other books I have read by Paranya have not. I was surprised and pleased by this, and I thought she did an excellent job with it. The characters, as always with Paranya, are down to earth, strong—yet vulnerable—and totally authentic. Add a strong plot, vivid scene descriptions, and a warm, touching romance and you have another Pinkie Paranya classic. If you have read her work before, you’ll know what I mean. If you haven’t, you’re in for a treat. Either way I strongly recommend Love Letters in the Wind.
The strong, cold wind from the Colorado plains blew across Casey Nichols’ face. She drew the thin windbreaker closer to her body, wishing she had brought warmer clothes with her. Her long, curly hair, torn from the ribbon at the nape of her neck, blew around her eyes, mixing with the tears pressing from under her closed eyelids. She brushed them away with anger, wanting to hide them from Jake. She wasn’t weak, damn it, and she wouldn’t cry. This journey had to work out for them.
“Ready to send another message?” Jake asked.
They leaned against the porch railing and she bent forward, brushing a lock of blond hair from his forehead. He looked healthier every day they were here.
“You okay, Son?”
He nodded. His huge blue eyes, surrounded by bruised-looking skin, dominated his pale face. A child of six, he looked much younger, and once more, she vowed to do whatever it took to change his condition from sick to healthy.
Since they arrived in Colorado two weeks ago, this game with messages inserted into the center of a tumbleweed was their playtime–a time when Jake could come outdoors and soak up the bright sun and fresh air.
He motioned toward the towering mountains behind them. “Do you miss our house back there?”
Phoenix was inextricably connected to her past and to Richard. She didn’t want to be anywhere near her ex right now, and she wasn’t about to let Richard’s parents track her down before she was ready to deal with them.
She hedged, not sure of how to answer his question. “Do you miss it? We’re on an adventure now.”
“Aren’t we supposed to work?”
Casey thought of the ad in the throw away paper that she answered in a rare spontaneous moment.
Groundskeeper wanted for temporary summer work. Live on remote ranch, bonus at end of job if stay the duration.
Maybe it was a tad irresponsible to use her initials when she answered, but it sounded as if this rancher had a male groundskeeper in mind when he ran the ad. The remote part was what drew her to answer.
“We’ll have to wait and see what Mr. Tyree wants us to do when he comes home. I think he’s probably out there somewhere branding cattle.”
“Wow! Will I get to watch sometime?”
Casey smiled. “Can’t say for sure,” she said, though she doubted it.
She only spoke briefly with Tyree’s mother, who seemed to think her applying for the job was hilarious. Not a good sign. Tyree was reclusive, according to his mother, and not at all sociable. She advised Casey to settle into the cabin and her son would come look her up when he got home. Casey couldn’t help but feel something else bothered the woman about her son, but if so, she didn’t talk about it.
“I’ve never had a ’venture before, have I?” Jake asked, interrupting her thoughts.
“No, not really.” She crumpled the note. “If we fold the paper too neatly, it may fall out,” she explained. “It’s the same idea as putting a message in a bottle and throwing it into the ocean. A long time ago I read in a book about someone throwing notes away in tumbleweeds. When I saw all the tumbleweeds blowing around here, I remembered that and thought it would be a fun idea for us.”
She knew how to express herself on paper. This game of theirs was an outlet–with no strings attached—and no judgments. With every note she sent on its way, it became easier to open her heart. She felt protected, knowing the weeds would crumble to dust along with her poems.
She and Jake didn’t need anyone else. They had each other.
Holding the prickly tumbleweed between gloved hands, she grinned down at him. “Are we ready?”
He laughed, a small sound but it made her throat tighten so that she had a hard time swallowing, thinking how long it had been since she’d heard him laugh without coughing.
She tossed the round, dry weed into the ever-present wind. It blew away, rolling, flying past the incline in front of the cabin, with a destiny all its own.
“Goodbye brave message,” she shouted. Her words dipped off the ledge and plummeted down the narrow canyon below. Casey straightened her shoulders and tilted her chin. In her thirty-two years, this was the first time she had functioned as the sole caretaker of her own destiny. It felt scary but good. She couldn’t be sure if she was enough for Jake, but she wanted to be both mother and father to him.
“What did you call the bushes?” he asked again.
“Tumbleweeds. Remember, I showed you some in the desert book? We had tons of them around Phoenix. I guess we never went out on the desert to look, did we?” There were many things she had never done with Jake. A lot of things to make up for.
“They start out as green bushes, but they don’t have many roots, and the ones they have don’t go deep. The plants dry, break loose from the soil, and turn into tumbleweeds.”
She needed to be a tumbleweed for a while, with no roots to bog her down. Vegetables have roots, and she was through being a vegetable, accepting and yielding.
Jake smiled up at her. “Putting notes inside them kinda makes ’em tumblewords, doesn’t it?”
Casey knelt to hug her son close, leaning her head lightly against his narrow shoulder, inhaling his clean, soapy, little-boy smell before he so typically pulled away. She loved his imagination, his quick understanding, and his enjoyment of words. They were alike in so many ways.
“Aren’t we lucky? We can use the wind to take our tumblewords.”
When Jake grinned, she smiled, feeling suddenly uplifted.
“Where’ll it go? I bet all the way to Denver. Is that far?”
“A bit too far, even for this wind, I’m afraid. There’ll be lots of cows that might read them–and don’t forget the roadrunners, snakes and lizards.”
He giggled, lifting his hand to make their high-five sign. They slapped together, she carefully, he with all his strength. “Hey, you’re getting better at this. You’ll have to go easy on me one day, or you’ll hurt my hand.”
His big blue eyes searched her face for ridicule. Finding none, he hugged her close. “Love you, Mom,” he whispered as if embarrassed to say it out loud.
“Me, too, Son.”
Like the child he was, he lost interest in the moment of affection—that she lived for—and ran to the porch railing. “There’s millions out there, we’ll never run out will we?”
“I doubt it.”
“Think someone like a person–will read the notes?” he persisted.
Casey looked off toward the hills, certain she did not want anyone to read her poems. Being alone was what she wanted. Wasn’t it?
Matthew Tyree bent low over the saddle to reach the bit of dried brush. “Damned tourists, tossing junk all over the place.”
Where the box canyon ended, he figured he would find some strays. Sure enough, as if pretending they didn’t see him ride up on the gelding, the young steers chomped the prairie grass. They didn’t fool him. He saw the whites around their eyeballs telling him they were primed to bolt and run.
He thumbed his Stetson back from his forehead and impatiently crumbled the prickly brush between his gloves, reaching for the wrinkled piece of paper. It would not have meant much if this had been the first time he saw the littering. Down on the mesa, where he’d been camped out for the past month, rounding up strays, he’d found another bit of paper caught in the weeds and had ignored it as trivial.
But enough was enough. If there was a receipt or a name anywhere, he would call or write the creep–tell him off about littering the prairie. The paper was probably 5×7, white, with the top edged in glue as if the writer had torn it from a stationary tablet. He smoothed the paper across his thigh. It contained a poem, written with a pen in small, tight handwriting.
He studied it for a long moment, surprised at seeing a poem when he expected a store receipt or something way more prosaic and then read it out loud.
“Lost–a dream once young and happy
“Now embittered–oh so old.
“Lost—a heart once warm and tender
“Suddenly turned hard and cold.
“Gone the memories of laughter,
“No more the kisses, gentle sighs.
“The curtain bringing down the last act
“Brings to tears, once laughing eyes.
“Life brings fear and sorrow crushing…
“Doubtful are the roads once crossed.
“Life goes on–never ceasing…
“Life goes on–but love is lost.”
Matt sat a long while, barely noticing the gelding’s restive hooves stamping on the hard desert floor. Where had this come from? The meaning was clear, striking a chord deep inside him that he’d believed buried for good.
He hadn’t thought about love in ages, not since Dorothy died. He did not want to now. He was finished with love, had no need for any kind of mushy emotional turmoil at his age. His ranch, his work, was all encompassing, everything he needed. His life satisfied him–damned right it did. He crumpled the note in his fist and almost threw it away, but stopped to smooth it again and stuff it in his shirt pocket. The raw pain in the poem intrigued him. He had always either avoided puzzles or tried to solve them. He had no use for things left dangling and unfinished.
Was it a child’s school lesson carefully copied out of a poetry book for class? The handwriting said a lot. Although there were places where the writer crossed out words, the writing showed control with a precise, tight script.
No, it wasn’t the work of a child. A dippy teenager with a large case of puppy love, probably. It had to be a female. No man or boy he knew would write sappy stuff like this.
The paper was crisp but not curled tight along the edges as paper got after a while from exposure to the sun and wind. It hadn’t been around long, that was for sure. It wouldn’t hurt to ride to the northern section of the mesa later this week, check out that pile of tumbleweeds where he noticed bits of paper among them. Might give a clue as to who wrote the puzzling bit of poetry. The constant wind blew so hard that whoever put the paper in the tumbleweed could live in the next county.
Matt had no close neighbors. His ranch covered miles, not acres.
He grinned. Maybe he wouldn’t tell off the lovesick teenager even if he caught the litterer. The notes would disintegrate into dust eventually, anyway, with no harm done.
The image of the notes turning to dust made him restless. He might miss something by not reading the next one, as if the ones already gone contained words he needed to know. He would come back tomorrow for the strays. The papers would still be here, Matt thought as he reined his horse toward home.
Friday, May 25, 2012: Shanna Hatfield says Paranya did a great job of telling the story.
She says: “I bought this book the other day for two reasons: 1. I thought the description sounded interesting and 2. The author’s name intrigued me and I wanted to experience her writing style.
For those of you raising a curious eyebrow, the cover did NOT influence my purchasing decision. Quite the opposite for someone who prefers to read historical inspirational romances. But Love Letters in the Wind by Pinkie Paranya turned out to be a very nice surprise.
A nice love story that is well-written, the author did a great job of telling the story. If you’re looking for a easy-to-read PG love story, this would definitely fit the bill.” READ FULL REVIEW