Shannon Taylor Vannatter continues her Texas Cowboys romance series with Counting on the Cowboy (Love Inspired). With Devree’s business back in the city, can a Texas cowboy convince her she’s found her home—with him? In this interview, Shannon tells us about her protagonists, the real-life person who inspired the story, and the pros and cons of being a minister’s wife who writes romance fiction…

What was the inspiration driving the story in Counting on the Cowboy?

A single girl in our church had to move out of her apartment quickly. The only place she could find was in the country and had been uninhabited for several years. Every time she came to church, she had a story. About mouse traps going off all night, and being in a quandary when one got its tail caught. A skunk crawling in her heater vent, spraying, and dying. Cows surrounding her car and licking the windshield—so that once she finally got them to move, she couldn’t see out. I told her someday all of it was going in a book.

What can you tell us about your protagonists?

Devree Malone was raised in the country, hated it and moved to the city. Her sister’s high-risk pregnancy lands her at a dude ranch in the boondocks. A sought-after wedding planner, she’s sick of weddings after getting her heart broken and wants to get into event planning. She shows up at the ranch to keep an eye on her sister and do one final wedding in hopes of impressing a potential even client but ends up decorating guest cabins while she’s there.

Brock McBride is all country, grew up on the ranch, builds luxury cabins, and is happy to help his friend out with finishing touches on newly built cabins. Soon he’s avoiding two people – the city girl because one broke his heart a few years back and the housekeeper who turns out to be someone from his past.

You told us about the friend who inspired your story. How often are your characters based on people you know, or are they usually made up?

Though I used our church friend’s adventures, the heroine isn’t based on her. I wanted to dedicate the book to her for inspiring me, but the housekeeper who has a bad past has a similar name. I named the housekeeper three books ago, so I couldn’t change it and I didn’t want my friend to be confused with the character, since they’re nothing alike.

Sometimes, I base an aspect of a character on someone I know or even on myself and facets of my husband’s character go into each hero.

What do you want readers to take away after reading Counting on the Cowboy?

Even though I write romance, I want all my books to show that love doesn’t conquer all, Jesus does. Devree and Brock have to turn some things over to God and trust him with their happily ever after.

What are the pros and cons of writing “romances” as the wife of a pastor?

Pros: Our church family is very supportive. I have several members ready and waiting for my next book. I get a lot of peace from writing, since as the pastor’s wife, people tend to come to me with their problems. My husband and I have often given prayerful, sound, Biblical advice that hasn’t been heeded.

With books, I can make people do what they should and need to do. I can fix their lives for them and it’s very healing.

Cons: I’m always clarifying that I write Christian romance and worry that people will think I write books that aren’t nice. Since I’ve said I base my heroes on my husband, he thinks people who read them expect him to live up to my characters. He does—above and beyond—but he doesn’t think so.

My first three books were set in Arkansas in a real town close to where we live. After that, I had an idea for a book based around the rodeo since my dad was once an announcer and I worked the concession stand. It turned into a series of eight and then morphed into cowboys on ranches.

I worry that readers expect me to be a cowgirl with a cowboy husband. We’re totally not. We don’t even have any farm animals. But he is from Texas.

Visit Shannon Taylor Vannatter’s author page here:

Counting on the Cowboy
Texas Cowboys #4
Shannon Taylor Vannatter
Love Inspired

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About The Author

Central Arkansas author, Shannon Taylor Vannatter is a stay-at-home mom and a pastor’s wife. Viewing her fiction as a ministry and her books as paper missionaries, Shannon hopes to entertain Christian women and plant seeds in the non-believer’s heart as her characters struggle with real-life issues ... and demonstrate that love doesn’t conquer all -- Jesus does.