Jody Hedlund is the bestselling author of over 30 historical novels for both adults and teens and is the winner of numerous awards, including the Christy, Carol, and Christian Book Awards. Jody lives in Michigan with her husband, busy family, and five spoiled cats.
In this interview, Jody discusses her latest book, Falling for the Cowgirl, book number 4 in her Colorado Cowboys Series.
FF: Please provide a brief summary of your new novel, Falling for the Cowgirl.
This book continues the McQuaid family saga as the family of five siblings struggles to survive in the high country of Colorado. Even though Ivy McQuaid is the youngest child in the McQuaid family (and the only girl), she gets her happily-ever-after in this fourth book of the series.
Readers who’ve read the previous books have already gotten a glimpse of the feisty and precocious Ivy during her younger years. But as Falling for the Cowgirl opens, Ivy is all grown up and searching for a place where she belongs and that she can finally call home.
Of course, her long lost love, Jericho Bliss, shows up on the scene and causes all kinds of mayhem for her as always. Though she’s tried to forget about the man who broke her heart, she realizes she can’t stop loving Jericho, even though he makes it clear that he has no intention of pursing anything between them.
FF: What about the life of ranchers first captured your imagination?
I lived in the high country of Colorado as a child and then for a few years while my husband was in graduate school, so Colorado has always held a special place in my heart. During a family vacation there in recent years, I visited the Fairplay area in South Park and realized it would be the perfect setting for a ranching story. Not only was it beautiful, but it was loaded with so many historical details that I’d never run out of interesting information to inspire me.
FF: Can you tell us a little more about what and who were the inspirations behind this book?
In doing research for this series, I came across a chapter in a book devoted to ranch women that had a few paragraphs about women being involved in the rodeo circuit. After reading about those women and the many challenges they faced, I knew right away that Ivy had to not only be a cowgirl but also a rodeo participant.
Since this series is set in the 1860s and early 1870s, rodeos were just developing. In those early days, they were known as cowhand competitions, and most of them didn’t allow women to participate. Ivy, being the strong woman that she is, doesn’t let anything hold her back and finds a way to join in the competitions anyway. You’ll have to read the book to find out how!
FF: What did you enjoy most about creating a tough and independent protagonist like Ivy McQuaid? What did you find the most challenging, if anything?
After growing up with four older brothers, Ivy is a typical tomboy. She’d much rather spend her days chasing cattle and wandering around the ranch than doing any of the women’s tasks at home. Not only does she buck against the constraints put on women in the cowhand competitions, but she also wants to own land and have a place of her own. Earning money for land is difficult for a woman, but convincing a man to sell her land is equally challenging.
Even though Ivy is struggling to be accepted as a woman in a man’s world, I had to make sure she didn’t come across as too masculine and abrasive. The challenge was finding ways to make her attractive as a woman, especially to the hero. She wants the hero to notice her, and so begins to take more care with her appearance. For example, I have her struggling to adjust to wearing fancy garments that are hand-me-downs from a sister-in-law.
FF: Like many of us, your character Jericho Bliss fears putting those he loves in danger. Do you believe it is more important for us to respect such fears or overcome them?
Because his mother was tortured and died at the hands of criminals, Jericho is forever scarred. Not only did his mother die, but his father turned to heavy drinking in his grief, and so Jericho lost both parents. His fear of putting Ivy into danger as a result of his job is legitimate. The criminals he’s hunting are the worst of the worst.
Even so, Jericho has to learn that when we give fear control, it keeps us from living life to the fullest. In a sense, we’re letting it kill a part of us—especially the joy and the beauty that awaits us in relationships.
FF: Without giving away any spoilers, what makes Ivy McQuaid and Jericho Bliss such a compelling duo?
They’re both strong and stubborn characters, and when they come together the sparks fly!
FF: What sets Falling for the Cowgirl apart from your previous novels?
The other books in the series are from the perspective of the McQuaid brothers. This book is about the lone sister in the family.
FF: What do you hope readers will take away from reading this book?
When Ivy experiences one loss after another, she grows increasingly despondent. In a very poignant scene near the end of the novel, Judd (the grandfatherly man who shepherds the McQuaid family) challenges her to stop building her life on a crumbling foundation and instead to find her acceptance in God’s unfailing love, in the One who will never leave or forsake her. She has to learn to take her aches to the Lord instead of trying to bear them all herself.
Jericho has a similar spiritual journey. He, too, has to come to grips with walking life empty-handed and trying to hold himself up instead of turning to the One who is beside him and waiting to lift him up every time he stumbles or falls.
Falling for the Cowgirl
Colorado Cowboys Series #4
Genres: Historical Romance
Release Date: October 11, 2022
Years ago, he shattered her heart. Now she must trust him with her life.
As the only girl in her family, and with four older brothers, Ivy McQuaid can rope and ride with the roughest of ranchers. She’s ready to have what she’s always longed for–a home of her own. She’s set her heart on a parcel of land south of Fairplay and is saving for it with her winnings from the cowhand competitions she sneaks into–but her dream is put in jeopardy when the man she once loved reappears in her life.
After two years away, Jericho Bliss is back in South Park as an undercover Pinkerton agent searching for a war criminal. He has no intention of involving a woman in the dangerous life he leads, but one look at Ivy is all it takes for him to question the path he’s set out for himself.
Even though Jericho tries to resist his longtime attraction to the beautiful and vivacious Ivy, he finds himself falling hard and fast for her. In the process, his worst fear comes true–he puts her smack-dab in the middle of danger. With Ivy’s life in the balance, will Jericho give her up once again, or will he find a way back to her, this time forever?
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