Sunday, February 14, 2021

Happy Valentine's Day by Merrillee Whren

For those of you who have been reading the Sweet Romance blog through the years, you know that besides being Valentine's Day, it is also my wedding anniversary. We have a pretty low key celebration most years. For a number of years we went with good friends on a cruise in February, and that's where we celebrated. Early on, we decided not to buy gifts for each other, but we would buy something for our home. For our twenty-fifth anniversary, we took an Alaskan cruise with these friends, my mother-in-law, and her sister, but we didn't take it in February. We went in late June and early July. The weather is much better then but still not warm. Here are some photos from that fun time. 
Here is the gang all dressed up for our evening meal.

Here's a photo of our friends and us getting ready for a white-water raft ride. It was cold.

Hubby and I took a helicopter ride to a glacier where we mushed with sled dogs.

Now twenty years later, we are celebrating number forty-five. No cruises, no parties, no going out to eat. We're just happy to be healthy and able to laugh together.
Last year I shared a Valentine scene from the first book in my Kellersburg series. I'm almost finished with my next book, Hometown Cowboy, which is the fourth book in that series. It also has a Valentine scene. Here is an excerpt from that scene. 

Wyatt hobbled to keep up with Caroline as she charged toward their assigned table. He had done it again. Said way too much. What was there about her that made him second guess himself right and left? 

Ever since he’d joined the rodeo circuit women had trailed after him. They tried to impress him. Now he was trying to impress Caroline Keller without much success. She tolerated his presence because Nathan and Melanie had pushed Caroline and him together. He would have to make the best of the evening, despite her resistance.

But hadn’t she just invited him to help her at the nursing home? He should take that as a good sign, but maybe her missionary instincts just kicked in as she tried to involve people in her do-good work. Actually she had already succeeded in getting him to do good. Nathan had mentioned how excited Katy was when she’d learned about the scholarship. That knowledge warmed Wyatt’s heart. He wanted to do good. Maybe it would make up for all the bad he’d done.

When Wyatt reached the table, he pulled out Caroline’s chair, and she looked at him with surprise.

“Thanks.” Her surprise morphed into a smile as she settled on her chair. “George and Denise, I hear you’re going to be part of the couples’ game along with Melanie and Nathan.”

Denise laughed as she patted George’s arm. “I don’t know how we got roped into this, but we’re going to give it our best shot. I hear there’s a trophy that goes to the winners.”

Caroline grinned. “It’s a doozy of a trophy, not one you’d want to display on your mantel. I’m not sure who made it, but it’s pretty cheesy.”

A lively discussion about the couple’s game ensued, and Wyatt quietly observed Caroline as she joined in the conversation. She had a natural way with people that he envied. While he watched, his mind buzzed with his attraction to the banker’s daughter, the woman who was definitely too good for the likes of him. So why did she fascinate him so much?

How did she view him? Did she think he’d never grown beyond that rotten kid who had taunted her on the way home from school? He had to show her he was different, but he’d gotten off to a dreadful start with his behavior in the nursing home.

He wanted to let her see the new and improved Wyatt Bayer. He wanted her to know the man behind the rodeo star, but he wasn’t sure that was possible. How could he show her when he wasn’t sure who he was. His identity had been all tied up in being a rodeo cowboy, and that had been taken away from him. So who was he now? Where was he headed? If he didn’t know the answer, there was little chance he could make Caroline see him differently.

As Wyatt pondered his plan of action, Ray Keller hopped onto the stage.

“Good evening, everyone.” Ray waved the microphone in the air. “It’s good to see everyone here tonight. Let’s get the evening started with a prayer of thanks for our food.”

Wyatt bowed his head along with those around him as Ray said a short prayer. After Ray finished praying, he punched a button on a nearby machine. Soft background music floated through the air. Teenagers dressed in white shirts and black pants hurried through the room as they delivered salads to each table.

While Wyatt ate his salad, his thoughts took him back to his first year on the circuit. He’d fallen hard for Shelby Pollard. He didn’t know why he was thinking about her tonight, or maybe he did. The last time he’d worn a suit coat and tie was the last time he’d taken Shelby out to dinner. He’d been in love, but he’d been fooled. Maybe he was just a fool for love. He wasn’t in love with Caroline, but here he was entertaining romantic thoughts about her.

Foolish thinking for sure!

“You look lost in thought.” Nathan’s voice made Wyatt look in the other man’s direction.

Wyatt shook his head. “Just thinking about how long it’s been since I’ve worn this suit jacket. I didn’t have much use for it when I was on the circuit.”

“I guess you’d look pretty silly wearing a suit coat while riding a bucking horse.” Caroline smiled at him. “Your tie would be flying.”

With a chuckle, Wyatt glanced at Caroline, the image of a flying red tie tickling his thoughts. That image was better than the dreams he had about flying through the air himself and waking just before he hit the ground. He didn’t want to think about the bad dreams that haunted his sleep. He was here with Caroline Keller so he should be thinking happy thoughts, not remembering all the things that had brought him pain.

I hope you enjoyed that little excerpt. The book will be available for preorder in March. 

Do you have plans for Valentine's Day?

Merrillee Whren is the winner of the 2003 Golden Heart Award presented by Romance Writers of American. She is married to her own personal hero, her husband of forty-plus years, and has two grown daughters. Connect with her on her Facebook page and sign up for her newsletter.


  1. Such fun pictures. Happy anniversary, Merrillee, and congratulations on the upcoming release of your fourth Kellersburg book!

  2. I've been at my mother's house most of the day and it was great to come home and find this delightful blog post. Love the pictures and sharing your memories. I'm looking forward to this new book being released!