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  • MK McClintock

A Chivalrous Hero and His Strong-Willed Love

Horse and rider in mountains

Colton and Ainslee from Wild Montana Winds are in my spotlight after I was recently sent a wonderful review for the book, which brought these characters to the forefront of my thoughts for a few days, and distracted me from my work-in-progress because I kept thinking about the Gallaghers.

Since I've been stuck on heroes a lot lately, it's a pleasure to revisit those from Hawk's Peak for a few minutes before I return to Crooked Creek (WIP). Spending time with heroes happens to be one of the beautiful "curses" we romance authors deal with daily.

“There is no greater mistake a man can make than deny his love for the only woman who was meant to have his heart.” (Wild Montana Winds)

You could say this is the line that started it all, the line that brought all the elements of Wild Montana Winds together. It is spoken by Ethan Gallagher to Colton in a memory Colton shares with the reader. I love this line because it speaks to who every hero is in this series. Ethan, Gabriel, Ramsey, Ben, Colton, Brody (and more heroes to come), have many things in common, but their complete devotion to the women they love surpasses all else.

I adore a chivalrous hero who knows his own mind, is his own person, and yet he becomes the man he does because of love.

Colton’s journey toward loving Ainslee is not without doubt and difficulty. He’s used to being alone, to living without restraint. What is it about Ainslee that makes him start to think beyond the quiet existence he’s enjoyed for so long? This is the question to which he has to find an answer.

His struggles, I believe, are greater than Ainslee’s. She has a good head on her shoulders, with lots of common sense, and bundles of adventure. She must overcome what she left behind in Scotland, and realize that not all men are going to disappoint, disgust, or annoy her.

It’s enjoyable watching the changes take place in them both, and it’s all because a good man—the right man—decided it was better not to deny either of them the love they were meant to share.

Two horses in a meadow

Here's an excerpt from Wild Montana Winds . . .

Colton recalled a conversation he once had, the night after Ethan first lost Brenna to his own stubbornness. She had returned to Scotland and Colton found Ethan walking through one of the fields, dusted with an early autumn snow. They stood together in the field, watching the moon rise higher above the snow-capped peaks, illuminating the vast ranch. It had been Gabriel who ultimately pushed Ethan out of his brother’s misery and back on the right path to Brenna, but Colton never forgot what Ethan said that night.

“There is no greater mistake a man can make than deny his love for the only woman who was meant to have his heart.”

Colton never told anyone of that conversation or of the deep pain he had witnessed in Ethan’s eyes. Years later, Ethan and Brenna had brought two beautiful children into their family and were happier than Colton had ever seen two people, unless he also considered all the other couples at Hawk’s Peak. He thought it might be only the Gallaghers who were destined for great bliss, until he watched Ben and Amanda exchange vows on a cool summer morning at the small church in Briarwood last month.

He did not spend a lot of his thoughts wondering if their joy would one day be his own. Content to track and hunt, work cattle and soothe horses, Colton had everything he ever believed he wanted. Now Ainslee’s presence conflicted his simple life, and he found himself without complaint as he watched her shift and heard a soft sigh escape her lips.

Colton’s well-trained horse, used to sneaking up on game and men alike, remained silent, swishing only his tail. Less than one minute later, despite the quiet, Ainslee stirred atop her boulder. It was she who shifted and saw him through sleepy eyes. The slow smile she offered him showed no surprise at his presence.

“How long have you been there?” She covered a yawn with her hand and straightened her skirts.

“Not long.” Colton dismounted and let his horse graze on the tall grass by the water. “Brenna wondered where you went.”

Ainslee’s gaze shot upward to look at the sun’s placement in the sky. “I was gone longer than I planned. I wanted to stretch my legs and see more of this beautiful place.”

“Brenna didn’t mind. She said something about you spending a lot of time on your own.”

Colton watched a bit of color rush into her fair cheeks. “From what you told me, it sounded like you were around a lot of people, at home and at university.”

Ainslee shrugged and met his gaze. “Would you mind? Climbing on rocks is always much easier than climbing off while wearing skirts.”

Colton didn’t mind at all. He slid one arm around the back of her waist and rested the other at her front. Without much effort, he lifted her off the rock and let her slide slowly to the ground. She lingered a few seconds. They did not look at each other, but the connection between them was still as strong as it had been on the trail from Bozeman to Briarwood.

He wanted to remain indifferent, and for a man unaccustomed to great emotion, going against his natural instincts proved to be easier than expected. Colton knew one day, probably soon, Ainslee would return home to Scotland or continue her travels. He did not see her as someone eager to settle down in one place, and he was not a man to leave the only land he ever wanted to call home.

End of Excerpt

Who are some of your favorite fictional heroes? What about them touches your heart?

Until next time, be kind, be well, and may you always hold a hero close to your heart.