Grass Valley Brides Characters

I thought it would be fun to share some of the inspiration behind the characters in Grass Valley Brides.

Since this book really came into being because of my Grass Valley Cowboys series and the Thompson brothers who are such a big part of it, the first character I focused on was Taggart Thompson, who would be their great-great-great grandfather.

Because the Thompson brothers are a bit wild and full of mischief (as well as sweet and tender-hearted), I wanted to incorporate those characteristics into Tagg.  I knew from the start he would be a rascal, a charmer, and full of fun. But when it came to the woman he loved, he would be relentless.

Austin Stowell was my visual inspiration for Tagg’s character. Tagg can working hard on his ranch one day, one dressed to fit in with the higher levels of society the next. These contrasting images help me think about all the different aspects of Tagg’s character.

And he’s a cutie! Something about this image of him made me think of Travis Thompson (from The Cowboy’s Summer Love).  It’s no wonder he drove poor Cara crazy.

Cara Cargill is the matchmaker Tagg has been corresponding with, searching for a bride.  Cara becomes quite vocal about her thoughts of Tagg, even in the prologue of the first story!

I knew Cara needed to be beautiful and fiery, and full of life. She’s Irish, with a temper to match, and I wanted her inspiration to look the part.


Alexandra Breckenridge was perfect for Cara. She’s beyond beautiful and just has that look that I could see so clearly on Cara’s face.

Here is the song I think of as Tagg and Cara’s – Hold Onto Me by John Michael Montgomery.


Once I had Cara and Tagg settled in my mind, I started thinking about the other characters.

Cara sends her best friend Daisy to be a potential bride to Tagg.

Daisy has grown up in a wealthy home and is very ladylike. But she’s also sweet and kind.  I wanted her character to reflect that.

Which is what this photo of Leah Renee Cudmore did. She’s exactly how I picture Birdie, from that lovely smile to her gorgeous golden hair.

The man Daisy meets when she arrives in Grass Valley isn’t Tagg, but his best friend, Dane Dalton. Dane is a wheat farmer. He works hard, cares deeply about the people who loves, and isn’t quite sure what to make of Daisy.

For those of you who love Hallmark movies, Andrew W. Walker was my choice for Dane. Something about him was just spot-on for Dane’s character.

And here is Daisy and Dane’s song, Easy to Hold from Clay Walker.

The third bride in the story is Birdie, Cara’s sister. She’s young and vibrant and full of life. I needed a character who could fill those shoes.

Violett Beane filled them so well. The moment I saw this photo, I said, “She’s Birdie!”  Birdie is a sweet, happy, upbeat girl and I thought this photo of Violett certainly fit the bill.

The man who greets Birdie when she steps off the stagecoach is another friend of Tagg’s, the owner of the livery and hardware store, Rance Barlow.

Joel Rush is so, so perfect for Rance’s character. He’s so good-looking, and he also has the intensity I could envision Rance exuding despite his quiet demeanor.

I think this song, Happy People, from Little Big Town is so perfect for Birdie.


So there you have it, my character inspiration for Grass Valley Brides.

View my Pinterest Board to see more of what inspired scenes and details in the story. There are sections for Daisy, Birdie, and Cara. Be sure to click on them all!

And if you haven’t read the book yet, here is what one reviewer had to say about it:

“If you enjoy historical romance with a Western flavor that will make you smile, be sure to grab a copy of Grass Valley Brides.”

Among the Reads


Get your copy today!

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One Response

  1. Your pictures so clearly represent each of your Grass Valley characters. If your Grass Valley Brides series was made into a movie these people would be the ones to play their parts.
    There is one other character I wonder about and that is Tim, Rance’s “adopted son”.
    Thank you Shanna, for bringing your Grass Valley Brides and their men to life for us.

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