Please join me in welcoming Andrea Downing to the blog today. She’s a fantastic person, talented author, and wonderful friend. We met at a Women Writing the West Conference back in 2015 and have been swapping “howdies” since then.
City or country?
Born in NYC, having lived most of my life in the UK—mostly London—you might think I’m a city girl. In fact, I much prefer the country so, despite the fact I now live part-year in NYC to be close to my daughter, I live the rest of the time in Wyoming. And that’s what got me thinking….
At the end of the first of my two ‘Heart of the Boy’ books, Bad Boy, Big Heart, cowboy & fourth-generation Wyoming rancher Chay Ridgway is headed off to New York so he can be with his girlfriend, K.C. Daniels, while she completes her M.A. Talk about a fish out of water! I just knew I had to see what would happen to this former rodeo star when dropped in the Big Apple.
Life could not be more different than between those two places, and City Boy, Country Heart deals with that.
As any visitor to NYC knows, New York is crowded. Manhattan is full of people, buildings are one upon the other, streets are packed with vehicles. Living spaces are minimal—if you happen to be rich enough to own a complete brownstone house to yourself, it’s still crammed in between others of its ilk. Forget about having land—a long narrow strip of backyard might be yours if you’re lucky. In the other four boroughs, there is a sense of suburbia with single family homes on small plots. But for most people, apartment living is the norm, and for youngsters, sharing is usual. If you grew up in the country like Chay, a sense of claustrophobia would be immediate. Moreover, when so many people are crammed into a small area, housing, with everything else, becomes expensive.
And you’re certainly not getting around by horse! Even having your own car in the city is a waste of money because parking is at a premium and necessitates constant moving of the auto, while garage parking costs are astronomical. So, what transportation is there? Within the city, taxis and Ubers and their competitors are too expensive for daily, frequent use by college kids. It’s down into the subterranean world of the Metropolitan Transit Authority’s subway, a dismal hell-hole providing good transport. Buses, too, are frequent but a lot slower, having to deal with NYC traffic. To someone brought up in the fresh air of Wyoming, it would be disturbing and repellant at best.
With Lady Liberty on our doorstep, New York is a very mixed environment. When you put a lot of people into an urban situation like this, there are bound to be pros and cons as Chay soon finds out. Being neighborly is not particularly a NY trait. I do know the people in the next apartment and a few others in my building, but no one drops in for coffee and a chat. On the other hand, the huge amount of diverse ethnicities lends itself to a multi-cultural world that has its benefits: any kind of food in the world is available in NYC, and living and learning with folks of such varied backgrounds leads to increased tolerance and understanding.
What other benefits are there to living in NYC? Well, anything can be delivered straight to your door, and I’m not talking Amazon here. Groceries, meals, dry cleaning (which can also be collected) come with a phone call or click; in Wyoming, where I live, I can’t even get a pizza delivered! In NYC, doctors of all specializations are on your doorstep; museums, libraries, and theatres are within walking distance. And then there’s Central Park.
But for Chay, I believe, it would come down to space, an ability to step outside his door and instead of seeing the next apartment, see the Tetons, pastures, the wide open spaces of Wyoming. It would come down to this: New York City (that is, all five boroughs), at 304.5 sq. miles, population 8.5 million; entire State of Wyoming, coming in at 97,818 square miles, population under 600,000.
City Boy, Country Heart:
Rodeo star and rancher Chay Ridgway has left Wyoming to follow his girlfriend, K.C. Daniels, to New York. Leaving behind all he knows for a small bite of the Big Apple, Chay discovers the canyons of city streets may be too oppressive for this cowboy, especially when the trauma is compounded by the fact K.C.’s parents dislike him, their housemate is a harridan, friends are few, and the only job he can get is rounding up dinner plates.
As K.C. continues her two years of study for her Master’s degree, can she also continue to keep a rein on Chay’s heart? Will this cowboy become a city boy, or will the wide-open spaces of Wyoming call his country heart home?
Having pushed their way to the corner, crossed the street and got to the line for the skating rink, K.C. left Chay to hold their place so she could ask what the cost would be. He took in the scene and tried to enjoy it: the skaters below doing their pirouettes or figure-eights; the towering buildings reflecting each other; the children running about with rosy, excited faces; the golden flags waving and planted trees decorated with lights; and above it all, the Christmas tree, a goliath of multi-colored lights topped by a star. It was all too much, too much commotion and hubbub, too much noise.
K.C. came back with a downcast look to a stomping Chay trying to stay warm.
“What? What now?” he asked.
She tutted and sighed. “Thirty-two dollars to get in, twelve dollars to rent skates.”
Chay stared at her in disbelief. “You have got to be kidding. How much money are they making? Maybe I should open a skating rink on my frozen tanks back home. Geesh. I’m not going to—”
“No, no. Let’s go…somewhere we can get a hot chocolate and warm up.”
“Yeah, and I know just the place.” Chay grabbed her hand and pushed back through the crowd.
“For what? It isn’t your fault.”
“I thought…I thought it was going to be such fun, the windows and the skating, and the—”
“Well. I didn’t know it was going to be this bad.” She peered over her shoulder at the golden statue that graced Rockefeller Center, and the tree. “Oh, gosh, Chay! You hardly saw the tree!”
“I saw it. Great. Big, and lots of lights and things. Maybe nice at night, though.”
K.C. stopped in her tracks and swiveled to him. “Nice at night? Nice at night? That’s all you have to say about the Rockefeller Center Tree—the most famous Christmas tree, like, in all the world?”
He stared at her and grimaced, shoving his hands in his pockets. “K.C., it was lovely. I see pine trees outside my window all year. I like them in their natural state, like in Wyoming. Up mountains, by lakes, with elk or moose underneath. I never did like the idea of putting silly little baubles on them, trinkets, or angels at the top. What’s the point?”
“What’s the point? Chay, it’s Christmas. It’s a Christmas tradition. Didn’t you ever have a Christmas tree in your home?”
“Yeah, I did. I decorated it with home-made things I could make when I was little. My mother showed me how to make cut-out paper chains, and popcorn garlands and stuff. All that glitz, I think, it’s sort of stupid, isn’t it? Spending money on crap, buying things. Taking something from nature and dressing it up like that?”
“Yeah. I got that. It’s Christmas.” Someone pushed him from behind and anger flared across his face like wildfire down a hillside. “I thought we were going home for hot chocolate.”
K.C. stared at him as if she were seeing a different person, a person she didn’t know. “Where’s your Christmas spirit,” she asked in a voice so hurt, he thought she was pleading.
“Christmas spirit is maybe different to different people. I find the crowds—”
“All right, I understand!” She jerked her arm free and walked on at a quicker pace. “Christmas spirit is different to different people.”
Chay stopped for a moment, lost in the crowd, keeping an eye on her retreating back. “Yes,” he said to himself. “Christmas is certainly different to different people. And we were different people in Wyoming.”
A Cowboy To Keep Anthology
Featuring stories by Carra Copelin, Andrea Downing, Kristy McCaffrey, Devon McKay, Hildie McQueen, Hebby Roman, and Patti Sherry-Crews
Catch a cowboy … Keep a cowboy …
Don’t miss this great collection from USA Today, Amazon Bestselling, and Award-Winning authors!! Available at https://www.amazon.com/Cowboy-Keep-Contemporary-Western-Collection-ebook/dp/B072869SGV/
THE LEGEND OF BAD MOON RISING by Carra Copelin
Sheriff Ben Hammond is finally over the woman who shattered his heart, but when Dinah Horne suddenly returns, can he ignore the passion still burning bright between them?
CITY BOY, COUNTRY HEART by Andrea Downing
Trading horses for subways for two years seemed like a good idea to cowboy Chay Ridgway, but can city girl K.C. Daniels keep a rein on his country heart?
BLUE SAGE by Kristy McCaffrey
Archaeologist Audrey Driggs rolls off a mountain and lands at the feet of rugged cowboy Braden Delaney. Together, they’ll uncover a long-lost secret.
THE DRIFTER’S KISS by Devon McKay
Determined to take back what belongs to her, Addison Reed will do anything. Even trust a complete stranger.
HER MAN by Hildie McQueen
Deputy Mark Hunter falls for Eliza Brock during a murder investigation. Is it fate or bad luck, especially when she may be involved?
BORDER ROMANCE by Hebby Roman
Widow Leticia Villarreal wants to establish a horse-racing stable and old acquaintance John Clay Laidlaw offers to help. But can she trust him with her business and her heart?
PHOENIX HEAT by Patti Sherry-Crews
After losing her fiancé and her New York City business, Harper Donovan returns to Arizona and meets cowboy Frank Flynn. Will his past and their differences extinguish the heat between them?
A native New Yorker, Andrea Downing currently divides her time between the canyons of city streets and the wide-open spaces of Wyoming. Her background in publishing and English Language teaching has transferred into fiction writing, and her love of horses, ranches, rodeo, and just about anything else western, is reflected in her award-winning historical and contemporary western romances.
She has been a finalist in the RONE Awards for Best American Historical Romance twice, placed in the International Digital Awards twice, and won ‘Favorite Hero’ along with Honorable Mentions for Favorite Heroine, Short Story and Novel in the Maple Leaf Awards. Her book, Dearest Darling, has also won The Golden Quill Award for Best Novella and been on the short list for winning The Chanticleer Award for Best Short or Novella.
You can find Andrea at:
WEBSITE AND BLOG: http://andreadowning.com
AMAZON AUTHOR PAGE: http://www.amazon.com/Andrea-Downing/e/B008MQ0NXS/ref=ntt_dp_epwbk_0