Through Better & Worse, a Contemporary Western Cowboy Romance

Through Better & Worse, a Montana Love Story

Getting a boot in the door almost costs Jake Jarvis his life. It does cost him two good hats, some jail time, and a whole bunch of money.

But Dree won’t see him for dust.

Guns, roses, and the flow of raw whiskey takes them both Through Better & Worse.

More About This Montana Love Story

Dree Blake thinks Jake Jarvis is a jackass after he nearly runs her off the road. Jake doesn’t think much of the dumpy girl or her mule and beat-up, old trailer. When the two finally meet and Dree doesn’t tell Jake’s hard-nosed cattleman grandfather about the near miss, Jake’s surprised and grateful. When she saves his life, he knows, for sure, she’s made of different stuff than the gals he’s been dating.

Jake wants to get to know who this Dree is, up close and personal, but Dree won’t see him for dust. Attempted date rape and her own parents’ vitriolic marriage have put her off men completely.

The battle of wills gets violent, and the families step in when blood spills, but even that won’t stop their headlong rush for a showdown.


This is a big R Romance, so you have an idea of how it turns out. What will surprise the hell out of you is how.

Not many books are perfect, but this one’s darned close. Readers who are sticklers for details will be pleased.

This is not your bare-chested, sexy cowboy romance (though Jake ain’t bad). Those are mere cotton candy representations of real ranch life and real ranch people. Author C.J. “Country” James knows the people she writes about far better than most.

…The pseudonymous James write[s] truly and honestly about the modern west…you can’t go wrong reading or listening to her books.

–Marva Dasef , published 8-8-2015 by The Contrary Canadian


“I love this book. It is down-to-earth, uplifting, fun, serious, exciting, and interestingly informative about a culture I have not experienced. And it is romantic in the finest sense.” – Anita Lewis

“The one thing I love about this author is that I never feel like I’m reading, I so get lost in the story. Masterfully done. I’ll be purchasing the audio version as well for my husband, because this is a read that both men and women will enjoy.” – Elizabeth Bonecher-Brenaman

“This is not your bare-chested, sexy cowboy romance (though Jake ain’t bad). Those western-romance-lite books are mere cotton candy representations of real ranch life and real ranch people. Author, C.J. “Country” James, knows the people she writes about far better than most” – Cellophane Queen

ABOUT THE AUTHOR, C. J. “Country” James

“Country” James is a pen name. My pen name…one of them. Under it, I write “country”–good country novels starring somebody “country” or somebody “city” who’s trying to “go country.” Key words there are “good” and “country.” In other words, I write about people of rural America, where rugged individualism is fostered and celebrated, where integrity counts, and truth and honor are paramount. Think ranch, farm, homestead, western, Midwestern, rural, small town, cowboy and trucker, think “country,” and you get what I’m talking about. Better, think of your favorite Country Western song–its hero, its heroine, its story …and the story behind that story. That’s what I write as C. J.

I’ll start releasing some of my “Country” James novels this year…if my editors let me, that is.

And to the question, am I really “country” myself or just a pretender–a drugstore variety, city-slicker wannabe? Well, I was put on a horse at a year-and-a-half in New Mexico, and once they let me go it alone, I never got off.

I’ve hazed cattle, roped with the hands, and taken my knocks with the best and the worst of them. Taken under the wing of one of the best wranglers of the bunch, a man who was a legend even in his own time, I learned the tricks and the secrets of gentling a horse, and even of busting rank broncs. I even learned to braid my own black snake, then fill it with shot, as well as to shoe my own horse, building the shoes myself from blanks.

I’m good with a rope and a tractor, can string fence and castrate a calf, a hog, and just about anything “livestock”, though I never did master the art of making good biscuits and gravy over a campfire. I’ve wrangled horses, mules, Herefords and Longhorns, wrestled hogs, and out-maneuvered mean dairy bulls. So, generally-speaking, and even specifically, yeah, I’m “country” and love it.

Cowboy Values by James P. Owen

Jim Owen leads a massively successful seminar that is in huge demand by financial groups, teachers’ organizations, and professional associations. His first book, Cowboy Ethics, has sold more than 60,000 copies in two years. Now Owen continues his nonpartisan message, offering the legacy of the cowboy as a model of accessible, positive qualities that all can agree on, regardless of religion or political persuasion.

This new book explains the enduring values he observed in cowboys, ones that can lead us to personal and professional fulfillment: a “can-do” spirit, authenticity, courage, strength of character, humbleness, chivalry, and heart. Accompanied by striking full-color photos, this motivational guide is the only book of its kind, and it will inspire readers from all walks of life in the tradition of best sellers such as Fish!, Good to Great, and Think and Grow Rich.

Says C. J.: Found this while grocery shopping and, because of the absolutely breathtaking photography, snapped it up, and I’m glad I did. Good for an uplift when “urban” and where this country seems headed begins to drag your smile down.

Cowboy Ethics by James P. Owen

A new approach to business ethics is quietly taking hold in executive suites and corporate boardrooms across America. Frustrated by an epidemic of misbehavior at all employee levels, management teams are getting back to basics—back to the idea that personal character and individual responsibility are the ultimate keys to integrity, just as they were back in the days of the Open Range.

A decade ago, the book Cowboy Ethics first inspired businesspeople to look to the Code of the West. Once they did, they discovered that its simple, common-sense principles can be more effective guides to business leadership than a truckload of corporate mission statements, rules, and ethics manuals. “Cowboys are role models because they live by a code,” says author James P. Owen. “They show us what it means to stand for something, and to strive every day to make your actions line up with your beliefs. And isn’t that as good a definition of integrity as you can find?”

In the years since, the book’s “Ten Principles to Live By” have been embraced by scores of companies, universities, and even a state government. This updated Tenth Anniversary hardcover edition traces the evolution of this grassroots business movement in brand-new chapters while preserving the inspirational lessons and stunning photography of the original. It’s ideal for corporate gifts, the new graduate, business students, or any career person who cares about doing the right thing.

Says C. J.: I happened to see Cowboy Values by Mr. Owen when I was at our local grocery and, on a whim, bought it, mostly because the photographs are absolutely beautiful.  Then I started reading–well worth the price, believe me.  Made me a fan.  You’ll totally love Mr. Owen’s books. Guaranteed.

Tales of a Texas Boy by Marva Dasef

How do you handle a crazy jackass? Eddie knows. If you ask Eddie, he’ll tell you pigs can fly and show you where to find real mammoth bones. Take his word for it when he tells you always to bet on the bear. These are things he learned while dreaming of becoming a cowboy in West Texas during the Depression. Through Eddie, the hero of “Tales of a Texas Boy,” we find that growing up is less about maturity and more about roping your dreams. Hold on tight. It’s a bumpy ride. A wonderful read for anyone who enjoys books like “Little House on the Prairie” or “Tom Sawyer.” A great bit of nostalgia for seniors, too. Bonus story included.

Comes in Large Print, Kindle, and Audio, too. A perfect gift for Dad’s Day. Here’s the details straight from the author’s mouth…text:

Says Marva: The ebook is free on Kindle if you buy the paperback. Also, the freebie on Smashwords is using coupon HL34R through June 21st.

Says C. J.: This is a great, fun book, and anyone “country”, anyone who lived the times or had a mom or pop who lived that era, will totally appreciate this book.  A word of warning for you city-slickers and for the uninitiated, this book can really open your eyes to attitudes and actions you may find startling. But this was (and, in some places, still is) the America of your elders.

Also available at Smashwords, and, I think, there it’s free for download.

MIssing, Assumed Dead, a “Country” Murder Mystery

Prejudice, murder, insanity, suicide: Every small town has its secrets.

When Kameron McBride receives notice she’s the last living relative of a missing man she’s never even heard of, the last thing she wants to do is head to some half-baked Oregon town to settle his affairs. But since she’s the only one available, she grudgingly agrees.

En route, she runs afoul of a couple of hillbillies and their pickup in an accident that doesn’t seem…accidental. Especially when they keep showing up wherever she goes. Lucky for her, gorgeous Deputy Mitch Caldwell lends her a hand, among other things. Her suspicions increase when the probate Judge tries a little too hard to buy the dead man’s worthless property.

Working on a hunch and trying to avoid the Judge’s henchmen, Kam probes deeper into the town’s secrets and finds almost no one she can trust. With Mitch’s help, she peels away the layers of prejudice, suicide, murder, and insanity. But someone in town doesn’t like her poking around, and when they show their intentions by shooting her through the police chief’s office window, the stakes are raised. Kam must find out what really happened to her dead relative before someone in this backward little town sends her to join him.

And she thought Oregon was going to be boring.

CJ Says: So here we have that durned city girl meddlin’ where she don’t belong. But, hey, she’s hot.  At least the local deputy thinks so, hot enough to put his life and his career on the line…which almost winds up with both of ’em six feet under. The local boys don’t like a stranger pokin’ things she ought’n.

Read an Excerpt at Amazon of Missing, Assumed Dead    Buy It!

Available in print, unabridged, professionally recorded audio, and eBook.

Old Hickory Lane, “Country Vet” Magical Realism

“It’s a little bit paranormal; it’s a whole lot of trouble piled on crisis as this young vet tries hard to make his way among the farmers and ranchers living in the rural Pacific Northwest. Warren is a ranch boy gone city who tries hard to return to country life where he don’t mix well unless its got hooves and a tail.”


Think “All Creatures Great and Small,” but with a plot, some mystery, and maybe a ghost.

Set in a near future ‘now’ and marked by moment-to-moment, life-and-death crises that are a practicing veterinarian’s life, meet Warren Jeffreys, D.V.M. Raised white, half Cree, he’s gifted with animals, but not very people savvy.

Struggling to survive his first year in private practice, despite the huge chip on his shoulder, college debt, and a plague of bigotry and prejudice, his bad luck and worse judgment lands him broke and homeless, camping out with vagrants and vagabonds. He’s cleansing cows and cutting up dead lambs inside bawling ewes—an animal mechanic working for a small-time veterinary service in rural North Idaho.

As his hopes for prestige and preeminence buckle under the rigors of day-to-day practice, he finds a new dream—a reconciliation to home and family—and with it comes a certain peace…until, once again, as fame and fortune tempt, he faces hard choices.

Filled with intense, critical emergencies, all of them based on true cases, the book has been “vetted” by modern, practicing veterinarians. It’s the animals that make you really pull for Dr. Warren Jeffreys, because, despite his best attempts not to, he cares. A lot. And, because he cares, because he competes against death, regardless the odds, he makes a difference. Unfortunately, the often cantankerous farm folk he serves don’t always appreciate his efforts and skill. Nor do they trust him, the “too tall, long-haired Injun.” Warren truly is a man without a home, with a foot in two worlds, but welcome in neither until he learns to trust his own heart.

EXCERPT FROM A REVIEW BY Clayton C. Bye of Chase Enterprises Publishing

Set against the background of constant veterinary emergencies, Warren’s story unwinds before our eyes. But to the author’s credit, both in personal knowledge and her research skills, this novel doesn’t just gloss over these emergencies, but rather it gives us a detailed look inside the world of treating farm animals, pets and, of course, horses–jumpers, racers, studs, pregnant mares, etc. It is as if [E. J. Ruek] has lived each moment and has stood in the shoes of this awesome breed that is the country vet.

Never have I read a story like this one. Old Hickory Lane is the book that All Creatures Great and Small should have been. The novel has all the characters: quirky, bitter, angry, rude, stand offish, passionate, caring and otherwise. Similarly, Ruek treats her animals like the intelligent and full-of-character beings they are. And when something goes wrong, her vet(s) perform detailed procedures and surgeries that only a true insider would know.

For realism at its finest and for the very best in heart stopping drama, I award this novel…5 stars and the Chase Enterprises Publishing Award of Excellence!

Excerpt Available at Amazon    Shop Link for Old Hickory Lane

Available in print, professionally recorded, unabridged audio, and eBook.

To Inherit a Murderer, “Country” Paranormal Suspense

At seven, William killed his mother’s dog. At ten, he stabbed his father with a letter opener. There’s the murder of the family maid. Willed custody of her best friend’s son, Deborah brings home a boy driven by hatred and rage. Injured by him the very first day, he threatens her carefully secured life with increasingly violent acts. But William begins to believe in Deborah as he has never believed in anyone. When Deborah starts to trust in William, though, death answers.

To Inherit a Murderer: Bk I: The Ward by E. J. Ruek

A chilling account of a woman who, against her better judgment, reaches out to a boy everyone has pegged as evil. –Liz Brenaman

Reuk is up there with the best. Crisp, balanced prose. A unique, well-told story. And a protagonist and antagonist the reader won’t be able to get enough of. I’m thrilled The Ward is just the first book in a series. …The Ward is the reason I keep sifting through the galaxy of small and independent publishers; the novel is unique, and it’s very good. –Clayton Bye, Reviewer

“One of those books that makes you twitch, even after you’ve read the last page.”

Sample a chapter at Amazon.    Shop Link: To Inherit a Murderer: Book I: The Ward

Available in print and eBook.