Romance writers Lindsay McKenna and Nicole Helm have new novels, set out west and featuring rough-and-tumble cowboy types. Naturally, there are a few country songs that make the perfect soundtrack to their tales.

McKenna's Wind River Lawman -- the sixth and newest book in the Wind River Valley series -- follows former Navy medic Dawson Callahan. He's the type of man who inspires a song like Trace Adkins' "Still a Soldier": "His blood runs red, white and blue ... 'Til his last breath / He'll always be / A soldier." Although he's transitioning back to civilian life, he'll soon realize that he can't completely leave his military past behind.

Looking for a fresh start, Dawson is working on a ranch in Wind River, Wyo., wrangling chickens and acting as the caretaker for the ranch's elderly owner, who also happens to be the grandmother of Wind River Sheriff Sarah Carter. Readers can practically hear him singing Willie Nelson's "Blue Skies": "Blue days, all of them gone / Nothin' but blue skies from now on ..."

Unfortunately, not everything in Wind River is sunny: A drug cartel has moved in, and Sarah needs help stopping them. Knowing Dawson as a reliable man with good instincts and experience, she deputizes him. After she's injured during a shootout with the cartel, she and Dawson grow closer as he cares for her, brought together by the traumas they suffered while fighting for their country. It's a love story straight out of Garth Brooks' "In Lonesome Dove": "A farmer's daughter with a gentle hand / A blooming rose in a bed of sand / She loved the man who wore a star ..."

Fortunately, their story has a happier ending than the one in Brooks' song. Together, Dawson and Sarah formulate a plan to take down the cartel and save Wind River, cementing their love in the process.

Then there's Helm's A Nice Day for a Cowboy Wedding, set one state south, in Gracely, Colo., a tourist town with a number of full-time residents who call "Lucky Old Colorado" their home. Just as Merle Haggard sings, the Centennial State's got the girl of Shane Tyler's dreams.

Shane is the son of Mrs. Tyler, the matriarch of a well-to-do ranching family, who's about to get remarried following the death of her husband many years ago. However, Shane and his siblings aren't too keen on their mother's fiance: He's a much younger man who used to work for their mother on the family ranch; it's a situation straight out of Garth Brooks' hit "That Summer."

Nonetheless, Mrs. Tyler's hired Mile High Weddings to help plan her big day. She's working with Cora Preston, who's new to town; Cora moved to Gracely to be near her sister, and to protect both herself and her son from her abusive ex-husband. Despite her understandable distrust of men, Cora finds herself falling for Shane while she helps plan his mother's wedding.

Cora's son has an interest in horses and he, too, grows close to Shane, who lets down his gruff exterior and proves himself responsible and caring with the young boy -- much like the unexpected father figure in Brad Paisley's "He Didn't Have to Be." However, when Cora's son gets injured during a horse ride, she starts to worry that perhaps letting Shane into her and her son's lives wasn't the best idea.

Cora's concerns, coupled with Shane's own demons related to the incident, drive the pair apart. However, their family and friends can see the genuine love between them and conspire to rekindle the pair's blossoming relationship. Their story will have the lyrics of Tim McGraw and Faith Hill's "It's Your Love" echoing in readers' minds: "It's your love / It just does somethin' to me / It sends a shock right through me / I can't get enough ..."

Both Wind River Lawman and A Nice Day for a Cowboy Wedding are available now. Saddle up for love!

Brought to you in partnership with Kensington Publishing.

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