Please welcome my friend Cheyenne Blue who is here to talk about her latest novel Fenced-In Felix!
Felix Gallops In
Here I am once again, muscling my way on to Harper’s blog. Thank you, Harper. She’s obviously not sick of me just yet.
I was here in November to talk about my Aussie outback romance Not-So-Straight Sue. And now, only a month later due to the vagaries of publishing schedules, the third and final story in this series, Fenced-In Felix is now available.
We met Felix briefly in the previous book, when Sue stopped on a whim at her trail riding place to go horse-riding. Sue and Felix hooked up for a steamy encounter, and Felix was the one who broke Sue’s long Sapphic drought. Three years down the track, Felix is expanding her outback tourism business. Horses, camping and cabins. She works hard, loves where she lives, has good friends—but no lover, and no chance of one, living as she does in outback Queensland. Enter Josie, a peripatetic casual worker, and her horse, Flame. For the first time in years, Felix has a chance at love. Or does she?
While this is a series, the books all stand alone. You don’t have to have read the first two to enjoy this. Characters interconnect but you don’t need prior knowledge. Indeed, Sue and Moni play a strong supporting role in this book as Felix’s good friends. And Nora and Ger from Never-Tied Nora make a cameo. That was one of the most enjoyable parts to write.
I hope you take a moment to check out Fenced-In Felix and spend some time with Felicity (“Felix”) and Josie and their lives in outback Australia. Felix is not just about horses though. It’s a romance through and through. As well as the lesbian love, there’s a mystery surrounding Flame that pulls Felix out of her comfort zone. Also too, there are horses, kangaroos, snakes, goannas, and dogs. It’s a story of friendship, rural living, horse riding, hard work, moving on versus staying put, racehorses, mauve pants, campfires, billy tea and damper and, at the heart, whether love and trust go hand in hand.
I hope you’ll give Felix a red hot go.
Felix Jameson is working hard to get her outback hospitality business off the ground. Building cabins, leading trail rides and enticing tourists means she hasn’t much time for distractions—and that includes romance. But when she meets Josie, a drifter who picks up casual work as she goes, Felix is intrigued and attracted. Josie asks Felix to board her horse, Flame, and Felix is delighted. Not only can she use the extra money, but it means she will see a lot more of Josie. Felix finds Josie fits in well into her life, and for the solitary Felix there’s finally the possibility of romance. But there’s something suspicious about Flame, who bears an uncanny resemblance to a valuable stolen racehorse. Felix knows she is falling hard for Josie, but is Josie all she seems, or is she mixed up in shady dealings?
I had two horses to do to Josie’s one, so she finished first. She came over and rested her arms on the edge of Smoke’s stall.
“You’ve got plenty of space here. You could have half a dozen more horses.”
I bent to brush dust from Smoke’s foreleg. “Barn space, yes, but the land is poor. It barely supports the six I have now.”
“How many have you had in the past?”
“Nine was the maximum, back in the days when I took youngsters for breaking. But that was during the good years, when we had proper wet seasons.”
“Word is this year could see some good rains.”
“Let’s hope. Can never rely on it though. I’ve seen the land go for years without real rain, and I’ve seen it under a metre of flood water.”
I straightened. Josie leant on the door, fiddling with the thong on her hat.
“I want to ask you something,” she said. “Not sure what you’ll say.”
“Oh?” I tried to appear open. In truth, I had no idea what she wanted.
“I like it in Worrindi. The pub’s a good place to be. Nice people.” Her mouth crooked up at one corner. The motion was fascinating. “Believe me, that is not always the case.” Her fingers worried at the thong on the hat. “Anyway, I thought I’d stay around. A while. Maybe a lot longer, if it works out. I told you I have a horse?”
I nodded, my gaze on the restless movement of her fingers.
“I’d like to have her near. I was given her. Otherwise there’s no way I’d have bought a horse, not with my lifestyle. But she’s mine, and I’d like to have her somewhere close. Her name’s Flame.”
Flame. It conjured up a picture of a delicate, feisty horse, quick as lightning with movements of fire. But as tempting as the picture was, I knew I had to say no.
“She sounds like a beaut horse. But honestly, Josie, I don’t think I can have her here. I just don’t have the grazing. Most likely, I’m going to have to buy hay before long, and that’s very expensive.”
“I’ll pay for her agistment—I didn’t mean for you to keep her for nothing. I’ve thought about what I can afford.” She named a figure that was generous.
The money was tempting. With the extra, I could finish up the second cabin.
I shook my head. “That’s a good offer, but it’s more than you’d pay at other places. But I still don’t think I could do it if I have to buy hay.”
“If it comes to that, how about I purchase the hay for her?”
I ducked down to Smoke’s forelegs again to give myself time to think. The dollars marching through my head beat a compelling rhythm, but before I fell on Josie’s neck shrieking “yes!” I had to give this more thought.
“I’m a thirty-minute drive from Worrindi. It would cost you to drive out here, and you may not be able to come that often. I’m sure there is somewhere closer to town where you could keep her. If you want, I’ll ask—”
“No.” She leant forwards, and her face took on a strange intensity. “I want her to be here with you. If you’ll take her, that is. She’s special. I don’t want to trust her to just anyone. I can pay, if that’s what you’re worried about.”
“It’s not. I trust you.” And I did. I wasn’t just saying the words. For all her nomadic ways, Josie seemed like someone I could rely on. Maybe I’d wake up one morning with a horse that didn’t belong to me and no way of contacting the owner and no money coming in—I’d heard of that happening to others—but I didn’t think so.
“I can give you a month up front. I’ll transfer it to your bank if you agree.”
It was a lot of money for someone earning minimum wage less board in a pub. Maybe she had money put aside.
“If you take her, I’ll know she’ll be well looked after. Cared for. So many places just throw a horse in a paddock and forget about it until the next bill’s due.” Her head ducked, and she glanced at me from under her hat. “And it would give me an excuse to come out here. To see you.”
It wasn’t fair of her to play the flirtation card with someone who was obviously interested.
I stood up again, with Smoke between us, and rested my hands on her withers. “Look, I’ll think about it, okay? I can’t give you an answer now. I need to think about grazing, hay, and things like that.” And about you wanting to see me again. “Will Flame be okay in with the others? I don’t think it will work if she has to be by herself.”
“I’m sure she will be. Thanks, Felix, for at least thinking about it.”
“I’ll let you know.”
She nodded, and with a quick smile, she walked off.
I watched her go, watched the sway of her backside under those mauve pants, and tried not to think about the fact that she wanted to spend time with me.
Cheyenne Blue’s fiction has been included in over ninety erotic anthologies since 2000. She is the editor of Forbidden Fruit: stories of unwise lesbian desire, a 2015 finalist for both the Lambda Literary Award and Golden Crown Literary Award, and of First: Sensual Lesbian Stories of New Beginnings.
Her collected lesbian short fiction is published as Blue Woman Stories, volumes 1-3, with more to come. The romantic Girl Meets Girl series, Never-Tied Nora, Not-So-Straight Sue and Fenced-In Felix are out now from Ylva Publishing.
Cheyenne has lived in the U.K., Ireland, the United States, and Switzerland, but now writes, runs, makes bread and cheese, and drinks wine in rural Queensland, Australia. Check out her blog at www.cheyenneblue.com and follow her on Twitter at @IamCheyenneBlue and on Goodreads at goodreads.com/CheyenneBlue