Winds of Wyoming, A Kate Neilson Novel is written by Rebecca Carey Lewis.
Here is the book blurb:
Fresh out of a Pennsylvania penitentiary armed with a marketing degree, Kate Neilson heads to Wyoming anticipating a fresh start on a working guest ranch. A typical twenty-five-year-old woman might be looking to lasso a cowboy, but years of mistreatment by men have tainted her regard for the opposite sex. All she wants is to get on with life on the outside and avoid another felony, which could trigger a three-strikes-you’re-out, life-without-parole loss of freedom. When she discovers that Jerry Ramsey, a violent ex-lover determined to have her as his own, followed her west, she realizes the past she hoped to escape trails as close as a shadow.
Mike Duncan, co-owner of the Whispering Pines, returned to his family’s guest ranch after college to tend the cattle and horses and a small bison herd, his pride and joy. He loves his work but can’t shake the guilt that has plagued his life for years. When his dad dies, Mike feels unfit to take the reins of the ranch yet can’t renege on his promise to care for his mom. His only desire this summer is for the ranch to survive its first tourist season since his dad’s death. But troubles, which begin with Kate’s arrival in Wyoming, escalate as the summer advances. Though drawn to the new employee, Mike can’t help but wonder if the reticent woman is somehow connected with the events that bring sheriff deputies to the ranch almost daily.
A little bit from the author herself as to why she wrote this novel:
This will sound crazy, but it took me several years of writing “Winds of Wyoming” to figure out what the story was about. I had a vague idea (really vague!) for the first couple of years. But then I began visiting a local women’s prison to provide weekly Bible studies with a ministry team. There I discovered that women behind bars are just like those of us on the outside.
We love our families and miss them when we’re separated from them. We long to be healthy, whole individuals in every way—physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually, individuals who contribute to society rather than drain its resources. We long to be who God created us to be.
But life on Planet Earth isn’t perfect. Ruined and doomed by our sin nature, we all stumble and fall, in one way or another, and suffer consequences. Incarcerated individuals suffer the consequence of punishment by society. From my limited experience, I believe most regret their past sins and have a heartfelt desire to change. Sure, some are unrepentant, but many are transparent about their failings and searching for a better life. That’s why prison ministry is so effective. Only Jesus can pull prisoners—and us—out of the pit of self-destruction.
Jailed men and women who attend Bible studies and chapel services love to sing God’s praises and hear good Bible teaching. They pray together and support each other however they can. Chaplains and volunteers encourage, teach and love the inmates. However, when felons are released, they leave that love and support behind and often return to the families and friends who enabled and possibly encouraged their previous misdeeds.
Though they yearn for release every day of their imprisonment, freedom can be difficult for ex-offenders. If they don’t quickly find a healthy support system, they can easily slide back into sin. Landing a job is often a struggle as is figuring out where they fit in society, which includes the question of whether or not they’ll be accepted in churches.
That’s where “Winds of Wyoming” comes in. (You were wondering where I was headed with all this, right?) I wanted to examine the challenges former inmates face. So I morphed my heroine into a newly released young woman who hopes to start her life anew in a totally different environment, a heroine whose past refuses to let her go. Plus, I created a great group of supporting characters to help her walk in the Light day by difficult day. Isn’t that what we all need?
Though debut novelist Rebecca Carey Lyles grew up in Wyoming, she and her husband, Steve, currently live in the neighboring state of Idaho. She enjoys the creativity and beauty that abound throughout her adopted state as well as opportunities to hike, camp, snowshoe and cross-country ski in the midst of God’s grandeur. Favorite outdoor experience: While hiking in the Wyoming mountains one summer, she came nose-to-nose with (well, ten-feet from) a beautiful white wolf. Currently, she’s putting the finishing touches on a Winds of Wyoming sequel titled Winds of Freedom.