Barbara Ankrum: A Fair To Remember

971067_521250791255457_1104412762_nThe books in Tule Publishing’s Summer Fair series are amongst some of my favorites and I’m especially excited about Barbara Ankrum‘s A Fair To Remember!   I think Tule is really lucky to have Barbara writing a story for us.  She’s an incredible author with a wonderfully talented voice.  One of my favorite authors to read and an amazing person too, with some very cool author friends (like Beth Kendrick!).

I had to invite Barbara to chat with her about her story and so without further delay, please help me welcome Barbara Ankrum!

Thanks, Jane, for inviting me to blog here today! I’m honored to share this space with you.

Like most of you, I’m a reader from way back. As a kid, I’d read cereal boxes, newspapers, books, whatever I could get my hands on.  All that voracious reading translated into my becoming a writer, eventually, but that hasn’t diminished my joy of reading a great story. I love the great unknown of starting a new book.

But as a writer, I get to control the world!

Uh… not really. I just like to delude myself that way. But I do love the possibilities that come with opening doors in my stories to find characters I didn’t expect behind them.

In my latest book, “A Fair To Remember” from the Marietta Fair Series, my hero and heroine, Jake and Olivia, surprised me most of the way through. Best friends in high school, they’d made this dumb, pinky-swear promise to meet up at the fair when Olivia turned thirty to be each other’s fall back person in case they were both still single. And guess what? They were, with complications of course, but that’s where the fun begins.

I’ve always been a fan of friends to lovers stories and these two took me for a ride. But as I discovered their stories, I also discovered their supporting cast, which inspired me to contemplate what really made this heroine tick.

(Don’t you just love this cover?)

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Twelve years ago, equestrian Olympic hopeful Olivia Canaday and her best friend, Jake Lassen, made a pinky-swear promise to reunite at the Big Marietta Fair on her thirtieth birthday and marry each other if they were both still single. But that was before they grew up and went their separate ways. Now, after a disastrous divorce and a career-changing accident, Olivia limps home, minus her mojo, her courage and her faith in love. She retreats to her parents’ ranch, determined to play it safe, but when ex-Army helicopter pilot Jake Lassen arrives to make good on their promise, he reignites passion and hope, two things Olivia had forgotten existed. Olivia resolves to keep Jake at arm’s length, even though the memory of his kisses keeps her up at night. She knows better than to let her heart get involved, but Jake is planning for the future. Their future. Can Jake convince her to risk it all one more time and really make this a fair to remember?
Two such characters who wandered into my story were Kate and Eve Canaday, the younger step-sisters of my heroine, Olivia. (They let me know that the ‘step-sister’ part was a mere formality, as they all considered themselves blood kin.) That one insight opened the door into my heroine’s past, her way of being in the world and her relationship with her family. And it reminded me of how randomly the universe chooses our family and how we sometimes, choose our own.

Being lucky enough to have two sisters of my own, I know there is nothing like having two women who know you inside and out, all the good bits and the bad—and who love you anyway. You share memories no one else shares and can still laugh about them. Kate and Eve love Olivia this way and the three of them are always ready to go to the mattresses for each other. (In a Mario Puzzo kind of way!)

I had so much fun writing them that I think they each deserve a story of their own. I’m working on that.

Those two reminded me, not only how lucky I am to have sisters, and now a grown daughter whom I adore, but to have women friends who I’ve known forever and who always have my back. And I have theirs.

Recently, I met up with my best friend from childhood with whom I reconnected on Facebook. (Has that happened to you?) We had lunch with our husbands when we happened to intersect in the same city after living across the world from each other for the past forty-four years. Yet, it was like none of those years had passed between us. It was great to see her. She reminded me of how we used to climb a neighborhood willow tree and imagine (elaborately) that we were orphans—most certainly the beginning of my wild writer’s imagination!  We promised each other it wouldn’t be another forty-four years until we met again.

Then, last week, I had a reunion with a group of writer friends I’ve known for twenty years. Though it had been a few years since we’d met in person (we’re all scattered to the four winds now) seeing them  again reminded me of how much I enjoy the company of women and how I miss it when I’m alone in my writer’s cave. There was plenty of talk about families and catching up, but there was also support, as writers, for each other. It’s hard to beat friends who have become sisters.

Simply put, women need other women. It’s in our DNA. And despite the way the world keeps trying to pit us against each other, women will always find ways to create sisterhood from friendship.

Being part of this amazing group of writers at Tule Publishing, led by the ever generous and amazing Jane Porter, is yet another such example and I’m saying it right here on her wonderful blog, “Thank you, Jane, for your heart and your generosity and your wisdom. Thanks for inviting me in. I’ve got your back.”

Excerpt from A Fair To Remember:

“You scared of me, Liv?”

 “What? No.” She gave a laugh like scared was the last thing she could possibly be.

He sighed, then reached down to pull off a boot.

“What are you doing?” she inquired.

“Take off your clothes.”

Instinctively, she clamped her hands across her chest. “What?”

“C’mon. Not all your clothes. Just your dress. Your boots. Let’s go swimming.”


“We’ve done it a million times here.” Off came his other boot. “C’mon.”

Off came the black T-shirt over the holy-crikee ripped muscles of his torso. She inhaled at the sight of the new-to-her tats that covered one shoulder and forearm.

He followed her gaze and grinned. “Or are you scared of that, too?”

Oh, no. Not the tattoo. What was under the tattoo. She was definitely, definitely scared of the carnal thoughts his sleek, beautiful physique inspired.

The owl they’d been listening to flapped across the water with low, swooping beats of its huge wings, barely skimming the surface of the river.

 “I-I’m still a little drunk,” she said, “and, obviously, I-I don’t have a bathing suit.”

“When did you get so prissy? Underwear always sufficed before. When naked wasn’t appropriate.” He grinned and loosened the button on the top of his jeans and she heard the toe-curling sound of his zipper sliding down.

“We only skinny dipped once and we were fourteen and it was pitch black.” She watched the smooth, thick muscles of his back bunch and move beneath his skin like quicksilver as he slid off his jeans. He was wearing boxer briefs which outlined his taut thighs and backside, a view that made her mouth go dry.

He gestured at the dark night with one hand. “C’mon. It’s hot. And since you’ve put the nix on discussing what’s got you so spooked, what’s a little swim between friends? We’ll never get this place to ourselves again.” Jake waded in a few steps then dove underwater.

Grown men and women cannot be friends, her sister Kate had declared when Olivia had mentioned her onetime friendship with Jake as a perfect example of male-female friendship, Because in the sage words of Billy Crystal’s Harry  to Meg Ryan’s Sally, ‘the sex part always gets in the way.

A warm rush of longing shuddered through her as Jake shimmered under the surface of the water. Kate was right.

The sex part was a problem.

He shot straight up out of the water and gasped, the water sparkling in his hair.

Definitely a problem.


Thank you, Barbara, for sharing with us today!  Friends, please be sure to download your copy of A Fair To Remember soon.  You’re in for a real treat!  And as always, I have another treat in store for you.  I’m going to give away, to one lucky winner, a special Montana Born prize that I personally carried home from Kalispell, Montana with extra gift cards and wonderful treats thrown in! For a chance to win, leave a comment and tell me which of the Summer Fair series books you’ve read and what do you think of the stories?  Winner will be announce on Wednesday.  Have a great weekend!


  1. Congrats to Barbara on the new release. I read a few of the Wedding books, but haven’t had a chance to read the Summer Fair series.

  2. Congratulations and best wishes. I haven’t read The Summer Fair series and I look forward to enjoying these captivating books.

  3. Hello Barbara, You and I are kindred spirits since I always read anything I could from childhood and still do today. I am one of those billboards along the highway readers…guess they do work. Your book sounds like a great read. I have not read any of the Tule fair books, but I am heading over to Amazon to hopefully find some in print form. I still like to read real honest to goodness books, but I have read some books on my phone. There are still some reading dinosaurs like me around, so I hope the Tule Publishing will continue to publish books for those of us. Thanks Jane, for introducing another new to me author. You have the best author friends!

    1. I hope you enjoy the book! And glad I’m not the only billboard/cereal box reader out there! Thanks for all the library support you give us authors. It’s greatly appreciated!

  4. A Fair to Remember is definitely my favorite of the series so far. I don’t have many women friends. I reconnected with a couple of old friends on FB too, but it didn’t work out. One who was married and a mother right out of high school now wants to live her life partying all the time. I did that when I was younger, so we just didn’t work out. The other found out, I married a man without a lot money, so she didn’t want to hang out with someone like me. We’re good talking on FB, but not hanging out in real life.

  5. Hi! I haven’t read any for I’m taking classes in college also tutoring kids that need help in reading so haven’t had time to read much for pleasure. Also, I don’t have a kindle or a nook to read these books! I love to read them for they sound so good and I love a good love story and cowboys!

  6. I have to be honest and say that I haven’t read any yet, but I would the chance to! 🙂 Thanks for the chance.

    1. Hope you give the fair series a shot when you get the chance, Kristy! Its so much fun! Until then, happy reading!

  7. I haven’t read any of the series but by the sound of this one I need to. What a great couple.

    And Jane! You were in Kalispell. I love it there. 🙂

  8. Have read all of the summer fair series so far, and am loving the stories! Brings back memories of going to the fair as a child, and how fun and exciting it was! 🙂

  9. I just started reading A Fair To Remember an hour or two ago and I love it! I’m finding it hard to put down so I can get on with my Sunday morning chores.

  10. I haven’t read any…yet. My to read list is growing by the minute. I attended fairs growing up so reading about them will bring back wonderful memories!!

  11. Sorry. Have had company a lot this summer so haven’t read as much. Haven’t read this series yet, but thanks for bringing it to our attention!

  12. I haven’t gotten to that part of my tbr list but am thinking Katherine Garbera’s is first up on the list.

  13. I just finished “A Fair to Remember” and loved it! I have always been a reader. I still remember hoarding flashlights so I could read after lights out growing up! I still stay up too late reading especially when a book is good and I can’t put it down. Congrats on a great book!

  14. I enjoyed all the books so far. can’t pick a favorite. I’ve always enjoyed stories at carnivals or fairs and since they are romance that makes them even more special. I know a fair to remember I wanted more at the end. I’m a big reader now but was so not a reader when I was younger. I guess back then it was all the books you had to read and do book reports and such on and I hated those.

  15. I havent read any yet, they are in my next pile to be read. Working this new job sucks! I enjoy all the Marrietta series, so cant wait!

  16. I’ve read the first two and I’ve really enjoyed them. Actually I usually get all the Tule publishing books when they come out, well when my book budget will allow it that is.

    1. Linda, thanks for being such a loyal Tule reader! I have also loved all the Tule books I’ve read, because I’m a reader too!

  17. Wonderful! I can honestly say that I am so looking forward to reading ‘A Fair To Remember’. I have so thoroughly enjoyed every book I have read published by Tule! Keep up the amazing work!

  18. I’ve read them all and love the stories they bring back memories of going to fairs in my youth.But one of the best things is two of the authors have let me know that they liked my review of thier book makes me feel great.

    1. We so appreciate reviews, Bonnie . Thank you from the bottom of my heart. It truly is one of the nicest ways to thank an author you’ve enjoyed.

  19. I have read all of them and A Fair To Remember is my favorite. It was a close contest though. They were all great stories.

  20. I have loved all the Tule books and the Fair series is a favorite, I am going on a road trip tomorrow and I have this on my tbr list for the trip!

  21. So far I read all 5 books in the Fair series and I enjoyed them all.
    My fav so far was Cowgirl Come Home and close second is A Fair to Remember.

  22. This is on my TBR list. Thanks Barbara…I’m really looking forward to this, especially after reading the excerpt.
    Have read all the Montana based books so far and haven’t found one I didn’t like so can hardly wait to get into this one.

  23. I have read all the previous Fair stories, and started this one earlier today, almost half way through. I have my best friend from high school and junior high school, and reconnected with one from elementary via FB. My high school one always has my back even though we are on opposite sides of the country. I miss her dearly!

  24. I have read all the books in the series that have been released so far!!! Really enjoying all of them by each of the different authors. great series!!!

  25. I’ve read all five so far. What fun! I loved all the romantic tension between Olivia and Jake in this one and I think the title is really clever.

  26. Congratulations to Barbara on the new release of A Fair To Remember.I Have read all of the summer fair series out.wonderful books.Have a great week.

  27. Congrats on your release, Barbara. I haven’t yet read any of this series but fond memories of the fair that came our way once a year is reason enough to grab a copy of A Fair To Remember and begin.

  28. I haven’t read any yet. I’m a cover lover and A Fair to Remember is a great one. Looking forward to the series.

  29. Wow, reading this guest blog brought back a ton of memories! Barbara, I made the same promise to a neighbor boy when we were in our teens. It didn’t happen for us but now I can read what might have been! Buying this book; I can’t wait to read it!!

  30. Congrats Barbara, A Fair to Remember sounds awesome and I can’t wait to read it. I have not read this series yet but will be looking for it.

  31. I have read all of them that are out and loved them. I don’t like to play favorites but this one is probably at the top of the series for me! I am beginning to think I’m obsessed with Montana! Marietta in specific:)

  32. I have this book and can’t wait to read it. I love the covers…but I’ve loved all the colorful covers on the Big Marietta Fair series!

  33. So far I have read Cowgirl Come Home, but I would love to read as many as I can. Congratulations to Barbara on her new book, I look forward to reading it. I also want to thank you Jane for your awesome giveaways. I would love to be that lucky one who gets chosen to be the winner. I will keep my fingers crossed. Thanks again Jane.

  34. Beauty and the Cowboy was my favorite until I read A Fair to Remember. Great series. I just love stories around Marietta. I enjoyed both of them very much.

    1. Aw, thank you, Elizabeth! So glad you enjoyed it and the rest of the series! I so appreciate the support.

  35. Have not read the books yet, but they are all in my to be read pile, which is getting really high. Hope to have more time to read soon.

  36. KateS, thanks so much for the reminder! I’m so sorry for being late with the announcement, everyone.

    Thank you to all you wonderful readers for helping Barbara feel welcome here! Our winner is –

    #40 Jaye Marie Rome

    Congratulations, Jaye! Shoot me an email with your mailing details and I’ll get the prize in the mail to you asap.

    I have to get back to my deadline now but I’ll be back with more fun and news soon.

    Jane xoxoxoxo

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