Today I am so pleased to welcome Emory Vargas to Joyfully Jay. Emory has come to talk to us about her release, A Hard Ride Home. She has also brought along a copy of the paperback to give away. Please join me in giving Emory a big welcome!


I saw Tombstone several times in the theater as an impressionable young teen. Every time I watched it, my body felt flushed and electrified. At the time, I didn’t understand what was happening. I didn’t really get that I was interpreting the strong friendship between Wyatt Earp and his dying best friend Doc Holiday as a tragic romance.

When I read Larry McMurtry’s epic Western Lonesome Dove, the words had the same effect on me. I’d stay up late breathlessly re-reading tender moments between two men who had spent their entire lives together. I still think that book is one of the great romances of our time.

Just to mix things up a bit, I’ll say that I also adored Fievel Goes West. I know that sounds weird, but the saloon operated by a buxom lady (all right, she was actually a cat) helped fuel my love for glamorized Wild West saloons and brothels.

Now, 22 years later, I have more self awareness and I’m happy to re-watch Tombstone through the lens of a fan of male/male romance. I  know exactly what turns me on and hammers on my emotions.

A Hard Ride Home was written as an ode to some of my favorite fictional worlds. I have a deep connection to this book because I deliberately wrote exactly what I love to read. It features strong elements of hurt/comfort because that’s hands down my favorite fictional trope. It features a bisexual lead I feel very strongly about bisexual representation. It features frilly petticoats and a strong-willed madame because these things make me happy. Emmett is a redhead because… freckles. My weakness for tall gingers is not kidding.

In the spirit of classic films set in the Wild West, this book focuses heavily on action and romance. It’s the American west through a slightly distorted lens. The sex workers are much more empowered and content than they would have been in real life. Homophobia isn’t the obstacle it would have been in the 1800s. Thunderstorms kick up big dramatic clouds and sheets of pouring rain at just the right moment because of course they do.

Despite the larger-than-life setting, I wanted to write a story about real people. This is a story about the resilience of the human spirit and love’s bewildering power to push you the point of no return.


A Hard Ride HomeIt’s hard enough returning to his birthplace to replace a dead man as sheriff. The last thing Emmett needs is to find himself smitten with Jesse, the whore he arrests almost immediately upon arrival. Especially since Jesse works for his half-sister and at her thoroughly disreputable saloon. But being smitten with a whore is only the beginning of Emmett’s troubles.

Silver Creek is a town full of secrets and people too terrified to talk. Why does Emmett’s father, the mayor of Silver Creek, have such a strong hold on the town-and on Jesse?


Emory Vargas enjoys writing about tentative first time sexual encounters and amorous cephalopods, though not always at the same time.


Emory has brought a signed paperback copy of A Hard Ride Home to give away to one lucky reader. Just leave a comment at the end of the post to enter. The contest ends on Thursday, July 16th at 11:59 pm EST.

  • By entering the giveaway, you’re confirming that you are at least 18 years old.
  • Winners will be selected by random number. No purchase necessary to win.  The number of eligible entries received determines the odds of winning.
  • If you win, you must respond to my email within 48 hours or another winner may be chosen. Please make sure that your spam filter allows email from Joyfully Jay.
  • Winners may be announced on the blog following the contest. By entering the contest you are agreeing to allow your name to be posted and promoted as the contest winner by Joyfully Jay.
  • Prizes will be distributed following the giveaway either by Joyfully Jay or the person/organization donating the prize.
  • All book prizes are in electronic format unless otherwise specified.
  • By entering you are agreeing to hold Joyfully Jay harmless if the prize or giveaway in some way negatively impacts the winner.
  • Readers may only enter once for each contest.  Duplicate entries for the same giveaway will be ignored. In the event of technical problems with the blog during the contest, every effort will be made to extend the contest deadline to allow for additional entries.
  • Void where prohibited by law.
FILED UNDER: Giveaway, Guest Post
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