Dog Days of Summer
She’s not very large, but she’s definitely in charge, and she definitely has the hots for jockeys-turned-bikers. A mix of resigned and hardass, Emmie never dreamed she’d someday live in the big house and run the show, nor that an outlaw could help the dream come true. I had a lot of fun not-researching this character, and incorporating my real-life horse knowledge into the series. Every club needs its own farm, right?
I speak from experience when I say running a boarding barn is a LOT of work. Physically, yes, but it’s also a huge time commitment, and a true test of organizational skill. There’s no starting and quitting time; no days off; no sleeping late. Horses don’t understand Christmas, or the flu, or vacations.
Emmie loves the horses in her care, and is maybe a little manic about doing the best job she possibly can. She sees the farm as a serious responsibility (which it is), and has let it consume her. To the point where she has no life outside her job. (Hmm…now where have I heard that before?)
The thing about meeting Walsh, though, is that he didn’t provide a means for her to break out of her rut. It was more a chance to learn how to go a little easier on herself. She could have found no affection in her heart for a man who expected her to give up her job or her riding. She thinks Walsh is cute, sure, but the most attractive thing to her is that he allows her to be the boss mare of her domain, content to let her run the farm the way she sees fit. That he’s secure enough not to be threatened by her managerial side.
If life amongst horses has taught he anything – and it’s taught a lot – it’s that horse women don’t have patience for a lot of BS. Part of it’s that horses are so large and dangerous (if you don’t know what you’re doing, and even when you do, so…), and part of it’s that working at a barn is dirty and demanding. There wasn’t a day on the job that I wasn’t giving injections, cleaning wounds, meeting with the vets and farrier, settling some kind of drama…you learn to be decisive and proactive, and that’s Emmie.
In my mind, Emmie’s used to a little danger, and she’s definitely had her share of dealing with jerks who wish her ill. So Walsh is surprisingly un-risky, and pleasantly kind to her. There’s a little bit of the modern cowboy in him – in all the boys. And their loyalty to their club and one another is definitely something she can get behind.
Emmie was the first “average citizen” I wrote into a relationship in the series, and I was really nervous about hitting the right notes. Getting tangled up with an outlaw biker is not a fantasy of mine, and I never want the books to feel like a biker fantasy. I want each party in a couple to fulfill a need in the other; I wanted average-citizen-Emmie to feel like a lonely character who could have a real connection with Walsh; that they could be friends and partners beyond being lovers. Then, Walsh isn’t the bad boy biker, but the man who’s totally right for her, biker vs. citizen be damned.
Emmie’s temperamental black horse, Apollo, was inspired by my own temperamental black horse, Markus. He’s 17.2hh, hates strangers, and bit me on the back hard enough to leave a scar last year when he was going after my dog and got me instead. When people ask, “Hey, can I ride your horse?” Not if you value your life.
Em’s happy ending was twofold. A good, loving relationship with Walsh. And the farm. She doesn’t ever have to worry about being fired, or about the barn being bulldozed again. Her marriage seemed like nothing but a farcical means to keep herself alive – poor Em! I had a bit of sick writer enjoyment with that whole scenario. So I thought it only fair that she gets to keep the place she fought so hard for.