About Well Tended
When Cheryl Magee and Ryder Sheldon meet at a college dance in 1996, neither hopes for romance. The past two years challenged and scarred them both. They are just beginning to be able to see their dreams as possible. She aims to be an outstanding nurse, even though she carries shame about her unplanned pregnancy at fifteen and her mother’s refusal to accept her. He sees his future as a professional rodeo cowboy even though it took his father’s death to open the way. Although their attraction is strong, they’re cautious.
Four years later, he knows her secret and she understands and agrees with his dream and they have one in common, to make a life together. Her mother’s deathbed refusal to forgive her stirs all of Cheryl’s underlying insecurities and threatens their early marriage. All they can do is work, hoping to save enough money to own the home and a rodeo stock operation Ryder chooses as a better goal than the pro circuit. Drought and a job Ryder grows to hate make success seem improbable. They drift to separate paths, connecting only for meals and a shared bed where even sex becomes infrequent. And when apathy seems their destiny, things turn even worse. Ryder’s horse has to be destroyed; without him he will lose his job. Lies and infidelity and a pregnancy scare seem sure to cause permanent damage. She can’t imagine herself a mother, and certainly not if a baby might not belong to Ryder. The drifting they never speak of continues.
Cheryl’s injury at the hands of an inmate at the prison where she works makes them both realize they love and need one another. Even so, their dreams of a home and ranch business are impossible due to finances and drought. Those problems take a backseat to their shared fear when Ryder’s Uncle Butch lies near death. Cheryl nurses him, and eventually returns to the prison job she dislikes, made tolerable now by having Butch and his dog waiting for her each day on her return home. Uncle Butch makes them an offer that brightens the possibilities of their future, not only as a couple, but also as a sort of family. Perhaps they can find a way, together, to achieve their dreams.
About Teddy Jones
Teddy Jones has worked as a nurse, nurse practitioner, university professor, college dean, occasional farmhand, and now she writes fiction. She grew up in a small north Texas town, Iowa Park, and gained college degrees in nursing at Incarnate Word and University of Texas and a Ph.D. in Education at University of Texas at Austin. She taught nursing and held administrative positions in Austin, Denver, and Lubbock. She was the Founding Dean of the School of Nurisng at Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center. And she worked as a nurse practitioner in Texas and New Mexico.
Prior to devoting her work to fiction, she wrote a monthly column for The Farmer Stockman , a farm magazine. She co-authored 100 Doses, a book of essays for rural women and A Stone for Every Journey, a biographical novel. She also is the author of Left Early, Arrived Late, a biography. She received the Master of Fine Arts degree in Creative Writing from Spalding University, Louisville, KY. Short stories by Jones have been published in 94 Creations, RealSouth Magazine, and Persimmon Tree. Her work has been short-listed for finalist in the Faulkner-Wisdom competition in 2011, 2012, and 2013, plus finalist in that competition in short story in 2014. Her first novel, Halfwide was published in 2012. Jackson’s Pond, Texas, her second, was published in October 2013 and was a finalist in contemporary fiction for the Willa Award from Women Writing the West.
“Teddy Jones is no one’s literary secret any longer. Well Tended follows up on her stunning debut novel, Halfwide and her critically acclaimed second novel, Jackson’s Pond, Texas, a finalist for the Willa Literary Award in 2014. Well Tended is a wonder, an absorbing exploration of a marriage on the rocks and a vanishing way of life out there on the high plains of the modern West. Ryder Sheldon confronts the dying of his dream as his wife Cheryl confronts the possible end of her turbulent life with Ryder, the last American cowboy. Teddy Jones writes with inordinate compassion and formidable intelligence, and her unsparing tale is both compelling and honest. It’ll leave you breathless.”
–John Dufresne, author of No Regrets, Coyote
In Well Tended, Teddy Jones gives us a love story with grit—an unsentimental, compassionate portrait of a nurse and rodeo cowboy as they struggle to tend, with humor and hard-won empathy, to each other in an unforgiving West Texas landscape. A moving novel that makes you care about both its place and its people.
—K. L. Cook, author of Love Songs for the Quarantined, Last Call, and The Girl from Charnelle
“With grit and compassion, Teddy Jones’s novel, Well-Tended, tells not one love story, but several. It is the story of romantic love and familial love, yes—but it is also a love- song to the Western landscape and to a lifestyle that may be fading from American culture. The characters in Well Tended are sharp and real, seemingly chiseled out of thesandstone and rock of the place where they live. Teddy Jones may be one of the last true Western writers out there. She is certainly one of the best in the Western tradition.”
—BK Loren, author of Theft: A Novel
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