Posted in Historical, New, New Release, Romance, Western, Wild West

Love in the Rockies

Title: Love in the Rockies
Author: Ciara Knight
Genre: Historical, Western Romance
Hosted by: Lady Amber’s PR

Blurb:
Josephine McKinnie wants to escape. Escape the aftermath of General Sherman’s march through Atlanta where he burned her land, her home, and her honor. In the hope for a new life far away from her memories and shame, Josephine travels to Colorado to marry a man that will never know the truth of her past. Hope is restored in her life, until she reaches the small town where she faces the disapproving mother-in-law, a man who threatens to reveal her secret, and her marriage bed.
Nathaniel Branson needs a wife if he’s to be mayor of Silver Ridge, Colorado, but his mother’s choice will never work. Not if he wants to keep his secret that he’s half a man. With the wounds of war leaving deeper scars than mere physical wounds, he hopes that the sweet woman-his soon to be -will appreciate the finery he can give her, even if he can’t give her the ultimate gift. Children.
Ciara Knight writes with a ‘Little Edge and a Lot of Heart’ with her contemporary and paranormal romance books. Her most recent #1 Amazon bestselling series, Sweetwater County, has topped the charts and received acclaimed reviews. Her international best-seller, Pendulum scored 4 stars from RT Book Reviews, accolades from InD’Tale Magazine and Night Owl Top Pick. Her young adult paranormal series, Battle for Souls, received 5 stars from Paranormal Romance Guild and Night Owl’s Top Pick, among other praises.
Author Links:

Buy Link:
Love on the Prairie: http://amzn.to/2lTVLbv
Love in the Rockies: http://amzn.to/2qsLPZ2

Posted in Cowboy, Pre Order, Romance, Western, Wild West

Love in the Rockies

Title: Love in the Rockies
Author: Ciara Knight
Genre: Historical, Western Romance
Cover Designer: Clarissa Yeo
Expected Release Date: June 27th, 2017

Blurb:
Josephine McKinnie wants to escape. Escape the aftermath of General Sherman’s march through Atlanta where he burned her land, her home, and her honor. In the hope for a new life far away from her memories and shame, Josephine travels to Colorado to marry a man that will never know the truth of her past. Hope is restored in her life, until she reaches the small town where she faces the disapproving mother-in-law, a man who threatens to reveal her secret, and her marriage bed.
Nathaniel Branson needs a wife if he’s to be mayor of Silver Ridge, Colorado, but his mother’s choice will never work. Not if he wants to keep his secret that he’s half a man. With the wounds of war leaving deeper scars than mere physical wounds, he hopes that the sweet woman-his soon to be -will appreciate the finery he can give her, even if he can’t give her the ultimate gift. Children.
Ciara Knight writes with a ‘Little Edge and a Lot of Heart’ with her contemporary and paranormal romance books. Her most recent #1 Amazon bestselling series, Sweetwater County, has topped the charts and received acclaimed reviews. Her international best-seller, Pendulum scored 4 stars from RT Book Reviews, accolades from InD’Tale Magazine and Night Owl Top Pick. Her young adult paranormal series, Battle for Souls, received 5 stars from Paranormal Romance Guild and Night Owl’s Top Pick, among other praises.
Author Links:

Buy Link:
Love on the Prairie: http://amzn.to/2lTVLbv
Love in the Rockies: http://amzn.to/2qsLPZ2

Posted in Contemporary, Cowboy, Crime, Fantasy, Historical, Legend, Murder, Mystery, New, New Release, Paranormal, Romance, Shapeshifter, Suspense, Time Travel, Victorian, Western, Wild West, Womens Lit

Which explanation will you believe?

UnEARTHED

A Mystery Genre

Which Path Will You Choose?

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Presented By

Susan Horsnell,

Phoenix Johnson, Kylie Price,

Charlene Raddon, Scarlett J Rose and

 Margaret Tanner

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BLURB

What secret has been uncovered in a disused mine? Something is not as it should be. The scene is set, the beginning in place BUT there are five different endings.

The path is up to you.

The story unfolds in the way YOU decide.

Five Authors – Kylie Price, Margaret Tanner, Charlene Raddon,

Scarlett J. Rose and Susan Horsnell.

Five Genres – Contemporary, Historical, Paranormal, Time Travel or Contemporary/Western

Five Pathways.

Which path will you choose to uncover the secret?

BUY LINKS

AMAZON US

 AMAZON UK

 AMAZON CA

AMAZON AU

ibooks, KOBO, B&N

EXCERPT

Chapter One

Present Day

Detective Callum Palmer dragged his fingers through his thick hair. He had a murder to solve. A pile of skeletons had been found in an old mine shaft, and he’d been assigned the case. He and his new partner, who had yet to show up. Irritated, he paced the precinct floor.

“Calm down, Palmer,” one of the other detectives said, “You’re driving me nuts.”

“Tough shit,” Callum shot back at him.

A small woman dressed in black entered the room and his line of vision. A real looker. Callum wondered who she was and what she was doing there. Her posture and dress gave an image of a professional. Not the type of victim he usually dealt with.

“Detective Callum Palmer?” she said.

“Yes?” Oh oh. Callum hoped the thought that just popped into his head proved wrong.

She held out a hand so delicate, he feared he’d break those tiny bones if he grasped it. “My name is Detective Olivia Hansen. I’m your new partner.”

Fuck. They sent me a female partner? Great. Fucking great. Resigned, he took her hand. “All right, Hansen. You’re just in time. Come with me. A murder has been called in and we’ve been given the job of investigating it.”

“Fine,” she said. “Nothing I like better than to keep busy.”

Turning away, Callum rolled his eyes, and led the way to his car.

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TRAILER

https://youtu.be/PmSLSPzriSE

TAGS

Contemporary: Do the mysterious bones belong to someone closer to home than Callum and Olivia realize, discover the secrets that one of them is hiding.

Historical: He stole his dead brother’s identity, then his wife. What happened in 19th Century Australia and who do the bones really belong to?

Paranormal: Do the mystery bones belong to someone in the supernatural world and how does a secret affect Olivia?

Time Travel: Murder, kidnapping, child abuse, time travel, and the healing gift of love.

Contemporary/Western: A sinister rancher is hell bent on getting what he wants regardless of who it will hurt… does he find himself buried instead?

TEASERS

 unearthed-teaser-available-1

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Posted in Cowboy, Historical, Horses, Mystery, New, New Release, Romance, Victorian, Western, Wild West

A New Reading Experience

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Five Roads From Beltane

Western Interactive Book

Which Path Will You Choose?

 Presented By

D’Ann Lindun, Allison Merritt,

RaeAnne Hadley, Susan Horsnell

and Margaret Tanner

Blurb

Are you ready to be entertained?

FIVE ROADS FROM BELTANE

A new concept in reading.
One beginning, 5 different endings to choose from.
Western Genre.
Which path will you follow? Will it be:
Hannah and Roan by D’Ann
Jessica and Ethan’s story by Margaret
Mr. Joseph Wade by Allison
Jacqueline Hamilton and Billy Williams by RaeAnne
or
The Bank Robbers by Susan?

The choice is yours. Once you have followed one path, at the click of a button, you are taken back to the beginning to choose another.
In total you have five entirely different stories which vary in length between 20,000 and 30,000 words each, five different characters to complete the beginning.

FIVE ROADS FROM BELTANE

“How does a Bank Robbery affect the people who were present?”

The story unfolds in the way YOU decide.

Which path will you choose?

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BUY LINKS

AMAZON US

AMAZON UK

AMAZON CA

AMAZON AU

To Interact with the authors visit:

https://www.facebook.com/groups/1784812101799106/

EXCERPT

Chapter One

Beltane

March 1895

Clint approached the alley leading to the rear entrance of the First National bank of Beltane. Scanning the area, he noted his men were positioned and ready as planned. They had meticulously gone over and over how the robbery was to play out. They dared not leave anything to chance.

Pete was slumped against the wall of the hotel across the street with his hat pulled low over his face. His long legs were splayed out, his arms crossed over his chest.

Billy is seated outside the Barber shop next door to the bank ‘reading’ the paper.

The horses are tethered out front and Clay is rummaging in a saddlebag for a non-existent something. They have used ponies which won’t be recognized by any townsfolk. It’s a pity the alleyway at the back of the bank wasn’t large enough to conceal their getaway horses.

A quick glance around, before he disappears into the alley, reveals the street is quiet. Most people are at home partaking of lunch. When he reached the rear door, he finds it unlocked. Sliding the kerchief up over his nose he drew his colt from the holster. Slipping inside the bank, he crept down the hall leading through to the main banking chamber at the front.

He approached a partially opened office door. Jonas McCallum, Owner, the bronze nameplate announces. He shoved the door open with force and it crashed on the wall. Jonas glanced up and leapt from his chair. “What are you doing?”

“Move over here before you get shot.” Clint pointed the gun toward the owner and indicated for him to move. When the man hesitated, he grabbed him by the neck and positioned his rotund body so he can wrap one arm around his neck and lodge his gun firmly in his back, before dragging him toward the front foyer of the bank. Clint opened a door leading into the teller area and stepped through with his hostage. The tellers turned and glanced at the stranger, fear and astonishment clearly etched on each face when they see their boss with a gun at his back.

Their attention is diverted when the front doors crash open and Clint’s three partners charge inside. Billy turned the lock on the doors while Pete and Clay move to cover the now terrified customers.

“This is a bank hold-up. Do as we say and no-one will get hurt.” Clint waved his gun at a few customers. “Get down on the floor. Don’t speak and don’t move.”

TRAILER

https://youtu.be/0mXhyH77Ifg

CREDITS

Cover, Beginning Chapters, Formatting and Published by:

Susan Horsnell

Cover Model:

Vikkas Bhardwaj

http://www.vikkaszone.com/

Trailer by:

Kylie Price

Teasers:

Dzintra Sullivan

Promotion:

Cherie Cam from LLEP

five-roads-from-beltane-full

PATHWAYS

The Bank Robbers

Are the bank robbers, outlaws or victims of circumstance? This story will enlighten you.

Roan Maxwell and Hannah Johnson

The story of Miss Hannah Johnson and Mr. Roan Maxwell and how the robbery affected their future.

Jacqueline Hamilton and Billy Williams

The story of Jacqueline Hamilton and Billy Williams and how the robbery affected their future.

Mr. Joseph Wade

The story of Mr. Joseph Wade and how the robbery affected his future.

Jessica Smith and Ethan Beveridge

The story of Jessica Smith and Ethan Beveridge and why he accuses her of stealing.

TEASERS

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The choice of where to begin is now yours. When one pathway has been read, visit another.

One book.

One Beginning.

Five completely different stories about different people involved in the robbery.

Which story will be your favourite?

 

Posted in Cowboy, Historical, Mail Order Bride, New Release, Romance, Series, Victorian, Western, Wild West

Everyone loves a Mail Order Bride story

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I Heard the Brides on Christmas Day

(Hearts of Owyhee novella)

Amazon

Prairie Rose Publications

Available on Kindle Unlimited

Blurb

The Murdock brothers have a fine ranch in Owyhee County, Idaho. The only things missing are wives and kids, so Hec orders a couple of brides for Christmas. The catch is, woman-shy Zeke doesn’t know about it. Dinah and Stella have a plan— If the grooms don’t work out, they’ll start a restaurant. Farm chores are hard enough, but a peckish chicken and a raging blizzard don’t help matters. Can Hec and Zeke capture their hearts?

JacquieRogersThere’s just something about Christmas that has “romance” splashed all over it—the season for sharing and putting our differences aside.

The whole idea of mail-order brides—why a woman would leave everything she knew for a man she didn’t know—fascinates me.  In this story, we have two brides.  Dinah Goode lost her husband and baby within a few weeks.  Her goal is to own a restaurant and women couldn’t be chefs in Cleveland.  But those rules didn’t apply in the Idaho Territory where women could own property in their own right, and the only way she could afford to get there was to accept a proposal as a mail-order bride. 

Schoolteacher Stella Clemmons has stars in her eyes—she wants children but she’s already nearly thirty years old and time’s marching on so she decided to accept a mail-order proposal.  She’s nervous about doing so, but meeting Dinah on the train was fortuitous because now she has a plan.  If Mr. Ezekiel Murdock doesn’t pan out, she and Dinah will still be fine.  Restaurants were few and far between—and even then, she could still find the right man to marry.

But neither lady knows one thing about country life.  And neither brother is quite sure what to do with these city women.

I loved the idea that Hec ordered brides for himself and his brother for Christmas.  How romantic!  But can you imagine how surprised Zeke would be?  How would he react?  And how does the culture of the East blend with that of the West? 

This novella is part of the Prairie Rose Publications Third Birthday Bash.  Free books are being offered the week of August 13 – 20 at http://prairierosepublications.blogspot.com.

Would you like a copy of I Heard the Brides on Christmas Day?  Just tell us what you love about Christmas stories.  Do you read them year-around?  Does the snow cool you off on a hot August night?

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Hearts of Owyhee novel series

Hearts of Owyhee novella series

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Honey Beaulieu – Man Hunter series

Posted in Cowboy, Crime, Historical, Murder, Mystery, Native American, New Adult, Romance, Series, Victorian, Violence, Western, Wild West

**Free for Weekend**

1a

10 JUNE – 13 JUNE

DOWNLOAD LINKS

The Glenmores Revenge Kindle

BLURB

The Glenmore Family come to the rescue of a young girl who has been ferociously beaten and left to die on the track leading to their ranch.

She is taken to their home to recover. The outlaws responsible for her beating keep watch hoping to recapture the girl and obtain the information they are sure she has.

The search for the outlaws becomes a matter of urgency when murder, shootings, robbery and beatings affect the Glenmore Family.

Rangers are brought in and the assistance of local Indians is sought.

A story about tender love, murder, greed and intrigue.

Meme 1

EXCERPT

George and James dropped back to re-join their father and as they discussed ranch business they kept their eyes on Laura up ahead. She had just crossed the tree line and had disappeared from their sight. Joseph had just opened his mouth to call her to stay in sight when they heard her blood curdling scream.

The three men wasted no time spurring their horses into a gallop and headed in the direction the scream had come from.

Laura had dismounted and was on the ground next to a small bundle which rested half on and half off the track. Tears flooded her cheeks and she was shaking uncontrollably. When she spotted her father she jumped from the ground and raced towards him. Joseph was off his horse in a flash and folded her into his arms. While she buried her face in her father’s chest George and James dismounted and moved to check the small bundle which they could now see was the body of a young girl.

“Pa, you better come fast!” called George.

Joseph peeled Laura away from him and reached inside his pocket for a cloth to wipe her tear stained face. Holding her hand he guided her to a nearby rock and gently encouraged her to sit. He grabbed his canteen of water from his saddle bag and handed it to her “Drink Laura. Don’t move darlin’ we’ll be right over here” She gulped thirstily from the canteen while she continued to sob.

Joseph approached his sons and couldn’t stifle the gasp which escaped him as he looked at the ‘bundle’ for the first time. He could now see it was a young girl, about the same age as Laura. Her clothing had been torn to the waist and across the once creamy skin of her back were at least two dozen bloody welts.

Joseph removed his hat and immediately began firing off instructions to his shocked sons. “James, fetch blankets, water and as many clean cloths as you can find! George, hobble the horses so they don’t wander. Keep an eye out for Ben with the board so he doesn’t run over us”

The boys answered in unison “Yes, Pa!” and raced off to complete their tasks.

As the boys followed his orders Joseph assessed the young girl’s wounds further. I will get the bastards who did this! he vowed to himself.

Just at that moment, Ben, the youngest son, drove up with the buckboard and their supplies. Seeing his family moving around ahead, his father attending to something on the ground, he brought the horses to a stop.

“Ben! We have a badly injured girl. Clear a space in the buckboard and lay some blankets so when we are ready we can take her home to Ma!” called out James.

Ben jumped down and began re-arranging the rear of the buckboard. “What’s happened James?”

“Not sure yet, we just came up on her. Pa and George are with her now”

Where’s Laura?” asked Ben concerned for his sister.

“Just over yonder on a rock. She’s very upset, was her that found the girl! After the board is ready go sit with her, I need to get these supplies to Pa”

James hurried back to where Joseph and George were waiting with the girl. “Ben’s arrived Pa, he’s clearin’ a space in the buckboard and is going to calm Laura”

“Thanks son. She is bad. Looks like she has a broken leg from the angle it’s at, a broken arm and all them welts, cuts and bruises!” We need to patch her up as best we can and get her to Ma”

“She’s lost a lot of blood Pa” commented George “Will she make it?”

“I don’t know son but we will do our best for her”

“Who would do this?” asked an angry James to no-one in particular.

“I have no idea” answered Joseph “but I intend to find out and get this little girl some justice!”

“Buckboard’s ready” shouted Ben

“Go find four pieces of wood to splint an arm and a leg” called George “be as quick as you can”

“On my way” called Ben running into the trees.

Joseph removed the lid from a canteen he’d been handed and poured water onto a cloth. As gently as he could he began to clean the wounds and only then could they see the extent of the damage from the vicious attack.

With her back wounds cleaned up a little the three men gently lifted her onto a blanket which was spread on the ground, turning her over as they did so.

They inhaled deeply when they saw the girl’s face. Both of her eyes were swollen shut. She had a large cut over one eye which would require stitches. Blood had seeped into her raven black hair and congealed which left her hair in a sticky, tangled mess. Her lip was split and her cheek badly bruised. Dirt and dust had combined with blood from her wounds to form a muddy mess over much of her body.

George quickly covered her with a spare blanket to protect her dignity but couldn’t help noticing her perfectly formed breasts and slim waist which brought a stirring to his loins.

Goddamn it George! What’s wrong with you? You are looking at a woman’s breasts and getting randy when you should be more concerned with her injuries! And you’re s’posed to be courtin’ Marybeth!

Joseph took clean cloths, doused them in water and proceeded to clean her face.

“Where do you want these Pa?” asked Ben holding up four good sized sticks.

“I’ll take them. Thanks Ben” said James “Go sit with Laura”

Meme 2

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The Glenmores Revenge Full

 

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Posted in Cowboy, Horses, Murder, Romance, Sales Blitz, Special, Victorian, Western, Wild West, Womens Lit

**On Sale**

*** ON SALE***

14 MAY – 21 MAY

$0.99C US

$0.99P UK

Marshall Front

Claire is left alone and desperate after her parents are killed in a stagecoach accident. She is the only heir to their successful horse ranch but she risks losing everything.
Peter dreams of retiring from being a Marshall and owning a ranch of his own some day. When he is asked to be Claire’s Mail Order husband, he cannot say no.
Will Claire survive to be with the man who has finally broken down her barriers and captured her heart?

Completely re-written, edited and new character names – May 2016

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#Western Romance #Marshall #Wild West

Posted in Mail Order Bride, Romance, Series, Special, Victorian, Western, Wild West, Womens Lit

**On Sale**

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For four days only

price reduced!

99c

Amazon US

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Cora,BrideofSouthDakota

Cora, Bride of South Dakota is fortieth in the unprecedented 50-book American Mail-Order Brides series.
Cora Ancelet’s father hates her.
When a fire ravages the factory where she works, her father orders her to find another source of employment or marry his evil political ally, a man old enough to be her grandfather.
After being handed a Grooms’ Gazette, Cora takes the desperate step of becoming a Mail Order Bride.
John Franklin wants a woman to wake up to. A woman who will love him and his ranch, and ultimately give him the children he craves.
Will placing an advertisement for a Mail Order Bride turn out to be the best decision he has ever made for both him and Cora or, is tragedy afoot?

Meme 1 Cora

EXCERPT

Cora stepped onto the platform in Rapid City and glanced around. She searched for John amongst the milling crowd. Her hands shook nervously as she clutched her reticule. This is it. You’re about to meet the man who is to be your husband.

“Miss Brown. Miss Rose Brown?” the station porter asked.

“Yes,” she answered.

“Your luggage is by the waiting room for you,” the man said.

Before Cora could thank him and offer a coin, he scurried away. She returned to searching the thinning crowd for John’s face.

Then, not ten feet away, she saw him for the first time. He seemed to be searching for her but how he was ever expecting to find her, she didn’t know. Cora had never sent him a picture, only a description.

She took advantage of her knowledge to study her intended. His picture did not do him justice. This was the man who was to become her husband and wow, what a man! He was tall, really tall. His blonde hair showed signs of being bleached by long hours in the sun. His skin was golden brown, his lips full and definitely kissable. But, his eyes were what snared her attention. They were the brightest blue she had ever seen, bluer than the sky on a bright summer’s day.

Her eyes continued their perusal. His coat was unbuttoned, his shirt pulled taut against his broad chest. A belt with a large buckle cinched the jeans at his narrow waist. His legs were long but judging by how tight his pants hugged his thighs, they were also muscular. She sighed loudly. The man was more handsome than she’d dreamed despite the scar on his face. She swallowed hard and tentatively stepped towards him.

“Mr. Franklin, I’m Cora” Her voice was husky with nerves and she offered a shaky, gloved hand.

“But, the porter called you, Miss Brown.” John was confused, he ignored Cora’s hand and his beautiful blue eyes narrowed. “I assume you have an explanation. I can’t abide liars.”

The tone of his voice was more serious than angry but it still caused Cora to tremble and step back a pace. What if he didn’t understand and sent her back?

“Mr. Franklin, I promise I can explain if you give me a chance. Is there somewhere we can go and talk?”

John heard the pleading note in her voice and his annoyance settled. “Very well.” She was so beautiful it took his breath away. He couldn’t stay mad. He spun around and spoke to another man standing nearby. “Sam, can you get Miss Ancelet’s luggage to the wagon? I’ll take her to Lilly’s for tea so we can talk.”

“Sure thing, John. Henry, Frank and me will grab a drink at the saloon while we’re waiting.” Sam ambled away with the two other men.

John placed his arm on Cora’s elbow to escort her away. A jolt so powerful caused stars to dance in front of her eyes, she became breathless and stumbled. His arm whipped around her waist to steady her and he gazed into her eyes questioningly. Had he felt it too?

“Sorry,” she murmured. “I felt a little light headed. I must have been affected by the long journey.”

“No need to apologize.” His deep voice caressed her. “Maybe you need something to eat.”

They left the station arm in arm.

Meme 3 Cora

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Posted in Chick Lit, Cowboy, Historical, Romance, Series, Western, Wild West, Womens Lit

Western Love & Adventure

Ruby Merrit Banner

Experience the American Old West through Ruby Merritt’s Spirited Hearts series. Set in 1870’s Cheyenne, Wyoming, each book features a strong heroine, a equally strong hero who falls for her and a story to keep you turning the pages.

The Spirited Hearts series is available worldwide at Amazon and iBooks, and additionally at Barnes & Noble and Kobo.

ELLA’S CHOICE

Book One

Cover Ella's Choice

SYNOPSIS

When Ella Hastings is captured by the Blackfeet Indians at age nine, then adopted by the Lakota Indians, she is thrust into a new way of life and transformed into Little Brave, adopted daughter of their revered and peaceful chief, Grey Owl. Ten years later the white man returns. Their soldiers storm her tribe’s village and bring reminders of a world she’d almost forgotten. Suddenly, she is confronted by the question: To which world does she now belong? Her only hope in discovering who she really is lies with the enigmatic army scout, Beech Richoux.

Son of a French trapper and Lakota mother, Beech Richoux was raised in a white man’s world after his mother’s death.  Acting as an army scout to raise money for his horse ranch, he’s unaware of the Army’s true intent to annihilate his mother’s people until it’s too late. And the white woman he finds living among the Lakota only adds to his desperation to save his people. Now the narrow path he has created to balance himself between these two worlds is tipped by the mysterious white woman known to the Lakota as Little Brave.

Can two people robbed of their own childhood learn to live together in such differing worlds? Can Little Brave and Beech forge a new path into a life where they both are finally set free?

EXCERPT

Prologue

The Powder River Country, Wyoming Territory, 1866

Standing outside the stationhouse, Thomas Hastings viewed the land stretching before him, wide and open, treeless, unmarked by man. He filled his lungs with the fresh, crisp air, reveling in the opportunities awaiting him in this uncluttered place. Awaiting him and his daughter, he amended, as nine-year-old Ella Hastings screeched to a halt next him, her eyes alive with the excitement of being on the adventure of a lifetime.

“Papa, Papa,” she cried. “Buffalo, everywhere. Millions of them.” She grabbed his hand, tugging him in the direction from which she’d come.

Together, they crested a rise and saw the massive creatures filling the landscape to the distant line of buttes ahead.

“Have you ever seen buffalo before, Papa?”

“Can’t say that I have,” he said, taking in the lively indigo of his daughter’s eyes and the russet wave of her hair tied hastily back this morning with a ribbon. The coloring of her eyes and hair were Lillian’s, to be sure, but everything else about Ella was his.

Suddenly, a worried pucker appeared between her delicately winged eyebrows. “Are we going to see any Indians?”

“I doubt it.” I pray not. There was a risk of Indian raiding parties on any of the trails in the western territories, but the Bozeman Trail was the most direct and well-watered route to the Montana gold fields. Opportunities for a new and different life awaited him and Ella. Not that he was looking to find gold, just opportunity. And a little adventure along the way. Besides, the reestablishment of Forts Reno, Kearny and Smith along the trail assured him travelers were now well protected. What’s more, the fast-moving stagecoach didn’t put them at the same risk as turtle-paced wagon trains. With an armed guard riding shotgun atop the stagecoach and his sharpshooter skills, he had every confidence any encounter with hostiles could be managed handily.

He gave the tail end of his daughter’s hair a playful tug, but the pucker between her eyebrows didn’t vanish, it only deepened.

“Do you think Mama can see us from heaven, Papa?”

He ran a hand through his hair. She’d steered the conversation in a direction for which he was totally unprepared. He gave the question some thought before he answered. “I don’t know for sure, but I’d like to think she can.”

“Do you miss her, Papa?”

The serious look on Ella’s face gave him another moment’s pause. Wondering about her mama was more than likely normal for a nine-year-old girl.  He hadn’t talked much about Lillian since she’d passed on just after Ella turned five, but what little girl wouldn’t wonder if there was no one to tell her about her mama?

Thomas sighed. Did he miss his late wife? Absently, he stroked Ella’s hair. Not only the color but also the texture was the same as her mother’s. He’d told Lillian it was like spun silk the first time she’d allowed him to touch it. That was a heady moment for the seventeen-year-old newly turned-out soldier. But Lillian had been his commander’s daughter.

No good could have come of their tryst.

The ex-soldier stared at the serious look still on his daughter’s sweetly questioning face. He took Ella’s face in his hands. No, that’s not true. Something good had come of his and Lillian’s union, and he’d do anything to protect the gift he had been given.

“I do miss her.” For your sake, he added silently, to keep from speaking a lie. He dropped his hands to her shoulders, giving them a playful shake. “But there was nothing your mama disliked more than sadness.” He put the best spin he could on Lillian’s obsession for the gaiety of parties and balls. “So I’m sure she’d want us to enjoy our adventure to its fullest.”

“But she wouldn’t have wanted to come with us.” A flush crept up Ella’s neck then flooded her cheeks as she added quickly, “I mean she never liked to take walks in the woods with us, because she was afraid we’d get lost and attacked by wild animals, no matter that you said otherwise.”

Inwardly, he cringed, hoping Ella was merely recalling only Lillian’s words and not her disdain for any activity that had to do with the outdoors. “Your mama didn’t share our love for adventure and the outdoors, Ella, but she would have joined us once we’d gotten settled.”

Ella swiped at a tear that slid down her cheek.

He wondered if she was feeling more than just sadness.

“Grandfather Russell said you’re going to ruin my life like you ruined hers.”

Thomas released his daughter’s shoulders to keep from hurting her as he fisted his hands. “Even if such a thing were true–which it isn’t–your grandfather was wrong to speak of it to you.”

“He didn’t.” Ella gripped the locket her grandfather had given her for her ninth birthday as she stared at the ground, her voice a quavering whisper. “I overheard him.”

Small consolation, Thomas thought as he lifted his daughter’s chin with a press of his knuckles. The overwhelming pain in her eyes set up an ache in his heart he hadn’t felt since Lillian had spurned him. “Honey, your grandfather is letting grief rule his life.”

“But why does he think you ruined Mama’s life?”

He gave a hefty sigh. How to answer that one without damning all involved? Particularly his innocent daughter with her whole life ahead. “Ella, honey, sometimes people get angry when life doesn’t go as they imagine it should.”

“And Grandfather’s angry?”

“Mostly he’s sad, but yes, he’s a little angry.” Thomas didn’t dare say anymore than that for fear of tarnishing Captain John Russell in his only grandchild’s eyes.

“But didn’t Mama choose to marry you?”

“Yes, she chose to marry me.” Not completely the truth as theirs was a shotgun wedding. But what they’d done prior, to land them in the marriage, had been her choice, as well as his.

“But I don’t understand.” That characteristic pucker appeared between her brows.

“Sometimes, people don’t think about the consequences of their choices before they make them, and then afterwards, they choose not to make the best of them.”

“Is that what happened between you and Mama?”

Did she know how miserable he and Lillian had been together? Maybe if he’d insisted they move out West after they were married where they would have had only each other, they might have settled into a life together. But it was too late for “what ifs.” “Whatever happened between me and your mama is in the past. No one can change that. All we can do is make the most of today and all the tomorrows to follow.” He ended with an encouraging smile, hoping his words would return Ella’s spirits to what they’d been before talk turned to Lillian.

She tried to return his smile but failed miserably and her gaze slid away. “What if I made the wrong choice in coming with you?” she choked out, one hand clutching the locket at her neck.

“Ella, honey, look at me,” he said, waiting until her gaze met his before continuing. “If at any moment you change your mind about going on our adventure, you give the word and we’ll turn back.”

“But this is your dream, Papa.” She gave him a childish scowl when he shook his head. “But that’s what you—”

He put a shushing finger to his daughter’s lips. “Coming West is one of my dreams, but not the most important one.”

“What’s…” She scrubbed at her eyes now filling with tears. “What’s the most important one?”

“To give you a happy and secure childhood, to watch you grow up into a young woman, to see you have a family of your own some day.”

The tears spilling over, she turned and threw her arms around his waist. “Oh, Papa, I love you so much.”

Thomas lifted his sobbing child into his arms. For the first time since this adventure had commenced, he doubted if he was qualified to guide a young girl successfully into womanhood, particularly out here in the western territories where adventure abounded but civility was almost nonexistent. Maybe folks had been right. Maybe the best thing would be to wait here at the stagecoach stop for the return coach.

He shifted his daughter’s weight so he could retrieve his pocket watch. How long did they have before the departure of their coach? He flipped it open, and the engraving caught his eye.

Thomas James Hastings

Welcome home forever

Your loving daughter,

Ella

Ella had presented the watch with shy anticipation, and it’d been the icebreaker they’d needed to become reacquainted with one another after his long sojourns in the war.

He clamped the lid shut and put it away. He trudged back to the stationhouse, and his daughter, solely his responsibility and the last of his family, weighed heavily in his arms.

Hours later, the stagecoach creaked as it rocked, the dust swirling through the open windows into the cramped and stifling interior. Most of the passengers held heavily soiled hankies or bandanas over their mouths and noses to block the choking dust. Many held pacifying hands over churning stomachs while others clamped the edge of the seat to minimize the effects of the lurching coach.

Suddenly the vehicle swerved, throwing the occupants to one side, then righted itself.

Thomas shifted Ella from her place next to the window to his other side. He lifted the leather curtain, but with dust roiling, the coach creaking and horses hooves pounding, he could discern very little out of the ordinary.

Then he heard it, as he knew Ella heard it, because she clutched at his arm. The war cry outrivaled any rebel yell he’d witnessed on the battlefield.

In an instant, Thomas retrieved the rifle lying on the floor behind his feet. “Arm yourselves,” he shouted to the other men within the cramped interior. The first gunshot rang out, but with the lurching of the coach and the blinding dust, he was having a hard time setting his sights on a target.

A body pitched to the ground from atop the stage, and he prayed it wasn’t the guard. With war cries louder now, he had a better idea where to aim. A form materialized out of the dust. He squeezed the trigger, the crack resounding sharply in his ears, and a shadowy form dropped away but a split second later, frantic screaming filled the coach.

His heart stopped at Ella’s terror-laden cries and he whirled to locate her. He ripped off his coat and threw it on the flames licking the hem of her skirt. In seconds, they were out, but the coach skidded to a sickening halt that threw all the occupants into one corner.

The coach now at a standstill, maniacal yells filled Thomas with an all-encompassing dread. He scrambled to the window, dragging Ella with him then pushed her to the floor. “Stay there, Ella.”

-*-*-

Ella crouched on the floor of the coach, hands over her ears, blocking the sounds of the attack, the war cries, the gunshots, the frantic neighing of the stage horses, the pounding hooves of the Indians’ wild mustangs circling closer. Her lips moved in silent prayer as salty tears squeezed from the corners of her eyes and burned across her wind-chapped cheeks.

An object swished through the air, followed by something heavy thudding on the seat above her. An arm swung down into her line of view, limp and lifeless. Her mouth opened but no sound came out.

The door of the coach was wrenched open. The stench of sweaty and unwashed bodies caused her to curl deeper into herself. She was dragged from the coach. An unfamiliar and harsh-sounding language filled her ears, and she kept her eyes tightly closed until a stinging yank to her hair forced her eyes open.

Staring into a face as brown as a chestnut, the red and yellow lines striping from cheek to hairline and across the broad forehead, forced her into action. Held only by her hair, she twisted away from her terrifying captor, intent on making her way back to the stagecoach and her papa.

Her papa lay across the seat of the stagecoach, a swath of blood across his shirt where an arrow had pierced his chest. Her knees buckled and darkness swirled around her.

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LENA’S COURAGE

Book Two

Cover Lena's Courage

BLURB

Six years ago, Lena Schuler fled Cheyenne to escape the man who brutally stole her innocence. Now, believing her attacker has left Cheyenne for good, she’s returned to build a life for her and her son.

Attorney Lucas Kline has established a new identity and is making his mark as a trial lawyer in the burgeoning rail town of Cheyenne, Wyoming. Fighting to escape the guilt from his past, he’s determined to help shape the emerging territory into a law-abiding state.

When Lena’s attacker threatens the security of her son and others in the community, will she find the courage to face him in order protect those she loves? Can she trust Lucas to defend her secret before a township filled with doubt? Or will the guilt from Lucas’ past blur the lines between justice and vigilantism?

 

EXCERPT

At a rather large step up, Jonah shrugged off her hold and shifted the bag in his arms so he could gauge the height of the step.

She resisted the urge to help him as he planted a foot on the rise then swayed as he scaled it. When she returned her attention to the walk ahead of them, she froze. She couldn’t believe her eyes. No, it can’t be. Ilse had written that he’d moved away months ago, to San Francisco.

Frank Pierce stood, only yards away, talking to another man.

She clutched Jonah to her skirts.

“Mama, you’re squashing me.”

The monster from that awful night turned and walked in their direction.

Terror at what he might do if he saw her again, if he saw Jonah, stole her breath. She pushed her son toward a door and grappled with its knob. Ignoring his questions, she thrust him inside, then followed and slammed the door closed behind her.

Jonah stumbled then fell in a heap at her feet.

A man sitting behind a desk looked up. “Can I help you, ma’am?”

Lena remained plastered against the door as she stared at the well-dressed businessman with a questioning look upon his face. No doubt he was wondering why they’d burst into his office.

Jonah scrambled to his feet, leaving the carpetbag where it laid, his eyes shining. “Are we here, Mama? Is this the Bäckerei?” When she didn’t answer, Jonah turned to the man who now stood. “Are you my Onkel Erik?”

A strange look crossed the man’s face as he glanced at Jonah then moved from behind the desk toward them. He appeared to be no more than thirty, with dark blond hair similar to Erik’s, but he was taller and trimmer, while the line of his clean-shaven jaw was stronger and leaner than her brother’s.

“Mama?” Jonah asked.

The man’s warm hazel eyes shifted back to hers.

“No, this is not Onkel Erik.” Lena didn’t know how she managed the words, given how she was still gasping for breath over the shock of seeing Frank Pierce. She peeled herself from the door and moved to the adjacent window and her heart hammered in her chest. Hand trembling, she pushed aside the curtain and peered out. She didn’t see any sign of Frank. But he was here. He was not supposed to be here in Cheyenne. But he was. What am I to do now? The thought of him finding out about Jonah and Jonah finding out about him… Suddenly, she felt lightheaded and her vision tunneled.

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Head Shot

BIO

Ruby Merritt writes historical western romance. Her passion for imagining life and love on the High Plains has its roots in reading and rereading Laura Ingalls Wilder’s Little House books as a child.

Although Ruby doesn’t call the High Plains her home, she resides in an equally beautiful and rustic locale, The Gateway to the Texas Hill Country.

When Ruby’s not reading or writing, she can be found riding her horse or homeschooling her children who are avid horsewomen and readers as well.

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Posted in Cowboy, Historical, Romance, Settlers, Western, Wild West, Womens Lit

Spotlight on Ruby Merritt

Ruby Merrit Banner

Experience the American Old West through Ruby Merritt’s Spirited Hearts s`eries. Set in 1870’s Cheyenne, Wyoming, each book features a strong heroine, a equally strong hero who falls for her and a story to keep you turning the pages.

The Spirited Hearts series is available worldwide at Amazon and iBooks, and additionally at Barnes & Noble and Kobo.

Cover Ella's Choice

Born to Sin Synopsis

When Ella Hastings is captured by the Blackfeet Indians at age nine, then adopted by the Lakota Indians, she is thrust into a new way of life and transformed into Little Brave, adopted daughter of their revered and peaceful chief, Grey Owl. Ten years later the white man returns. Their soldiers storm her tribe’s village and bring reminders of a world she’d almost forgotten. Suddenly, she is confronted by the question: To which world does she now belong? Her only hope in discovering who she really is lies with the enigmatic army scout, Beech Richoux.

Son of a French trapper and Lakota mother, Beech Richoux was raised in a white man’s world after his mother’s death. Acting as an army scout to raise money for his horse ranch, he’s unaware of the Army’s true intent to annihilate his mother’s people until it’s too late. And the white woman he finds living among the Lakota only adds to his desperation to save his people. Now the narrow path he has created to balance himself between these two worlds is tipped by the mysterious white woman known to the Lakota as Little Brave.

Can two people robbed of their own childhood learn to live together in such differing worlds? Can Little Brave and Beech forge a new path into a life where they both are finally set free?

Born to Sin Excerpt

Prologue

The Powder River Country, Wyoming Territory, 1866

Standing outside the stationhouse, Thomas Hastings viewed the land stretching before him, wide and open, treeless, unmarked by man. He filled his lungs with the fresh, crisp air, reveling in the opportunities awaiting him in this uncluttered place. Awaiting him and his daughter, he amended, as nine-year-old Ella Hastings screeched to a halt next him, her eyes alive with the excitement of being on the adventure of a lifetime.
“Papa, Papa,” she cried. “Buffalo, everywhere. Millions of them.” She grabbed his hand, tugging him in the direction from which she’d come.
Together, they crested a rise and saw the massive creatures filling the landscape to the distant line of buttes ahead.
“Have you ever seen buffalo before, Papa?”
“Can’t say that I have,” he said, taking in the lively indigo of his daughter’s eyes and the russet wave of her hair tied hastily back this morning with a ribbon. The coloring of her eyes and hair were Lillian’s, to be sure, but everything else about Ella was his.
Suddenly, a worried pucker appeared between her delicately winged eyebrows. “Are we going to see any Indians?”
“I doubt it.” I pray not. There was a risk of Indian raiding parties on any of the trails in the western territories, but the Bozeman Trail was the most direct and well-watered route to the Montana gold fields. Opportunities for a new and different life awaited him and Ella. Not that he was looking to find gold, just opportunity. And a little adventure along the way. Besides, the reestablishment of Forts Reno, Kearny and Smith along the trail assured him travelers were now well protected. What’s more, the fast-moving stagecoach didn’t put them at the same risk as turtle-paced wagon trains. With an armed guard riding shotgun atop the stagecoach and his sharpshooter skills, he had every confidence any encounter with hostiles could be managed handily.
He gave the tail end of his daughter’s hair a playful tug, but the pucker between her eyebrows didn’t vanish, it only deepened.
“Do you think Mama can see us from heaven, Papa?”
He ran a hand through his hair. She’d steered the conversation in a direction for which he was totally unprepared. He gave the question some thought before he answered. “I don’t know for sure, but I’d like to think she can.”
“Do you miss her, Papa?”
The serious look on Ella’s face gave him another moment’s pause. Wondering about her mama was more than likely normal for a nine-year-old girl. He hadn’t talked much about Lillian since she’d passed on just after Ella turned five, but what little girl wouldn’t wonder if there was no one to tell her about her mama?
Thomas sighed. Did he miss his late wife? Absently, he stroked Ella’s hair. Not only the color but also the texture was the same as her mother’s. He’d told Lillian it was like spun silk the first time she’d allowed him to touch it. That was a heady moment for the seventeen-year-old newly turned-out soldier. But Lillian had been his commander’s daughter.
No good could have come of their tryst.
The ex-soldier stared at the serious look still on his daughter’s sweetly questioning face. He took Ella’s face in his hands. No, that’s not true. Something good had come of his and Lillian’s union, and he’d do anything to protect the gift he had been given.
“I do miss her.” For your sake, he added silently, to keep from speaking a lie. He dropped his hands to her shoulders, giving them a playful shake. “But there was nothing your mama disliked more than sadness.” He put the best spin he could on Lillian’s obsession for the gaiety of parties and balls. “So I’m sure she’d want us to enjoy our adventure to its fullest.”
“But she wouldn’t have wanted to come with us.” A flush crept up Ella’s neck then flooded her cheeks as she added quickly, “I mean she never liked to take walks in the woods with us, because she was afraid we’d get lost and attacked by wild animals, no matter that you said otherwise.”
Inwardly, he cringed, hoping Ella was merely recalling only Lillian’s words and not her disdain for any activity that had to do with the outdoors. “Your mama didn’t share our love for adventure and the outdoors, Ella, but she would have joined us once we’d gotten settled.”
Ella swiped at a tear that slid down her cheek.
He wondered if she was feeling more than just sadness.
“Grandfather Russell said you’re going to ruin my life like you ruined hers.”
Thomas released his daughter’s shoulders to keep from hurting her as he fisted his hands. “Even if such a thing were true–which it isn’t–your grandfather was wrong to speak of it to you.”
“He didn’t.” Ella gripped the locket her grandfather had given her for her ninth birthday as she stared at the ground, her voice a quavering whisper. “I overheard him.”
Small consolation, Thomas thought as he lifted his daughter’s chin with a press of his knuckles. The overwhelming pain in her eyes set up an ache in his heart he hadn’t felt since Lillian had spurned him. “Honey, your grandfather is letting grief rule his life.”
“But why does he think you ruined Mama’s life?”
He gave a hefty sigh. How to answer that one without damning all involved? Particularly his innocent daughter with her whole life ahead. “Ella, honey, sometimes people get angry when life doesn’t go as they imagine it should.”
“And Grandfather’s angry?”
“Mostly he’s sad, but yes, he’s a little angry.” Thomas didn’t dare say anymore than that for fear of tarnishing Captain John Russell in his only grandchild’s eyes.
“But didn’t Mama choose to marry you?”
“Yes, she chose to marry me.” Not completely the truth as theirs was a shotgun wedding. But what they’d done prior, to land them in the marriage, had been her choice, as well as his.
“But I don’t understand.” That characteristic pucker appeared between her brows.
“Sometimes, people don’t think about the consequences of their choices before they make them, and then afterwards, they choose not to make the best of them.”
“Is that what happened between you and Mama?”
Did she know how miserable he and Lillian had been together? Maybe if he’d insisted they move out West after they were married where they would have had only each other, they might have settled into a life together. But it was too late for “what ifs.” “Whatever happened between me and your mama is in the past. No one can change that. All we can do is make the most of today and all the tomorrows to follow.” He ended with an encouraging smile, hoping his words would return Ella’s spirits to what they’d been before talk turned to Lillian.
She tried to return his smile but failed miserably and her gaze slid away. “What if I made the wrong choice in coming with you?” she choked out, one hand clutching the locket at her neck.
“Ella, honey, look at me,” he said, waiting until her gaze met his before continuing. “If at any moment you change your mind about going on our adventure, you give the word and we’ll turn back.”
“But this is your dream, Papa.” She gave him a childish scowl when he shook his head. “But that’s what you—”
He put a shushing finger to his daughter’s lips. “Coming West is one of my dreams, but not the most important one.”
“What’s…” She scrubbed at her eyes now filling with tears. “What’s the most important one?”
“To give you a happy and secure childhood, to watch you grow up into a young woman, to see you have a family of your own some day.”
The tears spilling over, she turned and threw her arms around his waist. “Oh, Papa, I love you so much.”
Thomas lifted his sobbing child into his arms. For the first time since this adventure had commenced, he doubted if he was qualified to guide a young girl successfully into womanhood, particularly out here in the western territories where adventure abounded but civility was almost nonexistent. Maybe folks had been right. Maybe the best thing would be to wait here at the stagecoach stop for the return coach.
He shifted his daughter’s weight so he could retrieve his pocket watch. How long did they have before the departure of their coach? He flipped it open, and the engraving caught his eye.

Thomas James Hastings
Welcome home forever
Your loving daughter,
Ella

Ella had presented the watch with shy anticipation, and it’d been the icebreaker they’d needed to become reacquainted with one another after his long sojourns in the war.
He clamped the lid shut and put it away. He trudged back to the stationhouse, and his daughter, solely his responsibility and the last of his family, weighed heavily in his arms.
Hours later, the stagecoach creaked as it rocked, the dust swirling through the open windows into the cramped and stifling interior. Most of the passengers held heavily soiled hankies or bandanas over their mouths and noses to block the choking dust. Many held pacifying hands over churning stomachs while others clamped the edge of the seat to minimize the effects of the lurching coach.
Suddenly the vehicle swerved, throwing the occupants to one side, then righted itself.
Thomas shifted Ella from her place next to the window to his other side. He lifted the leather curtain, but with dust roiling, the coach creaking and horses hooves pounding, he could discern very little out of the ordinary.
Then he heard it, as he knew Ella heard it, because she clutched at his arm. The war cry outrivaled any rebel yell he’d witnessed on the battlefield.
In an instant, Thomas retrieved the rifle lying on the floor behind his feet. “Arm yourselves,” he shouted to the other men within the cramped interior. The first gunshot rang out, but with the lurching of the coach and the blinding dust, he was having a hard time setting his sights on a target.
A body pitched to the ground from atop the stage, and he prayed it wasn’t the guard. With war cries louder now, he had a better idea where to aim. A form materialized out of the dust. He squeezed the trigger, the crack resounding sharply in his ears, and a shadowy form dropped away but a split second later, frantic screaming filled the coach.
His heart stopped at Ella’s terror-laden cries and he whirled to locate her. He ripped off his coat and threw it on the flames licking the hem of her skirt. In seconds, they were out, but the coach skidded to a sickening halt that threw all the occupants into one corner.
The coach now at a standstill, maniacal yells filled Thomas with an all-encompassing dread. He scrambled to the window, dragging Ella with him then pushed her to the floor. “Stay there, Ella.”
-*-*-
Ella crouched on the floor of the coach, hands over her ears, blocking the sounds of the attack, the war cries, the gunshots, the frantic neighing of the stage horses, the pounding hooves of the Indians’ wild mustangs circling closer. Her lips moved in silent prayer as salty tears squeezed from the corners of her eyes and burned across her wind-chapped cheeks.
An object swished through the air, followed by something heavy thudding on the seat above her. An arm swung down into her line of view, limp and lifeless. Her mouth opened but no sound came out.
The door of the coach was wrenched open. The stench of sweaty and unwashed bodies caused her to curl deeper into herself. She was dragged from the coach. An unfamiliar and harsh-sounding language filled her ears, and she kept her eyes tightly closed until a stinging yank to her hair forced her eyes open.
Staring into a face as brown as a chestnut, the red and yellow lines striping from cheek to hairline and across the broad forehead, forced her into action. Held only by her hair, she twisted away from her terrifying captor, intent on making her way back to the stagecoach and her papa.
Her papa lay across the seat of the stagecoach, a swath of blood across his shirt where an arrow had pierced his chest. Her knees buckled and darkness swirled around her.

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Cover Lena's Courage

Born to Sin Synopsis

Six years ago, Lena Schuler fled Cheyenne to escape the man who brutally stole her innocence. Now, believing her attacker has left Cheyenne for good, she’s returned to build a life for her and her son.

Attorney Lucas Kline has established a new identity and is making his mark as a trial lawyer in the burgeoning rail town of Cheyenne, Wyoming. Fighting to escape the guilt from his past, he’s determined to help shape the emerging territory into a law-abiding state.

When Lena’s attacker threatens the security of her son and others in the community, will she find the courage to face him in order protect those she loves? Can she trust Lucas to defend her secret before a township filled with doubt? Or will the guilt from Lucas’ past blur the lines between justice and vigilantism?

Born to Sin Excerpt

At a rather large step up, Jonah shrugged off her hold and shifted the bag in his arms so he could gauge the height of the step.
She resisted the urge to help him as he planted a foot on the rise then swayed as he scaled it. When she returned her attention to the walk ahead of them, she froze. She couldn’t believe her eyes. No, it can’t be. Ilse had written that he’d moved away months ago, to San Francisco.
Frank Pierce stood, only yards away, talking to another man.
She clutched Jonah to her skirts.
“Mama, you’re squashing me.”
The monster from that awful night turned and walked in their direction.
Terror at what he might do if he saw her again, if he saw Jonah, stole her breath. She pushed her son toward a door and grappled with its knob. Ignoring his questions, she thrust him inside, then followed and slammed the door closed behind her.
Jonah stumbled then fell in a heap at her feet.
A man sitting behind a desk looked up. “Can I help you, ma’am?”
Lena remained plastered against the door as she stared at the well-dressed businessman with a questioning look upon his face. No doubt he was wondering why they’d burst into his office.
Jonah scrambled to his feet, leaving the carpetbag where it laid, his eyes shining. “Are we here, Mama? Is this the Bäckerei?” When she didn’t answer, Jonah turned to the man who now stood. “Are you my Onkel Erik?”
A strange look crossed the man’s face as he glanced at Jonah then moved from behind the desk toward them. He appeared to be no more than thirty, with dark blond hair similar to Erik’s, but he was taller and trimmer, while the line of his clean-shaven jaw was stronger and leaner than her brother’s.
“Mama?” Jonah asked.
The man’s warm hazel eyes shifted back to hers.
“No, this is not Onkel Erik.” Lena didn’t know how she managed the words, given how she was still gasping for breath over the shock of seeing Frank Pierce. She peeled herself from the door and moved to the adjacent window and her heart hammered in her chest. Hand trembling, she pushed aside the curtain and peered out. She didn’t see any sign of Frank. But he was here. He was not supposed to be here in Cheyenne. But he was. What am I to do now? The thought of him finding out about Jonah and Jonah finding out about him… Suddenly, she felt lightheaded and her vision tunneled.

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Head Shot

Ruby Merritt writes historical western romance. Her passion for imagining life and love on the High Plains has its roots in reading and rereading Laura Ingalls Wilder’s Little House books as a child.

Although Ruby doesn’t call the High Plains her home, she resides in an equally beautiful and rustic locale, The Gateway to the Texas Hill Country.

When Ruby’s not reading or writing, she can be found riding her horse or homeschooling her children who are avid horsewomen and readers as well.

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