By Caroline Clemmons
After my husband and I married, he introduced me to, well, many things, but one of them was Louis L’Amour books. I fell in love with the Sacketts, and that was before I saw Tom Selleck and Sam Elliott play them in movies! I love the movies made from Louis L'Amour's books as much as I love the books.
I have read each of L’Amour’s novels except those set in the Pacific. (Hero has read those, too.) In fact, we have each of the books plus a few short stories and LAST OF THE BREED in our bookcase. He was a gifted storyteller, and I re-read some of my favorites of his books each year. FALLON, HONDO, and CROSSFIRE TRAIL are those for which I reach first. I’ve read FALLON so many times I almost don’t need the actual book, but I love L’Amour’s words. I've only read one I didn't like and it wasn't the book. It was the fact the heroine dies. I wept so much you'd think I knew her personally.
For years I believed that westerns were written mainly for a male audience. Then I discovered Lorraine Heath’s westerns. I was home! From Lorraine’s books, I learned of other writers who wrote similar stories. Two of my favorites are Julie Garwood’s PRINCE CHARMING (yes, I know it starts out in England) and FOR THE ROSES (yes, it begins in New York City). Maggie Osborne’s PROMISE OF JENNY JONES is another keeper as are Jodi Thomas' Texans series. And have you ever read a cleverer book than MUCH ADO ABOUT MARSHALS by Jacquie Rogers?
I could go on, but now I have to conduct a little business. You knew I’d get around to it, didn’t you?
My western historical, BRAZOS BRIDE, is both a mystery and a romance. I love mysteries, you see, and just can’t help myself when it comes to murder, kidnapping, poison, and other nasty incidents. I am a sweet and gentle soul in person (yeah, right), but I am mean to my characters when I write. After all, survival in the Old West was difficult. Authors have to present obstacles for the hero and heroine to overcome. Otherwise, a book would be about a page long and boring.
In BRAZOS BRIDE, Hope Montoya, the heroine, knows she’s being poisoned but has no idea who wants her dead. Weakened, she knows she can’t fight alone, and she enlists Micah Stone to assist her. How? Through a marriage of convenience, which gives her control of her estate that’s held in trust by her guardian. That doesn’t stop the killer, who relentlessly persists in trying to eliminate both Hope and adds Micah as a target. I love a determined villain, don’t you? I mean, of course, that I love to hate the villain.
Besides being close to Hope, for marrying her Micah receives land on the Brazos River and cash, and both are needed badly. The time is August 1870 and there’s a severe drought that has dried up springs, creeks, and waterholes on Micah’s land. Without access to the river, his cattle are dying of thirst. His two brothers are on hand to help him haul water from Zach’s place to the west. Even with their best efforts, they’re losing the battle.
She looked at her hands. Perhaps she was unreasonable. Or maybe insane for sympathizing with a man who'd had to work harder because of her family.
"I know it is an odd situation. If—if you wear your shirt and britches, I guess it would be all right if you slept on top of the cover here." She patted the bed beside her.
He froze. Not a muscle moved, and he only stared at her. Had she misunderstood? Did he think her offer too forward?
She babbled, "That is, if you want to. You said I should trust you. Well, maybe you would be more comfortable where you are." Why didn't he say something? Would he prefer sleeping in a chair to sharing the bed?
From the street below, she heard raucous laughter and someone called to a man named Ben. Music from a piano, she supposed in the saloon, drifted in through the open windows. A gust of breeze moved the curtains and slid across her skin. In this room, though, there was no sound.
Slowly, he rose and extinguished the lamp as he moved across the room. She slid one of the pillows beside hers then scooted down. What had possessed her to offer him half her bed? Would he think she invited more?
Too late to take it back now, for the mattress dipped as he stretched out. Quaking inside at the thought of him so near, she turned her back to him. She heard his weary sigh, as if he relaxed for the first time in a long while.
"Good night," she offered, and hoped he understood the finality of the phrase.
"Yep. Good night, Mrs. Stone." The mattress shook as he turned his back to her. She felt the soles of his feet press against her ankles. He must be several inches too long for the bed and she guessed he had to bend his legs to fit. She didn't dare turn to see firsthand.
She lay perfectly still, afraid to take a deep breath. Soon his breathing changed and she knew he slept. Outside the open window the town quieted and the distant tinkling of the piano was the only sound. Light from the full moon illuminated the room and slanted across the bed. A soft breeze drifted across her, lulling her in its caress.
With a sigh, she fought to relax, but abdominal pain kept her awake no matter how her body cried for rest. Perhaps if she planned, she’d forget the pain and chills that racked her frame.
Plan, yes. She needed a plan for food preparation when she returned to her home. No, Micah said he had a plan. Oh, dear, once more he took charge when it was her life, her home.
Maybe Aunt Sofia and Uncle Jorge would have left by then and things would be fine. Already she felt more secure. She sensed her eyelids drifting closed and the sleep’s blessed relief approaching.
A gunshot ripped apart the night.
The blast startled her and she screamed as something thudded near her head, showering her hair and face with splinters. Panic immobilized her. What had happened?
Micah dragged her onto the floor as a bullet ripped into the mattress.
Here's the buy link for BRAZOS BRIDE: https://www.amzn.com/B007HS10SY
Did that excerpt entice you to buy the book?
I hope so because everyone in my family needs an operation. Okay, no one actually needs surgery, but I will appreciate your buying the book. Then, IF YOU LIKED IT, would you be so kind as to leave a review on Amazon? Most readers don’t realize what a gift a good review is to a writer. You could also click on Follow for this author. I know, writers! Give us an inch and...you know the rest.
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