Beauty And The Cowboy Beast

Book Cover: Beauty And The Cowboy Beast

Rosalie Sanders is almost 18 and dreams of having her own family someday. While ready to find a husband, there are no prospects in her hometown. She loves to read and by chance, comes upon an ad in the local paper from a rancher in Wyoming. She doesn’t mean to get caught up in the whole ‘mail order bride’ business, but she is intrigued enough to send him a letter. To her delight, he responds with one of his own, and the two strike up a friendship and then a relationship.

Daniel Ward is a rancher who was disfigured by a horrific fire when he was a child. He never dreams he’ll find someone who’ll accept him because of the way he looks, so when he begins corresponding with a young woman, he’s thrilled.

When the two finally decide to meet, both are met with fears for the future. He worries that she will discover how ugly he is, and turn away from him. The test for Rosalie though, will be if she can look past the scars and let her heart lead the way.

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A heavy weight settled on Rosalie’s chest.  She couldn’t breathe lying down in her bed, she couldn’t breathe sitting up in her chair. She had to get up. She paced across the bedroom floor for a while, but that didn’t work either. She needed air, her lungs screamed for it. She quietly slipped on her clothes, so as not to wake Carrie. She could think of a million questions, but right now she needed to be alone… First, she needed to breathe.

She snuck quietly through the house and out onto the porch. The night air was crisp and she had forgotten her wrap. She hardly noticed, however, as the cool clean night air hit her lungs. She sat on the porch swing and once she was able to breathe again she allowed herself to think about Daniel’s letter.

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He was deformed. Her heart ached for the poor child trapped in an inferno. How frightening would that have been? How painful? Two years of treatments only to be left horribly scarred for life. His heart aching each time someone looked at him with fear or disgust. Tears streamed down her cheeks. She felt that same anxiety and she had to get up and walk. She headed toward the dirt path that wound around her father’s wheat field. She knew if either of her parents woke up and she was missing, they would be angry, but she couldn’t go back in now. She would never be able to sleep.

She walked for a mile or two, turning her face up to the moon. Was Daniel looking at it too? In his letters, he was kind-hearted, compassionate, and generous. Just the kind of person she wanted to spend her life with. Then she forced herself to think of the reality. Could she look at him and not cringe as others had done? She searched her own soul. Would she be able to love a man who was horribly deformed?

It seemed so shallow to even consider it, but she had spent her life dreaming of the perfect husband. He was always strong and handsome. When she thought of Daniel, she imagined him the same, giving her that unexpected tickle in the pit of her belly when she thought of being in his arms. Could she feel that way about someone who was scarred and “hideous” as Daniel himself had put it? Could she look upon him with anything other than pity or loathing? The truth was, she didn’t know.

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Soiled Dove

Life in Calico is ripe with opportunity for an industrious gal. Ginnie Roberts enjoys the party life, drinking and entertaining in the upstairs rooms over the saloon where she works. When she runs into a handsome cowboy who would rather talk than have a tussle under the sheets, she's intrigued, if not disappointed.

Totally smitten and determined to woo her, Joe is up for the challenge of trying to sweet talk Ginnie away from her life as a saloon girl, and he’s got less than a week to do it. But can he? Since he’s wagered his money, why not bet it all? If he can withstand her charms for one week, she’ll give up her profession and marry him. However, if Ginnie wins the bet, Joe must give up all talk about a future together and give her what she wants most: a wild ride with her sexy cowboy.

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Clint rode hard until he reached the edge of the small lake bordering the ranch to the north. Cattle grazed on the grassy hillside. Off in the distance, fields of irrigated crops grew in rows as far as he could see into the horizon.

He had always been content with his place in life. Work on the ranch kept him from getting lonely, until Sherry. For the first time, he was jealous of Jack. Not because he got the girl they both wanted, or because Jack owned a prosperous ranch. To Clint, Jack seemed to have the world in the palm of his hand. Clint wanted the sweet taste of success on his lips, too.

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Roosters welcomed the dawn when Clint returned to Jack’s spread and left the horse back in the stables. He entered the bunkhouse to eat breakfast with the men. A loud, raucous laugh erupted from the corner. It appeared the party was still going strong for a few.

Cookie, you got any coffee?” he asked the round man behind the stove.

Cookie cracked eggs into a large bowl with his pudgy fingers. “Help yourself.” He nodded to the stove. Another loud round of laughter echoed off the walls.

What’s going on over there?” Clint asked, sipping hot coffee.

Dollie’s girlfriend is winning the shirts off Charlie and a couple of the boys. Been at it most of the night. Surprised the hell out of me. She drank six men unconscious.”

You’re talking about Sherry’s friend, Ginnie?”

He nodded. “That’d be the one.”

Clint set the coffee down and joined the group of men watching the poker game.

Ginnie sat with one foot propped up on the chair next to her. Tossing a couple coins into the center of the table, she called a bet. Her cards stayed folded close to her bosom, while the man sitting behind her tried to see her hand.

Clint felt prickles along the back of his neck as she tipped a glass of beer to her lips. She had complete command of the group. Her dress wrinkled, her hair disheveled under a borrowed cowboy hat, enhanced the satisfaction in her twinkling eyes.

Fold,” the man facing her said, and tossed his cards on the table, throwing his arms wide in defeat.

Another hand?” Her silky voice held a challenge.

At the shake of his head, Ginnie reached out to slide the coins into her pile. The man took her hand, and brushed his lips and mustache against her knuckles.

Clint watched the exchange, his temper darkening like ominous thunderclouds on a muggy summer afternoon. He approached the table.

Good morning,” she said to Clint, as she glanced at the men around her. “Thanks for the game, boys. Perhaps I’ll see some of y’all later.” She returned the cowboy hat to its rightful owner. “I’ll collect my winnings now.” Her eyes never left Clint as she folded the bills piled in front of her and stuffed them into the cleavage of her dress. Her gaze flitted away as she dropped the coins into her small bag.

She stood and put her hand on Clint’s elbow. “I’d like a cup of coffee.”

Still angry, his posture stiff, he fell into step beside her when she walked away. “You think I came in here to find you?” he asked coldly.

Quite the contrary. I know you’re irritated with me by the look on your face. I can tell you didn’t sleep either. We’re both still wearing the same clothes.”

At least you haven’t wasted your time. Your night was profitable.”

She stepped back, momentarily rebuffed. “Don’t be mean.”

He witnessed her increasing unease under his scrutiny as she fidgeted with her dress.

I was provoked,” she said.

His eyebrows shot up.

I wanted to spend the night with you, but your delicate sensibilities wouldn’t let you.” She bit her lips and looked away.

I’m a man, not an animal.” He stopped at the stove and poured her a cup of coffee. Once safely out of earshot, he hissed low into her ear, “Don’t treat me like one of your customers.”

Oh darling, if I was doing that you’d look much happier.”

They walked close together as they made their way to the stables. “I’m trying hard not to think about your profession, but you make it impossible.”

What is it you want from me?” she asked. “Have I mistakenly given you the impression I want something from you besides a bit of fun?”

I don’t want to simply take you to bed,” he ground out. “I aim to court you.” He said the words tentatively, still debating the notion himself.

A flash of humor crossed her face. “Clint, I’m only here for a couple of days.”

He pulled a pouch of tobacco from his pocket. “Then that doesn’t give me much time, does it?”

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Beyond The Moors

Book Cover: Beyond The Moors

Unable to put a friend's disappearance to rest, Jenna Morgan sets out to discover the truth. Instead of a simple hike through a familiar path on the outskirts of town, her journey takes her through unknown territory, opening up in a field in eleventh century Scotland. Forced to join a medieval hunting party, her destiny takes a sharp turn once they cross the moors into highland territory.

When an ill lowlander is brought to his keep, Laird Richard Mathieson takes one look at the lovely blonde and knows he's found his future wife. Winning her heart is another matter as she staunchly refuses to accept that he is not her missing friend. But it's the highland way to take a bride when gifted by the Almighty God, and she is truly a gift from the heavens.

With obstacles at every turn, including the determined laird and a savage warrior who wants to claim her for his own, survival in ancient times is a lot more difficult than Jenna ever imagined. After a fierce attack, she must decide whether to return to her own time or give up everything she holds dear to stay with the love she has found in the past.

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You can’t keep me here.” She sat up at the side of the bed, still clutching the furs to cover her nakedness. Her eyes darted around the chamber.

Richard’s gaze followed the line of her legs to where they disappeared beneath the bedclothes. He licked his lips as their eyes met. “Aye, I can. Ye’ll get back into that bed and rest until morning, or we’ll be embarking on another type of activity tonight.”

Her eyes widened, resembling a frightened doe. “N... no, you can’t.”

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He chuckled. “I am laird of this keep. I can and I will make ye stay.” He waved a hand toward the chamber door. “If ye think ye can get to the door before I do, ye be welcome to try. I don’t mind a wee bit o’ sport, but there is no doubt who the winner will be. You are not going anywhere this night.”

She pushed a strand of blonde hair away from her face and eyed the door, then returned her gaze to Richard. “That’s kidnapping.”

Aye, it is,” he said simply.

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Matters Of The Heart

Book Cover: Matters Of The Heart

After the untimely death of her sister, Marianna Brownlee travels to Wyoming to collect her young nephew, now orphaned and alone. But he isn't as alone as she thought, nor does he want to return to Chicago with her.

Jackson Steed is a rancher with big dreams. Caring for his best friend's child until the arrival of his aunt has been all consuming, but nothing pleases Jack more. He truly loves the boy and is heartsick that he must let him go.

As a snowstorm rips through Wyoming, his business trip to Laramie is delayed. Stranded in a tiny cabin during a raging blizzard, Marianna and Jake find an attraction that's difficult to ignore, yet impossible to pursue. But it's the time waiting for the next stagecoach to come through that makes both see that compromises are always possible and love can truly find a way.

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He looked away. “I’m sorry, Miss Brownlee. I’ve wanted to kiss you for a long time, but I’m afraid I’ve behaved inappropriately.”

He gazed at her, his brown eyes wild with emotion. Yet, somehow, she understood the strange emotion completely, because it coursed through her own body as well. It was the strange, wonderful feeling Judith had once tried to explain to her. The emotion shared by people in love. Committed love.

But there was no commitment between them, and there could never be. That was why Jack had expressed regret over what he’d done.

She reached toward him and touched his cheek.

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You’re a wonderful man, Mr. Steed. I’m glad for the time we’ve had together, but you’re right. We mustn’t indulge in this kind of behavior. It’s not for people like us, strangers who will never see each other again.” She glanced around at the beautiful terrain. “Perhaps we should return to the ranch house.”

He took her hand. “Not just yet, Miss Brownlee… Marianna.” He trailed his fingers through her hair and whispered her name again. “Marianna. Let me call you by your given name. Let’s have at least that much between us.”

Her heart beat wildly. “Jack, I wish we could have more than that.”

Could we, Marianna?” he asked eagerly. He cupped her cheek with his palm. “Are you saying—”

She quickly placed her fingers over his mouth. “I’m saying we both know we can have nothing more than a stolen moment. But Jack...” She dragged her eyes away. “Jack, I’m glad you kissed me.”

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Under A Calico Moon

Recovering from the death of his brother, Chet Bowman is finally finding a sense of normalcy. He's through hiding from the world on his ranch, and he's tired of being alone. He's ready to act on his long-time attraction to Lil Kersey, the sultry saloon owner who runs his favorite watering hole.

With his relationship to Lil blossoming, their courtship comes under fire from the former marshal of Calico, now gone rogue after a failed shoot out. As Austen Riley ramps up his revenge on the cowboy who thwarted his plans to control Calico, Lil struggles to survive Austen's unwanted attentions.

When the dust settles after one final gun fight, will Lil and Chet find their happily ever after? Or will Austen's maniacal revenge tear them apart forever?

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Chet knelt, examining the boot print that shouldn’t have been behind his barn. From heel to toe, he figured it was about a size ten. A man’s boot.

He stood, wiping the sweat from his brow. Dammit. He was getting bolder, whoever’d left that print. Chet slammed his Stetson back on his head and frowned. He didn’t like the idea of someone lurking around his ranch.

What are you doing?” he said, thrusting his chin toward the boot print. “What are you looking for?”

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Taking a swallow from his coffee mug, Chet paused and surveyed the horizon. While there wasn’t a lot of places to hide between his ranch and Calico, the dunes could easily mask an errant rider or two. The trick was to watch for the dust clouds. Few animals could stir up the desert like a man moving quickly on horseback.

He slowly walked the perimeter of his house, barns and outer buildings, looking for any other signs of trouble. It didn’t feel right. Something was off. He could feel it as surely as if someone had sent notice. In a way they had though, hadn’t they?

Chet stepped up the stairs to the back porch and took another look at his spread. It was eerily quiet. Like the day after Chas was hung. He shuddered and leaned heavily on the railing as the memories washed over him. His brother, accused of a crime he didn’t commit, was hauled off to jail and then pulled out of that cell by an angry mob and lynched before the judge could arrive to pass sentence.

In times like these, when the quiet was almost thick enough to slice, he couldn’t stop himself from remembering the sight of Chas swinging from the gallows. It was his boots that he remembered the most, probably because it was too hard to remember the moment he cut him down and removed the noose from his neck. But the boots. The boots swinging in the air. Those were hard to forget.

After he buried his brother, Chet dismissed the ranch hands and cook. His grief was too strong, too personal to share with anyone. He needed the solitude of the ranch. But now, it was simply too quiet.

He shrugged off the painful memory and strode into the house, dropping his coffee cup on the kitchen counter. His eyes took in the dish-filled sink. Sighing, he grabbed a pot and pumped water into it, and placed it on the stove to heat. The pump was a nice addition. Saved him from making trips back and forth to the well.

He sighed again and paused to look out his kitchen window. The garden was dry. He’d have to see to watering the sparse vegetable patch before there was nothing left.

Dammit,” he said aloud. Maybe the marshal was right. Maybe it was time to stop hiding from life and get back to the business of living.

Tomorrow he would go into Calico and hire a cook. It would be nice to have someone help with the garden, and better food than what he could make would be a welcome change, too. Maybe a couple of cowhands as well. Yes, he’d hire some people tomorrow, so things wouldn’t be so quiet anymore.

He smiled. Lil. He’d stop in and see Lil. And get back to the business of living.

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Calico Bride

After the death of her parents, it broke Brianna Campbell's heart to send her younger brother out west on the mercy train, but with no means of supporting him, she hoped that he'd find someone to take him in. When she is finally able, she sets out for Calico, California, to reclaim him, and make a home to start a new life together. With no time for love, she doesn't count on meeting a handsome rancher who makes her heart race.

Needing help for his ranch, Sean James takes in a couple of orphans from the mercy train under his temporary guardianship and provides room and board in exchange for good honest work. Still recovering from the death of his wife, he's shut himself off from the outside world, especially the marriage hungry young women of Calico. But the boys worm their way into his battered heart, and he finds he doesn't want to let either of them go when a sister comes to claim the younger of the two.

Brianna's fierce independence earns Sean's respect, and to his surprise, his interest in more than just a friendship. His attraction to the pretty blonde grows with each passing day, but can he convince to trust him and take a chance on love?

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His feelings for Brianna had dangerously escalated during the time she’d come to live at the ranch. He felt edgy and restless and more than a little guilty. Guilty that he was dishonoring the vows he’d taken with Martha. But Martha was gone forever, and the vows they had spoken were all but a distant memory. Feeling guilty over his developing feelings was a ridiculous notion, but he couldn’t help it. Besides Martha wouldn’t want him to be alone and unhappy for the rest of his life.

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He pushed the thought away, tossed the grass aside and sat up straight. “Is there anymore of that cake left?” He yanked the picnic basket toward him just as Brianna took hold of the handle. Their fingers collided and their eyes locked. Brianna’s cheeks bloomed pink, and she tried to pull away, but Sean held on tight. “Brianna, I want—”

Hey, Sean! We could use a little help over here!” Marcus’s piercing shout wafted on the warm breeze.

Brianna broke eye contact and jerked her fingers from Sean’s grasp. He gripped his hands into tight fists as he stood. He stared down at her for a moment, but she kept her eyes lowered. He resisted the urge to touch his hands to her shiny curls.

Come on, Sean! The kite’s tangled in that old tree.”

Brianna?” he started. Dammit. He had overstepped the invisible line they’d drawn between each other. “Are you all right?”

She nodded, keeping her attention on the crumbs she was gathering from the quilt. “Go on. The boys need your help.” And I don’t.

She hadn’t actually said the words, but Sean heard the message loud and clear. Since her parents had died, she’d had only herself to rely upon and no one else.

Would she ever be able to let down her defenses and accept support and encouragement? From him?

Brianna had been alone for a long time. But she wasn’t alone any longer.

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New Prints In Old Calico

Book Cover: New Prints In Old Calico

Amanda Bradshaw, a librarian from modern day New York City, is suddenly transported to Calico, a small 1880s era western town. Without warning, she becomes the new schoolmarm in Calico instead of a librarian. Bewildered by this sudden change in scene, she is befriended by the sheriff, Austen Riley, and a sympathetic saloon owner named Lil. Riley is a man with dark secrets and an axe to grind with rancher Matt Mallory. Lil turns out to be a kindred spirit in surprising ways. But it's Matt Mallory who turns Amanda's life inside out. Matt is handsome, determined to win her as his wife, but his shady reputation leaves a lot to be desired. Still, Amanda is attracted to him as they flirt and tease, argue and banter their way towards love.

As Matt, Amy, and Matt's young daughter, Molly, struggle to become a family, Marshall Riley plans to destroy Matt and claim Amy for his own. But how can Amy prove Matt’s innocence to the one man who wants him dead?

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“I’m sorry,” her tear smothered voice whispered behind him.

“Oh?” He continued his task as his tone turned incredulous. “Why on earth could you be sorry?”

“You know what I mean.” Her voice barely rose above a whisper.

He turned on one knee, his expression stony. “No Amy, I don’t. I’m just a simple, old-fashioned rancher. I don’t understand the complexities of personal relationships. Why don’t you explain it to me?”

He moved to the chair opposite Amy, seemingly paying no mind to her obvious distress. He hunched over, resting his elbows on his knees and folded his hands together. “Explain to me why you think I’m a murdering, thieving coward whose sole purpose is to abuse innocent women. Go on…explain it. I’m listening.”

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Amy’s stomach knotted and she stiffened under his withering glare. Even though she could tell he was doing his best to remain cool, pain still lingered in the brown eyes staring so intently at her. Pain and something else. Anger.

“I don’t think that at all.”

“No?” He quirked an eyebrow questioningly. “Then what is it you’ve been thinking?”

“I’ve been thinking I’ve done exactly what I used to pride myself on not doing. If that makes any sense.” A dim heat raced like a fever across her face. “I’ve misjudged you terribly. I know you haven’t done any of those things I keep hearing about, but I made a mistake and got caught up in the town gossip. I know I’ve been wrong to let those influences cloud my own personal opinion. And I’m so sorry.”

“You know? How do you know?”

“I just know.” Her voice was firm, final and she felt as if her dormant wits had renewed themselves.

The great divide in the living room narrowed as he leaned forward in his chair, and reached out to capture her hands in his. The look on his face mingled eagerness and tenderness. “Does this mean you’ve come to your senses about us?”

The shadow across Amy’s heart lifted, and she smiled tentatively. “Now listen here mister.” She lifted a brow and tilted her head. Don’t go gettin’ all cocky on me now. It simply means I’m willing to reconsider my previous thoughts on the subject.”

“Just reconsider?” His voice took on a low, silky edge as he moved closer, dropping down on one knee in front of her. Matt’s hands slipped sensuously up her arms, sending a tingling of excitement racing through Amy.

She trembled, feeling his fingers lightly caress her cheek, then trail along the line of her jaw. Then he slowly moved one finger back and forth over her full lower lip. He was so close she could feel his breath fanning her face.

“Have you any idea how special you are? How much I want you, Amy?” Huskiness lingered in his voice.

“Matt, I…”

“Do you believe in love at first sight, Angel? I didn’t… before I met you. The first time I saw you, I knew I wanted you in my life.”

A small smile broke Amy’s lips and Matt stopped the mesmerizing caress of her mouth. “Was that when you came to my apartment that night?”

“I’ve been aware of you for a very long time.” He grinned and placed a quick, and not so satisfying, kiss on her lips. “Now, let’s take a look at that ankle. You’ve been off it all day. I’m hopin’ it’s getting better.”

Amy gave an exaggerated huff and folded her arms across her chest. “Will you ever admit that you were following me in New York?”

“If you think that’s when I saw you first, then I guess that’s it, isn’t it?”

“Ooooh! You’re the most frustrating man I’ve ever met!”

A low chuckle rumbled through his chest. “Funny, Hannah said the same thing.”

“Gee.” Amy’s eyes grew wide with an exaggerated innocence. “I wonder why?”

“Now that, Angel, is one I can’t answer. I was always the model of decorum while I was married.” His eyes wandered over her bandaged foot and ankle, then made a pretense of raising the hem of her gown a wee bit higher than modesty would allow.

“I’m glad you clarified that, Mr. Mallory.” Keeping her expression stern, she snatched the fabric out of his hands, but failed to keep the smile in her eyes from moving to her lips. “Because now methinks you have a one-track mind.”

Another snicker and a look that could thaw all of Antarctica was his only reply before he raised her foot to rest on his thigh and bent to the task of unraveling the bandage.

“It feels better.”

“Swelling’s going down.”

Amy giggled. “I guess Molly was right. You can make hurts better.”

Matt’s thumb lightly caressed an angry purple bruise. A mischievous shine entered his eye. “And just imagine how good you’d feel if I kissed it better, too.”

“Well, kiss away.” She raised her foot off his knee and collapsed into a fit of giggles as he began planting kisses all over her ankle and calf, reminiscent of Gomez and Morticia Adams.

The light in Matt’s eyes changed. Maybe it was her imagination and it was just the firelight twinkling, but Amy wasn’t so sure. In fact, as his tongue lightly touched the underside of her knee, she was quite certain it wasn’t the flames reflecting in his eyes. At least not the flames from the fire. There seemed to be something new flickering deep in Matt’s eyes. Hope. Desire. Love.

The pit of her stomach tingled. Matt pulled back for a moment, his eyes never leaving hers while his warm fingers softly massaged the naked flesh behind her knees. Amy’s heart jolted and her pulse leapt to the spot he touched, beating out a crazy rhythm that betrayed the calm in her facade.

She reached out and drew him in to her, pulling his face up to meet hers and her lashes fluttered downward. Her mouth parted under the gentle pressure of Matt’s kiss. Still on his knees, he shifted closer drawing some of her gown and petticoat upward with the motion. He stroked a bare thigh as their kiss deepened and tongues melded. A small moan caught in Amy’s throat as she buried her hands in Matt’s hair. The coals of attraction smoldering deep in her body suddenly burst into flames of desire.

She quivered, the muscles of her thighs contracting lightly around him as he leaned in so close their bodies touched. His lips seared a molten trail down her throat as he greedily drank in her flesh, sending shivers of delight to race along the sensitive skin.

Impatient to feel the return of his mouth on hers, Amy cupped the sides of his face between her hands and returned his lips to their rightful place. His kiss was more demanding this time, reaching deeper into her soul with each flick of his tongue. Seemingly of its own volition, a soft thigh came up to encircle his waist, holding him tightly against her.

“Oh, Matt…”

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Wyoming Wild

Book Cover: Wyoming Wild
Abandoned with an infant child, Cora Lane struggles with managing a farm and ranch on her own. The last thing she wants or needs is to get tangled up with another man who will probably just leave when he tires of her. No, it's better to be alone.

Thomas Sanderson is a broken man. When his uncle invites him to Wyoming to heal, he jumps at the chance. Helping out a single mother on her ranch might be just the thing he needs to forget his tragic past. One look at Cora, though, and all he can think of is taking her in his arms and making her his own.

Cora doesn't believe she is worthy of love, Thomas can't stop wanting her. Things are about to get complicated.

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Throwing caution out the window, Thomas reached for her, framed her face with his hands and pulled her to him, eyes fixed on her lips. He wanted nothing more than to kiss her, and dammit, he was going to do just that. An urge beyond his control took over and the moment before their lips met, he let every reservation fall.
Her darkened gaze stayed on his, her mouth opening under his in a soft kiss that he felt all the way down to the pit of his belly.
Cora’s hands clutched at the fabric of his shirt, pulling him closer. The sensations tore through him. The feel of her soft body molded against his, every touch of her lips, the light suckling of his tongue was like tasting heaven. Thomas let out a groan, slid his hands behind her head, and thread his fingers into her hair.

 

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She was soft in all the right places, the perfect counter to his harder frame. Time stood still as his lips and mouth devoured every bit of hers and she in return savored him. This, oh God yes, this is what a kiss should be like.

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