Monthly Archives: July 2015

The Dumont Brand

The Dumont Brand 2 Web

SpicyPepperOn the eve of the Civil War, family secrets threaten everything a ranching dynasty has built…until Amon Collier finds salvation in the wrong woman’s love. In the aftermath of battle, a woman destroyed by betrayal brings peace to his brother Ben's wounded soul.

The Big Uneasy

To escape the unthinkable with a man about whom she knows too much, New Orleans belle Josephine LaPierre agrees to marry a Texan about whom she knows nothing. Falling in love with his brother was not part of her plan.

Making Peace

After four long years in hell, Confederate cavalry officer Bennett Collier just wants to go home—assuming home still exists. Widowed Jayhawker Maggie Fannin will hold onto her home at any cost…even if she must face down the imposing Rebel soldier who accuses her of squatting.

 

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Excerpt from The Big Uneasy

June 1860, the Texas Crescent

Josephine LaPierre nearly tumbled from the seat when the buggy’s wheel struck yet another hole in the muddy road. She gripped the padded armrest with one hand and steadied the tiny dog in her lap with the other. Vibration beneath her gloved fingers warned of an impending explosion of temper.

“Hush, Napoleon.” She scratched behind his bat-like ears until he quieted. “All is well, mon petit.”

Napoleon sneezed. After turning three circles in her lap, he nestled into Jo’s skirt. She bestowed a fond smile upon her fearsome bodyguard, running a hand across the top of his head and down his smooth back. Her tiny knight in soft, fawn-colored armor.

The man beside her took the horse in hand with a flick of his wrist, passing an amused glance over Jo and the dog. “Feisty little critter, ain’t he?”

The suppressed laughter in startling blue eyes sent a flicker of heat dancing across Jo’s cheekbones. She looked away. “He can be. I warn you, his bark is not worse than his bite.”

“I’ll keep that in mind.” Chuckling, the driver scratched the top of the little dog’s head.

Jo tensed, prepared to intervene, but Napoleon stretched toward his admirer and licked the man’s glove.

The driver withdrew his hand to run a finger between his stand-up collar and his neck. Then he swatted at his dark broadcloth trousers and frockcoat as if they inconvenienced him, as well. “I imagine this trip’s been a mite rough on you and that little fella.”

Not in the least disposed to admit her posterior might never be the same, Jo pulled on the most gracious smile she could find. “Monsieur—”

“Amon.” Though gentle, the correction was much firmer than she was accustomed to hearing from servants. “No monsieur about it. Just Amon.” The French word rolled from his lips with practiced ease. How odd.

“Amon. How much farther must we travel?”

“Won’t be long now. House is just up the road a piece.”

Her gaze followed his nod. How could anyone judge distance in such a place? Texas was nothing at all like New Orleans. Although the land here lay as flat as at home, Texas remained wild and unpopulated. Even on the docks where she disembarked hours ago, no laughing patois chatter brightened her ears, nor did young women of color in vivid tignons compete for attention with azaleas and bougainvillea. No aroma of magnolia and honeysuckle, of strong coffee and fresh beignets, greeted her arrival.

The afternoon sun, brighter here somehow, chased the last of the morning’s rain from the landscape. The scent of wet earth rose with the steam, intertwining with damp wood and a vague fishiness from the nearby bayou. Strange cattle with wicked, curling horns as long as their bodies dotted miles and miles of green, overgrown in patches with thorny brush and vines. Here and there, brief flashes of yellow peeked from tall, waving grass.

What did Texans eat and drink and admire in this odd, monochromatic country? What did they do for entertainment? With no other humans around to practice the art of conversation, did they forget how to speak?

Jo flicked open the blades of sandalwood dangling from her wrist and fanned herself and Napoleon in an unsuccessful attempt to dissipate the suffocating heat. “Have you worked for Monsieur Collier long?”

Rubbing knuckles along the line of a strong jaw, Amon stared over the bay horse’s ears. “All my life.”

His voice, quiet yet strong, soothed some of her unease. The man spoke at least a little French. Perhaps a modicum of civilization existed in the wilderness. “Tell me about him, s’il vous plaît.”

“Not much to tell.” The gaze he swung from one horizon to the other caressed each tree, each blade of grass in its path. “Edson Collier owns everything we’ve driven through. All you can see, smell, taste, or touch. Every living thing on this property wears a Collier brand.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Powdersmoke Christmas

Powdersmoke Christmas J Reasoner Web

Two wild and woolly Christmas stories by legendary Western author James Reasoner.

’Tis The Season For Justice

It's a life or death Christmas Eve for the man accused of murdering the son of the richest man in the territory. Former shotgun guard Judge Earl Stark knows how to stomp his own snakes, and he makes sure 'TIS THE SEASON FOR JUSTICE.

Presents for One and All

Texas Ranger Cobb is supposed to pick up a prisoner wanted in Parker County and take him back down to Weatherford. Instead he finds himself battling a gang of outlaws and tangling with an old coot driving a wagon full of Christmas gifts, and it's up to him to make sure there are PRESENTS FOR ONE AND ALL.

 

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Excerpt

He heeled his horse into motion again, urging the weary animal into a reluctant trot as he veered left to intercept the wagon's route.

The snow was a couple of inches deep on the ground by now, and it helped to muffle the horse's hoofbeats. The wagon's driver heard the rider coming, though, and hauled back on the reins. The team came to a stop.

Cobb was about twenty yards away when the driver swung up a rifle and pulled the trigger.

A startled curse exploded from Cobb's mouth when he heard the whipcrack of the shot and saw flame spurt from the rifle's muzzle. As he brought the horse to a skidding halt, his right hand reached toward the revolver holstered on his hip, under the jacket. He stopped the move when he saw the driver lower the rifle and aim at him.

"I put that first one well over your head, mister!" the man yelled. "If you try to pull a gun, I'll put the next one right through your gizzard!"

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Gift of Christmas Hope

Gift of Christmas HopeSpicyPepperA shooting over a poker game, a family seeking revenge, a blizzard sweeping across the Texas Panhandle—it’s more than the world-weary gambler known as Lady Sapphire can handle without help. Determined to make it to her childhood home by Christmas Eve with her stagecoach full of treasure, she needs an escort, and there’s no time to be choosy.

Neal Behlen, a drifting gambler and occasional lady’s man—depending upon the size of the lady’s bank account—has his eye on the contents of Lady Sapphire’s mysterious steamer trunks. Taking on the job as her temporary bodyguard seems a lucrative venture and a pleasant diversion, since he plans to work in bedroom benefits along the way.

The price of their business arrangement is steep—their hearts—and both are reluctant to pay. What they need is a gift of Christmas hope, but will it arrive before it’s too late for love?

 

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Excerpt

What brings you to the north Texas prairie with winter coming on?”

“For the past many years, I’ve returned home during the Christmas season, but not necessarily by the same route. There are those who are curious enough about the rumored contents of the trunks I carry with me to lay in wait and attempt to rob me if I become complacent in my habits and predictable in my routine.”

“What do people think you have in your trunks?”

“Treasure.” Her eyebrows went up, and the corners of her mouth twitched in a playful grin.

“The way you say it… Sounds mysterious.”

She smiled, sipped again, and then put the cup on the table. “No mystery, Mr. Behlen. What one person considers treasure is another’s rubbish.”

“Neal. My first name is Neal.”

“First names are reserved for friends, close acquaintances, and family. You are none of those. Few are privy to my name, and you are not among the chosen few.”

He tipped his whiskey glass to her, chuckling. “Then why did you wait for me to come to your table? For all you know, I want your treasure.”

She assessed him for many long, thoughtful moments. “Mr. Behlen, there are gamblers and then there are gamblers, and world of gambling is actually quite small. I make it my business to know who rank among those in the latter category. As a gambler with considerable talent at the poker table you, are highly regarded, and I wanted to meet you to learn for myself if you are as notorious in person as the rumors I’ve heard.”

Neal squinted with the feeling this wasn’t going to be complimentary. “Notorious in what regard?”

“I’ll put it this way. If you would master your penchant for living off the charity of rich women and tend to the game of poker instead, you are of a caliber to compete in the European gambling circles where there is real money to be had—by a real player.”

He was right; it wasn’t a compliment. He wouldn’t deny it, nor was he abandoning the prospect of her being his next well-to-do woman he’d spent a few months with before she tired of him. He had nothing to offer a woman other than charm, bedroom prowess, and willingness to show her a good time—on her money.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Wild West Christmas


Two action packed holiday Western stories by award-winning author Livia J. Washburn.

Blue Norther

Hired gun Lucas Hallam has been outnumbered plenty of times, but when he comes upon a necktie party for a young boy accused of cattle rustling, he has to step into danger once more—even with the odds stacked against him. No one should hang on Christmas Eve.

When the nearby cattle stampede, it looks like things can’t get any worse. But the weather is turning deadly, and if they don’t get the cattle to shelter—as well as themselves—everything will be lost. Can Hallam protect them from the coming BLUE NORTHER?

A Creature Was Stirring

Mistaken for a “skookum”, Buffalo Newcomb is shot by a young boy, Tom Villard, as he stops by a creek to fish. When he comes to in a small cabin, Buffalo is grateful to realize that the boy’s mother, Ella, has removed the bullet and he has a safe place to recover.

It’s Christmas Eve, and A CREATURE WAS STIRRING—Buffalo can only hope he’s strong enough to keep it from destroying the woman who has shown him only kindness.

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Excerpt

The bullet came out of nowhere and hit Buffalo Newcomb as he straightened from the spot where he'd been kneeling beside a fast-flowing creek. He'd been trying to reach into the water and grab one of the trout that swam by, tantalizing him. For such a big man, his hands were incredibly fast.

The impact was like a hammer blow on the back of his left shoulder. It made him stumble forward, and since he was a little off-balance to start with, he had no chance to catch himself. He toppled forward into the creek with a huge splash.

"I got him! I got me a skookum!"