It’s coming! A whole new western historical romance series, Hot on the Trail! Come travel west with brave women and intrepid men out to build new lives for themselves.
Up first, the journey begins with Trail of Kisses: Hot on the Trail, Book 1 – “He has sworn to protect her, but who will protect him from her?”
Independence, Missouri – 1862
At the first glimpse Lynne Tremaine had of the line of wagons that would take her west across the prairie to Denver City, her heart sank. As far as she could see, big, bulky ‘prairie schooners’ with covered beds, driven by teams of dull-eyed oxen cluttered the starting-off point at the end of town, lowing as if anxious to get moving. Hawkers shouting about their wares in a last-minute attempt to sell supplies to plainly dressed pioneers added to the din of the oxen. Wagon’s creaked as they inched toward the line their trail boss was trying to make to impose order, horses clopped, and children shrieked as they vented their excitement. It was almost more than Lynne could bear.
“Please, Papa,” she begged the tall, distinguished man escorting her through the chaos. “Please don’t make me go.”
Judge Thomas Tremaine patted his daughter’s hand even as he sent suspicious looks darting through the crowd of travelers. “Now, now, Lynne, we’ve discussed this. It’s safer for you to accept your Uncle George and Aunt Edna’s invitation to move to Denver City.”
“We did not discuss this and it certainly isn’t safer,” Lynne argued. She was too old to pout, but if she had to thrust out her bottom lip in a moue to get her father to see things her way, well then, she had to do it. “We don’t know who any of these people are. How is it safer to send me off to the middle of nowhere with a mob of strangers?”
Judge Tremaine stopped and turned to her, leaning closer. “My dear heart, you know the threats that have been made against us, against you. The Briscoe Boys are not some mischievous ruffians out to pull pranks. They are a vicious, organized gang. They’ve killed men, they’ve burned farms, they’ve….” He left off as if the rest was too horrible to speak aloud. “Sentencing two of them to death this winter was just and right,” he went on, “but if I had known they would see justice as a call to threaten my family, to threaten you, well, I would have still passed the sentence, but I would have taken precautions before the verdict instead of after.”
“But I can take care of myself, Papa,” Lynne argued. “I always could. When we moved to St. Louis, when Mama died, when the war broke out. I’ve always been able to take care of myself.”
Her father smiled, pride beaming from him. “Yes, you have. My brave girl.”
Lynne’s heart swelled, in spite of the fact that he was still calling her at girl when she was twenty-two. She loved him so.
“The Briscoe Boys won’t come anywhere near me if I stay home, you’ll see,” she said.
Her father sighed and took her arm, starting forward through the rows of wagons once more. “If only it were that easy, my dearest. When explicit threats are made to slit the throats of all of my children one by one, starting with the oldest, I can’t pretend that the threat is nothing. George and Edna have established themselves well in Denver City. They own a mining company and have done quite well for themselves, in spite of a few set-backs. You’ll be happy there.”
They dodged around a group of running, laughing children and past a wagon full of rough, wiry men who watched them with curiosity.
“How can you say that, Papa? I’ll be hundreds of miles away from you, from Robert and Graham, from Violet and the boys,” Lynne said.
“Robert and Graham are off fighting for the Union,” her father said and shook his head. “A part of me thinks that Violet and the boys would be safer going with you then staying with me.”
“We would all be better off together, as a family,” Lynne insisted.
“If only we could,” her father said. “Now, here we are.”
They stopped in front of a wagon that looked, for all intents and purposes, like every other wagon in the sea of the train spreading out around them. It was long and sturdy-looking with large, metal-rimmed wheels and a thick cover over tall loops. Through the opening in the back, Lynne could see the trunks she’d been forced to pack in the last week. All of the clothes that could fit were folded into a large black trunk while anything else she had wanted to take, from books to boots to sewing supplies, were crammed into a wooden hope chest. The wagon was stuffed with other boxes as well, crates and barrels of supplies for the journey and a few boxes that her father was sending to George. The sight of it all made Lynne’s shoulders sag in defeat.
Keep watching for more sneak peeks in advance of the October 27th release date!
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