Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Simple Secrets: The Harmony Series: The Gunsmith's Gallantry

Simple Secrets: The Harmony Series
by Nancy Mehl
From Coffee Time Romance:

Nancy Mehl's descriptions bring the small town to life, and I found myself wanting to visit and get a taste of the simple life. Sam is a strong, very likable hero, whom you cannot help but be a little sweet on. Watching Gracie fall for the town and its people, especially her next door neighbor, is so realistic it is like witnessing your friend falling in love. The mystery had balance of tension and levity without being too easy or hard to solve. Overall, I found this to be a delightful suspense story with just the right amount of romance.

Simple Secrets
Can graphic designer Gracie Temple have it all: the big city life and a job at a successful advertising firm? Just when she feels life coming together she receives an unknown uncle's inheritance in a quiet Kansas Mennonite community. The house comes with a dark legacy. A letter left for Gracie from the uncle she never met reveals a secret that could destroy her family.

As Gracie struggles with what to do, she meets a cast of interesting neighbors, including farmer Sam Goodrich. Sam is everything she doesn't want. So why does she feel drawn to him? Will Gracie find a way to save the people she loves, or will Harmony pull her into its web of secrets?

Excerpt from Chapter Four: Gracie has come to the small town of Harmony, Kansas, to sell the property her Old Order Mennonite uncle left for her. In her uncle's house, she finds a letter addressed to her stuck in an old Bible.

My eyes rested on the letter lying on Benjamin's desk. Might as well get it over with. Funny how I dreaded reading it even more now that I knew about the similarities I shared with my uncle. Would my opinion of him be altered? And if so, which way would it go? I scolded myself for trying to anticipate something I couldn't possibly know anything about unless I actually got enough gumption to open the envelope. I moved the lamp to a small table next to the rocking chair, picked up the letter, and sat down. With trembling fingers, I pulled out the sheets of paper, unfolded them, and began to read:

Dearest Niece Grace,

It is difficult to write this letter for many reasons. First of all, I am unsure that you have even honored my bequest.

I am aware that this letter might fall into different hands than yours. I placed it within our family Bible, believing that only a family member would discover it. I pray my assumption proves correct. However, since I cannot be sure of the outcome, it is with great trepidation that I pen these words.

First of all, I must tell you that although my family believes I have rejected them, I assure you I have not. I love them deeply and miss them. It is true that they have chosen to leave the old ways, but I cannot judge them right or wrong for this. God's love transcends our habits and choices. The reason for my separation from them is for motives they have never been made aware of. However, as I am dying and will not be able to protect them much longer from a terrible secret that has held me captive all these years, I have no choice but to pass it to someone else. And unfortunately, that person, my dear niece, must be you.

I cannot see into the future, and I don't know you, so I have no idea if you will be able to discover and navigate a path never found by me. However, my conscience will not allow me to die with this secret buried beneath years of deceit and lies. I have asked God's forgiveness for keeping it to myself—and for my part in it. But even with that forgiveness, justice has still not been served. Perhaps it never will. Unfortunately, you will now have to decide the matter.

I pray your choices will be better than mine have been.

Reading by the light of the old lamp proved difficult, and my uncle's cramped script wasn't easy to read. His words filled me with a sense of dread. Either I was about to find out something I was pretty certain I didn't want to know—or I would discover that my poor deranged uncle had fallen way off his wooden rocker. With a sense of misgiving I turned the letter over and once again held it near the flickering lamplight.

Many years ago, an evil man lived in Harmony. Maybe you think I am being dramatic by using the word evil, but I assure you that this man epitomizes the term. On the night my brother, Daniel, your father, planned to leave town with Beverly Fischer, the young woman who would become your mother, Jacob Glick was killed. No one in Harmony knows this. They believe he left town because he was so disliked. All these years I have been the only person who knew the truth. Now I must pass it on to you. Sadly, it is yours to bear alone.

You see, I found Jacob's body that night. He'd been struck on the head with a large rock that still lay near his feet. The force of the blow took his life. I buried his body, the bloody rock, and a suitcase filled with his belongings amid the grove of trees on our property. His body lies there still.

I had to read the last paragraph several times to be certain I understood its meaning. My uncle had buried a body—here? A feeling of cold fear moved through me. I tried to tell myself that he was sick and that this letter was the result of his illness. But the thoughts seemed so well constructed and clear of confusion. With dismay, I continued to read.

You are probably asking yourself why I would do some-thing like this. Why would I bury the body of a man who obviously lost his life by the hand of another and spend the rest of my days separated from my family, afraid to leave this property because the truth might be revealed? The answer will shock you, my dear niece, but I cannot keep the matter hidden any longer. It is because the man who killed Jacob Glick was my brother—your father, Daniel.

"This isn't true," I whispered into the dark corners of the room. "My father would never do something like that." My fingers trembled so much as I attempted to refold the horrible letter, I dropped it on the floor. All I could do was stare at it. It couldn't be true. It had to be the rantings of a man sick not only in his body but also in his soul.

You can buy "Simple Secrets" at your local bookstore. It is also available at or For more information about Nancy Mehl and to see a trailer for "Simple Secrets," visit Nancy's Web site at Do not reproduce without permission.

* * *

The Gunsmith's Gallantry
By Susan Page Davis

The feisty ladies of Fergus, Idaho are back to protect their own and promote romance.
The second book in the Ladies' Shooting Club series is a fast-paced, laugh-out-loud-funny love story. The characters are lovable, quirky and fun to read about. Davis has scored another hit!

(Patsy Glans, RT Book Reviews )

The shy gunsmith has problems—women problems! Hiram Dooley's sister Gert is about to leave

him to get married—if Sheriff Ethan Chapman would ever propose; his sister-in-law, Rose, thinks Hiram should marry her, since they're both widowed; and the woman he truly loves, Libby Adams, is blind to his regard. Schoolmarm Isabel Fennel has a different problem—a man claiming to be her uncle came to town…and then disappeared. Can Hiram and the sheriff, along with Libby and the other members of the Ladies' Shooting Club, discover what's behind the mysterious events in Fergus?

About the author: Award-winning author Susan Page Davis is a mother of six who lives in Kentucky with her husband, Jim. She worked as a newspaper correspondent for more than twenty-five years in addition to home-schooling her children. She's published thirty novels in historical romance, cozy mystery, and romantic suspense.

"Wait, Hiram!"

The gunsmith paused on the board sidewalk and turned around.

Maitland Dostie left the doorway of his tiny office and shouted at him, waving a piece of paper. "

Got a message for ya."

Hiram arched his eyebrows and touched a hand to his chest in question.

The gray-haired telegraph operator smiled and clomped along the walk toward him, shaking his head. "Yes, you, Mr. Dooley. Just because you haven't had a telegram in the last five years and more doesn't mean you'll never get one."

Hiram swallowed down a lump of apprehension and reached a cautious hand for the paper.

"What do I owe you?"

"Nothing. It was paid for on the other end."

It still seemed he ought to give him something, but maybe that was only if a messenger boy brought the telegram around to the house. Hiram nodded. "Thanks. Where's it from?"

"Whyn't you look and see?"

Hiram wanted to say, "Because if it's from Maine, it's probably bad news." His parents were getting along in years, and he couldn't think of a reason anyone would part with enough hard cash to send him a telegram unless somebody'd up and died.

But Hiram rarely spent more words than he had to, and Dostie had already gotten more out of him than usual. Besides, if someone in the family had died, the telegraph operator would know it, and wouldn't he look a little sadder if that were so? Hiram nodded and tucked the paper inside his vest, so it wouldn't fly away in the cool May wind that whistled up off the Idaho prairie. He walked home, stepping a little faster than previously, certain that Dostie watched him.

At the path to his snug little house, between the jail and a vacant store building, he turned in and hurried to the back. Maybe he'd ought to look. If it was bad news, he'd have to tell his sister, Trudy. Undecided, he mounted the steps and opened the kitchen door. A spicy smell of baking welcomed him, along with Trudy's smile.

"Just in time. I'm taking out the molasses cookies and putting in the dried apple pies." She bent before the open oven.

The woodstove had warmed the kitchen to an almost uncomfortable level. Hiram hung his hat on its peg and headed for the water bucket and wash basin. No use trying to get cookies from Trudy unless he'd washed his hands.

"Did Zachary Harper pay you?"

"No, he says he'll come by next week."


Hiram shrugged. Trudy got a little mama-bearish on his behalf when folks didn't come forth with cash for his work on their firearms, but he knew Zach would pay him eventually. It wasn't worth fussing over. As she peeled hot cookies off the baking sheet with a long, flat spatula, the soap shot out of his hand and skated across the clean floor. Thankful it hadn't slid under the hot stove, he walked to the corner and bent to retrieve it. The paper in his vest crackled.

"Oh, I 'most forgot." He corralled the soap and returned it to its dish. After a good rinsing, he dried his hands, fished out the folded yellow sheet of paper, and laid it on the table.

"What's that?" She stopped with the narrow spatula in midair, a hot, floppy cookie drooping over its edges.


"What's it say?"

He rescued the crumbling cookie and juggled it from one hand to the other. "Don't know." He blew on it until it was cool enough that it wouldn't burn him and popped half into his mouth. The warm sweetness hit the spot, and he felt less anxious.

Trudy set the cookie sheet down and balled her hands into fists. She put them to her hips, though she still held the spatula in one. "What's the matter with you? Why didn't you read it?"

He shrugged. How to tell his younger sister that he hadn't wanted to be smacked with bad news while the telegraph operator watched him?

"It's windy out."

She scowled at him.

"I didn't want it to blow away. Read it if you want." He reached for another cookie. "Is Ethan coming over tonight?"

"What do you think?"

Hiram smiled. The sheriff spent a disproportionate amount of time at the Dooley house these days, but he didn't mind. Ethan Chapman was a good man.

Trudy still eyed the telegram as though she expected it to rear back and sprout fangs and a tail rattle.

"Go ahead and read it," Hiram said, feeling a little guilty at putting the task off on her.

"If it's addressed to you, then you do it."

He sighed and laid his cookie aside. It would be better with milk, anyway. He wiped his hands on his dungarees and picked up the paper. As he opened it, he quickly scanned the message for the "from" part and frowned. Why on earth would Rose Caplinger send him a message all the way from Maine?

"What?" Trudy asked.

He held it out to her. "It's Rose."

"Violet's sister?"

Hiram nodded. "She wants to visit, I guess." He should have read it more closely, but the idea of his opinionated sister-in-law descending on them was enough to make a bachelor quake. He and his bride, Violet, had traveled West twelve years ago, in part for the opportunities that beckoned them, but also in part to escape her pushy family. If Rose hadn't bothered to come after Violet died, why on earth would she take it into her head to visit a decade later? "We'll have to tell her not to come."

Trudy's eyebrows drew together as she studied the paper. "Too late, Hi. She's already in Boise."

Copyright 2010 by Susan Page Davis.
Visit Susan at her Web site: Her books can be purchased Christian Book Distributors (, Barnes & Noble (, Amazon (, and fine bookstores everywhere.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

A Matter of Character


by Robin Lee Hatcher

Historical Romance

June 2010

Who says a woman can’t keep a secret?It's 1918, and Daphne McKinley, heiress to a small fortune, has found contentment in the town of Bethlehem Springs. But Daphne has a secret.A series of dime novels loosely based on local lore and featuring a nefarious villain known as Rawhide Rick has enjoyed modest popularity among readers. Nobody in Bethlehem Springs
knows the man behind the stories … except Daphne.When newspaperman Joshua Crawford comes to town searching for the man who sullied the good name of his grandfather, Daphne finds herself at a crossroads, reassessing the power of her words, re-thinking how best to honor her gifts, and reconsidering what she wants out of life.

View the book trailer here:

About the Author:
The author of over 60 books, best-selling novelist Robin Lee Hatcher is known for her heartwarming and emotionally charged stories of faith, courage, and love. She makes her home in Idaho where she enjoys spending time with her family and her high-maintenance Papillon, Poppet. She invites you to drop by her web site and her Facebook Page to learn more about her and her books.

Web site:


Wednesday, June 23, 2010



Robin Lee Hatcher

Who says a woman can't keep a secret?

It's 1918, and Daphne McKinley, heiress to a small fortune, has found contentment in the town of Bethlehem Springs. But Daphne has a secret. A series of dime novels loosely based on local lore and featuring a nefarious villain known as Rawhide Rick has enjoyed modest popularity among readers. Nobody in Bethlehem Springs knows the man behind the stories … except Daphne. When newspaperman Joshua Crawford comes to town searching for the man who sullied the good name of his grandfather, Daphne finds herself at a crossroads, reassessing the power of her words, re-thinking how best to honor her gifts, and reconsidering what she wants out of life.

"In the third Sisters of Bethlehem Springs book, the characters are smart, feisty and do not care a hoot about what society thinks of them. Hatcher always pleases readers with her portrayal of strong, independent women." — RT Book Reviews



St. Louis, Missouri, August 1918

Propelled by a white hot fury, Joshua Crawford pushed open the door to Gregory Halifax's office so hard it hit the wall with a loud wham. Startled, Gregory looked up a split second before Joshua slapped the newspaper onto the desk.

"What is this garbage?" Joshua demanded.

Gregory's expression changed from one of surprise to a smirk. "So you read it."

"Of course I read it, and I'm here to demand a retraction."

"A retraction? For what?"

"For what you wrote about my grandfather."

Gregory laughed softly. "You must be joking. The article is about dime novelists. The part about Richard Terrell was the words of the author, not mine."

"But you made what Mr. Morgan wrote in his novels sound as if it was fact rather than fiction. It's not."

"How do you know it's not? Tell me. What do you know about your grandfather before he settled in St. Louis? Nothing, that's what. You've said so yourself."

"Did you contact anyone in Idaho to try to confirm that the character in Morgan's books is based on the real Richard Terrell?

"I didn't need to. I interviewed the publishers for my story. And again, the focus of my article is the men who write dime novels, not on the characters found in their books."

"But in the process you've dragged my grandfather's good name through the mud. I want a retraction."

Gregory pushed back his chair and stood, the smile gone from his face. "When you prove anything I wrote is in error, then come see me again, and we'll have this discussion. Until then, get out."

For one moment, Joshua thought he might be able to control his temper. For one very brief moment—just before he caught Gregory's jaw with a right hook followed by a left jab to the gut. Gregory flew backward into the wall. The glass in the office door rattled again. Joshua readied himself for the other man to fight back. To his dissatisfaction, it didn't happen. Gregory's eyes were still unfocused when more men poured into the office and grabbed Joshua by the arms, hauling him away. One of the men was Joshua's boss, Langston Lee.

"You're fired, Crawford. Collect your things and get out. I won't have my reporters brawling. You hear me. Get out or I'll call the police."

Joshua longed to turn his rage onto his boss, to give Langston Lee a little of what he'd already given Gregory Halifax. But he had enough good sense left to resist the urge. He was already out of a job. He didn't want to spend time in a jail cell besides.

But so help him, he would get a retraction out of this newspaper. He would prove Gregory Halifax was a shoddy reporter and see that he was fired. He would hear Langston Lee apologize. And he would make certain D. B. Morgan never again maligned his grandfather in print.

This wasn't over yet.


Chapter One

Bethlehem Springs, October 1918

Maybe it was time to kill Rawhide Rick. He'd served his purpose, the old rascal. He'd hunted buffalo and fought Indians and stolen gold from hardworking miners and sent men to the gallows. Now might be the time for him to meet his Maker. The trick was deciding how to kill him.

Daphne McKinley rose from her desk and walked into the parlor, where she pushed aside the curtains at the window.

A golden haze blanketed Bethlehem Springs. It had been a beautiful autumn. The prettiest one yet in her three years in this serene Idaho mountain town. The trees had been the brightest of golds, the most fiery of reds, the deepest of greens. Daphne had spent many a mild afternoon walking trails through the forest, enjoying the colors and the smells.

If Rawhide Rick—who by this point in the series of books had become the infamous Judge Richard Terrell—was dead, what would become of the dashing Bill McFarland, hero of The McFarland Chronicles? Without his arch enemy, his life might become rather dull. Or perhaps it was Daphne who would find life dull without Rawhide Rick. Wicked he was, but he certainly kept things interesting whenever he was around.

She rubbed her eyelids with the tips of her fingers, and when she pulled them away, she noticed ink stains on her right hand. Her fountain pen was leaking. Perhaps it was time to buy a typewriter. But would writing on a machine feel the same?

Daphne turned from the window, her gaze sweeping the parlor. She'd come to love this small house on Wallula Street. Since moving into it soon after Gwen—its previous owner—married Daphne's brother, she'd delighted in making it her home, decorating and furnishing it in ways that pleased her. Daphne's childhood homes had been large and filled with servants waiting to attend to her slightest wish. But she had often been forced to live by the timetables of others. Now she could do as she willed, when she willed. The freedom she enjoyed was intoxicating.

The best part was when she wanted to be with family, she got into her motorcar—her very own, quite wonderful McLaughlin-Buick—and drove to her brother's home to play with her young nephew and infant niece. She was completely dotty over the two of them. She loved to crawl around on the floor with Andy—he would turn two at the end of November—the both of them squealing and giggling. And there was nothing like cuddling three-month-old Ellie. Daphne thought the baby girl smelled like sunshine.

A sigh escaped her. She hadn't time for daydreaming about Morgan's and Gwen's darling children. She must decide what to do. If she was going to kill the judge, she needed to notify Elwood Shriver at once. Wavering in indecisiveness served no good purpose.


Copyright 2010, Robin Lee Hatcher
Do not reproduce without permission from the author.

A MATTER OF CHARACTER is available on-line at (, ( and other on-line retailers, as well as in local bookstores everywhere. To obtain autographed bookplates or for more information about books by Robin Lee Hatcher, visit her web site at

By Stephen Bly

"I have always been a fan of Louis L'Amour but I must say your book is as good if not better than anything of his. I shall remain a fan of Stephen Bly." Jimmy Dickens, Grand Ole Opry

"Bly offers a kinder, gentler Western that should appeal to fans of Louis L'Amour." Library Journal

Summary of Cowboy For A Rainy Afternoon:
A 10-year-old boy with red straw cowboy hat, cap gun, and silver-painted wooden bullets. Six story-telling, cribbage playing old cowboys. A '49 Plymouth with open trunk. A damsel in distress. All the fixings for a summer's day adventure at the Matador Hotel in 1954 Albuquerque. Maybe you weren't born 100 years too late!


The Matador Hotel died on July 5th, 1965, but they didn't bother burying it until last fall.

New Mexico heat blanketed Albuquerque that July like too many covers in a stuffy cabin. The kind of day that you sweat from the inside out and feel sticky dirt in places that you don't ponder much except in the shower. I reckon that four-bladed overhead fan that squeaked like an unfed cat failed to console Shorty McGuire. Doc Boyce said he passed on durin' the night, but no one discerned it until they observed the empty back table at the Round-Up Café. For the last nineteen years of his life, Shorty lived in a second-floor room at The Matador. At straight up 6:00 a.m. ever' mornin' he ate two eggs fried hard under the faded picture of Theodore Roosevelt leading the Rough Riders up San Juan Hill.

As a boy, I calculated that Shorty McGuire and the others must be pushing a hundred-years-old when I met them for the first time in 1954.

I reckon I surmised wrong.

The Albuquerque Herald reported that Hadley (Shorty) McGuire was only 86 when he died on that July day in 1965. The Herald is right most of the time.

As the last of that bunch at the Matador, there was no one left to take his
trappings, so Whip Johnson and me cleaned out Shorty's goods a few days after his funeral. Whip managed the hotel in the 60s for his Uncle Durwood Johnson who gained some fame in the Southwest on the rodeo circuit after the war. He won the hotel on a bet on a black half-thoroughbred stallion down in Magdalena.

The floor of Shorty's little room with one four-pane slide-up window was carpeted solid with six to eight inches of newspapers, not a one newer than 1939. He claimed that cowboyin' didn't provide the time to read much, so he saved them for his retirement. I never did know if he got caught up.

We didn't have the nerve to give his tattered clothing to the Rescue Mission, so we chucked them into the hotel incinerator. We crated his boots, wooly chaps and battered Stetson, then donated them to the state museum. I had a notion they would want to display the gear of an old-time cowboy. But they stored them in a back room for a few years, then sold them at an auction to raise money for a modern art statue that looks like the scrap-iron pile out behind my barn. If I'd known they were selling Shorty's belongings, I'd have bought those suckers myself and buried them, rather than let some car dealer in Denver drive off with `em. But that's the way the past is. You can't hang on to it all. What survives gets stolen by strangers who have no blasted idea of what they hold in their hands.

The tobacco-stained furniture in Shorty's room belonged to the hotel, but Whip decided to replace it all and re-carpet. So they moved in newer furniture, but I don't think the room was ever repainted. Whip and me always thought that room smelled like Lordsburg, but that might be its location on the south side of the hotel, facing the Santa Fe tracks.

I never went back to the hotel after that day. The hippies ran it in the early 70s, then some drug dealers. I think one of them big moving companies bought the place and used it for storage for a decade or two before they tore it down last year. All them red bricks got shipped to the west side for deluxe estate fencing around an upscale gated community. I hear they decided to build urban condos on the old hotel site for rich city folks, but I can't figure what kind of people would want to live in downtown Albuquerque.

At least, not nowadays.

I still have Shorty's rim-fire saddle hangin' in my tack room. It was one of the first ones Estaban Chavez built, when he still had that shop behind the Chinese laundry in Las Cruces. Lots of folks have wanted to buy it over the years, but it doesn't belong to me. Some day Shorty's kin will show up wantin' his things, and I'll have it ready. I keep the leather oiled. Shorty died almost forty years ago, but I'll hang onto it for him.

That's the way things are done around this part of the country.

It's one of the lessons I learned in the lobby of the Matador Hotel.

Excerpt from Cowboy For A Rainy Afternoon by Stephen Bly, Copyright©2010 by Stephen Bly.

All rights reserved. Do Not Reproduce Without Permission

Cowboy For A Rainy Afternoon (hardback, Center Point Publishing, June 2010) Support your local bookstore! Ask them to order Cowboy For A Rainy Afternoon from Ingram Distributors or order online through or or your local library.

Stephen Bly is at work on his 103rd novel. He is a Christy Award winner for westerns. He also co-authors with wife, Janet Chester Bly. Father of 3 married sons, he enjoys time with his 3 grandchildren, collecting antique Winchesters, and playing golf. They live in a small town in north Idaho on the Nez Perce Indian Reservation where he's pastor of the only church. More information about Stephen Bly and his books can be found at his blog or websites: and

Monday, June 14, 2010

Her Abiding Joy

Final book in the Texas Star of Destiny series
Her Abundant Joy
Avon Inspire
ISBN # 978-0061373428
Tagline: Can a beautiful young widow find peace in the arms of a Texas Ranger?

In 1846, young widow Mariel Wolfe survived the grueling voyage from Germany to start a new life in the "promised" land of Texas. Forced by circumstances to become a servant, Mariel is now determined to quit a harsh master. But how can a single woman face the frontier on her own?

Texas Ranger Carson Quinn is responsible for leading her party of German immigrants safely through dangerous Comanche-held territory. As he watches Mariel hold her head high in spite of everything, he will stop at nothing to protect her.

But war is brewing: Mexico will not accept the U.S. annexation of the young Texas Republic without a fight. Honor bound to fight for Texas, Carson's deepest longing is to lay down his rifle. As Mariel and Carson fall deeply in love, could her painful past or this new war destroy all their hopes? Will the tide of history sweep them far from peace, far from a life together?

Lyn Cote
Her Abundant Joy 6-1-10
Every woman has a story! Share yours.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Texas Star of Destiny; Her Abundant Joy

Texas Star of Destiny
By Lyn Cote

Can a beautiful young widow find peace in the arms of a Texas Ranger?

"Her Abundant Joy is a wonderfully satisfying finale to Lyn Cote's fascinating saga of Texas history. Riveting, engaging, unpredictable, it brings to the forefront a frightened and vulnerable German immigrant and a Texas Ranger whose family survived the turbulent years by grace and grit, faith and fortune. Not to be missed!"KATHY HERMAN, author of the Phantom Hollow and Sophie Trace Trilogies

In 1846, young German widow Mariel Wolfe comes start a new life in the "promised" land of Texas. Texas Ranger Carson Quinn is responsible for leading her party of immigrants through dangerous Comanche-held territory. As he watches Mariel hold her head high, he will stop at nothing to protect her. But war is brewing: Mexico will not accept the U.S. annexation of the young Texas Republic without a fight. Honor bound to fight for Texas, Carson's deepest longing is to lay down his rifle. As Mariel and Carson fall deeply in love, could her painful past or this new war destroy all their hopes?

Chapter One

Texas, April 1846Gazing ahead through the pouring rain, Carson Quinn tried to take a deep breath and couldn't. Searing tightness in his chest reminded him--he hadn't been able to blot out the images. Images the past week with Blanche had blistered into his mind, knotted around his lungs. Late on his second day in the saddle, all he was looking forward to was a hot bath and a warm bed at one of Galveston's inns, comfort for his body if not his spirit.

Draped within the dismal mist, he nudged his horse to churn quicker through mud and murky puddles over the last half-mile into the seaport. Amid the jumble of buildings, strange people clogged the streets. He pulled up on his reins. Something had happened here. Something out of the ordinary. Something that might force him out of his own misery into the misery of others.

People huddled under dripping trees, under canvas, and standing under the overhanging roofs of stores, everyone drenched. Rainwater funneled down his leather hat as he steered his horse through the throng. Those who peered up at him looked pale, forlorn and sickly. They weren't dressed like Texans, or even Americans—
He inhaled a shallow breath. He still thought of Americans as separate from Texas, from him. But Texas was part of the US now. Had been for over two months.

Who were these people?
He scanned the crowd and could not pick out any man who appeared to be in charge. Not that he could tell—they weren't speaking any language Carson spoke.

Finally, he saw someone he recognized. He hailed the man, a former Ranger named Tunney, and drew up beside him. "Hey!"

Tunney, a tall big-boned man with weathered folds on his tanned face, halted and then waved in recognition. "Come!" He motioned for Carson to get down and accompany him inside the nearby cantina. Carson complied, tying his horse to the hitching rail. He realized he could breathe a bit deeper. It was good to see a face he knew, a man he'd patrolled with.

Inside, Carson found Tunney waiting for him at the bar with a mug of ale ready for him. Tunney smiled—a real smile of welcome. Nothing like the false ones Carson had endured these past few days . . .

Shaking phantom memories off, Carson drank deep and then got down to business. "Who are all these people?"

"They're from Germany, from what I hear. Only they don't call themselves Dutch but doit-cha." Tunney's mouth twisted as he tried to pronounce the word. "Been here over a week now."

"That's fine and good, but what are they doing hanging around town, clogging the streets?"
"All the drivers and their freighter wagons are off supplying the US Army."

"All of them?" Carson paused, his cup right under his nose. He drew in the yeasty smell of the mild home-brew. He'd known the US Army had come to Texas, but not that it would cause this.

Tunney chuckled. "You didn't expect the Mexicans to be happy that Texas has been annexed by the US? I guess Polk is letting the Mexicanos know that the US won't stand for them invading Texas, now it's US Territory. General Zachary Taylor is at the Rio Grande. Haven't you kept up?"
Carson drank some more ale. He'd been busy fighting Comanche this year, far from newspapers. And then at the wedding, his misery had sucked away most everything else and left behind only consuming pain. "I've been out patrolling and then . . . some family business came up." He shut his mind to the taunting images. "I didn't see a newspaper till I got to San Felipe." And I didn't pay too much attention to it then. Nothing much else had mattered to him at San Felipe.

"That's right." Tunney raised his voice, talking over an explosion of laughter at the end of the bar. "Your mother has family there."

Yeah, family. Carson nodded, but refused to elaborate. "So these people are just stuck here?"
"Yeah, they aren't happy about it, and neither are the townspeople. The Germans don't seem to have money to buy shelter or food. Some of them speak English but most don't. A bad business."
Carson shrugged, feeling suddenly flat inside. It was as if he'd reached the point where he couldn't muster any more emotion. This past week he'd experienced too much but all under cover. Pride had forced him to hold it all back in silence. This made the emotions somehow more powerful, more devastating. Even now.
Ignoring this, he chatted with Tunney about the whereabouts of other mutual friends. When he'd gleaned all the information Tunney had, he bid his fellow Ranger good-bye and headed back out into the soggy day to find a bath and bed in an inn.

He'd just stepped through the door when he was met by a commotion. A mere two feet from him, a woman obviously in the family way collapsed. Carson darted forward and lifted her limp body from the muddy ground.
"Ma'am? Ma'am?" He shook her a little, but she didn't react.

By then he'd been surrounded by people all shouting at him in what must be German. He didn't waste any time. Barreling across the miry street, he entered the nearest inn. "I need a room!" he bellowed at the pot-bellied innkeeper who was just coming down the stairs. "Now! I'm a Ranger!"
That last bit worked. What a Ranger wanted in Texas, he got. Within minutes, Carson was laying the woman down on a bed upstairs. Another woman had followed him and wouldn't let the innkeeper push her out.

Carson turned. "Leave her. Send for a doctor!"

The innkeeper left, grumbling loud and long, but Carson didn't doubt that he would do what was asked.

He took a moment to eye the other woman. She was very small and thin and reminded him of his mother and foster sister with her flaxen hair and pale skin.

The woman bobbed several curtseys. "Danke, mein herr." Then she inched toward the woman and took her hand.
Still dripping, Carson stepped back and took off his hat. He slapped it against his leg, sending droplets everywhere. Then he said, making each word distinct, "I am Carson Quinn."
The pale woman bobbed again. "Ich bin Mariel." She pointed to herself. Then she colored. "I am Mariel. I speak little English."

***Authored by Lyn Cote
To purchase the book or read more stories of strong women, drop by
The whole Texas Star of Destiny series is available now online or in a local library or bookstore. Ask for it!
Copyright 2010--Do not reproduce without permission. Thanks.
* * *

Steeple Hill Love
Inspired Suspense
Big Secrets Secrets series

June, 2010

Roxanne Rustand

"I'll be seeing you again..."

The attacker's words still ring in Deputy Megan Peters' ears. Her attempt to trap a serial rapist terrorizing Lost Falls failed, but she has succeeded in becoming the target of his attention. Undaunted, she moves forward in her investigation, and Scott Anders, the only newcomer in town, draws her suspicion. Is his gentleness just an act? Yet as Megan and Scott grow closer, she finds herself questioning her instincts. What will she believe--her heart, or the evidence against him?


"I won't stop until I find this guy, Anna." Seeing the raw pain in her friend's eyes, Megan Peters took a deep breath and forced back the memories threatening to swamp her. "I promise."

"How?" Anna lashed out, pulling her hands away from Megan's. "I didn't see his face. I don't know who it was, and neither did the other woman who got away. And the two dead girls won't be talking."

The bitterness in Anna's voice stung Megan like a whiplash. "No. But the DNA--"

"Hasn't matched anyone in the system so far, and probably never will, right? This guy will never be caught."

"But it does connect the crimes, so when we get him, we'll be able to send him away for good. There'll be a time when someone picks up on a clue. Someone else who escapes."

They both fell silent, the underlying truth of Megan's words a chilling reminder of the two women who had been raped and murdered within the last six months. If hikers hadn't come by and scared off her attacker, Anna might have been number three.

"We're doing our best," Megan added quietly. "And we will get him."
It wasn't an idle promise, and Megan could only hope Anna believed it. The younger woman had been a county 911 dispatcher for five years before resigning last winter, and she'd seen Megan in action. She had to know why this case mattered to Megan so much.

Anna turned away to brace her hands on the windowsill of the tiny Marshall County sheriff's office. "But until he's caught, he'll just continue, and that could go on for the next decade." Her voice rose. "I know how few deputies work this county, remember? Not enough. He could hide up in some remote cabin in the mountains and never be found."

Megan waited a few moments for her to calm down. "He'll start making mistakes. If there's ever anything you can remember, call me, day or night. His shoes. Something in his voice. A gesture--"

Anna spun around to face her, her face pale, a hand at the jagged, healing wound at the base of her neck. The bandages and sutures were gone now, leaving gnarled pink flesh would become a fainter scar in time. But the real wounds--the emotional trauma and deep fear--might
never fully heal.

"I came in because you asked me to, but please don't ask me to come back. It was dark. He didn't speak. Living through it again is more than I can bear."

At the anguish twisting Anna's lovely features, Megan felt a corner of her heart tear. "I'm more sorry than I could ever say, about everything you've been through."

Anna's mouth lifted in a faint, sad smile. "I know you're trying. Look, I-I need to get back home. Lance has to leave for work at three, and I have take care of Jeremy."

Megan watched her old friend zip up her heavy jacket, slip out the front door and limp down the sidewalk to the Sable station wagon parked close by. At the driver's side Anna cast a swift, uneasy glance in both directions, then she slid behind the wheel.

The town was still in off-season until end of May, when the mountain passes cleared, and the area claimed less than four thousand year-around residents. But Megan had no doubt that Anna had hit the locks the second she got into her car.

A routine most local women followed day or night, now that a killer had slipped into their midst.

"Any luck with her?"

At the sound of heavy footsteps and the scent of Old Spice aftershave, she turned to face Hal Porter, the sheriff. She shook her head. "I was hoping she'd had time to sift through what

"She's probably too terrified to speak up."

"I can understand that with the others who escaped after being assaulted. But Anna was a dispatcher, I thought she'd remember something." Megan slashed a hand in the air. "I can't believe the guy could attack without saying a word."

"I agree."

She lifted her eyes to meet Hal's weary gaze. "What kind of animal is he?"

"We'll find him. It's just gonna take time." Hal shook his head slowly as he turned back to his office, his decades of law enforcement clearly weighing more heavily on his shoulders with every passing month.

He didn't have to say it--she'd noticed the far-away look in his eyes, and knew he was contemplating retirement. His wife Greta had been fighting cancer for a long time, and had recently taken early retirement from the local high school. He probably longed to spend his days with her...for whatever time she had left.

But he'd never been a man who'd walk away from trouble. And no matter what, she knew he wanted to retire with this case closed, or he'd feel as if he'd failed.

Hal paused at his desk. "Go home, Megan. I mean it. You've been here well over your twelve hours already."

"It's still not enough." But when he folded his arms across his chest and gave her his trademark, implacable stare, she checked her service belt, pulled the patrol car keys from her pocket, and headed for the back door with a heavy sigh.

Going home now meant another day of failure.

Even after nine years as a county deputy known for being tough and in control, there was one kind of situation that still sent secret waves of nausea and anxiety through Megan's gut. And this time, yet another good friend had been a victim.

Men who preyed on women--whether domestic bullies or the animal now roaming Marshall County--had been a personal vendetta of hers since the day she'd gone into law enforcement, and that would continue until the day she took off her badge.

Megan was going to make sure this case was solved.

And soon.

Roxanne Rustand
The All Creatures Great and Small Blog

Tuesday, June 08, 2010

End Game


Steeple Hill Love Inspired Suspense

Roxanne Rustand

Release: June, 2010

End Game

A new Love Inspired Suspense, End Game by Author Roxanne Rustand.
Here it starts:

"I'll be seeing you again…."

The attacker's words still ring in Deputy Megan Peters's ears. Her attempt to trap the serial rapist terrorizing Lost Falls failed, but she has succeeded in becoming the target of his attention. Undaunted, Megan moves forward in her investigation, and Scott Anders, the only newcomer in town, draws her suspicion. Is his gentleness just an act? Yet as Megan and Scott grow closer, she finds herself questioning her instincts. What will she believe—her heart or the evidence that seems to be mounting against Scott?

First Page:
"I won't stop until I find this guy, Anna." Seeing the raw pain in her friend's eyes, Megan Peters took a deep breath and forced back the memories threatening to swamp her. "I promise."

"How?" Anna lashed out, pulling her hands away from Megan's. "I didn't see his face. I don't know who it was, and neither did the other woman who got away. And the two dead girls won't be talking."

The bitterness in Anna's voice stung Megan as if she'd been slapped. "No. But the DNA—"

"Hasn't matched anyone in the system so far, and probably never will, right? This guy will never be caught."

"But it does connect the crimes, so when we get him, we'll be able to send him away for good. There'll be a time when someone picks up on a clue. Someone else who escapes."

They both fell silent, Megan's words a chilling re minder of the two women who had been raped and murdered within the past six months. If a group of noisy hikers hadn't come by and scared off her attacker, Anna might have been number three."


Drop by Roxanne's blog (see blog roll on lower right) or her website To purchase:

An excerpt is available at:

Author Bio:

This is Roxanne Rustand's twenty-fourth published book, and her seventh since moving into inspirational fiction. Her first manuscript won the Romance Writers of America Golden Heart, and her second was a Golden Heart finalist. One of her books won RT Bookclub Magazine's award for Best Superromance of 2006, and she was nominated for RT's Career Achievement Award in 2005. She has given workshops at national and regional writer's conferences from coast to coast, and also through various online venues.

The first book in this Big Sky Secrets series, FINAL EXPOSURE, won first place in the 2010 WisRWA Writer Touch Readers Award for Inspirational Fiction and is now a finalist in the 2010 Daphne du Maurier Award of Excellence for Inspirational Suspense/Mystery.

Friday, June 04, 2010



Book One of the Brides of Alba

By Linda Windsor

David C. Cook ISBN 1434764788 $14.99

Her mother's dying prophecy to the chieftain Tarlach O'Byrne sentenced Brenna of Gowrys to twenty years of hiding. Twenty years of being hunted—by the O'Byrnes, who fear the prophecy, and by her kinsmen, who expect her to lead them against their oppressors. But Brenna is a trained and gifted healer, not a warrior queen. When she rescues a man badly wounded from an ambush, she believes he may be the answer to her deep loneliness. Healing him comes as easy as loving him. But can their love overcome years of bitterness and greed…and bring peace and renewed faith to the shattered kingdom?

DEAR FRIENDS, Healer is a historical fiction novel, but it is also more. It incorporates into the

page-turning romance and adventure of Brenna and Ronan, many early Christian traditions of the history of our faith and is yet another witness for Christ on issues as pertinent to reaching believers of New Age as it was their old age predecessors. At least that is my hope…to glorify Him.

"In Healer, Linda Windsor combines a knack for thorough research and the skill to draw from it judiciously in telling an engaging story. She weaves together a rich and detailed tapestry of sixth century life in Scotland. Her notes about Arthurian characters, the Grail Palace, and the bibliography are well worth reading. Linda has done her homework and written a fine story." Randy Alcorn, author of Safely Home and Deception

HEALER: Chapter One

From a lofty ledge in the steep slope of the rock cliff, Brenna of Gowrys watched a lone man on the horse pick a cautious route around the lake. The enemy O'Byrnes had ridden off, but this one made his way straight for the thicket where Faol had disappeared. Whatever had possessed the wolf to venture that close to a human? She'd raised him from a pup to be like her, a hermit for the sake of survival.

And, like her, Faol was curious. Hadn't she come out this very day just to see the enemy that hunted her, ignoring her late nurse's warnings? Yet this stranger didn't wear the colors of the O'Byrnes, who'd abandoned him at the pass to hunt her down like wolves after sheep. Perhaps the man was their guest.

Brenna flexed cold-stiffened fingers within the confines of her wrap and drew her fur-lined cloak more closely about her. A season's worth of hunting and skinning paid well in food and warmth. According to her old nurse Ealga, rest her soul, the good Lord put everything on the earth a body might need.

A flash of white amidst the trees below drew Brenna's attention from the stranger with a start.

Faol! The silver-white wolf had circled and was stalking the man again. And to whistle at the beast would certainly draw the stranger's attention.

Though his horse nervously pranced along the bank, the man thankfully appeared oblivious to her pet's proximity. Thanks be to God, the steed could not speak. The increasing wind wrapped the man's cloak about an able and muscular build. Had he a face as fine?

Not that she'd ever know. Brenna shook the morose reminder aside. After the loss of her sole companion Ealga, Brenna was always at war with her faith that God's grace was sufficient, even in loneliness.

The sudden hiss and thud of a flying arrow finding its mark cut made the stranger stiffened, arching backward. The sword fell from his hand as he grabbed in futility at the missile lodged in his back with the other.

Brenna's sharp gaze fixed on the bright red and green fletching of the arrow in disbelief. God's mercy, he's been ambushed!

A figure, garbed in the brown and gray of his surroundings, emerged from the thick forest at the edge of the bog. No clan colors did he boast. Yet the Gowrys' red and green fletching was on his arrows.

As she puzzled, the assailant drew back another deadly shaft and, with a banshee-like howl that caused his prey to turn toward him, let it fly at the staggered stranger. The impact drove the victim backward off the horse's flank. The stranger struck the ground, breaking off the arrow in his back as he rolled over and to his feet and reclaimed his sword in his good hand.

The assailant dashed back into the cover of the wood and emerged a breath later mounted on a brown horse. With another bone-scraping howl, he charged the wounded man. The stranger, no novice to be sure, stood his ground before the pounding hooves of oncoming steed, sword raised.
Metal struck metal, sharp as lightning crossing a summer sky. The deadly predator past his target and turned his horse, its nostrils blowing clouds in the cold air. His weakened prey staggered in a turn for the next onslaught, making no effort to run from the villain who charged at him again.

She had to do something. Brenna unslung her bow, but the distance was too great to ensure a hit. If she missed, she'd expose herself to the same danger. Caution and the urge to help the helpless warred within. She was a healer, not a slayer.

Beyond, the villain rode straight at the stranger. Even if he chose, the stranger could not reach the protection of the trees in time to escape the horse's hooves. Despite his sidestep, the charging animal struck the man a mighty blow, hurling him toward some ice-encrusted brush near the woods' edge.

The stranger dragged himself into the thin cover and reached for a sapling to pull himself to his feet, while the horseman brought his mount to an abrupt, rearing halt and dismounted. Drawing a short sword from his hip, he advanced for the kill.

Brenna leapt to her feet, throwing caution to the wind. But the shout on the tip of her tongue stalled as yet another banshee wail filled the winter hush of the basin—animal, not human.

From out of nowhere, a bolt of snarling, silver-white fur slammed into the assailant, knocking him over like a chess piece. The weapon in his hand flew, harmless, toward the now still man in the brush.

"Faol!" Surprise robbed Brenna's voice of its strength.

The wolf stood over the blade, wedging himself between its owner and the fallen stranger. Teeth bared, his warning growl drifted to where Brenna watched in open-mouthed wonder. Faol had chosen to even the fight, striking both pride and fear for her pet in Brenna's chest.

Would Faol let the burly assailant retreat? If the wolf did and the man fetched the bow Brenna could see clearly slung on the horse, would her wolf have sense enough to run? She searched the landscape beyond the standoff of man and beast. Where were the stranger's companions? How could this be happening?

Exactly as she anticipated, the intruder backed toward his steed for the weapon slung there. She had no choice. Thawing, Brenna drew an arrow from the quiver strapped across her back.
Nocking it, she raised the weapon and pulled back the string. Pausing. She'd never shot a human.

But then, like as not, she'd not hit the man.

Below, the would-be murderer continued to curse the snarling wolf standing between him and his victim's body. Ever so surely, he reached for his quiver of arrows.

Brenna hesitated no more.

Father, send it straight and true, according to Thy will.

* * *


by Winnie Griggs

Widower Graham Lockwood hasn't stepped foot in church since he lost his family. So he can't possibly say yes to his new neighbor's request that he lead the handbell choir. But widowed mother Reeny Landry is so hopeful—and her fatherless children so in need—that Graham agrees to help. Suddenly, the man who closed himself off is coming out of his shell. And he finds himself acting the father figure to Reeny's sweet mute daughter and loner son. But going from neighbor to husband is another matter altogether. Until a loving family teaches Graham to hear the heart's song.

"Griggs pens a terrific and lovely story of two people affected by grief and loss, but with God always there, waiting to help." - 4 ½ stars, Top Pick, Romantic Times review


"So you're really going through with this."

"Yep." Graham Lockwood shoved the last box into his Tahoe without glancing Mike's way. He'd said all he had to say on the subject last night.

"I can't believe you're leaving without telling anyone."

Graham slammed the hatchback shut. "I told you and Carla."

"Not until last night." Mike stared at him accusingly. "You must have had this move planned for a while now."

Graham only shrugged. Interviewing for this job had taken him out of town overnight twice in the past month and it appeared no one had noticed. Not even Mike, who was both his best friend and his brother-in-law. Or was one still considered a brother-in-law when the connecting link was gone?

He pulled his sunglasses out of his pocket and slipped them on. Mike was too perceptive by half.
Mike hunched his shoulders. "I know you needed a break after..." His Adam's apple bobbed.

"well, after what happened."

Graham's jaw tightened. Even fifteen months later, Annie's brother couldn't say the words either.

"You can still reconsider," Mike added. "They haven't filled your position at J.T. Simmons yet. And Patty's ready to step down as the church's music director whenever you say the word."

"J.T. Simmons will find another teacher." Graham checked the back seat to make certain everything was properly secured. "As for the music director job, I meant it when I said I'm no longer interested." He hadn't set foot in a church since the funeral and didn't see that changing anytime soon.

He closed the vehicle door and forced a smile, trying to ease the tension. "Education is my vocation, but music's only a hobby."

"It's a God given gift," Mike insisted stubbornly. Then he gripped the top of the vehicle's driver-side door. "You've got friends here, Graham," he said quietly, "people who care about you. You owe them the chance to say good-bye."

"I don't want a big send off." He'd had enough of the sympathetic looks, the everything's-going-to–be-fine speeches and the pretend-nothing's-changed conversations to last a lifetime.

"But someplace called Ten Penny Ville, Louisiana?" Mike's lips quirked up in a smile that almost looked believable. "Are you trying to hide yourself in the swamps of Cajun country?"

"It's called Tippanyville." Graham nudged his sunglasses higher with the tip of his finger. "And it's closer to central Louisiana than the southern half. As for why I chose Tippanyville - the school there needs a new math teacher and it seems as good a place as any for a fresh start." Truth be told, what he needed was a complete change of scene. Something that didn't shove unwelcome reminders in his face every time he turned around.

He straightened. Time to go. "Give Carla and the boys my love."

Mike took his proffered hand, then impulsively threw his other arm around Graham's shoulder in a quick, masculine embrace before stepping back. "Carla wanted to be here to say good-bye herself. But with Andy running a fever..."

"I know. The kids come first, and that's how it should be." Graham tried to keep his tone even, but from the flicker in Mike's expression he knew he hadn't entirely succeeded. He was glad he had the sunglasses to hide behind.

Mike stepped back and jammed his hands in his pockets. "Whatever you're looking for, we'll be praying you find it."

Graham wanted to tell him to save his breath, that he didn't believe in the power of prayer anymore. Instead he gave a short nod, closed the door and turned the key in the ignition.


Copyright 2010. Do not reproduce without permission.
THE HEART'S SONG can be purchased at most book stores or online at Amazon ( or ( )
To learn more about Winnie Griggs or her books, please visit her website at or connect with her on facebook at