Title: A Score to Settle
Author: Mike Torreano
Genre: Traditional western
Broken after his family is murdered, rancher Del Lawson signs on to a cattle drive along the Goodnight-Loving trail in 1870 New Mexico Territory. Unaware he’s also in danger, he falls for a pretty Army nurse and the killers target her as well. If he’s to recover from his grief and build a new life, Del musts set out on a gritty hunt for the men hunting him.
But Del’s mother, Maybelle, doesn’t know her son survived that murderous night. When she discovers the gold the killers are after, she uses the treasure in an elaborate masquerade to take the murderers down.
Will mother and son’s plans reap justice-or destroy what’s left of the Lawson clan?
Morning found him with his eyes still open as golden sunlight stole through the small window. He’d been careful not to shift much. It hurt, and he didn’t want to disturb his nurse. What was her name? Del reached his good arm to the floor and unbent himself from the curl he’d lain in for hours. Stiff. Painful. The dog raised its head off the blanket on the bed. The look of a watchdog.
His ribs let him know they weren’t ready to get up. As he pushed to a seat, his head sent only a muted protest. At least that was getting better. He took the splint off his arm and flexed it. Wasn’t broken. Working to a stand, he hobbled to the door. Squeaky hinges betrayed him and he looked back. Her longish hair spread casually on the white pillow. In the morning light, it was as if he was seeing her for the first time. Dark green blanket drawn up to her waist. Stop it. You can’t even remember her name, and you’ll be on your way soon. His thoughts were interrupted by steps on the porch. He creaked the door open farther to see Rodrigo staring up at him, Kip standing tall behind. He put a finger to his lips. “Shh, nurse is still asleep.”
From behind him, “No, I’m not. I’m just waking, it’s past time to get up. You all turn around for a minute while I get dressed.”
Del felt his face flush. He wondered if she’d seen him staring at her a few minutes ago. He said, “Everyone out for a minute.” On the porch, he whispered to Kip. “Where’s my bottle?”
“Musta misremembered it.”
Del scowled. Rodrigo held a cup of coffee up to him with a grin. Wasn’t hot, but still warm enough. “Why, thank you, son.”
The door opened, and she called out, “All right gentlemen, I’m decent.”
Del limped in with a hand to his ribs. She was so beautiful. He fumbled with his coffee. “Uh...you remember my nurse. Best I ever had.” She wore a different dress today. Drawn tight around her waist. Soft morning light danced off her hair. She’d let it down this morning, and it framed her face.
“I’m sorry, I must look a fright.”
Del wiped at his moustache. She looked anything but.
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InD’Tale magazine had this to say about A Score to Settle-
Saddle up for an authentic western adventure! Mr. Torreano’s fluid writing style will make readers feel as though they are riding the Goodnight-Loving Trail along with the cowboys. The characters are strong, the dialogue is great, and their conflicts are painfully real. The twin plot lines of Del and Maybelle intersecting throughout weaves a thread of additional suspense. The romance of Del and nurse Rose is organic and lovely.
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Mike Torreano has a military background and is a student of American history and the Old West.
His debut western mystery, The Reckoning, set in South Park, Colorado in 1868, was released in 2016 by The Wild Rose Press. The sequel, The Renewal, also in South Park, 1872, was released in 2018. His third western, A Score To Settle, was released October 2020, also from The Wild Rose Press. White Sands Gold is his latest western mystery, and will be released this summer by Wild Rose. He has a coming-of-age novel, Fireflies At Dusk, set during the Civil War, and his short story, The Trade, a tale of the Yukon Gold Rush, was his first published work in 2014.
Mike’s written for magazines and newspapers for many years. An experienced editor, he’s taught University-level English and Journalism. He’s a member of the Historical Novel Society, Pikes Peak Writers, Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers, Western Writers of America and several other writing groups. He brings his readers back in time with him as he recreates life in mid-to-late nineteenth century America. He and his wife, Anne, live in Colorado Springs.
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