Title: Cowboy Christmas
Author: Margaret Tanner
Genre: Western Historical Romance
Zac Goodman is a gunslinger who is haunted by an injustice from his past.
He finds heavily pregnant Holly O’Leary in an abandoned wagon, her cheating husband lying dead a few yards away.
Reluctantly he takes her to his cabin to give birth.
Holly doesn’t trust men after the way her husband treated her. Zac is a gunslinger who saved her life and that of her baby, yet he doesn’t want to be tied down with a family.
Will this miracle Christmas baby unite two troubled souls? Or will it forever keep them apart.
Zac Goodman squinted his eyes against the swirling dust whipped up by a gusty wind. He pulled his hat further down over his face. Dang, it was cold. Black clouds hovering in the sky were full of menace. By tonight it would be snowing on the higher peaks. Only another couple of miles and he would be home.
He hunched deeper into his fur lined coat. He hated going into town, hated having to meet people. Everyone thought him an oddity, but he didn’t care. Nothing some of them would have liked more, than for him to be still rotting in jail. Damn them to hell.
His four or five visits a year were too many. He would never set foot in their rotten town if he had any choice about it. He wasn’t a greedy man, what he made from his cattle and as a gun for hire, when he needed extra cash, was enough.
He squinted when something in the distance caught his attention. Was that a wagon? What was it doing hanging over a cliff? Some stupid greenhorn in trouble no doubt. Well, he wasn’t about to stop and help. Why should he? No-one had ever done anything for him except for Rafe and Flo.
As he drove up closer, he realized the wagon was deserted. He glanced to one side, and halfway down the slope, impaled on a shattered tree, was the body of a man. The wagon hung precariously. If the wind picked up it would topple off. He glanced around for the horses. He had no fondness for humans, but liked horses, and couldn’t bear to think of them being injured.
Pulling up his wagon, he climbed down. Striding to the edge of the slope, he peered down, and saw the dead horses, still harnessed together. Like the man, they were beyond earthly help.
Maybe there was something salvageable from the wagon. A shame to leave it to rot out here. This area was well off the road into town. No-one lived out here except him and the coyotes. Very few people even passed this way, it was too rough and isolated.
The canvas was ripped in places, flapping like a demented bird in the wind. What was that? He stopped and listened. A groan came from the back of the wagon. His hand went to his gun. He was lightning fast on the draw. His speed had saved his life on numerous occasions.
The sobbing moan came again. The hair stood up on the back of his neck. Cautiously he poked his head through the back flap. He let out a hissing breath as a pair of pain-racked blue eyes stared up at him.
It was a young woman. Her blonde curly hair was scattered about her shoulders. Fear etched the delicate contours of her face.
“I’m not going to hurt you.”
Her lips quivered tears flowed down her cheeks.
“Are you hurt?”
“No,” she whispered in a voice husky with fatigue, and what he presumed was fear.
“The wagon is going topple down the slope at any minute. You need to get out.”
What was wrong with this foolish city woman? Didn’t she realize what danger she was in?
There was a loud crack, the wagon shuddered, but didn’t fall.
“Get out. Now.”
She didn’t move. He was glad he had sworn off women, except for the soiled doves at the saloons he visited when his need became too great to ignore.
“You said you weren’t hurt.” He spoke with grave deliberation. The dark stubble on his chin rasped as he rubbed irritably at it with one hand.
With much grunting and groaning, she dragged herself to her knees. Shock punched the air from his lungs. She was heavily pregnant, ready to drop her baby at any moment.
He cursed under his breath. “Here, I’ll help you. Get as near to the tail board as you can, then swing your legs over and I’ll lift you down. What was he going to do with her once he got her out of the wagon? He had no idea but wasn’t so devoid of humanity he would leave her out here to die. Rafe had saved him from dying in the wilderness on his own. He could do no less for this woman.
Instead of inching forward, she started going backward. “You’re going the wrong way,” he growled, wondering how she could be so unaware of the impending danger.
“I need to get my trunk.”
“Trunk!” He spat the word out. “You’d risk your life for a wretched trunk?”
“Yes, it has all the baby things in it.”
“All right, once you’re out, I’ll see if I can retrieve it.”
Tears sprang to her eyes and pooled there, before trickling down her cheeks. His gut clenched. He didn’t know why. Women’s tears normally didn’t affect him, he knew females used them to get a man to do what they wanted. Well, it hadn’t worked with him for years. There was something different about this woman though.
As she maneuvered herself to the edge of the wagon, he scrutinized her. She was a dainty little thing. He put his hands under her arms and lifted her down. She was a light weight even in her advanced state of pregnancy. He lowered her to the ground and her legs collapsed. She would have fallen had he not been holding her. Her swollen belly pressed into him.
“I’m sorry.” She grasped his shoulders for support.
“Stand still for a moment, you’ve been lying down for too long. What’s your name?”
Zac suppressed a grin. Dang, a day before Christmas and he rescues a woman called Holly.
Share a holiday family tradition:
We always go to the Christmas carols on Christmas Eve. Always beautiful with candles flickering in the dark.
Why is your featured book perfect to get readers in the holiday mood:
Because it is about a baby being born at Christmas, and what ramifications that has for the hero and heroine.
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Margaret Tanner is an award-winning, Australian author, who writes Contemporary Romance, Historical Romance and Western Historical Romance.
She loves delving into the pages of history as she carries out research for her historical romance novels. No internet site is too hard to traverse, or book too old or tattered for her to trawl through, and no museum is too dusty. Many of her novels have been inspired by true events, with one being written around the hardships and triumphs of her pioneering ancestors in frontier Australia.
She has found from writing Western Historical novellas, that frontier Australia and frontier America, had many similarities, isolated communities, a large single male population and a lack of marriageable women.
Margaret is married and has three grown up sons, and two gorgeous little granddaughters. Outside of her family and friends, writing is her passion.
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