Title: Love and Guns Don’t Mix (Irine Wicklow: Bounty Hunter)
Author: Laura Strickland
Genre: Western Romance
Irine Wicklow lives her life as the merciless bounty hunter, Wolverine. Nobody knows she’s a woman, and she’s earned a reputation that’s as mean as her namesake. For eight years, she’s been running from a past so painful it turned her from a young girl who believed in love, to one with steely armor around her heart. She relies only on her guns and her wild mare, Jezebel, and the need for vengeance drives her on.
Justice Turrant also understands the desire for vengeance. A survivor of the Civil War, he came West with his family after serving time in a Union prison camp. But their bid to settle a homestead went terribly wrong. A varmint called Virgil Clary and his men brutalized Jus’s sister, Jenny, and Jus feels responsible.
He wants Wolverine to bring in Clary, even after he discovers she’s a woman. He never expects to lose his heart to a dangerous female who doesn’t believe in love.
Night fell with the kind of quiet a man found only in the wilderness. The sun set over the western range and a thousand stars appeared, spangling the tapestry of the sky. Almost immediately, cool air breathed over the land.
Wolverine built up her fire and fed Jus a supper of elk stew, before rising from her place to say, “I’m going to the stream for a wash. You stay here. I’ve got nothing you want to see.”
Jus wasn’t so sure about that. In the firelight, she’d removed her hat and, despite her short hair, looked more like a woman than a man. Her face became graceful planes and valleys, her eyes shadowed pools he couldn’t read. Her long legs, stretched out toward the fire, and encased in buckskin, looked pleasingly slender, and the hollows at the front of her shirt drew his eyes again and again.
When she rose to go off to the stream and strip down, how could he help but wonder about what lay beneath that clothing? He could follow after her for a peek. A near-full moon had just cleared the trees and would provide light enough.
Yeah, he could do that, if he had a death wish.
Instead, being a gentleman and wanting to live long enough to see Clary get his comeuppance, he rose and gathered the tin plates. The horse, Jezebel, stirred from her place to one side of the clearing and took a step toward him rolling her eyes.
“I’m not gonna follow her,” he told the mare soothingly. She was a pretty beast, but downright frightening. Like her mistress. “I’m just thinkin’, is all.”
Settler gave a soft whinny and moved toward Jezebel. To Jus’s surprise, the black mare allowed the other horse to approach her. The two animals nuzzled one another, before standing quiet, shoulder to shoulder.
Well, how about that? Must only be human males, Jezebel detested.
By the time Wolverine returned from the stream, he’d banked the fire and spread out his bedroll alongside. She emerged from the trees quietly, moving like a shadow. Her short, black hair was wet and her shirt was only loosely buttoned. Jus’s heart skipped a beat.
Her step faltered when she caught sight of him. “Right. You sleep there. I’ll take the lean-to.”
“I told you not to call me that.”
“Better. You need to get up during the night, give a little whistle so I don’t shoot you.”
Well, that might encourage a man to hold his water. “Been a hell of a day.” Jus lay down and placed his hat over his eyes. “Reckon I’ll just sleep right through.”
He watched her from under the brim of his hat while she swung to look at the paired horses. “What are those two doing?”
“I figure they’re gettin’ friendly.”
She grunted. “Well, don’t go getting any ideas.”
“No, boss, I wouldn’t dream of it.”
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Multi award-winning author Laura Strickland delights in time traveling to the past and searching out settings for her books, be they Historical Romance, Steampunk or something in between. Her first Scottish Historical hero, Devil Black, battled his way onto the publishing scene in 2013, and the author never looked back. Nor has she tapped the limits of her imagination. Venturing beyond Historical and Contemporary Romance, she created a new world with her ground-breaking Buffalo Steampunk Adventure series set in her native city, in Western New York. Married and the parent of one grown daughter, Laura has also been privileged to mother a number of very special rescue dogs, and is intensely interested in animal welfare. Her love of dogs, and her lifelong interest in Celtic history, magic and music, are all reflected in her writing. Laura's mantra is Lore, Legend, Love, and she wouldn't have it any other way.
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Author Goodreads page: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/760146.Laura_Strickland
Laura Strickland Author @LauraSt05038951