Author: Beth Henderson
Genre: Historical Romantic Western Adventure Mystery
Harte Favre didn't want just any man...she wanted Richard Thorton, a stranger met one dark dangerous night in Virginia City, Nevada.
Thorton knew Harte was trouble. She wasn't just dangerous, she was a goddamn gut shot -- slow, painful, and fatal.
Circa 1877 historical romantic adventure that sweeps from silver country and eastward along the Central Pacific to Cheyenne, Wyoming Territory's gambling halls and on to the ballrooms and stews of Chicago, Illinois.
From the cover of a narrow horse trough across the road, Harte Favre ground her teeth, fighting the unladylike temptation to swear. Considering she was wearing boys’ clothing and a cloth cap, swearing would enhance her disguise. But making much sound would also give her position away. While she felt equal to the task of intimidating one of the city’s drabs, the two men the woman had beckoned to were another matter.
There was the third man to consider as well. The one who had hung back, a shadow beneath the sheltering storefront porch. If it hadn’t been for the glowing tip of his smoke, she wouldn’t have even known he was there. Which made him much more dangerous than the shabbily dressed thugs.
Harte eased her pistol from the pocket of her loose-fitting box jacket, thankful that she’d had the presence of mind to check the cylinder before leaving the house. With Yancy’s life possibly in the balance, having the hammer come down on an empty chamber could well mean the difference between either of them being able to board the morning train or being the main attraction at burial services read at St. Mary’s in the Mountains two days hence.
Suddenly the cursed need to be on that train was no longer despised or deplorable.
She nearly cried out when the man from the shadows materialized next to her.
“Who you with, kid?” he asked, his voice low and rough like the pilings that spilled down the mountainside. “The dove or the spark in the plaid?”
“The spark,” she said.
She nodded infinitesimally.
He leaned back against the horse trough, and grinned, his teeth glinting briefly as the moon slipped free of its veil of clouds. “But stupid?”
Harte definitely agreed with that prognosis. “Who you with?”
“Looks like you,” he said, then indicated her gun with a spare lift of his chin. “And put that damn fool thing away before you kill someone.”
“That’s the idea,” Harte snarled, keeping her voice to a boy-like growl. “If need be.”
“Just don’t want it to be me, kid,” he said. “What do you want the outcome to be?”
She didn’t have to think about the answer. “My cousin in one piece. If need be, his pocket can be empty.”
“Teach the damn fool a lesson, that it?” he murmured.
She thought he found the idea humorous for there was a slight lilt in his voice.
“Then stay down and await results,” he advised. “If neither the spark nor I leave the alley, kill whoever you want.”
She jerked her head in a brief nod.
“Good man,” he said, clapping a hand down on her shoulder. Then he pushed her further down behind the protecting edge of the trough to sprawl on the hard packed dirt of the street. A moment later he had materialized at the alley’s mouth.
She’d been right to feel he was the most dangerous of the men prowling this section of C Street that night. His movements were spare, lithe, and controlled. A human cougar on the prowl. Although their exchange had been brief, she recognized that this man was far from stupid.
Stupid she could outwit, but a canny man was another thing. She hoped he truly was on her side and not just a better class of hoodlum preparing to save her cousin so that he could then rob him. If so, she’d given him the cachet to do so.
Not that she wanted Yancy’s pockets emptied, but it was better than the alternative.
Still, Harte touched the comforting feel of steel, debating whether to tuck the pistol back in her jacket pocket. She would feel better if the Schofield were holstered to her belt but there had been no time to do more than scramble into some of Yancy’s old clothing, tug a cloth hat down over her bundled up hair, shove the pistol in her pocket, and steal from the house quickly in her cousin’s wake. After the trimming down Yancy had taken from her father over his most recent gaming losses, she’d known he would go looking for mischief. It was why she had followed him—yet again.
Harte peered around the far edge of the trough, watching the stranger as he bided his time.
The path was barely as wide as a man’s arm span. It sloped downward like all the roads that crossed C Street, following the contour of the mountain as it dipped toward D Street below. A rain barrel sat near the entrance, and it was in the lee of this that the mysterious stranger crouched.
If she hadn’t seen a flash of pale hair in the moonlight, Harte doubted she would have even seen him. His dark clothing blended with the unpainted, weathered side of the nearest building and the stained barrel slats. His fair hair was nearly hidden beneath the jet black of his hat, which was probably why he had chosen it. Blending as he did with the night, his presence hadn’t been noticed yet by those in the alley.
She could hear voices across the way but couldn’t discern what was being said. She recognized her cousin’s lazy tones. The woman gave a high-pitched screech of surprise before babbling, her words tumbling out. She was cut off by a gruff male growl, then the sound of a scuffle.
Harte wished the man in the blind by the rain barrel would make a move. She needed to know what was going on. Needed to rescue Yancy if he wasn’t going to do the job.
She got to her knees, preparing to make a dash for the alleyway despite the watching man’s presence.
Then the shadowy stranger moved further into the alleyway. Harte scuttled across the street, keeping a low profile until she was in position to flatten her back against the front of the nearest building. Peering around the corner, she was just in time to see the stranger launch into action.
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What makes your featured book a must-read?
Four words: The Hero, Richard Thorton.
He’s the kind of guy that combines dangerous with trustworthy, efficient, deadly, and irresistible. And yet, he’s still a nice guy, which makes for a potent combination. I’ve had many readers tell me they love Thorton. I think he’d brush that off, think they needed to get out more. But when people ask me why I write westerns rather than tales of lords and ladies or guys in kilts (I happen to hate kilts), I say there’s just something about a man with spurs on his heels, a gun on his hip, and when necessary, a chip on his shoulder. I sorta picture Thorton as Robert Redford was as the Sundance Kid, but an upgraded version.
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Beth Henderson has always loved history. She might have got better grades in it at school than she did in English until she hit college and reveled in writing essays and stories in creative writing classes. She grew up watching westerns on TV with her dad and finds the Old West a gold mine of story ideas. Sometimes even involving a gold mine. She holds a BA in American History and a MA in English Composition and Rhetoric with an emphasis on Creative Writing (they didn’t have MFA’s at her college). Although she is from Ohio, lived 22 years in the desert communities of Tucson and Las Vegas, currently she’s snugged down in small town Kentucky where she spends long hours either writing, reading or watching movies, particularly Marvel movies and most westerns that come along.
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