Title: Nickel’s Luck
Author: S. L. Matthews
Genre: Historical Fiction, Coming of Age
Publisher: Cinch Ranch Publishing
In the wake of disaster, would you leave your family to fulfill an old promise to a stranger?
Born with a permanent grin and natural charm, young Ryder Wheeler wanted to be a Pony Express rider just like his dime-novel hero. In a coastal Texas town in the 1870s, it isn’t easy to turn cowboy, so Ryder relies on what he has—a strong will, a nickel’s worth of luck, and an inclination to take on any dare. Adored by all, he gains notoriety as the “luck child” of Indianola.
When Ryder’s abusive father goes too far, a hard-fisted cowboy intervenes, offering him a deal with one condition: He must leave his beloved town of Indianola behind. After peddling his luck for so long, will he make it as a cowboy at the Middle C Ranch?
As Ryder faces the consequences of his decision, the Mistress—the ocean Ryder loves to hate—tries once more to claim him. Can young Ryder best the storms in his path? Or will he lose his dream—and his town—forever?
Brimming with superstitious sailors, rugged cowboys, and catastrophic events, Nickel’s Luck is a coming-of-age tale that takes readers on an epic journey.
Excerpt: “The world’s done ended.” The horseman’s voice rang hollow. His companion just sat his horse and stared. The men drew rein and looked up, unable to comprehend the sight sprawled before them. It was several minutes before either spoke.
“B-B-Bannack?” Marbles stammered.
“How . . . ? How f-far to the t-town?”
“’Bout five miles. Maybe six.”
“Five miles,” Marbles repeated. “That’s a sh-ship.”
“Shore looks like one,” Bannack agreed.
“B-But . . . we’re on a p-p-prairie.”
Still miles away from the city that stretched along the bay, surrounded by a forest of debris, leaned a three-masted clipper ship, no less than two hundred feet long. It was the largest boat either man had ever seen.
Bannack’s gaze drifted to the base of the grounded clipper. Broken boards and debris had washed against the side of the massive boat and collected in a heap of rubble. He spotted a shingle perched squarely atop the mess, advertising soda-fountain ice creams. It looked like it was carefully placed there.
But it was not that which caught the cowboy’s attention. A spot of ashen gray showed from under the broken sign, and Bannack’s poise weakened.
Dismounting for a closer look, he discovered the patch of gray was an arm. It was bent at an unnatural angle, and blue-splotched fingers seemed to claw at the earth even in death. Unspeakable dread filled the pit of the cowboy’s stomach.
Please, God, don’t let it be that boy. Bannack yanked at the boards, pulling and shoving debris out of the way. Reaching the unfortunate soul twisted among the rubble, Bannack dragged his hat off his head and into his hands. The deceased had, somehow, washed miles inland, just like the clipper. There was no identifying the mangled body, though the remains suggested a woman.
On his knees in the sodden, sandy soil, Bannack looked to the direction of Indianola, over five miles distant. While they could not yet see the town, the storm lay a swath of destruction before them—a swath as vast as the sea herself. Something told him this was merely the first of many bodies they would find.
“We ain’t on a prairie anymore, Marbles,” Bannack said.
“Wh-What is it?”
Buy Links (including Goodreads and BookBub):
S. L. Matthews is an 18th & 19th century living history reenactor, hobbyist photographer, and avid writer of the Victorian Era and the Old West.
She grew up in the past, weaving on a loom and producing period rifle and accouterment straps for reenactors, museums, movies, and television worldwide. She bought a quarter horse in high school with her earnings. Now she weaves three-dimensional characters through unusual plots and focuses on stories largely untold through history.
When she’s not dressed in Victorian Era and Old West attire, you can find her outside photographing Tennessee landscapes & living history, tackling her garden with her dogs, scouting shops for old books and historical treasures, and of course, always researching and writing novels.
Social Media Links https://www.slmatthewsauthor.com/