Title: Silent Signals
Author: Linda Carroll-Bradd
Genre: Sweet Historical Romance
After losing half his cattle herd in the Great Blizzard of 1886, rancher Konrad Windsor needs a way to keep his cattle contained. Tomboy Anora Huxley, daughter and granddaughter of sheep ranchers, trains the Australian Shepherds and Kelpies that run the family’s herd. What Konrad doesn’t need is for Anora to tell him how to run his operation while in the middle of the mercantile.
At later encounters, the pair learns they have common interests and draw closer. A threat to Anora’s ranch is overheard, and Konrad rides out with a warning, and a crew, to offer protection. Through the tense situation, they share confidences. Although torn about honoring her grandfather’s dislike of cattlemen and listening to her own heart about Konrad’s request to court her, Anora’s heart is swayed by Konrad’s grand gesture at the Christmas Eve church bazaar and is compelled to obey his silent signals.
Mikel returned, dropping two rolls of wire onto the counter. “I have a new shipment of barbed wire too. Perhaps that works better for your needs?”
Konrad turned and laid a hand on the smooth wire. “The fence to pen in my cattle has several components, so this is what I need. But thanks, Toussaint.”
The shopkeeper shrugged. “Some ranchers prefer the barbed.”
“I do too, and I may have to resort to that when the winter weather sets in. But I’ll wait on that purchase.” He leaned his other hand on the counter. “This year, I’m building a brush fence. I’ll use what I can from downed branches and rocks cleared from the field that will be planted in the spring.” He shrugged and straightened.
“Makes sense.” Mikel nodded as he pulled the pencil from his ear. “I remember those types of fences in old country. Uncle had them around his vineyard.”
Konrad was sure his wasn’t the only sad story the store owner had heard over the last year. “Gotta come up with the cheapest solution for protecting my cattle.” He shook his head. “The ranch can’t withstand any more losses like last year.”
“Excuse me, sir.” A female voice floated in the air.
The tone was pitched low, almost intimate. Konrad shifted and raised an eyebrow at the tall woman dressed in an ill-fitting coat and a split skirt that showed several inches of boot-encased legs. “Are you speaking to me?”
“Have you considered using herding dogs to contain your cattle?” The blonde woman took one step closer, her gaze intent.
“No.” This stranger had an opinion about how he ran his ranch? His body stiffened.
“I train the dogs that work the sheep at Green Meadows Ranch, and I don’t see why the dogs couldn’t be used with cattle.” She glanced over her shoulder and then back to connect with his gaze. “The principles are the same, as long as the person uses the right cues.”
He squinted at the green-eyed woman who stood only a few inches shorter than his six-foot height. Wisps of blonde hair had escaped the edges of her plain black bonnet and straggled along her cheeks. Her face was pleasant enough—probably would be more so without the frown creasing her forehead. “Have we met?”
“I apologize, Mr. Werner. I’m Anora Huxley.” A blush reddened her cheeks. “I am acquainted with Gaelle.”
His younger sister by five years. Which explained why he didn’t know this woman from his schooling years. Huxley did sound familiar, though. But he didn’t have time to contemplate why because the woman now stood by his side. Out of the corner of his eye, he spotted a thick-set scowling man hovering two feet away who looked madder than a newly branded steer. The second member of the arguing duo.
“My dogs are exceedingly smart. A special breed with strong herding instincts. They respond to hand signs and whistles, and from a distance of more than ten rods.”
He held up a hand lest he be stuck here listening to her run down every detail. “I do not wish to be lectured on how to run my ranch. My brush fence will suffice.” Regretting the stiffness of his tone, he lifted a finger to tap the brim of his hat. “Good day, Mrs. Huxley.” He spotted the brief widening of her gaze before scooping up the roll of wire and headed toward the storeroom. Irritation at the outspoken women and her high-handed advice put an extra punch into each footfall.
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What I love most about the holiday season:
For more than a decade (since the first year I became Grammie) we’ve traveled to visit with my step-daughter’s family in northern California. I love the “hangout” time with all the various family members who come and my two granddaughters.
Why is your featured book a must-read to get you in the holiday mood?
One of the favorite things I like to write into my stories is a point where one of the protagonists steps out of his or her comfort zone and acts in a way that is all for the relationship. Konrad acts in just that way, and it is so fun to see.
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Runs July 1 – July 31.
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As a young girl, Linda was often found lying on her bed reading about fascinating characters having exciting adventures in places far away and in other time periods. In later years, she read and then started writing romances and achieved her first publication--a confession story. Married with 4 adult children and 2 granddaughters, Linda writes heartwarming contemporary and historical stories with a touch of humor from her home in the southern California mountains.
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