Title: Under Starry Skies
Author: Judy Ann Davis
Genre: Historical Western Romance
Hired as the town’s school teacher, Maria O’Donnell and her sister Abigail arrive in the Colorado Territory in 1875, only to find the uncle they were to stay with has been murdered.
Rancher Tye Ashmore is content with life until he meets quiet and beautiful Maria. He falls in love at first sight, but her reluctance to jeopardize her teaching position by accepting his marriage proposal only makes him more determined to make her part of his life.
When their lives are threatened by gunshots and a gunnysack of dangerous wildlife, Tye believes he is the target of an unknown enemy. Not until Maria receives written threats urging her to leave does she realize she is the target instead of the handsome rancher.
With the help of Tye, Abigail, and a wily Indian called Two Bears, Maria works to uncover her uncle’s killer and put aside her fears. But will she discover happiness and true love under Colorado’s starry skies?
The Indian rose and grinned. “At last. You are back. I have your rifle, Ashmore. And your sack of donuts. And your woman. Tell Anna the donuts are good. Very good. You may have your woman and your rifle. Two Bears keeps the donuts.”
Tye sighed with relief. Eyes narrowed, he said, “Besides finding Maria, I’m sure there’s a story about how you managed to get the rifle and donuts.”
Two Bears grinned and shook his head. “No. No story. I took them. Not so hard when you leave horse with its reins caught in the bushes.”
“I didn’t leave my horse on purpose. It was scared off when someone shot at me, and I jumped off to save my hide and Maria’s. The rifle, water, and donuts went with it.” Tye threw him a cold look that could freeze running water in a summer sun.
“And a sorry hide yours is, Ashmore. You are getting careless. You leave woman with hair the color of mink all alone. You lose horse, rifle, donuts, and water. And you do not take dog with you.”
“If you keep insulting me, Two Bears, I’m going to take my rifle and wrap it around your greasy neck. Why didn’t you bring my horse?”
“Why didn’t you?” Two Bears asked. His mouth was tight and grim. “If I had moved the horse, anyone watching would know to follow me back to you or your woman. This way, they do not know if you are on the mountain or not.”
Tye nodded. “I figured the same. I decided we’d walk down to get it when it gets dark.”
Maria rose and stepped between them. She was scared, she was weary, and she wanted to get home, take a bath, and soak her skinned arm and injured knee. “Why can’t we just start now?”
“Your woman is not happy.” Two Bears grunted. “An angry squaw can make sunny days seem like rainy ones.”
Maria glared at him.
“Maybe we’re both not happy since you’re eating our food,” Tye countered.
Two Bears thumped his chest and grinned. “I even ate the ones you dropped on the trail. Before any varmints could get to them. Come, I know another path to your horse. By the time we arrive, it will be dark, and you can take your woman and go the rest of the way safely.”
“I am not his woman,” Maria snapped. “I am not a piece of property. Stop saying that!”
Two Bears jumped back, away from her. “If you say so.” He looked at Tye with wide eyes. “Hair like a mink. Temper like a badger.”
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Under Starry Skies is just an engaging mystery and western romance about Maria O’Donnell who, with her sister, travels to the Colorado Territory with the hopes of living with their uncle. Maria is a school teacher and is drawn toward a quiet rancher, Tye Ashmore. What she never expects to do is to secretly teach a wily Indian how to read. This is the second, stand-alone novel in the Ashmore Brother series. It’s a lively tale set in 1875.
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Judy Ann Davis began her career in writing as a copy and continuity writer for radio and television in Scranton, Pennsylvania, and holds a degree in Journalism and Communications. She has written for industry and education throughout her career.
She writes both contemporary and historical fiction and is best known for "writing romance with a touch of mystery."
To date, she has written five novels and five novellas. Over a dozen of her short stories have appeared in various literary and small magazines and anthologies. Both her short stories and longer works have received numerous awards.
When Judy Ann is not behind a computer, you can find her looking for anything humorous to make her laugh or swinging a golf club where the chuckles are few.
She is a member of Pennwriters, Inc. and Romance Writers of America. She divides her time between Central Pennsylvania and New Smyrna Beach, Florida.
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