- N. N. Light
White Sands Gold by @miketorreano is a Fall Into These Great Reads pick #historicalwestern #mystery
Title: White Sands Gold
Author: Mike Torreano
Genre: Historical Western Mystery
New Mexico Territory, 1890
In a hidden cavern, a treasure trove of gold bars sits alongside an ancient relic.
To find her treasure-hunting brother, Lottie Durham enlists the help of an easygoing lawman she can’t stand—at first. When a mysterious woman known only as Ma asks her to join the relic’s guardians, Lottie’s world spins. Should she take on this solemn obligation?
Twill, leader of the secretive guardians, has sworn a vow to protect the centuries-old religious relic. Regrets bedevil him and his dedication to his oath is repeatedly tested. If he breaks his promise, he’ll fail Ma, the one person he’s never wanted to let down.
Will a looming raid by a band of determined killers be the end of the guardians, the gold, and the relic?
Lottie stared. This was the deputy that Marshal Carson was going to send with her? He looked like he expected her to say something. Should she? No, she’d wait for him to speak but he didn’t. He tipped his hat her direction and turned to leave. She started to say something but held off. Outside, she trailed him back to the marshal’s office at a distance and sidled up to the door after he went in. Noise from the street threatened to steal any conversation inside so she edged closer. She couldn’t hear well but supposed they were discussing the deputy’s new assignment. What kind of a name was ‘O,’ anyway? Muffled voices inside. Suddenly, the door swung open and she stared up at the tall deputy, not more than a foot away. The surprised look on his face must have mirrored her own.
“Can I help you, ma’am?” Irritation flooded his words.
Her pulse quickened. “My name’s, uh, Lottie, Lottie Durham.” She stuck her hand out with what she hoped was firm nonchalance. This close, he seemed taller than in the mercantile. “I’m who the marshal wants to...” She took a second to think how to say the sentence in a sensible way. “That is, the marshal wants you to accompany me to Las Cruces.” There. She’d gotten it out.
The deputy looked like he’d just bit into something sour. Didn’t look like he’d shaved recently, and the full stubble just made him look scruffy. Young, but with a weathered look about him. New Mexico sun had a way of wearing skin out. Kind of handsome in a rough sort of way.
“Name’s O Sanders.” He tipped his hat. “You’re the one, huh?” He eyed her up and down and turned away. She quickened her pace to keep up with his long strides. “What brings you here, ma’am? Marshal said somethin’ about your brother?”
Her words spilled forth, fueled by the worry she’d been holding in. “Yes, he’s been gone four days now. and he’s never ever done that. I found his horse—” It didn’t look like the deputy was listening, so she stopped talking, but kept hurrying. She thought they were going to the stable but he headed toward a hotel.
As they neared, he said, “You had anything to eat recent? You’re lookin’ kind of puny.”
What did he mean by that? She thought she looked...okay...as far as she could tell, but her stomach said differently. “I, uh, guess a meal would go down all right about now. Maybe a biscuit and coffee.” She only had a couple of coins.
The deputy waved a hand. “I reckon the Territory can afford some bacon and eggs, too. Come on.”
Was that disfavor that framed his face as they walked into the El Paso Hotel? Last thing she needed right now was the company of a sour lawman. The atmosphere was strained during the meal so she decided to eat, not talk. She’d only just met him but could tell he was irritated. That didn’t matter, as long as he found her brother. That’s all she wanted from him. She finished her meal, stood from the table, and pursed her lips. “Thank you for...this.” She snugged an old, stained hat over her reddish-brown hair.
“Can we go now?”
“Not a chance tonight. No real horseman rides at night, and besides, we got too far to go. I’m takin’ you to the front desk for a room.”
He was already moving that direction so she couldn’t do more than follow. Would she have to fess up that she didn’t have any money? Rooms had to cost something.
The deputy smacked his hand on the counter. “Tommy, find Miss...what’s your last name?”
Lottie mumbled. “Durham. It’s—”
“Find Miss Durham a room, willya?”
“Got a fine one all ready, O. Number three upstairs. That’ll be two dollars, ma’am.”
Lottie stared at the clerk. She had two bits, not two dollars. She wrapped her hand around a coin, opened it and pushed a quarter across the counter. “This...is—”
The deputy said, “Doesn’t have to be your best, Tommy. Look again.”
The clerk stared past Lottie at the deputy for a second, then glanced at his ledger. He ran a finger down the page, then looked up with a smile. “Why here’s one, and it’s only two bits. Good bed, too.” He reached for a key and handed it to Lottie.
Her cheeks burned. She wanted to run away, swing up on Cinch and hightail it back to the ranch. She clenched a fist by her side. “I won’t accept charity. Never have...” Her voice trailed away.
The deputy didn’t say anything but reached for the key and handed it to her. “Right up those stairs. Now, you get a good night’s rest.” He had a slow drawl that made her want to say ‘get on with it.’ But before she could, he turned and disappeared into the gathering dusk.
Buy Links (including Goodreads and BookBub):
Barnes and Noble- https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/white-sands-gold-mike-torreano/1141622239?ean=9781509244317
The Wild Rose Press- https://wildrosepress.com/special-items/
What’s your favorite thing about autumn:
Just about the prettiest time of the year, especially in Colorado with the quaking aspen leaves turning golden.
What inspired you to write this story:
A friend told me he had the idea for my next book. He spun a tale of an incredible cache of gold bars supposedly hidden under a mountain north of Las Cruces, adjacent to the white sands. Skeptical, I did an online search and was amazed at all the posts that popped up. I was intrigued by the legend and crafted a story of betrayal, fidelity, with some romance. I added in a mysterious religious relic near the gold and created a group who had safeguarded the relic for centuries.
How did the gold get there? And were the guardians successful in protecting the relic? Guess you’ll just have to read White Sands Gold to find out!
One lucky reader will win a $75 Amazon US or Canada gift card
Open internationally. You must have a valid Amazon US or Amazon CA account to win.
Runs September 1 – 30
Drawing will be held on October 3.
Mike Torreano has a military background and is a student of history and the American West. He fell in love with Zane Grey’s novels about the Painted Desert in the fifth grade, when his teacher made her students read a book and write a report every week.
Mike has written for magazines and small newspapers. An experienced editor, he’s taught University English and Journalism. He’s a member of Pikes Peak Writers, The Historical Novel Society, Western Writers of America, and several other western writing groups. He brings his readers back in time with him as he recreates American life and times in the late 19th century.
White Sands Gold is his fourth western mystery, joining The Reckoning, The Renewal, and A Score to Settle.
He lives in Colorado Springs, Colorado with his wife, Anne.
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