Thursday, August 30, 2012

First Wild Card Tours Presents: House of Mercy by Erin Healy

It is time for a FIRST Wild Card Tour book review! If you wish to join the FIRST blog alliance, just click the button. We are a group of reviewers who tour Christian books. A Wild Card post includes a brief bio of the author and a full chapter from each book toured. The reason it is called a FIRST Wild Card Tour is that you never know if the book will be fiction, non~fiction, for young, or for old...or for somewhere in between! Enjoy your free peek into the book!

You never know when I might play a wild card on you!

Today's Wild Card author is:

and the book:

Thomas Nelson (August 7, 2012)

***Special thanks to Rick Roberson of The B&B Media Group for sending me a review copy.***


Erin Healy is an award-winning fiction editor who has worked with talented novelists such as James Scott Bell, Melody Carlson, Colleen Coble, Brandilyn Collins, Traci DePree, L. B. Graham, Rene Gutteridge, Michelle McKinney Hammond, Robin Lee Hatcher, Denise Hildreth, Denise Hunter, Randy Ingermanson, Jane Kirkpatrick, Bryan Litfin, Frank Peretti, Lisa Samson, Randy Singer, Robert Whitlow, and many others.

She began working with Ted Dekker in 2002 and edited twelve of his heart-pounding stories before their collaboration on Kiss, the first novel to seat her on "the other side of the desk."
Erin is the owner of WordWright Editorial Services, a consulting firm specializing in fiction book development. She is a member of the American Christian Fiction Writers and the Academy of Christian Editors. She lives with her family in Colorado.

Visit the author's website.


Beth has a gift of healing-which is why she wants to become a vet and help her family run their fifth-generation cattle ranch. Her father's dream of helping men in trouble and giving them a second chance is her dream too. But it only takes one foolish decision for Beth to destroy it all.

Beth scrambles to redeem her mistake, pleading with God for help, even as a mystery complicates her life. But the repercussions grow more unbearable-a lawsuit, a death, a divided family, and the looming loss of everything she cares about. Beth's only hope is to find the grandfather she never knew and beg for his help. Confused, grieving, but determined to make amends, she embarks on a horseback journey across the mountains, guided by a wild, unpredictable wolf who may or may not be real.

Set in the stunningly rugged terrain of Southern Colorado, House of Mercy follows Beth through the valley of the shadow of death into the unfathomable miracles of God's goodness and mercy.

Genre: Christian Fiction | Suspense

Product Details:
List Price: $15.99
Paperback: 284 pages
Publisher: Thomas Nelson
Language: English
ISBN-10: 140168551X
ISBN-13: 9781401685515


Chapter 1
It wasn’t every day that an old saddle could improve a horse’s life.
That was what Beth Borzoi was thinking as she stood in the dusty tack room that smelled like her favorite pair of leather boots. In the back corner where the splintering-wood walls met, she tugged the faded leather saddle off the bottommost rung of the heavy-duty rack, where it had sat, unused and forgotten, for years.
Her little brother, Danny, would have said she was stealing the saddle. He might have called her a kleptomaniac. That was too strong a word, but Danny was fifteen and liked to throw bold words around, cocky-like, show-off rodeo ropes aimed at snagging people. She loved that about him. It was a cute phase. Even so, she had formed a mental argument against the characterization of her- self as a thief, in case she needed to use it, because Danny was too young to understand the true meaning of even stronger words like sacrifice or situational ethics.
After all, she was working in secret, in the hidden folds of a summer night, so that both she and the saddle could leave the Blazing B unnoticed. In the wrong light, it might look like a theft.
The truth was, it was not her saddle to give away. It was Jacob’s saddle, though in the fifteen years Jacob had lived at the ranch, she had never seen him use it. The bigger truth was that this saddle abandoned to tarnish and sawdust could be put to better use. The fenders were plated with silver, pure metal that could be melted down and converted into money to save a horse from suffering. Decorative silver bordered the round skirt and framed the rear housing. The precious metal had been hammered to conform to the gentle rise of the cantle in the back and the swell in the front. The lovely round conchos were studded with turquoise. Hand-tooled impressions of wild mountain f lowers covered the leather everywhere that silver didn’t.
In its day, it must have been a fine show saddle. And if Jacob valued that at all, he wouldn’t have stored it like this.
Under the naked-bulb beams of the tack room, Beth’s body cast a shadow over the pretty piece as she hefted it. She blew the dirt and dander off the horn, swiped off the cracked seat with the flat of her hand, then turned away her head and sneezed. Colorado’s dry climate had not been kind to the leather.
She wasn’t stealing. She was saving an animal’s life.
The latch on the barn door released Beth to the midnight air with a click like a stolen kiss. The saddle weighed about thirty-five pounds, which was easy to manage when snatching it off a rack and tossing it onto a horse’s back. But it would feel much heavier by the time she reached her destination. She’d parked her truck a ways off where the rumbling old clunker wouldn’t raise questions or family members sleeping in the nearby ranch house. She’d left her dog at the foot of Danny’s bed with clear orders to stay. She hoped the animal would mind.
Energized, she crossed the horses’ yard. A few of them nickered greetings at her, including Hastings, who nuzzled her empty pockets for treats. The horses never slept in the barn’s stalls unless they were sick. Even in winter they stayed in the pasture, preferring the outdoor lean-to shelters.
The Blazing B, a 6,500-acre working cattle ranch, lay to the northwest of Colorado’s San Luis Valley. The region was called a valley because this portion of the state was a Rocky Mountain ham- mock that swung between the San Juans to the west and the Sangre de Cristos to the east. But at more than seven thousand feet, it was no low-lying flatland. It was, in fact, the highest alpine valley in the world. And it was the only place in the world that Beth ever wanted to live. Having graduated from the local community college with honors and saved enough additional money for her continuing education, she planned to leave in the fall to begin her first year of veterinary school. She would be gone as long as it took to earn her license, but her long-term plan was to return as a more valuable person. Her skills would save the family thousands of dollars every year, freeing up funds for their most important task—providing a home and a hard day’s work to discarded men who needed the peace the Blazing B had to offer.
On this late May night, a light breeze stirred the alfalfa growing in the pasturelands while the cattle grazed miles away. The herds always spent their summers on public lands in the mountains while their winter feed grew in the valley. They were watched over by a pool rider, a hired man who was a bit like a cow’s version of a shepherd. He stayed with them through the summer and would bring them home in the fall.
With the winter calving and spring branding a distant memory, the streams and irrigation wells amply supplied by good mountain runoff, and the healthy alfalfa fields thickening with a June cutting in mind, the mood at the Blazing B was peaceful.
When Beth was a quarter mile beyond the barn, a bobbing light drew her attention to the west side of the pasture, where ancient cottonwood trees formed a barrier against seasonal winds and snows. She paused, her eyes searching the darkness beyond this path that she could walk blindfolded. The light rippled over cottonwood trunks, casting shadows that were indistinguishable from the real thing.
A man was muttering in a low voice, jabbing his light around as if it were a stick. She couldn’t make out his words. Then the yellow beam stilled low to the ground, and she heard a metallic thrust, the scraping ring of a shovel’s blade being jammed into the dirt.
Beth worried. It had to be Wally, but what was he doing out at this hour, and at this place? The bunkhouse was two miles away, and the men had curfews, not to mention strict rules about their access to horses and vehicles.
She left the path and approached the trees without a misstep. The moonlight was enough to guide her over the uneven terrain.
The cutting of the shovel ceased. “Who wants to know?” “It’s Beth.”
“Beth who?”
“Beth Borzoi. Abel’s daughter. I’m the one who rides Hastings.” “Well, sure! Right, right. Beth. I’m sorry you have to keep telling me. You’re awfully nice about it.”
The light that Wally had set on the ground rose and pointed itself at her, as if to confirm her claims, then dropped to the saddle resting against her thighs. Wally had been at the ranch for three years, since a stroke left his body unaffected but struck his brain with a short-term memory disorder. It was called anterograde amnesia, a forgetfulness of experiences but not skills. He could work hard but couldn’t hold a job because he was always forgetting where and when he was supposed to show up. Here at the ranch he didn’t have to worry about those details. He had psychologists and strategies to guide him through his days, a community of brothers who reminded him of everything he really needed to know. Well, most things. He had been on more than one occasion the butt of hurtful pranks orchestrated by the men who shared the bunkhouse with him. It was both a curse and a blessing that he was able to forget such incidents so easily.
Beth was the only Beth at the Blazing B, and the only female resident besides her mother, but these facts regularly eluded Wally. He never forgot her father, though, and he knew the names of all the horses, so this was how Beth had learned to keep putting herself back into the context of his life.
“You’re working hard,” she said. “You know it’s after eleven.” “Looking for my lockbox. I saw him take it. I followed him here just an hour ago, but now it’s gone.”
Sometimes it was money that had gone missing. Sometimes it was a glove or a photograph, or a piece of cake from her mother’s dinner table that was already in his belly. All the schedules and organizational systems in the world were not enough to help Wally with this bizarre side effect of his disorder: whenever a piece of his mind went missing, he would search for it by digging. Dr. Roy Davis, Wally’s psychiatrist, had curtailed much of Wally’s compulsive need to overturn the earth by having him perform many of the Blazing B’s endless irrigation tasks. Even so, the ten square miles of ranch were riddled with the chinks of Wally’s efforts to find what he had lost.
“That must be really frustrating,” she said. “I hate it when I lose my stuff.”
“I didn’t lose it. A gray wolf ran off with it. I had it safe in a secret spot, and he dug it up and carried off the box in his teeth. Hauled it all the way up here and reburied it. Now tell me, what’s a wolf gonna do with my legal tender? Buy himself a turkey leg down at the supermarket?”
Wally must have kept a little cash in his box. She could under- stand his frustration. But this claim stirred up disquiet at the back of her mind. Dr. Roy would need to know if Wally was seeing things. First off, gray wolves were hardly ever spotted in Colorado. They’d been run out of the state before World War II by poachers and hos- tile ranchers, and their return in recent years was little more than a rumor. Wally might have seen a coyote. But for another thing, no wild animal dug up a man’s buried treasure and relocated it. Except maybe a raccoon.
A raccoon trying to run off with a heavy lockbox might actually be entertaining.
“Tell you what, Wally. If he’s buried it here we’ll have a better chance of finding it in the morning. When the sun comes up, I’ll help you. But they’ll be missing you at the bunkhouse about now. Let me take you back so no one gets upset when they see you’re gone.” Jacob or Dr. Roy would do bunk checks at midnight.
“Upset? No one can be as upset as I am right now.” He thrust the shovel into the soft dirt at his feet. “I saw the dog do it. I tracked him all the way here, like he thought I wouldn’t see him under this full moon. Fool dog—but who’d believe me? It’s like a freaky fairy tale, isn’t it? Well, I’d have put that box in a local vault if I didn’t have to keep so many stinkin’ Web addresses and passwords and account numbers and security questions at my fingertips.” He withdrew a small notebook from his hip pocket and waved the pages around. It was one of the things he used to keep track of details. “Maybe I’ll have to rethink that.”
Beth’s hands had become sweaty and a little cramped under the saddle’s weight. She used her right knee to balance the saddle and fix her grip. The soft leather suddenly felt like heavy gold bricks out of someone else’s bank vault.
“Well, let’s go,” she said. “I’ve got my truck right on down the lane.”
“What do you have there?” Wally returned the notebook to his pocket, hefted the shovel, and picked his way out of the under- brush, finding his way by flashlight.
“An old saddle. It’s been in the tack room for years.” She expected Wally to forget the saddle just as quickly as he would for- get this night’s adventure and her promise to help him dig in the morning.
He lifted one of the fenders and stroked the silver with his thumb. “Pretty thing. Probably worth something. Not as much as that box is worth to me, though.”
“We’ll find it,” Beth said.
“You bet we will.” Wally fell into step beside her. “Thanks for the ride back, Beth. You’re a good girl. You got your daddy in you.”
With Jacob’s old saddle resting on a blanket in the bed of her rusty white pickup, Beth followed an access road from the horse pasture by her own home down into the heart of the Blazing B.
The property’s second ranch house was located more strategically to the cattle operation, and so it was known to all as the Hub. The Hub was a practical bachelor pad. Outside, the branding pens and calving sheds and squeeze chutes and cattle trucks filled up a dusty clearing around the house. Inside, the carpets and old leather furniture, even when clean, smelled like men who believed that a hard day’s work followed by a dead sleep—in any location—was far more gratifying than a hot shower. The house was steeped in the scent stains of sweat and hay, horses and manure, tanned leather and barbecue smoke. The men who slept here lived like the bachelors they were. If their daily labors weren’t enough to impress a woman, the cowboys couldn’t be bothered with her.
Dr. Roy Davis, known affectionately by all as Dr. Roy, was a lifelong friend of Beth’s father. Years ago, after the death of Roy’s wife, Abel and Roy merged their professional passions of ranching and psychiatry and expanded the Blazing B’s purpose. It became an outreach to functional but wounded men like Wally who needed a home and a job. Dr. Roy brought his teenage son, Jacob, along. Now thirty-one, Jacob had never found reason to leave, except for the years he’d spent away at college earning multiple degrees in agriculture and animal management. Jacob had been the Blazing B’s general operations manager for more than five years.
Jacob and his father shared the Hub with Pastor Eric, who was a divorced minister, and Emory, a therapist who was once a gang leader. These men were the Borzois’ four full-time employees.
The other men who lived at the Blazing B were called “associates.” They occupied the bunkhouse, some for a few weeks and some for years. At present there were six, including Wally.
When Beth stopped her truck in front of the Hub’s porch, Wally slipped off the seat of her cab, closed the rusty door, and went directly around back to the bunkhouse. She pulled away and had reached the end of the drive when a rut jarred the truck and rattled the shovel he’d left in the truck bed.
In spite of her hurry to take Jacob’s saddle to the people who needed it, she put the truck in park, jumped out, and jogged the tool up to the house. The porch light lit the squeaky wood steps, and she took them two at a time. Jacob would see the tool in the morning when he came out to start up his own truck and head out to what- ever project was on the schedule. She’d phone him to make sure.
She was tipping the handle into the corner where the porch rail met the siding when the Hub’s front door opened and Jacob leaned out. “Past your bedtime, isn’t it?” he said, but he was smiling at
her. Over the years they had settled into a comfortable big-brother- little-sister relationship, though Beth had never fully outgrown her adolescent crush on him.
“Found Wally digging up by the barn,” she said.
Surprise pulled his dark brows together. “Now? Where is he?” “Back in bed, I guess. He said he followed a wolf up to our place. You might want Dr. Roy to look into that. Your dad should know if Wally’s . . . seeing things.”
Jacob nodded as he stepped out the door and leaned against the house. He crossed his arms. “Coyote maybe?”
“Try suggesting that to him. And when was the last time we had a coyote down here? It’s been ages—not since Danny gave up his chicken coop.”
“I’ll mention that to Dad. It’s probably nothing. What had you out at the barn at this hour? Horses okay?”
“Fine.” Beth’s eyes swiveled down to her truck, to Jacob’s saddle, both well beyond reach of the porch light. She tried to recall all her justifications for taking the saddle, but in that moment all she could think was that she should get his permission to do it. She’d known this man more than half her life. He was kind. He was wise. He’d say yes. He’d want her to take it.
But she said, “I’m headed out to the Kandinskys’ place. They’ve got a horse who injured his eye, and it’s pretty bad. They let it go too long, you know, hoping it would correct itself, maybe wouldn’t need a big vet bill.”
“The Kandinskys have their own vet on the premises. Who called you out?”
“It’s not one of their horses, actually. It’s Phil’s. Remember him?” “Your friend from high school?”
“He’s been working there a year or so. They let him keep the horse on the property. One of the perks.”
“But he can’t use their vet?”
Beth looked at her feet. “Phil’s family can’t afford their vet. You know how that goes. We couldn’t afford him. His family doesn’t even have pets, you know. They run a grocery store. The horse is his little sister’s project. A 4H thing.”
“Well, tell Phil I said he called the right gal for the job.”
“I don’t know, Jacob. It sounds really bad. These eye things— the horse might need surgery.”
She found it unusually difficult to look at him, though she was sure he was studying her with a suspicious stare by now. But she couldn’t look at the truck either. Her eyes couldn’t find an object to rest on.
“All you can do is all you can do, Beth. That’ll be as true after you’re licensed as it is now.”
“But I want to do miracles,” she said.
He chuckled at that, though she hadn’t been joking. “Don’t we all.” He uncrossed his arms and put his hand on the doorknob, preparing to go back inside. “I heard some big-shot Thoroughbred breeder is boarding some of his studs there,” Jacob said. “Some friend of theirs passing through.”
“I heard that too.”
“Maybe that’ll be Phil’s miracle this time—an unexpected guest, someone with the right know-how or the right resources who will come to his horse’s rescue.”
“Angels unaware,” Beth said. “Something like that. Night, Beth.”
Beth didn’t want him to go just yet. “Night.”
She lingered at the door while it closed, hoping he might intuit what she didn’t have the courage to say.
When he didn’t, she committed to her original plan. She descended the steps in a quiet rush, wanting to whisk the saddle away before he could object to what he didn’t know. She wanted to be the one who did the good works, who made the incredible rescue. She couldn’t help herself. It was her father’s blood running through her heart.
On the driveway, her smooth-soled boots skimmed the dirt, whispering back to her truck.
“It’s not your right to do it,” Jacob said. Beth gasped and whirled at the sound of his voice, unexpected and loud and straight into her ear, as if he’d been standing on her shoulder. “It’s not your gift to give.”
But the ranch house door was shut tight under the cone of the porch light, and the bright window revealed nothing inside but heavy furniture and cluttered tabletops. At the back of the house, a different door closed heavily. Jacob was headed out to the bunk- house to check on Wally already.
Beth let her captured breath leave her lungs. She looked around for an explanation, because she didn’t want to accept that the words might have been uttered by a guilty conscience.
At the base of the porch steps, crouching in such darkness that its black center sank into its surroundings, was the form of an unusually large dog. Erect ears, broad head, slender body. A wolf. She had passed that spot so closely seconds ago that she could have reached out and stroked its neck.
She took one step backward. Of course, her mind was dreaming this up because Wally had suggested a wolf to her. If he hadn’t, she might have said the silhouette had the outline of a snowman. An inverted snowman guarding the house from her lies. In May.
Beth stared at it for several seconds, oddly unable to recall the landscape where she’d spent her entire life. She was distressed not to be able to say from this distance and angle whether that was a shrub planted there, or a fence post, or an old piece of equipment that hadn’t made it back into the supply shed. When the shape of its edges seemed to shift and shudder without actually moving at all, she decided that her eyes were being tricked by the darkness.
Convincing herself of this was almost as easy as justifying her saddle theft.
She turned away from the house and hurried onward, looking back only once.

My Review:

A book I never wanted to end...I felt like I was walking with my hand in Gods. Erin Healy has written a powerful book, and we experience good and evil.
Bethesda Borzios has wanted to be a Vet since she was a little girl, but one night a wrong decision [or was it the right one] changes her life forever. Because of her decision her family is about to loose their home and ranch. Beth is determined to remedy what she has broke, but how.
Does she have enough faith to follow where God is leading her? Can she trust a wolf? She does finally name the persistent wolf Mercy. When her brother Levi tells her he has sold her truck, she goes looking for it on the ranch. This leads to a series of events that eventually brings her to her Grandfather...maybe just in time. Here we meet evil head on, and will have to wonder who will be the winner.
I see there is a sequel to the book coming next year...can't wait!!

I received this book Publisher Thomas Nelson, and was not required to give a positive review.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

The Mansion Across the Street: Abundantly Beyond All That We Ask or Think by Rose Anne Daniels

Have your dreams been dashed upon the rocks with every new wave of life? Was your voice drowned long ago in a sea of woe? Between the covers of this book, you will find the hope you have long been seeking. You will find the courage to take back the voice you need to make your dreams a reality. You will begin to build a new future grounded on a solid rock.

In this inspiring story of growth, Rose Anne takes you from a place of hopelessness and despair to a world full of hope and blessings.

Join Rose Anne Daniels as she writes, from her own experience, how she began the process of catching a vision for The Mansion across the Street.

About The Author
Rose Anne Daniels is this North Carolina author's pen name. She has been a registered nurse for thirty-three years, and is currently employed on a busy rehabilitation unit for brain injuries. She is certified by the academy of certified brain injury specialists. A survivor of bipolar disorder, she was once labeled "gravely disabled" and committed to psychiatric wards against her will.
Her first book, "Roses are Red: Survival and Recovery by God's Grace", is her own true story. Her second book
will be released in 2012 by Tate Publishing. Rose Anne is a mother, grandmother, and a church and community member. Through her writing she would like to give hope to other sufferers that they too might enjoy life's full joys through God's amazing grace.

My Review:
I found this book to be such a heart warming read. Faced with adversity Rose Anne Daniels, puts a face to mental illness. When in her twenties she is put in a Psychiatric Hospital, in the end with the Grace of God, she forgives everyone. I felt so bad with what she went through, and when her marriage failed.
She was so young when she started her first paying job, de-tasseling corn. I know first hand how hard a job that is, and not really one for a girl, was hard enough on boys. Her family was different, and her survival was our Lord. As I read along with all she faced, there was her Rock.
I Loved her statement "While we are promised a heavenly inheritance, there is also an earthly reward for our faith". Amen!!
What a great fast read that I am going to be sharing, and referencing for a long time. Thank you!

I received this book from the Author, and was not required to give a positive review.

Monday, August 27, 2012

The Gifted: A Novel by Ann H. Gabhart

By 1849, Jessamine Brady has been in the Shaker Village for half her life, but in spite of how she loves her sisters there, she struggles to conform to the strict rules. Instead she entertains dreams of the world outside. When Tristan Cooper seems to step out of those dreams to entice her into the forbidden realm beyond the Shaker Village, her life turns upside down. Will Jessamine be able to survive the storms of the world? Or will she retreat back to the peace of Harmony Hill?

The thousands of loyal fans of Gabhart's Shaker novels will love this entrancing story of learning to trust the gifts God gives us and let him guide us through life.

About this author

Ann H. Gabhart grew up on a farm in Kentucky. By the time she was ten years old she knew she wanted to be a writer. She's published twenty novels in several different genres and one non-fiction biography/memoir. She and her husband, Darrell have three children and nine grandchildren. She still lives on a farm and keeps on writing. Her Shaker books have been popular with readers and are set in a Shaker Village in the 1800's. The Outsider was a Christian Fiction Book Award Finalist in 2009. She's also written a series of books about a preacher and his daughter in small town America (the fictional town of Hollyhill, KY) set in the 1960's. Her new book, Angel Sister, has a 1930's setting.
Visit Ann's website for more chances to win free books.

My Review:

Ann H. Gabhart has again gifted us with another book about living with the Shakers. When I read about their lives, the work ethic is marvelous, but the idea of living without married love is not for me.
Young Jassamine Brady has lived with the Shakers since before she turned 10 years of age. She had been living with her Grandmother in the Mountains, and became a God loving free spirit. Now she has a hard time keeping fairy tales out of her mind, and just living the Shaker life.
She actually made me think Maria in the "Sound of Music". You will wonder how such a "free" spirit can stay a Shaker. She is under the watchful eyes all the time of the elders...can you imagine peep holes? The story begins when she wants to find out about parasols?? Huh! That is what Sister Annie thinks as she drags her through the woods and countryside looking raspberries!
This is where the adventure begins, and life will never be the same. This is the third of the four books in this series that I have read. I also learn quite a bit of history reading these books. Don't miss this enjoyable book about a past segment of American life.

I received this book through Net Galley, and the Publisher Revell, and was not required to give a positive review.

Friday, August 24, 2012

First Wild Card Tours Presents: High Desert Haven by Lynnette Bonner

It is time for a FIRST Wild Card Tour book review! If you wish to join the FIRST blog alliance, just click the button. We are a group of reviewers who tour Christian books. A Wild Card post includes a brief bio of the author and a full chapter from each book toured. The reason it is called a FIRST Wild Card Tour is that you never know if the book will be fiction, non~fiction, for young, or for old...or for somewhere in between! Enjoy your free peek into the book!

You never know when I might play a wild card on you!

Today's Wild Card author is:

and the book:

Lynnette Bonner via CreateSpace (DATE)

***Special thanks to Lynnette Bonner for sending me a review copy.***


The daughter of missionaries, Lynnette was born and raised in Malawi, Africa. After graduating high school from Rift Valley Academy, a boarding school in Kenya, she attended Northwest University in Kirkland, Washington where she met her husband, Marty. They married in 1992 and moved to Pierce, Idaho a few years later.

Marty and Lynnette have four children, and currently live in Washington where Marty pastors a church and Lynnette works as an administrative assistant.

Visit the author's website.


Is Jason Jordan really who he says he is?
Everything in Nicki's life depends on the answer.

Oregon Territory, 1887

When her husband dies in a mysterious riding accident, Nicki Trent is left with a toddler and a rundown ranch. Determined to bring her ranch back from the brink of death, Nicki hires handsome Jason Jordan to help. But when William, her neighbor, starts pressing for her hand in marriage, the bank calls in a loan she didn't even know about, bullets start flying, and a burlap dummy with a knife in its chest shows up on her doorstep, Nicki wonders if this ranch is worth all the trouble.

To make matters worse, terrible things keep happening to her neighbors. When her friend's homestead is burned to the ground and William lays the blame at Jason's feet, Nicki wonders how well she knows her new hand - and her own heart.

A desperate need. Malicious adversaries. Enticing love.
Step into a day when outlaws ran free, the land was wild, and guns blazed at the drop of a hat.

Product Details:
List Price: $14.77
Paperback: 334 pages
Publisher: Lynnette Bonner via CreateSpace
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1477586482
ISBN-13: 9781477586488


High Desert Haven

Copyright © 2012 by Lynnette Bonner. All rights reserved.

Cover design by Lynnette Bonner, images ©, File: # 9303865 Cute Bride., File: Bringing in the Herd, Jeanne Provost #2658808., File: Old Map of the US Pacific Northwest #5998922.
Title-plate created with Photoshop Swirls by Obsidian Dawn,

Author photo © Emily Hinderman, EMH Photography

Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

ISBN: 978-1477586488

High Desert Haven is a work of fiction. References to real people, events, establishments, organizations, or locales are intended only to provide a sense of authenticity and are used fictitiously. All other characters, incidents, and dialogue are drawn from the author’s imagination.

Printed in the U.S.A.




A truer example of walking in God’s Grace and Mercy would be hard to find.




I love you all and am so glad I can call you family twice—once through our own blood, and once through Christ’s.



Once again, I owe much thanks to my English-teacher mother. I can honestly say I wouldn’t be here, writing this sentence, if it wasn’t for her encouragement along my writing journey.

Lesley, my crit-partner-extraordinaire, thanks for all your input. I’m so thankful God brought you into my life. I truly appreciate you (even when I’m grumbling through a rewrite).

Psalm 23


The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.
He makes me to lie down in green pastures;
He leads me beside the still waters.
He restores my soul;
He leads me in the paths of righteousness For His name’s sake.
Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil;
For You are with me;
Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.
You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies;
You anoint my head with oil; My cup runs over.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me All the days of my life;
And I will dwell in the house of the Lord Forever.


July 1883

s Dominique Noel Vasquez methodically scrubbed clothes in the tub of soapy water, she listened to the quiet, strained tones of her parents who sat against the shady side of the house.
Scorching afternoon sun shone on the hard-packed, earth yard of the small adobe hut. Heat waves, radiating from every sun-baked surface, turned the landscape into a shimmering sepia blur. Dead brown land lay in every direction; the only hint of green life was the small scraggly plot of corn that would hopefully feed the family for the year to come. Even the wheat struggling to grow added to the dull brown vista. A solitary chicken, scratching for a meager meal, sent small puffs of dust filtering across the yard and a lonely cow, the children’s only source of milk, rested her head on top of her split-rail fence and let out a low bellow.
In this heat everyone should have been down for a siesta, but on this day only the smallest children of the household were resting. Tension rode the heat waves.
Dominique plunged harder and glared at the clothes. The creditors had come again this morning. Last year Papa had been forced to borrow money for seed, and now for the second season in a row the rains had failed them. There were no crops; they were down to their last chicken; the one cow’s milk was needed by the children; and the creditors were howling for their money like a pack of hungry wolves hot on the scent of lame prey.
Nicki tossed an angry glance at the sky. “Lord, where are You when we need You?” Sweat trickled down her temple and she rubbed it roughly across one shoulder as she shook out a little skirt with more vigor than necessary and tossed it across the line. Gentle conviction washed over her. She was throwing a bigger temper tantrum than two-year-old Coreena did when Papa told her “No.”
Nicki’s anger eased. “Forgive me, Lord. You alone know and care about our plight. But if there were anything I could do to help Mama and Papa, You know I would do it.” She paused in her prayer, thinking, then continued, “What is there to do, Lord? Show me what I can do to help.”
Mama called across the yard, interrupting her prayer. “Nicki, you work too hard. Sit! Rest! We will finish the washing when it is cooler.”
“Almost done, Mama. Then I will rest.”
“That girl!” Mama turned to Papa but the rest of her words were drowned in a dry, hot breeze.
Nicki smiled. Mama often castigated her for working too hard, but with twelve children, nine of whom were still at home to feed and clothe, Mama needed and appreciated all the help she could get.
Silence reigned for a time. The only sounds filling the afternoon air were the soft swish, plunge, and gurgle of Nicki’s washing and the giggling of her two younger sisters splashing each other with cool water by the well. Nicki gave the last small shirt a snap and deftly flipped it onto the line where the laundry was drying. Dumping the soapy water in front of the door, which helped keep the dust down, Nicki hung the wooden bucket on its nail and moved to carefully empty the contents of the rinse bucket on the one small rosebush at the corner of the hut.
“Girls, please!” Juanita Vasquez called from the shadow of the house to Rosa and Juna, who were getting a little wild and loud with their splashing game. “I have just gotten Manuel to sleep. Quiet!”
This sent the girls into another gale of giggles. Their mother’s voice had been twice as loud as theirs. But when Papa tipped his sombrero back and glared at his two wayward offspring, the giggles ceased immediately.
Nicki shook her head fondly at her sisters’ wayward ways and sank to the ground next to Mama, suppressing a groan of satisfaction as she leaned back against the cool adobe wall. She was tired. All morning she had helped Papa haul water from the well to carefully water their acre of wheat and corn. A large enough plot to hopefully get them through another year. Later they would repeat the process, because watering with buckets did not soak the ground like a good rain would, and the crops needed plenty of water if they were to produce well.
Nicki closed her eyes, trying to ignore Mama and Papa’s furtive conversation.
“The chicken, Carlos?”
“Mama, the chicken will not bring in enough to get us through one day, much less pay the money we owe.”
“Yes. You are right, of course, and it has stopped laying, so we don’t even have the eggs from it anymore.” Mama sighed. “Ahhh, maybe we should have chicken tonight, sí?”
Papa sighed at Mama’s little joke. “We could sell the cow.”
“Papa, she is the only milk for the children. I would like to keep her if we could.”
Hot tears pressed the back of Nicki’s eyes, and she leaned back against the wall. What were they to do? Papa would be taken to jail if he didn’t come up with the money by next week, and then they would all die for sure. The creditors would take their meager crops to recoup as much of their money as they could. They wouldn’t care that they’d be leaving a woman and her nine children to starve to death. Where was Juan when they needed him? Were he here, he’d think of some way to make the money they so desperately needed.
A slight breeze rustled the dried grasses, and Nicki pulled her skirt up around her knees, not caring that Mama would chastise her for such an unladylike action. The small breath of fresh air was worth it. Reaching up, she brushed at the long wisps of black hair that had escaped her braid and rubbed the perspiration from her upper lip. She wanted a drink of water but felt almost too tired to get up and get it. Eventually the thought of the cold water won out. She shifted forward. Mama and Papa could surely use a drink as well. “Child, you don’t sit still for even a minute! What are you heading to do now?”
“A drink, Mama,” Nicki said lovingly. “Would you like one as well?” She pushed herself up from the wall.
Mama’s voice turned tender. “What would I do without you, child?”
Nicki chuckled. She was hardly the child her mother kept insisting she was. At seventeen she more than carried her weight, but Mama didn’t like to see her children grow up. Nicki remembered Mama calling Roberto “my little man” on the day of his wedding! Those had been happier times, Nicki thought as she walked to the well. The rains had been good in those years, and debt had not hung over the little adobe hut and its occupants.
As Nicki cranked the lever that would pull the bucket up from the depths of the well, she scanned the horizon and stiffened. “Papa.” Her tone held a soft warning. Someone was coming on the trail.
Papa rose and stood by her side. Nicki pulled the bucket toward her, filling the dipper with cool water. If the creditors had come to take her papa away, he would go having just drunk his fill from the chilled water of his own well. She handed the dipper to her father. He drank, never taking his eyes off the rider heading their way, then handed the dipper back. Nicki filled it and moved toward her mother, who still sat in the shade, tears filling her eyes.
“They said not until next week.” Mama’s words stabbed a knife of pain through Nicki’s heart. Whatever happened, Nicki knew Mama would die a slow death once Papa was taken. Not from starvation, but because the love of her life would be gone.
Fierce determination filled Nicki as she marched with the empty dipper back toward the well. Tossing back a gulp of water, she wiped the droplets from her chin and pivoted to glare at the man coming into the yard.
She froze. He was not the man who worked for the bank.
“Howdy.” The man tipped back his dusty, black hat and smiled down at Carlos. The smile didn’t quite reach his eyes. His gaze flicked past Papa and came to rest on Nicki. Considerable interest flamed in their depths. He nodded to her, the smile now reaching his eyes, and touched the brim of his hat in a one-fingered salute. “Ma’am.” He ignored Papa and spoke directly to her. “I was thinking how nice a cool drink of water would be. I’d sure be appreciating it if I could light a spell.”
Carlos stepped between Nicki and the newcomer, effectively blocking his view. “Draw fresh water, Dominique.” He stretched his hand toward the man, indicating he could dismount. “Welcome.”
But Nicki could hear an edge in his voice. This man could mean trouble.
“Obliged.” He nodded and swung from his saddle. The man was tall, had graying hair, steely blue eyes, and a wad of chewing tobacco stuffed in his cheek. He stretched his hand toward Carlos as Nicki pulled up a fresh bucket. “Name’s John Trent.”
Papa took his hand. “Carlos Vasquez.”
Mr. Trent studied her over the dipper as he drank his fill. Nicki averted her eyes but held the bucket for his next dipperful. She had received more than her share of such looks and knew what he was thinking. For although this man would say nothing to her in front of her father, the men down at the cantina showed no such qualms whenever Mama found it necessary to send her there. The thought of their suggestive remarks burned a blush across her cheeks. John Trent lifted the dipper again and raised his eyebrows in amusement.
Papa made small talk about the long hot spell as Nicki pulled buckets of water from the well for the man’s horse, but Nicki didn’t miss the looks John Trent kept throwing her way.
When he mounted up to ride out, Mama, still seated in the shade, gave an audible sigh. Nicki couldn’t deny she felt plenty relieved as well.
Just as he arrived at the crest of the trail, the man paused, and Nicki stiffened. John Trent rubbed a hand across his face and said something to himself, then swung his horse once again toward their adobe. His eyes raked her more boldly this time as he pulled to a stop in their sun-baked yard.
Leaning his arms casually on the horn of his saddle, he spat a stream of tobacco into the dust, turned toward Papa, and brazenly asked, “How much for the girl?”
Nicki and Mama gasped in unison.
The bucket in Nicki’s hands crashed to the ground, splashing water over her feet. Quickly she bent and picked it up. She spun on her heel and marched toward the well to return the bucket to its hook. The audacity!
Papa spoke with authority. “The señorita is not for sale.”
John Trent’s eyes scanned the small house and the scraggly field beyond, then traveled pointedly to seven of Nicki’s brothers and sisters who had gathered in a little clump to watch the goings-on. Then he stared into Papa’s face before spitting another stream of brown sludge. “I think everything’s for sale as long as the price is right.”
“My daughter is not for sale, Señor. I have to ask you to leave us now.”
Ignoring him, Trent reached into the pocket of his vest and pulled out a coin. He tossed it to the ground near Papa’s feet.
A twenty dollar gold piece! Nicki had not seen Mama move, but the audible click of a cocking shotgun cracked into the afternoon stillness. All eyes turned toward the door of the house to see her there, the gun aimed squarely at John Trent’s chest.
Nicki’s eyes dropped to the money on the ground. That little piece of gold could save Papa’s life. It would get him out of debt and even give them enough to start over somewhere. Remembering her earlier prayer, she started to step forward.
But Papa beat her to it. Picking up the offensive gold, he threw it toward John Trent as if it were too hot to touch. “She is not for sale!”
Trent deftly caught the coin, pulled two more pieces just like it from his pocket, and tossed all three on the ground. “I want that girl. Now I am trying to go about this in a civilized manner, but if I have to, I will take her by force.” He sat up straight and casually rested a hand on his thigh near his gun.
Nicki felt dizzy from the sheer shock of this proposition. Her eyes flashed from Mama, bravely holding an unloaded gun on the man insulting her daughter, to Papa, stooping to pick up the offensive coins, to the hand of John Trent inching toward his holster. She surprised even herself by what happened next.
“Papa, wait!” She stepped forward. Sixty dollars! “I will go with him.” Her hands trembled as she smoothed the material of her skirt.
“Nicki, NO!” Mama screamed.
“Mama, por favor! The money! You will be free from all this trouble! I will be all right. God, He will go with me, sí?”
Dominique, don’t do this.” Papa’s words were thick with restrained emotion. “We will work something out with the bank. You take too much on yourself for one so young.”
“Papa.” Nicki wrapped her arms around his neck. “You are the one who taught me to be strong, ? Take care of Mama and make Rosa help her now.” Nicki pulled back, gazing deeply into his dark eyes, so much like her own, and rested a hand on his stubbly cheek. “She would have died without you, Papa.”
She spun toward her mother, throwing herself into her arms, before the threatening tears could overflow. “Mama, te amo!” The choked words were all she could squeeze past her constricting throat. Would she ever see her beloved mama again?
Nicki hugged her brothers and sisters in turn, giving them each a piece of advice on how to be helpful to Mama and Papa, drying their tears with her skirt and promising she would see them again someday. Going into the house, she ran her fingers across the baby-soft cheek of little Manuel, the only member of the household still sleeping through all the commotion.
And then, head held high, she walked out into the searing sun and allowed herself to be pulled up onto the horse behind John Trent’s saddle.
“Wait!” Mama ran toward her, carrying the family Bible. She pressed it into Nicki’s hands, making the sign of the cross and blessing her daughter one more time, as she had done every day since her birth.
Nicki didn’t let her family see her cry, but as she rode away from the only home she had ever known, part of her felt like it died. She allowed herself the small luxury of quiet tears.
They rode north for several days. Nicki was thankful that John Trent seemed to be a kind man. A justice of the peace married them in his dusty office in a small, one-street town that Nicki didn’t even know the name of. By evening, they were moving north again.
They had been traveling for more than two weeks, making mostly dry camps at night, when Nicki heard her husband utter an oath of awe. It was mid-afternoon and Nicki, her forehead pressed into John’s back, was almost asleep when she heard his exclamation. Lifting her head, she blinked into the sunlight, almost unable to believe the sight before her.
A lush valley stretched before them. A small creek meandered through its center, merging with the Deschutes River at one end. The Deschutes was normally inaccessible due to its steep canyon walls, but here the descent to the river was simply a long, smooth slope. Here and there a cluster of evergreen trees could be seen, but the verdant meadow was what had drawn John’s eye.
It was like a vivid oasis dropped in the middle of the high-desert sagebrush they had been traveling through for the last week. The swaying grass was belly high to a good-sized horse.
At that moment, Nicki knew she was looking at her new home. The valley was a rancher’s paradise, and John had talked of nothing else since their journey began. He wanted to become a rancher. A rich rancher. And this was where he would make his start.
They made camp early, and Nicki sighed in satisfaction as she waded into the creek for her first bath in a week. She rolled her head from side to side, rubbing her neck, working out the kinks of knotted muscle.
John waded in as well, and she stiffened as he slid his arms around her waist from behind, pressing a kiss to her neck.
Apparently sensing her tension, he sighed. “I’m gonna make you a good husband. You’ll see, Dominique. We’re gonna have one fine spread across this valley. One day you’ll wake up and realize what a good life we’ve had, and you’ll no longer regret the day you first met me.”
Nicki bit her lower lip, hoping he was right. She didn’t think she’d be able to live with this dreadful despair all her life. She closed her eyes, missing Mama and the family. Willing herself not to cry, she stepped out of his arms and turned to give him a tentative smile, but her heart did not lighten.
They found the soddy later that evening. There was also a run-down barn, a partially erected bunkhouse, and a corral all clustered on the lee side of a knoll just tall enough for the soddy. But the spread had long since been abandoned. The windowless house was dark, and when they lit John’s lantern, Nicki saw the spiders scurrying to escape the light. She shivered and went in search of some brush to use as a broom. Soon the room was cobweb-free, and they made a bed on the floor for the night.
It was still dark the next morning when she heard John saddling the horse. She roused herself and set about making coffee. He only took the time for one cup before he rode out with a terse, “I’ll be back soon as I can.”
He was gone for two weeks. When he came back, he informed her they would be staying.


Shilo, Oregon, in the Willamette Valley
January 1887

he tepid January sun struggled to warm the day, but this winter had been one of the Northwest’s worst in a number of years. The temperatures barely reached the teens.
At the knock on the door, Brooke Jordan rose from scrubbing the kitchen floor and dried her hands on a towel. Pressing a hand to her aching lower back and resting one hand protectively on her rounded belly, she moved to see who it was.
“Who do you suppose would be knocking on our door at this time of day?” she asked the unborn child.
It had become her practice to talk to the baby during the day to ease the loneliness of Sky’s absence. Since they had moved back to Sky’s childhood home from the Idaho territory where they had met, Sky had gone to work as a deputy sheriff for his father and was gone most of the day. She missed him terribly but couldn’t bring herself to tell him, knowing how much he loved his new job, even though it kept him away from home for hours at a time.
Swinging the door wide, Brooke gasped. “Jason!” She pulled the blond man, almost the spitting image of her husband, into her cumbersome embrace. “Come in! Sky and I were just talking about you last night, wondering where you might have gotten to.”
Jason smiled as his eyes dropped to her midsection. “I see I’ve missed some news of my own while I’ve been gone.”
Brooke’s grin broadened. “This isn’t the only news you’ve missed. Just let me send the neighbor boy to call Sky, and I’ll be right in. Make yourself at home.”
Brooke waved him inside and headed for the house next door.
Jason entered the little house, noting the bucket on the kitchen floor and the line delineating the clean side from the dirty. Hanging his black Stetson on the back of a chair, he bent down and took over where Brooke had left off.
“Oh, Jason,” Brooke said as she came back into the house, “get up off that floor and sit down!”
He grinned at her. “Not on your life. You just plant yourself in that chair right there,” he pointed toward the dining table, “and start filling me in on all the news I’ve missed.”
Brooke sank into the indicated chair. “First I want to know all about what you’ve been doing. My, you’ve lost a lot of weight.”
Jason hated the heat he felt wash his face. “Most of my weight was due to the fact I drank too much. Now that I’ve given that up, I can’t seem to keep the pounds on.”
Brooke smiled tenderly. “We are so proud of you, Jason.”
He nodded but did not look up. His life had changed because of his relationship with the Lord, not because he was so great a person. There was no reason for Brooke to be proud of him, but knowing she hadn’t really meant the words exactly as they sounded, he kept this thought to himself.
“So tell me what you’ve been up to,” she prodded.
“Oh, not much. I’ve punched a few cows here and there, but I thought it was time I came home to see how all the family was doing. I’ve really missed Marquis,” he said of his sister. “I would have stopped by there first, but your house was on the way, so I wanted to stop and say hello.”
“Well, we’re all doing fine. As you can see—”
The front door opened. “Jason!” Sky strode in. “Where’ve you been? Brooke and I were talking about you last night.”
Jason and Brooke exchanged amused glances.
“Sky.” Jason extended his wet, soapy hand, but Sky pulled him into a manly embrace. Then the cousins stepped back and eyed one another.
“How are things?” Sky asked.
“Fine.” Jason grinned. It was good to be home.
“I mean with your relationship with the Lord,” said Sky.
Jason grinned at Brooke again. “He sure knows how to get to the point, doesn’t he?”
Brooke smiled in response, but her eyes held the same question.
Jason swallowed and fiddled with the scrub brush. “I’m doing good, Sky. I’ve had my struggles, especially giving up the bottle, but I haven’t given in so far. God has given me the strength I needed every time.”
“Praise God! We haven’t given up praying for you even for a minute.”
“Thanks.” The one word could never express his deep gratitude. He tapped the scrub brush against his palm. “Brooke told me I’ve missed a bunch of news.”
Sky sat next to his wife and took her hand. “Have you ever.”
Jason bent to continue scrubbing the floor, curiosity filling him. “Well?” he asked, waiting.
“Let’s see. First, you can see Brooke is expecting. We’ll have an addition to the family sometime around the end of this spring.”
“Hopefully sooner than later,” Brooke said, reaching one hand to her lower back.
Sky continued, “Then there is Sharyah. She’s finished her schooling and plans to find a teaching position for this fall.”
Jason rocked back on the balls of his feet, letting the scrub brush hang between his knees. “Sharyah. Wow, I seem to only remember her as the little pig-tailed beauty who drove all the boys at the church picnics crazy ’cause she only had eyes for Cade Bennett.”
Sky smirked. “Well, she still drives all the boys crazy, but I don’t know about her having eyes for Cade Bennett anymore. He’s been seeing a lot of Jenny Cartwright.”
“Oh, honey!” Brooke voiced exasperation. Turning back to Jason, she rolled her eyes. “Men are so blind! Of course she’s still in love with Cade, but he doesn’t have a brain in his head where Sharyah is concerned. If he had a thimbleful of wisdom, he would have snapped her up a long time ago!” She emphasized her point with a snap of her fingers.
Sky chuckled. “As you can see, Brooke and my family don’t get along very well.”
Giving a mock frown, Jason agreed, “Yes, I can see that.”
Sky went on. “Rocky is still a deputy in town. He, Dad, and I keep the town running criminal-free.” A twinkle leapt into his eyes. “And I guess that’s about all that’s new.”
When Brooke spun, wide-eyed and incredulous, in Sky’s direction, Jason surmised that Sky had been teasing her and the largest piece of news would be forthcoming. He swiped his cheek against his shoulder and returned his concentration to the last section of the kitchen floor. Someday, Lord, if You’re willing, I’d like to have someone to love that way.
After giving Sky a friendly punch, Brooke said to Jason, “Your cousin is deliberately withholding information from you, but maybe we shouldn’t ruin her surprise. You’d better go visit Marquis right away, though. She’d be terribly disappointed if you heard the news from anyone else.”
“Is she all right?” Jason asked, tension crawling through his chest. “She’s fine,” Sky assured.
Jason’s shoulders relaxed, but a niggling worry still clung to the back of his mind. “Maybe I’ll mosey on over that way.” He stood and picked up the scrub water. “Can I empty this for you somewhere, Brooke?”
“Oh, to one side out the back door is fine.” Brooke waved him through the kitchen.
As he made his way back to the front of the house, Jason grabbed his hat, trying not to let his worry over his sister’s news show on his face. He’d always been a little overprotective of her, since a childhood illness had robbed her of her sight. He had been gone for several years when he headed to the Idaho territory to exact revenge on a man that he blamed for their mother’s death. But he’d known that, since Marquis was living with his grandmother, she was in good hands. Since his return to the Lord, finding work had forced him away from his family, but he had faithfully sent Marquis money every month. Now he wondered what news Marquis could have that she wouldn’t have told him in her last letter.
“I’ll head on over to Gram’s, then. It’s good to see you both…and congratulations.”
Brooke embraced him once more. “Thank you for stopping by. On Sunday everyone is getting together at our place for lunch, so come on by and join us.”
“I’ll do that.” Jason settled his Stetson and headed down the street to Gram’s house, which sat on the edge of the snow-bound little town.


The Prineville bank was stuffy and hot. The teller had obviously forgotten to turn down the damper on the wood stove. The heat had felt nice to William Harpster for a few minutes after coming in from the single-digit temperature outside. Now, sitting across from the banker, Tom Roland, he frowned.
Behind his desk, Tom mopped his sweaty brow and tossed an occasional irritated glance at the teller.
William paid no attention to the teller. His eyes were fixed solely on the short, paunchy, balding Roland seated across from him. “I told you it would take some time.”
“It’s been over two years!” The words were forceful but voiced low so as not to reach the ears of the clerk. “The Association is going to be running us off if we don’t come up on the good side of this deal. We guaranteed them we’d have the small-timers gone by next month. You said you could get the job done!”
William’s eyes narrowed. “Do you think I don’t know that? You’re the one who said he was the perfect man for our plan! It’s not my fault he’s welching on his end.” His voice became a little too loud and drew a look from the curious teller.
But at that moment a patron entered the building, taking the man’s interest off their conversation. When it was once again safe to resume, Tom’s pale blue eyes flashed. “Keep it down, would you? This is not my fault. First,” the banker held up one short finger, “his wife isn’t nearly as timid and withdrawn as you said. She’s made friends with over half the country, for goodness’ sake! Second, he’s no longer willing to go along with our plan. And now…” A third finger joined the first two. “You’re telling me you think he might have a herd of horses back in those hills that could pay off his loan?”
William rubbed the back of his neck. “I don’t know. Things just don’t add up. He’s been making his payments?”
“Right on time, every time.”
William sighed. There was only one way to ensure their plan would work. “We know what the Association thinks. But how badly do you want your share of that land?”
Tom Roland dabbed at his glistening pate with a handkerchief. Then, leaning back, he lit a cigar and blew a ring of smoke in William’s direction. He wanted that land. The original owner had given up on ranching and moved back to Chicago, leaving the land up for sale. Tom had been tempted to buy the land himself, but then John Trent had walked into his bank. The only reason Tom had loaned John the money was that he was almost assured the gambler wouldn’t be able to come up with his payments. Then the land would revert to the bank, where Tom could discreetly snap it up at a lower price. That and the fact The Stockman’s Association had needed a scapegoat for their dirty work. But then John had developed a conscience. And, on top of that, he hadn’t missed one payment.
Tom ran his handkerchief across the back of his neck. Five thousand acres of the finest range land in central Oregon, and half of it was to be his. Well, maybe more than half, but he was careful to keep that thought off his face. Yes. He wanted that land very much. But a couple of things bothered him. “What about his wife?”
William smiled sardonically. “Let me worry about the little woman. Once John is out of the way, she’ll give up. There’s no way she’ll be able to make a go of it. They’ve only got two hands.”
“The Stockman’s Association will break loose with all the fury of Hades if this doesn’t pan out,” Tom warned. “They were plenty upset that I let him buy that land in the first place. And if things don’t work out for me, you know they certainly aren’t going to work out for you, right?”
“Things couldn’t be clearer. Have I ever let you down before?”
Tom blew another ring. “No, William, you haven’t. But let’s make sure this isn’t the first.”
William’s gaze hardened. “Tom, this better be the last time you need my services. A man’s patience can only be stretched so far.”
“Just do your job, William. Do your job and let the future take care of itself.”
The men glared at each other across the desk. Tom didn’t want to be the first to look away. Finally William conceded the battle.
Tom looked down at his desk, pulling in a deep drag on his cigar. “Now, back to the job at hand. I think we both know there is only one way to solve this little problem.”
The two men’s eyes locked. A silent understanding passed between them.
William stood, straightened his cowhide vest with a tug, and placed his hat carefully on his head. He shook Tom’s fleshy hand and said loud enough for the teller to hear, “Thanks. You won’t regret making me this loan, Mr. Roland.”
With that, he moved toward the door, stepping out into the cold. He took a cleansing breath of the refreshing air, then headed toward the livery, his boots thudding loudly on the boardwalk. He had a job to do back home. And maybe, just maybe, if he played his cards right, by the end of the year he’d be owner of some of the finest range land in Oregon, not to mention the husband of one beautiful, desirable Mrs. Dominique Trent. A smile lifted the corners of his mouth at the thought. Yes, indeed, now that was a dream worth chasing.

My Review:

Once I started reading this book, I couldn't put it down. The story starts back in the 1880's, when John Trent happens upon the Vasquez family in California. He sees Dominique [Nicki] and decides he wants her for his wife, and pays for her in gold. Her family is desperate and she goes with him willingly.
When the story resumes Nicki is living on a ranch in Oregon. Her husband has just died and she doesn't know what she is going to do? She places an ad in the newspaper, and Jason Jordan feels that God has place it on his heart to go and work for Nicki.
What an adventure, at times I almost couldn't keep reading, and was yelling no. There is a lot of things that happen, and some are so gruesome...because of some evil people. Lynnette Bonner has written a captivating story, it is filled with the love of the Lord, good vs evil. I for one did not want the story to end.

I received this book from First Card Tours and the author Lynnette Bonner, and was not required to give a positive review.

Celebrate Lit Presents: Trail of Promises Author: Susan F. Craft

  About the Book Book:  Trail of Promises Author:  Susan F. Craft Genre:  Christian Historical Romance Release date: June 2...