by: Peggy L Henderson
I have a new release coming out this month, the third book in my western/time travel romance series, Second Chances. The book is titled Diamond in the Dust. I put off writing this book, pushing it back to write two other books in two different series between Book 2 and Book 3 because, frankly, writing this one scared me to death. Why?
First of all, I don't like writing in a contemporary setting, and this story calls for the hero to come from the old west of 1872 to modern times. Reason #2: It was "suggested" to me when I was nearly two-thirds done writing the second book, Ain't No Angel, that I write the "bad guy" in that book as the hero in another book. Ooookaaay....how to turn a guy with vindictive motives into someone likable, with a slow progression from his old self to someone the reader can root for, and give him his own story and HEA?
Well, the returns so far from my beta readers and my editor have been quite encouraging, some even saying this is my best book to date. Well, we'll see. It's definitely one of the most emotionally-charged books I've ever written, and with the most broken hero I've ever come up with.
Here's a short excerpt from Diamond in the Dust:
“Mr. McFarlain . . . Gabe,” the reverend’s voice called from behind him. Gabe cursed under his breath. Sweat beaded his forehead, and one of the cuts above his eye stung. Damn, the air was hot and dry here. He coughed, and caught his breath. Looking ahead, there appeared to be nothing but desert as far as the eye could see. Footsteps crunched close behind him, and Gabe stopped to turn.
“Ain’t you through with your meddling, Reverend?” he said heatedly.
Reverend Johnson came rushing up to him, his face flushed and looking winded. The old man’s eyes clouded with concern for the first time. He stopped in front of Gabe, and looked straight up at him.
“My meddling, Mr. McFarlain, has prevented you from ruining your brother’s life, a man who has done nothing but good things for you. I will concede that I may have overstepped my bounds when I sent you here. I’ve never sent anyone to another time without an explicit task that they’ve agreed to complete. I had no choice, however. It was the only way to right a wrong, and reunite Laney with Tyler.”
“Then send me back to where I belong.”
Gabe ran a frustrated hand through his hair. He clenched his jaw, the anger in him ready to boil over hotter than the sun beating down on him. All his life, he’d had to scrape and fight for everything, like a stray mongrel, on the streets of every dusty town where Cora and he had moved.
Nothing had ever come to him the easy way. Even now, the reverend was telling him that he’d returned Laney to Tyler, just like that, but the old man couldn’t do anything to send him back to where he belonged. He had no idea where to go or what to do, but for the moment, he allowed his anger to guide him.
“It’s your turn to come to a decision, Mr. McFarlain,” the reverend continued. “Remain here and allow me to help you learn to live in this time, or, as Miss Bartlett has kindly suggested, you will be incarcerated as a mentally ill person.”
“This don’t concern her.” Gabe’s voice lowered menacingly. The last thing he wanted was for Morgan to get involved with this preacher. “I don’t want anything from you, old man,” he added. “You’ve meddled with my life enough. I’ve done everything on my own for as long as I can remember. I’ll get along just fine without you.”
“I urge you to reconsider, Mr. McFarlain,” the reverend said, his eyes wide. “You don’t know what you’re getting yourself into.”
Gabe advanced on the reverend. “I said I don’t want anything from you. Unless you can send me back to where I belong, get out of my sight, or I won’t be responsible for my actions.”
Fighting off a wave of dizziness, Gabe turned on his heels, and headed briskly in the direction that led out of this town.
Reverend Johnson is in the business of granting second chances to those deserving a new start, even if it means bending the rules of time travel on occasion. In Gabe McFarlain’s case, he may have gone too far . . .
Abandoned by his father, and raised in a whorehouse, Gabe has grown bitter to the world. Fueled by revenge and hatred, his actions leave him facing the hangman’s noose. Accepting certain death, he wakes up in a time and place that is as foreign to him as the tender touch of the woman who rescues him.
Down to earth and level-headed, Morgan Bartlett isn’t afraid to wear her heart on her sleeve. All she wants is independence from her overbearing mother, and the freedom to shape her own destiny. When she aids a badly beaten man along the side of the road, she may have found more than a dusty cowboy down on his luck.
Morgan’s unshakable belief that Gabe is a good man slowly chisels away the walls he’s built around himself. As he comes to terms with living in the future, he must decide if losing his heart is worth more than holding on to the life he’s led in the past.
Peggy L Henderson is a laboratory technologist by night, and best-selling western historical and time travel romance author of the Yellowstone Romance Series, Second Chances Time Travel Romance Series, and Teton Romance Trilogy. When she’s not writing about Yellowstone, the Tetons, or the old west, she’s out hiking the trails, spending time with her family and pets, or catching up on much-needed sleep. She is happily married to her high school sweetheart. Along with her husband and two sons, she makes her home in Southern California.