When my first book was published by The Wild Rose Press, I introduced two characters in The Devil’s Own Desperado that keep showing up. U.S. Deputy Marshal Harrison Taylor and his lovely wife Rachel have made cameo appearances in all three of my published books. The funny thing is, Harrison and Rachel’s story was the first romance I ever wrote but I knew when I wrote it, they just weren’t ready for prime time, so to speak. They weren’t even supposed to appear in Desperado but they did. And, then in Smolder on a Slow Burn and again in Seize the Flame. By the time Seize the Flame was published, I was being asked when I was going to write the marshal and his wife’s story. I realized that these weren’t two “reoccurring guest appearances” but rather two characters that my readers have grown to care about almost as much as I care for them. West of Forgotten is their story.
With all that being said, I have to admit I still don’t have a release date for West of Forgotten. I have an official cover, an approved blurb, but a release date hasn’t been assigned yet. I can tell people that as of this blog post, Harrison and Rachel’s romance is in galley stage. I’m sharing an exclusive excerpt here with the readers of the Cowboy Kisses blog.
JACKET BLURB: Banished from civilization to the Wyoming Territory, U.S. Marshal Harrison Taylor holds a deed to half the Lazy L. He isn’t sure why his beautiful new partner, Rachel Leonard, doesn’t trust him. He has to convince her he is nothing like the man who abused her and must earn her trust before the escalating attacks at the Lazy L turn deadly.
For six years, Rachel has worked to repair a shattered life. Caring for her son and invalid father leaves little time to keep the Lazy L profitable. She doesn’t want a business partner simply because her father gambled away half of her beloved ranch and most certainly doesn’t desire a husband. Unfortunately, she’s stuck with the former and can’t trust Harrison as the latter.
Unless she can learn to trust Harrison, everything and everyone Rachel loves will be lost.
EXCERPT:“Son of a—” Harrison Taylor bit off the curse as he struggled to bring his rearing horse under control. He pulled the black’s head down to his right and shifted his weight forward to avoid being pitched from the saddle. When the horse dropped to all four hooves, he reined the snorting, startled animal in a tight circle. “I realize you haven’t been shot at in ten years, Demon, but I’d think you’d remember not to throw me.”
He ran a calming hand down the horse’s sweat-soaked neck and used the moment to steal a glance in the direction that the shot had originated. It had been a shotgun, if the buzzing like so many angry hornets as the projectiles flew overhead was any indication. The question remained if the scatter-gun was a single shot. The figure in the shadows of the heavily shaded porch shifted and the late afternoon sunlight glinted on the muzzle.
“There’s nothing here for you, mister.”
Even though the voice in the shadows sounded young, there was no waver in the words. The levelness in the simple statement answered the question of whether the shotgun was a single shot. He nudged his hat back a little, unshrouding his face. “I just need water for my horse and me. I’m not looking for trouble.”
The muzzle of the long gun emerged from the depths of the porch, gesturing toward the water trough he’d glimpsed in his attempt to calm the horse.
“Get a drink then move along. If you reach into those saddle bags when you dismount, I’ll cut you in half.” To emphasize the point, the sharp click of a hammer cocked back traveled across the hot land.
Smart kid. Even though he wasn’t wearing his sidearm, the boy correctly guessed he had a weapon in the saddlebags. Harrison crossed his arm over his midsection and deliberately leaned his elbow onto the pommel. “I was told in town there might be work to be had here.”
“You were told wrong.” There was still a dead level cadence to the words. “You’ve got ten seconds to decide if you want a drink for you and your horse or if you’re just going to keep riding.”
He didn’t need the ten seconds. Harrison tugged one rein, directing the large black to the water trough. He dismounted and worked the pump. Fresh, cold water filled the nearly empty tank. While his horse drank, he picked up the cup tied to the pump and worked the handle again. When he and his mount had quenched their thirst, he backed the animal from the trough. As he grabbed a hank of mane and put his foot into the stirrup, the kid on the porch asked, “Who told you in town there was work here?”
It wasn’t so much curiosity he heard in the boy’s voice, but anger. Aware of the shotgun still aimed at his midsection, Harrison stepped down and kept a firm grip on Demon’s reins. “I stretched the truth just a bit.” He nodded toward the remains of a garden near the house. “I figured from the looks of things when I rode up there was work to be had. Kinda hard to keep a garden growing when the fence is down and it looks like cows have been trampling it.”
He took a step closer to the house and halted when the muzzle of the gun glinted again in the afternoon sunlight as it was pulled into a shooting position. He paused, weighing his options. “Look, kid—”
The kid stepped out of the shadows. Auburn hair was pulled up into a loose chignon, though several tendrils had escaped to frame a slender face. Harrison took in the faded chambray shirt, denim trousers patched repeatedly at the knees, and scuffed boots, all covering what was a decidedly feminine shape. Though the clothes were overly large and hung on her with as much form as a potato sack, there was no doubt it was a woman holding him at bay. He felt his jaw drop. “You’re not a boy.”
“I never said I was.” She gestured with the shotgun. “Mount up, mister, and leave.”