Execution in E: Lone Star Book Blog Tour – Excerpt

EXECUTION IN E
A Gethsemane Brown Mystery,
Volume 5 
by
Alexia Gordon
Genre: Paranormal Cozy Mystery
Publisher: Henery Press
Date of Publication: March 24, 2020
Number of Pages: 252

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Romance is in the air. Or on the ‘gram, anyway.
 
When an influencer-turned-bridezilla shows up at the lighthouse to capture Insta-perfect wedding photos designed to entice sponsors to fund her lavish wedding, Gethsemane has her hands full trying to keep Eamon from blasting the entire wedding party over the edge of the cliff.
 
Wedding bells become funeral bells when members of the bride’s entourage start turning up dead. Frankie’s girlfriend, Verna, is pegged as maid-of-honor on the suspect list when the Garda discover the not-so-dearly departed groom was her ex and Gethsemane catches her standing over a body.
 

Gethsemane uncovers devilish dealings as she fights to clear Verna, for Frankie’s sake. Will she find the killer in time to save Frankie from another heartbreak? Or will the photos in her social media feed be post-mortem?

 

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Excerpt

EXCERPT FROM CHAPTER THREE

OF EXECUTION IN E

BY ALEXIA GORDON

A drink felt in order after her face-off with the happy couple from hell. Gethsemane extracted a half-hearted promise from Eamon not to blast Sunny, Ty, or their entourage with orbs, grabbed her vintage Pashley Parabike, and pedaled to the Mad Rabbit. She spied Frankie Grennan sitting with Verna and her younger sister, Vivian, in a booth at the back. Frankie waved her over. “I haven’t seen much of you this past week,” he said. “I haven’t seen much of you this past week.” She winked at Verna. Frankie blushed as red as his hair. “Frankie’s been teaching me about roses,” Verna said. Frankie, a keen amateur rosarian, had recently won a gold medal in the International Rose Hybridizers’ Association’s Thirteenth Annual Rose and Garden Show for his hybrid rose, ‘Sandra Sechrest.’ “You should see what he’s done with the old rose garden up at Carnock. You wouldn’t recognize it. It looks like a spread from Irish Garden magazine.” Gethsemane’s hand moved unconsciously to touch the scar on her forehead. Carnock, a desolate hill, better known by the locals as Golgotha, housed the remains of an abandoned insane asylum. Gethsemane’s first mystery had nearly been her last when the killer attacked her and set the asylum on fire with Gethsemane in it. The scar was a souvenir of the encounter. She never imagined the tangled brambles that covered the hill could ever be anything but an unredeemable mess of twisted canes and dangerous thorns, but Frankie uncovered the remnants of the rose garden planted when the asylum first opened and had used his award-winning horticultural skills to rehabilitate it. He gave Gethsemane a sneak peek of the work in its early stages, but she hadn’t yet seen the finished garden. “‘Fearless Brown’ is doing well,” Frankie said. “Not that I’d expect anything less from a rambler named for Dunmullach’s most intrepid transplant.” “Thank you for naming a rose after me, Frankie,” Gethsemane said. “By the way, ‘Fearless’ is a much better nickname than ‘Sissy.’” She made a face at the ridiculous sobriquet her family saddled her with decades ago and her friends in Dunmullach insisted on using to tease her, “so if you want to start calling me ‘Fearless’ instead…” “And miss seeing you cringe every time someone calls you ‘Sissy’? Not a chance.” Frankie winked. A waitress came over to take their orders. Their drinks arrived and they enjoyed them while chatting about the upcoming school term and about Vivian’s, a flutist, doctoral program at University College Cork. Gethsemane, Bushmills 21 in hand, glanced up from the conversation as the pub door opened. She paused mid-sip as the wedding photographer stepped inside. Frankie noticed her stare. “You know him?” “We’ve met.” She turned back to the sisters and tried to resume the conversation. Too late. Verna had noticed him, too. She paled and her hand shook as she set her drink on the table. Frankie put an arm around her shoulders. “Vern?” Vivian swore and jumped up. Her purse spilled to the floor. Its contents rattled and clattered as they rolled under the table.

“He’s with them. D’you want me to ask him to go?” Verna motioned her back into her seat. “Please don’t cause a scene, Viv.” “Who is he?” Frankie asked. “The photographer,” Gethsemane said, “for, you know…” “Ty Lismore,” Verna said. “You can say his name.” Vivian mimed spitting. “I’ll say he can burn in hell. As can the rest of that bunch.” “You know I’d never pressure you, Vern,” Frankie said. “Lord knows there are a few names from my past that won’t cross my lips except under duress. But the way you reacted when you saw him here a couple of weeks ago—” “Who was Ty Lismore to me?” Verna stifled a sob. Vivian reached across the table and laid a hand on hers. “The love of my life, the man I wanted to father my children, the gobshite who ripped out my heart and stomped on it.” Tears tracked down her cheeks.

 

 A writer since childhood, Alexia Gordon won her first writing prize in the 6th grade. She continued writing through college but put literary endeavors on hold to finish medical school and Family Medicine residency training. She established her medical career then returned to writing fiction. Raised in the southeast, schooled in the northeast, she relocated to the west where she completed Southern Methodist University’s Writer’s Path program. She admits Texas brisket is as good as Carolina pulled pork. She practices medicine in North Chicago, IL. She enjoys the symphony, art collecting, embroidery, and ghost stories.

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Out of the Embers: Lone Star Book Blog Tour – Excerpt

OUT OF THE EMBERS
MESQUITE SPRINGS, BOOK ONE
by
Amanda Cabot
Historical Fiction / Christian Romance
Publisher: Revell
Date of Publication: March 3, 2020
Number of Pages: 336

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Ten years after her parents were killed, Evelyn Radcliffe is once more homeless. The orphanage that was her refuge and later her workplace has burned to the ground, and only she and a young orphan girl have escaped. Convinced this must be related to her parents’ murders, Evelyn flees with the girl to Mesquite Springs in the Texas Hill Country and finds refuge in the home of Wyatt Clark, a talented horse rancher whose plans don’t include a family of his own.


At first, Evelyn is a distraction. But when it becomes clear that trouble has followed her to Mesquite Springs, she becomes a full-blown disruption. Can Wyatt keep her safe from the man who wants her dead? And will his own plans become collateral damage?

Suspenseful and sweetly romantic, Out of the Embers is the first in a new series that invites you to the Texas Hill Country in the 1850s, when the West was wild, the men were noble, and the women were strong.

PRAISE FOR OUT OF THE EMBERS:

Out of the Embers is part prairie romance, part romantic suspense. I can’t remember when I’ve enjoyed a book more. Amanda Cabot has written an intriguing, chilling mystery and she winds it through the pages of a sweet romance in a way that made me keep turning the pages fast to see what was going to happen next. An absolutely excellent read. And now I’m hungry for oatmeal pecan pie!” 

Mary Connealy, author of Aiming for Love, book #1 in the Brides of Hope Mountain series
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Excerpt

CHAPTER ONE, PART THREE FROM

OUT OF THE EMBERS

BY AMANDA CABOT

Click to read part one, previously featured on Lone Star Book Blog Tours

Click to read part two, previously featured on Lone Star Book Blog Tours

One Friday, December 21, 1855

As they rounded the final bend in the road, the cause of the smoke was all too clear. The light from the almost full moon revealed the ashes and rubble that were all that was left of the building that had been Evelyn’s home for the past ten years. She stared at the blackened foundation, trying to make sense of something that made no sense. Well aware of the danger fire posed to a frame structure, Mrs. Folger was vigilant about safety. Yet, despite her caution, something had happened. The orphanage was gone.

So were its inhabitants. There should be close to two dozen children swarming around, yet Evelyn saw nothing more than a few men. Though her heart was pounding so violently that she feared it would break through her chest at the realization that she’d lost her home, she clung to the hope that Mrs. Folger and the children had escaped and had been taken in by some of the town’s residents. If not . . .

The possibility was too horrible to consider. Her mother had told her not to borrow trouble, and Evelyn wouldn’t. Instead, she’d ask the men what had happened. Surely everyone had been saved. But though she tried to convince herself that she would be reunited with the matron and the other orphans, in her heart she knew that was one prayer that would not be answered.

Evelyn bit the inside of her cheek, determined not to let Polly see her fears. But she failed, for the child began to tremble.

“What happened to the ’nage?” Though Polly’s diction was far better than one would have expected from the shabby clothing she’d worn when she was abandoned, whoever had taught her hadn’t included “orphanage” in her vocabulary.

Evelyn wrapped her arms around Polly and willed her voice to remain steady as she said, “It’s gone.” And, if what she feared was true, so were Mrs. Folger and the children who had been her family.

As she descended the small hill and approached the front drive, Evelyn saw that the men were wandering around the yard, their casual attitude belying the gravity of the situation.

“Ain’t no one left,” one called to the others, his voice carrying clearly through the still night air. “Smoke musta got ’em.”

No. Oh, dear God, no. It couldn’t be true, and yet it was. Once again, she had lost everyone she loved, everyone except the girl who clung to her, her own fear palpable. Once again, it was night. Once again, she was powerless to change anything, but at least this time it had been an accident.

Evelyn shuddered and said a silent prayer that Polly wouldn’t realize the extent of the tragedy. Somehow, she would protect her. Somehow, she would help her recover from all that they had lost in this terrible accident.

“Can’t figger it out,” another man chimed in. “Who woulda wanted to do ’em in? No mistakin’ them kerosene cans, though. Somebody set the fire.”

Evelyn gasped, feeling as though she’d been bludgeoned, and for a second everything turned black. The fire wasn’t an accident. Someone had deliberately destroyed the orphanage, planning to kill everyone inside. Including her.

Where is she?” The memory of the voice that still haunted Evelyn’s dreams echoed through her brain, shattering the fragile peace Mrs. Folger’s assurances had created. Tonight proved that she wasn’t safe, not even here. Someone wanted to kill the last of the Radcliffes.

Why? That was the question no one had been able to answer ten years ago, the question that had kept Evelyn from leaving the sanctuary the orphanage had promised. Now that promise was shattered.

She closed her eyes as fear and sorrow threatened to overwhelm her. The life she had built was gone, destroyed along with the building that had been her refuge and the people who had become her family. Oh, God, what should I do?

The response was immediate. Leave.

It was the only answer. She could do nothing for Mrs. Folger and the others, but she could—and she would—do everything in her power to give Polly a safe future. The question was where they should go. Evelyn stared at the stars for a second, then nodded. Gilmorton, the one place she would not consider, was east. Resolutely, she headed west.

“What happened?” Polly asked again, her voice far calmer than Evelyn would have expected. Either the child was too young to understand the magnitude of what had happened, or she’d experienced so much tragedy in her life that she was numb.

“We need a new home.” For the first time, Evelyn gave thanks that Polly had formed no strong attachments to anyone other than her. That would make her transition to a new life easier. While grief had wrapped its tendrils around Evelyn’s heart, squeezing so tightly that she had trouble breathing, Polly seemed to be recovering from her initial shock.

“Okay.” Though the child tightened her grip on Evelyn’s arm, her trembling had stopped. “Where are we going?”

“It’ll be a surprise.” At this point, Evelyn had no idea where she and Polly would find their next home. All she knew was that it had to be far from here, far from whoever had set the fire, far from the Watcher.

Polly was silent for a moment before she said, “It’s okay, Evelyn. You’ll be my mama, and you’ll find me a new daddy.”

Amanda Cabot is the bestselling author of the Cimarron Creek trilogy, as well as the Texas Crossroads series, the Texas Dreams series, the Westward Winds series, and Christmas Roses. Her books have been finalists for the ACFW Carol Awards, the HOLT Medallion, and the Booksellers’ Best. She lives in Wyoming.
 

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March 10-March 20, 2020
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3/12/20
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3/13/20
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The Law West of the Pecos

One of the most colorful characters to come out of the Old West was Judge Roy Bean, the self-proclaimed “Law West of the Pecos.” As Justice of the Peace, Bean had a reputation as a tough hanging judge. However, while he was known to occasionally stage hangings to scare away criminals, he never actually hung anyone.

Bean settled in Vinegaroon, Texas in 1881 at the confluence of the Rio Grande and Pecos Rivers where he set up a tent saloon to sell liquor at exorbitant  prices to railroad workers (mostly Chinese laborers.) Two years later with the construction of the Pecos High Bridge the rail lines shifted away from Vinegaroon and Bean relocated to the town of Langtry where he built the Jersey Lily Saloon and Judge Roy Bean’s courtroom on the railroad right of way.

Western legend holds that the town was named after the British stage actress, Lillie Langtry. Bean is said to have fallen in love with a portrait of the lady though he never actually made her acquaintance. Nonetheless, he followed her career, wrote her letters inviting her to visit the West Texas town, and even constructed an Opera House adjacent to his saloon in the hope that she would one day perform there.

As Justice of the Peace, Judge Roy Bean’s methods and rulings were often questionable, mainly carried out to line his own pockets. One of the more humorous judgments handed down was fining a dead man $40, the exact amount found in the deceased’s pockets! Judge Roy Bean died in 1903 after a particularly heavy drinking spree.

Lillie Langtry did visit the town six months after Bean’s death during a brief stop of the Sunset Limited on its way from New Orleans to Los Angeles. Among the gifts presented to the actress by the townspeople was Judge Roy Bean’s six-shooter. The Jersey Lily Saloon and the Opera House were sold to a wealthy Texas cattleman and later donated to the state of Texas.

Judge Roy Bean’s story has often been portrayed on the silver screen, most notably in William Wyler’s 1940 movie, “The Westerner” (Walter Brennan won an Academy Award for his portrayal) and in John Huston’s 1972 film, “The Life and Times of Judge Roy Bean” starring Paul Newman.

 

Chasing the White Lion: Lone Star Book Blog Tour – Character Interview

CHASING THE WHITE LION
(Talia Inger, Book Two)
by
JAMES R. HANNIBAL
Genre: Contemporary Christian / Thriller / Suspense
Publisher: Revell
Date of Publication: March 3, 2020
Number of Pages: 384

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Cover hi res Chasing the White Lion

Young CIA officer Talia Inger has reconciled with the man who assassinated her father, but that doesn’t mean she wants him hovering over her every move and unearthing the painful past she’s trying to put behind her. Still, she’ll need him–and the help of his star grifter, Valkyrie–if she hopes to infiltrate the Jungle, the first ever crowdsourced crime syndicate, to rescue a group of kidnapped refugee children.

But as Talia and her elite team of thieves con their way into the heart of the Jungle, inching ever closer to syndicate boss the White Lion, she’ll run right up against the ragged edge of her family’s dark past. In this game of cat and mouse, it’s win . . . or die. And in times like that, it’s always good to have someone watching your back.

Former tactical deception officer and stealth pilot James Hannibal takes you deep undercover into the criminal underworld where everyone has an angle, and no one escapes unscathed.

WANT TO BE A REAL HERO?

Want to be a real hero? Compassion International, a real organization fighting child poverty, stars in Chasing the White Lion. By giving hope and a sense of identity to these kids, they’re helping families slam the door on human traffickers. A portion of every book sold will go to support Compassion’s work. You can join the fight simply by buying a copy of Chasing the White Lion.

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Character Interview

An interview with stuntman and rumored thief, Michael Finn,

from Chasing the White Lion

By James R. Hannibal

Duxford Airfield

Cambridge, UK

Last week, I caught up with the infamous Aussie Michael Finn at the Flying Legends Air Spectacular in Duxford. Pulling him away from his, shall we say, highly-dedicated local fan club was no easy task, but I wanted to pin him down with a few questions about his past and his recent extracurricular activities. The answers were worth a few scratches.

Read on.

    Q: First, I noticed a big change in your stunt routine. Your signature airshow entrance is a wingsuit drop from an exploding weather balloon. This morning you shocked the crowd with a motorcycle stunt. Explain.

    A: A stuntman must keep things fresh, you know—push the envelope a little farther every season. Last year, I got some backing from a heaps great investor, and I pitched the idea of a drone big enough to carry me and my bike straight to show center. He went all in.

    Q: For a certain percentage of the take, right? I mean, your investor should get a return on his cash.

     A: Defo, mate. He’ll get his money. Always does. But he was an easy sell. He likes to play with drones and motorbikes too, if you catch my drift. We recently did this job in Bangkok. Massive bridge. Railway line running right beside it. The cable supports almost cut me in . . . Well, that’s another story for another day.

   Q: It certainly is. Sounds dangerous—right up your alley. What about loved ones? Any special girl in your life wringing her hands every time you strap on a parachute or pop a wheelie?

     A: There may be a special someone, but her life is as dangerous as mine, so no worries there. The situation is in flux. Right now, we’re struggling to see eye to eye on a few things. Matter o’ fact, let’s change the subject.

     Q: Your love life is off limits. Got it. Okay, let’s return to this mystery investor of yours. According to rumors, international businessman Adam Tyler has hired you and others for contract jobs like the one you mentioned in Bangkok—jobs outside the law. You detractors claim Mr. Tyler is a thief and assassin. They say he should be locked up, and you as well. Your response?

      A: I can neither confirm nor deny any association with this Adam Tyler you speak of. But I’ll tell you what. You come out to Wolf Trap, Virginia and spend a day with my mystery investor and his team. If you don’t think what we do makes the world a better place—refugee kids rescued, warlords disappearing, criminals locked up—then you can write whatever you want about us, expose my boss to the world.

     Q: Deal. Although, I’m not sure he’ll agree. I might cut my losses and steer clear. Might I ask just one follow-up question on this topic before I let you go?

      A: Shoot.

      Q: You mentioned refugee kids. Care to elaborate?

      A: One of our recent excursions may or may not have involved a crime syndicate with its fingers in the human trafficking market. The world needs to know that refugee kids are a prime target for traffickers. Anything our team did to stop this activity and rescue some kids is small potatoes compared to the work of an organization called Compassion International. They are the heroes. My investor calls them God’s special forces. We’re talking unconventional warfare. Compassion attacks from the flank, where the enemy least expects them, by providing hope, care, and a sense of identity. When kids and family’s living in poverty gain hope and self-worth, the doors to human traffickers slam closed. That’s all I’ve got. I’ve gotta run, you know? My fans miss me.

Former stealth pilot James R. Hannibal is a two-time Silver Falchion Award winner for his Section 13 mysteries for kids and a Thriller Award nominee for his Nick Baron covert ops series for adults. James is a rare multi-sense synesthete, meaning all of his senses intersect. He sees and feels sounds and smells and hears flashes of light. He lives in Houston, Texas.

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Losing Ground

I would normally be publishing a literary related post today (look for a Lone Star Book Blog Tour post 3/7/20), but I’ve just returned from a trip to  Muskegon, Michigan and thought to comment on the erosion along the banks of the lake that I observed while there.

Climate change is triggering record high water levels on the Great Lakes impacting not only the coastline, but inland communities as well. Heavy winter and spring precipitation is to blame and lake levels are expected to remain high. Normal evaporation which might otherwise offset the rising waters isn’t occurring due to the extremely cold weather.

Gusting winds and high waves have created swift water currents that have washed away people, roads, bridges, and embankments that previously protected private property. The soil is being undercut by the waves, destroying homes that previously offered spectacular views of long sandy beaches and beautiful sunsets. Desperate efforts are underway to move houses away from the shoreline before they too fall into the water.

Due to the dangers of getting too close to the edge and the extreme cold that kept me bundled up inside, I only got these two photos of the property belonging to my sister and her husband. They’ve lost about 15-20 feet of land in just the last two years, and the gradual disappearance of their yard continues unabated. Fortunately their home was moved back years ago and isn’t in any immediate danger, while their neighbors home is perilously close to the receding embankment.

Michigan Governor Gretchen Wilson has yet to declare a state of emergency. Local jurisdictions like Muskegon are working with county emergency managers, but there is little that can be done to alter the course of Mother Nature.

 

 

The Lords of the North: My Review

Lords of the North Book CoverThe Lords of the North is book three of Bernard Cornwell’s Saxon Tales, continuing the story of Uhtred Ragnarson and the founding of a United Britain under Alfred the Great. For the background on the first two entries in the series see my previous reviews for The Last Kingdom (Dec 7, 2018) and The Pale Horseman (Jul 5, 2019.)

The year is 878 A.D., and Alfred has just defeated the Viking Guthrum at the Battle of Ethandun with Uhtred’s assistance, thus allowing him to consolidate power in the Kingdom of Wessex. However, Alfred is a sickly king and has yet to strengthen sufficiently to take on the Danes in the northeastern half of England where three lords, all sworn enemies of Uhtred, rule:

In Northumbria there is Ivarr Ivarson, whose brother Ubba was slain at the hand of Uhtred. In the Valley of the River Wiire there is Kjartan the Cruel and his son Sven the One-Eyed. Kjartan is responsible for the murder of Uhtred’s adopted father Ragnar, and has imprisoned his stepsister Thyra in the formidable fortress at Dunholm and given her over to Sven to sexually abuse. And at Bebbanburg, Uhtred’s birthright, his uncle AElfric has usurped his heritage and seeks Uhtred’s death to ensure that he can hold onto his  lands and title.

Released from his pledge to Alfred, Uhtred sets out to confront his enemies and reclaim his heritage setting in motion a series of adventures that include betrayal, slavery, political intrigue, and monumental battles… all of which make for a thrilling and entertaining read. Bernard Cornwell is at his best in this third installment, writing vivid descriptions of life and death in ninth century England and the collision of two worlds and cultures – Saxon Christianity against Pagan beliefs and mythology.

This confrontation occurs not just on the battlefield. The internal struggle for men’s souls is a continuing theme in all the books, juxtaposing faith in God the Father and his only begotten Son Jesus and the concepts of sin and redemption, heaven and hell with the belief in multiple Norse gods, Valhalla, mythical beings and superstition. One the one hand there is Alfred the Great, a devout Christian and the pious ruler of what will become Great Britain, and on the other Uhtred, a Viking warrior who totally believes in fate and destiny.  Their ongoing relationship and need for one another will play out as Bernard Cornwell continues his history of England in his next entry in the series, Sword Song.

Lest anyone think otherwise, however, each of these books can be read by itself as a stand-alone fantasy adventure that mixes sword and sorcery with accurate depictions of this historical period. The continuity lies in Uhtred.  The point of view is his and the first person narrative is that of an old man looking back on his life, retelling his tale with both humor and heartbreaking honesty. The dialogue can be crude, the descriptions of battle graphic, but the story is one that draws you in… you actually care about the characters, particularly Uhtred, and you want to know what happens next.

It is also a tale which  immerses readers in Norse mythology where the three spinners weave tapestries of everyone’s life before they are even born, predetermining their destiny and even the timing and place of their death. “It is the three spinners who make our lives. They sit at the foot of Yggdrasil [the tree of life] and there they have their jests… because fate cannot be cheated, it governs us, and we are all its slaves.”

Uhtred’s fate is tied to the conquest and unification of England, while mine is linked to finishing this engrossing, educational, and highly satisfying saga by Bernard Cornwell.

 

 

Rio Ruidoso: Lone Star Book Blog Tour – Excerpt

RIO RUIDOSO
Three Rivers Trilogy, 1
by
PRESTON LEWIS
Genre: Historical Western
Publisher: Five Star Publishing
Date of Publication: February 19, 2020
Number of Pages: 299

2017 Elmer Kelton Award from the West Texas Historical Association:
Best Creative Work on West Texas

 

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Rio Ruidoso offers a gripping blend of history and story as two-time Spur Award-winner Preston Lewis explores the violent years before the famed Lincoln County War in New Mexico Territory. Seamlessly weaving fact with fiction, the author details the county’s corruption, racism, and violence through the eyes of protagonist Wes Bracken, newly arrived in the region to start a horse ranch with his alcoholic brother.

 

Bracken’s dreams for the Mirror B Ranch are threatened by his brother’s drunkenness, the corruption of economic kingpin Lawrence G. Murphy, and the murderous rampages of the racist Horrell Brothers. To bring tranquility to Lincoln County, Bracken must defeat those threats and stand his ground against the ever-changing alliances that complicate life and prosperity in multi-racial Lincoln County.

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Excerpt

EXCERPT FROM CHAPTER ONE OF

RIO RUIDOSO

BY PRESTON LEWIS

As he neared the bend in the stream, a woman’s screams and sobs grew discernible and louder. Then Wes heard the mocking laugh of amused men. Rounding the bend, Wes saw a small adobe dwelling with a small cultivated field between it and the Ruidoso. And in front of the house, he spied a circle of four men around a Hispanic woman. A fifth man sat horseback, holding the others’ mounts. All five were hurrahing the woman and someone else within their circle.

Wes held the stallion back while he studied the five men, all so intent on their mischief that not one had noticed their visitor less than a hundred yards away. Wes knew neither the dispute nor its cause, but he could see the odds were less than fair. He levered a cartridge into the Winchester, then shook the reins. The sorrel stepped forward, the gap between Wes and the men narrowing to eighty yards, sixty yards, then forty yards. Still the men remained oblivious to all but the prey within their small circle.

Wes watched a frail man stand up among them, only to be shoved back to the ground by a bigger assailant. The woman screamed and tried to help the victim, but another attacker grabbed her arm and jerked her away. She fell to the ground, then clambered toward the frail man. Everyone laughed, except Wes! He had seen enough.

“Get up, greaser, so I can plant you in the ground again,” taunted one attacker.

At twenty yards, Wes eased back on the sorrel’s reins. Swinging the barrel of his carbine toward the assailants, he shouted, “Afternoon.”

Five men flinched at the greeting, then stiffened. They slowly turned around, facing Wes, their hands frozen near the revolvers at their sides.

“What seems to be the trouble?” Wes called out.

The woman burst through the circle of men and rushed toward Wes. “Gracias, señor, muy gracias!

Her cry and the flash of her skirt spooked Charlie. The sorrel nervously backtracked a half-dozen steps. One man reached toward his pistol, his hand wrapping around the gun butt.

The Hispanic woman stopped dead still.

Wes jerked the carbine to his shoulder and fired over the foolhardy man. The fellow’s fingers widened and his arm went limp, releasing the pistol that slid back into its holster. His companions raised their hands away from their own sidearms.

The young woman’s hand flew to her throat. “Please, señor, stop them from hurting us.”

Wes nodded. “What’s the trouble?”

One troublemaker stepped ahead of the others. He had a stiff neck, his whole body turning with his head. “No trouble. Until you showed up, fellow!”

“The young lady wouldn’t agree, now would she?”

“She’s Mexican. What’s she know?”

“Enough to expect decent treatment from folks.”

Stiff neck turned his whole body toward the others. “He damn sure ain’t from Texas, now is he?” As they laughed, stiff neck twisted back to face Wes. “Hell, fellow, you remember the Alamo? This greaser’s kin likely killed good white folks there. We’re just paying them back.”

Wes shrugged. “That was near forty years ago, and this isn’t Texas. You best forget the Alamo, ride on and leave these folks alone.”

Raising his fist, stiff neck advanced a step. “Fellow, I don’t know who you are, but you got no business interfering in what my bunch does. The name’s Horrell, I’m Mart, and these are my brothers Tom, Merritt, Ben, and Sam. We’ll ride out, but you remember the Horrell name if you’re planning on staying in Lincoln County because we’ll meet again when we ain’t in such a good mood.” 

Preston Lewis is the Spur Award-winning author of thirty novels. In addition to his two Western Writers of America Spurs, he received the 2018 Will Rogers Gold Medallion for Western Humor for Bluster’s Last Stand, the fourth volume in his comic western series The Memoirs of H. H. Lomax. Two other books in that series were Spur finalists. His comic western The Fleecing of Fort Griffin received the Elmer Kelton Award from the West Texas Historical Association for best creative work on the region.

 


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