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At the start of the Civil War, on a journey down the Mississippi to find her missing older sister, naive Merribeth Winston meets gambler Brent O'Neal. Though convinced cards are the devil's playthings, she's fascinated by Brent. He saves her from a series of dashing scoundrels, finding himself her unwilling protector all the way to San Francisco, even though he'd rather be bedding her. When Merribeth traces her sister to the rough and tough mining town of Virginia City, Nevada, she meets fellow Missourian Mark Twain. After Twain realizes her life is in danger, he telegraphs Brent to come to her aid. When Brent arrives, the fireworks really begin. Once all the shots are fired and the dust settles, the lost sister is found, happiness is restored and confirmed bachelor Brent finds himself proposing to the woman he loves-Merribeth.
"How did Lance Verona discover your whereabouts? Brent demanded.
Merribeth bit her lip. "I left a message for him.
"So I heard. In an opium den in Chinatown of all places." He shook her slightly. "Do you realize what would have happened to you if I hadn't come back two days early from Sacramento? Of all the harebrained, idiotic escapades—don't you have the sense you were born with? What am I going to do with you?"
He wasn't her father—he had no business scolding her as though she were a child. "You won't have to bother with me much longer," she said with a toss of her head. "I'm leaving for Virginia City, Nevada as soon as I can. That's where my sister Annabel is."
"Verona said so, I take it. Can you believe him?"
"Considering I had to pay him for the information, yes."
A muscle twitched in Brent's jaw, and she realized he was far angrier than she'd suspected. "First you paid him and then you let him undress you, is that right?"
"He didn't undress me!" Her anger rose to meet Brent's.
"Someone took your clothes off."
"I did. I had to." Despite her annoyance at Brent, a tremor crept into her voice as she relived her fright and humiliation. "He—he threatened to shoot me. Finally I refused to take my—my petticoat off, and I stabbed him with my scissors. But he knocked me down."
Brent's fingers dug into the bare flesh of her shoulders. "I'll kill him. I swear I'll hunt the bastard down and kill him."
Much as she loathed and detested Lance Verona, Merribeth protested. "Killing is a sin."
"I'm convinced the good Lord makes exceptions. Scum of the earth like Verona deserve to be exterminated."
She put her palms against his chest. "Please, Brent. I don't want you hurt and he carries a gun."
"When it's necessary, so do I." But his grim expression softened and his hands slipped from her shoulders to her waist. "I can't bear to think of him touching you, hurting you." The coldness left his eyes, changing their color from a glacial blue to the warmth of the southern seas. "I don't want any harm to come to you—ever."
Her anger dissipated, and she wanted to tell him that in his arms she'd be safe forever, but she couldn't forget his determination never to marry. Between Brent and her there could be no forever,
He drew her closer, murmuring, "I don't want any other man to hold you, to touch you like this."
Half-undressed as she was, Merribeth could feel the full length of his hard body against hers, and her breath caught. Would she, she wondered, refuse if Brent ordered her to remove her petticoats? What would it be like to be pressed close to him without any clothes between them?
What she was thinking might be a sin, but she couldn't help it. Every time Brent's arms were around her she melted—there was no other word that fit. Like a candle exposed to a blazing fire. Like butter in the sun.
When he held her she tingled and throbbed in unexpected places. Touching him felt so good. How could it be wrong?
Merribeth closed her eyes as Brent's lips claimed hers. Her fingers gloried in the silkiness of the hair at his nape as she relished being pressed against the hard strength of his body.
When his tongue teased her lips apart and slipped inside she moaned, savoring the fiery sensations flickering through her like lightning. She wished the kiss would never end, that the warm caress of his hands on her bare shoulders would go on forever. She longed to remain in his arms for all eternity.
If only she could press even closer to him, could somehow become a part of him and make him a part of her. If this delightful magic was a prelude to what her father had called a man and a woman becoming one, she wondered if she could survive the joy of such a joining.
Jane Toombs, along with the Viking from her past and their calico cat, Kinko, spend winters in Florida and the rest of the year on the south shore of Lake Superior in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. Jane is the author of seventy plus published books and fifteen short stories. Her favorite reading and writing genre is fantasy/paranormal.
Race With The Moon -- Vella Frazier is a healer, but her powers extend far beyond the nursing she did before summer commenced. When she bumped into Guy St. Simon in a rush to catch her plane back to Minnesota, his energy passed through her, leaving her to contemplate the strange life changing experience.
Ms. Toombs again enthralls us with exacting details of ancient Finnish and French cultures relating to loup garou--the werewolf--the shifters. As family members come close to the pain and danger of shifting, Vella and Guy work under time constraints governed by the moon to save them.
The storyline is well-done, the suspense riveting, and the ending heartwarming. Readers of romance paranormal or otherwise will enjoy this exciting trek into a world of unearthly charms. -- 4 Hearts, Mary Ann Carman, http://www.mywordsworth.com
Night Of The Owl -- Jill M. Smith wrote: 4 Stars “...fast paced and taut psychological thriller.
Book Publisher: Wings e Press
No. of Pages: 348
Paper Weight (lb): 14.6
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