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Rich Wells has been shot in the Nevada Territory desert and found by Belinda Asher and her brother while hunting for their stray cow. Belinda slowly nurtures Rich back to health, and an attraction blossoms between them. They move to the booming silver mine town of Pioche, where Belinda is a maid at a local hotel and Rich is chosen town sheriff. But is all well?
Rich burns for revenge against the rancher who shot him, and his family is prejudiced against his relationship with Belinda. Will violence and hatred destroy their new life together, or can Belinda’s Love triumph over all?
A loud clatter brought Rich Wells’ pounding head awake. Above his head he saw a window with a lace curtain. The smell of a savory stew surrounded him, and he realized he was hungry.
Trying to sit up proved useless. He groaned and dropped back on the pillow, weak as a kitten. It was then that he felt his nakedness under the covers. Where was he? Who had undressed him? He was certainly not in the bunkhouse at Jake Rawlin’s ranch, not with lace curtains.
He heard faint footsteps just before a dark-haired young lady came into the room. She was beautiful with deep brown eyes and long flowing black hair. Her small hands held a cup of something hot.
“You’re awake? I brought you some herbal tea.” She brushed aside Rich’s involuntary noise of protest.
Rich closed his eyes momentarily, letting the harmonious and sweet voice wash over him. He had not heard such a soothing voice since he was small. She set the tea on a small table and lifted him up, stuffing another pillow behind his head.
Rich inhaled deeply of her womanly scent. Wildflowers. He wondered if he had died and gone to heaven. Was this the angel he had dreamed about all of his adult life?
“Your name? I don’t know your name,” he said, opening his eyes.
“I’m Belinda. You’re at my mother’s house. Who are you? Why were you shot? Will someone be coming to look for you?” She raised the cup to his lips and let him drink, then sat down on the side of the bed.
“The name’s Rich Wells. I tried to leave the Rawlins’ Ranch, because too many cattle showed up with other brands on them and he shot my good friend. Jake Rawlins is a murderer and swindler. Where are my clothes? I have to get out of here.” His gaze roamed around the room, seeing a rough-built chiffarobe with a small mirror, a big trunk, two chairs and a table.
“You’re not strong enough to go anywhere. I dug the bullet out of your thigh and doctored the wounds on your head and side, but you lost much blood. You’ve had a fever for three days. Someone must have wanted you dead.” She raised a dark eyebrow inquiringly and lifted the cup for him to drink again.
“Did you find me and bring me here?” He took a sip of coffee.
“Yes. My brother and I brought you on a travois.” She smiled slightly and brushed his golden blond hair off his forehead.
“You shouldn’t have brought me here. It’s too dangerous. Where’s your father? I’ll talk to him.” Rich tried to sit up, but she pushed him back with her small hand.
She sucked in her breath nervously. He was the most handsome man she had ever seen. It was dangerous for her to touch him, feeling jolts of awareness rush up her arm. “My father is dead,” she blurted out. “I suspect Jake Rawlins’ men killed him and took over his claim. He’d had trouble with Rawlins. Did you work for Rawlins’ JR Ranch?”
Her black eyes became hard and distrustful. Maybe this man helped to kill her father.
“Yes, and the man tried to kill me. He’s ruthless and not a good...” He started coughing.
“I’m sorry. We’ll talk later. Finish drinking this and I’ll bring some stew.” Belinda stood, looking down at Rich briefly before leaving the room.
Rich inhaled deeply, trying to take in her scent. He thought she might be of Indian or Spanish descent, as far as he could tell from her light accent. She had beautiful white teeth and her black eyes were mystifying. Her hair was lustrous and long, falling loose around her shoulders. She was an enticing and alluring female, but he wasn’t looking for a woman.
He had a mission in life now, to bring justice to Pioche and put Jake Rawlins where he belonged, behind bars. Rich realized his life wasn’t worth a plugged nickel if Jake Rawlins found out he’d survived. He knew he should leave the territory, but he couldn’t do that. He had been taught to play fair, and Rawlins was by no means fair.
“Lawlessness, prejudice, and love permeate the pages of BELINDA’S LOVE. This novel takes the reader to Pioche, Nevada in 1875 where “bad guys” abound as the lure of the Nevada silver mines brings in a motley assortment of people.
Both the newcomers and the old-timers are less than admirable in their dealings with their fellowman.
Belinda’s low self-esteem, due to the way people treat her because of her ethnicity, is a strong thread in the makeup of the story. At times, I read with a sense of urgency as I looked for her to become aware of her own self-worth. Prejudice, as it was at that time, comes through loud and clear.
Both men and women are culpable and inflect much underserved cruelty on Belinda and her family.
The parade of adversaries that both Belinda and Rich have to deal with kept me turning pages. If you enjoy a story of the early days of settling the West and of how love blooms among a multiplicity of thorny problems, BELINDA’S LOVE is it.” – Camellia, The Long And Short Of It Reviews
Book Publisher: Whiskey Creek Press
No. of Pages: 296
Paper Weight (lb): 12.4
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