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“Marry me, Anna, Be my wife—”
When Tavas Haspura wills the Devil’s Gate ranch to Anna instead of his own nephew, Ivan, the words Anna has hoped all her life to hear from her secret love bring suspicion and fear rather than joy and anticipation. Anna soon discovers the isolated Nevada ranch is in a state of panic. Mysterious cattle mutilations cause rumors of witchcraft, threatening to plunge the ranch into financial ruin.
When Ivan’s wife Colleen turns up missing and her body is found deep in the canyon, her death is immediately blamed on the Cult of Akerra. But doubts remain in everyone’s mind.
If Anna agrees to become Ivan’s bride, the Devil’s Gate and everything he has ever wanted will be at his fingertips. But if she dares refuse him—what then?
Should something happen to Anna, Ivan, as next of kin, will inherit the ranch. Will he resort to murder to take back what he thinks should rightfully be his? Just how far will Ivan go to make the Devil’s Gate his own?
Since making the forked turn from Bly, I’d counted two cars and seventeen rabbits.
There were probably more rabbits crouched hidden in the tall sagebrush on either side of the narrow dirt road; tiny, long-eared shadows caught frozen by my headlights.
I veered sharply to the left as one of the living shadows darted toward the Mustang’s spinning wheels, nearly landing myself in a ditch to avoid striking the quivering scrap of ragged gray fur headlong.
Highway hypnosis had been on the verge of sinking in. Wide awake, my now-alert eyes scanned darkness. I’d barely noticed how the traffic had thinned since I’d made my last stop for coffee at the all-night grill just outside of Bly. Even the tinny country music that had been my constant companion since I’d parted from the main road was deserting me. The radio continued to roar and squeal with mindless static as I drove along. Impatiently, I turned the knob, ridding myself of the intruding blare. The silence that followed was almost too much to bear. Such silence. A few semesters at the University of Reno had almost made me forget how remote and isolated the Devil’s Gate ranch really was.
Brad, of course, had called me. Could it really have been only yesterday? He’d been upset. I could imagine him at the other end of the line, flecks of dark glittering in his tawny-gold eyes as he barked at me over the telephone. “Anna, you must come home.”
“Home? What are you talking about, Brad? The semester just started...”
“They need you, Anna. Alice needs you. Tavas is ill. Tavas is...he’s...” Brad had never been one to stumble over words, but he was stumbling then.
“Dying?” I’d stepped back from the phone as if the electrical cord had been shooting out white-hot sparks. Tavas hadn’t looked well several months ago, the last time I’d ventured home. Too pale, I’d thought at the time. And he’d been using the cane again, the one with the carved silver head.
Suddenly it all fell into place. The letters from Alice, the subtle questions about when I planned to come back for another visit. It seemed clear to me now, crystal clear, as it would’ve been long ago if I hadn’t been immersed in my own private little world of registration cards and scheduling.
“I never thought...” Tears were brimming in my eyes. I couldn’t finish the sentence, didn’t really know what I’d planned to say.
“You’ll come home, then?”
“Of course. You know Tavas has always been like a father to me. I’ll be there as soon as possible.”
“I told Alice to expect you Thursday.”
“But...that’s the day after tomorrow.”
“I could come down after you myself.” The determination in Brad’s voice betrayed the seriousness of the situation.
“No, Brad. I’ll manage.”
Somehow, I had. It was now late Wednesday night and I’d accomplished the impossible. I had sublet my tiny apartment, had arranged an indefinite leave of absence from my part-time job and school, had packed my meager belongings into the trunk of the old Mustang that had once been Brad’s. And now here I was, half a day early, at the rutted, forked turn-off to the Devil’s Gate.
Specters surrounded me, dark, windblown junipers etched sharply against a restless sky. I crossed the cattle guard and onto our property. I could see the broken fence now, rusty sign hanging at an angle in the wind. Beyond, the jagged twin rocks rose high and bare above the cracked earth. “Like the gates to hell”, Tavas had always joked. The car moved upward on the trail, winding its way into the heart of the canyons where the faint lights of the ranch glimmered, still some distance away.
It had been a long time since I’d come home for more than a brief visit. Not since Brad told me Ivan had returned. A trapped butterfly fluttered inside of me at the thought of him, leaving me shaken by the overwhelming strength of my own emotions.
“Being a fan of westerns, I immediately felt at home at “The Devil’s Gate” ranch. Ms.Britton’s writing places you squarely in the setting and feel of her world. The heritage of the Basque (north-central Spain and south-western France) people is a realistic touch to the family and traditional values of the patriarch, Travis.
There are strong character twists to the story. I was never quite sure who to believe and who was behind the terror. All I can tell you about the ending is that I was quite satisfied. There were no out-of-the-blue solutions, no left turns, and most importantly no sappiness. “The Devil’s Gate” is a comfortable mystery read for everyone. I look forward to reading more from Ms. Britton.” –ChrisCat Reviews
“THE DEVIL'S GATE takes place on an old cattle ranch that's not exactly paradise on earth. The owner's health is failing. There have been unexplained and brutal cattle mutilations, and something called "The cult of Akerra" is running amuck.
What is this cult? Some say it's only a myth or a legend, used to keep kinds inside at night. Others claim to have seen Akerra himself. Others think it's a gimmick, used to drive "unwanted folks" off the land. Regardless, the mere mention of the cult on Devil's Gate land would ruin its ability to function. Ranch hands would leave and no one would come to replace them. Furthermore, with the speed of cattle mutilations happening across the land, there may not be cattle left for anyone to wrangle. A greater question, however, is who will Tavas name as his heir? The ever faithful Brad? The stubborn Ivan and his drunken tramp of a wife? Or will it be the prodigal child, Anna, who came home just in time to be with Tavas in his final days.
Also, it's told from the main's character's Point of View. Very cool. The reader sees what she sees and interprets it equally personally. Some First Person Point of View stories are bulky and difficult to read. This was not. THE DEVIL'S GATE has it all: suspense, mystery, rage, adultery, deceit, evil, and love. It's not to be missed! I'm putting this on my Keep Forever pile and expect to read it many more times.” Four and One Half Mystique Moons. (Excellent ) Class Three sensuality. (Standard Romance) Rachel Nail, Reviewer, Mystique Books
Book Publisher: Whiskey Creek Press
No. of Pages: 288
Paper Weight (lb): 12.0
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