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Disappointment hits ex-deputy Logan Ryan hard when he finds Claire Waters in the midst of a bustling Santa Fe Trail town. The woman he remembers is gone--in her place is a working girl with enticing curves and a load of trouble. As a web of deceit entangles them with men both desperate and dangerous, Logan tries to protect Claire, unaware his own past poses the greatest threat.
Plagued all her life by shame, Claire is stunned when Logan catches her on the doorstep of The White Dove Saloon dressed as a prostitute. She lets him believe the worst but with her mama missing and the fancy girls deserting the place, she's hard-pressed to refuse his offer of help. As she embarks on a journey that will unravel the fabric of her life one thing becomes clear--opening her heart may be the most dangerous proposition of all.
New Mexico Territory, July 1877
“The whores are much prettier up that way.” The tooth-less Mexican smiled wide as he pointed up Pacific Street.
Logan Ryan considered the comment as he tied off his horse and approached a two-story building with the name WHITE DOVE SALOON painted with flowery white flair on a red background. He hitched a boot at the bottom of a well-worn step and rested hands casually on his hips.
Claire Waters couldn’t possibly be here.
Maybe the Mexican, reeking of whiskey, had misunder-stood him. You lookin’ for a Waters woman? Sí, you find one there. Logan was sure this was the building the man had fingered.
He pushed his hat back, aware of the fast approach of nightfall, both by his weariness and with the increased activity inside the saloon and behind him on the dusty street. Cigar smoke and the unruly voices of the men inside filled the air.
Las Vegas was a bustling town on the Santa Fe Trail, last stop before reaching the town of Santa Fe, and with so much traffic—traders, merchants, ranchers and the military from Fort Union—an abundance of saloons and dance halls was to be expected. Maybe the Mexican had simply assumed Logan was looking for a good time.
He climbed the steps, keeping his exhaustion at bay with the anticipation of finding Claire Waters. He’d ridden in re-cord time and had stopped for only a few hours at Fort Sum-ner to check up on Lester Williams, the ranch hand who had brought Claire home after her brief stay with Logan’s folks at their SR ranch. Lester’s telegram—stating that he was too ill to return—had prompted Logan to check on the older man who’d been with the Ryan family for years and was more than a ranch employee. Thankfully, Lester’s health was much im-proved and he’d soon be able to return to Texas, but he’d been bedridden with a fever for more than a fortnight. It con-cerned Logan that Claire might also be sick. What if she was wasting away from some mysterious illness at this very mo-ment?
The batwing doors to the saloon flew open with a piercing squeak. A blur of black silk and bare flesh slammed into Logan. Before he could steady the sweet-smelling bundle, the woman fell back on her rear end with a firm thump.
With curves in all the right places and an eyeful of cleav-age that would tempt any man, Logan’s eyes slid over the woman in silent approval. Although he’d never been one to dally with saloon girls the thought suddenly had merit; the in-tensity of it surprised him. He leaned down and offered to help the woman—obviously one of the pretty whores the Mexican had mentioned—to her feet.
“Sorry, miss. Are you all right?” He glanced into the sa-loon, half expecting a randy customer to be right behind her.
As the woman raised her eyes to his, the green depths triggered recognition and shock. Air drained from Logan’s lungs as surely as if she’d barreled into him again.
“Claire?” He was stunned. The black hair had thrown him. Claire Waters had long tresses the color of the sun.
Her eyes widened. “Logan? What are you doing here?” Her panic was plain to see.
“Looking for you.” He ignored the sharp stab of disap-pointment over what her attire and disguise implicated—that she wasn’t the quiet and reserved woman he’d come to know at his folk’s ranch. Truth was, he hardly knew her at all. But he’d wanted to see her all the same and had come full of worry and expectation.
“Why? Is something wrong? Is Molly all right?” She ig-nored his hand and stood on her own. Logan watched as she hastily smoothed the tight bodice that showcased her attributes in a way that set his teeth on edge. What had been nearly irre-sistible to him a moment ago was now displayed for any and all to see. He didn’t like it.
Logan reached up to brush aside the long dark strands im-peding his view of Claire’s face but she hastily shifted the wig herself. Reluctantly he let his hand drop.
Kristy McCaffrey is a winner. Her ability to draw a story out of two characters is exceptional. The story, while character driven, is entertaining, quick, and adventurous. I was impressed with Ms. McCaffrey's ability to tell a wonderful story that was realistic, but touched with enough fancy to engage the heart. I thought The Wren was fantastic, and The Dove is equally so of its own merit; It could stand alone without its predecessor. I am looking forward to book three in the series having enjoyed the first two.
Reviewed By Maci Walker Novelspot
Book Publisher: Whiskey Creek Press
No. of Pages: 236
Paper Weight (lb): 10.2
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