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Bettina Winthrop means to avenge her deceased innocent husband, Buckley, who was hung by masked vigilantes. When those same vigilantes threaten her only sister, Agatha Blackstone, Bettina hides her from the local sheriff, and everyone else in order to save her. She uses her considerable skill with a 44.40 rifle to hunt winter game as well as keep the hangman’s noose from robbing her of her only family.
With handsome, gray-eyed, Sheriff William Coble insistent on protecting Bettina from suspected vigilante, Jake Skinner, Bettina finds it impossible not to remind herself that Buck has been gone two years and life must go on. Bill is only too happy to speed along her recovery process, and also to help prove Agatha innocent, and on her way, so he and Bettina can continue with their own lives.
Northern Nebraska 1886
Loud knocking sounded at Bets Winthrop’s front door. The noise awakened her when she’d scarcely been asleep. She trembled in her big bed. How many neighbors answered their door to find black hooded men outside? The mere thought of the Black Hoods put goose bumps on her arms, her mouth went dry and she found it hard to swallow. Those creatures seemed to think they had the right to take the law in their own hands whenever a couple cows or horses were stolen.
How many people were subjected to their biased questioning and intimidation? Who else would be out and about when most folks were abed? Being widowed at twenty-three, after vigilantes had hung her innocent husband, made her even more wary of knocks on her door. Frightening thoughts ran through her head. Did they still think, after two years, that she knew something about their identities? What if the Black Hooded vigilantes waited outside her door with a hangman’s noose all tied, and guns in their hands to force her to the nearest big tree? She hadn’t stolen any cattle or horses. Why did someone knock on her door this late at night?
The knocking got louder. She pulled on her old blue flannel robe and slid her feet into scruffy slippers. Grabbing the heavy forty-five caliber gun from the small bedside table drawer, Bets rushed across the living room and edged aside the heavy velvet drape at the big window. She peered slantwise across the long front porch to the spot opposite her dining room outside door.
In the dim light of a three-quarter moon, a hatless Aggie Blackstone stared back at her. Bets dropped the gun onto the padded rocker by the window, rushed to the door, fumbled to unlock it and flung the door open wide. She unlatched the screen door and stared at the woman.
"Aggie! Dear Lord in Heaven! What happened to you?" Bets enveloped her sister in a fierce hug. She stood back and searched Aggie’s features. "Are you all right? Are you hurt? I’ve missed you." She hugged her again even as her tears wet them both. "I’m so glad to see you!"
"I’ve missed you, too, Bets." Aggie hugged her tight, at the same time nudging her backward to the inside of the room.
"Aggie, where did you come from? Are you sure you’re all right? Let me light a lamp." Bets immediately closed her doors and relocked them. She quickly added light to the room and surveyed her sister again. Aggie’s dark braid swung about as she paced the room in agitation.
"No time to talk, Bets. Hide me! Now!" Aggie swung Bets’ heavy drapes shut over the only large window in the dining room.
Bets warily looked her tall, dark sister over from head to toe. She wore men’s sloppy Levi’s jeans. Her green blouse was torn at the shoulder. In contrast, the bright, polished gold of a locket Bets had given her shone in the vee of the blouse front. Her black hair hung in dusty straggles from under a battered gray Stetson hat she’d returned to her head once Bets recognized her.
Sudden bad memories made Bets say, "You should have been here for Mother before she died." She folded her arms across her chest and glared at Aggie. She was in trouble…again. Waiting for Bets to rescue her from a problem…again. Bets could tell.
"Hide me, dammit. I didn’t know she was sick. You want my death on your hands? I hear them coming." Aggie wrung her hands, peeked through a small opening in the drapes, then paced back, forth and around the rooms, seeking a place to hide.
"Who’s coming?" Bets listened. Across the roll of hills the drumming of many horses’ hooves thundered. Sound faded as the riders dipped down along a creek bed. It magnified again as they hit the hill just beyond her small garden shed.
"Black Hoods! Vigilantes!" Aggie’s tone conveyed all the contempt she felt for them. "Dammit again. Hide me!"
"Exciting. Riveting. Suspenseful. Breathtaking. Those are just a few words I'd use to describe Hanged Woman's Gulch. This action-packed story kept me perched on the edge of my seat until I reached its conclusion! Full of many colorful, and full-of-life characters. Ms. Blue wove a story that kept me reading and telling myself "just a little more" until the next thing I knew, I'd reached the end! If you like western romances that are chock full of adventure and life, then this is one I'd highly recommend. I can hardly wait to see what Ms. Blue has in store for her readers next!" Review by Teresa Henson
Book Publisher: Whiskey Creek Press
No. of Pages: 222
Paper Weight (lb): 9.6
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