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Nicki Chandler was too busy fighting natural disasters on her homestead and trying to avert a range war to worry about romance. She was more likely to chase a man off at gunpoint than invite him in to tea. Then a handsome stranger with a mysterious past came looking for a job. In desperate need of a strong back to help with the work, Nicki reluctantly allowed him to stay, completely unprepared for the assault he would make on her heart.
Falling in love was the last thing Levi Cantrell expected when he took a job on the tiny homestead. Nicki Chandler ignited longings within him that he couldn’t deny but would she still want him when she found out who he really was?
Wyoming Territory, March 1886
“Watch it, sodbuster!” The drunk cowboy glowered down at Nicki, or what he could see of her. Only faded dungarees and small booted feet were visible beneath the heavy winter coat and wide-brimmed hat. “Don’t you know enough to get out of the way when your betters come along?”
Nicki swallowed a retort and stepped away. The man had blundered right into her as she came out of the mercantile, but the last thing she needed was trouble with three cowpokes from the Bar X.
“Hey, boy,” said the man’s tall, rangy companion. “You owe Shorty an apology.”
Nicki gritted her teeth. She’d rather spit in his face. “Sor-ry,” she mumbled.
“We’d best teach this squatter some manners, Buck,” the third man said with a sinister smile. “I say we throw him in the horse trough.”
Nicki backed up against the wall and watched the three men warily. She wasn’t afraid of a dunking, but such things had a tendency to snowball when whiskey was involved, and these men had clearly been drinking a long time. At least they were too drunk to realize they were dealing with a full-grown woman instead of an adolescent boy. Barely five foot tall, Nicki was used to people making that mistake. Even without her heavy coat, the bulky long johns effectively hid her slender fig-ure.
Suddenly one of the cowhands lunged, and Nicki struck out with a small fist. As her assailant clutched his midsection in pain, the third man grabbed her from behind, pinning her arms to her sides. Struggling wildly, she soon realized it was im-possible to escape that way.
She slumped in apparent defeat and waited while the other cowboy approached. When he was a mere two feet away Nicki leaned back and swung her foot up in a vicious kick. Taken unaware, the man holding her stumbled backward as his friend howled in agony when the boot connected with his knee. But it wasn’t enough and Nicki knew it.
Her heart thumped wildly in her chest as the two she’d injured picked themselves up and headed for her. Desperately, she fought the hands that held her but to no avail. Nothing but a miracle could save her now.
“All right, gentlemen, I think you’ve had enough fun for one day.” The four combatants froze at the sound of a rifle be-ing cocked. “Let the boy go.”
Nicki twisted around in surprise. The voice belonged to a complete stranger. Standing well over six feet, his bulk seemed to fill the doorway of the mercantile. A full beard hid his expression but the blue-gray eyes glinted dangerously as he stepped forward onto the boardwalk. His appearance was nearly as menacing as the rifle he held pointed at the man re-straining Nicki.
“Now, Mister,” said one of the cowboys, lifting his hands. “You don’t understand what’s going on. This here is my little brother. He snuck off to town, and Pa sent my friends and me to fetch him home.”
“He doesn’t seem to want to go with you.”
“That’s because he was planning on going to the saloon and gettin’ himself a woman,” Nicki’s captor replied.
All at once Nicki found her voice. “That’s not true. I…” A hand was clamped over her mouth before she could finish.
The cowboy holding her smiled nervously. “He’s a lyin’ little brat too.” He yelped as Nicki sank her teeth into his hand. “Why you little…” He raised the injured hand to cuff his captive, then froze as the rifle barrel jabbed into the underside of his jaw.
“Somehow I find it hard to believe he’s your brother,” Le-vi said. “Now, are you going to let him go, or am I going to have to get nasty?”
Nicki was released, and all three men backed away. “What business is it of yours whether he’s my brother or not?”
“Let’s just say I don’t like the odds.” Her savior patted his rifle. “My Winchester and I even them up.” He glanced down at Nicki. “Can you shoot this?”
“Willow Creek is much more than a romance; it is a bit of history. Carolyn Lampman has researched her topic well bringing to life the turbulent past of WY. The plot is interesting and well-written. The characters are delightful. Nicki is strong willed and vulnerable. She must find forgiveness. Levi has his own nightmares to deal with. Together they are unstoppable. The supporting characters each have their own distinctive voice. Liana and Peter must overcome prejudice. While much of the plot is predictable (most westerns are), it grabbed my attention and held it. I could not put Willow Creek down and read long into the night. This would make a great movie! Fans of romance and westerns, order your copy for good reading.”
5 Stars! - Reviewed by Debra Gaynor for ReviewYourBook.com
“Willow Creek, a western romance set in the late 1800’s at the end of the Cattle Baron Era, tells of love that grows during those harsh, turbulent times. These were times when men could be shanghaied and pressed into cruel servitude for years, times when homesteaders settling in the west lived in danger of being killed if they thwarted the ambitions of the powerful, old-time ranchers who had controlled the open range for years…Willow Creek is an American West love story that doesn’t let the reader breathe that happily-ever-after sigh until the very last page. If you enjoy western love stories this one is a keeper.” 4 ½ Books! Reviewed by Camellia, The Long And Short Of It Reviews
Book Publisher: Whiskey Creek Press
No. of Pages: 386
Paper Weight (lb): 16.0
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