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Unlocking the Deputy's Heart

Brought together by Divine intervention and united by fate, how can Isabelle teach Joseph the ultimate lesson of forgiveness?

When the dazzling and feisty Isabelle Taylor returns to her home town for her father’s funeral, she is devastated. Blinded by her grief, she blames the Sheriff and his Deputy for her father’s involvement in a gunfire that resulted in his death.

When the composed yet romantic, Joseph Stewart was offered a job as a Deputy, he thought that life was finally giving him a chance. A chance he wasn’t willing to throw away just because the Sheriff can’t do his job.

As 3 brothers are accused of the Mayor’s death, Joseph is distraught by their appearance. How could they resemble his long-dead father?

While Isabelle and Joseph are waiting for the trial, they find solace in one another and heal each other’s wounds.

But when Joseph reveals his big secret, everything will hang by a thread.

Will Isabelle be able to handle the truth, or will her love for Joseph disappear forever?

An incredible love story full of romance, action and a divine intervention that won’t leave you hanging!

Written by:

Christian Historical Romance Author

4.6/5

4.6 out of 5 (161 ratings)

Chapter One

A Deputy’s Duty

Joseph Stewart took his duties seriously. As the sheriff’s deputy it was his job to ensure law and order in the town of Little Hope. The life of a soldier had given him a discipline that was lacked by other law enforcement officials; he often found them to be lazy, his fellow deputies more interested in drinking in the saloon than attending to their duties. Sheriff Monroe Quentin knew that Joseph was different, and thus entrusted him with greater responsibility than he did the others.

It was Joseph’s job to make a tour of the town’s perimeter, checking the fences and ensuring that no signs of bandits or undesirables could be seen. The town of Little Hope lay nestled amidst the Texan Hills Country, and its rural location ensured that it was often the focus for those intent on causing trouble.

“Not on our watch, son,” Monroe Quentin used to say as he and Joseph shared a drink.

The sun was high above as Joseph rode steadily along the track by Skull Gully, the scrubby bushland to his left stretching off up into the hills. To his right were fields of crops, and he had already noted several places where the fences were damaged. So far, he had met no one on the track, and that was just how he liked it, for Joseph favored his own company over that of others.

He had always been a loner, happy with his own thoughts rather than requiring those of others to intrude upon him. He was chewing on a piece of straw, the only sound the gentle clip clop of his horse Sandy, the dry road throwing up its dust and dirtying his shoes. A fact which Joseph resented.

“You keep throwing up that dust, Sandy, and my boots will be covered before we return home.” He patted the horse, who neighed as if in response.

Across the fields of corn, he could see the homesteads, laid out like children’s toys on the horizon, and further on the buildings of Little Hope, the church tower being the highest point before him, the hills behind. It was a peaceful scene—so he was startled by the sudden noise coming from up ahead.

It did not take him long to realize what was happening, and pulling Sandy up, he turned the horse to ride off the track and up onto higher ground. There, ahead of him, charging at full pelt, was a herd of longhorns belonging to Mr. Heck Carter, the only homesteader this side of town who kept cattle and who was notorious for allowing his fences to fall into disrepair.

“Gee up, Sandy,” Joseph said, urging the horse up a little higher to avoid the stampeding cattle.

Then he saw with horror that it was not only the longhorns running along the track. A short distance away a man was fleeing for his life as the cattle charged at full pelt behind. There would be no escape for him; if he tried to run to either side, he would be caught by the herd, and if he fell then he would be crushed.

With little thought for his own safety, Joseph charged down the hill and onto the track, just as the man was beginning to lose his pace. Joseph urged Sandy on and leaned over to pull the man up onto the horse, which galloped out of harm’s way just as the longhorns thundered past, throwing up a cloud of dust in their wake.

“What were you thinking?” Joseph cried to the man as he pulled Sandy up and sat breathing heavily, coughing a little as the dust settled about them.

“I… I am sorry. They caught me off guard—that darn Heck Carter, I’ll see to it that he fixes his fences,” the man replied.

It was only then that Joseph realized who it was that he had just rescued from the stampeding longhorns. The voice of the man was unmistakable—none other than Casey B. Taylor, mayor of Little Hope and the most prominent man in the district.

Joseph took off his hat and turned to the mayor, who thanked him once again and shook him by the hand.

“I thought I was a going to get it there, son. They just charged out of nowhere. I had nowhere to run except forward and my breath was giving out. If you hadn’t been there, then, well…” His words trailed off as he realized just how close he had come to certain death.

The longhorns had now stopped and were ambling along the track. They looked almost peaceful as Joseph trotted the horse through them, though it would take only a sudden movement to turn them deadly once again.

“You had a lucky escape, Mayor Taylor,” Joseph said. “A lucky escape indeed. Why ever were you walking out here? It’s not a safe place these days, what with outlaws and bandits, not to mention stampeding longhorns like that.”

“Well, like I said, that Heck Carter will be getting a visit from me soon enough and a fine from Sheriff Quentin if he doesn’t fix his fences,” the mayor said. “My horse went lame on the track, that’s all.”

“Do you want us to go back and get it? I’m sure we could lead it safely back to town,” Joseph said, pulling up Sandy and turning her round back toward the track.

“No, son, you’ve done enough for me already. You’ve done a brave deed today and I’ll be sure not to forget it,” the mayor replied, slapping Joseph on the back. “You’ve not been long in these parts, have you?”

“I come and go. I was here first some years back and then went off west, then came back here around two years ago. I’ve been deputy for eighteen months now.”

“That’s right. Joseph’s your name, ain’t it? You came in with old William Cassidy, didn’t you?” the mayor said.

“That’s right, I lived with him for a while but now I rent rooms in the town from Mrs. Eliza Talbot,” Joseph replied as they rode into Little Hope.

“And a veteran of the Civil War. You’re a fine young man and we have much to thank you for, much to thank you for indeed. If only more young men were as brave as you are. We’re glad to have you here in Little Hope, and it certainly brought me some luck today,” Casey said.

“Well it’s better than none,” Joseph said, smiling a little at his reference to the town, which was named after its founder, Mr. Palmerston Hope. He’d been a noted benefactor who, at only five feet four inches, had stood well below even the shortest of men. “I was just doing my duty, sir. Those longhorns would have trampled you to death if it had been a moment later,” Joseph said, sounding quite matter-of-fact given the ordeal which both men had just endured.

“Well, son, I can tell you that I will always be grateful to you for what you have done today, and I can assure you that I will not forget this act of bravery. If there is anything whatsoever that you need, all you have to do is call at the mayor’s office. Casey B. Taylor will see to it that you are provided for. In fact, as a token of my appreciation, I should be very pleased if you would come and share a drink with me at my home today,” the mayor said as he dismounted and dusted himself off.

Joseph was not one for accepting such invitations. He had planned to pay a visit to William that day, or perhaps just enjoy a quiet drink in the saloon. It seemed, though, that he had no choice but to accept, and thanking the mayor, he arranged to call at the mayor’s house at six o’clock that night.

He watched as the mayor ambled off, greeting passers-by as he went. It was still a mystery as to why he had been walking that far out of town in the first place. The track led nowhere in particular—just to one or two outlying ranches which were generally avoided by most folk.

But Joseph dismissed such thoughts. The mayor could do as he wished; it was his town, after all.

After attaching Sandy’s reins to the hitching post outside the sheriff’s office, he went inside to find Monroe Quentin hard at work, his desk covered in a myriad of wanted posters, the hardened faces of the most wanted men in Texas looking up at him.

“I was wondering where you’d got to,” Monroe said, not looking up from his work.

“There was a stampede out on the Skull Gully track. A herd of Heck Carter’s longhorns charging through the fences. Thankfully, no one was hurt,” Joseph said, looking down at his shoes, which were filthy with the dust.

“Ain’t no one walks along that track,” Quentin said. “Unless they’re up to no good.”

“The mayor was there. I had to scoop him up onto Sandy, otherwise he’d have been killed,” Joseph replied, taking off his boots.

At this, the sheriff put down his pen and looked up. “Mayor Taylor? Whatever was he doing all the way out there?”

“He said his horse was lamed. I’m going to go over and speak with Heck Carter; this is the third time his cattle have strayed in as many months,” Joseph said, beginning to polish his shoes back to their original shine.

“I’ll see to Heck Carter,” Monroe replied darkly, though his expression quickly changed. “And it seems we have a new hero on our hands, Rescuing the mayor from a herd of longhorns has got to be worth at least ten acres of land,” he said, smiling at Joseph.

“He’s invited me for a drink, but as I told him, I was only doing my duty. Mayor or not, I would still have scooped him up,” Joseph said.

“Of course you would, and that’s what makes you a fine deputy. You’ll be sheriff one day—of that I have no doubt. These folks’ll be the death of me,” he said, pointing down to the grim faces on the wanted posters.

“Any news come in on the hunt for Frank James?” Joseph asked.

“Nothing at all, though two more saloons were held up in this past week alone. It’s only a matter of time before trouble comes to Little Hope. Anyway, you take the rest of the day off; you’ll want to polish those shoes before drinks with the mayor tonight,” Monroe said, laughing to himself as he went back to scrutinizing the wanted posters.

Joseph put on his boots and went out into the town.

His lodgings were just across the street, and Mrs. Eliza Talbot was sweeping off the veranda when he approached. She laid down her brush and smiled at the young deputy. A widower of twenty years, his landlady let out three rooms in her boarding house to an assortment of local men. She was glad to have Joseph as a boarder. The deputy kept some order around the place. Her other lodgers were somewhat lacking in morals though regular in their payments.

“I hear congratulations are in order,” she said as Joseph stepped up onto the veranda.

“Just doing my duty, Mrs. Talbot,” Joseph said, blushing a little. “Must the whole town know?”

“Mayor Taylor merely informed me as a further reference as to the quality of lodger I keep in this establishment,” she replied, laughing as she followed Joseph inside.

The house had belonged to her late husband, and was a substantial construction of timber-framed Victorian charm. The formal parlor was for her private use, but occasionally she allowed her lodgers to use it, and today she invited Joseph to sit with her a moment, offering him polish for his shoes and watching as the young man went about his meticulous business.

“Who learnt you to polish so precisely?” she asked, watching in fascination as he applied the polish to each part of the shoe and rubbed it in with an expert hand.

“It is an old army habit,” he replied, his concentration fixed upon the shoes.

“Was it not your mother or father who impressed such standards upon you in the first place?” she asked.

“I have neither mother nor father,” he replied.

It was a source of considerable shame for Joseph that he was in effect an orphan—a fact he hid as best he could by always beginning the narrative of his life from his experiences as a soldier.

“I had assumed William Cassidy was a relative of yours,” Eliza said, for she had never really questioned Joseph over his family—a topic which now appeared to be embarrassing him.

“William is a friend, that is all. We experienced the Civil War together, and he was kind to me, but it was the Army that taught me to polish shoes, Mrs. Talbot,” Joseph said, and standing up, he thanked her for her hospitality and excused himself.

Joseph’s room was above the parlor, up a narrow flight of stairs and along a corridor lined with old pictures and a table, atop of which were several large aspidistra plants. The house was cool, an oasis from the heat of the day, and Joseph lay down upon the freshly made bed and closed his eyes. He was grateful for the solitude, since he hated to be the center of attention. Outside, he could hear the hustle and bustle of Little Hope. A wagon train had just come in, bringing new homesteaders and prospectors out west.

Closing his eyes, Joseph fell into a gentle sleep and was awoken sometime later by the grandfather clock below. Its chimes indicated that it was six o’clock and he was due at the home of Mayor Taylor immediately.

Chapter Two

A Portrait Encounter

Leaping from the bed, Joseph donned his polished boots and straightened his jacket, then rushed down the stairs and out onto the street. The mayor’s house lay only a few moments’ walk from the center of town, and soon Joseph was standing outside the imposing Victorian façade, with its veranda that stretched right around two sides and delicate gabled windows, the slats painted in blue and white. In front lay a garden with mature trees and roses growing in the rich soil. It was an idyllic setting amidst the often harsh and unforgiving town of Little Hope: a tranquil escape from its hustle and bustle.

“Here goes nothing,” Joseph said to himself, checking his boots once again and stepping through the gate and up onto the veranda.

The maid answered the door, curtseying to the deputy as she ushered him inside. Joseph was asked to wait in the parlor whilst she informed her master of his arrival. Full of apologies for his tardiness, Joseph entered the room, which was neatly furnished, and stood by the hearth looking with interest at his surroundings.

He had never been used to good fortune, and the ostentations of wealth and privilege held little sway for him. So long as he had a bed on which to lay his head, a roof over his head, and a full stomach, Joseph wanted for nothing much else. His eyes fell upon a portrait above the fireplace, but just at that moment the door to the room opened and the mayor appeared before him, smiling broadly and coming over to take the deputy by the hand.

“You are most welcome, Joseph, most welcome indeed. I see you are admiring our little house here. My daughter Rosalie will join us in a moment. Please do sit down,” the mayor said, indicating a seat opposite from his own.

The maid brought a pitcher of iced lemonade and some glasses. The drink was refreshing after the heat of the day, and Joseph soon found himself relaxing as he listened to the mayor talk of the affairs of the town. He been mayor there for five years, though he’d had had his share of sorrow too, his wife having died three years previously of a fever.

“She was a mighty fine woman, the kindest and most loving person any man could ask for, and my daughters take after her so much. It is as if their mother were still amongst us,” the mayor said, sipping his lemonade.

“You have more than one daughter, then?” Joseph asked. He had assumed that Rosalie was the only one, but Mayor Taylor nodded and pointed to the portrait Joseph had noticed upon his arrival.

“I have two daughters: Rosalie, who’ll you meet momentarily, and my Isabelle, whose portrait is hanging above us. She is far away in New York, attending a finishing school for young ladies. I could not be prouder of her.”

Joseph looked up at the picture above. It portrayed a striking young woman, eloquently executed in pastel shades. He had rarely seen a more beautiful figure, but it was the way in which the artist had captured her eyes which was most striking. As he gazed at the portrait he felt as though Isabelle herself were looking back at him.

“She is strikingly beautiful,” Joseph said, blushing a little at the effect the portrait had had upon him.

“Those are her mother’s looks, of course. She gets none of her beauty from me, of that I can assure you,” Mayor Taylor said, laughing. “But she is also the kindest and most gentle creature on God’s fair earth. Fiercely loyal, too. I can tell you that she would be distraught if she knew what had happened today at Skull Gully. I would get a telling off and that is sure.”

“How long has she been away?” Joseph asked, still staring at the portrait of Isabelle. Transfixed by her.

“These past two years. She must have been leaving just as you returned. It was mighty hard to let her go, but it was for the best. I cannot expect her to stay in a little place like this her whole life. New York City is where the excitement is for a young lady, though I worry about her. We have some relatives there, though, and the school is a most respectable one, run by a religious order. She writes each week to tell us of her news and it won’t be long before she returns,” the mayor said, smiling at Joseph, who now tore his eyes from the portrait and returned his attention to the mayor.

“I should like to meet her when she does,” he said, forgetting his place for a moment, it not being quite correct for a deputy to speak so informally of the mayor’s daughter.

“Son, if you had not saved my life today, my Isabelle would no longer have a daddy. It is the least I can do to introduce you to her. I hope the two of you become friends. Then maybe she’d have a reason to remain here,” Casey said, raising his glass of lemonade to Joseph in a toast.

~

The incident at Skull Gully had shaken him up a little. As mayor of Little Hope, Casey rather thought of himself as invincible. It was he who had tamed the outlaws in these parts and ensured that the wagon trains in and out of town were safe to travel upon. He had helped establish the mission church and built a schoolhouse. Life was good in Little Hope thanks to the mayor, and he had no doubt as to his own abilities.

But nothing could protect him from a stampede of cattle, not even his mayoral office, and after his brush with death, he had been in something of a reflective mood. He missed his daughter deeply and longed for her return; perhaps she’d settle down and start a family right here in Little Hope. The deputy sitting before him wouldn’t make a bad son-in-law, that much was certain, though Casey wondered whether Isabelle would stoop to marry a mere deputy, however courageous he was.

He was brought back from his musings by a knock at the door and the entrance of his younger daughter, Rosalie. She looked shy at the sight of Joseph, who rose to greet her, forgetting that he had already removed his hat, his hand going to his head and he in turn blushing with embarrassment as he realized his mistake.

“A pleasure to meet you, ma’am,” he said, smiling as he took her hand.

“Rosalie, I would like you to meet Mr. Joseph Stewart, deputy to Sheriff Quentin and the man who saved my life this afternoon,” the mayor said.

“A pleasure to meet you too, sir,” Rosalie replied, taking a seat beside her father and pouring herself some lemonade.

“Where have you been today, Rosalie?” her father asked her.

“Just out tending the horses. One of the men said your horse is lamed, father,” she said, still shyly looking at their visitor.

“That’s right, and it is the reason that Joseph comes to be here this evening. If the horse had not been lamed, then I should not have been walking back into town when those longhorns charged me. It was Joseph’s quick thinking that kept you from being left an orphan,” Casey said.

“Then I thank you kindly for rescuing my father, Mr. Stewart,” Rosalie said, smiling at Joseph, who blushed further.

His experience with women was somewhat lacking. The life of a soldier, and then a wagon man, was in no way conducive to meetings with the fairer sex. Joseph was by no means unattractive—quite the opposite, in fact. He was a handsome man whom many of Little Hope’s women had found themselves attracted to since his arrival.

“You tend the horses, ma’am?” Joseph asked, attempting to cut through the young girl’s shyness.

“She’s as different from her sister as can be imagined,” Casey said, butting in before Rosalie had a chance to reply. “As shy as any creature on the plain, that’s my Rosalie.”

“I ride, too,” she said, looking up from her drink and addressing the deputy directly, ignoring her father’s words.

“Do you now? And do you ride well?” Joseph asked.

“She rides very well, though I do not allow her to ride out by herself when her sister is not here. You know yourself, Deputy, just how lawless the roads can be. We’re lucky to have you and the sheriff to keep order here in the town, but out there it’s a wild west, and make no mistake. I would not allow my Rosalie to ride out alone without her sister here,” Casey said, placing his arm around his daughter.

“I have my own horse, though. His name is Canaan and he’s as fast as any horse in the district,” Rosalie said, warming to her subject. “I could show him to you if you wish? And I am just as capable as my sister when out on the plains.”

“I should like that very much. With your permission of course, sir?” Joseph said, glancing at the mayor, who laughed at his daughter’s enthusiasm.

“We’ll go together. My horse wandered back itself and the farrier is shoeing him now, I believe,” Casey said, downing his glass of lemonade and standing up.

The three of them left the cool of the parlor and made their way through the fine house into the backyard where the stables were. The mayor owned four fine horses, and his own horse was being shod beneath the shade of a tree some distance away.

“This one is Isabelle’s,” Rosalie said, pointing to a black horse with a white patch on its nose. “She calls him Thunder, though my Canaan could outrun him any day.” And she laughed as she led Joseph and her father to the next stall.

Inside were the two other horses: Canaan, a magnificent brown horse who neighed and whinnied at the sight of Rosalie, and next to him a chestnut mare whose name was Indigo. Rosalie said she’d belonged to Rosalie’s late mother.

Joseph stretched out his hand as the two horses approached the door, patting each in turn and commenting upon how fine they were.

“You know, this fella reminds me of a pony we had out in the Civil War. A real worker of a beast, with the sweetest nature about him. He could pull packs all day and still carry you home at night. I used to call him Bertie, and I’d always save a sugar lump from the rations to give to him. The colors on this horse are just the same,” Joseph said, the sight of the horse bringing back vivid memories of times past.

Back in the Civil War, before he had met old William Cassidy, Joseph had spent as much time around the animals as possible. Bertie had become his closest friend and he would often sleep in the stables, the warmth of the animals preferable to the harsh life of the Civil War encampments. It was there that he had learned the value of solitude, the gentle strength of the horses a comforting presence when so much else about his life had been uncomfortable.

~

In speaking of the horses, it was as though Rosalie’s shyness disappeared and she became animated to her subject. She told him about the many adventures she’d had with her sister and the horses, and smiled brightly.

“One time we were up on the ridge above Skull Gully, looking down onto the wagon road going west, and we saw the most enormous gun fight. Bandits attacked one of the wagon trains, but they didn’t reckon on them defending themselves. There was so much smoke it looked like a whole town was alight, and those homesteaders sent those bandits away in a sorry state,” she said.

“Rosalie, I do not like to think of you and your sister in such a dangerous situation,” her father said, shaking his head as any father would do at the thought of his daughters witnessing such a horror.

“We were fine, Father, and besides we could outrun any bandits, that’s for sure. Our horses are the fastest in town. Why won’t you let me ride out anymore?” she asked, taking advantage of the presence of Joseph to beseech her father once again.

Ever since Isabelle had gone to New York, Casey had only allowed his daughter to ride out when he himself accompanied her. It was too dangerous otherwise, and these stories of bandits on the road only strengthened his resolve to protect his daughter.

“Not until your sister comes back, and even then I may have my doubts about letting the two of you go riding out just anywhere. These parts aren’t safe. Forgive me for saying it, Deputy, but it’s true, and the daughter of the mayor would make a tempting target for every no-good in the county,” Casey said, shaking his head and turning away from the stables.

“Rosalie is welcome to ride out with me any time, if it would give you some peace of mind, Mr. Mayor. That is, if you didn’t mind,” Joseph said, smiling at Rosalie.

“Oh, can I, Father? Please do say yes. Mr. Stewart has already proved his bravery to you; surely you can trust him to take good care of me?” Rosalie said, looking imploringly at her father, who laughed at the look she now gave him, her hands clasped together in a gesture of begging.

“Well, Mr. Stewart has his duties to attend to, so he can’t always be riding out of town with a young lady whenever she should choose,” he replied, scratching his head and batting away the gnats that buzzed around the horses in the heat of the afternoon sun.

“It’s no trouble. I often have to ride out on business and I should be glad of the company, at least until Isabelle returns. Then perhaps the three of us could ride out together. I know some picturesque trails up into the hills. You’d be safe with me, and if this horse is as fast you boast it is then even if trouble did occur, we would have no problems in getting away,” Joseph said, enthusiastic at the prospect of having Rosalie accompany him on his rides.

“Well, it seems you two have settled the matter for me,” Casey said, shaking his head as Rosalie jumped up and down with excitement.

“You hear that, Canaan? We’re going to ride out with the deputy just as soon as he is free to do so. Thank you, Father, and thank you, Mr. Stewart. You are most kind,” Rosalie said, still unable to contain her excitement.

“Please call me Joseph, Miss Taylor. I shall be glad to ride out in the next couple of days,” he said. “I guess I should be getting along now, though. There are duties to attend to and there’s a wagon train due in later on. I want to get a look at the folk coming in,” Joseph said, and he and Casey walked back through the house, leaving Rosalie petting Canaan and talking to him of the adventures they would once again enjoy together.

“I hope you don’t mind my offering to escort Rosalie on her rides. I can assure you she’ll be quite safe,” Joseph said as he thanked the mayor for his hospitality.

“Not at all, son. You saved my life today and I have no trouble entrusting the safety of my daughter to you. Besides, it’ll make her happy. She is so lonely without her sister here; I worry for her sometimes. You’ll be a good influence, I’m sure,” the mayor replied, bidding Joseph a good day and thanking him once again for rescuing him from the longhorns.

~

As Joseph stepped down from the veranda and across the garden, he could hear the neighing of the horses from the yard behind the house. Canaan was certainly a spirited creature, and Joseph looked forward to riding out with Rosalie in the days to come.

“Are you all done boot polishing at the mayor’s?” Quentin asked when Joseph entered the sheriff’s office, taking off his hat and knocking the dust from his boots.

“He was grateful I saved his life, that is all,” Joseph replied, seating himself at his desk. “I met young Rosalie, too. She’s a shy girl but seems animated enough on the subject of horses. It’s some mighty fine beasts the mayor has out back there.”

“Well, he’s rich enough to afford them and to let Rosalie please herself whilst Isabelle is away at her fancy finishing school,” Quentin said, his tone somewhat critical.

“Do you have something against the mayor?” Joseph asked.

But before the sheriff could answer him, a commotion came from the jailhouse, the sounds of a fracas between several prisoners who had just roused themselves from varying states of inebriation.

Joseph and Quentin walked through to the cells, which contained a motley collection of ruffians and vagabonds.

“Quite your yapping or you’ll be sleeping off that liquor for a week in there,” Quentin shouted at the men, who issued a string of obscenities.

“I said quit it,” the sheriff repeated, spitting on the floor as he kicked the bar of one of the cells.

“Frank James will see to you good, Sheriff Quentin. He’s coming into these parts to show you a thing or two, make no mistake,” one of the prisoners, a man with a thin scar running down his cheek, said.

There was murmur of agreement from the others, the reputation of the notorious Frank James preceding him.

“You think I’m scared of an outlaw and a common bandit?” Quentin asked. “He’ll be behind bars before any of you are released if he dares to show his face in this town.”

Further obscenities and threats were directed at the sheriff, but Monroe Quentin had spent his life dealing with hardnosed individuals. A few drunken ruffians held no sway with him, nor did Frank James, a cattle thief and a man of low moral standing. Monroe feared no man, and he repeated that sentiment to Joseph as the two prepared to meet the wagon train that was due to arrive at any minute.

“You need a strong man to be sheriff in these parts,” he said, putting on his cowboy hat and straightening his sheriff’s badge. “That way no man can you push you around.”

The two stepped out from the jailhouse onto the wide central street of Little Hope. It was busy that afternoon with folks coming and going. The saloon was busy, and already it looked like several of the customers may find themselves joining the occupants of the jailhouse that night. The church bell was ringing as several ladies in their best church clothes hurried to Mr. Jesse Wayne’s revival meeting. The sun was hot, beating down on the dusty scene, and the wagon train could be seen approaching over the hill.

“It all seems normal enough at the moment,” Joseph replied. “Just Heck Carter’s longhorns to see to.”

“That’s the thing about these places though,” Quentin said. “You just never know what’s going to happen.” And with that the two men stepped forward, a new band of adventurers arriving into Little Hope, bringing with them new stories, new hopes and new dreams.

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  • It sounds pretty interesting!
    A couple of things jumped out at me though….”Texan Hills Country’ should be “Texas Hill Country”. The editor might not have know this.
    And a couple of things about the ‘saving the mayor’ scene seemed odd.

    First, “He watched as the mayor ambled off, greeting passers-by as he went.” I didn’t think there was anyone in the area. Then, the sheriff co-oberates that fact by both these sentences;
    “Ain’t no one walks along that track,” Quentin said. “Unless they’re up to no good.”
    At this, the sheriff put down his pen and looked up. “Mayor Taylor? Whatever was he doing all the way out there?”

    I read the whole passage a couple of times and it just didn’t make sense to me. Maybe ” greeting passers-by as he went. ” can just be omitted.

  • The first chapter of this book began with little nuggets of history laced with excitement that was to come. Chapter two was even more exciting & chapter three has me salivating to see how Joseph, Rosalie & Isabella would mesh. Will there be sibling rivalry for the handsome deputy in the midst of robbers & trouble. Can’t wait to read it.

  • I can’t wait for Joseph and Isabella to meet! Also, anxious to see what kinds of adventures Joseph and Rosalie get into while out riding their horses. Love the book so far!!

  • The excitement is building Chloe! Roll on Saturday! I can feel the dusty heat and taste the dust of Little Hope as if I were there. Looming forward to reading your latest best seller with real excitement!

  • Well written. It certainly sounds intriguing Chloe and I can’t wait to find out with the mayor was doing up there on the track and how Joseph affairs with the mayors daughters. Thanks for the preview.

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