Bounty Hunters of the Wild West
The westward expansion in the United States began before the Civil War, spurred by a yearning for exploration and discovery. Early settlers were also influenced by the lure of gold and inexpensive land and the belief in something termed “Manifest Destiny.” After the war, there was another catalyst that sent people westward; the desire for a new beginning. But the American west was wild and the way was difficult and dangerous.
Violence was a fact of life as people fought for a foothold in the vast and dangerous landscapes. And lawful governance was hard to come by. In this wide, uncertain world of the western frontier, outlaws thrived. There weren’t nearly enough lawmen to cover all the territories and sheriffs and deputies often found themselves with more than enough to deal with in their small communities. Besides, lawmen were greatly hindered by the limited scope and breadth of their authority. Chasing down outlaws who moved from one place to another was either outside their jurisdiction or beyond the capacity of their manpower.
Relief came as a result of a court decision in 1872 which gave certain individuals the power to track down, imprison (indefinitely, if need be), and turn in anyone who had escaped bail or had a warrant for their arrest. These bounty hunters worked on the side of law but were not regulated by the same rules that tied the hands of true lawmen. They could cross state and territory lines. They did not need a warrant to force entry to a fugitive’s property. They had the unique benefit of anonymity and often had to act outside the law in order to accomplish their tasks.
As you can imagine, this combination of power and independence and the lack of checks and balances attracted a variety of people. Many who took on the role of bounty hunter were former military men who possessed exceptional skill with firearms and the know-how to track and, if necessary, kill known outlaws. One of the most successful and well-known bounty hunters was Charlie Siringo, a Pinkerton Detective. Other bounty hunters were barely a half step away from being outlaws themselves. Some were even convicted fugitives who were recruited to turn on their former partners and rivals.
When it came to outlaws and lawmen in the Wild West, the two were often one and the same. Outlaws became lawmen, lawmen became outlaws, and some men managed to live as both at the same time. That was possibly never truer than when it came to those who took on the mantle of bounty hunter.
In THE GUNSLINGER’S VOW, the first title in my new historical western series, Malcolm Kincaid started out as a vigilante on the hunt for justice. While tracking down the men responsible for his brother’s death, he just sort of fell into the occupation of bounty hunter. Though at his core he has the noble goal of finally seeing justice prevail, he has no problem making sure that happens by whatever means necessary. Unfortunately, he falls for a woman whose life might depend on him giving up his vengeful vendetta once and for all.
Whether set in Regency England or the American West, I write historical romance about dashing and sometimes dangerous men who know just how to get what they want and women who at times may be reckless, bold, and unconventional, but who always have the courage to embrace what love and life have to offer.
THE GUNSLIGER’S VOW is available now! Click the cover to order from Amazon.
Amy is giving away two print copies of The Gunslinger’s Vow.
Leave a comment below for a chance to win.