My new Harlequin Historical, THE HORSEMAN’S BRIDE, is now available. Although the story can stand on its own for new readers, those of you who’ve met the Seavers and Gustavson families in THE BORROWED BRIDE and HIS SUBSITUTE BRIDE will be happy to know that Clara, now 19, finally gets her own story. Here’s the blurb:
“A wanted man… Not even a remote Colorado ranch can shelter Jace Denby while he’s on the run. He took the blame for his brother-in-law’s murder, but the one danger this fugitive doesn’t see coming is impulsive Clara Seavers. With the law on his back, he must leave, though her beauty and fierce courage entice him to stay. Clara doesn’t trust this hired farmhand, but she can’t deny the rugged, unexpectedly caring man ignites her spirit…and heart. The more Jace fights her mounting passion, the more she’ll risk to make him hers forever.”
And here’s an excerpt:
Clara Seavers closed the paddock gate and looped the chain over the wooden post. The morning air was crisp, the sky as blue as a jay’s wing above the snowcapped Rockies. It was a perfect day for a ride.
Swinging into the saddle, she urged the two-year-old gelding to a trot. Foxfire, as she’d named the leggy chestnut colt, had been foaled on the Seavers ranch. Clara had broken him herself. He could run like the wind, but he was skittish and full of ginger. Keeping him under control required constant attention.
This morning the colt was responding well. With a press of her boot heels, Clara opened him up to a canter. She could feel the power in the solid body, feel the young horse’s impatience to break away and gallop full out across the open pastureland. Only her discipline held him back.
For as long as she could remember Clara had wanted to breed and train fine horses. She’d passed up her parents’ offer of college to stay on the ranch and pursue her dream. Now, at nineteen, she could see that dream coming true. Foxfire was the first of several colts and fillies with champion quarter horse bloodlines. In time, she vowed, the Seavers Ranch would be as well-known for prize horses as it was for cattle.
Gazing across the distant fields, she could see her Grandma Gustavson’s farm. Days had passed since Clara’s last visit to her grandmother. It was high time she paid her another call.
For years Clara’s parents had begged the old woman to move into their spacious family ranch house. But Mary Gustavson was as iron-willed as her Viking forbearers. She was determined to live out her days on the land she’d homesteaded with her husband Soren, in the two-story log house where they’d raised seven children.
So far Mary had done all right. Her health was fair, and the rental of pastureland to the Seavers family gave her enough money to live on. She did her own chores and borrowed the ranch hands for occasional heavy work. But seventy-two was too old to be living alone. The family worried increasingly that something would go wrong and no one would be there to help her.
Clara pushed Foxfire to a lope, feeling the joyful stretch of the colt’s body between her knees. There was an old barbed wire fence between the ranch land and her grandmother’s property. But the wires were down in several places where the cattle had butted against the posts. It would be easy to jump the horse through.
They came up fast on the fence, with Clara leaning forward in the saddle. She was urging her mount to a jump when she caught sight of the gleaming new barbed wire at the level of the colt’s chest.
Some fool had fixed the fence!
With an unladylike curse, she wrenched the reins to one side. The pressure on his bit-tender mouth sent Foxfire into a frenzy. He reared and stumbled sideways. Thrown from the saddle Clara slammed to the ground. For a terrifying instant the colt teetered above her, hoofs flailing. Then he regained his balance, wheeled and galloped away.
Clara lay gasping on her back. Cautiously she moved her arms and legs. Nothing felt broken, but the hard landing had knocked the wind out of her. She took a moment to gather her wits. First she needed to catch her breath. Then she would need to get up and catch her horse. After that she intended to hunt down the addle-pated so-and-so who’d replace the sagging wire and give him a piece of her mind.
“Are you all right?” The voice that spoke was distinctly male, with a gravelly undertone. The face that loomed into sight above her was square-boned with a long, stubbled jaw. Tawny curls, plastered with sweat and dust, tumbled over blazing blue eyes.
It flashed through her mind that her virtue could be in serious danger. But the man leaning over her didn’t look lustful. He looked concerned—and furious.
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Four Blue Ribbons!
Clara is a strong heroine who instantly feels like a friend, and Jace comes to a life as the perfect protective and loving hero. He puts Clara’s safety before anything else. Every character is important in THE HORSEMAN’S BRIDE, a great ensemble piece. If you enjoy Westerns, you won’t want to miss this one.
Elizabeth Lane has written an emotion packed story about the consequences of lies, the necessity of trust, and the strength of love. But the story also explores why secrets are sometimes justified and why family matters. This story was a special treat. Not only did the reader get to catch up with characters from previous books, but the story takes place twenty years later in the series, when the Wild West was supposedly tamer. Ms. Lane’s story demonstrates that human nature doesn’t vary much, regardless of the century.
–Love Western Romance
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FYI, I’d planned to end this series with THE HORSEMAN’S BRIDE. Then a stunning, strong-willed woman strode into the last chapter of the book, and I knew I wasn’t finished. Those of you who’ve read, or will read THE HORSEMAN’S BRIDE, will be happy to know that Ruby gets her story. Look for my next “Bride” title in late 2010 or early 2011.
After that, I’ll be leaving Dutchman’s Creek, Colorado for the northern California coast and a haunting post-gold rush story that I can’t wait to write.