The Outlaw’s Mail Order Bride, book 1 in Linda Broday’s new series, is out January 29!
When the West was wild
And man’s law favored the few
These extraordinary women could be found…
…in the heart of an outlaw.
Former outlaw Clay Colby is abuzz with his mail order bride’s expected arrival. He’s fought long and hard to drag Devil’s Crossing out of lawlessness…so when his homestead is set ablaze by a bitter rival, he’s heartbroken. There’s no woman in the world who’d stand by him now.
But Tally Shannon is no ordinary woman.
After escaping the psychiatric hospital in which she was wrongfully detained, Tally only wants someone to protect her and the little girl under her care. She doesn’t mind that Clay’s home is dang near burned to the ground—not when he makes her feel so safe. So cherished. But it’s only a matter of time before the ghosts of her past come calling…and her loving cowboy must defend his new bride—and the family they built together—to his very last breath.
READ ON FOR AN EXCERPT:
Dallas Hawk set his empty bowl on the table and reached for his fiddle. He drew his bow slowly across the strings, and the makeshift town came alive with sweet music.
Clay stood and held out his hand to Tally. “May I have this dance, pretty lady?”
Her eyes darkened in the shadows. “Yes, indeed, Mr. Colby.”
Despite the stiff formality, Tally showed none in her movement. She was light in his arms. He could hardly breathe with her so near. He buried his face in her hair and inhaled her sweet fragrance. Her curves molded against his hard body as though she’d been created just for him. The night was just about perfect. A full moon came out and shone down, blessing them with silvery rays of light.
Clay held her close, and they glided effortlessly across what remained of the grass burned by the heat of the summer sun. The open space allowed them to make sweeping circles for once.
He placed his mouth on her temple, breathing deeply and counting his blessings. “Thank you for this.”
“I know how you set such store by dancing. And I like it too. I had forgotten how happy it makes me.”
“I think the moon is jealous of your beauty. You don’t know the picture you make. I’m glad you wore your hair down.” The ends of it brushed across his arm. He inhaled the lavender fragrance, pleased that she enjoyed using the outdoor bathing closet.
He twirled her around with one hand and she laughed. The sound made him feel like letting out a whoop. He brought her back into his arms and she melted against him, so warm and tantalizing, with just a hint of danger lurking underneath. Strange how a change of scenery made such a difference in her mood. He closed his eyes and imagined running his hand over her silky body.
A sudden thought struck him. He stopped. “I just remembered your feet. You should sit down.”
Tally shook her head. “No. When you’re holding me, I don’t feel my feet. It’s like I’m dancing on a fluffy cloud. They’ll be fine for a little while.”
Her admission sent happiness cartwheeling through him. “Good.”
A hunger rose inside, more powerful than any he’d ever known. He longed to make her his in every way. Maybe this was a start.
They danced to another tune and Clay relished every second with her in his arms, her heart beating next to his.
Tally glanced up. “I forgot to ask. How was the friend you went to check on earlier?”
“He’s up and around. I was glad to see it.” Clay twirled her around and brought her back against him. “I apologize for my anger. If I’d known what Tarver had done to you, I’d have put a bullet in his head when I had the chance.”
The breeze lifted a tendril of hair and dropped it across her face. Clay smoothed it back, watching her expression darken as it seemed to do each time mention was made of the man.
“He’ll be back to even the score, Clay.” Her voice was flat. Resigned.
“Let’s not ruin tonight. We came to dance.” Clay swung her back into time to the music.
If and when the bunch did come…they’d find his Remington cocked and loaded.
But for now, he soaked up the moonlight, the fragrance of the land, and his warrior angel pressed against him. Ahhh, he could get real spoiled.
After his dance with Tally ended, each of the men clamored for a turn. That they treated his wife with respect, like a treasure, made Clay happy. They all dreamed of homes and family just like he did.
He sat next to Violet and watched the rapture on her face. Maybe she hadn’t heard music in a while—if ever.
“Want to dance, baby girl?” he asked.
“I want to, but…I’m scared.”
“Will you hurt me?” she asked in a small voice.
The air left him as though someone had driven a fist into his gut. He took her hands. “I will never, ever cause you any hurt. You know why?”
She shook her head.
“Because you’re my little girl now and I love you.”
“Nobody ever loved me before except Mama Tally. My real daddy said I was the devil’s child. Are you sure you love me?”
“I’m sure. How about a dance?”
“Maybe for a minute. Can my mama see me?”
“Yes, she’s very close and she’s smiling.”
“Okay.” The child waited for his touch with a slow smile stretching across her face.
Clay set her on his boots and held her secure. As he moved to the music, he watched the joy in the child’s face. Though she never complained, her dark world had to be terrifying at times. He could take a lesson in courage from her.
Violet raised her face. “Music makes me feel like Cinderella.”
“Mama tells me stories, and one of them is about a girl named Cinderella.”
“Oh, I see.” The corners of Clay’s mouth twitched. “Does this story have anything to do with cinders?”
“No. It’s about a girl who meets a handsome prince, but he won’t look at her because she’s very poor. Her fairy godmother gives her some glass shoes except she loses one. Then the handsome prince finds the shoe and they get married. Kinda like you, Mr. Clay. When I was lost, you came and found me.”
“I sure did.” A lump blocked his throat.
What had come over the child to be so talkative? Not that he complained. This was the start he’d hoped for with both Tally and Violet. Maybe things would get easier with the ice broken.
At a young age, Linda Broday discovered a love for storytelling, history, and anything pertaining to the Old West. After years of writing romance, it’s still tall rugged cowboys that spark her imagination. A New York Times and USA Today bestselling author, Linda has won many awards, including the prestigious National Readers’ Choice Award and the Texas Gold. She resides in the Texas Panhandle where she’s inspired every day.