The Wild, Wild West

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The Wild, Wild West: 5 Historical Romances 

All the drama and sexy attraction of cowboys and the dangerous Wild West in a value-priced collection.

It’s a shootout at high noon in these high-stakes romances, with lovers’ hearts on the line. Saddle up and ride along with these couples as they try to outdraw Cupid.

Seduced by the Outlaw: Tamar Freeman has everything under control as the owner of Kansas City’s local newspaper until undercover lawman Amos Tanner responds to a lonely hearts ad that’s actually a trap to catch a burglary ring. To all he meets, he’s Deadwood Dick, an outlaw and the last man Tamar should fall for. But the fire between them burns hot, and his final heist doesn’t go quite as planned. Will she find the strength to give up her safe world and risk a chance at the life she’s long desired?

A Kiss in the Shadows: Driven by his single-minded revenge mission against the man who killed his brother, Brock MacDermott rides from town to town on a lonely quest. He’s careful to keep emotional attachments at arm’s length—until young, beautiful Stevie Rae Buchanan insists on joining his hunt to exact her vengeance. There’s no room for romance when you’re chasing down a dangerous criminal, but when undeniable feelings develop between them, Stevie Rae and Brock must decide whether justice is worth sacrificing everything else.

One Moment’s Pleasure: Drawn to San Francisco during the Gold Rush, Edith narrowly escapes working in a bordello, but she can’t escape Dutch Trahern, who seeks redemption after his misspent youth. A relationship could cost them both everything they’ve worked to earn, but it just might be their path to salvation.

Expressly Yours, Samantha: To escape her wicked uncle, Samantha Hughes cuts her hair to pose as a man and become Sam Hughes, a Pony Express rider. There she meets Valerian Fitzpatrick, who joined the hard-riding circuit in an attempt to escape life in the family business. As he and Sam grow close, Valerian’s more than willing to protect her secret, but when Sam’s forced to run yet again, does a future with her mean giving up the freedom he’s always craved?

The Heart You Need: When reporter Adeline Ellsworth’s cousin is murdered in 1896 San Francisco, her investigation leads to danger—and she wakes up tied to Alec McCairn, Lord Peyton. In California to set up a new office, the Scottish peer definitely wasn’t looking for a romantic entanglement, but he suspects the beguiling Adeline is in over her head and too proud to ask for help. He’s determined to save her from herself, but Adeline can’t let Alec ruin her chance to expose this corruption, no matter how charming he is. The biggest mystery they end up solving might just be how to capture each other’s hearts.


Chapter One 

1896 Kansas City, Missouri 


“I have come to place a lonely hearts ad.” Tamar Freeman jumped at the booming voice that cut through the silence of the Advocate’s office. A lady journalist such as herself shouldn’t jump out of her composure and skin at the slightest sound. But I am not an ordinary journalist, she thought, attempting to reign in her nerves and exhaustion. The Advocate was the only newspaper in the area for the colored citizens—black, brown,and tan-hued men and women—who made Kansas City their home. She didn’t write about home and hearth, recipes and religion. She was a crusader for truth and justice. As the lone colored woman publishing a newspaper in the state, she made some friends and many angry enemies who were upset with her editorials. Threats were commonplace. She just hoped that this week she could live in peace.  The bronze colored gentleman cleared his throat and primed the bell on the counter. The chime echoed through the office. She glanced around at the storefront’s three cramped rooms and grimaced. It could hardly be called an office with all the things she had crammed in here. Again, he spoke. “Ma’am, I have come to place a lonely hearts ad,” he said, clutching his hat in a death grip. His eyes looked over every bit of the room as if he was making sure no one could surprise him from any angle.


Tamar’s youngest sister Delilah placed the form on the counter. “Sir, complete this. Have you written one before?” The man harrumphed, his loud exhale rumbled through the space and possibly the barbershop next door. “Too many to count. Love is a vain and cruel mistress.” Delilah clucked like a mother hen, her soft face beaming with joy and happiness. “But you cannot give up hope. Love is superb and worth it.” “My dear, you are young and naïve. Heartbreak has a way of grinding you down to where the hurt and pain isn’t worth it. It’s never worth it.” “Delilah!” Tamar called her to the back of the room. “Take care of these for me,” she said, handing the scissors and twine to her sister. Tamar had learned the lessons of love the difficult way and at forty knew what the man was talking about. Delilah was twenty years younger than she was and was filled with fanciful hope and cheer. No old codger was going to convince her that love and adventure were impossible to have without trouble and melancholy. “These have to get ready for distribution before we run the next edition.” The paper had moved to a twice a week publication schedule. A big reason for the success of the paper was the lonely hearts ads. The hard and lonely life on the farms and towns drove people to sell love any way they could. Luckily, they came to the Advocate to find love, and wrote to the Agony Aunt column to keep it. Her sister’s suggestions for fun and diversions in the newspaper had made her a tidy profit but she hoped that people read the news and politics pieces too. She had a sinking suspicion that no one cared about progress and civil rights as much as she did. The amount of work and manpower needed to make the operation grow was staggering. She could afford the help, but did she need the headache? For ten years, she’d struggled to make this paper a success, borrowing and scraping what she could to make her dream a reality. Now they had it—but with a steep price.


As if in answer to her thoughts, a rock crashed through the plate glass window. The man jumped in surprise, but the two Freeman women continued to work. The man started for the door, his hand on the doorknob and his feet ready to chase before Tamar stuck two fingers in her mouth, and whistled. “Sir, I’d advise you to not pursue.” “Someone demolished your property.” “The someone is the Klan,” Delilah piped up from the back. Tamar sighed. Her sister gave little thought about discretion and believed all of the skin folk were fans of the radical leaning paper. “It’s not the Klan,” she said loud enough for her sister to hear. It was a lie. She was certain of it, but it was easier to keep her sister’s mind free of worry and anxiety. “May I?” Without waiting on her answers, the man snapped a dazzling white handkerchief from his coat’s pocket and scooped up the rock. “What do we have here?” He peeled the white paper wrapping off the rock and stretched it taut on the counter. His face blanched as much as a man the color of mud could. “Inappropriate and vile. No lady should read this.”


“I’m no lady.” She pulled the post close to her for inspection. The words formed mean and ugly statements about her and explicitly stated that her office would burn, before going into how much better her slim neck would look with a noose around it. Clearly she had made some people angry with her last few statements about the segregation of schools and the rampant lynchings happening across the country. These were things one was supposed to accept as a part and parcel of life. She wasn’t going to accept anything but full human rights and dignity.  Good—that’s what she was supposed to do. Put clamps on those who made the lives of others impossible to live, even if she had to suffer intimidation and terror. “This is tame in comparison,” she muttered. “In comparison to what?”



Tamar shook her head at the gentleman. This was no time to discuss the awful nature of mankind as evidenced by her piles of hatred mail. The letters arrived and she shoved them into drawers without opening them. A woman could only take so much disparagement and hate in a day. “It is not important. The men and women who write this hateful trash will not stop me from my work, so how may I help you today?” she asked, twisting a smile and pleasant look onto her face. The man’s concerned face didn’t budge. “You should call for the sheriff.” “Ha,” she said, stuffing the offensive notice into a drawer. “I have darkened his door several times. He said I can’t prove anything.” “They wrote their name on it,” the man said with a grumble. “That’s from the Ku Kluxers. I didn’t realize they were prominent in this area.” “Well, they are. And the sheriff has an affinity for that group, being a former rebel. He’s not a man we go to for security or assistance. Now, enough about that. May I see your lonely hearts request?” Tamar snatched the piece of paper from under the heel of his hand and squinted at the mash-up of hieroglyphics and chicken scratch all over the page. “I cannot read this.” She passed it back to him.



He chuckled, folding the note into tight quarters and tucking it into his pocket. “My handwriting is abysmal. Let me dictate my words to you.” He took a deep breath and started to compose his note. “Ada, my dear. You have gone astray. I am certain I have lost you. I will move on alone. This is your last chance; give me a sign. Meet me where we last met before you broke my heart.” She raised her hand to stop the stream of words from his mouth. “Just a warning—we charge by the word.” “Money’s no object. I need to get that off my chest.” Whoever this woman was had surely hurt this man. Tamar was certain of that. Her normal prying questions danced on her tongue and she yoked them into submission. Asking questions to the brokenhearted led to long discussions, lamentations about the curses of love, and crying jags. And I have time for none of that, she thought. She had to go through the newspapers and insights she collected from the mail and set type. “Is that all you have to say to her? Most men want to end with a declaration of love or promise of intentions.” Delilah piped in. “Or at least tell her that you forgive her and all can be made well.” The crumbling of the hard look on his face confirmed Tamar’s thoughts. A reconciliation was not going to happen. “I gave you all the words I had. I trusted her. She broke my trust. I waited and still no response.” “I’m so sorry,” she said, patting his heavy hand. For a large man with fists that resembled mallets, his skin was soft. “She will come back to you. This Ada.” “I don’t have high hopes. She ruined my plans.”


“Strange,” Delilah muttered, wandering back into the room. “A woman named Ada has been mentioned many times in the recent love matches pages.” Tamar swirled around and shot her sister a withering look that caused her to retreat and shush her mouth. It was true. Ada had been a popular woman. Messages had been flying back and forth between Ada and several suitors. That dexterity of balancing suitors and their interests and needs was more drama and work than any woman in her right mind needed. And Tamar was in her right mind. The man didn’t need to know that his one-time love was collecting admirers across the plains. “It will be three dollars.” The man unfurled several bills from his money clip. “Make it as large as possible.” The size of type didn’t show the strength of love, but Tamar would take the money and set the press for his desire. “Am I done here?” the man asked. “Of course. We will take care of this.” “And if you need anything related to that window … ” The man dropped a calling card on the counter. “Let me know.” Tamar nodded, holding her grimace until the man left. She would take care of the window later with a dispatch to the handyman she used for times like this. She had lined his pockets more in the past few months than ever before. She glanced at the card, then read it again to make sure her eyes hadn’t deceived her.






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Author

Apollonia Lord