Publication and release are imminent, but I’m taking this opportunity to showcase Korey Mae Johnson’s fine cover design.
Here is a very unofficial description of the book.
When US deputy marshal Virgil Cotton is given the task of escorting a material witness to a remote Oregon ranch in 1892, little does he know what he is in for. The witness, one Tansy Fletcher, who happens to be the governor’s niece, is a bratty, headstrong young woman heedless to the dangers of her situation. But, she has vital information regarding a murder committed by a San Francisco crime lord nicknamed King Kull who will do anything to find and silence her. To keep her safe, Virgil insists on strict obedience to his rules of conduct on the trail. Unfortunately, Tansy is too free-spirited to bow to Virgil’s edits and flaunts them repeatedly. Governor’s niece or not, Virgil decides that for her own sake what this young woman needs is the flat of his hand applied soundly to her bared backside. But such treatment has an unsettling effect on Tansy, for despite their clashes, a smoldering attraction grows between the two, tinder for the spark that will turn their mutual longings into a raging wildfire.
As the couple forge their way toward their ultimate destination, the story of the B-bar-B ranch itself unfolds as seen through the eyes of Hannah Cantrell and her daughter Lori. In 1867 the pair undertake the difficult and perilous trip along the Oregon Trail by wagon train to claim the land bequeathed to them by a distant relative. Their fellow travelers are members of a sect that believes strongly in the practice of domestic discipline for wives. The challenges of the trail are formidable, but the hardships are tempered by the romantic attentions of a pair of very special men who exhibit genuine feelings for Hannah and Lori. The question is, can Hannah and Lori accept the men as they are, believers in the sect’s practices, or will they choose to go their own way?
As Virgil discovers when they reach the ranch, trouble is brewing. A shadowy gang of night riders has intimidated neighboring ranches into selling out. Based upon rumors of a lost gold mine, the gang now has its sights set on the B-bar-B. Can Virgil thwart this ruthless band of outlaws and keep Tansy out of harm’s way despite her impetuous nature? Can he protect the ranch and its people? What will become of Tansy and Virgil when he must heed the call of duty, even as their passion for each other spins out of control?
I didn’t set out to write two books in one, but that’s the way it turned out. The main focus is on the relationship between Virgil and Tansy, but I was drawn to the story of Hannah and her daughter as well, their dreams, their struggles and the finding of love in the most unlikely of places. The book proceeds along these parallel tracks, separated by 25 years, until both story lines converge and the ranch’s legendary secret emerges from the past to create the crisis they must then face.
Note: TV lovers might appreciate the vague similarities between the outlaw hideout of Deadhorse near McKenzie pass and “Deadwood” the series based upon the real South Dakota mining camp of the 1880’s (now a tourist town in the Black Hills). I had never seen Deadwood until after I finished The Marshal’s Woman, but I had to laugh in spite of myself. However, it is clear that Nigel Bullivant is no Al Swearengen.