A widow determined to save the family ranch…
A man who inherited cursed pirate gold…
They must combine efforts to defeat an evil man.
Bret Craig is a descendant of one of the crew of The Golden Fleece. Over a century ago the merchant ship had prevailed against pirates carrying a treasure of cursed Inca gold. The legacy promised retribution against anyone who misused the treasure. Bret has heard the story all his life but believes the tale is a myth and that he’s in no danger if he spends the money selfishly. Ignoring his sister’s warning, he sets out for a grand adventure heading west.
Widowed former mail-order bride Charlotte Dunn is in danger of losing the family ranch. She lost her husband to a rustler’s bullet when half the cattle were stolen and both ranch hands were killed. When she and her stepsons rescue a man who fell from his horse, they learn the man has amnesia. From his saddlebags, they determine his name is Bret Craig. Charlotte nurses Bret, manages the ranch, and cares for her three stepchildren she loves. Soon after Bret regains his memory they discover the remainder of the ranch’s cattle herd has been rustled.
Bret re-evaluates his priorities in order to embrace the love blossoming between Charlotte and him. Can they save the ranch and recover the stolen cattle?
Targeted Age Group:: 13 to 100
What Inspired You to Write Your Book?
When I was invited to be in this multi-author project, I knew at once that I wanted to write about a young widow struggling to hold on to her ranch. I gave her three stepchildren. Seeing how characters act toward children gives an insight into their makeup. I love to see a hero grow over the length of the book. I enjoyed writing Charlotte and Bret's story and I hope readers enjoy it.
How Did You Come up With Your Characters?
For this project, one character had to be a descendant of the original ship's crew. I chose the hero for this role and made him wealthy but impractical. I wanted the story to take place in an area I'd seen on a historical society tour of Palo Pinto County, Texas. Several gorgeous ranches were on the tour. I decided the heroine needed to be hard working and practical–the opposite of the hero. For years I've wanted to write an amnesia story, so I gave the hero amnesia from a fall.
Bret must have dropped off to sleep. When he roused himself he sat on the edge of the bed for several minutes. He was about to stand when Davie rushed into the room.
The boy looked about to cry. “Mr. Craig, can you come to the porch? Mr. Winfield is here upsetting Mama.”
Bret reached for his rifle. “You’d better walk beside me. I’m not too steady yet. Help me tuck in my shirt so I look decent.”
They made their way to the front door.
Bret pulled off his bandage and tossed it at a table before stepping onto the porch. “Is something wrong, Charlotte?” He carried his rifle.
She looked almost as surprised as the man facing her. Another man sat on his horse nearby.
The man facing Charlotte scowled. “Who are you?”
“A friend of the family and you must be Winfield.”
Charlotte glared at the man. “Mr. Winfield was just leaving.”
Winfield pointed at Bret. “I still don’t know who you are, mister.”
“I don’t see that it’s any of your business, mister. I believe Charlotte said you were leaving.” He cocked his rifle and leveled it at Winfield. “You on the horse, don’t draw or you’re a dead man. In fact, I believe you’re both trespassing and I can shoot you without worry.”
“You’ll regret this. I’ll talk to you another time, Mrs. Dunn.”
“Not everyone is for sale, Mr. Winfield.”
The man mounted his horse and after a glare at Bret, he galloped away with his friend following.
Davie cheered. “You did it, Mr. Craig, you scared him off.”
“Mrs. Dunn, I beg your pardon for addressing you by your given name. It seemed best under the circumstances. Now, I believe I’d better sit down somewhere.”
She rushed to his side. “Let me help you. Put your arm over my shoulder so I can help support you. Davie, tend to the rifle and remember it’s been cocked.” She guided Bret inside the house.
His legs threatened to give way. “Perhaps we could stop and rest a moment.”
“If you can make it into the kitchen you can sit at the table. Our lunch is almost ready.”
He was never so glad to see a chair. At least he didn’t believe he was. “Why was he here this time and what upset you so?”
“It’s almost laughable.” When she looked up, anger sparked in her eyes. “If you can believe the nerve, he came to propose to me.”
“I thought you said you were a recent widow.”
“I am. He said he knew I didn’t want to lose the ranch and if we married I could share all the land. He even agreed to let me bring the children.” She appeared angrier. “Of course Davie and Susie would have to go to boarding school. He graciously said Jimmy wouldn’t have to go away until he was a year older.”
Bret looked where Davie had stood his rifle. “I wish I’d shot him.”
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