Under a Texas Star
"A delightful Western tale that blends engaging adventure with spirited romance. Reminds me of Louis L'Amour novels...Bruce is a terrific story-teller...a complete joy to read. She immerses readers into a smoking Western that is also a spunky romance and reminiscent of the Texas Rangers television series."
―Christina Francine, Midwest Book Review
"Filled with realistic dialog and a good attention to period detail, Bruce manages to create a believable story that captures our imagination. Well written with a compelling plot, Under a Texas Star brings a delightfully new and strong heroine to the literary world. Highly recommended."
―Wendy Thomas, Allbook Reviews
"Alison Bruce's western tale of intrigue, murder, and love is a page-turning, action-packed, made-of-awesome read. Under a Texas Star belongs on every reader's keeper shelf―it already has a place on mine! Love, love, loved it!"
―Michele Bardsley, national bestselling author of Never Again
"Romance as sweeping as the Texas sky."
―Gwyn Cready, Rita award-winning author of Seducing Mr. Darcy
"This is a rollicking adventure and Marly Landers is a girl with True Grit."
―Phyllis Smallman, Arthur Ellis award-winning author of Champagne for Buzzards
"L'amour in the style of Louis L'Amour…Pin a silver star on this thrilling tale of love and justice in the old west."
―Lou Allin, author of On the Surface Die
"I loved the murder mystery…as well as the sense of humor which had me either chuckling or laughing out loud."
―Jacqueline Wilson, Deputy Sheriff for Publications of the Chicago Corral of the Westerners
Disguised as a boy, Marly joins a handsome Texas Ranger in the hunt for a con man and they must bring the fugitive to justice before giving up the masquerade and giving in to their passion.
When Marly Landers is fooled by con man Charlie Meese, she's determined to bring him to justice―even if it means dressing up as a boy and setting off across the plains to find him.
Texas Ranger Jase Strachan is also after Meese, for crimes committed in Texas. He joins forces with the young boy in a journey that takes them to Fortuna, where a murder interrupts their mission. Jase is duty bound to find the killer, no matter the cost.
Marly carries out her own investigation and comes to the aid of Amabelle Egan, the sister of one of the suspects. But appearances are deceiving, and Marly is mistaken for Amabelle’s suitor, making her a target for the killer. Not to mention, Charlie Meese is still out there.
Under the Texas stars, Marly and Jase are drawn together by circumstances beyond their control, yet fate plots to tear them apart. Will Marly finally get her man?
Book Excerpt from Under a Texas Star:
Trailing from one dusty town to another in pursuit of a criminal fugitive was a job for a bounty hunter with a good horse and a small arsenal. It was tough work for a slim boy of small build, few means and fewer possessions―tougher still when the boy wasn't a boy at all, but a girl.
It wasn't the walking. Marly was used to spending most of her day on her feet in the yard of the schoolhouse her aunt taught in, tending the kitchen garden, feeding the chickens, hanging the laundry or walking the mile to town for whatever errand Aunt Adele required.
It wasn't the weight of the oversized oilskin coat or the bedroll slung across her back. They were nothing to hefting a crate of books or a basket of surplus eggs and vegetables into town to trade for flour and sugar.
It was the solitude.
Once upon a time, Marly would have reveled in the opportunity to get away from her aunt's incessant homilies, the critical stares of her aunt's cronies and even the kinder yet oppressive expectations of her friends. Now she realized that the outside clamor would be preferable to her own self-critical reflections. The long walks as she travelled from one town to another, gave her too much time to dwell on the events that put her on this solitary trail.
"As ye sow, so shall ye reap," her Aunt Adele would say.
"No good turn goes unpunished," was more like it.
It had started with a trip to the Doc's house. The two Johnnys had been fighting again. The on-and-off best friends were trying out their fledgling boxing skills. Marly blocked a stray punch while grabbing hold of the smaller John Henry. John Thomas' wrist gave way.
Despite the pain, he was quite cheerful during the trek into town. Doc's chiding would be nothing compared to one of Miss Gumm's lectures, a fact he was quite comfortable sharing with Marly. She pointed out that her aunt wouldn't forget to punish him when he returned.
When they came in sight of the Doc's house and found Sheriff Langtree on the porch, Johnny's fear of trouble was so obvious, Marly almost laughed.
"I just sent a deputy to fetch you," the sheriff said by way of a greeting. "I brought Doc a wounded man. Victim of a hold-up. I think Doc could use your help. Rebecca's got her hands full and I've been ejected for being no help at all."
Marly gave him a quick smile and consigned John Thomas to the sheriff's care. Ever since she provided first-aid and brought John Henry's older brother Joe in―after he shot his toe off with his father's borrowed revolver―Marly had become the Doc's go-too person when he needed more help than his wife could provide.
"Just who we need," Doc said, looking up from his work. "Wash up, my girl. Take over for Becky so she can get back to Mrs. Applegate. She picked shopping day to go into labor. Silly first-timer mistake to make. "
"Babies come when babies come," said the childless Becky on her way out. "Except when they don't."
Marly spent the next hour assisting the removal of two slugs and the stitching of the wounds. This mostly consisted of handing implements to the doctor and the application of ether on a breathing cup when the patient started to rouse.
Doc saw to John Thomas. She cleaned up and held the basin for the man as the effects of the ether wore off and nausea settled in. She bathed his face with lavender water, known for its cleansing and calming powers.
When his hazel eyes cleared and he was fully conscious, his eyes lit with appreciation and genuine esteem.
"I must be dead," he croaked, his throat raw from the ether, "for you are certainly an angel."
Right, thought Marly, kicking a stone down the dusty road. Not an angel, but a naïve chit of a girl to be taken in by slick words and hazel eyes.
Maybe if she hadn't been taken in by Charlie Meese, neither would the townspeople of Cherryville, Kansas. She had opened the door to a trickster because he appealed to her latent vanity. That girl was left behind in Cherryville. The Marly Landers that was tracking Charlie and the money down was now a scruffy boy in oversized clothes and a droopy, weather-worn hat.
"DO NOT ARREST―STOP―FOLLOW TO EL PASO AND MONEY―STOP..."
Texas Ranger Jason―Jase―Strachan reread the telegram, then stuffed it into one the copious pockets of his duster. Jase wasn't surprised by the order. He was on the trail of a confidence man, who had made the mistake of cheating some very powerful people in Austen. However, arresting him now wouldn't recover the half million dollars he had embezzled.
Dog Flats wasn't much. A couple of houses, a general store and a saloon. Blink and he'd ride right by. Most people―and more importantly, the stage―did just that. That was one of the reasons Jase chose the town. The other walked through the door just as he settled into the back corner of the saloon with his second beer.
The boy couldn't have been more than fourteen or fifteen, yet he marched up to the barkeep, bold as brass, and demanded a job.
"Don't need anyone," said the grizzle-haired man behind the bar.
"I can wait tables, wash dishes, cook, clean. I'm a hard worker and you don't have to pay me. All I want is room and board for the night."
Jase waited. The bartender stared down at the boy. The boy smiled back at the man.
"You can start by clearing tables. Put yer stuff at the back."
For three days, Jase had watched the same scene play out, afternoon or early evening. Arriving in town, the boy would talk himself into a job sweeping floors, washing dishes, mucking barns―all for supper, a packed lunch and a roof for the night. Then, at sunrise, he was on the road, walking or hitching a ride to the next town. Town by town, he advanced across Texas. The kid was patient and determined.
Please support our sponsor:
Become a Kindle Author sponsor.