One month ago today, my newest book released, but because of my trip to Germany and my excitement over sharing some of that experience with you, I haven’t had a chance to do my usual new release giveaway here on Inspired by Life and Fiction. Time to rectify that oversight.
In No Other Will Do, my heroine Emma Chandler is a strong-minded female raised by spinster aunts to believe that women can do anything men can if they worked together. So she invests her inheritance in starting a women’s colony in Harper’s Station, Texas – a place where women can come for a fresh start. Women escaping abuse. Women alone, who have no means to support themselves or their children. Women looking for a place to practice a trade normally only acceptable for men. All are welcome as long as they agree to pull their weight in the community with honest labor and lend assistance to any sister in need. Following in her late father’s footsteps, Emma runs the bank and the town, offering loans and compassion to women in dire circumstances. But when an outlaw bent on running them out of town threatens the safety of her ladies, she is forced to admit that she might need a man’s help after all. And there is only one man she trusts – Malachi Shaw.
Here’s an excerpt from when Emma and Malachi reunite after ten years of separation:
The first buildings of Harper’s Station finally came into view as Malachi crested a slight hill. Dark silhouettes of pointed roofs rose above the vegetation spread out on the flatland below him. His gut clenched. Emma lived under one of those roofs. The one closest to the edge of town, the old stagecoach stop that had given the town its name.
An odd lightness danced upon his chest as he spotted the building he sought. He rubbed at the spot then scowled when the itch failed to dissipate.
Mal slowed his mount and took stock of the rest of Harper’s Station. A tight cluster of businesses lined one side of the road. A handful of other buildings scattered beyond. Not much there to covet that he could see.
A creak of a door focused his attention back on the station house. A young woman emerged from inside and stepped onto the covered porch. A sophisticated woman with dark hair pulled back from her face and wound into an intricate bun at her nape. A grown up woman of means and mission.
Mal’s heart thudded in his chest as he halted his mount. After all the letters they’d exchanged over the years, he’d thought he’d been prepared to see her again. He’d been wrong.
She curled her fingers around the railing post and leaned forward to look at him. Her brows arched slightly. “Malachi?”
The name fell from her lips so softly, he doubted he’d actually heard it. Must’ve just read the shape of it on her mouth. A mouth within a face achingly familiar yet changed.
Mal stared. He couldn’t help it. His little Emma had grown into a handsome, well-put-together woman.
The long, tan skirt she wore swept the porch steps as she slowly descended. Her ivory blouse puffed up slightly at the shoulders, nipped in nicely at her tiny waist, and swelled over curves he hadn’t remembered being quite so . . . pronounced in the thirteen-year-old girl he remembered.
His collar seemed to tighten around his throat.
“Malachi? Is that you?” She’d reached the bottom stair, her hand falling away from the post.
“Yep.” The short, scratchy croak of an answer wasn’t much of a howdy after ten years, but it was all he could manage.
Then she smiled. No, it was more than a smile. Her entire face lit up with such joy it nearly knocked him from his horse. He’d forgotten. Forgotten what it felt like to have someone look at him like that. Like the world had suddenly gotten better because he’d arrived.
Unable to withstand her beaming a moment longer, Mal jerked his attention down to his saddle and concentrated on dismounting without doing something stupid like fall on his rear. He hoped his impassiveness would dim her enthusiasm enough for him to get a grip on his sputtering brain and allow him to think of something slightly intelligent to say.
He should have known better.
The instant his boots hit the dirt, she hit him. In a full-on, no room to breathe hug.
I’ll be giving away 2 copies of Emma and Malachi’s story. To enter, leave a comment about a strong woman you admire.