heart always finds a home . . .
Hardwicke, the Wild West is the perfect place to make her own life and escape
the stifling privilege of an arranged marriage. Hard at work proving her
independence, it’s little wonder she has no time for handsome cowboy Luke
McBride. No matter that he somehow understands the freedom she so badly
needs—how could she trust such a wild spirit, much less find a way to love
doesn’t see himself settling down in one place, let alone with one woman. So at
first, Mary Ann is just an intriguing challenge. But her determination and
bravery are sparking a longing to prove he can be the truly good man she
deserves. Now as their enemies work to separate them, they will take a
dangerous gamble on faith to claim an enduring love . . .
The soiled doves were hanging over the second-floor balcony of L. B. Ditty’s Saloon, wearing nothing but their chemises and bloomers. When Luke McBride exited the bank across the street, one gal gave a shrill whistle, louder than any man could make, causing all of the gals to burst into laughter.
“Hi, Luke, honey, you sure look handsome this morning,” one gal hollered. The other women chorused their agreement.
“Where you going, darling? It’s noon, ya know, not too early to come in,” another gal offered.
Luke glanced up to see the bevy of beauties displaying their wares to anyone who happened to be passing by. He had to hand it to L. B. Ditty, she hired the most attractive girls she could find, and he knew each one by name. He stopped and tipped his hat to the women. “Hello, ladies. I can’t join you today. I’m picking up some supplies.” There wasn’t a man on earth who appreciated God’s design of the female form more than Luke McBride. And he took time to show his appreciation whenever possible. Looking at them from his vantage point, he couldn’t decide if he preferred the more voluptuous figures or the tall, lanky gals with less cleavage to display. The way he saw it, they each had their advantages. And here they were lined up like colorful blossoms ready to be plucked.
“Are you sure, honey? We was just getting dressed to go downstairs.”
Before he told them they shouldn’t bother to change because they sure looked lovely in what they were wearing, he heard the voice of L. B. filtering down to the street.
“Girls, what in heaven’s name are you doing out here on the balcony when you should be getting dressed?” L. B. Ditty didn’t abide the girls making a spectacle of themselves outside the saloon. It wasn’t good for business, at least not with the ladies in town on a Saturday morning. L. B. was adamant her girls maintain decorum so the local ladies wouldn’t complain to their husbands. Inside the saloon, they could walk around half-dressed if they chose, she figured that was good for business.
“We was just saying hello to Luke,” one gal answered.
“Come look, L. B., Luke looks so handsome today,” another gal said.
“The way you’re carrying on, I’d expect him to be walking down the street buck naked.” Even as the words left her mouth, she couldn’t resist walking to the rail and leaning over to see if Luke happened to be in his birthday suit. That sure would give the ladies in town something to talk about instead of her girls.
Hearing the exchange between L. B. and the girls, Luke saw L. B.’s bright red curls appear over the railing. He tipped his hat, smiled, and spread his arms wide. “Sorry to disappoint, L. B., but as you can see, I’m fully clothed.”
Grinning, L. B. shook her head at him. “And that’s a good thing, Luke McBride, or you’d have all the ladies in town in a dither. But the gals are right; you surely are a sight to behold.”
The gals flocked over the railing again, each exposing more bosom than the next.
Luke couldn’t help but chuckle at the lineup of well-endowed females. “Thank you, ma’am. And might I say, you ladies look mighty fetching today.”
“You are full of nonsense, but it’s a pleasure to see you this fine morning,” L. B. retorted. To her way of thinking, Luke McBride had the world by the tail, and he often liked to twirl it on a whim. She figured he would take exception if anyone ever said he strutted down the sidewalk, but there wasn’t a man or woman who didn’t take notice when he passed. Of course, that was partly due to his size. Like his brothers, Colt and Jake, Luke was well over six feet, had a rock-hard muscled body, and broad shoulders that naturally demanded a wide berth. His handsome face sported the same signature McBride square jaw, but where his brothers had black eyes, Luke’s eyes were a vivid turquoise blue. She imagined that blue shirt he was wearing really made those blue eyes sparkle. He was definitely spit-shined, his shirt starched and pressed to perfection, not a speck of dirt on his pants, boots polished to a high sheen, his black Stetson brushed, even his holster was gleaming. Luke always looked attractive, yet there was something special about him today. Maybe it was his cocksure attitude that made him look exceptionally handsome.
No one could deny Luke McBride was a charmer, and he had a full calendar of Friday-night dinner dates to prove it. Women loved him, and there wasn’t a man who didn’t envy his carefree approach to life. Luke’s motto was simple: He loved to laugh, loved horses, and loved women. Depending on the availability of the latter, he often rearranged the order.
Dunn lives in Kentucky
surrounded by all manner of wildlife, and enjoys long “God walks”
where most inspiration strikes. Possessing an adventurous spirit, and a love of
history, particularly the pioneers of the West, she has a special place in her
heart for all cowboys, past and present. Readers can visit her website: