CHOICES HAVE CONSEQUENCES … EVEN FOR THE REDEEMED.
Logan Tillane carries a Bible in his hand, wears a gun on his hip, and fights for lost souls any way he can. Newly arrived in Defiance, though, he has trouble telling saints from sinners. The challenge only worsens when infamous madam Delilah Goodnight steps off the stage. She and the new preacher have opposite plans for the town. One wants to save it, one wants to lead it straight to hell.
Charles McIntyre has a new wife … and a ten-year-old half-breed son dropped on his doorstep. In a town as mean as Defiance, can he dare to love them both? If he tries, will the price be too high, even for him?
All Hannah wants is to marry the man of her dreams, the father of her child … and continue working as Doc Cook’s nurse. Can she have the best of both worlds, or will she have to choose one … and lose the other?
They can all count on one thing: whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap … and the harvest is at hand in the wild, wild West.
An excerpt from A Promise in Defiance ~
Billy slipped his hand into Hannah’s and they meandered down the river’s shoreline in perfect peace. The sun had sunk below the towering peaks leaving a beautiful peach glow in the sky, but night would fall fast now. Though this would be a short walk, he loved the sound of the water and being alone with the future Mrs. Page. Mollie was sweet enough to watch Billy for a few minutes so he could do this properly.
Butterflies cavorting in his stomach, Billy touched the ring in his breast pocket.
“Do you miss your parents, Billy?”
The question nearly made him stumble, unexpected as it was. Hannah could do that—throw him off balance—because he never knew where her mind was going. Was he a cad if he told her the truth? Hannah already knew his parents had sent him away rather than let him marry her and raise the baby. She didn’t know his father had threatened to disinherit him. His mother . . . his mother was trapped in a loveless marriage, and couldn’t have affected things one way or the other. He supposed he had some pity for her, but he felt like he’d made a pretty clean break from his family. They’d forced him into it.
“No, I don’t,” he said. “I mean, I miss my mother some, but you and Little Billy, and your sisters, you’re all my family now. I don’t even think about Pa.” He stopped and they faced each other. “What made you ask about them?”
“What kind of life can we have together if your family never accepts me?”
He didn’t know what to say. He’d accepted things. Frank Page thought he was too good to acknowledge a bastard grandson, so Billy had walked away and wasn’t ever going back. Nothing would ever come between him and Hannah and Little Billy again. Not parents. Not Indians. Not another man. Therefore, he only knew one way to answer Hannah.
Holding on to her hand, he dropped to one knee in the damp sand, pulled a ring of rubies and white gold from his pocket, and held it up for her inspection. Too much of the light was gone to make out her face clearly, but he could see the tears sparkling in her eyes. “Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh. God will bless our marriage, Hannah. I don’t need anybody else’s blessing.” When she didn’t raise her hand to accept the ring he assumed it was because he hadn’t asked the actual question. He cleared his throat. “Hannah, I love you. Will you marry me?”
The pause between the question and her answer dragged on a bit too long. Growing concerned, he was about to speak when she placed her hands on his cheeks and pulled him to his feet. Still holding him, she said softly, “I do love you more than anything. Yes, I will marry you.”
Relief and joy exploded in his heart. He kissed her deeply, passionately, hungry for every ounce of her. He folded her into his arms, pulled her firmly against him, and wallowed breathlessly in her sweetness. Her soft curves and the way she fit with him warmed his thoughts like too much whiskey. Desire, foolish and intoxicating, begged his hands to roam.
He tried not to remember the one time they had been together, but he couldn’t block it out. He wanted to loosen her braid and let all that golden hair rain down on him like a waterfall. He dragged his lips to her neck, kissed her jaw, hugged her tighter, and nibbled on her ear. Lightheaded, he backed away and held her at arm’s length before he crossed a line. He could hear her breathing hard. He imagined he could even hear her heart pounding.
“Oh my,” she whispered so softly he almost didn’t catch it. “You make me dizzy.”
He squeezed her hand. She felt like his wife already, but the rest of that commitment would have to wait. They wouldn’t be together as husband and wife until they were wed. He exhaled, a long, deep breath. Soon. . . “We need to speak to our new preacher and see when—”
“Billy, “Hannah interrupted, still sounding a bit breathless. “You haven’t put the ring on my finger.”
Laughing, he slapped his forehead and slipped it off the tip of his pinky. He didn’t even remember putting it there, but at least he hadn’t dropped it. “My beloved.”
Hannah extended her hand and Billy pushed it down her finger.
“Goodness, it’s a perfect fit.” She held out her hand, but the light was gone. “Hmmm. Guess we’ll have to go inside if I actually want to see my engagement ring. “She moved her left hand to his face again. “It doesn’t matter. I’m sure it’s stunning. All I really want is you.”
He refrained from kissing her, well aware his self-control was as fragile as butterfly wings. A lack of self-control had caused too much heartache already. He could wait. But he was going to find the preacher tomorrow. “How about we announce the engagement Wednesday night when everyone comes to the hotel for dinner?”
“Yes, all right.”
He wrapped his arm around her and they started back for the town hall. She rested her head on his shoulder as they strolled along the path. He would have felt ten feet tall if it wasn’t for one small thing.
Why had she taken so long to answer?
Heather Blanton is the independent bestselling author of several Christian Westerns, including the Romance in the Rockies series, which has sold over 40,000 copies. Intrigued by the concept of three good sisters stranded in a lawless Colorado mining town, a few notable Hollywood producers have requested the script for her first book in that series, A Lady in Defiance. Heather’s writing is gritty and realistic. In fact, her books have been compared to AMC’s Hell on Wheels series, as well as the legendary Francine Rivers book, Redeeming Love.
A former journalist, Heather is an avid researcher and skillfully weaves truth in among the fictional story lines. She loves exploring the American West, especially ghost towns and museums. She has walked parts of the Oregon Trail, ridden horses through the Rockies, climbed to the top of Independence Rock, and even held an outlaw’s note in her hand.
She writes Westerns because she grew up on a steady diet of Bonanza, Gunsmoke, and John Wayne movies. Her most fond childhood memory is of sitting next to her father, munching on popcorn, and watching Lucas McCain unload that Winchester!
Learn more about Heather’s books at the Pioneer Hearts Bookstore
Heather can also be reached several different ways:
Christian Westerns is the genre that lets her write about strong pioneer women and men who struggle to find God and then live out their faith in real ways. Romance is always a strong element in her stories because it is such a beautiful gift from God, and a perfect reflection of how he loves His children: sacrificially and lavishly. Heather’s stories aren’t preachy or cheesy, but she hopes they are heart-warming, realistic, illuminating, and glorifying to God. Like good old fashioned Westerns, there is always justice, a moral message, American values, lots of high adventure, unexpected plot twists, and more than a touch of suspense.
“I believe Christian fiction should be messy and gritty, because the human condition is … and God loves us anyway.” — Heather Blanton