Desperate, Dangerous and Deadly:
A Western Collection
contains three of Debra Parmley’s
western historical romances.
A Desperate Journey, Dangerous Ties, and Deadly Adversaries.
A Desperate Journey:
One Woman’s Desperate Journey to Find Her Son
Sally Wheeler learned the hard way that men aren’t always what they seem. Now she will stop at nothing to track down the bigamist husband who stole her son and abandoned her and their daughter on their failing Kansas farm. She’ll do anything to have her family back together, even if it means traveling down the Old Chisholm Trail to Texas with an old mule skinner and a handsome maverick who could change her mind about men.
Free after spending seven years in prison for a crime he didn’t commit, Robert Truman aims to balance the scales of justice on the man who sent him there-Luke Wheeler. His quest doesn’t include falling for the one woman who will lead him to his quarry, but Sally’s courage in the face of her fear touches his soul.
Through dangerous days and nights on the trail, neither Sally nor Rob can ignore their growing feelings for each other. Yet both are haunted by the poor judgment that, in the past, led them down the wrong road. Love-and trust-are luxuries neither of them can afford. But as the bullets start flying, love may be all that saves them-and Sally’s son.
Lillian Hayes’ fiance, Thomas Shelton, convinced the townsfolk to exchange their gold for his worthless bank notes. After he disappears with the gold, every eye turns to Lillian for answers. Even her cousin Carl insists she knows where the gold is. He is desperate to find it because he is deeply indebted to Kingston, small town criminal and owner of the local saloon. Carl will do anything to clear his debt; even torture Lillian for answers.
Nick Brace is driving a herd of horses to town when he stumbles across Lillian, branded, strung up over a mineshaft, and left to die. He saves her, tends to her wounds, and teaches her to shoot to protect herself. But the danger isn’t past. When Nick’s horse-trading deal with Kingston goes bad, Lillian races to be the one to save him this time.
When Carolyn Truman’s father is killed in the dead of night, and their scheming neighbor Mr. Holland claims her father gambled away their ranch in a card game, Carolyn realizes Holland is planning to force her hand and will make her marry him in order to keep her home.
Texas Ranger Jake Brace is with Carolyn’s brother Matt when a letter from home arrives. Carolyn is begging Matt to come home and save her from becoming the real prize in a deadly game being played out back in east Texas. Jake offers to come along to help and is smitten when he sees Carolyn.
Before the two can explore their budding feelings for each other, Carolyn is kidnapped. Jake and Matt must find her, bring her home and bring an end to the evil doing being committed in their town. Little does Holland know that two determined and deadly Texas Rangers full of wrath are coming for him.
I don’t read very many historical romances, but this one is old west and I couldn’t resist.
Sally’s husband Jake has taken their son and left for Texas. She is determined to get her son back and to accomplish that goal she seeks the aid of Ozzie Moss, the man who led her family to Kansas to begin with. She really doesn’t give him a choice and packs up her daughter Caroline and herself for the journey.
Rob Truman is searching for Jake to get revenge for having spent five years of his life in prison for a crime he didn’t commit. He’s following Sally and Ozzie to reach his goal. At least that was the plan until Sally breaks the axel on the wagon.
With Ozzie scouting ahead, Rob comes to Sally’s aid, although he couldn’t do anything about the axel he was able to get her started with repacking things to take along.
The weather takes a turn for the worse and Caroline falls ill.
This is a favorite scene.
The tree he was leaning against felt cold and hard, and all his muscles ached from sleeping in that position. He looked down at Sally as she slept. Her head still rested on his shoulder. His elbow seemed to have lost all feeling.
Carolyn snuggled into her blankets with only her nose peeking out. Sally sighed in her sleep.
The gentler sex, the ones men were raised to protect.
In sleep Sally bore the same innocence as her child.
So this must be how it feels to have a family. Waking to this every morning. Feeling a responsibility to care for them.
The strange feeling in his throat made him swallow.
It was enough to choke a man. And all from watching them sleep. Appearances were deceiving.
He thought back to the night he’d asked May Belle to marry him. He’d wanted to spend the rest of his life caring for her. Not a mistake he would make again.
He needed to get up. He moved his arm and Sally relaxed, sinking deeper into his shoulder. He cleared his throat.
Sally slept on.
She leaned into him, but still she didn’t wake. Uncomfortably warm and aroused, he shifted his leg to ease the pressure.
Moss was awake and must have noticed his discomfort. He shook Sally.
“Ye goin’ to sleep all day?”
He frowned at Rob. Rob stared back. A man couldn’t help his reaction, could he? It wasn’t as if he wanted to be attracted to her. His body wasn’t listening. And as for his heart, he would never allow it to be hurt the way May Belle had wounded him.
Sally stretched, and then opened her eyes to look into Rob’s. Overwhelmed by his nearness, she sat up with a gasp. Her heart pounded an erratic rhythm, and she was aware of warm arousal throughout her body. A tumble of confused thoughts and feelings assailed her.
She watched Rob in confusion. How wonderful it felt waking up next to him. Long ago she’d missed waking to the warmth of Luke’s body, before she learned what a harsh man he was.
Sally clenched her fists.
All those nights together, the things he’d done and they hadn’t even been married.
Debra Parmley. A Desperate Journey (Kindle Locations 1431-1451). Belo Dia Publishing.
Illness, Indians, high flowing rivers, all contribute to this harrowing journey, but the presence of Rob also lends comfort as she fights her growing attraction. This attraction is mutual since Rob knows she really isn’t married to Luke.
Plenty of tense situations, some action and some heat in this fast paced book you won’t be able to put down.
5 Contented Purrs for Debra!
This book opens with Lillian in a precarious position. Her former fiancé had taken off with the Bank’s gold. He had persuaded the town’s folk that the gold was safer in the bank and notes were easier to keep track of.
Now the notes were worthless and the town thought she knew where the gold was. No thanks to her cousin who perpetuated the rumor.
This is a favorite scene.
She was alone with him and he appeared to be watching something or someone outside. The coiled tension in his body was clear, even in the darkness.
Just as Lillian was determining what to do, she heard Carl’s voice calling her.
What was Carl doing here? Was he alone?
Lillian closed her eyes, feeling sick as she heard what he said.
Carl was part of it.
Her cousin had betrayed her. He only wanted the gold.
He wasn’t here to rescue her and even if he was, his rescues came with too many strings. This severed the one string, which tied her to him.
Blood kin or not, I am done with you, Carl.
Which meant she was alone in the world. But she was alive and she would survive.
The stranger had started to turn.
Lillian closed her eyes, calmed her breathing, pretending to be asleep.
She heard him lay his rifle down nearby and tried to judge how far it was and how fast she could reach it.
If I could just reach that rifle I could take his horse and ride so far none of them will ever find me.
Even if she didn’t know how to ride, she’d learn fast.
She attempted to move, but her shoulders and arms were heavy and tired, with a slight tingling sensation. Like when her foot fell asleep sometimes when she would sit the wrong way on it. Then when she would try to stand her foot would feel numb and tingly.
Maybe I won’t be able to reach it, or if I reach it, even shoot it. But I have to try.
With that thought she lunged.
The stranger had placed his Navy Colt back in the holster, but he turned just as she reached for the rifle, her arms weak and shaking.
“Oh, no you don’t.” Quickly grasping both her wrists, he pushed her back down, one wrist on each side of her head.
She’d missed her chance.
Lillian struggled and wriggled beneath him, trying to get away, her eyes wide with fear.
He applied more pressure, forcing her to be still even as she winced from the rope burns on her wrists.
“Lie still.” His voice rang with command.
She had no choice. He held her still, not moving, looking directly into her wide eyes, their noses just inches apart.
She panted in fear as racing thoughts and emotions filled her mind.
“I’m not going to hurt you,” he said.
Lillian wanted to run as fast as her heart was racing. She knew what he wanted. Why else would she be half-naked?
If he knew about the gold, he’d want it too. Or maybe he did.
The impact of his firm but gentle grip and his forceful voice, his brown eyes steady and calm, stilled her. There was something in his eyes that told her he meant her no harm.
He was like a rock, unmovable.
He repeated the words. “I’m not going to hurt you.” His gaze riveted her.
That voice. She knew that voice. She hadn’t dreamed it. Angel. The name resonated in her memory.
One small part of her wanted to believe him. But she didn’t dare. Lillian was done trusting men.
A man would promise anything, if it got him what he wanted.
Her skepticism must have shown in her face, because he blew out a breath. “Hell, I don’t expect you to trust me.” He regarded her for a moment. “Not yet. Not after what you’ve been through.”
She tried to speak but could release no more than an un- intelligible rasp. She frowned with frustration. The attempted lunge had worn her out and she couldn’t stand feeling so weak and helpless when she still wanted to grab that rifle and run out the door. He wouldn’t trust her now that he knew what she had in mind.
They both eyed each other in silence, gauging the others reaction.
Finally he spoke. “You need water.”
“All right. I’m going to release you now. Lie still and don’t try anything stupid.”
He let her loose and she slowly pulled the blanket back around to cover herself while he kept his expressionless gaze on her upper body. Then she laid still.
He nodded his approval. “Be still now. I’m gonna get the canteen.”
She didn’t move or speak, but her wide eyes followed him as he went for his canteen.
He uncapped it and knelt beside her again.
“Here.” He slipped one hand behind her head to help her sit up, and brought the canteen to her parched lips. “Sip it slow. I don’t know how long you’ve been without water, but you’ll need to take it slow.”
He held the canteen and she took a sip.
Lillian drank slowly, watching the stranger.
His face was stern and almost expressionless, but for his eyes. His eyes held intensity like none she’d ever looked into before.
This man was unlike any man she’d ever met. Strong, yet gentle. Stern, yet kind. And dangerous. Perhaps more dangerous because his softer side could deceive her. Oh, but that was the woman she was before. She was not so easy to deceive now.
The way he’d handled his gun with such smooth movement suggested he knew how to use it.
She’d seen a shootout right in the middle of town two days after she’d arrived. And this stranger was smoother than either of those two men, even though all she’d seen was him holstering his pistol before she’d lunged and he was on top of her. Onto her so quick she’d had no chance.
Though weak as she was, she’d had no chance anyway.
She hated feeling weak and defenseless and at the mercy of a complete stranger.
His gaze upon her was steady and smoldering.
What did he want? Perhaps that was a foolish question. He wanted what every man wants. The question was how far would he go to get it?
Nick waited until she’d swallowed and then pulled the canteen away. “You can have more. But first, tell me your name.”
“Nicholas Brace. Call me Nick.”
“All right, Lil. More water?”
She nodded her head yes, her tongue still too dry to talk.
He held the canteen to her lips and watched her as she drank from it. “You were in bad shape when I found you. The rope wouldn’t have held much longer.”
“Yes, I know.” She croaked out the words in a voice that didn’t sound like her voice and her throat was still dry and sore. “Thank you.”
“No need to thank me. You can however, tell me who strung you up over the mine and why.”
She took several swallows before answering. “Unless you’re from around here you won’t know who they are, even if I told you.”
“If?” He pushed her back down with a firm hand. “There is no if. I saved your life. The least you can do is tell me who was trying to kill you and why.”
“It’s a long story.”
“Well, Lillian. It’s not like we’ll be going anywhere in this storm tonight.”
Thunder crashed and lightning flashed outside, emphasizing his point.
“But I’d think it would be wise to tell me your story before whoever that was nosing around the mine shaft reaches the person he was racing off to see and they return to finish the job. Don’t you?”
She covered her face with her hands.
In the most compelling voice she’d ever heard, Nick said, “Tell me.”
Debra Parmley. Desperate, Dangerous and Deadly: A Western Collection (Kindle Locations 4830-4893). Belo Dia Publishing Incorporated. Kindle Edition.
Now Nick has to deliver some horses and with a little luck maybe he can convince Lillian to come home with him.
Plenty of action once he realizes the buyer for his horses was the man who ordered the pain that was inflicted on Lillian.
A perfect romance, with an emotional and heartrending start.
5 Contented Purrs for Debra!
This book is kind of a sequel to both A Desperate Journey and Dangerous ties.
Matt and Caroline are Sally’s children and this book occurs as her husband Robert is murdered. A neighbor and the area’s wealthiest man Henning Holland has a promissory note giving him the ranch in payment of a gambling debt. He will let Sally keep the ranch only if Caroline marries him. Something she wants nothing to do with. She finds him really creepy.
Matt is a Texas Ranger, and his best friend and partner Jake is Lillian and Nick’s son. He is away when his step-father is killed and Caroline writes him at the Ranger station explaining all that has occurred.
They immediately take off to Matt’s home with him practically seething with anger. It takes them a while to get there and even Caroline doesn’t recognize her brother with the mustache and beard.
This is a favorite scene.
Matthew and Jake carried the long metal tub into the kitchen.
“Where do you want it?” Jake asked.
“Near the fireplace,” Carolyn said.
“Do you need more wood chopped?” Jake asked, eying the dwindling stack.
“Yes,” Carolyn looked at the stack and sighed. “I haven’t been able to keep up.”
“There’s a bin out back,” Matt said. “Check there first. Pa kept it filled.”
“It’s very low,” Carolyn said.
“I’ll check it,” Jake said as he moved toward the back door. They watched him go out.
“What are your thoughts on moving into town? Do you want to stay now that pa’s gone?”
“Mama won’t leave this place,” she said, and then she looked over at Jake who came in.
“Found enough wood for tonight,” Jake said. “I’ll chop more in the morning.”
She nodded and looked back at Matt. “So it doesn’t matter what my thoughts are.”
“Your thoughts always matter,” Jake said.
He didn’t know what they were discussing, but she needed to know that her thoughts mattered and it was okay to speak up. Some women needed to be encouraged in the way that his father encouraged his mother.
“Jake’s right.” Matt stoked the fire. “Your thoughts do matter.”
Carolyn started boiling water. “It’s gotten harder to live here. Ranching is hard work.”
“That it is,” Jake said. “My parents raise horses.”
“And yet you came to Texas to be a ranger, like Matt.” Carolyn smiled.
“Yes, ma’am.” Jake nodded.
“No need to ma’am me, I’m just Carolyn.”
“Carolyn, like Matt, I’m an older brother. But unlike Matt, both my siblings are boys.”
“So your father has plenty of help.”
“He does. But he also runs smaller herds. Doesn’t take on more than he can handle.”
“Why did you join the Texas rangers? I know why Matt joined.”
“I wanted to right wrongs and to see more of this great land.”
“And have you done that?”
“Yes, I have done both.” He nodded.
The men began to bring in water to fill the tub and talking ceased.
Taking a bath, like everything on the ranch, required work.
Carolyn carried in soap and drying cloths, a comb and scissors, implying they needed to trim their hair and beards. “Here you go,” she said, placing the things on the table.
“Thank you,” Jake said. “Bath is gonna feel real good.” He rubbed his hand over his beard. “Been a while.”
“Take all the time you need. I’ll be in the parlor reading.”
Then she left them to it and went into the parlor where she would wait. Dash padded along beside her. The last place he would want to be was in the kitchen during bath time.
She sat on the rocker in the parlor. Dash put his head on her lap.
“Hello boy.” She looked into his loving eyes. “Sure you don’t want to stay in the kitchen with the men while they have a bath?”
At the word bath, Dash pulled away and hung his head. He did not like to have a bath. Carolyn giggled and felt her spirits lifting for the first time in a long time.
“It’s okay, boy. No bath for you. Come on.” She patted her lap.
Dash put his head back on her lap and she scratched his ear, smiling.
Later, after the men had bathed, they came into the parlor smelling much better.
Jake had shaved his beard off and trimmed his mustache into a handle bar style.
Carolyn gawked as he walked into the room.
The man was downright handsome beneath all that hair.
His long handlebar mustache made her think of kisses. She wondered if it would tickle.
Matthew, on the other hand, had done none of this. Had not even trimmed his hair or beard. Carolyn was shocked. Did he have no more respect for mother than that? All he’d done was wash his beard and hair, which had dampened his shirt. She’s going to be disappointed in him.
Matt poured both men a glass of whiskey, and then poured Carolyn a glass of sherry, without asking her if she wanted one.
“Here,” he said. “You’re going to need this before we’re done talking.”
She reached for the glass, her thoughts on the conversation they needed to have.
He’s probably right. I need to tell him all about what happened to Pa and how Mr. Henning Holland is trying to take our ranch. I may need something stronger than sherry for this.
Jake’s eyes settled on Carolyn the moment he stepped out of the kitchen and into the hallway outside of the parlor. She looked beautiful sitting in the soft glow of the lamps, her hair lit from behind, making it even more golden, and her clear green eyes looking up at him.
Then she gave him a quick look up and then down, something flaring between them. A spark of attraction, a pull.
She’d gone from being alarmed at the sight of him when they’d first met, to being attracted to him. This was quite an improvement. A slow grin began at the sides of his mouth.
She blushed and glanced away. He liked the fact that he’d made her blush. She was even prettier when she blushed.
Jake watched brother and sister and knew what they’d discuss next would go down better with a drink to follow, if the subject could be gotten down.
Matt gestured to Carolyn to sit and then handed her a glass. “I read what you said in the letter, but I want you to start at the beginning and don’t leave anything out. What happened?”
She held the glass, but then put it down and rubbed her hands along her thighs, smoothing her skirt before speaking. Then she inhaled, taking a deep breath, and began. “Mr. Henning Holland claims pa lost the ranch to him in a card game, but you know how pa felt about gambling. I’ve never seen him play cards. Why, he probably didn’t even know how.” Carolyn’s brow furrowed. “No one in our family plays cards.”
“No.” Matt shook his head. “He knew how.” His gaze grew distant. “I know how.”
“You play cards?” Shock filled her face. “When did you start to play cards? How did you learn? Did pa teach you?”
“Wasn’t him.” Matt shook his head. “Mama’s first husband taught me.”
Carolyn’s eyes widened and she gasped. She held her breath, waiting to hear more.
“Breathe,” Jake commanded. Then he said, “Before you faint on us.”
She exhaled and then inhaled again. “When, Matt? I’ve never seen you play.”
“I’ve known how to play since I was seven. Picked it up fast, running with outlaws.”
“The bad men taught you. Before the bad things happened.” Carolyn nodded, reverting to the language of her childhood.
“No. Mother’s first husband did. Before the bad things.”
To Jake, it sounded as if they were speaking in childhood codes. And maybe they were. He wondered what ‘the bad things’ were and just how bad they were.
“Robert Truman knew how to play,” Matt said. “But he stopped playing after the bad things. Said he didn’t want to upset ma. Didn’t want her to think he was like her first husband.”
“How bad was he, Matt? Our father.”
“Bad enough.” Sally’s spoke from the doorway where she now stood, having finally left her room. She stood wearing her blue and white floral dressing gown, one hand holding onto the parlor wall, the other pressed flat, formed against her throat as if she couldn’t bear to speak of what she would say next. A habit formed before they were born. “Bad enough to hide behind our son when the bullets started flying.”
Carolyn gasped. “No. Our own father did that?”
“Yes.” Matt gazed into his sister’s horror stricken eyes. “He did. Be glad you can’t remember.”
She gazed back. “You’ve changed, Matt.”
“Yes, I have.” He nodded. “And you always were an innocent. Pa did his best to keep you that way.”
Jake watched her and knew what Matt said was true.
Debra Parmley. Desperate, Dangerous and Deadly: A Western Collection (Kindle Locations 6458-6506). Belo Dia Publishing Incorporated. Kindle Edition.
There was indeed some attraction between Jake and Caroline.
Then Caroline is kidnapped and the race is on to find her. This time Jake is almost as mad as Matt.
A powerful, emotional read with the start of a beautiful romance.
5 Contented Purrs for Debra!
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Fascinated by fairy tales and folktales ever since she was young, Debra Parmley has always ended her stories with a happy ever after. Every story she writes has an element of romance. She started out writing gritty western historical romance and damsel in distress stories. Her first book, A Desperate Journey, was traditionally published in 2008, after competing in the American Title II contest. A hybrid author, she went on to write for five publishers before branching out with her own Indie press, Belo Dia Publishing Inc. Belo Dia is Portuguese for Beautiful Day.
Debra writes historical romance, contemporary romance and romantic suspense. An Air Force veteran’s wife, she writes military heroes in the present and in the future. Debra’s work as a travel consultant gave her the opportunity to visit many countries. Her luggage often carried home folk tales from the countries visited.
Her three favorite things are dark chocolate, visiting the beach and ocean, and hearing from her readers. Each card, letter and email is a treasured gift, like finding a perfect shell upon the beach. For more information about Debra, please visit her website, links below.