A Rancher’s Matter of Honor (Preview)

Chapter One

Oscar Barns stuck the cigar deep into his mouth. The peppery flavor of the tobacco filled his mouth, coating his tongue, and smoke wafted past his face as he supervised his men. The fires crackled, lighting up the Arizona night. He hadn’t lost a single man, while the surviving ranch hands had fallen or broken off and fled.

Cowards, Oscar thought with a little chuckle, shaking his head. His horse clopped in the desert clay beneath his hooves, Oscar pulling at the reins. The horse had been with him on countless raids, and it seemed to enjoy them almost as much as Oscar did. There was an undeniable power to it—the screams of the women, the shouting of the men, the stir and whirl of the attack, the crackle of the gunfire.

These little ranches are a goldmine, Oscar thought, surveying the burning house, his men wrangling the cattle while the ranch dog barked and scrambled and did what little it could do to protect its doomed home and humans. Fine fruit, ready for the picking. These fools come out here with dreams of striking it rich? Well, it’s true enough, but I’m the one who strikes, and I’m the one who’ll be rich!

Oscar glanced over to see one of the hands running from the property and pulled a Colt pistol from the shoulder hanging from his holster. He leveled it at the man, his hand steady and his heart beating strong. Closing one eye, he lined up his shot as the man took a direct course away from the burning ranch house.

Bang! The man spun, hit, crying out without falling. The hand kept running with an unsteady gait. He’d been hit in the side, his torso bending as he hobbled off in a pitiful bid for escape. Bang! He snapped forward and collapsed into the dirt.

“Chief,” One-Eye Jackie Johns said from behind him. “We got the family.”

Oscar turned his horse to see Jackie ride up, his face covered with a bandana, eyepatch over his scarred and empty socket. His hat was crammed over his curly red hair. He rode with Mr. Bones, tall and slim. His face was skeletal behind his own bandana, his head completely bald under his wide-brimmed hat. Between them, three frightened whites looked around with widened eyes, clinging to one another and quivering.

Oscar stared down at them, his horse anxious beneath him, whinnying and shaking its head, black mane flapping. They were the ranch’s owners, the man and his wife and their little boy, just ten years old. They all looked up at Oscar, eyes shifting to Jackie and Mr. Bones.

The man said, “You’ve taken what you want, everything we have!”

“Not everything,” Oscar said, his eyes falling to the woman. She was comely enough, her long red hair falling in curls over her face. She recoiled, pulling her son closer as she clung more dearly to her helpless husband.

“Give her to me,” Jackie said, grinning at her. “It’s my turn to go first.”

Mr. Bones said, “We draw from a deck, as always.”

“I’ll say how things are,” Oscar said, “as always.”

It was already happening, something Oscar had anticipated with dread. Women, he thought, always complicating things. She’s got a lot to talk about after, that’s sure. But the men’ll take it bad. They’s already grumbling. But if I turn her over to them, they’ll only tear each other apart. Have to kill the man then, ‘course, and the kid.

Memories of his own childhood flashed in Oscar’s mind, his own family gunned down as he fled into the woods, barely escaping with his life.

“These folks fought for their home,” Oscar said, “they made it through. You hang a man and the rope breaks, y’don’t hang him again.”

Jackie said, “We ain’t talkin’ ‘bout no hangin’, Chief.”

“We ain’t talkin’ ‘bout nothin’,” Oscar said. “Gather the head and let’s get movin’.” Jackie and Mr. Bones shared a glance. Oscar knew it was a risky play, but it was even riskier to let them have their way with her. Most dangerous of all was to back down. Oscar knew the key to keeping power was wielding it. Backing down from a position would be the first step on the road to the grave. Because Oscar knew the men wouldn’t simply send him riding off. They’d keep his horse, and his boots, and leave him gut shot if they weren’t merciful enough to finish him off quick.

But Oscar would kill them all before he’d let that happen.

“There’re women enough in Flagstaff,” Oscar said. “Now, see to them cattle and let’s move on.”

The dog kept barking; smoke poured out of the house. His two key men shared another glance before they nodded and turned to ride toward the rest of the men as they rode the cattle off.

Oscar turned to the rancher, his wife, and their child. He nodded and tipped his hat. “Y’all have a nice night.”

Oscar rode off with his men and their ten head of stolen cattle. They’d be a fine contribution to the others, the herd of stolen cattle numbering almost fifty strong. Oscar noticed the brand on the cattle, the shape of an eight tilted to the left, a forward-slash through its center.

Brands, Oscar thought. Fools. They think that’ll protect them from me, from anyone? They’d need real law, or the gall to come’n take ‘em! Thems what’re buyin’ these walkin’ steaks don’t give a hard hoot fer any brands! And the law ain’t comin’, they don’t never do. S’always one excuse or another, but anyone with a badge wants to keep wearin’ it, and that means stayin’ close to home.

Cowards.

Oscar flashed on the men he’d known in his own youth, that sheriff whose name he couldn’t even recall. He hadn’t gone after the men who killed his family, he hadn’t done any more than chase Oscar off before the woman from the orphanage could come get him. Since then, he knew there was no place for him on that side of the law. And there was only one other side to choose.

Oscar could console himself easily enough. Once they got to his connection in Mexico, he’d have a small fortune to split with his men and they’d all be happy enough. Maybe I’ll just keep riding, Oscar thought, all the way to Mexico City, find some sweet senorita and leave all this behind. I’ll have plenty of coin, and there are all kinds of ways a gringo can make a play down there. Yeah, maybe I’ll do just that.

But it was a bit too early to plan his retirement just yet. He had to rejoin the others and their stash of stolen head before they started to get wise and run the head off on their own. That was always a risk, and not the only one. But Oscar was the one with the buyer, he was the one with the plan. That would only hold out for so long, but it would likely be long enough. That was as long as One-Eyed Jackie and Mr. Bones didn’t have other plans.

Oscar suspected they were plotting an insurrection, maybe spreading dissent among the other men. Leaving the woman behind would only make that worse. But bringing her and throwing her into their midst like meat to a gang of wild dogs would only raise their ire, stir their passions, turn them against each other and against him. No—they were there on business, after all, not pleasure. There was a job to be done. Either way, it was risky, but Oscar could see a light at the end of the tunnel.

Mexico City, Oscar thought, taking a big puff of his cigar before riding on with the rest of his men and their dozen head of rustled cattle.

Chapter Two

Ian O’Reilly took a deep breath of that boxelder maple dust, filling his nostrils and coating his throat with that woody scent. Ed Hunter’s workshop was packed with cabinets and side tables, chairs overturned on the top of a matching walnut table, a cushioning quilt between them.

“Place looks good, Ed,” Ian said, looking around, “busy.”

Ed shrugged, a lock of his brown hair falling over his face. “More folk’re comin’ in from the East Coast.”

“Sure, headin’ onward to California.”

“Enough’re stayin’,” Ed said, polishing a hammer’s iron head with a dirty rag. “I’m sure things at the ranch’re keeping you busy enough.”

Ian couldn’t disagree with that, though he didn’t take the same satisfaction from his work as Ed clearly did from his own. “Not enough trustworthy men to hire on as hands. Sure, they’re stayin’, but… who are they? There are bad men out there, women too—people of violence, anger. My father’s wary of strangers, and I don’t suppose I blame him. But the High Water Ranch is modest enough.”

“Modest enough that your hands can manage for a few days without you?”

Ian turned his head, a lock of his black hair falling in front of his blue eyes.

“You know the Gallaghers?”

Ian shook his head.

“You’d know ‘em by sight, from church. Mother and daughter, man of the house died a few years back, snake bite.”

Ian searched his memory for a pair of women from services, one older than the other, but he couldn’t be sure.

“Doesn’t matter,” Ed went on. “They need their bookcases taken care of, think they may come down. Say they’ve got a few other things around the house, want me to take a look.” He smiled and shrugged and looked around. “I hate to say no, especially not to a pretty, single young woman like Tara Gallagher, but… I just don’t have the time.”

“And what would Phyllis make of it?”

Ed broke out in a little chuckle. “The pupil outwits the master.” Ian chuckled, too, but he knew he was by far still the student, Ed still the mentor. He’d taught Ian just about everything the he knew about carpentry and woodwork. And it was more than just the craftsmanship of it, but the art. Ed had taught Ian that every piece of wood had a soul. Some was rotting and lay forgotten, unseen. Others cried out for release, to live on be given voice and body, form from the chaos of life and death. Ed had taught Ian to listen to the wood, to hear what it wanted, to follow its instructions on where to cut, to carve, to contour.

“Anyway,” Ed went on, “I sure could use the help.”

Ian didn’t have to give it much thought. He wanted to do it, and do it regularly. There was only one thing he wanted more than to work with Ed in his workshop, and that was to have a workshop of his own. But it wasn’t just a matter of what he wanted—it never had been and it likely would never be.

His father would object.

“I never want to turn away a friend in need.”

“A friend indeed,” Ed said. “I’ll have… other work afterward, if you like.”

“Ed—”

“Ian, you’re still a young man—twenty-one, right? But that’s still age enough to choose your own direction in life. You know you’re cut out to be a carpenter, not a rancher! You’re meant to work with maple and pine, not cattle and swine! You should be carving wood, not poking cows!”

“I can’t let my father down, Ed, that’s all there is to it. He’s already getting weaker, sicker. If I cut out on him, it’ll break his spirit altogether.”

A tense moment passed. “Oh, I… I didn’t realize he was that bad off. I’m sorry.”

“I mean, he’s getting older. But I’m afraid he’s not at all well. That’s one reason I’m here, to fetch the doc. He’ll be riding out presently.”

“Oh, well, of course you’ll want to see to him. I’m make other arrangements for the Gallaghers. Forgive my… being so crass, I didn’t mean to say you’d put yourself above your father’s health. He’s still quite young.”

“Into his fifties, actually. He only had me as a matter of circumstance. He hardly wanted to keep little Aubrey when she came along. I’ve little doubt that he would have been content to have lived and died without ever having children at all.”

Ed looked like he was trying to smile. “He got lucky,” he said. Just four years older, Ed was more than a friend, he was like an older brother, the brother Ian never had and never would have.

Ian said, “I’ll drop by the Gallagher place, take a look at what they need done, report back to you tomorrow.”

“Y’sure?”

“It’ll give me a reason to get off the High Water. I know my father loves it, and my mother loves him, and so do I, but… I dunno, I just don’t see in it what he sees in it, I guess.”

Ed seemed to give that a little thought before shrugging. “You learn things as you go along. Good luck at the Gallagher place.”

After getting a rundown on finding the Gallagher house, which wasn’t far, Ian shook his friend’s hand and took his leave, stepping out in to the bright midday sun. Flagstaff was growing fast, with elevated wooden sidewalks, whale oil lamps on tall pine posts lining the main thoroughfare and even some of the intersecting cross streets. Men and women walked up and down in increasingly higher fashion, hoop skirts and waistcoats which had to be stiflingly hot in the desert heat, even in the spring. Come the summer, Ian mused with a little grin, they’ll be going around in loincloths!

But he knew it wasn’t to be. Arizona had only been an official territory for seven years, since eighteen-sixty-three. Now there were horses coming in from every direction. There were stagecoaches, a railroad was said to be on the way, the telegraph, too. Flagstaff wasn’t expanding as fast as Phoenix or Tuscan to the south, but it was still a fine reflection of the burgeoning American dream in its brash and brazen young adulthood. No longer in the infancy christened by revolution, having survived the rite of passage which was that horrible Civil War, America was now ready to take up the mantle of adulthood. Only distance and the ruggedness of the terrain had kept the territory isolated from much of the white population. There were Mexicans, the Navajo and Apache, of course, French fur traders still passing through with their pack mules and slave child-wives. But, more and more, it was Ian’s own kind and other European immigrants coming in from the east and notably from the west heading east. Dutch, Cornish, English, Irish, Scottish—the skin of the average person in North American was becoming gradually whiter, there was no doubt about that. The process wasn’t even that gradual.

They brought a certain civility to Flagstaff, to the territory, with their shops and their cafés and their restaurants, their crafts to sell, farmers and ranchers nearby to provide plenty of fresh food.

Most of them did. Others were cutthroats and bandits, others corrupt and duplicitous. And those who were innocent successes, they were drawing in road agents and banditos and all manner of violent and desperate people. Confidence artists, clips, tosses, went around gulling people blind, pickpockets and muggers plying their terrible trade with greater frequency in Flagstaff and elsewhere. Such things were unheard of over sixteen years before, when the O’Reilly family arrived from New York, driven out of Five Points by William Bill the Butcher Poole himself.

He imagined another gang of such men, organized and ready to stake their claim on Flagstaff. But he knew there would little for him to do. He would protect his ranch, of course, his family. But Ian hadn’t taken up the badge, and he could only hope the violence of his parents’ past would yet overlook him.

But at twenty-one, with the growing town rising up around him and all that it brought with it, Ian could only believe that his luck, perhaps even his time, was somehow running out.

Chapter Three

Tara Gallagher looked at her mother, Yvonne, fluttering around the house straightening things: the little statues, the ashtrays her husband had left behind, now unused. Every lampshade had to be just so, every carpet exactly aligned with the slats between the wooden floorboards. Tara sat in her favorite chair near the window, reading the copy of Louisa May Alcott’s An Old-Fashioned Girl that the bookdealer had ordered for her. She was interested in the story of the common girl whose time with a rich family only illustrated how much they’d lost for all they’d gained, but she could hardly keep her mind on it. In fact, she wasn’t really sitting there to read, but to observe her mother, interested in the increase of her strange behavior.

Tara rested the book on her lap and watched her mother, her blond hair graying fast, wrinkled deepening on her still-pretty face. She wore a smile, seeming to be muttering to herself things Tara couldn’t make out.

Tara wasn’t sure how much time had passed, but Yvonne finally turned to her with that vaguely dazed smile. “Why, dear, aren’t you enjoying your book? You waited ever so long for it to arrive.”

“It’s… it’s fine, Mother. How do you feel? I mean, are you all right?”

Her mother seemed mystified at the question, answering with a shrug and a smile. “Perfectly well, dear. Just seeing to the house.”

“We have Maria for that, Mother.”

“And thank heavens for her. But Maria’s busy with the cooking, dear. I can’t run the poor thing ragged, can I?”

It made good sense, and that troubled Tara even more. And a whiff of the delicious chili con carne she was making only backed her mother’s argument. What was troubling Tara was how clearly in control of her mental functions her mother still was. But her strange behavior, her obsession with the most precise alignment of everything, was something Tara could no longer ignore. She was no lunatic, that seemed sure, but Tara’s mother still seemed likely to become one.

It had all started when the great Gregory Gallagher had succumbed, just a few years before. During Tara’s childhood, her mother had been bright and beautiful, with friends and social concerns, the wife of an up-and-coming shopkeeper in Flagstaff. By the time of his death, he’d left the sole owners of the most successful shop in the entire town, selling sundries, dry goods, all manner of things. Gallagher’s was regularly visited by just about everyone in Flagstaff, even as more stores opened up around it. It allowed the great man’s widowed wife and fatherless daughter live in a manner of considerable wealth and relative luxury. But the money had nothing to assuage Yvonne’s loneliness, nothing to soothe the loss of her beloved husband.

Still, she’d tried to show a brave face, mostly for her daughter’s sake and Tara knew that. She loved her mother for it. But it also wasn’t necessary. Yvonne could be weak, she could break down, but she wouldn’t let herself. Instead, she seemed to be functioning as though half-asleep. Tara knew it was the only way her mother could have survived the loss. But as the strange behavior got worse, Tara had to wonder if her mother would go on surviving it.

“You know, Mother, that if there’s anything you ever want to talk about, you can always come to me. You’ve always been here for me, and I want you to know I’ll always be here for you.”

Yvonne smiled. “Silly, I’m just fine. Anyway, it’s for a mother to take care of her daughter, not the other way around.”

“At the beginning,” Tara said. “But in the end…”

Yvonne tilted her head. “What end? There’s no end, dear, there’s no end!” Her voice rose with her ire, dazed pleasantness replaced with increasing urgency nearing to a panic. “There’s no end to discuss!”

“Okay, Mother, you’re right. I think you’re right. There’s no end to discuss, I didn’t mean it that way.”

“Then why did you way it that way?”

“I… I misspoke. What I mean to say is that I… I’m just a little worried about you, that’s all.”

“Me? Whatever for? Your father’s left us well-enough off. I haven’t a care in the world.”

“Then… why are you so keen to keep straightening everything?”

Yvonne looked Tara up and down. “We’ve been through this, darling. Maria can’t be bothered.”

There was no arguing the point, no getting through to her. More and more, that seemed an impossibility.

“You’re right, Mother, of course. I’ll… I’ll get back to my reading now.”

“You’ll know when you have a house of your own how important it is to keep up appearances.” As she’d always taught Tara, though her circle of friends were coming around less and less, and Tara knew why. “Speaking of having a house of your own, perhaps it’s time I shared my worries about you.

“Mother, my reading—”

“Your reading can wait! Your life cannot! I’ve long felt, and your Uncle Harris agrees.”

“My uncle? You talked to him about—?”

“Certainly, dear. With your father gone, you need a strong male figure to guide you. And I needed some… masculine advice.”

“Mother, there’s no great mystery to it. I only just turned eighteen—”

“And time is running out! I’ll not have you wind up a spinster.”

“Don’t you think I long for a love of my own, Mother? I do, you must know. But the young men here, they’re only after one of two things. One is father’s store… and you know the other.”

“Don’t be so crass, Tara.”

“I’m being frank, Mother. I’m not going to marry myself off simply because I’m of a certain age.”

“But it’s not just about your age,” Yvonne said, “but your youth! That slips away quickly, child.” With a sad look around her, she muttered, “Believe me. And as to your father’s store, our store, don’t you see the advantage to marrying wisely? There are the Johnsons, with a fine import business. Think of what an alliance could do to further your father’s dreams for his store, for us.”

There was that cagey intelligence, too keen of mind to be losing it. But Tara loathed the idea of marrying someone she didn’t love, and she could already imagine herself twenty years later, muttering and straightening the lampshades until she lost her own mind.

The doorbell rang, attracting both women’s attention. Tara asked, “Are we expecting company?” She hoped she hadn’t revealed too much of her surprise at the very idea.

Yvonne called out, “Maria, Maria!” Tara never liked the way her mother lorded over Maria, who’d been with them since well before her father died. The doorbell rang again, and Yvonne repeated, “Maria, dear, the door!”

“Mother,” Tara said, but she didn’t have the chance to say much more.

“Appearances, dear, appearances!” Maria Lopez finally waddled out of the kitchen, stout and short, black hair nearly all gray. She stepped to the front door and muttered a few words, answered by what Tara was sure was a man’s voice, and one she didn’t recognize.

Yvonne called, “Bring him in, Maria!” Yvonne was already standing, and Tara stood to greet their visitor. When she saw him walk into the house, a lump rose in her throat and her legs almost went weak in the knees.

He was familiar from church though they’d never been formally introduced. The young man was gorgeous, with crystalline blue eyes and straight black hair. He was tall, six foot or so, with a lean torso and broad shoulders, the build of a hard worker, in the clothes of a rancher.

Yvonne said, “What’s the meaning of this… intrusion?”

“I don’t mean to intrude. I was sent by Ed Hunter, to have a look at your carpentry needs.”

Yvonne said, “I don’t even know your name, yet you presume to step into my home?”

Tara said, “Mother, really, I recognize this fellow from church.” She turned to Ian. “This is my mother, Yvonne Gallagher, I’m Tara.”

“Tara, Mrs. Gallagher. I’m Ian O’Reilly, of the High Water ranch, just outside of town.”

“Then what brings you to have a look at my carpentry?” With a glance at Tara, Yvonne added, “If that’s truly what you’re here to have a look at.”

“Oh, Mother, honestly.”

“Ed mentored me in the woodworking crafts himself, for years now. But my father, our ranch, I have… other obligations.”

“Perhaps you should see to them, then,” Yvonne said, “and I’ll have a word with your mentor about making promises he can’t keep.”

“Don’t hold Ed in any fault,” Ian said. “He’s trying to oblige you, and so am I. But if you like, I’ll take my leave.”

“No, wait,” Tara said, perhaps a bit too quickly—certainly so for her mother’s taste, Tara could read it in her face. Still, she went on to Ian, “You were kind enough to come out here, and we do have some things which need looking at. Our bookcases are an absolute menace.”

The young man looked at each woman, finally settling on Tara.

“I’m not one to leave to damsels in distress.”

Tara smiled, but Yvonne just rolled her eyes and shook her head. Her mother didn’t like what was happening, and Tara knew why.

Chapter Four

Ian was instantly taken with the lovely Miss Tara Gallagher. Her blond hair and blue eyes were appealing enough, but the shape of her face gave her an angelic quality. And she was so eager to be polite, unlike her mother, there was a certain energy that Ian couldn’t quantify. He wanted to think it was because there could be a chance that Tara might have been struck with the instant feeling that he was, but he tried to keep his mind off of it and his eyes off of her. The elder Gallagher, Yvonne, led him to the study upstairs, Tara following close behind her.

Yvonne said to her daughter, “Perhaps you should be reading, dear.”

“The book can wait, Mother.”

Yvonne didn’t seem amused. Instead, she turned to Ian as she led him to the top of the stairs and down the hall. “One thing of greatest concern is the bookcase in the study.”

She led him into a dark room with only one small window. The room was dominated by a big desk, a globe, several shelves on each wall.

Yvonne went on, “The shelves are becoming wobbly, uncertain.”

Ian took a closer look at the big bookcases, eight shelves in a walnut casing. He pulled at the bookcase, which should have been standing firm but was indeed rocking forward just a bit. It wasn’t much, but it was still dangerous and it was only going to get worse.

Ian knelt down and examined the bottom of the bookcase, running his fingers along the façade, pressing in to test the integrity of the wood. The cases were strong, no rot or damage to indicate a problem. There didn’t seem to be any warpage, either.

Ian checked the floor, pressing down on the floorboards with the tips of his fingers. They bowed just a bit, a very light crackling sound indicating damage, the slow collapse which was going to bring the bookcases and perhaps the entire building down.

Yvonne said, “Well?”

“I’m afraid it’s a rot in the floors,” Ian said.

Yvonne repeated, “Rot? In these floors? Impossible, my husband oversaw the building of this house himself, I’ll have you know!”

“And it’s a lovely house,” Ian said, “but that wouldn’t preclude termites from eating through the wood. Could be running through the entire place, matter of fact.”

Tara asked, “What do you mean, the whole place?”

“The whole house, Miss Tara.”

“No, I mean… the beams, the walls, everything?”

“Could be,” Ian said. “Or it could be they haven’t spread yet.”

“What if they have,” Tara asked, “then what? Are we going to lose our home?”

“Can’t say ‘til I have a closer look.”

“This is absurd,” Yvonne said. “Some… apprentice comes over and suddenly we have to move? I hardly think.”

“You may do as you like,” Ian said, “with all due respect. I have business at my ranch, my father is being seen to by the local sawbones. But I’ll tell Ed what I’ve found here, and I’m sure he’ll come out directly to make his own assessment. He won’t want to wait, I’ll tell him that.” Ian turned to Tara. “Glad to make your acquaintance, at long last.”

That inspired a twitch in Tara, one which stuck in the back of Ian’s mind. He knew then that she was wondering what he meant, what in their past he might have been referring to. But he’d seen her in church, and he knew that if she understood what he’d meant that she would have noticed him at services, as well.

Ian turned to see himself out, the two women walking behind him. “Good luck with your father,” Tara said. “I lost my own, I… I don’t mean to say that you’ll… I mean, it’s just…”

Ian turned to face her as he reached the door. “It’s quite all right, Miss Tara, I’m sorry for your own loss. My father’s a strong man, not easily overcome. But I’ll send him and my mother your warmest regards.”

“Please do,” Tara said.

Yvonne said to Ian, “Tell your friend to see to his own business in the future.”

Tara turned. “Mother… appearances!”

Ian walked out the front door, where his horse was hitched up and waiting. He could feel both women watching him mount up his brown paint Dash. He tipped his hat to them, but the front door had already slammed closed and he was alone in the front of the house.


“A Rancher’s Matter Of Honor” is an Amazon Best-Selling novel, check it out here!

Ian O’Reilly is the successor of the High Water ranch, yet he has long ago come to terms with the fact that he is not cut for the ranch life. Even though his family’s expectations and the burden of not letting them down weigh heavily on his shoulders, he cannot help but follow his true calling with every chance possible. When rustlers attack his ranch he is about to lose way more than just his cattle… Seeing no other option, he will take it upon himself to right the injustice and avenge his family. Will he find the courage to keep him going when he realizes that there’s even more at stake, including the fate of the woman he deeply cares about?

In the midst of all the chaos and angst, Ian meets Tara Gallagher. Her family had one of the most popular stores in town but since the loss of her father, she’s been living a lonely life under the watchful eye of her mother. Although their upbringing was so different, Ian and Tara both wish they could march to the beat of their own drum. Their feelings for each other don’t take long to manifest but soon enough, Ian will be confronted with yet another challenge. Tara’s uncle arrives in town with a snobby suitor for her. Will their romance survive when Ian embarks on his dangerous journey, leaving Tara with the promise of his love but not of his safe return?

Ian’s quest is fraught with immense difficulty, and soon he’ll find himself in the desert, traveling with two men who have every reason to want him dead. Will he manage to step up his game and prevail, or will both his and Tara’s fates fall under the sway of corrupt, murderous men?

A pulse-pounding drama, which will make you turn the pages with bated breath until the very last word. A must-read for fans of Western action and romance.

“A Rancher’s Matter of Honor” is a historical adventure novel of approximately 80,000 words. No cliffhangers, only pure unadulterated action.

Get your copy from Amazon!

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