Autumn Lover (Maxwells Series #1)

Autumn Lover (Maxwells Series #1)

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by Elizabeth Lowell
     
 

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Returning to her Nevada ranch at the Civil War’s end, Elyssa Sutton finds it picked bare by scavengers and coveted by determined men. Yet the proud young woman vows never again to abandon her Ruby Mountain home—though it means enlisting the aid of a dark and dangerous stranger who lives for revenge alone.

Hunter Maxwell has suffered from the savagery

Overview

Returning to her Nevada ranch at the Civil War’s end, Elyssa Sutton finds it picked bare by scavengers and coveted by determined men. Yet the proud young woman vows never again to abandon her Ruby Mountain home—though it means enlisting the aid of a dark and dangerous stranger who lives for revenge alone.

Hunter Maxwell has suffered from the savagery of outlaws and the faithlessness of a woman. And he will trust nofemale—nor will he rest until the raiders who destroyed his family pay for their crimes.

A woman in need and a man in painmust stand as one to fight for something cherished,something lost. And in the brisk chill of autumn,ravaged hearts will be reborn.

Editorial Reviews

Romantic Times
Elizabeth Lowell is incompable.
Publishers Weekly - Cahners\\Publishers_Weekly
The isolated setting (Nevada's Ruby Mountains) intensifies this love story about an embittered Civil War veteran and an outspoken heroine fighting to save her ranch from ruin. When Elyssa hires Hunter to protect the Ladder S from the Culpepper gang, their mutual attraction leads to arguments and near kisses that spice up a rather predictable story and hackneyed language ('all the seasons of love were theirs'). After they become lovers, Elyssa discovers that his appearance was not an accident-Hunter tracked down the Culpeppers to avenge the death of his wife and children. With his brother Case's help, Hunter is able to drive off the raiders, though Abner Culpepper escapes and Case pursues him into the next Lowell novel, to be published in the fall of 1996. Hunter and Elyssa's story draws to a satisfying finish that makes it a good bet for Lowell fans and western romance aficionados.
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
The isolated setting (Nevada's Ruby Mountains) intensifies this love story about an embittered Civil War veteran and an outspoken heroine fighting to save her ranch from ruin. When Elyssa hires Hunter to protect the Ladder S from the Culpepper gang, their mutual attraction leads to arguments and near kisses that spice up a rather predictable story and hackneyed language ("all the seasons of love were theirs"). After they become lovers, Elyssa discovers that his appearance was not an accident-Hunter tracked down the Culpeppers to avenge the death of his wife and children. With his brother Case's help, Hunter is able to drive off the raiders, though Abner Culpepper escapes and Case pursues him into the next Lowell novel, to be published in the fall of 1996. Hunter and Elyssa's story draws to a satisfying finish that makes it a good bet for Lowell fans and western romance aficionados. (Apr.)
Library Journal

In post-Civil War Wyoming, Elyssa Sutton will do anything to save her ranch, even hire Hunter Maxwell, who looks at Elyssa in her silks and sees his faithless, parasitic wife. But this job will give him the opportunity to seek revenge against the men who murdered his family. He desires Elyssa yet he doesn't see her as she really is, and that blindness burns them both. Laural Merlington does an outstanding job of managing the narrative's emotional roller coaster. Even though she can hold her own with a rifle, Elyssa still believes in happily-ever-afters, and her innocent confusion and temper are effectively conveyed. Hunter is a wounded hero whose bitter sarcasm cuts to the core. Unfortunately, Merlington can't soften his mean-spirited attitude. His behavior toward Elyssa borders on abusive, and while it may have been in character in the late 1860s for her to take that abuse, it induces the desire to break the CDs in half. The narration is excellent, but the story style is outdated. Not recommended. [The book was released as a mass market paperback in 1996.-Ed.]-Jodi L. Israel, MLS, Salt Lake City

Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780380769551
Publisher:
HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
04/28/1996
Series:
Maxwells Series, #1
Pages:
416
Sales rank:
537,850
Product dimensions:
4.18(w) x 6.75(h) x 1.04(d)

Read an Excerpt

Autumn Lover

Nevada

Autumn 1868

"I hear you need a ramrod who can handle a gun."

The voice out of the darkness startled Elyssa Sutton. She hoped her face didn′t show the lightning stroke of fear that went through her.

The stranger had come out of nowhere, without warning, soundless as a shadow.

She looked toward the man who stood at the edge of the ranch house porch. He was a dark silhouette just beyond the golden lantern light pouring through the windows. Beneath the brim of his hat, his eyes were like clear black crystal, as emotionless as his expression.

A winter storm would look warm by comparison to this man′s eyes, Elyssa thought uneasily, biting her lower lip.

On the heels of that thought came another.

Yet he′s compelling, in a dangerous kind of way. Al most handsome.

Next to him other men would seem like boys.

Elyssa frowned. She had never particularly noticed men. They were simply wastrel sons of titled Britons, or sailors, or soldiers, or cowhands or wranglers or cooks.

Or raiders.

In the months since Elyssa had returned to America against her uncle′s wishes, she had encountered more than a few renegade white men. The Ladder S was a remote ranch in the Ruby Mountains. It drew prospectors, Spanish treasure hunters, wagon trains of hopeful settlers on the way to Oregon-and the renegades who preyed on all of them.

The Culpeppers were the worst of a bad lot of raiders.

lf anyone can stand up to the Culpepper gang, this man might, Elyssa thought wryly. Question is, who gets rid of the ramrod after he gets rid of the Culpeppers?

"Miss Sutton?" the stranger asked, his voice deep.

When he spoke, he stepped into the lantern light, as though he sensed her unease at not being able to see him clearly.

"I′m thinking," she said.

Elyssa let the silence grow while she openly studied the stranger. She wondered if she dared accept the challenge he presented.

The thought made Elyssa′s mouth go dry. She licked her lips and took a deep breath. Then she concentrated on the man who had appeared out of darkness, instead of wondering at her own reckless impulse to meet this man on his own dangerous ground.

A thick, straight, dark mane of hair came down to the stranger′s collar. His face looked tanned, with vague squint lines around the eyes and a neat, dark moustache above a well-formed mouth.

His black pants and jacket were clean, tailor-made, and had seen hard use. It was the same for his pale grey shirt, which was clean and rather worn. The shirt fit well to the masculine wedge of wide shoulders and narrow waist. A faded black bandanna was tied loosely around his throat.

Behind the stranger a horse stamped and blew softly through its nostrils. Without looking away from Elyssa, the man reached back and stroked the animal′s neck with long, soothing motions of his gloved hand.

His left hand. His right hand-which had no glove- stayed where it had been, near the six-gun he was wearing at his side. Like his clothes, the stranger′s gun was both worn and clean.

And like the man himself, the weapon had an aura of harsh use about it.

Yet for all the stranger′s hard eyes and dark presence, Elyssa noted that he handled his horse gently. She approved of that. Too many men in the West treated animals as though they felt no pain from spur or lash.

Like Mickey. If I didn′t need every hand, I′d send that swaggering fool packing, even though Mac thought the world of him. But I do need every hand.

Now more than ever.

The stranger′s horse shifted, bringing the saddle within reach of lantern light. There was a rifle in a scab bard, and what looked like a shotgun in another scabbard on the far side of the saddle.

There was no silver on the guns or saddle, no fancy trimmings, nothing that would catch and reflect sunlight, revealing the man′s presence.

What looked like a Confederate officer′s greatcoat was tied behind the saddle on top of a bedroll. Whatever rank the stranger might have held had been stripped away from the greatcoat as ruthlessly as the saddle had been purged of shiny decorations.

The horse itself was a big, rangy, powerful blood-bay stallion that would have cost three years′ wages for the average cowhand.

But then, the stranger obviously was no average cowhand. He was waiting for her response with the indrawn stillness of a predator at a water hole.

Such stillness was unnerving, especially for someone whose spirit was as impulsive as Elyssa′s.

"Do you have a name?" she asked abruptly.

"Hunter."

"Hunter," Elyssa repeated slowly, as though testing the sound on her tongue. ′Is that your name or your profession?"

"Does it matter?"

She closed her lips against the retort that was on the edge of her tongue. She had been told often enough that she was like her dead mother, impulsive and intelligent in equal and sometimes conflicting parts.

This man′s deep stillness brought out in Elyssa a reckless desire to pry beneath his composed surface to the heat and seething life of him.

But life had taught Elyssa that recklessness could be very costly.

Warily Elyssa measured the cool reserve in Hunter′s eyes. A deeply feminine part of her wondered where he had been and what had happened to take from his soul all but ice and distance . . . and an echo of pain that cut her like a razor.

Why should I care about this man′s past? Elyssa asked herself fiercely. He evaded whichever Culpepper was on guard out in the pass, and that′s more than Mac with all his hunting skills managed to do.

That′s all I should care about. Hunter′s skill.

Yet it wasn′t all Elyssa was concerned about, and she was too intelligent not to know it. This man drew her as no other ever had.

Nervously she licked her lips and took another deep breath.

I should tell him to leave.

"Do you want the job?" Elyssa asked, before common sense could make her change her mind.

Black eyebrows rose in twin, oddly elegant arcs.

"That fast?" Hunter asked. "No questions about my qualifications? "

"You have the only qualifications that matter."

"Guns?′ Hunter asked sardonically.

"Brains," she retorted.

Hunter simply looked at her, waiting silently for a better explanation.

"I didn′t hear shots,′ Elyssa said, ′so you got past whichever Culpepper was sitting at the opening to the valley or in the pass itself, all set to empty saddles.′

Hunter shrugged, neither confirming nor denying Elyssa′s words.

"How did you sneak by the dogs?" she asked.

As she spoke, she looked around for the black-and white border collies that usually were the first warning of any strangers near the ranch house.

′I came in downwind of them," Hunter said.

′You were lucky.′

′Was I? The wind has been blowing down out of the canyon behind the house for days.′

Silently Elyssa conceded that Hunter was right. The autumn wind had been usually steady. For the past week it had flowed down the many canyons of the Ruby Mountains in a cool rush that smelled of pinon and rocky heights.

Then she realised that Hunter was watching her as closely as she was watching him.

"What makes you think I′m not a member of the Culpepper gang?′ he asked calmly.

"Too clean."

The corners of Hunter′s eyes tilted slightly, heightening the faint lines.

Elyssa had a feeling that was as close as this man came to a smile, so she smiled in return.

Autumn Lover. Copyright © by Elizabeth Lowell. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.

Meet the Author

New York Times bestselling author Elizabeth Lowell has more than eighty titles published to date with over twenty-four million copies of her books in print. She lives in the Sierra Nevada Mountains with her husband, with whom she writes novels under a pseudonym. Her favorite activity is exploring the Western United States to find the landscapes that speak to her soul and inspire her writing.

Brief Biography

Date of Birth:
April 5, 1944
Place of Birth:
Milwaukee, Wisconsin
Education:
B. A., University of California, 1966

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Autumn Lover 4.1 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 28 reviews.
audio_book_adict More than 1 year ago
Posted 07/22/10: This book just toes the line of being okay. The main male character, Hunter Maxwell, is a conflicted bully who distrusts all women because his first wife betrayed him, thus painting the entire sex with the "untrustworthy flirt" brush, ad nauseum. Frankly, it gets tiresome listening to how Belinda, his late wife, is the epitome of the worst type of female there could ever be and how Hunter believes all women are of the same ilk. Also tedious is how much he belittles the main female character, Alissa, owner of the Ladder-S Ranch, while being attracted to her at the same time. The contradictions are myriad, the insults many. Alissa is described as being a strong willed, independent free-thinker for the late 1800's. She continually takes his verbal abuse and feels insulted as she is unable to fire him due to the precarious situation she is in, so they play a lot of insult tennis. Hunter is *actually tracking the 2 dimensionally evil Culpepper Gang and takes a job on the ranch as cover for his search. Conveniently, the Culpeppers are trying to take over the Ladder-S ranch in attempts that escalate from embarrassingly badly worded threats ("What Culpeppers want Culpeppers git!", "I ain't gonna throw ye and mount ye right off. I jest wanna get a feel 'o them teats." Seriously?!? lol)to a drawn out shoot-out attack on the ranch that takes days to resolve. Amidst the drama, somehow Hunter and Alissa become lovers. The sex seems a bit contrived, considering how much Hunter seems to dislike Alissa, while Alissa is mysteriously drawn to the insulting bad boy. Also, since this is a first book in a series, Ms. Lowell leaves several strings dangling. I listened to this book a year ago and didn't think much of it then, but then recently thought I should give it another chance and maybe buy the 2nd in the series. While the dangling strings are normally fine for series books, I don't think I want to take a chance on Hunter's brother being just as offensive in the next book. This is not the first Elizabeth Lowell book I've listened to and I was hoping that distrustful mean-spirited men were not the norm for her, but this is the third book in which the men have few redeeming qualities (The men in "To the Ends of the Earth" and "A Woman Without Lies" are cookie cutouts of Hunter with different names). For me personally, I'm not impressed with mean men, so I'm done with this author. In conclusion, if you like the insolent-turned-romantic (loosely defined) type of man, you may enjoy Lowell's books. Overall, Laural Merlington does a decent job portraying different character voices. The recommendations below all have excellent performers for the audio books,four of the five are in a series, and are good books in general.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I thought it was a good read, planning to check out the brothers story next.
oldntired More than 1 year ago
I have been an Anne Maxwell/Elizabeth Lowell fan for sometime. I liked this book but I love the author and have read all her books but this series. This author has great attention to detail and each book she writes has a different twist, which is hard to accomplish for most authors when they write romance series books. Happy Reading.
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I love all of E. Lowell's books! The heroes and heroines are flawed just enough to be believable. Her stories are packed with adventure and action. The dialog is gritty without being riddled with foul language. The love scenes are vivid, without being overly graphic. Some may say the endings are predictable, but I like knowing the guy will get the girl and everything will work out "happily ever after". There's a certain amount of comfort and security in knowing that. I read novels for enjoyment and entertainment, not to have the story mimic real life. That's what the news is for.
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This book actually mentions chars from the only mine series, a drifter in the last book looking for the culpeppers him and hes brother, was really happy to remember him!! Great book just like all her other books. Im def a Lowell fan :)
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This is thunderclans camp! This is main base, seconed result is warrior den, third is med den, fourth is nursery, fifth is apprentice den
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la58 More than 1 year ago
Love Elizabeth Lowell. Great story about old west and a great hero.
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