Branded Hearts

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Overview

No Place For A Lady
A dark family secret and a dangerous destiny hold Ann McCastle to the unforgiving western frontier. A beautiful and tempestuous saloon keeper, she has dreams of vengeance to keep her strong — until Ian McShane ride into town. An enigmatic half-Sioux ex-cavalryman, he brazenly claims her as his bride — igniing Ann's anger, her desire . . . and a firestorm of passion and peril that threatens to consume them both.
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1995 Mass-market paperback New. Mass market (rack) paperback. Glued binding. 432 p. Audience: General/trade.

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1995 Mass-market paperback New. Mass market (rack) paperback. Glued binding. 432 p. Audience: General/trade.

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1995 Mass-market paperback New. Mass market (rack) paperback. Glued binding. 432 p. Audience: General/trade.

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Overview

No Place For A Lady
A dark family secret and a dangerous destiny hold Ann McCastle to the unforgiving western frontier. A beautiful and tempestuous saloon keeper, she has dreams of vengeance to keep her strong — until Ian McShane ride into town. An enigmatic half-Sioux ex-cavalryman, he brazenly claims her as his bride — igniing Ann's anger, her desire . . . and a firestorm of passion and peril that threatens to consume them both.
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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
How refreshing: a heroine who runs a bordello, can take care of herself very well, thank you, and isn't above uttering the occasional curse word. Spirited Ann McCastle, when not warning assorted evildoers off with her shotgun, manages her own wild west saloon. After her partner dies, Ann carries on solo, until the enigmatic Ian McShane shows up, claiming her partner sold him controlling shares in the saloon just before his death. In order to keep rival businessmen and amorous customers at bay, Ian suggests that he and Ann marry. The fact that strong-willed Ann gives in to the suggestion with relatively little argument is a bit out of character, but with so much going on in the plot, it's easy to forgive. Once married, Ann realizes she's given up much more than her maiden name. How is she going to keep Ian in the dark about the secret door in her bedroom, used for slipping away in order to aid the town's underdogs against the resident land baron? In typical Drake style (Knight of Fire), the plot moves right along with a plethora of interesting secondary characters and story lines, including flashbacks of Indian massacres, whores with hearts of gold, arson, loyal lawyers, a French chef and a theater-struck young man who quotes Defoe. (Feb.)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780380771707
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 2/1/1995
  • Pages: 432

Meet the Author

Shannon Drake is a pseudonym for Heather Graham, the New York Times bestselling author. Under both names she has written numerous award-winning romance novels, including: And One Rode West, Lord Of The Wolves, Bride Of The Wind, and Knight Of Fire. She lives in Coral Gables, Florida, with her husband and their five children.

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Read an Excerpt

Chapter One

Coopersville
Colorado Territory

The saloon on the east side of Main Street seemed an impressive enough establishment, Ian McShane decided. He observed the place more carefully as he tied his horse at the hitching post in front of it. Then he crossed the planked-wood sidewalks that bordered most of the businesses in the town, pushed open the double wood-slatted doors, and stepped inside. For a moment he stood there, letting his eyes adjust to the dim interior, and observed the place.

Music played, not too loudly or wildly. Encompassed in some of the smoke that filled the room, a talented young man played a piano, seemingly oblivious to everything around him, except the pleasant sound of his music. A young woman, half hidden from Ian's view, sang to the man's piano tune with a soft and lovely soprano, a sound that seemed plaintive and out of place here, no matter how "respectable" the establishment, for in the midst of more earthly masculine pursuits such as playing cards, drinking, and bawdy, bartered gratification, she seemed to weave silken, haunting dreams that curled around a man's heart and soul. Perhaps it was her choice of song that created that illusions -- ballad from the recently ended war between the states. The words were sad but the feminine beauty of her voice made them poignant. Or perhaps it was the mystery of the songstress herself, for her back was turned to him and his view of her was partially blocked by a support beam. The rise of smoke from the patrons near the piano might have rivaled that on a battlefield, but through its haze he could see that she was slim darkly clad, and blond. Worth investigating later, hedetermined. Not now. No matter how intriguing she might prove to be.

He stiffened his shoulders and willed himself to forget the pianist and the songstress, since such a business needed much more than just a talented pair of entertainers in order to survive. He studied the saloon once again. The tables and chairs looked sturdy -- obviously meant to survive a barroom brawl or two -- but were handsomely carved. The bar was beautifully carved as well; etched glass mirrors rose behind it. A long winding staircase led to the second floor, and though McCastle's was billed as a "gentlemen's bar," this was a frontier town, built by cattlemen and gold seekers, and few of them were gentlemen. McCastle's provided every kind of pleasure, he had heard. Wine, women, and song could all be found, here the wine and song in public view, the women more discreetly in the rooms at the top of the beautifully crafted staircase.

He found himself wondering if the blond nightingale was part and parcel of the entertainment McCastle's offered upstairs, then he again reminded himself that for the moment, he had to be more amused than intrigued by the prospect of such entertainment. He'd come to town with a purpose, a purpose that had simmered in him for an eternity it seemed at times, always aglow, like the flicker of a small flame, burning within him. Sometimes, though, the flame rose. To something like a brushfire, wild, and so hot it singed everything around it. Memory could make him forget hunger, taste, touch, or desire. Any woman, any need. Memory could bring back the past in vivid pain and color, and he would swallow hard and fight the pain and assure himself that he would have his revenge. His time would come. He would make it come. He had dedicated his life to it. He had waited a long time to reach this point.

And he was close now. So dose, here in Coopersville. And at McCastle's. By chance, he had happened upon the information and good fortune to come here, right where he could get a firm foothold to begin.

There had been a change at McCastle's recently. One he was going to be able to use well to his own advantage.

He stepped up to the bar, adjusted his hat, and stared at the denizens of the place. There were cowhands stretched out alongside of him to his left, most of them still clad in chaps and dust, spurred boots and wide-brimmed hats. Some of the town's leading businessmen seemed to be gathered at his other side, upright fellows in black gentlemen's suits, crisp white shirts, fresh-shined shoes, and slicked-down hair. Mixed in among them all were some of the town merchants with their vests and timepieces and rolled-up sleeves.

At the gaming tables, the cowmen and the businessmen seemed to mix; there were at least four poker games going on at various tables, two of them run by the house, and two of them undertaken by clientele alone, dealer's choice games, both of them sporting large amounts of cash upon the table.

"What'll it be, sir?"

The bartender had curling gray hair and whiskers, intelligent eyes, and a pleasant manner. His crisp striped shirt spoke of the establishment's respectability, which was remarkable in a dust-covered new town etched out on the border of Indian territory.

For a moment he thought back to a time, a life, he had known briefly. A time with cool breezes and soft, sweet scents, the whisper of a river and the fresh feel of morning dew on rich, thick grasses. A lemonade would have been nice.

He looked around at the mixed crew of customers in the saloon.

"I'd better make it whiskey," he told the bartender, tossing down a gold coin. The bartender grinned good-naturedly and handed Ian a bottle and a shot glass. Ian surveyed the room for a moment. He wanted information. It never hurt to play for a little money.

He strode to one of the tables at the back of the saloon.
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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted December 30, 1999

    Well Done!

    It has the feel of Old West, romance, intrigue, and great poignant scenes with a shocking secret that involves the two main characters. It's worth the read!

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