Dakota Born (Dakota Series #1)
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Dakota Born (Dakota Series #1)

4.3 84
by Debbie Macomber

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Buffalo Valley, North Dakota. Like so many small towns, it's dying. Stores are boarded up, sidewalks cracked, houses wanting a coat of paint. But despite it all, there's a spirit of hope here, of defiance. The few people still left in Buffalo Valley are fighting for their town.

Lindsay Snyder is a newcomer. She's an outsider, even though she spent childhood


Buffalo Valley, North Dakota. Like so many small towns, it's dying. Stores are boarded up, sidewalks cracked, houses wanting a coat of paint. But despite it all, there's a spirit of hope here, of defiance. The few people still left in Buffalo Valley are fighting for their town.

Lindsay Snyder is a newcomer. She's an outsider, even though she spent childhood vacations here. Now she returns to see the family house again, to explore family secrets and to reevaluate her life.

To her own amazement she decides to stay. Her decision marks a new beginning for Buffalo Valley—and for Lindsay Snyder, who discovers in this broken little town the love and purpose she's been seeking.

Product Details

Publication date:
Dakota Series , #1
Edition description:
Product dimensions:
4.21(w) x 6.62(h) x 1.01(d)

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Chapter One

"We're doomed," Jacob Hansen said in sepulchral tones. He matched into the room, shaking his grizzled head.

    "You might as well board up town right now." Marta Hansen followed her husband into the dining room at Buffalo Bob's 3 OF A KIND. With the energy that so often accompanies righteousness, she plunked herself down at the table with the other members of the Buffalo Valley town council.

    Joshua McKenna figured this kind of pessimism pretty much ensured that they Wouldn't accomplish anything. Not that he blamed the couple. For nearly twenty years the Hansens, along with everyone else in Buffalo Valley, had watched the once-thriving farm community deteriorate, until now the town was barely holding on. The theater had closed first, and then the beauty shop and the florist and the hardware store ... It hurt most when the catalog store pulled up stakes—that had been six years ago—and then the Morningside Café, the one decent restaurant in town, had closed for good.

    Even now, Joshua missed Melissa's cooking. She'd baked biscuits that were so light and fluffy they practically floated into your mouth. Joshua got hungry just thinking about those biscuits.

    Businesses survived as long as they could on their continually diminishing returns—until they were driven to financial ruin and finally forced to close up shop. Families drifted away and farmland changed ownership, the bigger farms buying up the smaller ones. Large or small, everyone struggled these days with low agricultural prices. He had to hand it to the farmers,though. They were smart, and getting smarter all the time. Over the years, agricultural research and hardier strains had made it possible to urge a larger yield out of the land. Where an acre would once produce a hundred bushels, it was now possible to harvest almost twice that. Somehow, a lot of the farmers had managed to keep going—because they believed in their heritage and because they trusted in the future, hoping they'd eventually get a fair price for their crops. Since they stayed, a few of the businesses in town clung, too.

    Joshua's was one of them, although he'd certainly been struggling for the last while. He sold used goods and antiques, and did repairs; in that area, at least, business was steady. It was his gift, he supposed, to be able to fix things. With money tight, people did whatever they could to avoid buying something new. He just wished his talent extended to fixing lives and rearranging circumstances. If it had, he'd start with his own family. Heaven knew his son needed help. His daughter and granddaughter, too. He didn't like to think about the changes in their lives during the past few years, and he hated the helpless feeling that came over him whenever he did.

    His wife, Marjorie, had always dealt with the children, but she'd been gone ten years now. He often wondered if she'd recognize Buffalo Valley these days and wished he had her wisdom in dealing with its problems. She would've been shocked to learn he'd been elected president of the town council. A position he hadn't sought, but one he'd assumed by default when Bill Wilson had to close his gas station and move to Fargo.

    "We're doomed this time," Marta repeated, daring anyone to argue with her.

    "This town's survived all these years. We'll hold on now." Hassie Knight, who owned Knight's Pharmacy, said emphatically.

    Hassie was a born optimist and the one person in town who was sure to see even this situation in a positive light. If anyone could come up with a solution, it'd be Hassie, God bless her.

    Like him, Hassie had experienced her share of grief. She'd buried her son, who'd been killed in Vietnam nearly thirty years ago, and not long afterward, had lost her husband. Carl Knight had died from complications of diabetes, but Hassie had always maintained that the real cause of death was a broken heart. Her daughter lived in Hawaii, and Joshua knew Valerie would like nothing better than to have her mother retire nearby. Thankfully, Hassie had resisted Valerie's efforts. The old woman was long past the age of retirement, but she did much more than fill prescriptions. Hassie was the closest thing the community had to a doctor, and folks from miles around came to her for medical advice. Yes, Hassie Knight was a popular woman, all right. It didn't hurt any that she served the best sodas he'd ever tasted. The old-fashioned kind from the fountain in the corner of her store. Chocolate sodas and good advice—those were her specialties.

    "We've hung on for so many years, we're already dead and don't even have the sense to know it," Marta said caustically as she crossed her arms over her hefty bosom.

    "Will you stop!" Joshua pounded the gavel on the tabletop with so much force, the ice in the water glasses danced. He sat back down and motioned to Hassie. "Would you take roll call?"

    Hassie Knight's bones creaked audibly as she stood.

    "Roll call? Now that's gonna be useful," Marta Hansen muttered. "That's like what's-his-name, that emperor, fiddling while Rome burned."

    She was obviously mighty pleased with her classical allusion. Must've been on Jeopardy last night, Joshua thought.

    "Nero. The emperor was Nero," he couldn't resist adding. Still, he hated to admit it, but Marta was right. Roll call was a waste of time; all they had to do was look around the table to know who was present and who wasn't. Hassie, the Hansens, Dennis Urlacher and him. Absent: Gage Sinclair and Heath Quantrill. Joshua stopped Hassie before she had a chance to start.

    "Fine, we'll dispense with the usual formalities and get on with the meeting."

    "Thank God someone in this town is willing to listen to reason," Marta said, glaring across the table at Hassie.

    It was only natural that the town pessimist and the town optimist would be in constant opposition. "You and Jacob have as much to gain or lose as the rest of us," Hassie snapped. "A positive mental attitude would help."

    "I'm positive," Jacob said with a nod. "Positive that Buffalo Valley is as dead as Eloise Patten."

    "If she was going to up and the unexpected like that, the least she could've done was tell someone she wasn't well," Marta said in her usual righteous manner.

    "That's the most ridiculous thing you've ever said—which is really saying something." Hassie's face reddened, and Joshua could see she was having difficulty restraining her temper. The truth was, the Hansens exasperated him, too. How they'd managed to run the grocery during these hard times when they had such a negative outlook toward, life was beyond him. Still, he was grateful their store had survived. Joshua didn't know what would happen if they ever decided to leave Buffalo Valley.

    "All right, all right." Joshua wiped his brow with a stained white handkerchief. "We'll move on to new business."

    With obvious reluctance, Hassie reclaimed her seat.

    "We all know why we're here," Jacob said. "The school needs a teacher,"

    "Does anyone mind if I sit in?" Buffalo Bob asked, pulling out a chair before anyone could object.

    Marta and Jacob glanced at each other and seemed to understand that if they raised a fuss, Hassie would make a point of asking Marta to leave, since she wasn't officially a member of the town council. Joshua suspected the only re, on she attended the meetings was to advise Jacob on how to vote.

    "We'd welcome your help," Joshua assured Bob.

    Without a word Dennis Urlacher, who owned the Cenex Gas Station, shoved his chair aside to make room for him. Bob Cart was an ex-biker who'd settled in the town a couple of years earlier after winning the bar, grill and small hotel in a poker game. He'd immediately rechristened himself Buffalo Bob.

    Joshua looked down at his notes. "As you all know, Eloise Patten is gone."

    "She's more than gone," Marta Hansen interrupted. "She's dead!"

    "Marta!" Joshua had taken about all he could from her. "The point is we don't have a teacher."

    "Hire one." Buffalo Bob leaned back on two legs of his chair, as if he figured they were all overreacting to this crisis.

    "No one's going to want to teach in a town that's dying," Jacob grumbled, shaking his head. "Besides, I never did think much of dividing up the schools, Bussing our grade-schoolers over to Bellmont and then having them send their high-schoolers to us was a piss-poor idea, if you ask me."

    "We already did ask you," Joshua barked, no longer making any attempt to control his impatience. "It won't do any good to rehash what's already been decided and acted upon. Bussing the children has worked for the last four years, and would continue to do so if Eloise hadn't passed on the way she did."

    "Eloise should've retired years ago," Marta complained under her breath.

    "Well, thank God she didn't," Joshua said. "We owe her a lot." Eloise Patten had been a godsend to this community, and if no one else said it, he would. The schoolteacher had been the one to suggest splitting up the elementary and high school students between the two towns. The Hansens' attitude was typical of the thinking that was detrimental to such progressive ideas. The small farming communities, or what remained of them, needed to rely on each other. It was either that or lose everything. If Buffalo Valley was going to survive when so many towns on the prairie hadn't, they had to learn to work together.

    "We've got to find us a new teacher, is all." Dennis could be counted on to cut to the chase—to state the basic, unadorned facts. He owned and operated the only gas station left in town and wasn't much of a talker. When he did speak, it was generally worth listening.

    Joshua knew that his daughter, Sarah, and Dennis had some kind of romance going between them, despite the decided efforts of his daughter to keep it a secret. Joshua didn't understand why she felt it was so all-fired important nobody know about this relationship. After her disastrous marriage, Joshua would've welcomed Dennis into the family. He Suspected that Sarah's reluctance to marry Dennis had to do with her daughter, Calla, who was fourteen. A difficult age—as he remembered well,

    "We could throw in living quarters, couldn't we?" Buffalo Bob was saying. "For the teacher?"

    "Good idea." Joshua pointed the gavel at the hotel owner. "There's two or three empty houses close to the school."

    "Nobody's going to want to live in those old places," Marta insisted. "They're full of mice and God knows what else."

    "We can always clean one up."

    The others nodded.

    "In case no one's noticed, there's a teacher shortage in this state." This came from Jacob, and as if on cue, Marta nodded.

    "We could always advertise," Hassie began tentatively.

    "Advertise? We don't have that kind of money," Marta said in a sharp voice.

    "If we don't advertise, what exactly do you suggest?" Joshua asked.

    Jacob and Matte looked at each other. Jacob got heavily to his feet and leaned forward, bracing his hands on the edge of the table. "I think it's time we all admitted the truth. Buffalo Valley is doomed and there's not a damn thing we can do about it." Marta nodded again, a satisfied expression on her face.


Meet the Author

Debbie Macomber, with more than 100 million copies of her books sold worldwide, is one of today's most popular authors. The #1 New York Times bestselling author is best known for her ability to create compelling characters and bring their stories to life in her books. Debbie is a regular resident on numerous bestseller lists, including the New York Times (70 times and counting), USA TODAY (currently 67 times) and Publishers Weekly (47 times). Visit her at www.DebbieMacomber.com.

Brief Biography

Port Orchard, Washington
Date of Birth:
October 22, 1948
Place of Birth:
Yakima, Washington
Graduated from high school in 1966; attended community college

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Dakota Born (Dakota Series #1) 4.3 out of 5 based on 7 ratings. 84 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
True to form Debbie Macomber delivers a truly great read. Her charaters are interesting and you'll fall in love with the Dakota's. So snuggle up with a cup of tea and enjoy the trip.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Dakota Born, for me at first was hard to follow,there was so many characters at the beginning but it turned out to be a good book.
SuperMomof4 More than 1 year ago
Some of Debbie Macomber's books are on my list of all-time favorites. Unfortunately, this book won't join that list. It was an okay romance which had moments that were really good. Unfortunately, the story jumped between too many characters for much continuity and some of the story lines were simply boring. It was quite obvious that this book was set up to be part of a series and several of the story lines were left hanging. I love Ms. Macomber's writing so I'll definitely return for more of her books, but I'll probably skip the rest of this series. As with most romances, there was a fair amount of sexual content (probably a mild PG-13).
Guest More than 1 year ago
Dakota Born was such a good book, I finished it in two days! The love story about Gage and Lindsay was so touching and the whole book just held my interest and I couldn't put it down. All the characters in the book were great. I'm reading Dakota Home right now and can't wait to finish it. I have purchased the third Book. Can't wait to read it. The story lines in these books are something you want to keep on going. You just want to read more about them!
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Pure_Jonel More than 1 year ago
Macomber always intrigues me with her emotional and realistic look at the lives of small town characters. DAKOTA BORN was no exception. She breathes life into this town that she`s created. I felt as if I were able to walk the street alongside the characters. All the while, she develops a story with intertwining plotlines, none outshining the others, but with one definitely taking centre stage. The Gage/Lindsay dynamic was riveting. Their interactions were so real. The way that Macomber develops it, so that you experience both sides, gave me the full picture of their relationship while also allowing you to get to know them as individuals. Their strong personalities really drew me in. I love how intricate these characters are, without ever feeling like you`re in information overload. At the same time, Macomber goes so much further with her characters than just these two. The entire town comes to life in a big way. Joanie and Brandon broke my heart. Getting to know many of the other budding couples was fun as well. This was a cute, fun small town romance with lots of heart. Macomber melds emotion with real life in a way like no other, creating a world that definitely puts her in the running for the queen of the quill.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Donna777 More than 1 year ago
Dakota Born was a great book as are all of Debbie Macomber's books. I can't put them down until I finish them and when I do it leaves me wanting more.
judiOH More than 1 year ago
the dakota series deals with romances of women that have had a bad experience in teir lives and want to start over. they find men that have also had bad experiences and then between them they find love. romances as only debbie can write them.
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ndsualum More than 1 year ago
This first book in the Dakota series got me interested in the entire series, so have read #1 and moved right into #2 when I finished #1 the other evening. Debbie Macomber begins to develop her characters in this first book so we get to know some current townspeople and well as those who are moving into Buffalo Valley and will change the town forever. Have read all of her Cove series as well as Blossom Street series and this is not quite the "page-turner" as the other series are, but enjoying it none the less.
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I've been reading the Dakota series to psych myself up for my upcoming trip to North Dakota (that's a very long story). I found this book to be pretty vapid but entertaining, much like a monster truck rally. I never once uttered the eight deadly words - "I don't care what happens to these characters" - but the story was predictable, the conflicts were silly and the ending was atrocious. I guess the $5 price tag got me to buy and read the next in the series, which is much better and shows Macomber getting a more mature feel of her characters and setting. Good beach/checkout/colonoscopy prep reading.
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