Dangerous Heart (Westward Hearts)

Dangerous Heart (Westward Hearts)

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by Tracey Bateman

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Growing up motherless with an outlaw father made Ginger Freeman hard and unforgiving—and for the past seven years she's been driven by a single goal: to make Grant Kelley pay for letting her brother die. Now that she's tracked the hated doctor to a westward-bound wagon train, her mission of vengeance is nearly completed. But the sense of family and community

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Growing up motherless with an outlaw father made Ginger Freeman hard and unforgiving—and for the past seven years she's been driven by a single goal: to make Grant Kelley pay for letting her brother die. Now that she's tracked the hated doctor to a westward-bound wagon train, her mission of vengeance is nearly completed. But the sense of family and community that suddenly surrounds her is unlike anything Ginger has ever experienced. And under the nurturing eye of Miss Sadie, the outlaw's daughter begins to lose her rough edges. Here, in the company of loving, newfound friends, Ginger feels herself becoming part of something much bigger than revenge.

But catastrophe is in the wind when her pa and his gang arrive to infiltrate the wagon train. Will Ginger's new relationship with God tear her away from her family forever . . . and cost her everything she's now begun to hold dear?

Editorial Reviews

Library Journal

In the concluding volume to Bateman's "Westward Hearts" historical series (after Defiant Heart, Distant Heart), revenge is the only thing on Ginger Freeman's mind, and her target is Grant Kelly, the doctor she holds responsible for her brother's death. The embittered outlaw's daughter tracks Grant to a westward-bound wagon train, but her resolve to kill him becomes challenged when the members of the group have a surprising impact on her. Ginger's relationship with both God and Grant takes an unexpected turn as well in this feisty, thoughtful Western romance. The latest from the prolific Bateman (Oregon Brides) offers a light, satisfying read to while away a cool autumn afternoon. Recommended for CF and historical fiction collections.

—Tamara Butler
Romantic Times BOOKclub
“Fun and lively....This is a family saga for all ages to enjoy.”

Product Details

HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
Westward Hearts Series , #3
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Dangerous Heart (Westward Hearts)


Mid-October 1850

Gunfire in the middle of the night was never good. The blast startled Ginger Freeman from the first sound sleep she'd had in a week. She bolted upright in the tent she shared with her friend and fellow traveler, Toni Rodden, and fumbled around in the dark for her moccasins.

"Was that thunder?" Toni asked from the other side of the tent, her voice thick with sleep and worry. She made a shadowy figure as she sat up and reached for her shoes.

"No. Gunfire. I'm going to check on it."

"You don't suppose it's Indians?" Toni's voice shook the words into the air.

Ginger understood her friend's fear. Only a short time ago, Toni had been the object of a young war chief's obsession, But the army had taken care of that—soon after Toni's rescue, a group of soldiers bore down upon the renegades'camp, rescuing white captives and rounding up as many of the braves as they could. "If it is a pack of Indians , it's not who you're thinking. But you'd best stay put, just the same."

More gunfire shattered the night, and the sound of yelling echoed through the camp. "Outlaws! Take cover!"

"Did you hear that?" Toni asked, standing and heading toward the tent flap. "I—I better go with you."

The offer brought a smile to Ginger's lips. "I think we can handle it. Sam would have my hide if I let you go out there, and you know it. And I don't think it's outlaws, anyhow. Most likely Kip Caldwell and some of the other boys playing a joke with gunpowder and a flint." Ginger frowned, hard-pressed to believe her own words, but she tried to soundlight-hearted for Toni's sake. "Besides, what kind of crazy outlaws would attack a wagon train the size of this one?"

"The kind with a lot of men and guns?" Toni's voice still shook, but Ginger had no time to mollycoddle her friend. She figured her help was most needed out there with the rest of the guns. More than the rest, truth be told. If there was one thing Ginger knew a little something about, it was outlaws—a fact she couldn't mention to Toni or anyone else. But from her experience, this attack just didn't make any kind of sense. Unless the bandits thought there was an awful lot of treasure to be had among this battered, weary band of travelers, or the men firing into the camp were missing a few brains. Ginger was betting on the latter.

"I'll be back as soon as I can." She checked to make sure her pistol was loaded, then stuffed it into her holster and grabbed her rifle for good measure. She tossed a quick look in Toni's direction. "Hunker down and stay out of sight. Hopefully this'll all be over soon."

"Be careful!" Toni whispered after her. Ginger stopped and turned back. She snatched her pistol from her holster. "Here, take this."

Toni gave a vehement shake of her head. "You'll need it. Besides, I don't like those things."

Ginger shoved the weapon toward her. Now was not the time to take no for an answer. "Take it. I have my rifle. How am I supposed to concentrate, thinking about you unprotected in here, all by yourself?"

Toni's expression softened, and she took the pistol. "Thank you, Ginger." Ginger ducked her head, swallowing hard. Emotional women always made her uncomfortable. Maybe because she hadn't really spent much time in the company of women since she was a little girl. Before her ma left. She'd been raised around rough men, who laughed at tears and didn't cotton to hugs and coddling. "I'd best be going."

Pulling back the tent flap, she escaped outside, taking care to keep her head down and her senses alert. She gripped her rifle firmly, ready to aim and fire if necessary. And she figured it would be necessary real soon.

She tried to take stock of the situation. Outside the circle of wagons, the dark and dust and sagebrush were thick enough to hide a few outlaws, bent on mischief. But she still couldn't imagine anyone crazy enough to go up against a wagon train the size of this one. Especially if her suspicions were correct—no more than fifteen men would be riding with the outlaws.

She strained her eyes against the dimness around her. Dawn was beginning to break over the snow-capped mountains to the east, but it was still too dark to make out more than shadows beyond the camp's fires.

Ginger crept forward, bending at the waist as she tried to assess the situation. Her body remained tense, every inch of her alert to the danger lurking in the shadowy darkness, as she searched for the most logical spot to hunker down and make the biggest impact. From the direction of the gunfire, she knew they weren't surrounded, and the attack seemed to be aimed toward the middle of the wagon train.

Heading toward the closest wagon, she kept her mind focused on getting to her hiding spot—which was the only explanation for what happened next.

Strong fingers gripped her buckskin-clad arm and spun her around. Grant Kelley stood over her, concern drawing his eyebrows together. "Ginger, you should get back inside that tent before you get hurt."

His chest rose and fell, and heavy breath released from his lips as puffy clouds in the cold air. His expression bore down on her, warning her not to argue.

But Ginger wasn't one to take a warning from the likes of Grant Kelley or anyone else, for that matter. "My gun's as good as yours, so mind your own business."

The words left her sharply and probably came out too loud for the situation, but her pride had taken a hit by the way she'd let him sneak up on her like that. Besides, she could do without Grant touching her for any reason. She didn't like the way he made her insides go soft.

"You're too bullheaded for your own good." Grant pulled her to the ground with him as a bullet whizzed past her ear. Ducking behind the wagon wheel, he took aim in the direction the bullet had come and fired off two shots, then turned back to her. "Remember last time you joined a man's fight? You got an arrow through your leg."

Dangerous Heart (Westward Hearts). Copyright © by Zondervan. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.

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