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Diamond Duo

Diamond Duo

4.7 8
by Marcia Gruver

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Lose yourself in this gripping historical romance, where an alluring stranger incites passion, betrayal, and murder.


Lose yourself in this gripping historical romance, where an alluring stranger incites passion, betrayal, and murder.

Product Details

Barbour Publishing, Incorporated
Publication date:
Texas Fortunes
Product dimensions:
5.10(w) x 7.90(h) x 0.90(d)

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Diamond Duo

By Marcia Gruver

Barbour Publishing, Inc.

Copyright © 2008 Marcia Gruver
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-60742-056-9


Jefferson, Texas Friday, January 19, 1877

With the tip of a satin shoe, the graceful turn of an ankle, the woman poured herself like cream from the northbound train out of Marshall and let the tomcats lap her up. In the beginning, an upraised parasol blocked her visage, but no lingering look at her features could erase the impression already established by her pleasing carriage, lavish blue gown, and slender fingers covered in diamonds.

Bertha Biddie waited with stilted breath for the moment when the umbrella might tip and give up its secret. All about her, most of Jefferson had come to a halt, as if the whole town waited with her.

Without warning, the woman lowered and closed the sunshade.

Enchanted, Bertha followed the graceful lines of her form to her striking and memorable face. At first sight of her, Bertha thought she was the devil's daughter. She bore no obvious mark of evil. Just smoldering eyes and a knowing glance that said life held mysteries young Bertha had yet to glimpse.

Her hair sparkled like sun rays dancing on Big Cypress Creek. Her lashes were as black as the bottom of a hole, and her lids seemed smudged with coal. Delicate features perched below a dark halo of hair, and a pink flush lit her fair cheeks. Her expression teemed with mischief, and her full ruby lips curled up at the corners as if recalling a bawdy yarn. She turned slightly, evidently aware of the gathering horde for the first time. With a tilt of her chin and barely perceptible sway, she cast a wide net over the men in the crowd and dragged them to shore.

Bertha watched them respond to her and realized Mama had been less than forthcoming about the real and true nature of things. Forgetting themselves and the women at their sides, they gaped with open mouths, some in spite of jealous claws that gripped their arms. Even the ladies stared, the looks on their faces ranging from admiration to envy.

The reaction of the men only slightly altered when the lady's escort stepped out of the Texas & Pacific passenger car behind her. Though his clothes were just as spiffy and he carried himself well, the man who accompanied that gilded bird lacked her allure, bore none of her charm. Yet despite her confident display of tail feathers, the bluebird at his side clearly deferred to him as though he'd found a way to clip her wings.

With great care, the porter handed down the couple's baggage, the matched set a rare sight in those parts, then held out his hand. Her companion tipped the man, gathered the bags, and walked away from the platform without offering a single word in the bluebird's direction. She cast a quick glance after him but stood her ground, her demeanor unruffled in the face of his rebuke.

As was the custom, the Commercial Hotel, Haywood House, and Brooks House, three reputable hotels in town, each had transport standing by to haul incoming passengers from the station. Dr. J. H. Turner, landlord of Brooks House, waited on hand in the conveyance he called an omnibus.

The woman's friend secured passage with Dr. Turner and helped him load their belongings and then turned and crooked a finger in her direction. She pretended not to notice.

"Bessie!" he barked. "For pity's sake."

She lifted her head, reopened the parasol, and strolled his way without saying a word–giving in but taking all the time she pleased to do so. He handed her up into the carriage, climbed in beside her, and settled back to rest a possessive arm around her shoulders.

Dr. Turner eased onto Alley Street and trundled away from the station, breaking the spell cast over the denizens of Jefferson. In slow motion they awoke from their stupor and returned to their lives.

Bertha released the breath she'd held and gripped her best friend's arm. "What was she, Magda? I've never seen anything like her."

When Magda shook her head, her curls danced the fandango. "Me neither. And we never will again. Not around here, anyway."

Bertha leaned past Magda trying to catch another glimpse. "She's no earthbound creature, that's for sure. But devil or angel? I couldn't tell."

Magda laughed. "She's human, all right, just not ordinary folk." She pressed her finger to her lips. "Could be one of those actresses from a New York burletta."

Bertha gasped. "From the Broadway stage? You really think so?"

"She's certainly stylish enough."

Bertha squinted down Alley Street at the back of the tall carriage. "That man called her Bessie. She doesn't look like a Bessie to me."

"Further proof that beneath all her fluff, she's a vessel of clay like the rest of us."

"How so?"

"Who ever heard of an angel named Bessie?"

Grinning, Bertha leaned and tweaked Magda's nose. "Oh, go on with you."

Of all the souls wandering the earth–in Jefferson, Texas, at least–Bertha Maye Biddie's heart had knit with Magdalena Hayes's from the start. They were a year apart, Magda being the older, but age wasn't the only difference between them. Magda easily reached the top shelves in the kitchen, where Bertha required a stool. And while big-boned Magda took up one and a half spaces on a church pew, Bertha barely filled the remaining half. Magda's russet mop coiled as tightly as tumbleweed. Bertha's black hair fell to her waist in silken waves and gave her fits trying to keep it pinned up. Nothing fazed self-possessed Magda. Bertha greeted life with her heart.

Magda nudged Bertha with her elbow. "Earthbound or not, I can tell you one thing about her...."

"What's that?"

The look in Magda's big brown eyes said whatever the one thing was, it was bound to be naughty. She leaned in to whisper. "She knows a thing or two about the fellas."

Bertha raised her brows. "You can tell that just by looking at her, can you?"

"Not looking at her, smart britches. I can tell by the way she looks at them." She fussed with her curls, her eyes pious slants. "No decent woman goes eye to eye with strange men in the street, and you know it."

"I guess some decent woman told you that?"

"Bertha Maye Biddie! Don't get fresh with me."

Bertha tucked in her chin and busied herself straightening her gloves. "Maybe she's fed up with their scandalous fawning. Ever think of that?"

"Any hound will track his supper."

The words made Bertha mad enough to spit, but she didn't know why. "A pie set out on a windowsill may be a fine display of good cooking, but not necessarily an invitation."

Magda narrowed her eyes. "What on earth are you talking about?" Before Bertha could answer, she stiffened and settled back for a pout. "Why are you siding up with that woman anyway? You don't even know her."

The truth was, Bertha's head still reeled from the first sight of Bessie. The way men reacted to her flooded Bertha's young heart with hope and provided an opportunity, if the beautiful stranger would cooperate, to fix a private matter that sorely needed fixing.

Bertha knew a few things by instinct, like how to toss her long hair or tilt her chin just so. Enough to mop the grin off Thaddeus Bloom's handsome face and light a fire in those dark eyes. But she was done with turning to mush in his presence and watching him revel in it. If Bertha could learn a few of the bluebird's tricks, she'd have that rascal wagging his tail. Then the shoe would be laced to the proper foot, and Thad could wear it up her front stoop when he came to ask for her hand.

One thing was certain. Whatever Bessie knew, Bertha needed to know it.

She tugged on Magda's arm. "Come on."

"Come on where?"

Already a wagon-length ahead, Bertha called back over her shoulder. "To the hotel. We're going to find her."

"What? Why?"

"Save your questions for later. Now hurry!"

Bertha dashed to the steps at the end of the boardwalk and scurried into the lane.

"You planning to run clear to Vale Street?" Magda huffed, rushing to catch up. "Slow down. It ain't ladylike."

"Oh, pooh. Neither am I. Look, there's Mose. He'll take us."

Just ahead, Moses Pharr's rig, piled high with knobby cypress, turned onto Alley Street headed the opposite way. The rickety wagon, pulled by one broken-down horse, bore such a burden of wood it looked set to pop like a bloated tick. When Bertha whistled, the boy's drowsy head jerked up. He turned around and saw her, and a grin lit his freckled face.

"Bertha!" Magda hustled up beside her. "If your pa gets word of you whistling in town, he'll take a strap to your legs."

"Papa doesn't own a strap. Come on, Mose is waiting."

She ran up even with the wagon and saw that the mountain of wood had blocked her view of Mose's sister sitting beside him on the seat. They both grinned down at her, Rhodie's long red hair the only visible difference between the two.

"Hey, Rhodie."

"Hey, Bert. Where you going?"

"To Brooks House. I was hoping to hitch a ride."

Mose leaned over, still grinning. "We always got room for you, Bertha. Hop on."

Magda closed the distance between them and came to stand beside Bertha, breathing hard. When Bertha pulled herself onto the seat beside Rhodie, Magda started to follow. Mose raised his hand to stop her.

"Hold up there." He looked over at Bertha. "Her, too?"

Bertha nodded.

Mose cut his eyes back at the wood and then shrugged. "Guess one more can't hurt. But she'll have to sit atop that stump. Ain't no more room on the seat."

Magda adjusted her shawl around her shoulders and sniffed. "I refuse to straddle a cypress stump all the way to Vale."

"Suit yourself," Bertha said. "But it's a long walk. Let's go, Mose."

Mose lifted the reins and clucked at the horse. Magda grabbed the wooden handgrip and pulled herself onto the wagon just as it started to move. Arranging her skirts about her, she perched on the tall stump like Miss Muffet. "Well, what are you waiting for?" she asked. "Let's go."

Laughing, they rolled through Jefferson listing and creaking, ignoring the stares and whispers. When the rig pulled up across from Brooks House, even the spectacle they made couldn't compete with Bessie and her traveling companion.

The couple stood on the street beside their luggage, the carriage nowhere in sight. They seemed at the end of a heated discussion, given his mottled face and her missing smile.

When Bertha noticed the same sick-cow expression on the faces of the gathered men and the same threatened look on the women's, she became more determined than ever to learn Bessie's secret.

The man with Bessie growled one more angry word then hefted their bags and set off up the path. Not until Bessie followed him and disappeared through the shadowy door did the town resume its pace.

Mose gulped and found his voice. "She looked as soft as a goose-hair pillow. Who is she?"

Bertha scooted to the edge of her seat and climbed down. She dusted her hands and smoothed her skirt. "I don't know, but I intend to find out."

"Roll up your tongue, Moses Pharr," Magda said from the back, "and get me off this stump."

Mose hopped to the ground and hurried around to help Magda.

Rhodie, twirling her copper braid, grinned down at Bertha. "What are you going to do, Bert?"

Magda answered for her. "She's going to get us into trouble, that's what."

Bertha took her by the hand. "Stop flapping your jaws and come on."

They waved good-bye to Mose and Rhodie then hurried across the street, dodging horses, wagons, and men–though their town wasn't nearly as crowded as it had once been.

Jefferson, Queen City of the Cypress, lost its former glory in 1873, when the United States Corps of Engineers blew the natural dam to kingdom come, rerouting the water from Big Cypress Bayou down the Red River to Shreveport. Once a thriving port alive with steamboat traffic, when the water level fell, activity in Jefferson dwindled. To that very day, in fits of Irish temper, Bertha's papa cursed the politicians who were responsible.

But through it all, Jefferson had lost none of its charm. Brooks House was a prime example of the best the town had to offer, so it seemed only right that someone like Bessie might wind up staying there.

Bertha and Magda positioned themselves outside the hotel and hunkered down to wait–the former on a mission, the latter under duress. It didn't take long for the girls to learn a good bit about the captivating woman and her cohort. Talk swirled out the door of the hotel soon after the couple sashayed to the front desk to register under the name of A. Monroe and wife, out of Cincinnati, Ohio.

The gentleman, if he could be counted as such, addressed the woman as Annie or Bessie, when he didn't call her something worse. The two quarreled openly, scratching and spitting like cats, anddidn't care who might be listening. By the time the story drifted outside, the locals had dubbed her Diamond Bessie due to her jewel-encrusted hands, and it seemed the name would stick.

Bertha shaded her eyes with her hands and pressed her face close to the window. "I don't see her anymore, Magda. I guess they took a room."

"Of course they took a room. Why else would they come to a hotel?"

Bertha ignored her sarcasm and continued to search the lobby for Bessie. Still catching no sight of her, she turned around. "Isn't she the most glorious thing? And even prettier close up."

"That she is."

"Did you see the way men look at her? I never saw that many roosters on the prowl at one time."

"And all for squat," Magda said. "That chicken's been plucked. The little banty she strutted into town with has already staked a claim." She grinned. "He wasn't all that hard on the eyes himself."

Bertha frowned. "That strutting peacock? Besides his flashy clothes, she was the only thing special about him. Don't see how he managed to snare a woman like that. He must be rich."

Magda arched one tapered brow. "Did you see the rings on her fingers?"

"I reckon so. I'm not blind."

Magda stretched her back and heaved a sigh. "I guess that's it, then. Let's go."

Bertha grabbed her arm. "Wait. Where are you going?"

"Home. This show's over. They've settled upstairs by now."

Lacing her fingers under her chin, Bertha planted herself in Magda's path. "Won't you wait with me just a mite longer?"

"She's not coming out here, Bertha. Besides, you've seen enough for today."

"I don't want to see her. I need to talk to her."

Magda drew herself back and stared. "Are you teched? We can't just walk up and talk to someone like her. Why would she fool with the likes of us?"

"I don't know. I'll think of a way. I've got to." She bit her bottom lip–three words too late.

Looking wary now, Magda crossed her arms. "Got to? Why?"

"Just do." Bertha met her look head-on. She wouldn't be bullied out of it. Not even by Magda.

Resting chubby fists on rounded hips, Magda sized her up. "All right, what does this have to do with Thad?"

No one knew her like Magda. Still, the chance she might stumble onto Bertha's motives was as likely as hatching a three-headed guinea hen. Struggling to hold her jaw off the ground, she lifted one shoulder. "Who said it did?"

Magda had the gall to laugh. "Because, dearie"–she leaned to tap Bertha's forehead–"everything inside there lately has something to do with Thad."

"Humph! Think what you like. I am going to talk to her."

Magda glared. "Go ahead, then. I can see there's no changing your mind. But I don't fancy being humiliated by another of your rattlebrained schemes, thank you."

Bertha caught hold of her skirt. "Don't you dare go. I can't do this on my own."

"Let go of me. I said I'm going home."

"Please, Magdalena! I need you."

Magda pulled her skirt free and took another backward step. "No, ma'am. You just count me out this time."

She turned to go, and Bertha lunged, catching her in front of the hotel door. They grappled, tugging sleeves and pulling hair, both red-faced and close to tears. Just when Bertha got set to squeal like a pestered pig, from what seemed only a handbreadth away, a woman cleared her throat. Bertha froze, hands still locked in Magda's hair, and turned to find the bluebird beaming from the threshold–though canary seemed more fitting now that she'd traded her blue frock for a pale yellow dress.

"What fun!" Bessie cried, clasping her hands. "I feared this town might be as dull as dirt, but it seems I was mistaken."


Excerpted from Diamond Duo by Marcia Gruver. Copyright © 2008 Marcia Gruver. Excerpted by permission of Barbour Publishing, Inc..
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Meet the Author

Marcia Gruver, author and creative writing teacher, lives in Huffman, Texas, and has published various articles, poems, and devotionals. Her novel, Love Never Fails, won third place in the 2007 American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW) Genesis Contest. Marcia is a member of ACFW, Fellowship of Christian Writers (FCW), and The Writers View.

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Diamond Duo 4.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 8 reviews.
KeliGwyn More than 1 year ago
Review for Diamond Duo by Marcia Gruver

Marcia Gruver transports the reader to Jefferson, Texas in the year 1877, a real town with a rich history¿and an attention-grabbing murder. Using the facts from the actual events leading up to the dastardly deed, Ms. Gruver brings to life a fictionalized account, a gem of a story resplendent with well-developed characters and emotion.

The story begins with the appearance of the mysterious, elegantly attired and bejeweled ¿Diamond Bessie¿ and the menacing man who holds a tight leash on her. Enter the heroine of Diamond Duo, a young woman of faith, Bertha Biddie, who wants nothing more than to attract the attention of Thaddeus Bloom. Certain the gorgeous, self-assured ¿Bessie,¿ ¿Annie,¿ or whomever she is knows the secret to catching a gentleman¿s eye, Bertha befriends her. Thaddeus, equally captivated by Bertha, must put duty before love. He heads off to military school to satisfy his domineering father, leaving his beloved behind, much to his dismay. She pines for him and yet is worried about her newfound friend, whom she fears is in serious trouble.

With a rich cast of memorable secondary characters, Ms. Gruver sweeps the reader into a story that moves her quickly from one engaging scene to the next. Sarah King, a black farmer¿s wife dealing with lingering attitudes resulting from the Civil War, is beautifully portrayed. She plays a significant role in the story, which we see from her perspective on numerous occasions. A powerful transformation takes place in the lives of Bertha¿s parents. I loved the addition of these people as well as the others who populate the town and the story. The book is definitely a romance, but it¿s also a masterfully told tale of the life-changing effects the events leading up to the heinous crime have on a close-knit community and how seemingly disparate individuals overcome their differences. The growth of the major players is wonderful to witness.

When I pick up a book from a new author, I never know what to expect. In some cases, I feel a sense of disappointment. In others, I come away satisfied. Every now and then, though, I¿m so mightily impressed that I add that author to my ¿must read¿ list, which is the case with Marcia Gruver. She¿s an artist whose canvas is the page and whose medium is carefully chosen words. The cover includes a quotation from author Kathleen Y¿barbo, ¿ A masterpiece waiting to be found.¿ I agree.

I heartily recommend Diamond Duo to any reader who enjoys a historical inspirational. And the good news is that if, like me, you¿re left wanting more, the sequel, Chasing Charity, book two in the Texas Fortunes series, is coming in spring 2009. It¿s on my ¿gotta get it¿ list, that¿s for sure.
ReviewYourBook.com More than 1 year ago
Written by: Marcia Gruver
Published by: Barbour
Reviewed by: Stephanie Rollins for ReviewYourBook.com 12/2008
ISBN: 978-1-60260-205-2
¿An Author to Watch¿ 4 stars
Thad needs to leave for college, but he loves Bertha. Bertha loves Thad, but she has no idea why he hesitates to return her love. Then, Bertha meets the Liz Taylor of the 1800¿s¿Annie. She looks to Annie for advice on winning Thad¿s heart.
There is murder, love, and agony in this story. The plot is excellent, but there are too many secondary characters. For that reason, I cannot deem this easy reading; however, do not discredit this new writer. She is destined for greatness.
Janna6 More than 1 year ago
This is a really good historical western romance from debut novelist Marcia Gruver. I loved the way she took a true story (a murder that actually happened a LONG time ago in Jefferson, Texas) and brought it to life with wonderful characters and period settings. I was almost surprised at how quickly I read this book because I really didn't want to put it down! If you are looking for a fun, entertaining and irresistible western with a great plot, romance and murder then you must pick up this book...
Kelly_B More than 1 year ago
First of all, I enjoyed this story from page one! Seriously, the characters had me from the beginning. I am a reader who does not always expect a book to pull her in from the first word, I am accustomed to being lulled in, but I didn't get a chance to be wooed this story HOOKED ME immediately!!!

I love a good romance, but more than that I love a good story with three dimensional characters and a plot that is believable. This book completely has it all! We meet several characters in this book. I have to say that I enjoyed them all a great deal. It was fun to witness the spectacle of Miss Annie Monroe's arrival through the eyes of young Bertha and her best friend Magda. The stranger inspired awe in many of the town's residents as well as young Bertha.

I fell completely into the lives of Sarah and her husband Henry. Watching Sarah struggle with herself was something I have endured myself. She and her husband were working hard to make a life for themselves. Sometimes it is hard to let go of the old and embrace the new. Watching the couple grow together and be blessed was wonderful. They endured a lot in this short story, and their tale gave me chills more than once.

The story affirmed in my heart the importance of seeing someone through God's eyes, and never giving up the opportunity to show his love. There are a lot of misconceptions in this story that need to be overcome by the characters, but each thread is tied up well by the end with a promise of more adventure to come. I can hardly wait for the next book! Well done, Marcia Gruver!!!
SharonALavy More than 1 year ago
This novel was one I could not put down until the end. The message I received from this book: You can not judge a person by how they look. You can only judge them by what they do, and sometimes you don't always know the real story then.

The novel is compelling and I highly recommend it.
wbarker More than 1 year ago
Perfect for : Personal reading, Book Club Read (No Discussion Questions)

In a nutshell: A nice Christian historical fiction story containing three primary plot-lines: 1 - Bertha and Thad's growing relationship, 2 - Newcomer Annie "Bessie" Monroe and her not-so-charming husband(?), 3 - racial tensions surrounding Henry and Sarah King. All three story-lines have wonderful examples of faith and God's hand in their lives. I was amazed to find that the characters are based on real-life people from Jefferson, Texas. I wish I had known that from the beginning (It is explained at the end of the book). I personally struggled with some of the racial issues (yes, I know - it REALLY did happen, but I'm glad I don't enjoy reading about the harshness), and some of the circumstances surrounding Annie. Another thing that amazed me was the author's easy transitions between different voices in the book. The King's voices are very different from the proper tone of Annie's character. I especially liked the significance of Bertha's cross necklace and her sharing of faith with Annie at the end of the book.

My Review:
A fascinating story which takes place throughout January of 1877 in Jefferson, Texas. Readers find out at the end of the book that the characters are based on real people. As a reader, we get a good look at life from that time. The physical labor, the class differences, neighborly help, significance of race, etc. I loved the dialogue, but could have done with a little less tears.

Characters: The characters were each wonderfully different from the other. I think my favorite was Bertha's father. He was a strong, loving and supportive person, with the ability to confront his wife in a loving manner. He also showed wonderful support to his daughter, while coaching her through some difficult situations.

Story-Line: I think the story-line(s) were very interesting, tying together nicely in the end. I was especially interested in the story once I learned that it was based on real people.

Readability: This book provided a nice, enjoyable read. The different speech patterns among the characters made it that more interesting.

Overall: A nice period book, written with a Christian influence. This was the first book of the series, and I look forward to watching for the upcoming sequel Chasing Charity (I sure hope we get to catch a glimpse of Bertha!)
Guest More than 1 year ago
No one in Jefferson, Texas is prepared for the eye-catching Annie Monroe as she steps off the train in 1877. A beauty beyond the norm, Annie turns heads including young Bertha Biddie¿s. Bertha simply must learn how to sink her hook into Thaddeus Bloom and reel him in for life, and she¿s sure Annie is the keeper of secret techniques for setting that hook. But will Thad even notice? Is he too wrapped up in a world of his own, fighting his father¿s demands that will take him away from Bertha to take the bait? And what about Sarah King, another resident of Jefferson who is fighting a battle of her own? A battle deeper than attracting a future spouse and a battle that Annie Monroe unknowingly alters the course of. Sarah¿s battle is one involving prejudice and respect, for not only herself but for her husband Henry as well. Will Sarah learn how to handle the rampant prejudice surrounding her, or will she and Henry succumb to bitterness and despair? And how does the dazzling Annie Monroe fit into this struggle? Diamond Duo is a beautifully written historical rich in authentic period details with well-developed characters, and a plot that keeps you turning the pages. Author Marcia Gruver brings us a bit of suspense, a sweet and unpredictable romance, and life lessons along the way. She expertly weaves the lessons into the book and while you are being entertained by Bertha Biddie¿s spirit and adventurous nature, you come away with a strong faith message. One among many fully developed characters, Bertha Biddie is sure to capture your heart. She is one of those characters that stays with you long after you put the book down. Her tenacity in bringing Jesus to Annie Monroe sets an example that can and should be applied to hurting people in our world today. Bertha reminds us that all people especially those who feel they¿re completely unworthy of salvation due to their questionable life style, must learn of Jesus before it is too late. So pick up Diamond Duo. You¿re sure to be entertained and come away with questions about your own faith and sense of urgency in bringing the Good News to those in need. What more could you ask for in a Christian fiction novel?
Guest More than 1 year ago
In 1877 in Jefferson, Texas, Bertha Biddie loves Thaddeus Bloom, but he shows no return of her deep affection beyond friendliness. Desperate to win her man, she asks newly-arrived Annie Stone, who Dr. Turner calls Bessie and allegedly knows her way around men, for help. Bertha idolizes the confident Annie Thaddeus actually hides how he feels about Bertha whom he loves. However, his father demands he attend the recently opened Texas Agricultural and Mechanical College, a military school, which he will though his younger brother is the bookworm. He desperately wants to ask Bertha to wait for him, but he never finds a way to do so before he leaves. He is unaware he broke her heart. However Annie¿s murder shakes up the townsfolk and leaves Bertha to know she is on her own to gain Thaddeus¿s heart. --- The first Texas Fortunes historical romance is a terific late Reconstruction era tale that brings to life a port city. The murder of Annie also known as Diamond Bessie Monroe is a real event that anchors the well written story line as Marcia Gruver easily blends fact and fiction. With a strong cast especially the lead couple who each has self esteem issues, fans of Reconstruction Era romances will want to read the delightful DIAMOND DUO. --- Harriet Klausner