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"She's a wild woman, a renegade, a lady gone bad." Deputy U.S. Marshal Rafe Morgan sat at a battered table, his glass of whiskey gathering dust, as he listened to the legendary singer billed simply as Lady. She was a stunner, a heartbreaker. And her name was at the top of his "Wanted" list.
Lady's husky voice wove sultry fantasies, enticing, cajoling, promising fulfillment by the light of a silver moon. She stood, strumming a guitar as she mesmerized her audience. Smiling coquettishly, she set one foot on a rung of the stool beside her, revealing white lace petticoats and shapely legs in black lace stockings.
Rafe shook his head, determined to break free of her spell. He felt like all the other red-blooded men in the saloon. More sinner than saint.
A crimson gown set off her auburn hair and golden skin, and showcased her luscious body. She was rumored to be part Indian, maybe explaining why she'd never been caught. A man could drown in her big eyes. Lose his wits and everything he owned. Plenty of men would be willing to pay that price. He wasn't one of them.
Rafe carried a warrant for Lady's arrest. Judge Parker and Marshal Boles of the Circuit Court for the Western District of Arkansas with jurisdiction over Indian Territory wanted her brought in, dead or alive.
He had tracked her to the Bend, a tough town squatting on the Texas side of the Red River. Outlaws had turned the place into their own heaven on earth, gambling, drinking, and carousing. If a Texas Ranger dared to show up, outlaws could easily escape north across the Red River where Indian law applied strictly to Indians and deputy marshals were limited to federal law. Rafe and other deputies did their best, but still the desperados ran wild.
Rowdy with drink and desire, cowboys, gunslingers, and outlaws stamped their boots, hootin' and hollerin' and clamorin' for more as they joined the refrain of "The Ballad of Lady Gone Bad." They were out of tune, with no rhythm, but enthusiastic enough to shake the rafters.
Lady's performance was so riveting that, while she sang, every man in the place ignored the Red River Saloon's legendary bar. Quite a feat considering the cavorting naked women carved into the mahogany. Patrons couldn't set a glass steady on top, but a lot of them spent time nursing a drink and stroking the handiwork of a down-on-his-luck Eastern tenderfoot who had traded art for whiskey. The shapeliest parts were worn smooth and shiny. Rafe appreciated the famous bar, but it could not compare to the living, breathing beauty on stage.
Lady pursed her lips, painted come-hither red, and glanced around the saloon as she crooned in a sultry voice.
They always curse to lose their horses. They surely cry to hand over their gold. But on Lady's trail at the wide Red River, They better make sure not to ride alone.
Rafe tossed back his whiskey, wishing it was cold as a river in winter. He regretted that the whiskey did nothing to ease his pepper-hot, iron-hard ache for Lady Gone Bad. She teased and tormented men, stoking their fires, but gave no relief. Nobody knew her real name or much about her, but how much trouble could one little lady be?
The Bend was hell on lawmen. Rafe was out of his jurisdiction. But he didn't care. He wanted this arrest. And he had a plan. Wasn't much of a plan, but he didn't figure he needed much of one. He'd buy Lady a drink, lure her outside, and handcuff her. Once on horseback, he'd take her back into Indian Territory and head for Fort Smith.
If Lady didn't give him any trouble, he'd take time on the journey to inquire about his sister Crystabelle. She'd been kidnapped off a Katy train by outlaws. He didn't know if she was still alive, but he couldn't give up hope. He had good informants and better trackers, but so far nothing had led to Crystabelle. She was a delicate lady. He worried about her every day.
As he waited, he studied the patrons. A big man with a long mane of silver hair under a black hat sat at a table with his back to the wall. Two smaller men, one with a blond beard and the other with straight black hair, sat on either side of him. They looked like the kind of trouble that kept lawmen busy.
When he turned back to look at Lady, she was setting aside her guitar. She stepped into the crowd, giving her audience a notion of what it'd be like to get close to her. She patted a bald pate, stroked a bushy beard, and blew a soft kiss as she slowly prowled the room. A low growl, more animal than human, followed in her wake.
She sidled up close to Rafe and leaned down, the décolletage of her gown revealing the upper slopes of her breasts. "Buy a lady a drink?"
He nodded, determinedly staring at her eyes instead of the tantalizing view below. She had unusual, tricolored eyes, a brown center with a band of sage green and an outer ring of forest green. Reminded him of agates. She likely mesmerized men with her cat eyes. But not him. He was made of stronger stuff.
Rafe picked up the whiskey bottle on his table and filled the extra shot glass. He pushed out the chair next to him with a boot. He dropped his right hand down near the Colt .45 Peacemaker he wore on his hip, ready for trouble.
"New in town?" She smiled, ruby lips curving slightly upward. She ignored the drink and the chair.
She leaned in closer and teasingly walked the tips of her nails up his chest. Breath caught in his throat. Wasn't easy, but he remained stoic. She smelled sweet and tart, like honeysuckle and lemon. He wanted nothing more than to bury his face in that lush bosom. She had a beauty mark just below the right corner of her mouth. He wanted to kiss that dark spot, lick and nibble to her mouth. Mark her all over.
But he was here on business.
"I like to give newcomers a special welcome." She flattened both hands against his chest and stroked upward over his leather vest to his shoulders. "Something they'll never forget."
Suddenly she flipped open the left side of his vest where he'd pinned his deputy badge out of sight. Damn. He should have left it in his saddlebags. But it didn't matter. She was going with him come hell or high water.
She pouted her crimson lips, sighing. "Figured you for a lawman the first moment I saw you. Hoped I was wrong." She jerked the handcuffs out of his vest pocket.
Surprised again, he reached for the handcuffs, but she dodged quick as a cat and stepped back out of reach.
Lady turned to the crowd. "Gentlemen! We've got a lawman with us tonight."
Stamping their boots, the crowd jeered, hissed, and cursed.
Rafe figured he was well and truly shut in the outhouse and tumbling downhill. But he'd been in worse situations and come out alive. He just needed a plan that didn't aggravate the situation.
She held the handcuffs above her head and clicked them together in rhythm. She pointed at her audience, and the saloon filled with deep, raw voices.
She's a wild woman, a renegade, a lady gone bad.
Lady threw back her head and laughed, twirling in a circle as she continued to click the handcuffs.
Rafe wanted to grab her, shake her, and take her to bed. But he couldn't let her get the best of him. "Darlin'," he drawled. "You want me to show you how to use those cuffs?"
She turned to face him. Excitement brightened her agate eyes as she raised one arched eyebrow. "Lawman, you want to play?"
Audacious as only a lady gone bad could be. She was burrowing into his mind, putting down roots like a squatter. He jerked free. She was one little lady whose good luck had turned bad. "Got an iron bed back at the hotel."
"Really?" She stepped closer, handcuffs held against the swell of her deep bosom. "Tell me more."
"Give those back and let's go test how well they work on my bed's railings."
"Got a real high opinion of yourself, don't you?" She glanced back at the room, shaking the handcuffs. "Gentlemen! What do we do with lawmen in the Bend?"
An angry roar filled the saloon.
Rafe forced his mind back to business, but his body didn't want to follow. He checked the outlaws packing the tables and didn't like what he saw. His situation was turning ugly fast. He had to end the game. He stood up, keeping an eye on the men around him.
She quickly snapped one cuff on his left wrist.
He reached for her, but she slithered aside and snapped the other cuff on a rung of his chair.
As she stepped back in triumph, laughter filled the room.
Rafe hadn't given her enough credit despite the stories of her exploits. And he'd let her cloud his mind. He could quickly break the chair over a table and get loose, but she'd pricked his pride. He sat down and casually leaned against the chair, appearing completely relaxed despite his fast pulse.
She looked surprised, cocking her head to one side.
He patted his leg with his free hand. "Sit here and let's talk about finding my handcuff key."
She shook her head, a smile teasing the corners of her mouth. "You look like a lawman that needs to be taught a lesson."
"Think you're the woman to do it?" He touched his vest pocket, ready to take action if any man made a move toward them.
She sighed dramatically. "I do believe the task has fallen to me."
He patted his leg again. "Sure could use some help finding that key."
"You just don't know when to fold." She turned toward the crowd, her crimson skirt swirling around her. "Gentlemen, he's all yours."
Rafe watched her pretty backside sashay away. Turned out, she'd held all the aces. He couldn't go after her, not with a room full of men ready to jump him. He stood, then slipped the key from his pocket and into the cuffs with smooth familiarity.
A big brute with a beard down to his belt rose in drunken bravado. Somebody shattered a whiskey bottle on the side of a table. The outlaw trio he'd noticed earlier stood up and started toward him.
If they wanted a show, they'd get it. But he'd give as good as he got. He freed his hand with a satisfying click and reached for his Peacemaker.
"When ain't you got trouble?" Manny turned from feeding a horse.
"I had to teach a no-good lawman a lesson."
"Was he happy to learn it?"
Shaking his head, Manny spit tobacco toward a spittoon in the corner as he limped forward in faded blue jeans and a red plaid shirt. "How fast you got to leave town?"
"You want Jipsey?" He scratched his grizzled beard, and then raked fingers through his wild mane of black hair touched with silver.
"Please. I've got to change clothes."
"Change from girl to boy, you mean."
"I do what I have to do."
"Can't let the dead rest, can you?"
She paused, her hand on the ladder leading to the hayloft, and looked back. "Copper and Jipsey are all I've got left of Ma and Da."
"The best! Da thought Copper would outshine any stallion he ever bred. If I don't locate him soon, he'll go lame."
"You'll find Copper before he's put down."
"I better." Tears moistened her eyes. She blinked hard to get control.
"You cryin'?" he asked, sounding astonished.
"Not crying. Mad."
"Don't get mad. Get even." Manny picked up a saddle and bridle. "Make your wishes come true."
"If wishes were horses," she sighed, "I'd have a remuda."
"Copper and Jipsey will give you a line that'll make all the other horses eat their dust."
"Got to find Copper first."
With her guitar strapped over her shoulder, Lady climbed the ladder as fast as her skirts would allow. She took deep breaths, drawing in the comforting, sweet scent of hay.
Her cozy nest upstairs was hidden behind strategically stacked bales of hay. Thick canvas sheeting covered the rough wood floor. A quilt and pillow added comfort, warmth, and beauty. A small mirror, wash basin and pitcher, hand towel, oil lamp, and a trunk to store necessities provided all she needed to survive in the Bend.
She gently placed her guitar in a special case, closed the lid, and set it aside. When she was sixteen, she'd worked an entire year to be able to afford the wonderful instrument. Now at twenty-seven years old, she left her guitar safely at Manny's when she went on the road.
As she peeled off the satin gown she never felt completely comfortable wearing, she remembered the surprised look on the deputy's handsome face. Lawmen counted on women who wore satin to be dumb. She counted on that misconception, but stayed on her toes every moment of every day. No other choice when you ran with wolves.
The patrons of the Red River Saloon would force the lawman out of the Bend. She wished she'd gotten to play with him a little more. He reminded her of a powerful stallion, and she did admire good horseflesh.
Tall, broad-shouldered, narrow-hipped, long-legged. He moved with the natural grace of a wild animal in his blue shirt, black leather vest, and charcoal trousers tucked into black knee-high cavalry boots. He wore his dark hair long, pulled back with a leather thong. A clean-shaven face revealed tanned skin, high cheekbones, and full lips. But most riveting of all were his eyes, a deep, smoky gray.
He was a man to make a woman's blood run hot. Probably why she hadn't resisted her impulse to touch him, tease him. Smiling, she thought about his handcuffs. She liked a man with enough guts to find her amusing rather than intimidating. Unfortunately, this one wanted to put her behind bars.
She stripped off her corset and all the other trappings men doted on. After she carefully folded the delicate fabric, she stored her clothes in the trunk for the next time she played Lady.
For now, she needed to obscure her curves, so she wrapped her breasts to flatten them. She slipped into a loose green, plaid shirt, big black vest, and baggy Levi's. She tugged on fancy cowboy boots, her one concession to vanity. She tied a blue bandanna around her neck, pointed end in front, to conceal her throat and pull over her nose. She pinned up her long, thick hair and covered it with a wide-brimmed hat. Last, she put on leather gloves to protect and disguise her hands. She could pass for a boy if nobody looked too close.
A disguise. All her life was a disguise. The satin and the blue jeans, the saloon singer and the young boy who rode like the wind. She sometimes wondered who she really was under all the lies. Yet she couldn't let it matter.
Now she was going into danger again, grateful Da had taught her how to use weapons. She quickly buckled on his holster belt, checked that his prized pearl handle Colt .44 was fully loaded, and slipped the revolver into place. She adjusted the weight on her hips. Finally, she slipped a knife into the sheath inside her boot. She was as ready as she was going to get.
When she hurried down to the stable, she focused her mind on the challenge ahead.
Manny already had Jipsey bridled, saddled, and set to go.
"Thanks." She gently stroked the long blaze face of the chestnut. She stepped back to admire the dark red color with white left fore pastern, right fore sock, left hind sock, and right hind sock. The coloring worked well for camouflage. Picking up the reins, Lady swung easily into the saddle.
"Canteen's filled. Cornpone and jerky in your saddlebags."
She leaned over and kissed Manny's rough cheek. "What would I do without you?"
"Swing on the end of a rope."
"Don't even say it."
"Job came in for you."
"Yep. Hayes Brothers been up to their usual shenanigans."
"Thought they were in Indian Territory."
"Back in Texas long enough to steal two apple pies from Ma Engle's farmhouse near Whitesborough."
"She thinks they didn't gobble them down first thing?"
Manny chuckled. "She bakes the best apple pies in the Red River Valley. Folks know it. Church social coming up. Stood to reason she'd be baking pies and letting them cool on the porch. She was coming back from the barn when she saw them riding off with her pies."
"What does she want them to return? Apples?"
"Nope. She left her reticule out there, too. They grabbed it. Guess they figured she'd have some money."
"She wants that back?"
Manny placed a hand on her boot. "Thing is, Ma had her daughter's funeral jewelry in her reticule. She'd braided that child's golden hair into a flower pin. Ain't worth nothing to nobody but her."
"That's a real shame. But they probably threw her pin away by now."
"She's willing to pay a half eagle to the brothers and one to you, if you can get it."
"That'd be ten dollars. Might be all the money she has in the world."
He nodded. "She only had one daughter. Snake bite last summer."
"This is going to be another one of those times when I don't get paid, isn't it?"
"Okay. I'll keep an eye out for the Hayes Brothers."
Excerpted from Lady Gone Bad by SABINE STARR Copyright © 2012 by Sabine Starr. Excerpted by permission of BRAVA BOOKS. 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.
Posted February 22, 2013
You know people it's free.......If you don't want it; don't get it but please don't get on here and complain. Every Free Friday book is not always going to appeal to everyone. I, for one, appreicate that there are free books to pick from!!!!
61 out of 80 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted February 22, 2013
Silly people, always complaining about Free Fridays. Show initiative. Go into your Nook Store, enter 0.00, and see all the free ebooks that come up. Select one of those instead of ranting about this.
37 out of 58 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted September 12, 2012
GREAT STORYTELLING WITH PARANORMAL TWISTS
Sabine Starr quickly draws you into her Old West world of outlaws, lawmen, gunslingers, cowboys, dance hall darlings, and then adds a touch of the paranormal to give depth, intrigue, and wonder. A suspenseful plot, finely drawn characters and hot romance round out a fast-paced story that will keep readers turning the pages for more.
33 out of 39 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted September 6, 2012
LADY GONE BAD is a terrific mix of fast-paced action, suspense, hot romance, humor, and Old West legends. The chemistry between Lady and Rafe sizzles from the first moment they meet in Chapter One. Ms. Starr also take the reader on a wild ride through important historic sites in North Texas, Southeast Oklahoma, and Western Arkansas such as Delaware Bend, Paris, Antlers Spring, Robber’s Cave, and Fort Smith. She also brings an exciting, fresh voice to the Western novel. A tempting taste of ANGEL GONE BAD (3/2013), next in the Gone Bad Series, is also included in the back of the book.
26 out of 27 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted December 7, 2012
Reviewed by Guest Reviewer/KIMberly & posted at Under the Covers Book Blog
I am already waiting on ANGEL GONE BAD with bated breath! ~Under the Covers
Lady Gone Bad, AKA Sharlot Eachan, is a saloon singer and evidently an outlaw, albeit a very beautiful one. After the murders of her parents she is in search of a horse that was stolen from her family, and in doing so, keeps finding herself on the wrong side of the law. Lady sings her heart out in seedy saloons for information and to keep herself alive.
US Marshall, Rafe Morgan’s mission is to bring Lady Gone Bad in for justice to be served, but when he finally finds her, she is way more trouble than a woman should ever be. Setting him up so she can get away backfires on Lady when the saloon’s patrons decide to lynch the lawman. Guilt overrides Lady’s judgment and instead of hightailing it out of town, she saves his life.
When they both wind up on the run together, the good Marshall also an outlaw, things start heating up when Rafe can’t keep thoughts of Lady out of his mind. Deep in Indian country the pair face more than a few mishaps, but also a few amazing encounters as Rafe is also in search of his sister, a schoolteacher who was kidnapped on her way to see Rafe. Traveling with Lady Gone Bad may be a good way to get a handle on where his sister may have gone.
The journey Lady Gone Bad and the Marshall take, is not an easy one, but very necessary. Both have been on their own for quite a while and putting these two together creates fireworks. The good Marshall constantly teeters between the issue of Lady being an outlaw or being in the wrong place at the wrong time. Even though Lady knows that she could be on the wrong side of the law for consorting with criminals, her determination to find justice for her family takes the relationship to another level.
I truly enjoyed Lady Gone Bad by Sabine Starr. I do enjoy a tough as nails non-whiny heroine and a handsome, broody lawman thrown together creating sparks all over the wild west. Lady Gone Bad is a well written, fast paced story that keeps your attention from start to finish. I love how Sabine Starr has introduced the characters for the next story… I am already waiting on ANGEL GONE BAD with bated breath!
19 out of 25 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted September 2, 2012
What a romp! Sabine Starr's new novel is so much fun. Lady is a woman on a quest. She wants to rescue a beloved horse from the desperadoes who prowl the notorious Indian Territory. Rafe is the hero, a lawman who believes Lady is as bad as they come. You won't be surprised at the fireworks when they meet. What is unexpected is that beneath their sizzling banter, you sense a real connection between these two. They're at cross purposes, but they see beyond Lady's black net stockings and Rafe's big deputy sheriff's badge to each other's hearts. You can't help but enjoy this book.
17 out of 20 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted February 22, 2013
Stop rating a story UNLESS you've read the book. Put your comments somewhere else for the author's sake, please!
13 out of 28 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted February 22, 2013
Posted February 22, 2013
People, this section is for reviews of the BOOK, not of Barnes and Noble's selection of Free Friday books. If you have a complaint - email THEM directly.
11 out of 28 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted September 9, 2012
Posted December 3, 2012
Lady Gone Bad is wanted. US Marshall Rafe Morgan is the one who will bring her to justice. He didn't count on Lady being so wily. She puts his neck in a noose the first day he arrives at The Bend. Feeling guilty though, Lady also saves him from the would-be- hangin group. They arrive at a place where it's safe for Morgan to go on alone but he decides he must help "the kid" stay safe. Things seem to go from bad to worse when Rafe's face shows up on a wanted poster. Now what else could possibly happen to this unlikely duo?
Sabine Starr never disappoints when it comes to a really good story. She knows how to make even the unlikely happen. Winding strength, love and justice in one book is a feat she makes look incredibly easy. I found the characters to be lovable and fun to read about. I recommend this book. It will let you fulfill your fantasies about cowboys and give you a chance to live on the wild side. In all honesty, when I started this book, I figured it was going to be a bad one. Just had that feeling. I was more than pleasantly surprised to find a wonderful book inside.
I found no issues with this one.
I gave this one 5 out of 5 books because it caught me by surprise. ~Copy of book provided by author in exchange for a fair review~
8 out of 15 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted February 22, 2013
Complain, complain, whine,whine, I swear we are a world of crybabies. Grow up. Thanks B&N, but this book is not my cup of tea. I am not going to whine about it. I am not going to read a book just because it's free. I am going to read a book I like whether it's free or not. Last Friday's free book was awesome, so B&N cannot forsee which books your going to like and which you are not. Like the viewer said, go to shop and bring up the keyboard and type 000. Free books galore. These are also provided courtesy of B&N. So stop with the complaining. You really don't have anything to complain about.
7 out of 36 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted February 22, 2013
I enjoyed this book. The character had character, the plot was enough to keep you interested, and it was funny! Thank you B&N for the wonderful free read! Keep up the good work!
6 out of 6 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted February 22, 2013
Posted February 22, 2013
Oh how I have to agree with everyone saying it's free. Please stop the whining and complaining and move on. Sometimes these complaints have to be voiced before you even read the book. So, as anonymous posted below"You know people it's free.......If you don't want it; don't get it but please don't get on here and complain. Every Free Friday book is not always going to appeal to everyone. I, for one, appreicate that there are free books to pick from!!!! andSilly people, always complaining about Free Fridays. Show initiative. Go into your Nook Store, enter 0.00, and see all the free ebooks that come up. Select one of those instead of ranting about this." Just get over it.
4 out of 16 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted February 22, 2013
I read fiction biogrophys scifi aand romance and while i will admit there are some very crappy romance novels out there there are aso alot of good ones authers who have a darn good plot n reaserch they heck out of there romance novels so dont knock it till you try it its like being in a store n lookin at something new you might think about eating or try making for dinner or dessert c.l. wilson is a good example my husband hates romamce n even he became addicted to her books there are me amaising authers out there n like anything smetimes you get a bad one
4 out of 14 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted March 19, 2013
You know how the story will end but at least the writing was good and kept your interest. I couldn't help but think of all the 50's westerns that this book brought to mind. If you're a western romance lover then this book is for you.
3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted February 22, 2013
People read these reviews to get an idea of the book. How can they do that when the only thing people are doing is commenting on other reviews and saying: give us good books...blah blah..wahwahwah?
I didnt like the book it was too much for one book. You should definitly get the sample first before you read it.
3 out of 13 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted March 22, 2013
Posted March 1, 2013