He had destroyed her home, her family, her way of life. The Civil War was over, but Miranda Dare was just beginning a war of her own. The former Southern belle couldn't deny help to a wounded man, but once she'd nursed Yankee Captain Clayton ...
He had destroyed her home, her family, her way of life. The Civil War was over, but Miranda Dare was just beginning a war of her own. The former Southern belle couldn't deny help to a wounded man, but once she'd nursed Yankee Captain Clayton Sloane's wounds, she pocketed his gold--and ran. Caught in the act, she was hauled into the Fort Leavenworth stockade--then forced to join the rugged soldier on a wagon train west.
He conquered her stubborn Southern heart....
Clay Sloane was headed west, determined to put the war, and the army, behind him--when the blue-eyed blond beauty ignited the battle anew. Miranda Dare was the South incarnate--in all its pride and fighting glory. When Clay Sloane was ordered to lead a perilous trip to Denver--and escort a general's orphaned nieces and nephew west to safety--Miranda was by his side, temptation and salvation, stirring passions he thought he'd conquered long ago. . .
In her second western, DeVries (The Gambler's Daughter) offers up a romance of the trail, with emphasis on romance rather than the nitty gritty of the route west. Miranda Dare has escaped post-Civil War Atlanta with the freed slave Cinthy, to travel by hook or by crook to Denver and her maternal uncle. She saves Captain Clayton Sloane from bandits, only to steal from him herself. To avoid imprisonment, she agrees to help Clayton deliver the three motherless children given into his charge to their father. While Clayton and Miranda are stock romance characters (brooding soldier who's been "done wrong" by a conniving woman, and feisty heroine who has to prove her mettle at every turn), the author manages to make them believable. Clay and Miranda are together on nearly every page, which for a lesser writer could make it hard to maintain interest. But DeVries (who also writes as Laura Gordon) manages to keep the sexual tension high with no more than a few kisses and a subtle sensuality. (May)
Product dimensions: 4.17 (w) x 6.88 (h) x 1.03 (d)
Meet the Author
Laura DeVries is the popular author of historical and contemporary romance whose novels have been published in eleven countries and seven languages. She finds her greatest satisfaction in creating characters who reflect her belief in the enduring goodness of the human spirit. Laura lives with her husband in a recently emptied nest in western Colorado. She enjoys hearing from readers c/o Dell Publishing.
"From the moment we leave the fort until the day we reach Denver," Clayton said, "I will be the individual solely responsible for the safety of everyone traveling with this wagon train. For the good of everyone, especially General Bonner's nieces and nephew, I'll expect you to cooperate with me, Miranda. Now, do you understand?"
She glared at him, her face mere inches from his. "The only thing I understand, is that you are a bully, accustomed to intimidating others to get your way. I also understand, Clayton, that while you might be an officer, you are certainly no gentleman!" She drew in an angry breath. "And if you persist in manhandling me this way, I shall scream." Her heart beat furiously against her chest and she knew he could feel it. The thought mortified and excited her at the same horrible time.
"Go ahead, Miranda. Scream."
"I don't think you mean that," she said. "From what I understand, there are men residing on these grounds who would not take lightly to the molestation of an innocent lady."
Impossibly, his eyes seemed to darken even further. "Innocent?" he scoffed. "And by the way, no one's molested you, my dear. Not yet, anyway."
His implication was clear and it triggered an even faster drumming in her chest. "How dare you! I won't endure your threats a moment longer!" She cursed the betraying quiver in her voice.
"I never make a threat I can't back up with action."
"Areyou implying you would force your attentions on me, Captain?"
If she'd shocked him with her direct response, he didn't let it show. "If I decide to seduce you, Miranda, believe me, I will not need to resort to force."
"You flatter yourself to think I would ever allow myself to be seduced by someone like you." She stiffened, making her body as rigid as possible in his arms.
"Is that a challenge, Miranda?"
Was it? Of course not. This conversation, this situation had gotten completely out of hand. What she was feeling toward Clayton Sloane, the heat that was growing like a fan-fed flame was not passion, but disdain. The sparks that ignited the air between them were sparks of complete discord.
"You are a means to an end, Clayton Sloane. And nothing more. Those bandits took everything from me. I have no other way of getting to Denver except by the terms General Bonner has determined." If the captain thought she was mercenary, so be it. Perhaps that was what she'd have to become to survive.
"I need you to take me to Denver and you need me to take care of those children. We both know what we want and we both know what we need to do to get it. Now let me go."
"What do you want, Miranda?" His voice was low, like the distant rumbling thunder, and the sound sent a wave of pure physical awareness sliding through her from head to toe. "Do you want me to kiss you, Miranda?"
Oh, God, did she? "I want you to let me go," she said as evenly as her erratic breathing allowed.
"I will," he said. "Just as soon as you've promised me you'll behave yourself. Promise me you'll cooperate and comply with my commands. Promise me, Miranda," he prodded. "Promise me, and I'll let you go." A determined spark flickered in his eyes. Determination and something more, some hotter passion that she had never seen before, but recognized instinctively.
"I'll promise you nothing," she said emphatically, "except that you have exactly three seconds to release me before I start screaming."
"All right," he said in that same seductively low voice. "Then I'll make you a promise."
"I don't want your promises."
"Oh yes you do," he said, his eyes roving over her face, locking on her lips for a moment before easing their way back to her eyes. "I promise to make you glad you want me."
"You are obscene!" she hissed.
"Perhaps. But at least I'm honest. Something you wouldn't know much about, I suspect."
"I despise you!" She struggled now in earnest, afraid of him, afraid of herself, afraid of the dark emotions they seemed to provoke in each other.
"That's fine," he said, still holding her tight. "Despise me. It doesn't matter. All that matters is that you understand this: For the next six hundred miles, there will be no simpering servants to dote upon you, Princess. No one to pull your share of the load. No bedazzled beaus fighting to do your bidding."
His arrogance scalded her, hurting her in ways she couldn't have imagined. Why did she care what he thought of her? "Three seconds," she warned him again, pronouncing each word through clenched teeth. "Even with the storm, I know my screams will carry far enough to bring someone to my rescue."
"You have no need to be rescued, sweetheart. All you have to do is promise to behave yourself and I'll let you go."
"One . . ." Her voice shook with the mix of emotions that were roiling inside her.
"Promise me," he said again. "Believe me, it won't kill you to think of someone beside yourself for a change."
"Two . . ."
"You're not in charge, anymore, Miranda. Your papa's plantation is long gone and along with it, your reign as queen of the ball is over."
At that moment she really did hate him as much as she hated the tears that welled in her eyes. "Three!" But the word never made it past the crush of his lips.
For a moment Miranda was shocked beyond thought, strangely oblivious to anything but the delicious sensation of his mouth moving insistently against hers. But then she realized what he was doing, what she was doing, and she knew that she should stop it.
His arms tightened around her as she tried to pull away. And the more ardent his kiss became, the more lost she felt in the warm, passionate feelings his kiss was stirring in her. The spark of anger that had nearly consumed her was turning into a very different kind of heat.
She forgot all about screaming and gave herself up to the intense pleasure this man was giving her. Before she realized what she was doing, she was kissing him back.
Clay lifted his mouth from hers just long enough to take a deep breath. But it was long enough for her to come to her senses. Before his lips reclaimed hers, she gasped, wrenching herself out of his arms, and stood staring at him, horrified and shocked speechless by what she'd allowed him to do. By what she'd done. What she'd felt.
With a hand to her still-tingling mouth, she ran past him into the shadowy barn, past the long row of stalls and toward the huge double doors. At the doorway, she heard him calling her name, but she didn't turn around or even look back before she dashed into the storm.
The driving rain drenched her instantly and the slashing wind fought her every step. But a Kansas cloudburst, in all its fury, could not match the storm that raged in her own pounding heart.