The Searching Hearts [NOOK Book]

Overview

When Tucker Houston becomes a schoolteacher out West, she never expected to encounter Lucas Steele, a handsome wagonmaster who would soon steal her heart away, but when a ruthless, savage man joins the wagon, Tucker must fight for her new love.
Read More Show Less
... See more details below
The Searching Hearts

Available on NOOK devices and apps  
  • NOOK Devices
  • Samsung Galaxy Tab 4 NOOK
  • NOOK HD/HD+ Tablet
  • NOOK
  • NOOK Color
  • NOOK Tablet
  • Tablet/Phone
  • NOOK for Windows 8 Tablet
  • NOOK for iOS
  • NOOK for Android
  • NOOK Kids for iPad
  • PC/Mac
  • NOOK for Windows 8
  • NOOK for PC
  • NOOK for Mac
  • NOOK for Web

Want a NOOK? Explore Now

NOOK Book (eBook)
$6.99
BN.com price

Overview

When Tucker Houston becomes a schoolteacher out West, she never expected to encounter Lucas Steele, a handsome wagonmaster who would soon steal her heart away, but when a ruthless, savage man joins the wagon, Tucker must fight for her new love.
Read More Show Less

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780759522718
  • Publisher: Grand Central Publishing
  • Publication date: 4/12/2001
  • Sold by: Hachette Digital, Inc.
  • Format: eBook
  • Sales rank: 122,655
  • File size: 432 KB

Read an Excerpt

The Searching Hearts


By Dorothy Garlock

Center Point Large Print

Copyright © 2000 Dorothy Garlock
All right reserved.

ISBN: 1585470430

Chapter One

Tucker Houston stood in the drifting dust and listened to the jingle of the harness and the soft, cajoling voice of the teamster as he hitched fresh horses to the stage that had just deposited her here. Despite her present worries, the sounds brought back memories of her childhood. The weekly arrival of the stage in Fort Smith, Arkansas, had been an exciting event for the dozen or more children who lived on the farm, the "throwaway farm" as it was usually called.

Tucker reached out a hand and tugged on the calico bonnet tied beneath the chin of the girl standing beside her, tilting it forward so the fair young skin was shaded, Laura Foster stood patiently with her hand on Tucker's shoulder. Anything Tucker did, any decision Tucker made was all right with her. It always had been, ever since the day Tucker had found her clinging to the gate of the throwaway farm, too frightened to move, with tears rolling from her sightless eyes.

After a week of travel, the town of Fort Worth, Texas, had come as a surprise to Tucker. It was just there, rising abruptly out of the flat land. It was larger than she had expected it to be, considering its newness. The stage to Yuma started here, and the town had grown by leaps and bounds. Shops lined the rutted track:blacksmiths, wagon repair shops, mercantile stores, and saloons. All seemed to be doing a thriving business. A man on the stage had said there was even talk of making Fort Worth the county seat.

The departing driver climbed back onto the seat of the stagecoach, ignoring the girls because they were no longer his responsibility, and waved to the man standing beside the tired team of sweating horses.

Tucker half closed her dust-rimmed eyes against the brilliant glare of the surrounding sunlit plains that now looked so desolate and awesomely lonely. The sound of the stage was soon lost to her, but she could still see it snaking its way over the flat land. Perspiration oozed from every pore in her skin. She knew it was hot, but not that hot. She was sweating from fear! Fear of the unknown Lucas Steele and what he would say and do when he discovered she was just a nineteen-year-old girl-with very little in the way of education to recommend her as a teacher and with a totally blind seventeen-year-old girl in tow.

"Why are we standing here, Tucker? Why are you so quiet?"

"I was waiting for the dust to clear. I don't see anyone who looks like he's expecting us. Pick up your valise and let's get in out of the sun."

Tucker led Laura into the shade of a brush arbor that fronted the stage station, if it could be called a station. It was a long building with a dirt floor and a network of pole corals behind it.

"Phew! It's hot. Take off your bonnet, Laura, and fan yourself with it."

"Is this a very big place? Tell me about it, Tucker. Do you see the wagon train?"

"It's not as big as Fort Smith, and it's rough and new-looking, and it's just squatting right out here on the prairie," she explained. "I don't see any sign of a wagon train, but there's an awful lot of men around, and some of them are giving us the eye," she added crossly.

Laura giggled behind her bonnet. Her unshakable faith that Tucker would take care of them never allowed her a moment of worry. Tucker had been her friend and protector from the time she was a scared six-year-old and Tucker a mature eight. When she was left at the gate of the farm, she had been blind for only a short while and could remember what many things looked like. Tucker had taken complete charge of her and immediately started teaching her how to take care of herself. Having Laura to care for had given new meaning to Tucker's young life.

Tucker had no memories of her childhood before the farm, but she knew there had been a time when she was loved. It would be lovely if she knew what her name had been in those days. She had been found beside a burning prairie schooner that had been attacked by renegade Comanches, according to the cattle-driving outfit that had chased them off. A young cowhand had offered to "tuck 'er" into his coat and, after being tucked into first one coat and then another, she was given the unlikely name of Tucker by the time they reached the farm. The overseer at the orphanage had been an admirer of Sam Houston and had added Houston to complete her name.

When Tucker left the farm at age sixteen to work for Mrs. Rogers in her dressmaking establishment, she took Laura with her. The farm had a new manager by that time, and, from the way he watched Laura, Tucker knew he intended to put her to work-flat on her back, servicing him and anyone else who had the price. That would never happen to Laura as long as Tucker, could prevent it.

She looked at Laura now as they stood beneath the shady, yet breezeless, bower. Laura was so pretty, so sweet and cheerful, despite her blindness. She was eager to learn and could do many things sighted people could do. She could even make better biscuits than Tucker could. She did their washing and kept their room in order, and she could stitch in a hem after Tucker had pinned it for her. And ... she was pleasant company. If Lucas Steele didn't want Laura, he could darn well send them both back.

A June bug buzzed around under the brush arbor. Tucker brushed it away before she pushed a tendril of hair from her damp forehead. It was curly hair of a remarkable copper color, and it was often inclined to be unruly. She was resigned to its contrariness in much the same way she was resigned to her orphan status in life. Her skin tones were pale and fine, and she had learned to protect herself from burning by wearing a bonnet when in the hot sun. The unbrushed tangles of her coppery hair now hung about her face, thick and cloudy and glistening in the sunlight, accentuating her green eyes, deepening them to brilliant emeralds.

Her face was beautiful. Most men stared at it, as well as at her long, supple body, with riveted attention. Once that had unnerved her, but her attitude had changed, leaving her with a residue of ready hostility toward a certain sort of man.

"I'm nervous, Laura," she admitted.

"Don't be nervous. Mr. Steele will like you. You can be awfully nice when you put your mind to it." Laura's face brightened and dimples appeared in her cheeks. She was a small, softly rounded girl with lovely white skin, rosy cheeks, straight dark brows and curling eyelashes. Her hair was the color of light honey and she wore it tied at the nape of her neck with a colorful ribbon.

"A man on a black horse is coming toward us," Tucker said softly. "Put on your bonnet, Laura, and face your left. We might be about to meet our Mr. Lucas Steele."

He was a big, lean, broad-shouldered man with a ruggedly handsome face. He wore a black hat pulled low over his forehead. He sat easily in the saddle and studied them carefully as he approached. He rode up to within a few feet of the arbor and sat looking at them. He stared at them for so long that his level gaze took in the faint but unmistakable hostility in Tucker's expression. His eyes were of a gray so light as to be almost colorless at times; but as he moved his head and the sunlight glinted on them, Tucker saw them take on a startling blue gleam. His hair was blue-black, thick and smooth, and dark sideburns framed a cleanly shaven face. His nose had a classical line, straight and faintly arrogant. Tucker's eyes did not linger on his mouth, nor on the deep creases on both sides of it. She did not like the faint, amused smile it wore as he watched her.

"Who are you?" he asked as he threw a leg over the saddle horn and continued his lazy inspection of them.

Tucker regarded him coolly. "Who are you?" was her response.

Taking his time in an infuriating way, he ran his narrowed eyes over her face, down her slender figure in the dark cotton dress, and black up to the flame-colored hair that framed her forehead and cheekbones. Tucker stiffened as his eyes roamed. When they came back to her flushed face, there was amusement in them, and she wanted to snap at him, ask him what was so all-fired funny. Instead, she did what she had done in similar circumstances. She controlled her temper, took a deep breath, and eyes him in exactly the same way he had eyed her. In most cases it embarrassed even the most blatant of men. This time, however, it didn't work.

"Handsome, don't you think?" The gray eyes mocked her.

She stared at him without a hint of amusement. "I've seen better sights riding behind a team of mules."

He grinned. "She's just got to be Tucker Houston, the schoolteacher." He spoke as if he was thinking aloud; his voice was smooth. He watched her all the time as though trying to gauge some reaction to what he was saying. "If she's such a sour old maid, I wonder what curdled her sweetness."

"You can wonder till the cows fly!" Her temper crept up as she spoke, clouding her reason.

"You're waspy." He gave her a wicked, teasing smile. "and after all the trouble I'm going to get you to California. You just might find yourself a husband out there, if you're lucky. 'Course you'll have to sweeten up some." He slid from the saddle and came toward Laura. "Lucas Steele, young lady. Are you as waspy as your sister?" He held out his hand, and when Laura simply smiled up into his face, Tucker's heart stood still. "Come on, shake hands. I'll not bite."

Laura put out her hand. "I wasn't sure, Mr. Steele." Her small laugh was open and friendly. "Tucker isn't waspy when you get to know her."

"I'll have to work on getting to know her then, Miss Laura, but in the meantime I'll get a buckboard to take you to the camp. We're about a mile away. We'll be heading out in the morning, so if there's anything you need, you better get it now."

"There's nothing we need," Tucker said in a tight voice. "Mr. O'Donnell gave us a list, and we outfitted ourselves before we left Fort Smith."

"Got stout shoes?" His face altered slightly. "You'll be doing some walking."

"Of course." Not for anything would she let this man know that they had less than five dollars and couldn't buy anything even if they needed it.

"Of course," he echoed. "Well, sit tight. I'll be back." He looked at Tucker and grinned. "Bet you can hardly wait."

Tucker kept her lips pressed firmly together and glared at his back as he left them.

"What did he look like, Tucker?" Laura whispered.

"Well ... he had two arms and two legs ... and I suspect two horns under his hat!" Tucker's face was still burning from the way he had looked at her. "I've seen his kind before. A blowhard, that's what he is. I don't like him!"

"I thought he sounded ... nice."

"Nice? He sounded to me like he thought an awful lot of himself."

Laura giggled. "Hold onto your temper, Tucker. Wait till we get started to California before you explode. Besides, I think he was just teasing you."

Tucker swung her bright head around so she could see Laura's flushed cheeks. Seldom did she see her when she wasn't calm and cool. She was excited now. Tucker reached for her hand and squeezed it. Come to think about it, she reflected, I'm all aflutter myself.

A flatbed wagon driven by a Mexican came rumbling around the corner.

"Here comes the wagon. Lucas Steele, too, darn it! Look down, Laura, like you're real bashful." Tucker picked up her valise.

Lucas dismounted and let the hanging reins ground-tie his horse. "I'll take that, Red." He took the valise from Tucker's hand and bent to scoop up Laura's. He set the bags up on the wagon and lifted their trunk, st it on the tailgate, and gave it a shove.

Tucker moved with Laura to the end of a wagon.

"Here you go, little gal." Lucas seized Laura by the waist and swung her up onto the end of the wagon. He then moved so fast Tucker had no time to protest. Hard hands gripped her waist, and effortlessly he lifted her. Automatically her hands went to his shoulders when her feet left the ground. He held her there for a moment and looked deeply into angry green eyes before he sat her down on the end of the wagon beside Laura.

"Don't expect that kind of service all the time, Red. From now on, you're on your own. Everyone on this train will pull his own weight. That means you, too, Laura."

It was Laura's giggle that caused Tucker's temper to snap.

"I didn't ask for your help. From now on you can keep your hands to yourself." And as usual, once her tongue started, she didn't know when to stop it. "And my name is Miss Houston."

"Miss Houston? O'Donnell said you were a widow." Sharp eyes searched the face that was now flooding with color.

"I am!" Tucker's defenses were not what they should be. She was tired, and his infuriating presence was too distracting.

"Liar!" His grin more than the word infuriated her. "See you at camp, Red. You, too, Laura." He wheeled the horse and was gone.

"He wasn't mad, Tucker," Laura said as soon as the wagon was in motion. "He just likes to tease you." Laura's keen perceptiveness was always a surprise to Tucker.

"He's crazy as a bedbug if he thinks I'm going to be his amusement all the way to California!" She was shivering with suppressed agitation.

"Then don't rise to his baiting, Tucky."

"It's hard not to, darn it. It's just our luck that Lucas Steel would be that kind of man."

Laura's laugh was a little shaky. "Don't worry, Tucky. We'll be all right."

The sun was sinking and the sky was hazed over. A wind kicked up a sudden gust that flapped the brims of their bonnets. For as long as she could see them, Tucker kept her eyes on the sparse buildings that made up the town. The driver cracked the whip and the wagon picked up speed, stirring up a cloud of dust. They rounded a curve in the trail and left the town behind them.

Events of the last few weeks had crowded in on Tucker so fast she found it hard to believe that she and Laura were actually sitting here on this buckboard that was carrying them out to the wagon train bound for California. Of course, none of this would have happened if she hadn't pricked one of Mrs. Roger's richest customers with a pin when the woman had angrily slapped her hand away from the sleeve she was working on, or if she hadn't hit Mrs. Rogers's husband across the face when she caught him peeking into the room while Laura was undressing. It had taken being fired from her job to jar her out of the dull life she was leading as Mrs. Rogers's seamstress. The dresses she made were always for someone who needed them in a hurry and didn't care a whit if she sat up all night sewing by the light of the kerosene lamp. She hated the job, but it paid the money she and Laura needed to live on.

Their savings were almost gone, and Tucker was beginning to get panicky when she saw the advertisement in the newspaper.



Continues...


Excerpted from The Searching Hearts by Dorothy Garlock Copyright © 2000 by Dorothy Garlock. Excerpted by permission.
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.

Read More Show Less

Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 7 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(5)

4 Star

(0)

3 Star

(2)

2 Star

(0)

1 Star

(0)

Your Rating:

Your Name: Create a Pen Name or

Barnes & Noble.com Review Rules

Our reader reviews allow you to share your comments on titles you liked, or didn't, with others. By submitting an online review, you are representing to Barnes & Noble.com that all information contained in your review is original and accurate in all respects, and that the submission of such content by you and the posting of such content by Barnes & Noble.com does not and will not violate the rights of any third party. Please follow the rules below to help ensure that your review can be posted.

Reviews by Our Customers Under the Age of 13

We highly value and respect everyone's opinion concerning the titles we offer. However, we cannot allow persons under the age of 13 to have accounts at BN.com or to post customer reviews. Please see our Terms of Use for more details.

What to exclude from your review:

Please do not write about reviews, commentary, or information posted on the product page. If you see any errors in the information on the product page, please send us an email.

Reviews should not contain any of the following:

  • - HTML tags, profanity, obscenities, vulgarities, or comments that defame anyone
  • - Time-sensitive information such as tour dates, signings, lectures, etc.
  • - Single-word reviews. Other people will read your review to discover why you liked or didn't like the title. Be descriptive.
  • - Comments focusing on the author or that may ruin the ending for others
  • - Phone numbers, addresses, URLs
  • - Pricing and availability information or alternative ordering information
  • - Advertisements or commercial solicitation

Reminder:

  • - By submitting a review, you grant to Barnes & Noble.com and its sublicensees the royalty-free, perpetual, irrevocable right and license to use the review in accordance with the Barnes & Noble.com Terms of Use.
  • - Barnes & Noble.com reserves the right not to post any review -- particularly those that do not follow the terms and conditions of these Rules. Barnes & Noble.com also reserves the right to remove any review at any time without notice.
  • - See Terms of Use for other conditions and disclaimers.
Search for Products You'd Like to Recommend

Recommend other products that relate to your review. Just search for them below and share!

Create a Pen Name

Your Pen Name is your unique identity on BN.com. It will appear on the reviews you write and other website activities. Your Pen Name cannot be edited, changed or deleted once submitted.

 
Your Pen Name can be any combination of alphanumeric characters (plus - and _), and must be at least two characters long.

Continue Anonymously
Sort by: Showing 1 – 9 of 7 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted November 1, 2013

    Review

    The book was well written, but there were one too many rape scenes for me. Two women get raped repeatedly, and the heroine is bullied amd intimidated by the rapist for half the book, until you want to shake her and tell her to get help. Beyond that, a large portion of the interactions between Lucas and Tucker consist of her telling him no, and him overpowering her, telling her she is 'waspy' and doesn't really mean it. I had a hard time enjoying the book, since I spent a large part of disgusted with Tucker and Lucas. The supporting characters and the parts about being on a wagon train are what made the book readable.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted September 6, 2012

    The searching hearts

    The book was very good but the climax was great

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted January 4, 2000

    THIS BOOK SEARCHES MY HEART

    In any love story the author has to make us believe in love through the characters they create. Dorothy Garlock has successfully done so with the the characters in her book The Searching Hearts. Take a wild ride in the territories with Tucker, Lucas, Laura and Buck and see why Dorothy Garlock knows true love.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted March 18, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted April 29, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted January 14, 2010

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted June 26, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted August 29, 2010

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted January 1, 2010

    No text was provided for this review.

Sort by: Showing 1 – 9 of 7 Customer Reviews

If you find inappropriate content, please report it to Barnes & Noble
Why is this product inappropriate?
Comments (optional)