The Sheriff of Shelter Valley

The Sheriff of Shelter Valley

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by Tara Taylor Quinn

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Who is Beth Allen? And who—or what—is she running from?

Beth only wishes she knew. Six months ago, she woke up in a shabby Arizona hotel room with no memory of her past. What she did have was a bruised face, $2,000 in cash—and a little boy who called her "Mama."

What's her real name? Is she a victim or a…  See more details below


Who is Beth Allen? And who—or what—is she running from?

Beth only wishes she knew. Six months ago, she woke up in a shabby Arizona hotel room with no memory of her past. What she did have was a bruised face, $2,000 in cash—and a little boy who called her "Mama."

What's her real name? Is she a victim or a criminal? The child's savior or his kidnapper? Until her memory returns and she can answer those questions, Beth knows she has to hide. She's chosen Shelter Valley as her sanctuary.

The town welcomed her, as it welcomes all others, and Beth has begun to fashion a new life for herself and her child. But when she falls in love with Greg Richards, her sense of sanctuary is threatened. Because Greg's the sheriff of Shelter Valley—the one man who could uncover the truth about her past, a truth that might destroy the woman she's become.

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The Sheriff Of Shelter Valley

By Tara Quinn

Harlequin Enterprises Limited

Copyright © 2002 Harlequin Enterprises Limited
All right reserved.

ISBN: 0373710879

Chapter One

"Mama!Maamaa!" Ryan's scream tore through her fog of sleep.

Beth Allen was out of bed and across the room before she'd even fully opened her eyes. Heart pounding, she lifted her two-year-old son out of the second-hand crib, pressing his face into her neck as she held him.

"It's okay, Ry," she said softly, pushing the sweaty auburn curls away from his forehead. Curls she dyed regularly, along with her own. "Shh, Mama's right here. It was just a bad dream."

"Mama," the toddler said again, his little body shuddering. His tiny fists were clamped tightly against her - her nightshirt and strands of her straight auburn hair held securely within them.

"Mama" was about all her son said. All he'd said since she'd woken up alone with him in that motel room in Snowflake, Arizona, with a nasty bruise on her forehead, another one at the base of her skull. And no memory whatsoever.

She didn't even know her own name. She'd apparently checked in under the name Beth Allen and, trusting herself to have done so for a reason, had continued using it. It could be who she really was, but she doubted it. She'd obviously been on the run, and it didn't seem smart to have made herself easy to find.

She didn't know how old she was. How old her son was. Shecould only guess Ry's age by comparing him to other kids.

Stoically, Beth stood there, rocking him slowly, crooning soothingly, until she felt the added weight that signified his slumber. Looking at the crib - old brown wood whose scars were visible even in the dim August moonlight coming through curtainless windows - Beth knew she should put him back there, should do all she could to maintain normalcy at this stage of their lives.

But she didn't. She carried the baby back to the twin bed she'd picked up at a garage sale, snuggled him against her too-skinny body beneath the single sheet and willed herself back to sleep.

In that motel room in Snowflake, she'd seen a magazine article about a young woman who'd run away from an abusive husband. Like someone drawn in mingled horror and fascination to the sight of a car crash, she'd read the whole thing - and been greatly touched to find that it had a happy ending. The woman had run to someplace called Shelter Valley, Arizona.

Desperate enough to try anything, Beth had done the same.

But after six months of covering her blond hair and hiding her amnesia, she was no closer to her happy ending.

Neither, apparently, was her son. Spooning his small body up against her, she tried to convince herself that he was okay.

Ryan had only had a nightmare. Could have been about monsters in the closet or a ghost in the attic.

Except that the one-bedroom duplex she was renting had neither a closet nor an attic.

No, there was something else haunting her child, giving him these nightmares.

It was the same thing that was haunting her. Beth just didn't have any idea what it was.

* * *

Nearly blinded by the sun-brightened landscape, Sheriff Greg Richards scanned the horizon, missing nothing between him and the mountains in the distance.

A young woman had been rear-ended, forced off the road. And when she'd rolled to a stop, two assailants had pushed her into the rear of her Chevy Impala. She'd never even seen the car that hit her; she had been overtaken too quickly by the men who'd jumped out of its back seat to notice the vehicle driving off.

Stillness. That was all Greg's trained eye saw. Brownish-green desert brush. Dry, thorny plants that were tough enough to survive the scorching August sun. Cacti.

Another desert carjacking. The third in three months. A run of them - just like that summer ten years before. Yet ... different. This time, instead of ending up dead or severely injured, the victim, Angela Marquette, had thrown herself out of the car. Made it to an emergency phone on the side of the road.

Greg continued to scan the surrounding area, but there was no sign of the new beige Impala. Not on the highway - patrols had been notified across the state - nor in the form of glinting metal underneath the scarred cacti and other desert landscaping that had witnessed hideous brutalities over the years. In the places it was thickest, a hijacked car or two, even an occasional dead body, could easily slide beneath it undetected.

Patrol cars and an ambulance ahead signaled the location of the victim. Pulling his unmarked car off the road and close to the group of emergency personnel, Greg got out. The immediate parting of the crowd always surprised him; he hadn't been the sheriff of Shelter Valley long enough to get used to it.

As he approached the victim, he noticed that she was shaking and in shock. And sweating, too. The young woman, her brown hair in a ponytail, leaned against one of the standard-issue cars from his division. One of the paramedics shook his head as Greg caught his eye. Apparently she'd refused medical attention.

"Angela, I'm Sheriff Richards," he said gently when her gaze, following those of his deputies, landed on him.

"We've got her full report." Deputy Burt Culver stepped up to Greg. "We just finished." Burt, only a few years older than Greg, had been with the Kachina County Sheriff's Department when Greg had first worked there as a junior deputy. Other than a short stint with Detention Services - at the one and only jail in Kachina County's jurisdiction - Burt had been content to work his way up in Operations, concentrating mostly on criminal investigations. He was one of the best.

Culver had never expressed much interest in administration, had never run for Sheriff, but Greg was hoping to talk him into accepting a promotion to Captain over Operations. No one else would be as good.

Greg glanced down at the report. "This is a number where we can reach you during the day?" he asked.

"Yes, sir," the young woman replied, her voice as shaky as her hands. "And at night, as well. I'm a student at the University of Arizona. I live at home with my parents."

"The car was theirs?" Greg asked her. Chevy Impalas weren't cheap. Certainly not the usual knockaround college vehicle. She would probably have been perfectly safe in one of those. These hijackers didn't go for low-end cars.

"No, sir, it's mine. I also work as a dance instructor in Tucson."

Greg looked over the pages Burt had handed him, confident that everything was complete. That he wasn't needed here, at the scene of the crime. Still, he thumbed through the report.

Two men had done the actual hijacking. Young, in their late teens or early twenties. One Caucasian. A blonde. The other had darker skin, brown eyes and black hair. They'd both been wearing wallet chains, faded jeans - in the one-hundred and ten degree heat - ripped tank T-shirts, medallions. The blonde - the driver - had a tattoo on his left biceps and he'd been wearing dirty white tennis shoes. They'd had her radio blaring.

"Neither of them spoke to you?"


Excerpted from The Sheriff Of Shelter Valley by Tara Quinn Copyright © 2002 by Harlequin Enterprises Limited
Excerpted by permission. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

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Meet the Author

Tara Taylor Quinn's love affair with Harlequin began when she was fourteen years old and picked up a free promotional copy of a Harlequin Romance book in a hometown grocery store. The relationship was solidified the year she was suspended from her high school typing class for hiding a Harlequin Romance novel behind the keys of her electric typewriter. Unaware that her instructor loomed close by, Ms. Quinn read blissfully on with one finger resting on the automatic repeating period key. She finished the book in the principal's office. Forced to leave her romances in her locker after that, Ms. Quinn's typing skills improved, a fact for which she is eternally grateful.

Though she wrote her first story at the age of seven, Ms. Quinn's professional writing career didn't begin until ten years later when she was hired as a stringer with the Dayton Daily News in Dayton, Ohio. Ms. Quinn was certified to teach high school English and published several magazine articles before turning to writing as a full-time occupation. She sits at her keyboard ten hours at a stretch these days--typing romances.

Harlequin published Ms. Quinn's first book, Yesterday's Secrets in October, 1993. It received two Reviewers choice nominations, and was a finalist for the Romance Writers of America's RITA Award for Best Long Contemporary. Her succeeding novels have continued to garner recognition and awards. April of 2001 marked the release of Ms. Quinn's first single title novel, Sheltered in His Arms, and May 2001 saw her debut on the USA TODAY Bestseller List. Most recently her works have been featured on the Waldenbooks Bestseller List and achieved finalist status in the National Readers' Choice Award, Holt Medallion, Bookseller's Best Award, as well as the RITA Award.

With more than 40 original sales over twelve years, Ms. Quinn's books are found worldwide, with many foreign translations and more than four million copies sold. In addition to her novels, the prolific author has written two novellas; two in a continuity series and the launch book for another; and an Internet story. She has had one of her books released in Rocketbook format. October of 2000 marked the debut of the Shelter Valley Stories, a Tara Taylor Quinn series set in the fictional town of Shelter Valley, Arizona. The series has grown to nine books.

Ms. Quinn began writing for the MIRA imprint in 2003 and these emotionally gripping, character-driven stories are keeping readers on the edge of their seats. Her most recent MIRA novel, Hidden, was released in July 2005 and the next, In Plain Sight, is due for release in October 2006.

When she's not writing or fulfilling speaking engagements, Ms. Quinn enjoys traveling and spending time with her family and friends.

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Sheriff of Shelter Valley 3.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 4 reviews.
cloggiedownunder More than 1 year ago
The Sheriff of Shelter Valley is the sixth book in the Shelter Valley Stories series by American author, Tara Taylor Quinn. Beth Allen and her son Ryan have been in Shelter Valley for six months. Beth has a cleaning business and tries to keep a low profile, but it isn’t easy with Sheriff Greg Richards taking a romantic interest in her. Greg is perplexed by her reticence, but what he doesn’t realise is that Beth doesn’t know the answers his questions about her past because she has no memory of it. All she knows is that she has to hide. Greg has some puzzles of his own to deal with: violent car-jackings that bear a strong resemblance to similar crimes ten years earlier, one of which disabled his father. In this romantic intrigue novel, Taylor Quinn touches on some thought-provoking topics: gang initiations, cult societies and brain-washing. Her characters are interesting, there is plenty of intrigue, and the original plot builds to a dramatic climax. Enjoyable. 
Debsaz More than 1 year ago
Beth Allen wakes up with a little boy and no memory of her past. She reads an article about Shelter Valley Arizona and how it helped another woman cope with her past and decides that would be the best place to reside with her son while working on remembering. The Sheriff of Shelter Valley is interested in Beth Allen. This is scary for Beth since she doesn’t know her own history or that of the little boy she calls her son. Can she build a relationship for her and her son while coming to terms with a past that she doesn’t remember? The Sheriff of Shelter Valley was my very first Tara Taylor Quinn book. I enjoyed it so much that I went online and purchased every other one of the Shelter Valley Stories. I have been hooked on Tara Taylor Quinn books ever since. This book was provided free to me as an ebook.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
harstan More than 1 year ago
The wail of an infant wakes up Beth Allen in a Snowflake, Arizona motel with bruises on her body especially her head and a loss of memory. Beth knows her name because that is the identity she registered with to obtain a room. She concludes based on where she is and the contusions that she is on the run, but has no idea from whom or where. When she reads an article in a magazine about a battered spouse welcomed to safety in nearby Shelter Valley, she decides to go there with the child she assumes is her son. Months later, Beth still suffers from amnesia and remains in hiding for fear that her unknown enemy will find her. Sheriff Greg Richards asks her out as he is attracted to her, but though she likes the lawman, she rejects him because she doesn¿t want him probing into her past even innocently on a date. As he works to stop deadly carjackings that is reminiscent of a cold case, her past is closing in on her and only Greg can keep her and her son safe. Fans of the series will delight in the latest entry as characters return from previous novels and Greg finds his true love. The story line uses a police procedural as a secondary subplot, but mostly focuses on Beth¿s dilemmas. Though amnesia is an overused gimmick, the audience will want Greg to stop whoever seeks to harm the heroine. Romantic suspense readers will enjoy this tale though the villain¿s reason for chasing Beth seems stretched, but then again perhaps cult insanity makes it reasonable. Harriet Klausner