"A masterful storyteller." Catherine Anderson, New York Times bestselling author
Wild Texas Rose (Whispering Mountain Series #6)by Jodi Thomas
Twenty-five-year-old Rose McMurray may be beautiful, smart, and capable of running her family's ranch at Whispering Mountain, but she's backed away from marriage three/b>/i>
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From the New York Times bestselling Jodi Thomas comes this captivating tale about a headstrong beauty and the Texas Ranger who protects her without her knowledge.
Twenty-five-year-old Rose McMurray may be beautiful, smart, and capable of running her family's ranch at Whispering Mountain, but she's backed away from marriage three times without giving anyone reasons. Everyone thinks she is a coward, afraid of any adventure, including falling in love. She's never done a single wild or reckless thing in her life...until now.
Duncan McMurray, like Rose, was adopted into the family. As a Texas Ranger, he swears he'll never settle down and marry. He's been Rose's guardian angel since they were kids but for the first time in their lives he's the one who has caused her to be in danger. Somehow, he has to protect her from an outlaw gang determined to kill her without letting Rose know of the danger she's in. He's convinced that her heart can't take the stress if she knows...the only question is can his heart take the nearness of her.
When opposites collide the adventure begins...
Read an Excerpt
Main Street, Fort Worth
Friday, January 1876
Snow whirled in the cold dawn air as the town seemed to come alive like a sleeping giant who’d given up bathing for the winter. Cook fires and coal smoke blended amid the smell of garbage and too many people crammed together. A good three-day rain wouldn’t whitewash this place enough to make it presentable, Rose McMurray thought as she stepped from the rented carriage and fought to keep from covering her mouth. She noticed shadows of people scurrying like rats down the walks and wagons fighting their way through the traffic. The movements of horses and carts didn’t frighten her; she’d survived the train and the night.
“This is it, miss. The best hotel in town. The Grand,” the driver yelled, but didn’t move to help her down. “Point the doorman in my direction and I’ll see he gets your luggage.”
“Thank you,” Rose managed to say, although she wasn’t sure for what. The ride was barely tolerable and she had no doubt she could have handled the team with far more skill; after all, her family owned a horse ranch.
Reaching into her glove, she pulled out the amount they’d agreed on for the fare plus two bits for a tip.
When the driver took the money, he lost his grip on the horses, and the carriage jolted forward a few feet.
Rose tumbled off the step almost falling in the mud as she fought to keep her balance with a bag in one hand and her hat in the other. Her skirts snagged on the rough board of a carriage step, catching the lace of her petticoat between splinters and nails.
The driver held the team but offered no help.
Rose tugged on the lace as people swirled around her. Fear threatened to consume her as it had in the night.
Five, maybe six, steps and she could be inside the hotel. She’d be safe. She moved the bothersome hat to join her carpetbag, not daring to set either down in the street, but even with one free hand, the lace wouldn’t give.
She hated traveling. No matter how well she planned, there was always the unexpected. Big towns like Fort Worth reminded her of her childhood years in Chicago. She remembered swearing she’d never go anywhere by herself, and with her huge family she’d thought she’d be able to keep that promise . . . until now.
She’d come alone, on a mission that made no sense. Yet she’d come, fighting down reason and fear because her friend had sent word that she needed Rose. After weighing the risk, an overnight train ride, and a dawn carriage ride to the hotel, she’d come to help.
Only she hadn’t planned to be tethered to a carriage step in the middle of the Main Street.
Glancing at the hotel door, she tugged again. She took a deep breath, reminding herself that this was in the middle of town and she was not facing down gunfighters or being lost in a stampede. The people almost bumping into her as they passed weren’t even noticing her; they were only rushing to work.
The driver yelled, “Hurry up, lady, I ain’t got all day.”
Rose froze as several people turned her direction. Strangers were staring, some smiling, some laughing, a few looking as if they were sorry they didn’t have time to stop and help. She felt like she’d been tossed in a river and was about to drown if she didn’t act fast.
“May I be of assistance, miss?” a tall stranger in black asked in a tone that seemed more bothered than willing.
Rose detested even the thought that she might be in need of help. She was always the one people turned to on the ranch. “No thank you, sir,” she said without really looking at him. With a firm jerk she felt the lace rip. “I can manage on my own.”
The lace gave and she tumbled backward, finally free but off balance.
The tall stranger’s arm went around her, breaking her fall before she hit the mud. “Careful now, miss,” he said calmly as if her tumbling were an ordinary event in his day.
Rose straightened and pulled away. “I’m fine.”
The stranger tipped his hat and grinned. “I can see that. My mistake to have even attempted aid.”
As if by instinct, he offered his hand to assist her from the street to the walk, but Rose ignored it as she pulled her bag and hat close and rushed for the hotel entrance.
When she reached the huge double doors, she turned feeling obligated to thank him for his help.
Hard gray eyes stared at her a moment before he disappeared into the crowd. Winter eyes, as frosty as the day.
He’d been handsome in a cold kind of way and maybe a bit offended that she hadn’t accepted his help or even thanked him. She was surprised to see such a gentleman in this wild, untamed town. In the menagerie of people, he didn’t seem to fit in somehow. Too clean, too polished.
“May I take your bag?” The doorman reached for her luggage as he touched the brim of his hat.
Rose slipped her carpetbag to her other hand and frowned. “No, thank you, but I’ve a trunk you might pick up before the driver leaves.”
The doorman nodded and waved his gloved hand toward a younger man waiting in the corner. “Of course, miss. You’ll be staying with us then?”
“I’m expected.” Rose walked through the door he held open wide. “I’m with the Chamberlain wedding party.”
The doorman raised an eyebrow. Rose wondered if he’d met the bride, Victoria Chamberlain, and pitied anyone arriving for her wedding. Tori, as Rose and her sister Emily called Victoria, was her own brand of complicated. She’d sent a telegram to Whispering Mountain twenty-four hours ago sounding near panic.
One week until the wedding and big problem. Come quickly. I may not live to wed.
Rose was the only one able, or maybe willing, among the McMurrays to answer the cry for help. She’d tried her best to talk everyone on the ranch into coming with her, but no one felt at twenty-five she needed a companion. Her father insisted she take extra cash. Her mother gave her advice and her best hat, and her uncle, the Texas Ranger, gave her a gun that fit nicely in a hidden pocket of her skirt. They all knew Tori and had decided years ago that Victoria’s crying wolf was more a theme song to her life than any real alarm.
Rose started to question her judgment as she signed in at the desk while the doorman headed upstairs with her trunk. She couldn’t help but wonder what Tori had gotten herself into now. At school, crisis followed her like an echo.
Though they’d been roommates in finishing school, she hadn’t seen Victoria but once since graduation. Rose had been excited to bump into her in Austin at the Governor’s Ball year before last. At twenty-three they might have been much changed from the girls of sixteen, but the friendship was still there. They’d chatted during the ball, loving the closeness between them that remained intact.
Rose remembered being surprised when few men asked Tori to dance. She’d even made her cousin Duncan dance with her friend, but neither looked like they enjoyed the one waltz.
It seemed Victoria Chamberlain, always a beauty, had become polished glass. Men admired her as though she were a painting and not a person. Her friend looked sad even while dressed in the newest fashions.
They parted that night, promising to write, and had every month since the ball, but Tori’s letters grew formal, without the warmth Rose felt when they’d talked face-to-face. Something was wrong. Rose felt it in the letters. Tori was lonely, so lonely she may have rushed into first an engagement and now a marriage.
Rose had been shocked last month to get a wedding invitation. Tori claimed that since Rose was her closest friend, her husband-to-be, August Myers, had agreed to one bridesmaid and, of course, one wedding guest to attend with her. Tori went on to explain how they wanted to keep the wedding small.
So, here Rose was in the grandest hotel in Fort Worth a week before the wedding. Rose was a person of order. Emergencies bothered her. Worry seemed the constant side dish to her life, and with friends like Tori and cousins like Duncan McMurray, the servings were large.
The hotel clerk made Rose jump as he read her signature on the ledger and rushed around the desk. “You’re Miss McMurray? The major told us to expect you early this morning. We have your rooms ready.”
Exhaustion tightened her shoulders as she climbed the stairs. She hadn’t slept on the train. If she calculated correctly, she’d been up twenty-seven hours. Maybe that would explain why she was so on edge. She was no longer a child; big cities and strangers shouldn’t frighten her.
“Your suite of rooms is on the left, Miss McMurray, with a connecting door to Miss Chamberlain’s suite off the sitting room.” The clerk rushed ahead to unlock the door. “Miss Chamberlain’s maid instructed me to tell you her mistress should be back by lunch. She’s at fittings this morning, but the maid is pressing your bridesmaid’s dress for your fitting this afternoon. She said she’d bring it up before Miss Chamberlain and her father, the major, get back.” He leaned forward slightly as if whispering a secret. “All they’ve done since they arrived two days ago is shop.”
Rose let out a long breath and felt the weight of the Colt in her pocket for the first time. It seemed Tori was in no immediate danger other than being gossiped about by the staff. If her father were with her, Tori couldn’t be suffering any pain . . . other than being talked to death. The major’s two favorite pastimes were spoiling his only child and rattling on about politics.
Rose almost laughed. She’d wasted hours trying to imagine what might be the problem that had prompted the telegram. Maybe it was nothing more than wedding jitters.
The clerk opened the door and waved her inside as if the small orderly rooms were a grand palace. “You see, you’ll share a lovely seating room facing our balcony. Your bedroom, a bathing chamber, and a maid’s quarters are just beyond that door. The second-floor balconies on this side overlook the gardens and are considered our jewel among—”
“I’m sure I’ll love them. Thank you.” Rose smiled but closed the door giving him no more time to talk. All she wanted to do right now was wash up and sleep until lunch.
Tossing the hat on the arm of the nearest chair, she removed her traveling coat as she stepped into the bedroom. She pulled the Colt from the hidden pocket and deposited it on the dresser, then unfastened her heavy wool traveling skirt and let it fall. The world was getting far too civilized to worry about train robberies these days. The small gun in her purse should be enough; after all, it was 1876.
As she tugged the pins from her hair and let the midnight curls free, she caught her reflection in a ceiling-high mirror.
The long leather-covered legs of a man resting on the bed behind her made her jump for the Colt.
“Before you get any more undressed, maybe I should say hello?” a deep voice said as the cowboy leaned forward until she could see his face. “I don’t think cousins are supposed to see much more of each other.”
For a second, Rose considered lifting the Colt and firing. She could claim she hadn’t recognized him before she shot. But reason won. “What are you doing here, Duncan?”
“Watching you strip. Please, now you know I’m family, continue.” He might be considered good-looking by most, but she’d always thought his grin a bit wicked. His curly brown hair never had any order and his blue eyes seemed to smile even when they were fighting.
“You need a haircut and a shave.”
“You, on the other hand”—he winked—“look perfect, dear cousin Rose, as always.”
“We’re not kin, so drop the ‘cousin’ bit,” she demanded. “I’m a McMurray because my mother married into the clan when I was five and you were found in an outlaw camp and brought home wild as a bear cub. We may be in the same family, but there is no way we are related.” He’d pestered her since the day she first saw him, and two decades later she was still mad at him. His last attempt to marry her off had almost driven her to drink before the suitor Duncan sent finally gave up courting her and left.
Duncan shrugged as if he’d read her thoughts. “Don’t blame me for Weathers; I thought he was a count.”
She glared at him, then grinned. “I’m not sure he could count. But you, Duncan, didn’t even check. You just sent him to meet me.”
“I’m sorry,” Duncan said with little remorse. “I’ll do a better job next time.”
“Forget it. I don’t want a next time. Stop playing matchmaker.”
He nodded, but she doubted he’d stop. All the McMurray men were stubborn. He might not have been born to the name, but he’d been absorbed into the family.
“I still wouldn’t mind watching you undress.” He changed the subject. “Come on, Rose, in twenty years I’ve never seen one of you girls without layers of clothes on. Hell, Martha, that old witch of a housekeeper, permanently dented my head once for even trying to look in on you bathing.”
She fought down a smile, remembering how Duncan used to fight baths when he was little. He’d slip from his clothes when his adopted mother tried to bathe him and run around sometimes for hours before one of the McMurrays caught him and dropped him in a tub. “I’m afraid I can’t say the same about you. I can smell the trail dust from here.”
He leaned back on the bed and crossed his boots as if he wasn’t listening. “How about we both compromise and take off all our clothes. Then I’m willing to call it even.”
“Get your boots off my clean bed, Duck.” She used the name they’d called him as a boy just to irritate him. No one but his mother had been permitted to call him that since he was ten and had been told by Rose that it wasn’t a proper name for a boy. “What are you doing in Fort Worth or, more accurately, in my bedroom?” She knew asking how he got in would be a waste of time. She’d learned a long time ago that if a squirrel could slip inside a place, so could Duncan McMurray.
“I’m waiting for you. I heard you were heading to Cowtown. Emily wrote and told me how you got pushed into coming to this wedding and how everyone back home begged off on tagging along. I was in Dallas delivering two outlaw brothers to the sheriff when I got a telegram from your dad telling me to check on you. So I rode most the night to get here. Just because no one wants to be around Victoria doesn’t mean they’re not worried about you. That crazy friend of yours is her own kind of strange.”
She walked to the edge of the bed. “You’re checking up on me before I even have time to get into trouble.”
He met her eyes and as always Rose guessed that he knew of the fears she tried so hard to hide. He might have been a pest, but she remembered once when they were in the second grade, she’d refused to go into the crowded schoolhouse for a program. When she’d claimed she was sick, Duncan had sat in the wagon with her. He hadn’t said a word. He’d just kept her company. They’d wrapped in a quilt until everyone came back.
Rose didn’t argue with him now. He was probably right about Tori. The whole family met Victoria Chamberlain one summer when she visited the ranch while Rose and Emily were in their second year of finishing school. Down to the dog, they all hated Victoria. She was spoiled, whiny, and demanding. She wanted her breakfast specially made twenty minutes after she awoke. She never picked up anything or offered to help. At fifteen, she thought she was a queen, but when Victoria told Duncan to wipe the sweat off his horse because she didn’t want to look at it, Duncan swore he’d never speak to her again.
“I don’t need any help.” Rose sat down on the other side of the bed and tugged off her boots. “I’m sure Tori was just overreacting when she sent the telegram begging me to come early. But if you really want to help, you could always go to the wedding with me. She said I could have a guest.”
“No way, Rose, and don’t bother trying to talk me into it.” He pulled off his boots. “I may be tired, but I’ll be dead before I ever agree to be in the same room with that woman. That time you made me dance with her, I politely bowed and asked if I might have the honor again sometime. Hell, I was just being nice. She gave me her usual ‘drop dead’ look and said, ‘Not in this lifetime,’ like I’d asked for her hand.”
Giggling, Rose whispered, “Don’t tell me someone finally turned down the handsome Ranger McMurray. I thought you always got the girl. Some say you’ve broken the hearts of half the unmarried women in Austin.”
He thought about it a moment and whispered back, “I haven’t had time to break any hearts in Austin or anywhere else. As far as her turning me down, I might have been hurt if I’d cared one way or the other. I swear, I can’t believe she found one man to marry, even a braggart like August Myers.”
“What’s wrong with him?” Rose leaned against the pillows.
“Nothing, according to Victoria’s father. They’re made from the same muddy cloth, if you ask me. Southerners who don’t think the war is over and plan to bore everyone else alive in the South with their theories about how it will rise again any minute.”
Rose closed her eyes, for once too tired to pester him. “Tell me about the outlaws you caught this time, Duncan.”
He settled his shoulder against hers. “Jeb and Owen Tanner are half Comanche and half German, or so the story goes. Neither race will claim them. Some say they have no idea who their old man was, only that he tanned hides during the days of the buffalo hunts. Hauling them from Waco to Dallas was like trying to march rabid squirrels through quicksand.”
“What did they do wrong?”
“Everything. Train robbing is their favorite target, but they’ll do anything to get money. I swear I should have just shot them when I first saw them. They were arguing over a pair of boots they’d just pulled off a gunfighter before the doc had time to pronounce him dead. I would have probably never caught them if they hadn’t been busy trying to kill each other and all their gang were making bets on which one would survive.”
Duncan kept talking, reliving every dumb thing the Tanner brothers had said. Finally, he swore and added, “I was with a band of rangers who almost caught the gang once. We lost two good men and the Tanners lost a brother in the fight. Soon after that the gang started pulling jobs that took some brains to plan. The two left alive are too dumb to stop a drunk duck, much less a train, so they’re getting advice from somewhere.” Duncan absently played with one curl of her hair. “I asked Jeb if he could read and he answered, ‘What for?’”
Just before Rose dozed off, she heard him say that he knew a driver who’d take her anywhere she needed to go while she was in Fort Worth. He promised to check on her every time he got the chance.
“Promise me,” Duncan said as he bumped her shoulder lightly. “Promise me you won’t leave the hotel without the driver. I don’t trust any of the hack drivers in this town. The guy I picked has never let a ranger down. He’ll watch over you.”
“I promise,” she said as she relaxed into sleep.
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Meet the Author
Jodi Thomas is a certified marriage and family counselor, a fifth generation Texan, a Texas Tech graduate, and writer-in-residence at West Texas A&M University. She lives in Amarillo, Texas.
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I just finished “Wild Texas Rose” and it was wonderful! For those who didn’t read all of it, you missed a super “awe” moment towards the end! I agree that this book was written in a different style than Jodi Thomas typical writes her historical books, but it’s exactly like her contemporary stories and every word sounded just like she writes. I found the other couple’s love stories warm and fulfilling. But, I am positive there’s more to Rose’s and Duncan’s story and feel sure it’ll all come out in the next book.
This was a great book and i will definately read more from this author
I have read all of the other Whispering Mountain books and eagerly awaited this one. What a disappointment. I thought this story was going to be about Rose, who we met as a child in an earlier book. Instead, this book has an ensemble cast and Rose doesn't have a particularly large part. There is no chemistry between her and Duncan - they continue to seem more like cousins than lovers. We never care for Victoria. Hallie's story is under told, and the only two with any chemistry, Abe and Sara, are just plane weird. Sad, sad, sad.
First of all I would like to say this is not a bad book. As a huge fan of the series, and of Rose in particular, I was disappointed that she had to share her book with not one but THREE other romances. It might be more acceptable if these other characters had been involved in the series previously but that is not the case. I would have rather waited another couple of years and let the author develop Rose's story more. I'm sorry to say it, but I'm going to think twice before buying another book in this series.
I've read Jodi Thomas for years, and have been reading the Whispering Mountain series since it began. I absolutely loved Duck in Texas rain and looked forward to the day when he would get his own story. There was so much about him that I wanted to explore further. For starters I wanted to learn about the family that was killed when he was an infant; secondly, I wanted to learn when he started talking and how and why; thirdly, in Texas Blue, he helped a young girl out and took her to a mission, promising her that he would come back one day. In addition he got information about the girl's origins and at the end of the last book had promised to look into her family. As for Rose, I thought it would be interesting to see how the girl who asked so many questions when she first came to the ranch had grown up, especially after the sneak peak in Em's story. I was a little wary of matching these two characters up, in particular because I wanted Duncan's story to be like his father's: Daring, dangerous, and absolutely lovely. However, I must say that Thomas disappointed in this latest Whispering Mountain Novel. I did not like that fact that Rose and Duck's story was maybe 50 pages, and that the other love stories seemed just as important if not more so in the book, especially Abe and Sarah's. I also Did not like the fact that the infamous McMurray brood were not in evidence when in every prior book there have been at least a few scenes of the whole family interacting. Another thing is that it is called the Whispering Mountain series for a reason. In every book the male protagonist goes up the mountian to dream his future. There wasn't even any Whispering Mountain in this book! I also did not like the fact that Duck never looked out for the girl from Texas Blue and that Rose and he did not look at the letter that he put into her carpetbag concerning news of his biological parents. The ending felt abrupt, and as people have mentioned previously, I did not get the idea that Rose and Duck were meant to be. I could see something forming, but it definitely had not blossomed into LOVE. The end, whenever he passes out and then they just declare love for each other did not ring true. I wish that there had been much more interaction between the two supposed main characters. The only reason I am giving this book two stars is because this is a series that I have read for years and I feel I must remain loyal, and that I liked the story. It just didn't have the feel of a Whispering Mountain book. If it had been a stand-a-lone it would have gotten a higher rating but this book did not do a service to its predecessors.
She Did It Again!!! I loved Duck and Roses book...Adventurous and funny.
Rose McMurray hurried to Fort Worth, Texas at the urgent request of her friend, Victoria Chamberlain. Once Rose arrived, however, she noticed that Victoria didn’t appear to be in any great distress. She was so busy shopping and preparing for her wedding that Rose hardly saw her. Still, Rose felt that something was wrong. Victoria’s maid said that her mistress cried herself to sleep every night and where was Myers, the prospective bridegroom? With the wedding only days away, shouldn’t the man have made an appearance by now? Texas Ranger, Duncan McMurray, senses that Rose is in trouble, but he doesn’t want to alert her to the size of the danger. In addition, the Tanner brothers are hot on Duncan’s trail. He wouldn’t put it past them to use Rose as a pawn to get to him. Unfortunately, things suddenly go from bad to worse and Duncan is shot. Judge Killian O’Toole assumed that his brother had been killed in the Civil War and he mourned his passing every day. Little did Killian know that Shaun was very much alive, striving to protect his younger brother as he wrestles with his disfigurement. When Killian offers to help Victoria escape her grasping father’s clutches and an arranged marriage, Shaun does his best to help. Meanwhile, Abe Henderson, Killian’s friend, has some issues of his own. He returned from the Civil War with an injured leg and the limp remains with him to this day. Still, Abe can’t help wishing that some decent woman would treat him kindly, a woman like the lovely school teacher, for example. Of course, a school teacher wouldn’t dream of doing some of the scandalous things Abe imagines – or would she? As the friends converge to help Victoria, a band of ruthless outlaws closes in, intent on spiriting away the prospective bride and whatever valuable prize is hidden in the bottom of her luggage. This is an intriguing tale of love, adventure and suspense set in post-Civil War Texas. An enjoyable read.
I bought this book first and after reading it realized it was the sixth book in the series so I bought the others and read them in order,Jodi Thomas is one of my favorite authors but this book was lacking something. I thought it was going to be about Rose and Duncan and it seemed more about Abe and Sara. It left me desiring more of the love they would share and longing for Whispering Mountain. We didnt even have any updates on the family, I have grown to feel like I know the characters and missed reading about all the goings on. Definately not the romance the last 5 books have offered but I LOVE the McMurrays and can't wait for the next book in the series but the first 4 were definately the best!
Hopefully this book, Wild Texas Rose will be avialble on the NOOK at some future date. A disappointed reader
Just so so This is another installment in the Whispering Mountain saga. There were a lot of twists and turns in this book, and while I thought the story was supposed to be about Rose and "Duck" Duncan, the underlying stories were stronger. It also came to an abrupt end, at least in my opinion. I agree with the other reviews - I was disappointed and think Rose deserves a better well-written story than what I read in this book.
I absolutely loved this book. Rose and Duncans story was highly entertaining. I love this series and highly reccommend this book too.
Amongst her fans Ms Thomas is known as the Queen of Texas Romance and I certainly see why. She constantly delivers stories that steal your heart and keep you turning the pages. This book is no exception. This is the 6th book of the Whispering Mountain series. Rose McMurray has been chosen to be her friend's brides maid so she travels to Ft. Worth for the wedding. Once she arrives things get interesting and the bride disappears. Rose's cousin, Texas Ranger Duncan McMurray, steps into the picture and into Rose's heart. They waste no time in straightening out the fact that they are not blood kin. Ms Thomas has a knack for creating characters that carry deep wounds but a will to survive no matter how difficult the task might appear. That describes each character in this book from Abe, Killian, Stitch, Hallie, and Epley. Each of them have a definite purpose for being there. And then there's the ghost of Shawn O'Toole that provided some lighthearted moments. Even though this book has three separate love stories running through it, I thoroughly enjoyed it and I think other readers will too. I can't wait to see what Ms Thomas comes up with next.