She’s an outlaw.
He’s a preacher.
Both are in need of a miracle.
Sarah Prescott has never known a respectable life. Just a hardscrabble childhood and brothers who taught her to shoot first and ask questions later.
Justin Wells left Boston in disgrace, heading out alone on the dusty trail to Texas. But when the once-respected clergyman encounters a feisty redhead in handcuffs with a dying U.S. Marshal at her side, their journey takes a dramatic turn.
His high-society expectations and Sarah’s outlaw habits clash from the start. With a price on her head and towing an orphaned baby rescued from the brink of starvation, Justin and Sarah make the difficult journey toward Rocky Creek. There, justice will be meted out. Perhaps—they hope—with a healthy portion of grace.
Filled with mishaps, laughs, and adventure, Margaret Brownley’s inspiring romance will keep readers cheering for Sarah as she struggles to become a true lady.
About the Author
Read an Excerpt
A Lady LIKE SARAHA ROCKY CREEK ROMANCE
By Margaret Brownley
Thomas NelsonCopyright © 2009 Margaret Brownley
All right reserved.
Chapter One1879 Missouri
Vultures signaled trouble ahead.
"Whoa, boy." Reverend Justin Wells tugged on the reins of his horse, bringing his brown gelding to a standstill.
Adjusting the brim of his dusty felt hat, he narrowed his eyes against the bright afternoon sun and peered across the wide, arid plains. Trees grew directly ahead of him, the first he'd seen since leaving St. Louis five days prior. The graceful, tall sycamores suggested the welcome presence of water, perhaps a stream.
He mopped his damp brow with a kerchief, then lifted his eyes upward. They were vultures, all right. No question about it. The scavengers circled overhead on broad, outstretched wings, scanning the ground in waiting silence.
Something or someone was dying. An animal no doubt. He'd passed his share of buffalo skulls and cattle carcasses in recent days, and each had made him ruminate on dying and the meaning of life.
Born and raised in Boston, he never planned to travel across country, never really had a hankering for adventure. Not like most men he knew. Certainly he never expected to leave his hometown in disgrace.
He reached for his canteen, every muscle in his body protesting. He wasn't just saddle sore; his back ached from the restless nights spent on thehard, unyielding ground. Sleep, if it came at all, had been fleeting at best and offered little respite from his troubled thoughts.
He pulled off the cork top of his tin canteen and lifted it to his parched lips. Never one to question God's will in the past, it disturbed him that he questioned it now.
What possible reason could God have for sending him to a rough, untamed town in Texas?
He thought of all the work left undone in Boston. To be separated from the congregation he loved seemed a fate worse than death. Though what choice did he have but to accept God's will?
Behind him, Moses, his pack mule, made a strange whinnying sound that ended in a loud hee-haw. The short, thick head moved from side to side; the long ears twitched.
Having learned to trust the animal's instincts, Justin felt a sense of unease. With increased alertness, he rose in his saddle and scanned the area ahead. A movement in the trees caught his attention. A previously unnoticed horse stood in the shade. At first he thought it was a wild mustang that had strayed away from its herd. Upon closer observation, he realized his mistake. This horse was saddled.
He glanced at the still-circling buzzards and a sense of urgency shot through him. "Let's go, boy." Digging his heels gently into his gelding's ribs, he galloped along the trail, kicking up dust behind him.
Moses followed close behind, the pots and pans tied to the mule's pack clanking like old rusty chains.
Moments later, Justin dismounted, stabbed the ground with a metal picket, and staked his horse. He approached the bay cautiously, his gaze scanning the nearby terrain for its owner.
Tethered to a sapling, the horse pawed the ground and neighed, its long black tail swishing back and forth. Something-a red neckerchief-fluttered from a nearby bush.
Leaving horses and mule behind, he followed a narrow path toward the stream, stopping to pick up the kerchief en route.
Two bodies lay side by side in the grass, and he hurried toward them, searching for signs of life. One man wore a badge on his black vest, identifying him as a U.S. Marshal. The other man, judging by the handcuffs, was his prisoner.
Justin kneeled by the lawman's side and felt for a pulse. The man's eyes flickered open and his parched lips quivered. He had been shot. Blood had seeped through his clothes and trickled to the ground.
"Don't talk," Justin said. "Save your strength. I'll get you some water."
The marshal reached for Justin's arm. "Promise me-" He coughed. "My prisoner ... promise-" He spoke in a murmur that was almost drowned out by a sudden gust of wind rippling through the tall prairie grass. "Take ... to ... Texas-"
Justin sat back on his heels in surprise. "Texas? You want me to take the prisoner to Texas?"
The lawman nodded slightly and closed his eyes, his breathing labored.
Intent upon getting the marshal water, Justin straightened. A moaning sound, soft as a kitten's first mew, made him take a closer look at the prisoner. That's when he saw the man's foot move.
Dropping down on his knees by the prisoner's side, Justin leaned over him. "Take it easy, lad." The prisoner's face was covered in dust, but he appeared to be a young man, cleanshaven, probably still in his teens. The boy's youth would probably account for his ill-chosen bright red boots, which looked all the more garish in full sunlight.
"Just stay put." Justin squeezed the man's slight shoulder. "I'll get you something to drink." There was nothing to be done about the boots.
Returning to his horse, Justin retrieved the canteen tied to his saddle, then hurried to the fast-running stream. Removing the stopper, he dipped the canteen into the cool, clear waters and rushed back to the injured men, chasing away one of the vultures that had landed nearby.
"Here." Lowering himself onto his knee again, he slid one arm beneath the marshal's head and lifted the canteen to the man's swollen lips. The lawman took a sip and then slumped back as if it took all his energy to swallow. His eyes open, he looked worried or distressed, maybe both.
"Tell my ... f-family-"
Justin tried to reassure him. "You'll be all right," he said. He didn't know anything about bullet wounds. It wasn't the kind of thing taught at Boston Theological Seminary. Still, he couldn't just let the man die. There had to be something he could do.
But first things first. He turned to the prisoner. Slipping his hand beneath the young man's shoulders, he lifted the youth's head. The man's wide-brimmed slouch hat was crushed behind him, the leather strap still beneath his smooth chin. Justin pulled the felt hat off and-much to his surprise-long red hair tumbled out of the crown.
Justin froze. Not sure if he could believe his eyes, he blinked and took a closer look. There was no mistake; the prisoner was a woman!
Chapter TwoEven before Sarah Prescott's eyes flickered open, she sensed something had changed. The sun didn't seem quite as bright or the heat as unrelenting as it had been previously. Something or someone blocked the sunlight, but before she could determine whether friend or foe she drifted off again.
Now, she saw blue. Or was it green? Something. She imagined herself running along a sweet-scented meadow, free as the wind that touched her fevered brow.
Then it hit her. It wasn't the wind she felt; it was something else, something soft and gentle and refreshingly cool.
She tried to sit up, but a weight of some kind held her down. Hands. Strong yet gentle hands. She lay back, willing the fog in her head to clear.
A face floated into view, the face of a man-not the lawman, but a stranger. A stranger with clear, blue eyes and a handsome, square face that was all at once strong and kind.
He knelt by her side and, cupping her chin in his hand, sponged her forehead with tender strokes. He then lifted her by the shoulders and held a canteen to her dry lips. The water tasted sweet, but it hurt to swallow and she couldn't take much more than a sip at a time.
He lowered her gently. "How do you feel?"
She gazed up at him, still confused. The sun seemed less bright and she realized she lay beneath the shade of a black willow tree. The stranger must have carried her.
She lifted her hand to her head, surprised to find that her handcuffs had been removed. She tried to sit up.
"Whoa, there," he said, his strong fingers pressing into her shoulder. "Take it easy. Some rest and food and you'll be good as new."
She settled back on the canvas roll that served as a pillow, aware that her hat had been removed and her hair had come loose. "Who ... who are you?"
"Name's Justin Wells. Reverend Justin Wells."
Surprised, she stared at him. She pictured preachers old and stooped-shouldered, lacking in humor. This one stood straight and tall, his broad shoulders straining against his white shirt, rolled up at the sleeves.
"A preacher, eh?"
"That I am." Her surprise seemed to amuse him, and a glint of humor danced in his eyes. His mouth turned up in a grin.
"Talk about dumb luck."
The grin left his face and his dark eyebrows arched upward. "Is there a problem?"
"No," she muttered. "No problem." She lowered her lashes. Of all things, a preacher.
"And your name is ...?"
She opened one eye and studied him. The wind ruffled his thick black hair, but his gaze never wavered. "My name's Sarah."
Something in his voice made her open the other eye and regard him with suspicion. "You have a problem with my name?"
"Not at all. I think it's a beautiful name. A biblical name."
He didn't look like a preacher, but he sure sounded like one. "You're joshin' me, right?"
"No, honest. Sarah's in the Bible."
She considered this for a moment. If what he said was true, why hadn't she heard about it before now? Thinking he might be poking fun at her, she glared at him. But he looked solemn as soap.
He drew the tip of his finger along his upper lip. Unlike most men, he was clean-shaven, and this gave him an open, honest appearance that made her regret having to be secretive.
"Did you know that 'Sarah' originally meant contentious?"
"Contentious?" She repeated the word slowly, trying to think if she ever heard it before.
"Quick-tempered," he offered.
"You don't have to tell me what it means," she snapped. Sooner or later she would have figured it out for herself.
"It wasn't until she turned eighty and gave birth to a prince that she became known as Sarah, the princess," he added.
Sarah had never heard of anything so ridiculous in all her born days. "This Sarah woman had a baby when she was eighty?"
"If that don't beat all."
"It was a miracle," the preacher said gently.
"You call it what you want, mister. But any woman who has a baby at that age ain't got both oars in the water."
"I guess that's one way to look at it." He studied her for a moment. "What's the rest? Sarah what?"
"I ain't got no rest," she said. She wasn't about to tell him she was a Prescott. Just 'cuz he was a preacher was no reason to think he wouldn't recognize her name.
"What should I call you?"
Her eyes met his. "Call me Sarah."
"It's customary for a man to address a woman by her surname. Miss-?" He waited.
"I never did cotton much to being called miss," she said. "Makes it sound like I'm missin' out on somethin' just 'cuz I ain't got me no husband. Just call me Sarah."
He grinned. "You sure do have a different way of looking at things."
She wondered if he meant that as a compliment or criticism. It was hard to tell if he was serious. He didn't speak like anyone she knew. He pronounced each word fully with no clipped vowels or lazy drawls, and she wondered if perhaps he was part Irish.
"Where you from?" she asked.
"Boston," he said. "And you?"
She shrugged. "Here and there."
He accepted her answer without question. "So what happened?" he prodded. "Who shot the marshal?"
"Never saw the scoundrel before in my life," she replied. She gave an indignant toss of her head, and the world spun circles around her.
He placed a steadying hand on her shoulder. "Take it easy."
Not one to pay much heed to physical ailments, she pushed his hand away. "The fool man ambushed us and then done stole my horse."
The preacher sat back on his haunches and regarded her thoughtfully. "You better rest for a while." He turned his attention to the marshal, dabbing the man's feverish face with a cool, wet cloth.
"He ain't lookin' so good," she said.
She glanced at the two horses grazing a short distance away, thinking about the attack. She had pleaded with the marshal to stop so she could rest her weary bones. He cuff-linked her to himself and tucked the key into his saddlebags before letting her dangle her feet in the fresh, cool waters of the stream. As she and the marshal returned to the horses, they were ambushed without so much as a warning.
"If I ever get my hands on that no-good thief, he'll be cold as a wagon wheel," she vowed. She glanced at the preacher for a sign of objection, but his face was oddly expressionless. Whatever he was thinking, he kept it to himself.
Not that she cared what he thought. That scoundrel shot Marshal Owen in cold blood and left them both to die. What was she supposed to do? Forgive and forget?
"So why is the marshal holding you prisoner?" the preacher asked.
She stiffened at his question. "I reckon that's my bus'ness."
He studied her intently but didn't pursue the matter further. "Here, have some more water."
This time he watched her drink from his canteen, unassisted. Then he carefully unwrapped a small wedge of cheese and a generous portion of hard bread and handed it to her.
"Since you haven't eaten in a while, I think you should take it nice and easy," he cautioned.
Ignoring his warning, she stuffed the food into her mouth.
His dark brows slanted in a worried frown, but he said nothing until she had finished every last crumb. "That should tide you over for a while."
He handed her the canteen. After taking another sip, she tried to stand, fighting off the dizziness. The preacher held her down with a firm hand, and she glared up at him. "You ain't keepin' me here ag'inst my will."
"I think the marshal has something to say about that," he said, releasing her. "It would save us both a lot of trouble if you just sat back and concentrated on getting your strength back."
"My strength is back," she argued. She tried standing, again, this time more slowly. A wave of dizziness washed over her, but she stubbornly remained on her feet.
"I'm not stayin' here," she added when her head stopped spinning. Though still light-headed, she started toward the horses, but in her present state she was no match for him. In one easy movement, he clamped his hand around her arm, surprising her with his strength. He might be a city-born preacher, but he was no weakling.
"I'm not going to hurt you," he said in a low, soothing voice, his fingers wrapped tightly around her wrist. He waited for her to stop struggling, then he calmly snapped the marshal's handcuffs in place.
Furious, she pulled away and lashed out at him. "You have no right to do that! You ain't no lawman."
"Sorry," he said, and he actually sounded sincere. "It's for your own good. I don't want you taking off in your condition."
"My condition?" She studied him from the corner of her eye. "You make it sound like I'm gonna have me a baby."
The preacher's face turned red. Obviously, he wasn't used to plain talk. "I-I didn't mean to suggest you were in a ... f-family way," he stammered.
He looked so uncomfortable, Sarah almost felt sorry for him. "Now don't go getting yourself all in a powder," she said. "Take these things off me and I won't give it another thought."
"I'm sorry," he said, "but I can't do that. I need you to stay in place while I take the bullet out of the marshal's shoulder." Turning his back on her, he set about stacking rocks in a circle for a fire pit.
Exasperated, she flopped down on the ground and quietly seethed. She decided her only option was to watch the preacher's every move until she figured out a plan. "Know your enemies" was one rule she had learned early in life. Though, she had to admit, never before had she met a foe more pleasing to the eyes.
It wasn't often that she saw a man whose face wasn't scarred and whose nose was straight as the day he was born. Nor could she remember the last time she'd met a man who didn't smell of whisky and tobacco. Instead, the preacher smelled of sunshine and something else that filled her with a strange and unfamiliar longing.
Trying not to appear obvious, she kept a wary eye on him. He made several futile attempts to build a fire, and she shook her head in disbelief. The man knew about the Bible, but didn't know horsefeathers about the fundamentals of plain old livin'. He was as useless as a sundial in the shade. If she had to depend on him for survival, she was in worse shape than she thought.
Her disbelief grew as he heaped dry grass onto a mound, tossed in a small piece of green wood, and struck a safety match. As would be expected, the grass burned bright for a moment or two before the flames died in a cloud of gray smoke.
Excerpted from A Lady LIKE SARAH by Margaret Brownley Copyright © 2009 by Margaret Brownley. 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.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
This story was awesome! It remind me of Leather and Lace by Diann Mills in that the heroine was an outlaw. However, the similarities ended there. The plot was entirely different. I loved how the hero in the story was a preacher. What a fantastic way to set up a way to show the reader true Christianity. The inspirational storytelling by Ms. Brownley was superbly written. I was blown away by how powerfully the subtle spiritual messages were brought out in the novel. The entire story rang true to me as nothing seemed forced or inserted to prove a point or to make the book "Christian". It naturally showed through the plot and characters how real Christian faith is supposed to work. I also loved how the little stories in the Bible came out and how the heroine's faith grew through the many trials she faced. There were many, many touching moments in the story. And when it comes to suspense, I don't think I've felt this scared for a fictional character since reading The Mark of the Lion series by Francine Rivers back in the 90s. My heart went out to the hero and heroine because of their plight and their desire to be together, which seemed impossible barring a miracle. Wonderfully written, amazingly romantic, and spiritually sound, this book is making my top fiction list for 2009. It's fresh and exciting and I read the story in two days. This novel releases at the end of December. Make sure to get a copy and start the next year with a great book! I can't recommend it highly enough.
Well I'll be. I am for certainly unsure if I can say enough good things about the book "A Lady Like Sarah" or my new favorite author Margaret Brownley (and no it is not because of her elegant name). As many of you that read my reviews know, my favorite Christian Historical Romantic Comedy author of American west novels is Mary Connealy... well I can honestly say that Margaret Brownley rates right up there with this book and I am ecstatically (is that a word?) excited for more. More Rocky Creek Romance or more anything, just give me more. I was amused. I giggled and grinned. I chuckled and snuggled down further in my reading nook. I was irritated and emotional. I shed slight tears. I could hear Sarah's voice and see her boots. These characters were alive and amazing to me. I read an ARC, but you better believe this is one for the keeper shelf. On a final note: The saloon scene made me squeal and cry, and I love my fellow quilters and that is all I have to say about that.
This book begins with a great idea: a handsome, educated preacher from Boston escorting a young, pretty female outlaw to Texas. Many adventures follow (some sobering, others hysterical), and along the way, they fall in love. Unfortunately, Sarah's been sentenced to hang. Meanwhile, Justin encourages her to trust in her newfound faith and believe God for a miracle. It started out great for me, but it soon became predictable. I knew how it would end way too soon, and in fact, it seemed almost too easy for Sarah. Everything fell into place just in the nick of time. It was an okay read, but it didn't hold my interest like many other books do. I still don't understand why Justin fell in love with Sarah, except that she's pretty and speaks her mind. He came to care for her very early on, seemingly without knowing much about her true character. She's portrayed as a good-hearted, misunderstood young woman caught in the fallout of her brothers' thieving ways. There should have been more character development to make me truly care about Sarah and Justin. It's an easy read and enjoyable for what it is--light reading with a focus on Christian values.
Well I'll be. I am for certainly unsure if I can say enough good things about the book "A Lady Like Sarah" or my new favorite author Margaret Brownley (and no it is not because of her elegant name). As many of you that read my reviews know, my favorite Christian Historical Romantic Comedy author of American west novels is Mary Connealy... well I can honestly say that Margaret Brownley rates right up there with this book and I am ecstatically (is that a word?) excited for more. More Rocky Creek Romance or more anything, just give me more.I was amused. I giggled and grinned. I chuckled and snuggled down further in my reading nook. I was irritated and emotional. I shed slight tears. I could hear Sarah's voice and see her boots. These characters were alive and amazing to me. I read an ARC, but you better believe this is one for the keeper shelf. On a final note: The saloon scene made me squeal and cry, and I love my fellow quilters and that is all I have to say about that.
Sarah Prescott (who in mind is just like the red-headed cowgirl on Toy Story 2) is an outlaw running from justice when she crosses baths with Justin Wells, a preacher from the upper crust of Boston. She is not his idea of a woman and he's like no man she's ever met before. Together they travel from Missouri to Texas getting into scrapes and learning to rethink their first impressions.This book was okay, just not good enough. I didn't find the characters particularly believable for their time and place, more like the author just thought "you know what's fun? The west. Super." and proceeded as usual. I found it very difficult to believe that any man, even an eastern preacher, would travel by horse across U.S. in 1879 with only a knife as a weapon. And pacifist or no pacifist, the man foolish enough to do so would deserve to get eaten by a wild animal. The first portion of the book, with the preacher and the outlaw traveling the west together, was better than the second half, which was more concerned about the outlaw becoming a "lady." I have liked this genre in the past, but I would recommend something by Janette Oke over this in a heartbeat.
This is the second book I have read by Margaret Brownley and she writes a story I really enjoy reading. Her writing style reminds me somewhat of Mary Connealy's style of writing. This story is filled with "laughter, mishaps and adventures" as the back of the book cover states. This was the first story in the Rocky Creek Romance series. I had already read book #3 in this series and not having read them in order was not a big deal. The author has a way of catching your interest quickly, within the first few pages. In this story you find Justin Wells, a preacher who has left Boston for the tough country in Texas. He meets up with two people near death, a U.S. Marshal who is handcuffed to a redheaded outlaw being taken to Texas to hang. As Justin works to get this "lady" to Texas you find yourself falling in love with both of them. Sarah is such an open, outspoken "outlaw" who finds herself caring for someone for the first time in her life. And Justin is trying so hard to not care too deeply for Sarah. The interaction throughout this story kept me smiling for most of my way through this story. What can I say other than this is a very enjoyable read. Can't wait to read book #2 in this series soon!
This book put a smile on my face throughout the time I was reading it. It's cute, delightful, and romantic. I loved Sarah's character. She was so bold, outspoken, full of spirits, and completely oblivious on how women were suppose to act during that time, which made her character gleeful and interesting.
Good read. Movin on to book two.
Kept my attention all the way to the end.
This is one of the first love storys i ever read and its one of my fav. Any more like it let me know :) !!!
I really enjoy historical christian fictional romances and this book fit the bill. It made me laugh and some parts made me angry,but overall it helped build my faith. It would be nice to use as a bible talk guide for single couples.
I have only started the book but I already love it! Would recommend to anyone! ANYONE! Although a western romance, which is not as popular anymore, it has kept my interest, curiousity, ad the like!
I picked this book up in a used book store. I had never heard of this author before and was attracted by the cover. Sometimes a story starts out good but then gets silly or ends rather stupid. Not only was this a unique storyline but she kept my interest to the very end. I can sometimes guess what will happen next but I honestly didn't know how she was gonna get Sarah out of her predicament....and I wasn't disappointed.
Reverend Justin Wells comes from high society Boston to rugged Rocky Creek, Texas. He knows that Rocky Creek will be different than Boston but how much different? While traveling to Rocky Creek, he comes across a woman handcuffed to a dying Marshall. He tries to help the Marshall to stay alive but is unable. The woman, named Sarah Prescott, is unlike anyone he knew before. Her forthright manner intrigues him but it also alarms him. He once thought that all people think basically the same way but now meeting Sarah, he realizes that people (at least in Texas) have a different way of seeing things. Justin begins to worry that he no longer is fit for preaching, seeing how different it is in Texas. However, Justin believes that God will send the right people at the right time. Justin finds out how true that is throughout the book... Margaret Brownley's writing drew me in as I saw the hardships during the time period and how back then justice was often bribed. I loved this book and I can't wait to read more from Margaret Brownley.
This novel is about a tough outlaw with a heart of gold. Sarah Prescott may not know much about the Bible, or much about polite society, but she knows what she wants and she fights for it. A Lady Like Sarah is a high action story combined with a sweet romance. It was a quick, fun read with a strong faith element and it reminded me a little of another one of my favorite authors, Mary Connealy. I will definitely seek out other Margaret Brownley books
This book was very good. I read alot of christian fiction and I'm looking forward to reading the other books in this series.