Ride into the Rockies where love peaks between a tough Texas tomboy and a passionate artist. On her way to Montana, Sally McClellan’s party is attacked and robbed. But then artist Logan McKenzie saves the badly wounded cowgirl who has been left for dead. Can this landscape painter tame the tomboy without breaking her spirit? Sally doesn’t know much about ribbons and lace, but Logan’s presence makes her want to connect with her feminine side. Will this fractured female discover a way to capture the artist’s love—or find herself captured and killed by outlaws?
About the Author
Mary Connealy writes romantic comedy with cowboys. She is a Carol Award winner, and a RITA®, Christy, and Inspirational Reader’s Choice finalist. She is the bestselling author of the Wild at Heart series, Trouble in Texas series, Kincaid Bride series, Lassoed in Texas trilogy, Montana Marriages trilogy, Sophie’s Daughters trilogy, and many other books. Mary is married to a Nebraska cattleman and has four grown daughters and a little bevy of spectacular grandchildren. Find Mary online at www.maryconnealy.com.
Read an Excerpt
Wrangler in Petticoats
By Mary Connealy
Barbour Publishing, Inc.Copyright © 2010 Mary Connealy
All rights reserved.
Montana Territory, 1882
Sally McClellen fought to control her temper and her horse.
But her horse wasn't the problem. It was her temper upsetting the horse. He wouldn't have been acting fidgety if it weren't for her testy grip on the reins. So any trouble Sally had was all her own doing.
"None of this gets me one step closer to Mandy. She needs me." Sally was so anxious to get on down the trail she thought she might explode.
They rode around the curve of a steep mountain trail and in the distance caught their first glimpse of a river lined with high banks of stunning red rock.
"Sure it's a pretty sight, but—"
"It's more than pretty. It's beautiful." Paula McGarritt, Sally's traveling companion, looked at her and smiled. "Admit it. It was worth riding out here."
Mrs. McGarritt knew full well how impatient Sally was, but Mrs. McGarritt, sweet and friendly as she was, didn't let anyone push her around. The colonel's wife sat her horse sidesaddle in a proper riding dress. She had made her opinion known early and often about Sally's manly riding clothes and her habit of riding astride.
"It is beautiful." Sally stifled an irritated sigh. They were here now, staring at the rocks. As if none of this group had ever seen a rock before. They all lived in west Texas or New Mexico. Their whole world was pretty much made of rocks.
Sally relaxed her grip on the reins to spare her restless horse. They'd be at Mandy's in a few days. Less because they'd abandoned the trail and gone cross country. But Colonel McGarritt had agreed to the shortcut because he had a hankering to get out of the train and see some wild country. When Pa had asked if they'd see Sally safely to Mandy's house, the colonel had studied the area and decided he'd like to see several places along the trail—this canyon among them.
He'd have just stayed on the train, though, if it wasn't for Mandy living in the middle of nowhere with her no-account husband. So, Sally took the detours that interested the colonel and his wife in the best spirit she could manage. Griping didn't help and it made everyone else miserable.
Which wasn't to say she hadn't done plenty of it. But still— the group had voted. She'd lost. This was America. "Thank you for insisting we ride out here."
"You're welcome." Mrs. McGarritt grinned at Sally, not one bit fooled by her forced politeness. The older lady reached out her hand and Sally clasped it.
"Spectacular," Colonel McGarritt said. "Absolutely stunning."
Sally tore her eyes from the view to intercept Mrs. McGarritt's smug look. Paula was too polite to say, "I told you so." But Sally caught the superior look and didn't even mind.
The crimson bluffs were magnificent. But was it worth the time they'd wasted abandoning the most direct path? When Mandy might be in trouble? She was at least suffering from terrible homesickness. Her last letter had been a poorly concealed cry of loneliness. But with a third baby on the way and no womenfolk within fifty miles, she really needed the help as soon as possible.
No, this wasn't even close to worth it.
Only by sheer force of will did Sally keep her hands loose on her reins and a smile on her face. They had plenty of time to get to Mandy's before the baby came. And Sally knew, from the map Mandy had sent, that the site of her new home was going to take this party a long way out of their way, and the group had all gone along with it; and they'd been a sight more mannerly about it than she was being.
Mandy would soon have her third baby in three years of marriage. She needed help. A woman's help. Luther and Buff did what they could, but they had no place at the birth of Mandy's baby. Sally offered to go.
Ma and Pa had a dim view of Mandy's husband and they'd relented, though they'd made a fuss over losing another daughter to Montana. But Sally had promised not to let Montana keep her. She'd promised it wouldn't be forever. A year at most. Sally would help with the babies. Probably end up spending the winter with Mandy and no-account Sidney, then head home.
And now, instead of making the best time possible, here she sat staring at the admittedly beautiful canyon and river God painted with a blazing crimson brush.
She and Paula McGarritt rode with six men. All but Sally were making their way to Seattle. The group had been forming before Sally had gotten the idea to travel to see Mandy.
Pa would have never allowed Sally to travel so far alone. But once Pa had heard of this group of sturdy men, and the stalwart Mrs. McGarritt who would act as chaperone, he'd relented. Now the travelers were slowing Sally down.
She was well aware she should be ashamed of herself. Then she noticed she'd tightened her hands on the reins again and her horse was tossing its head. Sally relaxed and sat with the most patience possible beside Paula, who wore a prim riding skirt, her gray hair neatly hidden beneath her bonnet, her spine ramrod straight.
Sally knew about tough and considered herself as tough as they came. But she had to admit, the nearly sixty-year-old Paula McGarritt could keep up with her. Maybe not in a footrace, but the woman was frontier born and bred, and she was at home in rugged conditions. And these were rugged indeed.
Though Mrs. McGarritt had clung to her proper clothing to take this ride, Sally had slipped away once they'd left the train and changed into her wrangler clothes. Mrs. McGarritt had scolded, but Sally, already chafing under the delay, refused to change back, so Mrs. McGarritt had relented and allowed Sally to wear chaps and ride astride with a rifle strapped on her back.
Sally had won that small battle but lost on the sightseeing trip. Now here they were looking at pretty rocks when they should be making tracks for Mandy's house.
Mrs. McGarritt said, "Let's ride down closer. I want a better look."
Sally didn't like it, but she said nothing, resigned to the delay. Now she rode along to take a closer look than their bird's-eye view from a mountain crest. They funneled down the narrow trail.
The trail made its serpentine way down the mountain. Sally admitted it felt good to be on horseback again after the long train ride. They wove around a curve.
Sally looked at the sheer drop to her left and swallowed hard. They were as far out in the wilderness as a body could get. And this side trip down to those red rocks served no purpose. Food to hunt, cattle to round up, fine. But to stare at rocks, no matter how pretty? Sally shook her head but remained silent.
The land dropped off for a hundred feet on her left. The horses' hooves scratched along on the loose dirt and round pebbles. The trail was a steep slope downward, which meant slick even on this bone-dry day in June.
As the trail twisted, Sally saw the end of this dangerous stretch only a few yards ahead and breathed a sigh of relief to pass this particularly treacherous section of the trail. Now with only a few more tortuous yards to cover, Sally relaxed. "Mrs. McGarritt," she called out, wanting to tease the dear lady again about dragging Sally along on her joyride.
Paula, below Sally on the trail, gained nearly level ground. The cliff no longer yawned at her side. She turned in her saddle, smiling. "You can thank me later, girl. When you're dressed like a proper young lady again."
Thank her? Not likely and well Mrs. McGarritt knew it. The two of them exchanged a warm smile. Mrs. McGarritt really was a sweetheart, for a tough old bird.
Once she looked away, Sally gently brushed her fingertips over the front of her broadcloth shirt and felt the ribbon beneath the rough fabric. No one knew of Sally's fondness for ribbons and a bit of lace. She went to great lengths to keep her little bows and frills hidden, pinning them on her chemise when no one was around, removing them before laundry day so even Ma wouldn't see.
Admiring pretty things felt dangerous to Sally, so she didn't speak of it. Pa loved having her at his side on roundups and working the herd. For some reason, Sally felt certain that if she went girly on her pa, he might not love her as much. Oh, he'd always love her. She trusted in her pa's love. But he might not love her in the same way. With Beth and Mandy gone, Laurie owned Pa's heart as the princess. Sally's place was beside him riding the range.
Trusting her horse to manage the steep trail, Sally pondered this spark of womanly weakness that drew her to lace and frills and such nonsense. Her foolish daydreams ended with the sharp crack of gunfire.
Paula McGarritt slammed backward off her horse.
Sally's world slowed down and focused sharply as it always did in times of danger. Her hand went to her rifle before she spun to face the shooting.
Another bullet sounded, from above. Someone shooting from cover.
Smelling the burning gunpowder, hearing the direction of the bullets, Sally's gun was firing without her making a decision to aim or pull the trigger.
Mrs. McGarritt landed with a dull thud, flat on her back, behind her horse's heels, a bloom of red spreading in the center of her chest. She bounced once, kicking up a puff of dust, then lay still, her open eyes staring sightlessly at the sun.
Sally raged at the fine lady's death and focused on an outcropping of rocks hiding one of the outlaws. Her rifle fired almost as if it had a will of its own. The rock hiding the assailants was in front of other, larger rocks, and Sally consciously aimed for a ricochet shot, hoping to get around the stone.
A barrage of gunfire kept coming at her.
She dragged bullets from her gun belt as she emptied her weapon then reloaded as bullets whizzed by her head close enough she felt the heat of them.
They came from a different spot. She aimed in the direction of the shot and pulled the trigger as a second member of the colonel's party was shot off his horse, then a third.
Her horse staggered toward the cliff side, hit. Sally dived to the ground, throwing herself to the cliff side of the narrow trail, with only inches to spare between her and the edge. Her horse went down under the withering fire and fell toward her, screaming in pain.
Gunfire poured down like deadly rain.
Sally was now sure there were three of them. They'd lain in wait like rattlesnakes, attacked from the front, rear, and directly overhead, and were picking them off with vicious precision. Cold-blooded murderers.
Rolling even closer to the cliff, Sally avoided the collapsing horse. Raging at the senseless killing, she used her mount's thrashing body for meager shelter.
Fighting her terrified, dying horse, Sally rolled to her left just enough to twirl her rifle in her right hand, cock it, aim, and fire. She'd yet to see any of the coyotes who were attacking them, but aim was instinctive and she trusted it.
The men around her, the ones who hadn't died in the first hail of bullets, battled with her against the dry-gulchers shooting from cover. Sally saw Colonel McGarritt take one agonized look at his wife lying dead and turn back to the assault from overhead. He had a rifle in his right hand and a Colt six-shooter in the left. A constant roll of fire came from him as if his rage and grief were blazing lead.
A quick look told Sally only four men had survived the first shots. The cover was bad. Another man jerked backward, struck the ground hard, and collapsed on his back.
A cry from overhead told Sally somebody's bullet had found its mark. There were three shooters. With the cry, one of them quit firing.
Another of her companions collapsed to the ground. There just was no shelter. The horses weren't enough. Sally's horse neighed in pain and made a valiant lurching effort to regain its feet. The movement sent the horse—and Sally—dangerously close to the cliff. Bullets whizzed like furious bees from two directions. Sally aimed at the source of that vicious raining lead and fired as fast as she could jack another bullet into her Winchester.
Another yell from overhead and another of the three rifles fell silent. One was still in full action and she aimed in that direction.
A shout from behind told her Colonel McGarritt was hit, but his gun kept firing.
A bullet hit the trail inches from her head and kicked dirt into her eyes, blinding her. It didn't even slow her down because she was aiming as much with her ears and gut as with her vision. The remaining shooter switched between Sally and Colonel McGarritt with a steady roll of gunfire.
Sally clawed at her eyes to clear her vision in time to see Colonel McGarritt drop his gun and fall limp on his back. She was the last one of their party firing. Everyone was either dead or out of action.
God, have mercy on all of us. Have mercy on me. God, have mercy. God, have mercy.
Her trigger clicked on an empty chamber and she shifted to reload her Winchester. A bullet struck hard low on her belly. Her arms kept working so she refused to think of what a gut shot meant.
Praying steadily for mercy, for safety, for strength to survive the horrible wound, she squinted through her pained eyes to see her horse, riddled with bullets, kick its legs and make a hopeless effort to rise. Furious at the death and destruction around her, Sally was too disoriented to know left from right.
The dying horse staggered up then fell toward her. Sally rolled aside but not far enough. The horse slammed her backward. Clawing at the rock-strewn trail, she felt the ground go out from under her.
She pitched over the edge of the cliff and screamed as she plunged into nothingness.
* * *
"We got 'em," Fergus Reynolds yelled and laughed when the last one went down. He pushed back his coonskin cap and scratched his hair, enjoying the triumph. "We earned our pay today. Let's go collect."
He rose from the rocks he'd chosen for their vantage point on the trail and headed for his horse. Swinging up, he thrust his rifle in his scabbard and kicked his chestnut gelding into motion.
That's when he saw his brother. Dead. Curly Ike, with that same weird streak of white in his hair that Fergus and Pa both had. He lay sprawled in the dirt, his chest soaked in blood.
Fergus tasted rage. No one killed one of the Reynolds clan without punishment.
He, Tulsa, and Curly had a habit of keeping their ears open in town. This bunch had gotten off the train and talked of the trail they'd take, straight out in the wilderness. There was some sight out the way these folks were riding that drew a small but steady stream of sightseers, so Fergus knew right where to lie in wait.
Fergus and his gang had gotten to their vantage point and been ready. Only after they opened up on them did Fergus realize that they'd taken on a salty bunch. Most of the folks that rode this trail were easy pickings. But not this crowd. They'd fought back hard, thrown themselves off their horses and scrambled for shelter, their guns in action almost instantly.
"That cowpoke who went over the cliff shot me!" Tulsa came down the trail toward the horses, raging. "Creased my shootin' arm."
Fergus looked at his saddle partner and wondered bitterly why Tulsa was alive while his brother was dead. Fergus remembered from his youth that his family had been one for feuding and fighting for family. It burned him now that his brother was dead. But those who had killed him were beyond paying for that. The family sticks together.
Fergus even thought of his name. His real name. One he'd left behind long ago. "Curly's dead."
Tulsa fumbled at his blood-soaked arm, trying to stop the bleeding. He barely spared a glance at Curly, and that made Fergus killing mad. "I put a bullet in the gut of the one who went over the side. He was still aiming and shooting when he was gut shot. He was dead while he was still fightin'. He was just too stupid to know it."
Fergus could taste the rage and the need for revenge. But how did a man avenge himself against someone who was dead?
"He got off a lucky shot." Tulsa flexed his hand as he rolled up his shirtsleeve.
No luck, no how. Skill. Cold-blooded warriors. Fergus and his saddle partners had never had much trouble finding a few travelers who could be separated from their money. They'd loiter around town, watch for people heading out into the back country, then ride ahead and lie in wait. They picked folks who were passing through so no one noticed when they didn't come back to town, and wherever they were going, if people there missed them, they didn't know where to start hunting.
But today they'd bought into the wrong fight and it had cost his brother's life.
Excerpted from Wrangler in Petticoats by Mary Connealy. Copyright © 2010 Mary Connealy. Excerpted by permission of Barbour Publishing, Inc..
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
WRANGLER IN PETTICOATS by Mary Connealy is an amazing inspirational historical romance set in 1882 Montana territory. It is the second in the Sophie's Daughter's series but can be read as a stand alone. It is well written with details and depth. It has romance, intrigue, faith, love, mayhem, murder, treachery,humor, sacrifice,finding ones true love, ones self and inner peace. The hero, Logan, is a painter, strong, handsome, a loner, and true to his self. The heroine, Sally, is strong willed, tough, brave, a crack shot with a rifle and determined. While Sally and group of her friends are headed to Montana territory to visit with Sally's sister, Mandy, they are attacked by three back shooter outlaws. Sally is the only one to survive. The outlaws think she is dead. They also don't know she is female, because she is dressed as a male. Sally has fallen several feet down a crevice, been shot and is found by Logan, the painter. Logan takes her to his mountain cabin, so his Indian healer/housekeeper can help her. In the process, Logan is fascinated with Sally, her bravery, sense of humor, her need to survive and determined nature. Sally, is fascinated with Logan also, his sense of beauty, his love of nature and painting, his protection of her and his determination to marry her. They fall in love and will figure out how to live together with his love of painting and her love of the land. This is a wonderful story of love, trust, faith and the coming together of two worlds. You will also see characters from the first in Sophie's Daughters, Mandy, Luther, Buff, Tom, and Mandy's husband. If you enjoy sweet romance, love, the old west, and triumph you will enjoy this one. I would highly recommend this book. I enjoy all of this author's books. This book was received for review from Net Galley and details can be found at Barbour Publishing and My Book Addiction and More.
I love all of Mary Conneally's books , Unfortunately Barnes and Noble does not always offer good christian fiction books on ebook. If I would have known then what I know now I would have bought a kindle. amazon has everything I want in christian fiction!!! So buy a Kindle not a Nook!!!!!
Yet another book I didn't want to put down! - Another great book by Mary, another book I didn't want to put down. I like the way she seems to make you feel you are right there in the action and believe me with these McClellan women there is action in what they do. If you haven't read any of her books you need to. Start with the Lassoed in Texas series, go on to the Montana Marriages series and end up with the Sophies's Daughers series. I have one book left in this series and then I don't know what I'll do!
The trip Sally's making to visit with Mandy, her sister, is taking much too long. She's traveling with a group who just can't fathom why it's more important for her to get where she's going than to see the wonders God has created. Yet, in their defense - that is the purpose of their trip - if not hers. Things quickly go from bad to worse when they're struck by thieves. To Sally's misfortune she falls off the cliff and down the face of the canyon - hitting every tree branch on her way down. The artist sketching at the bottom can't see how anyone could have lived from that fall yet, here, this girls appears to be alive - barely. If only he'd become a doctor at his father's prompting instead of the artist he is. It's too late for regrets, though, and barely enough time to get her to safety and medical attention. The back-shooting thieves can't believe their luck! They've really made out on this team of travelers. Now, all they need to do is find the cowpoke who toppled off the cliff, grab his snazzy Winchester, and kick this town for a while.
How can anyone possibly go wrong with reading Mary Connealy books? It would be baffling to think that someone WOULDN'T like her amazing, funny, sweet and lovable books! From the laughter, to sweet cowboys, to a touch of suspense in each one, her books are GLOURIOUSLY WOWmazing. And, each new addition to her series collections seem to get better and better with each one. I loved the characters in this book even more than the ones in Doctors in Petticoats (though we saw Sarah in that one as well,as a secondary character). Sweet Sarah's character instantly worked her way into my heart and became like a sister to me. Her steadfast faith in God, even in a time of terrible circumstances, was amazing and was a shining point in this book. Her easy going, wrangling nature was easy to love, even while she was injured after the terrible attack. The only downside to Sarah is, that she doesn't have a lot of womanly ways about her....she's too busy trying to be rough and tough on the outside to please her pa so he'll still love her, while on the inside...well, on the inside, she simply wants to wear some frills. So, what happens when Sarah meets warm-hearted, God-fearing Logan, who's come to her rescue? Now that Logan....whewee! THAT is one awesome cowboy who I'd like to come to my rescue...not that I need rescuing or anything. Just saying. Mary really knows how to create them God loving, ruggedly gorgeous looking family men. His tenderness and love for God out did some of the other characters in this book. In a good way, of course. So, once more, I sing the highest of 5 star praises for this funny, charming God filled addition to Sophie's Daughters. With just a touch of mystery to give it twists, Connealy's cowboys, laughter and Western country are the perfect themes to her perfect books and meant for every book lover's shelves! I can't WAIT to read Sharpshooter in Petticoats, book 3 in this laugh out loud series.
Mary Connealy does it again in this action packed western that starts with a bang. Literally. You are always entertained with Ms Connealy's books from start to finish. Her heroines are true women of the west. You definitely had to be feisty, strong, resourceful and brave to tackle the historical West and her characters reflect those qualities. WRANGLER IN PETTICOATS is the second in a series featuring Sophie's Daughters from Petticoat Ranch. I love how their lives intertwine. In DOCTOR IN PETTICOATS, we had glimpses of Mandy's life and we definitely partook of her life in WRANGLER IN PETTICOATS even thought he story was mainly Sally's. So I can hardly wait for January when SHARPSHOOTER IN PETTICOATS debuts and we find a happy ending for Mandy. Oh I'm definitely looking forward to it. Don't be distracted by the cover of WRANGLER IN PETTICOATS which is Monument Valley, Arizona. The story takes place in the awesome setting of Yellowstone in Montana. Ms. Connealy always brings her settings to life and makes them a distinct part of the story. So be prepared for Yellowstone. I definitely recommend this book. It was sent to me from Barbour (the publisher) for review.
Who would have thought a gun toting, fast draw female and a paint slinger artist would make such a great story? The story barrels out with an immediate cliffhanger-literally- as Sally dangles for her life. And as she tumbles into Logan's life, neither will ever be the same. I loved the interaction between characters. Their internal monologue filled with snarky quips and punctuated dialogue. The pace of the novel is quick and to the point. Both of Sally's and Logan's obsessions with their chosen professions grate on each other's nerves and occasionally on that of the reader, but as I came to understand the characters, I also had a deeper appreciation for them. And no character is perfect so to see one grow stronger while the other experienced a moment of weakness delves into the strength of their development. But my favorite part was the subplot. Mandy and her husband Sydney, I really can't wait until her story is completely unearthed. And the depth of these subplots! Each subplot was its own story that seamlessly interested to weave a tapestry of a story that makes me so very eager for the next novel. Page turning moments through the entire book, but quickly escalated at the very end. There was no putting this book down during the last 50 pages! I would definitely say that WRANGLER IN PETTICOATS in Mary Connealy's best!
We've all heard of the cliffhanger ending but we're talking Mary Connealy here, the queen of surprise and humor, so the cliffhanger is at the beginning of the book! Our heroine, Sally goes over the edge (literally) and so things can only go up from there. Sassy Sally and sensitive Logan mix like oil and water so the tension between these two is thick as molasses and makes this my favorite of Ms. Mary Connealy's books...so far. If you're a fan of adventure, romance, feisty heroines, and different than usual heroes you will get all of those things in this novel. I got it yesterday and could not put it down. It was easy to read and there was so much going on it was hard to put it down to do the necessary chores around the house. The dishes did pile up and the dust got thicker on the furniture in my home so don't say I didn't warn you when the kids are wondering where supper is or when that paper that is due tomorrow doesn't get done! Mary Connealy's books are romantic dramadies at their finest, not only that but they have great messages. This book is all about using God given talents no matter what others may say. If God gave you the talent to write, you write. If God gave you the talent to paint, then paint! While there is somewhat of an opposites attract thing going on with Sally and Logan I really think they have a lot in common because they both believe that nobody understands them. So two people trying to do their level best to fight their attraction do find common ground by understanding that each is the person who God wants them to be. All in all Wrangler in Petticoats is a terrific romance and from what I've read of Sally's sister, Mandy in this book and in Doctor in Petticoats I have the feeling that Sharpshooter in Petticoats is going to be a wild ride! *I received my copy from the author but I wasn't obligated to provide a review.*
Sally McClellan is on her way to visit her pregnant sister Mandy when her group is ambushed by gunmen on the trail. She ends up being shot off her horse and tumbles over a giant cliff. The last thing she sees before blacking out is the face of a man leaning over her. Later, she finds out that man is Logan McKenzie. He was out in the wilderness minding his own business and sketching when he saw Sally tumble. Now his only thought is to keep her alive. While Sally slowly recovers, she finds friends in Logan and Wise Woman. But as the terrible gunmen are closing in on her tracks, will she and Logan find a way to keep their lives and love safe? *sigh* Why is it that I never tire of reading Mary Connealy's books? I cruised right through this one, the only interruption being a day at work. The story moved along at rapid-fire speed! I kept turning the pages, reading ravenously until the very end. I've said it before, but Mary Connealy excels at writing action. Seriously. Edge-of-your-seat action. I totally feel for poor Mandy, who is in the toughest spot imaginable - with a no good man, but still trying to do the right thing. I liked watching Wise Woman repair broken Sally and seeing the techniques that would have been used back in 1882. And a last little note worth mentioning is that I think this is the steamiest book from Mary Connealy yet! There weren't any sparks between Sally and Logan, there was a downright SMOLDER. Very romantic and swoony. I am waiting with baited breath to read Sharpshooter in Petticoats and get some closure in Mandy's story!