Lassoing a Groom

Lassoing a Groom

How is a woman supposed to catch a husband? In the wild, wild west, she’s got to find a way to Lasso a Groom! Some of them are lawmen…some are outlaws. Ranchers and homesteaders are fair game, as well—none of ’em safe from love’s lariat, or the women who finally manage to rope ’em in!

“Don’t Go Snaring My Heart” by Jacquie Rogers
Can rancher Dex Madsen get past loner Betsy Lynch’s goats and killer chicken to help save her mining claim and win her heart?

“Race to Marry” by Kirsten Lynn
He’s in town to tame a man-killer. She’s accused of being one. When she proposes marriage the race is on.

“Wanted: The Sheriff” by Tracy Garrett
He’s a confirmed bachelor…but she’ll capture his heart.

“Canyon Crossing” by Kristy McCaffrey
In search of her brother, Annabel Cross enters Grand Canyon. When U.S. Deputy Marshal Angus Docherty rescues her from a cliff side, her most guarded secret might save them.

“The Perfect Homestead Bride” by Linda Hubalek
Will a dangerous man from Gussie Hamner’s past sabotage the future she’s building with Noah Wilerson?

“The Worst Outlaw in the West” by Kathleen Rice Adams
An inept bank robber and a bossy spinster team up to rob an empty vault. What could go wrong?

 

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Excerpt

An inept bank robber and a bossy spinster team up to rob an empty vault. What could go wrong?

“The Worst Outlaw in the West”

Prudence Barrett slammed the ledger before she acted on an urge to rip every page from the spine, wad up the pieces, and light a bonfire right there on Peter’s desk.

A second set of books. She should have known her brother would lie. Again.

Leather creaked as Pru leaned back in the chair, hands clasped at her lips, gaze glued to Peter’s betrayal. With the state auditor due in less than a month, how would they explain the missing funds?

Fifty years of trust in the Barrett Bank, everything her father had built, gone in an instant if word got out. Walter Maxwell Barrett, the man who once held Granite City’s future in his hands, deserved better.

Peter, on the other hand, deserved to go to jail. Now there was a scandal the gossips would relish, bigger even than last week’s hasty departure of the town marshal and both of his deputies.

Her brother had to be stopped.

As though she had summoned him, the office door opened and Peter’s too-smooth baritone barged into the room. “I am always at your service, Mrs. Whitworth. Have a good evening.” He ducked inside, cheeks puffing around a gust of relief. “Lord, save me from simpering women. If her husband weren’t—”

His gaze fell on Pru, and his eyes narrowed. “What are you doing behind my desk?”

She slammed a hand on the cluttered desktop and pushed to her feet, brandishing the shadow ledger. “What are you doing?”

Peter crossed the lush carpet in three long strides and made a grab for the book. Clutching the evidence to her bosom, Pru ducked out of reach.

Her brother cocked a blond brow. “Snooping are we? Is nothing beneath you?”

“I could ask the same of you. Peter, you promised—”

“That I’d fix the problem. And I will.”

“By making more bad investments?”

He stalked her across the room until her bustle met the wall. “I’ll not tolerate sass, Prudence. It’s unbecoming.” Lips pinched in a thin line, he tore the ledger from her grasp. “Mind your own business and leave mine to me.”

“This is my business.” She stomped after him to the ornate roll-top desk. No wonder Peter had replaced Father’s simple table with the gaudy beast. Her brother could hide all manner of skeletons in the monster’s compartments and cubbyholes. “If you’re planning another risky scheme, I swear I’ll—”

“Do what? Tell someone?” His chuckle pulled a chill up her spine. “Now let’s think about that. Half of Granite City has never noticed you exist, and the other half doesn’t care. Lest we forget…” He swept her with a look of undisguised disdain. “There’s a reason you’re unmarried at your age. When a banker’s daughter can’t make a suitable match—” he cocked his head “—even to save her family from ruin…”

Pru snapped her arms akimbo beneath her bosom and sharpened her glare. “You snake. I shouldn’t have to save this family. I didn’t make the mess.”

“Oh? Tell that to the people who’ll storm the bank if you go blabbing.” His lips curled in a humorless smirk. “And who do you think they’ll blame? Me?” He waggled the ledger. “Or the unbalanced spinster who keeps the books?”

Pru’s jaw dropped on an incredulous gasp.

“Close your mouth, little sister. You look like one of those hysterical women who find themselves bundled off to a lunatic asylum.”

Her teeth met with a sharp click. “You wouldn’t. Father won’t allow it.”

“You presume too much.” Peter shoved the ledger onto a shelf within the desk. “Father’s lucky he hasn’t been locked in the attic already. Mrs. Simpkins tells me he chased the Yankees through the kitchen again yesterday, waving that dull saber and the old LeMat.”

Thank goodness the housekeeper had grown accustomed to Father’s eccentricities. And thank Heaven the pistol wasn’t loaded. Although, considering Peter’s proclivity for larceny, perhaps it should be.

Pru chased away the shameful thought. Family was family, even if certain members couldn’t be trusted.

“I’ve plenty of time to cover the losses before the auditor arrives.” Spreading his fingers across the louvered wood, Peter lowered the desk’s tambour and turned a key in the latch.

Then he dropped the key into his watch pocket.

Pru ground her teeth. Well, shoot.

As Peter grabbed his swallowtail coat and top hat from the tree in the corner, he glanced over his shoulder at the portrait on the wall. Except for their father’s mutton-chop whiskers, her brother could have been a younger version of the man in the painting. A small frown flickered across his brow. Had the expression crossed anyone’s face but Peter’s, Pru might have attributed the twitch to regret.

“I’m meeting with some…financial experts…this evening. I’ll be late. Don’t hold supper.” By the time his hand gripped the gleaming brass doorknob, no trace of the odd expression remained. “I’ll lock up in front on my way out. Remember to secure the vault before you leave.”

The carved walnut panel snicked shut behind him.

Frustration clamped Pru’s fist around the lamp on Peter’s desk. Her arm was only half-cocked to hurl the brass-and-glass abomination when his accusation ricocheted inside her skull: unbalanced spinster.

She set down the lamp and drew a steadying breath.

From its gilt frame, the life-size portrait of her father draped her with the benevolent fortitude that not so long ago had defined Barrett Bank’s founder. Iron wrapped in a pillow…until these past few years. The pillow remained, but the iron had rusted.

Part of Pru rusted right along with him. Her vision misted. “I miss you, Father.” The Walter Barrett she remembered would have reined in his son with little more than a glance. For Pru, the challenge might prove insurmountable.

She blinked away unshed tears and retreated to her small desk in the corner. Sturdy and unadorned, the polished mahogany table served her father well from the day he opened the bank until the day he retired. Peter had threatened to chop the precious memento into kindling.

“Drab and boring. I suppose the two of you suit one another.” Her brother dismissed her and the furniture with a wave of his hand. “If you’re going to keep the godawful thing, hide it behind a plant or something.”

A bittersweet smile crept across Pru’s lips as she petted the table’s smooth surface. “We’ll sort this out, won’t we? Barrett Bank has seen harder times and survived. At least we’ve never been robbed.” She sighed. “By outsiders, anyway.”