Authors: Vickie McDonough
Praise for Gabriel's Atonement
“Vickie McDonough gives readers a special treat as she blends her signature vivid descriptions of the prairie with fascinating details about the land rush. More than simply a tale of love and adventure,
is a story of an important but rarely seen period in American history.”
âAmanda Cabot, author of
At Bluebonnet Lake
“Vickie McDonough is at the top of her game with
. Historical facts are deftly woven into a plot that sings and characters that seem so real as to want to walk off the page. The exciting story of a young widow and rugged gambler set during an Oklahoma land rush was a delight to read.”
âMargaret Brownley, bestselling author of The Brides of Last Chance Ranch and Undercover Ladies series
“Vickie McDonough's brilliant storytelling shines in
. Gabriel will capture your heart. The best âbad guy' I've ever fallen in love with! And the best land run romance since
Far and Away
âAmy Lillard, Carol Awardâwinning author of
“I've long known about Vickie McDonough's interest in Oklahoma history, especially the Oklahoma land runs. She took the details of history and skillfully worked them into the lives of her characters, who leapt off the page and grabbed my heart. Using several plot lines that could have been ripped from the pages of Oklahoma history, she wove them carefully together to give an interesting and thoroughly satisfying tale. You won't want to miss this wonderful read.”
âLena Nelson Dooley, multi-award-winning author of
, book three of the McKenna's Daughters series
“Get out the popcorn.
reads like a movie you don't want to end. The suspense of Gabe keeping his âsecret' and what the reaction of the widowed Lara will be is âjust right.' McDonough paints the setting with details that make the story come to life. Looking forward to reading more by her as she keeps getting better and better.”
âDiana Lesire Brandmeyer, author of
The Festive Bride, A Bride's Dilemma in Friendship, Tennessee
Mind of Her Own
“This delightful prairie romance brings together a handsome gambler, looking for a reason to change, and a lonely widow with a sweet spirit who just might provide the motivation. Their involvement with the Oklahoma land rush adds to the fun and adventure of the story. Vickie McDonough is known for her well-drawn characters, realistic settings, and heart-stopping romance, and she has done it again with
. Readers who enjoyed her previous books will love this new story.”
âCarrie Turansky, award-winning author of
The Governess of Highland Hall
The Daughter of Highland Hall
“Guilt and regret can destroy a man or lead him into the arms of love. Hold on tight to the reins and prepare for a thrilling ride!”
âDiAnn Mills, bestselling author of the FBI: Houston series
“Once again Vickie McDonough delivers a great novel that comes sweeping down the plains to Oklahoma in the days preceding the land rush. Gabriel is seeking atonement for past sins and a new life in Oklahoma Territory. Lara Talbot desires a new home for her son, sister, and father. When they meet, sparks fly in a story that captures the spirit of the times and will keep the reader turning the pages.”
âMartha Rogers, author of the series The Homeward Journey and Winds Across the Prairie
is packed with action, romance, and suspense. I loved the characters, loved the setting, loved the historical detail. Thanks for another great read, Vickie McDonough!”
âSusan Page Davis, author of the Prairie Dreams series
tops my list of Vickie McDonough's historical romances to date. What isn't there to love about a handsome gambler in the Old West who's trying to do the right thing and a lovely widow who's struggling to make ends meetâwith a love story that develops amidst action, adventure, intrigue, and a setting that comes to life on the page? Don't miss this oneâit's a keeper.”
âMiralee Ferrell, bestselling author of
Blowing on Dandelions
Â© 2015 by Vickie McDonough
Print ISBN 978-1-62836-951-9
Adobe Digital Edition (.epub) 978-1-63409-154-1
Kindle and MobiPocket Edition (.prc) 978-1-63409-155-8
All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted for commercial purposes, except for brief quotations in printed reviews, without written permission of the publisher.
All scripture quotations are taken from the King James Version of the Bible.
This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are either products of the author's imagination or used fictitiously. Any similarity to actual people, organizations, and/or events is purely coincidental.
Cover design: Faceout Studio,
Published by Shiloh Run Press, an imprint of Barbour Publishing, Inc., P.O. Box 719, Uhrichsville, Ohio 44683,
Our mission is to publish and distribute inspirational products offering exceptional value and biblical encouragement to the masses
Printed in the United States of America.
The rich man's wealth is his strong city, and as an high wall in his own conceit. Before destruction the heart of man is haughty, and before honour is humility
Kansas City, Kansas
March 16, 1889
he cool metal of the Morgan silver dollar warmed as it rolled over Gabe's knuckles and between his fingers. One thing he'd learned in the last nine years was how to read people, and the cocky cowpoke at the bar looked ripe for the picking.
Like an early morning fog, hazy smoke floated in the saloon's tepid air. The cowpoke swigged back his drink and slammed his shot glass onto the counter, patted his pocket, and looked in the direction of the gaming tables. Gabe caught his gaze and nodded.
With a leering grin, the cowboy brushed past Trudy, one of the buxom saloon girls, and strode across the room toward Gabe. “I'm of a mind to double my money.”
“Are you now?” He leaned back in his seat, one arm over the back of the chair, and waved a hand. “Have a seat,” he hollered to be heard over the din of the crowd. He recognized the man from a month ago when he lost his paycheck at Tricky Dan's table. If he remembered right, the cowboy worked for Walt Whiteman, owner of the largest cattle ranch in the areaâand the best paying one.
“The name's Tom Talbot.” He nodded and pulled a pouch of coins from his pants pocket.
“Gabe Coulter. What's your game?”
“Five Card Stud.”
Slim Trenton and Will McDaniels, two other regulars, pulled out chairs and joined them. The tinny music of the piano mixed with masculine laughter and chatter as men at each table talked loud enough to be heard over the racket. With his thumb and forefinger, Gabe slowly pulled his pistol out of his jacket holster as usual and laid it on the tableâa sign that he brokered no funny business.
Two hours later, the cockiness had gone out of Talbot's blue eyes, replaced by disbelief at the first hand he lost, and then simmering anger as he tossed the last of his coins into the pot. Gabe had seen that look many times in his years as a gambler, even felt it himself often in the beginning of his career. But he couldn't tell whether Talbot was angry at himself or Gabe.
Talbot ran a shaky hand through his disheveled, curly blond hair and shoved away from the table. “That's it. I'm broke.”
Slim pushed up from the table. “Guess that pretty wife of yours ain't gettin' no money again this month.”
Talbot grabbed the man by the collar. Gabe rested his hand on his pistol and watched. With a loud growl, Talbot heaved Slim backward into the wall. Then he turned and sidestepped, bumping into a barmaid, and wove his way to the exit. The double saloon doors banged and remained swinging as Talbot lurched outside.
“Come on, Will. Time to head back to the ranch.” Slim rubbed the back of his head where it had smacked the wall then bent and picked up his hat from the floor.
Will, the last cowpoke still seated, pushed upward, wobbled, and then grinned as he got to his feet. “I just need one more drink afore I hit the trail.”
Slim grabbed his arm. “You've had enough for tonight. Let's go.”
Gabe watched them leave. He glanced around, knowing nobody was paying him any attention now that the action was over. He slid the glass of whiskey that had been sitting on the table most of the evening toward him, then dumped it down the knothole in the floor near the leg of the table. He couldn't stand the taste of liquor and didn't like what it did to a man, but in order to keep his table, he had to buy a few drinks now and then, as well as fork over a percentage of his earnings.
He pocketed the coins along with a scratched but decent pocket watch he'd just won. Then he stood and stretched. Long ago, he'd eased his mind over taking hard-earned money from businessmen and poor cowboys. He never forced anyone to gamble. Men played games of chance for fun and relaxation after a hard week's work, and if they wanted to risk their wages, who was he to deny them the opportunity? Occasionally he lost, but he read people so well now that he generally came out on the winning end. Stretching, he decided to call it an early night.
Selma, a pretty brunette saloon girl, sashayed over and nuzzled up to him. “How about some company tonight, Gabriel?”
He didn't miss the sensual way she purred out his full name, or her pouty lips and the pleading in her dull brown eyes. But he never indulged in women of the night. The memory of his motherâa kind and godly woman, a lady who smelled of flowers and fresh bread, not whiskey, cheap perfume, and smokeâkept him from compromising himself. That, and the promise he'd made his ma.
Gabe shook his head. “Not tonight, Selma.”
She stuck out her lower lip as he set her aside. “It's never
with you.” She turned and brushed up against one of the town's bankers, who leered at her then tugged her to him.