Under the Desert Sky

BOOK: Under the Desert Sky
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Sara Luck brings the pride and passion of frontier men and women to vivid life in these blazingly hot Western romances!

A Family for Maddie

A fearless governess comes to the aid of five young girls in need of a home—and catches the eye of one rugged Montana businessman with a wounded heart. Their desire is strictly off-limits, but it only takes a spark to unleash the heat of forbidden love!

“Western readers longing for authentic settings and sweet romance will find it all. . . . Rich in colorful, historical details. A memorable love story.”

—RT Book Reviews


A Family for Maddie
has vividly described adventures and heartwarming romantic moments.”

—Single Titles

Hearts Afire

In the wake of a shattering betrayal, a dazzling actress flees New York. Arriving in Colorado Springs, she is swept into a tumult of striking gold miners—and rescued by a mine owner who knows when he's found something precious.

“Love and excitement fill every page of Luck's story.
Hearts Afire
is the kind of romance you can't put down.”

—
Fresh Fiction


Hearts Afire
will capture your senses. This book will show readers true love is worth risking your heart for, and maybe much more.”

—The Bibliophilic Book Blog

Hearts Unbound

A captivating Basque beauty sparks the desire of a hard-living Boise physician—but her father has chosen a man for her, also a Basque. Will the challenges of the lonely Idaho range force tradition to cross a daring boundary?

“Not your typical Eastern-lady-meets-frontier-doctor Western . . . If you're looking to be transported somewhere unusual, and if you enjoy family/cultural conflict, I recommend
Hearts Unbound
. . . . A solid read.”

—
All About Romance

Rimfire Bride

A pretty and courageous schoolteacher comes to Bismarck and turns heads as a dress model in a shopwindow! And in the arms of the handsome single father who owns Rimfire Ranch, she discovers what home feels like.

“Luck's devotion to historical accuracy shines again . . .
Rimfire Bride
warms the heart.”

—
RT Book Reviews

“Exciting . . . A must-read . . . You feel as if you are there in 1882.”

—
My Book Addiction Reviews

Tallie's Hero

A
Publishers Weekly
Top 10 Romance for Fall 2012

The dangerous American West is no place for a genteel British novelist fleeing a scandal . . . but one plucky lady embraces the spirit of Wyoming—and captures the heart of her new hero, a daring rancher with big dreams of his own.

“The Wild West retains its appeal in
Tallie's Hero
.”

—
Publishers Weekly

“Steamy Western romance.”

—
Fresh Fiction

Claiming the Heart

As the Texas and Pacific Railroad expands across the wild frontier, a spirited young woman experiences the triumphs and tumult of building a part of history . . . and loving a track man bound to a politically powerful family.

“Terrific . . . An enjoyable nineteenth-century Americana tale.”

—
Genre Go Round

“Fast-paced, engaging.”

—
Romantic Times

Susanna's Choice

Sara Luck's “promising debut”! (
Romance Reviews Today
)

In a dusty Nevada mining town, an aspiring newspaperwoman crosses paths with a wealthy entrepreneur from San Francisco, and everything changes—including her own uncertain destiny.

“Heart-warming . . . Sensual . . . This one's a keeper!”

—
Night Owl Reviews
(5 stars, A Night Owl Top Pick)

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Preface

I hope you enjoy
Under the Desert Sky
. People often ask writers where they get their ideas. Every family has stories that are told over and over, and through the years they get a little embellished. This is one such story. My grandmother often told us how her father, who had been a wealthy banker, lost the family fortune by investing in ostrich farming in Arizona. I wondered if this might be the genesis for a story, so I began my research, and what I found was fascinating.

Ostriches were indeed raised in the Salt River Valley, Arizona Territory, the first one being hatched in 1891. From then until the beginning of World War I, ostrich feathers were in worldwide demand in haute couture. In 1900, the United States imported $300,000 worth of feathers, and by 1910, South Africa was exporting ostrich plumes to the tune of $15 million, $5 million of which came to the American market. When I read these figures, I could understand why my great-grandfather decided to sink his money into an ostrich farm. I just wish he'd been better at market timing!

Prologue

Mount Olive, Illinois
1894

“D
aughter, I think it's time you and I had a talk.” Malachi Pence disappeared into his bedroom and returned with two envelopes. “I want you to read this.” He handed Phoebe an envelope.

Phoebe withdrew a piece of paper and began to read:

Young woman with good moral upbringing wishes a position as cook or general housekeeper, city or country: latter preferred. Box 27, Mount Olive, Illinois.

“Papa, what is this? That's our address.”

“Yes, it is.” Malachi lowered his head. “You can't stay here. Everybody knows what your mother did, and they aren't going to let you live it down. I want you to marry a nice boy and have a family and be happy, but you saw what Virgil Hemann's ma did when she found out your mother ran off with the preacher.”

“It's all right, Papa. I didn't want to marry Virgil anyway.”

“But don't you see? There'll be other Virgils who'll think because your mother divorced me, you'll do the same. You need to leave Mount Olive.”

“I can't do that. I can't leave you all alone.”

Malachi smiled. “You don't have to worry about me. We both know Mrs. Droste has her cap set for me.”

Phoebe's eyes began to cloud as she focused on the paper in her hand.

“That's a classified I ran in a half dozen newspapers. I figured you'd enjoy the West.”

“Nobody's going to answer an ad like that.” Phoebe held back tears.

“They already have. How does Phoenix, Arizona Territory, sound to you?” He handed her the second envelope.

1

Cape Town, South Africa
1900

C
hristian De Wet paced back and forth in the library of the house of Mrs. Marie Van Koopmans, the woman who'd raised him. Nineteen years ago he'd been living on the docks, surviving by his wits and the occasional handouts of strangers. Called Jacktar by the sailors, that was the only name he had ever known. When he was injured by a horse, Cecil Rhodes, a British businessman who had just stepped off a ship returning from England, took the injured boy first to the doctor, then to his good friend Mrs. Van Koopmans.

Rhodes and Mrs. Van Koopmans had named him, Rhodes calling him Christian, and Mrs. Van Koopmans giving him the surname De Wet, which had been her maiden name. She had assigned him the age of ten, by which reckoning he was now twenty-nine.

Mrs. Van Koopmans became his surrogate mother and Rhodes his mentor, providing an education for him at the Oriel College in Oxford. After graduation, Rhodes employed him in the offices of the Chartered Company in London for eight years.

Over the last few years Christian had been caught up in the Boer War, which pit the Dutch against the British. What made the war particularly painful for him was that he was a child of both cultures. Mrs. Van Koopmans was Dutch, Rhodes was British, and Christian spoke both languages with equal facility. Because he knew nothing about his birth, he had no idea whether he was Dutch or English.

Today, a troubled Christian had come to see Mrs. Van Koopmans, saying, “During the siege, when we were trapped in Kimberley, I was sure the Boers were the aggressors. I saw how they dropped shells into the civilian population, hoping to do as much damage as possible.

“But when the siege was broken, I left Kimberley to be attached to the British columns—and what did I see? The British are burning houses to the ground and putting the displaced people into concentration camps where they don't give them enough to eat. In Kimberley we were rationed because we were running out of food, but the British are doing this deliberately. They are starving their prisoners, who are mainly women and children.”

“I think you need to leave South Africa for a while,” Mrs. Van Koopmans said. “Does Rhodes have someplace else for you to go?”

“No, he's hiding out in Rhodesia. After 126 days in Kimberley together, he and Colonel Kekewich are no longer on speaking terms.”

Mrs. Van Koopmans laughed. “And that's bad? I think I have more respect for the British officer just hearing that.”

“I have to say, I thought when I was Jacktar and living on the docks, I had a hard life. But this war is much worse.”

“What do you plan to do?”

“I've written my letter of resignation and I intend to deliver it to Groot Schuur myself. I'm sure Gordon Le Sueur will be happy to accept it. He's never liked me—I never quite had the right pedigree.”

“If you do this, you know you can't stay in South Africa. Rhodes doesn't like people whom he considers to be disloyal.”

BOOK: Under the Desert Sky
13.67Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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