Title: Last Chance Cowboys: The Lawman
Author: Anna Schmidt
Series: Where the Trail Ends, #2
Pubdate: December 6, 2016
Genre: Historical Western Romance
From acclaimed author Anna Schmidt comes a sweeping historical Western romance about the unbreakable bonds of family, second chances, and a whole lot of heart in the Wild West.
"This is me, Addie," Jess murmured. "You and me, the way we always were."
But it wasn't, no matter how much she wished it were true. They were different now. She would always love him...
But can she trust him not to break her heart?
Jess Porterfield fled to the big city after his father's sudden death, leaving behind his family ranch-and his childhood sweetheart. Now Jess has returned as the local lawman, determined to prove his worth...and win back the one woman he could never live without.
Young frontier doctor Addie Wilcox was devastated when Jess left her behind. Now he's back and it's difficult to remember why she should keep her distance. But with the town's richest man set to see her hang for a crime she didn't commit, Addie must put her faith in the lawman who broke her heart-and trust that together they'll find their second chance at love.
Award-winning author Anna Schmidt delights in creating stories where her characters must wrestle with the challenges of their times. Critics have consistently praised Schmidt for her ability to seamlessly integrate actual events with her fictional characters to produce strong tales of hope and love in the face of seemingly insurmountable obstacles. She resides in Wisconsin.
He nodded to friends and neighbors as he threaded his way through those watching the dancing. “Welcome home, Jess,” he heard more than one of the women say. “Learned your lesson, did you?” He expected he was going to hear that sentiment a lot in the coming weeks. He’d even heard one man mutter, “Well, all hail the prodigal son.” It was what he’d expected—and probably deserved—people assuming he’d come running home because he was out of luck and money. He wasn’t of a mind to set them straight. He had far more important matters to attend to.
Addie had to be hearing these comments, and she had to be aware that he was making his way toward her, although she refused to acknowledge him. Clearly, she hadn’t changed a bit in the months since he’d left. She was every bit as stubborn and mule-headed as she’d always been. He ought to just turn right around and ignore her. He ought to ask Sybil Sinclair to dance and see how Addie liked that. He ought to do half a dozen things, but he didn’t.
“Evenin’,” he muttered, sidling up next to her. He kept his eyes on the dancers. “Good to see Ma looking better,” he added.
“No thanks to you,” she replied as she clapped her hands in time with the beat of the music.
He bristled. Addie had this way of saying exactly what was needed to get under his skin. “Meaning what?”
Of course, he knew what she was saying. . He’d seen more than one person’s lips murmuring those words as they had watched his mother come running to welcome him back—as she had enfolded him in her embrace.
“I asked you a question, Addie.”
“Rhetorical, I’m sure.” She kept right on clapping and tapping her toe, smiling at the dancers as they passed.
“Don’t you go throwing around those fancy words with me, Doctor Wilcox.”
“And don’t you go playing like you’re some uneducated country bumpkin, Jess Porterfield. You owe that much respect to your parents, who made sure all their children got a solid education.” Her smile tightened. “Besides, I’m not a doctor for real—not yet.”
He had to clench his fist to keep from touching her bare forearm below the lace trim of her sleeve, comforting her as he had in the past whenever she got discouraged. “You wanna dance or not?” he grumbled instead, holding out his hand to her.
Just then, the music finished on a crescendo, and everybody applauded. “Looks like your timing is perfect, as usual,” she said. She turned to go, but was prevented from moving by the throng of dancers leaving the floor in search of cider to quench their thirst.
Jess decided to try a different tactic and moved a step closer. “Ma hinted that I ought to apply for the marshal’s job,” he said. “Your pa being head of the town council and all, do you think he might…?”
She wheeled around and looked directly at him for the first time since he’d come riding up to the ranch. She was staring at him, her dark brown eyes large with surprise behind the lenses of her wire-rimmed glasses. “Are you serious? Why would Papa trust you? Why would any of us living in town trust you not to up and leave again?” Her eyes filled with tears.
“Addie, I had to…I never meant…”
Her mouth worked as if finding, and then rejecting words, before she could spit them out at him. She held up her hands to stop him from saying anything more before she brushed past him, losing herself in the crowd. He glanced around to see others looking at him. Obviously, they had witnessed the scene and were now passing judgment, as they always had. Well, he would show them. He would show all of them—even Addie. Especially Addie.