In the meantime, while I'm gearing up to promote my newest endeavor, I wanted to promote an older title, Once Jilted. I love this story. Jacquie Rogers has invited me to be a guest on her blog, Romancing the West, on Monday and Thursday of this week. To celebrate, I'm going to give away a signed copy of Once Jilted. All you have to do to be entered is visit her blog for details on how you can win.
How many times will an orphan be cast aside before someone offers love?
Shauna Joyce has three weeks to find a husband or face watching a special little girl fall into the hands of loveless parents. An orphan herself, she knows the heartache of growing up without love. Armed with a need greater than her own, she finds a likely candidate in bridge-builder, Kane McKenna.
Kane McKenna has one goal; to finish the bridge he’s erecting so he can earn the capital needed to start a business of his own. A wife and child would drain his finances, so when Shauna Joyce proposes marriage, he balks at the idea. Will her determination be enough to build the bridge of trust needed to make him trade one dream for another?
He approached with quiet determination. A sudden wind-change blew smoke into Shauna’s face. Her hands flew up and she coughed.
“The smoke is enamored with its creator,” he said.
She turned away from the fire and gave him a blank stare.
“Granted, I reconfigured it a wee bit, but you must be familiar with the saying.” He came abreast of her and gazed at the fire. “Smoke follows beauty.”
She smirked. “Then this particular smoke needs glasses.”
He picked up another log and fed it into the blazing fire. “You do noot think yourself attractive?”
She quirked her head and gave him a baffled frown. “I’m as plain as oatmeal without brown sugar. Why else am I having such a difficult time finding a husband?”
“Your lack of suitors has noothing to do with your outward image, lassie.” The fire died down, so he removed his hat to fan the flames. “While you possess many fine qualities, your forward approach scares men.”
She arched a brow. “Do I scare you?”
“Oh, aye.” He laughed. “I can noot sleep at night for fear you’ll rope and brand me.”
She lifted her poking stick and shook it at him. “I need a husband, not a cow.”
He laughed even harder. She did have sass. He liked that about her.
“You’re a bold lass.” He shook his head. “But you possess the finesse of a greenhorn on his first cattle drive.”
“And what would an engineer know about herding cattle?”
“Enough to realize I never want to be a cow puncher.”
Indeed, he’d worked enough cattle drives in his younger days to know he’d never be a rancher. Besides, engineering was in his blood. He loved the challenge of building something to withstand the strains of its function.
She sighed and looked toward the expanse of bridge. “Or a husband.”
“Ah lass, I do noot need the added responsibility.” He gave her a gentle smile. “Besides, I travel from site to site. ’Twould noot be a pleasant life for a woman.”
“So tell me the truth. What scares the men most? Me or raising someone else’s child?”
“Both, lass.” Ach, how could he make her understand? “Men like to do the chasing. It’s the natural order of things. You’ve taken that pleasure away from them.”
“I haven’t the time to play the game the way it’s supposed to be played.” She wiped her hands on her apron, smoothing out nonexistent wrinkles, and shot him a speculative look.
Game? She thought marriage was a game? Kane wanted to throttle her. “Fine, lassie, but you woon’t be getting married when no mon will have you.”
Firelight caught the sparks of anger in her eyes. He tensed, ready for her heated words. Instead, she approached, her gaze intent and her stride full of purpose. She grabbed his neckerchief and tugged until their noses came close to touching. “You can’t say challenging words without paying the price.”
Before Kane responded, she planted soft lips upon his. His eyes flew wide, and his breath caught. Aye, but she was a bold lass to initiate such a kiss. She punished him with her lips, forcing him to respond. He grasped her shoulders, whether to push her away or pull her closer, he didn’t know. He was caught between both desires. She took the decision from him as she pressed her body against his. Saints preserve, what is the lassie thinking? Kissing a man in broad daylight with the whole camp watching. He wrapped his arms around her, relishing the taste of her lips.