Title: A Wanted Man
Author: Linda Lael Miller
Published in July 2007 by Harlequin Books
Genre: Western Historical Romance
Related Books: The Man From Stone Creek
Other Books by : Deadly Gamble, McKettrick's Choice, McKettrick's Luck, McKettrick's Pride, McKettrick's Heart
Stone Creek, Arizona is a town full of secrets. The place is rife with them, and when the stranger known as Rowdy Rhoades shows up, well he fits right in with the rest. There is, however, one person who is not glad to see him or any strange person come into the quiet little community. Lark Morgan, the school teacher is running for her life, and she is tired of being scared, tired of having to watch her back, and in all, she is just plain tired. Lark has been on the run for so long, but she knows the man to whom she had been married will not give up. Cruel, greedy, and now expanding his empire to ever greater extents, Autry Whitman’s threat draws ever closer as plans are made to bring the railroad to Stone Creek. Lark knows how he thinks, and even though she did not take much of anything with her, he considered her his property, and divorced or not, even married to someone else or not Autry would try to reclaim her. If he couldn’t get her back in his clutches, he would just kill her. Her instincts are to flee yet again, and but Stone Creek with its bad boy sheriff and resident ranger feels too much like home.
It probably isn’t the wisest of choices, but Lark finds herself attached to the people here. She has found in the children she teaches a surrogate family, in the handsome new sheriff a fantasy of love, and in the odd confines of Mrs. Porter’s boarding house, the semblance of a normal life. There are some things missing, real love, a man to call her own, security, and a feeling of safety, but for now what she has will do, as long as Autry or one of his henchmen don’t show up. The town is an odd place, and she knows it also harbours its share of secrets, but Lark is not in the position to cast stones or ask questions. She goes about her life as usual until the sheriff’s brother shows up. For Lark, Gideon’s appearance seems to herald a change in the atmosphere of the town, and a change in her life too. The appearance of a legendary band of train robbers has the town in uproar and the resident ranger, Sam O’Ballivan seeking out the help of Sheriff Rhoades. Again the uneasiness washes Lark, for there is a, sense, almost a premonition of a danger she just can’t wrap her mind around, but it is enough to have her second guessing everything…
There was a reason Rowdy left the safety of Haven. The little border town was growing, but he was not necessary to its continuation. Oh he did his share, and when it nearly all burnt to the ground, Rowdy had been among the first to bend his back to help the citizens rebuild the former haven of rustlers, bandits, and just plain outlaws. The people of Haven were grateful to him, and he helped them keep the peace, even with his own shadows hanging over him. Now he ventured to Stone Creek, he and Pardner, his old yellow dog had traveled here at the invitation of Arizona Ranger Sam O’Balilvan and his friend major Jack Blackstone, and it made Rowdy curious, and was an invitation he couldn’t refuse. He and Pardner weren’t doing much anyways, and there were things afoot in Stone Creek. Nasty business going down, and according to Sam, whom he had met while helping to rebuild Haven, they could use someone with his expertise. Rowdy wasn’t too sure exactly want that meant, but the sneaking suspicion that his pa was behind some of the mischief had him and Pardner on the trail again.
To be offered a sheriff’s job, something Rowdy wasn’t sure he wanted, could be a trap but it was a great cover, and besides, who would be looking for him on the right side of the law? Yeah, years ago he was wanted, and probably still was, for all he knew. But Rowdy had settled down, loved and lost as it were, and when he drifted into Haven a bit more than a year back, he hadn’t been looking to settle down again. Rowdy figured if his pa was behind the trouble, he had to try to get him to stop. If he wasn’t, then maybe he could give Rowdy some hints on who it was causing the trouble. The trip to Flagstaff had been unenlightening, and he knew no more now than when he left. One thing he felt for certain, his pa was hiding something, and his younger brother Gideon could be in danger. Well, he gave Gideon what he could, let him know where he was, and to get word if he needed help. That was all he could do, at least for now. Until he could put his finger on the problems and narrow down his suspects, there was not a lot more he could do…
Linda Lael Miller writes a book of great depth of character, and infinite interest. A Wanted Man grabs you from the first page, and holds you till the last as Lark and Rowdy dance around each other, hiding the secrets that could bring them to tragedy, pain, and possibly an unrequited love. For Lark Morgan, her escape and divorce from Autry Whitman was the only road she could take. She constantly feared for her life, and yes, even though they were married, she had been bought by him, and he never let her forget. That was one of many reasons she has been so desperate to keep under his radar, why she needed to stay hidden. For Rowdy, being the son of a famous outlaw, and having ridden the outlaw trail himself was no less a handicap. When the sheriff showed up, there was a fear of recognition, when his pa was involved, he could only cringe. What happened to the rest of his family, he couldn’t tell you. If his brothers were dead, alive, in jail, or on the trail, was immaterial. Rowdy has always had different values than the rest of his family, all but his youngest brother Gideon. Rowdy didn’t want Him following in their pa’s footsteps.
When the trouble comes to Stone Creek, and the time is right, things happen in strange ways, and the good citizens of the town are tested again. They have a new sheriff, and Rowdy is willing to step up and help them in spite of the past he is hiding. Lark, the new school teacher, is a blessing to all, a temptation to one, and the salvation of another. And as for Gideon, in a way he is a catalyst, his appearance in Stone Creek signals the change to come, and now the end for all involved hangs in the balance. A Wanted Man is a read filled with excitement in the way only delivered by Linda Lael Miller, and it is a book you won’t be able to put down. Lark and Rowdy’s adventure into love and betrayal is now available at a bookstore near you. It is a historical romance that will keep you riveted, and turning pages long after you should have turned out the lights. Harlequin brings you A Wanted Man, sequel to The Man From Stone Creek, and I heartily suggest you get a copy of A Wanted Man if you want another really good read From Linda and Harlequin!
Yours in good reading,