Cimarron Creek Trilogy #1
Genre: Historical Romance / Christian
Publisher: Revell / Baker Publishing Group
Date of Publication: March, 2017
Number of Pages: 352
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“Endearing characters, a tender love story, and intriguing mystery all work together to make Amanda Cabot’s A Stolen Heart a compelling and enjoyable read.”
—Margaret Brownley, author of Left at the Altar
Bestselling author Amanda Cabot takes readers back in time to the 1880s Texas Hill Country in her new historical romance novel, A Stolen Heart. This is the first book in a brand-new series packed with tension, mystery, and a tender love story that readers won’t soon forget.
Cimarron Creek seemed like an idyllic Texas town. But as soon as former schoolteacher Lydia Crawford stepped onto its dusty streets, she noticed a deep-seated resentment of Northerners—like her.
That won’t get Lydia down, though. She looks forward to the day when she reunites with her fiancé—until she discovers her fiancé has disappeared without a trace and has left behind a pregnant wife. The handsome Cimarron Creek sheriff urges Lydia to trust him, but she is having a hard time trusting anyone in a town where secrets and suspense prevail.
Cabot weaves an elegant tale of pure love amidst heartache. With an absorbing plot and engaging characters, A Stolen Heart is a springtime showstopper fit for every historical romance reader.
No matter what anyone said, she wouldn’t believe this was a mistake. Lydia Crawford glanced at the other passengers, wondering whether her hours of sitting here, remaining silent but keeping a smile firmly fixed on her face, had done anything to lessen their hostility. She had considered pulling a book from her bag and spending the day lost in one of Jane Austen’s tales but had feared that would only rile her companions more.
Though Lydia wanted nothing beyond a peaceful journey and some pleasant conversation, she suspected that was impossible. The two sisters who were traveling together and the mother and son had given her friendly smiles when they’d boarded the stagecoach in Dallas, but the moment she’d opened her mouth, those smiles had turned to frowns, the friendliness to hostility.
“She’s a Yankee,” one of the sisters had announced. “Mebbe a sister to one of them carpetbaggers. She’s sure makin’ a mistake coming to Texas.” They both glared at Lydia for a moment, then turned away, refusing to even look in her direction.
The mother had taken more drastic action. Though she and her son had chosen seats next to Lydia when they boarded the stagecoach, once Lydia had spoken and they’d realized she was a Northerner, they’d moved to the less comfortable backless bench in the center of the coach rather than risk being tainted by her presence.
Lydia had endured snubs before, but none of this magnitude. Though she’d tried to slough it off, she’d been unable. Not only had the woman’s shunning hurt but it made Lydia wonder if she would face similar rejection in Cimarron Creek. Nonsense, she told herself. Edgar would have warned me if that were the case. But of course there had been no word from Edgar. The night he left, they had both agreed it would be far too risky for him to send a letter or telegram. He would go to Texas and make a home for them, leaving Lydia to join him as soon as the school could find a replacement for her. Though it wasn’t their original plan, it was the only one that made sense after what had happened outside the tavern. Surely it wasn’t a mistake.
Lydia’s gaze moved past the disapproving sisters to the dark-haired boy in the center of the coach. With little else to occupy him, he’d been staring at her. Now he leaned forward, his hand extended as if he wanted to touch her. Lydia shook her head slightly, knowing nothing good would come from encouraging the child. A second later, though his mother had been gazing out the window, seemingly oblivious to the curious looks her son had been giving Lydia, she turned abruptly and yanked him back onto the bench.
“Silas, you stay right here. I don’t want you talkin’ to that person.” She spat the final word as if it were an epithet. Lydia refused to cringe. She’d been called worse, especially once she’d crossed the Mason-Dixon line. Though the war had been over for more than fifteen years, the enmity caused by four years of bloodshed and the disastrous era known as Reconstruction remained, at least in some hearts.
“But, Ma,” the boy protested, “she’s real purty. I nebber seen hair like that.”
This time Lydia did cringe, wishing she’d been Silas’s teacher. The boy was clearly old enough to attend school, but his poor grammar told her that if he was being taught, it wasn’t well.
Silas’s mother continued to frown. “You do as I say, young man, or I’ll tan your hide.”
“Yes, Ma.” But, despite his mother’s admonitions, Silas smiled at Lydia.
He looked up at his mother, his expression one of feigned innocence. “I ain’t talkin’.”
Though Lydia was tempted to grin at the boy’s cheeky response, she didn’t want to get him in any more trouble, and so she turned to look out the window. At least the scenery would not protest a Northerner’s gaze.
Texas bore little resemblance to central New York. It wasn’t simply the heat, although that was far more intense than she had expected, especially since summer hadn’t officially begun. The towns she’d passed through were smaller than the ones near Syracuse, with few of the two-story houses so common at home.
Lydia hadn’t been able to identify many of the crops, and the trees—she’d heard someone call them pecans and live oaks—were unlike the elms, maples, and sycamores that lined the streets in Syracuse. The grass was different too, and though she hadn’t thought it possible, the Texas sky seemed even deeper blue than a summer sky at home.
Lydia shook herself mentally. Syracuse wasn’t home any longer. Her family was gone, and she’d resigned her position at the academy where she’d spent most of her life, first as a student, then as a teacher. With her ties to central New York severed, there was nothing to return to. Her future home was with Edgar in Cimarron Creek, Texas. Thank goodness that was only a few hours away. She was equally thankful that none of the other passengers would be disembarking there. Surely the residents of Cimarron Creek would be more welcoming.
She leaned against the seat back and closed her eyes, not wanting to see the unfriendly faces opposite her. The journey that had been long and at times grueling was almost over. Before the sun set, Lydia would be with Edgar. By the end of the week, she would be Mrs. Edgar Ellis. It might be four months later than they’d planned, but soon—very soon—she would be wearing the beautiful ring he’d shown her their last evening together. Lydia bit the inside of her cheek, remembering how the ring had gleamed in the moonlight when he’d held it in his bloodstained hands.
Stop it! she admonished herself. She had resolved not to think about that night and the reason Edgar had fled. When the police had questioned her, she had been able to answer honestly that he hadn’t told her where he was headed. But even though no names had been mentioned that night, she’d known his destination. Months earlier, Edgar had shown her a map of Texas and had pointed toward the town where he wanted them to raise a family.
“It’s right in the heart of what they call the Hill Country,” he said. “Germans settled a lot of towns, but this one was founded by three men from the North.”
Edgar’s enthusiasm had been contagious, and Lydia soon found herself imagining their life in a new state.
“It’ll be warm and beautiful,” he told her. “Best of all, we’ll be able to open our own business. No more working for others.”
Independence had always been Edgar’s dream, though the details seemed to change with the phases of the moon. One day he wanted to run a mercantile. A week later he would talk about buying a hotel and restaurant. The one thing they’d both agreed on was that a saloon had no place in their future.
Lydia had soon realized that all that truly mattered to Edgar was being his own boss, and she’d accepted the vague explanations. It didn’t matter to her whether they ran a mercantile, a hotel, or something else. What mattered was being with Edgar.
Soon. She opened her eyes again and gazed at the landscape. The bluebonnets she’d heard so much about were no longer blooming, but other wildflowers dotted the grass, and the flat terrain had turned to gently rolling hills. Lydia sighed with pleasure. Texas was beautiful, a place where dreams could come true, where promises would be fulfilled. She’d been right to ignore the advice one well-meaning woman had given her. There was no reason to turn back. In a few hours she would be with Edgar and all her questions would be answered.
It was not a mistake.
to be continued on the 3/28/17 Forgotten Winds stop of the Lone Star Lit Book Blog Tour!
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March 21 - April 4, 2017
March 21 - April 4, 2017
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