Big Rock Romance Collection

Five spicy cowboys dispensing discipline in this steamy western collection!

Welcome to the wild Wyoming Territory when men were strong and determined to protect their women, whether the women wanted it or not. And that protection included taking the women in hand and dispensing a dose of western justice on their backsides.

This steamy historical western romance collection contains the following full-length books:

 

MARRIAGE BY MAIL, the story that started it all! Derek McBride and Molly Brewer are introduced by her cousin Philip Hickam, via letters in the mail. They end up marrying on the very day they meet when she arrives in Big Rock. It’s a tale with sweet romance, humor, action, horse theft, murder and a bonus romance of Philip and Bethie, Molly’s friend.

 

A BADGE IN BIG ROCK, Amy McCray comes to Big Rock to find the only witness who can free her brother from jail on a bogus murder charge. Enter Sheriff James Larkin who not only insists on helping her (to her consternation), but falls head over heels in love with her.

 

DEPUTY’S DILEMMA, Evie Goodacre has run away from her ne’er-do-well outlaw father and brothers, who have arranged to repay a debt by marrying her off to one of their despicable cohorts. After three weeks of camping in the wild, she takes refuge from a bad storm in what she thinks is an abandoned cabin. What she didn’t know is that the cabin’s owner, Deputy Aaron Glover, was arriving that very day for his annual hunting trip.

 

BIG ROCK RESCUE, Sadie Shepard runs away from an orphanage before her eighteenth birthday because they have arranged for her to marry a weasel of a lawyer, a vile and repulsive older man. She steals a horse and the supplies to live, and after a few weeks, finds an abandoned mine to hide in. Dr. Elliott Larkin, the sheriff’s brother, has just lost his family to a fire and has decided to move back to Big Rock. Riding past his childhood haunts, he hears the rumbling of the earth and realizes the old mine is caving in.

 

BEDLAM IN BIG ROCK, Buck Whited loses his wife to sickness and his father to murder within just a few months.  When he decides to crawl out of his mourning, he stops by to visit his friend, Dr. Elliott Larkin, and is introduced to Callie Mae Weathers and her friend, Lilac Indigo Preston. Buck had no idea his life would change so drastically within four short days!

 

Take a trip to Big Rock and you’ll find humor, mystery, sweet romances, strong heroes, loveable and capable heroines, evil villains and a whole lot of spice. You’ll be glad you took the trip!

 

Publisher’s Note: This action-filled Western romance series contains a theme of power exchange.

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Sample Chapter

Derek McBride sat in one of the chairs in front of the stagecoach office. He’d waited for his new bride-to-be for several months, and now the big day had arrived. Molly would arrive today, about fifteen minutes from now if the stage was on time. Derek tried to quell the last-minute insecurities that were popping up in his head out of nowhere. Why did I think I could be happy with a woman I’ve never met in person? What if she doesn’t like me? What if she doesn’t even show up? Why did I even think I should ever get married again after losing Charlotte? I never want to feel that kind of pain again.

Yet here he was, a thirty-one-year-old widower, waiting for a stagecoach to deliver his new wife to be—Molly Jane Hickam Brewer, a twenty-four-year-old widow. He reflected on how they both seemed young to have tragically lost spouses. His own Charlotte had died in childbirth nearly four years ago, and try though he might, the doctor hadn’t been able to save their daughter, either. Char and the babe were buried together on the longest, saddest day of Derek’s life. It had taken a couple of years for him to drag himself out of his grief and decide to start over. He knew he couldn’t give up on life at his age. It would have been the last thing Char would have wanted.

Walter Brewer, Molly’s late husband, had died of influenza. He had been a bit older than Molly and had been able to provide for her fairly well. She sold the feed and grain store Walter left her and the house they lived in behind the store for a tidy enough sum for a twenty-four-year-old widow. Theirs hadn’t been a real love match, but they were comfortable together and happy enough.

Derek pulled a folded paper out of his wallet and opened it. It was a penciled portrait of Molly that an artist friend of hers had drawn for her to send to him. He couldn’t imagine a prettier woman—even his own Charlotte. He wondered just how true to the image she would be when he saw her in the flesh.

Flesh. Just that word provoked unbidden thoughts. What would Molly be like, in the flesh? Would she be giving and loving toward him, or would she be withdrawn and shrink from his touch? They were set to be married today. Should he try to have relations with her tonight or wait until she got to know him better? They’d been exchanging letters for months, but that’s not the same as getting to know someone in person. Is it? Would it be like his wedding night with Charlotte, whom he’d known for years before their marriage? Or would it be like wedding a stranger?

He was lost in those thoughts and didn’t hear the stage approach until it was almost right in front of him.

* * *

Molly had been beside herself since the coach driver had yelled down that Big Rock was just about a half an hour away. Mr. and Mrs. Benson and their daughter, Bethie, had been doing their best to calm and encourage her. They’d been traveling together since Molly boarded their train this side of Baltimore, and Bethie and Molly had immediately warmed to each other. They’d spent the night at a way station in Cooper’s Gap the night before. That station had never seen so much excitement. When the wife and daughters of the station master learned that Molly would be married that day, they insisted on getting her up extra early that morning. They prepared a bath for her with lots of rosewater and lavender, washed and curled her hair and pinned it up, and made sure she was as ready for a wedding as one could possibly be when you still have to travel by dusty stage for four or five more hours before getting there.

The stagecoach could only go two or three hours at a time without stopping at a way station to get fresh horses. There was such a station, although a rustic one, during the ride from Cooper’s Gap to Big Rock, but Molly didn’t get a chance to wash up to try to keep feeling fresh. The only comfort to be had was a little private time behind some bushes, while the other ladies kept watch a few discreet feet away to give a semblance of privacy.

Molly was a little fearful, a little anxious, and a lot curious about what was to come when she finally arrived in Big Rock. She’d sent Derek a drawing of her, but all she knew about his looks was what her cousin had told her. He was tall and had dark hair and blue eyes. They’d exchanged several letters, some which had gotten personal enough to make her blush a little, but she’d never asked for any more details about his looks. He might think her shallow and vain, and she didn’t want that. Walter hadn’t been a handsome man, but he was a good one and companionable. I hope Derek’s handsome. Oh! I shouldn’t think that! Okay, I just hope he’s as pleasant and good-natured as his letters soundMaybe a little handsome. Enough to make me swoon? I’ve never swooned. Do women really swoon, or is that just in books? I’d like to swoon. Oh, could he please be that handsome? No! I shouldn’t wish that. It’s shallow to hope that. Well, dammit, I hope he’s that handsome anyway.

It was her cousin who had introduced her to Derek, in a most unusual way. Philip and Molly had grown up very close to each other and had played together in the summers as children when visiting their grandparents. Even though he was four years older, he was always closer to Molly than he was to the other cousins. Her naïve charm and keen sense of humor were irresistible. As Philip grew up, he became interested in raising horses and cattle and went into business for himself as a horse and cattle broker. It was in this capacity, he had the chance to meet and do business with Derek McBride. They’d become fast friends, albeit mostly from a distance. They met up whenever business brought Philip into fair proximity to Big Rock. He’d even stayed on Derek’s ranch when he visited. When Philip learned that Walter had passed away of sickness, his heart went out to his favorite cousin. But he immediately remembered that Derek had also lost a spouse. Wouldn’t it be a hoot if he could bring them together?

Philip had written identical letters to each of them as an introduction and then sat back and waited for curiosity to take its course. He knew, if nothing else, Molly would surely write to Derek just to profess a little embarrassment that Philip would be so bold and insist she had nothing to do with that introduction. Molly had been only mildly surprised that her cousin would do that, and after thinking about it, was more than a little curious as to what the outcome might be. She and Philip had always been the mischievous ones. So, she waited, and sure enough, Derek had written. She was overjoyed to receive his letter. Thus, began their odd courtship. She grew to be very fond of him from his letters. She knew about his late wife and his struggle to overcome his grief. She knew of his background, that he grew up around the same town where he lived now. His letters told of everyday things on the ranch, and he could make even mundane things sound interesting or funny. He shared some of his innermost thoughts and beliefs, and they matched hers. Her favorite passages were the ones that made her stomach flutter and hinted at more intimate things.

And now she was about to meet him! Her heart was beating so quickly and she could hardly breathe. Thank goodness her corset wasn’t that tight. She hated the things, but they were expected of decent ladies. What if he doesn’t like me? What if I’m not pretty enough, or he doesn’t find me attractive? Will he swoon? Wait, do men swoon? What if he’s not there waiting for me? What’ll I do? What if I swoon? The Bensons are going on to the next town over, so I can’t stay with them. I don’t know anybody here.  What if I’m all alone? What if he sees me and leaves? What if he’s ugly? Oh, no! What if I don’t find him attractive? I hadn’t even though of that. What if he’s tall, dark, and blue eyed ugly? I can’t breathe. I need air.

Mrs. Benson spoke up. “Molly, dear, you do look so pretty. Here, let me brush this dust away—how can so much dust get in these coaches, anyway? You’ll make a lovely bride.”

She’d come to think dearly of the Bensons; she was touched at the sweet and motherly words. Bethie carried on her chatter about being so excited to see Molly’s new husband—and how she couldn’t imagine meeting and marrying someone in the same day! Her words didn’t do much to settle the butterflies in Molly’s stomach. She couldn’t imagine it, either, and here she was living it.

The stagecoach slowed to a crawl then to a stop in front of a wide wooden sidewalk. A man ran from inside the station house and climbed to the top of the coach to begin untying suitcases and trunks. Another official looking man scrambled to open the door of the stage to let the people out. Then he stepped around to the back of the stage to grab the cases handed down to him. Mr. Benson was first, then he helped his wife step down, then Bethie. Molly would be the last one to disembark.

Oh, Lord, please let him be here. I don’t care what he looks like, just let him be here.

Mr. Benson began reaching up and said, “Here you go, Miss Molly, let me help you down.”

“Sir, I’d like that honor, if you don’t mind. I’d like to welcome my bride-to-be.” It was the deepest, smoothest, silkiest voice either of them had ever heard. Both Molly and Mr. Benson looked up into Derek’s bright blue smiling eyes, but his eyes were only for her.

“Why, of course, young man, let me step out of your way.” He was as eager as the women were to see them meet each other for the first time.

Derek didn’t just help her step down. He put his hands around her waist and slowly lifted her up from the coach floor then just as slowly put her down directly in front of him, thinking how the drawing of her didn’t even begin to show how beautiful she was.

Molly’s body was one big blush. Oh, my Lord. Oh, my Lord. Oh, my Lord. He’s the handsomest man I ever saw. He’s perfect. His voice must be what molten lava sounds like. I can’t repay Philip enough. This can’t be right. I’m going to marry this man? He wants me? Oh, my Lord. I can’t breathe. Say something. I can’t talkCan’t. Talk.

“I’m glad you’re finally here,” he said through a warm and welcoming smile. At this moment, he was a very happy man. She was still a little in shock. Thank you, Sweet Jesus.

The Bensons introduced themselves to Derek. There were pleasantries and small talk, and the women gave leave to avail themselves of the comfort of a privy. While they were away, Derek thanked Mr. Benson for befriending Molly during her travels. He was grateful she hadn’t had to feel alone on the long trip. “Why, the pleasure was ours, young man. Once Bethie and Miss Molly met each other, there was no dragging them apart! You’d have thought they’d known each other since birth. I’m quite sure their friendship eased the discomfort of travel for all of us. I believe you’re getting yourself a fine young woman, Mr. McBride.”

“Yes, sir, I believe I am, too.”

The Bensons had to go on and eat lunch before reboarding the stage; they only broke long enough to change the team of horses and get a quick bite to eat. There were goodbyes and handshakes all around, and Molly and Bethie hugged for the longest time. “I’ll write to you very soon, Mrs. Almost McBride.”

The Bensons watched Derek and the porter load Molly’s trunks and travel cases into the wagon, then they watched Derek lift Molly up onto the seat. As Derek urged the horses into a trot, Molly looked back at Bethie one last time and waved.

Their first stop was the mercantile where he introduced Molly to the owner, Clint Keller. Clint was happy to show them his wedding bands and even happier when he found out Derek wanted a matching set, a ring for each of them. Clint didn’t sell that many sets. In his experience, most of the grooms in Big Rock could only afford a ring for the bride, if they could afford any at all.

The wedding was blessedly short and sweet. The stage didn’t stop long enough for the Bensons to be able to attend it, so the only people there were the preacher and his wife and young daughter. Both Derek and Molly were inwardly grateful for the small number of people in attendance. They were still new to each other and hadn’t begun to learn to be comfortable together.

When the minister told Derek that he could now kiss the bride, Molly panicked for about half a second, until she saw the look on Derek’s face as he turned and bent down toward her. He looked very pleased to be able to finally kiss her. Just that thought made her blush. His kiss was tender, warm, and neither rushed nor lingering. It was perfect.  They both thought so.

When they left the little white church building, Derek took her hand and helped her back into the wagon. “I thought we’d eat a late lunch at my favorite restaurant. Well, the only one, actually. The food’s always good there. Not fancy, but always tasty. Well, there is the Tea Room at the hotel, but all they have are tea, cakes, and these tiny little butter sandwiches.” He scrunched his face as he held out his thumb and forefinger to indicate a small size. “So, I’m thinking Mama Mary’s Restaurant. Is that all right with you?”

“Oh, of course! I am hungry.” She laughed.  “I guess there’s nothing like four and a half hours in a stagecoach and gettin’ hitched to work up a gal’s appetite!”

She saw how his eyes sparkled and shone when he broke into a laugh. “Well, let’s get going, then!” I could watch him forever. Why isn’t this man married already? I am without doubt one lucky woman. Her heart thrilled. He was so tall, she had to tilt her head to look up at him. He had his arm protectively about her shoulder, and she felt wonderfully safe. It felt as natural as could be. It wasn’t a feeling she remembered having with Walter. Derek’s body language and demeanor spoke volumes. He seemed to treasure her and wanted to show her off. She felt ready to be treasured.

They walked inside and seated themselves at a small table near the big picture window. A short, round, feisty woman walked up to take their orders. Derek grinned and took the woman’s hand in his. “Molly Jane, I’d like to introduce you to Mama Mary. Mary is probably the best cook in these parts, at least that’s what she tells everybody. Mary, I’d like you to meet my wife, Molly Jane.”

Mary pulled her hand away from Derek, and then suddenly Molly was engulfed in a big double armed hug from the little round woman. She squealed and hugged back, and both were smiling. “Why, Molly, I’m so happy to meet you! Derek has been a wreck waiting for you to arrive. I’ll tell you what, you’ve got a good man here. Not a better one anywhere, except for maybe my Henry. I’m here to tell you, he’ll make you a fine husband. Yes, ma’am, a fine one. Oh! I’m gonna go fix up some special plates for you two, and I’ll send some food home with you, too. It’ll be my wedding present!” She was gone back to the kitchen as fast as short, stout legs can possibly move.

Molly was still smiling. “Is she always like that?”

“Pretty much. One of the sweetest ladies around, though. Stood by me and helped me come back to life when I was in a pretty dark place. She and Henry have been steadfast friends of mine. I’d do anything for them.”

Molly smiled and felt emboldened enough to put her hand on Derek’s. “Then I’m sure I’ll love them, too.”

He turned his hand to encase hers and used his other one to touch the top of her hand, her wrist, then traced her fingers with his own.  She didn’t know what to say in the silence. Say something.

“So, Derek, tell me about the town. How far away are we from the ranch?”

“By wagon, we’re under two hours away in dry weather. Wet weather and muddy roads will take longer. A horse and rider can make better time, though. It’s not too hard to find. The town has grown a lot in the last few years. We’ve got the church that doubles as a school now. Got a telegraph office, a sheriff’s office, a doctor, a general store and mercantile, a hotel, you know, the one with a Tea Room, a bank—all the things a booming town needs. A couple of saloons, a dressmaker, a barber who’s also the undertaker. You know, just about everything you might need.”

She cocked her head and grinned at him. “Do you need a saloon?”

His eyes twinkled, and his smirk made them crinkle. “I have, a time or two.”

Mama Mary rushed back out with large glasses of sweet tea, napkins, silverware, yeast rolls and cornbread, and a little bowl that held a lot of butter. “You two get started on that, and I’ll have your plates out in just a minute.”

Lunch was completed with happy and friendly conversation, shy yet teasing looks, and slowly mounting tension, each unsure how the day would unfold.  He first asked about her trip and her traveling companions. She explained that Mr. Benson was being sent by his employer, a large bank back east, to scout out a building for a new bank in the territory. They still had another day by coach to their destination. She asked Derek if he thought it was close enough that she could invite Bethie to come visit in the future, or if he thought it would be proper for a young unmarried lady to make the trip by herself. He reasoned it was only a day’s ride by coach and they could be waiting for her at the station, so he didn’t see why not. She looked happy and a little relieved. He wondered if maybe she’d been afraid he’d say no and wouldn’t allow her friend to visit.

When they were through eating, they said their thanks and goodbyes to Mary. She didn’t let them pay for their meal and had boxed up enough food for several more meals. They found room in the wagon to put the box of food and crawled back up to the seat again.

“I wasn’t sure what you’d prefer to do, so I’ll let you pick. We can stay the night at the hotel if you’d like to, or we can still make it to the ranch before dark.”

“Oh, Derek, that’s so considerate of you to give me a choice. I think I’d like to spend my wedding night in my new home.” She lowered her eyes. “In our bed.”

“Yes, ma’am. Then we shall do that.” He clicked the horses into action and took off down the road, headed home. She said “in our bed”. I hope that means what I think she meansDear Lord, please, please let it mean what I think it means.

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