The Bumbling Female Bounty Hunter meets a dime novelist and does he have a story to tell.
Escaping her matchmaking mother, Caroline Mckenzie becomes the bumbling female bounty hunter. Luck protects her from her inept self, until she meets Trent Holmes. Then all bets are off.
Using his past experiences riding with a gang, Trent Holmes is writing dime novels, trying to stay alive. Until Caroline attempts to arrest him for the crimes he’s hoping to escape.
With secrets between them, can two misfits come together and find their path before their pasts tear them apart?
Caroline McKenzie sat at the dinner table and listened to her mother, Esther McKenzie and Levy Mutscher, pig farmer extraordinaire, talk about what made a delicious ham. Picking at her food, the night couldn’t end soon enough. Knowing her mother would expect her to walk him out the door and let him kiss her goodnight a shudder rippled through her at the very idea of his lips on hers and it wasn’t pleasure or anticipation she was feeling.
The farmer glanced at her concerned. “Are you cold, Miss Caroline? I’d be happy to bring you your shawl.
“No, no, thank you. I’m fine. Just felt like something crawled up my spine there for a moment.” Years of living with a smelly man and bearing his children flashed before her eyes. She wanted to marry a man for love, not desperation. She wanted what her cousins had found, true love, not just a merging of assets. And his assets smelled.
A frown drew her mother’s mouth together, obviously not happy that Caroline was not participating in the ham discussion. This was the chosen son-in-law, and Caroline resisted Levy with all her being. “While I clean up the dishes, why don’t you two take a stroll in the yard?” her mother said, beginning to gather the plates from the table.
“Great idea,” Levy said. “I brought my harmonica, if you’d like to hear me play.”
Joy of joys. Did he think that would help her overlook his dirty fingernails and stinky clothes? Good grief, did her mother not see he’d tracked mud on her rugs?
Or was that remnants of hog excrement? Without a mother or sister, to freshen his home, Caroline would bet her next trip into town, his house was nothing more than one big ole pig sty.
“Maybe I am coming down with something. I’m starting to feel a mite poorly. If you don’t mind, Levy, could we postpone our walk for another time?”
His face fell. Without even looking at her mother, she imagined her expression was filled with rage.
Caroline cringed inside. Once again, she’d disobeyed, deliberately disappointing her mother. Yet from her perspective, it seemed more like survival.
“Of course, Caroline.” Levy stood and looked about uneasily. “I’ll be heading home. Let’s do this again soon.”
Walking him to the door, her mother patted him on the arm. “Levy, I’ll invite you over again. After dinner, we could play some cards. Let you and Caroline spend some time getting to know each other.” He glanced at Caroline and she gave him the look women had used through time. The don’t even bother smile, certain she didn’t want to get acquainted with him. Nothing in her screamed get him to the altar.
As soon as he was out the door, her mother turned on her. “What do you think you’re doing, missy, he’s about your last chance at marriage.”
With a flip, she shoved her long ebony hair away from her shoulders. “Barely twenty and you consider me ancient.”
What was the rush? Especially with someone you weren’t interested in. Was it wrong to want to spend the rest of her life with a man she loved and adored, rather than just settle?
“Caroline, I’m serious. You need to marry that man. He’s nice, he’s decent, and I’m not going to be around to support you for many more years. It’s time you found a husband. Next week, he’ll offer for your hand and we will declare your engagement soon afterwards.”
Taking a deep breath, Caroline stared at her mother, anger rushing through her like a flash flood. “Momma, you’re not making this decision for me. No one chooses the man I’ll marry, but me, and my choice won’t be Levy Mutscher.”
A grimace crossed her mother’s face, one she hadn’t seen since childhood as she placed her hands on her hips. “I’ve given you plenty of time, and you’re not even interested in looking at a man. Next week, you’re engaged.”
“That’s not true. Every time I go to town, I stand on the street corner and stare at the men wondering if that one’s available.”
Not really, but the words were sure to irritate her mother. No single or for that matter married man in Zenith appealed to her. The thought of some unknown man’s hands touching her intimately left her reeling with distaste.
“No, you’ve been spending time with Ruby, learning how to shoot, instead of being educated on how to be a proper wife.”
That was the problem. All three of her cousins learned to take care of themselves before they were wed and her mother believed they were brash, young women – not the ladies she wanted her only daughter to mimic.
“No, I don’t want to be dependent on a man.”
“Well, Miss, no need to search any further. Levy Mutscher is a fine man who would love for you to be his wife.”
Shaking her head no, shock spun through Caroline at how far her mother had gone without her knowledge to find her a husband. “No, Mother. Don’t plan the wedding just yet.”
With flashing eyes, her mother released all the anger she’d been holding. “Then you have until next week to locate someone better.”
Turning on her heel, Caroline walked to her bedroom. No, she wouldn’t be here when her mother announced her betrothal. In fact, she wouldn’t be here in the morning.
Since Ruby and Deke’s return, Caroline had practiced shooting her revolver every day for the last month. Like a young filly, the tightening sensation of the wedding noose around her throat let her know she wasn’t ready for marriage.
And she would never be willing to wed poor Levy. No matter how much her mother pressured her, the farmer would never be the man for her.
The time had come for her to go out on her own. Ruby had trained her–she knew how to fire a weapon, she knew how to ride, she knew how to scout for criminals. Now it was her turn to go hunting as a bounty hunter.
Anything to avoid being forced to say I do.