They are the women of Primrose Creek, and their strength and passion is a match for the Nevada frontier they call home. Linda Lael Miller masterfully captures the hardships and dangers of a country swept by the winds of war -- and the daring and determination, the hopes and dreams of four unforgettable women -- in a thrilling new series.
When Bridget McQuarry comes to settle in Primrose Creek, she has nothing to lose; her husband, Mitch, was killed in the Civil War, and she has lost her family farm to ruinous Reconstruction taxes. With her baby son and a sister to care for, Bridget vows to make a new start out West. But when Mitch's best friend reappears in her life, he sparks a forbidden passion she thought was forever buried.
Trace Qualtrough grew up with Bridget and Mitch -- three happy childhood friends. But the attraction that fluttered between him and Bridget was silenced when she married Mitch. Now, Trace has come to fulfill Mitch's final wish -- to watch over the lovely, spirited Bridget. And now, Bridget and Trace must discover if their restless desire is a shattering betrayal -- or something sweeter the second time around.
Trace was on foot when she saw him again, carrying a saddle over one shoulder, a gloved hand grasping the horn. His hat was pushed to the back of his head, and his pale, sun-streaked hair caught the sunlight. His blue-green eyes flashed bright as sun on water, and the cocky grin she knew oh-so-well curved his mouth. Oh, yes. Even from the other side of Primrose Creek, Bridget knew right off who he was -- trouble.
She had half a mind to go straight into the cabin for Granddaddy's shotgun and send him packing. Might have done it, too, if she hadn't known he was just out of range. The scoundrel had probably figured out what she was thinking, for she saw that lethal grin broaden for a moment, before he tried, without success, to look serious again. He knew he was safe, right enough, long as he kept his distance.
She folded her arms. "You just turn yourself right around, Trace Qualtrough, and head back to wherever you came from," she called.
No effect. That was Trace for you, handsome as the devil himself and possessed of a hide like a field ox. Now, he just tipped the brim of that sorry-looking hat and set his saddle down on the stream bank, as easily as if it weighed nothing at all. Bridget, a young widow who'd spent three months on the trail from St. Louis, with no man along to attend to the heavier chores, knew better.
"Now, Bridge," he said, "that's no way to greet an old friend."
Somewhere inside this blatantly masculine man was the boy she had known and loved. The boy who had taught her to swim, climb trees, and ride like an Indian. The boy she'd laughed with and loved with an innocent ferocity that sometimes haunted her still, in the dark of night, after more than a decade.
Bridget stood her ground, though a fickle part of her wanted to splash through the creek and fling her arms around his neck in welcome, and hardened her resolve. This was not the Trace she remembered so fondly. This was the man who'd gotten her husband killed, sure as if he'd shot Mitch himself. "You just get! Right now."
He had the effrontery to laugh as he bent to hoist the saddle up off the ground. Bridget wondered what had happened to his horse even as she told herself it didn't matter to her. He could walk all the way back to Virginia as far as she cared, long as he left.
"I'm staying," he said, and started through the knee-deep, sun-splashed water toward her without even taking off his boots. "Naturally, I'd rather I was welcome, but your taking an uncharitable outlook on the matter won't change anything."
Bridget's heart thumped against the wall of her chest; she told herself it was pure fury driving her and paced the creek's edge to prove it so. "I declare you are as impossible as ever," she accused.
He laughed again. "Yes, ma'am." Up close, she saw that he'd aged since she'd seen him last, dressed in Yankee blue and riding off to war, with Mitch following right along. There were squint lines at the corners of his blue-green eyes, and his face was leaner, harder than before, but the impact of his personality was just as jarring. Bridget felt weakened by his presence, in a not unpleasant way, and that infuriated her.
Mitch, she thought, and swayed a little. Her bridegroom, her beloved, the father of her three-year-old son, Noah. Her lifelong friend -- and Trace's. Mitch had traipsed off to war on Trace's heels, like a child dancing after a piper, certain of right and glory. And he'd died for that sweet, boyish naïveté of his.
"I've got nothing to say to you," Bridget said to him.
He took off his hat and swiped it once lightly against his thigh, in a gesture that might have been born of either annoyance or...