Devils on Horseback Book 1|
November 27, 2007
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Amidst the post-war chaos that rains down around them, a controlling man and a desperate woman must choose between life and love.
Nate Marchand grew up as the only son of the town drunk. As a Confederate soldier, he found that order in the chaos was the only thing that kept him sane. Numbers, information, keeping everything in its proper place became second nature. The chaos of the war and its aftermath sent him into a rigid state that he couldn’t seem to overcome.
He and his friends, nicknamed Devils on Horseback, leave behind the aftermath of war to start fresh in the west. Their new business venture flounders and desperation drives them to take whatever work they can.
The Devils are hired to remove the Taggert family from land claimed by Samuel O’Shea, the largest landowner in Grayton, Texas. When he meets Elisa Taggert, his entire world shifts beneath him. Attracted, bewildered, and off-kilter, Nate ignores his conscience in favor of his wallet.
The simple task of removing a woman, a boy, and an old man, along with a small herd of cattle, resembles a Medieval siege. Nate wrestles with what he knows is right with what he must do. Will his love for Elisa overcome his need for survival?
Read an Excerpt
Elisa watched as the man walked toward the stream, knowing it was Nate without even seeing his face. He had a way about him that was recognizable in the moonlight. When he reached the stream, he sighed as he lay back on the grass with his knees up and his arms folded behind his head.
She crept closer, careful not to disturb any of the foliage around her. If Elisa was good at anything, it was being stealthy. She’d had to become a hunter to feed her brother and mother while Da had been off to war. They’d had plenty of meat those two years.
When she was within a few yards, she could see his face quite clearly in the light of the moon. His expression seemed contemplative, almost melancholy. She wondered what he was thinking about—probably how much money he’d make working for O’Shea. Dirty, rotten stinker.
Before he could sense her nearby, she pounced. She pinned his elbows down with her knees, slapped a hand across his mouth as her knife rested comfortably on his throat. The scent of man and of Nate wafted up at her, tickling her nose and her sleeping arousal.
“I see you had a nice visit with that bastard,” she hissed in a whisper. “Did you agree to work for him? Or should I even bother to ask judging from the fried chicken grease on your lips.”
He shook his head, wiggling beneath her, but Elisa was no featherweight. She held him down securely.
“If I lift my hand, will you promise not to yell for your friends?”
Nate’s eyes narrowed but he nodded against her hand. When she lifted it, he growled at her. Growled!
“What do you think you’re doing?”
“Trying to figure out what you were doing at O’Shea’s.” No need to lie to the man. They both knew where he’d been that day.
“None of your business. Now get off me and I’ll let you get away.”
She laughed and pressed the knife into his skin a bit more. “I think I have the upper hand here, Johnny Reb.”
“It’s Nate. Or if you prefer, Nathaniel. I’ll even answer to Lieutenant.”
“Oh, I touched on a nerve, did I? I’ll have to remember that.” She pushed down on his elbows, digging them into the hard ground beneath them. “Are you going to tell me what you were doing today?”
“Go to hell.”
“Tsk, tsk. Such language and in front of a lady too.”
Nate jerked his body, almost throwing her off, but Elisa held fast. She nicked his throat, allowing a small drop of blood to well.
“I ain’t playing with you, fancy man. You tell me what I want to know or I cut you deeper.”
Her blood rushed around so fast, it made her heady. The feeling of power over the big man was intoxicating. Arousing.
“You don’t have the heart to do something like that.”
“Don’t doubt it,” she snapped.
Her euphoria pinched by his words, Elisa shifted her knees slightly. That must have been the opportunity he’d been waiting for, because within seconds, their positions were reversed and he pinned her to the ground. The knife landed useless on the ground somewhere behind him.
A rock dug into her back just as his body flattened hers from top to bottom. It was an astounding, startling sensation completely foreign to her. Nate Marchand was no boy. He was a man, all man, with a hard, strong body that had obviously spent a great deal time doing chores. A lot of chores.
“Your turn for listening.” His hot breath coated her face with the sweet smell of pipe tobacco. “You have no right to attack me, cut me or try to force me into anything. No one does, do you hear me?”
The sheer fury in his voice scared her. Someone had warned her that soldiers don’t take kindly to violence, but she’d shrugged it off. Her mistake.
“I don’t answer to you for my actions or my choices. Now when I let you up, you’d best head on home before I turn you over my knee and paddle your ass.”
Elisa didn’t say a word. She was stuck on the image of Nate spanking her.
“Do you hear me?”
This time instead of speaking, Elisa leaned up and captured his lips in a fierce kiss. Her first actually, giving or receiving, and what a kiss it was. His lips were as hard as the rest of him, unyielding to her assault. She let her instincts guide her and softened the pressure until he relented. Then, heaven shone for a moment in the darkness of a Texas forest.
Sweet delicious kiss. One moment anger, the next the world shifted and Elisa understood what it meant to be alive. His tongue laved her lips, a tickle that she answered by opening her mouth. He invaded like a conqueror, sweeping across her teeth, her tongue, the roof of her mouth. She moaned into his mouth as her nipples hardened, as eager and hungry as the rest of her.
What the Critic says
I adored Devils on Horseback: NATE…From non-stop action to surprise after surprise, Beth Williamson had my emotions running the gamut.— 5 Kisses, Two Lips Reviews
Heavens to Betsey this is a phenomenal story. Devils on Horseback: NATE is one of those old-fashioned romances that just warm a reader heart and soul.— 5 Blue Ribbons, Romance Junkies
This rugged tale, the first in the Devils on Horseback series, has everything — danger and deception, laughter and love — in generous doses.— 4 1/2 Stars, Romantic Times Book Reviews