The Reward

May 15, 2017

Read an Excerpt

Book 3

Hermano is not just the bandito you met in The Bounty. He's Malcolm Ross y Zarza half-Spanish, half-Scottish bastard son of a Texas hacienda owner who has hidden in the guise of a Mexican bandito for half his life. Malcolm left home at eighteen and returns at age thirty-five to find his mother.

Malcolm never expects to find his childhood friend, Leigh Wynne, a widow and owner of the neighboring ranch. Unable to believe his gut-wrenching attraction to the girl he thought of as a little sister, he tries to fight his own instincts to make her his woman.

Inevitably, he fails in his struggle, because together they set their world on fire. They forge a bond to find out the truth behind his dying father, his vicious half-brother, the murderous Isabella, and the passionate grab for the land held weakly by a man past his prime. Bullets will fly, and Malcolm and Leigh must stand and fight, for their lives and their future.

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"…another magnificent creation from the mind of a brilliant author…this is what storytelling was meant to be. Ms. Williamson has the ability to jump into a reader’s mind and soul and leave prints that can never be removed." — 5 Angels and Recommended Read, Fallen Angels Reviews

"…her story touched me in many ways. If, THE REWARD was real, I would strap on two six shooters and join the gunfight. This story is so close to real life that I easily forgot I was reading about fictional characters. This book was a masterpiece in my opinion." — JERR Gold Star Award

"Sensual and seductive scenes burn up the pages of this western, but it’s the emotions of friends new and old that will scorch the heart of true romantics." — 4 Stars, RT Book Reviews


Grabbing two bowls from the shelf, she ladled hot chili into them and placed them on the table. She realized that Malcolm was standing and watching her. Self-consciously, she wiped her hands on her pants.


He shook his head. “I was memorizing Leigh actually in a kitchen with her hands near a stove. A rare sight if I remember right.”

She stuck her tongue out at him and turned back to the stove to get the cornbread. She grabbed a dishcloth and picked up the pan and the bread knife and went back to the table.

“I’ll get some of this cornbread for us. Can you pour some coffee? The mugs are right up above the sink.”

After a moment’s hesitation, she heard his booted feet approach the stove. The clink of the pot on the tin mug followed. Unsure of what to do with the cornbread, she simply sliced it, however crookedly, and left it in the pan. Sitting down, she realized there were no spoons on the table. Sighing at her own ineptitude, she started to rise, when Malcolm’s hand rested on her shoulder. The heat from it was almost as hot as the cornbread. She glanced up at him and forgot what she was going to say. His dark eyes were a mere foot from hers. He was holding two mugs with a spoon stuck in each in his left hand. Her breath caught in her throat and she found words were crowding in there like water behind a beaver dam.

“It would be better to eat with a spoon, no?”

Feeling more foolish by the second, she simply stared. He stared back. She didn’t take a mug and he didn’t move.


She snapped back into herself. What in God’s name was she doing? Taking the mug from him, she averted her eyes and set it next to her bowl, willing him to take a seat across from her at the table, and to let go of her shoulder. The table was relatively small; it only sat four people comfortably, so he wouldn’t be too far away, but he’d be farther away than her shoulder. Taking the spoon from the coffee, she stuck it in her mouth to get the taste of coffee off of it. And still he stood next to her.

Sit down, dammit!

She glanced back up and felt herself start at the fierceness in his gaze. At this moment, she was very nearly afraid of him-she, who feared almost nothing. His black eyes fell to her mouth and the spoon clunked in the mug in his hand, as if he were trembling. She licked her lips nervously and tasted coffee.


He closed his eyes and took a breath. Sliding sideways, he finally plopped into the chair across from her. The mug landed on the table with a smack and some of the coffee splashed on his hand. He looked at his hand, but didn’t react to the scalding hot brew.

What just happened?

Her life experience with men was limited to Sean and ranch hands. Any romance she’d experienced, even with Sean, could fit in a thimble (which she didn’t think she owned anyway). Whatever had just happened was beyond her meager experience, but she knew it had something to do with men and women. He couldn’t possibly find her attractive! She was a big woman, almost as tall as he, with round hips and big breasts that constantly got in the way. At round-up time, she bound them so she could work unfettered. She must weigh nearly 150 pounds or better. And she knew she was no raving beauty. She was very plain, and blind as a bat without her spectacles. What did she have to excite a man? Not much, and she had that from the horse’s mouth, so to speak-from her husband. Then again, her marriage to Sean had been a most atypical union.

Leigh knew she needed to get on solid ground again.

“You’d better eat up before it gets cold. I can’t vouch for the taste, but it’s filling.”

She dove into the chili. Grabbing a piece of cornbread, she dipped it in the chili and took a big bite. Malcolm hadn’t moved. She glanced up at him and he smiled, the tension melting from his face. He took his spoon from his mug and licked off the coffee. The sight of his tongue was enough to make her heart flip. All of her love, her longing, and her foolish dreams congealed like gristle in her stomach. All he was would never be hers.

Giving herself a mental pinch, she again dipped her spoon in the chili and, head down, proceeded to consume the rest of her dinner. Whether or not she tasted it was another matter.

She wiped her mouth across her sleeve-hell, I forgot the damn napkins, too-and laid her spoon down on the table when she was finished.

“Okay, now how about you tell me everything.” She stared at him until he looked up from his own dinner with those black eyes. “Now.”