Exclusive Excerpt: Lies, Love & Redemption
Today I’m sharing a look at my historical western, Lies, Love & Redemption. This full-length novel is set on the Nebraska prairie in 1877 and blends a steamy romance with mystery and danger.
Lies, Love & Redemption
Shot and left for dead, Sam Hixton stumbles into a general store on the Nebraska prairie and collapses into the arms of Cassie Wilcox.
Cassie’s world is turned upside down when the handsome stranger drops into her life. Sam is another complication she doesn’t need: her business is dying and her trouble with the townspeople is escalating. Yet she’s determined to keep the store open — no matter what the cost.
As Sam recovers from his injuries, he hides the truth about his identity and convinces Cassie to let him work in the store. He’s attracted to her and admires her independent nature but quickly realizes Cassie’s in way over her head. They fight their growing attraction, and Cassie questions whether she can trust her fragile heart to a mysterious stranger. Will he accept her once he knows about her troubled past?
Cassie resists Sam’s advances and represses her feelings until one fateful night when they give in to their fiery passion. Together, they work out a plan to save the store but find their efforts are thwarted—and their lives endangered—by the locals.
Sam’s secret returns to haunt him and pulls him away just when Cassie needs him the most. Will he regain her trust when she learns the truth? Cassie has everything invested in the store—can she save it and find true love with Sam before it’s too late?
Here’s an exclusive excerpt:
“Please forgive me, Alice. I should have stayed.”
“Shh, settle down.” Cassie laid a wet cloth on the stranger’s sweaty forehead. Her “patient” had been muttering to himself for the last hour. She wasn’t sure if he was half-awake or dreaming. But having him rambling on and fevered was better than the alternative. What would she have done with him if he’d died?
The stranger slept or was unconscious all of Sunday and had begun fidgeting yesterday. Luke told her to keep an eye on him and to call him if the stranger was fevered or if his wounds started bleeding.
That was all well and good, but how the heck was she supposed to tell the difference between a fever and being plain old hot? The late-afternoon sun always turned the upstairs bedrooms into ovens. Damn it. It wasn’t fair of the doc to leave him here; she wasn’t a nursemaid. And now the whole town knew she had a strange man living upstairs—again.
“I still love you, Alice. It doesn’t matter . . .”
Cassie dipped the cloth in a bowl of cool water. Whoever he was, he sure was concerned about Alice. She trickled water over the man’s cracked lips, and he licked it off. Who was Alice? His wife? What had happened to her?
What if he’d been traveling across the prairie with his family and the whole lot of them were attacked? Where was his horse? From the way he was worn out, he must have been walking for miles.
Without warning, the man bolted upright and clutched her arm. “Alice, please don’t hate me.” He leaned closer until their faces were only an inch apart. His blue eyes pleaded with her. “Don’t hate me. Say you don’t hate me.”
Cassie frowned. Was he awake or dreaming? Either way, he shouldn’t be sitting up and getting riled about Alice. She rested her hand on his bare shoulder and settled him back on the bed. “Lie down. You’re not supposed to—”
Before she knew what he was doing, he wrapped his right arm around her and drew her to his chest. “Hey, let me go, you—”
“Please, please.” He nuzzled her neck, sending a shower of sparks through her. “One last kiss, please. I love you, and I swear I’ll make them pay. I need one kiss,” he begged. “Don’t leave me.”
Cassie studied him up close. Now that he was cleaned up and presentable, she couldn’t help but notice that the stranger was handsome. He had strong cheekbones, a thin nose, a lean jaw, and dazzling blue eyes. But none of that mattered. She squirmed in his grip. “I’m not Alice. Now—”
In the blink of an eye, the stranger covered her mouth with his. She tensed and tried to push him away, but he increased his hold on her and deepened the kiss. Although his lips felt rough and dry against hers, her body flushed with a long-forgotten need.
A soft moan escaped her throat as she melted into his arms and kissed him back.
Dear Lord, what was she doing? This half-naked stranger could be a wanted killer or a deranged madman, and here she was letting him . . . Her heart thundered faster, and all thoughts faded as he kissed her again.
Their lips moved in unison, and he let out a deep groan as he eased his tongue into her mouth. Cassie whimpered and clutched him to her. This was wrong. She should be protesting . . . or stopping him . . . but it felt so good.
After a few more seconds, she pulled away. The man gazed into her eyes and stroked her cheek. “I’ll never stop loving you, Alice,” he whispered, then passed out in her arms.
Cassie laid him back on the feather mattress and placed the wet cloth on his forehead. She closed her eyes and licked her lips. It had been years since a man kissed her, and her lower body pulsed with a reawakened desire. What was wrong with her? Hadn’t she learned her lesson last time?
She rose and walked to the window, twisting her skirts in her hands. No one could ever know they had kissed. He probably wouldn’t remember, and even if he did, she would say he’d been dreaming. Besides, he thought he was kissing Alice, whoever she was.
But that kiss had been no dream. She tingled in places she had thought were long dead. No other man had ever kissed her like that before—and no man ever would again.
She stared down at the stranger’s sleeping form. “You’re not staying here. The second you’re well enough to leave, you’re out of my life. I’m not going through this again.”
Part of her feared it might already be too late.
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The book was a lot of fun to write, and I hope you enjoy reading about Cassie and Sam’s adventures. I welcome comments and questions from readers, so feel free to contact me via my website, blog, or social media.
Kelli A. Wilkins
Kelli A. Wilkins is an award-winning author who has published more than 100 short stories, 19 romance novels, and 5 non-fiction books. Her romances span many genres and heat levels.
Her paranormal-comedy, Beauty & the Bigfoot, was published in September 2017.
Kelli released Trust with Hearts, a contemporary romance, in July 2017. Her third gay romance, Four Days with Jack, was released in June 2017. Kelli’s trilogy of erotic romance novellas, Midsummer Night’s Delights, Midwinter Night’s Delights, and Ultimate Night’s Delights was published in spring 2017.
Loving a Wild Stranger was published in January 2017. This historical/pioneer romance is set in the wilds of the Michigan Territory and blends tender romance with adventure.
Kelli's third Medallion Press romance, Lies, Love & Redemption was released in September 2016. This spicy historical western is set on the Nebraska prairie in 1877.
Her writing book, You Can Write—Really! A Beginner’s Guide to Writing Fiction is a fun and informative guide filled with writing exercises and helpful tips all authors can use.
Kelli posts on her Facebook author page: https://www.facebook.com/AuthorKelliWilkins and Twitter: www.Twitter.com/KWilkinsauthor.
She also writes a weekly blog: http://kelliwilkinsauthor.blogspot.com/
Visit her website, www.KelliWilkins.com to learn more about all of her writings, read book excerpts, reviews, and more. Readers can sign up for her newsletter here: http://eepurl.com/HVQqb.
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