IDA LOUISE OSTERBACH survived Indian and range wars and the murder of her husband. She’s kept the farm going through sheer grit and the help of her cousin, a friend and two farm hands. She’s managed a profit, paid the mortgage and re-paid the crop loans. Hard working, focused, fiercely proprietary, the last thing she has time for is romance.
JARED BUELL—widower neighbor and wealthy rancher—was never particularly charitable when it came to farmers, even eye-catching ones like Ida.
REASONS to read POLITE ENEMIES:
#1 – Middle-aged neighbors, Ida and Jared, had great first loves and marriages. With beloved spouses deceased, they are convinced no other love could match their ideal. That’s especially true since these neighbors remain frosty over a property dispute from a couple of years back. Worse yet, she’s a farmer planted in the middle of ranching territory. It takes an invading outlaw gang to shake things up.
#2 – Sex is not the dreamy world of youthful lovers, but a practical matter between two mature adults—and just as satisfying. But is it enough to overcome years of distrust?
#3 – Heavy rain and melting snow caps from the Big Horn Mountains create creek waters which overflow and threaten to submerge newly planted crops. Will Nature finish what the outlaw gang started and end only with Ida’s defeat?
Excerpt POLITE ENEMIES (Buffalo Series Book I) historical western romance (mild)
Jared Buell rode his powerful gelding along a dirt road bordered by distant, snow-capped mountain peaks toward his two-thousand-acre Bar J ranch. At almost forty-two, he could look back with pride to what he’d accomplished. He’d carved a profitable ranch out of Wyoming wilderness, defending it against renegade Indians looking for his scalp, and Texan range-war invaders. He and his foreman, Russell Quentin, were returning from transacting business in Buffalo.
“Rattlesnake’s nephew tried to sweet talk the Osterbach widow out of her farm,” Russ said. “Got chased away with a gun.”
“Except that it’s a Campbell doing the buying, I’d be glad to see that female bulldog gone from there. No decent woman should be working in the fields.” Irritation settled between Jared’s shoulder blades.
Russ—a no-nonsense, muscular man in his early thirties—looked at him. “She probably thought you were trying to drive her off. You still pissed off?”
“Of course not.” Jared drew himself taller with a big intake of air. “My offer to buy her farm after Dean was killed was an act of charity.” He sounded supercilious even to himself.
An amused expression crossed Russ’ face. “You trying to convince me the offer had nothing to do with her being a good-looking woman? Don’t try to bamboozle me, old friend.”
Jared felt himself flush. Even though it was six years since his wife passed, he didn’t think of women that way. Isabella was the love of his life. No other woman could fill her shoes. “Of course not,” he said again. “I knew she’d be strapped for cash for the funeral. Besides, I assumed she’d be sensible like most women and go back east to her family.”
“Instead, she convinced her cousin to join her and kept the farm going,” Russ said. “Put a burr under your saddle, did it?”
Before Jared could think of a reply, he heard a rider coming fast toward them. He touched the butt of his gun and unhooked its leather safety strap. His irritation grew when the man didn’t slow down, but galloped past, his black Stetson almost completely blocking his face and his horse kicking up considerable dust from its pounding hooves.
Jared reined in and turned to stare down the road at the man’s receding back. A glimmer of recognition brought a scowl. A vise tightened on his heart even as he shook his head in denial. It couldn’t be. Not in his own back yard.
“Know him?” Russ asked after the rider dropped out of sight.
For years, he’d been chasing, without success, a man who’d killed his brother and sister-in-law during a bank robbery. The Kansas posse had decimated the murdering gang—except for its cunning leader. He’d slipped away—saving his life, but leaving behind the bank’s gold.
Jared had left the ranch in Russ’ hands for long periods of time while he hunted. He’d been gone when Isabella sickened and died. Jared knew that the guilt of his not being there for his beloved wife colored his current perspective of women. “His build reminds me of the man I’ve been chasing the past nine years—the one who murdered my brother and his pregnant wife.”
His foreman sounded anxious. “That was Rattlesnake’s nephew.”
Jared was taken by surprise. “Son of a bitch.”
“He just moved to Wyoming. I met him last week in the saloon.”
Jared’s brain dredged up details from almost a decade ago. Same build. Same hair color. The bank robber wasn’t named Campbell, but names could be changed. Had the fugitive he’d been chasing for almost a decade taken up residence in his own back yard? He couldn’t be sure.
Russ interrupted his thoughts. “Some say Art was an outlaw before he took up ranching. Could be his nephew is one.”
Jared gritted his teeth. “If I’m right, that Osterbach woman’s up against a man without a moral bone in his body.”