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Friday, March 30, 2012

By Caroline Clemmons

What would you do if you believed you were being poisoned but didn’t know who was guilty of trying to murder you? That question started my research into natural poisons available in North Central Texas for BRAZOS BRIDE. I searched through Writer’s Digest DEADLY DOSES, as well as herbals and books on wild plants growing in the appropriate area and found one I believed perfect for this book. I won’t reveal the poison, which I mention near the end of the book, but it’s found easily in North Central Texas. My husband and I have even found it on our acreage.

Brazos River near
Mineral Wells TX
Do you love a view of water? Watching the ocean, a lake or a river soothes me, almost mesmerizes me. Even a swimming pool is soothing if its water is sparkling clean. I love the Brazos River, which is the longest river in Texas, but the part in this story is the area near what is now Possum Kingdom Lake. I used this area in a modern story, OUT OF THE BLUE, a time travel set at the lake and in nearby fictitious Radford Springs. BRAZOS BRIDE takes place before the lovely river was dammed in numerous places. At that time, the river was wide and beautiful. Some of you may be familiar with GOODBYE TO A RIVER by John Graves, a loving look at the Brazos before dams changed it forever.

Heroine, Hope Montoya

In BRAZOS BRIDE, Hope Montoya is being poisoned at her ranch along the Brazos River of 1870. This is the time when Comanche raids had almost ceased but before the railroad reached the area. Her aunt and uncle, who are her guardians until she either marries or reaches twenty-five in eight months, have the most to gain. She prays they are not to blame, but can think of no one else who would profit from her death. Does someone hate her so much he needs no reason to kill her? Or is it her family the killer wishes to extinguish? She knows her chances of living long enough to gain control of her estate are slim...unless she acts quickly. Hope devises a plan to save herself, but it hinges on Micah Stone agreeing to a paper marriage.

Hero, Micah Stone

Micah faces tough decisions. He’s been acquitted of murdering Hope’s father but many still believe him guilty. He’s invested sweat and all his cash in his ranchland and cattle, but drought has his cattle dying of thirst. In love with Hope since the evening they met at her father’s birthday fandango, he hasn’t seen her since his trial. Micah’s brothers, Zach and Joel, came to his aid when he was arrested and have remained with him until they find the real murderer of Hope’s father. Their search is hampered by hauling water from Zach’s land to Micah’s cattle. If only Hope’s uncle had honored her father's agreement to allow Micah’s cattle access to the river through Montoya land, Micah would not be losing cattle. A paper marriage to a woman he loves and desires is a slap in the face, but he eventually agrees because he cannot deny Hope his help.

First of the Men of
Stone Mountain series

Here’s an excerpt of Micah and Hope’s wedding night, a totally unsatisfactory event for all. Hope is still weak and nauseated from the poison, Micah is stuck keeping his hands off a woman he desperately desires. Their "honeymoon suite" at the local hotel is less than luxurious. But more problems are on the way:

She looked at her hands. Perhaps she was unreasonable. Or maybe insane for sympathizing with a man who'd had to work harder because of her family.
"I know it is an odd situation. If—if you wear your shirt and britches, I guess it would be all right if you slept on top of the cover here." She patted the bed beside her.

He froze. Not a muscle moved, and he only stared at her. Had she misunderstood? Did he think her offer too forward?

She babbled, "That is, if you want to. You said I should trust you. Well, maybe you would be more comfortable where you are." Why didn't he say something? Would he prefer sleeping in a chair to sharing the bed?
From the street below, she heard raucous laughter and someone called to a man named Ben. Music from a piano, she supposed in the saloon, drifted in through the open windows. A gust of breeze moved the curtains and slid across her skin. In this room, though, there was no sound.

Slowly, he rose and extinguished the lamp as he moved across the room. She slid one of the pillows beside hers then scooted down. What had possessed her to offer him half her bed? Would he think she invited more?

Too late to take it back now, for the mattress dipped as he stretched out.

Quaking inside at the thought of him so near, she turned her back to him. She heard his weary sigh, as if he relaxed for the first time in a long while.
"Good night," she offered, and hoped he understood the finality of the phrase.

"Yep. Good night, Mrs. Stone." The mattress shook as he turned his back to her. She felt the soles of his feet press against her ankles. He must be several inches too long for the bed and she guessed he had to bend his legs to fit. She didn't dare turn to see firsthand.

She lay perfectly still, afraid to take a deep breath. Soon his breathing changed and she knew he slept. Outside the open window the town quieted and the distant tinkling of the piano was the only sound. Light from the full moon illuminated the room and slanted across the bed. A soft breeze drifted across her, lulling her in its caress.

With a sigh, she fought to relax, but abdominal pain kept her awake no matter how her body cried for rest. Perhaps if she planned, she’d forget the pain and chills that racked her frame.

Plan, yes. She needed a plan for food preparation when she returned to her home. No, Micah said he had a plan. Oh, dear, once more he took charge when it was her life, her home.

Maybe Aunt Sofia and Uncle Jorge would have left by then and things would be fine. Already she felt more secure. She sensed her eyelids drifting closed and the sleep’s blessed relief approaching.

A gunshot ripped apart the night.

The blast startled her and she screamed as something thudded near her head, showering her hair and face with splinters. Panic immobilized her. What had happened?

Micah dragged her onto the floor as a bullet ripped into the mattress.

BRAZOS BRIDE is a romance, but also a mystery and adventure. I hope you’ll want to read it. The buy link is at Amazon.

P.S. If you read BRAZOS BRIDE and like it, please leave a review on Amazon. If you don’t like it, please keep it a secret. One of the nice things readers can do for authors whose books they enjoy is to leave a book review on Amazon.

Thanks for stopping by.


  1. Ohhh...that Micah Stone is pure sin! LOL!! Great excerpt. Thanks for sharing.


  2. Beautiful cover art.

    Love what you said about reviews: "If you like it, post a review ... if you don't like it, keep it a secret." *LOL*

    I'm so going to steal that line!