Escape Back to Charleston
The two Pinkerton detectives following her have turned up dead also.
“That goddamn war didn’t solve a thing, Arley. I couldn’t see an end to the killing of blacks and whites alike.” With those words, Sampson pulled Arley close. “That’s why I had to leave. Heading West and finding you was the only good thing to come out of all the death and destruction.”
Now the path is set. Sampson, Arley, and Joshua make plans to return to Charleston to find answers to a mystery that has drawn them into a deadly plot two thousand miles away. On a stagecoach to Denver, they stop a band of robbers who are intent on stealing a chest of silver hidden under the floorboards. And then they must save two young passengers from forced service in a brothel.
When they narrowly escape marauding Indians on the trail across Kansas, Arley begins to wonder why she came along. Then they arrive in St. Louis, where she is introduced to the world of high fashion: dresses and gowns must be made to order, so daring as to get every man’s attention
Once in Charleston, she will masquerade as a wealthy cattlewoman looking to buy plantation land while they search for Serena. But they must overcome the suspicions of Oscar Blaylock, who has already ordered four people killed. A daunting task, because it is Serena, his coveted mistress, they have come to rescue so Joshua can take her as his wife."
Best Book Bit:
In the second book of the trilogy written by Donald Montano, again the opening four pages set the tone for what will become an anxious 2000 mile journey across a country just patching itself back together after The Great Civil War. Passion and lust have been allowed to simmer, but hate and murder are stalking them with every passing day.
An excerpt from April 1, 1867
As they both stood there in front of the fire, soaking the heat into their exposed skin, Arley could contain her patience no longer. Suddenly she thrust an envelope up between them. She had been hiding it coyly behind her back, but now impatience had gotten the better of her as she held it high and shook it in front of her man’s eyes. “Look, Johnny; a telegram from the Bank of Charleston. We both know what it is. Open it please, right this minute!”
The heading on the envelope read, “Denver Pacific Railway and Telegraph Company.”
Sampson opened the flap and scanned the printed words quickly. The telegram had been dispatched two days ago from Greenville, South Carolina. That’s where the bank had relocated its operations just before General Sherman marched through all the Southern states, burning everything in his path during the last year of the war.
As he continued to read, his expression became grim. He tried not to look at Arley, but she caught his glance and leaned in close, standing on her tiptoes to try and get a better look at the hand-printed pages. “What is it, Johnny? What news do you have? It isn’t good, is it? Tell me, please!”
Now he did look at her. He shivered, but it wasn’t from the early spring chill in his bones. “You’re right, The news isn’t good, Arley. I need to read this again, but more slowly.”
Sampson pulled off his lambskin jacket and laid it over the arm of a chair in front of the fireplace.
The book begins with a series of communications from Sampson’s banker in Charleston. During the exchange of telegrams between the two men it becomes evident Joshua has been keeping some secrets about Serena. As the story unfolds, Sampson decides to head back to the South, taking Arley and Joshua with him. What follows is an action filled journey from Colorado by stagecoach, train, and boat. Along the way, the trio encounters a variety of strangers, some good, some very bad. Once again Sampson proves himself to be a hero, taking on dangerous thieves, human traffickers, and corrupt individuals. With Joshua by his side, he engages in gun battles and fights. Right up the end, when the group finally arrives in Charleston, there are confrontations with bad guys.
The story also includes some steamy, graphic love scenes that enhance the strong passion between Arley and Sampson. Arley herself begins a transformation from a cowgirl of the Wild West to an elegant woman of wealth. Underneath she is still the bawdy Arley Sampson loves, while on the surface she is a classy and beautiful lady.
There is a lot of action in this book; sometimes an overwhelming amount. However, it keeps the story moving and I was never bored. I found myself excitedly waiting for the next confrontation. The sexy bedroom scenes were hot enough to make my heart beat faster.
The only downside in the book are the misspellings of words. While it certainly didn’t detract from the story, it was sometimes annoying. I recommend the author get a good editor to read through this great story. If you enjoy a western with plenty of romance and grit, this is the book for you. Montano captures the spirit of the old West as well as the difficulties of extended travel in the eighteen hundreds. I’m looking forward to the next book in the series so I can find out the story behind Serena and Joshua as well as where Sampson and his lady Arley finally settle.
I give this book a Blue Bookworm.