Antonie Ramirez could ride and shoot as well as any man-and better than most. Now, the headstrong beauty had come to Texas to honor her father's last words: find the cattle rancher named Royal Bancroft and repay him for saving lives long ago. Royal Bancroft didn't know who was behind the outlaws trying to drive him off his land, but he would fight to the death rather than lose it. Yet with his sister and brother kidnapped, he felt defeat run through him like a chill wind ' until a girl with cornsilk hair and a steady gunhand rode into his life. Antonie was wild, hard, and hurting inside, and Royal knew from the moment he saw her that, if he tried to tame her, he'd break her spirit. Instead, he would let her ride with him as an equal partner, fight beside him for a future, and come to him as a woman on fire for blazing love ' .
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1 . Entertaining...
Posted December 22, 2009 by Abby , Vancouver, BCBit of a departure from Howell's usual Scottish settings...this book was a good read. The characters are very entertaining.
July 30, 2004
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Excerpt from A Taste Of Fire by Hannah Howell
Royal Bancroft was unaware of the dangerous company he had wandered into. Just twenty-one, he was drawn to border towns by cheap liquor, cheaper women, and that air of recklessness that prevailed. His jade green gaze had drifted from the abundant charms of the woman by his side to rest upon a sight he had never expected to find in a border town cantina.
The girl made Royal think of a little china doll, despite the roughness of her attire and appearance. Her pale hair hung far past her hips, held in place only by a bandana, her low-crowned, wide-brimmed hat hiding little of it. The black of her shirt and pants only accentuated the creaminess of her skin. In profile her small straight nose and full mouth as well as the delicate bones of her face already held promise of a womanly beauty, sensuality, and passion. Glancing over her black-clad figure, Royal decided that so did her budding figure.
Royal did not like seeing a young girl in such a place. If she had any innocence left it would not last long. He could only think of his sister, Patricia, who was probably this girl's age. It was wrong for that child to be in the cantina and, even as he cursed the idealism and sense of right that drove him, Royal moved to do something about it. He stopped before the girl, a little stunned by her incredibly lovely eyes. He was about to speak when all the noise in the cantina abruptly ceased, accentuating the sound of the hammers on several pistols being drawn back. Slowly Royal raised his arms and, just as slowly, turned around.
"You are young, gringo, so I let you explain yourself. Then I might shoot," Juan shrugged, "or I might not."
Wondering how to ease the deadly tension he had inadvertently caused, Royal said, "I meant the child no harm."
The word child eased the tension just slightly. "Then why do you approach my niya?"
Despite his best efforts to hide it, Royal knew his surprise was showing. The tall Mexican eyeing him so closely and coldly over the barrel of his gun could not possibly be the girl's father. It was an effort not to look at her again to reassure himself of her fair coloring.
"I was simply concerned about a child being in a place like this."
With a barely perceptible signal from the man, Royal was relieved of his weapons. Cautiously, as the other men put away their weapons, Royal obeyed the man's signal to come and sit at his table. He could not help but smile a little at the way the man roughly pushed the whore from his lap and, with another subtle gesture, summoned the little girl to come and sit there. The way the hard man's eyes softened when the girl drew near, as well as the way she snuggled against him so naturally, made the man seem less dangerous, but Royal knew that was a very costly assumption to make.
"My niya always comes with me. She has seen many of these cantinas, eh?"
"Well, all I could think of was my sister, who's about your girl's age. I wouldn't want her in a place like this," he paused, "learning."
"She is a child. It is too early for her to learn."
"Her childhood is fading, seor." Royal nodded toward the girl's chest.
The way she had put her arm around Juan's neck had stretched Antonie's shirt taut against her budding breasts. She scowled as Juan then Manuel looked down and both men's eyes widened. Ignoring her protest, Juan pulled out the front of her shirt to peer inside and gape in total disbelief at the small breasts forming there.