Winning Maura’s Heart: Excerpt and Giveaway

The Hangman’s Daughters Series, Book # 1
Western Romance / Clean & Wholesome / Historical Fiction
Publisher: Severn House
Date of Publication: March 7, 2023
Number of Pages: 256 pages
Scroll down for Giveaway!
The Calhoun brothers are identical twins but on opposite sides of the law. Cutter is a deputy Marshal, Jonas an outlaw. When Cutter attempts to break his brother out of a notorious gang, they are shot, and Maura finds one of them wounded, close to the mission – but which brother is it?
Maura Taggart is an outcast, the daughter of a hangman and tainted by association – no reputable man wants her as his wife. And now she is homeless, along with her sister and the group of children in their care. Armed with pure grit, she finds a nearby mission where the nuns agree to take them in and set up an orphanage. But trouble is just around the corner . . .
As the stranger regains his strength under Maura’s care an attraction between them grows, yet how far can she trust him? And why has he brought trouble to their door? With the orphanage under threat can Maura trust this handsome stranger both with their safety and with her heart?

Excerpt from Winning Maura’s Heart

By Linda Broday

Maura lifted her chin. “Does the name Lucius Taggart mean anything?”

Calhoun reeled from the shock. “The hangman is your father?”

This answered everything—why they started the orphanage so far from town, Emma’s shorn hair, the reason neither girl had ever married. 

“Good Lord!” He ran a hand across his eyes.

“So you see why things are the way they are. Keep your pretty words and compliments and save them for someone with a use for them.”

Calhoun threw his legs over the side of the bed and sat up. “Look here, Maura Taggart. I’m not in the habit of paying lip service. Not with you or anyone. I mean what I say, and I meant every word, every compliment. There’s only one thing keeping me from courting you and it’s not your father.” He gave a snort. “I don’t give two hoots about Lucius Taggart.”

“Others have said the same thing but they all left.” Maura lifted her head, her voice quiet. “Forgive me, but I don’t believe you. I’m too old to play games, Calhoun. I’m smart enough to know that life has passed me by.”

“Only if you let it. You’ll never get anywhere by sitting down and giving up.”

“Give up?” she asked sharply. “Is that what you think? We’ve fought hard for everything we’ve gotten. Fought for the right to survive, to take up room on this earth. Wiped spit off our faces and walked away with heads held high. That’s not giving up. But there comes a time when a woman has to face reality.”

She had a point, but he couldn’t accept it.

He got to his feet and hobbled to her in his stocking feet. He placed his hands on her shoulders. “How’s this for reality? I like you and I like spending time with you and no, it has nothing to do with you patching me up. I’m not confusing gratitude with the closeness I feel with you. The only thing that is keeping me from courting you is the fact I have some dangerous business to take care of. The kind that might get me killed. Not only me, but everyone standing close and I won’t do that to you. Understand?”

“I’m trying. In the meantime, I can’t let false hopes take root.” Her voice dropped to an anguished whisper, “That would finish me. Better to have no hope at all.”

“Lady, when I get this settled and I still draw breath, I’m coming back.”

“I can see you mean that.” She put a hand to her throat. “You have to get well before you can ride out and that might be a while.”

“You’re telling me. It’s all I can do to get to the door right now.”

A teasing glint sparkled in her blue eyes. At least the sadness was gone. “See? And you’re talking about walking over to the mission.”

“That’s going to be more than talk. I am going to do that, with or without your help. So there. I’ll go stark raving mad if I have to spend another meal in this room by myself. I want to meet these kids, get acquainted with the nuns. I want to see Baby Juliette and the new puppy and all sorts of things you’ve told me about.” He lowered his voice and lifted a tendril of her hair that escaped from the loose knot on top of her head. “But most of all, I want to sit with you at the table and eat a meal. That’s going to be icing on the cake.”

“Then I should get moving.” She glanced at his boots on the floor. “I guess I’m going to have to help you get those on or you’ll be tearing your stitches out again.”

“That’s the God’s honest truth.”

“Okay then. Sit in the chair, Mr. Stubborn.”

“At least I did get my socks on by myself.” He sat down. “I’m not real sure how we’re going to do this. I can pull on one side with my good right arm and maybe you can pull on the other.”

“We can try it.” 

Calhoun wondered if she realized how close she’d have to get. As hard as they were to get on, there wasn’t any other way. 

And what would that do to his sanity? 

With the fragrance of Lily of the Valley drifting around him, Maura positioned herself and leaned over grabbing the top of his boot. Mere inches away, her nearness had him struggling for breath. 

Both of them tugged but only got his foot in about halfway. Trying again, she leaned down further until she was almost in his lap, pulling and yanking as hard as she could.

His yearning body tried to betray him. He closed his eyes. Not now.

“I’m going to get this on one way or the other.” She blew back a strand of fallen hair.

Before he knew it, she threw her leg across his lap and sat with her back to him. Reaching down, she put her fingers in the loops and gave a big yank. That did it.

“Thank God for a woman who doesn’t give up on boots,” he murmured. The temptation to touch her, to put his hands around her waist, rose up with a strong need that surprised even him.

However, before he could blink, she removed herself from his lap. Her cheeks were bright red. “I’m sorry, but that’s the only way to get them on.”

“Do you hear me complaining?” Darn his grin that tried its best to form. “Only one more to go.”

I’m a New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of western romance novels and short stories. Watching TV westerns during my youth fed my love of cowboys and the old West and they still do. On a still day, I can often hear the voices of American Indians, Comancheros, and early cowboys whispering in the breeze here on the high West Texas plains. We refer to this land as “cowboy” country and men here still ride the range just as cowboys of old. My stories focus on family life and almost all have children.
GRAND PRIZE: tote including signed copy of Winning Maura’s Heart, strawberry & chocolate tea, Cowgirl hand lotion, bath bombs, personalized cup;
2nd Prize: eBook copy Winning Maura’s Heart;
3rd Prize: $15 Amazon gift card
(US only; ends midnight, CDT, 4/14/23)
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