JoBeth finds the Kellys a strange lot. A little girl, who believes her dreams are tales of the future and the rugged sheriff whose kindness proves a distraction. She’s an outlaw for heaven’s sake, but Jace is bound and determined to steal her heart.
Excerpt for Wanted:
Review by Melissa Snark:So the sheriff was married. Had a little girl too. She was cute as a button with rosy cheeks and big blue eyes, a brighter blue than her father’s. As if the little girl sensed someone staring at her, she turned. Her gaze fastened onto JoBeth before widening in surprise.She tilted her head to the side then squealed in delight, clapping her hands together as if someone handed her a present. “She’s here. She’s really here.”JoBeth’s brows drew together in a frown. She turned to look beside her, half expecting someone to be standing next to the cot. Her gaze fastened onto the little girl once more with a frown.“Now, Emma, don’t be making this out to be something it’s not.”Her hand went to her mouth, cupping it as if she were going to whisper, but her voice rang clear as day. “She has dark hair and green eyes. Didn’t you notice?”JoBeth looked at Jace and by damn he turned two shades of red. Interesting. She looked at Emma again. Who did the child think she was?”“That’s enough, Emma. We’ll talk about this later.”“But she’s my Christmas present.” Her hands flew to her waist and she stomped her foot with indignation.JoBeth’s brows rose on their own accord. A Christmas present, now this she had to hear.“I tell you, Emma Kelly, you’re faster than anyone I know.” An older woman with gray hair and round figure strolled in with purpose. “You can’t be bothering your Papa at work.”“Oh, he don’t mind. Do you, Papa?” She looked up at him with her baby blues.Good Lord, JoBeth thought. Even she’d be hard press not to fall for the sweet-as-pie expression the child gave her father.“No, I don’t mind, darlin’.” He patted her head. His lips curved into a smile, but his eyes said it all. He loved his little girl.“See.” Emma faced the older woman again. “He don’t mind.” Now she leaned close to Mrs. Gunthry as if to tell her a secret, but obviously no one explained the art of whispering. “Did you see? She’s here.”“Who’s here?” Mrs. Gunthry asked, looking at the sheriff for the explanation.“No one,” the sheriff insisted, his skin still sported a nice crimson color.The child simply would not take the hint. “My mama, she’s here.” Emma looked right at JoBeth and pointed her finger.JoBeth thought the sheriff would have liked to hide under his wood carved desk, but the man apparently didn’t high-tale it at the first sign of trouble. His gaze wavered over to her with an apologetic shrug.
JoBeth chuckled, enjoying the sheriff’s discomfort. “Please do tell, Sheriff. Why would such a sweet angel think I’m her mother?” Her fingers feathered down her dirt-worn threads. She hadn’t heard a good story in a long time and this one ought to be good.Mrs. Gunthry looked uncomfortable and pulled the child closer to her, making JoBeth laugh even harder.
“My, my, do you think I can slink through the bars here and steal the child away?”Emma shrugged out of Mrs. Gunthry’s arms. “Can you truly slink through bars?” Her blue eyes widened with awe.
For a moment, JoBeth lost her haughty disposition wondering if she’d ever been so innocent. Then her features hardened. It was better this child knew now there were monsters in the world. She threw her legs over the edge of the cot and stood. Her steps took her to the bars. Her lips curved into a smile and she outstretched her hand. “Come here, child, and let’s give it a try, shall we?”Emma only took a step before her father’s hand flew out and snagged the child by the cuff of her jacket, bringing her back to safety. “You go home with Mrs. Gunthry, Emma. I’ll be along later.”
If I'd made any guesses on what to expect from Karen Michelle Nutt's story, I'd have been totally incorrect and in so many delightful ways. WANTED is a historical Western romance set (best guess) in Arizona 1880-1890ish. (I lived in Arizona for many years so the geographical locations were familiar but the lack of an exact date was niggling.)
The setting felt authentic and well-described without being intrusive. The author's style is smooth as were plotting and characterization. The pacing of the romance was a little fast for my taste. Love scenes bubbled somewhere above sweet. I'd like to have seen more time spent on the main character's relationship. The writing is far superior to the cover, which doesn't even begin to do the story justice.
I love stories that involve role-reversals and challenge stereotypes. WANTED upends the tired trope of a good frontier woman saving the disreputable gun slinging hero. Sheriff Jace Kelley is a widower and devoted father to his young daughter, Emma, who happens to have the gift of second sight. He is kind, compassionate, honest and courageous—everything a swoon-worthy lawman should be and a bit more. His relationship with his daughter is one of the best parts of the story. There's something very sexy about a dedicated and patient father.
The hero is understandably skeptical when Emma predicts the arrival of a new mother (who has shamrocks in her pocket). However, his disbelief is challenged when a new prisoner is transferred to his small town jail through the holiday season. Heroine JoBeth Riley is a bank robber (although she allegedly only drove the getaway horses) and partner of a notorious outlaw. She is smart and witty but a little standoffish. She suffered from a bad childhood and has terrible taste in men (up until she meets Jace). JoBeth's decisions sometimes frustrated me but I found her to be sympathetic. Her yearning for a real home and family is convincing as was her redemption.
WANTED is an excellent story for a reader looking for a quick Western Christmas romance that provides a unique take on a bad woman doing right by a good man.
Available for purchase:
Also from Karen Michelle Nutt:
What’s a hunter to do when she’s fallen for the vampire she’s been sent to stake? Cassandra Hayes has been dating Tremayne Graystone, the vampire she’s been sent to eliminate.
To stake or not to stake is the least of their problems when masked men kidnap them and hold them hostage. They realize all they want for Christmas is a chance to make their relationship work. Kisses under the mistletoe may not make this holiday merry, but they’re willing to give it a shot.
Available for purchase:Amazon
Karen Michelle Nutt resides in California with her husband, three fascinating children, and houseful of demanding pets. Jack, her Chorkie, is her writing buddy and sits long hours with her at the computer.
When she’s not time traveling, fighting outlaws, or otherworldly creatures, she creates pre-made book covers to order at Gillian’s Book Covers, “Judge Your Book By Its Cover”. You can also check out her published cover art designs at Western Trail Blazer and Rebecca J. Vickery Publishing.
Whether your reading fancy is paranormal, historical or time travel, all her stories capture the rich array of emotions that accompany the most fabulous human phenomena—falling in love.
Visit the author at her website.
Stop by her blog for Monday interviews, chats and contests.
Gillian’s Book Covers: Judge Your Book By Its Cover
The author is sponsoring a giveaway of (1) ebook copy of WANTED & MISTLETOE, STAKES AND YULETIDE CHEER to one randomly drawn commenter.