Blurb for Outrageous Offer:
This is book one in The Double O Saga series.
She has a choice to make—work in the saloon or accept an outrageous offer of being one man’s unpaid mistress.
Hyacinth Woodley is a desperate woman. Officially deemed a spinster with no marriage prospects in sight, alone after the death of her parents and out of money, she answers an ad for a mail-order bride, only to be rejected by her groom upon her arrival in Creek Bend.
Offer O’Neal is the new, less-than-proud owner of the Double O Ranch. After sinking every cent he had into the property, he’s left staking his dreams of success on stud fees from his horse, the only thing of real value he’s got. He can’t afford a wife, but a willing woman in his bed is an appealing prospect, and Hyacinth’s got nowhere else to go.
Just as Offer starts thinking of Hyacinth as the one bright spot in his otherwise stressful and unlucky life, the bridegroom who rejected her returns, demanding repayment for his investment. Ernest Horsham feels he’s spent a lot of money on getting the woman to Creek Bend under false pretenses, and the judge is on his side. But it’s only when Hyacinth is arrested as a thief and a fraud that Offer realizes how much he values her company.
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4 out of 5 (very good)
I received this book from Totally Bound Publishing in return for a fair and honest review.
This is a short but steamy tale of the old West, when men were men and women did what they were told. Hyacinth has been left high and dry by the two men she was supposed to marry, left in a town in the middle of nowhere and no-one will help her. Only one person will help but his offer comes with conditions.
In spite of this, he is her only chance of not working in a saloon so she accepts. Things very quickly heat up between them. The more time the spend together, the more they fit. Life doesn't have a way of running smoothly though and Offer and Hyacinth have their own hurdles to cross.
This was very well-written and moves at a very swift pace. My only concern is that it finishes quite abruptly, even though it is an 'ending' and not a cliffhanger. The characters are all relateable, whether you're supposed to like them or not, you follow the author's lead.
For a swift read about the Wild West, I can recommend this book.
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Two men step into the dusty street. Eyes narrowed beneath the brims of their hats, they brace their legs, fingers twitching toward the guns strapped to their sides. Townsfolk scramble for cover. One man glances up at the clock as tumbleweed rolls past, and a deep bong is heard by all.
The clock strikes twelve, high noon. Justice is meted out in dramatic fashion.
We’ve all seen that movie, right? In reality, the justice system of the American frontier did a fair job at keeping the peace and punishing law breakers. Thousands of men quietly went about their business, but those who didn’t left a lasting impression of corruption, greed and even murder.
The American frontier was divided into territories, with their own laws and their own court systems. Each territory had a supreme court where judges primarily reviewed each other’s judgments, and district courts. Justices of the district court traveled a circuit, hearing cases in order of importance—federal first, territorial second. Before the building of courthouses became a priority, courts often met in the largest space a town had to offer—be it a church or a saloon.
Judges were appointed by the president, and some of them considered their post a punishment of exile, rather than an honor. They had to balance the needs of various VIPS, didn’t always know the customs of the people they were sent to serve, and also weren’t paid very much, meaning they couldn’t cover the cost of their travels, which led to both stationary courts which ignored the rest of the district, and bribery.
Low pay, complete autonomy and a lack of supervision. Judges who were prone to corruption had a fertile environment, didn’t they?
But, of course, they weren’t the only servants of justice in the west. Sheriffs played a huge role. Most did their job to the best of their ability, and that wasn’t always easy. Sheriffs were ordinary men elected by the people, and most of them wanted to keep their jobs. That led to some tricky situations when the occasional lynch mob showed up at the primitive jail a sheriff presided over—prisons so inadequate that jail-breaks were common. The mobs were often made up of the voting public, putting the sheriff between a rock and a hard place as he tried to do his job and appease his constituents simultaneously.
But what is a justice system without lawyers? Well, the citizens on the American frontier certainly learned the answer to that question. There were a lot of people who called themselves lawyers, but not very many who studied law. In many places, any white man over the age of 21 could practice law, and the district attorney was another elected official.
None of this inspires much confidence in the 19th century legal system, does it? But it all makes for a good story, as evidenced by the popularity of westerns—lawless towns patrolled by a hardened sheriff or, like my novella, Outrageous Offer, facing down a corrupt judge in a dramatic trial.
Hyacinth Woodley is a rejected mail-order bride brought up on charges of fraud by Ernest Horsham, the man who rejected her. Offer O’Neal took Hyacinth in and she quickly became the one bright spot in his otherwise unlucky and stressful life. He’s determined to rescue her again, but Judge Wiggins isn’t the most upstanding man to ever be appointed to the bench.
Excerpt from Outrageous Offer:
Offer listened to Ernest stumble over the words during his reading of Hyacinth’s letters and glared around the mob gathered for the trial in the only space Creek Bend possessed that was big enough to hold them all. It seemed the entire town had turned out. The saloon was packed, with Judge Wiggins holding court just in front of the piano on the far side of the room. Try as he might, Offer was unable to push through the crowd to stand by Hyacinth’s side and was forced to linger nearer the door.
Not that he had a problem hearing. Judge Wiggins’ voice boomed out over the slightly raucous group, and Ernest showboated with a ringing tone of his own. It was only Hyacinth’s softly spoken, infrequent responses that Offer strained to hear, though he was proud that Jack’s voice carried so well.
A slight stirring amid the press of bodies next to Offer caught his attention. He glanced left in time to see Joe Raines slip into a forcibly vacated spot at Offer’s elbow. Offer gritted his teeth and tightened his arms over his chest.
The man leaned in. “I must say, this entire spectacle is wholly entertaining.”
Offer turned his attention back to Ernest and the mocking, falsetto voice he read Hyacinth’s letter in. “I know you’re enjoying yourself, Raines, but she doesn’t deserve this.”
Raines ran his tongue over his teeth. “I’m surprised you’re letting Jack be her legal representation. He’s not a lawyer. Hell, I’ve never even heard him speak, before today.”
“His father’s a lawyer back East. He knows the law.”
Offer experienced a fresh wave of relief just saying the words. On the first day of her arrest, Jack had volunteered to be Hyacinth’s lawyer, and though his unwillingness to say more than two words at a time had Offer hesitating, he took the kid up on his suggestion. Offer knew that no one else in town would help Hyacinth, and with only two days to prepare for the trial, he wouldn’t have been able to find another to represent her.
About Lola White:
I’ve always been a storyteller, just as I’ve always been an avid reader. I love stories that twist reality at its edges, and adore new takes on old myths and legends. I’ve travelled extensively, which has given me the opportunity to hear many legends from many cultures and I make use of these in my stories as often as possible.