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The Accidental Guardian by Mary Connealy

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1867 – Nevada

When Trace Riley finds the smoldering ruins of a small wagon train, he recognizes the hand behind the attack as the same group who left him as sole survivor years ago. Living off the wilderness since then, he’d finally carved out a home and started a herd–while serving as a self-appointed guardian of the trail, driving off dangerous men. He’d
hoped those days were over, but the latest attack shows he was wrong.

Deborah Harkness saved her younger sister and two toddlers during the attack, and now finds herself at the mercy of her rescuer. Trace offers the only shelter for miles around, and agrees to take them in until she can safely continue. His simple bachelor existence never anticipated kids and women in the picture and their arrival is unsettling–yet enticing.

Working to survive the winter and finally bring justice to the trail, Trace and Deborah find themselves drawn together–yet every day approaches the moment she’ll leave forever. 

My Heart Belongs in Niagara Falls, New York: Adele’s Journey by Amanda Barratt

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1870 – New York

Outwardly, Adele Linley’s trip to visit her American cousins is nothing more than a summer vacation. In reality, she’s the daughter of an English aristocrat with barely a penny to her name seeking a rich American husband. 

Having grown up in an overcrowded orphanage, Drew Dawson is determined to make a name for himself. He’ll take any honest job to provide for his sister—even crossing Niagara Falls by tightrope.
 
On a sightseeing trip to the Falls, Adele meets several eligible suitors. Incredibly wealthy and pompous, Franklin Conway takes an immediate fancy to her. But Adele would truly like to marry for love.  When she encounters the mysterious Drew in the garden, Adele is confused by her feelings for someone who is everything she is NOT looking for. Will they both stay the course they have chosen for themselves?

Liar’s Winter by Cindy Sproles

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Liar’s Winterliarswinter

1893 – Tennessee

Lochiel Ogle was born with a red-wine birthmark–and it put her life in jeopardy from the moment she entered the world. Mountain folks called it “the mark of the devil,” and for all the evil that has plagued her nineteen-year existence, Lochiel is ready to believe that is true. And the evil surely took control of the mind of the boy who stole her as an infant, bringing her home for his mother to raise.

Abused and abandoned by the only people she knows as family, Lochiel is rescued by a peddler and given the first glimpse of love she has ever known. The truth of her past is gradually revealed as is the fact that she is still hunted by a brother driven to see her dead. Unsure if there’s anyone she can truly trust, Lochiel is faced with a series of choices: Will she continue to run for escape or will she face her past and accept the heartbreaking secrets it reveals? Which will truly free her?

Set in the wild and beautiful Appalachian Mountains of nineteenth-century East Tennessee, Liar’s Winter is an unflinching yet inspirational exploration of prejudice and choice.

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Wed on the Wagon Train by Tracy Blalock

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Wed on the Wagon Trainwedonthewagontrain

1845 – Wagon Train

When she and her sister are unexpectedly orphaned and prevented from traveling West unless they have a male chaperone, Mattie Prescott disguises herself as a boy. But after Mattie’s fellow wagon train companions discover her masquerade, their long-dreamed-of fresh start is over before it’s even begun. She has only one choice: marriage to the man who helped her—and kept her secret—along the trail. 

To save her honor and his own, Josiah Dawson agrees to take Mattie as his bride. But his plans don’t include a wife, and this hasty union is just a temporary duty he’ll dissolve at the end of the trail. As Mattie proves herself indispensable in the face of tragedy, though, it’s soon clear that she’s also indispensable to Josiah’s heart…

The Negotiated Marriage by Christina Rich

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The Negotiated Marriage

1867 – Kansas

When the railroad pushes to buy her land, orphaned Cameron Sims will do anything to keep the only home she and her sisters have ever known. Even if she must marry a stranger. But she’s determined her agreement with the mysterious, dashing man—who’s unlike anything the Kansas railroad town has ever seen—will remain simply business. 

Duncan Murray doesn’t want a wife. He wants Sims Creek, a sanctuary that can help him forget a troubled childhood. But his reluctant, and captivating, bride-to-be is key to making his dreams a reality. And despite their business arrangement, Camy and Duncan might be signing on the dotted line for true love…

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Refining Fire by Carol Cox

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Refining Firerefiningfire

1869 – Arizona

Orphaned, then traded to a saloonkeeper by her unscrupulous guardian, Jenny Davis has learned some hard lessons in life.

For one thing, she knows beyond a doubt that God doesn’t love her. How could He, when He has allowed such terrible hardships to befall her? Jenny decides any happiness she may find will have to come about through her own efforts and moves to Tucson in hopes of beginning a new life.

Andrew Garrett came to Arizona Territory to scout out mining opportunities for a group of Colorado investors. He intends to finish the job he was hired to do, then return home…until he takes one look at Jenny. But digging ore out of hard rock may be easier than breaking down the walls of distrust Jenny has erected around herself.

Will a false accusation and an encounter with the law bring Jenny to her wit’s end–forcing her finally to trust God and acknowledge the love she has for Andrew?

She Walks in Power by MaryLu Tyndall

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She Walks in Power

Medieval England

Many seek the power of the spear that stabbed Christ. Only one woman has vowed to protect it with her life

Alexia D’Clere didn’t ask to be Protector of the Spear, but after her dying mother gave her the spear tip and made her promise to keep it safe, she had no choice. Orphaned at age 9, she took over managing her parents’ castle with the help of a trusted steward. Yet, when a plot to murder her was revealed, a friar whisked her away to live hidden in the forest. There, she learned to shoot expertly with bow and arrow and hone her skills to see into the spirit realm.

Now, at 18, she continues to keep the spear protected, provide meat for the starving village, while secretly caring for her ill sister who still lives in the castle. With Alexia’s powers of spiritual discernment and her skill as an archer, she is no match for those who come for the spear. That is until she meets Ronar LePeine, one of the King’s Elite Guard.

Ronar desires nothing more than to do his duty for God and King and pay penance for his past sins. Yet a forest sprite with red, flaming hair blocks his every move, all the while enchanting him like no other. Something evil lurks at Castle Luxley, and both Ronar and Alexia are soon thrust into the middle of a spiritual battle which will not only test their very beliefs, but put them both in mortal danger.

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Messenger by Moonlight by Stephanie Grace Whitson

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Messenger by Moonlight

1860 – Missouri

Orphaned Annie Paxton and her brothers may have lost the only home they’ve ever known, but they’re determined to make a better future in St. Joseph, Missouri. Annie dreams of a pretty house with window boxes, and having friends, and attending church every week. But then her brothers spot the ad for a new venture called the Pony Express. “Wanted,” it reads, “Young, skinny fellows not over eighteen. Must be expert riders and willing to risk death daily. Orphans preferred.” Sure enough, both her brothers land jobs as Express messengers, and Annie puts her dreams on hold to work as a cook at Clearwater Ranch, a station along the Pony Express route.

Annie struggles to adapt to her new job–work made all the more challenging when she has so many to feed and few ingredients. The gruff station owner, George, doesn’t seem inclined to make her life any easier, or at least not at first. But slowly a friendship builds between them. When Annie attracts the attention of a refined, dashing lieutenant from the nearby fort, she’ll have to learn how to trust her instincts and follow her heart, even if she’s conflicted about which way it’s leading her.

Hearts Tightly Knit by Jodie Wolfe

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Hearts Tightly Knit

1875 – Texas

Orphaned at age ten, Ellie Stafford and her twin sister Mae made a vow—to stick together and never marry. Now in their mid twenties, they are bucking convention in Calder Springs, Texas, as women with respectable occupations who can take care of themselves. Ellie works at the Good Fixin’s Diner and spends her evenings knitting garments for The Children’s Aid Society. When a handsome local rancher shows up searching for a cook, she’s hardly tempted, despite his good looks.

Luke Rogers owns a spread just outside of Calder Springs. It was running as smooth as cattle going through a chute until his cook up and marries and high-tails it back east. With no cook and a bunkhouse full of ranch hands ready to revolt, he persuades Ellie to temporarily fill in until he can hire someone else. He should have known better than to get tangled up with another woman.

Shotgun Marriage by Danica Favorite

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shotgunmarriageShotgun Marriage

1881 – Colorado

Forced to wed to protect their reputations after being trapped overnight in a mine, Emma Jane and Jasper Jackson’s marriage is one in name only. Resenting the choices taken from him, Jasper’s determined not to lose his heart. But it’s not so easy to stay distanced from his new bride when a gang of bandits abducts them both. 

Other young women might be ecstatic to land Leadville’s wealthiest bachelor. But Emma Jane would rather have Jasper’s love than his family’s money. A true bond with her handsome husband seems impossible…until their ordeal leaves Emma Jane caring for an orphaned baby. In reach now is the one thing neither expected—the chance to turn a convenient marriage into a forever family.

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