Celebrating Secrets

Happy New Year y’all! I’m pleased to see 2010 ring in with a new release, The Stranger’s Secrets. This is the third in a trilogy for Kensington Brava and brings a close to a family story that began with The Education of Madeline and continued with The Redemption of Micah.

Sarah’s story is unique in this trilogy because she’s my first disabled heroine. A traumatic injury when she was a teenager during the Civil War has forced her to use a cane for twelve years. She’s full of sass, intelligence, pain and the potential to love deeply.

That brings me to the hero in The Stranger’s Secrets, Whitman Kendrick. He’s a strong man, with his guilt over the war to deal with, who finds his soulmate in the sharp-tongued southern belle Sarah. It’s a road romance, taking place on a train trip from Virginia to Kansas, then onto Colorado. There’s fun, excitement, sex, a murder, a host of secondary characters, and of course, the love between Whit and Sarah.

An excerpt is below for your enjoyment!

Betrayed By Her Own Heart

Sarah Spalding has learned to forge her own way and never to trust anyone—least of all a Yankee. But when her companion abandons her while on a train to Colorado, Sarah begrudgingly accepts the help of Whitman Kendrick—a Yankee, yes, but one with the most bewitching green eyes. Allowing Whit to be her traveling escort is one thing, taking him as a lover is another—even though she’s tempted beyond reason…

Whit Kendrick isn’t quite sure what to make of the sharp-tongued, sassy woman sharing his train compartment. All he knows is that Sarah is refreshingly different from most women—and his urgent, primal attraction for her is unlike any he’s experienced. Breaking down Sarah’s wall of defense won’t be easy. But Whit is determined to prove to Sarah that they’re more alike than different—and loving each other is all they need…


Sarah felt like squirming under Whitman’s gaze. He was staring at her as she attempted to read. The key word there was attempted—she couldn’t concentrate on the words. Having him watch her was an intense experience and she had to stop herself from yelling at him to stop. The man was obviously trying to puzzle out why she’d picked Mavis as a companion.

And perhaps why she hadn’t trusted the woman for a minute. Sarah knew the other woman wouldn’t stay true to her promise and she didn’t disappoint. Whitman might be surprised Sarah would think that far ahead, but she always did. Well, at least for the last fourteen years anyway.

Life seemed to enjoy kicking her in the teeth. She’d learned to avoid the blow by expecting the worst or hitting back first. What happened with Whitman was completely unexpected. She didn’t have time to duck.

After she’d been nearly killed by the Yankee soldier, Sarah had clawed her way back to life. Despite her mother’s pitiful care, the lack of medicine and food, she’d survived what would have been fatal for most people.

There were too many struggles since then to recount, not that she’d want to. Lean times were the standard for folks in the South following the war. For many, the war didn’t end after the surrender. They were the most dangerous of all.

The very reason Sarah opened up her home as a boarding house was for protection in numbers. Women alone were easy pickings. It was how she found Vickie ten years ago, at the mercy of some ex-soldier who found raping women more pleasurable than treating like human beings.

Sarah was tough as nails, inside and out. Except, it seemed, when it came to one Yankee named Whitman Kendrick. He made her nervous, jittery and aroused all at once. If she was smart, she’d find a way to get him out of her compartment.

Yet she hadn’t and somewhere deep inside, she knew she wouldn’t. And that bothered her more than anything.

Whitman made her remember what it was like to be out of control, something she definitely didn’t want. She was helpless to stop it.

He sat there watching her as the countryside flew past the windows. She tried to concentrate on the book, but gave up when she read the same page eight times. Then she tried to take a nap, but even with her eyes closed, she could feel his gaze on her.

She reached her breaking point after an hour.

Sarah threw her arms up and gave up the battle trying to ignore him. “What is so interesting about me that you feel the urge to stare at me?”

Whitman started as if her voice startled him out of a trance. At first he looked surprised and his mouth dropped open. He straightened his jacket and sat up straighter.

“I wasn’t staring.”

Sarah barked out a laugh. “Damn right you were staring at me. Don’t bother trying to deny it.”

His surprise widened at her words.

“No ladies you know let loose and cuss? Well too damn bad, because cussing is allowed in this compartment, like it or not.” She pointed at him, ignoring the slight tremor in her hand. “Are you going to stop staring at me?”

Whitman opened his mouth to answer, then instead of speaking, he started laughing. Gut-busting, knee-slapping laughing. Sarah couldn’t have been more surprised if he’d stripped himself naked and run from the train.

She expected him to act like a normal person, but he didn’t. Then again, she didn’t either. Perhaps that’s one of the reasons she was drawn to him.

“What’s so funny?”

When Whitman smiled at her, Sarah would swear the train jumped the tracks beneath her. She trembled at the impact. It was a beautiful, wide grin that lit up his entire face, hitting her with the fact that Whit was more than handsome, he was breathtakingly gorgeous.

“You are. I’ve never met someone who could surprise me, confound me and keep me on my toes. You, Sarah Spalding, are amazing.”

His words washed over her like a warm waterfall on a cool day. Not many compliments had been thrown her way for a long time, certainly not from a handsome man. She tried to capture the moment, hold it as if it were a precious gem to put in her pocket and take out to admire again and again. Sarah didn’t believe herself to be a ninny or a scatter-brained fool. Men told women anything they wanted, which didn’t always mean the truth.

However, the sincerity in Whitman’s eyes, and her own instincts, made her want to believe him.

2 thoughts on “Celebrating Secrets”

  1. Hi Beth….kinda late getting here but it is New Years Day and I am just now getting the cob webs out of my head. Love all your books and just got The Redemption of Micah from the postman the other day and can’t wait to read it……Congrats on your new release and all your wonderful books….You’ve made Western Cowboy Books Popular Again!!! Yipee!!!

Comments are closed.