Wounded gunfighter Colt Evans stumbles onto a remote homestead never expecting to find compassion. But beautiful Amelia McCollister is like no other woman. Suddenly, his dream of settling down with a wife and home is within reach—but only if his past never comes gunning for him.
She's everything he dreams of…
Amelia had to grow up fast after outlaws murdered her parents, leaving her to raise her siblings alone. With a young brother who idolizes shootists, she dreads having a notorious gunman in her home. But as Colt slowly recovers, he reveals a caring nature under his tough exterior that Amelia can't resist.
Just when Colt starts to believe he can leave the gunfighter life behind, his past returns, bringing danger to them all. Can a shootist ever hang up his hardware? Or will their dreams disappear in the smoke of a desperado's gun?
Available Now on Amazon!
Available Now on Amazon!
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An interview with the author
Tell us a little about yourself.
I guess you could call me a jack of all trades. I teach freshman English at Indiana State University, and on most weekends from late fall until early summer, I’m at dog shows. I’ve been showing my collies for over three decades. The DH and I are also raising our now seven year old grand-daughter. She’s been with us since she was thirteen months old and she honestly is the light of my life.
Did you plan to be a writer or did it just happen?
I remember the night I decided I was going to be a romance writer. I had picked up a romance and four pages into it, I literally threw it across the room and shouted, “I could write as well as this.” I’m the kind of person who tries to put my money where my mouth is, so I started learning all that I could about the craft of writing. I guess it just kinda happened.
What is your favorite non-writing pastime?
My favorite non-writing pastime is working with and showing my dogs. They are such a source of enjoyment and accomplishment, despite the incredible amount of work that is involved.
What inspired the idea behind The Devil’s Own Desperado?
The idea came from all those westerns I watched while I was growing up. The idea of a gunslinger putting his past behind him and being able to start a new life, without his past hanging over him has always nudged at my mind.
Tell us about your favorite character in The Devil’s Own Desperado.
The hero is definitely my favorite in this book. Colt Evans arrived in my subconscious fully formed. He showed up with his past, wanting so desperately to hang up the hardware and put his past behind him. Even though he could be cold, it was simply to stay alive. But, this was a man who longed for home, security, and a woman to share that home with. Despite Colt’s cold exterior, he’s a character with a very vulnerable heart.
What message do you hope readers take away from the book?
The message I’d hope my readers taken from The Devil’s Own Desperado is that regardless of the past that follows you, you can leave it behind. It may take some interesting circumstances, but you can be better than the sum of all the things that are in your past.
What is your favorite scene in The Devil’s Own Desperado?
That scene would have to be when Colt is in the barn with Jenny, the heroine’s little sister, and he opens up to this little girl, exposing his dreams and heart to her. His vulnerability is so evident.
Do you have to be alone or have quiet to write?
I absolutely have to be alone but I don’t have to have quiet. More often than not, I have the headphones on and some sort of mood music playing.
Of the books you’ve written, which is your favorite?
My favorite is the one I wrote for my master’s project. I wrote a fantasy romance, set in Arthurian Britain and I love the hero and heroine in this work. It’s not published. Yet . . .
What do you have in store next for your readers?
Right now, I have another western historical romance on my editor’s desk. It is set in the same time period and fictional town as The Devil’s Own Desperado. I’m waiting to hear from her as to whether or not my publisher will pick this one up and offer me a contract. I guess then, if it is picked up, I’ve become a series author because I have planned five romances set in the same time period and little town as this novel.
What has been your greatest pleasure or personal success as an author?
I think that would just have to be finally getting a contract. This is my first and the first ones are always special, no matter what that first is.
If you could meet any writer, dead or alive, who would it be? What would you want to know?
I have a confession. I am an unabashed, unadulterated, completely unapologetic Harry Potter GEEK and have been crazy about Snape from the first book (long before Alan Rickman was cast as the character). I would love to ask J.K. Rowling just one question. The vast majority of Snape fans figured out at the end of the sixth book, when Dumbledore died at Snape’s hand, that Snape was toast. My question to J.K. would be: Why kill the character she later labels through Harry’s words as the “bravest man” in such a horribly ignoble manner?
What was the last book you just couldn’t finish?
Twilight. I just couldn’t choke it down. When I ran the Writing Center at the university where I now teach, a lot of the students coming in for assistance and even several of the writing consultants who worked for me were reading the first book and raving about it. In order to be able to talk to them about the book, I figured I had better read it. When I couldn’t force myself to finish it, I remember asking the kids who worked for me how in heaven’s name they could read such drivel.
What is the best piece of writing advice you’ve received?
Keep writing. Don’t stop…just keep writing.
What are you reading now? Why did you choose that book?
I’m reading The Rebel and the Rose by Wesley Millett and Gerald White. I found the book while researching my current WIP which involves some “lost Confederate gold.”
Does where you live or have places you’ve been influenced your work?
Most definitely. Every one of my historical romances are set in Wyoming, or as it was called then, the Wyoming Territory. I love Wyoming because even now there is sense of rugged individualism, incredible independence, and concern for one’s neighbors in the people and I don’t think there is anything more beautiful than the Medicine Bow Range of the Rockies.
Did the plot of the book turn out the way you planned or did something change during the process of writing it?
I laughed when I got this question. The ending changed so much from first inception to final version I sent out on the query. In that first outline, Colt and Amelia were supposed to just pack up and head to parts unknown to get away from his past. Instead, the manage to literally bury his past and stay.
Favorite place? Wyoming…in the Medicine Bow range
Best Christmas present? Getting offered the contract for The Devil’s Own Desperado. The offer came the week after Thanksgiving.
Favorite author? Just one?
Favorite smell? Dried sagebrush crumbled in my palm. It smells exactly like the land smells in Wyoming after a rain.
Favorite series? Again, just one?
Favorite movie? The Searchers, with John Wayne and directed by John Ford.
Favorite dish? Anything with pasta
Favorite color? Black
Favorite quote? I’ve got two, actually…”Courage is being scared to death but saddling up anyway,” and “Dogs aren’t my whole life but they make my life whole.”
Your best trait? Tenacity
Your worst trait? I can hold a grudge until the end of time.
An Excerpt from The Devil's Own DesperadoJenny stood frozen in the middle of the room, her eyes wide. The color had vanished from her face and her mouth opened and closed as her breath came in terrified pants. Before Amelia could stop her, the girl shoved her way past Saul and ran out into the dark, damp night.
Amelia paused long enough to shoot her words at Colt. “This is why I don’t want any guns in my house.”
“Damn,” Colt breathed. “Stay here, Saul. I’m going to help your sister find Jenny.”
He ran out the door, shouting the girl’s name. After he shouted a second time, he shook his head. The kid wouldn’t talk. How could she answer him?
Amelia emerged from the hen house. “She isn’t there. I’m going to go try the barn.”
“I’ll check the barn. This is my fault. I should have asked you before I bought the rifle for Saul.”
“Saul should have said something to you.” Her voice rose in worried frustration. “If he had, we wouldn’t be looking for a terrified seven year old, now. And he knows how I feel about him picking up a gun.”
“He’s only twelve himself, Amy. He’s not going to turn shootist because he’s got a Winchester.” Colt forced himself to keep his voice even. “He probably also knew if he told me, I wouldn’t have bought it.” Colt trudged through the mud to the barn. He lit a lantern and searched the warm, quiet building. He found Jenny in Angel’s stall, knees drawn to her chin, arms wrapped around her legs. She was shaking with silent sobs. He hung the lantern on a nail, and let himself into the horse’s stall.
Colt sank next to Jenny in the clean straw. She looked up at him, her eyes welling with frightened tears. He slipped his arm around her and she dropped her head to his side, her tears dampening his shirt. “Aw, Jenny, I’m sorry. I didn’t know.”
She sniffled, and wiped the back of hand across her nose. Angel nudged the girl, his warm breath rustling the bright blue ribbons. Colt pushed the gelding’s head away. “Amy said you saw your momma and daddy killed by some very bad people.” He stroked her back, trying to calm her hiccupping cries.
Jenny lifted her head and nodded, memories darkening her already dark eyes. Her lower lip quivered and tears spilled down her cheeks.
“Jenny, not everyone who carries a gun is going to hurt you.” He caressed her slender arm. “Learning to hunt is something a lot of boys do. It’s part of growing up.”
She shook her head vehemently, and then buried her face against his side. Her arms snaked around him and hugged him tightly, her slender frame shuddering. With a finger under her slender chin, Colt tilted her face up. “Do you think I would ever let anyone hurt you?”
Those huge brown eyes searched his face, and then, slowly, she shook her head.
He drew a deep breath. “Do you think I would give Saul a rifle if I thought he was going to hurt you or Amy with it?”
Again, she slowly shook her head.
He brushed her bangs from her forehead, and tugged slightly on one of her long pigtails. “You know, Miss Jenny, when I came here a few days ago, I was wearing a gun.”
She swallowed and nodded.
“Do you think I’d ever hurt you?”
There wasn’t a second of hesitation before she shook her head. Colt folded her into his side again. “I promise, Miss Jenny, so long as I’m here, no one will hurt you or Saul or Amy. I swear that to you.”
Her thin arms tightened around his waist and Colt’s throat clenched. He sat with her for a long moment, the weight of her head against his ribs filling him with a protectiveness he hadn’t felt in a long time. He slipped her long braid through his fingers. “You know what, Jenny?”
She shook her head against his side, her tiny hand catching his in the sling. Her fingers tightened around his palm.
“A man could get real used to living in a place like this with a couple of kids like you and Saul. That used to be something I dreamed of having…a couple of great kids, a beautiful wife like your sister would be, a small ranch with a few head of cattle. I used to dream about it so much, I had the floor plan for the house all laid out in my head. I could almost feel the sun on me as I watched it sinking behind a mountain range in those dreams.”
Jenny pushed back from him, and her brows lifted in silent query.
“I don’t know what happened to those dreams.” He smiled and brushed the last of her tears from her cheeks. “I guess, somewhere along the line, I realized someone like me will never be able to settle down and have those dreams come true.”
She shook her head.
“No, what? No, I’ll never be able to settle down…”
She shook her head again. The blue ribbons danced and shimmered in the lantern light. Rain falling from the roof pattered to the ground in a soothing rhythm. The horses shuffled in the stalls and the cows contentedly munched hay.
“I should see to making those dreams come true.” Here, he silently added.
She bobbed her head and a smile darted over her tear-streaked face.
“Wish I could, Jenny.” Colt eased a deep breath in. He dropped his head to the wall behind him. “But that gun I wore isn’t going to let me.”
Her brows lowered.
“I’ve done some really bad things. I will always be looking over my shoulder. And if I stayed here to try to make those dreams come true, you and Saul and Amy could be hurt because of the things I have done. I’ve done some really bad things,” he repeated.
She shook her head again.
“Yeah, Jenny, I have.” He drew another deep breath. “I’d better get you into the house and take the tongue lashing I know is coming.” Colt stood, holding his hand down to Jenny. When he straightened, he realized Amelia stood silently a few feet away.
Meet the Author
Lynda Cox swears she was born over 150 years too late. She grew up watching westerns, had her first crush when she was ten on The Duke, and knew she should have been a cowboy. She holds a Master’s degree in English from Indiana State University and when she isn’t teaching freshmen composition or working on her next novel, she can be found travelling to the next dog show.