Get ready to jump into a steamy new adventure in The Prospector’s Only Prospect by Dani Collins, just like our gritty heroine Marigold, releasing March 28, 2023! Available for preorder now.
Her neck prickled. She realized her words weren’t the cause of the men’s sudden quiet. Their gazes had shifted past her. They all stood taller, and their expressions grew attentive. Wary. The boardwalk creaked under a heavy step that came up behind her.
“Miss Martin.” His deep, authoritative voice sent a tingle into her lower back.
She had been Miss Martin, once upon a time, so she turned with a smile of greeting, but it immediately fell off her face, all the way to her suffering feet.
He was bigger than she expected. Tall and broad-shouldered, wearing an ill-fitting jacket that wasn’t brushed. He had owned up to thirty-five years in his letter to Pearl, which accounted for the threads of silver at the temples of his dark brown hair. He had also warned Pearl his cheek bore a scar, but Marigold hadn’t expected a puckered red line that cut from his brow down his cheekbone into a runnel that left a part in his untrimmed beard.
“Mr. Gardner?” She bravely pressed on, pretending his ne’er-do-well appearance wasn’t alarming the life out of her.
Whatever welcome might have been in his rugged features evaporated. His gray eyes became as hard as granite while he frowned in confusion at her appearance.
Pearl had included a self-portrait when she’d responded to Mr. Gardner’s advertisement. Marigold had neither Pearl’s talent with watercolors, her pleasing round face, her bright red hair, nor her ample bosom. She did have her sister’s honey-brown eyes, a deeper sense of responsibility, and a sharper wit—none of which had impressed any man thus far.
Mr. Gardner’s brows bunched together even more when his gaze reached the bloomers poking from beneath her shortened skirt. “You’re a suffragist?”
Might as well admit to being a witch and light the fire herself.
“I wonder if we could speak somewhere more private?” she suggested. He snorted. His gaze flickered to the men who were watching them avidly. “You’ve come to the wrong place for that.”
He had her there. She had thought the farmers in Topeka had been starved for entertainment. These miners were nosier than a barnful of kittens.
Marigold slipped around the corner into the alley between the Express office and the building that was being erected next to it. The putrid smell from a nearby outhouse almost knocked her over, but she turned to see Mr. Gardner had followed her.
“The truth is, Mr. Gardner…” She forced herself to lift her chin and not cower before his intimidating presence. “Pearl was unable to make it. I’m her sister, Marigold Davis.”
He ignored her offered hand. His narrowed eyes squinted even harder.
Her heart gave a thud of alarm, but she forced herself to continue speaking.
“A man of our acquaintance learned of Pearl’s plan to marry here and professed his feelings for her. They’re likely engaged by now. Since I also need a husband, I took it upon myself…”
Was he physically growing larger as she spoke, like an anvil head preparing to send tornadoes whipping across the land?
“You did describe your situation as urgent,” she reminded him. So was hers. His letter with the ticket for Pearl had arrived while they’d been picking through the ashes of their farmhouse. Marigold had had to decide within a matter of hours whether she would take a chance on meeting him here today or return the ticket unused. She’d had plenty of time to regret this leap into the unknown while she was bouncing around in the stagecoach, but it was too late to go back now. She had nowhere to go back to anyway.
“Why didn’t you write to me when your sister did?” he demanded. “So I could make the choice between you myself?”
Because she had thought her sister weak in the head for replying to such an outrageous ad. Which likely said something about her own faculties, now that she stood before him.
“My circumstance changed very suddenly.” She gave her arms a rest and set her carpetbag on the dusty ground by her feet. “I wasn’t planning to marry…again,” she mumbled while she was bent. She warily peered upward as she straightened.
“You’re widowed?” His brows lifted.
“Divorced?” She didn’t mean to sound so uncertain. There was no doubt about it. She definitely was divorced.
Crash went those dark brows, exactly like thunderheads.
“Whatever you’re selling, lady, I ain’t buying. You owe me a ticket on the Express and fifty cents postage.”
After eight days in a cramped stagecoach, divorcée Marigold Davis already regrets her decision to come to Denver City to marry. She certainly didn’t realize she’d signed up for mosquitoes, mud, and scores of rough men eyeing her like a hot meal on a cold day. But with her life in Kansas all but incinerated, Marigold needs a husband. Even if she’s not the bride that gold prospector Virgil Gardner is expecting…
Virgil Gardner has a reputation as a grumpy hard-ass, and he’s fine with it. He’s also no fool—this is not the woman he agreed to marry. It takes a tough-as-nails woman to survive the harshness of a Rocky Mountain gold claim, and this whiskey-eyed, gentle beauty is certainly not the type. Now it’s just a matter of how quickly she’ll quit so he can find a wife who will stick. Someone who can care for the only thing he values even more than gold–his children.
But Marigold isn’t about to give in. Cramped in a one-room shack. Berry picking turned into a bear escape. Or cooking for an entire crew of bottomless pits. She’s got more grit than most. And just when Virgil starts to realize his replacement bride might be the treasure he’s been looking for, an unannounced guest arrives…to change everything.
Award-winning and USA Today Bestselling author Dani Collins thrives on giving readers emotional, compelling, heart-soaring romance with laughter and heat thrown in, just like real life. Mostly she writes contemporary romance, but her backlist includes erotic romance and now, western historical romantic comedy. When she’s not writing—just kidding, she’s always writing. Dani lives in Southern BC, Canada with her high school sweetheart husband. Learn more about her and her books at danicollins.com. Follow her on Twitter, like her on Facebook, or join her newsletter for free excerpts and all the latest gossip on her writing life.
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