One of the great things about authors with long careers is that they often explore a wide range of styles and subgenres, and Julie Garwood is no exception. If you’re a current Garwood reader, you may know her best from her suspense fiction like Fast Track or Hot Shot. If you gobble up Regencies, perhaps you loved The Lion’s Lady best. But if what really gets your heart stirring is a cowboy–oh, those cowboys!–then have we got a book for you…
Come the Spring is one of Garwood’s beloved Clayborne family romances, set in the wide open spaces of Montana. (what is it about Montana? Honestly, if all these romance writers are to be believed, Tinder should locate its headquarters there.) Clay Clayborne is a reluctant U.S. Marshal investigating a string of violent bank robberies…and he has to coax the beautiful Jessica Summers into admitting that she witnessed the most recent crime.
Sound tempting? Well, read on for a sample of this unforgettable story! In the passage below, Cole has just come to in a jail cell, with the town’s feckless sheriff standing over him…
“Are you going to let me out of here and give me my guns back?” Cole demanded.
“I’d surely like to.”
“But I can’t,” the sheriff said. “Marshall Ryan’s got the keys. I’ve got to take some papers across town to the judge, so why don’t you just sit tight and eat some cake? I shouldn’t be gone long.”
The sheriff turned to leave. “One more thing,” he drawled out. “Congratulations, son. I’m sure you’ll do your family proud.”
“Wait!” Cole called out. “Why are you congratulating me?”
Norton didn’t answer him. He sauntered into the outer office, and a minute later Cole heard the front door open and close.
He glanced around the stark cell–gray walls, gray bars, and gray floor. On a three-legged stand in the corner was a gray-speckled basin and a water jug next to the piece of cake the sheriff’s wife had left for him. The only other adornment was the black spider crawling up the painted stones of the wall. There was another one hanging from its web int he barred windowsill high up by the ceiling. Cole was over six feet tall, but in order to look out, he would have to stand on a chair. He could see a fragment of sky, though, and like his temporary home, it too was gray.
He reached up and rubbed the knot on the back of his skull, then glanced over at the pitcher and decided to splash some water on his face. His gaze settled on the piece of cake, and he focused on it while he tried to sort fact from dream.
Why were they eating cake in his cell? The question seemed too complicated to think about now. He stood up so he could stretch his knotted muscles and was about to take off his vest when his sleeve caught on something sharp. Pulling his arm free, he glanced down to see what was jabbing him.
His hands dropped to his knees as he fell back on the cot and stared down at his left shoulder in disbelief. He was stupefied. It had to be a joke–but someone had a real warped sense of humor. Then Sheriff Norton’s words came back to him. The appointment had come through…yeah, that’s what he’d said…And they celebrated…Cole remembered Norton had said that too.
And Cole was the honoree…
“Son of a bitch!” He roared the blasphemy at the silver star pinned to his vest.
He was a U.S. marshal.