Author Susan Horsnell

Bobby-Jo Fletcher is a woman raised by her father. He taught her to fish, shoot, and look out for herself.

Dallas McBride wasn’t looking for love. He was content living life on his own terms.

When these two meet, sparks fly, and both lives are turned upside down.

Can Dallas convince the spoiled fiery minx, used to getting her own way, that she can’t survive alone in the goldfields of Alaska?

What will he do when he finds himself falling in love?

𝐀 𝐖𝐀𝐈𝐓𝐑𝐄𝐒𝐒 𝐅𝐎𝐑 𝐖𝐀𝐃𝐄 𝐈𝐒 𝐋𝐈𝐕𝐄 𝐆𝐄𝐓 𝐘𝐎𝐔𝐑 𝐂𝐎𝐏𝐘 𝐍𝐎𝐖!!

Amazon US – https://www.amazon.com/dp/B095K1HRTR

Amazon UK – https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B095K1HRTR

Amazon AU – https://www.amazon.com.au/dp/B095K1HRTR

Amazon CA – https://www.amazon.ca/dp/B095K1HRTR

Copyright © 2021 by Susan Horsnell

The right of Susan Horsnell to be identified as the author of this work has been asserted by her under the Copyright Amendment (Moral Rights) Act 2000

All rights reserved. This publication (or any part of it) may not be reproduced or transmitted, copied, stored, distributed, or otherwise made available by any person or entity (including Google, Amazon, or similar organizations), in any form (electronic, digital, optical, or mechanical) or by any means (photocopying, recording, scanning or otherwise) without prior written permission from the author.

This is a work of fiction. Similarities to real people, places, or events are entirely coincidental.

Chapter One

Seattle, Washington

1896

Bobby-Jo

“Bobby-Jo, what are you doing, girlie?” Papa shouted from downstairs.

I left what I was doing and headed toward the top of the stairs. Papa stood at the bottom peering up to where I had stopped.

“I’m packing.”

My father jammed both hands on his hips, pushed the glasses he wore back into place, and attempted to look stern.

“Come down here.”

I skipped down the steps and stood toe to toe with the man who was my entire world. “Yes, Papa.”

“Why are you packing?”

“We’re going to Alaska, so I’m packing a trunk.” I didn’t understand why he was asking me a question which had such an obvious answer.

He shook his head. “No…we’re not.”

“But you said they’ve found gold. Gold! You would never have to work at that horrid bank again. You could tell Mr. Ridley exactly what you think of him and his pompous ways. You could even deposit the gold we find in the People’s Bank instead of his. Wouldn’t that put a burr under his saddle?”

“Roberta-Joanne Fletcher, what have I told you about showing disrespect to your elders?”

Papa only used my full name when he wanted to make it known that he was serious. It was my turn to throw both fists on my hips. “It’s not disrespect when they’re horrid.”

Papa sighed, knowing it was useless to attempt to change my long-held opinion of his superior. My father was pretty much to blame for my outspoken ways and tendency to be stubborn. He had raised me after Mama had died while giving birth.

I had grown up in his image—could hunt, fish, sit a horse, and shoot as well, if not better than most men. Papa had wanted me to be able to take care of myself, to be reliant on no one. People who knew us well often scolded him, saying he had raised me more like a son than a daughter. Papa argued that my being a female didn’t mean I should be useless and at the mercy of a man.

I heard the whispers about me being an old maid because of the way he had raised me.  They insisted no gentleman would want to offer his hand in marriage to a woman who acted more like a boy. When I discussed this with Papa, he said I challenged men’s masculinity which is why they gave me a wide berth. I didn’t care. I was never going to be a girlie girl for any man, but papa thought I should at least try to become more feminine.

He had said repeatedly, that at my age of twenty-three, he and Mama had been hitched for six years and it was time I settled down. Or I risked spending my life alone.

Catherine Mary Oldham—Mama, had been just seventeen, papa-twenty-five when they had tied the knot. I’d grown up hearing stories about how they had met and fallen in love at first sight. Ugh! I didn’t believe in that kind of thing, but it had obviously worked for them. I had never seen two people more in love with each other.

They had tried for years to have a child and when Mama found out at the age of thirty-four that she was with child, they were overjoyed. It had been a difficult pregnancy; Mama had always been delicate, or so papa insisted. The doctor had warned my mother during her expectancy, that after the birth, she was not to have any more children. He made no secret of the fact that he feared for her life. A few months later, both the doctor’s and Papa’s fears were realized when Mama died shortly after I’d been birthed. The doctor hadn’t been able to stop the bleeding.

Papa had been overcome with grief on losing the woman he loved fiercely. My grandmother had stepped in and taken care of me for the first few weeks of my life with the aid of a wet nurse who she employed.

When my father returned from work at the end of each day and proceeded to lock himself away in his room, my grandmother assumed he had no interest in raising his daughter. She had suggested he think about giving me to his sister to raise as her own—she was a woman desperate for a child but found to be barren.

Papa said he hadn’t needed to consider her suggestion. The answer had been a firm, and unequivocal, no. He stated his daughter would be raised by her father. His family found his decision incredulous, even going so far as to say he was being selfish. After heated arguments, Papa told me he had immediately bundled up both me and our belongings. He then told his family he never wanted to hear from them again and moved us across the country to Seattle.

Within a few days he had me settled with a wet nurse, who was also my nanny, and secured himself a position as Senior Accountant with the First Bank of Seattle. He had been with them for close on twenty-three years. The work had been enjoyable until Mr. Ridley had been appointed the manager three years prior. Most of the staff had up and left in the first year, moving on to other banks. They had been unwilling to deal with the new manager’s pompous, demeaning attitude.

My father, and the man who had become his best friend, Damien Thin, were the only two who had remained. Heaven only knew why. They both had enough money to live comfortably for the rest of their lives. My father had an inheritance from my Mama’s father, and Uncle Damien had been left money by his parents when they died. As an only child, my uncle had inherited everything. In reality, neither of them needed to work but neither could stand to be idle.

Damien had become my adopted uncle and I loved him almost as much as my Papa. I’d grown up with him being at our house every Saturday night, and the two would play chess once supper was done. I would spend my time watching them play, and as I grew older, they would each explain the reason for their moves. They were evenly matched, one winning then the other. Now, I was able to easily beat both of them.

My father and Uncle Damien had doted on my every achievement and had never missed any of the important milestones in my life. They always made my birthdays a day to remember.

When my father cleared his throat and spoke, I realized I had been daydreaming and returned my attention to the subject at hand.

“You know, I pity the man who eventually captures your heart and tries to best you. Life certainly won’t be dull for him.”

“No man will ever capture my heart, they’re too much trouble. Haven’t you raised me with forward thinking, to believe I’m equal to any man? Why would I give myself to one who wants to best me? I think I’m happy to remain single and continue to do as I wish.”

“It’s not normal to not want to marry and have little ones. You’ll regret it when you are older and it’s too late. Being single will be an awful lonely life for you.”

“You have been single since I was born, and Uncle Damien has never been hitched. You both seem happy.”

Papa shook his head. “I wasn’t alone, I’ve been busy raising you, which I might say hasn’t been easy at times. Especially when you have dug your heels in over something. As for Uncle Damien, I’m quite sure if you asked him he would admit to missing the love of a good woman.”

I flapped a hand in the air, this was one discussion I wouldn’t win. “It’s never to mind. My attention now is on traveling to Alaska. We could stake a claim and make a fortune if we leave before word gets out and the rush begins.”

“Darlin’, Donald mentioned the gold find in passing. Apparently some friend of a friend found four pokes of gold on the outskirts of Hope and was convinced there could be more. I only told you as a matter of interest. I said nothing about us going to Alaska and searching for gold. Neither of us knows a dang thing about panning. Life would be rough; the weather alone would test our skills and ability to survive.”

“We can learn, Papa.” I threw my arms around his waist. “Please, Papa. We might find enough so we can travel the world and see all the places we have read about in books.”

He sighed in exasperation. “I must be plumb loco, but I have never been able to refuse you anything. I’ll make inquiries about booking us passage to Hope and we will close up the house. Six months, Bobby-Jo. If we haven’t found a decent amount of gold by then, we shall be coming back and there will be no arguing the matter .”

I stood on tiptoe and peppered his face with kisses before stepping back and spinning toward the stairs. “I’m going to finish packing.”

“I need to secure us passage, darlin’, it could be weeks before we can get aboard a steamer.”

“You’ll get us on a ship in the next few days.” I turned and locked my eyes on his. “I have faith in you, Papa. I wish I could come with you when you tell Mr. Ridley you are leaving because he’s an…”

“Roberta-Joanne Fletcher, don’t you dare finish that sentence! I’ll have no disrespectin’ in this house, no matter what you think.”

“Sorry, Papa.” I padded up the stairs, but not before I heard my father grumbling.

“That girl will be the death of me for sure. It’s my own fault for spoiling her.”

𝐌𝐄𝐄𝐓 𝐒𝐔𝐒𝐀𝐍

I was born in Manly on the Northern Beaches in Sydney, Australia and grew up in the west after we moved there to help my brother’s eczema which was made worse by salt air. I now reside in the beautiful sunny state of Queensland.

My dad had the biggest impact on my life. I have always had an overactive imagination and would often tell him stories which floated in my mind. He encouraged me to put pen to paper convinced that one day they would become published books.

Apart from marrying the love of my life, the highlight of my life was being accepted into Nursing just before my 16th birthday. It had been a long-time dream and one which encompassed 37 years of my life. Along with nursing, being married to a Naval Officer for almost 47 years, and posted in numerous places, gave me experiences which I have written into many of my books.

We enjoy traveling the country with our Caravan/RV, and Jack Russell puppy by the name of Gemma who will be joining us.

As my parents were British, never Australian citizens, I hold dual citizenship and we plan to take advantage of this to spend two years traveling the UK and Europe in the near future. It will also give me the opportunity to catch up with many family members who reside in England.

My books are in various genres – Western Historical Romance-both steamy and sweet, Contemporary Romance-steamy and sweet, Male/Male, Australian Outback and City Romance. I also have one menage and one paranormal romance along with two children’s books. As I said earlier, I have a rather overactive imagination.

I hope you will pick up one of my books and when you close the cover on one of my stories it will be with a satisfied sigh.

𝐅𝐎𝐋𝐋𝐎𝐖 𝐌𝐄

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