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Genre: Historical Fiction
1869 – Matthew Gentry joined the Confederate Army at eighteen years of age after an argument with his father, leaving Paradise, his Virginia home and famed horse breeding stables, for the fields of Gettysburg. Having survived the War Between the States, Gentry is haunted by the violence and inhumanity of the war. He continues to roam the country long after the conflict is over, finding solace in the arms of soiled doves and at the bottom of whiskey bottles. Finally traveling home after learning of a family tragedy, he nearly loses his life in a spring-flooded riverbed.
Annie Campbell, lone survivor of her family, lives at a remote farm near the North River, raising pigs and trying to grow enough to feed herself, and to stay out of the crosshairs of the Thurmans, violent men who run the town of Bridgewater. Annie’s secrets threaten her safety, even as she rescues and nurses Matthew Gentry.Read an Excerpt:
Matthew knows he must return to Paradise, to grieve with his family. Will his heart lead him back to Bridgewater and Annie Campbell?
Matt saw a path on the right, running parallel to the water, through a rocky area that led away from the sharp incline and loose boulders. Rain started to fall and the mud slid out from under his and Chester’s feet. He called to Ben until his voice was hoarse and made his way slowly to the safer path to his right. He looked back and watched rocks and stones tumble forward, hitting Ben and making his horse shy back and rear up as much as it could on the narrow path.
Matt slid out of the saddle and struggled to turn himself and Chester around to get back to where Ben was held up. The rain was coming down steadily now and Matt went down hard on his shoulder when his boot slipped. He sat up, now thoroughly soaked and mud covered, turning just in time to see Ben’s horse fall as his hooves came out from under him, landing on his side, kicking Ben, and sliding toward the raging river. Ben stood, reaching out, as if he could pull a thousand pounds of horse upright. A large boulder behind Ben shifted and began to bounce and roll toward him. Matt shouted and started down the hillside, off the trail, desperate to get to the other man in time. It was of no use, he knew—he was twenty or thirty feet away—but he clamored down anyway, slipping and struggling, watching as the rock slammed into Ben’s legs, pinning him against another rock and then rolling on toward the river.
He heard Ben’s screams over the sounds of the rushing water. He hurried the last ten feet as quickly as he was able and fell to his knees.
“My leg! God! Look at my leg!”
He held Ben’s shoulders still as he looked at a bone that had poked through Ben’s pants. He wanted to vomit. He wanted to climb back up to Chester and get off the hillside. He wanted a whiskey. He pulled his belt from his pants and pulled it tight above the exposed shinbone on Ben’s leg. He looked up to see Chester lose his footing as he followed his whistle, the horse forced to leave the trail and pick through the stones and moving rocks.
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