Wanted (Western Romance)
Print: $8.95 E-book: $2.99 Audible: $19.95
Publisher: Twin Star Books
Pages: 211 (57k)
SW ISBN: 9781370796823
Print: Amazon / Barnes and Noble / Book Depository / Createspace
About the Book :
Sheriff Jace Kelly's wife died birthing his remarkable daughter, Emma. She inherited the families' seer abilities. At six years old, she can't tell the difference between a vision and an ordinary dream. So Jace doesn't put much faith in Emma's recent premonition: marriage for him and a new mother for her.
When JoBeth Riley arrives, Emma is convinced she's the woman in her dream: dark hair, green eyes, and shamrocks in her pocket. There's one problem – she's the notorious outlaw, Baby Face Jo. Her stay in town is meant to keep Shane Maverick, the leader of the outlaw gang, from finding her before the authorities devise a plan to capture him.
JoBeth finds the Kellys a strange lot. A little girl, who believes her dreams are tales of the future and the rugged sheriff whose kindness proves a distraction. She's an outlaw, for heaven's sake, but Jace is bound and determined to steal her heart.
Liberty, Arizona Territory 1881
"Papa, Papa!" Emma exclaimed as she pounced onto the bed, startling Jace out of a deep sleep.
His hands gripped her shoulders as he tried to make out her features in the dark. "What is it? Are you hurt?" His gaze took in her appearance all at once, even as her long blonde strands shook back and forth.
"No, Papa," she hurried to tell him, but something had startled the child and awakened her before the roosters crowed and announced the start of a new day.
He loosened his grip, relaxing just a tad. He sat up and reached for a sulfur stick on the nightstand so he could light the candle he had there for just such emergencies. Once done, he leveled his gaze on his daughter. She sat on her knees and stared at him with wide eyes. "Tell me what's wrong?" he asked her with a yawn. His hand rubbed over his face, trying to erase the last remnants of sleep.
"Don't be cross, Papa." Emma's lips quivered.
His daughter was only six and a half years old. As much as he didn't like being startled out of a deep sleep, he didn't want Emma to fear waking him if something troubled her. "Come here," he said as he gently pulled her beside him in a hug. "Did you have one of your dreams again, darlin'?" The dreams came often now, vivid accounts of a future event. Usually they were no more disturbing than letting him know a calf would be born or someone was going to propose marriage, but he knew they wouldn't always be so benevolent. The gift of sight always came with a price—along with the joyful occasions, tragedies would also be revealed. His great-grandmother had the gift, then his father and now his daughter, the gift always skipping a generation in between as if the sidhe or the fae folk, as his father called them, didn't want too many seers alive at the same time.
He would have to help Emma recognize when a dream proved to be a vision and when the dream was simply a dream.
Her head bobbed up and down, giving him his answer. "The dream was about my new mama."
Jace's back stiffened and he inhaled deeply, praying for patience as he did so. So this was only a dream, not a vision. Emma's mother died in childbirth and he had no intentions of marrying again, but his daughter seemed determined to find him a wife. Last week, she wanted him to propose to the Widow Gunthry, who was old enough to be his mother. Then she turned an eye toward Samantha Daniels, the pretty little schoolmarm, who had eyes for another fellow. Maybe he was wrong to deny Emma a mother, but he couldn't see himself falling in love with another woman. Sarah had been his first and only love. With her death a part of him died with her. No woman wanted a man with a broken heart. "Honey," he reached for Emma's hand and patted it, "we've talked about this."
"I know," she said with a long sigh. "You don't want no pickled-faced prune and—"
"Who told you that?" He interrupted her colorful description.
"Well, it's true, isn't it? Beau Bennett says so. When I done told him you wouldn't marry Mrs. Gunthry—even though she don't have a husband no more—he says it's 'cause she's a pickled—"
"I get it," he interrupted his daughter. It's not nice to call people pickled-faced prunes." He'd have to talk to his deputy and tell him not to fill his daughter's head with stories.
"But you don't want a pickled-faced prune for a wife, do you, Papa?"
"Uh…no. I suppose I don't. But that's beside the point. Mrs. Gunthry is a fine woman and I don't want you calling her names."
She sighed. "Beau told me I shouldn't repeat what he said," she murmured.
"He shouldn't have said it in the first place."
Her small hand patted his chest. "No worries, Papa. You won't have to marry Mrs. Gunthry. 'Cause you're going to marry someone else, and my mama is real pretty, but she don't have my color hair." She chewed on her lower lip. It's not like yours either."
"No?" He'd humor her for now. If he didn't, they wouldn't get one wink of sleep.
"Uh-uh, it's real dark like the ink I spilt on your desk at work."
"You don't say."
"Her hair's real long, too, and she has green eyes like the moss on the tree out back yonder."
"She sounds real nice, darlin', but I'm not looking to find a wife even if she's as pretty as you say."
"But my dream has gotta be true," she insisted. "'Cause I wished it."
He frowned. "What are you talking about?"
"Old Mrs. Gunthry told me to make a wish 'cause it was the Christmas season and wishes come true when you wish upon the Christmas Star."
His right eyebrow arched at this bit of news. Christmas Stars and wishes—what was Mrs. Gunthry thinking to encourage his daughter in that way? "Emma, listen—"
"Do you want to hear about my dream or not? 'Cause you keep interruptin' me."
"Sorry, Darlin'." He drew in a deep breath and let it out again. "Do continue."
"My mama will be arrivin' soon," she said. Her brows knitted over the bridge of her nose as she recalled her dream. "You'll have to save her. You might have to use your guns, too."
"Is that so?"
"Well…I don't think you have to shoot no one. It wouldn't be fitting since you're the sheriff and all, but you do shoot bad outlaws, don't you?"
Shoot bad outlaws? As if there were a good kind. "Emma, I try not to shoot anyone."
"But if they're real bad like a hell-bent soul with no chance of red…re-deem...shawn."
"Redemption," he corrected.
"And we don't say hell-bent in this house," he gently scolded.
"Reverend Murphy said it Sunday past," she countered.
He cleared his throat. "Well, yes he did, but it's not seemly for a young lady to use such words."
"Don't see why not if it were true." She rested her elbow on his chest and leaned her chin on the palm of her hand as she peered at him with those baby blue eyes so much like her mother's, his heart clenched in response. "You would shoot that kind of man, right?" she insisted.
He didn't know what his daughter was fishing for or why, but he would reassure her of her safety. "If there was a really bad man who tried to harm someone, I might have to stop him."
Her head bobbed up and down. "I thought so. Good thing too. My mama is real scared of this man. He's mean."
Emma sure had one heck of a dream to know all this or at the very least, a good imagination. He had no plans to marry. Her dream could not be a premonition, but it didn't hurt to have all the facts. "Out of curiosity, when am I supposed to meet this dark-haired, green-eyed woman?"
"Soon. You'll know her 'cause she'll carry shamrocks in her pocket."
"Shamrocks, is it?" His lips twitched.
That would be short of a miracle since no green plants could break through the layer of frost covering the ground. They'd most likely have snow for Christmas. "Well, Darlin', I'll keep a look out for her."
"Promise." He scooted so his head rested on the pillow once more. He closed his eyes. "You can stay in here if you want, but you have to settle down. Your papa needs his beauty sleep."
Her giggle had him peeking one eye at her.
"Papa, you can't be a beauty. Mrs. Gunthry says all men are either handsome or as ugly as sin. That must be pretty bad 'cause her face scrunched up, making her wrinkles look like cracks in the dried mud."
"Enough, Emma. Now be a good girl and blow out the candle."
She scooted close to the nightstand, inhaled and let out her breath in a whoosh. It took her a moment to settle in next to him. "Now close your eyes," he told her as he made a mental note to have a word with Mrs. Gunthry, too.
Melissa Snark's Review
If I'd made any guesses on what to expect from Karen Michelle Nutt's story, I'd have been totally incorrect and in so many delightful ways. WANTED is a historical Western romance set (best guess) in Arizona 1880-1890ish. (I lived in Arizona for many years so the geographical locations were familiar but the lack of an exact date was niggling.)The setting felt authentic and well-described without being intrusive. The author's style is smooth as were plotting and characterization. The pacing of the romance was a little fast for my taste. Love scenes bubbled somewhere above sweet. I'd like to have seen more time spent on the main character's relationship. The writing is far superior to the cover, which doesn't even begin to do the story justice.I love stories that involve role-reversals and challenge stereotypes. WANTED upends the tired trope of a good frontier woman saving the disreputable gun slinging hero. Sheriff Jace Kelley is a widower and devoted father to his young daughter, Emma, who happens to have the gift of second sight. He is kind, compassionate, honest and courageous—everything a swoon-worthy lawman should be and a bit more. His relationship with his daughter is one of the best parts of the story. There's something very sexy about a dedicated and patient father.
The hero is understandably skeptical when Emma predicts the arrival of a new mother (who has shamrocks in her pocket). However, his disbelief is challenged when a new prisoner is transferred to his small town jail through the holiday season. Heroine JoBeth Riley is a bank robber (although she allegedly only drove the getaway horses) and partner of a notorious outlaw. She is smart and witty but a little standoffish. She suffered from a bad childhood and has terrible taste in men (up until she meets Jace). JoBeth's decisions sometimes frustrated me but I found her to be sympathetic. Her yearning for a real home and family is convincing as was her redemption.
WANTED is an excellent story for a reader looking for a quick Western Christmas romance that provides a unique take on a bad woman doing right by a good man.
I received an ARC in exchange for an honest review.
Melissa Snark, author
Wanted by Karen Michelle Nutt
Small town Sheriff Jace Kelly's six-year-old daughter Emma has the remarkable gifts of a seer but because of her age she sometimes mistakes ordinary dreams for visions.
JoBeth Riley has made some very unfortunate decisions in her life and she is now a wanted outlaw who will be used as bait to catch her dangerous lover Shane Maverick.
Emma wished upon a Christmas star for a new mother so she believes JoBeth is the one when they take her in to their home in order to protect her. JoBeth finds herself falling under the spell of the Sheriff, his daughter and the entire town. Perhaps they both have the opportunity for a second chance.
Karen Michelle Nutt produces a fabulous old-west love story with a slight paranormal twist. Every character is so well developed especially for a short story and I look forward to seeing how many of Emma's predictions come true in the future. This was a warm-hearted entertaining holiday read.
Reviewer for Coffee Time Romance & More
Five Stars (TwoLips)
Sheriff Jace Kelly is a widower with a six year old daughter who has a special gift of dreams that come true. She tells Jace that she had a dream about her new mother who has dark hair, green eyes and shamrocks in her pocket. Of course, he doesn’t believe her dream will come true until he takes an outlaw, JoBeth Riley, into custody.
Even though their attraction makes sparks fly, her dangerous outlaw lover, Shane Maverick, has come looking for her. There’ll be hell to pay when he finds her as evidenced by the trail of death that follows him as he draws ever closer.
Wanted is a wonderful story with unforgettable characters and a villain that will make the reader’s spine tingle. Ms. Karen Nutt creates a tender story of a man struggling with loss and trying to raise a gifted child. Wanted is also a story of faith in the face of impossible odds and the evolution of JoBeth, as she sheds her past and allows herself to seek a life she never thought she could have. Ms. Nutt has woven magic into this delightful story. I hope Ms. Nutt will consider writing a story about the young deputy, Beau Bennett, in the near future. I found Beau to be such a brave and faithful lad that I’d love to see him grow up, find love and happiness for himself. Anyone who loves romance and a good western is sure to love Wanted.
Mac, reviewer at TwoLips Review
*Note from the author: Wanted was originally a 20k short story featured in the Christmas Collection and was also a Western Trail Blazer eBook. For your reading pleasure, this new and revised tale is a full length novel. Enjoy!