MONTANA DAWN – Book One in The McCutcheon Series
"I enjoyed every minute of the book and that’s about as good as a book can get!"-Philosophy of Romance
When Luke McCutcheon finds Faith Brown about to give birth in her rickety wagon, his first instincts are to ride for help. Instead, he stays and delivers a beautiful baby girl. Unable to leave the pretty young widow and her little son and newborn unprotected in the Montana wilderness, he brings them along on his family’s cattle drive, to the absolute delight of the other friendly cowboys.
Luke, third son of Montana’s wealthy McCutcheon family, is different from his brothers. As the offspring of a Cheyenne warrior, he carries a chip on his shoulder for all to see. His flashing eyes and handsome face make Faith feel she’s stepped into some long-ago tale where men cherish their women--and keep them safe. If only she could trust him!
Faith is on the run, and although she’s pampered and protected by Luke and his family, she just can’t risk the consequences of sharing the details of her past--one that’s hunting to take her back to the nightmare she’s just escaped. Happy-ever-afters are for fairytales, she reminds herself sternly as her heart feels the warm pull of his.
Still, she can’t help but dream of a loving family, a home to call her own, a beautiful and bright… Montana Dawn
Montana Territory, August 1883
An eerie keening echoed through the trees. Luke McCutcheon straightened in the saddle, and his filly’s ears flicked forward, then back. “Easy, girl. Don’t dump me now.” Not with ten miles to go, he thought as he felt the green-broke filly hesitate. Lightly reining her to the solid side of the slippery embankment, he pressed her forward. Still, she balked at a mud-covered tree stump, snorting and humping her back. Rain came down in sheets now, drenching them both. Squinting through the darkness, Luke scanned the clearing for any sign of the others he’d split from some three hours before.
A bolt of lightning flashed across the sky, followed by an explosive boom. Chiquita whirled a complete circle and crow-hopped several strides, sending an icy rivulet gushing from the brim of Luke’s hat.
“Hell.” Luke squeezed with his legs, pushing her onto the bit. “Flighty filly,” he said under his breath. “You’d be a great one if you’d ever settle down.”
Cresting the rise, Luke searched the horizon through the downpour. Nothing. Nobody in sight. “Long gone.” Frustrated, he slapped his gloved hand against his thigh and spun Chiquita in the opposite direction. He’d head back to camp and try again at daybreak.
Suddenly the uncanny cry came again, peculiar in its tone and just as troubling as the first time he’d heard it. “What . . . ?”
He’d never heard anything like it in his twenty-six years. He reined up for a moment, listening. A minute slipped by, then two. Still nothing but the unrelenting storm. A wounded animal? No. That queer sound was totally unfamiliar. He headed in its direction to investigate.
His efforts proved useless, and after several minutes he stopped. As if called, a streak of lightning lit up the landscape, revealing a dilapidated wagon half-hidden in the brush. It listed to one side, the wheels buried up to the axles. As quick as the light came, it vanished, leaving him in darkness.
He dismounted, cursing the jingle of his spurs. His gloved hand dropped to his sidearm and slid the gun from its holster.
Another ghostly cry emanated from the wagon, raising the hair on his neck. Silently, he made his way over the uneven ground. With his back to the wagon’s side he reached around with his free hand and cautiously pulled back the canvas cover.
Only the wind answered, whipping a smattering of rain against his face. Not daring to take his eyes from the dark opening, he steeled himself against the chilly water dripping down his neck. He flexed his shoulders, willed himself to relax. Then a sound, like the rustling of a mouse, caught his attention. He held his breath.
“Coming in,” Luke warned. He trusted his instincts, and it didn’t feel like someone had a gun pointed at him. Cautious, however, his boot on the wheel axle, he lifted himself slowly through the opening. He paused, letting his eyes adjust to the dark interior.
The aroma of musty canvas engulfed him. And the smell of something else. Fear? Bending low he inched slowly through the cramped interior. He winced: a sharp edge. Fire and ice coursed up his leg. He stopped. Something was in the corner.
With his teeth, he pulled his glove from his hand and reached into his inside pocket for a match. He struck it and held it high. It winked brightly for only a moment and was extinguished by a gust of wind. But not before he saw a woman crouched down, her eyes the size of twin harvest moons.
A soft panting was her reply.
“Your lantern. Where is it?” He felt around the rafters.
Finding a lamp, he lit it and turned down the wick until a soft light glowed around the cramped area. He knelt beside the woman. Beads of sweat trickled off her brow and her breath came fast. Eyes wide with fright were riveted on the gun he held. Then he noticed a stick clenched between her teeth. His gaze flew downward. Her knees were drawn up and a blanket covered the lower half of her body.
But there was no mistaking what was underneath.
Reviews: What people are saying!
“Five stars for this series of seven books. I thoroughly enjoyed the series, and five stars for each book. You are there, gazing at the large herd of cattle off in the distance, and see snow topped mountains in the background. You can feel the black cat rubbing against a leg, watch the cook fixing something to whet the appetites of the hardy ranch-hands, and smell the fresh coffee being poured. When you are into books like that, what can you say? The books are not short stories either, but each book is a rather good long read. Best reads in a long, long time.” ~~Bob Teates, Amazon Review
“In the tradition of classic Americana romances Fyffe crafts a touching and heartwarming western set against the backdrop of a cattle drive. Fyffe has found her place alongside Lisa Cooke, Linda Lael Miller and Catherine Anderson.” ~~RT Book Reviews
“Montana Dawn has everything. Readers will taste the dust, smell the gunpowder and feel the passion.”
~~Nationally Acclaimed Author Cheryl St.John
“Montana Dawn is not a soft, fluffy, romance. It’s a story of real people, hard times and harder choices. I enjoyed every minute of the book and that’s about as good as a book can get!” ~~Philosophy of Romance
“I have been waiting for this book since I read Where the Wind Blows. I was not disappointed. I stayed up until 5 a.m. to finish it. I loved the different characters and the way that they developed. Her books are just well written love stories featuring individuals with integrity no matter how questionable. Can't wait to tell my friends about it!” ~~Jennifer Armento
“Caroline Fyffe's second late nineteenth century Great Plains Americana romance (see Where the Wind Blows) is a superb tale that grips the audience the moment that Luke investigates the scream and never slows down for even a paragraph.” ~~Harriet Klausner
“An excellent read. The author paints vivid pictures--from the smells, sights and sounds of the cattle drive to the heartbreaking decisions Faith feels forced to make. Well-developed supporting characters have their own distinct personalities throughout this story of love, trust and heartbreak. The gentle romance that develops between the main characters was skillfully unfolded, and the reader can’t help but fall in love with Faith and Luke as they fall in love with one another.” ~~ Love Western Romances
“This second book from Golden Heart Award-winning author Caroline Fyffe is a wonderful read. Like her acclaimed first novel, Where the Wind Blows, Montana Dawn is a sweet yet surprising love-and-adventure story with characters you believe in and care about. I loved how one of the book's mysteries--the origins of the half-Indian hero--is resolved when Luke's mother bares her soul. Just too good! Bottom line: You needn't be a romance-genre fan to cherish this fast-paced, well-told, *highly* satisfying story.” ~~J.F. Meyer, Horse & Rider Magazine