As a Texan, I’ve always been fond of the Texas Rangers, an elite law-enforcement agency that functions as the state’s own FBI. Like their predecessors who patrolled Texas’s wide-open spaces during the 19th Century, the 150 men and women who compose the force today are a tough, savvy bunch no one wants to find on their trail. Texans revere the organization not only for the outfit’s history, but also because today’s Rangers serve as an outstanding example of upstanding devotion to an ideal.
|Texas Rangers, c. 1890|
Fearful of the organization’s reputation, the federal government disbanded the Rangers in 1865, during the post-Civil War Reconstruction Era. Texas re-commissioned the outfit in 1874, after the state emerged from martial law under Union occupation forces. Shortly before the turn of the 20th Century, the Rangers acquired the motto that still follows them today: “One riot; one Ranger.”
Except for one brief-but-notorious period of corruption in the 1920s, the organization has performed its function with stellar character. The Rangers always get their man.
|The Ghost of|
Peacemaker Awards Past
I also feel Prairie Rose Publications, which published both western historical romances, is acquitting itself admirably on the western fiction front. Another PRP release, Prodigal Gun, was named a finalist for the Best First Novel award. Prodigal Gun is the first novel-length western historical romance ever nominated for a Peacemaker.
Livia Washburn Reasoner and Cheryl Pierson, the company is and always will be dedicated to publishing traditional westerns and western romance written by women. Nevertheless, in less than two years PRP has expanded to include young adult, inspirational, paranormal, and medieval lines. The “little publishing company” releases some darn fine fiction. I’m proud it publishes mine.
ExcerptIf Dulce had ever been in San Miguel, like as not she disappeared with everyone else when the hole in the border burned to the ground. Somehow, the saloon escaped the flames, thank God. A man got mighty thirsty crossing half of Texas.
Quinn tied Bull’s-Eye to the scorched rail beside a chestnut and buckskin carrying Mexican saddles and no brands. The long-gun scabbards on both horses sat empty. Chewing his lip, he slid the Winchester from Bull’s-Eye’s boot, pulled the brim of his hat lower, and sauntered inside.
Two trail-worn hardcases held up the bar at the back of the dingy room. They glanced over their shoulders, and then returned to their beers. The tight-lipped cuss guarding the liquor claimed to know nothing.
Quinn grabbed a bottle and retreated to a table in the front corner. He was three-quarters of the way to the bottom of the bad whiskey when hope arrived on painted wings.
A small flock of bright birds fluttered in through a door behind the bar. They paused to chirp and preen for the disinterested hombres with the saddle guns and beers, and then headed for Quinn.
Without so much as a howdy, one of them plopped herself into his lap, jiggling everything she owned. The half-light did her a favor. “You look like a man who could use some company.”
“Maybe.” He tossed a healthy shot of rotgut down his throat and slammed the glass onto the tabletop. “Looking for a girl goes by Dulce.”
A dove squeezed between Quinn and the wall and snaked bare arms across his shoulders. Long nails toyed with the buttons on his vest while a honeyed whisper dropped into his ear. “All of us can be sweet, guapo, if that is what you want.”
The whore in his lap ran a fingertip along his unshaven jaw. “We can also be very, very naughty.”
That’s when the nun walked in.
Sharp nails raked Quinn’s cheek when he dumped the dove on her ass and sat forward, blinking.
Yep. A nun, wearing a habit so white it almost glowed, except for the black apron and the dust on the hem.
He glanced at the near-empty bottle, then trained his gaze on the apparition’s ramrod-straight back as she marched across the room. The sister confronted the Tejano barkeep as though she did so every day.
When she spoke, Quinn could’ve sworn he heard Spanish mission bells. “Señor, I beg your assistance.”
Captain Jeffries was right. He needed to swear off the firewater.
To celebrate the Best Short Fiction Peacemaker, I’ll gift an e-book of “The Second-Best Ranger in Texas” to two folks who answer this question in the comments:
What makes a Texas Ranger hero sexy?
I’ll pick one commenter at random from Thursday’s comments, and another from Friday’s.