Western Seduction – Release date February 8, 2016 – Don’t miss it.
In Brenda Jernigan’s spellbinding novel, a surprise bequest offers three women a fresh start in America, new hope, and the romantic adventure of a lifetime… This is Shannon’s story.
Shannon McKinley flees Scotland to America hoping for a new life. She has answered an ad to be a nanny at Star Ranch in the Texas Territory. It doesn’t matter that she has never been a nanny. If she can handle men…she can handle children. As Shannon tames Luke Griffin’s two wild children, Luke proves a little more difficult as he still mourns his dead wife. Shannon will never accept being second best. As she begins to melt the ice from Luke’s heart, can he really let the past go and take a chance on love?
When a feisty Scot steps out of the stage in Cottonwood, Texas, Luke Griffin can do nothing bur stare. He advertised for old and ugly, but this woman doesn’t fit that description at all. And she is much too small to survive in Texas. He will send her back on the next stage. But for now, Luke will take her to the ranch and ignore the heat that runs though his veins every time she is near him.
In this wild and rugged land, will Shannon’s dark secret endanger the family she has come to love?
5 STARS! Set in 1935. Shannon McKinley flees her drunken and domineering father, Angus, when he arranges for her to wed with Buchanan. Shannon leaves Scotland for America and prepares to begin a new life. She answers an advertisement for a nanny and makes a very uncomfortable ride to Texas Territory with her fingers crossed.
Luke Griffin expects an older woman to answer his ad for a mail-order nanny. With his past, Luke has enough to worry about with all the hot heads that come around trying to make a name for themselves as a gunslinger. Since his wife died a few years ago, Luke has had his hands full with running the ranch. This leaves very little time for his children and he does not believe someone as frail-looking as Shannon will be up to the task either. He gives her one month to prove him wrong.
Growing up in the Highlands, Shannon is much tougher than she appears. The children are stubborn and willful, but Shannon is sure that she can turn them around. Eight-year-old Molly and six-year-old Tobey simply need a bit of attention, discipline, and guidance.
As everything begins to settle into place, Shannon realizes that her father has not given up chasing her. Angus has sent two clansmen to America with orders to bring Shannon home, whether she wants to come or not. However, Luke has changed his mind about Shannon, in more ways than one, and the clansmen will have to go through him if they want to reach his fiery-haired lass.
***** FIVE STARS! The story of Shannon and Luke was so much fun to read! I knew upon first meeting the character of Shannon that she was going to give the hero a run for his money – and I was not disappointed. As for Luke, the way the author introduces him shows that there is more to this man than meets the eye. His past experience makes him the perfect match for Shannon. The two are a lot alike and that means you (the readers) are in for a special treat as this romantic adventure unfolds.
Author Brenda Jernigan paints a vivid portrait of the early West that almost made me feel as if I were there. Romance, adventure, and some historical bits thrown into the mix make this story just too good to miss. I cannot recommend this tale highly enough! *****
HUNTRESS REVIEWS Reviewed by Detra Fitch
WESTERN SEDUCTION is a charming story, written by talented author, Brenda Jernigan! It’s her second book in The Seduction Series.
It tells the story of hero Luke Griffin and heroine, Shannon McKinley! Just follow their amazing journey filled with lots of twists and turns, secrets, romance and a touch of humor! You will enjoy the chemistry between her charming characters Luke and Shannon.
A delightful story to add to your TBR list!
*I received a copy in exchange for an honest opinion*
By Nicole Laverdure on January 7, 2016
This book has everything I love in a story-line. Shannon is the nanny from Scotland that Luke hired but….not exactly. She is not old, ugly and easily forgotten. What arrived on the stage was a fiery, young, beauty, with a temper to match. The story itself is engaging and full of adventure. You add a couple darling children to the mix and it’s a winner. I also love the fact that the book can standalone or be enjoyed as part of a series.
By Dorothy on February 9, 2016
I loved this book. Shannon was just what Luke never knew he needed. But there are many adventures to go through before they get together. If a redheaded Scottish spitfire and a tall, lanky cowboy sound like a perfect couple to you, then this book is for you. Buy it. Read it. You won’t be sorry.
By Rose Arbor on February 8, 2016
It kept me from wanting to put it down. All the people were written very well and if the were real I would like them for friends. I like the Texas history she put in with the story to make it so well rounded. It will be a book that will stay in my collection to enjoy many more times to come.
By Marilyn McDonald-Mahuronon January 16, 2016
Southern Seduction was a finalist in The Booksellers Best Award and The Maggie Award.
Reviews for Southern Seduction
“The first book in Jernigan’s series about three women embarking on new lives in America is an action-packed, sensual tale of the Old South akin to classic plantation novels. The characters reach out of the pages, making a mark on your heart. “ Romantic Times Magazine
Callander Castle, Scotland
Angus McKinley was not a patient man.
He sat in the Great Hall and stared at his tankard, trying hard to control the rage that built in him like a simmering cauldron waiting to boil.
The lass had defied him. By God, he would teach her a lesson once he had his hands on her again.
Shannon had slipped away in the middle of the night and he had been none the wiser until late the next day. Angus gulped a swallow of mead then slammed the tankard back on the table, ignoring the mead that sloshed over the sides.
When he found Shannon he would beat her to within an inch of her life. But he’d be careful not to scar that lovely face of hers as he needed her beauty for her marriage. The marriage he had arranged with Buchanan.
Drumming his fingers on the brown, trestle table, Angus wondered what he was going to say to Buchanan. Angus had promised Shannon to the laird in exchange for cattle and wealth to help his struggling clan.
He thought he had the girl under control. The night before he’d blacked her eye for talking back to him, and then he locked her in her room. Damn, Douglas. Angus thought he could trust the clansman, but the bastard had helped his daughter escape.
When his men had caught up with Douglas they had brought him back to the castle.
Douglas had been reluctant to talk, but after he’d been put on the rack his tongue had loosened. He said he’d taken Shannon to her English uncle, The Duke of Devonshire, so Angus couldn’t hurt her anymore.
Angus was so angry he’d killed Douglas on the spot.
Angus hadn’t been able to get the girl with the Duke’s protection, until now. Luck was on his side. News had arrived two weeks ago that the Duke of Devonshire had died.
Now was his chance.
Angus turned as two men strode across the Great Hall, the rushes snapping under their boots. They cleared their throats as they neared the end of the very long table, interrupting Angus’s reverie.
“Where is the lass?” Angus demanded.
“She has boarded a ship tae America,” Alasdair said.
“When we got there, the ship had just sailed,” Callum added.
“Then by God, ye need tae be on the next ship! Shannon must be brought home. She has a duty tae her da and her clan.”
Texas Territory 1835
‘Twas never good to lie . . . but sometimes necessary, Shannon McKinley reasoned.
Even if it was only a small lie . . . Well, in her eyes, ‘twas small. Yet the farther Shannon traveled into this unknown land, the more she doubted her own sanity.
Suddenly, the stagecoach hit a rut, sending her and the other two passengers up to the roof and back down with resounding thuds. Shannon’s bottom was now numb after two days of riding in this wooden crate.
She’d never dreamed the Texas Territory was so far away from civilization. She’d been gazing out the window most of the day and hadn’t seen anything that remotely resembled human life. Then again, perhaps, isolation was better for her because Mr. Griffin couldn’t easily put her on a train if he was displeased that his mail-order nanny was much younger than what he’d advertised for.
Had it really been three weeks since she’d bid her cousin Jocelyn good-bye in New York? If Shannon closed her eyes, she could still picture Jocelyn and Brooke as the three of them stood by the rail of the ship, wondering what America would hold for them. Each of them had wanted their own adventure in America after leaving England. However, Shannon hadn’t realized her adventure would take forever to begin.
The stagecoach hit another hole in the dirt road, but she didn’t complain. What good would it do? However, she couldn’t say the same about her two matronly traveling companions. They had complained constantly and were now threatening to lynch Shorty, their driver.
“I do believe Shorty has hit every blessed rock and hole in the road since we left Louisiana,” Thelma complained as she straightened her sky-blue bonnet which kept slipping farther sideways with every bounce. “Why we have to ride in a mail coach is beyond me.”
Emma glanced at her sister. “Possibly ‘cause it’s the only transportation into the Texas Territory other than on horseback and you, sister dear, have trouble walking, much less riding. You wouldn’t last a mile on a horse.”
“I’ll have you know that I’m still younger than you, Emma dear,” Thelma protested. “So don’t you go getting uppity on me. I’d probably do just fine.”
“You’re only younger by two years. You’ll be seventy before you know it. Remember, with age comes wisdom.”
Shannon listened to the two elderly sisters bicker. She was growing accustomed to their bickering. It seemed to be what they liked to do best, and their presence most certainly had made the long trip much more bearable.
Thelma and Emma Miller were spinsters who lived with a third sister in Cottonwood. Together they ran the Dry Goods store. If these women were sixty-eight and seventy, Shannon wondered how old their other sister, Rose, was. However, if all the town’s residents were as boisterous as these two, life would be very interesting in Cottonwood.
Shannon tried to make herself comfortable on the hard bench seat. If it hadn’t been for the good sisters, she would’ve ended up wandering lost around St. Louis after she’d gotten off the train. She was looking for a coach similar to the ones they had back home — something sleek and black with soft cushions instead of this hard wood. However, she’d quickly discovered the only way to get to the Texas Territory was by mail coach or horseback.
She glanced out the window. “Ye know I’ve not seen any sign o’ life all day. Are ye sure somebody lives out here?”
Thelma chuckled. “This is the west, honey. The Texas Territory is just being settled, and we’re probably lucky we ain’t run into any Indians by now. You know, it’s still a part of Mexico not the United States. Still, the Americans outnumber the Mexican settlers now, and there’s talk of independence.”
“I huv tae admit I dinna know much about yer country. ‘Tis my first time in America.”
“You’ll learn, dear,” Thelma said, patting her knee.
Emma reached over and touched Shannon’s hand. “Well, we’re mighty glad to have you,” Emma said. “Don’t hear many odd accents around here. Where did you say you’re from, dear?”
Shannon smiled at Emma before answering. “Scotland,” she said proudly, appreciating the woman’s motherly ways.
“Do you have family in Cottonwood?” Emma asked.
“Nae. I’ve accepted a job tae be the nanny fer Mr. Griffin’s children.”
“The Griffin children,” both women said at the same time.
Thelma and Emma exchanged wide-eyed looks. “You poor thing,” Thelma said.
“Why do ye say that?”
Thelma shook her head. “Those youngsters are a handful.”
“Their ma died two years ago, poor things,” Emma added. “And since then they have been through six nannies.”
“Interesting,” Shannon said. She’d been a little concerned when the women had given each other funny looks, but what children were not a handful? “I’m sure ‘tis hard on them without their mother.”
“It is,” Thelma agreed with a nod. “Their father could be the problem, though. You see, Luke loved his wife very much. Never seen a man so dedicated. He still mourns Ruth.”
“’Tis perfectly common tae mourn a loved one.”
“Don’t know of any man mourning for two years.” Thelma arched her fine brow. “Especially with young‘uns.”
Emma shifted and glanced quickly around as if someone were eavesdropping on them. “Now, I’m not one to gossip, you understand.” She paused and waited for Shannon to nod before proceeding. “I think Luke pushes his children away from him because they remind him of their mother.”
“’Tis verra sad,” Shannon murmured with a sorrowful shake of her head. What would it be like to have a man love her like Mr. Griffin loved his wife? She sighed, figuring she’d never know.
Her da had told her more than once that no man would want someone who was as homely as she was. Especially with her god-awful red hair. Shannon pushed his words away and concentrated on the present. “What happened tae their mother?”
“Ruth came from back East and was used to city life. She was too delicate to live in Texas and couldn’t adjust to the harsh environment. Must say, she stayed sick all the time. And then one day, Ruth took to her bed and never got up again,” Emma said with a sad shake of her head. “She was such a pretty little thing.”
“Surprises me that Luke would hire you,” Thelma interjected. “You’re mighty small yourself.”
“But I’m not frail,” Shannon informed them.
They both raised their eyebrows in doubt.
“’Tis true. I’m a bit tougher than I appear.” Shannon insisted with a defiant tilt of her chin.
Emma reached over and patted Shannon’s knee again. “We sure hope so. However, if things get bad for you, you’re welcome to come and stay with us for a spell. We like you.”
Shannon smiled her thanks to the kind ladies, then turned to stare out the window. Just how bad could it get? she wondered. Were the children truly holy terrors?
Mr. Griffin’s letter had said his children were adorable. Could he have lied just as she had lied to him?
“We’ll be in Cottonwood in about an hour, ladies,” Shorty shouted from up top. She was sure Shorty must have a last name, but since arriving in St. Louis, she heard many men referred to by some nickname or other. Nothing formal like she was used to, and she definitely hadn’t heard any titles. It seemed no one here had one.
She remembered one man at the St. Louis post office was referred to as Rattlesnake. Shannon didn’t want to know how he’d earned such a name. Just the sound of it made her shiver. She hated snakes.
She most certainly was going to make sure she didn’t end up with a nickname. Several strangers had already called her Red because of her hair, which she hadn’t appreciated at all.
She could be touchy about her hair. God must have given her this odd color for some reason, but she’d yet to figure out why.
Just another hour, Shannon thought with relief, then she could get out of these cramped quarters. She turned back to the window and gazed at the countryside. The land wasn’t exactly what she’d pictured. It was nothing like the beautiful, lush green hills in her Highlands. Instead, what she’d seen of Texas was brown and flat with few trees. And the dust . . . that was definitely something she would have to get used to. Even now, the temperatures were much warmer than she was accustomed to, and it was autumn. She wondered what summers were like in Texas if it was still hot.
Mr. Griffin had come to live in Texas from St. Louis, so he must have seen something promising in this land. What would Mr. Griffin be like? Pleasant, she hoped. From his letters and what the sisters had said, he sounded like a nice man who had cared for his wife. His penmanship had been beautiful, so she figured he was educated. However, she wasn’t going to worry about Mr. Griffin for the moment. Shannon would do as she always had: face the problem head on once it presented itself. For all she knew, Emma and Thelma could be exaggerating.
Besides, if Shannon could handle men and their childish ways, she was sure she could handle one heartbroken rancher and his children. Two children shouldn’t be that difficult.
Strange, she thought, she was traveling through hostile land, yet she felt safe. Way out here, her father would never be able to find her. And that was the way she wanted it. Just the thought of Angus McKinley made her shudder as though she were cold. ‘Twas hard to believe that he was her da. He’d never shown her any kind of love. Just the opposite. He was a cruel mon.
Her mother had been English and her father was a Highlander, so, of course, the Highlands were where she’d grown up. Shannon couldn’t say that she’d had a happy childhood. Most of it had been spent in fear of her drunken, domineering da. She could remember begging her mother to leave their home, but she had insisted that it was her duty to stay.
Angus was a mean drunk, bullying the weak and the small. Elizabeth, Shannon’s mother, had tried to protect her from being beaten, and most of the time she’d been successful, hiding Shannon when Angus was in a foul mood.
However, the morning she’d found her mother lying cold and still at the foot of the stone stairs, Shannon knew her father had been responsible. He claimed he’d never touched Elizabeth, and maybe he hadn’t, but she was still dead. He’d pointed out that her mother might have tripped on her gown and fallen during the night, but Shannon had seen the bruises on her mother’s arms and around her neck, and she knew . . .
Shannon had felt guilty that her mother had suffered and she hadn’t been able to help her. Perhaps, if she’d been with her mother, she could have pushed Angus away, and then he’d have been the one at the foot of the stairs.
Things had grown worse after her mother’s death. When Shannon was alone with her da, she had endured the beatings her mother had protected her from. However, once she’d turned seventeen, something in her had snapped, and she’d warned her da that if he ever placed a hand on her again she would kill him.
He had simply laughed.
But she’d meant every word.
It didn’t take long for Shannon to realize that Angus could easily kill her before she had a chance to defend herself. So she ran with the help of Douglas, one of her da’s men, who’d enabled her escape to England. Later she learned that Douglas had been killed when Angus had discovered his ruse.
In England she’d found refuge with her uncle Jackson Montgomery, Duke of Devonshire. Jackson, her mother’s brother, had been a good man.
“Why are you frowning so, dear?” Thelma asked.
Slowly, Shannon turned from the window. She felt dead inside when she thought of her da. “I was thinkin’ about my home.”
Emma shifted over to the other bench so she could sit beside Shannon. She slipped an arm around her shoulders. “It’s only natural that you’ll be homesick.”
Shannon gave the women a small smile. There was little chance that she’d be homesick. Nonetheless, she remained mum. She didn’t want to explain her past to women she barely knew.
“What the hell!” Shorty swore from up top.
Shannon glanced out the window. “Looks like a town up ahead.”
The stage pulled to an abrupt stop, nearly throwing her from her seat. Dust swirled around the stage so thickly that Shannon had to jerk her head back inside to avoid a mouth full of grit.
Thelma peered out the window on her side. “I believe we’re finally home,” she said. “But I wonder why Shorty stopped way out here on the edge of town? The post office is down the road a ways.”
They didn’t have long to wonder because Shorty yanked open the door. “Ladies, appears there’s a gunfight going on in town, so we better not get too close. Wouldn’t want to see anybody hurt or nothing.”
“A gunfight?” Thelma said, stepping out of the stage, followed by Emma, who added, “What in the world . . .”
“Ladies! Get back in the stage!” Shorty barked.
Well, Shannon surely wasn’t going to stay in this stuffy box one minute longer than she had to, so she followed the ladies out the door.
Shorty grumbled and hastened alongside her.
Shannon’s steps quickened. It appeared that her quest for excitement was already starting . . . a real live gunfight.
They moved down the boardwalk, careful not to get in danger’s way, but close enough that they could see what was happening. Sure enough, two men were squaring off in the middle of the street and there was a crowd gathered on the boardwalks to watch.
The man whose back was to her was several inches taller than his opponent. He made a striking figure from behind. His shirt stretched across his broad shoulders and he was dressed all in black. Usually, the bad guy wore black, or so she’d read. This was certainly how she’d pictured a cowboy to look.
“I wonder why they are fightin’?” Shannon asked.
“Could be anything,” Shorty answered. “Sometimes it’s just the way a man looks at you.”
Emma and Thelma strolled over to stand beside them. “This isn’t the way we’d like to introduce you to our little town, but out here men and guns are plentiful, so I guess you’d best get used to it, honey.”
“’Tis the same at home,” Shannon said. “Only ‘tis broadswords they use fer weapons.” She glanced back at the combatants in the middle of the dusty dirt street. “After this is over, I’ll huv tae send word tae Mr. Griffin that I’ve arrived.”
Emma gave her a strange smile. “No need, honey.”
Confused, Shannon turned to Emma. Something vaguely disturbing tugged at her, warning her that she wasn’t going to like the answer to her next question. “Why?”
“Because Luke Griffin is the tall one out there.” Emma nodded toward the street. “He’s the one dressed in black.”
Speechless, Shannon let her gaze wander over the man. She became aware of the tension and energy about his body that made her think of an animal ready to attack.
So this was her employer. Was the man crazy? He could be killed and leave his children orphaned. He could be killed and she’d be without a job.
Then what would she do?
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