He nudged his appaloosa toward the plank bridge. The road showed evidence of a recent rain. Dog tracks ringed the muddy puddles that glistened in ruts and potholes, nearly obliterating the prints of deer, raccoon and quail. A lizard zigged onto the road and, confronted by a mongrel pup, zagged back beneath a six-foot greasewood shrub. Between steep banks, Carcass Creek flowed sluggishly, its voice as deep and lethargic as a sleepy frog. Beyond the bridge, cottonwood trees with trunks as gray and rough as a washerwoman's knees crowded a bend where the stream widened and seemed to slumber in the September sun.
If not for the smoke spiraling up from the roof, the house would be hell to spot. It looked like a wall of rocks stacked against the slope of an old creek bed. Poles and sod formed the flat roof, the front edge rimmed with elk and deer antlers. Two mules and a donkey hung their heads over the bars of a corral attached to a lopsided stable. Between the house and stable a patch of green marked a vegetable garden. Busted wagon parts, a rusted stove with a hole in its round belly, and broken farm implements littered the yard. Buck had seen better dugouts in Kansas and had considered them poor doings.
Riding up to the house, he called out a hello and dismounted. Surrounded by barking dogs he proceeded to water his horse at a well built over a natural spring. From beneath the wide brim of his Stetson he searched for some sign of life. Finally he headed to the house, spurs jangling in his wake. His fist was raised, ready to knock, when the rough plank door swung inward and the business end of a Henry repeating rifle met with his nose.
"Judas!" He jerked back and stumbled over his own big feet. A cat screeched, letting him know he had mangled its tail. The critter got even by climbing Buck’s leg. Yelping and dancing while he tried to extract the cat, he trampled two or three more felines. Easy to do; half a dozen littered the yard, along with pigs and a flutter of chickens.
"Whoa there, ma'am." He held up a hand. "Don't mean you any harm."
"What do you mean?" she asked.
The cat took off, kinked tail in the air. Buck checked for damage and decided he’d live. "That's a mite awkward to explain." He took off his hat, wiped his brow on his sleeve and replaced the hat back, buying time while he studied her.
She wasn't much to look at. The braid hanging to her waist appeared as though crows had been pecking at it. Dun-colored strands fluttering about her head gave her a wild look that belied the delicacy of her face. A strong chin balanced her large eyes and a mouth as stubborn as the mules in the pole corral. A patched apron hung to her scuffed boots and hugged her legs snugly enough hint she wasn't wearing skirts. He was wondering what might be under the apron when she spat, "Spill it, mister. I haven't got all day."
"Think you could put down the gun?" He eyed the rifle with amusement and chagrin. "This might take a while and your arms are like to get tired."
"Don't think for a second, just because I’m a woman, that I can’t shoot this rifle,” she drawled. "I hate when men jump to such conclusions. Makes me so angry I start shaking and that makes my trigger finger jittery, if you know what I mean."
Buck knew. A jittery trigger finger meant he might get shot for no reason. He eyed her speculatively. She wasn’t much bigger than a colt; no problem for a man his size to handle. “I doubt you’d enjoy where they'd put you for shooting a man,” he said, smiling to hide his growing irritation.
"Nobody goes to jail for self-defense. Especially a woman. You going to state your business or not?"
"Are you Tempest Whitney?"
"What's it to you?"
He sighed. "Name's Buck Maddux. I ran onto your husband two years ago. He was gut shot and bleeding bad —"
“Maddux!” Her head snapped up and her finger tightened on the trigger. “You yellow-bellied son of a coyote. How dare you come here? Didn’t you cause enough grief robbing that stage and getting my husband killed? Get off my property before I fill you with lead the way the posse did Skeet."
BUCK! BUCK! oh my BUCK!
BUCK ,BUCK,BUCK . All the dreams I use to have when I was a small girl ,of what it would be like to live in the past. And what kind of man I wanted. And Ms. Raddon , she found just the man I have always wanted; and his name is Buck!
We first start off with Tempest , strong woman who will do anything to keep her and her children afloat and pay back all her dead husband has done. When she is cornered and given two awful choices of get married or leave her home she doesn't know what to do. And just when you think it is all over here come her dusty, dirty, brown horses LONG dead husband? . . .
Buck, promises Tempest husband ,Skeet to make sure she and the family is ok , as he lied dying. Buck agrees but being throw in jail side tracked this promise. But once he got out he headed to make that promise true. Little did he know what he got himself into . . .
Wonderful story, loved the back and forth between Tempest and Buck. She don't take no crap from him or anyone. And that is what Buck needs. A strong woman , to show him it is ok to love again. Ms. Raddon is a wonderful , detailed writer and you will be missing out on this if you let this book pass you buy. ~ Kimberley Wade, Amazon
This book was just so good.I just loved the characters and really loved Buck.I would recommend this book to anyone that loves the old west and a woman that has a vocabulary that will make you laugh. ~ Mary Nettle, Amazon
A Hungry Passion for Protection and Respect!
Charlene Raddon writes great romance fiction that isn't empty-headed nonsense. To Have and To Hold is an old-fashioned Western romance that will thrill lovers of the romance genre! Very nicely fashioned, Ms. Raddon! ~ Viviane Crystal, Crystal Book Reviews and Amazon
"A HEARTFELT, WESTERN HISTORICAL ROMANCE THAT LEAVES YOU CRAVING FOR MORE!"
This intriguing story in "TO HAVE AND TO HOLD" portrays how one woman's strength and determination helps her to survive the horrifying challenges she was forced to face in a battle for survival. The story unfolds in a picture-perfect setting of the burning desert of Utah as we are introduced to Tempest Whitney, while she struggles to protect her homestead, after becoming a widow with two children, and finding herself in a no-win situation. Her husband left her nothing, and the serious debt could leave her homeless. The suspense becomes intense in this page-turner with every decision that Tempest makes, from crawling out of a black hole after the death of her husband, to a scheming ranger, to a complicated relationship with Buck Maddux. A stranger, released from prison, finds passion in his heart for Tempest. Charlene Raddon delivers an exciting, historical romance as she describes the good, the bad and the ugly through unforgettable, colorful characters. The interesting story is filled with mixed-emotions, lust, fear, and love. Through this adventure, you will laugh, and cry as you witness several events that tug at the heart. Tempest Whitney follows a dark, scary road, and must close the door of horror, before walking through the golden gates. Does Tempest fall in love with Buck? The author shows the reader how we become stronger, after making mistakes, and how those mistakes can bring wisdom and hope to a new life of happiness. "TO HAVE AND TO HOLD" is as touching as LOVE STORY, as heartwarming as AN OFFICER AND A GENTLEMAN, and as captivating as THE COURAGE TO LOVE. ~ Geraldine Ahearn, Amazon
To Have and To Hold is the kind of story that pulls you in from the very start and never lets go of your heart. Ms. Raddon has turned back the clock and immersed us in a rugged historical town full of colorful characters, a hero and heroine drawn together in the most unexpected way, and a villain truly worthy of the title . . . This is a story that makes you laugh with its witty banter between the protagonists while breaking your heart over the pain these two kind yet hardhearted people have had to endure. The sexual interludes are a rich reward after witnessing their slowly evolving relationship full of sexual tension. There's a definitive and immensely satisfying HEA that still allows an opening for another story branching off this heartfelt world thanks to a missing relative of Buck's. Ms. Raddon's writing style transported me back in time to a memorable place and time and I look forward to the heartbreaking journey she'll take us on next . . . My rating for this is an A. ~ Words of Wisdom . . . From the Scarf Princess blog
Related how harsh the living conditions for some families could be out west. Only strong women could survive, but the author threw in a good, strong man, and some evil people to liven things up. Before It was over you wanted to scream, forget it and marry her. ~ Elton L. Ables, Amazon
Well written. This story kept my attention. Interesting characters and looking forward to reading the next one. Haven't read anything by this author before but I plan on looking for her other books.
~ June, Amazon
Nice plot and character development. Setting was a bit unusual but could be realistic for that time. Loved little Angel, she gave life to this story. Some parts drug a bit, like waiting for some something-action, change, or further growth. Loved the ending. I would read her next book later this year. ~ Stephanie, Amazon
Memorable in every way
An exciting plot, unforgettable characters, a heart-melting romance, and historical detail that's so real, you'll feel like you've been transported to the old West. What's not to like? Get this book and read it. You won't be sorry. ~ Mary J. Meier, Amazon
Exciting and well written. Excellent research gives this story a solid foundation and is often as interesting as the story itself. Charlene Raddon's novels keep the reader wanting more. Read it, you'll like it. ~ Roseann Woodward, Amazon
As usual, the author has crafted an awesome story with not only compelling romantic characters, but a riveting plot. Great work! ~ Kate Andrews, Amazon
A lusty western adventure!
If you love a good western with a big dash of spice, then this is the story for you! Buck says to Tempest, "I'm afraid with you, I'll always want more." So it is with a Charlene Raddon story--this writer leaves you wanting more! Zebra--get with the program and print more copies of To Have And To Hold! Lovely cover; lovely writing. ~ Reader, Amazon UK
Raddon is one of the best when it comes to historical romance. Her writing is superb, and her research is impeccable. Her story and characters are realistic, and you'll fall in love with Buck Maddux and the spunky Tempest Whitney. Her style of writing will keep you turning pages until the very end. Loved this story and the characters. ~ Tina Foster, Amazon
First book read
This the very first book I have read by Charlene Radeon, It will be the first of many more to come! Just wonderful!!! ~ Chris Flessner, Amazon
Intense Western Romance Adventure
This was a well written intense story that you could feel every emotion in the relationship between Tempest and Buck with their growing relationship that was so much like real life with their feelings of lust, trust, fear and trying to hide their love from themselves and each other.
Buck, all male in every way.Tempest a strong willed woman full of love and need for Buck who made her feel alive. Jonas who you hated for being a cruel pathetic type of man that loves to beat up on woman and is a disgrace to his heritage.
The story was so real with good and bad emotions that you would feel in real life back then. The adventure in the last half of the book was so intense that I thought I was watching a movie instead of reading words. I highly recommend this western romance with growing intensity and adventure. Great writing and Great read. ~ Shirl, Amazon
This is a wonderful authentic western romance. Charlene Raddon is an excellent author. Life in the Utah high desert is rough and wild. ms. Raddons books are peopled with very real characters. Buck and Tempest are great and you will really get caught up in their story. ~ Roancrone, Amazon
If you love a good western with a big dash of spice, then this is the story for you! Buck says to Tempest, "I'm afraid with you, I'll always want more." So it is with a Charlene Raddon story--this writer leaves you wanting more! ~ Cheryl St John, author
Of all the romance novels I've ever read (and believe me, that's a lot), this book has quite possibly THE best male character of all. Raddon develops the character of Buck Maddux very thoroughly, and she isn't afraid to spend as much time with him as she spends with the female protagonist, Tempest Whitney. We know exactly why Buck acts the way he does, and we know that the reasons why he and Tempest fall in love with each other go beyond proximity and physical attraction (relatively rare qualities in romance novels). This, in combination with excellent supporting characters and an absorbing plot, pretty much guarantees that you'll at least like--if not love--this book. ~ Reader on Amazon
Widow Tempest Whitney was tough because she had to be. Otherwise, she and her two small children would never have scratched out an existence in the harsh, dry Utah canyon country. But when Buck Mattock and his devil-smile come into her life, she discovers a wealth of passion she's hidden even from herself. You'll want to hug Angel, Tempest's adorable 4-year-old. You'll bleed for Tempest and fall in love with Buck. ~ Reader on Amazon
This western romance simply radiates in the ultra-talented hands of Charlene Raddon whose current work brilliantly paints a bygone era that fans of western novels (a la L'Amour), as well as romance readers will devour. It will turn them all into fans of the western romance.
~ Harriet Klausner, Affair de Coeur Magazine
The story gets more involved and sizzling with each page. The colorful secondary characters fit the rugged dangerous setting and keep the action hot and fast. The dialogue is great; you'll even pick up a few unique swear words. Tempest Whitney epitomizes the women who settled in the West and made our country what it is. An exceptional read.
~ Marti McDermott, Rendezvous