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Never a Lawman by Rachel Bird

"A pure delight to read ..." Amazon reviewer "A twist I didn't see coming ~ a must read! ..." Amazon reviewer Love can ruin the perfect getaway... When Belle LeClair's US Marshal husband dies, she flees Boston and her wealthy, overbearing mother-in-law to start a new life in the West. Since Sheriff Brady Fontana's fiancée was murdered on her way to join him in Colorado, guilt and regret have made him immune to love. But when he rescues a family of would-be homesteaders attacked by the notorious Deckom gang, one of the sisters shines a light on his cold, locked-down heart. The last thing Brady deserves is happiness, and he fights his feelings. Which is fine with Belle, since she'll never let herself love another man whose job could get him killed--but why does this handsome lawman have to make her feel so wonderful? Heat level 2/5: contains some violence, minor cursing, and not-so-minor kissing. Excerpt: The raft dipped again. "Oh!" Hannah cried out as she lost her balance. Belle rushed to help her, and a sound like an explosion came from up ahead, then another wrench of splitting wood. "Watch out!" Pa hollered. A fat log bashed against Naomi's raft. All aboard fell to their knees, but she held fast to the rudder and pulled herself to her feet, screaming at Ma to get back inside the lean-to. The evil log now rushed toward Belle's raft, then narrowly missed it. We've drifted into rapids! The river roared and people hollered, but Belle couldn't make out most of the words. "Belle! Hannah!" Charity cried. "Get your clothes off!" She'd already removed her own boots and was pulling her dress over her head. Belle and Hannah shared a mystified look. "What in heaven's name--" "Take off your boots!" Charity cried out. "Strip down to your knickers." "Have you gone mad?" "Do it!" Charity stood there in her stockings and unmentionables. The raft clattered over a cluster of rocks, and she gripped Belle's arms. "When this thing comes apart and we all end up in the water, do you want to drown because your clothes are so heavy they drag you under?" Hannah nodded. Face resolute, she started unhooking her boots. "Charity!" Pa called out. "Come take the rudder." "Do what I said, Belle." Charity went to help Pa. There was no time to think. Belle pulled Hannah's dress over her head, then started in on her own clothes, her skirt already heavy with water splashing over the raft.Another log detached and pulled away while Pa tried to pry loose the chest. "Pa, what are you doing?" "All the money we have in the world is in here!" "Naomi's coming," Charity called out. "Get Hannah over to her raft. Ours isn't going to hold." Belle remembered Wade's watch, and she stuffed the precious object down the front of her camisole, snug between the stays of her half corset. The raft raked over a cluster of boulders unseen below the surface, and another log tore away. Nevertheless, Charity and Naomi managed to bring the two rafts together. "Jump to me!" Faith held out her arms. Hannah jumped as Belle lifted her by the waist and pushed. She made it to the edge of the other raft where Faith threw her arms around her and pulled her onto it. "Now you, Belle!" Charity still had hold of the rudder, but she'd have to let go sometime. "What about you and Pa?" Belle stood in her knickers and camisole, water spilling over the raft onto her bare feet. "You go." Charity looked from Pa to Belle with a desperate glance. "I can swim, if it comes to it." Pa was still caught up in freeing the chest. "Let it go!" Belle cried out, but he didn't hear--or wouldn't. "Jump!" Faith stood at the edge of Naomi's raft, ready to catch Belle. "We're coming apart!" Charity cried. "Go!"