Cora Lee suffers through the death of her entire family in a yellow fever epidemic. Then her wealthy and formidable grandmother refuses to take her in. She becomes the ward of Frederick Tucker, who is also the father of four rowdy boys.
Cora becomes a member of the Tucker family quickly, and ends up falling for the oldest boy, Graham. And he falls for her.
But before they can go forward with their future, Cora is sent away. She ends up in an orphanage, and eventually becomes…
The “Angel of the Acre”. Hell’s Half Acre, that is.
She’s the gambler in this romance. Which was interesting, to say the least. A spot at her table is coveted, but her hero, the man she’s always loved despite the pain he’s caused her, is pretty straight-laced. And when he comes to find her, at the behest of her wealthy grandmother, Cora’s mettle is tested on many levels.
I adored writing Cora. I loved giving her and Graham their happy ending. They have to defeat more than one foe to have the future they’ve always wanted, but Graham is determined and won’t let anything stand in their way. Including Cora’s own fears.
It’s a beautiful story about second chances and the power of love. Happy reading!
CORA LEE'S WAGER
Gamblers & Gunslingers
Cora Lee Walsh. The Angel of the Acre--Hell’s Half Acre—never intended to be a professional gambler. But her wealthy grandmother hadn’t wanted her, and, at fifteen, she was abandoned by the Tucker family who’d taken her in as their ward. She had no other choice than to make vice her life. Now, the eldest son of the Tucker family is on her doorstep, asking for an audience.
Graham Tucker loved Cora to distraction, and when she ran away, it destroyed him. Twelve years later, he’s been ordered by Iona Evans, Cora’s grandmother, to bring Cora back to Houston. He’d rather chew glass. But Iona owns half his business, and she’s willing to sell her shares to him if he’s successful. Graham takes the deal.
But more threatens the pair, and Cora finds herself needing Graham. Can she trust him? The young man who’d abandoned her? Or will she find herself a victim…again?
Cora rocked lightly as birds twittered and flitted about. A fox trotted across her yard, and she smiled at the creature. Its red coat contrasted with the green of the short grass and the orange of the Indian paintbrushes that grew in patches.
This heavenly spot, ironically so close to hell on Earth, couldn’t be duplicated anywhere else. It was one of the reasons why she’d stayed and hadn’t sold the house after Butler had died.
She let out a sigh, sank deeper into the rocker, opened her book and just enjoyed the morning. A half-hour had passed when she felt a presence to her right. She turned her head, and her breath flew up into her throat.
He stood on the dirt lane that went by the side of her home, his hands in his pockets, a guarded expression on his face. Their past stretched between them.
In a second, every morning she’d ever spent with him flashed before her eyes. They’d both loved the dawn. Those quiet hours before the world started. And they’d shared them together in his father’s library or on the porch just beyond the French doors.
And he must’ve decided to take a chance and see if she still woke with the sunrise.
She managed to drag in a breath but couldn’t move. She needed to get inside, hide herself from the pain he caused her. But her feet wouldn’t listen.
With a tight jaw, he took a few steps, and now he was in her yard, but still on the fringes.
He didn’t want to get close to her, either.
They’d sent her away, hadn’t they? She shouldn’t be surprised he didn’t want to see her.
So why was he subjecting them to this torture?
“Good morning,” he rumbled.
Her stomach clenched at the sound of his voice. It was deeper than she remembered.
“I need to speak with you,” he continued. He removed his hat, revealing his dark brown hair that fell attractively over his forehead.
The suit he wore helped cut him into a powerful figure. She was certain he was capable. Intelligent. Probably took care of things efficiently and to his satisfaction, regardless of whom he hurt.
He was a man now. And she thrilled at the sight of him.
Panic gripped her, and she squared her shoulders instantly, needing to get away from him, or she might beg him to explain what she’d done wrong. “I doubt we have anything to say to each other.” She twisted her lips into a sardonic smile. “You’re not someone with whom I choose to associate any longer.”
Oh, praise the Lord! She’d found the Angel of the Acre, and she would use her to block her desperation for this man.
He flinched and stiffened. “Look,” he growled, “I’ve got important business with you, and—”
“I can’t imagine why.” She shrugged. “There’s nothing you have that I could want, and I’m not interested in learning why you disagree.”
He curled his hands into fists, crushing the brim of his hat. “Maybe not, but you could at least hear me out.”
She laughed as if she hadn’t a care or concern for him. “I don’t think so. I only do business over a poker table.”
Disgust flashed in his eyes.
Good. Perhaps he would leave her alone now.
“So I’ve learned,” he spat. “Gambling is an abomination.”
She smirked. “And one I adore. There’s nothing like discovering your opponent’s weaknesses and taking him for everything he has.”
She’d never willingly done that. Or she hoped she hadn’t. She couldn’t control a man’s behavior or choices.
Graham let out a noise of disgust. “Fools. All of you.”
She shrugged. “At least we’re having a good time.”
Something shone in his eyes that she couldn’t name, but she didn’t want to look too deeply anyway. She needed to get him to leave. “Your errand is more foolish than any wager I could make,” she told him. “Best be on your way and find someone else to have your discussion with.”
He glared at her for a few silent moments. “Are you telling me that you truly only conduct business at a poker table?”
She grinned. “It’s no fun otherwise.”
With a frustrated exhale, he shoved his fingers through his hair.
Her heart flipped at its mussed state. My God. He’s gorgeous.
When he faced her again, she schooled her features back into a careless mask.
“Fine,” he ground out. “I’d like to enter tonight’s game.”
She laughed. “You can’t be serious?”
“If that’s the only way I can speak to you, then it’s what I’ll do.”