"Outstanding" - THE HEART'S CHARGE by Karen Witemeyer - Excerpt

For Years They've Been Nomads for Justice, but a Final Mission May Just Lead Their Hearts Home

THE HEART'S CHARGE by Karen Witemeyer

The Heart's Charge

Members of Hanger's Horsemen, Mark Wallace and Jonah Brooks arrive in Llano County, Texas, to deliver a steed, never expecting they'd deliver a baby as well. Left with an infant to care for, they head to a nearby foundling home, where Mark encounters the woman he'd nearly married a decade ago.


After failing at love, Katherine Palmer dedicated her life to caring for children, teaming up with Eliza Southerland to start Harmony House. From mixed ancestry, illegitimate, and female, Eliza understands the pain of not fitting society's mold. Yet those are the very attributes that lead her to minister to outcast children. The taciturn Jonah intrigues her with his courage and kindness, but there are secrets behind his eyes--ghosts from wars past and others still being waged.


However, when a handful of urchin children from the area go missing, a pair of Horsemen are exactly what the women need. Working together to find the children, will these two couples find love as well?


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In the author's words . . .


There's nothing that melts my heart faster than seeing a big, strong man cradle an infant. Rugged power restrained by tenderness. It's a compelling aphrodisiac. So when I started writing a series centered around four western warriors who possessed courage, cunning, and deadly skills, I knew I needed to look for distinct ways to reveal the gentleness that lurked within each of their hardened exteriors. To accomplish this in The Heart's Charge, I surrounded Mark Wallace and Jonah Brooks, two of the legendary Hanger's Horsemen, with children. And it all started with a baby . . .


Enjoy an Excerpt from

The Heart's Charge

When Mark Wallace left Gringolet two days ago to deliver a prize gelding to a wealthy rancher west of Llano, he never dreamed he'd be called upon to deliver a baby, too. Or that the mother of said baby would be waving a pistol back and forth between him and Jonah as if trying to decide which fellow to shoot first.


"Get outa here! I don't want your help." Her face contorted, and a muffled groan escaped as she wrapped her left arm around her swollen belly.


She might not want their help, but she sure as shootin' needed it. The woman looked as wrung out as yesterday's washrag.


Mark, palms out in front of him, took a step forward. "Easy, now, ma'am. I'm not going to hurt y—"


The pistol exploded. Mark flinched. He took note of the barrel pointing toward the sky, but tossed a look over his shoulder, anyway, to make sure his friend wasn't sporting any new holes. Jonah gave him a nod, his hand curling around the handle of his own revolver, ready to defend them if necessary.


Mark prayed it wouldn't be necessary. The lady in front of him might be a few cards short of a full deck at the moment, but she was still a woman. And a gentleman never abandoned a woman in need. Even if she shot at him.


The sound of the gunshot seemed to startle her as much as it had him. Her eyes widened and her gun arm quivered. Seizing the opportunity, Mark rushed forward, grabbed her wrist, and knocked the pistol from her hand. She shouted, kicked, and pounded his chest and chin with her fists, but Mark ignored the pummeling. Well, until she nearly gouged his left eye from its socket. Couldn't ignore that. A man needed to be able to see, after all. Especially when dealing with a woman in a delicate condition who seemed to have taken leave of her senses.


****** Fast forward a couple hours ******


After giving the infant a thorough exam and fashioning a diaper of sorts out of a square cut from the bed quilt, the doctor swaddled the babe in a flannel shirt Mark had in his saddlebag then gave the men directions to Kingsland.


Mark had never been so nervous on horseback in his life. Then again, he'd never carried such precious and fragile cargo before, either. Thankfully, a large sandbar provided a smooth place to cross the Llano, so they made it to the outskirts of Kingsland with no incidents.


"There," Jonah said, pointing to a two-story farmhouse set back away from the road. "White house, green trim, just like the doc said."


Mark reined Cooper onto the path and followed Jonah up the drive. The closer they got, the more rundown the place appeared. Chipped paint, loose railings, a dilapidated barn. Mark frowned. What kind of place were they taking his little lady to?


A wooden sign hung from the front porch eaves. A carefully carved sign that boasted a fresh coat of paint read, Harmony House Foundling Home. And beneath that, in hand-painted script, was a quote from Mark 10:14, Suffer the little children to come unto me.


He knew it was probably nothing but coincidence, but the fact that the establishment chose to quote from the gospel of Mark instead of Matthew or Luke resonated in his soul like a signal from heaven. He was meant to come here. Meant to trust these people with his little lady's care.


Jonah held Cooper steady while Mark dismounted. His lady fussed at the disturbance. Mark untucked her from inside his vest where he'd placed her for extra warmth as well as another layer of security as they rode. His left arm ached from being held in one position for so long, so he switched to holding her in his right, bouncing her slightly in an effort to mimic the horse's motion and hopefully lull her back to sleep.


He paid little attention to his surroundings as he climbed the steps and reached a hand up to knock on the door. All of his attention centered on soothing his little lady.


Until the door opened and a feminine voice inquired, "Yes?"


The intonation sounded vaguely familiar. Mark lifted his head and his stomach promptly lurched into his throat.


It couldn't be. She was supposed to be half a country away. Safe. Sheltered. In the bosom of her family. Yet here she stood, the same sky-blue eyes that had haunted his dreams for the past ten years widening in shocked recognition.


"Kate?"


End of Excerpt. Copyright © Karen Witemeyer.



Meet the Author

Author Karen Witemeyer

Voted #1 Reader's Favorite Christian Romance Author of 2019 by Family Fiction Magazine, bestselling author Karen Witemeyer offers warmhearted historical romance with a flair for humor, feisty heroines, and swoon-worthy Texas heroes. She makes her home in Abilene, Texas, with her husband and three children. Learn more about Karen and her books at www.karenwitemeyer.com.

 

Genre: Historical Christian Romance

Bethany House Publishing

Release Date: June 1, 2021

Type: Novel

Content Rating: 2 Hearts

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