Title: The Lawman’s Agreement
Author: Nancy Fraser and Patti Shenberger
Length: 254 pgs
Sub-Genre: Western, Romance
BLURB: Post-Civil War Mississippi
U.S. Marshal, Zack McCade takes pride in protecting the good folks of Greenville—especially the beautiful Dr. Suzanne Martindale. He doesn’t always understand her need for independence, but he sure does like getting under her skin. It’s not like he’s looking to settle down—his job is too dangerous to risk taking a wife and family.
In an era when women aren’t readily accepted in the male dominated world of medicine, Suzanne doesn’t have time for courting—especially a charming Cajun rogue like Zack. When he proposes a fake betrothal to keep the matchmaking town out of their hair, she’s sure it’s a bad idea, but can’t deny her longing for a respite from the over-zealous bachelors in town.
Their ruse starts a fire in their hearts that neither expected, but will the re-emergence of Suzanne’s real fiancé douse the flames?
Zack left the clinic and turned away from his office rather than toward it. He needed to walk off some of the tension holding his body as tightly wound as a pocket watch. He should never have stolen that last kiss. The first two had been enough to appease their onlookers. The third had been strictly an indulgence for his own amusement, a silly flirtation intended to raise the doctor’s ire. Instead, his plan had backfired, and he’d found himself as aroused as a young schoolboy after his first deep kiss. It wouldn’t do, Zack realized, to walk into his office with a flagpole in his britches.
After a second pass behind the main buildings in the central part of town, Zack felt in control enough to go back to work. He’d barely reached for the handle on the office door, when the sound of a gunshot rang out from somewhere in the vicinity of the saloon.
He stepped off the sidewalk and into the main road, covering the distance between the jail and the saloon quickly, coming to a halt at the hitching post just as two men backed through the saloon doors, their faces covered in bandanas.
Zack drew his gun and a deep breath and asked, “You two gentlemen planning on going somewhere?”
The two men turned in Zack’s direction, their guns at the ready. “Let us go, Marshal, and nobody gets hurt,” the first one said.
“It’s two against one,” the second pointed out.
“Hmm, not such great odds, is it?” Zack agreed. “Perhaps, I can even things up a bit.” The words had no sooner left his mouth when he fired his gun, clipping the first man’s hand and knocking the gun he held to the side. “Now, it’s just us,” he said to the other.
The second man tossed his gun to the side as well and raised his hands in defeat. To his left, Zack caught sight of his deputies’ approach. “Tom, Pete,” Zack ordered. “Get these two scoundrels over to the jail and bandage up this fellow’s fingers.”
“Will do, boss,” Pete Bailey confirmed. “You want I should have the doc take a look at his hand.”
“No, not unless it’s a deeper scrape than it appears to be. He’ll do fine with your handiwork.”
Zack holstered his gun as his deputies started away with the prisoners. The second, larger man broke free of Tom’s hold and charged in Zack’s direction. Zack stuck out his fist, landing one solid blow against the man’s chest, sending him sprawling in the dirt, gasping for air and clutching his ribs.
“Come on,” the deputy said, pulling the man to his feet by the collar. “Let’s get going.”
Zack watched as the two men were led away without further incident. When he turned back toward the front of the saloon, he realized Suzanne was standing there, mostly likely alerted by the sound of the original gunshot.
“Was there anyone hurt in the saloon?” he asked.
“No, the robbers fired into the air in an attempt to scare the barkeep so he would hand over the money.”
“Since you’ve got your medical bag with you, I’ll take you over to the jail and you can check on both men.”
“Did you flatten the other one as well?” she asked.
“No. I shot him.”
Suzanne shook her head, the frown playing across her beautiful face causing him concern.
“Let’s go then, Marshal.” She started toward the jail, stopping long enough to say, “I’d really rather you not add to my workload any more than necessary.”
“It’s not like I do it on purpose,” he argued. When she didn’t respond, he caught up with her in two long strides. “It’s my job.”
“Yes, I know. And, because of your job, I now have to do mine.”
Zack was overcome with regret. Not that he would have done anything different where the two men were concerned. His regret stemmed from the fact he’d once again disappointed Suzanne, her reaction only serving to convince him of why they were unsuited for a real relationship.
I don’t even know where to begin with this review. It has everything I’m looking for in a western historical. Intrigue, gun fights, smexy times, two characters that are both strong and independent and an ending that had me sighing. Ms. Fraser and Ms. Shenberger managed to write an intelligent, engaging and fresh story that left me wanting more of Zack and Suzanne. I didn’t want this story to end at all. I will admit that I read this book in one sitting. Yes, that’s how good it is.
Zack is the town Marshal in Greenville, MS and upholds his job with honor and grace. Suzanne is one of the town’s doctors and he loves getting her all riled up. What he didn’t count on was falling in love with her. He feels that his job is too dangerous for a wife and family but when the single women in town really put the pressure on him, he decided that Suzanne will fit the bill on a fake engagement. Just trying to convince her is going to be the challenge.
I love the trope of friends to lovers. And yes, Zack and Suzanne are friends first. Neither one of them realize that they truly are friends and that sometimes friends can turn into lovers. Speaking of which, the authors did not shy away from the smexy times in the book. Spicy, yet tasteful, Zack and Suzanne don’t shy away from it either. In fact, there is one scene where Suzanne…oops, almost gave it away. 😉 What made this book different from the other western historicals out there is the authenticity that the authors wrote. They don’t weigh you down with the details of how life was, what everyone was wearing, the guns the men were carrying, etc. They put you in the situations that Zack and Suzanne are dealing with and you feel everything that they are feeling and doing. The ending scenes are especially good in that sense. Powerful and intense.
Another thing I liked about Suzanne that while she is very independent and smart about her job, she realizes that having Zack around isn’t such a bad thing. In fact, there are times where she misses him and not just the sex part either. She misses her friend, confidant and someone who finally “gets” her. Zack makes her feel like a desirable woman.
The secondary characters are wonderful, too. I did not read the first book in the series with Felicity and Jake. I need too since Zack and Suzanne were introduced in that book but I never felt lost with them in this one. I can’t wait to see who the next McCade is but I’m betting its Chris. What a rogue, charming and disarming to the last.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Like most authors, Nancy Fraser began writing at an early age, usually on the walls and with crayons or, heaven forbid, permanent markers. Her love of writing often made her the English teacher’s pet, which, of course, resulted in a whole lot of teasing. Still, it was worth it.
When not writing (which is almost never), Nancy dotes on her five beautiful grandchildren and looks forward to traveling and reading when time permits. Nancy lives in Atlantic Canada where she enjoys the relaxed pace and colorful people.
Patti Shenberger recently signed a contract for her twenty-first romance novel/novella sale. She’s published in short contemporary, historical time travel, paranormal and erotic romance, as well as multi-published in fiction and non-fiction magazine length work.
Patti is a wife, mother of two, mother-in-law of two, brand new grandmother to a beautiful baby boy and pet mommy of two. Patti resides in Michigan, where she complains about the heat in the summer and the snow in the winter. When she’s not writing, Patti can be found with her nose buried in a book.