Reborn from Love’s Ashes (Preview)


Grab my new series, "Brides of the Untamed Frontier", and get 2 FREE novels as a gift! Have a look here!

Chapter One

Nora pushed her feet against the soft dirt below her. The wind caressed her face as the big swing pulled back and forth, breathing life into her in a way. The ranch was not the same without her father.

It was void, empty, and lonely.

“Nora?” Eliza called. She’d gone inside to get something for them to drink, and Nora had wandered off to the swing. She loved the swing. Her father made it for her a year after they’d moved west.

That was years ago, but the swing still held significance, especially since her father was gone now.

“I’m over here.” She waved to her best friend, who was carrying two tall glasses of cool tea. Eliza was a good friend. Even though she was going through tragedy herself, she’d managed to be there with Nora every step of the way.

“You had me worried for a moment. I have to head home soon, but I wanted to double-check that you’re all right.”

“You could always stay here, you know?” Nora looked at her pleadingly. It would be a dream come true to have her best friend stay and keep her company on the now-empty ranch. However, Eliza had lived with her parents ever since she had lost her husband, almost three months before.

“My parents are…worried about me. I’m not sure they’d take to me moving out on my own very well, especially with what everyone in town would think.” Nora scooted over and Eliza sat down beside her. Their shoulders touched, and they leaned into one another, giving each other strength. Eliza’s father was the minister of Gariton, Texas, and sometimes took his job a little too seriously, even as far as to make sure his family was doing what was expected of them, no matter how extreme or what age they were.

“Well, it would be wonderful if you were able to stay here with me,” Nora prompted again.

“I agree, it would.” Eliza smiled softly. When she’d been married to Matt, she’d come to stay the night once or twice. Matt was always supportive of their friendship and even encouraged them to spend time together. “How are you, Nora? After everything that happened…”

“I’m fine.” Nora plastered on a smile that felt like second nature and the biggest lie in her life at the same time. There was nothing that anyone could do to make what was wrong with her go away. They’d tried, and eventually, she could see people were annoyed with her sadness and her grief because it made them feel uncomfortable.

That didn’t extend to Eliza, but that was a different matter. Eliza had done so much for her already. She was going through her own pain and sorrow. Nora hated to pile onto that any longer. She hated to burden Eliza with her own emotions.

“How have your parents been this week?” Nora took a sip of the refreshing drink that Eliza had brought for the two of them.

Eliza laughed nervously.

“They’re okay. They keep talking to me about considering my options.” She shook her head. “I know they are worried about me and don’t want me to be all alone forever, but I can’t just move past Matt because I need someone to take care of me. It would have to be the right person.”

“I know. I wish they knew.” Nora had loved seeing Eliza and Matt together. They complimented each other in a way that only true love could. Seeing Eliza without Matt was like seeing her without her other half. “Hopefully, they’ll see soon that you’re better off on your own for now.”

Eliza nodded and was quiet for a long moment.

“Are you sure you’re fine? I don’t like the idea of you all alone out here. You don’t have anyone but me, and it makes me worry. Has anyone caught your eye lately?”

Nora frowned. There was only one man who had truly captured her heart, and he’d taken it and shattered it into a million pieces. She would never find anyone who she would trust as much as she’d trusted Oliver.

“No. I don’t think that is something that’s going to happen to me.”

“Nora, you can’t say no to love forever just because of Oliver.” Eliza placed her hand on Nora’s shoulder. She was tempted to pull away. Of course, Eliza didn’t understand just how bad that had been for her, to be betrayed by a man who was her best friend, who she’d planned a life and family with.

“I can, Eliza. It’s too soon. It’s…I don’t want to talk about it.”

“All right.” Eliza always backed off the topic once she realized that Nora still felt the same way she did about it as she had three years ago.

“I have to do the evening chores. Are you going to stay, or do you have to head home already?” Nora was eager to change the subject. She didn’t want to keep talking about the past or give Eliza any ideas about setting her up or pushing her to fall in love with some new man. As far as she was concerned, she was doing the best she could while life threw everything it could think of her way. Love was not something she needed to complicate her life right then.



“Miss Turner, it’s all right.” Mr. Laskey’s eyes crinkled at the edges. He reminded her of her father. Nora’s stomach sank.

“It’s not, Mr. Laskey. Here, I want to pay you. Don’t worry, I think the numbers will continue to go back up with your guidance. If I do have to let someone go, it will be one of the new hires. I won’t be able to run this place without you.” She was practically pleading.

She couldn’t allow Mr. Laskey to go a month without pay, even if she knew his condolences for her father were real. She needed his help keeping the place afloat. If he quit, she would be even more lost than she was already.

“All right, but if you need anything, I mean with money, work, advice…you let me know. Okay? Your father meant a lot to me, and it would be the least I could do.”

Nora nodded, fighting a haze of tears. Mr. Laskey’s kindness was like a straw threatening to break through the dam that was blocking the walls of tears that threatened to fall every time her father crossed her mind.

“Thank you, Mr. Laskey. That is very kind of you.”

“Of course. Don’t think another thing about it.”

She bit her lower lip and watched him head out to the fields. Her father had sixteen people, including Mr. Laskey, employed when he’d passed. He’d left all of those responsibilities to her when he’d passed away.

She headed down the aisle of the barn to the back where her horse, Lightning, was watching her with intelligent brown eyes. The horse had been a gift from her father when she’d learned to ride.

“What are you looking at me like that for?” She whispered. She’d been stressed ever since she’d had to figure out new things daily just to keep the ranch from plunging into failure.

She ignored Lightning as she leaned against the stall door and her thoughts carried her to the past. Back when Oliver had been there, she’d known a different version of him. They’d sat in the very same barn, right there in the same place.


“What’s the matter?” Oliver ran a finger over the back of her hand, a tender look in his eyes.

“What do you mean?” Nora’s stomach was full of butterflies and little pulls of excitement.

“I can tell you’re worried about something. You always bite the inside of your cheek when you are.”

Nora giggled.

“I’m just thinking, is this crazy? It feels like a dream. We’re getting married in two days.”

“It’s not a dream, Darlin’.” Oliver turned slightly, so he was facing her. “I’m here and as long as I live, I’m never going anywhere, because I want to spend the rest of the time I have on this earth by your side.”

“Why did you say that like you’re dying?” Nora laughed.

“I didn’t mean it that way. You know what I meant. I’m just happy that we are finally making this official. I knew from the first time I laid eyes on you that I wanted this.”

“I think that Papa is finally coming around. He wasn’t so convinced at first.”

Oliver chuckled this time.

“That was never a secret, but I’m glad he’s willing to let me prove myself to him. You’ll see. By the end of our first year as a family, he’ll be enamored with me.”

“I highly doubt that. I think you underestimate how protective he is.”

“I’m glad he’s protective, even if it is against me right now.”

“You are?” Nora was surprised to hear it. Ever since she’d officially started seeing Oliver, she’d noticed how much he worked to try to please her father. She’d always appreciated his efforts, especially with how close they were.

“I am. That means that he’s always held tight standards for you, just as any father should. He’s a really good father to you. I can see how much you love him and how close the two of you are.”

“We really are close. I’m going to miss him once we move into our own place together.”

“You know? Maybe I will too.” Oliver’s smile was crooked on one end, making it a quirky, laughable grin. The way his warm hand still encompassed her hand made her breath pick up speed. She couldn’t wait for two days to pass, so she could marry the man of her dreams, the man she’d thought was out of her reach, and now her best friend.

Nora’s stomach turned at the memory. Looking back at how innocent she’d been, how overflowing with hope she’d been, made her angry for that innocent young girl who believed in loyalty and love everlasting.

She wanted to be that girl again because things had been easy back then. Things had gotten harder and harder since. She wondered if she would have had such a splendid day if she’d known what would happen on her wedding day. The only person who could have known was Oliver. Never mind her past and what brought her to where she was.

She needed to figure out how to make the money work, and how to change something around the place so they could start making enough to keep all of the workers, or soon she would be left with nothing. She was determined to stop that from happening, even if she had to fight for her father’s ranch all on her own.

Chapter Two

Oliver’s eyes swept over the nearly empty saloon. People didn’t frequent the establishment in the morning, besides those who had accidentally spent the entire night there because they’d had much too much to drink.

He headed toward the back of the building, looking for the man he was there to meet. He needed to have a chat with the informant he’d been working with for weeks to get information from.

It was hard to find credible sources, and he was hoping that this time, he was finally going to get something he could use. He was tired of chasing down leads that led to nothing.

The man he was supposed to meet was easy to spot. He was the only person in the place that looked as if they knew what was going on. Oliver forced himself to focus. He was there for one thing, and then he was leaving as quickly as he could. He disliked saloons more than almost anything.

“There’s no reason to be in a saloon unless you want to fall into a load of trouble.” Nora’s confident voice invaded his thoughts. It had been three years since he’d seen her, and yet at the most inopportune moments, she managed to work her way into his head.

He shook the thought away, approached the table, and slid into the seat, pulling out a stack of cards so it looked like they were playing. He would have much preferred to meet anywhere else, but the man refused, insisting that they do so in a public place. When he’d suggested the hotel diner, he’d said it would be too exposed.

“Do you have a lead for me?” Oliver asked, keeping his voice low.

“Depends on how much I’m getting paid. I’m risking a lot by even meeting with you.”

Oliver dug out a few crisp bills and put them on the table between them.

“There you go. Now tell me what you know.”

“Fine.” The man glared at him as if he were being inconvenienced by being paid. Oliver held back some choice words for the man. He hadn’t even trusted Oliver with his name. “I heard the Blue Bandit is heading to Texas. Specifically, Gariton, Texas. Not sure what he’s doing there. Most likely just moving on with what he does. However, some people say there’s more to it.”

“More to it?” Oliver leaned forward. He needed to understand the Blue Bandit, something no one else had been able to do. There was more to what the man said. Gariton. Of all the places, why Gariton?

“Yeah, like maybe he’s from there or something or has a connection there. I don’t know, just rumors. Look, that’s what I came to tell you. Now don’t contact me again.” The man stood, moving the table as he did and sending Oliver’s cards all over the floor. He stood and left the saloon, not bothering to pick them up.

The Blue Bandit, one of the most dangerous criminals he’d ever tracked, was headed toward Gariton, toward Nora.

His mouth felt dry. He would follow. He was going back to Gariton, no matter how much he thought it was a terrible idea. The thought of seeing Nora married, happy with a bunch of little kids running around her ankles as she built up her new life with a loving husband made him want to be sick. He’d made that decision. He knew that what he did would destroy her love for him, even her memories of him, and yet he’d still done it.

Maybe it had been the right choice, yet he still regretted it every single day. He thought about it at night and saw her in his memories all the time. Now it seemed he would be going back to Gariton to protect her and make sure she’d ended up with the life he’d wanted her to have, even if it came at his own pain.

Over the years, he’d calmed himself in some of his lowest moments thinking of her happy. He’d never allowed himself to imagine who she might have ended up with, but he had allowed himself to fantasize that his decision had kept her safe all that time, that it had allowed her to end up where she belonged, far away from him. He hadn’t deserved her. Of course, he’d known that, but he’d tried to ignore it for so long until he couldn’t anymore.

He headed back to his room at the hotel and began to pack. Soon enough, he’d know what was left of his memories of Gariton. Even though he knew Nora most likely hated him, he couldn’t help but feel a little excitement pull through his veins.

He’d see her again. Even if it was from afar, even if it was her in another life, he’d see her. That was something. It was very unhealthy, something he should never even think about, seeing as it wasn’t fair to her, and it would only prolong his pain, but he couldn’t help it.

Nora was the love of his life. He’d thought he would spend his life with her. That had come crashing down on the day he was supposed to marry her. He’d never stopped loving her, though. Even when he’d thought he could move on with his life or with someone else, he never could.




Oliver pressed his feet into the sides of his horse, urging him forward. He would be in Gariton in a matter of minutes, and he was feeling nervous.

As a bounty hunter, he never felt nervous. He hadn’t felt nervous since his first job when he was barely a man. He had dealt with all sorts of criminals, putting them behind bars, taking them in for a bounty, chasing down gangs. He’d done everything and always managed to keep a steady hold of his reins.

Yet riding into town was shattering his nerves. There was one reason for that, Nora. She filled every bit of his mind, even the parts that should have been thinking about the Blue Bandit and the cryptic clues that the man in the saloon had given him.

He noticed every single little landmark that he’d grown accustomed to during his time at Gariton. The place still looked almost identical to when he’d lived there with Mr. Laskey.

The man had been like a father to him when no one else wanted him. He’d been an orphan for most of his life when he’d come to Gariton. He had expected to be turned away, to be treated like an outcast. When they’d moved there, Mr. Laskey had insisted that he go to school like the other children, and study to be a bounty hunter in the afternoons.

Oliver smiled as he remembered his first day at school, the day he’d met Nora.

Oliver dragged his feet.

“Come on, Oliver. You’ll be late on your first day. Don’t disappoint me now, Boy.” Mr. Laskey’s voice was gruff, and most people would have assumed he was angry, but Oliver knew better. The older man cared for him and wanted him to succeed. He’d said as much when he’d informed Oliver it would be good to get an education.

Oliver nodded, but kept his head down. The kids at school wouldn’t treat him well. He’d had plenty of experience with that at the orphanage. It was not an experience he wanted to repeat.

“Right, meet me at the house later. Don’t worry. You’ll fit in just fine.” Mr. Laskey offered a half-hearted wave and walked back toward town, and to the little house that he and Oliver now called home.

Oliver watched him go and considered secretly skipping school, then going home around the right time and hoping that Mr. Laskey wouldn’t notice. However, as elderly and grumpy as Mr. Laskey seemed, he was a very smart man, and chances were he’d realize what Oliver had done before the end of the day. He couldn’t risk giving Mr. Laskey any reason to regret taking him in.

He was going to have to swallow down his regrets and face school, regardless of how he felt about it. As he walked up the steps, his books grew heavier, and his shoulders more difficult to hold up.

The schoolhouse door opened with a bang, and fifteen faces turned to look at him, including the teacher’s.

“You must be Oliver. Welcome.” The woman said. “Take a seat. I’ll get you signed up after class.”

His eyes swept over the benches. All of them had at least one child, some two. Toward the back, a young girl scooted to the side and offered him a warm smile, instantly setting him at ease.

She had bright green eyes and light brown hair that fell to her shoulders in soft waves, half of it tied back in a ribbon.

He crossed the room and slid in beside her, trying his best to look comfortable in his own skin. As soon as she was in his seat, she leaned in close.

“I’m Nora. You have to pretend that you belong, or they’ll make sure you feel as if you don’t.” She gave him a big smile, then turned back to the front, as if she’d not said anything at all.

Her words meant everything to him, her kindness in a moment of need. She was something special.

That was not the last time that Oliver had considered Nora special. From that moment when she’d shared her bench, she became his friend. She and her friend Eliza had adopted him into their group. While Eliza sometimes went to spend time with her other friends, Nora always gravitated toward him.

Because Nora accepted him, the others in the class seemed to follow suit, and those years were some of the most enjoyable for him rather than what they could have been.

He shook his head. If Nora had known how much pain he’d put her through, he had a feeling she wouldn’t have shared her bench so willingly.

Chapter Three

Nora stretched up on her tippy toes, reaching for the washing line to hang up another cleaning linen. She liked wash day. It kept her distracted longer than a lot of her chores. She looked down at the empty basket, then scooped it up, intending to go on with everything that needed cleaning.

Pausing halfway back to the house, she turned toward a sound approaching, then realized two figures were riding up the drive.

She braced herself, suddenly nervous. After her father died, she dealt with a lot of people coming to offer their condolences and assistance with anything she needed. Once her father’s funeral had passed, people got back to their normal daily routines. They stopped coming by, and she hadn’t dealt with many people except for the men who worked for her father.

They kept coming closer until she was able to see that it was two men, both riding horses that were much bigger than the ones in the barn. They looked put together as if they were from a richer world than she, or at least liked to think that they were.

Once they were within speaking distance, they pulled their horses to a stop and dismounted.

There was one older man and a younger man who seemed to be her age.

“Nora Turner?” the older man said. His voice was authoritative as if he was used to stopping people in their tracks and demanding respect instead of earning it.

Nora gripped the basket tighter. Something about their demeanor made her a bit uncomfortable.

“Who is asking?”

The man’s stare narrowed as if he were upset by her response.

“I will take that as you admitting you are Nora. My son and I are here on official business. I am your father’s brother.”

She swallowed hard. Her father had never mentioned a brother, or her having a cousin. He’d always insisted they were on their own and if they had any extended family, he had no idea who they were or where they were.

“I think you must be mistaken.”

“You are the mistaken one. We recently realized he’s passed away, and that his estate would rightly be passed on to our family, seeing as you are not married and are his only child.”

Nora felt emotion squeezing her throat. Would they take everything she had? She had to slow down, stop her panic, and buy time.

“I’m sorry, but unless you come here with the sheriff and have real grounds to make me leave my father’s property, which now belongs to me, I am going to have to ask you to leave.” She turned on her heel and walked back to the house as quickly as she could without running. She wasn’t sure if her actions looked as if she were scared of the men, but she didn’t care any longer. She just wanted away from them.

Once she was in the house, she sank to the floor against the door and buried her face in her hands. She had no idea what was going on. Did she really have an uncle? Was he so cruel that he would jump straight to trying to remove her from the place she’d grown up in just for the land?

Her hands were shaking, and she felt a bit weak. She stood up and looked through the window. The men were gone, and the only thing to show that they’d visited at all were the hoofprints in the dirt out front.

She grabbed a shawl, her shopping basket, and her money, and then closed the door behind her. She was not going to stay in the cabin and wait for them to return. She’d go into town. She needed a few things, and hopefully, if she was surrounded by people, they wouldn’t bother her if they saw her. She needed to go and see Eliza afterward. Eliza would know what to do. She would know what she could say to the men, or who she needed to talk to in order to save her father’s ranch.

She hadn’t even known there was a chance anyone could come after her for what her father had left behind. She was her father’s only child. She figured that it would be an easy transfer. That people would respect the fact that she and her father were all each other had for so long.

Of course, everything that they had was stuff they’d worked for together. The older man’s cold eyes burned into her memory. He’d been very determined, very sure of himself. The thought that the ranch really did belong to him sent terrified chills down her spine. She would have nowhere to go. She’d be living on the street.

Eliza popped into her mind. Eliza would never allow that. The walk into town was a short one. Ten minutes later, she was walking up the steps to the mercantile.

Mrs. Smith was at the counter, and her face lit up with a smile when she spotted Nora.

“Nora, it’s good to see you. How have you been?”

“I’m okay.” Nora forced a smile. It was becoming easier the more she did it. Long ago, she’d struggled to hide her emotions, but lately, it had been easier and easier. She’d first developed that ability when Oliver had broken her heart. Everyone in town had looked at her as if she might fall apart at any moment.

Some of them had almost viewed her as if she had some sort of plague that could pass to them and their relationships if they weren’t careful. Especially since what happened to her was so unexpected. Sometimes, Nora wondered if Oliver had even thought about how many consequences there would be for her after what he’d done.

“I am glad to hear it. We have all been very worried about you since the funeral.”

“I have been quite all right.” Nora made her smile bigger. “How are the boys?” It was often easier to change the topic to something people wanted to talk about, so the attention wasn’t all on her.

“They are growing bigger every day, doing wonderful in school too. What can I get you?”

“Nora rattled off a few things she really needed, then waited for Mrs. Smith to get them. She filled her basket and settled her bill.

“Thank you, Mrs. Smith. Say hello to the family for me.” Nora carried her basket and mulled over the men who had visited the ranch. Her mind was a million miles away, and she forgot to look where she was going.

The bell rang faintly behind her as she left the mercantile and went down the steps, then turned the corner and ran smack into someone. She knew it was a person, due to the feeling of warmth and muscle, before she flew back and hit the ground with a hard thud. She looked up, searching for the person she’d managed to nearly plow through on her way to Eliza’s house.

Her eyes landed on his face and registered how he was looking at her, pulling a blanket of cold over her entire body. Piercing blue eyes stared into hers. Full lips parted ever so slightly as he recognized her too. She scrambled backward, getting to her feet and frantically dusting herself off while searching around her feet for her dropped packages and basket.


He wasn’t supposed to be there, in the streets of Gariton. When had he gotten back? Why was he back? Wasn’t it terrible enough that he’d destroyed her entire life? Had he come home after so long just to make sure he’d done a proper job?

“Nora?” He sounded as shocked as she felt, and also as if he’d said her name a couple of times before she’d registered he was speaking to her.

His voice was as gentle and full as it ever had been, sending a tingling down her arms. She should not feel that way. Nothing in her entire body should be happy to see him.

Yet there was something so integral in her bones that almost felt like happiness. She shut down the emotion as fast as she realized it was there. There was nothing happy about Oliver.

He was not there for her. Chances were, he was there for a job. That would make sense.

“Nora, are you all right?” He was still speaking to her and looking at her as if he’d permanently broken her. He’d taken care of that three years ago.

“I’m fine.” Nora met his eyes, a fire growing in her stomach. She would not cower from Oliver. He had left her. She had plenty of reason to be angry. He no longer held the power of a trance over her as he once had.

“Excuse me.” She moved to step past him.

He twisted ever so slightly to block her path.

“Nora, wait.”

“I…have to be going, sir. Excuse me.” She made sure she met his gaze. She wasn’t going to say his name or make the mistake of thinking he was anything more to her than a stranger.

Her heart was a traitor, a live, breathing traitor that would stab her in the back the same way that Oliver did if she gave it a chance.

“Please, are you okay? You fell very hard.” He scrambled to pick up her packages, which she had essentially resigned to leaving behind. He stuffed them in the basket and held them out to her.

“I’m fine. I just wasn’t expecting…” to see him there. “Never mind.”

“I’m sorry.”

He was apologizing for knocking her over, or perhaps for being in town in the first place, and yet, it wasn’t enough. She wasn’t sure it could even be enough. Oliver had so much more to apologize for. She wasn’t sure that even after all the apologizing in the world she could bring herself to forgive him.

“Reborn from Love’s Ashes” is an Amazon Best-Selling novel, check it out here!

Nora Turner has lost everything. Struggling to survive, she never expected to see the man who abandoned her at the altar again. His return brings back all the pain of his betrayal… Yet, with her father gone and her life in shambles, Nora reluctantly accepts his help.

Will she risk her heart once more, or is the wound too deep to heal?

Oliver Clarke never wanted to leave Nora behind. Forced to protect her from a deadly criminal, he disappeared on their wedding day. Now, years later, his hunt for a notorious fugitive leads him back to his hometown and to the woman he’s never stopped loving…

Will the dangers of his past destroy any chance of a new beginning?

Battling against a notorious criminal and facing the treacherous schemes of those who wish to take everything from them, Oliver, and Nora confront their shared past and the sparks that still burn between them. Will they overcome the trials that threaten to tear them apart, or are they destined to remain brokenhearted and alone?

“Reborn from Love’s Ashes” is a historical western romance novel of approximately 80,000 words. No cheating, no cliffhangers, and a guaranteed happily ever after.

Get your copy from Amazon!


Grab my new series, "Brides of the Untamed Frontier", and get 2 FREE novels as a gift! Have a look here!

One thought on “Reborn from Love’s Ashes (Preview)”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *