Today, it’s my pleasure to welcome Harlequin Historical author Kathryn Albright.
Kathryn Albright writes American-set historical romance for Harlequin Historicals.
From her first breath, she has had a passion for stories that celebrate the goodness in people. She combines her love of history and her love of story to write novels of inspiration, endurance, and hope. She lives in a small town in the Midwest and has recently had the good fortune to leave her day job behind to become a full-time writer.
“I enjoy the history of my hometown, San Diego. Many of the unique facts I learn show up in my stories. 1888, the setting for The Gunslinger and the Heiress, was a time when Wyatt Earp owned three businesses in town, when the famous Hotel Del Coronado had its grand opening, and when a young boy appeared in town saying he had been living with pirates off the coast. No one believed him until he produced a few items from the stolen pirate booty. I also love reunion stories—the perfect blending with Caleb and Hannah from my first book, The Angel and the Outlaw.”
Hotel Del Coronado
Now, let’s put the spotlight Kathryn’s newest release:
The Gunslinger and the Heiress
Hannah Lansing, heir to a large shipping venture on the west coast, must discover the fate of her lost ships or marry to save the family business. Unfortunately, the one person that can help her is a man she once bitterly betrayed.
Caleb Houston still carries the scars of his last encounter with the Nob Hill princess although wild horses wouldn’t drag that fact out of him now. The sooner she gets her answers and leaves town, the easier he’ll breathe.
But when her digging unearths more than the missing cargo, disturbing a sleeping rattler, she becomes a target. And Caleb finds that guarding her life could mean he’ll lose his own heart.
The strong odor of fish filled her nose. They were close to the wharf. Another block and the sparkling harbor water greeted them, along with one tall sailing ship and a steamer vying for a place at the long pier. Halfway down, passengers crossed over a slanted gangplank to board a ferry. Along with the people, several buggies were lined up to make the trip.
“What a hullaballoo,” Caleb muttered, and then startled her by grabbing her arm and pulling her out of the way of a man with a large barrel over his shoulder. With a surly look, Caleb let go as quickly as he’d gripped her. She nearly stumbled after his release. Glaring at his back, she followed in his wake as he maneuvered through the crowd on the boardwalk and led her out on to the wooden pier.
At the base of the ferry’s ramp, Hannah hesitated while Caleb continued up to the deck. The rocking of the boat brought back images she’d rather leave tucked away for good. Her heart started a scattered pounding in her chest as she gripped the railing with one hand. It had been her constant hope that she could escape this type of situation. A foolhardy hope, especially in her line of business, but a hope nonetheless. Even Grandfather had never suspected her fear, and here she would expose it to the one man she needed to appear strong before.
She stepped onto the wooden planks, forcing herself forward. First one foot, then the next. Concentrate on your breathing. Don’t look down. Act natural. It will be over soon.
Her heartbeat rushed in her ears. Her stomach roiled, and then a wave of dizziness hit her with the force of a northern gale. Halfway up the ramp she froze and locked both hands to the railing. Her knuckles whitened. Ten feet below, harbor water lapped steadily against the pier pilings, drawing her, pulling her She felt all over again her mother’s arms letting go, releasing her…then the water swirling…pulling Mother away.
“Hannah?” Caleb’s deep voice came from far away.
She couldn’t answer. Couldn’t break whatever had a hold on her. This was a mistake. She had to get to solid ground.
Turning abruptly, she hit a wall of satin-covered muscle. Caleb stood so close she could feel his body heat. His hands grasped her upper arms, steadying her. She stared at the shell button on his vest directly in front of her. “I…I don’t feel well,” she mumbled through numb lips.
“Can’t say all this hoopla thrills me either, but this is your party.” He grasped her elbow and put his other hand to her back, spinning her around to face the ferry. “Come on, Miss Lansing. Show some of that grit the Lansings are famous for.”
She swallowed hard, feeling the insistent push of his fingers against her spine.
Ten leaden steps and she was on the boat. Without taking a breath, she walked briskly to the center of the ferry and grabbed on to a solid-looking pole. Her heartbeat slowed to a more recognizable rhythm as she sucked in a deep, steadying breath.
Caleb studied her intently from a few feet away. “Brute force is not your best attribute, Mr. Houston,” she said, trying to regain her composure. She brushed off an imaginary piece of lint from her skirt to keep from meeting his gaze. When she felt sufficiently recovered, she looked up again.
He had the gall to smile. To smile! It was small, barely a hint of an upturn at the corner of his mouth, and then it was gone. “What was all that?” he asked.
“I already explained. I prefer land travel.”
His gaze hardened, and she had a feeling she’d stirred a hornet’s nest. He wanted more than a pat answer, more than a brush-off.
“You dropped this.” He held out her parasol.
Feeling foolish and embarrassed, she took it. He was looking out for her, she supposed, and she was grateful for that. The small steamer let loose with its shrill whistle, making her jumpy all over again.
“Boats never used to bother you. What happened?”
“I don’t buy that. Not when I see you huggin’ that pole like a starfish hiding from a barracuda.” She clamped her lips together. She knew precisely when things had changed–the day she first spoke. Somehow, when the hypnotist had unlocked her voice, he’d also unlocked the memory of her mother’s drowning…and the overwhelming fear Hannah had felt at the time. It seemed, she couldn’t have one without the other.
He didn’t press further for an answer, but his gaze remained contemplative. She closed her eyes and concentrated on the scent of brine and feel of the breeze on her cheeks. The ship’s steam engine whined and clanged as it propelled the vessel across the harbor. She took comfort in the sound. As long as she heard it, she’d reach the other shore safely even if the ferry was moving at an abysmally slow crawl.
“I won’t let anything happen to you.”
His words washed over her. Safe. Comforting. She opened her eyes to find him watching her, the sea reflecting in his eyes, deepening the green. It would be nice to believe him, nice to be able to rely on him as she once had, but she knew she couldn’t. He was only with her because she was paying him.
She pressed her lips together and turned, staring over the white-capped water’s surface to the far dock, willing the shoreline closer, closer, closer….
To purchase Kathryn’s newest release click below: