Maddie MacDougall rode back to where her dad and brother were waiting.
“That was just right. This boy has taken to the work like a dream.” She slid down from the horse she was talking about and handed the reins to her brother. “Try him yourself.”
Matthew took her word and wheeled the horse around to set off down the side of the first corral. Some steers were held there.
“Let two or three out,” he called, and his dad went and opened the gate. He waved his Stetson at them from the fence, and the small herd obligingly ambled out. One or two of them separated from the rest.
“Get them back in, brother of mine,” Maddie called out and climbed onto a fence to watch. At twenty-two years of age, her brother looked across and saw a pretty girl, quite tall and slender with auburn hair. Her passion was training horses. Because of that, she wore her working clothes of a divided buckskin skirt and a shirt with sleeves rolled up.
“That young gelding is going to be a really good quarter horse,” she said to her dad.
“Just the sort that Matthew likes.” Her dad leaned on the fence and watched his younger son move the horse Maddie had been training backward and forward as it turned on the spot and wheeled around on command as it felt the pressure of the rider’s knees and the weight of how he was moving. Matthew asked a sudden dash of speed from the animal, who responded instantly, and the last steer was ushered back inside.
“Whoa,” Matthew called as he pulled to a stop beside his dad and sister.
“That looked great. What did you think of him?” the father asked.
“Just about perfect,” Matthew said and jumped down. He took off the saddle and turned the horse into a corral. “You did a great job there, Sis.”
That was praise indeed from the brother who wanted to train perfect quarter horses above all else. She grinned. They walked back toward the ranch house and talked horses as the whole family always did. Their mother was just about to call them for a midday meal, and Maddie’s oldest brother was already at the table with his six-year-old son.
“That bay gelding can be sold now,” Jimmy MacDougall told his family. “Maddie can begin work with the grey now.”
“One of these days, I will find a husband to get me away from this hard work.” Maddie smiled as she said it.
“You know you love the work with the horses,” her older brother remarked and told his son that he could go and play. The little lad ran off, and the family had a cold drink each to finish their meal.
“Have you received any more letters from this man in Wyoming?” her mother asked.
“We have been writing for some months now, and,” she paused for effect, “I have a photograph.”
“Does he look like a horse?” Matthew joked. “That would suit you fine.”
Maddie was walking back passed the table when he made this remark, and she picked up a piece of leftover muffin on the table and threw it at him. It was a good shot and hit him on the head. He picked it up and threw it back at her as she went to the dresser to find the photograph.
“Children, children,” Celeste MacDougall called to her son and daughter. They both laughed, and her other son joined in.
“He should have had his mouth open. It would have gone straight in.”
Maddie came back and glanced at the photograph in her hand.
“He is actually quite good-looking,” she said and handed Matthew the picture. “Hard to tell the color of his hair when everything is black and white.” The others passed the photo between them.
“He is about the right age for you, and he does breed horses,” her mother said and smiled. “He is good-looking.”
“Mom,” Matthew protested, but he was laughing.
“I am not so old that I cannot recognize a good-lookin’ man.” Then she added that it was hard to think about going to marry someone that you did not know.
“I think he is a good man. We have been writing for four months now. He runs the ranch for his dad because his father had a nasty fall from a horse.”
“We would go with you for the wedding,” her dad joined in, “but are you sure you want to do this?”
“I have enjoyed talking about horses with him, and he seems to have the same ideas about training that I do.”
“I hear the land is very dry and harsh,” Alan said. She nodded and told him the wild mustangs had huge areas of dry land to roam freely. Their stock all seems to come from capturing the young ones.”
“This is such a lovely place to live,” Celeste observed. “I would miss the trees and greenery if I left here.”
“But Dad came here from Scotland and changed his way of life completely,” Maddie pointed out, “and you met him and moved out here to start the ranch.”
“I think,” Matthew said, and for once, he was being serious with his sister, “that if you think it will work, you should go for it. He seems to be a decent man, and he breeds horses. These wild ones will be interesting.”
Maddie picked up the photograph and looked at it. She glanced around and worried that she would be leaving the safety and familiarity of her family. Then she took a deep breath.
“Decision made. I will do it.”
“Then your mom and I will come with you, make sure it is genuine and stay for the wedding.” Maddie went over and kissed his cheek.
“Thanks. I will write and make arrangements.”
She went out to her favorite place, the stables, and then came running back.
“I just thought of something.” They all looked at her. “I would be leaving Bobs behind. Can I take her with me? I don’t think I could bear not to have her with me. Maybe I would have to stay here.” She looked so upset that Celeste stood up and wrapped her arms around her daughter.
“We are going by the railroad. Your dad will find out about taking the mare along with us.”
“Thanks, Mom. You are the best mom in the world.” She went out again and headed for the corral to tell Bobs that she would be traveling to Wyoming.
The mare was slightly larger than a lot of mares, but that was part of her charm for Maddie. She was a glossy jet black with a head that looked almost too beautiful. Maddie put on a saddle and stood on the fence to mount the horse.
“Come on, Bobs. I could not go without my best friend.” She urged the mare faster, and the two flew along as if they were one being. Maddie’s auburn hair streamed out behind her, and Bobs stretched her legs out in an effortless gallop. She enjoyed the ride and took some time to take in the views of the place she would be leaving.
Back at the ranch, Maddie helped her mother in the house, and the two sat to have a glass of lemonade on the veranda.
“You will need to buy a wedding dress before you go,” her mom told her.
“I will sit, write to him now, and send it in the morning. It will take about four weeks to get organized and the traveling time to get there.”
“Your dad and I will ensure you will be looked after, or we will step in, and you can come home.”
“I would want you both there anyway when I get married. The two boys can easily look after this place.”
“But you will be dreadfully missed around the place. You work hard as a horse trainer, and some customers especially ask for the training to be done by you.”
Maddie hugged her mom and said that maybe she would persuade Carter to come and visit in a few months’ time.
“You can always come and spend a few days there if you need a break.”
“Lists,” her mother said decisively, “we need lists.”
“I will write that letter if you start the list,” Maddie said and found pen and ink. She sat with the pen poised over the paper.
“This is the biggest decision of my life,” she whispered to herself. Then she took her biggest breath ever and started writing to Carter Stone, saying she would be happy to marry him. Then she smiled and added that she was bringing her own mare that she could not bear to leave behind.
“I hope you can find room for her. She is called Bobs and is a fully trained quarter horse.” She said that out loud after writing it down.
The next day, she and her mom drove the little carriage into the nearest small town and sent away the letter that would change her life. Then they went into the haberdashery store and asked about dresses suitable for a wedding.
After four were tried on and discussed, they decided on a pretty light-colored dress that could also be used as a summer dress afterward.
“You are easy to fit,” the haberdasher told her. “Tall and slim. I am jealous.”
Mother and daughter bought a pair of soft leather light-colored boots that would match the dress and bought many other pieces of clothing to make sure Maddie had things to wear.
“You do not know if there are decent stores where you are going.”
“I will need a special carriage to move all the trunks and bags from the railroad to the ranch,” Maddie replied. “This will be a major operation.” They set off back to the ranch with a loaded carriage.
Carter Stone finished forking straw out of the stables and straightened his back. He leaned on the stall and took a few minutes.
“Do not tell me that your back is hurting as well,” his dad said, coming into the stables.
“Forking out the stalls is not good for a back,” Carter answered. “I just took a while to get my breath. I will have to tidy myself up next week when Maddie arrives.” He looked down at himself and grinned.
“I guess she knows that running a horse breeding business is not always clean.”
The two men walked back to the house together, and Carter’s mother was working at the stove.
“Just saying I will clean myself up to meet Maddie next week,” Carter said. Emmeline Stone looked at him and smiled.
“I know what it is like to be a mail-order bride,” she told him. “We will make her welcome. I am glad her folks are coming as well. That never happened to me. I would have liked my mom there.”
“She looks pretty,” his dad added and picked up the photograph Maddie had sent. It was on the mantel shelf and had been taken in a formal setting by the photographer.
“She says she is much happier out on the back of a horse than standing still for a photographer.”
“I think we would all agree with that,” his mom said as she put plates of food on the table.
“I will give the spare bedroom to her folks and the smaller room to Maddie. Then she can move into your house. I will go over it today and make sure it is tidy. It is only a few days until we set up the wedding.”
Carter ate his food and, between mouthfuls, agreed to make his house look like something Maddie would like.
“She is bringing her own mare that she cannot bear to leave behind,” he said. “I guess it will tie behind the wagon.”
“It is a dusty ride. It might be better to ask her dad to drive the buggy and ride the mare yourself. She will have brought her saddle along with it, I guess.” His dad was thinking of practicalities.
“They will be exhausted when they get here with the train journey and then the dusty ride out here. It will be a big difference to where they come from,” his mom added.
“She might offer to ride the mare herself,” Carter said with a grin. “I really like that she knows a lot about horses.”
“Unlike your mother, who is still a bit scared of them.” Emmeline admitted that she had never really understood the passion people had for the animals, but she was happy to be the one staying in the house. She stood up to clear the dinner plates away and reminded Carter to make his house look respectable before the newcomers arrived. He picked up a piece of cake as he went back outside and said he would do as he was told.
“Hah,” she answered, “that’ll be the first time.” She picked up a cushion and pretended to throw it. He ducked out of the door and went off to the barn.
A few days later, Carter realized he was actually quite nervous about driving into Laramie to meet his bride-to-be at the railroad depot. It was quite a long way, and he took food and water in case he was held up by anything. He always carried a rifle and two handguns. You never knew what wild animal might suddenly appear, and there were always robbers that would take advantage of a lone traveler.
His mom and dad waved him off early in the morning. It was an hour and a half drive to the main town, and he settled to enjoy the time to himself before the visitors’ arrival. As he passed the fork in the track, he glanced down the trail he was leaving and saw a cloud of dust approaching. He eased the two horses to a halt and took out his handgun, waiting to see who was riding hard and fast along the trail. It only led to Ollie Mason’s ranch, and there was usually no danger on these trails used mostly by the ranchers.
The horse drew to a skidding stop, and Ollie Mason’s face appeared out of the cloud of dust. The man made a move for his gun and then saw it was Carter.
“Whoa,” Ollie said. “This is not like you to be out on the road.”
“Going into Laramie to pick up some visitors,” Carter replied. The two men were civil to each other, but Carter knew that Ollie would change instantly if he thought he could make some money. Ollie rode alongside.
“I can go along with you into Cloudstorm.”
Carter clicked the horses into action, and Ollie went along with him.
“How’s the stock doin’?” he asked.
“Okay,” Carter told him. “We’ve taken on another man since Dad hurt his back. He does the business side, and I do the horse work. The new man is Davey Malone, and he looks after our cattle.”
The two men talked about horses and the problems that all ranches face. Ollie was full of complaints as usual. Carter ignored the complaints and just talked generally. It was better not to argue with the man.
“I might give that stallion another try,” Ollie Mason said as they reached the small hamlet of Cloudstorm.
“Then neither of us would be able to catch the young stock he sires in the wild,” Carter pointed out.
“Who cares? That would be your problem,” Mason answered and whacked the side of his horse. He charged off and left Carter shaking his head at the man’s stupidity. He went on through the hamlet, waved to a few folks he knew, and left the town behind. An hour later, he drove up beside the railroad building in Laramie and hitched the reins to the fencing.
The depot at Laramie was bigger every time he saw it. The main building was large and long with criss-crossed black and white painted panels along the front. There were archways and doorways through to the platform where passengers were waiting to board when the train arrived. Carter had time to buy himself a drink and ate some of the food he had brought.
The people looked to one side as the faint ground tremor and then the rumbling of the engine reached their ears. The enormous, long engine came slowly into the depot and halted, steaming and hissing at the platform. Suddenly there was movement everywhere as passengers climbed down from the train and the new travelers waited to get on board.
Carter scanned the crowds milling about on the platform. Then he saw a man handing down an enormous pile of trunks and bags and on the ground helping to stack them was a young woman. He knew it was Maddie from the photograph, and when she straightened up to look around, he knew that she had recognized him in return. She waved her hand excitedly, and he started to make his way through the crowds.
“Maddie?” he asked.
“You must be Carter,” she replied, and they shook hands. There was a moment of stillness as their hands stayed clasped together, and then her dad passed down the last of the bags and saw that she had found the person they were meeting. He and her mom came to join them, and introductions followed.
“Sorry about the amount of luggage,” her dad said, “but I had better get the horse before this machine starts off again.
“I’ll come with you,” Carter said, and the two men strode off to the vans used for stock.
Eventually, they appeared leading Bobs by the head halter and rein. She was frightened by the number of people and the hissing noises from the train.
“Oh, Bobs,” Maddie exclaimed and put her arms around the neck of her lovely mare. “Let’s get you out of here.”
“The wagon is at the fence. You take the mare, and your dad and I will carry some of the bags.” Carter handed her the reins and bent to take the biggest trunk. He led the way and put the trunk in the wagon. Maddie stayed where she was and stroked Bobs, but the mare had settled now that she was away from the noise and scent of the depot. People were passing back and forth away from the sound of the steam engine, and Maddie noticed that the Laramie depot was quite a grand building. There were several entrances and exits through archways, and it all looked very modern.
The bags were finally stowed on board, and her mom was helped up into the wagon.
“It is a dusty road; I think the mare would be better with someone riding her,” Carter said to Maddie.
“I can ride her,” Maddie answered immediately and then looked down at her smart traveling clothes. He smiled and shook his head.
He looked at her dad and asked if he would drive the wagon.
“I can ride Bobs. She is quite big enough to carry me.”
Jimmy MacDougall held out his hands for the reins and looked at his daughter.
“The man is sensible,” he said with a grin, “and he looks nothing like a horse.”
Maddie laughed and looked at Carter, who was completely mystified.
“Was the photograph not very good?” Maddie laughed and put her hand on his arm.
“My silly brother was joking that I would have to marry someone who looked like a horse because I spend all my time with them. Well, my looks are nothing compared to some of the stock we have. I hope you like them.” He paused and smiled. “On the other hand, you are the prettiest picture I have seen in a very long time.”
Maddie blushed and was taken unawares.
“See that, Mom? When you go home, tell Matthew his joke was completely wrong. This man is a gentleman.”
“Are you okay about me riding the mare?”
She nodded and climbed aboard the wagon. “She is trained to be a working cattle horse as well as my best friend.”
Carter mounted the mare, and Jimmy checked everyone was ready and set the horses into a trot. Carter rode alongside, explained where they were going, and pointed out some of the region’s features. After an hour of dusty, bumpy, and uncomfortable traveling, they reached Cloudstorm, and Carter asked if they needed to stop for a drink at the hotel.
Celeste said she would love a few minutes away from the dust, and they hitched the horses at the door.
The hotel was not large because Cloudstorm itself was not a big place, but it was well run, and Carter spoke to the owner and asked what they would like to drink. They were glad to rest and ease the dust from their mouths.
“Only another half an hour to the ranch,” Carter said and turned his head as Ollie Mason strode past the table where they were sitting.
“I am still planning on chasing Thunder,” he called to Carter.
“You’re crazy to do that,” Carter told him, but the man took no notice and walked away.
“Our nearest neighbor, unfortunately. His name is Ollie Mason, and he was in partnership with my dad. Dad ended the agreement because of how Ollie treats his horses.”
“I knew I didn’t like him at first glance,” Maddie observed. Mason had left the room, and Maddie suddenly jumped up and ran to the door. Carter followed to see why she had hurried off, and she was watching Ollie Mason looking at Bobs.
“Crackin’ mare that one,” he said.
“And mine,” Maddie said. “Anyone hurts her will pay for it dearly.” She said that with such flat certainty in her voice that Ollie Mason looked at her and stepped back from the horse.
Carter dropped an arm on her shoulders and joined the conversation.
“You have now met my fiancée, Ollie. Take notice of what she says.” The man looked them both up and down, and Carter felt the little shiver that ran through Maddie. He pulled her a little closer, and they watched as Mason went to his own horse, kicked it hard into action, and set off down the main street.
“Ugh, what a horrible man,” Maddie said. Carter took her by the shoulders and looked into her eyes.
“He won’t try anything. He knows I will deal with it. Come on. Let’s get your folks and go to the ranch.”
It ran through Carter’s head that he already liked this woman very much.
“Who is Thunder?” Maddie asked as they went back inside.
“The wild mustang that sires most of the young stock we capture. He is fierce, wild, and looks after his herd of mares.”
Maddie was immediately interested in the herd of horses and wanted to know about the variety of color. She asked questions about the stallion and his control of the whole herd. Carter smiled at her enthusiasm as he drove along.
The four restarted their journey to the ranch, and her mother asked what had happened at the hotel door as they went along.
“The nearest neighbor to the ranch is that man who called out to Carter in the hotel. He also breeds and trains horses and used to work with Carter’s dad. They stopped that arrangement because of the way Ollie Mason treats his stock.”
“Not a good thing if people treat animals badly,” her dad said over his shoulder from the driving seat. “They are usually awful to people as well.”
“He lets horses go to owners when they are still semi-wild and not broken properly. They often end up bringing them to us to see if we can sort it out.” Carter joined in the conversation from his place on Maddie’s beloved Bobs. He smiled across at Maddie. “Maybe your skills can be used there.”
“I would love that,” she said. She smiled at this man that she felt she knew because of the letters they had shared. She saw a lean, tanned man with the Stetson held on by the thong at the back of his neck. His hair blew in the wind, and it was blond streaked from working outdoors in the sunlight. His blue eyes had a sparkle, and Maddie liked what she saw very much.
She and her mother chatted about all sorts of other things for a few moments, and then Carter called urgently to her dad to stop the wagon. Jimmy saw what Carter had and pulled the two horses to a standstill. A little way in front of them with nostrils flared wide and head held high was the most magnificent stallion any of them had ever seen. Maddie stood up in the wagon and gasped at the sheer beauty blocking their route.
“That answers your question, Maddie,” Carter said quietly. He stroked the neck of Bobs, who had her nose in the air toward the stallion. “That is Thunder.”
He slid from the horse and held her head. Maddie stepped down from the wagon and stood beside him. He took her hand, and she stood close to him.
“Stay very still and quiet,” he whispered to her.
“He is the most magnificent creature I have ever seen,” she responded with her own whisper. He squeezed her fingers. The stallion was standing in front of his herd. They were some distance away, and he was obviously protecting them, and he looked fierce and fearless. He was dappled in black, dark grey, and white; the darker parts were over his hindquarters. His mane and tail were a gleaming white. He shook his head and displayed the mane beautifully. Maddie was entranced.
“It would be wrong to catch him and try to break him,” Maddie said.
“Yes. I agree,” Carter replied. She squeezed his hand and knew without a doubt right then that she wanted to stay and work with this man. He glanced across at her, and she smiled. “I am glad you’ve seen him,” Carter said. Her dad was holding the horses in the carriage as still as he could, but they were nervous. Carter and Maddie stepped quietly forward while keeping their eyes on the stallion. Carter held the head of one of the horses in the shafts, and Maddie held the other. Bobs was standing as still as a stone and seemed to know that was the right thing to do.
“You are wonderful, Thunder,” Maddie said in a voice that carried a little further. “Stay free.”
The stallion nodded his head up and down and moved his hooves on the ground as if tempted to come and meet them.
“Don’t be tempted, Maddie. He is very dangerous.” Carter watched the horse, having seen the stallion rear in the air, bringing his hooves down with force on someone too close.
“I am not tempted, Carter. He deserves to be free.” The stallion seemed to have sensed that there was no real danger here, and he gave one final snort, stamped his hooves on the ground, and turned on the spot. He shrilled a noise that was obviously a signal to his herd and then took off over the land at high speed. He looked like something from another world, and as the others streamed out behind him, they could have been floating.
“Oh, my Lord,” Jimmy MacDougall said and let out a breath he was holding. “I have never seen a horse like that.”
Maddie calmed Bobs, and Carter climbed back into the saddle. Maddie stepped back into the wagon, and the horses moved forward.
“Is that stallion’s breeding in your stock?” Jimmy asked Carter, who nodded.
“Yes, we catch the youngsters and train them.”
“I would be interested in buying something to use myself.”
“You need to wait for the right one,” Carter told him, “but there will be something.”
The rest of the journey was uneventful, and they saw no one on the trail. The ranch came into view.
“You must be so tired,” Emmeline greeted them. “Come inside and have a comfortable seat.” Maddie liked what she saw in the ranch house. Emmeline loved her home, which was full of handmade cushions and blankets. Brass horseshoes gleamed from the walls and soft rugs covered the floor. “You must be Maddie,” she added and held out her arms to hug the bride-to-be. “I came to be a bride the same way you are doing. I know it is nerve-wracking.”
“Your house is lovely,” Maddie told her.
“Mom likes the house and a bit of gardening but keeps away from the horses. She is a bit frightened of them.”
“I can ride if I have to, and I can drive the little buggy, but I like my house and garden. It will be good to have another woman around.”
“I’ll take lessons about looking after the house and help with the horses if that is okay with you all.”
“More than okay,” Carter said. “I need someone to help me.”
When they were settled in the house, Emmeline served a lovely meal, and they all sat back, happy to relax and talk about wedding plans. They told the rancher and his wife about seeing Thunder.
“The stallion is one in a million,” Brian Stone said.
“Ollie says he is going to hunt him down. What a fool the man is,” Carter told him. Then he asked if they would like to look around the ranch. Emmeline said she would stay indoors as the rest headed for the corrals, stables, and barns.
“We keep some cattle as it is quite profitable, but the land is not good pasture, so we cannot keep a big number.” Brian walked carefully with his stick as he showed them his ranch.
They met Davey Malone, who was the new cattleman. He joined the group to show them the cattle pens, and they went to view the stock of horses in several corrals. Maddie was entranced and climbed on the fence to see better. Carter pointed out to a mare over at the far side. She glanced at him and back at the mare.
“Thunder’s daughter?” she asked, and he nodded. “Come and look more closely. He took her hand, and they skirted the corrals to come closer to the mare. She had her father’s dappled coat but a gentle eye. Maddie held out a hand. “What is she called?”
“Not named yet. What do you think?”
“Snowdrop with that white mane and tail.”
He laughed and said that Snowdrop was now her name. The mare carefully came closer, and then Maddie managed to pat her nose.
“You are a very beautiful girl,” she whispered to the youngster, and Snowdrop listened as if she understood. Maddie blew very gently onto her nose, and the mare came right up to the fence.
The others had come quietly beside them. Jimmy MacDougall was as captivated as his daughter.
“Find me a male like this mare, and I will be delighted,” he told Carter.
They looked at the barns and stables, and there were a couple of pigs in a run and a whole host of chickens scratching about the place.
“Our worst problem is lack of grass,” Brian told him. “The wild horses roam for miles to find good grazing. The mountains begin in the distance.” He pointed away to the south. “If they go into the canyons, there is water and good grass.
They headed back to the house, but Carter offered to show Maddie his house.
“I guess you will think it needs to be prettier,” he told her.
Davey Malone went off to his cabin that he called home. Carter showed Maddie the bungalow he had mostly built himself. She was a little nervous to see where she would live after the wedding, but although it was not pretty like his mother’s house, it was tidy and clean and had quite a large kitchen. He told her that she could feel free to change anything, and they walked back to the main house.
“Now, unload the bags, Carter, and we’ll sort out sleeping arrangements,” his mother said. Jimmy went to help, and the bags for Celeste and Jimmy went into the spare room.
“I’ll take some of your bags over to my house if you keep the ones you’ll need here,” Carter told Maddie with a twinkle in his eye. His eyes crinkled at the sides when he smiled, and he looked extraordinarily attractive.
“This wedding?” Celeste asked. “What have you in mind?” Emmeline sat beside her and went over what she had arranged.
“In three days, we have arranged with the minister in town. I have friends I have asked to be there, and we thought it would be good and friendly to have a picnic afterward. There is a garden beyond the little church, and Reverend Farriday is happy for us to use it.”
“That sounds lovely,” Maddie told her. “What a good idea.”
“Would you like another walk around?” Carter asked Maddie, and the pair left the parents to finish arranging the wedding plans. “We can move some of the luggage on the way.” They headed for the bungalow and then the corrals to look at the horses without even having to ask each other where they were going.
“You have a lot of stock, and they look wonderful,” Maddie told him as they came to the first corral. “I am so excited to see them and to see the variety.”
“How does it compare to what your dad has?”
Maddie looked across the ranch and out to the wider landscape. “It is so very different,” she started and waved a hand to encompass the countryside. “We can run more cattle because we have more grassland. We do not have the wild herds to collect youngsters from, and we often buy in fillies and colts to bring on. People bring untamed horses to Dad and my brothers to train for them. You have more horses than we have. I guess this dryer land is better for their hooves than the more rich land of East Virginia.” She paused and added that her brother Matthew dreamed of breeding the perfect quarter horse.
“Did he train Bobs?”
Maddie smiled. “No. I had Bobs as a baby and did all the work myself.
Carter stopped walking and looked at her.
“She is lovely to ride and knows what you want from how you sit in the saddle,” she added.
He laughed and took her hand. “I think we need your skills here, Maddie. Come and see the very newest and youngest we have. I hope you don’t mind that I need your help with the training. Since Dad hurt his back, it is hard to find enough time in the day to do it all myself.”
Maddie smiled at him, and they stopped beside the farthest group of youngsters.
“I knew from those letters that we had the same ideas and interests. Helping you train these new ones and anything else for that matter is exactly what I would like to do.” They looked out over the youngsters who all came up to the fence.
“They are so curious,” Maddie said and held out a hand. One chestnut colt came up without any sign of nervousness. “Hello boy,” she said, and the young horse moved his ears and allowed her to stroke his nose. “Was he one of the wild ones?”
“Yes, he was. He wants to be the leader in here, I think. He will need to trust whoever works with him.”
“Oh, I am so glad we decided to have this wedding. It is exciting. I’ll be Mrs. Stone, and I will be a horse trainer. Thank you, Carter.”
“I am happy as well, Maddie.” He looked at the ranch around him and back to the woman next to him. “I think I am one lucky man.”
That sent a little ripple of pleasure through Maddie, and she wondered how she could feel so relaxed with this man she had just met.
“A Heart as Untamed as Thunder” is an Amazon Best-Selling novel, check it out here!
Maddie MacDougall has spent all of her childhood among horses and she can’t imagine a life without them. The yearning for adventure she has always harbored in her heart will lead her to a match sent from heaven, Carter, a horse breeder in Wyoming. She will soon be intrigued by his tales of wild mustangs and his chivalrous manners but she will also realize that his obsession with Thunder, the legendary stallion of Croy Canyon, can endanger both the animal and their relationship.
When love fuels the heart though, all obstacles can be overcome…
Carter Stone has led a harsh life among the wild horses, full of challenges and adventures. He has always wished to have someone by his side who shares this passion and when the match with Maddie is arranged, he is overjoyed. What he did not expect was to find himself stricken with her unique beauty or her rare wit, with which she challenges him when she differs from his methods.
Will he be able to tame her wild heart?
When the wild stallion and the herd that Carter and Maddie so much admire, are put at risk by a covetous man, they will be willingly thrown into a hazardous and possibly deadly situation to rescue them. Can their love for the horses and for each other be enough to save them? Or will the fate that brought them together eventually bring them to an utter end?
“A Heart as Untamed as Thunder” is a historical western romance novel of approximately 80,000 words. No cheating, no cliffhangers, and a guaranteed happily ever after.