“Just like the unwitting sailors who were shanghaied (drugged and put aboard outbound ships) in early San Francisco, I was carried away by this book and ‘woke up' completely engaged in the story and wanting to read more about Dell and Jack. Being a guy, I'm not usually attracted to romance novels, but the author has done her due diligence on the history and melting pot that was San Francisco during the Gold Rush. It shows through on almost every page and really enhanced the story. I also liked the twist that the woman was the mover-shaker in this one, a refreshing departure from the usual ‘victim' portrayal of women that seems to be the norm for so many romance authors. Can't wait for the next one!”
~John R (Amazon reviewer)
“Didn’t you hear me, Miss Priss? We ain’t business partners.”
The smile that edged up one side of her mouth sent chills down his spine, and he wasn’t at all happy about the confident set of her shoulders. He’d never been afraid of a woman before — well, a lady anyway — but this one was downright terrifying.
“I beg to differ, Mr. Dalton. I signed a binding contract for printing services with F. Browne Printers & Stationers. If I’m not mistaken, you acquired the deed to said establishment, which means you also acquired its assets. My contract is one such asset. And as the owner of the company, you are legally obligated to perform the duties outlined in our contract. Now, the only question that remains is when shall we start?”
Jack’s gaze bounced between Sam and Dell, trying to figure out how they’d played this trick on him and how he was going to get himself out of it. He didn’t know anything about contracts or running a business, much less how to run a printing press. When he won the blasted shop, he just figured he’d find some sucker to buy the place off him and move on to some other lark.
“Listen, I’ll pay you back every ounce of gold you gave that scoundrel,” he wheedled. “I’ll even throw in a hundred dollars worth for your troubles, but I ain’t goin’ into the printing business and we ain’t partners.”
He crossed his arms again to drive his point home, but Sam was looking at Dell like she was the smartest creature alive and she showed no signs of budging. Doom crept into his heart.
“No good. There’s not another printer in town who will take me on. You could pay me an extra thousand dollars and it wouldn’t help me get my paper printed.”
“Sure it would! You could go back east — in style, I might add — and print it back there. That’s where all the brides are gonna come from anyway.”
His argument fell on deaf ears.
“That would mean a delay of at least six months, if not longer. You may not understand this, but these men want wives as soon as possible. They’re tired of being alone in this punishing, exciting, terrifying new world. They crave the comfort of a loving and committed companion, someone who will stand by them through thick and thin, good and bad. They’re looking for women of high moral character to raise their babies and be their partners in all things. Would you deny them that, Mr. Dalton? How will you face them at dinner every night? How can you call yourself friend to any of them?”
Jack’s jaw fell open. She had him backed into a corner. He happened to know that dozens of his pals had submitted ads to her. If he refused to print her stupid newspaper, she’d blab it all over kingdom come and he’d be ridden out of town, if not worse.
“And then, of course, there would be the lawsuits…” she sighed.
His eyes narrowed to slits. “What lawsuits?”
“Why, Mr. Dalton, we have a contract.” Honey dripped from her words. She acted as if she truly regretted what she was saying, but he knew better.
“If you renege on it, I’ll be forced to file suit, but I’m sure many of my advertisers will do the same. Probably not the men themselves, but the businesses that have paid good money to take out display advertisements will be very put out. And obviously the police would need to become involved since this would be considered breech of contract.”
Sam was sniggering into his chipped blue enamel coffee cup but Jack didn’t think it was funny at all.
“Boy, that’s what a fella gets for trying to lend a helping hand!” Anger boiled up inside him and he pointed an accusing finger at her, taking a step closer. “You were dumb enough to give all your gold to a degenerate gambler. I tried to tell ya he was no good, I tried to stop ya. But would you listen ol’ Jack? Naw, you had to be a stubborn mule and ignore my advice. And look what it got ya! Hoodwinked! Swindled! Bamboozled! And now you’re draggin’ me into your mess!”
His heart was pounding in his chest with every step he advanced on her, but the pigheaded woman stood her ground — wouldn’t give an inch — until he was towering over her and she had to crane her neck back to match his glare. He was intensely aware of the heat radiating off her body and her perfume muddled his thoughts.
Sam’s cheerful tenor barely cut through the tension. “It’s settled then.”
They both refused to break their mutually hateful scowl until Sam slapped Jack on the back and wrapped an arm around Dell’s shoulders, leading her away from a seething Jack.
“Just have to work out a few details and get you two lovebirds to work.”