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Released: November 2014
ISBN: 9781310654657
Kindle US, Kindle UK
Apple, Kobo, Nook
Series: The Hellhole Saga, #3
Author: S.L. Kotar and J.E. Gessler
Length: Novel
Genre: Historical Western
Price: $4.99

Amazon US - Amazon UK - Goodreads

The expression "holy revenge" might seem a misnomer, as it is often believed that vengeance belongs to the Lord. When a race of people are cruelly and habitually enslaved, however, freedom means more than emancipation: it offers the opportunity to redress wrongs in a more earthly court.

Then a man called "Red" arrives in Hellhole with an aura of trouble surrounding him. Immediately sensing his presence meant bloodshed, Marshal Kiley orders him out of town but not before allowing him to have his wounds treated by the doctor, Fiz Ward. Even more intuitive than the lawman, Dr. Ward is quick to identify the stranger as a Southerner – not merely a man who fought on the same side he did during the Civil War – but one used to money and status, marking him as a plantation owner. Easily guessing why the man is on the run, he further deduces who is chasing him. It only remains to fill in the details.

Although Red denies he is being hunted to ground by former slaves, his fear is palpable. Just as a drowning man clutches at straws, he seeks Ward's help, placing the doctor in a moral dilemma that not only brings out the ghosts of his own past, but places him in the middle of a tragic and tangled web that can only end one way.

The stationary was a pale blue, like a clear summer sky. The aura of familiarity clung to it, like must, although it had been a long while since the writer had composed a letter.

The page lay before her, naked, empty, and cloudless. It awaited only the touch of a steel-tipped pen, the scratching of devil’s black ink, the transmission of thought to paper, as easy, one might suppose, as rain issuing forth from ink-black storm clouds.

But as so often happens, the rain did not fall, and the land, parched for want of water, dried and withered. So, too, did the writer’s heart.

The woman had every excuse not to write, she told herself, adjusting the hand-knit shawl around her stooped shoulders. She was unsure of the recipient’s name; uncertain, even, how the missive would be received, if ever it found its way into the intended’s hands.

She shivered, though the late summer day was warm, not chilly. That was a symptom of old age, she imagined: being cold while others complained of heat. While not elderly by chronological years, the would-be writer was worn, not by the wearing away of decades, but rather from the constant erosion of seconds.

Working through the perfunctory task of selecting a pen, the woman's ever-active mind calculated her age. If the year were 1868, which it was, and the month September, then she was forty-two years old. Not ancient by most standards, yet she felt the weight of time pressing down upon her rock solid, New England frame.

Born of parents recently immigrated from Scotland, in the year of Our Lord 1826, Ada Carter had been a hale, hearty child, with a jaw jutting out two feet in front of her, if her father’s oft expressed words were to be believed. She was known for her temper and her ability to stare anyone - man, boy or woman - in the eye, and never blink before they did. The game was called “owl,” and at age five, Ada Carter was the owl champion of three surrounding counties.

The oldest of seven children, she had become, in effect, a second mother to her siblings. Although of hot blood and fierce temper, Ada was never heard to complain of her lot in life. Everyone, her parents included, were surprised, therefore, when she announced late one evening in June, 1842, that she had taken an advert out in several Western newspapers, offering to hire herself out as a governess, domestic or other position suitable for a “woman of dignity.”

No one had ever heard of such a thing. Yet, once the extraordinary announcement had settled in, her mother dried her tears, her father went back to sharpening the blade of his plow and the smallest Carter began crying. No more was said on the subject, and for all practical purposes, it was a dead issue.

Until the letter arrived.

Very little information was imparted to the recipient. A stage ticket was enclosed, along with seven dollars, cash money. “Miss Ada Carter” was requested to present herself in one month’s time at the residence of one Mister Adam Burnham, where she would immediately assume “such tasks and duties as befit a woman of dignity.”

Top Reviews
A Real Gem
The entire "Hell Hole" series of books are just awesome! Very interesting and entertaining to read as well as being authentic. I recommend these books wholeheartedly. A great read! ~ Paticia A Arvantes, Amazon

• • •

Strange Bedfellows is a fast-paced, western action adventure story that brings the period to life. Kotar and Gessler's voice pulls us into the story quickly and keeps us there, wanting just one more chapter. This series as a whole, pulls readers in an old west movie on the big screen with instant visuals (as if we're there) and great characters one can't help but cheers for, and boo. I'm saddened that this series has come to an end. I'd like to see it go on, episode after episode, just like Gunsmoke. But I know, given the authors' previous works, that there's some great stuff on the horizon. ~ Heart of Fiction



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