Avalanches, isolation and snow blindness were stark realities for those daring to remain in Idaho’s Sawtooth Range through the harsh winter months. For city dweller, Lena Sommer, the warnings seemed exaggerated.
In the fall of 1886, Lena leaves behind a life fraught with disappointments and loss only to arrive in Sawtooth City and find the man she’d pledged to marry has been killed. To return east is unthinkable; to stay is ill-advised, but she resolves to remain and manage the man’s lodging house despite the warnings. More than her stubborn nature influences her decision. From her first glimpse of this mountain valley, she falls captive to its wild beauty. Feeling she has at last found a hearth to call her own, she eagerly puts down roots. Sharing her love of literature with her lodgers before a warming fire, she builds a family of lonesome souls, where dreams awaken.
However, one man stands apart, disturbing her peace with ominous warnings to leave before winter comes. Evan Hartmann knows from personal loss that winter snows bring to these mountains both unimaginable beauty and death. He is also a man conflicted, because as much as he’d like for Lena to leave the mountains, his heart longs for her to stay.
Praise for Comes the Winter
"This story has a surprise ending which will delight fans of romance/adventure novels who have read too many scripted endings. This is a terrific read, a great novel!" ~Readers' Favorite five-star review
"St. Claire has a wonderful ability to make the characters, the history and the scenery come alive. She is an enchanting writer! Romances normally would not be my genre of choice, and yet I find myself totally engrossed in her stories. I have actually found it difficult to put the book down. Wonderful job! I look forward to more of her writing." ~Amazon customer
"A most emphatic 5 stars. I've already bought the first two now that I finished this one, and will bookmark this author as one to follow. I will recommend this book to anyone - wonderful!" ~Amazon customer
Dead tired, Evan stumbled up the steps to the porch. His body yearned for sleep even more than food. A full day of back-breaking work followed by a one-hour ride in a stiff saddle made the prospect of a soft bed all the more enticing.
A sound and small movement to his left brought him fully alert. An animal, a bear perhaps? One had taken to roaming the river bank this summer looking through garbage. He pulled his gun from its holster, taking slow quiet steps across the porch. The shadow moved. Now he could discern the pattern not of fur but a quilt. Maybe one of the men had come home drunk and decided to sleep it off out here.
Then a slender, bare ankle, attached to a pale white foot, emerged from the corner of the quilt. A woman? Here?
He slid the gun back into its holster. Standing in front of her now, he saw the face framed by dark curls, softly falling across her cheek. Standing there with the moonlight caressing each curve of her face, he wondered if he were asleep. Maybe he'd come off the mountain, walked inside the house and was already dreaming of this angel.
She shifted, sending Evan scuttling back into the shadowed edge of the porch. He held his breath lest she see him and think him up to some mischief. Drawing her foot back within the folds of the blanket, she settled back into sleep. In a moment, her breathing changed to that of a very human being, not at all angelic. He considered that for a moment. Who was he to say angels didn’t snore?
He remembered then, Nash's expected lady. This must be her. Most conjectured her to be an older woman, certainly not a woman possessing such an ankle as this one, or a cheek as comely.
Evan frowned. Bad business, this. The poor woman. He scratched at his beard, newly sprouted for the coming winter months. Turning back to the door, he left the sleeping angel to her dreams. He had little doubt she'd be on the first wagon out of the basin, off the mountain before winter locked the doors to the outside world. Or she would if she knew what was good for her.
Author Samantha St. Claire
Samantha St. Claire was born in 2016, the alter-ego and pen name of an author of historical fiction born a few decades earlier. She may have found her niche in western historical fiction, served up sweet. Never faint of heart, her signature female protagonists face the hazards of the frontier with courage, wit, and a healthy pinch of humor.
The road from college graduation led due west where teaching in a small Arizona town fulfilled childhood fantasies on multiple levels. Hiking and backpacking the canyons and desert fed her imagination with the landscapes she would use later in life as an author. A few years passed before a change in jobs took her to California where her love of western history was further fed and her first novel of Russia's Fort Ross Colony came to life. But Idaho sparked her interest in the history of the magnificent central mountain ranges and Samantha St.Claire began her first series, The Sawtooth Range.
Follow www.samanthastclaire.net to read more about the research that has helped develop the characters, towns and stories of the Sawtooth Range Series and now Whitcomb Creek, Montana.
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