An incredibly romantic adventure into historical paranormal romance
“What a great story - absolutely loved it and the cover is brilliant… I can't wait to read the next one - I think you have the makings of a great little series.”
- Trinity Bellingham, Author
She prayed for an angel to light her way but it is a sensuous devil in the shadows who answers her prayers.
When a neighbor attacks their ranch, Tara's mother begs her to escape with her siblings and keep them safety. Leaving her Mother behind to distract the killers who've attacked them was the hardest thing Tara had ever done.
When Drake Masters, the legendary 'Shadow Master' arrives and learns of the Kingsleys’ misfortunes he dedicates himself to putting a stop to the killing.
Tara reluctantly agrees that she and Drake should join forces. She soon finds him working magic with her troubled siblings and her own bruised heart.
From the first moment he saw Tara, Drake, knew that destiny brought him to this place; to avenge a wrong long overdue and to claim the love of the only woman who could ever be… the shadow Master's Miss.
But can they succeed with such overwhelming odds against them and no help in sight? He knew they were heading into the darkness of the unknown. Lies, betrayal, even death could be waiting there.
Can their fragile bond survive the perils of the trail ahead - and the secrets waiting for them there… within the shadows.
If you can't find love in the light of day… it's time to look in the shadows.
Read an excerpt:
Excerpt from The Shadow Master’s Miss: A historical paranormal romance in which you’ll meet a woman searching for a second chance to save her family after having already been responsible for one precious member slip away forever.
A man who is wrestling with a gift he does not understand; a mysterious mystic shift of vapor that seems to have come to him along with his job as a Pinkerton agent. Will he ever know the answer to the question that leaves him sleepless in the dead of night – will he ever see the mist shift to protect him ever again now that he has laid down his badge and walked away from the life that provided his salvation, washing away his guilt with every mile he rode.
Here is a brief peek at “The Shadow Master’s Miss””
The Shadow Master’s Miss
Barbara St. Raine
The silence was deafening. Such an over-dramatic statement Tara had never understood until today. The mind-numbing horror of the attack was still unfathomable to her. Only now did the destruction that had taken place begin to sink into her dazed senses.
This beautiful meadow—her home—was now tarnished with visions of murder and betrayal. The day had begun so quietly, so peaceful and right. Tara and her mother, Beth, had been looking for Tara's father, Trey, and stepbrother, Sayer, to return from Abilene. If all went well today just may be the day. At least that was how the day had begun.
As the day wore on, their hopes had begun to fade. At day's end, Tara found Beth gazing out the upstairs window that overlooked the path their wagon had long ago forged through the trees surrounding the ranch. "Hoping your prayers will clear his path home?" Tara's gentle query brought a wistful smile to Beth's lovely face and a sparkle to her gorgeous green eyes.
"Something like that. Do you think it will work, Tara?"
"Who knows? The Lord works in mysterious ways, or so they say."
"If Trey were anywhere near home, he would have sent Sayer ahead. I guess we'll just have to be patient. The waiting is always the hardest part of these cattle drives."
"All this waiting seems harder now than it used to be, Mom. We must have gotten terribly spoiled since Dad stopped driving his cattle to Abilene every year. I hope…I mean…I wish…"
The men were overdue. They'd been expected for the better part of a week. Beth knew it, and Tara knew it too. All the comforting words in the world would not tell them the one thing they wanted—no—needed desperately to know. What happened to Trey and Sayer Kingsley? And why weren't they home?
"They'll be home soon, Mom, you'll see." But Tara's words seemed hollow and empty; her mind was shadowed with doubt.
It was then that the first thunderous shot shattered the peaceful spring evening. The killing had begun.
* * *
The butcher knife slammed into the soft flesh of the pine chopping block. Startled, Tara jumped, then grabbed little Heather and pulled her out of harm's way. Tara's fear was very real and so was the danger from their oh-so-charming neighbor, a wolf in sheep's clothing by the name of Emerson Masters.
"I want that deed, Beth.”
“That’s Mrs. Kingsley to you, Masters.”
“Very well, Mrs. Kingsley, if you don't hand it over soon, I'm afraid I'll have to ask Nevil to demonstrate his skill with knives—perhaps on your lovely daughter."
Hand it over, Mrs. Kingsley, Nevil is very skilled with knives—I’d hate to see your lovely daughter suffer." As Masters delivered his threat, he stepped closer to Tara, lightly running his index finger over her soft cheek. She shuddered at the feel of his cold touch. Unsure how her mother would handle these dangerous men now that all the ranch hands had been killed and they were left unprotected, Tara chose to stand her ground but say nothing.
"Masters, it is true that your men were the ones out there doing the killing, but you gave the orders and it is you who will pay for this murderous raid. I wonder just how it is that you expect to live in this valley after I give you that deed. You must know my husband; Trey will find you."
"I don't intend to concern myself with such trifling matters, not at the moment anyway."
"Mr. Masters, your gunmen murdered innocent people. Why, I doubt very much if there is one person out there still alive. Do you consider that a trifling matter?"
Masters and his hired gun, Nevil Helman, seemed amused. That amusement quickly faded as Masters' impatience began to surface. "I'm not known as one who waits on another's pleasure. Now, where is that deed?"
Tara and Beth Kingsley made eye contact for several seconds. Tara was sure in her heart that she and Beth were thinking the same thing: If we turn over that deed, we're all dead! Beth turned to Masters and began to give a perfect imitation of a fragile, helpless Southern belle. Any member of her family would have seen through her performance. Tempest Elizabeth Kingsley—known to her neighbors simply as Beth—had never been fragile. Nor could she afford to be helpless.
However, Beth was an inspired actress. Fear, after all, was an excellent motivation to be convincing. It seemed to Tara that Masters believed every sigh of distress as well as the feigned batting of her eyelashes.
"Oh, whatever shall I do? If only I could think clearly—without all this pressure. Oh, dear I'm feeling just a little…" As Beth began to slowly topple into Masters, he took hold of her arm—none too gently, mind you—and helped her to one of the chairs at the kitchen table. The snap of his fingers brought forth one of his men with a glass of lukewarm water from the pump.
"My dear, just hand over the papers I've asked for and my men and I will leave you and your children in peace."
When pigs fly! Tara thought. Just don't say anything until Mother makes a move. Oh, why didn't I have a gun? If only Father and Sayer would come home from that cattle drive. They'd been expecting them for more than a week. She wondered now if they'd ever return home and what would they find. Dear God, please help us!
"I am trying; really, it's just so frightfully distressing. Please sir, if you'd just allow me some time upstairs to relax and speak privately with my children. Well, I think between us, we can figure out where my husband might have put such important papers."
"I think not, Madame."
"Please Mr. Masters. I'm sure it would only take a few minutes. If you're worried that a women and four children will be able to escape you and all of your, what, forty or more men? You could put us in the upstairs bedroom; the only way out is through the
window. Such a climb would be dangerous with three small children"
"Well, I hadn't thought of that."
"You can't possibly expect us to escape from you in an upstairs room. I know…why don't you just place your men at the door and under the window? That way you don't even have to give it a thought."
“Let me talk it over with my associate Nevil in the hall. We’ll be back in a moment, ladies.” Masters turned his back and strode out of the room.
* * *
“Masters, you’re out of your mind if you buy that act of hers,” Nevil said with contempt.
“I’m no fool, Nevil. But it’s ingrained in a southern lady’s soul to resort to having the vapors or even outright hysteria to get their way in all things. I anticipated this. As it is at the moment, things are in our favor. We take them upstairs. Out of our way and then we can search down here for anything I can use to make Trey Masters’ life a living hell.”
“Are you sure this is necessary? Why don’t we just-“
“I don’t pay you to do the thinking here. Just follow my orders. Or I’ll find someone who can. Now take them upstairs and make sure all the doors and windows are covered. I don’t want them to escape.” Masters turned to rejoin the ladies and missed the malicious look his associate leveled on him
* * *
Beth or God forbid Masters' men would find them. One of them could draw Masters and his men away while the other helped the girls escape. Tara made damned sure that Ryan understood that if Masters or his men showed up, she would do any decoy work. That meant he had to get himself and the girls to a hiding spot 'til the path was clear before heading to Gretchen's cabin.
San Francisco, June 1876
Drake Masters dropped his winning hand for the other player's nspection. A full house, kings over deuces. He smiled good-naturedly as he picked up his shot glass. Tossing his dark head back, he downed the amber liquid in one quick swallow. It burned a fierce path as it blazed a trail into his empty belly. There was nothing in this world that could warm a man quite the same as a good shot of whiskey. A willing woman, however, could and had, at times, been a fine substitute. Doc Gilpin moaned aloud as Drake gathered his winnings.
Drake's low chuckle caught the attention of the redhead at the table on Drake’s left, he noticed. She sent him a flirtatious wink. This same chuckle went unnoticed by the poker players unfortunate enough to be sharing a table with him. Tonight it seemed he was the unbeatable Drake Masters. Normally a somber soul, Drake was in a light-hearted mood tonight. After all, tonight…ah, tonight, he had the feeling anything was possible.
Tonight Drake's dreams of purchasing the property for his horse ranch were very close to becoming a reality. And for the moment Doc Gilpin held the key.
"Well, gentlemen, I think it's time I called it a night." Drake's voice was filled with more determination than it had in previous times when he made that statement.
"You can't do that, Masters. You've gotta give us a chance ta win our money back," said Jim Turner, whose pal, Duffy, sat across from him at the table, nodding his head in vigorous agreement.
"Now, boys, I couldn't do that. I mean, you might just start winning." Some good-natured chuckling followed Drake's remark. However, neither Duffy nor Turner felt inclined to give up completely.
"Doggone it, Masters, it's the least you could…"
"Just a few more hands, just until we win enough ta keep playin' after you leave."
"That's what you said an hour ago, Duffy. So I stayed, but now it's getting late and I have some very important business to take care of tomorrow." Turning to Doc Gilpin, Drake smiled. "We're still going out to take a look at that land in the morning, aren't we, Doc?"
"Oh, of course Drake, let's say…" Doc looked down at his gold pocket-watch and softly mumbled, "At least I didn't lose this tonight." Then he raised his voice to add, “…about ten o'clock."
"Perfect, see you then; goodnight, gentlemen." The night air chilled his skin as he stepped out onto the porch of the Bells Union Casino. He looked down the street to the hotel where Zeb waited. It was a great relief leaving the smoke and noise of the saloon behind. It was a nice place. A place that had the me sounds of any saloon: men drinking and bragging; saloon girls dancing in their brightly colored silks and laces, looking like scattered rose petals floating above the dusty wood floor; sweat-stained miners; and gents in top hats. The saloon ambience consisted of piano keys being tickled, the rustling of cards being shuffled, the laughter of winners and the groans of losers.
Leaving them all behind seemed to amplify the quiet of the starlit night as Drake stood outside the gaming house on Portsmouth Square. He rolled himself a cigarette, looking out on a blue velvet sky studded with twinkling stars. He could smell the sweet scent of rose and the tang of the ocean. The utter relief he felt at leaving the noisy saloon behind surprised him and he thought it odd. As he lit the cigarette, he wondered about this recent development.
After all, he made a living for himself and his two siblings in many saloons just like that one. He never realized until now how badly he wanted out of the profession. He always loved the freedom and sense of adventure that went along with being a Pinkerton detective. Until the morning he had swept into the Pinkerton office and handed William Pinkerton his resignation. At first, William tried to talk him out of such a final parting. Not because they were the best of friends and certainly not because they had worked together for so many years. Eight years was quite a long association in a covert business such as Pinkerton's. The reason, quite simply, was that Drake was good at what he did. In fact, he was one of the best agents Pinkerton had.
The press had dubbed him the "Shadow Master" after he solved a rather well-publicized case. When a reporter asked Allen Pinkerton who was responsible for this fine piece of detective work, Pinkerton was quoted as saying, "I can tell you only that this agent is a 'master of the shadows.'" When the article came out, the reporter used the entire quote, adding, "Sincere thanks to the Shadow Master—whoever you are." Although his true identity was still quite unknown, the legend was born.
Drake leaned against the hitching post, taking a drag on his cigarette. He suddenly felt very much like a snake shedding its skin, only now he was able to move freely once again without its weight pulling him down. The face he showed the world now was soft, pink and new.
Now he was ready to step into the new life he had always dreamed of. It would be simple; he'd buy the land in the meadow that Doc Gilpin had told him about tonight. As Doc Gilpin had described it, a picture began to form in his mind’s eye; a quite spot in the foothills—a beautiful open meadow of forty-two acres, complete with a year-round stream. He could see his stock grazing there now, huddled in the shelter of a cluster of stately oak trees. He told Doc he was looking for a place to settle with his brother and sister. From Doc’s description, it was just what he'd been hoping to find.
Now, all he had to do was purchase it and send a wire to Hunter and Mel. His thoughts of Mel brought back his sense of urgency. This anxiety had been building for several months now. He believed and hoped that when he and Zeb reached San Francisco, he could begin to relax, but the feelings of anxiety only intensified.
If he didn't get his siblings out west soon, he was sure that Mel would fall in love with a Boston gent; then there would be hell to pay. He had to convince her to leave Boston and join him out west, thus keeping the family together as he'd vowed to God he
would after his parents died in the fire that hellish night so long ago.
Crushing the butt of his cigarette under the toe of his well-worn boot, he headed for the hotel, returning his mind to Zeb and the message he should have answered an hour ago. He shouldn't have kept Zeb waiting so long. He didn't mean to ignore his note. After all, if it wasn’t for Zeb Whittaker, Drake would have never been able to keep himself or his siblings fed and happy, much less together, for that matter. His Uncle Emerson ignored his plea to come and get them. Oh, he managed to send a cable saying that he would soon be there, but he never arrived. They never saw nor heard from him again.
If not for Zeb, surely some old biddy would have reported the three orphans' plight, no doubt separating the family for sure.
God took both his parents, leaving him alone to care for his younger brother, Hunter, and his four-year-old sister, Melissa. It was never easy, but he couldn’t even think of the alternative. Yes, God took his parents, but sent him a guardian angel by the name of Zeb.
“Hold up friend and don’t turn around. My friend and me, we was watchin’ yah win one hand after another at that poker game. You been at it fer a couple of hours now. You must have quite a little bundle in yer pocket. Hand it over.”
“Now why the hell would I do that? I don’t even know you.”
“No, but I know you, Shadow Master. Ha! Shadow Master, that’s a laugh. Seems ta me you never saw us in the saloon or in the shadows of the alley.”
‘Come on, T. Let’s get on with it before somebody comes.”
“Hold yer horses, Co…oops almost gave us away. C. we’re about ta take a generous gift from our friend here; it’s only right ta stop a minute for a polite chat. After all, we don’t want ta seem uppity.”
“Listen here, Mr. T. and C, I’m not about to hand you anything.” Having said this, Drake pulled out his gun and began to turn, hoping to wound both men. He was fast enough to do so, but halfway through his crouch and pivot, a rock stuck under his boot, throwing his balance off and making him wobble. As he righted himself he heard a gun blast and knew that he was already too late.
End of sample: I hope you enjoyed reading and join me again soon! Barbara St. Raine
About the Author
Barbara St. Raine is a long-time reader of all romantic fiction. Her love of reading has led her to bring her own stories to life. Meeting these characters has taken her places she never dreamed she would go. She and her husband, Lorenzo, both love to travel, and that spirit finds its way into her fiction. One of her favorite things is all the wonderful ideas her grumpy fourteen-year-old beagle, Spencer, shares with her while she writes, but she won't say which ideas are actually hers. She is a native of California who loves stormy, windy weather as long as there's a roaring fire in the hearth, her husband and pup by her side, and a good book or a great old movie on the tube.
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