Love’s First Light (The Women of Black Hawk Canyon #1)



ISBN: 978-1-7323199-8-1

Epitaph Press July 1, 2024

Rachel Malloy awakens with a stranger after suffering a devastating accident. He bears no resemblance to her perception of God, nor does he have a halo so she must not be dead. Regardless, after taking her entire family and leaving her, she and God are not exactly on speaking terms.

Rancher Heath Lassiter has prayed fervently and long for a wife. Is she the one? The appearance of a rare white dove shortly afterward seems to be a sign.

Despite Heath’s unwavering faith and kindness, Rachel refuses to marry him. Dark secrets haunt, secrets that blacken her name, making marriage to anyone impossible. Though disappointed, Heath rebuilds her burned-out house. There, her world again shifts with the discovery of a newborn near her family’s graves and a white dove perching nearby.
Love grows as Heath becomes a constant in her life. Yet Rachel lives in fear of losing this baby. When the infant becomes very ill, she desperately promises God she’ll return to her forsaken faith if He’ll heal the child. But first light brings uncertainty. Will the dove return as a symbol of divine mercy, or will Rachel’s fragile faith be shattered once more?





Rachel’s head throbbed and she raised a weak arm, trying to touch it. How strange that she’d feel pain in heaven.

She sniffed and the smell of moist earth swam up her nose. She sensed she was underground. Was she in a grave? If she was dead, how come she could still smell? Panic washed over her. The only conclusion she could draw was that she’d possibly been buried alive.

Someone had given her a shove then put her in a grave. But why?

It was a struggle to open her eyes, but she finally succeeded. As they adjusted, the dim figure of a man took shape. He looked nothing like how she’d pictured her Heavenly Father. This one was just a plain ordinary man. No, she took that back. Nothing about this man was plain or ordinary. What she meant to say was that he was earthly. No white robe and no halo.

He sure had a nice smile though.

“Hey there.” The man rose from a chair and leaned over her. “About time you woke up, ma’am. I’m Heath Lassiter.”

“I’m alive?”

“Yes, praise God.”

Bitter disappointment coated her throat like a thick dose of castor oil. Why couldn’t she get some relief from her misery?

Her mouth was as dry as parchment but she managed a whisper, “Where am I?”

“The Lassiter homestead. I found you during the sandstorm unconscious on the ground. You weren’t far from the Malloy place, so we assume you belonged to them.”

Rachel winced. She remembered digging her sister’s grave, the horrible wind, and falling. She nodded. “I’m Rachel, their eldest daughter.” She winced. “Or at least I was.”

“Nice to know you, Rachel. You’re welcome here.”

“How long have I been like…this?” she whispered.

“Two days.”

Panic rifled through her as she looked around for her clothes. “I have to be going.”

Just then an older woman entered the alcove. She was a tall, big boned woman but the no-nonsense way about her was what struck Rachel most. “Good, you’re awake. I’m sure you must be hungry enough to eat a horse. I’m Sally, Heath’s sister.”

Something moved on the bed beside her and licked her face.

“Jax.” Her arm felt as though it weighed a ton when she lifted it to grasp a handful of fur.

Heath’s deep voice filled the small space. “He hasn’t left your side.”

“I suppose I should thank you for rescuing me, but you should’ve left me where you found me. You should’ve let me die and join my family.” She couldn’t keep the brittleness from her tone.

“Evidently the Good Lord isn’t ready for you yet.” Sally Lassiter moved her brother aside to plump Rachel’s pillow.

“Could you please bring my clothes?”

“You’re not up to leaving yet.” Heath’s deep voice was like an old familiar friend she didn’t know she had. “I’ve been taking care of your animals so don’t worry your head about them. The only thing you need to concentrate on is getting well.”

“I’m going to get you some nice hot stew.” Sally bustled into the next room. The woman yelled everything at the top of her voice, making Rachel’s head hurt even worse.

Heath shifted his weight from one foot to the other. “When you’re up to it, Rachel, I have something to talk to you about. No rush though. You just get well.”

“Will you tell me something? Why does your sister talk at the top of her voice?”

A crooked grin tilted the corner of his mouth. “She thinks I’m deaf.”

“And you keep letting her think you are?”

“Saves having to talk when I prefer not to. She likes to chew on my backside something fierce. This way I can pretend I can’t hear her when my ears get sore.”

Right then she knew Heath Lassiter was a scamp.

“I saw the graves,” he said quietly. “I heard you had the fever going around over there. I just didn’t know it was so bad. Why didn’t you come to us for help?”

“Not our way. My father hammered into us that it was a sign of weakness to ask for help. He said we could take care of ourselves. No need bothering other folks with our problems. That’s just the way we did things.” Rachel felt as though her skin had opened up and all her insides leaked out. She was so tired. Weak. Heartsick.

Tell everyone about Linda Broday