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Title: According to Hoyle
Author: Abigail Roux
Cover Artist: Simoné
Genre/Sub-Genre: Historical, M/M Romance, Western
By the close of 1882 in the American West, the line between heroes and villains is narrow. Total chaos is staved off only by the few who take the law at its word and risk their lives to uphold it. But in the West, the rules aren’t always played according to Hoyle.
US Marshals Eli Flynn and William Henry Washington—longtime friends and colleagues—are escorting two prisoners to New Orleans for trial when they discover there’s more than outlawry to the infamous shootist Dusty Rose and the enigmatic man known as Cage. As the two prisoners form an unlikely partnership, the marshals can’t help but look closer at their own.
When forces beyond the marshals’ control converge on the paddle wheeler they’ve hired to take them downriver, they must choose between two dangers: playing by the rules at any cost, or trusting the very men they are meant to bring to justice.
(This title is a revised and edited second edition, with minor new additions, of According to Hoyle, originally published elsewhere.)
Hi! I’m Abigail Roux, the author of ACCORDING TO HOYLE. Thanks for having me. And don’t forget the giveaway! Check out the details at the bottom of the post to see what you can win!
The creak of the wagon wheels and the clop of the horses’ hooves were the lone sounds that broke the late evening silence as Wash and Flynn traveled south to Junction City. Before setting out the previous evening , they had deputized an extra man they could trust to stay back in Lincoln and hold down the fort until one of the other marshals returned.
They expected to get into Junction City well before nightfall of their second day of trekking , but both men were veterans of plains travel, and knew how unpredictable it could be. They had given themselves plenty of leeway. The only problem with leeway was when you didn’t need it. Even with someone to keep you company on the trail, the silence could be oppressive at times.
“Know anything about these boys?” Flynn finally asked to break up the monotony.
Wash glanced over at him. He was guiding the cumbersome wagon over the deeply rutted trail with one hand as if it were easy. “Two of them are soldiers of some description,” he answered around the blade of grass between his teeth. When the dry-goods store had burned down, the town’s tobacco had gone with it. All the men who smoked for a fifty-mile radius had taken to chewing straw as a poor replacement until the new shipments came up the river. Wash claimed Lincoln had been witness to some very cranky town meetings in the meantime.
Flynn pondered telling Wash that he had bought more tobacco while up in Stillwater, but decided against it.
“Soldiers. Indian Wars? Or War Between the States?” he asked dubiously. Surely they weren’t still tracking down deserters and dissenters from the latter.
Wash shrugged and clucked his tongue at the plodding mule pulling the wagon. “I don’t think these gentlemen are deserters. I think they’re younger. Regular Army, Indian Wars and all that.”
“Huh. What’d they do?”
“Telegrams didn’t say.”
Flynn hummed. Not many soldiers got sent back for trial and hanging. The Army needed the numbers and the guns while fighting the Indians, so for the most part they didn’t care about their behavior. And if it was something truly heinous, they were usually taken care of on site, before the bureaucrats got hold of it. These boys must have done something particularly interesting to be sent to Fort Smith. Of course, the Ute and Cheyenne wars had ended almost two years ago, and things had been pretty quiet since. Flynn remembered how soldiers could find trouble during peacetime.
These two unfortunates might be examples to keep order.
Flynn never really gave much thought to what their prisoners had done. He took them where they were supposed to go and then went on with life. He claimed that it was hard to watch a man you’d conversed with hang from the gallows, which it was, but it was also easier to not give a damn about the outlaws they met. Some of them deserved a noose. Some did not.
“The third is a shootist,” Wash continued. “You might’ve heard of him. Goes by the name of Dusty Rose.”
“No kidding ?” Flynn said with long look over at Wash. “I have heard of him.”
“Everyone’s heard of him,” Wash said with a laugh. “He’s in all those damn dime novels they sell back East.”
“Dime novels,” Flynn scoffed. “They never get anything right.”
Those damn stories made more trouble for people than most anything. If you were unlucky enough to get your name in a dime novel, it was likely you’d have wet-behind-the-ears young guns coming after you from all sides, hoping to make themselves a name by getting the drop on you. Or worse, calling you out across a town square, thinking they were Wild Bill Hickok in Harper’s magazine. Flynn shook his head, glad that he and Wash both had managed to escape the fate of fame in their wilder youth. Dusty Rose had not been so lucky.
Flynn hated dealing with rumor. He couldn’t help himself when it came to Dusty Rose, though, because the man kind of fascinated him. “They say he’s just as fast as Doc Holliday. I heard he dealt faro with Doc out in Colorado for a spell.”
Wash laughed softly. It was a low, growling sound that always made Flynn smile. “You curious?” Flynn glanced back at him and slowed his horse, coming abreast of Wash as the man grinned at him.
Wash looped the reins of the wagon around the toe of his boot and reached into his jacket with his good hand. He extracted a dime novel and offered it to Flynn. “Picked it up at the general store before we left.”
Flynn rolled his eyes and snatched the flimsy story papers from him. Of course a new shipment of dime novels would come in before the tobacco. He pursed his lips, reading the title with a frown. “Best of the West Series: Dusty Rose, the Desert Flower.”
On the front was a sketch of what the publishers figured Rose looked like. Flynn had found that they were never as handsome or as dashing as the public thought. And they were rarely ever as skilled or heroic. Most were just two-bit horse thieves with catchy names and a knack for dramatics.
“Says he can shoot with either hand,” Wash told him as Flynn opened the book and scanned it with morbid curiosity. “Says he’s got a dog he trained to take keys out of a man’s belt, follows him everywhere he goes. Says he’s a bit of a dandy and that he don’t drink one lick. Never gambles, never swears, never goes a day without bathing. Can’t all be true if he was dealing faro with Doc Holliday. Not if he lived to see the first sunrise after.”
“‘Always to be found in dapper dress,’” Flynn read with distaste. “‘Never a gold button or silk kerchief out of place.’”
“‘Nary a damsel in distress or blushing maid can resist his smiling face,’” Wash recited, his voice shaking with laughter.
Flynn grunted and tossed the dime novel over his shoulder. It landed with a plop in the back of the empty wagon. Wash guffawed raucously, obviously having expected the reaction.
“I wouldn’t put too much stock in it,” Wash said after a while, still snickering. “Kid Antrim down in New Mexico was said to be a dandy too, and you’ve seen those tintypes of him. Ugly, dirty, little bastard.”
“Lots of things was said about Kid Antrim. He’s a damn hero now that he’s dead and not shooting folks left and right. They’ll never call him a hired killer like he really was.”
“What is it they’re calling him back East now ? Billy the Kid?” Wash asked. Flynn offered that a rude noise. “That’ll never stick.”
About the Author:
Abigail Roux was born and raised in North Carolina. A past volleyball star who specializes in sarcasm and painful historical accuracy, she currently spends her time coaching high school volleyball and investigating the mysteries of single motherhood. Any spare time is spent living and dying with every Atlanta Braves and Carolina Panthers game of the year.
Abigail has a daughter, Little Roux, who is the light of her life, a boxer, four rescued cats who play an ongoing live-action variation of Call of Duty throughout the house, a certifiable extended family down the road, and a cast of thousands in her head.
Connect with Abi:
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