E.E. Burke's Best of the West with Kaye Spencer

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Welcome back Kaye Spencer with a new Western historical romance featuring a lady gambler...

When beautiful lady gambler Lainie Conrad’s husband, Seaton, is murdered, she sets out for revenge. Lainie is certain that cardsharp Rutherford Tolliver is guilty, but she has to find a way to prove it—and when she does, she’s not about to let her own little ol’ arrest get in the way!

U.S. Deputy Marshal Nick Foster catches up with her, determined to get to the bottom of why she walked out on him months earlier. There’s a high bounty on Lainie’s head for a murder she didn’t commit, so Nick has no choice but to arrest her for her own protection—and to keep his heart safe, as well.

But Lainie has bought in to a high stakes poker tournament in Denver, Colorado, and nothing will keep her from facing the scheming Tolliver across the poker table in a final showdown that pits skill against skill and trickery against vengeance. She escapes from Nick once more and runs to Denver. She must keep her vow to her murdered husband, for only then will she be free to find love again.

The ghosts of the past are no match for The Lady of the Cards when her future is at stake. She can’t afford to lose when she’s GAMBLING WITH LOVE…

Excerpt from Gambling with Love

Lamp light shadows played off of Lainie’s swept-up golden tresses, and visions of their last night together in New Orleans seized him. Right then, Nick hated himself for how shamelessly he still loved her.

“You can only imagine my extreme disappointment when I saw you standing on the stairs. All this time I’d hoped you were dead.”

The teasing welcome in her tone belied her harsh words, and a warm rush of missing her made it hard to keep a clear head with a churning den of rattlers twisting around in his belly. He’d never loved a woman before Lainie waltzed into his life, and even though she’d run out on him almost as quickly as she’d arrived, there was no room in his heart for another woman. There never would be.

“Your aim was off. It was just a graze, but it rang my bell and bled like hell.” There wasn’t enough light for her to see it, but he turned his head and pointed to the scar that began at his right temple and ended over his ear.

“Why are you assuming my aim was off? By your own admission, it did knock you out, which was the object of my intent, I’ll have you know.”

Nick cocked an eyebrow, mocking her. “So you’re a sharpshooter?”

He loved the lyrical lilt of her laughter, and she laughed now.

“Next time you use that little parlor gun of yours, make sure you’re close enough to cram it right into the poor chump’s belly when you pull the trigger. You still might not kill him, but you’ll increase your chances of slowing him down, that’s for sure.”

“Why, thank you so much for the advice. However, in my defense, if you hadn’t tried to disarm me, I wouldn’t have pulled the trigger. It was your own fault that I shot you. Your ultimatum left me no choice, but to demonstrate the sincerity of my convictions.” Her voice dripped of syrupy sweet sarcasm.

Nick remembered all too well. “Are you planning on shooting me again?”

A grin played at the corners of her lips. “That depends upon your intentions toward my virtue.”

Lainie busied herself with adjusting the lamp wick until she was satisfied with the glow.

Her subtle jasmine fragrance made it difficult to keep his hands to himself. “You know my intentions toward your virtue have never been honorable.”

Meet Kaye

Native Coloradoan Kaye Spencer lives in a small, rural town located in the heart of the infamous Dust Bowl area of the 1930s. While drawn to cowboys and the Old West, all genres and time periods are within her story-creating realm. She refers to herself as a lover of words, a crafter of stories, and a hopelessly hopeful romantic.

Reading Louis L’Amour’s westerns, listening to Marty Robbins’ gunfighter ballads, watching the classic television westerns, and growing up on a cattle ranch all inspired her love of the American Old West—truths and myths alike. She admits to an obsession with Phantom of the Opera and the Arthurian legends. Her favorite book is The Mists of Avalon, and she never tires of the music from Les Misérables and La Bohème.

Retired from a career in education, Kaye enjoys the dual life of full-time writer and spoiler of grandchildren.  Kaye is also afflicted with ACD (Accumulative Cat Disorder) for which there is no known cure.

Follow Kaye:

Website/Blog – http://www.kayespencer.com
Newsletter – Front Porch Circular – http://ow.ly/Rwt7n

How did you come up with the idea for your book?
Nine or ten years ago, I entered an on-line writing contest sponsored by The Romance Studio. It was a 3-Round competition. The first two stages of the contest were writing the first 1000 words of a story based on a pre-determined story prompt. The third stage was to create a newsletter. At each stage, you posted your entry, readers logged-in and read the entries, and then voted. If you 'finaled', you went on to the next level.

Anyway, Gambling with Love evolved from one of the story prompts of that contest. Here's the prompt:

Character A is in law enforcement and must find and arrest Character B. These characters have a romantic history that went sour. Character A's feelings are still strong for Character B. Write their reunion scene with the arrest in mind.

From there, Gambling with Love found a setting in 1883 in Denver, Colorado against the backdrop of a high-stakes poker tournament. The heroine, Lainie Conrad (Character B) is a professional poker player seeking revenge against the gambler responsible for her husband's murder. Her plans for revenge are compromised when U.S. Deputy Marshal Nick Foster (Character A) shows up to arrest and escort her back east to stand trial for suspected murder.

What could we find in your heroine's purse?
Lainie usually carries one of two matched derringers in her purse. Some people say diamonds are a girl’s best friend, but Lainie’s found that a two-shot parlor gun never lets her down.

What one thing about your hero drives his heroine crazy?
While Lainie admires Nick’s devotion and duty to his profession as deputy marshal, it drives her to distraction that he doesn’t share her philosophy that rules are made to be broken, especially if it suits her purpose.

And what one thing about your heroine drives her hero nuts?
Nick Foster could throttle Lainie, because she brushes off how much trouble she’s in. He wants to help clear her of murder charges, and she’s bound and determined a poker game is more important.

What’s your favorite movie of all time?
My favorite movie is The Princess Bride. Heroes, giants, villains, wizards, fencing, fighting, pirates, true love… It doesn’t get any better than this.

What is your favorite movie line?
My favorite movie line is from Quigley Down Under when Quigley is facing Marston at the end of the movie. The gunfight is over, and Quigley says to Marston (regarding his gun): “I said I never had much use for one. Never said I didn’t know how to use it."

Today Kaye will give away several copies of Gambling with Love. Just leave an answer to her question to enter the drawing (along with your email address).

I grew up in a card-playing family. While we didn’t play much poker, we did enjoy pitch, gin rummy, solitaire, and cribbage. How about you? Do you play cards and, if so, what do you like to play?


  1. WHOO HOO! Let me just say how much I loved Gambling With Love. Lainie was my kind of heroine, and Nick...oh my stars. I always admire the way you are able to inject humor in your story. That's not easy to do and you do a fantastic job of it. I love your work, and this story was no exception. Can't wait to see what you come up with next!

    1. And I should have answered the question--I got carried away talking about the book! LOL I learned card "games" as a kid--Old Maid, Go Fish, etc. then moved on to one called "Hell"--you could play it alone or with a partner. I haven't played it in so long now, I'm not sure if I'd remember, but it was really easy. You need two decks of cards if playing with a partner. Each player deals out five piles of cards from their deck, 5 face down, 6th turned face up. Then at the same time, both players take the top card of what's left of their deck and turn it face up in the center, side by side. Suits don't matter, but if you turn up a 4, you can cover it with a 3 or a 5 if one of those is face up in your stack, and you just keep going, turning over another card in the stack you played from, if you covered a card in the center with one of yours. You should have 5 cards face up at all times, and your stacks get lower and lower, and finally, the last card is played--that person wins. Ace plays on a King or a 2. It is fast and furious, and everyone ends up laughing and having fun. I used to practice by myself all the time and talk about some good mental exercise! LOL Loved that game.

    2. Sounds like a wild time. We play a Wall Street commodity trading card game called Pit. It's also wild and loud. My students liked to play this on the one day a year I had 'fun' stuff, which was Halloween. *grin*

  2. I grew up in a card-playing family, too. Canasta was usually our game of choice with my parents, but poker was what I'd play with my brothers, and a neighbor. And when alone, solitaire is a great way to fill quiet time not spent reading.

  3. Thank you, Cheryl. I'm glad the humorous parts were as funny to you as they were to me. No spoilers intended, but the ending does lend itself for a sequel. *wink*

  4. Livia,

    I have fond memories from my childhood of playing double solitaire with my mom or dad on Sunday afternoons. We'd have popcorn and a pop (soda), and just hang out.

    I like the scene How the West was Won when Debbie Reynolds (Aunt Lilith) distracts the three Rawlings siblings by teaching them how to play poker when their dad goes after the bad guys and the mom is putting up the tough exterior in front of the kids.

  5. Sounds like a great book. Would so love to read it.

  6. blackjack

    bn100candg at hotmail dot com

  7. Hi Kaye, congratulations on this terrific book! I loved learning hos the story came about. Me...as a besotted gramma myself, my favorite card game has got to be UNO. My grandsons best me every single time. Sheesh.

    1. Tanya,

      I play UNO with my two oldest grandkids (girls). They whup up on me every time, too. lol

  8. I been looking at these books and I'm liking them.ive read some of these. I love intrigue. Sometimes I read two a day. Hate putting a book down when it good. Keep up the good job writing.

    1. Debra,

      Thank you for the compliment. I'm glad you stopped by.

  9. Can't wait to read this one, Kaye. Love card games. Played Canasta, Rook and several others growing up. Even was in a bridge group for a while. Now my favorite game with the family is Phase 10. My granddaughter usually wins though.

    1. Agnes,

      I forgot about Canasta. We played it once in a while. Another card game we played was Tripoli (sp??), but I don't recall the rules. Darn those grandkids...somehow they win a lot. lol

  10. Kaye, Gambling with Love sounds awesome. Looking forward to reading this one. Love a gal with a gun and also a sexy lawman who has such patience. Sorry I'm late in commenting--buried in snow here in NYS. As for playing cards, used to play a lot of euchre and or pinochle, but lately I only play cards when the 2 granddaughters visit and we play various new card games(can't remember the darn names)--always fun with the girls. Do like poker also, esp. on the machines if we ever go to a casino--oh yeah. Wishing you much success with this one.

    1. Beverly,

      I'm keeping this thread open for at least another day, so there's plenty of time yet for people to comment. I've seen some of the snow pictures from your neck of the woods. Yikes!!! We had such a dry winter (not unusual for us), that we're coming into spring all brown and dried-up. I've never played pinochle or bridge, but I know people who are goofy over them.

  11. When I was young my mom showed me and my sister how to play two Finnish card games called Maija and Casino. When I had kids I showed them how to play.


    1. Rita,

      How fun to learn Finnish card games, and how wonderful of you to teach your children. Thank you for stopping in to comment.

  12. Thanks to everyone who left a comment. I've contacted those of you who left your email in your comment. Those of you who didn't leave your email and would like a complimentary copy of GAMBLING WITH LOVE, contact me at kayespencer at live.com