The Sheriff’s Bride ~ Family Feuds

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by Patricia PacJac Carroll

Come on back in time with me to the little town of Shirleyville located in Solomon’s Valley in Montana, 1883. Take a whiff of the clean fresh air. Gaze at the towering mountains and pines. Delight in the blue skies and lakes.  

The Sheriff’s Bride is Book 3 of the Montana Brides of Solomon’s Valley. He came to town to settle a score but was too late. She was desperate to be loved at any cost.
Welcome back to Solomon’s Valley for a story about fathers and sons, and mothers and daughters against the backdrop of 1883 Montana. 

Sheriff Levi Smith came to Shirleyville but was too late to settle with his past. Then circumstances force him to reveal the reason he’d come to town and risk upsetting the feuding families all over again. Somewhere along the way, he noticed Eve, and she took his attention not to mention his heart. 

Eve longed to be loved. Oh, she had a mother all right, but Mabel had given her strict orders to never mention to anyone that she was Eve’s mother. Eve cares for Levi, but so does Bridgette Howard and that woman is too beautiful for her own good. Walters might be the answer. He’s older but rich. either way, he offers a way out. 

Add to the mix Rachel and the judge’s children and their shenanigans, the feuding families, and a killing in the town and Levi is busy. 

The Sheriff’s Bride 

Available on Amazon and Kindle Unlimited.  

 The Sheriff's Bride


From The Sheriff’s Bride 

Chapter 1

Sheriff Levi Smith stuffed the worn letter in his pocket while at the same time trying to shove away the regret that haunted him. The letter was the reason he’d come to Shirleyville over a year ago, and even then, he’d been too late. He reminded himself that the past was usually best left behind especially when the reason he’d come was already dead. 

Levi stepped out of the jail and wiped sweat from his brow. With a wary eye, he looked up and down the dusty street of the small Montana town to get a feel for what the day would bring. The weather was warm and promising to get hotter. 

A look at The Gilded Lady Saloon and seeing the Murphy’s wagon outside signaled trouble was possible. The good news was he didn’t see Bridgette Murphy anywhere. He hoped she’d stay in the dress shop and leave him alone. She was the one pushing his past into the future. Sooner or later, he was going to have to tell the judge the real reason for his coming to Shirleyville. 

Fending off Bridgette’s advances was taking too much time, but right now, his business of the day was to meet the train that carried Judge Taggart and his wife Rachel. They were returning from their honeymoon in Europe. That Shirleyville now had a train depot made things convenient.  

Unfortunately, gold seekers were flooding in and causing more trouble. Men on the raw edge of despair flocked to the area in search of gold while never considering it might take hard work. Some would go to the mines to work for the big companies and eke an existence from the rock. Many gave up looking for gold honestly and took up with the outlaws hiding in the canyons south of town. 

Levi pulled out his pocket watch and flipped the lid just as the train blasted a whistle. He ran to the station and hoped Bridgette wouldn’t find him. Now that the feud between the Howards and the Murphys had settled down, Bridgette was the one causing trouble. Levi wasn’t sure who to be sorrier for, the girl or the Murphys. According to her, they treated her like a slave, but when he asked Ben Murphy, he reported that she acted like a queen, and they were the ones waiting on her. Levi figured the truth played out somewhere between the two drastic views. 

He turned the corner to the depot and ran up the stairs just as the train pulled into the station and stopped. The train continued to chug spewing smoke and steam as the conductor stepped down and helped the passengers disembark. 

A couple of men in business suits left the train. Farther down the tracks, two rough-looking cowboys jumped from a freight car. By the furtive looks they gave him, he’d have to keep an eye on their whereabouts and who, if anyone, they met with.  

Since arriving, Levi had worked to make Shirleyville a peaceful town. But there were rumblings of trouble brewing among the store owners. Nothing specific, but enough that Levi kept a sharp eye on newcomers. 

Levi stepped aside as a few families disembarked. He tipped his hat and nodded. Their faces shone fresh with hope of a new life. He hoped it worked out for them. And then he hoped they weren’t those looking to come and pick gold nuggets off the ground. Montana was a good place, but it required hard work to make a living here. 

Finally, the distinguished-looking Judge exited, waited, and helped Rachel step down to the platform. She was dressed in a frilly kind of hat, fancy dress, and shoes. She even had a parasol that matched her hat. The trip and being married to the judge had done her good. When she’d come to Shirleyville, she’d looked tired and worn. Now, she looked fresh and vibrant. 

Levi held out his hand. “Glad to see you, Judge. You two look like you enjoyed the trip.” He hoped they had as he had news to give them that might not make them all too happy to be back. 

Shaking his hand, the judge nodded. “Excellent trip. Wouldn’t you say, Rachel?” 

She hugged his arm as she looked endearingly up at him. “The trip of a lifetime, dear.” She turned her gaze to Levi. “Everything is all right, isn’t it, Sheriff?” 

“I rode out to the ranch this morning to make sure.” He scraped his boots on the wood platform. “There are a few things you need to be aware of.” 

Judge Taggart narrowed his eyes. “Oh?” 

“Will has been spending time at the Howards. I only know because Matt was complaining to me about it. Seems Will had chores he wasn’t doing. I’m not sure what arrangements you made with him, but you know he can be short-tempered.” 

Rachel put a hand to her heart. “My son, I’m afraid he has his father’s temper. I’ll have a talk with Will as soon as we get back.” 

“Ma’am, you might add Sarah in on that talk. Will came by the office and said he didn’t like how Matt and Sarah were carrying on. Then George came into town for supplies and the twins knocked over a shelf of pickles. The store still smells like vinegar.” 

The judge hugged his wife. “Welcome home, darling. Guess we have our work cut out for us. How’s the town doing, or should I ask?” 

“Relatively peaceful. I’ve had to break up a couple of fights between Ronan and just about everyone. The boy’s a menace and getting wilder.” 

The judge cleared his throat. “I’ll have a talk with his father. How is the feud between the Murphys and Howards?” 

“Well, didn’t want to mention it, but Bridgette is a nuisance. Ben said she won’t cook, clean, or wash for them or herself. Might be one of the reasons Ronan strays from home.” Levi took off his hat and wiped his forehead with his arm but left out his personal troubles with the girl. 

“So, do you suggest we go on home and straighten things out, or just get back on the train and take another honeymoon?” The judge kissed his wife playfully on the top of her head. 

Levi chuckled. “If it was me, I’d go back to Europe, but I’m glad you’re home. I’ve got a few in jail that need a judgment. And that gang is still raiding ranchers and prospectors. They’ve stayed out of town though.” 

The swish of a skirt warned Levi that she had found him.  

“Sheriff! I’ve been looking all over for you.”  

Every nerve in his body said run, but he was no coward. Besides, he had his sights on Eve. She was the woman for him. He’d yet to tell her though. Perhaps to get Bridgette to stop pestering him, he’d have to make his move soon. 

Levi forced his attention to stay on the judge. “Want me to drive you out to the ranch?” 

With a raised brow, the judge looked past him. “Isn’t Matt here?” 

“Your foreman said he was taking cattle to the high range. I don’t mind.” Levi hoped the judge would grant him a reprieve from having to deal with Bridgette. 

The flashy woman sashayed onto the platform taking every male’s gaze with her. “Judge and Mrs. Taggart, so good to see you’re home.” She grabbed the judge’s arm. “I want to talk to you about that arrangement you made with my family and the Murphys. I believe we are all doing so fine together that you can end your judgment against us. I, for one, am more than ready to go home.” 

“Speaking of home,” the judge disentangled his arm from Bridgette’s grip. “Rachel and I have ten children waiting to see us.” 

With a pout, Bridgette stepped aside. “You better see to Will. He’s tangled with Ronan a few times. So far, they’ve only traded punches, but Ronan practices drawing that gun of his. He’s fast. That’s another reason I want to get out of there. I can’t live another day with those mean, smelly men.” She batted her eyelashes at Levi. 

“First things first, Miss Howard.” The judge escorted his wife down the steps. “Levi, if you don’t mind, I would like you to drive the buggy to the ranch if you have time.” 

Levi glanced at Bridgette, and then looked back at the judge. “That would be my pleasure.” He hurried to the livery next door and in minutes, had Jeb harness two bays to the buggy. As Levi drove to the depot, he could hear Bridgette’s sultry voice going on and on about life at the Murphys. That she was miserable was obvious, but the looks he’d seen on the Murphy boys didn’t appear all that happy either. They wanted her gone. 

Levi jumped out and helped the Judge with the luggage. “I can see you’ll need a wagon to get all this to the ranch.” 

The judge handed him a satchel. “This is enough. I’ll send Will to pick them up. The conductor can stow them in the depot until then.” 

“Yes, sir.” Levi waited for the judge and Rachel to be seated. “Glad you’re home, Judge. Shirleyville just isn’t the same without you.” 

“Thanks, Levi, and thanks for the drive. I’ll bring the buggy back tomorrow after church. 

Levi popped the reins. The judge had no idea just how happy he was to get away from Bridgette. Nope, he wasn’t in a position to marry, and he certainly couldn’t marry that sultry female. Heaven help the man she trapped. 


Patricia PacJac CarrollI’m Patricia PacJac Carroll and I love to write stories that entertain and encourage readers. Heartwarming stories where faith, fun, and sweet romance connect and leave readers with a smile. 

You can find my books on Amazon and Kindle Unlimited 

Amazon author link 




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