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Graved in Gold

In a gold rush town on the Canadian frontier, a young widow’s survival depends on her finding a clever killer.
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Graved in Gold

by Valerie Fletcher Adolph

Gold series

Genre Historical Mystery

Tags Canadian Gold Rush, Canada, Gold Miners

Release August 11, 2015

Editor Nancy Canu

Cover Designer Cora Graphics

Pages 239

ISBN 978-1-77127-729-7

Price $5.95

Back Cover

Nancy Darke has exchanged a mill town in Yorkshire for a gold rush town in the wilds of Western Canada, hoping for fresh start. Unexpectedly widowed, she does the only thing she can—opens a boarding house. The town folk, led by the preacher and the saloon owner, are determined to believe it’s a brothel, and all Nancy’s protests fall on deaf ears. Then the preacher is found murdered on her doorstep, and with the help of the constable’s wife, Nancy is determined to prove it wasn’t her. She also has to prove she isn’t a bawd…but that may turn out to be a fight she doesn’t want to win after all.


The crowd began to drift away, sensing that the fun was over. Ever aware of a good congregation to preach to, the preacher started again “Thou hast sinned!” Full volume, deep-throated and confident. But he was not looking at Nancy, he was looking at them. The crowd disappeared even more quickly.

“Do you need anything?” she asked again as she passed the cell on the way out. The reverend was silent.

Outside, she straightened her dress and began planning the meal for later as she set off up the boardwalk. You could hardly call it meal planning when all the men expected was beans and bacon again. She lifted the hem of her skirt to avoid the worst of the mud and tried not to think about Sam. He should have been here. It was his idea to come here. He was going to find gold here, he had believed that. Only he hadn’t even made it to the town.

She became aware that a couple of men were walking close to her, very close. Too close. Before she could protest the closest one reached large hands to grasp her shoulders. She was wrenched backwards and a voice growled “Get out of here. Get out of here now.” A knee in her back propelled her forward and she tripped, falling full-length on the boardwalk.

She lay there for a few seconds, the breath knocked out of her, bruised and humiliated. Head down, she began pulling herself to her feet. Eager hands helped her, many eager hands. Men clustered around asking if she was hurt, dusting her down, one or two of them rearranging her dress paying particular attention to the neckline and the fabric below it.

She resisted the temptation to shake off the pawing hands, and instead smiled as pertly as she could manage, patting her hair to make sure it was still mostly in place as she thanked them. Limping a little—her knee felt bruised—she allowed a couple of the men to support her as she left the area of the saloon.

"Slim don't like competition," one of the men said. "He wants all of us inside there, dancing with them fat hurdy-gurdies."

“Do they even speak English?” Nancy asked.

“I dunno. Conversation ain’t what I go there for. But I never see them around town.” He was moving closer to her, blocking the other men out, putting his arm across her shoulders as if friendly. When the other man fell back he pulled her to him roughly. “Enough talk. What are you charging?” He forced her up against the wall, his breath sour.

Enough! She dropped her packages and brought the heel of her boot down on his instep, gripped his windpipe and hissed, “Tell your friends, if you have any, that I am not a bawd. I am not a bawd! Got that?” She could have hurt him worse—Sam had shown her how to protect herself—still, making enemies when she was new in town and trying to start a business did not seem like a good idea.

She let him go and managed another smile. “Any time you want food instead of a woman, I’ll sell to you. I make decent meat pies. They aren’t cheap, but you won’t taste better. Not in this town anyway.” She strolled on up the street, trying to look calm, but uncomfortably aware of all the men around, and no women. Would she ever feel safe here?

The thought of meat pies reminded her that she hadn’t gotten any groceries earlier—she’d forgotten in the excitement of buying the new bed. She had better go back and get them now. Prices were exorbitant—however, she could charge high prices, too, when the food was ready. She might even buy a few luxuries. Eggs, perhaps. It had been ages since she had a fresh egg. The thought made her smile, and the men around her seemed to sense the change in her mood.

“You’ll do well here,” one of them said, falling into step with her. “Just be careful. Watch out for Slim Watson at the saloon—he’s got all the men in town coming to him for a place to stay and eat and for their booze and their women. He doesn’t like competition, hates interference of any kind. He’s run women out of town before now, good women who started lodging houses as well as bawdy houses. Don’t matter to him. Bootleggers too—he can smell them out and get rid of them faster’n I can spit.”

“Thank you for the warning.”

“And come over and visit me, bring me some good food. I got diggings up Skipton Creek—it’s the second creek up. Runs into this one, Bishops Creek. I got friends up there, and booze that Slim don’t know about.”

She was beginning to realize that there were far more men living outside the town than in it. She began to think of ways to make the house more attractive. A comfortable chair for herself so she could curl up near the warmth of the stove, and a couple of upholstered chairs for downstairs so her boarders could be comfortable as well. Some cushions about the place would be a nice touch, and curtains for the windows. Come to think of it, a tablecloth on the bare kitchen table would be an improvement as well. She should cook different things, too—try out more hearty meals. Sam had said she was a good cook, although they hadn’t been married long enough for him to find out.

Damnation to Sam and his crazy ideas. If they had stayed safely in England and she wouldn’t have men bothering her, thinking she was a street walker.



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