Comely matron, Josie Morgan, sits in a posh swivel chair in her well-appointed study. Virtual queen of a sprawling ranching empire, she reflects on the two score years of a whirlwind, bittersweet life that has led her to this seat of power.
Closing her eyes, she can still hear the circus barker as she waits to gallop into the center ring: “And now, folks, for your viewing pleasure we present an unparalleled, breathtaking display of horsemanship and the cowboy arts. Please give a warm welcome to that grand equestrienne virtuoso from your very own state: Josie Morgan and her Range Riders.”
Oh, how she loved the excitement and adulation! And how she admired with deep gratitude the tall Afrikaaner who had whisked her away to the circus – at first. But Jan was old enough to be her father, and Josie could never shake that image of him out of her mind. Caught in a quandary, she put off marriage and the children he so desperately wanted.
Instead, on the rails with the circus train, she felt herself drawn to a lanky cowboy and stuntman from west Texas. She regretted that her fiancé had found out about her affair, and had been killed before she could tell him she loved only him, and that the tryst was over. Her Texas paramour didn’t share her feelings, however, and continued to pursue her until a final confrontation banished Russ from her life. But not quite. She’d become pregnant by him, and wrestled with the morale implications of her options.
Ironically, a power struggle ensued with her scheming and conniving brother for control of their father’s ranch. Indeed, it was almost foreordained that, after she returned home, the clash would wax violent with a tragic outcome. A prairie rattlesnake settled both Josie’s outstanding issues in an ambush-gone-wrong. Gaining control of the ranch, she threw herself into expanding her newly-won enterprise, never daring to look back.
But it seemed to Josie that her love life knew no end to tragedy and bitter disappointment – until someone both familiar and yet unfamiliar came back into her orbit. She’d known her late fiance’s best friend for nearly thirty years, but had never imagined to find in Graeme the manly qualities she craved in a man. Now, taking stock of this wiry Scottish-Canadian outside the hovering, overpowering shadow of the late Afrikaaner, she discerned for the first time not only the steadfast courage of the outdoor adventurer, but the warmth of a tender, caring man. At last, Josie Morgan felt she was destined to achieve emotional fulfillment. But it wasn’t to be; Nature’s caprice snatched her prospective beau away from her once more.
Embittered, she found solace in her ranch. As she matured and her empire blossomed, suitors came and went. All but one, that is. She thrilled to an invitation to fly with the charming, daredevil barnstormer who came into her life at a local fair. Quick to enchant her with his youthful good looks and manly prowess, he proceeded to make of her ranch his base of operations.
But her newfound beau turned out to be an airborne rumrunner whose defiance of Prohibition almost caught her up on the wrong side of the law as a front for his illicit liquor traffic. For a few cherished moments, her flyboy soared to his zenith, but his hypocrisy was unforgivable; so, she shot him down in flames.
Hurricane Mountain picks up where Rage! leaves off. This sequel brings closure to Josie Morgan’s life. Along the way through her complex evolution from a brash, provocative young woman to a wise and imposing matron, the reader will run into many of the same colorful personages – both heroes and rogues, man and beast – that so entertained and delighted in the first novel.
New, no-less-imposing characters play their parts, too, adding texture to a life that, in the end, proved materially enriching but perhaps emotionally wanting. However, when all was said and done, there were no regrets. It was Josie Morgan’s life and, such as it was, she lived it to the fullest!