Escaping West by Morgan K. Wyatt
Kitty Hamilton is unsure how her life got so out of control. The unexpected deaths of her parents earned her a berth at her embittered aunt’s home. Her latest beau abandoned her, which made the prospect of leaving town appealing. Her version of leaving didn’t include fleeing town dressed like a man, but circumstances dictate otherwise. Kitty becomes Kit to throw the law off her trail. As the pretend brother to her best friend Harriet, she accompanies her friend out west to her contracted bridegroom. They encounter Nick Kennedy, flamboyant gambler, who takes an interest in the odd couple. Kitty enjoys the freedom her disguise allows, but she abandons any hope of attracting the handsome Nick Kennedy. Revealing her gender, might snag her a chance at the elusive gambler, but could also land her in prison. She keeps telling herself he isn’t worth it, but she’s not entirely convinced.
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Excerpt from Escaping West
Why did she do such an impulsive, stupid thing? She knew why even if she didn’t want to admit it was something in his kisses. Then there was his voice, low, intimate calling her name.
“Kit, where are you?”
She could even hear it as if he was nearby. Amazing, Kitty shook her head bemused until she heard the voice again.
Her imagination must be working overtime. Duke whickered loud and hard. She started to tell him to hush when she heard boot steps on the gravel. Freezing in place, Kitty strained to hear the approaching footsteps.
“Kitty, it’s me, Nick. Where are you?”
Letting go of the breath she’d been holding, Kitty took another breath before calling out. “I’m over here in the hole. Be careful.”
“I’m coming, sweetheart.” He called back, his boot heels scrambling for purchase over the rocks.
He’d called her sweetheart. She sighed then she accidentally put her weight on the wrong foot. “Ouch!”
“What, honey?” Nick called out in a voice that sounded a little closer.
“Hurry,” Kitty managed through clenched teeth. He was there before she knew it. Deftly jumping into the hole and wrapping her in his arms, accidentally battering her already savaged ankle.
“Ouch, watch it,” she complained.
“I didn’t expect undying gratitude, but something like my hero might not be out of line,” Nick commented laughingly.
“Thank you, Nick. I am grateful. I hurt my ankle when I fell into the hole.” Kitty snuggled into Nick’s shoulder appreciative of his warmth and inhaled deeply, enjoying the smell of worn leather and clean male.
Nick paced around the small hole with Kitty in his arms. He dragged his boot toe around the edge trying to find a way up or out.
“Well, darling, looks like I am going to have to toss you up,” Nick acknowledged.
“What,” Kitty squeaked. “Toss me where?”
“I looked, and there seems to be no easy way out of here. It’s up to you. Once you’re up, I need you to tie the rope to the saddle horn on Duke’s saddle and back him up. Once I get a hold of the rope, pull me up. Can you manage?”
Kitty had her doubts as she felt Nick’s voice vibrate through the clothing separating the two of them. In the end, tossing seemed to be her only hope of getting out, and she imagined Nick was a good tosser. Naturally, he would be good at everything.
The 18oo’s provides the setting for this light-hearted western romance that provides lots of chuckles and informs readers of the societal limitations women endured during this time.
The protagonist of this story is Katherine (Kitty) Hamilton, a young girl of nineteen, who has been forced to grow up with a malicious Aunt Eugenia who despises her and, over the years, has become more abusive.
Kitty lives in a small rural town where the pickings are slim to find an eligible bachelor to marry. Of course, marriage was expected, in order for a woman to have a safe and secure life. For some odd reason, Kit realizes her aunt has discouraged any man who is interested in courting Kitty. As a nineteen -year-old, with no suitors knocking on her door, Kitty worries that she is getting past her prime and may end up a bitter spinster just like her aunt.
Kitty lives in a small rural town where the pickings are slim to find an eligible bachelor to marry. Of course, marriage was expected, in order for a woman to have a safe and secure life. For some odd reason, Kitty realizes her aunt has discouraged any man who is interested in courting Kitty. As a nineteen -year-old, with no suitors knocking on her door, Kitty worries that she is getting past her prime and may end up a bitter spinster just like her aunt.
When her aunt begins to attack her with a whip for an unjustified transgression, Kitty tries to protect herself, and the assault ends with her aunt accidentally falling and hitting her head. Out of rage, Eugenia reveals that the real reason behind her callous treatment of Kitty is because of the dowry Kitty’s parents left for her. Eugenia is determined to keep Kitty’s money and threatens to press charges against Kitty for attempted murder.
Knowing her aunt is just vengeful enough to go through with her threat, Kitty finds what’s left of her hidden dowry and plans her escape with her best friend, Harriet. Harriet has become a mail-order bride and is leaving for British Columbia to meet her new husband. In order to minimize her chances of being caught, Kitty cuts her hair and decides to pose as a man, call herself Kit, and pretend to be Harriet’s younger brother.
While traveling together by train, both Kitty and Harriet are excited by the adventure that awaits, especially since neither have ever traveled abroad. Their naïvety and innocence certainly make for an entertaining journey full of chuckles and laughter, especially when Kit realizes that masquerading as a man is not as easy as she expected. For example, the scene where Kit has to use the bathhouse for men is hilarious and one of my favorites.
Kit quickly catches the eye of Nick Kennedy, a professional gambler, who is also traveling on the same train. It doesn’t take Nick long to discover that Kit is really a female. His curiosity over why she would go to such extremes to hide her identity draws him to her. Although Kit feels an attraction to Nick, she is adamant that he not discover her gender. Using her sharp tongue, she tries to deflect his interest, but he is persistent, and this leads to some entertaining banter full of subtle flirtation on Nick’s part.
The handsome Nick Kennedy is a kind and caring man even though his gambling lifestyle would be considered unsavory by any proper, young lady. However, Nick has grown tired of the dangerous life he leads and considers retirement . His heart has been hardened since the betrayal of the woman he loved. Yet, now that he’s met Kit, he feels protective of her. After Harriet reveals their destination, he decides to follow them to make sure Kit will be okay, since she’s obviously hiding from something or someone.
Once they arrive, Kitty continues to pretend to be a man and soon finds herself employed in a saloon, playing piano to entertain the customers. The saloon owner Stella and some of the others working there quickly see through Kit’s disguise but decide to let her hide out in their establishment. When Harriet gives Kit tips on how to act more “manly,” I thought I’d roll over laughing:
“You could talk less and stick a rolled sock down your pants,” Harriet advised with a wink.
“I’ll talk less, but what’s with the sock?”
“You’re manly parts. You might even want to move it now and then.” The blonde chuckled at her friend’s horrified expression.
“Stick my hands down my pants and start scratching away?”
“No…You do the scratching on the outside, haven’t you watched men at all?”
When Nick arrives, their secretive courtship begins, even though both are reluctant to reveal their true feelings for each other. The suspense of the story begins to build when a Pinkerton agent, hired by Aunt Eugenia arrives, intent on capturing Kit for prosecution. Furthermore, Nick has a vindictive gambler who feels cheated chasing him with intent to do harm. My curiosity of the outcome of these conflicts made this an, overall, interesting read. However, for me, the climatic outcome of Kit’s conflict with her aunt was not as dramatic as I had hoped for or expected.
Numerous grammatical and proofreading errors were the main drawback for me in reading this book. At times inappropriate verb tense is used, essential articles and other words are omitted, and the wrong word is used. These errors increasingly proved to be a distraction to me as I read. Just one more proofreading would greatly enhance the overall quality of the book.
Although I found some flaws with this book because of my personal preferences when reading, I do want to emphasize that I am glad that I read the book. If you enjoy a good western filled with humor and romance, do check out Escaping West.
I received a copy of this book from the author via Goddess Fish Tours for an honest review.
About the Author
Morgan K Wyatt, raised on a steady diet of superheroes, believed she could fly at a very young age. After using trees, barn lofts, sliding boards, and even a second story window as launch pads, she found her flying skills were limited to fast and downward. By the age of nine, her dreams to be a superhero needed some modifications, which caused her to turn to writing and horseback riding as alternatives to flying.
At the age of twenty, she had another chance at superhero greatness as being one of the few female soldiers trained for combat. The fact that women will be able to serve in combat soon indicates that all the witnesses to the grenade incident have retired. The grenade incident didn’t prevent her two sons or daughter-in-law from enlisting in the service. Having different last names probably helped.
Morgan recently retired from teaching special needs students to write fulltime, instead of in the wee hours of the night. With the help of her helpful husband and loyal hound, she creates characters who often grab plot lines and run with them. As for flying, she prefers the airlines now.
Morgan will be awarding the winner’s choice of ivory, peach, or white, cultured freshwater pearl necklace to a randomly drawn commenter during the tour.
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