WANTED: The “Devil in Texas,” also known as “The Rebel Rutter;” “Eros in Spurs,” and “Lucifire” (because he’s a devil with a gun) . . .
William Cassidy wasn’t supposed to be hero material. He was a gunslinger, wanted by every lawman in the West. When I first envisioned my heroine, a pistol-packing Pinkerton with fiery hair and an even hotter temper, I planned to make “Coyote Cass” the villain of her story. But Cass wasn’t happy with my plot to bury him at Boot Hill.
“Aw, c’mon, Wolfie,” he kept whispering in my ear, “I’m not so bad. I’m funny! How many villains do you know, who ride get-away horses named Jelli and Pancake? And what about that time I poured moonshine into my sweetheart’s pie, so she could win the county bake-off? I’m adorable! Give me a book and a woman of my own!”
The next thing I knew, I was doing something crazy: rewriting the ebook version of a previously published paperback, so I could star Cass and Sadie in their own series of Western Whodunits, Lady Law & The Gunslinger. In Book 1, Devil in Texas, Cass is trying to redeem his wild ways by working as the bodyguard of a senator. He doesn’t realize that Sadie – his long-lost love — has been sent by the Pinkertons to pin a murder charge on his scumbag boss.
Turning a shady character into a hero is great fun, but the proposition can be risky. If an antagonist is too dark in the previous story, readers will be horrified. Fortunately, I’ve had success walking this tightrope with another character, Dr. Michael Jones, who transitioned from antagonist to award-winning hero in my Velvet Lies series.
So how did I work this magic with Cass in Devil in Texas?
First (and this is extremely important,) Cass honors and protects women. In the Romance genre, you cannot redeem a Bad Boy if he committed a heinous act against a woman, a child, or an endearing animal. Readers will always hate that character.
Next, I made Cass appeal to the reader’s heart. I revealed that he was an impetuous young hothead, who made a serious mistake. Cass’s itchy trigger finger cost him the woman he loved and his dream of becoming a Ranger. In Devil in Texas, we watch the remorseful Cass mentor an orphaned thief, trying to convince the boy to stay on the straight-and-narrow.
But the best way to redeem a shady character is to reveal new information through a sympathetic viewpoint. Sadie tells us that Cass grew up so poor, he had to steal rags from scarecrows to stay warm. Sadie also reveals that 12-year-old Cass watched his last surviving kin get gunned down, and the law didn’t lift a finger to punish the killer.
Redeeming a Bad Boy means making that character grow, but not so much that you’ve reinvented Dudley Do-Right. In Devil in Texas, Cass remains proud that he once accepted a bet to seduce a virgin on her wedding day — and won. He’s even prouder that Dodge City’s most notorious madam dubbed him the “Rebel Rutter.”
Needless to say, Cass is much too canny to be tamed by the average wedding-bell chaser. That’s why I wrote Sadie as a female action hero, who jumps out of a burning building and wades into a hail of gunfire to rescue a kidnapped child. But to make our intrepid Lady Pinkerton really interesting, I show Cass struggling with his suspicion that she betrayed him four years ago to the Rangers. The sparks really fly when the star-crossed lovers reunite, waging their battle of wits and wiles from Galveston’s seamy red-light district, to the glittering health resorts of the “Saratoga of the South.”
The prequel to Devil in Texas is the novella, Shady Lady, published in the #1 bestselling Historical Western Romance anthology, Pistols & Petticoats, which is currently on sale for 99 cents.
DEVIL IN TEXAS
Book 1, Lady Law & The Gunslinger
By Adrienne deWolfe
For a long moment, Sadie stood in the doorway of the bathhouse. Moonbeams spilled through the skylight, illuminating the long, lean swimmer’s body, power-stroking through the pool. Completely naked, Cass’s exquisite length glimmered like a torpedo-shaped pearl.
She told herself she should arrest him for breaking-and-entering. Unfortunately, she was arrested –- even mesmerized — by the view: emerald waters sliding over alabaster flesh; corded limbs surging through frothy bubbles; the breadth and power of rippling shoulders, rising above the wave.
He hadn’t noticed her arrival yet. That gave her time to plot her strategy. She raced him along the pool’s longest edge, beating him to the shallows, where she waited triumphantly with a scowl. She was loath to let him know just how much she enjoyed watching his shameless virility cleave her ominous, black silhouette on the water.
When he pretended not to notice her, looming over him like an angry volcano goddess, she tugged his Bowie knife from her belt and flung it. The blade struck the deck’s wooden planks above his head with a resounding thunk.
That got his attention.
He reared up out of the water, tossing back his hair in a gleaming arc of spray that looked like a moonbow around his golden head.
“I hear you left a message for me at Wilma’s place,” she announced. Planting her fists on her hips, she straddled that erect and quivering hilt. “What the devil is this?”
Cass grinned. He trailed his wicked gaze from the knob on the hilt to the apex of her spreading thighs. “I’m not sure. But it looks illegal.”
“That’s why you like me.”
She snorted. “As far as I’m concerned, Marshal Wright should have locked you in the calaboose and thrown away the key. You think vandalism’s a game?”
“Life’s a game, sweetheart. I just play by different rules.”
“This from the man who wants to be a Ranger?”
“I’m starting to have second thoughts about Rangerhood,” he drawled. “Women aren’t allowed on the force.”
“Oh, so now you’re all about equality.”
He winked. “Mostly, I’m about undercover work.”
DEVIL IN TEXAS
Book 1, Lady Law & the Gunslinger
By Adrienne deWolfe
Pinkerton Agent Sadie Michelson poses as a casino singer to investigate a Texas Senator. Before she can cozy up to her quarry, she must get past his bodyguard, William Cassidy, her long-lost lover.
An outlaw seeking redemption, Cass was lured to Texas by the promise of a Ranger badge. But he hasn’t forgotten the sassy siren, who toyed with his heart. When Sadie proposes a truce, Cass suspects she’s hiding something.
With assassins dogging their heels, Cass and Sadie uncover a murder conspiracy in the senate. To stay alive, they must do the one thing they’re dead set against: trust each other.
Devil in Texas is available at Amazon and wherever ebooks are sold.
The book is also available in paperback.