Book Title: Dude or Die
Series: H Double Bar Dude Ranch series
Author: Lynn Downey
Publication Date: October 15, 2023
Publisher: Pronghorn Press
Page Length: 328
Genre: Historical Fiction
It’s 1954, and San Francisco writer Phoebe Kelley is enjoying the success of her first novel, Lady in the Desert. When Phoebe’s sister-in-law asks her to return to Tribulation, Arizona to help run the H Double Bar Dude Ranch, she doesn’t hesitate. There’s competition from a new dude ranch this year, so the H Double Bar puts on a rodeo featuring a trick rider with a mysterious past. When accidents begin to happen around the ranch, Phoebe jumps in to figure out why, and confronts an unexpected foe. And a man from her own past forces her to confront feelings long buried. Dude or Die is the second book in the award-winning H Double Bar Dude Ranch series.
This title is available to read on #KindleUnlimited.
Universal Buy Link: https://books2read.com/u/b5BVwp
Synopsis: It’s 1954, and San Francisco writer Phoebe Kelley returns to the H Double Bar dude ranch in Tribulation, Arizona to help her late husband’s sister Mary, her husband Sam, and their young son Joe run the ranch for the fall season. Phoebe and the ranch were introduced in the first book in this series, Dudes Rush In. There’s stiff competition from a new guest ranch in town, called the Desert Grande, run by a powerful woman named Thelma Powell who seems determined to put other ranches out of business. Phoebe and Mary decide to put on a “dudeo,” a rodeo for both the ranch’s wranglers and the visiting dudes, to thwart Thelma’s efforts. They bring in a trick rider from California with a mysterious past named Eden Williams, and a man from Phoebe’s past also reappears. When accidents happen around the ranch, Phoebe must confront an unexpected foe.
Excerpt from Chapter 20:
Virgil Freeman, a man from Phoebe’s past in Dudes Rush In, is visiting the H Double Bar. They have breakfast the morning after a mysterious midnight fire in a tool shed, and after Phoebe acts on her suspicion that one of the guests is in league with Thelma Powell and the Desert Grande guest ranch.
“How are you this morning?” Virgil asked.
“OK, I guess. I managed to get some sleep, how about you?”
“Oh, I’m fine. Have you seen Mary?”
“Yes, I went over to the site of the fire a few minutes ago, and she is there talking with Sam about rebuilding. She already called her friend at the Bar K and he’s bringing over some tack for today’s trail ride.”
“It’s wonderful the way all the ranches pull together,” said Virgil, who had given his plate to Maryanne and asked for seconds on bacon.
“I know, it’s a very special kind of business,” said Phoebe. “Well, except for the Desert Grande, of course.”
“That place doesn’t sound much like a dude ranch to me.”
“That’s what Mary says. She is sure they are behind some of the mishaps that we’ve had around here.”
“Why would they do that?”
“To put her out of business? Who knows.”
“Have you had any more trouble here from that Carter fellow?”
Phoebe hesitated a moment, then made a decision.
“Well, not exactly trouble, but I did find out something about the both of them.”
She told Virgil about seeing Jayne at the Desert Grande, and about what she found when she searched the Carters’ cabin.
His reaction surprised her. She had never seen Virgil look mad.
“Phoebe, what were you thinking? First of all, that was completely illegal, and what if they came back early and found you? That could have been a disaster for Sam and Mary and their business. And dangerous for you. That Carter guy has a temper, he could have hurt you.”
Phoebe was shocked at his scolding tone, and then she got angry.
“Don’t lecture me, I was very careful, and I can take care of myself.”
“Just because you survived the last time a man threatened you, doesn’t mean it will happen again.”
A guest at the H Double Bar had been killed two years ago, and his murderer pulled a gun on Phoebe when she confronted him. She got away, but had nightmares for a long time.
“I’m worried about you,” Virgil continued.
Phoebe saw a couple of the guests looking their way and lowered her voice.
“Well, you don’t have to be,” Phoebe retorted.
“I know you love Mary and Sam, but does your loyalty to your late husband mean you have to put yourself in danger for them?”
Phoebe gaped at him.
“What the hell are you talking about?”
Maryanne brought Virgil’s bacon at that moment, saw the look on his face, and Phoebe’s, and set the plate down quickly.
When she had scurried away, Phoebe continued.
“First of all, I am not loyal to Jack. He died ten years ago and I’ve moved on with my life. I come here because Mary is like my own sister, and her family is my family. The Desert Grande is a real threat to their business and I will do whatever I can to protect it.”
“You’re being reckless, Phoebe. Please don’t do anything to get yourself hurt.”
“I am not reckless, I know what I’m doing.”
“I don’t think you do.” Virgil stood up. “And it’s obvious I can’t talk you out of any course you plan to take.”
He put his napkin on the table next to the untouched plate.
“I think I should go. Please thank Mary for her hospitality. And please take care of yourself.”
Before Phoebe could respond Virgil left the table and she watched him walk out the lodge door. She sat at the table for a few more minutes, then got up and looked out the front window. Virgil’s car was gone.
Lynn Downey is an award-winning novelist, short story writer, historian of the West, and native Californian.
She was the Historian for Levi Strauss & Co. in San Francisco for 25 years. Her adventures as ambassador for company history took her around the world, where she spoke to television audiences, magazine editors, and university students, appeared in numerous documentaries, and on The Oprah Winfrey Show. She wrote many books and articles about the history of the company and the jeans, and her biography, Levi Strauss: The Man Who Gave Blue Jeans to the World, won the Foreword Reviews silver INDIE award.
Lynn got interested in dude ranches during her time at Levi’s. Her debut historical novel, Dudes Rush In, is set on an Arizona dude ranch in the 1950s; Arizona because she’s a desert rat at heart, and the 1950s because the clothes were fabulous.
Dudes Rush In won a Will Rogers Medallion Award, and placed first in Arizona Historical Fiction at the New Mexico-Arizona book awards. The next book in this series, Dude or Die, was released in 2023. And just for fun, Lynn wrote a screenplay based on Dudes Rush In, which is currently making the rounds of reviewers and competitions.
She pens short stories, as well. “The Wind and the Widow” took Honorable Mention in the History Through Fiction story contest, and “Incident at the Circle H” was a Finalist for the Longhorn Prize from Saddlebag Dispatches. The story “Goldie Hawn at the Good Karma Café,” won second place in The LAURA Short Fiction contest from Women Writing the West, and is based on her experiences in a San Francisco religious cult in the 1970s. (That will be another book one of these days.)
Lynn’s latest nonfiction book is American Dude Ranch: A Touch of the Cowboy and the Thrill of the West, a cultural history of the dude ranch. It was reviewed in The Wall Street Journal, True West, Cowgirl, and The Denver Post, and was a Finalist for the Next Generation INDIE Award in Nonfiction. Kirkus Reviews said the book is “…deeply engaging and balances accessible writing style with solid research.”
When she’s not writing, Lynn works as a consulting archivist and historian for museums, libraries, cultural institutions, and businesses. She is the past president of Women Writing the West, a member of the Western Writers of America, and is on numerous boards devoted to archives and historic preservation.
Lynn lives in Sonoma, California, where she sometimes makes wine from the Pinot Noir grapes in her back yard vineyard.
Website: https://www.lynndowney.com [My site is being redesigned and will be live in another week or so.]
Tumblereads blog: https://tumblereadsblog.com/blog-sg/
Amazon Author Page: https://www.amazon.com/stores/Lynn-Downey/author/B001IXQ2N2