Wednesday, September 8, 2021

Book Blog Tour and Giveaway: Rio Bonito (Three Rivers Trilogy #2) by Preston Lewis

Welcome to my stop on the book blog tour for Rio Bonito by Preston Lewis. This blog tour was organized by Lone Star Book Blog Tours. On my stop, I have an excerpt from the book as well as the tour wide giveaway for a chance to win signed copies of the first two books in the Three Rivers Trilogy. Be sure to visit the other stops on the tour for more content. Enjoy!
Title: Rio Bonito
Series: Three Rivers Trilogy #2
Author: Preston Lewis
Publisher: Five Star Publishing
Publication Date: August 18th 2021
Print Length: 336 pages
Genre: Western Historical Fiction
With Lincoln County teetering on the edge of lawless turmoil, small rancher Wes Bracken avoids taking sides, but his goal is complicated by his devotion to what he sees as justice and by his friendship with William H. Bonney, who’s developing a reputation as Billy the Kid.

As Lincoln County devolves into explosive violence, Bracken must skirt the edge of the law to guarantee the survival of his family, his spread, and his dream. But dangers abound from both factions for a man refusing to take sides. Before the Lincoln County War culminates on the banks of the Rio Bonito during a five-day shootout in Lincoln, Bracken is accused of being both a vigilante and a rustler. As the law stands idly by, Bracken’s ranch is torched, and his wife is assaulted by the notorious outlaw Jesse Evans. Survival trumps vengeance, though, as Bracken tries to outlast the dueling factions aimed at destroying him.

At every turn Bracken must counter the devious ploys of both factions and fight against lawmen and a court system skewed to protect the powerful and politically connected. Against overwhelming odds, Bracken challenges the wicked forces arrayed against him in hopes of a better life for himself, for his family, and for New Mexico Territory. And throughout it all, Bracken stands in the growing shadow of his sometime pal, Billy the Kid.

When the spectators realized the execution had been a sham, they chanted. “Hang him again! Hang him again!”

“Back away, Bracken,” Mills ordered.

“You back off, Sheriff,” countered Cousins. “If shooting starts, you’ll die first, Mills.”

Murphy pushed his way into the circle. “What’s ’appened?” he shouted.

“You dealt justice a crooked hand,” Wes answered, aiming his gun at the store owner’s heart. “If any firing starts, I’m killing you first. It’s time to re-hang Wilson.”

“Hang him again! Hang him again!” chanted the crowd.

Wes scanned the throng and realized they outnumbered the sheriff and Murphy’s men.

“Ye can’t ’ang ’im again. Ye’re breaking the law, ye are,” Murphy shouted, but he had as much chance of stopping the mob as he did stopping ocean waves with a fork or the wind with a net, as Wes recalled the political kingpin’s words at the county convention.

“We’ve hung him as the law required,” Mills shouted. “We can’t hang him again.”

“The court’s order,” Jace reminded the lawman, “was to hang him until dead. He ain’t dead.”

“Hang him again! Hang him again!” cried the mob, four men advancing from the crowd and yanking Wilson to his feet.

“It’ll be a lynching if you do,” Mills cried, “and I’ll arrest every one of you.”

“Ye ’eard ’im. Ye’ll be ’eld for murder,” Murphy shouted.

“Shut up, Murphy,” Wes ordered.

“You, too, Sheriff,” Jace said.

The four men attending Wilson stripped off the coat and unbuckled the straps that held the metal harness in place. When the last band was loosened, the iron contraption fell to the ground. The quartet looked to Wes for instructions. When he nodded, the four men began to tug and carry Wilson back to the scaffold. Twice he stumbled and collapsed and two other men assisted until they reached the thirteen steps to the platform. They grabbed Wilson by the arms and legs and toted him up the stairs. Beneath the gallows, three men pushed up the trapdoor, snapping it in place and re-setting the drop lever.

“Whoever pulls the lever’s guilty of murder,” Mills shouted. “I’ll identify who did it and arrest him after this.”

“No you won’t,” Jace cried, walking over to the sheriff and slamming the stock of his rifle into the sheriff’s cheek. The lawman melted into a heap of unconscious flesh at Jace’s feet.

“Ye’ll pay for this ye will,” Murphy threatened until Jace walked over with the butt of his gun ready to strike the jaw of Lincoln County’s lead political steer. Murphy cowered as Cousins came within reach.

Jace drew back the Henry ready to strike Murphy, hesitated and sighed. “I can’t cold-cock an old man,” he said, lowering his weapon. He pondered the situation, then yanked the rifle skyward. “The hell I can’t,” he said, and slammed the carbine butt into Murphy’s pale, goateed jaw. The store owner collapsed to the ground, proving he was as mortal as any other man at the day’s proceedings.

By the time Wes moved his gaze from the frail form of L.G. Murphy on the soil to the gallows, one attendant had tightened the noose around his neck and secured it behind his left ear while two more men held him up, his knees wobbling though Wes was uncertain if it was from nerves or the foggy state of mind that surely had muddled his brain. Two other men pulled the slack out of the rope and tied it to one of the upright planks that supported the cross beam. The men holding Wilson stepped back, and the condemned man slumped forward an inch until the rope was taut. “Are you ready?” a man at the lever called to Wes.

“No, not yet,” Wes cried, waving his gun at the throng. “As many of you men as possible climb up there with him and screen whoever pulls the lever so the law won’t know.” Wes counted fifteen men bolting up the stairs and surrounding the others, milling around until the lever clicked and the trapdoor fell away. Wilson plunged through the hole, his neck snapping and his head tilting at an awkward angle toward the noose. This time no one questioned that justice had been served. The men on the platform removed their hats and covered their faces as they exited the scaffold and melded into the crowd that once again started to thin as spectators left individually or in groups.
Preston Lewis is the Spur Award-winning author of 40 westerns, historical novels, juvenile books and memoirs. He has received national awards for his novels, articles, short stories and humor.

In 2021 he was inducted into the Texas Institute of Letters for his literary accomplishments. Lewis is past president of Western Writers of America and the West Texas Historical Association.

His historical novel Blood of Texas on the Texas Revolution earned a Spur Award as did his True West article on the Battle of Yellow House Canyon. He developed the Memoirs of H.H. Lomax series, which includes two Spur finalists and a Will Rogers Gold Medallion Award for western humor for his novel Bluster’s Last Stand on the battle of Little Big Horn. His comic western The Fleecing of Fort Griffin and two of his YA novels have won Elmer Kelton Awards for best creative work on West Texas from the West Texas Historical Association.

He began his writing career working for Texas daily newspapers in Abilene, Waco, Orange and Lubbock before going into university administration. During his 35-year career in higher education, he directed communications and marketing offices at Texas Tech University, Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center and Angelo State University.

Lewis holds a bachelor’s degree in journalism from Baylor University and master’s degrees from Ohio State in journalism and Angelo State in history. He lives in San Angelo with his wife, Harriet.

First Winner: Signed copies of Rio Ruidoso and Rio Bonito by Preston Lewis
Second Winner: A signed copy of Rio Bonito by Preston Lewis

(All the Ups and Downs is not responsible for this giveaway, the entries or the prizes. Lone Star Book Blog Tours assumes all responsibility for everything associated with this giveaway.)

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