Janet Dailey’s iconic Calder Saga is synonymous with everything readers have come to love in her novels: romance, adventure, and the epic mystique of the Old West. Now, America’s First Lady of Romance invites readers on a new journey with the first installment in a Calder series spin-off set in the late 1800s, as a cowboy named Joe Dollarhide joins the Calder family on one of the first cattle drives from Texas to Montana. Joe will go on to form a ranching empire to rival the Calders. But in this excerpt from Calder Brand, see how Joe’s compelling story begins on that fateful cattle drive.
April 29, 1879
As the sky paled over the Texas prairie, Joe lay in his bedroll, drifting in and out of sleep. His ears caught the rustle of quail foraging in the long grass. He could hear the faint lowing of cattle, the snort of a horse, and the snores of the men sleeping around him.
Ahead lay another day on the trail—one more day of dust, danger, and unending work from dawn until dark. But for Joe, it would also be a day of secret celebration. Today was his sixteenth birthday.
He had no calendar to remind him. But he’d kept a careful count of the days. No mistake. He was sixteen for sure now—not a boy anymore but a man, doing a man’s work.
Three weeks had passed since he’d left his family’s Texas farm to become a cowboy on a big cattle drive—a drive owned and bossed by Mr. Chase Benteen Calder. The work was filthy and grueling, the dust and rain miserable at times. But Joe was used to hard work. And even through the worst of it, there was no place he would rather be—even if he was only the wrangler’s helper, the lowest job in the outfit. From the first taste of coffee in the morning to the soothing songs of the night watch as he sank into sleep, this was the life.
It was an exciting time to be a young man. The end of the Civil War, the completion of the transcontinental railroad, and the defeat of the native tribes had opened vast areas of the country to travel, commerce, farming, and ranching. The virgin prairies of the northwest were ideal for grazing cattle, and Americans were quick to seize the advantage.
The Calder drive was one of many that moved Texas-born longhorn cattle along the trails leading north. Some herds went as far as the railroad towns in Kansas, Nebraska and Missouri, where they were loaded onto trains, shipped east, and sold. Others, like this drive, would continue on to the untamed territories of Wyoming and Montana, where the cattle could graze on the lush, rich grasslands that were there for the taking—lands that, in their way, were more valuable than gold.
This was a time for conquest and adventure—and Joe was thrilled to be part of it.
About Janet Dailey
Janet Dailey’s first book was published in 1976. Since then, she has written more than 100 novels and become one of the top-selling female authors in the world, with 325 million copies of her books sold in nineteen languages in ninety-eight countries. She is known for her strong, decisive characters, her extraordinary ability to re-create a time and a place, and her unerring courage to confront important, controversial issues in her stories. To learn more about Janet Dailey and her novels, please visit JanetDailey.com or find her on Facebook.
About Calder Brand
The Calder family patriarch is known throughout Montana as a formidable adversary—a force no one in his right mind would cross. But sometimes love can make a man do crazy things . . .
Ambition drove Joe Dollarhide across the parched plains from Fort Sam Houston to Dodge City. One day, he was determined to have a spread every bit as vast and impressive as his employer’s. But when a wild stampede separates him from the cattle drive, it is survival that keeps him going when most would have given up. Survival and a burning need to settle the score with Benteen Calder, the cattle boss he used to worship, the man who’d left him for dead.
Hope buoyed Sarah Foxworth when she had just five dollars to her name, traveling the dusty rails where Joe first rescued her from a violent attack, then won her heart as a cowboy in need of redemption. With dreams of becoming a doctor herself one day, she uses all her wits to save her uncle’s medical practice and his reputation. But it’s her own reputation that suffers when she gives birth to an illegitimate baby.
Years later, when Sarah walks into Joe’s world once more, he’s shaken to the core. Her dreams of becoming a doctor are dashed; her only hope is to find a better life for herself and her son—a child there’s no denying is his own. Now a prosperous rancher, Joe yearns to finally make a home with Sarah and their boy. Only Joe’s own road to riches has been strewn with obstacles, some looming even larger than the demons he still struggles against. But life has also shown Joe that nothing worth having ever comes easy. And that Sarah is a woman worth fighting for.