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Copper for the Countess

Copper for the Countess

Narrated by Marian Hussey

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Lady Evelyn Lyon, after losing her husband, travels to the Arizona copper mines with her daughter only to discover her husband's stock certificates are fraudulent. Evelyn is alone and penniless. Chris Morgan, unexpectedly burdened with caring for his late cousin's children, crosses paths with Evelyn and recognizes their mutual need for support. They enter into a marriage of convenience, facing the challenges of raising children and managing a ranch together. Trust and love are elusive in the harsh west, where their journey tests the strength of their bond.

Copper for the Countess is Book 2 in the Hearts of Arizona Series, but it can be enjoyed as a stand-alone romance.

Main Tropes

  • Marriage of Convenience
  • Widow/Single-Parents
  • Fish-Out-Of-Water
  • Cowboy Hero
  • Fish-Out-Of-Water
  • Western/Victorian


A Victorian countess doesn't belong on a ranch, and a frosty cowboy knows nothing about raising a family. When the two have no choice but to rely on each other, is there any hope for happiness, let alone true love?

Lady Evelyn Lyon lost her husband and her fortune on the same day. Daughter in hand, she makes her way to the copper mines of Arizona, hoping her husband's stock in the Bisbee Copper Queen mine will make it possible for her to raise her little girl. Every man she's known has failed her, and she would far rather be alone than dependent on one. When the stock certificates in her possession prove fraudulent, Evelyn and her little girl are more alone than ever. 

Chris Morgan, known as "Frosty" by cowhands and neighbors alike, never expected to have a family. When his cousin back east dies and leaves Chris with two children to raise, Chris has no choice but to change his plans. But raising children and running a ranch at the same time is a tall order. He's at his wit's end when he comes across a British noblewoman who has no business wandering around the desert without protection. When he learns her story, Chris knows they might be the solutions to each other's problems.

A hasty wedding and dusty ride to Chris's ranch starts their marriage of convenience off on a bumpy road. With children to raise and cattle to herd, Evelyn and Chris have no choice but to trust each other. But in the west, trust is hard won, and it's hard to grow anything...especially love.

Intro to Chapter One

KB Ranch, Arizona Territory

The harsh afternoon sun baked the desert earth until it cracked, but the grass resisted giving in to the arid climate. That was something Chris Morgan appreciated about desert plants and wildlife. No matter what the wind and sun did, no matter how harsh the weather, the plants hung on to life, and the animals just kept going about their business. 

“Frosty,” one of the new hands, known by the name Whiskers to most, called from behind. 

Chris turned in his saddle at the shout, his horse not breaking stride. They had just passed under the iron sign that welcomed them home after every cattle drive and foray into the rest of the wide world. KB Ranch, a stylized sun setting atop King Bolton’s initials. 

Chris had won his cowboy christening, Frosty, for two reasons. His cold blue eyes that made his men shudder when he leveled them with a glare, and his apparent aloofness toward others. Somehow, his dislike of idle chatter had granted him the status of a man who held himself apart. His brusque, direct instructions to his men added to the idea of a taciturn nature. As a foreman, his name added to his perfect reputation of obeying orders and keeping his men in line.

Whiskers pointed to the road behind them. Toward Sonoita. No one could even call the small collection of buildings that made up the nearest settlement a town. A familiar wagon bounced along the road, coming toward them.

He didn’t let his shoulders sag. Not so much as a twitch of muscle betrayed his disappointment and annoyance. As much as he wanted to get back to his house, the newest structure on the ranch, it’d be a mite rude to make Holloway come all the way down to the house if Chris could intercept him on the road. Most likely, the old farmer had a batch of mail to deliver up from Tombstone. 

As the foreman, he could’ve sent one of the cowboys up the road. But Chris preferred to lead by example. That meant greeting the farmer himself.

Six cowboys and a wagon driven by their cook passed him by on their way to the bunkhouse and much-needed baths. They’d driven the cattle to the Tucson station rather than Benson, getting the last of their beef animals on their way for the year. 

One rider stopped near him, watching Holloway approach.

Duke, an Englishman who’d married into the Bolton family, pushed his hat up his forehead. “Want me to wait with you, Frosty?”

Chris raised his eyebrows at his friend, and technically one of his bosses given his stake in the ranch. “You got a wife waiting on you.”

The Englishman’s eyes darted toward the ranch buildings, his entire body leaning that direction. He hadn’t been married to the rancher’s daughter long, and only the lure of taking part in his first cattle drive had pulled him away from his bride. 

“She won’t mind a few more minutes,” Duke answered, focusing his gaze on Chris once more. He turned his horse around toward the road, as did Chris.

There wasn’t anyone waiting for Chris to return. Just an empty house that still smelled like fresh-cut timber. He hadn’t even needed the house, but King Bolton, owner of the ranch, had insisted that his foreman couldn’t keep living in the bunkhouse with the rest of the hands. 

“It’s a benefit to your position,” King had insisted. “And it gives you room to stretch out a bit. Maybe start a family.”

Chris hadn’t deigned to respond to that idea. 

The privacy of his own house had appealed to him, though, along with more room for putting up shelves for his books. Keeping them in a crate under his bunk wasn’t ideal. So he’d agreed to the house. 

They passed under the sign again, just as it caught a touch of wind that made it swing above their heads. The breeze, warm as it was, felt good across Chris’s forehead and exposed neck. Grit from the trail had worked its way beneath his collar, despite his care with his bandana. 

Holloway was nearly to the turnoff in the lane, his mules walking with their heads hung sulkily. They likely hadn’t wanted to pass by the entrance to their home and barn without stopping, as Holloway had to do to deliver the mail. He was their settlement’s registered postal carrier with Western Union. Once a month he went to Tombstone, the county seat, to gather up mail and bring it back to the people who called Sonoita and its surrounding farms and ranches home.

“Mr. Holloway,” Duke called out loud enough to be heard over the tramp of hooves. “Good afternoon.”

“Duke. Frosty. Mighty glad to see you had a successful trip.” The man’s tone and the solemn look on his face were at odds with his normally jovial personality. Chris frowned, already expecting bad news. But for whom?

Holloway pulled the mules to a stop, then looked back into the bed of his wagon. His shoulders slumped. “Frosty, I’ve got a couple of special deliveries for you. They were waiting when I got to town today.”

Though he hadn’t been expecting anything, he didn’t say as much. Chris nudged his horse to move the gelding alongside the wagon bed and looked down. 

Two pairs of dark eyes peered back up at him, from two little faces streaked with dirt and tears. A girl sat in the wagon, against the backboard, with her arm around a boy smaller and younger than she was. They both wore straw hats and dark clothes. The boy had a piece of paper pinned to the strap of his overalls. 

To Chris Morgan

KB Ranch

Sonoita, Arizona Territory

Someone had sent him children. By mail. Someone who knew his proper name rather than the one his fellow cowboys had christened him with. His stomach sank like a stone through cold water. 

Not two girls. His sister in Missouri had three little girls. They weren’t Susan’s children. 

The little boy ducked his head, but the girl lifted her chin higher. “Are you our daddy’s cousin? Chris?”


He looked up at Holloway, who’d turned to watch the reunion. The man had made a telegram and sealed envelope appear from nowhere and held them out to Chris. “The telegram came three days ago, but no one brought it out to us. The letter came with them.”

Chris looked at the children, then took the paper. He read the telegram first. 

To Chris Morgan. Cousin William Ashford and wife Maria dead. Morgan declared guardian of children in last will. Children arriving August 24, 5 oclock stage. Regards, Leman Rutherford at Law.

So few words, yet they altered everything if they were true. He looked up at the little girl. “William Ashford is your dad?”

Her chin trembled. “He was.”

William and Chris had been inseparable as young boys. Their kinship had come through their mothers. William had nearly traveled west with Chris when life in the city became too stifling for the boy set on finding adventure and wide-open spaces. “Breathing room,” William had called it. But there had been a girl. Maria Larsen. And William had fallen in love. 

They’d written from time to time. At least twice a year. They’d filled pages and pages with their doings, with mutual friends and relatives, and Chris had kept every letter he could as a reminder that he had people out in the wide world who cared about him.

It still took a moment for Chris to remember the names of the children. When he hit upon them at last, he breathed them out loud. “Laura and Ben.” 

The boy looked up at that, his eyes pained. How old were they? Chris didn’t know enough about children to make an educated guess. 

He looked up at Holloway. “This says they arrived the twenty-fourth. Yesterday.”

Holloway nodded. “The general store clerk put them up for the night. His wife fed them. They were getting ready to come looking for us when I showed up to collect the mail.”

Duke approached, looking at the children for a moment before addressing Chris. “I’m sorry for your loss, Frosty.”

It hadn’t sunk in yet that William was gone. That his daughter and son were all that remained of the lively young man with a perpetual grin. Chris gave himself a mental shake. He could read the letter and figure out what had happened later. Right now, he needed to worry about the children. 

Did they know how to ride a horse? No reason to make them uncomfortable, really, if they didn’t like being atop the tall animals. He looked up at Holloway. “D’you mind bringing them all the way to the house?”

Holloway clicked his tongue. “Not at all.” He gave the mules a command and snapped the leads above their rumps. The mules protested with a couple of brays but obeyed. 

Chris followed with his eyes on the children, and they gazed back at him without blinking.

Duke rode alongside him, the gesture one of friendship and support. Chris wanted to thank him but didn’t know exactly what to say in the moment. He looked down at the envelope crushed in his hand, recognizing his name written across the front, even though the handwriting appeared unstable. Shaky. Hardly familiar. But he knew William’s writing. 

A hard lump formed in Chris’s throat. It took the entire distance from road to ranch for him to rid himself of it well enough to talk. Duke dismounted first, and everything blurred together after that. The women, all three of them, appeared and found the children. They clucked over them, embraced them, took the children into the main ranch house with promises of food and baths.

Duke explained to whomever else remained what he knew. Holloway filled in gaps. 

Chris dismounted, handed the reins to someone. He didn’t care who. Then he walked away. Beyond the main house, toward one of the windmills that marked a well and cistern on the property. 

He leaned against the windmill’s supports and opened the envelope. The letter was brief. The handwriting inside as miserable as on the envelope.


Maria passed three days ago. Diphtheria and Influenza. We got the kids out of the house as soon as we knew how bad off she was. Im sick now, too. If youre reading this, the worst has happened. I contacted lawyers and told them where to find you. I made it legal. Laura and Ben will be in good hands. Tell them I love them, and so does their mother. Raise them like we were raised. I dont trust anyone else the way I trust you. I know youll do right by them.

See you on the other side.


His fist crumpled the letter, pain ricocheting in his chest like a bullet in an iron stove, making it hard to breathe. 

Will was gone.

And Chris knew nothing about raising children.

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