Free today at Amazon: The Benicia Belle by L.J. Martin. Originally published in print by Thorndike Press, 1992.
Statehood has come to California, a rich young land of golden opportunity. Speculators, fortune hunters, roughnecks, and con men have come from every corner of the earth to stake a claim. And nowhere is the competition more cutthroat than on the riverboats plying the waters from San Francisco into the wide-open interior. Money flows in the direction of progress, and where there is money, there is sure to be greed, violence, and deceit.
When former seaman John Clinton Ryan signs on as master-at-arms on the Benicia Belle, he finds he may have set his hand to his own death warrant. Blackmailed by the Belle's owner, and drawn to a woman as beautiful - and as dangerous - as the sea he left behind, Ryan sets off on a murderous new course. Framed for a crime he didn't commit, he has one last chance to exact a measure of justice and revenge...before his debt to the hangman comes due.
L. J. Martin's passion for Old California spills over into every word he writes. From the diversity of the land and the glorious history of its earliest inhabitants to the brave and enterprising men and women who rushed to claim it, this talented novelist boldly mines America's last great frontier for stories that are truly unforgettable.