Category: Mail Order Brides

The Cowboy Meets His Match & Book Giveaway

His first mistake was marrying her;

                  his second was falling in love.                               

How would you feel if you suddenly found yourself married to the wrong person?  That’s what happened to Chase and Emily in The Cowboy Meets His Match. 

Chase has to marry per his father’s will in order to keep the family ranch. Emily has just traveled to Texas from Boston as a mail-order-bride.  After vows are exchanged and the bride’s veil removed, Chase realizes he’s married to the wrong woman. His new bride has no affinity for cattle and doesn’t even know how to ride a horse! He immediately demands an annulment, but as the following scene shows, that doesn’t work out the way he’d hoped. 

(For a chance to win the book, leave a comment.  Giveaway guidelines apply.)

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With a glance at the clerk, the judge drew a handkerchief out of his pocket and dabbed at his sweaty forehead. Replacing the handkerchief, he cleared his throat. “I’m sure this isn’t the first time something like this has happened.” The judge’s hollow laugh was met with scowls. Growing serious, he reached for a leather-bound book and thumbed through the pages.

“Ah, here we are,” he said, sounding relieved. “Annulment.” Adjusting his spectacles, he quickly scanned the page. “This should only take a few minutes. You just have to answer a few questions.” Finger holding his spot, he looked up and asked in all seriousness, “Why do you want an annulment?”

Chase reared back. “Why? Because I married the wrong woman, that’s why!”

“Yes, yes, yes, I know that.” The judge stabbed the page with his finger. “But that’s not listed here as legitimate grounds for annulment.”

The uncle jabbed the muzzle of his shotgun on the floor and placed both hands on the butt. “What are legitimate grounds?”

The judge’s finger moved down the page. “Bigamy, for one.” He looked up. “Are either of you married?”

“Yes, we’re married,” Chase said, his voice thick with impatience. “To each other!”

The uncle stared straight at Emily. “I think he’s asking if either one of you is married to someone else.”

Emily’s eyes flashed him a look of disdain. If it wasn’t for him and his veiled threats, neither she nor Chase would be in this predicament. “I’m not married. Or at least I wasn’t until a few minutes ago.”

The judge checked the book again. “Okay, forget that. Are either of you underage?” The judge had directed the question to her.

“I’m twenty-two,” Emily said.

“Twenty-six,” Chase said.

The judge’s finger moved down the page again. “Are either of you related to the other?”

Chase shook his head. “Absolutely not.”

The judge peered at them over the frame of his spectacles. “Are either of you”—he cleared his throat—“unable to consummate the marriage?”

Emily’s face flared, and Chase threw up his hands. “This is getting us nowhere.”

The judge held up the palm of a hand. “Now hold on. There’s more.” He glanced at the uncle’s shotgun. “Were either of you coerced into the marriage?”

Emily felt a flicker of hope, but before she had a chance to answer in the affirmative, the door flew open. A man stormed into the chambers with a bride in tow, and he looked fit to be tied.

The uncle stepped in front of the new arrivals, his shotgun raised in a threatening pose. The newly arrived bride gasped and fell back.

“Sorry, Royce,” the uncle said. “You’re too late. The will said the first one married will have full ownership of the ranch.” He tossed a nod at Emily. “Meet Mrs. Chase McKnight, your new sister-in-law.”

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Updated: May 22, 2019 — 1:44 pm

Not Always by Choice: Mail-Order Brides

I love reading and writing mail-order bride stories set in the Old West.  I’m happy to say that next month my next mail-order bride story The Cowboy Meets His Match will be published. And boy, oh, boy, does that couple ever clash!

It’s hard to imagine a young woman traveling west to marry a man she’d never set eyes on. The original catalog-bride business grew out of necessity. The lack of marriageable women in the west was partly responsible, but so was the Civil War. The war not only created thousands of widows but a shortage of men, especially in the South.

As a result, marriage brokers and heart-and-hand catalogs popped up all around the country. According to an article in the Toledo Blade, lonely men even wrote to the Sears catalog company asking for brides. (The latest such letter received by Sears was from a lonely marine during the Vietnam War.)

In those early days, advertisements cost five to fifteen cents, and letters were exchanged along with photographs. Fortunately, the telegraph and train made communication easier.

Not all marriage brokers were legitimate, and many a disappointed client ended up with an empty bank account rather than a contracted mate.

For some mail-order couples, it was love (or lust) at first sight. In 1886, one man and his mail-order bride were so enamored with each other that they scandalized fellow passengers on the Union Pacific Railroad during their honeymoon.

Not every bride was so lucky. In her book Hearts West, Chris Enss tells the story of mail-order bride Eleanor Berry. On the way to her wedding, her stage was held up at gunpoint by four masked men. While signing the marriage license, she suddenly realized that her new husband was one of the outlaws who had robbed her.

No one seems to know how many mail-order brides there were during the 1800s, but the most successful matchmaker of all appears to be Fred Harvey.  He wasn’t in the mail-order bride business, but, by the turn of the century, five thousand Harvey Girls had found husbands while working in his restaurants.

Under what circumstances might you have traveled west to marry a stranger?

His first mistake was marrying her; his second was falling in love.

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Updated: April 20, 2019 — 8:56 am