Last week, my parents celebrated their 68th wedding anniversary.
My mind struggles to wrap around that many years of wedding bliss.
My dad, always something of a character, informed me the day before their anniversary he’d been married to Mom for 24,820 days and counting.
I laughed, but the enormity of spending nearly 25,000 days married to your high school sweetheart still boggles my mind.
My parents met their senior year of high school.
Dad’s family had just moved to the area and he only knew the closest neighbor’s kids when school started that fall. He’s always been friendly and outgoing, never had any trouble making friends and fitting in. In no time at all, he was involved in sports, playing in the band, participating in Future Farmer of America activities, and watching a certain dark-haired girl who’d caught his eye.
Mom was shy and quiet, had a few good friends, and didn’t participate in many extra-curricular activities, mostly because my grandparents’ farm was quite a distance from town and she had no way to get home if she stayed late after school.
Right away, she noticed the new, cute boy at school, the one many of the other girls were buzzing about. However, they ran in different social circles and it wasn’t until spring when Dad finally asked her out on a date to the movies.
By the time they graduated, they were an “item.” Dad was gone for a while, serving in the Naval Reserves, but the following summer, they made plans to wed in early August.
The dimple-cheeked girl with stars in her eyes rushed through her swing shift at the telephone office then raced out to the farm where a handsome boy who had captured her heart waited to make her his bride.
She didn’t have a fancy, elaborate gown. They both wore gray suits.
Their flowers were gladiolas, pink and white.
And they said “I do” in the minutes before the clock struck midnight due to her working late.
Not the stuff of fairy tales, right?
But the lasting power of their love — 68 years — includes a little fairy tale, happily-ever-after sprinkled in the mix.
Growing up, I watched some of my classmates go through the trials and tribulations of having their parents divorce. By then, my folks were middle-aged and settled into life and into each other. I never once worried about them separating. They were then and still remain a united front.
I don’t think either of them ever once considered leaving each other as an option. They were just eighteen and nineteen when they wed, but they made a commitment for a lifetime.
And I’m so glad they did.
If you want to know about true love and real romance, ask a couple who’s been married for more than six decades. I bet they’ll give you some good tips and probably a generous helping of humor.
Life wasn’t always easy for them. Far from it.
They had plenty of rough patches to work through, but they remained committed to each other and the vows they made.
Their little family grew from the two of them to three with the arrival of a bouncing baby boy.
It expanded to four with the birth of another boy.
And then my sister came along making them a happy group of five.
I’ve heard stories of the adventures they all had, the many, many times they moved before my parents bought a farm in Eastern Oregon and set down roots that kept them there for more than fifty years.
Evidently, after twenty years of marriage, they still liked each other, because they had me. (Both of my brothers look like they’re waiting for me to do something awful.)
And the family continued to grow with the arrival of grandbabies… then great-grandbabies.
For 68 years, Mom and Dad have been there for each other — through fights and fears, laughter and tears, celebrations and sorrows.
If you ask them individually, they’ll both tell you the secret to a happy marriage is listening to your partner and not always trying to be right, even when you know you are.
If you ask me, though, I’d say a big part of their longevity and happiness comes from these things:
*My dad’s great sense of humor and the fact that he absolutely adores my mom. He always has and, after 68 years of marriage, I think it’s safe to say he always will.
*My mom’s loyalty and devotion to my dad and her ability to be a perfect balance to him.
I, for one, am so glad they fell in love and have remained in love all these many years.
If you could give a newly-married couple a tidbit of advice, what would you share?
After I turned in my last book, Once Upon A Texas Christmas (just a little over a year ago), I took a bit of a sabbatical from writing. The line I wrote seventeen books for was closing and I was also a bit burned out from writing 2 books a year for the previous four years (I’m not a fast writer so this was a ‘stretch’ pace for me).
So I was at a crossroads of sorts. I took some time thinking about where I wanted to go next, free from the constraints of any specific publisher guidelines. I eventually came up with ideas for several multi-book series I could get excited about and worked up some details to hand over to my agent so she could begin shopping them around to publishers.
That done, I figured while I waited I now had time to explore another path that had captured my interest, that of indie-publishing. I had several books from my days with Dorchester’s Leisure Books line that were published in the 2001-2005 time frame, long before the eBook revolution and that had gone out of print more than a dozen years ago and I figured reworking one of those and indie-publishing it would be a good way to ease myself into that scary-to-me world. So I went to work, getting ready to do just that.
And boy has it been a learning experience. Revising the book was the fun part. I’d forgotten just how much I loved those early books. Revisiting the characters and worlds from my early writing days has been an absolute joy. But now I’ deep into the business side of the process – hiring a good editor, figuring out cover design options, creating a back cover blurb, forming an LLC, obtaining ISBNs, etc., etc. It’s been a steep learning curve (and I’m not through it yet!) but hopefully next time will be a little easier.
Anyway, if things go as planned, this first book, which I’m titling The Unexpected Bride, will release in late fall. And today I thought I’d whet your appetite with an excerpt.
The set up for this story – Elthia Sinclare has travelled from Massachusetts to Texas in answer to an ad for a temporary job as governess. Caleb Tanner placed an ad for a mail-order bride. This is the scene where our heroine realizes there has been a terrible mistake:
“Mr. Tanner, we need to talk.”
The lying, scheming blackguard glanced back from his position at the stove, a scowl of irritation on his face. Then his expression changed as something in her demeanor caught his attention.
“What’s happened?” he asked, handing a plate to one of the children.
Zoe slipped into the room behind her, but Elthia kept her gaze focused on Mr. Tanner. She stood stiffly, fighting the urge to back away as he approached. “Exactly why did you bring me here?”
His scowl returned as he rubbed the back of his neck. “What do you mean? This is my home. Where else would I take you?”
“I’m talking about what role it is you expect me to fulfill?” She watched him closely, looking for some sign of guilt or duplicity. “Mrs. Johnston called me your helpmeet and referred to you Tanners as my ‘new family’. Just now, Dr. Adams did the same.”
Elthia clasped her hands to prevent their trembling. Had this man lured her to his home under false pretenses? She was completely at his mercy here. The isolated location and the shadowy approach of dusk suddenly took on a sinister feel. Sometimes having a vivid imagination was more of a curse than a blessing.
She had to remain calm, to think, to keep him from seeing her fear.
Mr. Tanner, however, looked more harried than threatening. Maybe Zoe had misread the situation. Dear God please–-
“I’m sorry that your role as a mail-order bride is public knowledge, if that’s what this is all about. It’s hard to keep secrets in a community like Foxberry.”
“Mail-order bride!” Elthia almost choked on the words. Heaven help her, this nightmare kept getting more unbelievable.
His scowl returned. “Miss Sinclare, stop the hysterics, please. I know the kids’ illness was unexpected, but surely—”
“There’s been a mistake, a dreadful, terrible mistake.”
His eyes narrowed. Then he looked at the children who watched the grown-ups with wide-eyed interest. “Let’s move this discussion to the parlor, shall we?”
He nodded to the two older children. “Zoe and Peter, you help the others with their supper please.” Then he took Elthia’s arm and all but pulled her out of the room.
As soon as they reached the parlor, he released her, as if touching her were distasteful. His next words were all the more intimidating for their softness. “Backing out already? So much for all that talk about honoring commitments.” His expression branded her as beneath contempt. “I should have known a pampered bit of high-class fluff wouldn’t have a notion about honor or responsibility.”
Elthia shook her head, confused and defensive. “No, no, you don’t understand. I came here to fill the post of governess, not to be someone’s mail-order bride.”
The sound he made was suspiciously like a snort. “Foxberry has a great school. Why would I waste money on a governess?”
“But that’s what you advertised for. I read the file myself.” A spurt of anger momentarily replaced her fear. “How dare you misrepresent yourself in such a way! You took advantage of Mrs. Pembroke and of me. It’s vile and probably illegal. I have half a mind to find the local sheriff and have you arrested.”
Mr. Tanner wasn’t intimidated. “I didnot misrepresent anything. I made it very clear to the agency exactly what I was looking for. If you paid any attention at all to my post there’s no way you could be confused about any of this.”
She drew in a breath as he pointed a finger, stopping just short of poking her chest.
His frown turned contemptuous. “If this is some ploy to get out of the contract and still be able to hold your head up, don’t bother. A weak, spoiled, lady with a tendency to run away from her troubles might be the last thing I want for the kids or myself, but I warned you earlier, no backing out once the kids met you.”
“How dare you! Why I—”
“I’d appreciate it if you’d keep your voice down,” he interrupted. “There’s no point in upsetting the kids.”
He straightened. “I don’t have time for this posturing. If you’re not going to help, at least stay out of the way. In the meantime, before you try that ‘I didn’t know what I was getting into’ story again, you should reread that contract you signed.”
Elthia watched him stalk out of the room. Slumping, she steadied herself with a hand to a chair. The long day and its emotional ups and downs had taken its toll. She suddenly felt too exhausted to think straight. Maybe her father was right. Maybe she was too helpless, too naïve, to make her own decisions.
How had this happened? Was Mr. Tanner a villain or had there been a terrible mix-up with the paperwork at the agency?
Of course. He’d told her to reread the contract and that’s just what she’d do, and then force him to do the same. She wasn’t her father’s daughter for nothing. She’d read that sheet of paper very carefully before signing it. It was an employment contract for a temporary teaching assignment, nothing more.
Feeling her energy rebound, she hurried into the hall. Her copy lay somewhere in her luggage, but he still had the one she’d given him. “Mr. Tanner, just a minute please.” Stepping into the kitchen, she ran smack into his rock-solid chest.
He placed a hand on both of her arms, steadying her before stepping back a pace. “Well, Miss Sinclare, what is it now?”
Elthia’s cheeks heated but she held onto what dignity she could. Pushing her glasses up on her nose, she managed to keep her gaze locked to his as she held out a hand. “The contract, sir. I’d like to see your copy of it if I may.”
He raised an eyebrow. “And just what do you expect that to prove?” Then he scowled. “I warn you, don’t try to tear it up.”
She raised her chin. “Why would I want to tear it up? It’s the proof I need to support my story. It states quite clearly that the position I accepted was that of governess.”
“Does it now?”
Elthia frowned impatiently. “Yes, of course it does. You read it there at Whistling Oak. Surely you remember what it said. There was nothing at all vague about the terms.”
“I agree, it spells things out in very plain language.” He strode out of the room and she followed him as far as the foot of the stairs. It only took seconds for him to return and hand her the document.
Elthia, itching to rub the I’m-only-doing-this-to-humor-you expression from his face, unfolded it and skimmed it.
Then she blinked.
She read it twice. Where had this contract come from? It most definitely was not the document she’d read so carefully before signing. Someone had switched papers, but when and how? They’d hardly been out of her sight since she’d signed them.
It must have been Mr. Tanner. He’d somehow substituted the document she’d handed him for this one. Her gaze frantically turned to the bottom of the contract and she got another shock.
It couldn’t be!
There was her name, penned in her own handwriting. Alongside it was the signature of Louella Pembroke. It must be a forgery, but it was such a good one even she couldn’t tell the difference.
How dare he try to coerce her this way. She shook the document under his nose. “How did you do this?”
“Do what?” He looked more puzzled than guilty.
“Forge my signature so perfectly. Did you trace it? And where’s the real contract?”
His jaw tightened and his eyes narrowed at her accusation. “Don’t you think you’re carrying this charade a bit far?”
“Don’t think you can intimidate me with that oh so superior tone. I have my own copy of the contract.”
She turned and all but fled upstairs. If he thought he could bully her with this elaborate act he was very much mistaken. It took her a several minutes, but she finally located her copy in the larger of her trunks.
Marching back down the stairs, she found Mr. Tanner still standing where she’d left him, though now the lamps in the hall were lit against the encroaching darkness.
She waved the paper triumphantly. “This is the document I signed, not that substitute you’re trying to fob off on me.”
With the air of an adult humoring a child, the infuriating Mr. Tanner plucked it from her fingers, pulled the contract out of the sealed envelope and looked it over quickly.
After reading it, he shrugged and handed it back to her. “I won’t argue with you on that score. But I don’t rightly see how it differs from the one I looked at earlier.”
Her hands starting to tremble, Elthia took the contract and forced her eyes to focus on the print. He was right, it was identical to the one he’d handed her a few minutes earlier.
A very simple, very binding, marriage contract.
There you have it. I hope you enjoyed the sneak peek. And stay tuned – I’ll keep you posted on my progress 🙂
Way back when I set up the date to be a guest here on Petticoats and Pistols, I thought I would be sharing about the third book in my Orphans of the West series. But then this happened:
And two and a half months later this came about:
So yeah, my legal name is no longer Faith Blum, however, I am keeping it as my pen name. Since I can’t talk about my new book, I thought I would talk about my wedding instead. After all, everyone here likes a good romance, right? So why not a real life romance?
Our story actually reminds me a little bit of a modern-day mail order bride story. We met on ChristianMingle in August 2016 and emailed back and forth for a few months before meeting in person. As I mentioned earlier, we started courting in late January.
June 19th is a day I will probably always remember. Bill came over and we took a walk with our trusty chaperone, Shasta my family’s dog. Bill and I had taken a few walks when he was at our house. There are three ways you can go. To the left and straight it’s fairly flat. To the right, it starts out flat and then gets rather steep and keeps going—and getting steeper—the further you go.
When Bill heard that there was a top to the hill, he wanted to make it all the way up there. I balked at that. The top is about 2 miles from our home, about half of which is steeply uphill.
The day was cool and slightly cloudy. So when we got to the end of the driveway where we needed to make a decision on which way to go. I said we could try to get to the top of the hill. He was surprised, but we went.
Halfway up the hill, Bill asked, “Why did you want to go to the top?” I think he was mostly joking. At least that’s what he claims…
When we got to the top, we stopped for a breather. After a short stop, he got down on one knee, opened the ring box, and asked, “Will you marry me?” I said, “Yes!”
We choose to get married Labor Day weekend because many of Bill’s siblings either work in schools or go to college. We also didn’t want a long engagement. The wedding preparations went well and we had a lot of fun with them.
I think my favorite—and the hardest part—preparation was making all the flowers. I found an idea on Pinterest for making roses out of book pages, so I took a couple of my extra proof copies and used them. We had two craft days with a few of my friends coming over to help make them. I think they turned out great!
The colored roses were painted with watered down acrylic paint.
Between everyone, we had the wedding ready with a couple days to spare. I am very blessed to have great family and friends who helped with so many aspects of the wedding.
The wedding was beautiful and so meaningful to Bill and I as well as everyone who attended. We had a small ice cream sundae reception and then it was time to leave. Since I am allergic to corn, we didn’t want to use birdseed to throw, so my sisters and mom gathered leaves and flowers to dry and they threw those at us instead.
I don’t have room to tell you about the honeymoon, but we did have a good time exploring a few places out West, avoiding wildfires, and visiting the ghost town I set some of my stories in. If you’d like to read more about it, you can see my blog post here.
While I’m here, I’d also like to do a little bit of a giveaway. To enter, tell me what your favorite wedding story is. One lucky winner will receive an eBook copy of the book I dedicated to my then suitor, Savior, Like a Shepherd.
National statistics say that June is the most popular wedding month, followed by July and August, and I think it has to do with the weather and versatility. The ceremonies can be either outside or in. A lot of couples choose tropical locales which I think provide exceptional backdrops for gorgeous weddings. The only problem I had was that I picked poor guys. All we could afford was a quick trip to the JP. Short and sweet.
It doesn’t really matter though and mine carried as much meaning as the fanciest.
By the way, those statistics say that a total of $72 billion dollars are spent each year on weddings and the average budget is $20k.
The top wedding city in the world is Istanbul, Turkey with Las Vegas, Nevada coming in second.
I’ve written wedding scenes in a good many of my books and none of them were elaborate either. I think the two in my newest, The Heart of a Texas Cowboy, were the most shocking. Houston Legend never anticipates the turn of events and both leave him shaken. I won’t tell you what those are because I don’t want to ruin the story for readers who haven’t read it yet.
In To Love a Texas Ranger, Book 1 of the Men of Legend series, the wedding took place outdoors at sunset at the end of the book. Sam Legend and Sierra Hunt loved the fresh air and the beautiful Texas sky so that was perfect.
But the wedding in Book 3 – To Marry a Texas Outlaw – has them all beat. You won’t believe what happens. You’ll have to wait until November 7th to find out though.
There is also a wedding in my upcoming August re-release, Knight on the Texas Plains, between Duel McClain and Jessie Foltry. I think it may be the only one to take place in a church. But then marriage ceremonies on the American frontier were usually simple affairs and to the point. They had no time to waste.
In the book I’m writing, the wedding takes place at sunrise on the rim of a canyon and I think it’s very romantic. Tally Shannon and Clay Colby tie the knot then afterward change clothes and get to work. Someone just burned down the town.
Weddings always turn me into a blubbering mess. So, how about you? Share something about a wedding and enter a drawing for one copy from any of my books.
For me, summer means weddings, especially June. Now, let’s climb my family tree:
Once upon a time, a handsome Illinois schoolmaster married a debutante from across the Mississippi River. Paper Japanese lanterns glowed. Years before, the bride’s grandpa had marched with General William Tecumseh Sherman. She is said to have weighed a whole 98 pounds full-term with child. Of their eight kids, (the oldest was presciently named Octavia!) one would become a preacherman.
About this same time, in the heartland, a Kansas farmer fell in love with a pretty, feisty neighbor from a nearby homestead. (I’m said to look like her.) He died from a ruptured appendix far too soon in their marriage, leaving behind a brood of their own kids and several adopted orphans.
Exactly one century ago, the farmer’s daughter married the preacherman, who had been assigned to the nearby country church after seminary. She gave up art school to marry. Over the next decade, she gave him a half-dozen children. After a time, the preacher took a congregation on the West Coast. Mostly he needed sunshine and warm weather for his health. His kids enjoyed the beach. All were excellent students. His wife (my brilliant gramma and personal hero) brought the family through the Great Depression with class, grace, and without complaint.
During the Second World War, their oldest daughter, a schoolteacher too, married her sailor. (She’d had a crush on him since high school. He signed her yearbook fairly lame: To a nice quiet girl, but admitted later on he’d been interested in her too.) She longed to wear her mama’s wedding gown, but everything fell to shreds when unwrapped. In her hair the bride wore the only surviving finery–a little bunch of silk flowers.
Forty three years ago this summer, their daughter, also a schoolteacher, married her fireman on a hot August afternoon. (Strapless and sleeveless bridal gowns not acceptable then.) The locket she wore came from her grandfather’s grandmother! Two kids and four grandkids later, their love story is still going on.
We’re delighted to welcome our guest, Anne Greene. Anne has graciously offered to give away three autographed copies of SPUR OF THE MOMENT BRIDE. (Sweepstake guidelines apply)
I love stories about the wild west, and horses, feisty women, and best of all cowboys. I live in Texas, and though most of the men I meet in my fast-growing town are regular-type men wearing business suits or jogging outfits or casual wear, on occasion I run into a real cowboy. I gape at him with his tight jeans, fitted shirt, cowboy boots, rodeo trophy belt buckle, and black Stetson.
But today the modern cowboy, rather than ride a horse, drives an enormous black truck with a rifle slung across the back window of his double-cab. I wrote about such a cowboy, except he rode a black Harley motorcycle, in my soon to be released book, Mystery At Dead Broke Ranch.
When I was single I even dated a real cowboy, and he delighted in showing me his trophy belt buckle and talking about his rodeo exploits. He was handsome too. So much so that I didn’t feel we were a match. But the few dates I allowed with him were fun. He even let me ride his horse.
My newest released book, Firecracker Bride, takes place in Texas, near the historic Alamo. Cat Divine resists stage robbers, her demanding father, gossiping neighbors, and flash floods. But can she resist Travis McGuire, a hero with a heart and bravery as big as his Texas home?
Seems many of my books are set in Wyoming rather than Texas. Don’t ask me why. I don’t know. I love Texas, but I enjoy visiting Wyoming. My book, A Christmas Belle, is set in Wyoming. Amanda is a southern belle who becomes a Mail Order Bride. She expects to marry a Wyoming cowboy, but the Wyoming Sheriff puts duty before love.
When I’m not writing about sheriffs, I’m writing about stagecoach drivers. In today’s give-away book, SPUR OF THE MOMENT BRIDE, heiress Abby Hollister’s Papa demands she stop toying with young men’s hearts and marry within a month or be disinherited. She determines to become a mail-order bride and travel to untamed Laramie, Wyoming. Abby creates a list of characteristics she expects for her prospective husband and sets off to claim the perfect mate and secure her personal fortune.
Stage coach driver, Zach Tyler likes his exciting job where he outsmarts robbers and Indians and keeps the stage running regardless of weather, break-downs, and ornery passengers. But passenger Abby Hollister proves to be an unusual challenge. He protects her on the journey to Laramie, but in that town women are as scarce as a bird’s nest in a cuckoo clock, and men go crazy when the beauty arrives seeking a husband.
My own hero husband isn’t a cowboy, but he looks like one when we go Texas Two-Stepping. He wears his tight jeans, fitted shirt, and cowboy boots. And he’s tall, lanky, and laid-back. But he’s not the strong, silent type. He’s the strong, talkative type. And I love him with all my heart. And he rides a Harley.
But, I am certain I shall write many more western stories because I do so love cowboys!
ABOUT ANNE GREENE: My home is in the quaint antiquing town of McKinney, Texas, just a few miles north of Dallas. My dear husband is a retired Colonel, Army Special Forces. My little brown and white Shih Tzu, Lily Valentine, shares my writing space, curled at my feet. I have four beautiful, talented children, and eight grandchildren who keep me running.
I’ve traveled in every location of each book I’ve written, and each book is a book of my heart. Besides my first love, writing, I enjoy travel, art, sports, reading, sailing, snorkeling, movies, and way too many other things to mention. Life is good. Jesus said, “I am come that you might have life and that you might have it more abundantly.” Whether writing contemporary or historical, my books celebrate the abundant life Jesus gives.
Today I’d love to share with you my recent travels to Northern California for a dear friend’s wedding, and as we drove past San Francisco, via the Golden Gate Bridge, we were treated to some of the most glorious scenery I’ve ever witnessed. Vineyards abounded all along the highway and the inroads of small towns and bigger cities, until we reached the historic town of Healdsburg in Sonoma County, where we spent a few fun days. Thousands of years ago, Sonoma was home to the Pomo Indians, but now ranks as a top seller of fine wines. Now, I ask you, is this not a beautiful sight?
Healdsburg was voted one of the Top Ten Smallest Towns in America due to the three most important award-winning wine producing regions of Dry Creek, Alexander and Russian River in Sonoma County. Healdsburg population is 11, 254. After the Gold Strike in 1849, many who didn’t find riches in gold, found something almost equally beneficial in this verdant rich farmland.
In 1857 there was a “squatters rights” war called the Westside Road War and Harmon Heald, an Ohio entrepreneur was one of the winners and Healdburg was founded. Harmon Heald was quick to construct a post office and general store in what is now called Downtown Healdsburg. He laid out a town grid and sold lots for $15 each and plotted his town in the Spanish style plaza design. The plaza still stands today and is host to free concerts, picnics and lively events. The town flourished with the arrival of the Northwestern Pacific Railway. Here are some pics of the plaza and a gorgeous horse sculpture near the entrance of City Hall. And of course, where do we choose to eat lunch while in Healdsburg in the heart of wine country? Well, at a brewery, of course! I’m not sorry, the fish and fries were delicious!Oh and the dessert was wonderful too.
As we toured around the amazing wineries of Sonoma and the miles and miles of vineyards, I found many that have been in business for over 100 years!
Here we are attending the wedding in Santa Rosa, just 12 miles from Healdsburg at the Paradise Ridge Winery. I tell a harrowing story on Facebook about how we got completely lost in the maze of vineyards and if not for a lovely older couple guiding us out, we would never have made the wedding in time. But in the end, we did and much fun was had.
I love learning the history of regions we travel. I find it so intriguing how towns get started and get their names. Do you love learning tidbits about places you visit? Does your town have an unusual history? Do you drink wine (if so, what’s your fav?) or are you more a beer or soda kind of person? I’d love to give away a backlist book and other goodies to one blogger today. Winner announced over the weekend! Be sure to check back!
Miss Jamie Adams is obsessed with Texas. And Ranches. And cowboys. And cowboys on ranches in Texas. How could we not be glad to have her visit Wildflower Junction again?
By Jamie Adams
The last time I had the privilege of visiting with the gals here at Petticoats and Pistols we talked about cowboys. It’s been a while, but back then I used Toby Keith’s song “Should have been a Cowboy” to open up a discussion on our favorite men on horseback. This time I thought I’d switch it up a bit and talk about something different . . . like life on a ranch . . . in Texas . . . with Cowboys.
Who am I trying to kid? I have a hopeless obsession with the handsome, brave men who tamed the Wild West. Good thing for me I have friends that share that same fascination or at least they pretend they do to keep me happy.
This past year I convinced some talented writers (MidwestChristianRomanceAuthors) to join me in creating a mail-order-bride box set series set on a ranch in Texas. When a widower Texas rancher is told he has a short time to live, he decides the best way to rein in his three rambunctious sons is to find them wives. He means business too. They have to marry within three months or lose their inheritance. A very substantial inheritance.
Mesquite Gulch is a small town where the men outnumber the women tenfold. Actually that’s an exaggerated guess. The last census was taken in 1880 and they skipped our little town. Just trust me. There aren’t any marrying age women in town. But that’s not a problem, not when you have only to put an ad in the paper, or if you’re a wealthy rancher you can have your lawyer take care of things for you. Mr. Logan wants to see his sons safely hitched, but if he doesn’t live long enough, his trusted lawyer will carry out his wishes. The father hears wedding bells in the future, but it resembles a dirge to the sons.
Now take several young women fresh out of an orphanage in Chicago and put them on a ranch in Texas and you have the Texas Brides Series. The young ladies have never stepped foot outside the city, and ranch life is rougher than they’d imagined. Nothing could have prepared them for the reception their given. Their prospective grooms are as welcoming as the wicked cactus dotting the landscape. Didn’t they send for a bride? They had a strange way of showing affection. Who’d want to marry one of them?
Three rugged cowboys have no idea what is about to hit them and I have to admit it is so much fun to watch them be taken down one by one. This is a five book series. Yep that’s right, five not three. Things seldom go as planned. We’ve got twist and turns that we hope our readers will enjoy.
Just to show how excited we are to introduce ya’ll to the Logan family we’re going to give away a digital box set. Leave a comment to enter the drawing.
Jamie Adams fell in love with books at an early age. Little Women by Louisa May Alcott opened her imagination and sparked a dream to be a writer. She wrote her first book as a school project in 6th grade.
A graduate of the Institute of Children’s Literature as well as member of American Christian Fiction Writers, The Writing Desk and several critique groups she spends most of her time writing, reading or learning more about the craft near to her heart.
The parents of three teenagers, she and her husband make their home in the beautiful Ozarks of Arkansas.
I’ve read numerous mail order bride stories over the years and often tried to put myself in their places. Deciding to become a one had to be one of the most difficult decisions for a woman of any age to make. Think about it. Even if the lady was in dire straits, had her life threatened, had no other recourse, come hell or high water, it undoubtedly had to be an act of sheer desperation.
I mean, really, if a woman simply needed or wanted a change from her current living arrangement, longed to start a family, detested the town, whatever, why wouldn’t she simply go down the road? Why in heaven’s name would she venture across the vast, treacherous country, exposing herself to probable unknown perils along the way or once there, and better yet, who she would be meeting to spend the rest of her life in what, marital bliss? Most hailed from eastern or southern states and answered the ad from a man anywhere throughout the entire west.
Okay, so you think she possibly lacked money to simply toddle to the next town, or maybe lacked any skill to support herself once there? Or, maybe there weren’t any men to her liking anywhere in sight for her wheedle herself into any of their hearts for matrimony? Endless possibilities that we could discuss forever.
So let’s take a gander at exactly what type of woman fled the scene, and actually took off for an area totally foreign to her, knowing not what awaited her as far as a roof over her head, or the man who would change her life forever.
Three words come to mind. Determined, tenacious, and courageous. Ah, yes there’s so many more we could discuss that would portray that woman who ventured out of her realm and pioneered to the unknown, but we’d be here until the end of 2016. So I’ve chosen three that shout that person of the female gender thought to be submissive and inferior to the male species was no thin-skinned, whimpering, milksop.
Determined to leave everyone and everything she’d known behind, determined to withstand inevitable perils she’d face during the long, difficult journey and at her destination, determined to change her ways and start a new life, that was the woman who fled to the Wild West hoping and praying for a new and better life.
Tenacious as a bulldog, once she arrived she persevered, being relentless in her strive to make her role as wife, mother and partner in each walk of life. She’d perform farm chores, work the soil, tend the home, cook and manage the household as she reared her children and stood by her man, yet managed to do community service and lent a hand to needing neighbors.
Courageous doesn’t begin to describe her driving force to withstand the hardships of undeveloped lands, battling the unforgiving rough weather, or enduring the lack of items she took for granted in her previous life. Yes, the mail order bride though she might lacked the height or muscle to equal a man, stood tall, persevered through thick and thin, remained resolute to do her best and make a good living for all. She had guts, grit and pluck to make her the pioneer woman who set the stage for those who followed.
So please come along with me to meet Morgan in my blurb of A LOVE SO STRONG. Lacking any domestic skills, her antics are sure to give you a good chuckle or two, hopefully more. And boy if she isn’t determined, tenacious and courageous.
A LOVE SO STRONG
Searching for true happiness, as well as escape from a controlling family, Morgan Prescott answers a Brides Wanted ad, and leaves New York City’s High society life for the wilds of Washington Territory. Her spirit and intelligence carries her through the rude awakening—streets of ankle deep mud, life in a one-room cabin, the hazards of cooking—but they lend no help when she loses her heart to the one man she can’t have. Private investigator Luke Kincaid, a major stockholder in the Union Pacific Railroad, goes undercover as a logging camp foreman to apprehend the saboteurs of the railroad. All he needs is a mock wife to strengthen his act, but once he agrees to Morgan filling the role, he finds himself longing for much more—a love he’s forbidden to accept or give.
Filled with humor, suspense, a heartwarming, poignant sisterly bond with the other woman, and a love between Luke and Morgan that cannot be denied. Written in memory of one special lady and to raise awareness of ALS, Lou Gehrig’s Disease.
I hope you’ll take a moment and leave a comment so we can chat. And I’ll be giving away either an ebook (free coupon through Smashword), or a print book of A LOVE SO STRONG including a post-it booklet with my logo to a randomly drawn winner.
For many years, Beverly Wells devoted her life to family and the medical world. As a nurse in homecare and clinics, she also served on the medical reserve corps, a part of Homeland Security, so her reading focused on medical books and journals. That’s until she finally discovered romance novels. Once hooked, she took the plunge and wrote one. Now as an award winning author you’ll find her hammering away another humorous, sensuous (from sweet to spicy) historical romance while incorporating a lesson learned or maybe raising awareness of an important issue. Living in the Finger Lakes Region of NYS with her husband and rescued dog, Jamie, she enjoys volunteering at the local shelter—she loves all animals yet dogs hold a special place in her heart—anything Nascar, flower gardening so she can get her hands good and dirty and cooking for gathered friends and family. She adores her two granddaughters to no end. And of course chocolate—that’s a given.
For more information regarding Bev, visit her at the following links or gmail her at firstname.lastname@example.org. She’d love to hear from you.
Many dishes that are prides of the American table today once were ways to avoid wasting food. Shipping of all but basic staples didn’t begin until the latter half of the 19th century; perishables weren’t shipped at all until refrigerated containers, or “reefers,” were invented in 1869. Even then, perishable cargo could be carried only a few miles before the ice melted.
The first successful long-distance reefer transport occurred in the early 1880s. The first grocery store, Piggly Wiggly, opened in Memphis, Tennessee, in 1916.
Consequently, settlers on the American frontier and American Indians used every part of the animals and plants they grew or gathered in order to avoid starvation. Frontier and farming families stewed poultry necks, tails, and wings because the meat and bones offered precious protein. Slaves in the American south prepared animal innards like chitterlings (intestines) and vegetable leavings like potato skins in a variety of ways because their masters considered those things offal. Anyone who has visited a restaurant in the past twenty years recognizes chicken wings and potato skins as trendy appetizers. At “soul food” eateries, chitlins are standard fare. (Yes, I have eaten them. No, I won’t do so again.)
Because carbohydrates offer a quick source of energy, bread, too, was a precious commodity. Many frontier families baked with cornmeal or corn flour. The latter was obtained by repeatedly pouring cornmeal from burlap sack to burlap sack and shaking loose the fine powder left clinging to the bags. Bread made with wheat flour was a treat…even though merchants in frontier towns often “extended” wheat flour by adding plaster dust. Frontier families might make a multi-day journey into town for supplies once or twice a year.
savory bread pudding
Since the early 11th century, “po’ folks” have turned stale bread into bread pudding in order to use every last ounce of food they could scrounge. Originally, the concoction was a savory main dish containing bread, water, and suet. Scraps of meat and vegetables might be added if the cook had those on hand.
What we think of as bread pudding today came into its own in New Orleans in the early 1800s. Creative cooks turned the dish into a dessert by combining stale bread with eggs, milk, spices, and a sweetener like molasses, honey, or sugar. Some also included bits of fruit, berries, and/or nuts.
My family and friends talk me into baking bread pudding each Christmas, and sometimes for other special occasions during the rest of the year. They don’t have to do much arm-twisting, because the rich dessert is easy to make, relatively inexpensive, and delicious.
bread pudding dessert
One thing to know about bread pudding: Making it “wrong” is darn nigh impossible. Any kind of bread can be used, including sweet breads like donuts and croissants. Likewise, spices are left to the cook’s imagination, fruits and nuts are optional, and sauces are a matter of “pour something over the top.”
Through years of trial and error, I’ve created a recipe that works for me. Have fun experimenting with the basics (bread, milk, butter, and eggs) until you come up with one that works for you. I prefer mine fairly plain, but you may want to add or top with raisins (a New Orleans classic), chocolate, bananas, cranberries, blueberries, raspberries, rum sauce, caramel sauce, powdered-sugar drizzle, or almost anything else you can imagine.
Bread Pudding with Bourbon Sauce
(can be doubled for a crowd)
(makes 10-12 servings)
3 large eggs
1½ cups heavy (whipping) cream
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup firmly packed brown sugar
2 tsp. ground cinnamon
¼ cup bourbon
1 Tbsp. vanilla extract
3 cups milk
1 16oz. loaf stale French bread, cut or torn into 1-inch cubes
Heat oven to 325.
Stir together eggs, cream, granulated and brown sugars, bourbon, cinnamon, nutmeg, and vanilla in a large bowl.
Place bread cubes into a lightly buttered 13×9-inch pan.
Heat milk and butter in a large saucepan over medium-high heat, stirring constantly until butter is melted. Do not boil.
Stir ¼ cup of hot milk mixture into egg mixture. When well-combined, slowly add remaining milk mixture, stirring constantly.
Pour egg mixture evenly over bread. For a fluffier pudding, lightly press bread into egg mixture so all bread cubes are coated with the liquid. For a dense pudding, allow the pan to sit for 20 mins. before baking.
Bake for 45-55 mins., until top is browned and no liquid is visible around the edges. (The center will look soft. Don’t bother with the toothpick test—it won’t tell you anything.)
Allow pudding to stand for 20-30 mins. Top with bourbon sauce and serve.
(This will knock folks across the room, so be careful how much you pour on each pudding serving. 2 tsp. vanilla or other extract may be substituted for bourbon, if desired.)
1 cup heavy cream
½ Tbsp. corn starch
1 Tbsp. water
3 Tbsp. sugar
¼ cup bourbon
In small saucepan over medium heat, bring cream to a boil.
Whisk together corn starch and water, then add the mixture to the cream, whisking constantly.
Bring the mixture to a boil.
Whisk and simmer until thickened, taking care not to scorch the cream on the bottom.
Stir in sugar and bourbon. Taste. Add more sugar and/or bourbon to taste.
Ladle sauce over each serving of warm-from-the-oven or room-temperature pudding.
Serve and enjoy!
Bread pudding wouldn’t be on the menu in the dingy cafe on the wrong side of Fort Worth where the heroine in my latest story works. The job is a big step down from her previous life as a pampered socialite. “A Long Way from St. Louis” appears with stories from seven other authors—including filly sisters Cheryl Pierson and Tanya Hanson—in Prairie Rose Publications’ new holiday anthology, A Mail-Order Christmas Bride.
A Long Way from St. Louis
Cast out by St. Louis society after her husband leaves her for another, Elizabeth Adair goes west to marry a wealthy Texas rancher. Burning with anger when she discovers the deceit of a groom who is neither wealthy nor Texan, she refuses to wed and ends up on the backstreets of Fort Worth.
Ten years after Elizabeth’s father ran him out of St. Louis, Brendan Sheppard’s memory still sizzles with the rich man’s contempt. Riffraff. Alley trash. Son of an Irish drunkard. Yet, desire for a beautiful, unattainable girl continues to blaze in his heart.
When the debutante and the back-alley brawler collide a long way from St. Louis, they’ll either douse an old flame…or forge a new love.
Here’s an excerpt:
If the lazy beast lounging on a bench beside the depot’s doors were any indication, the west was neither wooly nor wild. As a porter took her hand to assist her from the railway car, Elizabeth Adair stared. The cowboy’s worn boots crossed at the ends of denim-clad legs slung way out in front of him. Chin resting on his chest, hat covering his face, the man presented the perfect picture of indolence.
Surely her husband-to-be employed a more industrious type of Texan.
Her gaze fixed on the cowboy’s peculiar hat. A broad brim surrounded a crown with a dent carved down the center. Sweat stains decorated the buff-colored felt. Splotches of drying mud decorated the rest of him.
Lazy and slovenly.
Pellets of ice sprinkled from the gray sky, melting the instant they touched her traveling cloak. Already she shivered. Another few minutes in this horrid weather, and the garment would be soaked through.
The porter raised his voice over the din of the bustling crowd. “Miss, let’s get you inside before you take a chill. I’ll bring your trunks right away.”
Taking her by the elbow, he hastened toward doors fitted with dozens of glass panes. Ragtag children darted among the passengers hurrying for shelter. Without overcoats, the urchins must be freezing.
She glanced around the platform. Where was her groom? She had assumed a wealthy rancher would meet his fiancée upon her arrival. Perhaps he waited within the depot’s presumed warmth. Her hope for a smattering of sophistication dwindled, but a woman in her circumstances could ill afford to be picky.
A group of ragamuffins gathered around the cowboy. As the porter hustled her past, the Texan reached into his sheepskin jacket and withdrew a handful of peppermint sticks. A whiff of the candy’s scent evoked the memory of a young man she once knew—a ne’er-do-well removed from St. Louis at her father’s insistence, and none too soon.
After depositing her beside a potbellied stove, the porter disappeared into the multitude. The tang of wood smoke drifted around her, so much more pleasant than the oily stench of coal. Peering through the throng, she slipped her hands from her muff and allowed the hand-warmer to settle against her waist on its long chain. She’d best reserve the accessory for special occasions. Judging by the people milling about the room, she doubted she’d find Persian lamb in Fort Worth unless she stooped to ordering from a mail-order catalog.
Mail-order. At least the marriage contract removed her from the whispered speculation, the piteous glances.
The shame heaped upon her by the parents she’d tried so hard to please.
Elizabeth put her back to the frigid gusts that swept in every time the doors opened, extending gloved palms toward the warmth cast by the stove.
Heavy steps tromped up behind her. Peppermint tickled her nose.
A gasp leapt down her throat, colliding with her heart’s upward surge. Her palm flew to the base of her collar. Bets? Deep and smooth, the voice triggered a ten-year-old memory: If ye were aulder, little girl, I’d teach ye more than how to kiss.
She whirled to find the lazy cowboy, his stained hat dangling from one hand. Her gaze rose to a face weathered by the elements, but the blue eyes, the crooked nose…
What’s your favorite holiday dessert?I’ll give an ebook copy of A Mail-Order Christmas Bride to one of today’s commenters who answers that question. (All Petticoats and Pistols sweepstakes rules apply to this giveaway.)