Did you know that the American Valentine greeting card business was started by a woman in 1847? Not only that, but she ran her extremely profitable business out of her home and employed other women in assembly-line craftsmanship years before Henry Ford made the business model famous.
Esther Howland was a college-educated woman who also happened to be the daughter of a stationer and bookseller. The year she graduated from the Mount Holyoke Female Seminary in 1847, she received an English Valentine from one of her father’s associates. At this time, such cards were imported from Europe and very expensive. They would only be available for the wealthy elite. Yet, as she looked at this card, her entrepreneurial mind saw possibilities. Have you ever found something in a store with an outrageous price tag and thought, “I could make that for a fraction of the cost”? Well, Esther not only had that thought, but she created a business plan.
She asked her father to order lace paper, paper flowers, and other supplies from Europe, then she set about creating her own designs. When she had a dozen, she presented them to her brother who reluctantly agreed to take them with him on his next sales trip. She hoped to receive perhaps $200 worth of orders. She received $5,000!
She dedicated a room in her home as her manufacturing shop, recruited her friends to help, and got to work. She would create the patterns for each piece of the valentine, then pass them off to the other girls to duplicate. Each one would be in charge of a certain piece of the multi-layered card. By 1849, the assembly line had been perfected and her business was born. She began to advertise and eventually expanded into the Christmas and birthday card market as well. Her basic cards sold for five cents. Her more elaborate designs containing hidden doors, ribbon trimmings, and gilded lace would sell for as much as one dollar.
In 1870, she incorporated the New England Valentine Company, but she continued running the business out of her home until 1879 when she moved it into a factory. She even allowed customized verse. All of her cards included four lines of poetic verse. However, if you fell in love with a particular card design but didn’t care for the verse, you could purchase The New England Valentine Co.’s Valentine Verse Book and simply cut one you like better from the 131 available in the book and paste it over the verse that didn’t suit. Clever woman!
********** GIVEAWAY **********
In honor of Valentine’s Day and clever women who create romantic masterpieces, I’d like to invite you to a Facebook party and offer a chance to win one of three fantastic Valentine prizes.
Sixteen fabulous historical authors are coming together to celebrate romance on Feb 13-14. We’ll be chatting live with readers during this party, and I’d love to see you there. My time slot is
7:00 pm CST on Feb 14th.
Christmas On The American Frontier By Kristy McCaffrey
A Christmas filled with cowboys inevitably evokes images of the Old West. Back then, the holidays were celebrated much as they are today, with holiday decorations, Santa Claus, presents, and a Christmas feast. I thought I would share some historical recollections directly from the pioneers themselves.
In 1884, Mrs. George C. Wolffarth of Estacado, Texas, reflected, “Christmas day was warm and beautiful and we had a watermelon feast on the church house lawn. Isiah Cox … had stored the melons in his cellar and they were in fine condition for the Christmas feast.”
“Now, you really must hear about my Christmas dinner!” began Evelyn Hertslet of Lake County, California, in 1885. Her holiday meal was filled with items from her native England. “The plum-pudding and mince-pies were all that could be desired, and we had also tipsy cake, Victoria sandwiches, meringues, and dessert ….”
In 1849, Catherine Haun wrote, “Although very tired of tent life many of us spent Thanksgiving and Christmas in our canvas houses. I do not remember ever having had happier holiday times. For Christmas we had grizzly bear steak for which we paid $2.50, one cabbage for $1.00 and oh horrors, some more dried apples! And for a Christmas present the Sacramento River rose very high and flooded the whole town!”
Elizabeth Le Breton Gunn, who was living in Sonora, California, in 1851, wrote this letter:
“Yesterday was Christmas Day …. We filled the stockings on Christmas Eve …. The children filled theirs. They put in wafers, pens, toothbrushes, potatoes, and gingerbread, and a little medicine …. They received cake and candies, nuts and raisins, a few pieces of gold and a little money, and, instead of books, some letters. Their father and I each wrote them letters, and better than all and quite unexpected, they found yours, and were delighted. In my stocking were a toothbrush and a nailbrush (the latter I wanted very much) and some cakes and a letter from Lewis …. We had a nice roast of pork, and I made a plum pudding. Mr. Christman gave the children some very nice presents; each of the boys a pearl handled knife with three blades, Sarah a very pretty box, and Lizzie a pair of scissors, and each a paper of macaroons.”
Englishman William Redmond Kelly visited California in 1849-50. He celebrated Christmas at a mining camp near Middle Creek. “Our dinner-table was quite a spectacle in its way in the diggings … its bear meat, venison, and bacon, its apple-pies pleasingly distributed, its Gothic columns of plain and fancy breads … the plum-pudding alone being reserved for [a] second course …”
Laura Ingalls Wilder wrote of the preparations for Christmas on the Kansas Prairie: “Ma was busy all day long, cooking good things for Christmas. She baked salt-rising bread and r’n’Injun bread, and Swedish crackers, and huge pan of baked beans, with salt pork and molasses. She baked vinegar pies and dried-apple pies, and filled a big jar with cookies, and she let Laura and Mary lick the cake spoon.” That Christmas, Laura received a shiny new tin cup, a peppermint candy, a heart-shaped cake, and a brand new penny in her stocking.
How would you like seven brand new contemporary Christmas stories set in the West this holiday season?
The weather is cold, the atmosphere is festive, and the cowboys are hot. How do you keep a cowboy at Christmas?
Don’t miss this holiday collection of modern-day cowboys and the women they love, featuring the same USA Today, Amazon Bestselling, and Award-Winning authors from “A Cowboy to Keep,” which garnered 55 reviews with an average rating of 4.5 stars.
CHRISTMAS, LIBERTY, AND THE THREE MINUTE MAN by Carra Copelin
Nashville event planner, Liberty Ann Hart, tries not to fall for a local carpenter, but his charisma is difficult to ignore, especially at Christmas and in the rustic setting of a Texas town called Mistletoe. Daniel Dylan Layman is determined to show the headstrong city woman a country life. Will a Christmas fundraiser spark a lifetime of love?
A CHRISTMAS CAROLE by Andrea Downing
Carrie Matheson is happy to start a new life at the Wyoming ranch she has inherited, but her six-year-old son wants to return to New York. As Christmas approaches and his pleas to Santa receive replies, it’s alarm bells not sleigh bells that start ringing. Tate Schrugge is amused by his new neighbor when she jogs over with some mis-delivered mail, but after she calls him Scrooge, she’s definitely not on his Christmas list. If these two can get together, it might be the Dickens of a romance.
THE PEPPERMINT TREE by Kristy McCaffrey
When an unexpected inheritance draws lawyer Skye Mallory home for the Christmas holidays, she’s surprised by a longing to set down roots in her Colorado hometown. Only one thing stands in her way—a cowboy who broke her heart in high school. Joe Carrigan has returned to the community he left years ago, ready to face his one regret in life—Skye Mallory. But this time, he won’t be so chivalrous.
THE DEVIL’S CHRISTMAS KISS by Devon McKay
Some things never change. Kristen Kelly’s hometown is still Christmas crazy. Her sister, Laney, will always need to be rescued. And Cole Lawson will never stop pestering her. The handsome
cowboy has picked right up where they left off, teasing her without mercy. And though her head tells her to run from Cole as fast as she can, her heart has a mind of its own.
SLAY BELLS by Hildie McQueen
Carmen and Jared can’t avoid the sparks that fly between them at first sight. But when a dead body surfaces at the Christmas festival, she becomes a witness and he becomes a suspect. Not exactly the recipe for a perfect match. Can they find love amidst the mayhem and sleigh bells?
THE BEST CHRISTMAS by Hebby Roman
Sofia Rossi and Gar McCulloch meet under challenging circumstances—her estranged son has been admitted to Gar’s ranch rehab-center. Sofia is a successful New York model who had an ill-advised liaison with a wealthy, married member of New York society and lost her son to her ex’s manipulation. Gar is divorced and lost his daughter to a drug overdose. When they bond together to reclaim Sofia’s son, the last thing they expect is to find redemption in each other’s arms, making this their best Christmas… ever.
COUNTING DOWN TO CHRISTMAS by Patti Sherry-Crews
Melody Evans, a professional wedding planner, views happily-ever-after endings with a skeptical eye, but she’s never lost her childlike enthusiasm for her favorite holiday—Christmas. To veterinarian rancher Leland Jennings IV, Christmas is just for kids. If he could, he’d skip the whole month of December. But he does believe there’s one woman out there for him, and he’s holding out for her. Melody revives Leland’s Christmas spirit, and he rekindles her heart.
Only 99 cents at Amazon or FREE in Kindle Unlimited
Leave a comment about what the cowboy on ‘A Christmas Cowboy To Keep’ might be bringing home for the holidays and one lucky winner will receive autographed print copies of A WEST TEXAS CHRISTMAS TRILOGY and BLUE SAGE!! Winner will be drawn tomorrow morning.
MARRIAGE, CONSENT, AND MAIL ORDER BRIDES
by Nerys Leigh
The issue of consent is very much a hot topic these days, and I think we would all agree that forcing one’s attentions on someone without their consent is wrong. But what about back in the nineteenth century, between a husband and wife? What was a mail order bride to do who had just married a man she didn’t know?
So far in my Escape to the West series, the issue hasn’t come up, with my brides for one reason or another not having to face the prospect of intimacy with a man they’ve only just met. But in More Than Gold, the sixth book in the series, all Gabriel wants is a woman to cook, clean, and warm his bed. In his world, people get married for practical purposes and nothing more. His new wife, however, has different ideas. Despite being forced to travel across the country to marry a man she’s never met, Grace refuses to give up on her dream of being loved and cared for.
So when Gabriel makes his move barely three hours after she arrives, he doesn’t get the response he’s expecting!
Excerpt from “More Than Gold” by Nerys Leigh.
Gabriel rose and walked across the room to her, stopping just a foot away when she turned around.
“You’re a real handsome woman, Grace,” he said, sliding his hands around her waist and leaning in for their first kiss.
A fist slammed into the side of his face, whipping his head round and sending him reeling backwards.
She grabbed a skillet from the cupboard and held it in front of her like a weapon. “What are you doing?!”
He shook his head to clear it. The woman had a right hook most men would have been proud of. “What do you think I’m doing? We’re married. We’re going to do what married folks do.”
It was a perfectly natural assumption, as far as he was concerned.
But not for her, apparently. “We’ve known each other for less than three hours and you expect me to just allow you to have your way with me?”
What was going on here? “Uh… yes?”
She gasped in a horrified breath. “You… you… uncouth brute!”
He was fairly sure uncouth was a bad thing.
Drawing himself up, he pointed his finger at her. “Now wait just a minute. We’re legally wed. It’s not like you’ll be whoring yourself out to me. I’m your husband.”
Her eyes looked like they could pop right out of her head. “Whoring?!”
It may have been a poor choice of words.
He raised both hands, palms out in surrender. “That ain’t what I meant. I’m just saying that it’s natural for a husband and wife to want to…”
“Well I don’t want to, so you keep your hands to yourself!” She brandished the pan, forcing him to step back.
He rubbed at his aching face. If she could do that with just her fist, no telling what kind of damage she could do with a skillet.
He decided to try reasoning with her, from a safe distance. “I know we haven’t been together for long, but we’d been writing letters to each other for nigh on three months before you came. I reckon we know each other plenty. I promise I’ll be real gentle and…”
“You won’t be gentle. You won’t be anything.” She waved the skillet. “Because it isn’t happening!”
So what do you think? Is intimacy simply a matter of being married? Or is it something deeper, coming out of the kind of love, care and respect that will last a lifetime?
Comment your thoughts below for the chance to win an ebook of your choice from my Escape to the West series!
When author, Lauri Robinson, surprised me by asking if I’d be interested in writing a book with her, I had just finished my San Diego Heroes Series and really hadn’t expected to write any more stories set in the Old West. However, her enthusiasm spurred me (please forgive the pun) to accept her request. The process of collaborating has been a learning experience and also a joy. With Mail-Order Brides of Oak Grove, we fell in love with the inhabitants of our fictional town and that first book propagated a series. Between Lauri and me there will be seven books by the time we are finished. You can view them all, along with a brief description, here: http://kathrynalbright.com/books/oak-grove-series
Throughout the series, I’ve gotten to know the town-folk with their secrets, idiosyncrasies, heart-aches, and joys from the moment Mary and Maggie, twin mail-order brides, stepped off the Kansas-Pacific train platform. As I type this, I just realized that the final book in the series ends with a scene on that same platform. Talk about ‘book-ends’!
I sketched out a town with buildings and stockyards, but, as I am no artist, I quickly gave up on that idea. Sketching did help me to visualize things better, but initially, I had to have a basic idea where buildings were situated so that both Lauri and I could mention them in their correct perspective without mistakes. (The smallest mistake can pull a reader out of the story.) Even shadows had to be falling the proper direction for the time of day. The Smoky Hill River had to run south of town and be within walking distance for a fishing scene (first book) and also because in the Spring (fourth book) it overflowed its banks, causing a horrific flood. (That is according to the real history of the river in 1879!) Here is the first map I made on my dining room table…
And here are some of my computer scribblings…
And then I stumbled across a picture of a real town’s Main Street that was so very close to what was in my head… it’s missing the school down by the church and Oak Grove doesn’t have a Fire Station yet. Instead, the Fire Station would actually be either the bath house or the Saloon. Still…it looks fairly close to my vision. Oak Grove…being a newly built town…would also be a bit spiffier.
What’s next for the series?
CHRISTMAS WITH THE OUTLAW is coming out NOVEMEBER 1st! This story will be the last in the Oak Grove Series and I am already sad to leave this wonderful community. It’s funny how fictional worlds and characters can become so ‘real.’ I would enjoy going to this town and meeting everyone there! I hear that from many of my readers about the Oak Grove Series and about other story “worlds.” I think that must say something about humanity. Despite the outliers – those ‘lone wolf’ independents, despite introverts and extroverts, we are all made for connection and for community to varying degrees.
What about you?
If you could travel to any fictional book world or setting, where would you like to visit?
(Does not have to be a historical western setting necessarily!)
Answer for a chance in my giveaway and your name might be drawn to win a copy (print or ebook)
of my newest release ~ Wedding at Rocking S Ranch!
(See Giveaway Guidelines at the top of this page)
The westward expansion in the United States began before the Civil War, spurred by a yearning for exploration and discovery. Early settlers were also influenced by the lure of gold and inexpensive land and the belief in something termed “Manifest Destiny.” After the war, there was another catalyst that sent people westward; the desire for a new beginning. But the American west was wild and the way was difficult and dangerous.
Violence was a fact of life as people fought for a foothold in the vast and dangerous landscapes. And lawful governance was hard to come by. In this wide, uncertain world of the western frontier, outlaws thrived. There weren’t nearly enough lawmen to cover all the territories and sheriffs and deputies often found themselves with more than enough to deal with in their small communities. Besides, lawmen were greatly hindered by the limited scope and breadth of their authority. Chasing down outlaws who moved from one place to another was either outside their jurisdiction or beyond the capacity of their manpower.
Relief came as a result of a court decision in 1872 which gave certain individuals the power to track down, imprison (indefinitely, if need be), and turn in anyone who had escaped bail or had a warrant for their arrest. These bounty hunters worked on the side of law but were not regulated by the same rules that tied the hands of true lawmen. They could cross state and territory lines. They did not need a warrant to force entry to a fugitive’s property. They had the unique benefit of anonymity and often had to act outside the law in order to accomplish their tasks.
As you can imagine, this combination of power and independence and the lack of checks and balances attracted a variety of people. Many who took on the role of bounty hunter were former military men who possessed exceptional skill with firearms and the know-how to track and, if necessary, kill known outlaws. One of the most successful and well-known bounty hunters was Charlie Siringo, a Pinkerton Detective. Other bounty hunters were barely a half step away from being outlaws themselves. Some were even convicted fugitives who were recruited to turn on their former partners and rivals.
When it came to outlaws and lawmen in the Wild West, the two were often one and the same. Outlaws became lawmen, lawmen became outlaws, and some men managed to live as both at the same time. That was possibly never truer than when it came to those who took on the mantle of bounty hunter.
In THE GUNSLINGER’S VOW, the first title in my new historical western series, Malcolm Kincaid started out as a vigilante on the hunt for justice. While tracking down the men responsible for his brother’s death, he just sort of fell into the occupation of bounty hunter. Though at his core he has the noble goal of finally seeing justice prevail, he has no problem making sure that happens by whatever means necessary. Unfortunately, he falls for a woman whose life might depend on him giving up his vengeful vendetta once and for all.
Whether set in Regency England or the American West, I write historical romance about dashing and sometimes dangerous men who know just how to get what they want and women who at times may be reckless, bold, and unconventional, but who always have the courage to embrace what love and life have to offer.
I’m so excited to have the chance to share Logan and Evangeline’s story with you. I’ll be sending you an email with instructions on how to claim your prize, so keep your eyes peeled. A rollicking western adventure is on it’s way!
More Than Meets the Eye is the first book in a new series. Each time I start a new project, there is an excitement that comes with getting to know a fresh group of characters, but there is also a pressure to make these characters unique. A challenge that gets increasingly difficult the more books I publish.
The premise behind my new Patchwork Family series is a group of orphans who bond to form their own family when their orphan train derails. These youngsters were overlooked, discarded, and unwanted by the families they met along their journey. Zach, because he is a belligerent loner with a giant chip on his shoulder. Seth, because he is sickly, weakened by asthma. But how could I make my cheerful, tenderhearted Evangeline undesirable to adoptive families?
That’s when I thought of cats. No, I wasn’t going to give her claws. But what about mismatched eyes? Psychologists will tell you that at a subconscious level, humans crave symmetry. It’s why certain faces are universally more attractive than others. When that symmetry is out of balance, it creates cognitive dissonance in the human brain. In our effort to explain away this discomfort, we place blame on the cause, calling it unnatural or even something darker like witchcraft. The greater the dissonance, the greater the reaction. So, I didn’t simply give my heroine slightly different colored eyes, I made them drastically different. One dark brown and one vividly blue. These are the heterochromatic eyes that I patterned Evangeline’s after.
Evangeline grows up with constant rejection, yet she maintains her optimism and cheerful disposition. At least when she’s around her brothers. And when she meets Logan, a mysterious stranger with a hidden agenda, she finally finds a man who sees the woman behind the mismatched eyes.
Here’s a short excerpt from the initial meeting between Logan and Evangeline. Logan has just attempted to rescue Evie from what he believed to be a wild boar. In actuality, the hog is Evie’s pet.
“Since you’re new to the area, you might not be aware that you’re on Hamilton land.” Evangeline crossed her arms over her chest. Lifted her chin. Widened her stance. “My brothers won’t begrudge you snaring a rabbit or even taking down a deer if you’re in need of nourishment, but we don’t take kindly to squatters.”
His lips quirked again.
What was it about her trying to act mean that made men grin? It was quite annoying. Evangeline frowned at him.
His smile widened. “I’m aware of the boundaries. My camp is east of your property line.”
“But you’re not.” She unfolded her arms and poked him in the chest.
He stared at her finger then pointed his own and nudged it against her shoulder. “Because I was trying to save you from being gored by a wild boar.”
“One that wouldn’t actually hurt me.”
“That’s debatable.” The man folded his arms and looked down his nose at her. “Even without tusks, that thing could do serious damage if riled.”
“Then you best not rile him.” Evangeline gave a sassy wave of her head, as if she could order Hezzy to attack at any moment. The only damage her pet would likely render involved non-lethal pig slobber and a head butt that might manage to knock the fellow off-balance. But something told her this man wouldn’t be bowled over too easily. . .
“Thank you, by the way.” Evangeline met his gaze, smiling even broader when he blinked in confusion. “For your heroic rescue.” She dipped her chin. “Just because your actions were unnecessary doesn’t mean they’re not appreciated.”
He cleared his throat and shifted his weight. “You’re welcome.” His voice tapered up at the end, making the statement sound more like a question, but Evangeline chose to interpret it as a successful change of direction anyhow.
“You have a lovely horse.” She stepped to the side and twisted, letting her skirt twirl about her just a little. She’d never been good at standing still. The rhythmic twisting, even in small doses, calmed her growing nerves.
Now that the initial excitement of the discovery, chase, and tackle had subsided, she was becoming acutely aware of the fact that she was alone with a man.
A man who actually treated her like a woman. Not a sister. Not a freak of nature with unnatural eyes. But an ordinary, normal, woman.
“He’s very handsome,” she said. “Your horse.” The horse’s owner qualified for that descriptor, too. That wavy dark brown hair escaping from beneath his hat to curl over his collar. Gray eyes that had softened from steel to the color of fluffy storm clouds that projected the possibility of trouble but also offered shade. Tall. Strong. A little rough around the edges. “And friendly, too.”
The man before her mumbled something beneath his breath about horse sense not being what it used to be, but Evangeline chose to let that bit of cynicism go without comment.
In honor of More Than Meets the Eye’s release, I’ll be giving away autographed copies (US addresses only) to three winners drawn from those who leave comments on this post. Winners will be announced on Thursday, June 7.
To create a scene, quite often authors draw on their life experiences and the emotions they felt at the time. That is how Katie O’Rourke’s “date” with Doctor Graham became a scene in The Prairie Doctor’s Bride.
When my husband took his first job as a school principal, he moved our family to a remote rural area in western Illinois. We rented a big, old farmhouse on a hill surrounded by fields of corn and wheat and woods, three miles from the town where he worked. The picture above is similar to the house, except the condition was much better! I enjoyed living in the country, but there was no hospital nearby for me to work in my profession as an obstetrical nurse. I took a position at the closest place ~ a nursing home. I didn’t last long. Those lovely elderly men and women reminded me too much of my grandparents — one of which had recently passed away. My emotions were frayed after only one day of working there.
* * * * * * * * * * *
Nelson Graham, the doctor in my latest sweet western romance, the Prairie Doctor’s Bride, is in need of a wife (and a nurse.) Growing up in the east, he attended a boarding school and then a university in Boston. He never had much contact with the “fairer” gender and so when he decides to take a wife in Oak Grove from among the mail-order brides that the town has procured, he is more than a bit out of his comfort zone.
He makes a list of attributes he expects in a wife, but he also wants to make sure she will work beside him as his nurse. He is not expecting a love-match. There wasn’t much love in his parent’s marriage and so he decides the best he can hope for is a help-mate.
He goes about meeting each mail-order bride and assessing them to see which one would work out for him the best. Needless to say, I had fun with this part!
The following is an excerpt of one such meeting ~ (Hint: Katie is not the heroine!)
* * * * * * * * * *
The next afternoon he called on Katie O’Rourke. He’d heard good things about her from a few of his more gossipy patients. Miss O’Rourke had the start of lines near her pale blue eyes and a more generous girth than the other brides. He was immediately drawn to her pleasant smile and outgoing personality. He invited her to dine with him in the hotel’s restaurant.
“I’m surprised you asked for me, Dr. Graham. I imagined that you would be interested in a younger woman. After all, your first choice was Mara. She’s the youngest of us from the train.”
“There is something to be said for life experience in a good marriage, Miss O’Rourke. You and I are likely close to the same age and have far more in common.”
Rollie brought in two bowls of cabbage soup and two plates of scalloped ham and potatoes. He set them down before Nelson and Miss O’Rourke. “Hello, Doc. Ah…Miss Katie…I would appreciate your opinion on the meal.”
Nelson raised his brows. Miss Katie, was it? It wasn’t like Rollie to solicit anyone’s opinion, especially when it came to his wife’s cooking. Ever since Rollie married Sadie, he had said that she could do no wrong.
“Oh, Katie here is a fine cook,” Rollie said, catching Nelson’s expression. “She’s been teaching Sadie and me some secrets from her native Ireland. I wish she had been here for Saint Paddy’s Day.”
Across from him, Miss O’Rourke smiled. “You’re too kind, Mr. Austin. I’m sure this will be delicious.”
“Well, I’ll be waiting to hear your thoughts.” And with a quick rap on the table as goodbye, Rollie headed over to another table to speak with another couple.
She could cook! That was good news for Nelson’s purposes. He settled back to enjoy his meal, his opinion of Miss O’Rourke rising steadily.
“What is it you did before coming to Oak Grove?” he asked halfway through his soup.
“Ach. I suppose you might think that I was married before, seeing as how I’m older than the other brides, but I haven’t had the pleasure.”
“It was on my mind,” he admitted. “I find it refreshing that you don’t make excuses. Sensible.”
“Well…it is what it is, isn’t it?”
She took a bite of ham and potatoes before continuing, “Ye see, I took care of my parents. First my ma fell sick, and it became my duty to do the cooking and cleaning and tending to my sisters. Then, a year after she passed, my da had an accident on the river. He needed my help after that.”
“What about your sisters? Did they help?”
She shook her head. “They married off as fast as you can say Christopher Columbus. First Bridget and then Susan. I’m glad of it. They have bonny husbands and they are happy.”
Another mental check went down on the positive side his list. She thought of others before herself, and she’d cared for a sick mother and ailing father and hadn’t minded her duty. “Miss Katie,” he said. “The fact that someone hasn’t snatched you up bewilders me.”
A becoming blush rose up her apple cheeks. “It’s hoping I am that I’ll never have to care for another sickly person again, unless, of course it was my own. You see—I like to be out of doors and I’ve had so little chance to do that. A garden of my own to tend on my own little patch of land, and cooking what I grow. Could anything be better than that?”
Oh no. That didn’t sound like the life he had envisioned. “What about helping your husband?”
“I suppose it would depend on what he did. For instance, I do like animals you see. And as I said—growing things. Anything that is out of doors.”
“Well, what if he was a doctor?”
Her eyes widened. “Are you asking me for my hand?”
His heart nearly stopped. “No, no!” he said quickly. “Of course not. It’s much too soon.”
“Well, then, just what is it you are saying?”
“I’m obviously not doing a very good job of making myself clear. I meant to say, or to ask…” He was stumbling about like a fool! He took a deep breath and began again. He leaned forward. “I would expect my wife to work with me. In my office. Doing things such as a nurse would do.”
She snatched herself back from him as if burned. “I’m sorry, Doctor. I’ve done my duty as a daughter and I hope never to look on another hurt or dying man or woman in my life. It’s my heart, you see…”
“No. I don’t see,” he said perhaps a little too crossly. “You are experienced. You are obviously well suited for the type of work.”
“But I couldn’t bear to go through it again. Every person I tended would remind me of my ma or my da. I—couldn’t.” The last was said in a whisper as if she was remembering more than she wanted. Her eyes filled with tears. She stood. “I won’t be misleading you to think that I would.”
Others in the restaurant were watching the drama with growing interest. This was not how he anticipated the afternoon going. “Please, Miss O’Rourke. Sit down again. I would have you finish your meal.”
She stood there a moment, undecided.
“Believe me, I do understand. I’m disappointed, for myself, but I completely understand your position.” It was obviously too much for her gentle nature.
“Are we to be friends then?” she asked, her voice uncertain.
“That would suit me fine. A person can’t have too many friends.”
“To be sure,” she said, gave a relieved smile and slowly sat back down to finish eating.
* * * * * * * * * *
I hope you enjoyed this excerpt!
(I thought it fit well with Saint Patrick’s Day!)
Do you have a Saint Patrick’s Day tradition? Do you wear green?
To enter the giveaway, Let me know!
I will choose a winner tomorrow from among those who comment.
Raising her son alone, penniless Sylvia Marks has had enough of being the subject of town gossip. But when her son is seriously injured she’ll do anything to save him…even kidnap handsome Dr. Nelson Graham!
Nelson knows what he wants in a wife; she’s to be amiable, biddable and skilled in domestic chores. Gun-toting Sylvia Marks isn’t what he had in mind, but as the two are forced together he realizes she’s exactly what he needs!
Hello Reader! Thank you for joining Petticoats and Pistols on Mountain Brook Ink’s “Romantic Reads Blog Tour.” Follow the tour schedule below from February 23 – March 2 for opportunities to win free e-books, Amazon gift cards, and the grand prize, a Kindle Fire HD. Comment on this post and join the conversation for an opportunity to win a free e-book from Barbara J. Scott. To enter for the Kindle Fire or a giftcard, click the rafflecopter link below. We hope you’ll discover a new favorite author and make some new friends! Have fun!
I am super excited to visit Petticoats & Pistols today, home to many of my western writing heroes— Mary Connealy, Ruth Logan Herne, Karen Witemeyer, Margaret Brownley, and so many others.
I cut my teeth on TV westerns!
Back in the 1950s when I was a child, our family religiously watched Gunsmoke, The Roy Rogers Show, The Gene Autry Show, The Lone Ranger, The Rifleman, Wagon Train, Have Gun Will Travel, Rawhide, Maverick, and so many more westerns—all on a small black-and-white TV. We didn’t need color TV to fall in love with those handsome, rugged heroes. We used our imaginations. Mom read Zane Grey books, and until the day she passed away, kept a framed picture of Roy Rogers on top of her color TV set.
So, when I returned to writing after a long career as a Christian acquisitions editor, is it any surprise the first book I would write for the sheer joy of it takes place in 1875 Montana Territory? I am over the moon that Dreams of My Heart, Book 1 in The Reluctant Brides series, releases April 1 as an ebook and shortly after in paperback. The book is already up on Amazon to preorder. Thanks to Miralee Farrell at Mountain Brook Ink who fell in love with my Texas cattleman Buck McKean and feisty Irish immigrant Kate O’Brien—two wounded hearts—who end up hitched after less than twenty-four hours to save her reputation. Talk about a whirlwind wedding! How do you court a prickly woman you’ve already married? Kate is featured on the cover of my book against a background of Montana wildflowers.
My heroine is no pushover. Like many immigrant pioneer women, she’s a survivor. She fights to hang on to her brother’s homestead after he’s killed in a suspicious cattle stampede. If she can’t repay the bank loan her brother took out to bring her to America, she’ll be forced to marry the banker’s rotten son or be forced into making a living in town with few skills. But she has guardian angels who attend church with her who aren’t going to let that happen.
Still, Kate won’t be controlled by any man, not after escaping an abusive stepfather. If she has to dress in men’s britches to chop wood, milk the cow, muck the stalls, harvest the garden, or use her brother’s shotgun to drive away a drunken gang sent to harass her, she’s up to the task.
Women who pioneered the West had to toughen up to survive, especially when left on their own in untamed territory. They could fall prey to grizzly bears or unsavory men, die of snake bite, or contract any number of diseases, not to mention accidents.
I chose Deer Lodge Valley as the setting of my series because my best friend grew up in the town of Deer Lodge and had shared its stories with me for years. Gwen Ellis is a Montana woman through and through. She was raised on deer and elk meat her parents hunted, along with fish caught in the famous Montana streams. Garden vegetables were canned and put in the cellar to eat all winter. There’s no task too hard for Gwen. She’s a survivor.
Buck and Kate, both strong-minded individuals, learn as winter closes in that they need each other to survive and overcome the rigors of living in the Old West. They realize two are stronger than one, and eventually, their faith softens their hearts toward each other despite many dangerous twists and turns along the way.
Here’s a Peek at Barbara’s new book
Can A Reluctant Bride and Her New Husband Fall in Love Despite Their Wounded Hearts?
Plucky Irish immigrant Kate O’Brien struggles to hang on to her brother’s homestead after his death in a suspicious cattle stampede. If she’s unable to pay off the loan that paid for her ticket to America, she will be forced to marry the banker’s rogue son, Rafe Hamilton.
When Kate is attacked by a drunken gang, salvation comes in the form of a total stranger—Texas cattleman Buck McKean. He drives the men off her ranch and spends the night in her cabin to keep her safe. However, his act of kindness poses a profound threat to her reputation, and the two marry to prevent the impending consequences.
Kate makes it clear to her new husband that because of the abuse she suffered at the hands of her stepfather, she’ll never allow another man to control her life. Left at the altar in Virginia City, Buck has made his own vow never to give his heart to another woman.
When Kate asks Buck for the unthinkable, her choice endangers both their lives.
Can God mend their hearts and save their love?
For a chance to win 1 of 2 ebooks of Dreams of My Heart,
tell us the dream of your heart that you hope will come true.
Barbara J. Scott, an inspirational author and editor, released her first novella with Gilead Publishing in late 2016 titled “I’ll Be Home for Christmas” that appears in the Sleigh Bells Ring novella collection. Her latest novel, Dreams of My Heart, the first book in the Reluctant Brides historical romance series, will be released April 1, 2018, by Mountain Brook Ink. Her best-selling novels Sedona Storm and Secrets of the Gathering Darkness, both contemporary spiritual warfare novels, were written with co-author Carrie Younce and published by Thomas Nelson in the mid-1990s. She has years of publishing experience and has written several novels, screenplays, and gift books.
Barbara and her husband Mike live in the Nashville area with their two Chihuahuas, Riley and Sissy, both rescued from puppy mills. Reading, writing, and research are her passions.