Tag: #MailOrderBridesofOakGrove

What is it about Mail-Order Bride Stories?

My new book, which comes out tomorrow, is about a fictional, newly established town in 1870’s Kansas. The men create a Betterment Committee, banding together to entice women from the east to come there as mail-order brides.

Mail-order brides have been around for ages, although the actual term “mail-order bride” was not in use much until after 1908. It didn’t appear in a major newspaper until 1929 when it was a headline in the New York Times.  That first major occurrence detailed the murder of Carroll Rablen by his mail-order bride, Eva, through the use of poison.

The first incidence of enticing women from afar for men in North America was in 1620 with the arrival of the Jamestown Brides. The Virginia Company was made up of men, many who planned to make their fortune in America and return to England. The founders knew that wives and families would make the men establish roots here in the colonies. The ratio there was ten women to every nine men, whereas in the Jamestown Colony the ratio was six men to every one woman.

westward expansion

Ninety middle-class spinsters (single women 30 years of age and older,) came across the Atlantic on a ship hired by the Virginia Company. They were promised a husband and given clothing and sheets as a further means of enticement to make the journey. Most of these women were from the middle class in search of a better life, and indeed they were able to share property with their husband and held a higher status here as the “founding mothers of America” than they had in England.

As men moved west and established towns, they advertised for women to come to help “grow” the towns and settle them. The Civil War played havoc on the notion that every girl would grow up to eventually marry when it wiped out so many men of marriageable age on both sides of the conflict. In the south, the dearth of men was even higher. That is when matrimonial agencies suddenly sprang up and posted advertisements in every major eastern newspaper.

Were these all honest, forthright ads? Of course not.

mail-order brides

One incidence I came across in my research fascinated me. Eleanor Barry was an orphan who became a schoolteacher. After answering an advertisement in the San Francisco Magazine, she started corresponding with a Louis Dreibelbis who professed to be a miner in another part of California. After several months of letters back and forth, she agreed to marry him and departed on a train to meet him.

As she neared her destination, four men boarded the train to blow up the strongbox that was filled with gold bullion and money. Eleanor asked that they spare her luggage telling them she was soon to be married. The leader acquiesced, blowing up everyone else’s but hers. It was only after she had reached her destination and married, that she realized the man who had spared her trousseau was the same man to whom she had just said her vows—evidenced by a familiar scar on his face.

In romance novels, there is a huge readership for these types of stories. I think this is due to the Cinderella story-line and the happily-ever-after. The first mail-order bride story that I ever read (and where I first heard the term) was Sarah, Plain and Tall by Patricia MacLachlan. It was 1986 Newberry Medal winner and Scott O’Dell Award for Historical Fiction and the 1986 Golden Kite Award. I still remember lines from the book!

Mail Order Brides of Oak Grove

Why do you think this type of story is so appealing?
Have you read any mail-order bride stories that you enjoyed and would recommend?

Comment for a chance to win a copy of Mail-Order Brides of Oak Grove
(Print or ebook for the continental U.S.A. Ebook for outside the U.S.A.)

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Cover Reveal! Mail-Order Brides of Oak Grove

 

I am excited to share the cover of my newest book with you.

(First ~ a little introduction. By the way, this isn’t the cover…)

Old trains

When twins, Mary and Maggie McCary are caught selling
their family tonic without a permit,

they’re forced to agree to become mail-order brides to stay out of jail.
Taking the train to Oak Grove, the pair are separated–

For Mary, falling off the Oak Grove train
into Steve Putnam’s lap changes everything.
Could he be the cowboy to tempt her down the aisle?
And running from trouble, Maggie doesn’t intend to actually marry…
until she shares one sensational kiss with Jackson Miller!

When the mayor discovers the twins’ side business and their plans
to avoid the bride contract, 
things begin to fall apart for the sisters.
They both have a lot to learn about the men of Oak Grove…and likewise,
the men have a lot to learn about these two McCarys!

Join Maggie and Mary McCary in the first book of a new series from authors Lauri Robinson and Kathryn Albright that are all set in the fictional town of Oak Grove, Kansas.

So without further ado… TA DA!!

Mail Order Brides of Oak Grove

I absolutely loved collaborating with Lauri while she wrote Mary’s story and I wrote Maggie’s. These are two young women with a penchant for fun and trouble. In Taming the Runaway Bride, the second story in this book, Maggie’s youth and unconventional upbringing make her view of life slightly skewed from other “normal” folk. For her, rules don’t apply in the regular sense. She turns Jackson Miller’s quiet life into one big knot with her shenanigans!

It will be released on May 23  in paperback and on June 1st in eBook form.
Here is the link to Pre-Order

I hope that you enjoy this short excerpt~
Taming the Runaway Bride from Mail-Order Brides of Oak Grove

The worst of the screeching subsided as the engine shuddered and then slowed to a turtle’s crawl.

Her three companions created a fair wall with their noses pressed to the glass. Maggie could only see bits and pieces of the town moving by through the spaces between the three—Miss Know-it-all Rebecca, Miss Quiet-and Quaint Sadie, and Miss Gullible Anna. She couldn’t understand why they were excited about a new beginning and gaining a husband along with it. She certainly wasn’t. That’s all her life had been for as long as she could remember—always a new city, a new town, a new horizon. A seed didn’t have time to flower, nor dust to settle, the way her family lived. And she sure didn’t plan to get yoked to a man. A man would only complicate things between her and her sister. He might even separate them.

But while she was here, she would like to see a real cowboy. One with boots…and a Stetson. Or one of those ten gallon hats that the other girls had been giggling about. Did cowboys always wear spurs? These were things a girl should know.

She stored the deck of cards in her satchel. It wouldn’t do to lose them. She might have need of a little spending money or even a little “get out of town” money.

She stepped behind Anna to peer over her shoulder. From this position all she saw was a small sea of dusty and dirty cowboy hats and bowlers. A few men waved faded flags—bleached by the sun and whipped by the prairie wind.

She swallowed. Men. All men. At least thirty of them. She rose to her tip-toes in order to see better.

Some were really young, but most looked middlin’ to old. A few appeared…weathered. One thing was obvious—no two of the men staring back from the station platform were the same. They were all shapes and sizes. And whether they wore big grins or not as they vied for the front row, they all looked curious to see who would be stepping off the train. Some, she noticed uncomfortably, appeared eager—a bit too eager.

With that thought she shrank back and looked in the seat behind her for her sister. Where had she disappeared to so fast? This bride contract had been her idea from the start. She should be here.

“Oh! I see the one I want!” Anna squealed, her voice blending with the last screech of the brakes.

The train shuddered horrendously to a complete stop. With it, a band started up. A band? A trumpet played Oh! Susanna! and was joined by the beat of a drum and the trill of a fife.

Panic seized Maggie. She wasn’t ready for this! “I have to find Mary,” she croaked out. Swaying slightly, she headed toward the back end of the railcar. She wanted to be with her sister when she faced the men gathered outside—not with these women she’d known only a handful of days.

The door before her swung open.

“Well now, Miss McCary,” the conductor said, raising his bushy brows. “A bit anxious I’d say.”

She glared at him. He was in league with the sheriff back in Bridgeport—that scoundrel.

Behind him, a man from the platform climbed the steps, pausing when he arrived at the top as if the exertion winded him. He was dressed in his Sunday best, right down to the gold watch fob and chain dangling from his black satin vest. The suit appeared a bit small at the neck…and other places. Probably cutting off his breath judging by the redness of his face. He peered first at her and then at the other women behind her as he blotted a trace of sweat on his forehead.

“Welcome to Oak Grove, ladies. I’m Mayor Melbourne.” He paused, looking over the four of them. The welcoming mien dissolved and he turned to the conductor. “Where are the rest?”

The man fumbled in his pocket, withdrew a sealed envelope and handed it to the mayor.

Mayor Melbourne pressed his lips together. He slipped his wire glasses from his vest pocket and settled them on the bridge of his nose, bending the ear wires over his ears. Then he broke the wax seal on the envelope and quickly read the contents. If possible his face reddened further.

“Not coming!” he sputtered. “Not coming! I asked for twelve and all that answered the call are these four?”

“Actually, Mayor, that would be five,” Rebecca said from over Maggie’s left shoulder. “Mary McCary is also with us…somewhere.”

“Five, you say? The committee sent enough money for twelve. My brother has some answering to do.” He read the letter again, the perturbed look on his face slowly settling into resignation as he folded the paper and stuffed it in his pocket. “Very well. Ladies? Welcome. Please come meet your town.”

She sensed Anna, Sadie and Rebecca gathering in force behind her. “What about our things?” she asked quickly, hoping to stall a few minutes longer.

“Plenty of men here to see to them,” the mayor said. “Please follow me. As you can see, they are anxious to have a look at …I mean…meet you.”

Behind her, the others pressed forward, prodding her out the door and onto the steps. A blast of warm Kansas wind swirled around her and picked up her skirt.

“Whoo-wee!” a man in front called out. “Got a looker right off!”

Her cheeks heated as she struggled to subdue the billowing purple cotton and then she focused on the gawker, raising her chin defiantly and fixing him with a bold glare. She would make sure never to find herself alone with him.

He grinned. “Got spirit too! She’s mine. Might as well just check her off your list, men. She’s mine! Whoo-ee!”

“Not unless you take a bath and wash off that cow smell, Rader,” someone yelled back. A round of chuckles from a few of the others followed.

Behind her, Sadie, Rebecca and Anna must have crowded into view for a cheer went up from the men. “Hip-hip-hooray!” Several even threw their hats into the air and the small band played louder at a furious pace.

Four strong-looking men stepped forward and with a great deal more enthusiasm than the situation called for, took hold of her upper-arms and whisked her—her body floating through the air—down the last two steps to the platform.

She wasn’t ready for this! Where in heaven’s name was Mary?

~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~

Mail-Order Brides of Oak Grove
© by Harlequin Books & Kathryn Albright
Permission to reproduce text granted by Harlequin Books S.A.

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