Have you ever felt like you’ve just spent a month on a bucking horse? That’s pretty much how I feel. Between writing, book promoting and dealing with two family crises, I don’t mind telling you I’m mighty saddle sore. So, when it came my turn to write a blog, I just didn’t have it in me. Instead, I decided to share the first chapter of my new book with you. Be sure to leave a message because saddle sore or not, I’m giving away a book this month!
A Suitor For Jenny:
After their parents died, Jenny Higgins felt responsible for taking care of her two younger sisters. Learning that Rocky Creek has the highest number of eligible bachelors per capita, Jenny rolls into this Texas town with a clear objective: find suitable husbands for her two younger sisters and then start fresh somewhere far, far away. Jenny believes that women who fall in love at first sight often wish they’d taken a second look, so she diligently begins to follow all the rules set forth in her handy manual on how to land a husband. She even goes so far as to give each man in town the PHAT (Potential Husband Attitude Test), which even Marshal Rhett Armstrong fails.
But while Jenny is interviewing the less-than-promising candidates, her sisters are falling in love the old fashioned way. Jenny is convinced she knows how to pick “perfect” men and it will take two rebellious sisters, a handsome marshal and a whole lot of faith to convince her otherwise.
When looking for a husband it’s best to go where the odds are in your favor
A good man is like a good corset. He will always be supportive and never leave you hanging.—Miss Abigail Jenkins, 1875
Rocky Creek, Texas
Old man Hank Applegate should have known trouble was brewing the moment the stagecoach thundered into town one week and two days late.
Not that anyone cared. Actually, no one but Hank so much as noticed the stagecoach, late or otherwise. He might not have noticed either had it not been for the astounding amount of luggage tied to the roof and back of the coach. Few people of any importance or interest ever came to town on the Wells Fargo stagecoach anymore. Nowadays, most folks preferred to travel by train. And who in tarnation would travel with that much luggage?
A gust of wind followed the stage, kicking up a whirlwind as it traveled through town. Hats blew off like popping corks. Emma Hogg’s skirt flapped like the sails of a storm-tossed ship. Not that Hank was interested in the old spinster’s skirts or anything else about her for that matter.
The horses hitched in front of Jake’s Saloon pawed the ground, and the batwing doors swung to and fro.
The stage came to a halt in front of the weathered two-story Grand Hotel. Its driver scrambled to the ground like a man trying to escape an angry mob.
His curiosity stoked, Hank rose from his rocking chair for a closer look, his bony legs creaking like a dried-out saddle.
Squinting beneath the brim of his leather hat, he spat a dark stream of tobacco juice over the railing of Fairbanks General Merchandise and clamped down on his jaw, letting his toothless gums rub against each other.
The door of the stage flew open, and he caught a glimpse of a dainty slipper and a slim feminine ankle. Thinking he was seeing things, he leaned forward until the rickety railing wobbled beneath his weight. Not that he noticed. He was too busy watching a pretty miss emerge from inside the coach.
By thunder! If she wasn’t a sight for sore eyes! Dressed in fancy blue garb trimmed with black lace, and a hat with feathers enough to tar a mountain, she tugged at her fitted jacket and gave her blue parasol a determined shake.
Still, he didn’t suspect a thing, not a thing. Any thought that the town and its male inhabitants were in mortal danger was the furthest thing from his mind. Then two more women stepped out of the coach behind her, all dressed in kind and chattering like nervous young hens.
The blonde woman in blue appeared to be the leader of the petticoat troop and the others referred to her as Jenny. With skirts awhirl, she ordered the driver to unhitch the luggage. Pointing here and pointing there with the tip of her parasol, she issued one command after another, never so much as stopping for air.
“Be careful with this,” Jenny instructed. “Be careful with that.” At one point, she grabbed a bandbox from the driver and carried it to the porch of the hotel herself, muttering under her breath.
Hank could hardly take his eyes off her. That Jenny woman was something, all right. Bold, brash, and as subtle as a grizzly with a sore backside. Even the wind knew not to mess with her, the air as still as an old battlefield.
She turned to scold one of her charges, who had done nothing but gripe since disembarking. “Hush up, Mary Lou. You haven’t stopped complaining since we left Haswell. How do you expect me to find you a husband when you never stop talking?”
Hank scratched his whiskered chin and inched his way down the warped wooden steps to make sure he’d heard right. Did she say husband?
The girl called Mary Lou pushed out her lips in a childish pout, blew a wisp of blonde hair away from her face, and fanned herself furiously. “You think you’re going to find me a husband in this awful town?” She looked around with obvious distaste.
“Absolutely.” Jenny lifted her chin, her eyes bright with determination. “By the time I’m finished with this town, both of you will have kind and loving husbands.”
Hank blinked. Both? As the full implication of what the Jenny woman said took hold, his eyes nearly popped out of his head. It was no secret that from the day they were born, womenfolk devoted themselves to landing husbands. But never had he heard it stated so boldly. And when did the female population start searching for husbands in packs?
That’s when it hit him like a ton of spit. Only one conclusion could be drawn from such a flagrant female presence: the town was under siege.