Love and Laughter in the Old West

 

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 Suitor for Jenny

 

Chapter 1

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

1881

 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.

www.margaretbrownley.coim

Margaret Brownley
Margaret has published more than 46 books and is a N.Y. Times Bestselling author and two-time Romance Writers of America Rita Finalist. She writes historical novels set--where else?--in the Old West! She has written for a day time soap and is currently working on a new series. Not bad for someone who flunked 8th grade English. Just don't ask her to diagram a sentence.
Updated: October 21, 2010 — 6:43 am

41 Comments

  1. Thank you for sharing your first chapter, I really enjoyed it and I can’t wait to read the whole story. I find the whole husband hunting premise fascinating.

  2. Margaret, I am so sorry you have had a time of it. Sometimes you just have to do what is easiest for you. Why do women always feel guilty about that?

    Anyway, love the excerpt. FYI, this is one of my favorite book covers recently. The details of building and blouse, the contrast of a hammer and white gloves…just lovely.

    Peace, Julie

  3. Hi, Margaret. I love your humor. That opening line about men being like corsets is pricesless! And I can picture Hank so vividly. Wonderful stuff. Hope your life settles down a bit soon.

  4. Hi Linda, thank you for stopping by. I’m interesting in the husband-finding premise, too. Today, people are more subtle: they look for love on the Internet!

  5. Hi Julie, thanks. I kind of like the cover, too. BTW: I just saw the cover for A Vision of Lucy, the next book in my Rocky Creek series, and it’s great.

  6. Margaret, I enjoyed a Lady Like Sarah so much and I can’t wait to read A Suitor for Jenny. Looks like another one destined to become a favorite!

    Sorry to hear you’ve hit a rough patch. Hope your those saddle sores are healed and your spirit is soon restored. God bless you.

  7. Hi Karen,
    So glad you stopped by. Hank’s a fun character. Each chapter in the book starts with an opening line similar to the one you quoted. They’re from a “courtship book” my heroine refers to while searching for husbands. You’d be amazed at how many readers have asked where they can find the book. The answer, of course, is that it doesn’t exist. I made it up.

  8. Hugs on the saddle sores, Margaret. Hope they soon heal.
    Beautiful cover on your book. How could anyone not pick that up. And love the chapter. “…enough feathers to tar a mountain.”
    LOL. You have a real way with words, Lady!

  9. I’m loving it already. I can’t wait to have it in my hands to read. I truly know what those saddle sores are like. I hope they heal soon.

  10. Avatar

    I love the opening – “A good man is like a corset……” Never thought of it that way but so true : ) Great excerpt. I’ll have to add it to my ever growing and dangerous TBR pile. Just my kind of book to spend a bright fall afternoon with.

    I hope things are better for you. It never seems to fail that if a crisis is going to arise, it will pick a time when you are busier than usual. Take care of yourself. I hope you can enjoy the Fall.

  11. Oh, Margaret, this chapter is my kind of book. I loved it. Since I have yet to read one of your books, I will have to put this one to the top of the list. Thank you for sharing.
    Take care of yourself.
    Happy Trails,
    Mary J

  12. Margaret, I’ve bought this book but haven’t had a chance to read it yet. It’s on the top of my stack though and I can’t wait to start reading, especially after you posted this excerpt. I love your sense of humor and you always create some of the most memorable characters. I thoroughly enjoyed A LADY LIKE SARAH. I know this one will be just as good.

    Sorry about your hectic life right now. Hope it settles down soon and you can take a deep breath. Hang in there, my Filly sister!

  13. Margaret, I loved it! This is gonna be a great read!

  14. I agree, everyone should take a second look. However, I never knew my husband and only had six dates with him when we married. We celebrated our 48th anniversary in September.

  15. Linda, thank you. I never had a sister, now I have lots of them!

    Hugs!

  16. Goldie, 48 years! That’s wonderful. At least you looked him over 6 times before you said I do.

  17. Winter, as enthusiastic and bubbly as always!
    Love ya!

  18. Mary, happy trails to you, too! I wish I could send you all a book!

  19. Judy H! Glad to hear you’ve met Sarah. Hope you like Jenny just as much.

    Warmest

  20. Patricia,

    Just get buried under that TBR pile! Hope you have a great autumn (almost wrote fall), too.

  21. Oh I enjoyed reading the blurb… a Potential Husband Attitude Test! Thanks for sharing the chapter with us… loved it!!! 😀

  22. Beautiful cover and great chapter, Margaret. Hope things settle down a tad. oxoxox

  23. Hi Colleen,

    I had a lot of fun with the PHAT (Potential Husband Attitude Test). Actually, this was based on reality. My husband and I were given something like that when we first got engaged umpteen years ago–and failed!

    Our preacher advised us not to marry. Thank God we didn’t take his advice.

  24. Tanya, thanks. Things are settling down a bit–at least with my husband. He had emergency retinal surgery. He hasn’t yet got his eyesight back but he’s getting there.

  25. Hi Elizabeth,
    Glad you like my feathers!

    Hugs

  26. Hee haw, Cathy. Yep, saddle sores are no fun. Hope yours have healed, too!

  27. Thanks so much for sharing that, sounds wonderful!

  28. Enjoyed reading the chapter. The book sounds like a fun one to read. I have added it to my TBR list.
    I agree that a man is like a corset.

  29. I love it already!

  30. I can hear my tbr pile groaning already, preparing for me to add another to the stack. Can’t wait, Margaret!

  31. Margaret, I love your first chapter and can’t wait to read more.

  32. Enjoyed the first chapater..I’ll have to get the book to see the rest of the story. Thanks for the info.

  33. Tracy,

    I know what you mean about groaning piles. (Uh, book piles, that is).

  34. Joye, LOL. Now I’ve got you all thinking that way!

  35. Estella and Christian, thank you for dropping by. All your names are in my trusty red sequined cowboy hat.

  36. lol–i LOVE it!!!
    that is one fabulous start!!
    the searching in packs part really got me at the end
    oh i do hope i win
    but if not i’ll have to buy this one for sure!!

    thank you so much for sharing

    ps-i hope your backside gets a little rest from life 🙂

  37. Love the name of the test! Looking forward to
    reading the rest of the book, the first chapter
    is great!

    Pat Cochran

  38. This sounds like a great read!

  39. Thank you all for stopping by. Now to dig into my trusty hat for the winning entry.

  40. aw..is the giveaway over?
    Well i sure LOVED the first chapter!!
    It sounds SOO good!
    Cant wait to read it!!

  41. Margaret,
    Sorry I’m late, we have had storms the last couple of days and I haven’t been on much. I love the first chapter of your new book. It sounds like a wonderful read–I can’t wait to get it. I keep saying I’m going to just sit and read over the entire Christmas holidays–and that is going to be my Christmas present to ME.
    Hugs,
    Cheryl

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