Win our Western Weddings Book!

Wedding Season is upon us—time for a sneak peak at Harlequin’s new Spring Brides anthology.  WEDDINGS UNDER A WESTERN SKY, to be released later this month, combines three joyful novellas, written by Lisa Plumley, Kate Welsh and myself.  What a privilege to share a book with these two great authors!

Today I’ll be giving away a free copy.  But first let me introduce you to my story, “The Hand-Me-Down Bride.”  Boston belle Arabella Spencer has followed her dream all the way to Montana, where her childhood sweetheart, Charles, will be waiting to make her his bride.  But Arabella has a few surprises in store.  Here’s an excerpt.

Buffalo Bend, Montana

April 29, 1876

 Arabella Spencer huddled under the dripping eave of Brophy’s Feed and Mercantile where the stage had let her off with her trunk.  Rain had churned the deserted street into a quagmire of mud and manure.  The muck had ruined her new kidskin shoes and wasn’t doing much for her disposition.  After more than twenty minutes of waiting, she was wet, worried, and getting madder by the second.  Charles, her fiancé, had certainly known she was coming.  He’d mailed her the tickets three months ago, with a promise to meet the stage and drive her to his new ranch.  Only the thought of their wedding, and the fine home he’d refurbished especially for her, had sustained her on the grueling journey by train and stagecoach, all the way from Boston to Buffalo Bend.  Now she was here at last, bruised, chilled and bone-weary, with Grandma Peabody’s wedding dress packed into her trunk.   The bride had arrived.  So where was her groom?

  True, the stage had been delayed two hours by a broken wheel.  But that was no excuse for him not to be here – especially given that she had no place to get out of the rain.  Brophy’s Feed and Mercantile, which appeared to be the only store in this ramshackle excuse for a town, had long since closed for the night.  There wasn’t a hotel in sight, or even a restaurant; and the church at the street’s far end looked as dark as a tomb.

            Only the saloon across the street showed any sign of life.  Lamplight filtered through gray sheets of rain.  Occasional bursts of laughter and the wheeze of a concertina drifted over the drone of the storm. 

            Arabella shivered beneath her damp woolen traveling cloak.  The thought of shelter was tempting.  But she’d have to leave her precious trunk behind and wade through ankle-deep mud to cross the street.  In any case, well-bred young ladies simply did not venture into saloons – not even in a deluge fit to float Noah’s ark.

            A flicker of movement across the street caught her eye.  Someone had just come out of the saloon.  Was it Charles?  Had he been waiting for her in that disreputable place?  But the man who stepped into the street was too tall and too broad-shouldered to be her fiancé.  Charles was of average stature.  The figure striding toward her, wearing a bulky sheepskin coat, loomed like a giant against the roiling sky.  Arabella shrank into the doorway.  If the man meant her harm, she’d have no place to run.  But she could kick and bite and scream for all she was worth.  If it came to that, she vowed, she wouldn’t go down without a fight.

            He stopped a pace away from her.  Close up, he wasn’t as huge as she’d first thought.  But he was big enough – six-foot four, by her reckoning.  His face was obscured by rain streaming off the broad brim of his hat.

            “Miss Arabella Spencer?”  His voice was like the rumble of an iron wheel over a graveled road.  “I was told to look for a redhead, so I’m guessing you’re the one.”

            Staring up at him, she nodded.

            “McIntyre’s the name.  I’ve come to fetch you to the ranch.  Wait here, and I’ll bring the buckboard around.”

            He thrust something toward her.  Realizing it was an oilskin, Arabella seized it eagerly and wrapped it over her damp cloak.  Before she could utter a proper thank you, the man had melted into the rain.

            Moments later he reappeared from behind the store, driving an open rig behind a team of sturdy bays.  The back was filled with some kind of bulky cargo covered by a canvas tarpaulin.  There was one bench seat in front, with nothing to shelter its occupants from the rain.

            For heaven’s sake, if Charles couldn’t come himself, why couldn’t he at least have sent a covered buggy?

            McIntyre halted the horses, climbed to the ground and came around the rig – a buckboard, he’d called it, though it was more like a wagon, drawn by two horses instead of one.  Hefting Arabella’s trunk as if it weighed nothing, he slid it under the canvas in back.  

            “Where’s my fiancé, Charles Middleton?” Arabella demanded.  “Is he all right?”

            “Far as I know, he’s fine.”  McIntyre’s big hands caught her waist and boosted her onto the bench as if she were no bigger than a child.

            “Then why didn’t he come to meet me?” 

            “Spring’s a busy time for ranchers.  I had to drive to town for feed and salt, so he asked me to pick you up.”  He climbed onto the bench beside her.  “It’s a long ride.  Too bad I hadn’t counted on the rain, or on the stage being late.”

            As if that had been her fault!  “Well, at least you got to spend a couple of hours in the saloon,” she sniffed.

            “Uh-huh.  Had a drink and won fifty dollars in a game of five-card stud.”  His hands flicked the reins.  The wagon ploughed forward through the sticky mud.

            Struck by a sudden realization, she stared at him.  “Wait – you were in the saloon when the stage arrived.  You must’ve heard it stop, and you knew I’d be getting off.  Why on earth did you leave me standing outside in the rain?”

            He shrugged.  “I was holding a royal flush.”

            Is there an upcoming wedding in your family?  What’s your idea of the perfect wedding?  Readers who comment will be entered in a drawing for a free copy of WEDDINGS UNDER A WESTERN SKY.


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30 thoughts on “Win our Western Weddings Book!”

  1. I like simpler weddings – I’ve never seen the appeal of spending a huge sum at the start of your lives together, when later down the line (buying a home, babies) you could probably put that money to much better use!

  2. My nephew,Ryan,is getting married Memorial Day weekend! We’re looking forward to seeing family and friends.

    I like weddings to be fun.

    I think weddings are the reflection of the couple. I’ve been to elegant and casual. Both were beautiful!

    I prefer simple, outside weddings in a park or backyard. Wedding dinner can be catered, simple fare, under a park pavillion or under a tent. I know the weather can be iffy but if protection is readily available…no worries. I do prefer a wedding cake to cupcakes. Dancing to a music tape is fine too.

    Congrats on your book THE HAND ME DOWN BRIDE. I’d love to read The Western Weddings anthology!

  3. Loved the excerpt and am feeling for Arabella! I bet her surprises are tons of fun. No weddings in the family this year, but in 2010-2011, we had two within eight months. Hooray for my sons and their wonderful wives 🙂

  4. Loved the excerpt, Elizabeth. Is one of Arabella’s surprises when she knocks McIntyre off the wagon? :O)

    No upcoming weddings this season. I prefer small simple weddings preferably in a country church with close neighbors and friends.

  5. No weddings in our family…unless my niece has a hidden boyfriend she’s not talking about.. I love a simple wedding… have been to a few ‘major productions’ and was uncomfortable with the excess..
    Loved the excerpt and enjoyed your book!

  6. Just joining you here the Mountain time zone. Good morning to all you early birds.

    I agree with you about simple weddings, Pageturner. It’s the marriage, not the wedding, that counts.

    Congratulations to your nephew, Laurie. And I love your idea of an informal, outdoor wedding with a tradional cake.

    Sounds like you need a break from weddings for a while, Vicki. Congratulations to your sons and to you.

    Laughing at your question, Kirsten. I didn’t include the blurb for my story because it’s a spoiler for the biggest surprise of all. Why do editors do that?

    I agree with you about lavish weddings, Cate (a certain glamorous TV personality comes to mind, millions of dollars and the marriage got stale before the cake did).

    You’re all entered in my drawing. Good luck!

  7. Who has a favorite movie wedding scene? Mine’s the one from Sound of Music where Maria floats down the aisle in that huge cathedral with that long veil. My heart flutters every time.

  8. My friend got married last Friday. She was a beautiful bride. I like simple weddings. They are more intimate and relaxed to me. 🙂

  9. We had our Weddings last year,both my boys got married 2 weeks apart,an 1200 miles apart,wow,you talk about a whirlwind of traveling,,,I was wore out!but it was the last of the 6 to be married an the only 2 boys,,lol,,,,one was 36 an the other 27,,neither had been married before,so it was a happy time for us

  10. I can just imagine your pretty friend, Crystal. The wedding in “The Hand MeDown Bride” is a simple one, too, and definitely not the one Arabella planned.

  11. Sounds like you’ll be having a fun summer, Goldie. Weddings are such happy times.

    My word, Vickie, you could open your own wedding consulting business. What a year you must’ve had.

    Good lucky to all of you in the drawing.

  12. Congrats on the new book! Love the cover and the excerpt was great. You reeled me in, hook, line and sinker. I’ve got to read your story and those of the other authors as well. I’m familiar with Lisa Plumley but haven’t read anything by Kate Welsh.

    Wishing you lots and lots of luck!

  13. Kate and Lisa are wonderful authors, Linda. We’ve had some great advance reviews on the book, and the pre-orders on Amazon are encouraging.
    Thanks, and enjoy!

  14. I like simple weddings–please spend money on premartial counseling so you know you are truly compatible. No weddings for my family this year.

  15. I like small wedding in little country churches! That was the type of wedding I had and it was really nice.

  16. I like to attend small, intimate weddings best.
    Your book sounds really good and would like to read it.

  17. Lucky you, Quilt Lady. If you like little country churches, you’ll like Arabella’s wedding, too.

    Hope you get a chance to enjoy the book, Joy, especially since my story ends with a small, intimate wedding…although it does include one misbehaving guest. 🙂

  18. We just celebrated our niece’s wedding, and it was awesome. I got to read a poem during the ceremony and at the reception, she gave my hubby and me a bouquet of flowers as the most inspiring marriage she knows. Sigh. It all goes so quick.

    Congrats on the book> I so love wedding stories!

  19. No weddings upcoming that I know… If I ever do, I want a small outdoors ceremony with my closest family and friends. 😀
    Thank you for sharing the excerpt with us… beautiful cover!

  20. Oh, that’s lovely Tanya. And what a great example you and your hubby must have been to her. You are one lucky lady.

    Your version of the perfect wedding is the same as mine, Colleen. Hey, you never know.
    Good luck in the drawing.

  21. No weddings this year—we had two last year.
    I think any wedding that goes off without a hitch is the perfect wedding.

  22. No weddings planned this year in our family. I like small, outdoor weddings. Is there such a thing as a perfect wedding? There is bound to be something go wrong at most of them or at least at the receptions…that’s what makes some of them more memorable. Enjoyed reading the blog today.

  23. Now there’s a sensible idea if I ever heard one, Estella. Everybody has their own idea of a perfect wedding. My daughters wedding was planned to be at a California lighthouse. Rain turned the grounds into a sea of mud. We wound up trooping down to the beach instead. In the end it was wonderful.

  24. A wedding where things go wrong is like a lesson in life, I think, Jackie. I still remember my friend’s wedding where they were holding the cake on a platter to take a photo, and the cake slid off on the floor. Splat. The bride, bless her, just laughed.

  25. No weddings in our family this year unless one of our nephews and their girlfriends decide to marry.

    Elizabeth, I can’t imagine having the wedding cake sliding onto the floor—-what a mess. We attended a wedding once where everyone was almost through eating the dinner before the woman arrived to set up the cake. Kind of anticlimatic.

  26. Late getting here tonight. thanks for the excerpt. Sounds like it will be a good story, but I wouldn’t expect anything less. These anthologies are my favorites.

    No weddings in our family that I know of. Our son is still single, but there isn’t anyone special that we know of. If any weddings do pop up it will be for the children of friends. All the nieces and nephews are married and their children as well as our grandchildren aren’t yet old enough to consider marriage.

    I hope WEDDINGS UNDER A WESTERN SKY does well.

  27. Thanks for dropping by, Patricia, even if you were late for the drawing. Enjoy a peaceful summer with no weddings to plan (unless your son surprises you).

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