Ah, Autumn, it’s finally here! And I’m loving it! This is my favorite time of year and has been for as long as I can remember. I love the changing of the seasons as summer fades and fall begins. And of course, I’ve set books around this wonderful time of year but we’ll get to those in a moment. Right now, I want to share a few recent moments (literally, as I just ran outside and snapped some pictures from around the house) and some not so recent but hey, I thought I’d share!
I’m in Oregon and the leaves are just starting to change. One of my favorite things about fall is what I call the “carpet.” It starts with the cedar trees changing color. Toward the end of October, the orange bits of cedar fall off with the east winds to carpet the driveway and ground, turning everything orange! It’s a grand sight and the smell is lovely too! I used to love walking home from school, (the house is in a canyon with a mile long driveway) getting to the bottom of the canyon and walking on the “carpet.” My sister and I own the house we grew up in, and of course, this delight never gets old!
Fall also brings with it familiar friends, as our local deer love to venture into the canyon and do so more often in autumn. Always a fun sight, I like sipping coffee and watching them when I can. And yes, these are some of the girls in front of my house by the creek. Autumn is also beautiful in different parts of the country. I spend a lot of time in New York City as my daughter and son both live there. Here’s a shot of a trail in Prospect Park, my favorite. A beautiful place in the Fall! And then of course, there’s the food …
Last night I made my first fall dinner. Thin cut pork chops with potatoes, onions, and carrots simmered in Campbell’s Golden Mushroom soup. It’s so easy. Just brown your pork chops, add your soup and water as per instructions on the can, stir, add vegetables and stir again! Then let simmer until veggies are tender, stirring occasionally. Season to taste. That’s it! You can also add red cabbage or any other vegetables you want! It’s simple and yummy! Of course, hearty fall recipes get me thinking about pumpkin cookies and what not. You’ve got to have dessert, right? I’m always up for some of that!
Okay, on to the books! I’ve written a few books that take place in autumn. Both historical and contemporary. These books are near and dear to my heart because of my love of the season. Authors approach seasonal romance differently. Some really showcase the season itself, so that it becomes a huge part of the story (almost like a character). Others touch simply on it so you enjoy the setting with your characters. I love all the different ways authors in my particular genre write about how folks celebrated the season with harvest festivals, All Hallows Eve, Fall barn raisings, school and the changing of the seasons in general. Here are just a few of my books that take place in Autumn.
As you can see, I like this season! In most of the books of this particular series, none of the grooms know the bride is coming! Of the four books above, Love at Harvest Moon and The Thanksgiving Mail-Order Bride, my grooms haven’t got a clue. In The Columbus Day Mail-Order Bride and The Harvest Time Mail-Order Bride, the two heroes are also identical twin brothers which made things a lot of fun. How about an excerpt or two?
From Love at Harvest Moon:
“Mr. Brody, it’s my fault yer son lost his sight – ye can’t tell me otherwise!” Finn stood and ran a hand through his hair. “I only hope that one day, Lorcan can see it in his heart to forgive me.”
“Pah! He’s already forgiven ye! Yer just too stubborn to see it.”
“Then why doesn’t he write? I’ve not heard a word from him!”
Mr. Brody stood and waved the letter in Finn’s face. “Well it just so happens that Lorcan is sending ye something! Something very special!”
Finn took a step back and stared at him. “What? And why didn’t he write and tell me about it?”
“Probably so Ada wouldn’t have to write and send two letters.” He unfolded part of the letter and showed it to him. “See, look here – read it!”
Finn did so, and slowly he smiled. “Well, what do ye know? He is sending me something.” He looked at Mr. Brody. “What do ye suppose it is?”
Mr. Brody shrugged. “Must be something special, if he has to send it by stagecoach.”
“Stagecoach – I almost forgot! There was an accident up the road. The afternoon stage lost a wheel and crashed into a ditch. The sheriff’s gone to fetch the driver – he’s hurt pretty bad, I hear.”
“What’s this? Who told you?”
Mr. Brody blinked a few times. “Passenger?” He glanced at the letter, folded it and shoved it into the pocket of his jacket. “Where’s the passenger now?”
“Doc Henderson’s. She was trying to run through my pumpkin patch to get help, but fell and twisted her ankle.”
“She?” Mr. Brody began to cough.
“Aye. Birdie’s taking care of her. She told us she came to Oregon City to get married. I was just on my way to fetch her intended, but decided to wait for the sheriff to see how the driver fared.” He looked at the street again. “Ah, looks like the wait’s over. Here they come.”
Mr. Brody stilled his coughing and watched the sheriff and his men approach. One of his deputies was driving a buckboard to transport the injured man. “Er … ah … Finn?”
“Aye?” he asked without taking his eyes off the men.
“Did the young lady from the stage happen to tell ye the … name of her intended?”
“No. But she gave me this,” he said and took the folded envelope she’d given him from his pocket. “Here’s his name and address. I’m sure he’ll want to know what happened. I know I would, so I thought I’d find out before I fetched him to her.”
Mr. Brody gave him a lopsided smile, took the envelope, pulled out the paper and read it. Then he coughed again and gave the paper to Finn. “Ye’ve, uh … not read it?”
Finn looked at him just as the sheriff rode up. “No.”
Mr. Brody’s face was turning redder by the second. “I think maybe ye should.”
Finn glanced at the paper and paled. “Don’t tell me that poor girl is here to marry one of the McPhees?”
Mr. Brody shook his head.
“That’s a relief,” Finn said and crossed himself. He looked at Mr. Brody again. “One of Jim Tark’s boys then? Oh, the poor wee thing …”
Mr. Brody shook his head again. “Read the paper, Finn.”
Finn rolled his eyes. He’d been so intent on the sheriff and buckboard, he really hadn’t thought to look at the blasted paper! He unfolded it and …
“Great Mother o’ God!”
Mr. Brody smiled in satisfaction. “I told ye Lorcan was sending ye something special.”
And from The Harvest Time Mail-Order Bride:
Calvin strolled among the various booths, most of which were nothing more than planks of wood on saw horses, with some sort of covering to shade the occupants. He kept a close eye on his wife, who studied her surroundings with interest. He’d felt numb up to this point, their wedding a blur, and just now felt the first inklings of excitement that he was now married.
But did she feel the same?
Her English was broken most of the time, only the occasional full sentence, but that should improve with time. Of course, his hadn’t, nor had his brothers … but they hadn’t really tried. None of them had any fancy education, but they could read and write and do their sums. You didn’t need much more than that to work on a farm. It was more important to know how to till the land, maintain the orchards, take care of livestock, protect your property and those that lived on it …
He stole another glance at his bride. Her beauty was beyond compare. How was he going to protect her? She was turning more than a few heads, and it was starting to bother him. What would she think of him if he socked some dreamy-eyed suitor? He hoped he wouldn’t have to since they were married, but some of the men, especially those from out of town, might not know that.
And then, of course, there were the women. He’d already overheard two or three say “She married Calvin Weaver?” as he and Isabella strolled by. Why was it so hard for them to believe he could have a beautiful wife? Were they expecting her to show up without her teeth?
“I don’t believe it!” another whispered loud enough for everyone within earshot to hear. “Is the girl daft?”
Calvin tensed and wondered if Isabella noticed. He’d best do something to distract himself. “Ya hungry?”
She put down the wooden soldier she’d picked up and smiled at the man selling toys. “A little. Is it time to eat?”
“Not yet, but I could do with a little somethin’. There’s no set time to eat lunch today and everyone’ll make do with somethin’ for dinner before the dance.”
“Dance?” she asked, her eyes bright.
“Yeah, we have one every year. Actually, we have three. The Harvest Festival, Christmas, then the Valentine’s Dance.”
She nodded and eyed one of Aunt Betsy’s pies. She was selling them whole and by the slice.
Calvin followed her gaze and smiled. “How ‘bout a piece of pie? We could share one.”
She smiled at him, then pulled him toward his aunt’s booth. “Hey, slow down,” he laughed.
“Well, there you are!” Aunt Betsy said as they approached. “How do you like our little festival, Isabella?”
“I like it very much. Very happy.”
“Most folks would agree,” she said. “This is a happy time of year. Our barns and root cellars are full, folks are settling in for the winter and Harlan Hughes is in town!”
Ah, and there you have it. Harvest Festivals, mix-ups, surprises and all taking place in my favorite season! To celebrate, how about a giveaway? I’ll give to FOUR lucky winners one e-copy of your choice of the books shown above! Comment and tell me what it’s like around your house this time of year. Do you decorate? Make special dishes or desserts? I’ll pick my winners from the comments!