Hello everyone, Winnie Griggs here. For various reasons that I won’t go into here, I haven’t had a new release out this year, so I was doubly happy to learn Love Inspired was re-releasing two of my earlier novels as part of their two-in-one program. And both of the books they chose are very special to me (of course I feel that way about most of my books).
Late October saw the release of an anthology that included The Christmas Journey and two novellas, Christmas Bells for Dry Creek by Janet Tronstad and The Christmas Secret by Sara Mitchell. This book is special to me because it was the first book of my 3 book and a novella Knotty Pines series. It was also based on a premise I’d been mulling over for a number of years, that of a heroine who longs to travel and have adventures but is held back by family obligations. Her solution is to try to find a husband for her widowed sister so she can transfer those responsibilities to him and chase her dreams guilt-free.
Here is an excerpt:
Jo resisted the urge to stomp her foot.
It wasn’t fair that Ry had everything she wanted and seemed so discontent. Yet he judged her for daring to set her sights beyond Knotty Pine. He wouldn’t think her life was so rosy if he were the one living it. Too bad they couldn’t up and change places. If he had all her family responsibilities…
She stilled. What if he did have her responsibilities? It was obvious the family already liked him. And he seemed equally taken with them. If she could somehow make him an actual part of the family, he was the sort of man who’d do everything he could to provide for and protect those in his care.
Cora Beth admired him. Jo could see he liked her too. As for the rest of the family, after that ruckus in the livery Danny practically hero-worshipped him. Ry had shown he could deal with her nieces – why, he even got along with Uncle Grover. They’d all be in good hands.
As for Ry’s part, what man wouldn’t be attracted to Cora Beth? She had that sweet domestic air about her that drew men looking for a wife like bees to honey.
If Ry and Cora Beth were to get hitched, she would be free to leave Knotty Pine knowing the family was well cared for.
So what if she’d been doing a bit of daydreaming over him herself? It was just because he’d been so all-fired heroic the other day and, to be honest, handsome as all get out. But, even if the thought stung a bit, she was realistic enough to know a man like Ryland Lassiter wouldn’t fall for a girl like her.
Besides, she didn’t need a man to tie her down. Just the opposite – she wanted to cut her tightly-knotted bonds to this place so she could fly free.
In that respect, Ry was the answer to her prayers. God’s hand had been in the timing of his trip through Knotty Pine, she was certain of it.
Jo lifted her chin. If this tug of attraction she felt for him was a way of testing her resolve, she was more than up to the challenge. All she needed for her plan to work would be for someone to give Ry and Cora Beth a little push.
And no matter how much her silly heart protested, she was just the person to do it.
My second book on the 2018 re-release list The Hand-Me-Down Family will come out in December and it’s paired with Victoria Bylin’s The Maverick Preacher. This book was the very first one I published with Love Inspired Historical and it is based on a premise I’d been trying to develop for several years – that of a mail order bride that married her husband by proxy before she left home and then arrived in her new home to discover she was already a widow. It wasn’t until I married this with another tidbit from my ‘idea file’, that of a hero who left home to get out from under his ‘perfect’ brother’s shadow, that the story finally came together.
Here is an excerpt:
The minutes drew out as the driver unloaded luggage and parcels from the back of the stagecoach. It was hotter here in Texas than it had been in Ohio. Callie longed to loosen her tight-fitting bonnet, or better yet, take it off altogether, but she dare not. Not until she was away from prying eyes and safely inside her new home.
A number of townsfolk stopped to speak to her fellow passenger, Jack, but though she received a friendly nod or two, and more than one curious glance, no one stepped forward to greet her.
Finally, the last of the baggage and cargo was unloaded and the driver stepped inside the hotel with a mail sack. The man Jack lifted two of the bags, easily hefting the larger one up to his shoulder.
Callie couldn’t help but wonder – would her new husband be as fine and strong a figure of a man as this Jack?
As if feeling her eyes on him, the man paused and met her gaze. His expression was gruff and a muscle twitched at the corner of his mouth. “Is someone meeting you?”
She smiled, grateful for his show of concern, reluctant though it might be. “Yes, thank you. I’m certain my husband will be along soon.”
Something akin to surprise flashed across his features at the word husband, but it was gone in an instant.
“Good.” He nodded and allowed his friend to take one of his bags. “If you’re sure you don’t need any help…”
But as Callie watched him walk away, it was as if the last link to her old life were being severed. A foolish notion since she really didn’t know this man at all. But before she could stop herself, she took a small step forward. “Excuse me.”
Both men turned, facing her with questioning glances.
“Ma’am?” Jack prompted.
“I was wondering if perhaps either of you know a Mr. Leland Tyler? He was sup…” Her voice tapered off as she saw their startled reactions.
Jack’s jaw tightened visibly. “Why would you be looking for Lanny?”
Callie noticed his familiar use of her husband’s name. “So you do know him.”
That tic near the corner of his mouth made another appearance. “Yes.” He didn’t expand on his one-word answer, and his expression remained closed, unreadable. “But you didn’t answer my question. How do you know Leland?”
Callie offered up a quick prayer that Mr. Tyler would arrive soon. He should be the one making the introductions to his neighbors and friends. “I’m Callista Johnson Tyler, his wife.”
“Wife!” Jack set his bag down with a loud thump and sent a sharp look his companion’s way. “You know what she’s talking about, Virgil?”
The other man shook his head. “Lanny never said anything about a new wife.”
They certainly were reacting strongly to her news. She knew Julia had only been gone about four months, but it wasn’t unusual for a widower to remarry so soon, especially when he had a young child to care for.
For that matter, why didn’t they already know about her? Surely Leland wouldn’t have kept such momentous news from his friends and neighbors? Unless he’d worried she wouldn’t show up.
Or was there another, more disturbing reason? Her heart beat faster as possibilities whirled through her mind.
Realizing the men were watching her, Callie tried to hide her confusion behind a confident air. “I’m not certain why Mr. Tyler chose to keep this a secret. Perhaps he was planning to surprise everyone. But be that as it may, I assure you, I am indeed Mrs. Leland Tyler. If you’ll be so good as to tell me where my husband can be found, I’m certain he’ll verify my identity.”
Jack took another step forward. “Perhaps we should introduce ourselves first.” He swept an arm toward his companion. “This is Virgil Wilson.”
She smiled and nodded acknowledgement. “Mr. Wilson.”
The farmer touched the brim of his hat, ducking his head respectfully. “Ma’am.”
When she turned back to Jack he was studying her intently, as if trying to read something from her countenance. Holding her gaze, he extended his hand. “And I’m Leland’s brother Jack.”
So what do you think? Did one of these two stories pique your interest more than the other? If so, let me know why. I’m going to select two names from those responding and give each their choice of one of these two books.