Mail-order brides who came west to marry suitors whom they had only corresponded with on paper are a popular subject among Western-themed blogs like this one, and among readers of Western romance. Why are we so fascinated with them? Perhaps because of the mystery and drama that must have ensued when a union was formed of such different means than our own? Or perhaps because this trope naturally makes a good romance because of the many aspects of marriage that will have to be sorted out between both parties?
If you look on Amazon, you will find almost as many mail-order bride stories as billionaire stories. So even though we as readers gravitate toward the same types of stories over and over, there’s still an element of intrigue that keeps drawing us to them.
As an author, I was wondering how to take this popular (and, let’s face it, overused) trope and turn it into something fresh, something that would stay in the readers’ minds a little longer than the average mail-order bride story. I was planning to write two stories about a widow and her grown daughter, both of whom had lost their significant others in the Civil War, and were moving west to start a new life. Then I was asked to write another story for the multi-author series, The Belles of Wyoming, after contributing three previous books. The fourth book, Daring to Love Again, proved to be more difficult than the others as I built a mystery around a sawmill owner and his family. The “bad guys” in this story had been terrorizing people in the surrounding area. When the law finally caught up to them, two of them were captured and hung. The third criminal committed suicide.
Melissa Burgess and her mother, Susannah Eversoll, were married to two of these men. After becoming widowed, Susannah decided to leave her husband’s memory behind and start over. She also decided to find a new husband for Melissa—without Melissa’s knowledge. And there is the fresh spin on this traditional trope—one that readers still love after reading hundreds of others like it. A Glimmer of Hope, Book 1 in the Brides of Hope Hollow series, is Melissa’s story, and Hope Springs Eternal, Book 2, is Susannah’s. Not every story in this series will be a mail-order bride story, however. I’ve taken care to build these stories around a town that cares for its own in southern Oregon (near modern-day Grant’s Pass and Medford). Book 3, Her Only Hope, has another fun twist in that the town blacksmith needs an assistant while recovering from an injury. What he doesn’t know is that the person who comes to his aid is a woman disguised as a man! I’ve been researching blacksmithing and even interviewed a farrier and watched him shoe his horse. It was a neat experience for a greenhorn like me. I can hardly wait to share book 3 with you. Thankfully, it won’t be too much longer. It’s slated to release on August 28, 2020. If you haven’t visited the town of Hope Hollow, Oregon yet, I hope you will soon. It’s a place that I wish I could visit for real.
As mentioned earlier, Susannah’s first husband was a rapscallion, and even though she married David shortly after becoming a widow, she is still trying to come to terms with who her first husband really was and the way he died. I’ve had a similar tragedy happen in my life, and so I’ve taken every precaution to tell this story in a sensitive manner and convey a message of hope and healing.
***Today I’m offering a signed paperback of Hope Springs Eternal, Susannah and David’s story. Are you a person of faith and been tested in some way? Or has your life turned out exactly as you planned?
Here is the blurb for Hope Springs Eternal:
Carving out a new life in Oregon isn’t for the faint of heart. Neither is becoming a mail-order bride.
For 36-year-old Susannah Eversoll, starting over after her husband’s suicide, not to mention betrayal, is what she feels the need to do. So she arranges for herself and her grown daughter, Melissa, to become mail-order brides farther west in the town of Hope Hollow, Oregon. But Susannah will be starting over in more ways than she planned. Although he is kind and caring, David didn’t tell her that his children are young and exhaustingly unruly. And when pushed to her breaking point, a freak accident wipes away her memory. Who is she? Who are these people? Where does she belong?
David Stratton’s hopes for the future died along with his wife two years ago. Now he’s doing the best he can to raise his rambunctious and sometimes quarrelsome children, but he needs help. More than that, though, he’s lonely. Now that he’s found Susannah, he isn’t about to let her go. When Susannah loses her memory in a skating accident, a traveling medicine man decides that he can help her. But is his interest in Susannah’s well-being genuine or does something sinister lie beneath? Can David unravel the mystery that shrouds his wife? Will Susannah regain her memory in time to save their marriage? Or will the love that began to blossom between them shrivel up and die in the wintry storms ahead?
Book 2 in the popular new series, Brides of Hope Hollow, is a story of hope and redemption, and a renewal of faith.
Universal purchase link for Hope Springs Eternal: https://amzn.to/2Mb5lDH
Julia Ridgmont’s author bio:
Julia Ridgmont grew up in the American West, but that doesn’t necessarily mean she knows how to ride a horse. What it does mean, however, is that she loves to weave the country’s rich history into riveting tales full of romance and intrigue.
When she’s not writing, Julia enjoys cooking, sewing costumes for her children, spending time with her husband, and watching her children perform in sports or plays—or, if she’s really bored or stuck on a plot twist, cleaning the house.
Follow Julia as she unveils heroes whose strength and courage are only surpassed by their tenderness, and heroines who hide their lonely hearts with a cover of steel. It will take overcoming insurmountable odds and an iron will for them to find a love that lasts forever. Luckily, they have Julia to help them along.
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Julia’s NL: https://juliaridgmontbooks.com/subscribe
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Julia’s YouTube Channel: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCWecns0cO8kx2vHWUpRre-g