I’m so excited for the release this month of the fourth book in my Wishing, Texas Series, To Marry A Texas Cowboy. Mark your calendar. September 28th is the day Zane Logan’s story arrives.
Zane is the playboy in this group of heroes. Women fall at his feet, and there’s never been one he couldn’t handle. Do you see trouble coming? Of course you do, and you’d be right. Here’s an excerpt from To Marry A Texas Cowboy. I hope you enjoy it, and don’t forget to mark your calendar.
“Are you okay?” Mr. Stop Traffic asked, stepping into the light. She must have showered him with champagne because his shirt lay plastered against his chest, revealing his well-defined abs. Oh, my. His chest looked as wonderful as his face.
“I need to get to the generator,” McKenna said, but she’d no sooner gotten the words out when the lights came on.
“What happened? There’s blood smeared on your face and sleeve, and your nose is swollen.”
McKenna resisted the urge to groan, his comment obliterating all her feminine warm fuzzy feelings. While she was thinking about how dreamy he was, he’d been worried about her bloody, swollen nose. She should’ve known something practical accounted for his interest.
“Something hit my nose when the lights went out.”
“Bet it was the cork from my champagne bottle. It got away from me when the lightning hit.” He glanced around. “Mrs. Severance, you’re a nurse. Come check this out.”
Thanks. Call more attention to the fact that I got hurt and probably resemble a rodeo clown, while you, dripping wet with champagne look…marvelous.
McKenna smiled and waved the older woman off. “No need. I’m fine.”
“If you’re sure,” Mrs. Severance replied.
She nodded as Mr. Stop Traffic moved past her, lifted a glass, and filled it with water from a nearby pitcher. Next, he grabbed a napkin, dunked the square into the water, and returned. Increasingly embarrassed and fighting the urge to run, McKenna reached for the napkin, but he pushed her hand away. “You’ll only smear it more.”
His brows furrowed in concentration as he wiped the blood from her face. His green eyes held tiny flecks of gold, making them almost sparkle. He had the most mesmerizing eyes. Paul Newman, never-forget kind, except in green instead of blue. Her breath caught in her chest. She couldn’t think. Oh dear. No man had ever sent such a warm rush of pleasure pulsing through her before. Not even during sex.
“You need medical attention. Your nose is really swollen.”
His words obliterating her sexual feel-good haze, she leaned forward, kept a smile on her face, and whispered, “Stop saying how swollen my nose is. I’ll deal with it later. Right now, I need to do my job.” Then she straightened and announced, “I’m fine, everyone. If I wasn’t, I’d say so. Now let’s get this party back on track and toast the happy couple.”
She placed her empty bottle in the tub and selected another. This one she opened before handing it to him. “Pour. Everyone’s waiting.”
“Hey, Zane,” came Ty’s voice again from the dance floor, “everyone okay back there? You about got that champagne poured?”
McKenna froze. Zane? While that wasn’t a common name, it wouldn’t be unheard of for two men named Zane to be in attendance tonight.
Right, and if you believe that then you’ve got less brains than God gave a fruit fly.
“Don’t get your britches in a knot, Ty. We’ll be ready for the toast in a minute,” Zane replied.
No, she couldn’t have done what it appeared she had—assumed her boss’s grandson was temporary hired help, ordered him around, and spilled champagne all over him.
This man couldn’t be Ginny’s grandson, the video game designer from Los Angeles, because nothing about this man said California. He was all Texas, including Wrangler jeans, a crisp black western shirt, a silver oval belt buckle with Texas written in the center, and freshly polished cowboy boots.
Despite the evidence, she had to be certain. “You’re not Ginny’s grandson Zane, are you?”
“The one and only.”
Despite their awkward first encounter, when Zane takes charge of his grandmother’s wedding planning business and becomes McKenna’s temporary boss, she doesn’t let him run roughshod over her. Zane doesn’t know quite what to do with a woman he can’t impress, and there are plenty of fireworks.
Today’s giveaway is a signed copy of book 3 in the Wishing, Texas series, To Tame A Texas Cowboy, and an insulated cup, Less Monday More Summer. Since Zane steps in to run his grandmother’s wedding planning business, to be entered in the random drawing leave a comment what you enjoy most about weddings, a wedding trend you like, detest or just don’t understand.
Last week was crazy for me. I played What if…with a lot of you for June’s Game Day. I had a pin removed from my right index finger on Tuesday. The fourth book in my Wishing Texas Series, To Marry A Texas Cowboy, was due Wednesday, and then it was the Fourth of July weekend. Lesson learned? Consult my calendar more carefully when scheduling events and deadlines.
But I have a surprise for you, Today I received the final cover for the book!
Though I don’t have a release dateyet, here’s the backcover copy for the book:
She lives by a set of rules. He aims to break each one.
When Zane Logan returns to Wishing, Texas, he’s shocked to learn that his grandmother has hired an assistant to manage her wedding planning business as she heals from surgery. With five marriages between his parents, just the thought of weddings breaks him out in hives. To look out for his grandmother’s financial interests, Zane takes charge. He doesn’t trust easily, especially when the assistant is prettier than a Texas spring day.
Childhood taught McKenna Stinson an important rule: never count on anyone but yourself. She dreams of working hard to have her own business. Stepping in for a successful wedding planner in a small town known for big weddings is the perfect opportunity…until her employer’s grandson announces he’s the new boss. He’s cynical about love and knows nothing about weddings—so why is she falling for him?
Even worse, Zane’s so hot McKenna has to make up two new rules: don’t date a man more attractive than you and never, ever, date a man you work with.
Being a mom to three sons has helped me create heroes. I learned early on males communicate differently. I wasn’t surprised to learn women use 20,000 words a day and men 7,000. In an interview Clint Eastwood said the first thing he did with a script was cut dialogue. Before I send a book off, I look for where my hero is too wordy. I also check for non “guy speak” dialogue. For example, men don’t use qualifiers. They don’t say “Would you like to…” or “What if we…” Nope. We women do that. Men simply cut to the chase. “Want to get pizza?”
From the book I just turned in, To Marry A Texas Cowboy:
Zane tried to tune out the women talking about how else Susannah would incorporate her color scheme. Who wanted to waste their New Year’s Eve at a wedding? Not him. Why did a bride have to ruin a perfectly good holiday and football night? From the color scheme, they chatted back and forth about whether they should eat or check out dresses first.
Ridiculous. It wouldn’t take him and his buddies a minute to decide. You hungry? No. Me neither. We’ll eat later. Done. Issue settled. But women made every discussion as hard as finding hair on a frog.
There are more ways men and women communicate differently, but I’ll leave those for another time. Today’s giveaway is a Warrior Not Worrier Cozy Sleeve and a copy of Home On The Ranch: Colorado Rescue. To be entered in the random drawing, leave a comment about the way men and women communicate differently or your thoughts on my cover or the backcover copy. Basically, just leave a comment and talk with me!
How would you feel if you suddenly found yourself married to the wrong person? That’s what happened to Chase and Emily in The Cowboy Meets His Match.
Chase has to marry per his father’s will in order to keep the family ranch. Emily has just traveled to Texas from Boston as a mail-order-bride. After vows are exchanged and the bride’s veil removed, Chase realizes he’s married to the wrong woman. His new bride has no affinity for cattle and doesn’t even know how to ride a horse! He immediately demands an annulment, but as the following scene shows, that doesn’t work out the way he’d hoped.
(For a chance to win the book, leave a comment. Giveaway guidelines apply.)
With a glance at the clerk, the judge drew a handkerchief out of his pocket and dabbed at his sweaty forehead. Replacing the handkerchief, he cleared his throat. “I’m sure this isn’t the first time something like this has happened.” The judge’s hollow laugh was met with scowls. Growing serious, he reached for a leather-bound book and thumbed through the pages.
“Ah, here we are,” he said, sounding relieved. “Annulment.” Adjusting his spectacles, he quickly scanned the page. “This should only take a few minutes. You just have to answer a few questions.” Finger holding his spot, he looked up and asked in all seriousness, “Why do you want an annulment?”
Chase reared back. “Why? Because I married the wrong woman, that’s why!”
“Yes, yes, yes, I know that.” The judge stabbed the page with his finger. “But that’s not listed here as legitimate grounds for annulment.”
The uncle jabbed the muzzle of his shotgun on the floor and placed both hands on the butt. “What are legitimate grounds?”
The judge’s finger moved down the page. “Bigamy, for one.” He looked up. “Are either of you married?”
“Yes, we’re married,” Chase said, his voice thick with impatience. “To each other!”
The uncle stared straight at Emily. “I think he’s asking if either one of you is married to someone else.”
Emily’s eyes flashed him a look of disdain. If it wasn’t for him and his veiled threats, neither she nor Chase would be in this predicament. “I’m not married. Or at least I wasn’t until a few minutes ago.”
The judge checked the book again. “Okay, forget that. Are either of you underage?” The judge had directed the question to her.
“I’m twenty-two,” Emily said.
“Twenty-six,” Chase said.
The judge’s finger moved down the page again. “Are either of you related to the other?”
Chase shook his head. “Absolutely not.”
The judge peered at them over the frame of his spectacles. “Are either of you”—he cleared his throat—“unable to consummate the marriage?”
Emily’s face flared, and Chase threw up his hands. “This is getting us nowhere.”
The judge held up the palm of a hand. “Now hold on. There’s more.” He glanced at the uncle’s shotgun. “Were either of you coerced into the marriage?”
Emily felt a flicker of hope, but before she had a chance to answer in the affirmative, the door flew open. A man stormed into the chambers with a bride in tow, and he looked fit to be tied.
The uncle stepped in front of the new arrivals, his shotgun raised in a threatening pose. The newly arrived bride gasped and fell back.
“Sorry, Royce,” the uncle said. “You’re too late. The will said the first one married will have full ownership of the ranch.” He tossed a nod at Emily. “Meet Mrs. Chase McKnight, your new sister-in-law.”
I’ve always loved mail-order bride stories and am delighted to be currently writing one. My heroine has a good reason for taking a a chance on love, but what about the thousands of other women who’d left family and friends to travel west and into the arms of strangers?
Shortage of Men—and Women
The original mail-order bride business grew out of necessity. The lack of women in the west was partly responsible, but so was the Civil War. The war not only created thousands of widows and grieving girlfriends, but a shortage of men, especially in the south.
As a result, marriage brokers and “Heart and Hand” catalogues popped up all around the country. Ads averaged five to fifteen cents and letters were exchanged along with photographs.
According to an article in the Toledo Blade lonely men even wrote to the Sears catalogue company asking for brides (the latest such letter received was from a lonely Marine during the Vietnam War).
Marriage was thought to be the only path to female respectability. Anyone not conforming to society’s expectations was often subjected to public scorn. Also, many women needed marriage just for survival. Single women had a hard time making it alone in the East. This was especially true of widows with young children to support.
Women who had reached the “age” of spinsterhood with no promising prospects were more likely to take a chance on answering a mail-order bride ad than younger women.
Not Always Love at First Sight
For some mail-order couples, it was love (or lust) at first sight. In 1886, one man and his mail order bride were so enamored with each other they scandalized fellow passengers on the Union Pacific Railroad during their honeymoon.
Not every bride was so lucky. In her book Hearts West, Christ Enss tells the story of mail-order bride Eleanor Berry. En route to her wedding her stage was held up at gunpoint by four masked men. Shortly after saying “I do,” and while signing the marriage license, she suddenly realized that her husband was one of the outlaws who had robbed her. The marriage lasted less than an hour.
The mail-order business was not without deception. Lonely people sometimes found themselves victims of dishonest marriage brokers, who took their money and ran.
Some ads were exaggerated or misleading. Men had a tendency to overstate their financial means. Women, on the other hand, were more likely to embellish their looks. The Matrimonial News in the 1870s printed warnings by Judge Arbuckle that any man deceived by false hair, cosmetic paints, artificial bosoms, bolstered hips, or padded limbs could have his marriage nulled, if he so desired.
Despite all the things that could and sometimes did go wrong, historians say that most matches were successful.
No one seems to know how many mail-order brides there were during the 1800s, but the most successful matchmaker of all appears to be Fred Harvey. He wasn’t in the mail-order bride business, but, by the turn of the century, five thousand Harvey Girls had found husbands while working in his restaurants.
Under what circumstances might you have considered becoming a mail order bride in the Old West?
I’m out in the wine country of California preparing for our first grand’s wedding on Friday. We’re busy getting all of the last minute things in order and one of the big problems is hair-do’s. It got me to thinking that the styles of today’s bride and bridal party really aren’t that much different than those of bygone years. Hairstyles I used to describe women in my western historical romances.
Since I write both western historicals and contemporary romances typically set in the Texas Panhandle women’s day-to-day hairstyles have never been a problem to describe. Especially since woman on the ranches of today wear their hair very much like they did when this part of the West was settled in the mid-1800’s … either long, over the shoulder styles, sometimes curled, sometime straight, or in braids of some sort.
I thought it’d be fun to look at the different hairstyles of the American women during the 1800’s.
For the first fifteen years after the turn of the century, women wore short curls waved on the forehead with their back hair in a simple knot. Some wore top knots; and they used combs, tiaras and coronets for ornaments. To be honest with you, I had to look up a coronet to see what they look like and found they are a small crown consisting of ornaments fixed on a metal ring. They differ from a crown in that they will never have arches. They are unlike a tiera because they completely encircle the head, while a tiara does not. Simply said, a crown is worn by an emperor, empress, king or queen; a coronet by a nobleman or lady.
Between 1815 and 1840 a woman frequently parted her hair in the middle, smoothed it, and wore ringlets, puffs or loops at the sides. From the early 1820’s to the early 1830’s they piled their hair progressively higher in the back, culminating in a style dubbed a la giraffe. Masses of sausage curls (tubelike curls) and ringlets were also popular during this period.
Topknots became smaller and moved to the back of the head beginning in the 1840’s and continued for another fifteen years. Large coils of hair at the nape of the neck and sometimes held by black or colored silk nets were popular from the 1850’s on. This chignon is a knot or roll of hair worn at the back of the head and sometimes ornamented with lace, ribbons, jeweled bands, combs, foliage, flowers and strings of pearls; and was very popular in the 1860’s, but worn throughout the century. As you can see by the picture, they are still popular today.
Between 1865 and 1890, the bun and chigon were moved up on the head with the front hair carried back without any parts. As it is today, in the 1870’s women’s hair was allowed to cascade down long and full in the back, sometimes in ringlets or hugh loops. Pompadous were worn, as were hair ornaments. Of interest, the pompadous was popular in the 1950’s by people such as James Dean and Elvis and was known as the Rockabilly Hairdo. And, of course, today many movie stars and singers wear the style.
From then until the end of the century the most prominent style was the psyche knot, which has the hair pulled back from the forehead and knotted on top. Small coiffures, pompadours and French twists were worn, as were ornaments.
The more research I did on hairstyles of the 1800’s the more I realized that as I heard all of my life everything sooner or later comes back into style; and hairdos are no exception.
Since I come from “Big Hair Country” and grew up with it, I have to admit that I still like the style. Now, what is your favorite hairstyle?
To one lucky commenter, I’d love to send you an autographed copy of your choice of any one of our six anthologies. To a second reader who leaves a comment, I will send you an eBook of my latest Kasota Spring Contemporary romance Out of a Texas Night. Thanks to all you all for stopping by and reading my blog.
Last week, my parents celebrated their 68th wedding anniversary.
My mind struggles to wrap around that many years of wedding bliss.
My dad, always something of a character, informed me the day before their anniversary he’d been married to Mom for 24,820 days and counting.
I laughed, but the enormity of spending nearly 25,000 days married to your high school sweetheart still boggles my mind.
My parents met their senior year of high school.
Dad’s family had just moved to the area and he only knew the closest neighbor’s kids when school started that fall. He’s always been friendly and outgoing, never had any trouble making friends and fitting in. In no time at all, he was involved in sports, playing in the band, participating in Future Farmer of America activities, and watching a certain dark-haired girl who’d caught his eye.
Mom was shy and quiet, had a few good friends, and didn’t participate in many extra-curricular activities, mostly because my grandparents’ farm was quite a distance from town and she had no way to get home if she stayed late after school.
Right away, she noticed the new, cute boy at school, the one many of the other girls were buzzing about. However, they ran in different social circles and it wasn’t until spring when Dad finally asked her out on a date to the movies.
By the time they graduated, they were an “item.” Dad was gone for a while, serving in the Naval Reserves, but the following summer, they made plans to wed in early August.
The dimple-cheeked girl with stars in her eyes rushed through her swing shift at the telephone office then raced out to the farm where a handsome boy who had captured her heart waited to make her his bride.
She didn’t have a fancy, elaborate gown. They both wore gray suits.
Their flowers were gladiolas, pink and white.
And they said “I do” in the minutes before the clock struck midnight due to her working late.
Not the stuff of fairy tales, right?
But the lasting power of their love — 68 years — includes a little fairy tale, happily-ever-after sprinkled in the mix.
Growing up, I watched some of my classmates go through the trials and tribulations of having their parents divorce. By then, my folks were middle-aged and settled into life and into each other. I never once worried about them separating. They were then and still remain a united front.
I don’t think either of them ever once considered leaving each other as an option. They were just eighteen and nineteen when they wed, but they made a commitment for a lifetime.
And I’m so glad they did.
If you want to know about true love and real romance, ask a couple who’s been married for more than six decades. I bet they’ll give you some good tips and probably a generous helping of humor.
Life wasn’t always easy for them. Far from it.
They had plenty of rough patches to work through, but they remained committed to each other and the vows they made.
Their little family grew from the two of them to three with the arrival of a bouncing baby boy.
It expanded to four with the birth of another boy.
And then my sister came along making them a happy group of five.
I’ve heard stories of the adventures they all had, the many, many times they moved before my parents bought a farm in Eastern Oregon and set down roots that kept them there for more than fifty years.
Evidently, after twenty years of marriage, they still liked each other, because they had me. (Both of my brothers look like they’re waiting for me to do something awful.)
And the family continued to grow with the arrival of grandbabies… then great-grandbabies.
For 68 years, Mom and Dad have been there for each other — through fights and fears, laughter and tears, celebrations and sorrows.
If you ask them individually, they’ll both tell you the secret to a happy marriage is listening to your partner and not always trying to be right, even when you know you are.
If you ask me, though, I’d say a big part of their longevity and happiness comes from these things:
*My dad’s great sense of humor and the fact that he absolutely adores my mom. He always has and, after 68 years of marriage, I think it’s safe to say he always will.
*My mom’s loyalty and devotion to my dad and her ability to be a perfect balance to him.
I, for one, am so glad they fell in love and have remained in love all these many years.
If you could give a newly-married couple a tidbit of advice, what would you share?
After I turned in my last book, Once Upon A Texas Christmas (just a little over a year ago), I took a bit of a sabbatical from writing. The line I wrote seventeen books for was closing and I was also a bit burned out from writing 2 books a year for the previous four years (I’m not a fast writer so this was a ‘stretch’ pace for me).
So I was at a crossroads of sorts. I took some time thinking about where I wanted to go next, free from the constraints of any specific publisher guidelines. I eventually came up with ideas for several multi-book series I could get excited about and worked up some details to hand over to my agent so she could begin shopping them around to publishers.
That done, I figured while I waited I now had time to explore another path that had captured my interest, that of indie-publishing. I had several books from my days with Dorchester’s Leisure Books line that were published in the 2001-2005 time frame, long before the eBook revolution and that had gone out of print more than a dozen years ago and I figured reworking one of those and indie-publishing it would be a good way to ease myself into that scary-to-me world. So I went to work, getting ready to do just that.
And boy has it been a learning experience. Revising the book was the fun part. I’d forgotten just how much I loved those early books. Revisiting the characters and worlds from my early writing days has been an absolute joy. But now I’ deep into the business side of the process – hiring a good editor, figuring out cover design options, creating a back cover blurb, forming an LLC, obtaining ISBNs, etc., etc. It’s been a steep learning curve (and I’m not through it yet!) but hopefully next time will be a little easier.
Anyway, if things go as planned, this first book, which I’m titling The Unexpected Bride, will release in late fall. And today I thought I’d whet your appetite with an excerpt.
The set up for this story – Elthia Sinclare has travelled from Massachusetts to Texas in answer to an ad for a temporary job as governess. Caleb Tanner placed an ad for a mail-order bride. This is the scene where our heroine realizes there has been a terrible mistake:
“Mr. Tanner, we need to talk.”
The lying, scheming blackguard glanced back from his position at the stove, a scowl of irritation on his face. Then his expression changed as something in her demeanor caught his attention.
“What’s happened?” he asked, handing a plate to one of the children.
Zoe slipped into the room behind her, but Elthia kept her gaze focused on Mr. Tanner. She stood stiffly, fighting the urge to back away as he approached. “Exactly why did you bring me here?”
His scowl returned as he rubbed the back of his neck. “What do you mean? This is my home. Where else would I take you?”
“I’m talking about what role it is you expect me to fulfill?” She watched him closely, looking for some sign of guilt or duplicity. “Mrs. Johnston called me your helpmeet and referred to you Tanners as my ‘new family’. Just now, Dr. Adams did the same.”
Elthia clasped her hands to prevent their trembling. Had this man lured her to his home under false pretenses? She was completely at his mercy here. The isolated location and the shadowy approach of dusk suddenly took on a sinister feel. Sometimes having a vivid imagination was more of a curse than a blessing.
She had to remain calm, to think, to keep him from seeing her fear.
Mr. Tanner, however, looked more harried than threatening. Maybe Zoe had misread the situation. Dear God please–-
“I’m sorry that your role as a mail-order bride is public knowledge, if that’s what this is all about. It’s hard to keep secrets in a community like Foxberry.”
“Mail-order bride!” Elthia almost choked on the words. Heaven help her, this nightmare kept getting more unbelievable.
His scowl returned. “Miss Sinclare, stop the hysterics, please. I know the kids’ illness was unexpected, but surely—”
“There’s been a mistake, a dreadful, terrible mistake.”
His eyes narrowed. Then he looked at the children who watched the grown-ups with wide-eyed interest. “Let’s move this discussion to the parlor, shall we?”
He nodded to the two older children. “Zoe and Peter, you help the others with their supper please.” Then he took Elthia’s arm and all but pulled her out of the room.
As soon as they reached the parlor, he released her, as if touching her were distasteful. His next words were all the more intimidating for their softness. “Backing out already? So much for all that talk about honoring commitments.” His expression branded her as beneath contempt. “I should have known a pampered bit of high-class fluff wouldn’t have a notion about honor or responsibility.”
Elthia shook her head, confused and defensive. “No, no, you don’t understand. I came here to fill the post of governess, not to be someone’s mail-order bride.”
The sound he made was suspiciously like a snort. “Foxberry has a great school. Why would I waste money on a governess?”
“But that’s what you advertised for. I read the file myself.” A spurt of anger momentarily replaced her fear. “How dare you misrepresent yourself in such a way! You took advantage of Mrs. Pembroke and of me. It’s vile and probably illegal. I have half a mind to find the local sheriff and have you arrested.”
Mr. Tanner wasn’t intimidated. “I didnot misrepresent anything. I made it very clear to the agency exactly what I was looking for. If you paid any attention at all to my post there’s no way you could be confused about any of this.”
She drew in a breath as he pointed a finger, stopping just short of poking her chest.
His frown turned contemptuous. “If this is some ploy to get out of the contract and still be able to hold your head up, don’t bother. A weak, spoiled, lady with a tendency to run away from her troubles might be the last thing I want for the kids or myself, but I warned you earlier, no backing out once the kids met you.”
“How dare you! Why I—”
“I’d appreciate it if you’d keep your voice down,” he interrupted. “There’s no point in upsetting the kids.”
He straightened. “I don’t have time for this posturing. If you’re not going to help, at least stay out of the way. In the meantime, before you try that ‘I didn’t know what I was getting into’ story again, you should reread that contract you signed.”
Elthia watched him stalk out of the room. Slumping, she steadied herself with a hand to a chair. The long day and its emotional ups and downs had taken its toll. She suddenly felt too exhausted to think straight. Maybe her father was right. Maybe she was too helpless, too naïve, to make her own decisions.
How had this happened? Was Mr. Tanner a villain or had there been a terrible mix-up with the paperwork at the agency?
Of course. He’d told her to reread the contract and that’s just what she’d do, and then force him to do the same. She wasn’t her father’s daughter for nothing. She’d read that sheet of paper very carefully before signing it. It was an employment contract for a temporary teaching assignment, nothing more.
Feeling her energy rebound, she hurried into the hall. Her copy lay somewhere in her luggage, but he still had the one she’d given him. “Mr. Tanner, just a minute please.” Stepping into the kitchen, she ran smack into his rock-solid chest.
He placed a hand on both of her arms, steadying her before stepping back a pace. “Well, Miss Sinclare, what is it now?”
Elthia’s cheeks heated but she held onto what dignity she could. Pushing her glasses up on her nose, she managed to keep her gaze locked to his as she held out a hand. “The contract, sir. I’d like to see your copy of it if I may.”
He raised an eyebrow. “And just what do you expect that to prove?” Then he scowled. “I warn you, don’t try to tear it up.”
She raised her chin. “Why would I want to tear it up? It’s the proof I need to support my story. It states quite clearly that the position I accepted was that of governess.”
“Does it now?”
Elthia frowned impatiently. “Yes, of course it does. You read it there at Whistling Oak. Surely you remember what it said. There was nothing at all vague about the terms.”
“I agree, it spells things out in very plain language.” He strode out of the room and she followed him as far as the foot of the stairs. It only took seconds for him to return and hand her the document.
Elthia, itching to rub the I’m-only-doing-this-to-humor-you expression from his face, unfolded it and skimmed it.
Then she blinked.
She read it twice. Where had this contract come from? It most definitely was not the document she’d read so carefully before signing. Someone had switched papers, but when and how? They’d hardly been out of her sight since she’d signed them.
It must have been Mr. Tanner. He’d somehow substituted the document she’d handed him for this one. Her gaze frantically turned to the bottom of the contract and she got another shock.
It couldn’t be!
There was her name, penned in her own handwriting. Alongside it was the signature of Louella Pembroke. It must be a forgery, but it was such a good one even she couldn’t tell the difference.
How dare he try to coerce her this way. She shook the document under his nose. “How did you do this?”
“Do what?” He looked more puzzled than guilty.
“Forge my signature so perfectly. Did you trace it? And where’s the real contract?”
His jaw tightened and his eyes narrowed at her accusation. “Don’t you think you’re carrying this charade a bit far?”
“Don’t think you can intimidate me with that oh so superior tone. I have my own copy of the contract.”
She turned and all but fled upstairs. If he thought he could bully her with this elaborate act he was very much mistaken. It took her a several minutes, but she finally located her copy in the larger of her trunks.
Marching back down the stairs, she found Mr. Tanner still standing where she’d left him, though now the lamps in the hall were lit against the encroaching darkness.
She waved the paper triumphantly. “This is the document I signed, not that substitute you’re trying to fob off on me.”
With the air of an adult humoring a child, the infuriating Mr. Tanner plucked it from her fingers, pulled the contract out of the sealed envelope and looked it over quickly.
After reading it, he shrugged and handed it back to her. “I won’t argue with you on that score. But I don’t rightly see how it differs from the one I looked at earlier.”
Her hands starting to tremble, Elthia took the contract and forced her eyes to focus on the print. He was right, it was identical to the one he’d handed her a few minutes earlier.
A very simple, very binding, marriage contract.
There you have it. I hope you enjoyed the sneak peek. And stay tuned – I’ll keep you posted on my progress 🙂
Way back when I set up the date to be a guest here on Petticoats and Pistols, I thought I would be sharing about the third book in my Orphans of the West series. But then this happened:
And two and a half months later this came about:
So yeah, my legal name is no longer Faith Blum, however, I am keeping it as my pen name. Since I can’t talk about my new book, I thought I would talk about my wedding instead. After all, everyone here likes a good romance, right? So why not a real life romance?
Our story actually reminds me a little bit of a modern-day mail order bride story. We met on ChristianMingle in August 2016 and emailed back and forth for a few months before meeting in person. As I mentioned earlier, we started courting in late January.
June 19th is a day I will probably always remember. Bill came over and we took a walk with our trusty chaperone, Shasta my family’s dog. Bill and I had taken a few walks when he was at our house. There are three ways you can go. To the left and straight it’s fairly flat. To the right, it starts out flat and then gets rather steep and keeps going—and getting steeper—the further you go.
When Bill heard that there was a top to the hill, he wanted to make it all the way up there. I balked at that. The top is about 2 miles from our home, about half of which is steeply uphill.
The day was cool and slightly cloudy. So when we got to the end of the driveway where we needed to make a decision on which way to go. I said we could try to get to the top of the hill. He was surprised, but we went.
Halfway up the hill, Bill asked, “Why did you want to go to the top?” I think he was mostly joking. At least that’s what he claims…
When we got to the top, we stopped for a breather. After a short stop, he got down on one knee, opened the ring box, and asked, “Will you marry me?” I said, “Yes!”
We choose to get married Labor Day weekend because many of Bill’s siblings either work in schools or go to college. We also didn’t want a long engagement. The wedding preparations went well and we had a lot of fun with them.
I think my favorite—and the hardest part—preparation was making all the flowers. I found an idea on Pinterest for making roses out of book pages, so I took a couple of my extra proof copies and used them. We had two craft days with a few of my friends coming over to help make them. I think they turned out great!
The colored roses were painted with watered down acrylic paint.
Between everyone, we had the wedding ready with a couple days to spare. I am very blessed to have great family and friends who helped with so many aspects of the wedding.
The wedding was beautiful and so meaningful to Bill and I as well as everyone who attended. We had a small ice cream sundae reception and then it was time to leave. Since I am allergic to corn, we didn’t want to use birdseed to throw, so my sisters and mom gathered leaves and flowers to dry and they threw those at us instead.
I don’t have room to tell you about the honeymoon, but we did have a good time exploring a few places out West, avoiding wildfires, and visiting the ghost town I set some of my stories in. If you’d like to read more about it, you can see my blog post here.
While I’m here, I’d also like to do a little bit of a giveaway. To enter, tell me what your favorite wedding story is. One lucky winner will receive an eBook copy of the book I dedicated to my then suitor, Savior, Like a Shepherd.
National statistics say that June is the most popular wedding month, followed by July and August, and I think it has to do with the weather and versatility. The ceremonies can be either outside or in. A lot of couples choose tropical locales which I think provide exceptional backdrops for gorgeous weddings. The only problem I had was that I picked poor guys. All we could afford was a quick trip to the JP. Short and sweet.
It doesn’t really matter though and mine carried as much meaning as the fanciest.
By the way, those statistics say that a total of $72 billion dollars are spent each year on weddings and the average budget is $20k.
The top wedding city in the world is Istanbul, Turkey with Las Vegas, Nevada coming in second.
I’ve written wedding scenes in a good many of my books and none of them were elaborate either. I think the two in my newest, The Heart of a Texas Cowboy, were the most shocking. Houston Legend never anticipates the turn of events and both leave him shaken. I won’t tell you what those are because I don’t want to ruin the story for readers who haven’t read it yet.
In To Love a Texas Ranger, Book 1 of the Men of Legend series, the wedding took place outdoors at sunset at the end of the book. Sam Legend and Sierra Hunt loved the fresh air and the beautiful Texas sky so that was perfect.
But the wedding in Book 3 – To Marry a Texas Outlaw – has them all beat. You won’t believe what happens. You’ll have to wait until November 7th to find out though.
There is also a wedding in my upcoming August re-release, Knight on the Texas Plains, between Duel McClain and Jessie Foltry. I think it may be the only one to take place in a church. But then marriage ceremonies on the American frontier were usually simple affairs and to the point. They had no time to waste.
In the book I’m writing, the wedding takes place at sunrise on the rim of a canyon and I think it’s very romantic. Tally Shannon and Clay Colby tie the knot then afterward change clothes and get to work. Someone just burned down the town.
Weddings always turn me into a blubbering mess. So, how about you? Share something about a wedding and enter a drawing for one copy from any of my books.
For me, summer means weddings, especially June. Now, let’s climb my family tree:
Once upon a time, a handsome Illinois schoolmaster married a debutante from across the Mississippi River. Paper Japanese lanterns glowed. Years before, the bride’s grandpa had marched with General William Tecumseh Sherman. She is said to have weighed a whole 98 pounds full-term with child. Of their eight kids, (the oldest was presciently named Octavia!) one would become a preacherman.
About this same time, in the heartland, a Kansas farmer fell in love with a pretty, feisty neighbor from a nearby homestead. (I’m said to look like her.) He died from a ruptured appendix far too soon in their marriage, leaving behind a brood of their own kids and several adopted orphans.
Exactly one century ago, the farmer’s daughter married the preacherman, who had been assigned to the nearby country church after seminary. She gave up art school to marry. Over the next decade, she gave him a half-dozen children. After a time, the preacher took a congregation on the West Coast. Mostly he needed sunshine and warm weather for his health. His kids enjoyed the beach. All were excellent students. His wife (my brilliant gramma and personal hero) brought the family through the Great Depression with class, grace, and without complaint.
During the Second World War, their oldest daughter, a schoolteacher too, married her sailor. (She’d had a crush on him since high school. He signed her yearbook fairly lame: To a nice quiet girl, but admitted later on he’d been interested in her too.) She longed to wear her mama’s wedding gown, but everything fell to shreds when unwrapped. In her hair the bride wore the only surviving finery–a little bunch of silk flowers.
Forty three years ago this summer, their daughter, also a schoolteacher, married her fireman on a hot August afternoon. (Strapless and sleeveless bridal gowns not acceptable then.) The locket she wore came from her grandfather’s grandmother! Two kids and four grandkids later, their love story is still going on.