Opportunity…a situation or condition favorable for attaining a goal.
Back in early March, an opportunity presented itself and I was quick to jump in. I saw FB posts talking about a new multi-author series called the Love Train that Charlene Raddon and Pam Crooks were heading up. They already had nine authors and I didn’t know if they had room for one more or not. But I asked and they graciously asked me to join them. So I did.
I’d always wanted to take part in one of these and Charlene had been after me for years but the timing was never right. Then I found myself without a contract and I’m not a good thumb-twiddler.
I’m so glad I took the leap. FANCY was born. Fancy Dalton struggled all her life for just the basics. She lives with her mother and both work hard yet never seem to get ahead. Fancy worked waiting tables in a café, dodging young men who thought her name suggested she could be bought. They find out differently.
When I began to think about this story, I kept seeing a seven-year-old sitting on a coffin in a train baggage car. The girl, Piper O’Connor, needed help and she turned out to be a major character in this story.
But back to Fancy…she was attacked one night and nine months later had a child. The midwife told her the baby didn’t survive and for two years Fancy grieved for her son. Then, during a stormy night, a shadowy figure drops a bombshell—her baby is alive!
A stolen child…A desperate mother
Armed with a Denver address, Fancy boards the train. She’s willing to risk everything—even her life—to find her child. She doesn’t know how she’ll get her son from the people who stole him, but she won’t give up.
Luckily, a cowboy boards at the same time and sits next to her. Jack Coltrain is on a mission of his own but her plight draws him. He makes a deal with her—his help for hers.
I don’t know why orphaned children always end up in my stories. I don’t plan it. It just happens. Before, I could turn around, Fancy and Jack had taken Piper under their wing like true mother hens. 🙂
What emerged was a heart-warming story of love and sacrifice and the true meaning of family. This is a sweet romance and is up for preorder now. It releases August 15th and wraps up the Love Train series. This short read will be available in both ebook and print.
Click HERE to preorder. The ebook will be $2.99. I’ll have some giveaways next month.
The past six weeks or so I’ve been working on a big project.
Oddly enough, it doesn’t involve writing, at least not directly.
Like clothes that get worn out or a house that needs painted, sometimes book covers need a makeover.
Then multiply that times ten because instead of giving one book a makeover, I gave a whole 10-book series a brand new look.
I’m excited to share these new Pendleton Petticoats covers with you today. In fact, you are the first to get to see them!
Before I share them though, I thought I’d walk you through some of the changes one or two of the covers have gone through since I first published the books.
When I originally released Aundy, the first book in the series, I had zero budget for hiring someone to design covers or buying high quality images.
Desperate times call for desperate measures, right? This desperate measure was for me to pull on a blue calico wrapper my mom had made eons ago, pin eyelet lace inside it so it looked like a petticoat hanging out, and lace up a pair of reproduction Edwardian era boots (talk about pinched toes!) I’d had since high school days. I enlisted Captain Cavedweller to take the photo, then I added in the sheep and the wheat field in the background. I try not to cringe when I see it now. At the time, it filled a need!
Fast forward to 2017 when I had a subscription to a stock image website. By then, I’d picked up a few design skills (not nearly enough, but a few!).
This was the original graphic I used for the new Aundy cover. It had some great elements.
Unfortunately, I hadn’t quite gotten the hang of “dressing” models in photos. It’s a lot harder than it might seem when the model is in a reclined position like this. Again, it filled a need when I wanted an upgrade.
What do you think of the new and improved Aundy?
I love this so much, mostly because this is exactly how I picture Aundy, from the braided hair to the peach-hued gown, to her sheep grazing in the distance. I really did have a lot of fun designing this cover.
Here’s another makeover example.
It was impossible when I was working on Millie’s story to find any appropriate artwork for the cover. You see, Millie is strongly against alcohol being sold in town and becomes one of the leaders of the local temperance union. How to convey that in a cover shot?
Well, yours truly may or may not have ordered a corset, cinched it so tight I could barely breathe, and assembled a costume from things I had buried in the back of the closet (minus the axe, that was CC’s contribution to the photo). I photoshopped in the house in the background and the whiskey barrel.
When I changed the cover in 2017, I decided to ditch the whole temperance idea for the cover and focus on Millie’s job as a telephone operator.
This cover was better, but still not quite right.
The new and improved Millie makes my heart so happy. I adore the colors and the fact she’s sitting on a bench reading. It makes me want to sit with her and peek over her shoulder to see what story has her so enthralled.
Here they are! All 10 books with shiny new covers!
Set in the western town of Pendleton, Oregon, at the turn of the 20th century, each book in this series bears the name of the heroine, all brave yet very different.
Aundy(Book 1) — Aundy Thorsen, a stubborn mail-order bride, finds the courage to carry on when she’s widowed before ever truly becoming a wife, but opening her heart to love again may be more than she can bear.
Caterina(Book 2) — Running from a man intent on marrying her, Caterina Campanelli starts a new life in Pendleton, completely unprepared for the passionate feelings stirred in her by the town’s incredibly handsome deputy sheriff.
Ilsa(Book 3) — Desperate to escape her wicked aunt and an unthinkable future, Ilsa Thorsen finds herself on her sister’s ranch in Pendleton. Not only are the dust and smells more than she can bear, but Tony Campanelli seems bent on making her his special project.
Marnie(Book 4) — Beyond all hope for a happy future, Marnie Jones struggles to deal with her roiling emotions when U.S. Marshal Lars Thorsen rides into town, tearing down the walls she’s erected around her heart.
Lacy(Book 5) — Bound by tradition and responsibilities, Lacy has to choose between the ties that bind her to the past and the unexpected love that will carry her into the future.
Bertie(Book 6) — Haunted by the trauma of her past, Bertie Hawkins must open her heart to love if she has any hope for the future.
Millie (Book 7) — Determined to bring prohibition to town, the last thing Millie Matlock expects is to fall for the charming owner of the Second Chance Saloon.
Dally (Book 8) — Eager to return home and begin his career, Doctor Nik Nash is caught by surprise when the spirited Dally Douglas captures his heart.
Quinn (Book 9) — Full of opinions and plans to help women, Quinn Fairfield has no time for such nonsense as falling in love.
Evie (Book 10) — Will a man focused on his work notice the love of a lifetime in his client’s effervescent nanny?
It’s hard for me to pick a favorite, but I think it might just be Aundy. Or maybe Evie. Or Quinn. Or…
Which one is your favorite?
Post your answer for a chance to win the Pendleton Petticoats boxed set which includes three Pendleton stories!
I’m incredibly excited about my new release that just came out on Friday!
Henley is a sweet historical western romance that is part of the new Love Train series. You’ll see several of our Fillies in the series. In fact, Pam Crooks released Book 1 just a few weeks ago. If you haven’t yet, be sure to read Christiana.
The books can be read in any order. The common thread between them all is that each heroine has a secret, and they all meet their hunky hero on the same train. You’ll see the conductor Henry, a baggage handler Willie, and a cute little pup named Scruffy in each story too.
Henley Jones and Doctor Evan Holt connect when they board the train in Omaha.
Love is a gamble, and heartbreak is a risk she’s willing to take.
Despite her dreams to set down roots, Henley Jones has never had a place to call home. She’s spent her life on riverboats and railroad cars, tagging along with her gambling father. A shoot-out during a card game results in his death, leaving Henley alone and nearly penniless. Out of luck and options, Henley agrees to travel across the country to the newly established town of Holiday, Oregon, to marry a stranger.
A demanding practice in a town clawing its way to respectability keeps Doctor Evan Holt rushing at a hectic pace. He’s far too busy to see to pressing matters like hiring competent help or finding a wife. When one of his patients orders a mail-order bride, Evan can’t decide if the man is crazy or brilliant. From the moment he meets her, Evan battles an unreasonable attraction to the beautiful, charming woman who seems to be hiding something from her past.
In a town flush with possibilities, will taking a chance on love end with heartache or a winning hand? Find out in this sweet western romance full of humor, hope, and love.
I thought it might be fun to share some quotes from the book.
The West was overflowing with gamblers.
They gambled on their dreams, and hopes, and families.
They gambled on opportunities to create better lives, or become better versions of themselves.
Most importantly, they gambled in the high-stakes game of love,
putting their hearts on the line, with no idea if they’d win or lose.
The child was as cooperative as a drunken donkey in a dynamite shack.
I’m starting to think there are rocks and tree stumps
smarter than Evan Holt.
Love might be the toughest gamble you’ll make, but it’s worth the risk.
Man, your mouth is going to water today! Historical author Linda Hubalek is talking about how the pioneers got by and may have some lessons for us so make her welcome.
In this unprecedented time, when we are all home due to the virus affecting the world, we have to prepare meals for ourselves and our families. Luckily, we still have electricity and the appliances that keep and prepare our foods.
Can you imagine what life would be like if we didn’t have electricity right now? Talk about shutting down the world!
Being a writer who has spent a lot of time researching history, I think we still have it easy in 2020 compared to pioneer ancestors.
First, you had to raise the chickens who will produce the eggs for you!
And you wouldn’t have a box cake mix on hand either. Here are recipes to make an Angel Food Cake, and Sunshine Cake to use up all those egg yolks.
ANGEL FOOD CAKE
Whites of 11 eggs
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 cup cake flour
Pinch of salt
1 teaspoon cream of tartar
1 teaspoon vanilla
Sift sugar and flour together seven times. Put cream of tartar and salt in eggs and beat very light, fold in sugar and flour, add vanilla. Put in a cold oven and bake slowly for 1 hour. (Make your cake flour by sifting 4 cups flour and 1 cup cornstarch together four times.)
1 cup butter
2 cups sugar
1 cup sweet milk
11 egg yolks, beaten light
3 cups flour, sifted three times with 2 tps. baking powder
Bake in tube pan 45 minutes. Use any flavoring desired.
Need milk to drink or butter to use in a recipe?
Go milk a cow!
Pour ripened cream into butter chum and chum for about 30 to 35 minutes until the butter is about the size of wheat grains. Draw off the buttermilk and add cold water. Slowly chum for a few minutes, then draw off the water.
Put the butter in a wooden bowl and mix in 2 tablespoons of salt per pound of butter. Let stand a few minutes, then work the butter with a wooden paddle to get the last of the liquid out and the salt in. Press in crocks or butter molds and store in a cool place.
Bacon for breakfast?
Today, we pull a pound of bacon from the refrigerator and cook it in a skillet or the oven. In the past, you had to raise the pig before you butchered the animal for the meal.
Sugar Cured Meat
After butchering, cool the meat thoroughly and cut into family-sized chunks. Rub each chunk with coarse salt and set aside for 24 hours. Tightly pack the meat in an earthen vessel-a syrup barrel is good-putting hams and shoulders in the bottom and bacon slabs on top.
Heat 4 gallons of water. Let the water boil and then cool a little before adding the following ingredients. For each 100 lbs. meat, weigh out 10 lbs. salt, 4 lbs. brown sugar and 2 ounces saltpeter. Let mixture cool thoroughly and pour over meat. This amount should be sufficient to cover the meat in the vessel.
Put on a wooden or china cover over the top and weigh it down with a stone to keep meat under the brine. If it isn’t enough brine to cover the meat, add more. Put vessel in a cool place and let stand for six weeks (ham) and only one week for the bacon slabs. If hams are large, leave in for eight weeks. Take the meat out of the brine, then hang and smoke it.
Feel better about cooking a meal now?
After this brief memory back to the 1800s, I hope you enjoy having the convenience of cooking meals for a while, even if we have to wear a mask and gloves to shop at a grocery store.
Please stay safe and stay well!
Drawing for FIVE winners
Five readers will win an ebook copy of (The Mismatched Mail-Order Brides Book 2) by commenting on what you’d serve as a meal if you had no electricity today.
BOOK 1 is FREE! It sets the story theme for the Mismatched Mail-Order Brides series. Either click HERE or on the cover and grab your copy!
Linda Hubalek has written over forty books about strong women and honorable men, with a touch of humor, despair, and drama woven into the stories. The setting for all the series is the Kansas prairie, which Linda enjoys daily, whether by being outside or looking at it through her office window.
Her historical romance series include Brides with Grit, Grooms with Honor, and the Mismatched Mail-Order Brides. Linda’s historical fiction series, based on her ancestors’ pioneer lives, include Butter in the Well, Trail of Thread, and Planting Dreams.
When not writing, Linda is reading (usually with dark chocolate within reach), gardening (channeling her degree in Horticulture), or traveling with her husband to explore the world.
Linda loves to hear from her readers, so visit her website to contact her or browse the site to read about her books.
With the release of Christmas with the Outlaw over the holidays, the Oak Grove Series
that I wrote with Lauri Robinson came to its conclusion. I loved writing this sweet series set in Kansas,
diving into the history of the land and the people there so that the stories would come alive with authenticity.
I thought I’d share some of the behind the scenes facts that helped drive and layer the plots of each book.
For example ~
A year after the 1878 setting of the first book in the series, I learned that a prominent issue in the state legislature was prohibition. Carrie A. Nation, was living at Medicine Lodge, KS at this time before she began her famous crusade against alcohol. By 1880, an amendment to the state constitution was in place that prohibited the manufacture, sale, or gift of liquor. And by 1881, Kansas had become the first state to prohibit all alcoholic beverages.
So, in Mail-Order Brides of Oak Grove (set in 1878) when twin sisters, Mary and Maggie, were “railroaded” into the fledgling town as obstinate mail-order brides-to-be, it was only natural for them to try to escape their predicament. As daughters of a snake-oil salesman, and in the midst of the brewing controversy (pun intended,) they resurrected their past livelihoods and began making their meade-based family health elixir.
Flooding of the Smoky Hill River often occurred in the spring and eventually dams were built along the river to try to control the worst of it. While bridges were slowly being built along the more populated areas of the river (Salina), Oak Grove still had a ferry crossing. In the spring of 1879, the heavy rains brought intense flooding that destroyed the crops and land to the south of the river. In soddies, it wasn’t unusual for the roof to cave in. (For more on this, see Homesteading on the Prairie, a previous post of mine.)
In The Prairie Doctor’s Bride, it was this torrential rain and flooding that necessitated that independent, isolationist Sylvia Marks leave her soggy soddie and brave the river so that she and her son could survive. It also forced her to leave her comfort zone and look to others for help. Eastern-educated Doctor Nelson had a lot to learn about women and life on the prairie, and Sylvia was just the one to teach him, if he’d only put aside his prejudices.
In 1873, George Grant transported four Angus bulls from Scotland to Kansas and showed them at the Kansas City Livestock Exposition. Breeding these bulls with Texas longhorns produced a much heartier breed. (For more see my post From Longhorns to No-Horns.) In 1874 four Kansas Railroads shipped 122,914 head of Texas cattle to the east. Mennonites from Russia introduced Turkey Red wheat to the state. And the Native Americans were forced to move to the reservation in Oklahoma Territory. In 1878, the last Native American uprising in Kansas occurred in Decatur County.
In Wedding at Rocking S Ranch, Raymond Wolf is looking out for the ranch of his best friend. The ranch had once been an encampment of his mother’s people – the Wichita. He is studying the breeding of the Texas longhorns with Angus cattle. When his best friend’s widow arrives in the autumn with news that she intends to sell the ranch, Wolf’s life is suddenly upended. Amid the arduous work of branding and driving the cattle to market, they discover that the truths they have believed were an illusion, and that what matters most is far more important.
Newspaper work is dangerous! Missing fingers and long hours. (See The 19th Century Newspaper Office) It was fun gathering facts about small-town newspaper offices and touring Midway Village ~ a nearby living history museum. I was able to speak with the docent there who just happened to be a small-town newspaper man!
In Christmas With the Outlaw, my novella in A Western Christmas Homecoming, Abigail White is a straight-laced, just-the-facts, unemotional journalist. It’s safer for her heart that way. When a man from her past stumbles into her newspaper office to hide from the law, suddenly she is confronted with an emotional crisis. Should she be true to her journalistic sensibilities and report him to the sheriff? Or will her heart win out? She must learn that not all is what it appears on the surface of a person’s life.
** ** ** ** ** ** ** **
Researching my stories always gives my plots more layers ~ even though often I disappear for hours down the “research rabbit hole” chasing trails that are down right fun, but don’t lead anywhere productive. But then…sometimes they do!
I have been a filly in P&P’s corral for the past four years and the time has come to say an affectionate goodbye. It has been a delight to get to know each of the “fillies” and also the many women who have commented frequently on my posts. Thank you for joining in the fun here! Thank you for the camaraderie and the friendship. Saying goodbye is bittersweet and I will miss being a part of this group.
EHarmony… FarmersOnly … Zoosk… Match… Today, there seems to be a niche for every type of person out there to find their perfect match through the internet.
In this modern day of internet meet-ups, I have several friends and acquaintances who have met online and then gone on to marry and live their happily-ever after. Often these online dating sights have the new participant answer a list of questions to pinpoint their own character and what type of person would make a suitable match.
It is this idea of an interview that I used for The Prairie Doctor’s Bride.
In the Oak Grove Series, the Betterment Committee has been established to bring women to the town in order to “grow” the town. Doc Graham missed out on the first trainload of five women that arrived in 1879. Now the second arrival of women has him all set to make a match. He needs a wife — or — actually a nurse to help in his office.
Doc Graham, although smart in other matters, is quite clueless when it comes to matters of the heart. He has made a list of desirable qualities that he expects in a woman and is in the process of interviewing each new arrival, blind to the fact that he has already met his perfect match in a young woman who lives across the river.
A few months ago, I shared an excerpt of his date with Katie O’Rourke. Below is an excerpt of another woman — Penelope Pratt. (I had a lot of fun with these interviews!)
* * * * * * * * *
Miss Pratt didn’t say a word as they walked past a dog and a few children playing in the school yard. The silence between them grew awkward. He hadn’t expected this. Weren’t most women prone to talking?
“Please. I urge you to speak freely. The one month that the Betterment Committee allows you to decide on a husband and a man to decide on a bride makes it crucial that we find out if we are compatible. That cannot happen unless we talk.”
She came to a swift stop and pressed her lips together in a thin line. “That is a blunt way to put this highly uncomfortable situation.”
He hadn’t thought so. He’d simply been honest. “I tend to be direct.”
He took the moment to assess her appearance. Green eyes, just like his, his height, and a long, slightly curved nose. Egads! She could be his sister!
“Now what?” she asked, stiffening. “You look as though you swallowed your tobacco.”
“I don’t chew.”
“I’m glad to hear that. I find the habit disgusting. Then what did that look mean?”
“I was noticing our…similarities.”
“Oh, that.” She raised her chin. “I noticed them immediately.”
“Then should this move into a state of matrimony and should we have children—”
Her eyes widened.
“—their looks would be a foregone conclusion.” It was an interesting possibility.
She frowned. “Perhaps as you suggest, it is best to be frank and let you know my thoughts on the matter of propagating. Your education may even allow you to comprehend what I am about to say better than the other men I have encountered here.”
He wasn’t sure what to make of that.
“I want to marry. Truly I do. I have no close family. I want a companion with whom to share my life.” She took a deep breath and blew it out as if to steady herself. “However, I am not interested in the part of a marriage that happens behind the bedroom door.”
If he had been walking, he would have stumbled.
“You are shocked.”
“No…no…” Yes, yes he was!
“Come now. I can see it on your face.”
He swallowed—an attempt to absorb her statement politely and give himself time to gather his thoughts. “I have never heard a woman speak so plainly about such things.”
“I will remind you that you asked me to speak freely.”
He huffed out a breath. Could it be that he’d come across a woman who not only looked like him but who spoke and acted like him? “Perhaps I shall choose my words more carefully.”
She bestowed a slight smile.
“Are you ready to continue with our stroll? We’ve only walked through half the town.”
“As long as we understand each other.”
They continued on their way.
It was disconcerting that Miss Pratt could be as blunt as he. Would such a trait be smart to have as a nurse?
“You’ve said the same thing to other bachelors?” he asked. He didn’t want the entire town to be aware of any arrangements they might have that were of a private nature.
“No. The men I have met have all been much more forward than you. Each one found a way to take my arm or assist me in some way that required touching. When they did that I immediately checked them off my list. I’ve spoken to no one else about marriage except you.”
She kept a list? Another disconcerting thought. Their similarities were growing. “That is encouraging. But—am I so unlike them?” He wasn’t sure he wanted to be all that different from the others.
She arched her thin brow. “As I said—you are most direct. The others were still mentioning the weather while your conversation has already jumped beyond that to marriage. You are a gentleman. Your Eastern breeding is apparent in the way you speak and carry yourself. I would hope that means you keep this conversation we are having just between us.”
She hadn’t answered his question. Mayor Melbourne was a gentleman too, as well as Sheriff Baniff. And he could name several others who deserved that title. All were very different from each other, but he thought of them all as gentlemen.
“While we are on the subject, are there any other expectations you have of marriage?”
She shook her head. “No. I do find it interesting that you haven’t taken me back to the hotel.
You must still be considering me as a possibility, which is a pleasant surprise in light of what I just said.”
More likely, it was because he was still in shock. He’d taken it as a bygone conclusion that if he married, he would have children. He wanted several. That was one of the benefits of wedded bliss. That, and the fact that he had vowed to be a better father than his own.
The distance from the boardwalk down to the road in front of Miller’s Cabinetry Shop was particularly high. Considering what she had just said, he refrained from taking her elbow to assist her. He did offer his arm, but she didn’t take it. He nodded toward the livery and began walking in that direction.
“I had expected children at some point,” he admitted. “I will have to give your condition some consideration. I also desire a companion in marriage, but equal to that, or perhaps more so, I desire a nurse in my work.” He glanced sideways at her. His announcement hadn’t shaken her nearly as much as hers had him.
“Go on,” she said.
“I would like someone who will work beside me and help me run my office. This would entail having fresh bandages cut up, washed and rolled at all times. Watching over the patients that are in my office if I am called away on an emergency. Helping to make up medication, salves and tonics. All this would be in addition to cooking and cleaning and the general duties that wives do for their husbands.”
She drew her brows together. “And what would you be doing while I did all this?”
He thought that was obvious. “Seeing to my patients.”
“And in your free time?”
“I’ll use my free time to keep abreast of the changes in the medical field. Reading, writing articles and taking an annual trip to Denver to meet with my colleagues.”
“During which time, I would be required to remain here and keep the office in a state of tidiness?”
“I haven’t thought that far into it, but that is the general idea. I suppose some years my wife might accompany me to see the sights of the city.”
They walked silently past the livery to the railroad station where she stopped once more.
“You have given me a lot to think about.”
“As have you.” More than you know!
“I have no doubt that I could perform the duties you have mentioned.”
“In return, you would have a roof over your head and a respected standing in the community and a lifelong companion.” But he’d never considered that there wouldn’t be touching, caressing, or even a kiss now and then. His first words to her about what their children would look like sounded foolish now. Yet, perhaps, if he was honest with himself, it made sense. He certainly didn’t know how to be a father. His had never been around much. The only hugs he’d received from his mother had been stiff and awkward. He had never seen his parents so much as hold hands. The marriage that Miss Pratt and he had just described to each other sounded a lot like his own parents’ marriage.
The entire thing sounded like a business proposition. His initial excitement at the thought of abiding harmoniously had been squashed with pragmatism.
Well, isn’t that what he had originally intended? Josephine had made it clear he was not suitable marriage material. She’d called him cold. Nose in a book. Cared more for his patients than he did for her. He had hoped to move beyond that defining moment when she’d called off the courtship. He’d hoped for more warmth in a lifelong companion.
“I’ll walk you back,” he said, disheartened. “I think we both have a lot to consider.”
* * * * * * * * * *
The Prairie Doctor’s Bride
Copyright by Harlequin Books & Kathryn Albright
Permission to reproduce text granted by Harlequin Books S.A.
I hope you enjoyed this look into “dating” in Oak Grove. Poor Doctor Graham. He has a lot to learn about love, but when he does open his eyes and experience it for the first time, it is a wondrous thing to behold.
What about you? If you had the opportunity, would you ever consider
meeting a possible future spouse via the internet?
Comment for a chance to win a copy of the Prairie Doctor’s Bride!
(See our Giveaway Guidelines above.)
I am excited to share the cover of my newest book with you.
(First ~ a little introduction. By the way, this isn’t the cover…)
When twins, Mary and Maggie McCary are caught selling
their family tonic without a permit, they’re forced to agree to become mail-order brides to stay out of jail. Taking the train to Oak Grove, the pair are separated–
For Mary, falling off the Oak Grove train
into Steve Putnam’s lap changes everything.
Could he be the cowboy to tempt her down the aisle?
And running from trouble, Maggie doesn’t intend to actually marry…
until she shares one sensational kiss with Jackson Miller!
When the mayor discovers the twins’ side business and their plans
to avoid the bride contract, things begin to fall apart for the sisters. They both have a lot to learn about the men of Oak Grove…and likewise, the men have a lot to learn about these two McCarys!
Join Maggie and Mary McCary in the first book of a new series from authors Lauri Robinson and Kathryn Albright that are all set in the fictional town of Oak Grove, Kansas.
So without further ado… TA DA!!
I absolutely loved collaborating with Lauri while she wrote Mary’s story and I wrote Maggie’s. These are two young women with a penchant for fun and trouble. In Taming the Runaway Bride, the second story in this book, Maggie’s youth and unconventional upbringing make her view of life slightly skewed from other “normal” folk. For her, rules don’t apply in the regular sense. She turns Jackson Miller’s quiet life into one big knot with her shenanigans!
It will be released on May 23 in paperback and on June 1st in eBook form.
Here is the link to Pre-Order
I hope that you enjoy this short excerpt~ Taming the Runaway Bride from Mail-Order Brides of Oak Grove
The worst of the screeching subsided as the engine shuddered and then slowed to a turtle’s crawl.
Her three companions created a fair wall with their noses pressed to the glass. Maggie could only see bits and pieces of the town moving by through the spaces between the three—Miss Know-it-all Rebecca, Miss Quiet-and Quaint Sadie, and Miss Gullible Anna. She couldn’t understand why they were excited about a new beginning and gaining a husband along with it. She certainly wasn’t. That’s all her life had been for as long as she could remember—always a new city, a new town, a new horizon. A seed didn’t have time to flower, nor dust to settle, the way her family lived. And she sure didn’t plan to get yoked to a man. A man would only complicate things between her and her sister. He might even separate them.
But while she was here, she would like to see a real cowboy. One with boots…and a Stetson. Or one of those ten gallon hats that the other girls had been giggling about. Did cowboys always wear spurs? These were things a girl should know.
She stored the deck of cards in her satchel. It wouldn’t do to lose them. She might have need of a little spending money or even a little “get out of town” money.
She stepped behind Anna to peer over her shoulder. From this position all she saw was a small sea of dusty and dirty cowboy hats and bowlers. A few men waved faded flags—bleached by the sun and whipped by the prairie wind.
She swallowed. Men. All men. At least thirty of them. She rose to her tip-toes in order to see better.
Some were really young, but most looked middlin’ to old. A few appeared…weathered. One thing was obvious—no two of the men staring back from the station platform were the same. They were all shapes and sizes. And whether they wore big grins or not as they vied for the front row, they all looked curious to see who would be stepping off the train. Some, she noticed uncomfortably, appeared eager—a bit too eager.
With that thought she shrank back and looked in the seat behind her for her sister. Where had she disappeared to so fast? This bride contract had been her idea from the start. She should be here.
“Oh! I see the one I want!” Anna squealed, her voice blending with the last screech of the brakes.
The train shuddered horrendously to a complete stop. With it, a band started up. A band? A trumpet played Oh! Susanna! and was joined by the beat of a drum and the trill of a fife.
Panic seized Maggie. She wasn’t ready for this! “I have to find Mary,” she croaked out. Swaying slightly, she headed toward the back end of the railcar. She wanted to be with her sister when she faced the men gathered outside—not with these women she’d known only a handful of days.
The door before her swung open.
“Well now, Miss McCary,” the conductor said, raising his bushy brows. “A bit anxious I’d say.”
She glared at him. He was in league with the sheriff back in Bridgeport—that scoundrel.
Behind him, a man from the platform climbed the steps, pausing when he arrived at the top as if the exertion winded him. He was dressed in his Sunday best, right down to the gold watch fob and chain dangling from his black satin vest. The suit appeared a bit small at the neck…and other places. Probably cutting off his breath judging by the redness of his face. He peered first at her and then at the other women behind her as he blotted a trace of sweat on his forehead.
“Welcome to Oak Grove, ladies. I’m Mayor Melbourne.” He paused, looking over the four of them. The welcoming mien dissolved and he turned to the conductor. “Where are the rest?”
The man fumbled in his pocket, withdrew a sealed envelope and handed it to the mayor.
Mayor Melbourne pressed his lips together. He slipped his wire glasses from his vest pocket and settled them on the bridge of his nose, bending the ear wires over his ears. Then he broke the wax seal on the envelope and quickly read the contents. If possible his face reddened further.
“Not coming!” he sputtered. “Not coming! I asked for twelve and all that answered the call are these four?”
“Actually, Mayor, that would be five,” Rebecca said from over Maggie’s left shoulder. “Mary McCary is also with us…somewhere.”
“Five, you say? The committee sent enough money for twelve. My brother has some answering to do.” He read the letter again, the perturbed look on his face slowly settling into resignation as he folded the paper and stuffed it in his pocket. “Very well. Ladies? Welcome. Please come meet your town.”
She sensed Anna, Sadie and Rebecca gathering in force behind her. “What about our things?” she asked quickly, hoping to stall a few minutes longer.
“Plenty of men here to see to them,” the mayor said. “Please follow me. As you can see, they are anxious to have a look at …I mean…meet you.”
Behind her, the others pressed forward, prodding her out the door and onto the steps. A blast of warm Kansas wind swirled around her and picked up her skirt.
“Whoo-wee!” a man in front called out. “Got a looker right off!”
Her cheeks heated as she struggled to subdue the billowing purple cotton and then she focused on the gawker, raising her chin defiantly and fixing him with a bold glare. She would make sure never to find herself alone with him.
He grinned. “Got spirit too! She’s mine. Might as well just check her off your list, men. She’s mine! Whoo-ee!”
“Not unless you take a bath and wash off that cow smell, Rader,” someone yelled back. A round of chuckles from a few of the others followed.
Behind her, Sadie, Rebecca and Anna must have crowded into view for a cheer went up from the men. “Hip-hip-hooray!” Several even threw their hats into the air and the small band played louder at a furious pace.
Four strong-looking men stepped forward and with a great deal more enthusiasm than the situation called for, took hold of her upper-arms and whisked her—her body floating through the air—down the last two steps to the platform.
She wasn’t ready for this! Where in heaven’s name was Mary?
Shanna Hatfield joins us at the Junction to discuss the methods she uses to research her books. Shanna is also giving away two books! Please join us in welcoming her!
What a treat to be back on Petticoats & Pistols as a guest today. Thank you to all the Fillies for this wonderful opportunity!
Although I write both contemporary and historical sweet romances, I love researching tidbits from the past for my historical books.
One resource I often turn to when I’m writing my Pendleton Petticoats series is the online version of the town’s newspaper from back in the day.
Browsing through the newspaper gives me a general idea of what life was like at that particular time. The advertisements alone offer such an amazing peek into the past, a clear look at popular fashions, and words that may have been all the rage.
The newsworthy events and articles also help me create a realistic world for my fictional characters. It is easy to picture them sitting down for supper and recapping something they might have read in the newspaper or heard in town (or the nosy ones may have gleaned gossip by listening in on the party lines of the telephone). Would an attempted bank robbery in a neighboring town be that evening’s hot topic? Or would their interest turn more to an upcoming event that has the town all abuzz?
I’ve been researching information during the autumn of 1910 for the latest book in the series. During that time, very first Pendleton Round-Up took place in conjunction with the annual county fair. For nearly an entire month leading up to the events, the newspaper published at least one article (sometimes more) about the fair and rodeo each day.
I could write pages and pages of historical facts about the Round-Up, but I thought I’d share something a little different today.
One article I found very amusing was a recap of the baby show that took place the last day of the fair. It was fun to realize proud mothers showed off their babies even back then.
A judge from a distant town was coerced into the unenviable job of judging the contest.
According to the article, mothers remained confident their little darlings were the “prettiest, sweetest, and best regardless of the decisions of Judge Addison Bennet.”
After announcing the first, second and third place winners, the article went on to state that Judge Bennet “escaped with his life on the first train.”
Who knew baby contests were such a cutthroat business even way back then?
Just for fun, here’s an old tune that seems rather fitting…
To enter for a chance to win autographed copies of the first two books in the Pendleton Petticoats series along with some other goodies, please share your response to this question:
What is your favorite county fair event?
For more information about the Pendleton Petticoat series, you can find the books here:
USA Today Bestselling Author Shanna Hatfield writes character-driven romances with relatable heroes and heroines. Her historical westerns have been described as “reminiscent of the era captured by Bonanza and The Virginian” while her contemporary works have been called “laugh-out-loud funny, and a little heart-pumping sexy without being explicit in any way.”
Convinced everyone deserves a happy ending, this hopeless romantic is out to make it happen, one story at a time. When she isn’t writing or indulging in chocolate (dark and decadent, please), Shanna hangs out with her husband, lovingly known as Captain Cavedweller.
Please connect with Shanna online. She loves to hear from readers.
About a year ago, a group of authors I blog with at another blog ~ Sweet American Sweethearts ~ decided to collaborate with a collection of stories that were loosely connected. We brainstormed and found that many of us enjoyed the pioneer craft of quilting. Out of that brainstorming session came the Series ~ Grandma’s Wedding Quilts.
Grandma Mary’s traditional gift to each of her grandchildren on their wedding day was a hand-pieced and hand-stitched quilt, made with love and woven with memories, wisdom, and a family legacy of enduring love. Starting in present day with the prequel, Hannah, the assistant curator at a museum, opens a trunk that has been donated and discovers an unusual sampler quilt. The strange connection she feels to that quilt leads her on an investigation that will eventually mean more to her personally than she can ever realize.
Even though the rest of the books in the Series are historical Western romances, my “granddaughter” Gloria, ended up in the east. This happened when her father, Stephen Palmer, left Grandma Mary’s ranch looking for a better shipping price for their cattle. He traveled east to negotiate with the big railroad tycoons and ended up marrying one of their daughters and settling down to help run his wife’s family business.
While the great west was being explored and settled, many other things were happening back east. The Gilded Age was in full swing with all of its disparities between the upper class and the lower. In the book industry, stories that went on to become classics were being published.
Ben Hur: A Tale of the Christ
The Adventures of Huckleberry Fin
The many westerns of Zane Grey ( Riders of the Purple Sage.)
It was also at this time that Tin Pan Alley in New York City was forming. Printed music for the masses increased in popularity as pianos, built right here in America, became more affordable to everybody. Popular music at the time of my story takes place included ~
Where Did You Get That Hat?
Home on the Range
Oh, Promise Me!
The Washington Post (march)
Down Went McGinty
My Old Kentucky Home
Gloria’s Song is a story I have wanted to write for a long time–a story of disparity between the classes and the common thread of music that can speak to a person’s soul no matter how rich or poor one might be. I dedicated this book to my mother, whose name just happens to be…Gloria. My mother’s family hails from the Alexandria, Virginia area of the country where I have set this story. Much like the Gloria in my story, my mother is a well-versed pianist (and also a red-head) although that is where the similarities end.
“Music speaks what cannot be expressed, soothes the mind and gives it a rest, heals the heart and makes it whole, flows from heaven to the soul.” —AUTHOR UNKNOWN.
BLURB: GLORIA’S SONG ~ Book #11 in the GRANDMA’S WEDDING QUILTS Series
Gloria Palmer has always done the proper thing expected of her as the daughter of a shipping tycoon. The approval of her family and friends mean everything. And yet, when the perfect suitor offers for her… she hesitates.
Colin McDougal has little use for those living on the fancy side of the trolley tracks. He is too busy managing the family pub and, in his spare time, writing down the lively tunes in his head. So, when Miss Palmer asks for his help to prepare for a music audition, he is flummoxed. What does he know of highbrow music?
But with each practice session, their feelings for each other grow. When it comes time for Gloria to make a choice between what is proper and what she desires, will she realize that if music can cross class lines, it might also be able to harmonize two hearts?
You will want to enjoy the love stories of Gloria’s siblings and cousins! There are eleven in all! And remember to start with the prequel which sets up the entire series.
These Sweet Historical Romance Novellas and Novels are from Eleven USA Today Bestselling, Amazon Bestselling, and Award-winning Authors. Each book of this series is a sweet, clean (wholesome) romance, and each is complete with its own happily-ever-after.
To celebrate my new release, I would love to gift a copy of this ebook to one lucky person who comments. Sorry, I don’t have any print copies yet.
To enter the giveaway, just mention a favorite song that you have always loved from your childhood.