Years ago, a dear friend invited me to spend the weekend with her at her parents’ home in Sherman County, Oregon. I’d never been in that part of the state, but quickly fell in “awe” with the rolling hills of wheat and sky that stretched forever. A few years after that, I found myself driving through the area and when I entered the tiny town of Grass Valley, the idea for a book began hopping around in my head. By the time I got home, I could hardly wait to get started writing it.
And one book led to another, until there were six in the sweet, contemporary Grass Valley Cowboys series. The stories are all set in and around Grass Valley, focusing on the Thompson and Morgan families.
The cowboys in the stories are the kind of heroes that give you happy daydreams (and may even make you swoon). They can be tender, teasing, flirty, furious, mischievous, rascally, protective, and proud, and that’s all before breakfast!
I’ve often thought about how fun it would be to write about the first families who came to Grass Valley, at least the families connected to those in my stories.
The settlement of Grass Valley began with the establishment of a few stock ranches. Settlers began to arrive in the area and were soon plowing the cattle-sustaining grass to plant wheat fields. Dr. Charles R. Rollins, a physician from New Hampshire, is credited with establishing Grass Valley when he arrived in the area with a small party of pioneers. Dr. Rollins had an easy time choosing a name for the location since the rye grass grew thick and tall in the alkaline soil. Rollins built a large two-story hotel, which included a clinic from which he prescribed and sold medicine. The town of Grass Valley was officially established in 1878.
I knew train service didn’t arrive in the area until around 1900, so I started digging into more history.
If you look at the map above, you see the John Day River, the Columbia River, and the Deschutes River make up the boundaries of quite a large area. Reportedly, Dr. Rollins was the only physician “between the rivers” for a while as communities popped up around the county.
Originally, I’d wanted to set the story in 1878, when Grass Valley was established, but getting my characters there was proving to be a challenge. So, I kicked the timeline up to 1884 when train service ran all the way across the country and made a stop in The Dalles. From there, it was simple enough to board the stagecoach that ran daily from The Dalles to Canyon City to the southeast. Just to reach Grass Valley took most of the day with stops at stations to switch out the teams for fresh horses. I could just picture a cast of characters bouncing along on that long ride, eager to reach Grass Valley.
When I was asked to participate in a new project with three other authors, I knew it was time to write the story of the first Thompson to arrive in Grass Valley.
I’m so pleased and happy to be part of the Regional Romance Series with our own Kit Morgan, as well as Kari Trumbo and Peggy L. Henderson. What makes this series so fun and unique is that each of us is writing three connected stories that are bundled into one book. If you purchase all four books in the series, you actually get twelve (12!) brand new romances!
My contribution to the series is Grass Valley Brides.
I can hardly wait for you to read these stories, because they were ridiculously delightful to write! Oh, boy, did I have a good time! Mostly because of Taggart Thompson.
He is a rascally, good-looking rancher who fancies himself to be quite the matchmaker. And the real matchmaker is ready to throttle him!
What’s a matchmaker to do when the husband-to-be rejects the bride?
Again . . .
Widowed as a young wife, Cara Cargill turned her head for business and love of romance into a successful mail-order bride enterprise. She’s never had a problem matching couples until one mule-headed man continues to refuse to wed the women she sends to meet him in Grass Valley, Oregon. In an effort to make a match he’ll keep and uphold her sterling reputation, Cara is desperate to find the perfect bride.
Daisy – When her fiancé leaves her at the altar, Daisy Bancroft knows it is far past time for a change. Her dearest friend, Cara, offers to send her to a newly established town in Oregon, where possibilities abound and the grass is rumored to be as tall as a man’s head. Daisy arrives with plans to wed Tagg Thompson, only to find the obstinate rancher has foisted her off on his best friend.
Birdie – Tired of waiting for her Mister Right to magically appear and whisk her away to a happily-ever-after, Bridget “Birdie” Byrne convinces her sister, a renowned matchmaker, to send her as the bride to Tagg Thompson. The man who greets her upon her arrival isn’t Tagg, but Birdie is certain she’s finally discovered the man she is meant to marry.
Cara – Fed up with Tagg Thompson and his refusals of every bride she’s sent to Grass Valley for him to wed, Cara decides to meet the exasperating man in person. Her feet are barely on the ground in the rustic town before she’s nearly bowled over by a herd of stampeding cattle and swept into the brawny arms of a cowboy with the bluest eyes she’s ever seen.
Will true love find its home in the hearts of these Grass Valley Brides.
Dear Mrs. Cargill,
At the rate you’re finding me a wife, I may be too old to have any kids by the time I get married. Speaking of children, Sally Oliver, she was the first bride you sent, wanted me to pass on the news to you that she and her husband, Mr. Buster Martin, will be parents in March. Good thing you’ve got me to help find these women a happy home.
Are you sure you know what you’re doing? You came highly recommended as one of the top matchmakers in the country, but if you have this much trouble with everyone who engages your services, I don’t see how you stay in business.
Please let me know when you have another bride ready to send my way. I look forward to making her acquaintance, and can only pray she’ll be better suited as a ranch wife than the last four you sent.
Mr. T. Thompson
Grass Valley, Oregon
What do you think? Will Cara find a bride to please Tagg?