Tag Archives: Victorian

Guest Release Promotion–A Rancher’s Request by E. Ayers

Most marriages in the late 1800’s were actually arranged marriages. I wanted to use a local tie to Creed’s Crossing, WY. It didn’t take me long to decide to use a young woman from Franklin, VA and have her discover that her father has arranged a marriage for her. Then the fun began.

The historical seesaw into the attitudes of the time, living conditions, along with the social customs, and characters with a sense of humor was all I needed to create this story of the early 1890s.

A Rancher's Request ebook cover

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Zadie Larkford, recently graduated from an Eastern women’s college, lives a quiet life in her hometown of Franklin, Virginia. Content to spend her days painting by the river and watching her friends marry, she is shocked to learn that her father has promised her hand in marriage to a complete stranger. Ultimately unable to disobey, she leaves her childhood home to travel – unaccompanied – to Creed’s Crossing, Wyoming to meet her betrothed.

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EXCERPT

Duncan settled his horse before making his way to his cabin. Opening the door, he encountered the water on the floor where it had come through the open window. One more thing in my day that is not going well. First I get soaked and now this? He left his packages on the table and grabbed his dirty clothes to mop up the water. If I’m stuck inside, I might as well do my laundry. With the worst of the water soaked into his clothes, he pulled off his wet shirt and tossed it with the others. From the shelf near his bed, he lifted the last pair of clean pants he owned and left the last clean shirt where it was. He certainly didn’t need to be dressed to do his laundry. Then he tossed a few pieces of wood into his stove and began to heat some water. While he waited on the water, he unwrapped his food items. The way they’d been bundled, the only things that had become wet were his sweet sticky buns and the paper that held the corned beef.

If he cooked the beef right away, the water wouldn’t matter, and certainly he could eat a dozen slightly waterlogged buns before the day was finished. One cookie was also a little damp. He shoved that cookie into his mouth as he poured the hot water into the washtub.

By the time he’d finished doing his laundry, his stomach was loudly protesting. He sat at his table and ate three of the cinnamon raisin buns and washed them down with leftover coffee that had been there since morning. He loved those sweet treats more than anything he could remember eating at home. Sorry, Mom. Even soggy, these are the best.

It was then it dawned on him that he had letters from home. He had tossed them on his bed as he had gathered his laundry. Collecting them, he chose to first read the flourished handwriting from Franklin, Virginia. From my future bride?

He opened each piece of mail and spread out the damp pages on his table, and then poured the last bit of coffee into his cup. The cabin was hot from the stove, so he opened the front door, hoping that the roof over the porch was enough to keep the deluge of water from entering.

Raindrops hitting his metal roof told him when the rain had eased up and when it returned to a full downpour. His parents had a standing seam roof, and he remembered hearing the dissonance of rain on the roof. But his childhood home had an attic to deaden the sound, and this cabin had nothing to suppress the cacophony. He covered his ears and realized it did nothing for the situation.

Perspiration ran down his chest and soaked the waistband of his pants. He downed that last bit of coffee and made another pot. Pumping another pan full of water, he added the corned beef. He figured he might as well fix the meat. It certainly wasn’t going to get any cooler anytime soon.

Satisfied, he picked up the one letter written in an elegant script and sat on the bench on the front porch. Rain sheeted off the roof and onto the ground. He lifted the scalloped page to his nose and sniffed. “Humph.” Not even the slightest scent of perfume. “I thought women were supposed to scent their letters.”

The rain had caused the ink to bleed on the page, but it was still very legible. He read the note, and when he reached the part about her refusal to slop the pigs, he couldn’t stop his laughter. As his composure returned, he read the rest of his letters. As usual, his mother missed him. And his father’s note was brief, but mostly about herring and the number of pounds per day that had been caught. The only other letter that captured his interest was from Dr. Gregory Larkford, promising his daughter’s hand in marriage.

Zadie was apparently spoiled, but from the father’s letter, she was learning how to manage a household and do the associated chores. The father also spoke about his daughter’s talent. Apparently she was quite gifted.

Duncan went inside and checked on the stove. He fixed another cup of coffee and then found his box that contained pen and paper. So many times while plowing he’d given thought to how he might woo his bride. But after reading the letter from her father and Zadie’s own letter, all thoughts of pressing and sending her the pretty orange and yellow flowers that grew in the fields left his mind. She wasn’t going to be impressed with a few dead flowers.

He stifled his laughter and figured he could give what he’d received from her. He opened his box of stationery, withdrew a sheet of paper, opened his inkbottle, and dipped the nib of his pen into the liquid.

Dear Miss Zadie Larkford,

I don’t own any pigs.

Sincerely,

Mr. Duncan Lord

E. Ayers 4x5

E. Ayers lives in a pre-Civil War home with a rescued dog and cat. Her idea of a perfect day is spent at the keyboard, coffee in hand, and everything in the house actually working as it should. Unfortunately old houses never cooperate.

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99cent sale on Laced by Love and An Unlikely Marriage

If you read historical romance and want a couple of great bargains, try my Montana Sky Kindle Worlds stories that are on sale during June for only 99cents each.

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Laced By Love is one of the original 14 launch novels that expanded the little mining town of Morgan’s Crossing established by Debra Holland in two of her books, Mail-Order Brides of the West: Prudence and Mail-Order Brides of the West: Bertha.

A vaudeville troupe arrives in Morgan’s Crossing late in the traveling season. When an event occurs that shakes up the troupe, seamstress Cinnia decides to say no to older sister Nola who has made the sisters’ decisions since being orphaned a decade earlier. Leather worker Nicolai Andrusha is lying low and using an alias until the patent is approved on his family’s leather tanning formula. But he finds the auburn-haired poetess irresistible. Will Nicolai oppose his family obligation to help the stranded beauty who has caught his eye?

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AnUnlikelyMarriage.web

An Unlikely Marriage follows the second York sister’s relationship in a marriage of convenience story.

Helping injured cowboy Torin Quaid drive mustangs north seems like a good way for vaudevillian Nola York to earn a train ticket east—and get one step closer to her goal of auditioning for Buffalo Bill’s Wild West stage production. Easy-going Torin liked the pretty brunette the first night he saw her performing on stage, and he admires her determination to complete the drive.

The temporary marriage is solely for propriety’s sake to avoid scandal on the week-long overland ride to Meadowlark. Until disaster strikes, and the two must rely on each other—emotionally and physically—to safely reach Torin’s ranch. Will a marriage of convenience turn into more on a trail drive through Montana Territory?

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Guest Release Promotion–Zebulon’s Bride by Patricia PacJac Carroll

Here’s another entry in the “Grandma’s Wedding Quilts” series.

Zebulon'sBride

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He’s vowed not to marry until he reaches Montana. Then he meets Amy, and she has other ideas.

Zebulon Benton dreams of going to Montana, but he’s the only son and his mother doesn’t want him to go and his father needs help with the family store. Unknown to Zeb, his mother sends off for a mail order bride. After all, if Zeb marries and settles down, he won’t want to leave.

Enter Amy Gordon from New York. She appears to be the perfect bride for Zeb. Except she also wants to go to Montana and nothing is going to stop her including her love for Zeb.

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EXCERPT

Amy Gordon brushed the ever-present dust from her dress. She’d heard that Mrs. Chandler warned that her girls must be neat and proper, or she’d not match them to the perfect man. Well, being a lowly milkmaid didn’t leave her much opportunity to remain clean.

As it was, she’d traded her milking duty for gardening with Angela. Hah, yanking up weeds was hardly keeping her much cleaner than messing with the ornery cows. If only Papa hadn’t died a pauper, her life would have been different.

“Enough of that.” Amy wiped her hands again and made sure to get all the dirt from her nails which wasn’t that hard as she’d chewed them all down to the fingertips anyway. She sighed. If she’d been born a boy, she’d have already made her way west.

What had she read in the paper, Go West young man. Why was it that women were always left home? Thank Providence that Mrs. Chandler had taken an interest in the plight of young women.

She rushed up the cobblestone street to the big house on the corner, stopped to dip her hands in the water trough by the side of the road, and washed her face and hands. Another dip and she plastered the loose ends of her hair to make them stay down.

“That’s as good as I get with what I’ve got.” She smiled, put her head up, and walked as gracefully as she knew how up the steps to the two-story house. The place had a fairy tale look with turrets on each side. Painted a light blue with a shiny tile roof of dark red, the stately place set her imagination to work wondering what kind of magical woman Mrs. Chandler must be.

Amy stared at the intricately carved, wooden door, crossed her heart, and knocked.

The door creaked open. A rather stoic-looking butler questioned her with beady eyes. “Yes. Is Madam expecting you?”

Not really. But he didn’t have to know that. “I am Amy Gordon. I have come to find the perfect match for me in the west.”

He stepped back and gestured for her to enter. “I will notify Mrs. Chandler.”

She stood in the foyer and marveled at a marble floor so shiny that she could see her reflection. A far cry from the dirt floor of the shed she called home. She lived behind the barn that housed the cows she was in charge of milking. She bit her lip, hoping Angela remembered to be gentle with the young heifer that’d given birth two weeks ago.

She waited.

After a moment, shoes tapping on the hard floor, he came out of a room. “She will see you now. Do you have your papers?”

Papers? No. What, was she supposed to be, a prized animal with a pedigree? She chose not to answer and instead, walked down the hall and into the room from where he’d come.

Books lined one wall. A piano against the window. And in the center, the most luxurious sofa and chairs she’d ever seen with velvety dark blue swirls adorned with red roses. And in a matching high-back chair sat a woman who looked as if she were a queen on a throne.

The woman waved her over. “Well, don’t just stand there. Do you have your papers?”

Amy strode to her. “What I have is standing before you. I’m young, strong, and have a desire to go west and marry a man. I will make him the perfect wife. I am not afraid of hard work or hardly anything else.”

The woman, who with her silver hair piled high atop her head, had enough wrinkles to be in her sixties. “I’m Mrs. Chandler. You’re a pertinent young thing. Could be pretty though.” She put a gnarled hand under Amy’s chin and lifted her head. “You have your teeth?”

“All of them. I bathe and am self-educated.”

“Hmm, so you can read?”

“Yes.” Amy left her, went to the bookshelf, and pulled out Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice. With a confident voice, she read the first page. At least Papa had left her with a love for books and introduced her to the public library at an early age.

Mrs. Chandler sat back on her throne. “So you can read. Why do you think I would have a man for you?”

Amy’s resolve cracked. She replaced the book and went to stand in front of her. “Because you are my last hope at happiness.”

The woman’s eyes opened wide with interest. “I see. And you don’t mind going west to wild lands and possibly wilder men?”

“No, I am not afraid.”

“Of anything?” Mrs. Chandler raised her left eyebrow.

The truth. Tell her the truth. The advice reverberated from her soul. Squaring her shoulders, Amy looked the woman straight in the eye. “I am afraid of … horses.”

“Horses? Have you considered that a man of the west will more than likely ride horses, maybe even raise them?”

“I said I was afraid of them, but I have learned that any fear can be overcome. I will do what I have to.”

Shuffling though some papers, Mrs. Chandler pulled out a piece of paper on stationary decorated with roses. “I received this request just yesterday. A man named Zebulon in Colorado is seeking the perfect wife with blond hair.” She ran a finger over the stationary and frowned. “Though just what kind of man would write on such a flowery and perfumed paper makes me wonder of his, well, his masculinity. Perhaps, you would care to take a chance on this,” she looked down. “Zebulon Benton.”

A grin broke free from Amy’s lips. “Yes. I am sure I can make him the perfect wife.”

“Very well, I will send a reply. I suppose you don’t have money to get there do you?”

“No, ma’am, unless three dollars will cover the cost.” Amy’s hopes trembled. Would lack of money once again deny her dreams?

With a smile, Mrs. Chandler stood and came to her.

Amy didn’t back away.

Wrapping her in a hug, the woman placed the letter in her hand. “Perhaps you would care to read about the man you’re going to marry?”

Taking the flowery stationary, she read a letter that sounded a bit desperate, although the man thought much of himself. He wrote in a flowing handwriting how he was tall and handsome with dark hair and bright blue eyes. And prosperous. She handed the letter back. “I’m ready to go.”

“I don’t usually do this, but you are a most unusual, young woman. I admire your fire and confidence. I’ll pay your way and give you a healthy stipend. I’ll send a reply to Zebulon Benton, today. Give your notice to whoever it is that you work for. I will send Otto with the carriage to pick you up and take you to the train station tomorrow. The letter should arrive in Colorado the same day you do. Don’t disappoint me. I expect every girl I send to marry the man I pair her with.”

“I will not disappoint you.” Amy started for the door and stopped. “Thank you, Mrs. Chandler.”

The woman smiled with a gleam in her eyes. “I hope your dreams are realized.”

“I’ll make sure they are.” She curtseyed and then in a rush hugged the older lady.

Mrs. Chandler gasped and disentangled herself. “Be on your way now. Find Otto and tell him where to pick you up.”

Amy practically ran back to the farm. She was going west. Now, she’d pray that this Zebulon Benton with the flowery stationary and proud letter would be man enough to take her as his bride.

PacJac

 

Patricia PacJac Carroll~ I am a writer, Christian first, and blessed beyond my imagination. I live in the Dallas-Ft Worth area of Texas with my wonderful treasure of a husband, my spoiled dog, Jacs, and my awesome son, Josh. Did I say I was blessed? The PacJac is from my initials and my husbands. I wouldn’t be able to write if it weren’t for him. I love adventure and the open road. The stories of the western era have always been a favorite of mine. I enjoy writing, and my goal is to write stories readers will enjoy.

Hope you are enjoying the series ~ Mail Order Brides of Hickory Stick. I have a new series this year set in Texas – Mail Order Brides of Misfit Ranch Bluebonnet, Texas

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Psalm 26:7 That I may publish with the voice of thanksgiving, and tell of all thy wondrous works.

Release Day–Montana Sky: Dance Toward The Light

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The third book written in Debra Holland’s Montana Sky story world has just released. Dance Toward the Light features the third vaudeville performer, Dorrie Sullivan. She was introduced in the first book as being a friend of the two York sisters when the troupe arrived in Morgan’s Crossing. Well,  in books 1 and 2 Cinnia and Nola have found romance and happiness.

The Great Blizzard of 1886 is over, the snows have receded, and Dorrie is unsure of what her future involves. Enter Valerik Andrusha who barely survived the blizzard and traveled from the Canadian wilds to visit brother Nicolai in Morgan’s Crossing. But Nicolai has taken his bride, Cinnia, to San Francisco to meet his parents.

Normally reclusive, Valerik figures he’ll get much needed rest and relaxation while he waits his brother’s return. Almost against his will, he is captivated by the vivacious woman living in the attached shop who draws him into the community. What does a man who prefers the shadows have in common with a woman who loves the light?

Exclusive to Kindle

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Thirteen other stories also launched today. The titles and authors are:

Rugged Bloom by Dallis Adams

The Watchmaker and the Widow by Linnea Alexis

Murdoch’s Bride by Caroline Clemmons

The Outlaw’s Promise by Crystal Green

Nolan’s Vow by Linda Hubalek

An Unexpected Gift by Kit Morgan

Rebel Love Song by Louella Nelson

Angel In His Pocket by Nan O’Beery

Where the Heart Is by Judy Pennell

Say You Love Me by Deborah Schneider

Her Gentle Heart by Reina Torres

Magic in Morgan’s Crossing by Janet Wellington

A Family for Christmas by Cynthia Woolf

 

 

 

Release Day–My Heart Knew

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I am proud to announce the release of the third story in my western historical “Dorado, Texas” series, My Heart Knew. The story of Maisie and Dylan first appeared in an anthology but this novella has been expanded and revised.

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Tomboy Maisie Treadwell is restless, feeling confined in her small Texas frontier town. From the moment she meets cowboy Dylan MacInnes, the sparks and words fly. Of course, if she didn’t cause his ankle sprain, their relationship might have gone more smoothly. To appease her mother’s worries over the boarding house’s reputation, Maisie is at the mercy of meeting Dylan’s demands. A shared interest in adventure stories draws them closer. Soon, Maisie can’t wait to spend time reading aloud to the recuperating virile man. Until the afternoon she overhears him explaining that his demands were meant to teach her a lesson. Can Dylan find a way to again win her trust?

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EXCERPT

The sound of a throat clearing made her whirl and swipe the back of her hand at the hot tears tracking down her cheeks. “Oh.”

Mister MacInnes filled the doorway, balancing on his right foot with a rough-cut tree branch under his left arm as a crutch. “Ready for me?”

Those three words struck her like a match to kindling. Many times Maisie had been inside a boarder’s room with that male present. But never had her palms itched like they did now. Could that be guilt? Or some other feeling? Quickly, she set down the volumes and ran a hand over the quilt, wondering if he’d be bothered by daisies and summer ferns. “A straight-back chair usually sits by the window, and I’ll have to locate it. Or I can carry in a cushioned one from the parlor. And bring in a footstool.” Hoping to move the attention away from her babbling, she swept a hand in that direction. “I’ve placed an extra pillow for resting your foot on the bed.” What was she saying? The fully-grown man knew why the pillow had been put there.

Mister MacInnes stared at the bed with a narrowed gaze and then shook his head. “Let’s try the bed.”

“What?” She jerked and stepped back, knocking a boot heel against the wall. Heat flamed in her cheeks, but she restrained herself from covering them with her hands. The heightened color drew enough attention to her embarrassed state.

He flicked his gaze to the pillow and back to her before speaking. “I meant, could you help position the pillow under my foot? Maybe even fold it double.”

“Of course, sir.” Maisie slid the pillow tight against the carved wooden footboard and waited as he limped across the rag rug and eased onto the quilt-covered mattress. This man was so tall he might not fit in her bed.

The ropes supporting the straw mattress creaked under his weight, and he scooted until he’d centered his large body in the bed. Clasping both hands under his knee, he lifted and then jerked his head. “Okay, slide it under.”

Maisie jumped forward to comply to center the pillow. “There, how does that feel?”

“As good as can be expected for having a sprained ankle.”

The mention of his injury shot contrition through her. “I want to tell you how truly sorry I am about running into you and causing this.” She swung a hand toward his bandaged foot and accidentally bumped it.

“Damnation, girl.” He sucked in a lungful of air through clenched teeth.

“Oh, I’m so clumsy. Again, I apologize, Mister MacInnes.” To keep from causing another accident, she clamped both arms around her middle. Not until she spotted his granite-stiff expression relax did she breath out a sigh of relief. She pitched her voice low. “And I’ll be thanking you for not revealing to my mother the composition of what I was wearing when first we met.”

Mister MacInnes cocked an eyebrow and looked toward the doorway. “She doesn’t know her daughter dresses like a man and rides alone on the prairie.”

Guest Promotion–A Woman Of Love by Marlow Kelly

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Blurb

When her dissolute husband insists that Lady Annabel Peters bed one of his villainous cohorts to repay a gambling debt, she is scandalized. But she is forced to agree because he controls every aspect of her life.

A physically and emotionally crippled war hero, James Drake has retreated from society. At the request of his brother, he manipulates events so he can interrogate Annabel, a woman he thinks may be part of a ring of thieves.

Neither of them count on an instant and overwhelming attraction. James may now believe Annabel but she suspects her husband plans to kill her. As one of her husband’s friends, James is not to be trusted.

Yet how can she escape a man who has the ability to control her with a gentle kiss?

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The Wild Rose Press

EXCERPT

Maneuvering Peters into having his wife pay his debts had been easy. He had counted on the bastard to care more about money than his personal relationships. Of course, James had no intention of compromising her. He only wanted her alone for questioning. Hopefully, she would be forthcoming, and he wouldn’t have to resort to intimidation.

He led her to the library. Three of the four walls were lined with shelves, crammed with books. It smelled of old, musty paper, but it was the only room in the house, other than the bedroom, that contained furniture.

“Take a seat.” He pointed to his old, leather couch, then carried the oil lamp from the stone mantelpiece and put it on the small table next to her. She clamped her arms around her body. Her large, oval eyes stared at the light, mesmerized by the small dancing flame. She reminded him of the refugees he’d seen when he served in the Crimea, giving the impression of a woman whose world had collapsed around her. Something in his chest twisted. He wondered if she was more a victim than he had assumed.

In the flicker of lamplight her eyes looked dark, but every now and then he caught a glimpse of a lighter shade. Were they blue or green? Wisps of hair, the colour of honey, escaped their pins and trailed down her neck beckoning him to trace the strands with his lips.

Damn, he might have become an animal, but there were limits to his depravity. He would not coerce a woman into his bed, wouldn’t touch her, kiss her, and he certainly wouldn’t make love to her. He needed her cooperation and honesty and couldn’t be distracted by a pretty face with sad eyes.

MarlowKellyAfter being thrown out of England for refusing to drink tea, Marlow Kelly made her way to Canada where she discovered her love of storytelling. Encouraged by her husband, she put her ideas to paper. Her need to write about strong women in crisis drives her stories.

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