Today is the release day for Treise, part of the Rescue Me Mail-Order Brides multi-author series.
What’s special is I presented a heroine involved in women’s suffrage at a time when Wyoming was building its territorial government. Treise came from an Illinois town where a suffrage association existed for 14 years before the plot starts in early 1869. In this story, I used real names of those involved as a tribute.
Printer’s assistant Treise O’Hara works with her father who runs a small-circulation newspaper but wishes she could be a reporter investigating stories. Her father, Mahon, publishes a controversial op-ed about an unscrupulous business owner in Chicago. The newspaper office is invaded, and equipment is broken. Mahon is beaten and carted away. Hiding, Treise witnesses the attack and recognizes the thugs and who their boss is. She overhears their intention to bury him so she’s forced to go into hiding across town and stays in her cousin, Eveleen’s, room where she works as a maid. The women make a plan to answer ads for mail-order brides in a small city. Thinking her father is dead, Treise is counting on disappearing behind a new last name.
Sheriff Paxon Waldemarr works hard to keep the lawless element in Laramie City, Wyoming Territory, under control. His brother and sister-in-law were killed in a robbery, leaving their five-year-old daughter in Paxon’s care. He runs an ad for a mail-order bride, hoping for someone to care for his niece and maintain a household. His work life is hectic, and he wants calm at home. What he doesn’t expect is a determined suffragette intent on securing the vote for women in the new government. If her actions reflect on his career, how will their marriage survive?
“Mister Waldemarr?” Was this handsome man who she’d come to marry?
“We’re past the formalities. Please call me Paxon.” He stepped forward, then leaned close to brush a kiss on her cheek.
The gesture shocked her into silence. For a moment, she smelled cold air and something herbal. But the brush of beard stubble felt intimate, somehow. “All right, Paxon. And I’m Treise.”
“How was your trip?” He bent over to collect the bags.
The man had eyes of crystal blue like a frozen lake. “Long. The last several hours were downright cold.”
“Right. Welcome to Wyoming Territory.” He straightened, and his jacket fell open, exposing a black tailored shirt with a short, stand-up collar and matching waistcoat.
A glint of light flashed from a metal star pinned to his shirt. “Yer a lawman?”
Other conversations ceased.
After a stare around the room, Paxon transferred the bags to his right hand and cupped her elbow with his left. “Let’s go through to the hotel.”
Planting her feet, she straightened her spine. “I beg yer pardon?” The moment the question was spoken, she realized how much hadn’t been discussed about this arrangement. He might be a handsome devil with his Black Irish looks, but she didn’t travel across the country to toss aside her morals.
“Miss O’Hara, I wish for us to have a private conversation. The hotel lobby or the restaurant offers such a place.”
His whispered words blew warm breath against her temple, and she wanted to lean closer. Tilting back her head, she met his gaze, looking for a sign he intended anything except what he said. “Right ye are.” After two steps, she pulled away and spun toward the exit. “Me crate. I’ve got to claim it.”
“Crate? Do you mean you have a trunk?”
“Nay. A wooden crate. ’Tis marked with yer name and address.” A broad hand landed on her shoulder.
“I’ll claim the crate.” Looking up, he crooked his fingers in a beckoning signal. “Deputy Petrov, here, will escort you inside the hotel.”
Treise glanced at the muscled man with blond-brown hair who stepped close. She nodded, then watched over her shoulder as Paxon strode from the depot. Lordy be, she had not counted on such a man as him needing to place an ad in a matrimonial newspaper. A thrill went through her body. Maybe this decision would turn into an adventure.