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THE VICTORIAN KITCHEN IN THE AMERICAN OLD WEST

By Guest Author Linda LaRoque

When writing MY HEART WILL FIND YOURS, I learned a lot about nineteenth-century kitchens.

Very few homes had an ice box, the kind where a block of ice was delivered to sit in an insulated reservoir in the top of the wooden structure. They were invented for home use in the 1840s, but it wasn’t until the 1870s that the U.S. had ice plants that produced artificial ice. In the model seen here, the block would go in the unopened door to the left. As the ice melted the cold water flowed down the sides and kept the contents inside cool. Note the pan on the floor. Of course, in hot weather, the ice didn’t last more than a couple of days. Owners had a sign with 25 lbs, 50 lbs, 75 lbs, and 100 lbs on each side. You’d prop the side up with the amount you needed out front so when the iceman came by he’d know what size block to bring in for you. This picture can be found in an online article titled Early Days of Refrigeration at www.lclark.edu/

I found an advertisement for a model almost identical to this one. No date was given but the price was $16.98.

My mother-in-law said that even in the early thirties they kept their perishables in a spring house, a small shed built over a spring. Food was covered with dish towels or cheese cloth to keep out flies and other pests, and the flowing water kept the room cool. Some homes had a larder which was a room on the coolest side of the house or in the cellar. None of these solutions would make modern homemakers happy, but folks back then didn’t know any difference and the system worked for them.


No kitchen was complete without a cupboard or Hoosier. Here kitchen utensils were stored. Many had a flour bin (see above right in cabinet), a built-in sifter, a granite or tin top for rolling pie crusts and biscuit dough, and drawers for storage. Note the meat grinder attached to the left and the butter churn on the floor to the right with a wash board behind. Hopefully the homemaker had a sink with a hand pump with room to the side to stack clean dishes to dry. A shelf below would hold pails and a dish pan.

This picture was taken at the East Texas Oil Museum in Kilgore, Texas, and dates somewhere around the 1920s or 1930s. The design in these cupboards didn’t change much over time so earlier models looked much like this one. Today cupboards or Hoosiers have become popular decorative additions to modern kitchens, as have old ice boxes. I’d love to have one but my kitchen is too small.
Last, but not least, in importance to the homemaker was the wood cook stove. Before the cast iron kitchen stove was invented, women cooked over hearths with ovens built into the wall, if they were well-off, or outside in a fire pit. Both methods were hard on the back due to bending over to stir food in pots suspended from iron hooks. Cast iron pot bellied stoves, used mainly for heat, could be used for some cooking, but lucky was the woman who had a genuine kitchen cook stove like the one pictured here.

This is a restored model pictured at http://www.bryantstove.com/ Many models such as this one had a copper lined reservoir on the side to keep water warm for beverages, dishwater, or bathing. In my reading I noticed some even had a kick plate to open the oven door when hands were full. Some of these models were designed to use either wood or coal oil. Restored wood stoves are popular and being added to homes of individuals who like antiques and love to cook. They aren’t for the person who wants to pop something in the oven and go about their business as the product must be watched carefully to make sure oven temperature is maintained. Also, they’re quite expensive, between two and three thousand dollars.

Managing a house hold during this era wasn’t for the weak. Just lifting those iron cooking vessels took a strength many modern women don’t possess. But, I guess carrying buckets of milk from the barn, doing the wash in the yard using a scrub board, and their other daily chores built muscles.

My time travel heroines face multiple challenges when learning to live and take care of a home in the nineteenth century. Though it’s never easy, their love for their hero gives them the perseverance to adjust to a past way of life. A LAW OF HER OWN, A MARSHALL OF HER OWN and A LOVE OF HIS OWN released from The Wild Rose Press are all set in the nineteenth century town of Prairie, Texas. In this last story, the individual to travel back in time is the hero and though he doesn’t have to adjust to cooking in a Victorian kitchen, he does have to adjust to many other aspects of life in the past.
Thanks for reading,
Linda
Linda LaRoque
Writing Romance with a Twist in Time
A Marshal of Her Own, Feb. 2012 Book of the Month at Long and Short Reviews
www.lindalaroque.com
http://www.lindalaroqueauthor.blogspot.com
http://www.authorsbymoonlight.com
http://thewritersvineyard.com/


A LOVE OF HIS OWN BLURB…
Bull Dawson, New York lawyer, mourns the loss of his daughter, who disappeared from a cabin in Fredericksburg, Texas four years ago. A history book found in his office safe leads him to believe she traveled back in time to 1888 Prairie, Texas. He’s determined that if she can time travel, he can too. Life will be different, probably hard, but practicing law can’t be so difficult back in the Old West.
Widow Dipsey Thackson scratches out a living for herself and her young son on their farm. Shunned by the locals, she keeps to herself. When a man appears in her wheat field one day, life changes for the better. Then her brother-in-law arrives, claiming the farm is his and threatening Dipsey and her son. She fears for both their means of survival and their safety.
Her dilemma will take more than a knowledge of the law, but Bull vows to do his best to protect her and her boy.
Here’s the excerpt for A LOVE OF HIS OWN:
“Whoa, boys.” Dipsey pulled the wagon to a stop and set the break. She hopped down, her leather boots hitting the road with a thud. Sam, the lead mule had been favoring his right front leg the past few minutes. She’d better take a look before he went lame.
“Let me see, Sam.” She lifted the mule’s big hoof and held it between her knees. “Ah, a rock. No wonder. Hurts, doesn’t it?” With a small twig, she flipped the stone out. “Now, that’ll feel better.” She let his foot drop and patted his neck. Joe snorted and butted her shoulder, so she turned and gave him a pat too. The brothers were jealous, afraid one would get more attention than the other. They were the same when it came to feeding time. She had to separate them lest they try to horn in on the other’s grub.
Dipsey walked back to the wagon and placed a foot onto the spoke of the front wheel to climb into the wagon. A snorting sound from behind her made her pause. Grabbing her rifle from under the seat, she whirled and peered into the field of winter wheat gently waving in the cool morning air. Sunlight glanced off the stalks giving the field a slight iridescence, but no movement caught her attention.
The noise stopped, then resumed with a loud bleating resonance. If she didn’t know better, she’d think Thomas was asleep in the wheat field, but she’d buried her husband two years past. Who trespassed on her land?
Rifle cocked, she stepped in the direction of the snoring. Thomas always said she could sneak up on Satan himself. She hoped her skill served her well today.
Lying on her precious wheat, breaking the stalks flat and making it useless, was a big, burly man. Wrapped in someone’s finely stitched quilt, he had a brown felt hat over his eyes. One arm lay across his chest, the other cradled a new-fangled model Winchester, so new the shine hadn’t yet worn off.
She snatched the rifle from his arm. The dang fool didn’t open his eyes. Dipsey thumped him on the shoulder with the butt of his weapon. He farted and rolled to his side exposing a muscled butt and legs encased in denims. She stumbled back a few steps. Disgusting man!

Linda LaRoque was born and reared in Texas and she and her husband call Central Texas home. She credits her sixth grade teachr for hooking her on the written word.
From then on, books were her best friends, and like many young people in school, she had one open when she should have been working on an assignment. Ironic, then, that she became a public school teacher. In summer months, she read.

In 1990, after reading a number of romances, she said to her husband, “I can write a book. It doesn’t look that difficult.” After several stressful months of struggle, she admitted. “It’s much harder than I anticipated.” Fortunately for readers, she persevered, and after joining numerous writing organizations, critique groups, and attending many writing conferences, finally finished her first book.

WHEN THE OCTOTILLO BLOOM was released in February 2007. Since then, she has been prolific. Check her website for the complete list of her books.

Thanks to Linda for sharing the fruit of her research today.

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NOVEMBER IS A BUSY MONTH

By Caroline Clemmons

Thanksgiving is almost upon us. But then, November is a busy month. This is National Family Literacy Month. Children are already counting the days until Christmas. Teachers are counting the days until Christmas vacation. 😉 I’m reading, writing, getting ready for Thanksgiving, and–just like a kid–counting the days until Christmas. I love this time of year. For what are you thankful? Probably too many things to count. One of the things for which I am grateful is that I get to spend all day writing my stories and promoting them. Not so much the promotion, but I love writing. I even like writing blogs. 

Speaking of thankful, this blog is about my stories. I’m grateful to have four you can order from The Wild Rose Press at http://www.thewildrosepress.com/caroline-clemmons-m-638.html in print and download. They are:

OUT OF THE BLUE is a paranormal (time travel, clairvoyant) romantic suspense in which an Irish woman, Deirdre Doherty, jumps off a cliff in 1845 Ireland to escape a mob…and plops down in modern Possum Kingdom Lake in North Central Texas. Yes, that’s a real lake, and it was named because 19th century trappers used to gather so many possum skins there for the pelt trade. Euw. It’s also a popular lake for water sports. The lake is surrounded by hills covered in post oaks and cedar, and this time of year the post oaks turn brilliant colors. That’s why the low mountain range is calledthe Palo Pinto Mountains.  The Irish town of Ballymish and the Texas city of Radford are fictitious. Weird, huh, when Possum Kingdom is for real. Deirdre and police detective Brendan Hunter team up to learn who is trying to kill them, who killed Brendan’s partner, and who has framed Brendan. There’s a lively cast of supporting characters who people Brendan’s life–and now Deirdre’s as well. But is she in our time to stay, or will she suddenly be sent back to the mob who want to burn her as they did her home?

THE TEXAN’S IRISH BRIDE is a western historical romance set near Bandera in the Central Texas hill country. Rancher Dallas McClintock has been breeding and training horses and is gaining respect for his skill. He doubts he’ll ever overcome the prejudice some feel toward him for his half-Cherokee blood, but he’s seen a difference as word of his ability with horses spreads. On a trip home after delivering horses, Dallas rescues a beautiful woman from two men who abducted her. Although he kills the two men, he is badly wounded in the exchange. Her father and brothers take him to their camp, a band of Irish Travelers. Although the O’Neill family are merely Irish who’ve been turned off their land in Ireland, they joined with the Travelers for protection. But Sean O’Neill sees a good chance for his daughter Cenora Rose to escape from the brutish Traveler leader who seeks to force her to wed him. Before he heals enough to escape, Dallas is caught in a trap and forced to marry Cenora. Not only has he suddenly acquired a wife, he has inherited her wild Irish family as well.  And does the O’Neill clan ever lead Dallas a traumatic life! He, on the other hand, is a man of honor who astonishes his new kin with his nature. 

SAVE YOUR HEART FOR ME is a western historical romance set near Medina. Matt Petrov is assigned to help a distant relative, Ivan Romanovich, claim his land. When Matt arrives at the boarding house where Ivan is staying, Ivan has disappeared. And who should be helping her mother operate the boarding house but Beth Jeffers, the woman Matt’s loved for six years. Beth thinks Matt is cut from the same cloth as the man to whom she was briefly married–long enough to conceive her son Davey. Matt’s grateful she escaped her abusive husband before her son was born, but he wonders if Beth was party to Lionel Jeffers plans. Matt has wished he were the man she’d married instead of the conniving, and dead, Jeffers, but Matt never let anyone know. Now, he’s living in the same home as she and her son and mother. Beth doesn’t know Matt’s secrets, and he fears when she learns them she’ll never speak to him again. He couldn’t bear losing her twice. Just when he works up the courage to tell her, Beth’s son disappears. Can Matt save Ivan and Davey in time? What will Beth do when she learns the truth? (This one is available only in e-download)

HOME, SWEET TEXAS HOME is a contemporary western romance set in and near Lubbock in West Texas. Courtney Madison has battled poverty her entire twenty-five years but is determined to make a safe and happy home for her teenaged brother after the recent death of their mom. Her mom’s illness left Courtney with a mountain of hospital bills, her formerly sweet brother Jimmy is now cutting class and hanging with a rough crowd, and she’s just learned she’s being downsized in two weeks. Hanging on by the threads of a fraying rope, she learns she’s inherited two million dollars from a kind elderly man she befriended when he was in the hospital across the hall from her mom. She thinks her inheritance in West Texas is the answer to all her prayers–but Courtney learns that while money improves her life, it doesn’t guarantee happiness. This modern Cinderella encounters problems even a fairy godmother couldn’t imagine. Rancher/entrepeneur Derek Corrigan has incredible instincts for flourishing in the business world. With women, not so much. In fact, his friends bemoan he’s King Midas where money is concerned, but his judgment of women is pathetic–evidenced by his late wife and now the flamboyant woman he’s been escorting of late. As far as Derek is concerned, all he wants is to be a good dad to his children Warren, aged 8, and Meg, aged 5. Derek suspects the worst of his new neighbor and vows to fight his attraction for her. The only way he can protect his children and himself is to keep his private life very private. Besides, he knows what women do to him–they always leave and take chunks of his heart with them. He’s been there, done that, had the vaccination and is cured. Isn’t he?

Has your curiosity been piqued? I hope so, and I hope you’ll choose to make me even more thankful this season by ordering one of my books.

Caroline Clemmons writes mystery, romance, and adventures—although her earliest made up adventures featured her saving the West with Roy Rogers. Her career has included stay-at-home mom (her favorite job), newspaper reporter and featured columnist, assistant to the managing editor of a psychology journal, and bookkeeper. She and her husband live in rural North Central Texas with a menagerie of rescued pets. When she’s not writing, she enjoys spending time with family, reading, travel, browsing antique malls and estate sales, and genealogy/family history. Her backlist of contemporary and historical romance is now at Smashwords and Kindle. ALMOST HOME is the first mystery she’s published and is available at Kindle only. Read about her at http://www.carolineclemmons.comor her blog at http://carolineclemmons.blogspot.com She loves to hear from readers at caroline@carolineclemmons.com.

Thanks for reading!

Placerville, California history

My hubby and I live just up the road from Placerville, California. History abounds in this old gold rush town which was also known as “Hangtown” in its’ early days. Although many stories exist on how this name was acquired, the most famous story involved a colorful event that occurred in January of 1849. A gambler named Lopez gained a lot of attention for his big winnings at a local saloon. After he retired for the evening, several men tried to overpower him. Lopez fought back, and with the help of others, the robbers were captured. During their ‘flogging’, three of the robbers were also accused of being wanted for a murder and robbery.

With no more evidence than that, a short 30 minute trial took place and a unanimous ‘guilty’ verdict was given. The crowd demanded that the men be sentenced to ‘death by hanging’ and the rest was history. The famous hanging tree once stood in Elstner’s Hay Yard, next to the Jackass Inn. Today, the original stump from the old tree remains in the cellar of The Hangman’s Tree tavern on Historic Main Street.

Throughout history, several famous entrepreneurs have conducted business on Main Street. Phillip Armour (meat packer), Mark Hopkins (railroad financier), John Studebaker (auto maker), and Snowshoe Thompson (mail-carrier through the Sierras) were among the well-known shopkeepers on Main Street.

An important historic landmark that still remains on Main Street is the Bell Tower, standing as a monument to the city’s volunteer firemen. The Bell, placed in the tower in the plaza in 1865, was used as an alarm system to call out the firefighters. This tower has watched most of Placerville’s history pass beneath it for well over 100 years. It has been remodeled, relocated, and most recently, renovated. Today it proudly stands as a monument to honor our city’s volunteer firemen. The history of the Bell Tower began back in l856. Three fires that year in April, July and August, claimed most of Placerville’s business section. The need for an alarm system to call the volunteer fire department was obvious, and a bell was ordered from England. Cast in 1860, the bell arrived in Placerville in 1865. The city gave i’s approval to place the bell in a tower in the plaza. All this was done at a cost of $380.00. Today, the Bell Tower serves as a gathering place for parades, celebrations, and other Historic Main Street events.

BOOK REVIEW – WOMEN OF PARAGON SPRINGS SERIES BY IRENE BENNETT BROWN

This IS a Victorian blog, but we include the United States during the Victorian era. Do you enjoy books that include adventure, romance, danger, and history? This review for a four book series is set in Kansas, but it could be anywhere in the Midwest or Western United States. The series includes LONG ROAD TURNING, BLUE HORIZONS, NO OTHER PLACE and REAP THE SOUTH WIND. This series is by Irene Bennett Brown and is from Five Star.

Cutting sod for a house

As the oral historian for my family, I’ve interviewed more elderly family members than I can count. The struggles depicted in the Women of Paragon Springs series brought to mind stories passed down through my own family–and will probably do the same for each reader whose family were pioneers. Although each book includes all the women, each book is particularly about one woman’s story. The first two center around Meg Brennan’s struggles. Aurelia Thorne takes center stage in the third, and it’s my least favorite of the four books. The final book with Lucy Ann’s story takes us into the twentieth century.

Let me share the blurb for the first book, LONG ROAD TURNING.

Meg Brennon’s wagon has just been hijacked by three bedraggled strangers on their way to Dodge City. On the run from an abusive husband, Meg agrees to share her wagon with Grandma Spicy, Lucy Ann, and Laddie as they search for their uncle. When they arrive in Dodge City, they learn that the uncle has died, leaving only a small tract of land to Laddie. Meg trades for another parcel and they build themselves a home, soon to be joined by other women and children in need of a safe place. Harassed by a cattle rancher who wants her land, and in constant fear of the bounty hunter her husband has hired to find her, Meg struggles to maintain her farm. The group starts a road ranch for travelers and sets up a newspaper and post office. Through heartbreak and joy the homestead thrives, leaving Meg to realize that she must find a way to free herself from the past.

Women of Paragon Spring is about a group of women who each have faced tragedy. Each is literally at the end of her resources. Banding together, these intelligent women rebuild their lives using their wits, hard work, and planning. They have plans, big plans for Paragon Springs. Although I’ve read many books of this type, in this series I learned a lot about being a pioneer.

 

Prairie Sod House

For instance, I’m certain that if the necessity arose (Please, God, no!), I could build a soddy. With almost no timber, settlers learned to use what was available. The densely rooted prairie grass could be cut and stacked like bricks. Of course, “things” scurried in and out of the sod, so some lined the walls with fabric. Most simply tolerated the varmints. 

I learned the specifics for quarrying rock. I also learned that being a pioneer took good health and stamina. Fortunately, the Women of Paragon Springs were physically healthy, and each did her share. They were not Amazons, just downtrodden women determined to make a home for themselves. Fortunately for those who love romance novels, the principal women characters met their soul mates.

Early on, Paragon Springs was like a commune, but the women soon expanded to homestead the land nearby and it became a community. Later, they decided a town nearby would help everyone so they set about drawing honest, hardworking citizens to people their town. Don’t think for a minute their job was easy! Every step forward was a battle. In spite of the fact the territory was open to settlers, cattlemen who’d been using the government grass fought against farmers and the town. Some men wanted nothing to do with women telling them what was needed in the town or county. Crooked con men tried to take over the town, which until then had lived up to its name. Fires, drought, plagues of grasshoppers–just your usual problems for homesteaders.

I loved these books. Any reader who loves pioneer history would enjoy them. Readers who don’t care about history but just want a good, strong story will also find the Women of Paragon Springs a joy. The first book, LONG ROAD TURNING, was my favorite, but all four are well worth the investment of reading time.

Thanks for stopping by,

Caroline Clemmons

http://carolineclemmons.blogspot.com 

EXCERPT SATURDAY WITH THE MOST UNSUITABLE HUSBAND

Welcome to Excerpt Saturday. My name is Caroline Clemmons and today I’m sharing an excerpt of my historical romance, THE MOST UNSUITABLE HUSBAND. This is the sequel to the book I shared last Saturday, THE MOST UNSUITABLE WIFE, which is now on sale for 99 cents through June at Smashwords and Amazon Kindle.

THE MOST UNSUITABLE HUSBAND is the story of a rogue who reforms for the love of a good woman. (I did say it was fiction, didn’t I?) It’s one of my favorites of my books and I hope you’ll be enticed to purchase it. When it appeared initially, reviews were tremendous and included a Top Pick by Romantic Times. Now it’s back in my possession and available with a new cover (the Knave of Hearts) at Smashwords

http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/37792?ref=CarolineClemmons

and Amazon Kindle at

http://www.amazon.com/MOST-UNSUITABLE-HUSBAND-Kincaids-ebook/dp/B004M8T1D8/ref=sr_1_6?ie=UTF8&m=AG56TWVU5XWC2&s=digital-text&qid=1306979649&sr=1-6

Blurb: Sarah Kincaid often feels she’s just a copy of her sister Pearl and her aunt Lily, never making her own mark in the world. Sarah intends to do good works, though, and make a real difference in people’s lives, not die to be mourned by only a scruffy handful of people like her mother. But how, when she can hardly speak up for herself?  That is, until she finds three orphaned children who need her help. Then the timid rabbit becomes a lioness determined to take the children from Memphis back to her home in Texas. She enlists the help of a man she correctly suspects is up to no good, Nate Barton. She doesn’t realize his real name or connection to her past until it’s too late. By then, they’re both trapped in her web of love.

Excerpt in Sarah Kincaid’s point of view:

That man in black–he’d introduced himself as Nathaniel Barton–had been at the cemetery. He was always around on the boat, too, and now he was here in their hotel in Memphis. He trailed behind her as if he hadn’t a care in the world. Surely it was coincidence. Lots of people traveled from St. Louis to Memphis every day.

The porter stopped in front of a room and opened the door. He stood back for her to enter, but not before she saw Mr. Barton at the next door. He even glanced her way and smiled as he nodded his head in greeting.

My stars, he’s staying in the very next room to mine.

What kind of hotel would allow a single man on the same floor as a single woman? She fought down panic as she dealt with the porter, then locked the door behind him and slid the bolt. Alone in her room, her imagination ran its course as she paced. Had she strayed into a den of iniquity?

No, that couldn’t be. Mrs. Welborn assured her this was a family hotel suitable for a young woman. After all, the Welborns registered here, too. How did Mr. Barton come to be in the very room next to her? It wasn’t proper. What would people think? What would they say?

She caught herself. The Welborns were the only people here she knew, and she hardly cared what they thought other than their reports back to the Vermillions and Aunt Lily. Even they could hardly blame her for the hotel’s room assignments.

This Mr. Barton could not mean her harm. There’d been ample opportunity on the paddle wheeler had he intended to hurt her. They’d never had a conversation on a personal level. His comments had centered on the trip and the weather, not a hint of anything improper and always with others nearby. Perhaps his constant presence was a coincidence. Just the same, he made her nervous. She felt like a rabbit waiting for the wolf to pounce whenever Mr. Barton was near.

In the midst of her concern, she admitted his presence offered reassurance to her that she was protected from others. Surely he would rush to her aid if she needed assistance. Her instincts proved right regarding Mr. Welborn. Perhaps she should rely on intuition in this instance. She wished she were more decisive, not a victim of warring emotions.

She raised her skirt and checked the little double-shot derringer given her by her brother, Storm. Best to be prepared. The little gun still rested securely in its garter holster on her thigh. Storm had insisted she practice until she was a fair shot. Would she have the courage to use the weapon against a human? She doubted it, but its weight reassured her.

Sarah spied the door connecting her room with the one in which Mr. Barton resided. Rushing to check the lock, she stopped. She must not let him know she suspected him of following her. Very slowly she turned the knob of the connecting door. Locked. She released a heavy sigh.

Curiosity nudged her. Kneeling, she peered through the keyhole. The opening framed him as he pulled a fresh shirt from an open valise on the bed. Shucking his jacket and waistcoat, he took a pistol from his waistband and placed it on the bed beside the satchel. He unbuttoned his shirt.

She knew she should move away but couldn’t. Oh, my stars! He might dress like a riverboat dandy, but this gorgeous man was no weakling. Trouser fabric pulled taut against trim hip muscles when he turned and bent over the things on the bed.

Her mouth went dry as a Texas dust storm. She watched him turn back to face her. He removed his shirt and tossed it behind him on the bed. Then she saw the bandage across his shoulder and another at his waist. She wondered which side of the law he was on when he got those, but thought she knew. The wrong side, of course.

He picked up a fresh shirt and she caught the ripple of muscles across his chest as he slipped the shirt on. His movements were swift and powerful, not the sluggish ambling she had witnessed in public.

Occasionally in summer she had caught glimpses of her brother, her brother-in-law, and the hands at the ranch with their shirts off. Unlike their tanned torsos, Mr. Barton’s pale skin made her fingers tingle to touch the brown chest hair that converged in a vee at his belt. She wondered how far below his waist the pelt descended. A pool of warmth gathered at the base of her stomach.

My stars, what disgraceful thoughts.

Where did they come from? They weren’t proper. No, not at all suitable. Being away from home must be having a poor effect on her.

Never before had such scandalous ideas entered her head about any man. She didn’t have these thoughts about Peter Dorfmeyer, and everyone expected her to marry Peter. Mr. Barton was the most attractive man she’d ever seen, but she must get her wayward thoughts under control.

Buttoning his shirt, Mr. Barton stepped from her view. When he returned and glared at the keyhole, she froze. Surely he couldn’t know she watched him. She sank further to the floor and sat with her back against the door.

Sarah pressed her hands to heated cheeks, shocked at her own behavior. She was no better than a window peeper. What on earth had come over her?

A sudden thought assailed her. What if he planned to look through the keyhole as she had? Taking a hanky from her cuff, she draped it over the doorknob so it hung across the tiny opening. No, that wouldn’t do. It kept sliding off. She rose and opened her traveling bag and took out a shirtwaist. Hanging it on the knob, she stepped back. Perfect. It looked as if she used the handle for a hook.

She crossed to the vanity. Not taking time to change from her traveling suit into a dress, she contented herself with pushing stray hair back into her chignon and grabbing her shawl. With any luck, she could purchase her train ticket while her neighbor had his dinner.

Sarah walked briskly to the train station. A line greeted her at the ticket window. Oh, well, she loved watching people, so she wouldn’t mind the wait. Taking her place in the row, she surveyed the other prospective passengers wandering to and fro. She studied the clothes of other women, compared them to her own black clothing. In her head she made up stories of who they were and where they might be headed.

A young boy bumped with a wham into the man in front of her. The child’s hand darted into the man’s pocket and out with a flash, and secured the lifted wallet under his shirt. Probably no more than seven or eight, the lad wore the dirtiest clothes Sarah had ever seen. His hair might have been blond at one time, but it and his skin had gone a long time without touching soap and water.

“Oh, excuse me, sir.” The boy’s large blue eyes were the picture of innocence when he gazed up at the man.

Sarah gasped. What should she do? She couldn’t bring herself to cause a scene by screaming, but neither could she stand by and let the child rob this man.

“Steady, you little ragamuffin.” The victim placed a hand on the boy’s shoulder. “Slow down and see you’re more careful next time.”

“Yes, sir, sorry. I will, sir.” The boy moved swiftly away into the crowd.

Sarah took off after the little thief. He looked over his shoulder and she motioned to him. His eyes widened in alarm and he ran. She gathered her skirts and rushed after him, weaving around groups of people.

When she had almost caught up with the light-fingered boy, she thudded against a solid wall of chest.

Mr. Barton grunted and clutched Sarah’s shoulders, then dropped his hands and made a slight bow. “Why, I believe it’s Miss Kincaid, is it not? Are you in some sort of distress?”

“No, it was nothing.” She peered over his shoulder but the thief was nowhere in sight. “I thought I saw someone I knew, but I was mistaken.” She felt her cheeks flush again with guilt. Their collision must have jarred his injured chest, but she couldn’t ask him about it. How could she explain that knowledge?

“Your traveling companions–Welwoods or Welworths–are they with you?”

“No. The Welborns were tired and planned to have dinner sent to their room.” She thanked heavens for that. Eating with the odious Mr. Welborn soured her stomach. But now this man who, for all appearances, followed her everywhere had neatly trapped her. A shiver of apprehension skittered down her spine, but she stood mesmerized by his tawny eyes.

As if he sensed her fear, he offered a crooked smile and proffered his` arm. “May I escort you back to the hotel?”

“I was…” she stopped. Her nerves jangled with alarm, but she strove to appear calm. She preferred buying her ticket in private. If he hadn’t yet learned where she headed, she didn’t want him to know her exact destination. “That would be very kind, um, Mr. Barton.”

“Bit cool this evening, isn’t it?”

My stars, didn’t the man ever talk about anything but the weather? Maybe he was one of those gorgeous physical specimens with the brain of a rock.

She sighed and answered, “Yes, there’s a chill in the air. I suppose we’re in for more winter.”

What should she do? Panic turned her stomach in knots. She should send him on his way, but didn’t know what to say or do. Hating herself for her timidity, she once more flowed with the easiest course and allowed herself to be escorted back to the hotel.

Thanks for reading my excerpt for today. Remember, you can own both THE MOST UNSUITABLE WIFE and THE MOST UNSUITABLE HUSBAND for under five dollars. What a deal! I’ll be posting again on June 20th about a woman in history. Until then, happy reading.

To learn more about my books or me, please go to my blog at

http://carolineclemmons.blogspot.com or website www.carolineclemmons. 

The Bell Tower

An important historic landmark that still remains on Main Street, Placerville, California, is the Bell Tower, standing as a monument to the city’s volunteer firemen. The Bell, placed in the tower in the plaza in 1865, was used as an alarm system to call out the firefighters. This tower has watched most of Placerville’s history pass beneath it for well over 100 years. It has been remodeled, relocated, and most recently, renovated. Today it proudly stands as a monument to honor our city’s volunteer firemen.

The history of the Bell Tower began back in l856. Three fires that year in April, July and August, claimed most of Placerville’s business section. The need for an alarm system to call the volunteer fire department was obvious, and a bell was ordered from England. Cast in 1860, the bell arrived in Placerville in 1865. The city gave i’s approval to place the bell in a tower in the plaza. All this was done at a cost of $380.00. Today, the Bell Tower serves as a gathering place for parades, celebrations, and other Historic Main Street events.

SATURDAY EXCERPT – THE MOST UNSUITABLE WIFE

 

Excerpt Saturday

The kernel for the book THE MOST UNSUITABLE WIFE came from a small detail mentioned once by my grandmother. A girl in her Tennessee hometown quit attending school because of bullying and harassment from other students. Grandmother didn’t know what became of the girl, but her story made me wish the girl’s life had had a happy ending. I decided to give her one in this marriage of convenience romance, which is Book one of the Kincaids.

Available Now!

Here’s the blurb:

Wanted: One completely improper bride.

Even if Drake Kincaid had placed such an advertisement in every paper in the country, he couldn’t have found a better candidate than Pear Parker–which is fine with him. After all, his parents’ will stipulates only that he marry by his thirtieth birthday, not that he marry well. And no one–including Drake’s grandfather, the man determined to hold him to the ridiculous provision–could possibly think that tall, bossy Pearl with her ragtag siblings and questionable “cousin” Belle will make a good wife. Until Drake realizes that in Pearl’s startling violet eyes he sees a beautiful woman with a generous soul…

Their life together may not have started with hearts and flowers, but Drake and Pearl will soon learn that real love–with a breathtaking dose of passion–will make their marriage a true romance.

Excerpt: (set up) Drake has just told Pearl she’s to remain at his grandfather’s home instead of moving to Drake’s home on the ranch while he drive cattle to market in Kansas.

“What do you mean, stay here?”

Pearl had wakened cocooned in the hazy glow following a night of intermittent lovemaking with her husband to find him dressing for the ranch. Then he dropped a bombshell on her.

“You know it’s not safe for you to be on your own. Ranch is too isolated. You’ll be safer here in town.” Drake stomped his feet to settle each in the boots he wore. He retrieved a blue chambray shirt from his bag and donned it.

“For how long?” Pearl slid from bed and grabbed her nightgown from the floor.

“Well…”

She whirled on her husband, confronting him, “You never intended for me to move to the ranch, did you?” She yanked her nightie on. No one could argue buck-naked.

“Don’t get riled. Women hate the seclusion. You’ll be happier in town. Things to do here and people about you.” Drake shoved his shirt into his twill pants without looking at his wife.

She stepped toward him and pointed at her chest. “What do you know about what makes this woman happy?”

A crooked smile broke his face. “Aw, I know what makes you happy, all right. Didn’t I keep you happy all night?”

She shrugged away the comment aimed to distract her. “Did you ask me which I prefer? No.” She hoped her glare chilled his randy hide.

His voice softened, placating. “Pearl, be reasonable. We don’t know who’s tried to kill you and your family. Someone might be trailing you right now, waiting somewhere and watching the house.”

He met her gaze. That muscle twitched in his cheek, letting her know he was less than happy with this conversation. Well, that didn’t bother Pearl in the least. Some things needed talked about.

He walked over and put his hands on her shoulders, then took a deep breath and continued, “Look, the sheriff and his deputy as well as several of the town’s leading citizens will be looking out for any newcomer. I talked to the owners of the livery stable, the hotel, the mercantile, all the places I could think of that a newcomer would stand out. If any strangers come around asking questions, the sheriff will find out immediately. You and Sarah will be safer here.”

“You’re taking Storm with you?” She hugged her arms, sensing a lost battle.

“Yes, um, with your permission. I can’t see him attending teas or shopping here in town. Besides, he’s a big help to me.”

Her head came up and her hands fisted at her hips. “And I suppose Sarah and I are just so much baggage?”

“Now, I didn’t say that and you know it.” He held up a hand, palm out, as if to stay her fury. “But you have no place rounding up cattle and getting ready for a drive.”

“It’s true we don’t ride, but we could learn.” She could learn anything, given a chance. She suspected no chance would come.

“There’s no time to teach you. ‘Sides, it makes the cowboys and vaqueros nervous to have women around the cattle. They think it’s bad luck. And I can’t leave the two of you at the house with only the housekeeper to help you.”

She sagged in defeat. “Okay, Drake. I’ll stay here for now, and I’ll try not to shame you. But this is only until we know there’ll be no more meanness against my family. Don’t think you can keep me waiting too long,” she warned.

His face broke into a smile of relief. “You’ll see. By the time this is over and things calm down, you’ll like this sweet life so much you won’t be able to tear yourself away from Grandpa’s house.”

“Too much sweet gives a body a belly ache.”

Ignoring that and stepping close, he kissed her on the cheek then nuzzled her neck. “I’ll be sleeping tonight in a bedroll on hard ground. Give me a kiss to remember.”

Something to remember. She’d give him something to remember all right. She raised her mouth to his, let him plunder with his tongue. Her tongue did some plundering of its own as she moved her body against him. When their kiss ended, the heat of passion darkened his eyes.

“When you’re sleeping on the hard ground, all alone, you remember that, husband.” Head high, she turned and walked into the dressing room.

The buy links for THE MOST UNSUITABLE WIFE are:

Smashwords

: http://www.smashwords.com/books/search?query=Caroline+Clemmons

Kindle:

http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss?url=node%3D154606011&field-keywords=Caroline+Clemmons

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