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By Caroline Clemmons
Welcome, readers! Today, I’m so pleased to announce the release of my new American-set Victorian romance, WINTER BRIDE. This western historical romance is a stand-alone part of the Stone Mountain, Texas series set in the Palo Pinto Mountains of North Central Texas.
Here’s the blurb for WINTER BRIDE:
Sweet western historical romance of 60,000 words by bestselling author Caroline Clemmons is a stand-alone novel of the Stone Mountain Texas series including murder, danger, and adventure.
When Kendra Murdoch’s brother in law murders her sister, she takes charge of her nephew and two nieces. Fearing the man plans the same fate for her, she seeks shelter in Radford Crossing where she operates a café to support her small family.
Determined to be self-sufficient, Kendra shuns all advances from the handsome sheriff as danger hangs heavily over her head. But can she safeguard her family alone?
Butch Parrish battled a snowstorm and a killer to rescue Kendra and the children. He’ll do whatever is necessary to protect the independent young woman who rekindles sensations he hoped were dead long ago. Protecting her, chasing a killer, dealing with the town gossips, and investigating a stagecoach robbery, Butch has a battle on his hands.
Here’s an excerpt from WINTER BRIDE involving hero, Sheriff Butch Parrish:
As he turned onto the faint trail he sought, he spotted fresh tracks in the snow. He pulled his rifle from the saddle scabbard and slowed his horse. Instead of heading along the trail, the tracks led around the boulders.
Scout’s ears twitched forward, the chestnut’s signal of trouble. Even more slowly, Butch eased forward. He dismounted and crept along the boulders. If he could climb up to the taller rocks, he could spot where the tracks led and if Tucker waited for him.
Quietly as his boots allowed, he climbed. As he gained height, he spotted a horse tied to brush twenty yards from where he stood. Tracks crisscrossed in the snow, but where was Tucker? The man had the advantage of knowing this area’s terrain better than Butch.
“Sheriff?” The yell came from below and behind him.
Butch crouched and turned. A streak of fire burned into his chest. The impact sent him tumbling from rock to rock until he hit the snow-covered ground. He landed on his back, stars lit the backs of his eyelids, and his breath whooshed from his lungs. His rifle lay just beyond his grasp.
WINTER BRIDE is a romance, but the storyline includes mystery, murder, and mayhem. I like stories where something happens. I hope you do, too.
Here’s the buy link for Amazon http://amzn.com/B00VC9C31W
To celebrate my new release, I’m giving away a free download to someone who comments on this post by April 5th. Thanks and happy reading!
If you’re like me, you’re already eager for the days from Thanksgiving up to Christmas Eve. That’s my favorite time of year. I love the decorations, the songs, and the anticipation associated with choosing gifts for my family.
I confess to feeling letdown once the gifts are opened and the dinner eaten. The Christmas tree looks letdown, too, with no gifts underneath. I can’t explain why Hero and I leave our tree up until after Twelfth Night, but we always have. Probably this year will be no exception.
You can see why I love reading Christmas stories. In fact, I read them all year, but especially from October until Christmas. However, this is the first time I’ve written a Christmas story.
For this novella, I blame Darling Daughters 1 and 2. Each of them asked me to write a Christmas story. Guess the spirit is genetic, right?
Kim Killion did the perfect-for-the-novella cover. I chose the woman’s photo from Kim’s studio stock and she used the photo to create exactly what I had in mind. Don’t you love when that happens?
Here’s the blurb of STONE MOUNTAIN CHRISTMAS:
Christmas has been Celia Dubois’s favorite time of year as long as she can remember. When she moves back with her parents a year after the death of her husband, the young widow is appalled at the town’s lack of Christmas spirit. Two months earlier, banditos had burned the church and crushed the townspeople. Celia vows to return holiday joy to the town. Perhaps doing so might help mend her aching heart. Will Celia’s plan work magic on the town?
Rancher Eduardo Montoya knows Celia is the woman for him. She enchants him with her winning smile and vivacious nature. When her father warns Eduardo away from Celia, Eduardo is both angry and frustrated. After he stops a robbery in the mercantile, will Celia’s parents change their minds about him? Can handsome Eduardo heal Celia’s sorrow?
Here’s an excerpt of STONE MOUNTAIN CHRISTMAS:
Radford Crossing, Texas, November 1874
Eduardo Montoya focused on the beautiful redhead who swept the walk in front of Sturdivant’s Mercantile across the street. He turned to speak to his friend. “She is a vision, is she not?”
Micah Stone, his cousin’s husband, asked, “Have you met her or spoken to her?”
Eduardo’s gaze returned to Celia Dubois. He refused to let anyone shatter his dreams. “See how graceful she is even when performing a menial chore? When we are wed, she will not have to be concerned with such things.”
Sounding incredulous, Micah said, “I repeat, have you even met or spoken to her?”
Eduardo had no doubt his friend believed he had taken leave of his senses. He wasn’t so sure he hadn’t, but he placed a hand over his heart. “In good time, my friend. All in good time.”
Micah clapped him on the shoulder. “Come on, Romeo. We’ve finished our business with Joel. Hope’s expecting us for lunch. You can daydream about the pretty widow on our way home.”
“I suppose we must go.” He exhaled, reluctantly willing to leave town but unwilling to let anyone derail his plans.
Micah untied his horse from the hitching rail in front of his brother’s law office and mounted. “Have to say this is the first time I’ve known you to be shy about flirting with a woman.”
Determination steeled Eduardo’s resolve as he swung onto his gelding. “Never before has a woman been so important to me. You will see. One day, she will become my wife.”
The two rode toward Micah’s ranch.
From where she stood on the walk, Celia had known the men watched her. One was the youngest Stone brother. Identifying him was easy because the three Stone men looked so much alike.
But she hadn’t yet met the handsome man dressed as a Spanish Don. He fit the description she’d been privy to of Eduardo Montoya, one of the wealthiest men in this part of Texas. At least, that’s what she’d overheard while helping in her parents’ store.
He certainly cut a dashing figure in his black clothes trimmed with silver buttons. She wondered if he was entitled to dress like Spanish nobility or if he merely played a part. The silver on his saddle flashed in the sunlight and she questioned the safety of such a display.
One thing she’d noticed in her few days in town and working in her father’s mercantile, she heard tidbits of local gossip whether intentionally or not. She wondered what the gossips had to say about her. Probably best she didn’t know. Most people she’d met were friendly but there were a few prunes eager to criticize everyone.
Wasn’t that true everywhere? Yet she thought an unusual pall lay over Radford Crossing. The town definitely needed a large dose of cheer. As a matter of fact, she wouldn’t mind a measure of good spirits for herself. With a sigh, she went back inside the store.
You can purchase STONE MOUNTAIN CHRISTMAS:
Barnes and Noble Noble http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/stone-mountain-christmas-caroline-clemmons/1120622158?ean=2940046278842&itm=1&usri=2940046278842
Thanks for stopping by!
By Paisley Kirkpatrick, taken from the November, 1961 issue of the Real West
Cattle king of Texas, Colonel C. C. Slaughter awakened his ten year old son Bobby in the cold darkness of a Dallas hotel room on a night in 1881. He told his son to hurry and dress in his lightest outfit and leave off the jacket. Bobby jumped out of bed and did as his father asked. The Colonel took his son to a nearby livery stable and roused the proprietor. He made a quick deal for a thoroughbred mare and a light English riding saddle. After lifting the small boy upon the horse, he placed a canvas sack in the saddle bag and handed the lad a slim envelope.
Patting the boy’s knee, he said, “Bobby, I’ve got a job, a mighty important one that only you can do because of your size. You’ve got to ride to the Long S ranch without stopping except to change horses. You must beat the Englishmen who left here three days ago. When you arrive, give this envelope to my foreman. He will know what to do. There’s $500 in gold in your saddle bag to buy fresh mounts. You can do it son, you’ve got to — or we lose the Long S and half a million dollars. Your mother and I will start tomorrow and we’ll meet you at home in a few days.”
“Sure I can do it,” Bobby answered. “I can ride like a real hand now and I can even help break horses.” Flicking his spurs against the sides of the mare, Bobby was off in a flurry of hoof beats that rang out shrilly in the silent darkness of the winter night. The chill air hit his thinly clad body like a spray of ice water but the small boy galloped on.
Five days before the fateful night, the colonel had sold his ranch, the Long S near Big Spring, to a group of men, one who claimed to be of the nobility representing an English syndicate and had taken a British bank draft for a half a million dollars in full payment for the land and all holdings thereon. After giving the Englishmen a written order to his foreman to transfer the Long S, slaughter had rented a carriage and dispatched the new owners toward the ranch at his own expense.
When Colonel Slaughter presented the draft to the Texas Land & Mortgage company, a Dallas branch office of an English loan corporation, the firm refused to hand over the cash without an investigation. A cablegram was sent to England and the loan company manager, suspicious of the English “lord” and his party, remained open that night awaiting the answer. His doubts proved correct. The answering cablegram revealed the men were imposters and the draft quite worthless. Slaughter, who had started on a shoe string and built the Long S into a mighty cattle empire, felt a stab of naked hopelessness. He had been taken to the tune of half a million dollars.
He came up with a hair-brained idea, but if it worked he wouldn’t lose everything. He’d send his son…the only chance he had.
Bobby galloped through the cold dark night. It wasn’t yet dawn when he reached Fort Worth where he watered the mare at a public drinking trough. The thoroughbred kept up a steady running gait into Weatherford, her slick coat was lustrous with foam and sweat. Bobby hastily bought a fresh mount.
On and on bobby rode over the austere Palo Pinto Mountains, heading ever westward to Clear Fork near Phantom Hill. He stopped only for water over the weary miles through the unmarked, rough country.
His horse started to limp. He headed toward the next ranch and when the horse near collapsed he ran by foot to the ranch. The only horse they had available was a mustang that had been ridden only once. Bobby told them he had to go on and asked them to head the horse in the right direction and put him on the horse’s back. The hands roped the rearing horse, blinded him, headed him west and threw the saddle upon his back. Bobby leaped in the saddle. The mustang reared and bucked, but Bobby stayed on. Then the animal bolted, running westward with the speed of the wind. Gradually the animal became accustomed to his light burden. He began to move with such exactness and precision that he lapped up the miles and sent the endless prairie whirling behind him. By dark Bobby found himself in the foothills of Taylor County.
Darkness dropped and with it came the cold. He hunched low over the mustang’s neck to absorb what warmth he could. At dawn he headed toward Rock Springs which he knew was near a river bed. He and the mustang desperately needed water. Bobby’s heart sank when he found the Englishmen camped at the river. He hastily skirted the camp and pushed his weary animal on toward the Long S. Now it was with the greatest effort that he held his eyes open. At noon he realized he was within the boundaries of his father’s ranch. He was so tired that the countryside began to blur. He wrapped his arms about the neck of the mustang and urged him on.
At two o’clock that afternoon a Long S line rider saw a thin veil of dust on the far horizon. As it moved slowly nearer, he saw that it was preceded by a moving dot which gradually emerged into the shape of a slowly moving horse with a prone figure on its back. He summoned the ranch foreman and together they rode out to meet the mount and its burden. They found Bobby unconscious with his hands clasped tightly around the mustang’s neck, so sound asleep they couldn’t rouse him. But, the foreman found the envelope with Colonel Slaughter’s orders in the lad’s shirt pocket.
Leaving the lone rider to bring in the tired horse, the foreman gathered Bobby in his arms and galloped post haste to the ranch where he sent out a call for the entire Long S crew to assemble at the ranch house.
In the late afternoon the Englishmen drove up with a flourish. Haughtily the bogus “lord” demanded the Long S. Suddenly the coach was surrounded by the grim faces of the ranch crew. The foreman spoke only a few words, but the Englishmen realized their lives were in danger and immediately left the ranch.
A few days later colonel Slaughter and his wife arrived by carriage. They found their ten year old son fully recovered from the long ride and the Long S sill Slaughter domain.
Written for the Real West publication by Louise Cheney
150 years ago today, on the morning of August 10, 1862, a Civil War skirmish occurred between a force of Hill Country Unionists and mounted Confederate soldiers. The Unionists had been camped along the west bank of the Nueces River twenty miles from Fort Clark. Mostly made up of German intellectuals, the Unionists had been headed to Mexico. Major Fritz Tegener led the group.
Ninety-four Confederates led by Lieutenant C. D. McRae chanced upon the camp on August 9th. The following morning, firing began an hour before the sun rose. Nineteen Unionists, of the 61 to 68 present, were killed, nine were wounded. The wounded were executed just hours after the battle.
Eight more Unionists, from those who’d escaped, were killed on October 18, 1862, as they tried to cross into Mexico. Eleven of the survivors reached home, while others made it to either Mexico or California. German members of the Union League organized a militia to protect portions of Kendall, Gillespie and Kerr counties from both Indian raids and Confederate actions. They eventually joined Unionist forces in New Orleans.
While Confederates regarded this attack as military action against insurrectionists, German Hill county residents saw the event as a massacre. A monument commemorating the attack was erected on August 10, 1866. This monument is the only German language one dedicated to the Union in the South. The remains of those killed are buried there.
For more info on this battle, visit these sites:
For info on my American Civil War romances, visit my website: http://susanmacatee.com
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,
Writing Romance with a Twist in Time
A Marshal of Her Own, Feb. 2012 Book of the Month at Long and Short Reviews
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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thanks for reading!
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
and Amazon Kindle at
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.
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