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Tag: Caroline Clemmons

The sheriff and the proxy bride

Mr. Clemens: Today we welcome Evan Irving, owner and editor of the Howard City Journal in Howard City, Wyoming.

Mr. Irving: Thank you for having me as your guest. I’m honored to meet you.

Mr. C: Always nice to meet another newspaper man and writer. However, I’m interested in learning about these people, Maeve and Luke Sullivan. Can you tell me how you met?

Mr. I: Luke and I met when he came to Howard City about three years ago. He hired on as a deputy sheriff. Everyone was impressed with his dedication to duty. He proved himself when the bank was held up and he helped our sheriff apprehend the robbers. When the sheriff decided to retire, Luke was the obvious choice to take over.

Mr. C: What about his wife?

Mr. I: She was a proxy bride arranged by his aunt and his mother, who are sisters. Luke had already sent for his mother, who worked as a cook at the Sunshine Boarding House. I can tell you, the food has made remarkable improvement since she’s been here. I digress.

After his uncle’s death in Boston, Luke and his mother wanted to bring the aunt here to live.  Now Luke’s dad isn’t dead, he’s an officer on a sailing ship dealing in imports and exports. He sends home most of his wages for the mother to save for their retirement. In a couple of years they plan to buy a nice cottage with a plot for a garden.

Mr. C: You’re digressing again.

Mr. I: Oh, yes, sorry. Maeve worked with the aunt in a laundry. She’d come from Ireland hoping for a better life. Did not find it. The aunt and Luke’s mother conspired to marry Maeve and Luke by proxy. Was he ever mad when he found out he had a bride on the way. Worse, Maeve’s fare was paid for by none other than his own mother from her retirement savings. He’s a good man, though, and consented to keep up his end.

Mr. C: They got their happy ever after, eh?

Mr. I: Eventually, you see both of them are strong people used to ruling their own lives. That made for some interesting conversations. Maeve helped him capture a wanted man so she received enough reward to repay her mother-in-law. Then, there were the threats.

Mr. C: Don’t stop there. What kind of threats, man?

Mr. I: The railway and the miners were about to have an explosive situation. I couldn’t see how it could be resolved without violence. Howard County and Howard City don’t have strong leadership. Solving the problem was up to Luke—although many of us were backing him. I suggest you read A BRIDE FOR LUKE to learn more.

Mr. C: Well, ahem, I don’t have a lot of time, you know, with all my correspondence and my own writing. I suppose I can make an effort this time. Thank you for coming, Mr. Irving.

Mr. I: My pleasure, Mr. Clemens.

A Bride for Luke

Each is struggling to build a better life . . .

Two strong-willed people are bound to clash . . .

Danger forces them to focus on what is at stake . . .

Maeve Kelly came to America for a better life but found only signs that said No Irish Need Apply. When the cousin with whom she is staying leaves Boston, Maeve is left desperate. Her job at the laundry doesn’t pay enough for her to survive alone. Her friend suggests a way out, Maeve resists but finally accepts. What else can she do?

Sheriff Luke Sullivan is proud of his accomplishments. Known for his strong principles, he is admired and well-respected in the community. When he learns his mother and aunt have schemed to get him a proxy bride he’s furious. If he’d wanted a wife he would have found one. He respects and loves his mother and finally agrees to the marriage. Before he and his bride can adjust to one another, Luke is caught in the middle of an explosive situation between striking miners and the railroad. 

Threats against Luke by each side have him fearing for the safety of his wife, mother, and aunt. He must resolve the strike to protect his family and many others. Will he succeed in time to save lives?

Universal Amazon Link: http://mybook.to/Maeve

Excerpt:

He pushed back from the table. “How can I keep you safe if you don’t follow orders? Do you understand?”

She put her hands on her hips. “Oh, so it’s orders you’re giving me, is it? Weel, Lucas Brady Sullivan, I take orders from no man. Do you understand?”

“Mae, you’re making something from nothing.” He tapped his chest. “I’m your husband. You promised to obey me when we wed.”

That brought her temper down a notch. She had promised and Father Patrick had lectured her on the husband being the head of the household. “Mayhap I did, but not high-handed orders.”

“And what would you consider obeying? You want a written invitation to remain home? Shall I show you the other wanted poster and suggest you avoid that man? You’ve no idea what these other men look like so how would you know if they were walking down the street or shopping in the Mercantile? How can you know who’s an upstanding citizen and who’s a stranger in town? You were in front of the Mercantile when Higgins accosted you.”  

She turned toward the sink, hands on her face to hide her shame. “Aye, ‘tis sorry I am. The worry of what’s going to happen has me in bits. I can’t get out of my mind the fact someone may shoot at you from an ambush.”

He wrapped his arms around her. “Don’t fret, honey. I’m doing my best to keep this situation from becoming violent. I can’t focus on my job if I’m worried about where you are and what you’re doing and who’s around you.”

She leaned her head against his broad chest. His strong heartbeat reassured her. “I see the way I was wrong. ‘Twas my mistake and ‘tis sorry I am.”

She looked up at him. “But, for us to have a peaceful marriage you’d best consider making requests instead of giving orders.”

About the Author

Through a crazy twist of fate, Caroline Clemmons was not born on a Texas ranch. To compensate for this illogical error, she writes about handsome cowboys, feisty ranch women, and scheming villains in a tiny office her family calls her pink cave. She and her Hero live in North Central Texas cowboy country where they ride herd on their three rescued indoor cats and dog as well as providing nourishment outdoors for squirrels, birds, and other critters.

The books she creates in her pink cave have made her a bestselling author and won awards. She writes sweet to sensual romances about the West, both historical and contemporary as well as time travel and mystery. Her series include the Kincaids, McClintocks, Stone Mountain Texas, Bride Brigade, Texas Time Travel, Texas Caprock Tales, Pearson Grove, and Loving A Rancher as well as numerous single titles and contributions to multi-author sets. When she’s not writing, she loves spending time with her family, reading her friends’ books, lunching with friends, browsing antique malls, checking Facebook, and taking the occasional nap. Find her on her blog, website, Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, Google+, and Pinterest.

Join her and other readers at Caroline’s Cuties, a Facebook readers group at https://www.facebook.com/groups/277082053015947/ for special excerpts, exchanging ideas, contests, giveaways, recipes, and talking to like-minded people about books and other fun things.

Click on her Amazon Author Page for a complete list of her books and follow her there.

Follow her on BookBub.

To stay up-to-date with her releases and contests, subscribe to Caroline’s newsletter here and receive a FREE novella of HAPPY IS THE BRIDE, a humorous historical wedding disaster that ends happily—but you knew it would, didn’t you?

She loves to hear from readers at caroline@carolineclemmons.com

The Agent and the Lady

Your Teatime Tattler once again has the pleasure of receiving scandalous news from afar, this about a notorious Pinkerton agent.

Dear Mr. Clemens,

You may not be able to print this scandalous story. I am reporting to you an event that has horrified my friends and me! Miss Lydia Wood was seen in the company of a man, Mr. Jake Hunter, in a saloon for commoners. To make matters more appalling, she wore a scandalous dress that exposed her ankles and a bit of her… appendages. His dress presented him as a riverboat gambler. This was not to a costume ball, Mr. Clemens, but a night on the town. She even sang in the saloon!

Miss Woods said she and Mr. Hunter are agents of the Pinkerton Detective Agency’s Denver, Colorado, office. I hesitate to call her remarks into question. Nevertheless, have you ever heard of a woman Pinkerton detective? You can understand why I am dismayed beyond words!

Pinkerton Agency Reward Poster

The two rushed off to some ridiculous place called Hole-in-the-Wall, Wyoming, to chase after robbers. Don’t you agree that a woman going to a place where robbers congregate is outrageous? Miss Wood is from a prominent Kansas family and knows society’s rules. I am surprised she would act so boldly in public. I pity her poor parents, who must be distressed at their daughter’s choices. You may remember Miss Wood was left at the altar two years ago by this same Mr. Hunter. She said they are now in a marriage of convenience for this assignment. If that is true, her parents know nothing of the arrangement.

As I learn more of this distressing affair, kind sir, I shall keep you informed further.

Miss Lilith Black

About the Book

AN AGENT FOR LYDIA, Pinkerton Matchmaker Series #56

When Lydia Wood is left at the altar, she believes something beyond her groom’s control has happened. Two years with no word have hardened her heart. She has to get away from her parents’ constant urging her to choose an acceptable husband and wed. Becoming a Pinkerton agent suits her plans.

Pinkerton Agent Jake Hunter has recovered from injuries that put him in a coma and a long convalescence. He realizes Lydia would have been injured had she been with him. To protect her, he vows to distance himself from the one person who means the world to him. 

When they are paired for an investigation of robbers they must follow the trail to a dangerous hangout of men on the run. Can the two successfully pull off their charade and capture the robbers and their stor will this trip confirm Jake’s worst fears?

An Excerpt

Lydia gazed out the train window at Wyoming’s desert landscape, recalling how terrified she’d been last night in the saloon. The man who’d wanted to take her upstairs was huge and smelled as if he hadn’t bathed in months. He carried a bottle of whiskey in one hand, some of which he had spilled on his shirt.

Thank goodness she had her gun and her knife. Would her little gun have stopped such a large man? With any luck she’d never have to learn the answer.

Forcing herself not to snuggle up to Jake for comfort had been almost impossible. His presence reassured her. He’d had several years experience at Pinkerton’s and knew how to deflect and defeat combatants.

An older couple sat in the seats facing theirs. Lydia avoided eye contact with the prune-faced woman across from her. The woman had snubbed her and Jake as if they carried leprosy. 

Prune-face ceased staring long enough to tug on her husband’s sleeve and whisper, “Horace, doesn’t he look like the man on that wanted poster we saw in Cheyenne?”

Horace frowned at her. “Hush, Mattie.”

Did those two think she and Jake couldn’t hear them?

Lydia gestured to the window. “I’ve never seen so much sand and scrubby bushes. Barren as it is, it emanates a serene beauty.”

 “Wait until you see where we’re headed. I’ve heard it’s picturesque as well.” Jake flashed his bone-melting grin.

No, thank you, she couldn’t weaken now. She’d had the vaccination for that grin’s affect. Too bad the inoculation hadn’t proven very effective.

About the Author

Through a crazy twist of fate, Caroline Clemmons was not born on a Texas ranch. To compensate for this illogical error, she writes about handsome cowboys, feisty ranch women, and scheming villains in a tiny office her family calls her pink cave. She and her Hero live in North Central Texas cowboy country where they ride herd on their dog and three rescued indoor cats as well as providing nourishment outdoors for squirrels, birds, and other critters.

The over fifty titles she has created in her pink cave have made her an Amazon bestselling author and won several awards. She writes sweet to sensual romances about the West, both historical and contemporary as well as time travel and mystery. Her series include The Kincaids, McClintocks, Stone Mountain Texas, Bride Brigade, Texas Time Travel, Texas Caprock Tales, Loving A Rancher, and Pearson Grove as well as numerous single titles and contributions to multi-author sets. When she’s not writing, she loves spending time with her family, reading her friends’ books, lunching with friends, browsing antique malls, checking Facebook, and taking the occasional nap.

Social Media:

Email caroline@carolineclemmons.com 

Website http://www.carolineclemmons.com 

Newsletter for a free e-book  https://carolineclemmons.us5.list-manage.com/subscribe?u=0a24664c906875718d975ad7b&id=7c2e488a51  

Follow at Amazon Author URL  https://www.amazon.com/Caroline-Clemmons/e/B001K8CXZ6/  

Follow on Bookbub Author URL  https://www.bookbub.com/authors/caroline-clemmons

Facebook https://www.facebook.com/CarolineClemmonsRomances 

Facebook Readers Group – Caroline’s Cuties https://www.facebook.com/groups/277082053015947/ 

Goodreads  https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/458092.Caroline_Clemmons  

LinkedIn  https://www.linkedin.com/in/caroline-clemmons-6130707/ 

Pinterest  https://www.pinterest.com/caroclemmons

Twitter  https://twitter.com/CarolinClemmons (no E in Caroline)

Orphan trains, mail-order brides, mortgages and more — Under a Mulberry Moon

Mr. Clemens, Editor
Tea Time Tattler
Fleet Street, London

Dear Sam,

My news is certain to astonish you, sir. There’s a great deal to tell, some of it I can hardly believe it myself. I composed my thoughts while under a mulberry moon but now take pen in hand to inform you.

Eliza Wells, the millright’s daughter, was whisked off by her uncle Joseph Wells to visit him and her cousins in California after her grandmother suffered a stroke. Eliza doesn’t understand why her grandmother hasn’t responded to any of her letters. Her grandmother, worried because she hasn’t heard from Eliza, is nobody’s fool. She arranged for former railroad detective Kit Halsey to investigate. And a good thing, too, for Joseph has ulterior motives and Eliza is trapped. Can you imagine her dilemma?

Ruby is running from her parents and large family to the unknown of Charlie Ransom. She answered his ad for a mail-order bride and agreed to meet him at Sundown Ranch just outside of Duston, Texas. Hope rose in her heart as she thought of being loved by him and having a house to herself. She wasn’t afraid of work, but she wants it to be for herself and a loving husband. Sick of war, Charlie left Ohio and bought a ranch in Texas. Now Ruby won’t marry him until he can tell her he loves her. Will he find her love worth the wait when four orphans and a tornado of trouble surround him?

Mr. Clemens, don’t you grow sad knowing there are so many orphans in the world? Former orphan train child, now grown, Mercedes “Merry” Murphy Bird, is the successful co-owner of a boardinghouse in Mockingbird Flats, Texas. She sure seems to find rescuing three quirky orphans from the orphan train irresistible even if it isn’t quite legal. Merry is determined to give the children a better life than she endured at the hands of the Nebraska couple who adopted her. I figure there’ll be a family for Merry. Boardinghouse resident and lawyer Blake Woolfe has come to town to take over the law practice of his late uncle. Blake is the eldest of ten children and spent far too much time caring for them and his mother to want anything to do with children now. I’m sure you can sympathize with him.

Children’s Aid Society authorities don’t exactly know that Polly Friday Bird and her sister are single and neither woman is going to volunteer the information. Polly hated the life she and Merry led after they were adopted by a surly Nebraska couple who really wanted free drudges. Polly believes the boardinghouse she and Merry purchased is an ideal place to raise a family for Polly with a large yard, numerous rooms, and a good school nearby. Still, when the authorities appear, she may need a husband in order to keep her children. She is trying to convince Manford “Ford” Daily to marry her and then leave. This is humorous, sir, because Polly’s problem is that Ford won’t go. I must confess I laughed in many spots when I heard her story.

But, I shall move on to a serious part of my news. Poor dear Ada Weathered has only two weeks to pay the mortgage on the land her father left her. In spite of her working two jobs, she simply won’t have the money to pay by the deadline. Donal “Mac” McTiernan chased deserters to Brady City, Texas, and hoped it would be his last duty for the Army. When Ada and the Texas cavalryman met Mac was so taken with that redhead with green eyes that he isn’t sure he can complete his mission and help her save her land.  I’m sure you join me in hoping so.

Prepare yourself because the next tidbit is frightening. Anya Fleming’s son Willie-boy found his father hanged in their barn six months ago. The boy hasn’t spoken a word since and is now gravely ill. Anya is convinced her late husband haunts her son. Anya knows the only person who can help her when in comes a specter, her former love, Yellow Smoke, now a powerful shaman. Yellow Smoke was devastated when Anya married Lewis Fleming but doesn’t know Anya was forced to do so. I hope Yellow Smoke will overcome his resentment and help Willie. I know you’ll join me in my good wishes.

A bit of fun news is that a widow buys a groom. Katherine Parnell needed a husband to help her operate Maggie’s Baked Goods and raise her four-year-old son. She had no intention of remarrying until Jim Sutton landed in the Meadow Creek jail for defending her. He inherited land and was hoping to make this community his home. Jim has demons of his own and doesn’t want to get close to anyone. Join me, Mr. Clemens, in hoping these two can find happiness together.

After delivering his sister to Freedom, Matthew is ready to find Matthew’s freedom. He’s been running from a guilty conscience. Mr. Clemens, you and I know that it’s not possible to outrun our conscience. Brenna is determined to provide for her son—even though he fights her at every step. Jobs are scarce but men are plentiful and marriage may be the only way Brenna can survive. If Brenna and Matthew unite to save her son, will her the boy tear them apart?

Another frightening situation occurred when Aurora Cavender went off to Utah in search of her twin brother, Jason, who was reported dead. She didn’t expect to encounter the cad who abandoned her at the altar years ago, Garret Mosely. He insisted he wasn’t Garret though and calls himself Nebraska Joe of the Hell’s-Gate Gang. Aurora knows her twin isn’t dead, but believes he’s injured. Well, I tell you! She was captured by a ruthless gang and had to rely on Garret to help her rescue Jason and escape Robber’s Roost.  The outcome of it all is that the lady lassos an outlaw.

I do so hope you’ve enjoyed my news. Until next time, I remain,

Your faithful correspondent,

Caroline

Only 99 cents for a limited time! Amazon buy link: http://a.co/99Odsch

Excerpt from A FAMILY FOR MERRY:

Tears burned the back of Merry’s eyelids when she surveyed the children. They lined up as if going to slaughter. Some wore hopeful expressions, some fearful, some so downtrodden their eyes were those of old people in young faces. Several in particular tugged at her heartstrings—the ragtags, the unadoptable. What would happen to them?

A scrawny little girl whose nametag said Abigail limped. Problem was, she sometimes changed legs. She hovered around a toddler labeled Tamara. Occasionally, Abigail brushed against Tamara and the baby would cry.

Merry suspected Abigail pinched the baby to make her appear disagreeable. Tamara was a pitiful sight. Mucous drained from her nose and red spots were on her exposed skin. On closer examination, Merry decided the spots were from a paint crayon.

Sorrow and mirth warred inside Merry. What an ingenious child Abigail was. The poor girl must be frantic thinking she’d be parted from Tamara.

A boy whose nametag read Calvin stood with feet braced, arms crossed, and a stubborn expression locked on his face. His age would be around nine. He glared as if he dared anyone to adopt him. No one did.

Merry got Abigail’s attention. “You must be tired from standing on your bad leg while taking care of Tamara. Why don’t you both sit here beside me?”

Abigail pulled at a lock of her disheveled hair. “Both of us? You mean Tammie can stay with me?”

“Yes, that’s what I mean.”

Abigail picked up Tammie and deposited her at Merry’s side then promptly sat beside her so that she and Tammie were mostly obscured by the skirt around the table.

Merry motioned to the boy. “Calvin, I can see you don’t need anyone to look after you, but would you help me by standing beside Abigail to make sure no one bothers her or Tammie?”

He didn’t move for a full minute before he inhaled and released a deep breath. “S’pose I can.” Slowly, he ambled to stand behind Abigail and Tammie, as if daring anyone to touch the girls.

Merry wrote the names of the three children on the list and her name as the person adopting. To mask the fact there was no husband, she wrote her first name and then sort of scribbled her middle and last name in what she hoped passed for a husband’s name. Murphy Bird could be a man’s name.

Beside Merry, Polly whispered, “What are you doing?”

“You know exactly. I am not deserting these children to chance.”

Polly’s eyes sparked fire. “Neither am I. You can put my name down for Evelyn and Noah. You know that no one will adopt a boy who’s mute, at least not for any decent purpose.”

Polly rose and stepped over to the two she’d chosen. “Evelyn, Noah, I’d like you to come live with me.”

Hope sprang into Evelyn’s eyes as she clasped Noah’s hand. “He don’t never talk but he’s good and real smart.”

“I’m sure he is. He won’t have to talk at our house unless he wants to.” She took Noah’s free hand and led the two to the table.

The two children sat on the floor beside Polly’s chair as Abigail and Tammie did at the table’s other end.

When Polly had reclaimed her place, she leaned near Merry. “Can we really get away with this?”

“Proceed as if everything is secure and above board. We can do this, Polly. We can’t let these children suffer as we did just because we don’t have husbands.”

“They’ll each have a wonderful home with us. We’ll love them as if we’d given birth to them.”

“Exactly. And we have the room and a good place for them to live and grow. Aren’t you excited?”

The anthology UNDER A MULBERRY MOON contents are:

  • A FAMILY FOR MERRY, Caroline Clemmons
  • A FAMILY FOR POLLY, Jacquie Rogers
  • ADA AND THE TEXAS CAVALRYMAN, Carra Copelin
  • COMES A SPECTER, Keta Diablo
  • MATTHEW’S FREEDOM, Cissie Patterson
  • MILLRIGHT’S DAUGHTER, Zina Abbott
  • THE LADY LASSOS AN OUTLAW, Charlene Raddon
  • THE WIDOW BUYS A GROOM, P. A. Estelle
  • WORTH THE WAIT, Patricia Pacjac Carroll

Check out the blog and Facebook page:

http://Facebook.com/UnderAMulberryMoon

http://underamulberrymoon.blogspot.com

Bio for Caroline Clemmons

Through a crazy twist of fate, Caroline Clemmons was not born on a Texas ranch. To make up for this tragic error, she writes about handsome cowboys, feisty ranch women, and scheming villains in a small office her family calls her pink cave. She and her Hero live in North Central Texas cowboy country where they ride herd on their rescued cats and dogs. The books she creates there have made her an Amazon bestselling author and won several awards. Find her on her blog, website, Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, Google+, and Pinterest.

Click on her Amazon Author Page for a complete list of her books and follow her there.

Follow her on BookBub.

Subscribe to Caroline’s newsletter here to receive a FREE novella of HAPPY IS THE BRIDE, a humorous historical wedding disaster that ends happily—but you knew it would, didn’t you?

A brigade of brides? Whatever next!

AnsonTxPostOfficeMuralCowboyDanceDancers409BGLorraine Stuart reporting from Tarnation, Texas direct to Mr. Clemens at the Teatime Tattler:

Your correspondent was fortunate to attend a festive evening at the luxurious home of Mrs. L. Harrison, young widow of famed United States Army soldier Col. William Harrison. As one might expect at this ball, ladies presented a rainbow of lovely gowns.

Foremost was Mrs. Harrison herself, who led fashion in a lavender silk gown trimmed in white Valencia lace. Mrs. V. H., wife of J.H., looked lovely in mauve gros grain accented by white point lace. Newcomer C. B. wore blue poult de soie trimmed in darker blue embroidery.

After twirling across the floor in the slightly scandalous waltz, Miss O. S. was seen strolling to the balcony in the company of E. K. for a secluded tête–à–tête. Do we hear wedding bells? Miss J. N. danced repeatedly with M. B. and love’s light also danced in her eyes—in spite of her vow not to wed. Was there a spat between Miss R. R. and Z. E? Your correspondent was not privileged to hear the words spoken, but there appears to be trouble on the horizon for this couple. Mr. G. P. took an unfortunate tumble to his knees and sat out the remainder of the ball.

Return next week, dear readers, when you correspondent will report on the opera house appearance of famed singer Geraldine Chitwood.

~~~~

The small, dusty town of Tarnation, Texas is suffering. There are no single women and young men are moving to more diversely populated towns. Lydia Harrison is a young widow who wants her town to prosper and grow. She travels back East to recruit suitable young women to come to Tarnation and live with her until they choose the man they wish to marry. To help, she holds receptions and dances where the seven young women can meet fifteen respectable men under properly chaperoned conditions. People in town have labeled these young women the Bride Brigade. Ophelia is a painfully shy, gentle woman who suffered severe beatings from her overbearing father before she escaped with the help of her friend, Josephine Nailor, also one of the seven women.

OPHELIA, Bride Brigade book 4:

Ophelia final LA painful past…

A desperate escape…

A hope for the future…

Ophelia Shipp wants safety, a home, a kind husband, and to raise a family. To achieve her goal, she travels halfway across the country to tiny Tarnation, Texas.  What awaits her there must be better than what she left. She longs for a respectable man who will treasure his wife and never raise his hand to her.

Elias Kendrick had a difficult childhood but has overcome poverty and shame to build his empire in Tarnation. Now that he owns a successful saloon, the opera house, and his home, he is ready to marry and start a family. He’s vowed his children’s life will be different from his—if only he can find the right woman.

Two opposites attract—or are they? Ophelia and Elias must learn to overlook their superficial differences and work out their chance at lasting love.

Excerpt from Ophelia

Here is an excerpt from OPHELIA at the first reception for the men and women to mingle. After greeting the fifteen men in a receiving line, shy Ophelia has chosen a seat at the side to watch others:

Mr. Kendrick strolled toward her holding a cup and a plate filled with samples of Mrs. Murphy’s delicacies. “You look as if you could use punch and a snack.”

She fought for something clever to say, but nothing came. At least she managed a smile. “Thank you. I am thirsty after introducing myself so many times.”

He sat in the chair separated from hers by a small table. “Nice shindig, isn’t it?”

She admired his ability to appear so at ease. She took a sip of punch before answering, “I love watching and listening. Everyone appears so happy and excited.”

“What about you? Are you happy or excited?”

She couldn’t prevent a grin. “Both. Being in Mrs. Harrison’s home is so pleasant and the other women are very nice. This morning I woke up excited about this event.”

“Me, too.” He chuckled, sending light dancing in his brown eyes. “What brings you to Tarnation, Miss Shipp?”

“Same as the others I suppose. No point pretending otherwise, I want a kind husband, a secure home, and children. This appears to be a nice town even though it’s small. I notice there’s even an opera house.”

“That there is. I built the opera house only a year ago. The manager and I try for a variety of acts so that by the end of the season, everyone has enjoyed at least a couple of shows.”

She leaned forward, happy to know he was so fair-minded. “I’m sure I’ll enjoy them all. I’ve never been to a live performance.” Oops, she hadn’t intended to admit that.

He leaned back and his eyes widened. “Never? You mean except at school, of course.”

A blush’s heat seared her face. How embarrassing to admit she was a country bumpkin who had done nothing interesting in her entire life. “My father was very strict. I couldn’t appear in or attend school plays. Mr. Kozlov has invited me to the opera house performance in two weeks. I’m looking forward to the event.”

Was that disappointment she saw on his face? “You’ll enjoy Geraldine Chitwood. We were exceptionally fortunate to book her. Normally, she only plays larger towns more easily reached. Being without railway access places us at a disadvantage.”

She had to restrain herself from rubbing her rear. “Oh, my bones haven’t forgotten that stage ride.” She leaned toward him. “Tell me about yourself, Mr. Kendrick. Besides owning the opera house, I mean.”

“I’m twenty-nine and never married.” He took a deep breath and averted his gaze before he spoke.  “If you led such a quiet life that you weren’t allowed to attend plays, then you’ll no doubt look down on me because, as well as the opera house, I own the local saloon.”

She hoped she hid her surprise that Lydia had included a saloon owner in this group of “acceptable” men. What should she say?

Trying for the truth, she said, “I try never to pass judgment, Mr. Kendrick. I don’t approve of drunkenness but I know most men enjoy meeting with others and sharing a drink or game of cards.”

He raised his eyebrows. “Very broad-minded of you. Do you play cards, Miss Shipp?”

She couldn’t help laughing. “I don’t play anything. All I’ve ever done is work.”

~~~~~~~~

Caroline Clemmons is an Amazon bestselling and award winning author of American-set Victorian historical and contemporary western romances. A frequent speaker at conferences and seminars, she has taught workshops on characterization, point of view, and layering a novel.

Caroline and her husband live in the heart of Texas cowboy country with their menagerie of rescued pets. When she’s not indulging her passion for writing, Caroline enjoys time with family, reading, travel, antiquing, genealogy, and getting together with friends. Find her on her blog, website, Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, Google+, Pinterest, and her books at her Amazon Author Page.

Subscribe to her newsletter here to receive a FREE novella of HAPPY IS THE BRIDE.

Caroline loves to hear from readers at caroline@carolineclemmons.com

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