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Tag: Jo Grafford

A Dispatch From the Headstone Gazette

By A Concerned Citizen Who Wishes to Remain Anonymous

Glory be! A body must keep their ears to the ground in this part of the country. Otherwise, an innocent bystander, such as myself, might miss one of the never-ending scandals plaguing our small town — the latest of which is festering over at the Boomtown Mail Order Brides Agency.

Just this evening, one of the brothers (who co-owns the agency) arrived by train with their latest mail-order bride candidate on his very arm. On Jordan Branson’s very arm, dear citizens! According to my sources, her name is Olivia Rothschild, and she’s a shipping heiress from Boston. Now, why in heaven’s name a young woman of her vast wealth would be searching for her perfect match via the mail, is entirely beyond me! But those are the facts, my friends.

After asking a few discreet questions around Headstone, I also learned this stylish young debutante was rumored to be courting the matchmaker, himself, throughout their lengthy journey to Arizona. Oh, the horrors! To the best of my knowledge, all of this occurred without the oversight of a proper chaperone, such as a family member, a widow from church, or the like. Albeit, Miss Rothschild seems to be traveling with quite the entourage, to include no less than four individuals: her man of business, her personal maid, her chef, and a young man purported to be her chef’s younger brother — a groom-in-training or some such nonsense.

To make matters worse, one of our very own — a local rancher’s wife who has requested to remain unnamed — arrived on the same train after an extended visit to her ailing cousin back east. She claims there is a horrid rumor making its way around Boston that a certain Miss Rothschild had no choice but to flee the city or face utter ruin. If the rumor is to be believed, the high-flying debutante was witnessed sharing a kiss with the cousin of a most-eligible marquis. Alas, the two young men are not only known as capital pranksters, but they could also pass as twins. Some suspect that Miss Rothschild and her guardian might, in fact, have been plotting to entrap the marquis into marriage. If such were the case, their plot went seriously awry the moment the marquis’ rakish cousin intercepted her kiss!

Upon further investigation, I learned that Miss Rothschild and Mr. Branson have an “understanding,” one apparently that his own brother, Colt Branson does not approve of. He would have preferred his younger brother to follow agency protocol and match their latest mail-order bride with the next hopeful groom on their waiting list. Oh, the irony! Instead, it looks as if we have a case of a matchmaker falling into one of his own velvet traps.

Be assured, I will keep an eye on this developing story and report back the moment I have another juicy tidbit to share.

About the Book

Olivia Rothschild has made yet another mistake. She tries to follow the advice of her social climbing Aunt Beatrice, but she never quite plays the game of a debutante to her guardian’s satisfaction. This time, she’s kissed the wrong man — in plain view of her biggest rival, no less, who can’t wait to spread the scandalous tale. According to her aunt, she must marry the man with haste or face complete ruin.

Jordan Branson and his brother run a vastly successful mail-order bride business, but sometimes he grows a tad weary of arranging everyone else’s happily-ever-afters and never his own. He’s in just one of those moods when the wealthy heiress, Olivia, wanders into his office, utterly distraught at what her life has become after the loss of her parents. She’s desperate for a fresh start, far from the jaded social whirl of the big city.

After a short interview, he decides any man with red blood running through his veins would be overjoyed to court a woman of her wit, kindheartedness, and beauty. However, he finds himself in no terrible hurry to marry her off to the next would-be groom in line. Perhaps a compromise might be in order — one that requires him to hold off selecting her perfect match until her arrival in Arizona. He takes it a step farther and personally accompanies her since he has business in that direction, never imagining what perils of the heart the gesture would set in motion.

Available in eBook on Amazon + FREE in Kindle Unlimited at
https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B07YF13Q8Q
Coming soon to paperback!

Excerpt~

“Good. Let us at least shake on it tonight.” Without waiting for a response, Miss Rothschild reached for his hand.

Jordan was so surprised by the feel of her warm fingers curling around his that he acted on pure male instinct. He laced his fingers through hers and brought her hand to his lips. “I give you my word, Miss Rothschild. I’ll get you safely to Arizona. There you will help me renew my search for my sister while I commence a search for your perfect match.”

Her answering smile warmed the darkest, loneliest corners of his heart. He should have recognized it for what it was — the smile of a spoiled, indulged debutante who’d once more gotten her way.

Instead, for the first time in a very long time, he foolishly tasted hope.

About the Author

Jo writes sweet historical and contemporary romance stories — with humor, sass, and happily ever-afters.

A typical day finds her with her laptop balanced on her knees, a fizzy beverage within reach, and a cat snoozing on her knees. He takes credit for most of what she does.

When Jo’s not writing stories, she’s reading them. She adores dashing gentlemen, resilient heroines with a sense of adventure, humorous sidekicks, dusty cowboys, bounty hunters, mail order brides…you get the idea.

She loves to visit with readers in her Cuppa Jo Readers group on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/groups/CuppaJoReaders/.

To receive a personal email about each book she publishes, join her New Release Email List at JoGrafford.com or follow her on BookBub at https://www.bookbub.com/authors/jo-grafford.

Plus you can read free chapters of many of her books on Wattpad.com/user/JoGrafford.

Scandal on the Streets of Headstone, Arizona

Our devoted readers will no doubt find this clipping forwarded to The Teatime Tattler from The Headstone Gazette across the pond. Obviously, concerned citizens and devotion to proper behavior are not limited to here in London. — S. Clemens

Dear Ms. Decorum:

I’m penning this letter out of the utmost concern for the wellbeing and safety of our latest young debutante from Boston who arrived into Headstone yesterday. Lord have mercy, if the lovely Miss Daisy Danvers wasn’t thronged by a posse of train robbers the moment she set foot on the train platform! One witness claimed she fainted dead away and toppled straight over the side of the platform.

I’ve yet to verify the details, but another witness claims she was caught in the arms of none other than Prescott Barra, the rough and ready local bull rider who set a previously-unheard-of, 10-second record at our last rodeo. And you know what they say about those Barra brothers? Nothing but trouble, that’s what!

What’s worse about this report is the most unfortunate fact that Daisy hasn’t been seen since Prescott rode off with her on his horse yesterday. The very notion of them being lost in the desert — without a chaperone, no less — is giving me the vapors right this second. Oh, where are my smelling salts?

I did a little digging on my own and discovered that Daisy was sent to Headstone by the reputable Boomtown Mail Order Brides Company in Boston, which can only mean one thing: She is under contract as a mail-order bride to some gentleman in our town. Our very town, dear citizens! I’m not certain how reputable the name of this bridal agency will remain when they discover one of their brides is missing. The poor gel could be anywhere. Oh, the horrors! Is she safe? Is she alive? I can hardly bear to consider the possibilities.

Scandal in Arizona

Even if Daisy Danvers is returned to town whole and in one piece — may the good Lord let it be so! — I am distressed to be the one to point out that her reputation will be in shreds. The way I see it, the lovely Miss Daisy will only have one choice to salvage those shreds. Regardless of whom she is currently affianced to (may the Lord comfort him and send him another, more suitable bridal candidate), it is my Christian belief that Miss Daisy has been thoroughly compromised by Prescott Barra. Alas, he is the man she must marry.

I’ll be joining a group of God-fearing women who will be holding vigil on the steps of the General Store this afternoon. It is my hope and prayer they will have an update on this brewing scandal. Be assured I will report back with anything new I hear.

Sincerely, A Concerned Citizen Who Wishes to Remain Anonymous

Scandal in Arizona

About the Book

Dare-Devil Daisy: Mail Order Brides Rescue #5

To the world, Daisy Danvers is a spoiled young debutante from Boston who always gets what she wants. But she has secrets — big, festering secrets she doesn’t want her best friend, Meg Nicholson, to find out. All she needs from Meg is a promise to help her find the perfect husband the moment she steps off the train in Headstone, Arizona. Her very life might depend upon it.

She never dreamed her troubles would follow her out West, and a whole posse of armed robbers would be waiting for her when she disembarked. She also never dreamed a cocky cowboy would sweep her away to safety on his horse.

It’s way too bad the devilishly handsome Prescott Barra claims he’s already affianced to another woman, because he’s everything she’s been looking for in a husband. He’s brave and fearless with a streak of adventure as wide as the canyons they’re riding. When she discovers he has a secret or two of his own, she begins to hope that maybe — just maybe — their secrets will lead them to each other.

Available in eBook on Amazon + FREE in Kindle Unlimited at
https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B07W61WBRR  
Coming soon to paperback!

An Excerpt~

The storm swirling across Meg’s features cleared. She stood and held out both hands to him. “You dear, dear man! I am so happy you’ve agreed to help me.”

That made one of them. He was fairly certain pretending to be engaged to Meg’s dearest friend was the most foolish thing he’d ever been asked to do.

“I’ll be sure to tell Shad how kind you were to me in his absence.”

Right. He was only doing this to help out a man he respected. Or at least the friend of the wife of a man he respected… Which was the same thing, wasn’t it? His brain hurt just thinking about it.

“What is her name?” he asked abruptly. He at least deserved to know the name of the chit he was going to be saddled with for a few days.

“Daisy.” Meg beamed at him. “Daisy Danvers, though some folks like to call her Dare-Devil Daisy.”

Blast it all! Helping Daisy sounded like a pack of trouble. Then again, he was a Barra brother. Trouble followed him everywhere he went. Trouble was his middle name.

About the Author

Jo Grafford writes sweet historical and contemporary romance stories — with humor, sass, and happily ever afters.

A typical day finds her with her laptop balanced on her knees, a fizzy beverage within reach, and a cat snoozing on her knees. He takes credit for most of what she does.

When Jo’s not writing stories, she’s reading them. She adores dashing gentlemen, resilient heroines with a sense of adventure, humorous sidekicks, dusty cowboys, bounty hunters, mail order brides…you get the idea.

She loves to visit with readers in her Cuppa Jo Readers group on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/groups/CuppaJoReaders/.

To receive a personal email about each book she publishes, join her New Release Email List at JoGrafford.com or follow her on BookBub at https://www.bookbub.com/authors/jo-grafford.

Plus you can read free chapters of many of her books on Wattpad.com/user/JoGrafford.

Overheard at the Silverpines Inn

By A Concerned Citizen Who Wishes to Remain Anonymous

My lands! As if our dear little town of Silverpines, Oregon hasn’t endured enough calamities in the past year — earthquakes, a mud slide, and a fire that consumed nearly everything in its path between 3rd Avenue and Chinatown! It is salt in the proverbial wound to now be forced to endure the scandal brewing across town at the old Kingsley mansion.

If it weren’t for a certain postmistress taking her dinner at the Silverpines Inn yesterday afternoon, we might never have learned the truth. Sadly, it appears the headmistress of the new Silverpines Finishing School for Young Ladies, Rachel West, is stringing along not one but two beaus. Indeed, it is a sad state of affairs to witness an instructor of social graces carrying on so, but I fear the evidence against her is overwhelming.

For one thing, she was overheard having a somewhat heated conversation with the dashing Mr. Finneas Banfield, who I’m delighted to report was wearing the latest in fashion from Boston. Ah, but our small town could use more of his charming Old World manners and British accent. In short, the orphan-widow appeared to be rebuffing the man’s adoring attentions. How heartbreaking!

An hour later, the same young instructor in deportment was seen driving her new, outlandish automobile to the train depot. There she proceeded (without a proper chaperone) to greet a perfect stranger and chauffeur him across town to her finishing school. I wish that was the worst of my news. Alas, there is more.

No one in town has ever laid eyes on the man. I asked around to be certain, and it was confirmed by no less than two other reputable townswomen: Never before has a Black man so much as paid a visit to Silverpines.

Upon further investigation, I learned that Mrs. West posted a letter a few weeks ago for a mail-order groom. And not just any groom! Rumor has it Mr. Boone Cassidy is a bounty hunter. A bounty hunter! I shudder to contemplate the reasons anyone would require the services of such a dark and brooding gunslinger. I can only pray he completes whatever mission he’s been called upon to perform with haste, before the rumors about his budding romance with Mrs. West spin completely beyond my control.

As one of the senior matriarchs in our town, I’ve tried everything within reason to quell the gossip. I truly have. But even a God-fearing, upright citizen like myself cannot easily explain away a public embrace like the one Mrs. West apparently shared this morning with Mr. Cassidy. Be assured, I will keep my ear bent to the ground for more details and report back the moment I can confirm this latest distressing report.

About the Book

Silverpines

Orphan and widow Rachel West is returning home to Oregon after eight years of living with her guardian on the East Coast. Thanks to a lavish inheritance from her great-aunt, she now has the funds to realize her dream of opening the Silverpines Finishing School for Young Ladies.

Unfortunately, a former co-instructor from Boston follows her to Silverpines, claiming a deathbed promise to look after her. Highly suspicious of his intentions, she sends off for a mail-order husband to provide a buffer between them; but she makes it clear in her letter she wishes to court first and only marry if they develop feelings for each other and the “good Lord wills it.”

As a bounty hunter by trade, Boone Cassidy is accustomed to far more dangerous tasks than ridding spoiled debutantes of their unwanted suitors. He fully expects the uppity Mrs. West to send him packing the moment she realizes a Black man has been sent to her aid. After laying eyes on her at the train station, however, he realizes he’s made a great many incorrect assumptions about the lovely headmistress. All of a sudden, thwarting the attentions of her dandified, self-proclaimed beau from Boston becomes a task worthy of his most gallant efforts!

Available in eBook on Amazon + FREE in Kindle Unlimited at
https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07RKW915S
Coming soon to paperback!

Two Short Excerpts~

RACHEL WEST’S STORY:

November, 1900 — Silverpines, Oregon

Rachel West shivered as she stepped onto the train platform. It wasn’t the chill of the late autumn breeze so much as the feeling of stepping on ghosts that shook her up on the inside. For a moment, she fought the urge to spin around in her designer boots, sprint back to her private cabin on the train, and keep on riding.

She’d been away for eight long years from the one town in the world that felt like home. Or should have…

Squinting against the glare of the morning sun, she turned in a full circle, trying to find one familiar structure or one familiar face from her treasure trove of memories.

And utterly failed.

A spurt of panic gurgled through her mid-section at the sight of the new-looking cafe facing her. A freshly painted butcher’s storefront rested to the left of it, and a post office was located just across a side street from it. They had to be new, because the paint was so bright and un-peeling, and none of their roofs boasted the usual slight ripple of unevenness that so many buildings take on once they’ve had the chance to settle.

Her head swiveled. There was also a book store she didn’t remember standing next to the post office. It was an inviting little building with a big, cheery picture window crowded with books. Normally, she would have tossed all her earthly cares to the winds and made a beeline for the cozy nook for book lovers, but she was too busy pondering the notion that she might have made a horrible mistake at disembarking.
Why, even the depot building squatting behind her looked new! Had she misunderstood the announcement and gotten off at the wrong stop altogether?

“Rachel? Is it really you?”

She jolted at the soft, lilting alto wafting across the train platform. Nothing around her looked familiar, but she’d recognize that voice anywhere.

“Penelope Wallace!” she cried joyfully, whirling to face her childhood friend. She was in the right town after all, even if it didn’t look right.

“It’s Cooper now. Penelope Cooper.”

They threw themselves in each other’s arms with squeals of sheer delight, and Rachel experienced a pang of remorse at the knowledge it had been more than two years since they’d last exchanged letters, maybe three. Good heavens, how the time had flown!

To avoid making any awkward excuses for her lack of correspondence, Rachel fell back on her good manners and well of natural charm. “Eight years hasn’t changed you one bit. You don’t look a day older than sixteen.” The moment the words sailed from her mouth, she regretted them; because it was painfully clear that Penelope had indeed changed.

She still looked young and girlish, but the sparkle that had always lurked in her wide, innocent eyes — despite how hard her temperamental, overly controlling mama had tried to extinguish it — was entirely gone. It its place was bone-weariness and the bruising shadows born of hard times. A recent tragedy, if Rachel were to venture a guess.

They were the same kind of shadows she witnessed in her own eyes every time she stood in front of a mirror.

Silverpines


BOONE CASSIDY’S STORY:

…Thank you kindly for your assistance in this unbelievably stressful matter. If you send me a trustworthy bounty hunter, I will be forever grateful.
Yours truly,
Rachel West 

When a knock sounded on the door of his train car, Boone hastily wadded the letter and stuffed it back in his pocket. “Yes?”

A sandy-haired attendant with a mop of flyaway curls popped his head inside and looked surprised to find a Black man in a pin-striped travel suit lounging in the luxury cabin. “I, ah…” He swallowed. “I’m looking for a Mr. Cassidy?”

“Present and accounted for,” Boone answered dryly, wondering if the man would refuse to serve him like the last one had. In anticipation of such discriminatory treatment, he’d brought along a decent sized stash of non-perishable foods and bottled beverages.

“Very well.” The waiter swallowed again and stepped inside the car, looking nervous. “W-would you care to order any dinner?”

“I would.” Boone was afraid to get his hopes up, but his traitorous mouth started to water at the thought of a warm meal. It had been a full two days since his last one. “What’s on the menu?”

“Roasted ham and chicken with mashed potatoes and gravy, steamed asparagus, and a fruit salad.”

“Sounds good to me.” More like heaven, actually. He was already imagining himself biting into the steamy, succulent meat entrees.

“What would you like to drink? There’s tea and lemonade, coffee and…never mind. I don’t believe I’m allowed to serve wine and spirits to your kind.”

As a God-fearing Christian the past twenty-eight years, Boone wasn’t all that interested in ordering wine and spirits, but he couldn’t help resenting the jab about his kind. He knew without asking that the man was referring to his rich-as-molasses color, thanks to his half-Nigerian and half-Hispanic roots. “Tea and coffee would be marvelous,” he assured with a wink, hoping to settle the young man’s jumpiness.

He only looked more nervous. His glazed-over gray eyes dropped to the twin holsters slung around Boone’s hips.

Boone held his gaze steadily. “I’m a bounty hunter, heading up to Silverpines, Oregon to help rescue a little schoolmarm from a conman.”

A faint smile tugged at the edges of the waiter’s mouth, and his shoulders relaxed a fraction. “That sounds like quite an adventure.”

Boone shrugged. “Most of what I do is dangerous work, but it pays well.” Come to think of it, he was probably the wealthiest Black man in the Midwest. In the country, for that matter! Another thought struck him, making him shoot a sly glance up at the waiter. “The sooner you arrive back with my dinner, the bigger your tip will be, son.”

The young man gulped and took off so quickly he stumbled over his own feet on his way out the door.

Boone chuckled at his expense and returned to the wildly un-exciting task of pondering the best way to rid the uppity Mrs. West of her unwanted suitor.

About the Author

Jo writes sweet historical and contemporary romance stories — with humor, sass, and happily ever afters.

A typical day finds her with her laptop balanced on her knees, a fizzy beverage within reach, and a cat snoozing on her knees. He takes credit for most of what she does.

When Jo’s not writing stories, she’s reading them. She adores dashing gentlemen, resilient heroines with a sense of adventure, humorous sidekicks, dusty cowboys, bounty hunters, mail order brides…you get the idea.

She loves to visit with readers in her Cuppa Jo Readers group on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/groups/CuppaJoReaders/.

To receive a personal email about each book she publishes, join her New Release Email List at JoGrafford.com or follow her on BookBub at https://www.bookbub.com/authors/jo-grafford.

Plus you can read free chapters of many of her books on http://Wattpad.com/user/JoGrafford.

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