Today, for BEST OF THE WEST, I have the pleasure of introducing the American Mail-Order Brides Series, a groundbreaking romance venture, featuring 50 books written by 45 different authors in an unprecedented collaboration effort. This brand new Western Romance series features a mail-order bride story in each state (or territory) in the U.S., circa 1890-1891. While there is no specific order in which they need to be read, the series is tied together by a prequel, which is FREE from Amazon.
The fun begins Nov. 19, with books being released every day for fifty days, in the order the states were ratified into the Union. Over the next several weeks, I'll be featuring different books from this series and authors who've been involved (including yours truly).
First up, USA Today bestselling author Kirsten Osbourne, who came up with the idea, recruited a small army and wrote the Prequel. Yes, she is something of an overachiever. We call her "Kween."
Kirsten's book, Roberta, Bride of Wisconsin, will be out Dec. 21.
After a fire which burned the factory where she was manager to the ground, Roberta McDaniel feels responsible for all the women who lost their jobs. She contacts a matchmaker and suggests all of them become mail-order brides—answering an advertisement for a widower in Wisconsin herself. Bobbie worries that her independence will cause problems in her new life.
Jakob knows he will never love again after the death of his beloved wife and the mother of his two sons, but he needs someone to cook and clean for his family, as well as help him raise his two sons. When independent Bobbie arrives, he's unsure whether to throttle her or kiss her. Will this unlikely couple find a way past their differences? Or are they doomed to spend the rest of their lives in a loveless marriage?
Here's an excerpt
He really should have hired a housekeeper to come in as soon as Erna left, but there were so few women in the area, he hated to ask them to take time from their families. "You will both be on your best behavior today, ja?"
"Ja," Konrad echoed, looking out of sorts as usual. The boy was not excited to meet the new mother he had written to. He wanted the house clean and better food, but he'd made it clear to Jakob, he didn't want either thing coming because there was a new woman in their household.
"Ja," Lukas said, bouncing a little. He didn't want a replacement for his mother, but he was so excited at the prospect of not having to ever wash another dish that he was ready to have Roberta there.
"What do you think she looks like?" Konrad asked. "She didn't tell us in her letter."
"Does it matter?" Jakob asked. "As long as she can cook and clean, she can look like a troll for all I care." Of course, a little voice in his head told him that an ugly woman would be embarrassing to go out and about with. Erna had been a beauty, and although he wasn't a vain man, it would seem strange to go out with a woman who was less than pretty on his arm.
They sat watching as the train pulled in. "You boys wait here," Jakob said, jumping down from the buggy.
"But we want to see if she looks like a frog," Lukas said, making a face.
Jakob laughed and shook his head. "I will bring your new frog-mutter back in a moment, and you will see her then."
Jakob went and stood on the platform, waiting as the train emptied. Superior was as far as the line went, because there were no bridges to take a train across Lake Superior. Someday maybe there would be, but not today.
He saw an unaccompanied woman with medium-length blond hair in her early twenties get off the train, and he frowned. Was that his Roberta?
His Roberta? Where had that thought come from? She wasn't his at all. She was just a woman he would marry for the sake of his boys. Never would she be his. He loved his wife too much to ever let another replace her in his heart.
The woman looked confused as she looked around her. Jakob walked toward her, hoping he wouldn't make a fool of himself by talking to the wrong woman.
"Roberta?" he asked.
Bobbie looked up at the mention of her name, feeling nothing but relief. "Yes, I'm Roberta. My friends call me Bobbie." How did one greet the man she was to marry in a short while? A kiss was probably appropriate, but Bobbie made do with a handshake. "Jakob?"
"Ja. I am Jakob." He looked down at the two carpet bags in her hands. "Is that all you have?" She nodded, and he took them both from her. "Come. My boys are waiting to meet you in the buggy."
Bobbie followed him through the crowd of people, dodging a young couple who was obviously having a joyous reunion, kissing as only a young couple in love could do in public. "Did you have to come far to get me?"
He shook his head. "No. We live on the outskirts of town." He handed the two bags up to Lukas who held them in his lap. "This is Bobbie. Konrad, sit in the back beside your brother, so she can ride up front with me."
Bobbie watched as the boy jumped down and climbed up beside his brother. Jakob offered her his hand and she climbed up into the buggy, waiting for him to walk to the other side and climb in himself.
"Vater, she doesn't look like a frog-mutter," Lukas said from the back.
Bobbie whirled around and looked at the boy. "You must be Lukas. Why would I look like a frog-mutter?"
Lukas shrugged. "I don't know, but Vater said we must be kind even if you look like a frog-mutter."
USA Today bestselling author Kirsten Osbourne knows how to write romance. Each book is an experience that transplants the reader, indulging them in decadence, intense emotion and sweeping love.
Hailing from the state of Wisconsin, she has lived in Texas for over thirty years as a mother, writer and wife. Married to the love of her life for more than fifteen years, she knows that true love exists and shares that vision with the world.
She writes contemporary and historical romance as well, and also ventures into the realm of paranormal romance. She invites you to join her in her world of fantasy, love, and make believe, no matter the location, where there is always a happily ever after at the end.
You can find Kirsten at:
E.E. Why did you pick Wisconsin?
Kirsten: I grew up in Wisconsin, and really didn't see anyone else wanting it, so I took it. Glad I did, because the book was so much fun to write!
E.E.: Fairy Tale or Action Adventure?
Kirsten: Oh, fairy tale. No question. Action Adventure makes me nervous, and trust me, a nervous Kirsten is not someone you want to be around. Stick with the princesses!
E.E.: What sound or noise do you love?
Kirsten: Water. Waterfalls, ocean, rain, a stream. I find it so relaxing. And then my brain starts to work and I come up with crazy ideas. Better keep me away from water now that I think about it!
E.E.: What dreams have been realized as a result of your writing?
Kirsten: Writing has made me a new person, one who feels that she has a self-worth. It's allowed me to travel. I've been to many different countries and states that I would never have been able to go to. It's changed my world in so many ways.
Next up is award-winning author Peggy Henderson. Her American Mail-Order Brides book, Emma, Bride of Kentucky, will be out Dec. 3.
Emma Waterston is determined, headstrong, and comes from a lifestyle where class structure determines one’s associations. Left destitute after the death of her mother, she takes a job at a textile factory. When a fire destroys her place of employment, leaving her penniless again, she makes a desperate decision and answers an ad for a mail order bride from a wealthy Kentucky horse breeder.
Sam Hawley is content with his life as a horse trainer on an affluent Kentucky estate. His primary focus has always been on the horses. He views their owners as rich people with nothing to do but flaunt their money. Loyalty to his mentor is the only thing that keeps him rooted to one place. When he meets the bride-to-be of the man he detests the most, his life is about to change.
Too late, Emma discovers the ad she answered was too good to be true. Her future husband is not what she was led to believe and a horrific experience leaves her no choice but to face the kind of life she’s been trying to escape. Kentucky was supposed to promise a return to her life of wealth. What she finds instead will redefine her definition of being rich.
Here's an excerpt:
“Miss Emmaline Waterston,” someone called from behind her.
Emma’s heart lurched in her chest at the deep voice calling her name. Finally. Curbing her agitation at having been left waiting for so long, she plastered her best smile on her face, and swallowed the lump of apprehension in her throat. When she wheeled around, she nearly tripped on a loose wooden board under her feet.
The smile faded, and her forehead wrinkled when she glimpsed the man walking toward her. Her eyes darted around to see if it might have been another man calling out her name, rather than the one heading directly at her.
She mentally recited the description David Benton had given of himself - dark-haired, with a moustache, nearly six feet tall, and wealthy. The man in her direct line of vision did not fit that description, not in the slightest.
He was dressed in a simple, light-blue cotton shirt tucked haphazardly inside tan britches that were held up by dark suspenders. The sleeves were rolled up to his elbows, and his wide shoulders did not escape her notice. Neither did this man’s dirty blond hair that poked out from beneath a brown cap that reminded her of the newspaper boys back in Lawrence. The other ends of his britches were tucked into old, worn boots.
He stopped just in front of her, and Emma raised her head to look him in the eye. He languidly peeled the cap from his head, revealing a disheveled mop of hair that fell forward over his eyes. His lips curved in a slow grin, creating indents in his cheeks. Emma’s heart fluttered inexplicably in her chest. She blinked, and shook her head slightly at the reaction. She stared up into deep-blue eyes that threatened to suck her right up. She’d never seen a man this handsome before, even if he appeared unkempt.
“Miss Emmaline Waterston?” he asked again in that rich drawl she’d already heard once before.
A slight shiver passed down her spine, and goose bumps formed on her skin, despite being warm under her cloak.
“Yes,” she answered, having to clear her throat to say it a second time. “And you are?”
Surely, this couldn’t be David Benton. If so, she’d been deceived.
“Sam Hawley,” he said, holding out his hand.
Peggy L Henderson is an award-wining, best-selling western historical and time travel romance author of the Yellowstone Romance Series, Second Chances Time Travel Romance Series, Teton Romance Trilogy, and the Blemished Brides Western Historical Romance Series. When she’s not writing about Yellowstone, the Tetons, or the old west, she’s out hiking the trails, spending time with her family and pets, or catching up on much-needed sleep. She is happily married to her high school sweetheart. Along with her husband and two sons, she makes her home in Southern California
You can find out more about Peggy and her books at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, iTunes, Blog, Facebook, Facebook Group, Pinterest, Twitter
E.E.: Why did you pick your state?
Peggy: The short answer – because the two states that were my first and second choices (either Montana or Wyoming) got snatched up already. So, I chose Kentucky because I used to be a huge horse racing fan. I don’t follow the sport much anymore, but horses are my passion, and what better place to set a romance than the backdrop of Kentucky’s Bluegrass Country among beautiful horses.
E.E.: What has been the most challenging part of this unprecedented effort?
Peggy: The most challenging part for me has been time management. When I was first asked to take part in this collaboration, I was hesitant because I was working on two other books at the time. I realized, however, that this was one opportunity I couldn’t pass up.
A lot of things got in the way of the schedule I set for myself to get the book finished, and lots of lost sleep, but in the end it will be worth it. I loved collaborating with the entire group and also with the subgroup several authors and I formed to connect our stories somewhat through our heroines.
E.E.: How did you come up with the idea for your book?
Peggy: The only other mail-order bride book I’ve ever written was a time travel story about a woman who comes to the past to be the unknowing mail order bride to a 1870’s rancher.
I really didn’t know what I was going to do with this particular story, other than it was set in Kentucky, and would include horse racing and a horse farm. When I got my cover for the book, the story instantly came to me. The heroine on my cover looks like an upper class lady, and a little haughty, and that’s when I knew who my heroine was going to be, her character arc, and who her perfect hero was.
E.E.: What sound or noise do you love?
Peggy: I love the sound of rain from inside a camping tent (light rain, not a torrential downpour), and I also love the sound of horses rustling inside a barn stall, munching on hay.
E.E.: When did you start writing?
Peggy: I started writing when a story that came to me during a return drive home from a camping trip to Yellowstone wouldn’t leave my head. I didn’t write it down immediately. I let it ruminate for a year, until I came home from the same trip the following year. A day later, I started writing, and that story has now turned into a successful series.
E.E.: If you were given a chance to travel to the past where would you go?
Peggy: Hahaha…that’s an easy one, since I write time travel romance set in Yellowstone National Park!
Today, Kirsten and Peggy are giving away eBooks, one each. Just comment and enter the raffle to win.
If you went back to the past as a mail-order bride, who would be your perfect groom?