Tuesday, February 16, 2016

The Bride Train: New Historical Romance Series From E.E. Burke

The Bride Train Series
Taming the West...one bride at a time.
Courting takes on a whole new meaning for seven women who answer a railroad advertisement seeking brides for unruly settlers on the western frontier. The Bride Train takes them to a land where passion rules, and only a woman’s touch can tame it into love.

The mail-order bride phenomenon in nineteenth century America spawned personal advertisements, matrimonial newspapers and matchmaking services—even the railroads wanted a piece of the action. 

My new series, The Bride Train, is inspired by one of these true events. 

In 1869-70, violent riots broke out in southeastern Kansas in protest of railroad land policies. Troops were sent in by President Grant to quell the violence. Another more peaceful solution proposed was a program for the immigration of single young women to become brides for the settlers and provide a “calming influence.”

What a great romance series idea! 

Now that I had the setting and props, I needed characters. So I dug into research again and started looking at the kind of women who went west. In particular, those who might've answered an advertisement to leave everything behind and go to an unknown (and predominantly uncivilized) land to marry virtual strangers?  

Let me introduce you to the first bride:

Rose Muldoon, 20, is a statuesque Irish laundress from Five Points, a crime-ridden slum in New York City. After a terrible tragedy, she finds herself alone, uneducated, and with few good men to choose from. She decides starting over out west is her best option. 

Who would be a hero “perfect” for my impoverished Irish Rose? What about an English nobleman? (Hint: I love impossible matches!)

Constantine Valentine, 28, is the second son of an English Baron. His reckless, irresponsible lifestyle results in banishment and unexpected poverty. Never one to quit, Val decides to seek his fortune in America and repair his tarnished reputation.

The surname Valentine, of Anglo-Saxon origin, comes from a Latin name Valentinus, from the root word valens, which means strong and healthy. The word “valor” comes from this root. But even a man with valor is bound to have a weakness, right? One that only his true love can help him overcome...

Here’s a blurb and sneak peek.

Preorder Now
Valentine’s Rose
Book 1 in the series, The Bride Train

He’s desperate for riches. She longs for love. Only Fate would be foolish enough to put them together.

One choice can change our lives for better, or for worse. No one knows this as well as Constantine Valentine, the second son of an English baron, who's paying the price for an impulsive, reckless life.

Val has come to America to make his fortune, to restore everything he’s lost. Wedding a destitute Irish laundress isn’t his first choice, but a strange twist of fate makes the hasty marriage the key to gaining riches.

Rose Muldoon, who grew up in a slum, has battled hardship, hunger and heartbreaking loss. Against impossible odds, she still trusts love—something privileged husband has never experienced, and can't accept.

She longs for home and family. He has no intention of staying in a marriage of convenience, not even for the beautiful woman who fires his blood and makes him yearn for what he doesn't deserve.But when the unforeseen happens, threatening everything Val holds dear, he must make a choice...

Here's an exclusive excerpt:

At last, the women exited the train. Val counted heads, only a dozen. “Do you know how many men have signed up for brides?”
“Least a hundred, I’d wager,” O’Shea answered.
These sex-starved men had rioted over land prices. What would they do in light of a limited supply of women?
“The railroad had better hire more soldiers.”
Huddled together, the ladies remained close to the car like they might dash back inside should things get out of hand. In the midst of the feminine company stood the tallest lass Val had ever seen. Her hair remained hidden under a drab scarf that reached past her shoulders, but even from this distance he could tell she had the distinct pale complexion common to the British Isles. He couldn’t distinguish the color of her eyes, but he’d swear they were green.
The shapeless garment she wore gave the word ugly new meaning. That might be why she’d wrapped her upper half in a plaid shawl. It didn’t help. The hem of her skirt needed another three inches to cover her petticoats, not to mention her ankles. And what was she wearing on her feet? Looked like her father’s boots. Regardless, even an ill-dressed, gangly gal like that one could find a husband among undiscriminating suitors—him being the exception. He’d only noticed her because she had to be one of the few women who wouldn’t have to crane her neck to meet his eyes. Beyond her remarkable height and coloring, she had little to recommend her.
 “Poor things, they must’ve run out of luck,” O’Shea murmured. “Wonder if they’ll last?”
“That one in the middle looks like she might stand a chance.” Val buttoned his coat as the wind picked up. “Think I’ll get a better look.”
Val started across the street. Circling the crowd, he moved in the direction of the frame building adjacent to the brick depot. When he reached the opposite sidewalk, he doubled back toward the depot, as far as he could go given the throng.
From this point, he could easily see over men’s heads, one of the advantages of his extraordinary height. Just beyond the steps leading up to the platform, the women remained close together, consoling each other perhaps, while baggage handlers removed their trunks and cases.
A strong wind whipped at the Amazon’s scarf, and in the next moment, the invisible prankster ripped it away. The railroad agent bolted and missed as the scarf fluttered off in Val’s direction. Dancing over the crowd, it remained tantalizingly out of reach despite men leaping to claim it. Val had but to raise his arm to snatch the prize out of the air. As the girl looked over, he waved the cloth. 
Streamers of hair the color of flames whipped across her face. She pulled them away, and spotting him, broke into a grateful smile. 
He grinned in return, and then realized he was acting like a fool over some woman he’d never see again...after he returned her scarf. Val tamped down the strange high mood and examined the article that had captured every man’s attention. Nothing more than a large square, washed out blue, perhaps repurposed from a dress or shirt. He rubbed the rough fabric between his fingers. Her beautiful hair should’ve be covered.
 “When do we start bidding on picnic baskets?” yelled a man from the center of the crowd. His remark drew more laughter than was warranted. The railroad agent didn’t find it amusing. He stood with his feet braced, like a sailor anticipating the next swell.
“There won’t be any picnics,” he announced. “As it ended up, we have more requests than brides, so we’ll hold a drawing later today over at the courthouse.”
Shouts of outrage and more than a few curses peppered the air. Had armed troops not been present, the crowd might’ve rushed the platform. As it was, several of the soldiers reached for the rifles in their saddle holsters. The women’s expressions ranged from shocked to furious. Apparently no one had told them their husband’s names would be drawn from a hat.
Val couldn’t decide whether he admired the agent for being clever or despised him as an unfeeling cad.
Hardt pitched his voice above the noise from the crowd. “There’s more…only men with registered claims will be considered. A list of qualified candidates is posted outside my office.” He didn’t allow time for questions before he escorted the stunned brides-to-be off the platform. 
The soldiers formed a protective wall between the ladies and the grumbling men.
Val kept to the front of the crowd. He waited as the ranking officer went by on a spirited bay. Before the next soldier blocked his view, he saw the railroad agent stride past with his face set in stone. Several women followed him. Val scarcely took note of them, being focused on looking into between the horses for the tall girl. When she passed, he could step in and hold out her scarf so she could take it.
He heard clomping before he spotted her. She walked with odd gait, as if her boots didn’t fit well or pained her. Soon as she drew near, Val stepped in between two mounted soldiers and held out her scarf.
Her head swiveled at his movement. The moment their eyes met, hers went wide with surprise. He’d been right. Only her eyes weren’t just green, they were the color of spring leaves. She reached for the scarf, at the same time, her foot slipped off the plank.
Val leapt and caught her by the arms just as her boot sank into the soft mud. She gasped, clinging to his shoulders, wearing a startled expression as if she hadn’t expected anyone to assist her. Or maybe she was just surprised he’d moved so quickly.
“Get back,” shouted the soldier immediately behind her. 
He appeared to be talking to the other men trying to crowd in. At any rate, Val didn’t loose his grip. But the girl tried to scramble backwards, apparently thinking the order had been directed at her. Her boot made a sucking sound and popped off.
The parade came to a halt, and the soldiers around them closed ranks.
Val slipped his arm around the girl's waist, a surprisingly supple, slender waist, and steadied her as she hopped back to the sidewalk. She perched on one foot like a heron as he turned to pluck her shoe out of the mud.
“Put your hand on my shoulder for balance. If you’ll pardon me for taking the liberty, I’ll slip your boot on so you won’t risk falling again.”
She looked horrified when he knelt before her. “Oh-oh no, sir, you don’t hafta…”
Hearing her Irish come out took Val aback, although he might’ve expected it. Her ragged dress and plaid shawl looked like something worn by the peasantry. The uncharitable thought fled as he gazed into her eyes, seeing a soul as pure and innocent as his was debased and wicked.
“Do me the honor,” he urged.

Journey west on the Bride Train and experience the thrill of unexpected love. Valentine’s Rose is the 1st installment of a heartwarming mail-order bride series--with a twist. If you like strong heroines and atypical Western heroes, you’ll enjoy meeting these unusual couples.

Valentine's Rose will be released March 8.
It's available for preorder on Amazon.

Do you enjoy mail-order bride stories? What do you think makes them so appealing?

Comment and enter the raffle for your chance to win a copy of Valentine's Rose, Book 1, The Bride Train, or Victoria, Bride of Kansas, from the series, American Mail-Order Brides.

a Rafflecopter giveaway


  1. Darn, you mean I have to wait before I can read the whole book? Good think I'm on deadline right now. Valentine's Rose will be a great reward. I've known about the mail order brides for decades, so this is a terrific premise and sounds well researched. Gonna pre-order right now.

  2. I'm delighted you enjoyed it! I worried it might be a little long, but I wanted to give readers a feel for the book and the series. And I'm THRILLED to hear you've ordered your copy! Thanks so much for coming by and commenting, and good luck on meeting your deadline. I've got another one looming...

  3. Seems interesting to read! Thank you!

  4. This one already has me wondering what's going to happen just from the excerpt.

  5. This one already has me wondering what's going to happen just from the excerpt.

  6. Golly, E.E., you already know I love mail order bride stories and this one has must read written all over it. What a great set up and plot. With a English nobleman and a poor Irish lass,I look forward to being taken on a wild ride of ups and downs for sure. Wishing you much success with this entire series. Looking forward to all of them.

  7. I have to order this one also. You left us hanging on an exciting story! I can't wait to read the whole story.

  8. Told me it wasn't safe to go to the link in the rafflecopter to sign up for newsletter so I found it this way www.eeburke.com
    Books look really good just my kind Thanks for the chance 2 win