Did you know?
A single young woman started the Valentine's card industry?
Esther Howland was a visionary artist and entrepreneur who began a gift card business by mass-marketing Valentine's cards in her home in the late 1840s. Esther cut the basic design for the individual valentines, and the assembled group carefully copied each card. Each young lady on the production line was assigned a special task; one cut out pictures and kept them assorted in boxes and another made the backgrounds, passing them to yet another worker who gave the card further embellishment. By the end of 1849 Esther Howland had fully launched her valentine business and perfected her “assembly line” technique. Ms. Howland reportedly inspected every valentine produced by the women in her family workroom. A bold woman with a plan is unstoppable!
Let me introduce you to four bold women who answer a railroad advertisement and set out to become brides for settlers on the Western frontier...
I can think of no better day to give you a sneak peek at my new historical romance than on Valentine's Day.
Seducing Susannah, Book 4, The Bride Train Series
Preorder from Amazon and B&N.
"Why did you come out here, Mrs. Braddock?” Ross asked.
She lifted her chin, her eyes flashed with anger, and a challenge. “For one reason--to find an honorable man who would be a good father to my son. That is still my goal, but I won’t be forced into a bad marriage. If you refuse me the time I need, I will somehow come up with the money to repay the railroad.”
Hannah help him, she was magnificent. She had more grit than most men. Even her stubbornness was to be admired. In addition being beautiful, she was also loyal to her friends and kind to everyone—with one exception, and he couldn’t blame her for resenting him, despite the fact that he was only doing his job.
“Can you come up with the money in two weeks?” He hoped she had a plan.
Her stricken expression gave him the answer. “What will you do if I can’t?”
The question stumped him. He hadn’t imagined it would come to that. He’d thought she would surrender and he wouldn’t have to finish the battle
Ross moved to the desk to give himself time to come up with a reply. If he did nothing, it would make him appear weak and ineffectual, and a useless figurehead was exactly what the hotheads needed to convert more men to their cause in opposing the railroad. His other choice was to take her to court. That would make him look like a bully, and turn his few supporters against him. Not only that, he had no stomach for treating ladies like criminals.
He picked up his father’s letter. There was another option. He could pay back the money she owed the railroad. In part, it would make up for how he’d treated her earlier, but it would also free her to consider other men—him, for example.
She’d as soon spit on him as take his charity, and he hadn’t yet earned the right to woo her.
On the other hand, if he could win her, he would be able to take a wife home to Texas. He wasn’t marrying to please his father, but the old man would have no objection to a lady like Susannah.
“Mr. Hardt, before you decide on a course of action consider the fact that I have a young son.” Her tone wasn’t pleading—she wouldn’t beg, not her—but he could sense her desperation. That might work in his favor.
“Yes ma’am. I’m aware of that.” He turned to face her. Two weeks, that’s all he had. He’d set the deadline and had to stick to it. How could he free her from her obligation to become one of the settlers’ brides, and at the same time, keep her close enough to woo her?
Offer a chance to earn her freedom. Susannah would be far more amenable to a discussion of marriage if not forced to make the decision. He understood that about her, he felt much the same way.
“Is your handwriting legible?”
Her angry frown dissolved into puzzlement. “My handwriting is exemplary. Why do you ask?”
“You might be interested in a job. Pays enough to cover your fare and expenses.”
Her woeful expression changed to one of hopefulness, making her appear younger and achingly innocent. An illusion. She’d been married and had borne a son, so she was hardly innocent. His deceitful former intended had feigned innocence and turned out to be a whore. Susannah was nothing like Olivia. She didn’t put on airs, didn’t pretend feelings she didn’t have. He could expect honesty from her--the most important quality in a wife.
“What is this job? When can I start?” She took a step in his direction, no longer wringing her hands, appearing willing, even eager, to work her way out of her predicament—just as he’d expected.
“You can start right now…as my assistant.”
To celebrate this new release, I'm running a Valentine’s Special on Valentine's Rose, Book 1, in The Bride Train series. Buy it for only 99 cents (normally $2.99).
Win a sweet treat!
Enter a Valentine’s drawing for a chance to win artisan chocolates from Christopher Elbow (my favorite local Kansas City chocolate artist), or a copy of Valentine's Rose.