Three mail-order brides, but his heart belongs to another. What’s a man to do?
A man with a plan
Blacksmith Bram McKinnon always has a plan. Now that he’s turning 30, it’s time to marry, so to check that off his list, he orders a bride. Unbeknownst to him, his mother and sister also order brides for him and all three show up! Now his perfect plan goes up in smoke, and what’s worse, the cute waitress at the new café sets his heart aflutter. She’s the one he wants, but with three brides already in line to share his bed, how can he convince himself to listen to his head and not his heart?
A woman with a past
Café owner Mellie Emerson long ago escaped the traps of young love and has established a comfortable living for herself and her two boys. The last thing she needs is Bram turning her inside out and waking up a passion she doesn’t want to feel. But every time he comes into her café, her heart betrays her good sense. When a man from her past shows up who knows her deepest darkest secret, she fears he’ll ruin all she has worked to hide. Can Mellie trust Bram enough to protect her from the past and not break her heart in the future?
Here's an excerpt:
Bram sat at the same table he and Micah had sat at before. As soon as his butt hit the chair and he’d set his hat on the table, the cute waitress hurried out of the kitchen, taking out her pad and pencil while she walked toward him.
“Good afternoon. Hungry again?”
“No, I’m not hungry—just want a cup of coffee, please.”
“I’ll get it right now.”
Before he could say another word, she was gone, but she came back in less than a minute. “Here you go. I didn’t bring cream because you didn’t use it last time, but if you want some, I’ll be happy to fetch it.”
“Naw, that’s fine. Looks like you’ve had a busy day.”
“We sure have—this is the first slow time since we opened this morning.”
He stood and held a chair for her. “You might as well sit a spell and rest your feet before folks start coming in for supper.”
“I couldn’t do that. We have a policy—”
“Get me the owner. Policies can be changed.”
“I’m the owner.”
“Good, then have a seat.”
She smiled as she shrugged. “I am a mite tired.”
After he seated her, he went to the kitchen.
“You ain’t supposed to be in here, mister,” the cook growled. He was a big man with scraggly red whiskers and a scowl. He wore denim britches and a white cotton shirt with no collar and the sleeves rolled up. His white apron was clean which, in Bram’s experience, was a rarity. And the kitchen was spotless even though the café had had a busy day. The lady must run a tight ship.
“Pour some coffee for the boss lady and I’ll leave.”
“It’s about damn time she slowed down. Give me a minute and I’ll fix her up.” Quick as a wink, the cook slapped a roast beef sandwich together, poured the coffee, and put both on the tray with a napkin. “Take that to her.”
As Bram carried the tray out, he swiped a yellow flower from one of the centerpieces and put it beside the cup.
“Here you are, ma’am,” he said as he placed the tray carefully on the table, for he didn’t want to slosh the coffee.
“Thank you, and thank Chester, too.”
“Looks like a good man, and lucky to work for such a fine boss.”
She blushed. Bram sure as hell regretted ordering that bride, but he’d done it and he’d marry her—if she showed up.
“In case you don’t remember my name, I’m Bram McKinnon. You?”
“Amelia Emerson, but I go by Mellie.”
“Nice to meet you, Mellie. Since I’ll be setting up shop next door, we might as well make our acquaintance.”
“My boys said you hired them. Is that true?”
“Andrew and Toby? They’re fine boys.”
“Yes, they are. Andrew is ten so he should learn simple jobs fairly quickly, although he has a good dose of vinegar and needs to be minded. Tobias is eight and doesn’t think things through very well yet, so you might want to keep an eye on him.”
That she was the mother of two didn’t disappoint Bram so much as knowing she had to have a husband around somewhere. Then again, he had no business even thinking about her in such a manner, for he’d committed to marrying Jane Scott.
Award-winning author Jacquie Rogers has worn many hats before taking up the pen: a former software designer, campaign manager, deli clerk, and cow milker. Besides both traditional and non-traditional westerns, she writes romance in three sub-genres: western historical, fantasy, and contemporary western.
Although she has won many awards before, it was very gratifying to win two first-place Gold Medallion Awards in the 2017 Will Rogers Medallion Awards in the Western Humor category. This on top of winning the Laramie Award Grand Prize from Chanticleer Reviews!
She grew up in Owyhee County dreaming of herding Texas Longhorns while she milked Holsteins, and with her sister and friends, rode all over the Owyhees looking for bandits and rustlers. Good thing she never found any for real! Now she calls Seattle home, and lives with her husband who is an audio-video engineer, her IT Guy, and a fantastic proofreader, but hates plumbing. They miss the sagebrush and alkali dirt, and are looking to move back to Owyhee County soon.
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Jacquie: Much Ado About Mail-Order Brides is the sixth Hearts of Owyhee book, and I knew the hero would be the oldest McKinnon brother, Bram. Bram is perfect. He’s the one who set the bar so high that his brothers gave up trying to match his achievements. He’s a listmaker. He never procrastinates. He always keeps his word.
The general wisdom in writing is that your hero has to have a flaw. Well, Bram doesn’t have one, and that caused me all kinds of grief. So here’s the new wisdom—your hero does not have to be flawed, but believe me, it’s a whole lot easier to write a compelling story if he does have one or two. Lesson learned.
So what to do with this guy. Hmm. Early on, I decided to give my perfect hero a situation where he has no absolutely possibility of doing the right thing. Then watch the poor guy squirm. Here’s the situation: Bram’s turning 30 and when a man turns 30, it’s time to marry—so he orders a bride from a matchmaking agency. Little does he know, so does his mother, as does his sister. Mr. Perfect Hero has three mail-order brides, is committed to one, feels responsible for the other two, and all the while is drawn to the café owner next door. What’s a man of honor to do?
E.E.: What are the next five books on your ‘to be read’ pile?
Jacquie: An ARC of Ann Charles’s next release (can’t divulge the title), Daniel by Caroline Clemmons, Texas Lightning by Caroline Clemmons, Deep Blue by Kristy McCaffrey, and Dragon Airways by new-to-me author Brian Rathbone. I’ve been on a YA Fantasy kick lately so have read a lot of books with faeries, magic, and cool critters like unicorns and such.
E.E.: What three things are, at this moment, in your heroine’s reticule?
Jacquie: Coin purse, a frog (but she doesn’t know it), and a palm pistol. Oh dear, that could be a very bad combination, but she has boys. And, well...boys and frogs sort of go together.
E.E.: Which already filmed movie represents your writing style?
Jacquie: I’d say a cross between Cat Ballou and The Apple Dumpling Gang, with a little Maverick thrown in the mix.
E.E.: If you were given a chance to travel to the past where would you go and specifically why?
Jacquie: Actually, I take that chance and go to an authentic Old West town every year. True! This town has no electricity or modern convenience (with a few exceptions). That’s Silver City, Idaho, and it’s where many of my Hearts of Owyhee books are set. Silver City is in Owyhee County. Owyhee was named after some Hawaiian fur trappers who were lost there in ~1819. “Owyhee” is the original anglicized spelling of “Hawaii.” But it’s high mountain desert, so bears no resemblance.
What’s so special about Silver City? It’s one of the very few boom towns that didn’t succumb to fire. The residents there, most of whom are from multigenerational families, decided that they were far more interested in preserving history than in the tourist trade, so Silver is not a tourist town, although they welcome visitors. You won’t find bright lights, slot machines, or fake shoot-outs there. You will find genuine buildings and people where the Old West never died.
And that’s why my annual party is held there—at the Idaho Hotel. While it doesn’t have electricity, it does have solar power for emergency lighting, as well as flush toilets, and even showers. The food there is fabulous. Leave your worries, hair dryers, and cell phones home, and bring your party shoes.
We visit face to face, sing, laugh, and have a ton of fun just like they did in the 1870s. We put on the World’s Worst Melodrama and we hold a charity auction to benefit neurofibromatosis research (baskets donated by participating authors). We also hold a multi-author booksigning—we’re allowed to use ballpoint pens. LOL. This year’s event is July 20-22 and you can get more information at my Silver City Event page. Whether you’re an author or a reader, please join the fun!
E.E.: Cast your book using fairy tale and/or cartoon characters.
Jacquie: This is harder to do than it sounds!
Okay, here goes... the cartoon cast for Much Ado About Mail-Order Brides:
Bram McKinnon: Dudley Do-Right, but with dark hair and muscles
Mellie Emerson: Jasmine from Aladdin, but her realm is the café
Aurora Valentine: Tinkerbell from Peter Pan
Jane Scott: Miss Prissy (Looney Tunes’s Foghorn Leghorn)
Clara Goodwin: Betty Rubble (Flintstones)
Shiv Roland: Yosemite Sam (Looney Tunes)
Yves Rousseau: Pepé Le Pew
E.E.: What has been your most rewarding publishing moment?
E.E.: That was most definitely when my series Honey Beaulieu – Man Hunter won four Will Rogers Gold Medallions for Western Humor. What an honor. I couldn’t believe that not just one book, but two books won—and then won again for production value (thanks to Chase Miller, artist). And the presenter, Charles Williams, said some really nice things, too. Here’s the video: https://youtu.be/-xePhR7tnvE. The first book in the series, Hot Work in Fry Pan Gulch, also won the Laramie Grand Prize Award from Chanticleer Book Reviews. It would be hard to top 2017, for sure. Who knew a gal from Owyhee County in Idaho would win? I was shocked, but I have to say, both award ceremonies were a ton of fun and I met a lot of wonderful people that otherwise I’d have never known.
I'll give away a set of the first five Hearts of Owyhee books in Kindle format, also a digital copy of Hot Work in Fry Pan Gulch.a Rafflecopter giveaway