Tag Archives: his perfect bride

Release Day! His Perfect Bride/Corva: The Perfect Bride

Dec 27, 2015

Okay, technically Release Day is tomorrow, but I’ll let you in on a little secret. *leans in and whispers* The books are already live on all retailers. That’s right, His Perfect Bride (spicy version) and Corva: The Perfect Bride (sweet version) are up and running…and available for just 99 cents until Friday only! So grab a copy while the price is low! The Brides of Paradise Ranch are here! But right now, you can get started reading…

HisPerfectBride_Corva_2Covers

As the train whistle blew, its shrill sound competing with the squeal of brakes that signaled their final approach to the station in Haskell, Wyoming, Corva Collier clutched her paint box to her chest. This was it. Her heart raced at a thousand beats per minute as she took one final look out the window.

For days, she’d seen nothing but vast, empty space out the train window—first endless stretches of grassland and then wide plains with towering mountains all around. The expansive vistas filled with greens and browns, greys and purples that she’d only ever imagined when she mixed her paints, had captivated her. Every bend in the tracks had shown her a new picture, begged her to open her paints, lay out a canvas and translate the beauty into a captured moment. Of course, it was impossible to paint on a moving train packed with passengers, but it was not impossible to dream.

At last, after darkness and terror that she thought would never end, it was possible to dream.

Another sharp whistle shook her out of her thoughts. The open landscape—dotted here and there with herds of cattle or smaller groups of horses—gave way to a sudden and cheery town. The train lurched to a stop in front of a wooden platform. The wood was still a verdant light brown, suggesting the platform was new.

Corva smiled, telling her shoulders to unbunch. The West was new, Wyoming was new, and Haskell was newer still. Mrs. Breashears had explained this quaint town that had popped up on the whim of rancher Howard Haskell and his family, explained the dire need they had for women to marry the ranch hands and businessmen who had rushed to claim their corner of the booming enterprise. The prospect of settling somewhere far away from Nashville, far away from the nightmare of Atlanta as well, was all the incentive Corva needed. The sweet letter she’d received from Mr. Franklin Haskell, personally inviting her to come to Paradise Ranch to be his bride, was merely icing on the cake of her escape from a life that had felt like death itself.

As soon as the man who sat across the aisle from her stood and walked to the front of the car, Corva dipped into the pocket of her coat and took out a small, round mirror. She checked her hair, turned this way and that to study her face. The bruises that had constantly marred her complexion for most of her life had been gone for a year, but in her heart she expected to see them pop up again at any moment. That didn’t mean she liked what she saw, though. She was nothing but a short, ugly, useless—

No. Those were Uncle Stanley’s words, not hers. She closed her eyes, took a breath, and reminded herself that her uncle was in the past, and his temper was nothing but a few faded scars to her now. As those scars healed, her work—the work of believing in herself—had begun. Believing in herself was so much harder than she’d thought it would be.

“Miss, are you getting off here?” the conductor asked from the front of the car.

Corva cleared her throat. “Yes.” Her voice was no more than a wisp. She stood, slipping the mirror back into her pocket and tightening her grip around the handle of her paint box. She moved to the aisle and twisted and reached for her carpetbag in the rack above the seat.

“I can help you with that.” The conductor strode forward to fetch her bag. It was new and possibly the prettiest thing she owned, aside from the potential in her paints. Mrs. Breashears had purchased it especially for this journey.

“Thank you.” All Corva could offer the kind conductor was a smile, but that seemed to be payment enough. He smiled in return—the way Corva imagined her long-departed father would have smiled at her—and preceded her up the aisle to the door, bag in hand.

As she stepped down onto the platform in Haskell, Corva held her breath. Behind the scent of coal smoke and metal that was the train, she caught a whiff of freshly sawed wood, animal, and beyond that, something cleaner, purer. Men and women in every kind of dress from tailored suits to worn aprons, bustled against the backdrop of a town burgeoning with new life and the fresh colors of whitewash and painted shutters. Her gaze drifted to the mountains in the distance, their caps still snowy, even though it was late spring.

“Now, who’s here to meet you, Miss Collier?” the conductor asked. “It would be irresponsible for me to turn a sweet thing like you off on your own.”

Corva blushed and lowered her head, blinking rapidly. Sweet? Her? No one had ever called her sweet or taken any sort of interest in her at all. She opened her mouth to answer.

“Corva Collier? Miss Corva Collier?”

Corva and the conductor both turned to find a pair of grey-haired ladies in fine dresses with astounding bustles marching toward them.

“Yes, you must be Corva,” the one on the right—slightly older than the other but as vibrant as a young girl—said. “Margaret Breashears said you were a painter.” She nodded to the box Corva carried.

“Is that what that is?” the younger of the two said. She looked as full of life as a woman half her age. The word “trouble” popped to Corva’s mind as she studied the two of them together.

“Yes,” the first one said. “It’s a paint box.”

“Oh, how lovely.”

“I’m Virginia Piedmont.” The first woman thrust out her hand for Corva to shake.

“And I’m Josephine Evans.” The second one followed suit.

It was then that Corva realized her mouth still hung open from the comment she’d been about to make to the conductor. She snapped it shut, blushing furiously, shifted her paint box to her left hand, then shook hands with both women, adding a quiet, “How do you do?” in her soft, Georgia accent.

“Well, now that you’re here,” Virginia said, beaming with satisfaction. She nodded to the carpetbag that the amused conductor still carried. “Is that all you brought with you?”

“Oh, no.” Corva’s heart leapt back to her throat as she glanced from the women to the train, and then pleadingly at the conductor.

The good man sensed her thoughts enough to say, “I’ll fetch your crates, Miss Collier. Don’t you worry.”

“Crates?” Josephine asked as she reached to take the carpetbag from the conductor. “What crates?”

“You’ll see.” The conductor gave her a saucy wink, then hurried along to the last train car.

“I brought a few paintings with me,” Corva explained. “I…I hope you don’t mind.”

“Mind?” Josephine laughed. “Why would I mind? That sounds delightful.”

“It’s really up to Franklin to mind,” Virginia said.

“You’re…you’re his aunt, aren’t you?” Corva asked. “At least, he mentioned an Aunt Virginia who was helping bring me here in his letter.”

“Yes, dear.” Virginia beamed. “That’s me. It was nice of Franklin to remember me.”

Josephine sucked in a breath and nodded, as if remembering something herself. Then the two women turned in unison to look behind them.

Corva looked as well, and pressed a hand to her stomach. There, standing just beyond the edge of the platform on the board sidewalk that stretched away down the town’s main street, stood a man in a suit. Corva felt her cheeks go pink and her skin tingle with excitement and apprehension. The man was startlingly handsome, with dark hair and eyes so blue she could see them across the distance. He was clean-shaven and well-groomed, and the suit he wore was finely made and tailored to fit him perfectly. But what drew her attention were the iron braces on his legs—like twin cages—and the ivory-topped cane that he leaned against.

Franklin Haskell. Her groom.

There you go! Ready to read more? You can start reading the sweet version (nothing inappropriate), Corva: The Perfect Bride exclusively at Amazon by clicking here.

For the spicy version (scenes! It has scenes!) His Perfect Bride, click here to be taken to Amazon, click right here to be taken to iBooks, and click on this link to go to Barnes & Noble to read on your Nook.

I hope you all enjoy this fabulous new series!

Weekend Excerpt – His Perfect Bride/Corva: The Perfect Bride

Dec 19, 2015

Okay, you may have noticed that I’m posting this week’s book excerpt on the weeknend and not on a Wednesday. That’s because part of my New Year’s Resolution is to start (or restart, really) a new History blog post feature–Western Wednesdays–in the new year. I’m hoping to bring you little slices of life in the Old West based on the research I’ve done for my books. And I’m also going to try to get back into posting more writing tips and tricks for aspiring authors. But today, it’s all about Corva. Or His Perfect Bride, depending on whether you’re reading the nice or the naughty version. Here you go!

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Franklin had to put a stop to this line of questioning. Clearly, it upset Corva, and he wouldn’t have that. “Dad, what are your plans for confronting Bonneville about the calves?”

Behind them, Cody laid a few more logs on the fire to brighten the room, as if it wasn’t hot enough already in spite of the spring chill outside.

“Now, now, son.” Howard shook a finger at him. “First things first. We’re investigating…I mean, learning about your wife.” He winked at Corva.

Corva blushed and stared down at her plate.

“Dad, maybe now isn’t the best time,” Franklin defended her.

“Nonsense. Now, young lady, what about your parents? Where are they?”

Corva swallowed. “My father was killed in the war. My mother died right after the war ended. That’s when I was sent to live with my Aunt Mildred, because the family thought we would cheer each other up.”

“Well? Did you?” Howard demanded.

Franklin cringed. He knew his father meant well, but he was like a grizzly bear in a house of cards. Franklin tried to shake his head to call his father off, but he was oblivious.

“No, not really,” Corva answered. “Aunt Mildred didn’t like children. She…she married my Uncle Stanley two years later, but…” She closed her mouth and swallowed.

Franklin saw the tell-tale signs of a woman about to cry. “Dad, I know you want to learn all about Corva, but this business with Bonneville is far more pressing. We need every one of those calves to stay with our herd if we stand a chance of increasing our numbers.”

“The only solution I can think of is to keep the pregnant cows close to home,” Travis spoke up.

Franklin sent him a nod of thanks for coming to the rescue.

Howard sighed. “I doubt Bonneville himself is behind it. More likely it’s that bast—” He cleared his throat, darting a glance at the women and children present. “That scoundrel he’s got running his operation, Brandon.”

“Kyle Brandon is a menace,” Travis growled.

A snap sounded from the fireplace behind Franklin and Corva. Franklin ignored it, but Corva turned, as if only just realizing she’d been seated in front of it. The logs Cody had laid on the fire had caught and were now blazing away.

One look at the flames, and Corva screamed, launching out of her chair. Her plate spilled to the carpet. She only made it two steps before stumbling over one of the children.

Franklin thrust his plate aside and jumped up after her. “It’s okay,” he assured her, closing his arms around her and drawing her into an embrace, even though he wasn’t all that steady himself. “It’s okay.”

Corva hid her face against his shoulder with a sob. She shook like a leaf, so Franklin tightened his hold around her. Throughout the room, his family and friends gaped and murmured in baffled surprise.

“She lived through the burning of Atlanta,” he told them quietly.

A few hums and nods of sympathy followed, but Corva continued to shake and refused to come out of hiding.

“Move those chairs,” Howard ordered, blustering, but red-faced with embarrassment. “What fool put them there in the first place?”

Probably him, but Franklin wasn’t going to say anything.

“I’ll fix you a new plate, dear,” his mother said, patting Corva’s back as she skipped through the room to the dining room.

“Why is Aunt Corva crying?” Minnie asked.

Everyone jumped into motion to drown the impertinence of Minnie’s question, shuffling seats and moving Franklin and Corva’s chairs to the hallway side of the parlor. There was so much movement and fuss that not one of them heard the front door open and slam shut.

It wasn’t until he shouted, “Haskell, I demand you stop this underhanded farce at once,” that they realized Rex Bonneville had barged into the house.

 

Quick little historical fact, in case you were wondering…. The word “Dad” as used to refer to your father is actually not as modern as you might be tempted to think it is. It was first recorded around the year 1500 as a name for your father, but language historians believe it’s much, much older than that.

His Perfect Bride (naughty version) and Corva: The Perfect Bride (nice version) are coming on December 28th! Stay tuned for links and more! But if you want to get the background to this story and the series, I recommend reading Trail of Destiny….

Excerpt Wednesday – His Perfect Bride/Corva – Trouble Brewing

Dec 09, 2015

It’s Wednesday! Are you feeling naughty or nice? Lucky for you, with this next series of mine, you can pick. I’ll be releasing both a spicy version – His Perfect Bride – and a sweet version – Corva: The Perfect Bride – so you won’t have to worry about reading too much of the bedroom stuff…or not enough. Either way, there’s trouble brewing for Franklin and Corva almost right from the start. Take a look! Both books release on December 28th….

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His explanation was cut off by a high-pitched, female shout. Corva had to search for a second before she spotted a short woman in a flouncy purple dress with honey-brown hair waving her arms at him. The woman had jumped up from a circle of three other young women, all of whom bore a distinct resemblance. The woman who had called out hopped down from one of the higher benches and charged across the field. The only hint Corva had of Franklin’s feelings about the woman was a quick, heavy sigh.

“Franklin, what a treat to see you in town today. I wish you had told me you were coming in. I would have invited you to come watch the boys practice with us. We’re having such a jolly time.” The flouncy woman finally puffed to a stop when she was mere feet from Franklin.

“Vivian.” Franklin managed a tense pinch of his mouth, which may have been an attempt at a smile.

“You’re looking dashing today,” Vivian went on. “Is that a new suit? It looks expensive. Did it come in on the train just now? I simply love it when you or your family send away for fancy things that come in on the train.”

A hitch formed in Corva’s chest, not of jealousy—which part of her thought she should be feeling, considering how beautiful and fine the woman in front of her was—but of embarrassment for the woman’s sake. She was well aware that men came west looking for gold, but apparently women did too.

“This isn’t a new suit,” Franklin said. He cleared his throat. “I did meet the train, however. I came to town to greet Corva when she arrived.” He glanced to Corva.

Only then did Vivian blink and glance to Corva, noticing her existence. “Who’s she?”

Franklin took his time answering. “Vivian, I’d like you to meet Miss Corva Collier.” He stopped, nodded to himself, then said, “I mean, Mrs. Corva Haskell.”

A warm flush filled Corva’s body. That was her name now, wasn’t it? Not just in her imagination. “How do you do?” She held out a hand to Vivian.

Vivian stared at her, then at Franklin. Ever so slowly, her lip curled. “Mrs. What?”

Franklin blew out a breath. Corva had the impression that if he wasn’t holding her arm with one of his and his cane in his other hand, he would have rubbed his face, possibly to hide.

“Corva and I have just been married,” he said, offering no other explanation.

Vivian’s transformation was quick and alarming. Her pretty smile evaporated into a sour grimace, which morphed into a bitter pout. “But Franklin,” she choked. “I wanted to marry you.”

The comment was so bold and had so much insistence behind it that Corva’s brow shot up and her heart pounded against her ribs. Clearly, Vivian was a force to be reckoned with. Corva wanted to let Franklin’s arm go and step away, possibly even running back to the train station, although the train had moved on.

“Vivian, you know what I’ve said about that in the past.” Franklin kept his voice low and his eyes fixed on Vivian, almost as if he was scolding her.

“You said you would never marry anyone, that no one deserved a cripple for a husband,” Vivian pouted.

Corva snuck a sideways glance to Franklin, who looked a little like a moth that had been skewered with a pin in a case. The same feeling of heartache that she’d felt the moment she saw him returned.

Vivian turned her vicious stare on Corva and went on with her outburst. “I see now that you lied.” Her chin and nose shot up. “I had no idea you were such a liar, Franklin Haskell. Papa will be furious.”

“I’m sorry if you had the wrong idea about things.” Franklin did his best to placate her. “I thought I had made my intentions clear from the first.”

Vivian sniffed. “You didn’t know what you were talking about. You were supposed to come around…eventually.”

“You know that wasn’t—” He stopped, pressing his lips together and squeezing his eyes shut.

It dawned on Corva that her new husband was a patient man. That thought made her smile, in spite of the confrontation they were mired in.

At last, Franklin took a breath, hugging his arm, and with it, Corva’s hand, closer to his body. “I’m sorry if you are disappointed, Vivian, but with so many single men in these parts, I’m sure you’ll find a husband in no time.”

 

Stay tuned for more! And if you’d like a reminder when His Perfect Bride and Corva: The Perfect Bride come out on December 28th, please sign up for my newsletter!

Excerpt Wednesday – His Perfect Bride: A First Look

Dec 03, 2015

I know, I know, it’s Thursday again, not Wednesday. But I have an exciting new excerpt for you anyhow! It’s from the first book of a super exciting new series, The Brides of Paradise Ranch! Here’s the twist, though. For each book in this series, I will be releasing a Spicy version and a Sweet version. They’ll be the same story with the same plot, same characters, same everything, but one version will contain those sexy, spicy scenes that some of you love, and the other will be fresh and clean as a daisy. Each version will have a different cover and a slightly different title.

Today, I bring you a snippet of the first book in the series, His Perfect Bride (spicy version) aka Corva: The Perfect Bride (sweet version). Many apologies about not having covers yet, but here’s a bit of Chapter One that, well, that more or less sets up the entire series….

 

He took a breath, settled back in his chair, and rolled his shoulders. “The other night, Olivia and I were going over some business regarding my dear, old friend and mentor, Josiah Hurst’s, estate. You know that among many of the other charitable institutions he left behind when he passed on, one of them is a home for women who have been battered or abused or otherwise escaped from dangerous situations.”

“Hurst Home.” Josephine nodded. “You are truly a saint for setting up such a wonderful, safe place for those women.”

“Well, it was Olivia’s idea as much as mine,” Charlie insisted.

“Either way, it warms my heart to know that there’s a safe place for those poor women to go in troubled times,” Virginia added.

“Exactly,” Charlie continued. “That’s what set Olivia to thinking the other night. Some of the stories of the women currently living at Hurst Home would break your heart. They’ve endured so much, and even though the home is a safe place for them, Olivia had the idea that it would be even safer for some of them to start new lives far, far away from the troubles of their pasts.”

“New lives?” Josephine exchanged a glance with Ellen…who was more interested in the cup of fruit at Josephine’s place than the conversation. “How so?”

Charlie leaned forward. “Olivia was reading a newspaper that her mother sent her from back home in Ohio. Among its pages, she noticed an advertisement by a miner over in Colorado, looking for a wife.”

“Ah, mail-order brides.” Virginia nodded. “I hear that quite a few men who have settled out here are sending back East for wives these days.”

“Which brings me to my point.” Charlie smiled. “Olivia and I feel as though it would benefit a great deal of people if we could find a way to bring some of the women from Hurst Home out here, to Haskell, to be brides for the young men working at Paradise Ranch, or in town, or on any of the other ranches in the area.”

Josephine and Virginia hummed and exchanged looks of surprise and interest.

“Well, it would certainly stop so many of them from patronizing Bonnie’s all the time,” Josephine said.

“Very true.” Virginia nodded slowly. “I’m not saying Bonnie Horner wasn’t smart to open a whorehouse in Haskell.”

“She certainly did cut down on the amount of mischief all those virile, young ranch hands got into,” Josephine added with a wry drawl.

“Mmm.” Virginia arched an eyebrow. “Several of those boys are far more grown up now than they were when Bonnie opened her doors. It’s about time they settled down and started families.”

“The only way for Haskell to grow is by welcoming families and inviting them to put down roots,” Josephine agreed.

The two women turned to Charlie once more.

“I see we’re in agreement.” Charlie winked. “And I think Bonnie would agree with us too, at heart.”

“She’s got other irons in the fire, that Bonnie,” Virginia said, exchanging a knowing look with Josephine.

“So are we agreed?” Charlie asked. “Should we send a telegraph to Mrs. Breashears at Hurst Home asking how she feels about the plan?”

“Absolutely,” Josephine said.

“The sooner the better,” Virginia agreed.

“Excellent.” Charlie smiled and tapped the table to seal the deal. “Now all we have to do is figure out which lucky man should be our trial groom.” He twisted to wave across the hotel dining room, catching the eye of the stately, white-haired man standing ramrod straight near the doorway to the lobby.

The white-haired man nodded and glided across the room to the table. “Can I help you, Mr. Garrett?”

“Yes, Gunn. Breakfast for my two sweet angels.” He winked across the table to Ellen, and reached to his side to ruffle Allen’s hair. “And anything else that Mrs. Piedmont and Mrs. Evans want.”

“Right away, sir.” Mr. Gunn bowed and moved off.

“What about Theophilus Gunn?” Josephine asked. “He’s getting up in years and could use a wife.”

Charlie shook his head and chuckled.

Virginia laughed outright. “Mr. Gunn is far too long in the tooth for any of the young ladies of Hurst Home. Besides, to hear Charlie tell it, he’s married to his job.”

“Best hotel manager Wyoming has ever seen,” Charlie agreed. “And Virginia is right. We need to think younger. What young man in Haskell do we know who needs a bride?”

“And who is mature and kind enough to treat a woman who has been through the wringer well,” Josephine added.

The three of them sat back in silence, mulling over the question. Charlie rubbed his chin, studying his babies. They were too young by ages to even thing about marriage, as were his two older children, but he still put himself in the position of the father of a daughter in need of a mate. Which young men in town would he most trust with a tender heart?

One of Mr. Gunn’s waitresses returned with a breakfast tray, laying all manner of delicacies out for them. Children and grown-ups alike dove in. It was easier to think on a full stomach.

“You know who I have wanted to find a good woman and settle down for years,” Virginia began as the last of the cream tarts and bacon was devoured.

“Who?” Charlie dabbed his mouth, then put his napkin down, ready for business.

Virginia hesitated before saying, “My nephew, Franklin.”

A wave of uncertain excitement swept over the table. Franklin Haskell. Yes. He was Howard Haskell’s son, not to mention Howard’s right-hand man on the ranch. Franklin more or less ran things, now that Howard was more interested in building a unique town and helping it to thrive. But all Charlie really knew about Franklin was that he was quiet, serious, and a cripple.

 

Excited? Ready to read more? His Perfect Bride/Corva: The Perfect Bride releases on Monday, December 28th, right after Christmas, and just in time for you to use the Amazon gift cards that I know you’re going to get! Be sure to sign up for my newsletter to be notified when they release and for future releases!