Today's blog tour hops to Illinois, or I should say to the book, Lilly:Bride of Illinois, I wrote for the American Mail-Order Bride Series. (50 mail-order brides * 50 states * 50 books)
This clean, sweet historical romance set in 1890. Lilly Lind was forced to emigrate from Sweden two years ago, due to circumstances beyond her control. She finds a job as a garment maker in the Brown Textile Mill in Lawrence, Massachusetts, finally feeling as though she is settling in her new country. Then a suspicious fire burns the mill, making Lilly seek another way to survive. She answers a mail–order bride ad in the Grooms’ Gazette and sets off for Chicago, believing she will be a business owner’s wife.
Kansas rancher Seth Reagan travels to the Union Stockyards in Chicago to attend the 1890 American Fat Stock Show, the American Horse Show, and to purchase horseflesh to augment his herd. When arriving at the train station, he overhears a conversation between a young woman and a shady–looking man. Seth becomes concerned for the mail–order bride who is whisked away to a saloon, not to her new husband’s home.
When Seth goes to the saloon to check on the young woman, he finds her in trouble and offers to help her escape. While buying horses and arranging their return travel to Kansas, Seth realizes he would like to bring Lilly home with him, too, but she is still being hunted by the saloon owner’s thugs.
Lilly’s good fortune in meeting Seth makes her want to start a life with this man, but he came to Illinois for horses, not a bride. Would he want her after he learns of her secrets?
Lilly: Bride of Illinois is available in ebook and paperback form at Amazon.com.
Here's an excerpt from Lilly: Bride of Illinois
And now it was time for them to go to bed. They might be married, but they weren’t going to consummate it, so…it was making them both nervous and shy all of a sudden.
“Ah, thanks to you buying me a new night gown yesterday, you can have your night shirt back,” Lilly shyly said, still sitting at the table.
“True, but it’s a little colder on the floor so I’ll keep my pants on,” Seth drummed his fingers on the table, not comfortable to meet Lilly’s eyes.
“Seth, why would you sleep on the floor? We’re married now, even though we don’t plan to. …you know… Seth’s eyes widened and looked at Lilly’s red face. He might be thinking about it, but she almost said it out loud.
“Lilly you were hurt again today, I think you need to have the bed to yourself tonight,” Seth rushed through the words.
“Well, okay.” Lilly stood up, and Seth thought she was ready to go to bed.
“I’ll go downstairs then to give you some privacy so you can get into bed,” Seth said standing up, ready to run out the door.
“I could use your help before you go downstairs,” Lilly stopped Seth just as he was about to turn the doorknob.
“Could you please take my hair pins out, brush my hair and braid it? It’s hard to raise my right arm to do it,” she said sweetly. Seth blew out the air he was holding, worried it could have been more than brushing her hair.
“Sure, I’d be glad to help you,” he turned thinking she’d be seated in a chair by the table, but she sat on the far side of the bed with her back turned to him instead. How’d she move so fast to get on the bed?
“Here’s my brush,” Lilly looked over her shoulder at him. “Please put the hair pins on my handkerchief beside me so I can pick them up without dropping any.” Oh, boy. He was going to have to crawl in bed and sit behind her to reach her hair.
Seth, toed off his boots and sat on the bed, but she was still out of reach.
“Wait, I’ll move up a bit so you can sit behind me,” and Seth watched her little behind scoot on the bed.
“You know, I didn’t have any sisters, so I don’t know how to do this…so maybe you can still do it yourself?”
“Seth, I bet you’ve braided rawhide, twine and many other things. It’s not hard,” she glanced over her shoulder at him. She turned back around, but not before he saw her sweet turned–up lips.
Okay, he could do this. Seth moved to sit behind her, then studied her hair. Where’s the best place to start pulling pins?
He gingerly pulled a hairpin out of the bottom of her top clump of curls, trying to do so by only using the tips of his thumb and finger. His big fingers caught some of her hair at the same time and he winced. “Oh, sorry.”
“My hair won’t break off, Seth. Pull the pins out, and then run your fingers through my hair to find any you missed.”
One by one, Seth pulled the pins then gingerly placed his fingers at the base of her neck and ran his fingers up her scalp and out through the length of her waist–long hair, having to pull out sideways because he was so close behind her.
“Pins all out? Here’s the brush to smooth out any tangles. I usually do a hundred strokes every night.”
Seth was sure the first fifteen strokes through Lilly’s hair hurt, but she didn’t say anything. He found a rhythm, enjoying the silky golden strands running across his fingers as he brushed out to the tips of her hair. He lifted her hair to his nose to smell it. It smelled like the Blue Lilies Perfume he gave her, maybe along with a little “cattle” scent from being in the exhibit hall.
Lilly kept quiet, her eyes closed, looking like she was enjoying him brushing her hair as much as he was enjoying doing it for her. What would it be like to do this every night for my wife?
When he got done with the one hundred strokes, he set the brush aside, divided Lilly’s hair in thirds, and slowly braided it. She held a blue ribbon—apparently her favorite color, too—in her hand for him to tie the end of her braid.
“Okay, I’m done, so I’ll go now,” Seth said as he climbed off the bed and reached for his boots.
“Thank you, Seth. It felt so good to have my hair brushed out. Now could you help me out of my clothes?”
“What?!” Good grief, did he just squawk like a fourteen year old whose voice was starting to change?
“I need help out of my clothes and then you can wrap my ribs,” Lilly said as she moved off the bed to stand in front of him.
What did she learn while being in the Emporium? How to seduce a man? Could he do this without looking? But feeling without seeing might heighten his senses instead.
“I unbuttoned my shirtwaist, but I need you to carefully pull it off my shoulders and down my arms.”
Lilly turned away from him, and he slowly slid the shirtwaist off her arms, feeling her bare shoulders in the process. She didn’t have on a corset, or corset cover. She only had on her chemise under her shirtwaist.
“You need your long underwear on,” so I don’t see your bare skin.
“Don’t have any, but I suppose I should buy some for our trip home.”
“Yes, and boots, too. Your shoes are about worn through. We’ll go shopping tomorrow.” Think of a shopping list instead, to get your mind off her skin!
“Please unbutton my side seam on the left side of my skirt and pull it, and my two petticoats, off.”
“Oh no, I shouldn’t be doing that...” I bet my face is so red, I look sunburned.
“I’m afraid you can’t get them down, so you’ll have to pull them up over my head.”
Seth sighed. Just do it. The poor lady’s ribs hurt.
It took a couple of minutes to get everything unbuttoned, separated and up over her head after she slowly raised her arms. Then she stood there in her chemise and drawers, looking at him…waiting for…what?
“How about I slip your nightgown over your…underwear…so you stay warmer tonight?”
“I want to pull up my chemise so we can…”
“Nope, we are not doing anything, so lift up your arms as much as you can again because your nightgown is going on now.”
He might have pulled the gown over her head maybe a little too hard and fast, but it was done and he had his hand on the doorknob again.
“I meant so you could wrap my ribs...”
“Oh.” Now Seth was embarrassed because he’d been thinking of something else besides her injured side.
“Can I have a goodnight kiss?”
Lilly laughed so hard she snorted when he looked back incredulously at her. The little tease. But after the little kiss they exchanged at their marriage ceremony today, he wouldn’t mind kissing her again.
Lilly: Bride of Illinois Copyright 2015 by Linda K. Hubalek
About the Author
While growing up, Linda Hubalek had always planned to be a farmer, like her ancestors who homesteaded the Kansas prairie. But marrying an engineer changed her plans—and state of residence for a few decades.
To ease the homesickness for soil and family until they could move back home, Linda wrote books about her pioneer ancestors.
Linda’s passion for the frontier has also drawn her into writing western romance featuring Kansas’ cattle town days and the women who lived in those times.
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