Today is release day for
by Sandra E Sinclair
Book 14 and her fourth book in the series
SWEETHEARTS OF JUBILEE SPRINGS
About Captured Heart:
He’s haunted by his past, she doesn’t have one.
Only problem is, she’s not Emily.
Lonely and in need of female companionship Steven Kelly sends for a mail order bride, unprepared for the surprise that awaits him on her arrival. The woman who came to be his would-be-wife, was already married—to him. Although this woman looked like his wife, sounded like his wife and was wrapped in his wife’s skin, she wasn’t his Adriel. He didn’t know who she was.
The wife he thought dead, was back, but she was different.
Was this his second chance to right the wrong he’d done, or was she back to torment him? It hurt to be forgotten. Would his love alone help her to remember?
Find out now by grabbing your copy of Captured Heart, on Amazon today. PLEASE CLICK HERE
Captured Heart will be offered at the New Release sale price of $.99 for one day before it will be available at its usual price.
Now, for an excerpt:
“Oh my, you really do scrub up well, Mr. Kelly.”
“Why thank you, Mrs. Radcliffe. However, I’m now all dressed up with no place to go. Me plans are on hold. I’d forgotten about the tour of the town the Bainbridges put on when the women get here. There won’t be a luncheon for us, not today anyway.”
“Well you can still come by the ranch. I think we’ll be ready to move in as soon as tomorrow. So, you’ll be able to move in upstairs and get the place sorted the way you like for when you bring home your bride.”
Steve grinned. He was grateful to Lily for moving out earlier than planned. He knew it had to be her idea. Wythe had told him there were still a few things needed doing on the ranch house, even though most of the furniture ordered was now in place, and their stove had yet to arrive. “I don’t think I’ll change much. You’ll be leaving the furniture, won’t you?”
“Yes, you’ll get the apartment with everything in it. Should be a nice new start for both of you.”
“So what’s the plan now? How are you going to beat Beg Wilson for your young lady’s affections?”
“Aye, you see this is where you come in. It’ll be too late for lunch but not for tea. If you’re agreeable, we can go see her after the parade is over and ask her here for tea. What do you think?”
“I think it’s a splendid idea. Maybe you could stop by the bakery and get some baked goods to go with it. That would be a nice gesture.”
“Aye it would.”
Wythe came down the stairs dressed to go out. “Weren’t we going somewhere? Why is Steve going to DeMitre’s?”
“Change of plans, dear. The brides are being taken on a tour of the town, Steve had the time wrong.”
“As I said before, what’s the plan?”
“We still have to go to the ranch. Steve and I are going to invite his young lady for tea there.”
“What cockamamie plot are you two cooking up for that poor woman?” Wythe asked, shaking his head.
“It’s actually a good plan,” Steve said. “We’re going to the boardinghouse before the official meet and greet to invite Marybeth to have tea with me and your good selves, before Beg gets there. He’s got the choice of two, he can have the other one.”
“How do you think he’s going to feel about your underhanded tactics?” Wythe ran his fingers through his hair.
“I don’t care what he thinks if it works.” Steve’s mouth drew into a thin line.
“I really think you should wait and play fair,” Wythe said.
“I wasn’t asking you what you think. I’ll be back in a while.”
“Now you wait just a minute. I—”
“Leave him, Wythe. This has nothing to do with us.” Lily placed a hand on her husband’s arm.
“It has, when it involves you too.”
“Lily can stay. I’ll do it on me own.” Steve strode to the door.
“No, Steve, I’m coming with you. Go on to the bakery. I’ll talk to Wythe.”
“We are talking, and neither one of you is making a lick of sense. Do you want to see the other side of Beg Wilson? I know I don’t.”
“You won’t, his beef will be with me.”
“What if he comes to the ranch? What then? It will involve Lily and by the same token, me.”
“Aye, I guess you have a point there. I’ll go on me own, Mrs. Radcliffe. Thanks for offering to help.”
“Go to the bakery, Steve, as we discussed. You deserve a chance at happiness and neither Wythe nor I have a right to stand in the way of that. If Wythe is so worried about me he can use his charms on Mr. Wilson to defuse things. You know how good you are at negotiations, dear.” She smiled into her husband’s eyes, her hand pressed to his chest. “If that doesn’t work, we’ll tell Mr. Wilson I’m pregnant. I’m almost sure he wouldn’t want our child to be fatherless.” She laughed and rested her head on Wythe’s shoulder.
“Almost sure?” Wythe grinned. “You and Steve can take it lightly. I’ll continue to be the voice of reason until one of you gets it.” Wythe wrapped his arms around his wife and kissed her forehead.
Lily slid her arms around Wythe’s waist and nodded to Steve. “You do that, dear. Run along, Steve, time’s a-wasting.”
Outside the store Steve chuckled to himself. Lily had Wythe licked. His mouth said one thing and his body another when it came to his wife. He hadn’t won an argument with her since they married. It reminded him of how Adriel used to have him chasing his tail as she ran rings round him. He sighed. Head bent, he walked down Telegraph Street, past the people and the unfortunate men gathered by the depot to see the brides.
He could wait. He’d be marrying one of them in a few days. Part way down Schoolhouse Road, he paused in his stride and glanced at the surreys carrying the women from the corner of his eyes as they passed by. He froze to the spot, blinked, and shook his head; for a moment there, he thought he saw Adriel, at least two of her.
Steve told himself he really needed to stop thinking about her, as he stared after the vehicle. He had to move on if he was going to start hallucinating.
If he kept this up, he would be seeing her face in every woman he met, just as it was before he’d left Ireland. He couldn’t go back to not caring for himself or anyone else.
After ten years of self-torment, he’d decided to try and live again, open himself up to another, only to let the ghost of his wife enter his head all over again. He wouldn’t allow it. That chapter in his life was over, done, finished.
Steve rubbed his eyes, pressed his hat down hard on his head, and shifted his collar up over his neck, to cut out the chill that ran through him. The wind was bitter, but it wasn’t that which chilled him. The sensation ran far deeper. He shook himself and snorted like a horse, vibrating his lips.
Lord, would he ever get over losing Adriel? Dazed and uneasy from the knotting in his stomach, he hurried along the street as flurries of fine snowdrops landed on his coat sleeves.
He returned from the bakery to find Lily waiting outside for him. Wythe had gone to the livery to hire a four-seater and would join them at the boardinghouse. She wanted to walk as the day was fresh. Lily let him carry the pastries until they reached the entrance of the boardinghouse, then she removed the package from his fingers.
“It would look better if I held these,” she said, jerking her head toward the reception area, to a smiling Mrs. Howard, who had greeted them on entry. Beside her was another woman Steve had never seen before. He guessed she must be the matchmaker lady. His suspicion was confirmed when her face brightened with recognition.
“Lily Whitefield, my dear, how are you?”
“Hello, Lizett, it’s Lily Radcliffe now.” Lily showed Lizett the ring on her finger. “I’m very well. Thank you for asking. What about you? How have you been?”
“Good, good, I’m just here with my young brides—”
“That’s the reason I’m here,” Lily cut in. “This is Steve Kelly. He’s been promised to one of the women that came to town with you, Marybeth Stanley. We’d like to invite her to tea at my home. If they are compatible, I’m sure she and I will become firm friends, as Steve works quite closely with my husband. It would be good to have some additional female company.”
“I see. This is most irregular. I do believe that young woman has also been corresponding with one of the miners. Mr. Bainbridge’s men have priority.”
“I think if you ask Royce, he will confirm he added Steve, as a favor to his cousin; my husband. It’s all above board. Royce assured Wythe that Steve would be given the same chance as the miners who work for him. So, if you would just let her know I’m here. I’m with child so I don’t want to be standing for too long.” Lily patted her stomach and smiled.
Lizett gave a short squeal and hugged Lily to her. “Congratulations. Yes, yes, I’ll get Marybeth right away. Mrs. Howard, do you have a chair for Mrs. Radcliffe?”
Lily held up her hand. “Please, no, that won’t be necessary. I can stand for a little while longer.”
The portly woman flew up the stairs, a look of delight on her face, as if she’d won first prize in a baking contest. Steve was glad he brought Lily with him. He wouldn’t have been able to do this alone. There was no way that woman would have allowed him anywhere near Marybeth were he on his own.
He felt as if he’d been standing in the same spot forever, before he saw Lizett descend the stairs followed by two women. Beads of sweat formed on his forehead. He removed his handkerchief from his pocket to mop his brow and palms.
When he glanced back toward them, a cold sensation shot up his spine, his head grew heavy, and the air left his lungs. It couldn’t be. His eyes seemed ready to release themselves from their sockets, as the blood rushed from his head to his boots.
Steve gulped down with relief. On closer inspection, he could see he’d been mistaken. For a moment there he thought he saw his dead wife. It was uncanny how much she reminded him of Adriel. Was it fate? That a woman who looked a lot like Adriel, should be the one writing to him?
No sooner had a sense of calm enveloped him, then it was gone the instant the other woman came into focus. Was he going mad? Either the hallucinations were back or the woman behind her was most definitely his wife, Adriel.
It was impossible. Yet here she was. Steve wanted to run to her, ask her how? But he was paralyzed by both fear and elation. Was it possible? He couldn’t breathe or think, and Lord only knows where his voice went. His legs were boneless. It was sheer willpower that kept him on his feet.