Saturday, August 29, 2015

Cross-Country Travel Was Not For the Timid

In the mid-1800s, people needed determination and patience to travel from one side of the country to the other. Stagecoaches ran on a weekly or bi-weekly schedule. A trip from St Louis to San Francisco involved about 25 days of travel. The coaches were drawn by six horses and stops were made every 12 miles for fresh teams. Depending on the terrain, coaches covered between 5 and 12 miles per day—running day and night. Passengers were grateful to get hot coffee, biscuits and jerky at these stops; on rare occasions, hot meals were available.

True, the Transcontinental Railroad was completed in the summer of 1869 but that line served a route of the most-populous cities. How was someone, like my character Ciara Morrissey raised on the East Coast, to travel to an out-of-the-way location like Bull City, in northern Wyoming Territory? The Union Pacific Railroad ran through southern Wyoming and from Cheyenne a small-sized coach, most likely a Concord coach (built with sturdy braces for a more comfortable ride), ran a north/south route.

The suggested items to travel with would have filled a large satchel or three. In addition to their clothing, passengers were admonished to pack 6 pair of thick socks, woolen underdrawers, blankets—one in summer and two in winter, 3-4 towels, heavy overcoat, light coat, hat and their choice of pistol or knife for personal protection. Imagine being a well-bred lady from an upstanding Massachusetts family reading that list.

Once she got inside the stagecoach, she would have had her choice of window or middle position (approximately 15” in width) on either a forward or backward-facing bench seat. As she set out on her journey, she could read the rules about men forgoing swearing and smoking in a lady’s presence, but tobacco chewing was allowed, as long as the chewer spat downwind. I would hope so. Or if the person (presumed to be a male) couldn’t refrain from drinking alcohol, then he must pass the bottle around. Yum. Snoring loudly or using another passenger’s shoulder as a pillow were frowned upon. Improper advances toward a woman could get the male kicked off the stagecoach in the middle of nowhere. Forbidden topics of conversation were stagecoach robberies and Indian uprisings. Sounds like a smart rule. Shooting at wildlife (Wyoming had a huge population of pronghorn antelope) was prohibited. Passengers were encouraged not to jump from the stage in case of runaway horses so as not to be left victim to the weather, hostile Indians or hungry coyotes.

Like I mentioned, Ciara had a purpose and she looked at all these strictures as part of her great adventure. She’d made a deathbed promise to her mother to seek out the father she didn’t remember, and Bull City was his last known location. Not only does she have the “excitement” of the trip, her stage is attacked, a passenger dragged out and the driver shot. She arrives at her destination, hands locked tight around the leather reins. That’s the first time Sheriff Quinn Riley sees her and the story of Dreams of Gold begins.  Amazon buy link

As a child, Linda Carroll-Bradd was often found lying on her bed reading about characters having exciting adventures in places far away. In later years, she started writing romances and achieved her first publication--a confession story. Now Linda writes heartwarming contemporary and historical stories with a touch of humor. Read more about her publications at her website or sign-up for her newsletter (inaugural issue this fall)

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Writing History, Whenever It May Be

I've always been an ardent student of history. It fascinates me to learn about how people lived in the past, how they managed to cook their food or make their clothing. Most of my research ended up focusing on the World War II era, and it wasn't until this last winter that I shifted to my current topic of study - the American West.

I've been asked a few times how I managed to make that shift so quickly and be able to write convincingly in such a different era. My first answer was, "I'm not sure." However, after I thought about it so I could give a more intelligent reply, I've come up with an explanation, and I hope it's helpful to you as well.

People are people, whether you're writing about cavemen or explorers in space - we all have the same basic wants, needs, and dreams. Really, what it comes down to in writing historical is looking at those wants, needs, and dreams through the lens of that character's time. For instance, I think it's safe to say that girls/women through all eras like having something new to wear. A Western girl would fantasize about going down to the general store and choosing out new fabric, while a contemporary girl would fantasize about going to the mall. It's the same desire - they would just go about it differently because of their different circumstances.

The same goes for making dinner - the goal is always the same (make food) whether you're cooking it over a fire on a spit, throwing it in the microwave, or hitting the "replicate" button on your spaceship. The feelings of hunger are the same, the desire to eat quickly is the same, the feelings of grumpiness are the same no matter what era you're writing. People are the same no matter what their historical surroundings.

If you're contemplating writing historical, I suggest that you start with the characters first and determine their hopes and dreams and objectives, and then decide how to create that framework around them. The funny thing is, this is how I recommend starting every book, historical or not. When you start with the characters and their emotions, you're starting in the perfect spot every time. Then just put them in dresses, take away their cell phones, and boom! You're done!  Well, okay, it's not that easy - but it's also not as hard as you might think.

Writing Prompt: Take the following scene and write it three ways: cavemen, American West, and the 1940s. A man comes home and asks his wife what's for dinner. If you like, leave your results in the comments.

Amelia C. Adams has lived many lifetimes, and is currently enjoying this stretch as the author of sweet and clean Western romance. Her new bestselling series is called Kansas Crossroads. A New Beginning (book one), A Free Heart (book two) The Dark and the Dawn (book three), A Clean Slate (book four), A Clear Hope (book five), and The Whisper of Morning (book six). You can learn more about her and her books on her website.  

Wednesday, August 19, 2015


Post copyright by Doris McCraw writing as Angela Raines

What to share with everyone is a question I have pondered for a bit. What part of history should I share? Although I write historical romance, another part of my life is spent researching and telling the stories of early Colorado women doctors. In my novella, "Home For His Heart" there is no town doctor, but there is a midwife who is the closest thing they have. Much has been written about how difficult it was for women in the medical profession in those early days. That does not always seem the case. In Colorado women doctors were an important part of the growth of that state. Here then is a bit about four of those early pioneers.

The first documented woman physician in Colorado appears to be Alida C. Avery. Arriving in 1874, two years before statehood, she set up practice at 339 Twentieth Street, in Denver. Her office hours were 10-12 and 3-5. Prior to arriving in Denver, she was a member of the faculty of Vassar College as a professor and resident physician. In the Rocky Mountain News article, they stated " during her tenure not a single death occurred among her pupils".
1873 photo of Alida Avery. Image: Vassar College

In the early days of her career, Mary Helen Barker Bates, practiced in Salt Lake City, Utah. There are some family stories that state she was Brigham Young's physician. It was in Salt Lake City she met her husband, attorney George Bates. They were married in 1876 and by 1878 the couple moved to the mining town of Leadville, Colorado. Dr. Bates was active in the medical community there, but by 1881 the couple moved to Denver for George's health. In Denver, Dr. Bates remained activin the health community. She eventually introduced the Colorado Law for the Examination and Care of Public School Children, that went into effect in 1910.
Leadville, Colorado, mining district, subject of an early mining-geology study, 1879.

Harriet Leonard became the proprietor of one of the spas in Manitou Springs, Colorado. According to family sources she arrived in Colorado in 1876. She was a graduate of the Keokuk School of Physicians and Surgeons, an early coed school, located in Keokuk, Iowa. Dr. Leonard was always learning and working to find ways to help the sick. When she arrived in Colorado, the area was growing as a region for health seekers, especially those suffering from lung ailments.
Picture 048
Headstone for Hariet Leonard

Julia E. Loomis was the first woman physician in Colorado Springs. Although some sources say she arrived in 1876 also, the first documentation is in 1878. Dr. Loomis attending the Cleveland Womens  Homeopathic College, in Cleveland, Ohio. Although she may have practiced the healing arts prior to attending college, she graduated in 1871 with her MD. Dr. Loomis was in her fifties at the time.
Headstone for Julia E Loomis

So there you have some early women pioneers in the area of medicine. Women were always in the healing field, but after Elizabeth Blackwell graduated medical school in 1849 the floodgates opened and women were able to practice the healing arts with the MD following their names.

Product Details
"NEVER HAD A CHANCE" , second in the Agate Gulch stories, in the Prairie Rose Publications "A COWBOY CELEBRATION" anthology

Product Details
HOME FOR HIS HEART the first in the Agate Gulch stories.

Author Page:

Angela Raines is the pen name for Doris Gardner-McCraw, Author, Speaker, Historian-specializing in
Colorado and Women's History. She also posts a photo and haiku five days a week at:

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Images of the Past by Shanna Hatfield

The fifth book in the Pendleton Petticoats series led me down the road of researching the Umatilla Indian Reservation during the early years of the 20th century. One of the best resources I've found for gleaning the details I need is through a collection of photographs from Lee Moorhouse.
Moorhouse was a photographer and an Indian agent for the Umatilla Indian Reservation. From 1888 to 1916, he produced more than 9,000 images documenting urban, rural, and Native American life in the Columbia Basin, particularly in Umatilla County, Oregon, where the reservation is located. Born in Marion County, Iowa, as a child Moorhouse traveled along the Oregon Trail to Walla Walla, Washington with his family in the 1860s. He worked as a miner, surveyor, rancher, businessman, civic leader, real estate operator and insurance salesman during his lifetime. In addition to acting as an Indian agent from 1879 to 1883, he served as Assistant Adjutant General of the Third Brigade of the Oregon State Militia. Unlike most amateur photographers of the time, Moorhouse worked with and mastered the cumbersome and finicky equipment of professionals, including gelatin dry glass plate negatives, large cameras, and a tripod. Many of his photographs exhibit a keen eye and deep appreciation for his subject matter that went far beyond the amateur. His photographs of the Cayuse, Walla Walla and Umatilla tribes are not only of historical significance, but also incredibly crisp and beautiful. Moorhouse owned an extensive collection of Native American "curios" including baskets, weapons, regalia, bags and horse trappings--from a variety of tribal cultures. He exhibited the collection at local fairs and used it to adorn people who came to sit for portraits. Like so many photographs from that era, the posed portraits aren't considered accurate ethnographic documents. However, the images taken on the reservation are important records of tribal clothing and dwellings. Moorhouse collected so much more than images with his photographs since he commonly inscribed the name of the subject on his negatives. This information has played an important role in identifying members of the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla. I thought I'd share a few of my favorites from his collection.
The "Cayuse Twins" (Al-om-pum and Tox-e-lax) became a signature piece for Moorhouse when he took their photos in 1898. He sold more than 150,000 copies of their images.
This is "Dr. Whirlwind," one of Moorhouse's favorite subjects. From information I gathered, I believe his name was David Young Chief. As a young man, he carried dispatches for Colonels Wright and Steptoe during the Indian uprisings for 1855-56. He also served as a scout during the Sheepeater Campaign of 1879. Check out the embellishments on his gun.
The details Moorhouse captured are just amazing, like the traditional dress of Chief Ka-lit-in of the Cayuse Tribe.
These are the children of Parson Motanic. You can see the girls wear the traditional wing style dresses. Their father was a successful farmer and at one time owned one of the largest properties on the reservation, raising both wheat and livestock. I think the girl on the far left and the one standing next to her look like they are full of sass and fun.
Parson became an ardent Presbyterian and served as an elder at the reservation church for many years. He was often seen driving around Pendleton in his Hudson automobile.
This is Ku-massag, also known as Agnes Davis. She appears in several of Moorhouse's photographs. Here, she wears traditional dress, including a woven hat Moorhouse often used as a studio prop.
And here she is in a studio pose. Isn't she stunning? Look at that beautiful skin! I, for one, am so glad Moorhouse decided to pursue photography as a passion, if not a career. Thanks to his diligent efforts (and the University of Oregon libraries), the world can get such a wonderful glimpse into a way of life that is no more.

The book all this research went into is Lacy (Pendleton Petticoats Book 5).
Eager to make her own way in the world, Lacy Williams leaves behind her family on the Umatilla Reservation and accepts a job in Pendleton at the telephone office as an operator. The work she takes in stride, but dealing with the unfamiliar, unsettling feelings stirred by the handsome banker across the street is an entirely different matter.
Grant Hill wants a wife.
However, not just any wife will do. If that were the case, he’d make an announcement at the mercantile and cause a stampede to the church. Grant wants a woman who will look beyond his material wealth and see into his heart. When he's all but given up on the possibility that such a woman exists, he runs into the lovely Lacy Williams.
The two of them must strive to discover if the bonds of love are stronger than the bonds of tradition in this sweet historical western romance.

Here's a little excerpt:

Grant chuckled. “I didn’t realize you were so interested in romance.”
Her footsteps slowed to a halt. Lacy looked at Grant as if he’d begun speaking in some foreign language she didn’t understand. “There isn’t a female alive, Mr. Hill, that isn’t at least a little interested in romance. Regardless of where they come from, what they do, or who they are, every woman craves a little romance from time to time.”

Shanna Hatfield 2  A hopeless romantic with a bit of sarcasm thrown in for good measure, Shanna Hatfield is a bestselling author of sweet romantic fiction written with a healthy dose of humor. In addition to blogging and eating too much chocolate, she is completely smitten with her husband, lovingly known as Captain Cavedweller. Shanna creates character-driven romances with realistic heroes and heroines. Her historical westerns have been described as “reminiscent of the era captured by Bonanza and The Virginian” while her contemporary works have been called “laugh-out-loud funny, and a little heart-pumping sexy without being explicit in any way.” She is a member of Western Writers of America, Women Writing the West, and Romance Writers of America.  

Find Shanna’s books at: Amazon | Amazon UK | Barnes & Noble | Smashwords | Apple  

Shanna loves to hear from readers! Follow her online: ShannaHatfield | Facebook | Pinterest | Goodreads | You Tube | Twitter

Resources: Grafe, Steven L. Peoples of the Plateau: The Indian Photographs of Lee Moorhouse, 1898-1915. University of Oklahoma Press, 2005. Photographs: Special Collections and University Archives, University of Oregon For a quick overview of Moorhouse's work, you can also find many images on Pinterest.

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Romancing San Diego's Amazing Past

Since this blog is just starting up (thanks to Robyn Echols!) I thought I’d introduce myself and say what a thrill it is to be here among such wonderful story-tellers! 
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The stories I write are often set in southern California where I grew up. San Diego’s history, with its whaling port, ships, and “hide” industry along with gold discovered in the back country, makes it a fascinating place to write about. I love the Spanish and Native American influence there too.

My latest sweet historical, 

The Gunslinger and the Heiress

takes place when Wyatt Earp owned three businesses in San Diego, when the Hotel Del Coronado had its grand opening, and when a young boy stumbled into town saying that he had been living on an island off the coast with pirates. No one believed him until he produced a few items from the pirate’s stolen booty. (I do love adventure in my books but this is for real!)

The opening of a famous hotel figures prominently in my book and so I thought I’d share a bit about the place. The Hotel Del Coronado opened in February 1888, as the vision of two San Diego entrepreneurs. Elisha Babcock, Jr. had been a railroad executive in Indiana who came to the coast for his health and his friend, H.L. Story (of the Story and Clark Piano Company) envisioned a place where people could come to escape the harsh winters in other parts of the country.

Hotel Del Coronado
At the time, the flat peninsula of Coronado looked like a huge sandbar. The main occupants were jack rabbits and quail and sagebrush. San Diego was still a sleepy town without railroad access and to get to the “island” one had to go by boat across the harbor or by horse and carriage twenty miles around on the thin strip of sand known as Silver Strand.

Babcock and Story bought the entire peninsula for $110,000 in 1885. They had a lot of work ahead of them. Fresh water had to be piped all the way from the San Diego River (at Old Town), a ferry system and railroad had to be put in place in order to transport building supplies. They even built a power plant—second only to San Francisco's in the state. (Electricity in California was virtually non-existent at the time.) 

They marked out their town in a grid formation, planted exotic trees and bushes in place of the sage, started a foundry and a laundry that would support the main focus of the island—a resort hotel they wanted to be “the talk of the western world.” Architects submitted their proposals and Clinton Day’s plan was approved—a striking and unusual Victorian. Shortly after, the Hotel Del Coronado became known simply (and affectionately) as “The Del.”

Early San Diego 
Opening day, which is featured in my story, was a “soft” opening. The kitchens were not completed for another three weeks. Guests who had made reservations found their rooms unfinished. It didn’t stop people from arriving…and continuing to come.

The Hotel Del Coronado is now a famous National Historic Landmark that commemorates the history of the United States. It is world renowned and has been host to more than fourteen presidents, foreign leaders, well-known Hollywood celebrities, and my brother on his honeymoon. (Does that make me famous by association?)

It is also host to a ghost—but that is another story…

Blurb from The Gunslinger and the Heiress:

Hannah Lansing, heir to a large shipping venture on the west coast, must discover the fate of her lost ships or marry to save the family business.  Unfortunately, the one person that can help her is a man she once bitterly betrayed.
Caleb Houston still carries the scars of his last encounter with the Nob Hill princess although wild horses wouldn’t drag that fact out of him now. The sooner she gets her answers and leaves town, the easier he’ll breathe.
But when her digging unearths more than the missing cargo, disturbing a sleeping rattler, she becomes a target. And Caleb finds that guarding her life could mean he’ll lose his own heart.
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Links for my books ~    Amazon    Barnes and Noble  

       Website ~         

Chat with me ~          Facebook,  Twitter, or  Goodreads!

I would love to hear from you! Introduce yourself and tell me what draws you to historical fiction!


Monday, August 10, 2015

Masonic and Its Mines

Ore Processing Plant in Middle Masonic
 North and East of Bridgeport in Mono County, California, and not far from the famous former gold mining town of Bodie is another ghost town named Masonic.

Gold was discovered in this region about 1860. Because most of the miners were Freemasons, it was named the Masonic mining district. However, due to the excitement over the discoveries in both nearby Aurora and Bodie, this more difficult to access region was not fully developed at that time.

  In 1900, a sixteen year-old boy from Bodie, Joseph Green, found a rich ledge of gold and filed his claim as the Jump Up Joe Mine. Unfortunately, young Joe did not have the funds to fully develop the mine. He gladly sold it Warren Loose for a good price.

A couple of years later, among the aspens and pines of this desolate region, other ledges of gold were discovered, the most promising being found by J. M. Bryan, Caleb Dorsey and J. S. Phillips of Pittsburg. They made their discovery on the Fourth of July, 1902, which prompted them to name their claim the Pittsburg-Liberty.

By that time, between the ore found in the Pittsburg-Liberty and the Jump Up Joe, the partners from Pittsburg decided there was enough ore to justify the building of a cyanide stamp mill to separate out the gold. Once it was completed, the new 10-stamp Pittsburg-Liberty Mill powered by a dynamo and equipped electric lights pulverized 30 tons of ore a day and boasted a payroll of 50 men.

 Other prospectors soon found other outcroppings of gold above and below the original site of Masonic. Each area acquired a cluster of cabins. The town, originally called Lorena, soon developed into a community of three sections, Upper Town, Middle Town and Lower Town.

10-Stamp Pittsburg-Liberty Mill
However, they relied on what became known as Middle Town and became melded into one community known as Masonic. Middle Masonic boasted not only the cyanide plant, but the post office as well as a store, a tiny hotel, rooming and boarding houses and two saloons. The post office was a board and batten shack that was windowless except for a slider in a frame that allowed the mail to be handed out of the window to the miners. Middle Masonic was the source of community spirit, liquor and entertainment for all those living in the Masonic region. The town also had a school, a butcher shop and telephone service as early as 1905. It reached its height between 1909 and 1911.

Structure in Middle Masonic
 At its peak, Masonic boasted 1,000 residents. For a time, it even had a local newspaper. At the town's height in September 1908, the paper reported:

"Over 50 couples tripped the light fantastic to the excellent strains of the Bodie Orchestra.
Supper was served in the Jeffrey Hotel."

Note flattened tin from cans used to insulate log homes.
This dance was typical of the entertainment to be found in Masonic. The citizens of Masonic took pride in maintaining a law-abiding, hardworking community unlike the wild and lawless "Bad Man from Bodie" reputation that stuck to their neighbor to the south, Bodie. There were no churches in Masonic, but on the other hand, there were no brothels.

Even without the gunshots found in Bodie, Masonic was not a quiet place to live with the stamp mill. Unfortunately, between lawsuits, mill breakdowns, rising shipping costs, declining gold prices, and the depletion of ore in the mines, the town started into decline in 1911. By 1950, the town and its mines were abandoned.

Tramway from Upper Mines

Pile of discarded tin cans litter hill above Middle Masonic

Loading Chute

Since the cyanide plant for processing the gold ore was in Middle Masonic, the upper mine built a tramway to transport their ore down to the plant.

A loading chute for ore brought from other mines was located just before you get to Masonic.

Chemung Mine Ruins

On the way to Masonic is the Chemung Mine and Mill located at 8,000 at the base  of Masonic Mountain. Founded in 1909, it was never a consistent producer. However, endless legal wrangling kept business tied up in litigation for years. Before it was all resolved, gold mining in the region had become unprofitable for all the mines.

Local legend claims a deranged ghost haunts the mine, but only takes offense if visitors show up on Saturday nights.

Masonic is located in a remote region infused with pockets of beauty surrounded by the mountain ranges that straddle California and Nevada east of the Sierra Nevada Mountains.

View of the Mountains surrounding Masonic

Zina Abbott is the pen name used by Robyn Echols for her historical novels.

The first two novellas in the Eastern Sierra Brides 1884 series, Big Meadows Valentine and A Resurrected Heart, are now available.

The author is a member of Women Writing the West, American Night Writers Association, and Modesto Writers Meet Up. She currently lives with her husband in California near the “Gateway to Yosemite.” She enjoys any kind of history including family history. When she is not piecing together novel plots, she pieces together quilt blocks.

Please visit the Zina Abbott’s Amazon Author Page by clicking HERE.

Zina Abbott Author Links:

Website  |  Blog     |  Pinterest  |  Facebook  |  Goodreads

Friday, August 7, 2015

Five Things I learned From Writing THE MENACE TAKES A BRIDE

A Sweet Historical Mail order Bride Romance
set in Liberty, California, 1895

The Husband-Maker Trilogy, Book One
Garth is willing to wait
for the right woman to come along.
His father isn’t.


We're all familiar with the few great fortunes made and kept in the California gold fields near Sutter's Mill. Less familiar are the fortunes made in timber and logging in northern California. Both contributed significantly to new wealth early in the latter half of the 19th century. Single, young men flocked to California, lured by the dreams of quick riches, and my fictitious character, Luke Wakefield fit right in. It's all back story, as his French mail order bride, Cadence, brought her family's legacy of fine chocolate-making. Luke and Cadence had one child who survived to adulthood, Garth Wakefield, my main character in The Menace Takes a Bride. The timeline works splendidly such that Garth, a son of a successful gold miner is pushing age 30 when this book opens. Luke and Cadence's mail order marriage worked out beautifully, so Luke is confident his son Garth's will as well.

Frequently Asked Question: Why is Garth a Menace? Or... Why is the title The Menace Takes a Bride?
Answer: See the opening two paragraphs of the book.
LUKE WAKEFIELD GULPED WEDDING CHAMPAGNE, but he was in no mood to celebrate. “Any unmarried man over twenty-five years of age is a menace to society.”
He glared in Garth’s direction. His son danced with the Hollis woman, holding her too close, his lips brushing her temple. As if he intended to ask for her hand. Ha! Luke would never live to see his only child safely wed.
Copyright © 2013 - 2015, Kristin Holt, LC
And there you have it. The reason why Luke (a grumpy "old" man, has decided his son is a "menace").


Domingo Ghirardelli, an immigrant who dreamed of striking it rich in the great Gold Rush, eventually founded a confectionery company in 1852 that would become the Ghirardelli Chocolate company.
Ghirardelli Square Clock Tower
Ghirardelli played a central role in introducing chocolate to American consumers, from its San Francisco factory. It seems only natural that a rival company, (my fictitious) Cadence Chocolatier would be founded in my (relatively nearby, also fictitious) Liberty, California. Originally a kitchen and shop, Garth's mother, Cadence, developed a thriving business which he inherited. Garth's immediate problem, as The Menace Takes a Bride opens, is his meddling father (Luke) has forged Garth's signature on a paper marriage document, signing over complete control of Cadence Chocolatier--multiple factories (as the Industrial Revolution has assisted large-scale production), original shop, bank accounts, leadership of the company, and the Whitfield mansion--to the bride Garth doesn't want.






The American west most certainly had a Victorian Era. Many expectations from the United Kingdom (where one might more fully expect Victorian culture to prevail given that's where Queen Victoria reigned), but it's apparent a big fight (The American Revolution) to break free from the British didn't go so far as to abandon all interest in society, fashion, and culture. Victoria's coronation came roughly 60 years after the beginning of the American's battle for independence yet the United States, especially once women moved west and brought civilization with them, adhered quite closely to Victorian expectations of morality, behavior, etiquette, courtship, entertainment, and marriage. Connected couples exchanged love letters. And yes, the wealthy (like the Wakefields) did present diamond rings upon engagement. 

Garth gives Mitzi the courting gift of chocolates in trademark Cadence Chocolatier seafoam green boxes... but not quickly enough nor heartfelt enough to please his father. Thus Luke assists Garth in courting his wife.

Snippet, in Luke's point of view, from the end of the first scene of Chapter 7:
Luke had lived through two wars and survived a gold rush. More importantly, he’d been a husband for twenty-two glorious years. A pang of loneliness tightened about his heart. He’d been around plenty long enough to understand how a courtship ought to progress.
Garth may have ordered him to stop giving presents, to stop meddling, but Luke knew better. Besides, ice cream didn’t count. It was food, not a bauble and certainly not meddling.
On the porch, he heard Mitzi’s moans of pleasure. Luke grinned at her little-girl delight. Until tonight, the poor thing hadn’t ever tasted ice cream.
Imagine that. Ice cream. He shook his head, amazed at the simple life she’d lived.
Silhouetted against the setting sun, Luke watched with pleasure as Mitzi rested her head on Garth’s shoulder. From this distance, he couldn’t quite hear what they talked about, but they were talking. That was good enough to ease an old man’s concerns.
Cora stepped up to his side, her tread light on the kitchen floor. She folded her arms and watched the young couple for a minute, perhaps two. “You did a good thing, Luke. A very good thing.”
Yes, he had. The more he saw of Mitzi and Garth together, the more he knew he’d done the right thing.
They looked like a husband and wife, and the image made Luke grin.
A husband. He’d made his boy a husband.
He wanted to jump up and down, hoot and holler with the thrill of victory—but that would interrupt the most domestic, tender thing he’d ever seen going on out on the porch swing.
An idea came to mind, a most exciting thought. It wasn’t a gift, he rationalized. Merely her due. Mitzi was a Wakefield, not a nun. She deserved more than a plain gold wedding band. If Garth had found Mitzi on his own, he would’ve wooed her with a diamond the size of a quail egg.
If Garth knew how to court properly, he would’ve bought Mitzi a diamond already. The boy would appreciate a little help getting the shopping done.
“I need a woman’s opinion,” he said to Cora.
“Tomorrow morning, you and I are visiting the jeweler.”
Copyright © 2013 - 2015, Kristin Holt, LC



Many new developments occurred in time for the well-to-do Wakefield family enjoy them in the time-frame of this book (1895)... and made Mitzi (raised in an orphanage in crowded Chicago) take note. Wakefield House sported a built-in bathtub with running hot and cold water plus a flushing, indoor toilet. One of the 'mean girls', Helen, receives an over-the-top birthday gift from her doting millionaire father--a motorized carriage (automobile). Yep. Perfectly historically accurate, for the 1%, particularly near the busy San Francisco port.
Daimler Motorized Carriage, 1886


Yes, it's traditional for couples to meet, court, fall in love, decide to marry, and tie the knot. I think that's why I'm fascinated with mail order bride romances. It's so backwards to marry first (or after a little long-distance courtship through letters), court a little more in person (or not), and eventually, maybe, fall in love. In Romance, we expect our main characters to fall in love, to win their hard-won happily-ever-after through much difficulty, challenges, and proving they deserve one another.

I particularly enjoyed the development of Garth and Mitzi's romance, showing key scenes wherein they fall in love, admit it to themselves and eventually to each other. For them, love most certainly came after marriage. I do hope you'll enjoy reading their story as much as I enjoyed writing it.

The Menace Takes a Bride is one of my four current mail order bride-themed titles (out of six total). Many more are on the way. Book 2 in The Husband-Maker Trilogy, The Cowboy Steals a Bride, is also available. Book 3, The Doctor Claims a Bride is due out soon.

All books by Kristin Holt are currently FREE Reads with kindleunlimited

Interested in a book description for either of these The Husband-Maker Trilogy titles? Click on the boxes above to read the blurbs on Amazon, OR visit my website for blurbs of The Menace Takes a Bride and The Cowboy Steals a Bride.

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Copyright © 2015, Kristin Holt, LC