- Shopping Bag ( 0 items )
Jackson's Hole, Wyoming, October 1888
The autumn downpour chilled Belle Murray to the bone, despite her good coat with Ham's old slicker worn over top of it all. She shivered, although her black wool dress ought to provide adequate warmth under all the layers.
She hadn't planned on getting stuck in the mud on the trail back to the homestead.
"C'mon, Patch. You can do it." She snapped the reins, urging the horse forward. Patch pulled, his chestnut shoulders straining against the harness, to no avail. The small cart's wheels remained fast in the deep mud.
Belle was stuck two miles from home, and twilight came early in the fall in Wyoming.
Her numb yet still aching heart almost made her predicament seem laughable. If she had the inclination to ride home, she could unharness Patch and ride him the rest of the way. However, she carried a cartful of provisions from the good people of Jackson, and if she left it here, someone might surely take the bit of food. She needed the supplies, even with her brother-in-law having the foresight to prepare for the winter ahead.
Belle sighed, and Patch huffed, the gelding's breath making puffs in the cold air. "I know, Patch. We've gone and done it this time." But there would be no one at home to tease her when she told the story.
Melanie Murray Quinn and her husband, Hamilton Quinn, now lay beneath the earth, still soft enough to bury bodies before winter's cold descended with a fury over Wyoming. The freak wagon accident had robbed Belle of any family she cared about.
She should have taken Ham's advice and left Wyoming before the leaves fell, gone back East. But to what prospects?
Belle sat contemplating her decision to stay in Jackson on her fool's errand. Her supposed mission from God to give some propriety to the Wild West.
The squeak and creak of an approaching wagon made her glance over her shoulder. Here came Zebulon Covington, in all his fur wrapped, bearded, know-it-all glory.
She turned back around. Might as well urge Patch once more. "C'mon, Patch. You can do it." Anything, besides Zebulon coming to her aid. She didn't care much to hear any "I told you sos" from him.
What was it about men treating women as though they couldn't think or care for themselves?
"Whoa." Zebulon pulled up his team, the mules tossing their heads. "Afternoon, Miss Murray."
"Good afternoon, Mr. Covington."
"I see you're in a bit of a bind. Do you care for any assistance?"
She could hear the mocking tone in his voice and dared not look him in the eye to find the twinkle. Why did he always seem to be laughing to himself when he saw her?
"Care? Not particularly. I think ... I think Patch needs a moment to gather himself, and he'll pull the cart from the mud without much effort."
"Nightfall's coming soon. How long do you plan to wait for Patch to gather himself?"
"Not long. I was just about to try again." She gathered her skirt then swung her legs— carefully and genteelly, of course—to the side in order to climb down from the cart. Her boot slid on the mud, and before she could steady herself, her world flipped on its side and she was left staring up at Zebulon's team, puffy clouds rising from their nostrils while a wet, earthy scent met her own.
Zebulon was off the wagon seat in a flash and by her side. "The mud's a bit slick."
A bit slick, indeed. And it had the consistency of sticky dough, much like the time when she'd kneaded the bread too much. Cold seeped through her layers, and she dared not look down. Wearing Ham's old fur coat had been a wise last-minute decision before leaving for the funeral. They could have had the funeral at the homestead, but she didn't take to the idea of two corpses, especially family, lingering in the house with her alone. Selfish of her, maybe?
She glanced at Zebulon. He'd crouched down close enough she could see the first few strands of silver in his beard. "Thank you, but I can get up without assistance." Although it was gentlemanly of the roughened rancher to help her up. No, the man wasn't a complete beast, but she didn't trust his intentions.
"Suit yourself, Miss Murray." He towered above her as she managed to scramble to her feet, not bothering to adjust her skirts. "Let me see if I can get you unstuck here, and we can both be on our ways."
She stood at Patch's head while Zebulon worked to free the wheels of the two-wheeled cart from the nearly foot-deep mud Patch had pulled it into. "I hope it works."
"You and me both."
He joined her beside the horse. "Here." He took hold of the horse's halter. Zebulon tugged, harder than she would have.
Again, Patch strained against the harness. The cart wiggled. Belle bit her lip. C'mon ...
No. It didn't work.
Zebulon's mules balked and pulled away from Patch when Zebulon tried to use them to assist Patch with pulling the cart. The mules threatened to bolt, but Zebulon grabbed the nearest bridle and they stopped.
"Well, I do believe I'll be giving you a ride home this afternoon."
"Tied to the back of my wagon." He glanced toward the cart. "We'll take whatever's in the back of the cart, too."
She ought to refuse and unhitch Patch from the cart and ride him home. But then she had no sidesaddle, and who knew how long it would be before she could come back to this part of the road and gather the provisions in the wagon, if someone hadn't picked them off by then?
"All right. Thank you. Thank you very much, Mr. Covington."
* * *
Well, well, well.
Zeb hadn't expected to find himself in this situation on the way back to the cabin. He'd gone to pay his final respects to the Quinns, along with the rest of Jackson. Those who had the time to make it to town, anyway, with one of the final trips of the season for the visiting preacher, until the spring thaw. Until then Zeb and two of the other men in the area would take turns preaching at the weekly Sunday meeting, for whoever showed up in between snowstorms.
He glanced at Belle Murray, who sat ramrod straight beside him on the wagon seat, her gloved hands folded neatly on her lap. The wagon swayed and creaked, but all the while, Belle managed to keep perfect posture. She'd maintained a form of dignity in spite of the mud covering the lower part of her clothing and one sleeve.
This spring, when he'd met the young and proper spinster who'd joined her sister and brother-in-law out West, he and a few of the others almost began a betting pool to see how long she'd last. Almost, that is. Any money he came by he wouldn't squander on a gamble.
Even if he was pretty sure he'd win. First snowfall and she'd be gone, he told them. The others agreed.
After losing Hamilton Quinn, one of his good friends, he'd modified his tone a bit, as he'd promised to watch out for his friend's sister-in-law if anything ever happened to him. At the time, Zeb didn't think he'd ever be called on to keep that promise. He figured Belle would soon be on her way back East and find her proper self a good spouse.
Belle Murray had stayed in Jackson, though. She had some cockamamie notion of opening some kind of school for young women, but it wasn't a traditional book-learning school. No sirree, she'd told them all she was going to help civilize the West by schooling its young women in culture, poise, and gentility.
The idea almost made him snort, even now, but one of the mules beat him to it.
The mules, dubbed James and John, were apt to act like sons of thunder, but today the mud and chill made them want to hurry back to the warm barn. He didn't blame them.
Shadows continued to gather at the end of this gray day. Zeb had come along at the ideal time. He couldn't envision leaving the young woman stranded on the trail home, left to her own devices.
"I–I'm very grateful, Mr. Covington, that you happened along," Belle said. "I can't imagine what I would have done."
"I'm sure you'd have thought of something. B'sides, I couldn't right well leave a lady on the trail. Wouldn't be proper, nor gentlemanly, of me." He couldn't resist a tease.
"It's quite gallant of you, sir." She paused. "I did think of unhitching Patch, gathering which provisions I could, and riding home, to return for the rest of the items and the cart when the trail dries out."
"Good idea. But you never know who might happen along and see those things. Or the cart. Can't be too careful; they might come up missing."
She nodded slowly. "You're right. Do you expect we'll get snow soon?"
"Possibly. Perhaps tonight."
"It's so cold, already."
"Didn't it get cold in Boston?"
"Yes, it did. I'm sure it still does."
"Well said, Miss Murray."
It was her turn to chuckle at him; the soft bells pleased his ears. He wanted to make her laugh again.
"People think I'm going to leave now, but I'm not." She glanced his way, blinking up at him through long dark lashes framing blue eyes. "I know Melanie and Ham would want me to stay. This is the family's land, and I can't let their legacy go."
"Miss Murray, no offense, but you have no idea of what it will take to winter over in Jackson. There's not someone to dash around the corner to call on, should you need help. Winters are long, and lonely. When the snow gets deep, we don't go much of anywhere. There's no fancy mercantile you can pop over to pick up the latest lady's book."
He couldn't help himself. The idea of a woman living on her own in this part of the country, well, it was madness. Especially one green with ignorance of what living out West entailed. She could die, and no one would know.
"I appreciate the fact I'm not in civilized country. Ham, Melanie, and I have ... had already formed a plan for the winter. We have adequate provisions, and since it's just ... just me in the home now, I'll have plenty of food. I can make the fuel last, too."
Zeb shook his head. "Miss Murray, please do me a favor. Please, allow me to pay for your safe passage to the nearest rail station. I'll take you there myself, over Teton Pass. But I suggest you seriously consider leaving Jackson before it's too late and there's no chance of you making it out of here until spring."
Belle frowned, and for a second Zeb regretted being the cause of her somber expression. "Thank you, Mr. Covington. Thank you."
"For passage out of here?"
"No sir, not at all." She stuck her chin out, and he noticed the tiny dimple in its center. "You've made me all the more determined to stay."
The mules' pace had slowed to a casual stroll, and Zeb chirruped to the beasts, who responded more readily than Belle had.
Women. Sometimes, there was no sense in trying to talk logically to them. This one, anyway.
Stubborn though she was, he had to keep an eye on this one, whether she liked it or not. Her life could very well depend on it. And he'd promised Ham. If he had his way, he'd be toting her over the pass to Idaho, first thing.
Belle Murray picked up the primer and held it above Rosemary Smythe's head. They stood before the looking glass in Rosemary's bedroom. The luxury items spoke well of Rosemary's family and her determination to care for her appearance, even out here in the wilds of Wyoming.
"Stand straight; don't slouch your shoulders as if you have a sack of flour strapped around your neck." Belle tapped Rosemary's shoulder gently with a finger.
"All right." Rosemary wiggled her shoulders, thrust them back, and stuck out her chin.
"No, I can't set the book on your head with your chin like that. Your head must be level."
Rosemary lowered her chin. "Is that better?"
"Indeed, it is." Belle released her hold on the primer and let it balance on the crown of Rosemary's head. "There, see? Your posture is perfect."
"I do look taller." A faint glow suffused Rosemary's cheeks. "Am I standing as well as a lady back East?"
"Even better, Rosemary, even better." She realized how much she sounded like Miss Elizabeth Monroe, a governess she'd once served beside while employed by the Skinner family. Miss Monroe had studied in Paris, the woman had told her. Miss Monroe had carried herself ever the bit of a lady, and eventually went on to marry a gentleman who'd done quite well for himself.
To marry well was also Rosemary's wish.
"What is it, Miss Murray? You appear deep in thought." Rosemary turned, and the primer slipped from her head.
"I was thinking of my own inspiration, a Miss Elizabeth Monroe, a refined and genteel woman who found herself in difficult circumstances. I first knew her when I was about your age. I learned from her etiquette, style of dress, manners, and how to conduct oneself in every situation."
"Whatever happened to her?"
"She found a most suitable gentleman, married well, and went on to manage a well-run household. After she wed, I didn't see her anymore." Belle didn't add that Elizabeth Monroe had left the industrial magnate's grand home and never looked back. As soon as Belle could manage it, she did the same.
Instead of finding a most suitable gentleman, however, she'd found herself here, in the West, longing to teach young women such as Rosemary social refinements.
"I'd like to find a most suitable gentleman. I'm nearly eighteen."
"So you are."
"After all, before I know it, I'll be nearly as old as you."
Belle tried not to wince at the reference to her own unmarried state. No, nearly twenty-two wasn't ancient, by any means, but she'd surely envisioned herself married by now. Except, she hadn't found anyone to match her list. Anyone who'd take notice of a self-educated woman whose unmarried parents had arrived in Boston with suitcases and dreams, that is.
"Time does fly, Rosemary. Now, what do you consider most suitable in a husband?"
The young woman sank onto her mattress and pursed her lips. "Handsome, strong. Hardworking."
"Those are good places to start. However, handsome is as handsome does." A brief flicker of memory struck her. She'd nearly surrendered her heart to handsome, once, but God in His mercy had allowed her to see his true colors. "A man should have other qualities. Considerate, respectful. Kind to the weak, especially animals and young children. Submitted with his heart and life to the Almighty."
"Yes, I see." Rosemary looked thoughtful, and placed her finger on her lips. Then she locked her gaze with Belle's and sat up as straight as any debutante before Belle could remark about the slouch. "I know who."
"All those qualities sound like Mr. Covington."
"You mean, Zebulon Covington?" Her voice almost squeaked, but she cleared her throat to mask the sound.
"Oh, yes. I don't know why I'd never thought of him as a possibility before. He's definitely unmarried."
"But he's so ... so ..."
"Hairy." Rosemary nodded. "But even trappers-turned-ranchers need to shave, eventually.
He has beautiful eyes, so blue. And a kind face under all that beard."
"And he's ... quite ..."
"Old?" Rosemary shook her head. "He's not so old. Almost twenty-six, I heard him tell Pa one time. They were talking, not long after Zeb—Mr. Covington—started building his house this past spring. Pa said the man was planning to settle down."
"I see." Zebulon Covington seen as a possible catch? Belle couldn't wrap her mind around the idea. The man was kind enough to have rescued her the other day on her way home, but she didn't see him as possible marriage material.
Evidently, Rosemary knew more about the man than Belle did. Rosemary's face glowed. Perhaps something could come of this and Rosemary could be one of Belle's first success stories.
"Rosemary," she announced, gliding over to the mattress and settling gracefully onto the bed, "if you believe Mr. Covington is a suitable match for you, then we shall see what happens."
"He's ... he's coming to supper tonight. Ma takes pity on him, says someone needs to feed the bachelors, and Pa said he ought to come while the weather holds, before another snow comes in."
"Well, you should practice tonight on your conversation and manners."
"Oh, my heart flutters at the idea. But what if he's not interested? What if he doesn't want a wife?"
Belle took Rosemary's hand and squeezed. "Dear Rosemary, a man gets to a point in his life and he will see the need he has for a good wife. And when Zebulon Covington does, you'll be right there."
"Please, please, Belle, stay for supper. Ma won't mind. And I'll feel so much better to know you're here. I'm so afraid I'll say the wrong thing or look like an imbecile. And my little brother will only vex me, by teasing me unmercifully. He'll accuse me of putting on airs if I try to show my manners."
Belle pondered that for a moment. "I suppose I can. But I can't stay too late; I'll need to see to the animals in the evening, and I don't like the idea of caring for them in the dark."
"I won't keep you one moment longer than you may stay. Perhaps Pa can send one of his men to your place to feed them."
"I wouldn't want to put them through the trouble. Mr. Tolliver will be coming to work tomorrow."
"No trouble. You'll be helping me, too."
"All right, then. Supper it is."
Excerpted from A Grand Teton Sleight Ride by Elizabeth Goddard, Lynette Sowell. Copyright © 2014 Lynette Sowell. Excerpted by permission of Barbour Publishing, Inc..
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Posted September 1, 2014
I absolutely love this collection of four novellas! The stories span over many generations of the Covington ranching family in Wyoming and each one was wonderful. I really enjoyed how these stories were connected down through the ages and how the reader was able to see the progression of this strong family from one story to the next. I honestly can’t pick a favorite novella out of the four because they all have their own charm and I was left with a wonderfully happy feeling at the end of each one. I definitely recommend this sweet collection to those who enjoy romances.
I was provided with an electronic copy of this book in exchange for an honest review, which I have given.
1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted December 8, 2014
A Grand Teton Sleigh Ride is a 4 in 1 collection of Christmas novellas that follow four generations of the Covington family through the years. Beginning in 1988 and ending in present day, you will find a fun mix of historical and contemporary. I think this was a unique and interesting way to write a collection of Christmas stories. You will enjoy four sweet romance stories that all incorporate an item of family history into their story. The stories paint a descriptive picture of the beautiful mountains of Wyoming, as well as the dangers and hardships of winters in the mountains. I did feel that a couple of the stories came to a very abrupt end and I would have enjoyed a little more length in those stories. Overall, this was an enjoyable and lighthearted book.
A copy of the book was provided to me in exchange for my honest review.
Posted October 27, 2014
Posted September 3, 2014
Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback.
Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
A Grand Teton Sleigh Ride, Four Generations of Wyoming Ranchers Celebrate Love at Christmas By Elizabeth Goddard and Lynette Sowell
A Grand Teton Sleigh Ride takes us on a adventure through four generations with the Covington family. The characters live in Jackson Hole, Wyoming from 1888 until present time. Each story highlights the way of life for that time period and the changes that came since the generation before them. They all have a magical sleigh ride in common. I fell in love with the characters and their stories especially Haley. For some reason her story just warmed my heart. The authors Lynette Sowell and Elizabeth Goddard did an outstanding job of brining life to the characters. Their stories are real, heartwarming and you find yourself caught up in their life. A Grand Teton Sleigh Ride is full of passion, faith and a belief that you can survive. The Covington family will inspire you to do great things with whatever you have. I give this inspiring book 5 stars and know anyone that if you enjoy historical romance and contemporary romance will find something to love about this book.
A Wedding for Bella by Lynette Sowell
Jackson’s Hole, Wyoming 1888.
Bella Murphy has no living family after the death of her sister and brother in law died in a accident. She had been living with them in Jackson’s Hole working toward their claim of the land. She only has the winter left before she can file a claim for legal ownership of the land. Zebulon Covington has promised Bella’s brother in law that if anything should happen to him he would look out for Bella. He wants nothing more than to put her on a train back East to home. But Bella is bound and determined to stay, no matter how harsh the winter will be. Zebulon is sure he has no desire for a wife but can Bella can his mind? He finds her too proper and she finds him old and unrefined. Can a proper gentleman be hiding under all that hair? I found the characters to be spunky, fun and faithful. I loved the mules James and John that tended to act like the Sons of Thunder and found them to be an added bonus full of amusement.
I give A Wedding for Bella 5 stars.
A Mirage of Snow By Lynette Sowell
Jackson Hole, Wyoming 1919.
The city of St Louis, was closing in around Billy Will Adams. So he packed up and moves back to Jackson Hole. He went to school with Emily Covington and they had been great friends until the death of Will’s father. At which time he and his mother moved back East. Now Billy had grown into Will, a lawyer and he has returned to Jackson Hole to settle down and build a practice. As Will and Emily start to develop feeling for one another Will’s ex fiancée shows up bound and determined to win his affections back. This was a sweet story of long lasting love, the characters were down home friendly and full of faith. I enjoyed Will and Emily’s story and found the author Lynette Sowell did a great job of bringing the character to life in a old fashioned love story. They were easy to fall in love with and believable. I give A Mirage of Snow 4 stars.
Winter Wonderland by Elizabeth Goddard
Jackson Hole, Wyoming 1929.
Anne Kirkland comes to Jackson Hole from Manhattan, New York, to take photographs for her fathers magazine. Once there she discovers the guide she hired has left her high and dry. Sam Covington wants to start his own guide business Anne will be his first customer. Both want their father to see them for their worth. Winter Wonderland is a great story of romance, faith and love. I feel in love with the characters and admired their strong moral ethic. Elizabeth Goddard did a great job with is story.
Ribbon of Light by Elizabeth Goddard
Present day Jackson Hole, Wyoming.
Haley Covington was expected to take over Covington Ranch like family members before her but she has other dreams. The last thing she want to do is let her father down. If only there was a way to run the ranch and follow her dreams. When Jim Taylor offers to feature her pottery in Blue Mountain Art Gallery, she discovers dreams can come true. Sparks fly when she meets Ty Walker the local sky bum, but he has nothing to offer Haley. But after meeting her he knows she is the one. Can meeting Haley be a answered prayer? Ty and Haley’s story is full of faith that will inspire you to reach for the stars, and hardship and roadblocks that have the potential to stop you in your tracks. You will be find the inspiration to dream after reading this 5 star story. The author Elizabeth Goddard did an amazing job with this tale.
I want to give a high-five to the authors Elizabeth Goddard, Lynette Sowell and publisher Barbour Books for bringing compelling Christian books that are entertaining and give hope to the reader with stories of faith. I was provided with this book in exchange for my honest review and I am so grateful for the authors and publishers generosity.
Posted September 1, 2014
A wonderfully sweet collection of four novellas that portray four generations of one family. Elizabeth Goddard and Lynette Sowell did an awesome job as writers for these novellas. The Teton Valley and Jackson Hole, Wyoming are a beautiful place and they are portrayed in an exquisite way. The romance is sweet and beautiful. Plus they reveal their faith in the Lord. This is a Christmas story I will want to read again. Actually I read it for the first time in the summer and it was so enjoyable.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.