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A Chance at Love
     

A Chance at Love

4.6 45
by Beverly Jenkins
 

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Loreli Winters never imagined she'd end up a "mail-order bride" in middle-of-nowhere Kansas -- until the two adorable orphan nieces of a dusky dream named Jake Reed beg her to be their new "mama." And one look at the dark, devastatingly handsome man is enough to entice her to abandon her California plans and stay put for a while in this one-horse frontier town.

Overview

Loreli Winters never imagined she'd end up a "mail-order bride" in middle-of-nowhere Kansas -- until the two adorable orphan nieces of a dusky dream named Jake Reed beg her to be their new "mama." And one look at the dark, devastatingly handsome man is enough to entice her to abandon her California plans and stay put for a while in this one-horse frontier town.

Strong, sensible Jake was hoping for a wife to help him raise his girls, but Loreli may be more than he can handle. He can't stop wondering what it would be like to hold the fiery enchantress close and kiss her deeply. Surely he could never compete with the sophisticated gents she has known, yet he intends to try. But will his honest passion be enough to take a chance on a long-shot called love?

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780061736865
Publisher:
HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
10/13/2009
Sold by:
HARPERCOLLINS
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
384
Sales rank:
60,990
File size:
647 KB

Read an Excerpt

A Chance at Love

Chapter One

Hanks, Kansas

June 1884

As Loreli Winters stood listening to the farmer bending her ear, she wondered how much longer she would have to endure before she could politely excuse herself and slip away. The farmer's name was Henry Judson and he was a handsome brute: all brown eyes and muscles, but she, unlike the other women gathered in the grove behind the small church, had not come here to find a husband. Loreli had traveled to this small Black Kansas colony as a member of a wagon train transporting mailorder brides, but she'd signed on strictly for the adventure, not to be the wife of a Kansas homesteader. Her plans were to stay in town long enough to make sure everything worked out for the friends she'd made on the trip, then strike out West—California maybe. In the meantime, she had this gathering to get through.

In preparation for this Friday afternoon event, Loreli had gotten all gussied up, put on her powders and paints, and hoped her flashy blue dress would keep the farmers away. Here, for the first time in a long time, the golden quadroon beauty she'd inherited from her mixed ancestry would not be an advantage. In the billiard dens and smoking cars where she plied her gambling trade, Loreli's looks had won her more hands than she could count, especially when the pigeon spent more time ogling her bosom than his cards. In the past, she'd never hesitated using her face or figure to its best advantage, but not tonight; tonight there'd be no flirting. Loreli's future lay elsewhere. She just hoped the farmers would understand.

Judson, still talking, had three little girls. Although Loreli found the daughterspleasant enough, she had no intentions of taking over the job of raising them. She sensed from their father's conversation that all he was looking for was a replacement for his recently deceased wife.

When Judson began expressing hopes that his new bride would be able to can vegetables as well as his late wife did, Loreli interrupted him with a winning smile. "Mr. Judson, I see someone over there I need to speak with. It's been nice meeting you and your girls."

He opened his mouth to protest, but Loreli had already walked away.

Loreli made her way through the gathering of sixty or so men and women and saw that everywhere she looked folks were mingling and smiling. The celebratory sounds of fiddling and happy voices drifted on the late afternoon air. The brides had picked out their prospective mates before making the trip by using the photographs and portraits provided by the men to the wagon train's organizer, Grace Atwood. The couples were meeting each other for the first time, and many were already lined up outside the small church waiting to be married.

Loreli threaded her way through the trestle tables set around the church grounds and nodded greetings in response to the familiar smiles beamed her way. The many trials and tribulations that had beset the women on the trek from Chicago seemed to have been forgotten. All the ladies had taken special pains to look their best; their hair was done, their dresses starched and pressed. The men were also decked out, in everything from fancy suspenders and fresh-pressed trousers to shiny new suits.

As Loreli shared congratulatory hugs and small-talk with the women, she asked after Belle, the young woman who shared her wagon, but Belle had already journeyed on with the man she would be marrying. That saddened Loreli because she'd dearly wanted to tell Belle good-bye. Loreli had taken the young woman under her wing during the journey from Chicago, and they'd become very close.

Loreli moved on to congratulate a few of her other friends and noted the interested eyes of some of the men standing nearby. She knew she was hard to miss in the low-cut blue satin dress that left the crowns of her shoulders bare, but because these men were here to marry women who'd become her friends, she didn't give any of the farmers more than a friendly nod in return. Loreli didn't want any misunderstandings.

In reality, though, she secretly wished to be one of the brides. She'd be thirty-five years of age come November, and on her own in life since the age of fourteen. She was tired. Tired of gambling dens, traveling, and having a life that discouraged roots, family, and peace of mind. Deep down inside, parts of herself yearned for the security of a farmhouse, a steady man, and a few kids, but her past life made fulfillment of that yearning impossible. What man wanted a wife whose occupation was gambling? None she'd ever met. Men wanted their women docile and of good character, and in society's eyes, she was neither. She decided she should just go back to her boardinghouse room, lest she be overwhelmed by her mood.

Loreli paused for a few moments to say farewell to Grace Atwood, the woman who'd organized the wagon train, then she headed back to claim the rented buggy she'd driven over in.

Beneath the tree by her buggy stood two little brownskinned girls. They looked to be seven or eight years of age. Both copper faces were framed by long black plaits that shot out from their heads at a cockeyed angle, as if the person who'd braided them hadn't much experience with the task of doing hair. There were red ribbons tied on the ends, however, and Loreli wondered if the little ones had done the braids themselves. She also noticed that unlike all the other little girls she'd seen at the gathering this evening, these two were not gussied up in starched pinafores and Sunday slippers; they were attired like boys in denim trousers, flannel shirts, and sturdy boots.

A Chance at Love. Copyright © by Beverly Jenkins. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.

Meet the Author

Beverly Jenkins has received numerous awards, including five Waldenbooks/Borders Group Best Sellers Awards, two Career Achievement Awards from Romantic Times Magazine, and a Golden Pen Award from the Black Writer's Guild. Ms. Jenkins was named one of the Top Fifty Favorite African-American writers of the 20th century by AABLC, the nation's largest on-line African-American book club. She was recently nominated for the NAACP Image Award in Literature.

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A Chance at Love 4.6 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 46 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I thoroughly enjoyed another of Ms. Jenkins historical romantic tales. The information regarding the influence of the labor unions like the Knights of Labor was quite an informative history lesson. I fell in love with Jake when he first came on the scene. Any man who sets aside his own needs and wants and willingly loves someone else kids without looking back and who will protect his family no matter what has my utmost respect. Loreli's character had to overcome alot to become the tough as nails, yet caring woman she portrayed throughout this novel. She didn't take any STUFF from anyone, male or female. She was always fair, knew how to handle her business and had a heart of gold. I am glad that Ms. Jenkins decided to do a story about Loreli a woman of experience and worldliness, and even though she wasn't perfect she had more heart and soul than many of the so-called Christian women in the town of Hanks. I love the way the inexperienced Jake was willing to learn from Loreli, he was such an excellent student and he became quite the expert under Loreli's expert tutelage. Ms. Jenkins always impresses me with her knowledge of the history facts as well as with a very interesting storyline and well developed characters. If you've never read a Beverly Jenkins book now is a good time. I would recommend any/all of her books. Happy Reading!
Guest More than 1 year ago
If you like books with strong women characters, then this is the book for you. I thoughtfully enjoyed this book and the characters are so well developed that a person can't help but want to turn the page to read more. In here we have Loreli Winters who was part of the mail order brides, but she was far different from the other contingent brides. See, Loreli was a self professed gambler. Girlfriend had been taking care of herself since she was a teenager. She had seen alot in her life and knew how to deal with people. When the brides stopped in the small town of Loreli found her self the target of twin girls BeBe and DeDe. They were looking for a new mama. The girls took an instant liking to Loreli and told her about their desires for her to become their new mama. Loreli felt she wasn't mama material, but was honored by the twins wish. Loreli escorts BeBe and DeDe home and they told their uncle who was their legal guardian now that they wanted Loreli to become their mama. Of course Jake, the hog farmer didn't want any part of this brazen, independent female. Loreli definitely didn't want to become anyones wife much less stay on a hog farm. Jake however,wanted the girls to be happy. Jake proposed to Loreli that she be the twins mama for one year, and he would continue to look for a more suitable wife during that time and Loreli agreed. From that point on noone's life would ever be the same. I feel in love with Jake when he first came on to the scene. I man who is able to love someone else kids without looking back has my heart and also protect his family no matter what. Loreli has over come alot to become a class¿s woman that what take any miss off of anybody (male or female). A woman that will speak her mind. I am glad that Ms. Jenkins decided to do a story about Loreli a woman that is not perfect in the eyes of society but she still has a heart of gold. I love the way Jake was willing to learn from Loreli, his was such a goooood student Beverly Jenkins has written another wonderful book. I am always impressed by the history facts as well as with the plot and characters. If you've never read a Beverly Jenkins book now is a good time. I would recommend any of her books.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Another strong female lead. That captures your heart . I couldn't put it down until the end .
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
What a great story! I loved it, but didn't know there were other books before this one. Looking forward. to back tracking and picking up the previously written books. Loved the plot, historic emphasis, and the authors talent for story telling. Looking forward to more blessings! LA-TXN
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I loved this book! I couldnt put it down. I will surely read this again. I was tired of reading the same books and this was what i needed!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Well written!!! Could not put it down once I start reading it. Story just seems to flow and keep your attention.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Loved it so much, I read it twice in two days.
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wow what can you say action, adventure, love and drama
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Beverly Jenkins does it again. I really loved this sweet story!!!!
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Ladydmb More than 1 year ago
Awesome book!!!! Give it a chance!!!
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