Come visit Buttonwood for a marriage mistake like no other in the third novel of Kelly Eileen Hake’s Prairie Promises series. In the Nebraskan Territory of 1859, Gavin Miller writes home to request the hand of Miss Marguerite Chandler. Unfortunately, while he never forgot Marguerite was the French word for Daisy, he’d failed to recall that the two cousins shared their grandmother’s name, and Marge was the nickname of the wrong Miss Marguerite Chandler! When his surprise bride comes to Buttonwood, unexpectedly followed by the very cousin he’d meant to marry, will Gavin be able to solve The Bride Blunder?
About the Author
Kelly Eileen Hake received her first writing contract at the tender age of seventeen and arranged to wait three months until she was able to legally sign it. Since that first contract a decade ago, she’s fulfilled twenty contracts ranging from short stories to novels. In her spare time, she’s attained her BA in English literature and composition, earned her credential to teach English in secondary schools, and went on to complete her MA in writing popular fiction.
Writing for Barbour combines two of Kelly’s great loves—history and reading. A CBA bestselling author and member of American Christian Fiction Writers, she’s been privileged to earn numerous Heartsong Presents Reader’s Choice Awards and is known for her witty, heartwarming historical romances.
Read an Excerpt
The Bride Blunder
By Kelly Eileen Hake
Barbour Publishing, Inc.Copyright © 2009 Kelly Eileen Hake
All rights reserved.
Baltimore, Maryland 1859
"No." Marge Chandler shook her head, wishing it were so easy to shake away the sudden image springing to life in her mind. "No more bows, Daisy."
"Well ..." Her cousin nibbled on the edge of her naturally rosy lower lip and fingered the velvet trimmings before her. "Perhaps you're right."
"Nonsense, darling—it's your wedding dress!" Daisy's mother, the aunt who'd raised them both since Marge's parents didn't survive the crossing to America, bustled over and snatched up the ribbons. "Besides, you know better than to ask Marge her opinion on matters of fashion."
True. Daisy should know better by now. A wry smile tilted Marge's lips. Aunt Verlata will always override me. Not that it mattered—Daisy could wear a rainbow of gaudy velvet bows and still entrance any audience.
Her smile turned rueful as Marge caught a glimpse of her own reflection in the dressmaker's looking glass. Aunt Verlata's sense of style didn't hamper Daisy's charm, but somehow Marge couldn't manage to carry off the same fussy furbelows with any panache. While feminine touches showcased Daisy's graceful build, her own more generous frame made such flourishes conspicuous. And never before had her relatives indulged in so many fripperies as for Daisy's much-anticipated wedding. Marge's gown for the affair—a light blue silk that had done nothing to deserve such treatment—drooped toward the ground, overburdened with tiers of ruffles.
"They are lovely," she soothed her aunt's ruffled feathers. "But the Belgian lace is so exquisite, I can't imagine drawing attention away from it." Not to mention the flounces and crystal beading ...
"Well, there's truth in that." The older woman snatched her fingers away from the bows as though they'd attempted to scald her. "It might look overdone."
"There's a possibility of that." Ruthlessly strangling the smile that threatened at her aunt's comment, Marge moved to take the ribbons away. Far, far away.
"Wait!" Daisy surveyed the ribbons then cast a speculative glance at Marge.
Oh no. Closing her eyes couldn't halt the inevitable. She'd learned that when she was six—and they buried Mama and Papa at sea—and kept relearning it every time something came along she desperately wanted to change.
Like Daisy's marriage. Her beautiful, vibrant, loving cousin—the woman who could wed any man in town—had chosen Mr. Dillard. Trouston Dillard. The Third. Marge wrinkled her nose. She'd cover every garment she owned in bows if her cousin would choose a man who cared more about Daisy than himself, but she had a sickening suspicion she'd only get the bows.
"Mama, don't you think Margie's dress could do with a few bows? The things she usually wears are so very plain."
"It's foolish for a teacher to dress up, Daisy. My clothes are serviceable, as is appropriate." It was a wonder her cousin didn't mouth the words along with her, the discussion had been so oft repeated.
"Yes, but my wedding will be a good opportunity for you to ..." A delicate shrug completed the thought.
"To ...?" This wasn't something to let pass by. Daisy never censored herself, so something left unspoken made alarm bells chime.
"Dress up and ..." Oh dear, there she went quiet again. This had to be bad.
"And?" Marge didn't miss the furtive glance between mother and daughter.
"And show to advantage, dear." Aunt Verlata lifted one of the bows out of its case and held it up to Marge's bodice. "With Daisy getting married, your time will come soon enough."
"I see." She blinked against a stinging dryness in her eyes. Now that Daisy's unavailable, the men will have to settle. I have the chance to be someone's second choice. "In that case, Auntie, by all means, add those bows." Anything to chase away my cousin's old suitors!
* * *
Buttonwood, Nebraska Territory
"It's smoking, son." Grandma Ermintrude's raspy chortle made Gavin Miller pull his hand away from his pocket in a hurry. "You ought to just post it already."
"Next time I'm at the mercantile, I'll pass it on to Reed." He finished his eggs and pushed away from the table. "It's not a pressing matter."
"Men don't bother writing letters if it's not something important, boy. Fact you got an unnatural attachment to this one makes it even more suspicious. Now, drink your coffee before you leave the table." She tapped a gnarled finger on the smoothed wooden surface. "I'm not going to drink it, and no grandson of mine is coward enough to run from breakfast and a few questions."
Gavin raised his mug and scowled into brew bitter enough to strip whitewash. Grandma made her coffee the same way she made her conversation.
And that's a blessing, he reminded himself. If his father's mother weren't such a strong personality, his mother's father wouldn't have sponsored his move west to set up his own mill. Gavin and Grandma Ermintrude got along tolerably well most days, so bringing her along worked out well—most days.
He set down the mug only to have her refill it lickety-split.
"So, who's the gal?"
"Don't play dumb with me—that's the question I asked you." Her eyes narrowed, the lines spidering around them deepening to webs. "Marguerite."
"Marguerite?" For a fraction of a second, Gavin didn't place the name he'd written on the envelope.
"What'd I tell you about playing dumb? I saw your scrawl on there plain as day—Marguerite. No skin off my nose you've swapped sweethearts from that Daisy you used to mention." The things the old woman tucked away in her memory never ceased to amaze him. How many times had he mentioned the woman he'd left back in Baltimore? Twice?
"Marguerite is French for daisy," he explained to forestall any more coffee. "She has her grandmother's name, but no one calls her by it."
"Fancy." She lifted her pinky just so as she took a sip of milk. "And just like youngsters these days to disregard the better choice. Goes by Daisy instead—she must be a plain one, your gal."
"Anything but." Not that he planned to wax poetic about Daisy's fine looks. Grandma would turn right around and accuse him of being blinded by beauty. She did things like that—latched on and poked until she moved things to go her way. Which made as good a reason as any to post the letter today. She'd nettle him about it until he took care of the thing.
"Oh?" When one lifted brow failed to elicit a reaction, the other winged its way upward. "Mouse brown hair, straight as a pin, most likely."
"Black ringlets." That bob when she walks or tosses her head to laugh. Her easy laughter had attracted him in the first place.
"Dull, dishwater gray eyes?"
A martial glint lit Grandma's eye as she flung more challenges. "Too tall for a woman, I'll wager."
"Petite." The brims of her fanciful hats only reached his shoulder.
"Ungainly shape, lurches when she walks." A smirk brought the closest thing to a smile Gavin typically saw on his grandmother's face as he shook his head. Looked like she was enjoying herself. "Teeth browned and breath foul?"
He couldn't hold back a guffaw at her hopeful tone and the contrast of his memory to the portrait Grandma painted with her words.
"A widow saddled with squalling brats?"
"She's never been wed and is young."
"You're certain about all this?" Her merriment sharpened to a thin edge of a smile at his agreement. "In that case—you have no reason not to send the letter."
Lifting his mug, Gavin took a swig of coffee in admiration of how she sprang her trap shut with the type of precision he prided himself on with his mill. "True."
"Now you're thinking straight." Belying her earlier words, Grandma poured a hefty measure of coffee into the splash of milk covering the bottom of her cup. "After all, besides her saying no, what's the worst that could happen?"
* * *
"Daisy, I picked up the post while I was out." Marge tilted her head toward the study as they passed each other on the stairs. "You'll find a few late responses to your wedding invitations on the writing desk, when you find a moment to take a look."
"Thank you, Margie." Daisy gave her cousin a quick hug before continuing down the steps, making a side trip to the dainty escritoire she favored by the study window.
Settling herself on the matching chair, its seat upholstered in her favorite shade of green—to match her eyes, though she would never admit it—she caught sight of a tidy stack of letters. The sight brought a smile to her lips, not only for the basic joy of receiving mail but also for how thoroughly Marge-ish the orderly pile seemed.
Largest letters lay at the bottom, smallest resting atop them, with all the corners squared to make straight lines. Marge supplied a system for everything, created order out of chaos, and made the world make sense down to the tiniest detail. Daisy didn't know quite how her cousin managed these feats, but she long ago accepted it as fact and determined what it meant in life.
Firstly, no matter how hard she tried, Daisy would never be half so capable as her slightly older cousin. Not so clever, not so useful, not so good at making things work the way they should. As her letter opener sliced through the first missive with a satisfying tear, Daisy remembered the time she'd wasted trying to measure up—back when it bothered her that she couldn't seem to be as practical as Marge.
Another acceptance to the wedding. How lovely. I'll have to adjust the reception numbers.... She set it aside and reached for the next, allowing her thoughts free rein. Eventually, that whole setup had led to her second realization: So long as Marge made things run smoothly, Daisy didn't need to. Things got done better when Marge did them, and they were both happy enough so long as Daisy did her job—which was, of course, to drag Marge into some sort of social life.
Oh, regrets ... She set that one off to the other side of the desk and continued going through the letters, putting them into whatever mound seemed appropriate as she thought of all the fun her friends who couldn't attend her wedding would miss out on.
Because, of course, that's what Daisy excelled at. Fun! Always ready to laugh, she loved the social swirl. Her duty, in return for Marge allowing her this carefree sort of life, was to make sure Marge didn't give in entirely to her serious side and experienced some enjoyment of life.
But with Daisy's upcoming marriage, a third realization plagued her. She'd failed her cousin. Daisy would waltz off into a merry marriage with Trouston, whose stolen kisses grew more insistent by the day, and leave Marge behind to a life without laughter or passion. Their whole lives, since Marge's parents didn't survive the crossing to America, Mama had tried to hide the fact Daisy, as her true daughter, was her favorite.
And Daisy had tried to make up for the fact that Mama made a hash of trying to hide something so obvious. She knew her cousin better than anyone alive, and Marge needed a family to call her very own. But if Daisy couldn't find something—and soon—Marge would sink into the role of spinster schoolmarm for the rest of her born days.
With a deep sigh, she sliced open the final letter—addressed ever so formally to "Marguerite." Which must have been why Marge put it in Daisy's pile—wedding responses might be more formal than everyday letters, when most people spoke and wrote to either of them as either Daisy or Marge. It made it less confusing, since they shared their grandmother's name.
Her eyes widened as she read the message. A proposal! From Gavin Miller ... But Daisy was affianced. And surely Gavin knew.... The banns were posted, notices sent. Good heavens, she winged wedding invitations to just about every person she'd ever met. Surely the son of Baltimore's richest miller, who'd been a good friend to both her and Marge, had received one?
She'd kept a list somewhere.... A search of all the drawers and cubbies of the escritoire finally yielded the list. Sure enough, Gavin Miller's name appeared. He'd received an invitation to her wedding.
Daisy gasped and jumped to her feet. That meant this letter had to be for—CHAPTER 2
"Marge!" Her cousin's unladylike bellow brought Marge running full tilt down the stairs at speeds the railroad would be hard pressed to match. "Marge, come quick!"
She almost crashed into her aunt, who rushed toward the hallway coming from the study with a panicked look Marge was sure matched her own. Daisy never hollered. Something had to be horribly, dreadfully, unprecedentedly wrong.
Aunt Verlata sailed through the door a scant second before Marge—and only because Marge knew she'd never hear the end of it if she infringed on a mother's right. No matter that Daisy yelled for me at the top of her lungs. She squashed the thought. It didn't matter once she realized her cousin, far from lying broken or bereaved upon the plush throw rug blanketing most of the study's hardwood floors, was bouncing—yes, bouncing —toward them. Daisy was the only woman Marge ever witnessed who could actually bounce as a means of transportation.
"Marge!" Daisy didn't adjust her volume as she launched herself into a smothering hug. "I'm so happy for you!"
Why? Marge winced from the volume, but her hackles raised for an entirely different reason. She'd love to be able to say her Fruit of the Spirit had ripened to such a degree she never begrudged another person any joy. But she and the Holy Spirit knew full well that wasn't the case.
Generally, she'd give just about anything to keep a smile on Daisy's face. But she'd learned the hard way that whenever Daisy felt happy for her, trouble loomed. Simply put, the things Daisy felt ought to make Marge happiest bore the uncanny ability to make Marge miserable. Tiers of ruffles and rows of bows on fancy dresses were a minor example.
"Darling, I've never heard you ..." Obviously Aunt Verlata groped for a term to describe Daisy's earsplitting screeches. "Yelp ... in such a manner. You caused no small amount of alarm. Marge and I both thought you were in some pain."
"Far from it." Daisy unwound from about Marge, her more sedate tone underscored by an odd crinkling that hadn't been noticeable before. "It's just so exciting!"
"What is?" For the first time, Marge noticed Daisy held a letter—now abused and rumpled—tight to her chest. She instantly surmised this to be the instigator of Daisy's outburst.
"He's on the list!" Her cousin thrust another paper, this one clutched in her hand, toward Marge. "Gavin Miller."
"Gavin ..." Marge's breath caught at the mention of her old friend who'd gone westward. She and Daisy hadn't heard from him since he left—a niggling source of upset she'd refused to acknowledge. After all, she'd pinned no hopes upon the handsome, determined, talented man who'd actually taken the time to speak with her as well as Daisy.
Liar. Her conscience pinged at her attempt at self-deception as she smoothed what she now recognized as part of Daisy's pages-long list of invited wedding attendees.
"Here!" Her cousin's perfectly coiffed curls blocked her view for a moment before a buffed nail tapped the paper just above Gavin's name. "See? He's on the list, Marge!"
"So he is." Of course he is. I put him there, hoping he'd show up. Marge blushed as the first hint of excitement welled up. Perhaps Daisy knew of her little infatuation for their friend? "Did he respond? Is he coming for the wedding?"
"No–o–o–o." The drawn-out response doused Marge's newfound anticipation until Daisy thrust the second sheet of paper—the one she'd cradled against her chest—into her hands. "Better! Read this, Marge!"
Marge accepted the note, slipped her spectacles onto her nose from where they hung on a slender silver chain around her neck, and could practically feel the breath of her aunt upon the page as she set to read. On the pretext of wanting more light, she moved toward the window, making certain to turn slightly to provide more privacy.
Smoothing the crinkles, her fingertips brushed over the lines Gavin wrote, the teacher in her noticing the thick strokes of his penmanship, the ink-filled hollows of his vowels, the friendly way his words leaned to the right. She allowed herself a small smile before she scanned the greeting.
Excerpted from The Bride Blunder by Kelly Eileen Hake. Copyright © 2009 Kelly Eileen Hake. 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.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Wonderful book, I loved this series! Gavin Miller is now ready to ask Miss Marguerite Chandler to come to Buttonwood, Nebraska and marry him so he sends his proposal to her. Gavin Miller forgot that there are two Marguerite Chandlers though, they are cousins and both childhood friends of Gavin's, so when the proposal is received and "Daisy" has sent him an invitation to her wedding of course she knows the proposal is for "Marge". See, they are both named after their grandmother and Marge was raised by Daisy's parents because her parents have passed on. When Marge arrives Gavin is very surprised but does not tell her about the mix-up, she does find out as soon as she gets to his house though because his grandmother spills the beans almost immediately. Marge now refuses to marry him but Gavin insists she marry him because she accepted his proposal by coming to Buttonwood. When Midge Collins observes the meeting of Marge and Gavin she knows something is amiss and doesn't take long to find out what it is. She soon gets the story out of Marge and proceeds to help her. You see Midge is an observer of people, she watches, listens, and notices, in other words she spots things people don't want others to guess at. She reads expressions, registered changes in stances or gestures and wonders about things that are none of her business. Midge has met her match though in Amos Geer, he is also an observer and after coming to Buttonwood he sees Midge and remembers from an event four years ago, he attacked her when she tried to enter a room at Fort Bridger and now he is constantly watching and following her. Wonderful job Kelly, I loved this book also. I enjoyed reading about both Marguerite (Marge), and Midge. As I was reading about Midge and her belief in prayer I kept wanting to tell her that she doesn't know what Nancy was praying and that her prayer was answered. People think when they send a request to God that they should get what they want, not wanting to remember that God knows best and he answers our prayer requests that way, and we are much better off with his response. This series has really been enjoyable and I'm really glad I read all of the books. I would encourage you to read all three books in order to get the full enjoyment of this last book.
I liked the idea of the book and the beginning drew me in. However,it had a strong religious agenda that overtook the story and it became quite predictable. I read the first half and skipped to the last pages.
This is the third book in the Prairie Promise series. I did not read the first two books, which made this book a little confusing. The main part of the story is about Marge, Galvin and Daisy and the marriage proposal to the wrong mail order bride. The old west era was well thought out and the main charcters fit in perfectly. The side stories with the other town people made the book confusing though the author did make an effort to include parts from the other books. I think the book should be read as a series to get the most from it.
I am, by nature a very picky reader. When I went into this book I held out hope that it would not fall into the way ward category which sadly I've found many books do. As it turns out I'm somewhat torn with this one, I'm not sure if I could rightly call this scattered but it did feel a bit off. I had the urge to skip almost half the book when midge and almos were the main characters....come to think of it they seemed more natural then the real pair who annoyed me beyond belief. I do not want to give away anything, but for people who do not mind mish-mash plots and multiple pairings (which I normally wouldn't mind but I didn't go into this book thinking I was going to be thrown back and forth between the two) then I would recommend this book. It was written fairly well, the characters are pretty two dimensional but the author does seem to like to throw in old characters into the new books which give you a glimpse beyond the end of the book.
I thought the story was very compelling. I knew which woman Gavin would choose , but I did not know how it was going to happen. I appreciated the Christian characters and Kelly's telling of their struggles with their faith in God. I hope she will write more books about the people of Buttonwood.
I had the privilege of interviewing Kelly Eileen Hake, on our radio show "Kingdom Highlights", for her new book, "The Bride Blunder", Book Three in her, "Prairie Promises" series published by Barbour. If you haven't read the first two books you have missed getting to know the people of Buttonwood, Nebraska and you have missed a real treat. These are really nice people and, if they existed outside of Ms. Hake's fertile mind, they would be people that you would want to invite over to your house to hang out with them. My personal opinion is that this is Kelly Hakes best work and Ms. Hake has ended the series on a very high note indeed. Gavin Miller is the miller for the town of Buttonwood and he has prospered enough to finally send for the woman he loves and marry: Marguerite Chandler. However what he forgets is that there are two Marguerite Chandlers and they are cousins. The one he sends for is engaged to be married so everyone assumes it is the other one. So she packs up everything and leaves for Buttonwood for she is in love with Gavin from her childhood. Of course she is not what Gavin expected when she got off the coach and she is terribly hurt when she figures out the error. Gavin wants to do the honorable thing and marry her but she wants to be married for love. Now the romance begins as Gavin realizes that he is in love with her but has to win her over and prove his love. There is also the story of Midge and Amos as she works through her problems from her childhood before she was adopted. This is a book of emotional trauma and how do we go about the healing process of our emotions when we can't medicate or put bandages on them. Ms. Hake handles this theme exceptionally well and you root for the men to win over their respective women with their love. I recommend this book highly and while I am sorry to leave the people of Buttonwood behind I am greatly looking forward to the next series. If you missed the interview for "The Bride Blunder" and would like to listen to it and/or would like to hear the previous interviews where we discussed the first and second books please go to www.kingdomhighlights.org where they are available On Demand. To listen to 24 Christian music please visit our internet radio station www.kingdomairwaves.org Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Barbour Publishers. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255 <http://www.access.gpo.gov/nara/cfr/waisidx_03/16cfr255_03.html> : "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."