Under the majestic expanse of Montana sky, the timing seems right for romance in the town of Saddleback.
In 1864, Delana Albright is eager to join her fiancé Dustin Friemont on the homestead he has been working for a year, but she arrives much earlier than expected. Will poor timing send her dreams in a new direction?
Rosalind MacLean anticipates the arrival of the railroad in 1886 to bring new opportunities, adventure, and possible romance; but Ewan Gailbraith, a scout, precedes the line with subtle warnings. Will hidden dangers bring more than Rosalind can bear?
Nessa Gailbraith has dreamed of Isaac Freimont’s proposal since childhood. So why, after careful planning and timing in the year 1916, does she refuse him when he asks and turn to another?
When romance’s timing becomes all wrong for these young women, how will they turn things around and reap a bountiful harvest of faith and love?
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
We've done well," Dustin Friemont declared to his partners as they sat down for the midday meal. "At this rate, we'll finish right on time." He sat with his back against the barn, flanked by his future brother-in-law, Jakob Albright, and their friend, Arthur MacLean.
"My sister comes in just over a year." Jakob batted away a few gnats. "We're running out of time."
"Not really." Dustin Friemont lifted a gloved hand to shade his eyes from the glare of the bright sun as he surveyed his surroundings with satisfaction. Majestic mountains overlooked a forest of timber, which gradually gave way to the meadow alongside a fresh creek. He knew Delana would love the land he'd chosen for their home. "We've got a tight schedule to keep, but things are going better than I'd hoped."
"Eleven months of hard labor and we've precious little to show for it." Jakob bit into a piece of jerked beef and yanked some free.
"There's 480 acres among the three of us," Dustin mused, "and in eleven months we've filed our claims and begun the work of proving up."
"Begun," repeated Jakob pessimistically, "is the right word. We don't have so much as a house raised."
"Dinna be forgettin' my smithy." Arthur MacLean flexed his powerful muscles in a mighty stretch. "A lot of work went into that."
"And a lot of work comes out of it." Dustin slapped Arthur on the back. "Without your repairs to plow and sodbusters we would never have been able to clear as much as we have."
"We have to do better this year." Jakob slurped some water. "The first year we couldn't expect to cultivate nearly enough land, but now is the time to expand. We need to raise a house for Delana. My sister is not going to live in a barn."
"Of course not!" Dustin ripped a piece of jerky with his teeth.
"Nor my wee wife." Arthur frowned. "My Kaitlin is deservin' of a real home."
"And she'll get it." Dustin brushed dust off the seat of his britches. "So enough sitting in the shade. If we've all eaten our fill of dinner, we'll get back to clearing this field."
As he worked alongside his partners, Dustin's thoughts turned to God.
Every hour spent and every ache endured is well worth it. I've been away from my Delana for so long now, Lord. It's been months since I've had so much as a letter. Please let all be well with her. I thank You for the labor that occupies my hands and distracts my heart from the distance between us. With every step I take, I clear not only the land for crops, but also the way for a new life. Please give me continued strength so I can have all in readiness for my bride. We have much to accomplish, but I know we can succeed in You. Let me prove to Delana that I will be a good provider when she arrives, Lord.
Thirteen months ... only thirteen more months ...
"Only three more days." Delana answered Captain Massie's question as they oversaw the unloading of all her gear from his steamboat, the Twilight. "It will take three days of traveling southeast from Fort Benton to my fiancé's claim."
"And my son's," Mama added.
"I wish you the best." The gallant captain smiled at them both. "I've never seen a frontier bride with such a large entourage."
"We've come to build a life, Captain Massie." Delana surveyed the wagonloads of goods. "It will take more than this to succeed."
"It takes strong will and a stout heart," the captain agreed.
"And God's grace," Delana added. When she realized that she'd frowned at the captain for the omission, she softened her expression. "The help of gentlemen like yourself has also proven valuable."
"Indeed." Massie grinned, and Delana suspected he was thinking of the fees he'd earned for transporting so many passengers and such an outrageous amount of freight.
"Your expertise has eased our way," Delana praised. "If you hadn't advised us to purchase livestock in Kansas City, we'd have been in trouble when we found very little is available here at Fort Benton."
"Certainly not in the quantity you acquired." Massie watched as dockhands unloaded one hog, three sows, four dairy cows, thirty-five baby chicks, and two mares. "I'll be leaving you fine ladies now to attend to other matters." With that, he headed down the gangplank.
"I'm glad to see they've unloaded the oxen for the freight wagons." Mama finally tucked her wrung-out hanky into her reticule with a sigh of relief.
"Four teams of six oxen," Cade Banning confirmed. "One for each freight wagon."
"How's it going, Cade?" Delana knew he'd been below deck, supervising the transport of their precious livestock.
"Well, they know what they're doin'. I've hired four fellas who've agreed to load us up and drive the freight wagons to our spread in return for a team of mules, one of the buckboards, and provender for their journey to Virginia City. They're going to try their luck at finding gold in this territory." Cade shrugged. "I figure you will want to join Gilda and Kaitlin, to see with your own eyes where everything is."
"Where will you be?" Delana wondered aloud, anxious to keep her group together. Isaac had threatened to join the war several times since the news of Hans's death.
"Takin' young Isaac to market to purchase mules for the buckboards and see if 'n we can't find a guide to the spread."
"Thank you, Cade, for keeping track of my brother in addition to overseeing that matter." Delana saw the dockhands stacking all the cut lumber into one of the freight wagons. She rushed over. "No, no, no! If you put some of that in the bottom of each wagon, it will make the load more even." The men grumbled but parceled out the lumber among the four wagons.
"What do you want in this one?" A man jerked a grimy thumb toward the freight wagon behind him.
"These trunks." Delana pointed to the teetering pile. Each one held clothing or items of a personal nature. "And this." She lovingly ran her hand over the varnished oak of her hope chest.
Kaitlin walked by, carrying a crate full of bolts of fabric. This, too, went in the first wagon. Delana's traveling writing desk and the women's sewing boxes and medicine chests rounded out the first load. The final item to find its home inside was the crate of Papa's books Delana refused to leave behind. Papa.
"And this one?" A tall man forced her attention to the next wagon.
"That stove." Delana gestured to the first cast iron appliance. "The other needs to be in the third." The stoves were the heaviest items they'd brought with them — and arguably the most important.
Delana directed the men, watching as pots, pans, skillets, Dutch ovens, a clockwork jack, roasting pans, baking trays, mixing bowls, and everyday dishes slowly filled the second wagon.
Gilda oversaw the third load of freight, zealously guarding the dried meat, baking supplies, canned vegetables, jars of preserves, and an array of spices. The dry goods took up a fair amount of space.
Mama hovered around the last freight wagon, watching the workmen like a hawk. Great-grandma's rocking chair, Grossmutter's glass dishes, and Mama's china were carefully tucked inside. The wall clock from Papa's study, and the tintype photos of their relatives rested alongside galvanized tubs, rolled up rugs, and bedding.
Cade had already seen to the three buckboards. All farming implements, tools, feed for the livestock, and the water they'd need for the trip had already been secured. With the exception of the piglets and chicks, the rest of the livestock would walk for three days until reaching the barn her fiancé and brother had built.
The sun began to set, but Cade and Isaac had not yet returned. Lord, please let them be all right.
Delana tamped down the fear that her younger brother had run off. What's left of our family must stay together.
"Isaac and Cade!" Mama's relieved cry reassured Delana. Since Hans and Papa had died, Mama had been uneasy whenever Isaac or Delana were out of her sight.
"Who's that with them?" Delana squinted but could only see the shadow cast over the third man's face by his hat brim. He stood far taller than Cade, about the same height as Dustin and with the same confident stride ...
Can it be? Did he get my letter and travel to Benton to wait for me? Has my fiancé come to take us home? She shifted and craned her neck, trying desperately to catch a glimpse of his face.
He lifted his head, and Delana tried to tamp down the swell of disappointment. This stranger was far older than her Dustin, with a full beard and wide grin.
"Hello." Delana pasted a welcoming smile on her lips after Cade introduced everyone to Rawhide Jones.
"Rawhide?" Mama's tone rang with scorn, her eyebrows raised disapprovingly.
"Right you are, Bernadine."
The man grinned as Mama spluttered in surprise and grew red in the face. Delana realized her mother did not like this man knowing more about her than she did him. Dustin must have talked about his bride-to-be and her family to Mr. Jones. The thought pleased her.
"Glad you decided to dispense with the formalities," Rawhide continued to Mama. "Highfalutin ways aren't practical on the plains. It's good to see you've the sense to recognize it."
Mama's mouth opened and closed like that of a landed fish, but she couldn't seem to find the words. Since she'd set the tone by using his Christian name first, a reprimand wouldn't do. Rawhide's irreverent attitude apparently irked Mama, even as his compliment obviously sealed his rejoinder with the stamp of courtesy. Delana bit back her own smile.
"Though I believe I'll still call you Miss Albright." Rawhide swept his well-worn hat off his head and lowered his voice. "Unmarried young females are scarce in these parts, and we don't want to encourage unwarranted familiarity by the men. With that in mind, you can call me Rawhide, but I'll be addressing you real proper."
"Thank you," Delana murmured.
"You're every bit as lovely as your fiancé said." Rawhide turned back to her mother. "And it's easy to see who lent you her beauty."
Mama glowered at him in stony silence.
"My fiancé?" Delana laid a gloved hand on his arm. "You know Dustin Friemont?"
"Yep." Rawhide rocked back on his heels. "I know everyone within five days' travel from here. That's why Mr. Banning" — he jerked a thumb toward Cade to punctuate the comment — "has asked me to guide you to the homestead."
"Wunderbar! It's wonderful!" Mama, obviously recalling her priorities, deigned to give the man a slight nod. "I'm sure we can rely upon your" — her magnanimity ostensibly deserted her as she searched for an appropriate word — "knowledge."
"I know the easiest routes and the best areas for hunting along the way. Even so, this is a large group with a lot to haul." He cast an assessing glance at the newly packed freight wagons and buckboards. "It'll be a solid three-day journey if all goes well."
"Can you tell me how he and Jakob are?" Delana longed for any news of them.
"And Arthur?" Kaitlin chimed in, apparently just as eager for information about her own husband.
"They're doin' right well." Rawhide slapped his hat on his head. "For now, I suggest you turn in early. We leave at sunup."
"I can't believe it." Dustin squinted at the horizon.
"Believe it," Jakob stated with grim satisfaction, rolling his shoulders to ease the ache.
"Our first forty acres." Dustin gulped huge mouthfuls of lukewarm water thirstily before continuing. "We have five years to cultivate this much on each of our homesteads, or we won't have proved up."
"At this rate," Arthur mused, "that will mean it'll be another three years afore we've done the minimum."
"Not so," Dustin refuted. "We've done much in addition to clearing forty acres. We'll need not raise barn nor smithy this year."
Arthur brightened and slapped Dustin on the shoulder. "So long as we work together, we'll come out far ahead of those who go it alone."
"This summer, while the wheat and corn grow, we'll need to be making things ready for our brides." Dustin conjured up the image of a cozy log cabin waiting for Delana. She'd arrive at a time such as this, with the big blue sky stretching over still-snowcapped mountains and green meadows made cheerful with wildflowers.
Lord, help me have all in readiness for her. Let her look on this land with the love and pride I do. The timing is good for her to see our homestead at its finest. Let me be a good steward of the land You've given us.
Dustin dipped his canteen in the stream in preparation for returning to work. When a flock of startled birds rose from the trees ahead, he turned and snatched his shotgun from his saddlebags.
"Bear?" Jakob grabbed his own shotgun, ready to shoot if need be.
"Could just be a coyote," Arthur reasoned. "Or a mountain lion."
"Whatever it is, it could be dangerous." A predator, a dry spell, forest fire, locusts, sickness — anything was a threat to their carefully laid plans. Dustin listened intently, recognizing the sound of many horses or head of cattle. "Claim jumpers." He kept his defensive stance. No group of ranchers or fellow settlers would take his land. Whoever was coming, they'd be leaving just as quickly.
"Easy!" Rawhide rode into the clearing, and the men swiftly lowered their guns.
"What's coming, Rawhide?" Dustin heard ominous creaks and shouts amid the heavy plodding of hooves.
"More trouble than you can possibly imagine."
Afreight wagon?" Dustin stared in disbelief as the thing came swaying into view.
"More than one." Rawhide stooped and took a draft from the cool stream.
"They can't pass through our land!" Dustin raised his voice to be heard.
"Oh, they won't be." The older man's exasperating answer was accompanied by a mischievous grin.
"Who won't ...?" Arthur's voice faded as his eyes widened in obvious recognition of the first figure stepping onto the meadow. "Kaitlin?" The blacksmith rubbed his eyes vigorously before confirming the sight of his young wife. "KATIE!" He gave a mighty whoop and broke into a run. In just a minute, he was gathering his prize in his arms and spinning 'round before kissing her soundly.
It's all right. Dustin quickly began to reconfigure their plans. Kaitlin missed Arthur and came early. It's just one woman, and it looks like she brought plenty of supplies. We can adjust ... His reassurances fell flat when a second freight wagon followed the first.
All right. Rawhide must have brought a really large shipment of coal for Arthur's forge. Maybe he struck an unbelievable bargain, and it'll be worth the bother of unloading so much. After all ... He caught sight of a second figure stepping into view.
"Mama?" Jakob's disbelieving voice wavered on the too-still air before he started toward his mother.
Mama Albright? Why would Kaitlin bring Mrs. Albright all the way out here? A sudden realization stabbed his heart. Hans must have died. She has traveled all this way to tell Jakob and to fetch him back to Baltimore to be his father's heir. He straightened his shoulders against the loss of a big part of their work force.
We'll still be fine. Mrs. Albright won't stay long, so she's not a major concern. The thing to remember is that Delana isn't here. I still have a year to build our home into something worthy of her. If she'd traveled with her mother, she'd have led the bunch. She's always running ahead, but she didn't now. That means we'll be okay ...
The warm sensation of deep relief vanished as the wail of an infant rent the air.
No. His mind refused to believe the message relayed by his ears. He shook his head back and forth to stop hearing the impossible sound. That failing, he gave the side of his skull a good thunk, which did nothing but give him a bit of a headache.
Cade and Gilda Banning walked up to where Arthur still held their daughter tightly. Dustin watched as Gilda transferred a small, swaddled bundle to Arthur's arms. The look of awe and fear on the big blacksmith's face made Dustin groan.
He desperately sought for a bright spot in what was rapidly becoming a disastrous day. A smaller man joined Jakob and his mother. Ahhh ... she brought Isaac to guard his brother's claim. She should have sent him alone — at fifteen he's old enough, but there's no telling what goes on in the mind of a woman. The important thing is that Delana is back in Baltimore, minding the mercantile with her father. Thank You, Lord, for giving me time to prepare for her. A proper young lady like my love needs to come home to ... well, a house. Thank You!
Excerpted from "Brides of Montana"
Copyright © 2008 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
Brides of Montana is a great 3-book series by Kelly Eileen Hake, which I find a great author. I enjoyed all 3 stories. It’s funny that I found myself frustrated with the characters of the first story the most. With the miscommunication going on in that one… Ugh! I found myself wanting to yell at them to speak up so they understood each other better. I loved how Kelly painted the Montana scenery and I could see it in my mind. Such brave ones to be some of the first to go and develop a new land for them and their families to live on for the long haul. I received a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.
Brides of Montana fantastic, you read one and think the other can't be better or as good and-ehhh-you're wrong-they are. The stories are scintillating, tantalizing and enjoyable on so many levels, abounding in faith in our LORD JESUS CHRIST-which by the way is the most important thing to me and mine. These were all written by one author which makes it fun. The first story was about Delana when she and her mom lost her dad and brother in the war went to meet her fiance who was making the way clear to build the house for the two of them, but he didn't get the letter she sent him to let him know they were on their way and........ Nah you will have to read the book to find out. The second story is about Rosalind, she is the Friemonts daughter the first stories children that have all grown up and she is to be set up with the Delana and Dustin's son. Are they in love with each other though? Ewan comes in with the railroad-does he throw a monkey wrench into the mix? How does he help Rosalind in any way? In The Last Story it is about the prior stories to Children named Isaac and the daughter of Dustin and Alana Vanessa, who are expected to get together. There comes along a new man to town then the ties That bound are tested. Will the ties That bound break? Or will it stand another person getting in the way. I received a copy of this book from the Publisher and Netgalley; all the opinions expressed in this review are all my own.
This is a three in one novel. -A Time to Plant - Delaha is excited to finally being reconnected to her fiancé, Dustin. But will it be the reunion she is expecting? There were many times in this novella that I wanted to shake some since in Dustin. You can really see the difference in men and women and how they think and express their love. -A Time to Keep - This novella is a continuation of a Time to Plant, just years later and still a stand a lone book. Rosalind loves her town and family but also loves adventure. When she finds out the train is coming to town will it become a prison to her or maybe bring all the adventure she can imagine. Ewan never imagined finding a place to settle and a loving family to do it with. Yet will he find the strength to stay and support the family or is it best to leave? -A Time to Laugh- This stand a lone novella is part of the Montana Brides series. Nessa is a fun loving, independent girl who has always only wanted the love of her childhood friend, Isaac. Between some twist and turns and some misunderstanding will Nessa ever get her desire or does God have someone else in mind for her? I love it when a series is all together in one book. Learning about generations of families is fun, watching them grow and struggle and find happiness is always fun too.
Brides of Montana is stories of three generations of brides beginning with early settlers in Montana. The Allbright, McLean and Freimont families are close friends and their children end up strengthening the relationships. The families face many difficulties during the 1800s but their faith in God sees them through. My favorite was the second story with Irish immigrant, Ewan, Gailbraith. If you enjoy historical fiction, you will enjoy brides of Montana. I received my complimentary e-book through NetGalley. This is my honest opinion.