Maddie O'Rourke's orphaned half brother and half sister have arrived safely in Seattlewith a man they hope she'll wed! Though Michael Haggerty's not the escort she planned for, Maddie allows him to work off his passage by assisting in her bakery and helping care for her siblings. But she'll never risk her newfound independence by marrying the strapping Irishmanor anyone else.
In New York, Michael ran afoul of a notorious gang. Traveling west was a necessity, not a choice. The longshoreman grew fond of his young charges, and now he's quickly becoming partial to their beautiful sister, too. So when danger follows him, threatening Maddie and the children, he'll do anything to protect themand the future he hopes to build.
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Seattle, Washington Territory
Maddie O'Rourke stood on the pier beside Mr. Yesler's mill, waiting for the ship to come in. Every inch of her tingled, from her carefully braided red hair under her green velvet hat to her toes inside the leather boots. After nearly a year of working and striving, she was about to reunite with her little brother and sister.
She shifted on the scarred wooden planks, the bell of her wide russet skirts swinging in the cool fall sunlight. She could hear the whine of saws from the mill, the hammering that told of new buildings going up behind her. Gentlemen crowded around her, ready to receive the passengers and cargo from the sailing ship that had swept into Elliott Bay an hour ago. Among those about to disembark would be Ciara and Aiden. Maddie could only pray, as she had for months, that her brother and sister had forgiven her for abandoning them in New York.
But what else could she have done? Her income then as a laundress had barely been enough to pay her room and board, let alone support two others. She and her half siblings had struggled along for months after Da and her stepmother had been killed in that horrible tenement fire. It had been a dark time for them all, one she'd prefer to forget.
Only the advertisement in the paper, announcing the need for teachers, seamstresses and laundresses in far-off Washington Territory, at exorbitant salaries, had given her hope. She'd managed to scrape together enough money to join the Mercer expedition to Seattle and find a safe place for Ciara and Aiden to stay until she could send for them. But though she had plenty of work here, the costs were high, and she hadn't been able to bring her family to her or pay for a lady to accompany them on the ship.
The brine-scented breeze off the blue waters brushed her cheek, setting her net veil to fluttering and tugging a strand of hair free of her coronet braid. So much had changed in the past few months since her friend Rina Fosgrave had suggested a different future to Maddie. No more was Maddie a nameless laundress lugging pounds of dirty linens up three flights of stairs to labor over a steaming tub as she had in New York. Now she was Miss Madeleine O'Rourke, owner of Seattle's finest bakery, upstanding, respected, admired
"You're a little late on my shirts, Miss Maddie."
Maddie kept her smile polite as she turned to the older logger who stood beside her, his bushy brows furrowed in frustration. If she'd learned anything since starting work at the age of nine, sixteen years ago now, it was to never disappoint a customer. There was always another girl ready to scrub her fingers raw for a penny a shirt. And Maddie was well aware there was another bakery in Seattle.
"My deepest apologies, Mr. Porter," she said, batting her lashes for good measure. "I'll deliver them to the boardinghouse me own self tomorrow at the latest. I can't be keeping my best customer waiting, now, can I?"
At her praise, Mr. Porter turned as red as the flannel sticking out of the neck of his plaid cotton shirt. Stammering his thanks, he ducked his grizzled head and turned away.
Maddie smiled after him. Gentlemen had reacted with endearing embarrassment to her teasing since she was sixteen and her scrawny body had blossomed with curves. She'd heard enough compliments over the years to know the fellows liked the rich color of her fiery hair, the twinkle they claimed resided in her dark brown eyes. Her flirting made all the gentlemen, young and old and in between, smile for a time. There was nothing wrong with that.
But this laundry delivery would be her last. The woman who was coming with Ciara and Aiden could take over the remaining laundry chores, to Maddie's everlasting relief. Whether that lady flirted with her customers was her own choice. Maddie would be focused on making the bakery a success so she could repay entrepreneur Clay Howard every penny he'd invested in her, with interest.
Her nerves tingled again as she turned her gaze once more to the ship. The vessel was a two-masted steamer much like the one that had brought her most of the way here. That ship had been filled with women like her, seeking a better life. This one was bringing her own heart's desire.
A longboat had been lowered over the side, filled with passengers. Were Ciara and Aiden among them? How much longer would she have to wait?
"Nice day for a stroll, eh, Miss Maddie?"
Maddie nodded to the gentleman who had been so bold as to step up to her this time. He was one of the clerks in the Kellogg brothers' mercantile, where she'd bought her supplies for the bakery. "A fine day to be sure, Mr. Weinclef."
He squeezed the rim of the hat in his hands so hard she thought he might strangle the blocked wool. "I'd be happy to stroll with you."
"To the moon and back!" one of his friends called from the edge of the pier, and others laughed.
Mr. Weinclef turned a sickly white.
"Sure-n but you're a sweet gentleman to be offering," Maddie said with a smile designed to turn his friends green with envy. "Perhaps you'd be so kind as to sit with me in services this Sunday."
"I I'd be delighted, ma'am," he said. He seized her hand and pumped it up and down so hard her hat tipped to one side on her braid. "Thank you, thank you so much!"
Maddie managed to retrieve her hand before he scurried off. Righting her hat, she turned once more to the waiting ship. She'd never lacked for gentlemanly company in New York, though she'd been careful to keep from making a commitment. Here in Seattle it was far worse, with needy bachelors falling over themselves to make her acquaintance, seek a moment of her time.
She knew some of the ladies who had come west with her were already betrothed. She'd attended several weddings, been a bridesmaid at two. But that wasn't how she planned to lead her life. She'd seen how hard work and privation could make any marriage a struggle.
Look at Da and his second wife. Look at her life with her father and her late mother in Ireland, for that matter. It seemed love between a husband and wife could not last in adversity. Why pretend otherwise? Why set herself up for more heartache?
She put up her hand to shade her eyes from the sun, already low over the Olympic Mountains across Puget Sound. Every yard the longboat bobbed closer, every wave it crested, her body tensed the more.
Oh, please, Lord. I know You have better things to be doing than to deal with the likes of me, but perhaps You could spare a few moments. I tend to speak my mind, and I'm not long on patience. Would You help me make us a family again? Ciara and Aiden deserve that.
The burly-armed sailors were putting their backs into their work as they rowed the boat toward the pier. Now she could make out a girl and a boy nestled among the other passengers, and she thought her heart might push its way out of her fitted bodice, it swelled so much. Oh, how they'd grown! Ciara's hair, a proper brown, was past her shoulders in a thick braid, and wee Aiden's dark head was nearly to the shoulder of his sister's blue coat. The seven-year-old was glancing about with wide eyes as if he'd never seen such a place.
Of course, he hadn't. How strange Seattle must look to him after being raised in Five Points, the Irish neighborhood in New York. When she'd first walked past the whitewashed houses dwarfed by towering firs all around, she'd thought she'd arrived in another world entirely.
She felt a little foreign now. Would her brother and sister talk to her as they used to, sharing their fears, their triumphs? Would they still say their prayers together at night? She couldn't take her gaze off them as the boat bumped the pier and men surged forward to catch the lines, make the boat fast and help the passengers ashore.
Calm now. Show them what a fine lady you've become. Show them that allowing you to go ahead was worth them staying behind.
Her smile felt shaky as she stepped forward.
A man leaped from the boat to land on the pier. She had only a moment to register height and broad shoulders before he turned to lift first Ciara and then Aiden to the planks as if neither weighed more than a feather. His heavy dark blue coat and rough brown trousers made him look like a sailor, but instead of helping the rest of the passengers to alight as the other sailors were doing, he took Ciara's hand in one of his and Aiden's in the other and turned toward Maddie. The look in his eyes was more challenge than welcome. It was almost as if he was Ciara and Aiden's father, determined to lead them into a new life and protect them from any harm.
"Maddie!" Aiden broke from the man and ran toward her. All her resolve to be a grand lady evaporated like fog burning off in the sun. She bent and caught him as he hurtled into her, hugging him close.
"Oh, me darling boy! I've missed you so!"
"Me too." He pulled back and scrunched up his round face. "It took forever to get here."
"It was two months, twenty-six days and four hours," Ciara corrected him as she approached at a more ladylike pace. "But that was a very long time." She glanced up at Maddie with the deep brown eyes they'd inherited from their father. "How nice to see you again, sister."
Though Maddie had longed to hear that word from Ciara, she couldn't help thinking that the girl was even more determined to play the lady than Maddie was. She wasn't sure whether to tease Ciara or respond in kind. Ciara didn't allow her time to choose. She tugged on the sailor's hand, forcing him forward until he nearly bumped into Maddie.
"This is Mr. Michael Haggerty," Ciara announced, gazing up at him with so much pride, Maddie might have thought her sister had sewn him together from whole cloth. "He's come to marry you."
Maddie's head jerked up, and she stepped back to eye the fellow. With hair black as a crow's wing swept back from his square-jawed face and eyes bluer than the Sound on a sunny day, he wasn't a bad-looking sort. There was character in those solid cheekbones, determination in the firm lips. He even nodded respectfully as his gaze met hers. But no amount of good manners and handsome looks was going to win him a place in her affections.
"Mr. Haggerty came all this way for nothing, then," she told them all, raising her chin. "I've no reason to marry, him or any other man, and that's the last that needs to be said on that score."
Michael Haggerty could not imagine a worse way to be introduced to his benefactor. Most ladies he knew would have cried out, demanded an apology at Ciara's announcement that he had come intending marriage. Miss Maddie O'Rourke had given him a proper set-down instead, her declaration softened only by the lilt of an Irish accent that reminded him of his aunt and all he'd left behind.
Now her glare flashed around the pier, daring anyone to disagree with her. Several men ducked away as if afraid she would discover they secretly harbored hopes of winning her.
Best to calm the waters if he wanted a chance at sailing through them.
"I think Miss Ciara is overstating the case," Michael said with a glance at the little girl. Ciara's proud look dripped away like water off a roof. In the time Michael had known her, first at the children's home his aunt kept in New York and later aboard ship, he'd seen the pattern many times. Ciara had been one of the older children at the home, a position that had earned her the respect and awe of most of the others. Her queenly demeanor lasted only until someone disagreed with her, and then she quickly reverted to the unsure eleven-year-old who dwelled inside.
"But he came all this way," she protested to her sister. "He took care of us."
"We like him," Aiden added, slipping his hand back into Michael's. That was Aiden, loyal as the day was long, to each of his sisters, to Michael, to anyone who befriended him. His trembling lower lip was enough to make anyone rethink whatever they'd been doing to cause his distress.
For a moment, Michael thought Aiden's look had touched Maddie as well, for her tension eased. "Glad I am that Mr. Haggerty was so kind to you both," she told her brother. "But that doesn't mean I owe him my hand in marriage."
Ciara stiffened as if she quite disagreed.
"No, ma'am," Michael said before the girl could build up a head of steam again. "I'm the one who owes you a debt. Your money paid for my passage."
Maddie frowned. She had delicate russet-colored brows over a pert nose and the creamiest skin Michael had ever seen. And that hair, thick as coals after a fire and twice as fiery. But a pretty exterior could hide a far less pleasing heart, he'd learned to his sorrow.
"I don't understand," she said. "I asked for a lady to escort my brother and sister, someone who could be helping me at my work."
That's what Aunt Sylvie had been intending to send her, until the threats to Michael's life had convinced her to beg him to go instead. But he didn't want to explain that now, not with people crowding around them on the pier, gazes already curious.
So Michael released his hold on Aiden and saluted as the men on the naval ships in New York harbor had been wont to do. "Able Seaman Michael Haggerty at your service, ma'am."
Her lips tightened until they were a pretty pink bow on her oval face. "I'm not a captain of a ship, Mr. Hag-gerty. I have no use for sailors."
Michael lowered his arm, determined not to give up so easily. "You must have some fixing and carrying that needs to be done, ma'am. All I ask is a chance to repay my debt to you."
She shook her head, threatening the placement of the tiny green hat that perched on her braid. He'd seen a few of those in New York, usually on women who couldn't be bothered to count the cost of the whimsical things.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
I was nervous when I saw this was a Harlequin book as I have NEVER encountered a clean Harlequin and normally steer clear of them as even the ones that sound as if they'll be chaste aren't! Yet this had nothing beyond some kisses. I really enjoyed this book and am glad I trusted in the author!! Really enjoyed the characters and their dynamics and hurdles. Sweet, compelling story. I learned a lot about pioneer Seattle and Irish immigrants and gangs.
“Instant Frontier Family” is a sweet and mysterious read & the fourth installment of the “Frontier Bachelors” series by author Regina Scott. Since the beginning of book one we are introduced to the spunky Maddie O’Rourke, she intrigued me from the start and I couldn’t wait to read her story. As expected the feisty red-head is determined and knows her mind. She definitely is a no-nonsense, realistic character who wants full control. I loved Maddie’s character but, she was slightly annoying at times. She craved security for her and her siblings yet she was very determined she would provide that security herself and that she would never marry at first. Because of her being so strong willed that is why I personally found her a bit exasperating at times. Other than that, I really liked her character. Michael Haggerty is a large but gentle hero and I automatically fell in love with him. He balances out Maddie in many ways. Like her, he is cautious but not overly much so. He loved & cared for her siblings so much that it drew me to him even more. He was always looking out for others and helping when and wherever he could no matter how hard it was on him. I have to say that even though he was big and strong, he was able to show emotion. There’s isn’t really anything I disliked about him. As this book started, I felt it was just a tad slow but picked up as you went into the story. Also, I personally felt like it ended a bit too quickly. However, the little bit of mystery thrown in there was great & I enjoyed every minute of that. All in all I thought this book was a sweet and enjoyable read and I do recommend it to anyone who enjoys a good historical romance with a little bit of mystery mixed in. I give this book four stars. I was provided a copy of this book by the author. All opinions expressed in this review are my own.
I really enjoyed this book. I loved the characters and the plot. I had a hard time putting this book down.
Characters full of sass and wit, adventurous minds, and willing to go the distance to get what they dreamed of. This story is so full of positive thoughts, spunk, and people with the guts to go for it. What ever the it is they are looking for. The early settlers in the Seattle area, Irish by heritage, and orphan siblings in a family matters, they work hard to build a new life away from New York and the dangers the city have, for the Irish in particular. Maddie didn't expect Michael, and was not prepared for the attraction she feels for him. But since Michael took care of her siblings through the trip to Seattle, she was giving him a place to live, until he found a place of his own. But trouble comes to the town, the Irish seems to be the target. As if it wasn't enough trouble with just surviving, with everything else Maddie and Michael had on their plate. The story is fast paced, the characters are a delight, the connection between Maddie and Michael adorable. They are there for each other, work well together as a team, always supporting each other in troubles and every day trials, as well as in triumph. They trust their faith to guide them, God protect them, and guide them in their path in life. A sweet, uplifting story about the troubles and life of the early settlers in the Seattle area ~ Four Spoons
Disclaimer: I received this book from Regina Scott for the promise of an honest book review. I have read the other books in Ms. Scott’s Frontier Bachelors series and liked no-nonsense Maddie from the beginning. Her plain speaking view of the world makes me smile. I’ve often wondered if I would have been bold enough to leave my life behind and start anew in the west. Not possible to know, now. But, I can enjoy the ups and downs of the journey in books like Instant Frontier Family. Ms. Scott has the ability to weave powerful messages into a story but they don’t slap you in the face. They nudge you as you go along. Growing up in the late 1800 Irish slums of New York shaped Maddie and Michael’s view of the world. Both are determined to start a new and better life in Seattle, Washington. Both are determined to do it their own way. Will they let their past dictate their future? Will they settle for their own way even if it less than they want? Or, will they let go and walk into their future together? I’m not telling.
I really enjoyed Instant Frontier Family . Maddie’s work ethic and her willingness to work herself to the bone to provide for her family shows a love and willingness to be God’s disciple that many people don’t have nowadays. It was fun to watch her fall in love especially as she protested that she did not want that more than anything else. Her siblings were a great source of annoyance even to me as the reader. She kept saying how she felt guilty that she had a short temper with them and yet, I don’t know that I could have been as sweet as she was to them. All in all Instant Frontier Family is a great read and a terrific addition to this series! More… Author: Regina Scott Source: NetGalley Publisher & Date: January 5th 2016 by Love Inspired Genre: Historic Christian Romance ISBN: 0373283423 (ISBN13: 9780373283422) Pages: 288 Grade: B+ Ages: 16+ Steam: YA Setting: October 1866 in Seattle Washington Series: Frontier Bachelors, 4
Another Great Installment to Frontier Bachelors I was originally attracted to Regina Scott’s novels because of their Regency setting, but her recent releases from Love Inspired have been in the Frontier Bachelor series, set in the Washington Territory in the 1860s. I have enjoyed each book so far despite the different time and place, and one of the reasons for that is the novels touch on family love as well as the romance between the hero and heroine. The characters in this novel are by turns endearing and infuriating—sometimes both in the same chapter—but they are not flat. I enjoy the Irish twist to this story; I have very little background regarding Irish immigrants to the U. S. but there is a lot of information within these pages, both historical and cultural. As I have come to expect from any Regina Scott novel, historical detail is impeccable and woven not just into the descriptions but into the very dialog the characters speak. For example, Maddie refers to Ciara and Aiden as her “bone and blood” rather than the more common term today of “flesh and blood.” It’s the minutiae that keep me coming back to her novels again and again, the authentic and unexpected small specifics that set her writing and research above many other authors I have read. Interestingly, parts of the story could have been taken from more recent headlines with gang violence and intimidation. There is also a subtle thread of entitlement, of wanting only the best, regardless of the cost to others or even to the person so caught up in what he wants that he can’t see the damage inflicted. This highlights that despite what we might be tempted to think, problems people faced in the past and the ones we battle today are much the same in spite of the passage of time—I find that an encouragement in my own struggles. Another uplifting component to this book is the Christian aspect and an exploration of our relationship with God—a personal faith opposed to a distant Creator uninvolved in our lives. A sometimes arrogant self-sufficiency contrasts with trust in One greater than ourselves, One who loves us beyond what we can see when we are consumed by the day to day demands of living. And the romance! This is a fantastic story about two people convinced that love is not worth the risk, and yet Ms. Scott still finds ways to let the sparks fly between the characters at various points in the novel, some of them unexpected and more beautiful for the surprise they bring. Many elements combine to make this a wonderful book and well worth the time spent reading. I would highly recommend it to those who enjoy historical romance or who have an interest in Irish history in the U. S. And for those, like me, who found her writing through her Regency novels, there’s even a nod to Pride and Prejudice—an unexpected but welcome bonus to this delightful tale! I received a complimentary copy of this book from the author in exchange for this honest review. All of the opinions expressed are my own.
Instant Frontier Family is a great addition to the Frontier Bachelors series, yet the story definitely stands alone and can be enjoyed without having read the earlier novels. I really liked these two main characters and their journey was such a special one to read about. Maddie is strong and determined, yet scared to trust in love. Michael is caring and reliable, yet has been hurt before. I loved watching these two begin to care for each other. Maddie’s younger sister, Ciara, drove me a bit insane! The author did a very convincing job of making this little girl difficult. But, her attitude toward her situation and toward Maddie were an important part of the story. Instant Frontier Family has a great setting and a very interesting plot that is connected to their Irish heritage. I loved their Irish brogues that came through very nicely in the way the sentences were worded. It was a very enjoyable story. I received a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
Instant Frontier Family is the latest in author Regina Scott's 'Frontier Bachelor ' series and a fine one it is, too. I do believe she has more from that series for us and I'm happy to hear that. Maddie O'Rourke's orphaned half brother and sister arrive safely in Seattle, with a man, who was supposed to be a woman! They hope she'll wed Michael Haggerty but Maddie has no intention of marrying anyone! She's got too much to do running her laundry service and bakery. She is determined to be a lady of means one day. Michael had run afoul of a deadly gang in New York and escorted the children to Seattle to their sister, hoping to get a new start. But it seems danger is coming to all of them. Will Maggie and Michael trust God to take care of them, or will they follow their heads and try to do it their own way? This was yet another great book by Regina Scott. I fell in love with her Regencies years ago and have decided I will read anything she writes. Her books are well written with believable characters and great plots. I always look forward to the next when the close the book on one I've just finished reading. She always includes a wonderful spiritual message as well. *I was given a complimentary copy of the book by the author in exchange for my honest review. My opinions are true and my own.
Instant Frontier Family is an engaging story and a wonderful addition to the Frontier Bachelors series! Regina Scott always paints a vivid picture with her words, and I loved the details and descriptions she included in this story. I could just hear the Irish brogue as I read! I especially enjoyed the development of the relationships between Maddie and her siblings and between Maddie and Michael. Their story is fraught with drama and danger, and I enjoyed every word! I received a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for an unbiased review. All thoughts expressed are my own.
Instant Frontier Family by Regina Scott Frontier Bachelors Series Book Four Maddie O'Rourke is determined to make her own way in life. She had traveled to Seattle with Mercer, but she was not going to be a bride. That didn't mean she wouldn't smile and perhaps flirt a bit to help sell her baked goods to the men in Seattle. Especially if it meant more money to help raise her half sister and brother. Michael Haggerty knew he was not what the fiery redhead expected when he delivered her siblings to her. She also didn't know that it most likely had saved his life by doing so. New York was no longer safe for him. Maddie was determined not to fall for any man, including the helpful Irishman who she seemed to acquire with her siblings. Michael was determined to make sure the youngsters were safe with their sister and repay Maddie for his traveling expenses. Neither expected the danger around them...from others...and from their own hearts. **Received from author for honest review