Into the Valley is the moving story of one woman torn between two brothers who have drastically different visions of the future of their country.
In 1780, during the turbulent days of the American Revolution, Annie Barnes is engaged to stable, loving Luke Wilde, an Ohio Valley farmer who is satisfied with his life and not at all sure that it's right or advisable to fight the British crown. But because of a life-changing experience in her childhood, Annie also has strong feelings for his brother, Jeremiah Wilde, a wanderer who becomes deeply involved in the patriot cause and ends up bringing the war a little too close to Annie and Luke's settled life. As the brothers become dangerously embroiled in the fighting, Annie's relationships with both of them are twisted, tried, and tangled beyond recognition. As Luke and Jeremiah face unimaginable dangers, Annie must confront her feelings about the future-both of the land she adores and the brothers she can't live without.
The second novel in Bittner's ambitious Westward America series, chronicling the history of the settling of America through the stories of its brave pioneers, Into the Valley is a story of war's unexpected effects on the lives of ordinary citizens, and of the courage of the early patriots showed in gaining America's independence.
At the Publisher's request, this title is being sold without Digital Rights Management Software (DRM) applied.
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About the Author
Rosanne Bittner and her husband, Larry, live in southwest Michigan and have two grown sons. Ms. Bittner is the author of more than fifty books about the American West of the 1800s and Native Americans. She is a member of Romance Writers of America, Western Writers of America, Western Outlaw-Lawman History Association, Nebraska Historical Society, Oregon-California Trails Association, the Council on America's Military Past, and Women Writing the West. She has received numerous writing awards and several of her books have been published in translation in France, Italy, Norway, Germany, Taiwan, and Russia.
Published since 1983, Rosanne Bittner is known nationally and internationally, with 58 titles and several million books in print. Rosanne writes historical romance and sagas involving real American history, especially stories about America’s Old West and its Native Americans.
Rosanne has won numerous writing awards and has been inducted into romance magazine Affaire de Couer’s Hall of Fame for longevity and endurance in the market and for overall appeal to readers. She has received numerous favorable reviews in Publishers Weekly, and was a finalist for Women Writing the West’s prestigious WILLA award for her novel Where Heaven Begins, set in the Yukon during the gold rush. In 2012 romance magazine Romantic Times named Rosanne a "Legend of Historical Romance."
Rosanne is a member of the Nebraska and Montana State Historical Societies, Women Writing the West, Western Writers of America and Romance Writers of America (Mid-Michigan Chapter). Rosanne and her husband Larry live in southwest Michigan and have two sons and three grandsons. Locally Rosanne is a Board member of the Coloma Lioness Club, a charity organization.
You can learn more about Rosanne and her latest publications through her web site, her blog, and by visiting her on Facebook and Twitter. Rosanne also contributes to numerous writers’ sites, such as Goodreads, and a number of blog sites.
Read an Excerpt
Into the Valley
1July 10, 1780 Willow Creek, Ohio Valley
Annie set out a blackberry pie she'd baked herself, then stepped back to view the grand display of food brought in by the women of Willow Creek. It was all laid out on a long table made of boards set on top of barrels, then covered with tablecloths.Aside from her upcoming marriage, Annie was sure this day would become one of her best memories. Most of the population of Willow Creek was here to help build Luke Wilde's barn, one of the finishing touches to the biggest farm in the area--a farm she would soon share with Luke."Annie Barnes, I'm so jealous!"Annie turned to share a smile with her good friend, Jenny Carlson. "Of what?" she teased."You know what! You snagged the most handsome, most successful man in the Ohio Valley!"Annie laughed. "I don't know if you'd call it snagging. You know good and well that Luke and I have been friends since we were kids. He and his brother are practically part of the family. It's not like Luke and I suddenly met and I had to runafter him." She looked back at the barn, watching Luke, so handsome and strong. He was helping another man place a hand-hewn support beam. "Luke told me he's known he wanted to marry me since I was twelve years old."Jenny grabbed her hand and squeezed it. "Everybody knew you and Luke would end up together," she told Annie. "My brothers used to make bets on it. Sam said Luke would marry you, and Clete said it would be Jeremiah."Annie felt a tiny pain in her chest at the mention of Luke's brother. "Oh?" She looked back at Jenny, forcing herself to keep a smile on her face. "Why on earth would I marry a wandering man like Jeremiah?"Jenny laughed. "Because he was crazy about you once himself, you know. And Lord knows, it's a hard decision as to which brother is the best looking. That Jeremiah, he used to make my heart pound back before he left three years ago, and I was only thirteen then, not even old enough to be thinking that way about a man. Did you know that Jeremiah and Luke had a big fight over you right before Jeremiah left?"Now it became a struggle for Annie to keep smiling and appear unaffected. "No! Are you serious?""You didn't know, did you? My brothers ordered me to keep it a secret, but now that you're marrying Luke--"Annie's mother began clanging a cowbell, interrupting the conversation. "Time to eat!" she hollered at the men working on the barn. Several of the men let out whoops and whistles, clamoring down from the still-open rafters to wash hands and faces at water barrels."I'm going to find Larry!" Jenny told Annie. "He promised to eat with me!"Annie watched her friend run off to find Larry Klug, a young man from distant Fort Harmar who'd lately been callingon Jenny as often as possible while the summer weather allowed it. Jenny's wildly curly, dark hair fluttered every which way as she ran, and Annie lost sight of her as men began gathering around the table of food. Preacher Patrick Falls, who'd come to Willow Creek two years ago to minister to the settlers, called out that they should all pray before eating.Now Luke was beside Annie, moving a hand to her waist. She glanced up at him before prayer, thinking how he looked even more handsome when he was tanned and sweating from the hot sun. His thick, dark hair fell recklessly about his face, its color and the tan only accenting his amazingly blue eyes. Luke smiled down at her proudly. Annie knew he was bursting with joy at finally getting the barn finished before they would marry. The wedding was set for less than two weeks from now.Preacher Falls prayed, but Annie didn't hear the words. Jeremiah and Luke had fought over her? Did Jeremiah tell Luke what happened--that night in the barn--between her and himself? Surely not! Luke would never have asked her to marry him if he knew.Why? Why had she allowed that to happen? It never should have; but it was Jeremiah she'd loved dearly. It was Jeremiah she'd had that terrible crush on, in spite of Luke being the one who gave her all the attention. Jeremiah--always the wanderer--gone more than he was home, the one who loved to hunt and who even spent time on occasion with a friendly band of Delaware Indians. It was Jeremiah who dressed in buckskins and wore his near-black hair long like those wild Indians--Jeremiah whose skin was even darker than Luke's, and who had eyes black as coal.Back then, people called Jeremiah the "wild one." Luke was the brother who had stayed put and worked hard. Luke had built this wonderful farm, and had even built a fine stone housefor his betrothed. Soon she would live in that sturdy, beautiful home with Luke. There she would bear and raise his children, the wife of the most eligible man in the Ohio Valley. Luke was the brother who had pursued her and asked her to marry him, and there was not one thing about him for a woman not to love.She did indeed love him, but she'd also loved his brother. And it was his brother who had seduced her that night in the barn at her parents' farm ... his brother who had a way of casting a spell on her and making her do foolish things ... his brother who had taken her first.While the preacher prayed his thanks for the food they were about to eat, Annie prayed that Luke would never find out how passionately she'd loved Jeremiah, how foolish she'd been that night, how deeply hurt she'd been when Jeremiah left after that--three years ago--never to come back. Why had he done that after making love to her? Never had she felt so abandoned and heartbroken; yet she couldn't share her pain, because she also couldn't share the reason for it, the secret sin she'd committed.She knew now how wrong it had been to give herself to a man like Jeremiah. Even if he'd stayed around and married her, their marriage would have been a disaster. Jeremiah was not the marrying type. He and Luke were as different as night and day. Luke was the stable farmer, a man who would always be around to protect and provide for his wife and family. Jeremiah, the wanderer, would have been gone much more than at home.People were talking and visiting now, standing in line to eat. Luke, her wonderful Luke, was right behind her, talking and laughing, a man happy to be finishing his barn, happy to be getting married soon. Oh, how she loved him! If only she'd known life would turn out this way, she never would have shared that night with Jeremiah.Now she felt angry with Jenny for bringing up the subject,spoiling such a wonderful day. She smiled as she handed Luke a plate so he could fill it with beans and ham and biscuits and pie. She pointed out her own berry pie, and he took a slice, giving her a wink and smiling with full lips and even, white teeth. "I'm not only marrying the prettiest girl in these parts, but also the best cook," he told her.Annie blushed, hoping her nose wasn't getting too red from the sun. She thought how fair her skin was compared to Luke's tanned hands. Her skin wouldn't take color. It simply burned and peeled and stayed white. Her red freckles matched her red hair, and Luke always told her that her green eyes made him think of green apples. She hated her freckles, but Luke loved them. Her heart rushed at the thought of sharing his bed in only two more weeks. She just hoped ... could a man tell if a woman wasn't a virgin? Maybe not when it was only once, and after all, it had been three years ago. Much as she'd been crazy about Jeremiah, she now loved Luke in a different, deeper way, and she couldn't stand the thought of how hurt he'd be if he knew what she'd done.Now the air was full of talk and laughter and forks hitting dishes. Younger children ran and played, ducking around those who were eating, chasing dogs and chickens. Men teased Luke about his upcoming marriage, and women talked about quilting and recipes. Annie's brothers, seventeen-year-old Jake and fifteen-year-old Calvin, sat on a log with Luke. They adored him, as did her little sister, twelve-year-old Sally, who walked around pouring coffee for the men.Yes, this was a good day after all. She would soon be Mrs. Luke Wilde. This was not a day for thinking about a mistake she'd made three years ago. Women began filling their own plates, but Annie couldn't eat. The excitement of the day, combined with the heat, brought little appetite ... and Jenny's commentabout the fight between Luke and Jeremiah disturbed her. Luke had never mentioned it. Why not?Before long, people began moaning about being too full. There was more visiting and laughter, and some of the men lay back in the grass to rest a bit before returning to work on the barn. In the distance, Luke's fields were ripening with corn and potatoes. Cattle grazed in another field, and chickens clucked and strutted everywhere. A few of Annie's mother's friends congratulated Annie and offered to help with the upcoming wedding."We're having Luke over tomorrow night to talk more about it," Ethel Barnes told her good friend, Hilda Pickens."And, of course, I will play the piano for the wedding," Hilda insisted."Of course you will! You're the only woman in Willow Creek who knows how to play the piano!" Ethel answered. The women all laughed, and Annie joined them. Neither she nor the others noticed at first that a rider was just then approaching the gathering. It was Annie who finally caught sight of him. He sat tall on his black horse, his long, dark hair blowing in the light, hot breeze, the fringes of his buckskin clothing dancing with the rhythm of his body as it moved to the horse's gait.Annie's heart nearly stopped beating. It was Jeremiah! He'd come home!Copyright 2003 by Rosanne Bittner