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About the Author
Tracie Peterson, bestselling, award-winning author of over ninety fiction titles and three non-fiction books, lives and writes in Belgrade, Montana. As a Christian, wife, mother, writer, editor and speaker (in that order), Tracie finds her slate quite full.Published in magazines and Sunday school take home papers, as well as a columnist for a Christian newspaper, Tracie now focuses her attention on novels. After signing her first contract with Barbour Publishing in 1992, her novel, A Place To Belong, appeared in 1993 and the rest is history. She has over twenty-six titles with Heartsong Presents’ book club (many of which have been repackaged) and stories in six separate anthologies from Barbour. From Bethany House Publishing, Tracie has multiple historical three-book series as well as many stand-alone contemporary women’s fiction stories and two non-fiction titles. Other titles include two historical series co-written with Judith Pella, one historical series co-written with James Scott Bell, and multiple historical series co-written with Judith Miller.
Amy Rognlie is an author and teacher, who, like the characters in her book, has traveled many unfamiliar and unexpected paths in the course of her life. She has seen God's faithfulness every step of the way, and wants her readers to know that no matter what circumstances look like, God is good. Amy and her family live in Central Texas, where she teaches language arts and Latin, writes Bible studies and Sunday School curriculum, and is involved in ministry in her local church and community.
Read an Excerpt
By Tracie Peterson
Barbour Publishing, Inc.Copyright © 1997 Barbour Publishing, Inc.
All rights reserved.
Amelia grimaced as she heard her father and Sir Jeffery Chamberlain break into yet another discussion on the implementation of fertilizer to boost agricultural yields. It was this dreadful country that did it, she thought. America! A country filled with barbaric men, ill-mannered women, and positively rotten children.
Shifting uncomfortably in the seat of their stage, Amelia wished fervently that if there were a God, He would reach down and smite the lot of them in order that she might be allowed to return home to England. But of course that wasn't going to happen because Amelia had firmly decided for herself that there was no God.
"I say, Chamberlain," her father stated with a marginal note of enthusiasm. "I believe we're slowing down."
"Yes, quite right," the younger man responded and peered out the window. "We've made an excellent way thanks to our time spent on the railroad. American railroads are quite the thing. Good money here, what?"
"Indeed, the stagecoaches are just as abominable as those back home, but I believe their railway system to be quite superior," came the reply and the conversation erupted into a spirited discussion of the American rail system. Amelia sighed, adjusted her lace collar and waited for the announcement that they had arrived in some small, forsaken Colorado town.
She hadn't wanted to come on this trip to America. America had been the furthest thing from her mind, in fact, but her father was insistent and clearly closed the matter to discussion. Amelia's sisters Penelope and Margaret were just as loath to travel, but they were quite interested in Sir Jeffery Chamberlain.
Amelia held a small wish that she could share their enthusiasm. After all, he was to become her husband. At least that was the plan as her father saw it, but Amelia had no intention of marrying the pompous man. Jeffery Chamberlain was a long-time crony of her father's. He wasted his days doing as little as possible, furthering his already-sound reputation of being a spoiled dandy. He had been knighted, but only because his mother held a tender place in the queen's heart. And he owned vast estates with wondrous woods that beckoned the visitor to take a turn about, but those were his only redeeming qualities as far as Amelia was concerned.
Her father viewed him in a different light, however. Sir Jeffery Chamberlain was rich and popular with Queen Victoria's court. He had a sound education and a quick wit that had managed to keep him out of trouble on more than one occasion, and he was worth an enormous sum of money, which not only could keep his own lands well-kept but also would surely flow over to his future father-in-law, Lord Reginald Amhurst, the sixth earl of Donneswick — should that need arise.
Staring hard at the man, Amelia noted all of his flaws. His nose was too long, his forehead too shiny. He had perfect white teeth, which seemed to be constantly bared for all the world behind unflattering smiles and his beady eyes were placed too close together. Added to this, the man was an unmitigated bore.
Amelia shook her head uncomfortably and tried, against the rocking and bouncing of the stage, to look at the magazine she'd bought in Cheyenne. Flipping through pages of ladies' fashions, Amelia tried to rationalize her thoughts. I cannot blame Father for setting out to arrange a marriage. It is done all the time in my circle of friends. Why, I don't even remember the last time one of my companions managed to marry for love, and not because the union was of financial benefit to one family or the other. Some of her friends had grown to genuinely love their intended mates. Others had not. Her dear friend and confidant, Sarah Greene, had managed to find herself engaged to a charming man of wit and gentlemanly breeding and had quickly lost her heart. But that was not to be the case for Amelia. She could not find it in her heart to love Sir Jeffery, as he insisted they call him, nor did she think love would grow there for this man.
Amidst a roar of whoa's and a cloud of dust, Amelia realized that they had come to a stop. Ignoring her father's window description of the town, Amelia tucked the magazine into her bag. Immediately Penelope and Margaret began fussing and going on about the wilds of America.
"I suppose we might very well be scalped by Indians," Penelope said with a fearful expression. She allowed Sir Jeffery to assist her from the stage before adding, "We're so very glad to have your company, Sir Jeffery." She oozed congeniality and interlaced her arm with his. At seventeen she was more than a little bit aware of the power a young woman's simpering could have over the male gender.
"It is my pleasure, Miss Penelope," he assured her.
Margaret, a year Penelope's junior, secured her place on the opposite arm of Sir Jeffery as soon as her father had helped her from the stage. "Yes, it would be quite frightful to have come all this way into the heart of the American wilderness with only Father and Mattersley to offer protection. Why, whatever would three women and two old men do should the heathens truly choose to attack us?" Mattersley, the other "old man" she referred to, was the earl's manservant and constant companion.
Amelia watched all this through the open door of the stage. She rolled her eyes and sighed. Indeed, what would Sir Jeffery, pompous dandy that he was, do in such a situation? Bore the poor Indians to death with questions of what fertilizer they were using on the Colorado plains? She couldn't abide the simpering of her sisters and chose instead to remain in her seat on the stage until her father beckoned her forward.
"Amelia, allow me to help you down. Why, you've scarcely said two words since we left Cheyenne. You aren't ill, are you? Taken with vapors, what?"
Amelia's pale blue eyes met those of her father's. "No, Father, I'm not at all indisposed. I simply have had my mind consumed with a variety of subjects."
Sir Jeffery untangled himself from Amelia's sisters and came to offer his hand. "May I accompany you to the hotel, Lady Amhurst?" he questioned with a slight bow. Amelia noticed her father's frown as if he could read the curt reply she was thinking. Containing her thoughts with absolute ladylike control, she nodded. "Of course. Thank you," she murmured, putting her gloved fingers into Jeffery's palm.
"I have arranged for us to have rooms at a boardinghouse here in Greeley," the earl began. "It's a temperance colony so there will be no wine with dinner, nor any after-dinner brandy, I'm afraid." Amelia, knowing her father's distaste for alcohol, realized that he said the latter for Jeffery's sake.
"Ah, the barbarians." Jeffery sighed and Amelia knew he meant it. To Jeffery, any measure of discomfort represented a less-than-acceptable social standing. And for Jeffery to be without his brandy was definitely a discomfort.
For a reason beyond her understanding, Amelia was put out at Jeffery's attitude. Not because of the alcohol — although she herself couldn't abide the stuff — no, it was more than simple issues of food and drink. Jeffery's entire demeanor put her at odds. Maybe it was just that she wanted to conflict with his ideals. Maybe it was the fact that she was completely disgusted with his companionship and still hadn't been able to get it across to either her father or Jeffrey that she had no desire to marry.
Glancing upward, Amelia instantly felt the noon sun bear down on her. Grimacing, she opened her white parasol and lifted it overhead to ward off the harsh rays.
"Oh Father," Penelope began to whine, "it's ever so hot here. Must we stand about as though we were hired help?" She looked for all the world as though she might faint dead away at any moment.
They were all quite used to Penelope and Margaret's displays of weakness, and for several moments no one said anything. Finally the earl motioned for his loyal valet, Mattersley, and gave him several coins. "See if you can't arrange for our things to be brought up." The man, close in age to his employer, gave a regal bow and set out on his mission. "There," the earl said, turning to the party, "I'd say that settled itself rather nicely. Let's make our way up, what?"
"Indeed," Jeffrey answered as though his was the only opinion to be had. "This harsh American sun is quite hard on fair English skin." He said the words looking at Amelia, but she had the distinct impression they were given more in consideration of his own situation than of hers.
The dry, dusty streets of Greeley did nothing to encourage the entourage. The boardinghouse was a far cry from the regal estate they'd left behind in England. It wasn't even as nice as the furnishings they'd acquired in New York City or Chicago. In fact, Amelia knew it was by far the worst accommodations they'd know yet, and her opinion of America slipped even lower. Why, even when they'd toured India, they'd resided on lovely estates.
From the moment they walked into the questionable place, arguments ensued and miseries were heightened. The owners of the atrocious little house actually expected Amelia and her sisters to share one bed. The very thought of it caused Penelope to cry and Margaret to fan herself feverishly as though she might actually faint from the very suggestion.
"I believe we'd arranged to have all five of your rooms," the earl protested, combating a roving horde of black flies.
"Kain't hep it a bit, mister," the slovenly dressed proprietor announced. "I hed a man come in last night what needed a place to stay."
"This is Reginald Amhurst, the sixth earl of Donneswick," Chamberlain interjected angrily. "Lord Amhurst to you."
The proprietor looked over the rim of his dirty spectacles. "Ferenors, eh? We gets 'em all kinds here. You sound to be them thar British gents. I guess the missus said you was comin'."
Amelia grew tired with the exchange and glanced around the room to where a crude painting hung at the base of the stairs. She studied it intently, wishing she could forget the heat. The picture fascinated her from afar, as it seemed to almost move with life. Stepping closer, Amelia found it half covered with pesky black flies. It was only then that she really noticed most everything suffered from such a fate.
"Excuse me," a stranger's voice sounded over her head. "This isn't an art gallery. Besides, I don't think old Farley's painting is all that interesting."
Amelia was so lost in thought that she hadn't realized she was blocking the stairway. She looked up with a surprised expression and found herself noticing the broad, muscular frame that accompanied the voice. The mustached mouth seemed to twitch a bit as though it might break into a laugh.
Without so much as a smile, Amelia backed away. "My pardon, sir." Her voice was haughty and her look froze the man in his place. She still found it disconcerting to be openly addressed by men without a proper introduction. Childhood teachings were hard to lay aside, even for a holiday to America.
With a grin, he gave a broad sweep. "You are quite pardoned, ma'am."
Amelia raised her handkerchief and turned away to keep from muttering something most unladylike. Rude. That's what all Americans are.
"Hey thar, Logan," the boardinghouse proprietor called as the man passed to the front door.
Amelia tried to watch the scene without letting the man called Logan see she was at all interested in the conversation.
"Logan, didn't ya tell me you was gonna be leadin' a group of ferenors up the mountains?"
"Well, I think this here party be yer folks."
Logan eyed the group suspiciously as though he'd just been told that they were responsible for having robbed the local bank.
"You're Earl Donneswick?" Logan questioned Amelia's father.
"I am, indeed," Lord Amhurst replied, before Jeffery could speak. Amelia turned to watch the introduction. "This is Sir Jeffery Chamberlain, my man Mattersley, and my daughters."
Logan let his gaze travel around the room to each of the women before settling on Amelia. He smiled slightly when his blatant stare caused her to blush, then turned his attention to the matter at hand.
"I'm Logan Reed, your guide to Estes Park."
"Mr. Reed, we are quite anxious to be started on our journey. Can you advise us as to when we might expect to begin? The heat is positively wilting our ladies." Jeffery commented before the earl could do the same.
Logan looked again at the women. "Are you proposing to take your womenfolk along?"
"Indeed we are," the earl replied.
Amelia watched as Logan cast a skeptical glace at her. "There are places where we'll scarcely have a trail to follow. Packing into the Rockies isn't a Sunday school picnic."
"My daughters have climbed in the Alps, my good man. I assure you they are quite up to the challenge."
Logan's smile broadened. "If you say so. I just wouldn't want the ladies to get hurt." His gaze returned to Amelia, who stuck her chin in the air defiantly and turned toward the fly-covered window.
"Lady Amhurst and her sisters are quite capable," Jeffery interjected irritably.
"Lady Amhurst? I thought you said your name was Donneswick."
The earl smiled tolerantly. "I am Reginald Amhurst, the sixth earl of Donneswick, I am called Lord Amhurst, but it is common when I travel abroad to have my title mistaken for my name. My daughters, of course, are called by the family name of Amhurst. A bit confusing for you Yanks, but nevertheless, easy enough to remember."
"With that matter resolved," Chamberlain stated in a cool, even voice, "when can we expect to begin? You surely can't expect us to remain in this poor excuse for a town for much longer."
"Whoa, now. Just hold on for a minute," Logan said raising his hand. Amelia glanced back over her shoulder, fascinated in spite of herself at the way Logan Reed seemed to naturally take charge. "We've got some ground rules to cover first and I don't think standing around the front door of Ted's is the place for it. Ted, can we use the dining room?"
"Sure enuf, Logan. Ya go right ahead." Ted seemed to be happy to rid himself of the commotion. "Ya want I should have the missus bring somethin' to drink?"
He addressed Logan, but it was Lord Amhurst who answered. "Yes, please have tea and cakes sent 'round."
Ted stared at the man for a moment, then turned to Logan. "It's okay, Ted. Why don't you bring whatever's at hand." This the man understood and nodded agreement before taking himself off to the kitchen.
The party stared collectively at Logan, barely tolerating his breach of etiquette, but Amelia was certain that for Mr. Logan Reed, breaching etiquette was probably a daily routine.
"Come on this way," Logan ordered and led the way without even waiting to hear an approval from the earl or Jeffrey. The entourage followed, murmuring among themselves as to the character and manners of the tall man.
"Everybody might as well sit down," Logan said, giving his well-worn hat a toss to the sideboard.
Amelia watched in complete amazement. At home, in England, her father would never have been addressed in such a manner. At home he commanded respect and held a position of complete authority. Here in America, however, he was just a man and it didn't matter in the least that he was titled.
While Amelia stood in motionless study, Logan pulled out a chair and offered it to her. Her blue eyes met the rich warmth of his green ones. She studied his face for a moment longer, noting the trimmed mustache and square, but newly shaven jaw.
"Thank you," she murmured and slipped into her chair without taking her gaze from his face.
"Now, we need to discuss this matter in some detail," Logan announced. He stood at the head of the table looking as though he were some famed orator about to impart great knowledge upon the masses.
"Mr. Reed," Amelia's father interrupted. "I have an understanding with the owner of several cabins in the Estes Park valley. He assured me that he would send a guide to bring our party to Estes. Furthermore, there is to be another family accompanying us: Lord and Lady Gambett and their two daughters."
Logan nodded. "I know about the Gambetts and was headed up to speak to them when you arrived. According to Ted, they're staying on the other end of town at Widow Compton's place. I suppose they're planning to bring their womenfolk along as well?"
"Indeed, they are. What, may I ask, is the difficulty here?"
Logan ran a hand through his brown hair and sighed. "The problem is this: I wasn't expecting to have to pack women into the mountains. No one mentioned women at all, in fact. I was told I'd be taking a hunting party to Estes. A hunting party seemed to lend itself to the idea of men."
Excerpted from Logan's Lady by Tracie Peterson. Copyright © 1997 Barbour Publishing, Inc.. 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.
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