Montana Wife

Montana Wife

by Jillian Hart

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781426883866
Publisher: Harlequin
Publication date: 11/15/2010
Series: Harlequin Historical Series , #734
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 288
Sales rank: 224,578
File size: 718 KB

About the Author

One of Janet Tronstad's favorite childhood memories is of borrowing Zane Gray novels from her grandfather's bookshelf. "There probably weren't more than fifty titles there," she recalls. "It was only a shelf of old books in the back bedroom. But it was the call to adventure for me. I still remember what it felt like to start reading a new book. It's the same excitement I feel today when I start writing a new book." Janet, one of five children, grew up on a family farm near Fort Shaw, Montana, a small town with a population of fewer than 200. This small town and the thriving church she attended have been an inspiration for her popular Dry Creek series of novels published by the Steeple Hill line. "People respond to the characters I have in my Dry Creek series," says Janet, "and a lot of that is because of the sense of community they share. I think we all hunger to be in a place where people know us and accept us." Janet likes to write books that show people struggling with issues in their life and in their faith. "We all struggle," she says. "That's why we like to read about other people who are facing problems." In addition to the Dry Creek series, Janet is also currently writing books that are set in urban locations. "The rural-urban switch is one I've been conscious of in my own life since I grew up on a farm and then, with graduate school and various jobs, lived in several large cities before settling in Pasadena, California," says Janet. "I often have a character that grew up in a small town and just moved to a big city or the other way around." In her upcoming novel Going to the Chapel, Janet writes about a young woman who grew up in the relatively small town of Blythe, California, and then moved to Hollywood, hoping to find not only an exciting job but also the respect of her family. Janet holds a master's degree in journalism from the University of Wisconsin and was published in various national magazines before she started writing fiction.

Read an Excerpt

Montana Wife

By Jillian Hart

Harlequin Enterprises, Ltd.

Copyright © 2004 Harlequin Enterprises, Ltd.
All right reserved.

ISBN: 0-373-29334-8

Chapter One

Montana Territory, 1883

Rayna Ludgrin twisted the lace handkerchief in her hand, the delicate material shockingly white against her black dress. This was a nightmare, the kind that felt so real that when you awake in the dark of night, there's that moment of confusion before realizing it's only a dream.

She was ready to wake any time now. Ready for the scorching-hot sun to fade into darkness, for day to wane into night and for the cemetery to vanish so she could rouse to the peaceful shadows of her bedroom. So the webby remains of this bad dream could taper away and her husband could be alive and sound asleep beside her, as he was meant to be forever, flung on his back and snoring like a freight train barreling down a straight stretch.

She blinked, still in the chair at the graveside with the blistering sunlight tight on her face.

"Let me take you home now." Betsy's black-gloved hand caught hers.

The service was over, and so should the dream be, too. Rayna stood up from the hardwood chair someone had brought earlier from inside the church. Betsy, her dear friend, guided Rayna around the corner of the grave where a pine casket lay with Kol inside.

But if this was a dream, why could she see the green grass and breathe in air tainted with thesharp scent of earth? How come she felt the grief like the breeze on her skin?

"That's it," her other dear friend, Mariah, was at her other side, clutching her other arm. "Step up here. That's right. Betsy, she needs to lie down."

"I'll run up and ready her bed," another voice said from somewhere beyond the haze of her despair.

Footsteps dashed off, or was that the uneven thump of her own shoes on the porch steps? Rayna was confused, but from the moment Dayton's daughter had knocked on her door with the news of Kol's collapse and death, time had stood still.

He's not dead. He can't be dead. The force of fear and grief and loss expanded like a soap bubble beneath the whalebones of her corset.

Her eyes snapped open and she was sitting in bed in the dark. The hot sun and green cemetery had vanished. The peaceful stillness of night surrounded her. So, she'd been dreaming, after all, but Kol's death was still a reality.

A faint glow from a setting moon gleamed on the lace curtains breezing at the window, illuminating the patchwork quilt on the bed. The quilt she'd made during Kol's courtship. The patches she had cut and sewed with care, every stitch of her needle made with all of the love in her heart for Kol and with the hope for a happy future as his wife.

The harsh rasp of her breathing was the only sound in the room. The hope chest tucked beneath the window, the chair in the corner, the graceful curve of her looking glass by the wardrobe were all as they should be. See? Everything was fine.

But it wasn't.

She didn't have to look beside her to see the truth. She could feel the empty place where no man lay sprawled on his back. Hear the silence instead of the rhythmic snoring that had disturbed her sleep for the past fifteen years. There was no comforting warmth in her bed.

She was alone.

The faint hues of the interlocked circles on her quilt, representing wedding rings that by day were a cheerful calico patchwork, were shades of gray in the night. Cold prickles, as sharp and as merciless as needles, stabbed behind her eyelids.

No amount of wishing would bring her dear Kol back. He was dead and buried. His heart had failed him while he'd been helping the neighbors with their harvesting. He was never coming back.


Rayna wrapped her arms around her waist, as if she could hold in the pain and the sorrow lodged in her heart.

"Ma!" A little boy's fear vibrated in that single word.

"Ma, Ma!"

She was out of bed and across the hall faster than a bolt of lightning could travel, on her knees beside her youngest son's bed before he could cry out again. Hans was in her arms, that sweet smell of little boy, the warm, solid dearness of him.

She was grateful that he was safe and tucked against her heart, his sobs shaking through her as if they were her own. She would give her life to make his pain stop.

"Mama's right here, my baby." She pressed kisses to the crown of his head where the cowlick just like Kol's stuck up at all angles. "Mama's here. It's all right."

"I d-dreamed about P-Papa."

"So did I." She rocked him, her dear, precious child, cradling him tight, trying to will all the pain out of him and into her. But he cried all the same.

Helpless, she could only comfort him until his sobs quieted into tears and, finally, aching silence.

She laid him on his bed and tucked the sheet snug around his chest. He was lying as if asleep. He wasn't. She could tell. How did she make this better? This was no cut knee to bandage or no broken toy to fix.

She sat on the edge of his feather mattress and sang the lullabies her mother had sung to her in Swedish, her first language. She no longer remembered what the words meant, but the songs were melodies of love and comfort, and so she sang until her throat turned hoarse and her son relaxed into a dreamless sleep.

Only then did she rise, blow a kiss to his brow and steal from the room. She left his door ajar so she could hear him should he stir again.

Her bare feet whispered on the polished floorboard and emptiness accompanied her to her room. The moon had set and there was only stardust to guide her to the window as she brushed the lace curtains from the sill and gazed out at the seed-heavy fields of wheat.

Wheat that had to be cut before the grain fell from the stalks. But how? Kol, how am I going to do this without you?

You will find a way, you always do. That was his voice she heard in her thoughts, words he would often say to her. Remembering him renewed the pain of his passing. Made the ache within her explode and leave only pieces of her heart as she buried her face in her hands.

She had children. A homestead. Responsibilities. Yes, she would find a way. What hurt to the depths of her being was having to make her way without Kol.

It wasn't being alone that troubled her the most. No, what broke her from the inside out was realizing the night would end. Dawn would come. She would have to live that day, while Kol could not.

Unable to climb into her lonely bed, she sank to her knees on the unforgiving floor. She buried her face in her hands and cried for the life Kol would not have.

For the care she would never be able to give to him. She cried for the man she'd vowed to cherish until death parted them.

Death had parted them. The love had not.


Excerpted from Montana Wife by Jillian Hart Copyright © 2004 by Harlequin Enterprises, Ltd.. Excerpted by permission.
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.

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Montana Wife 4.2 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 18 reviews.
NookGirlNY More than 1 year ago
Rayna has just lost her husband of 15 years only 3 days ago and every farmer in town is showing up on her doorstep to try to take her land from her. A woman has no rights and the wheat has to be harvested. Along comes a country farmer who offers to help and let her keep the profit from land's wheat, and wants nothing in return. Daniel is an easy character to fall in love with and has had a very hard past. Can Rayna allow her heart to love again and can Daniel feel loved for the first time in his life? Thrown in are Rayna's 2 children grieving thier dad and growing up too quickly and an evil local farmer bent on trying to steal Rayna's land from her. I read this story in 1 day and loved it.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
If you are in a really good mood and nolonger want to be then read this book
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I absolutely loved this story!! I thouht Daniel was wonderful and truly loved him and Rayna's story!!
fuzzmom More than 1 year ago
Her husband was dead. Rayna Ludgrin found herself unexpectedly alone. How was she going to survive and raise her two young sons? She discovers something shocking when she goes through her husbands papers...her ranch and everything on it are measured to the hilt! Men come out of the woodwork trying various schemes to steal her corp in the field waiting to be harvested, her land and her virtue! Her neighbor Daniel Lindsay offers a hand up and a way out. He wants her land, but will marry her and provide for her sons to get it, so both of them will benefit. Rayna agrees, but can this marriage of necessity ever become anything else? Will they always be just friends? A fun and easy read with many ups and downs on the path to their future. Great for when you need a quick distraction from our modern world of electronics and complicated lives!
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