It was without a doubt the most conniving, lowlife trick ever played on a man. But it was for a good cause...
Eulie Toby didn't like playing tricks, but the only way she could keep her younger orphaned siblings together was to get marriedand Moss Collier was the perfect choice. Handsome and kind, he seemed so lonely living with his hermit uncle on that pretty sweep of Tennessee mountaintop. It didn't matter if their vows came at the end of a shotgun; Eulie promised Moss she'd make him the best wife in all of the Sweetwood.
But a young bride and a ready-made family were the last things on Moss's mind. He had big dreams of going West and nothing was going to stop himnot Eulie's sweet innocence...not her deliciously kissable lips...and especially not that growing warmth deep inside his heart every time she came near. Moss had plans all rightbut he hadn't planned on falling in love.
|Product dimensions:||4.18(w) x 6.75(h) x 1.04(d)|
About the Author
Publishers Weekly calls national bestselling author Pamela Morsi "the Garrison Keillor of romance." Her trademark wit and warmth enliven tightly written tales with down-home charm. Her novels, including Sealed with a Kiss, No Ordinary Princess, The Love Charm, and Courting Miss Hattie, have garnered rave reviews from critics and numerous awards including two RITA Awards, a Waldenbooks Sales Award, Bookstores that Care Favorite Romance Awards and the Maggie Prize for Historical Fiction, and Reviewer's Choice from Romantic Times maga-zine. She lives in Texas with her family.
Read an Excerpt
They'd come for him a little after noon. He'd been boiling with sweat and hitched to the back end of a plow. Company was as welcome as a cool dipper of water, and he'd greeted the men with a smile. It hadn't taken long for it to fade. He had been completely dumbfounded by the accusation. It was all a mistake, he'd assured them hurriedly.
Mosco Collier had never been guilty of a crime in his life. He'd never said a word untrue, never cheated in a poker game, never borrowed a chicken from a coop he did not own. Any wild, rebellious streak of youth had been sweated out of him by hard labor tilling rocky ground and shouldering a man's responsibilities on a boy's young shoulders. His whole life had been lived on the straight and narrow.
Nonetheless, he stood accused. He was innocent, yet he was found to be guilty. His punishment, it was determined, would be a life sentence.
Condemning eyes surrounded him. As he stood in the meetinghouse doorway, the words were read aloud.
"...for better, for worse, in sickness and in health, as long as you both shall live?"
Moss hesitated only a moment as he stood on the pine plank steps. Through his thin summer work shirt he could feel the cool metal of a shotgun barrel between his shoulder blades.
"I do," he replied.
Moss glanced at the young woman at his left.
"And do you, Eula Orlean Toby, take this man to be your lawful wedded husband," the preacher continued, "to..."
Moss glared at her. The conniving little Jezebel looked extremely pleased with herself. It was her word against his. And what kind of woman would lie about being dishonored?
The kind to whom Moss was about to bemarried.
Couldn't they see she was lying? It was very obvious to Moss. Her tone was strangely high-pitched. She was talking very fast. And she was unable to look him in the eye. She was not a very good liar, yet everyone believed her.
"By the power vested in me by our Father in heaven and the state of Tennessee, I pronounce you man and wife."
There was a collective sigh of relief. The shotgun was lowered from Moss's back.
He turned to look at the face of the woman he married, or rather to stare at the freckles upon her face, which coveted it completely. How could he have thought her pretty? That day by Flat Rock Falls, he'd actually thought her pretty. She'd been all golden hair and sweet innocence. That innocence had proved to be a mercenary ploy, and her hair ... her hair was just stringy blonde.
"You may kiss the bride," Preacher Thompson told him.
"No thanks," he replied.. "That's what got me into this mess in the first place."
He turned to face the half dozen other men crowded around the church steps to see justice done. They were subdued, satisfied, and self-righteous. They were not strangers. These men were his friends, his neighbors, his occasional drinking companions, and his hunting partners. Moss glared at them, openly furious that they believed Eulie; and thought so little of him.
They accepted the story that he'd played fast and loose with a fresh young gal, laid with her out in the open woods, and then refused to offer for her. A man who'd do such a thing was too worthless to waste plugging with buckshot. That is what Moss had always believed. And that is what these men believed of him.
The female was standing beside him now. Moss didn't even glance at her, but he saw that everyone else was looking in her direction.
"We wish you happy, Mrs. Colher," Enoch Pierce said to her formally.
It had been Enoch who'd held his shotgun between Moss's shoulder blades. Obviously, Moss's happiness had not been Enoch's concern. Moss pushed through the crowd angrily, unable to speak, unwilling to display the anger that he felt if these men could believe the worst of him, well, then so be it. He'd never give them a thought once he was far away. Once he was on his own in the West at last.
"Thank you, sir," he heard his new wife answer behind him. "We appreciate your good wishes."
Good wishes! Moss was seething inside. The whole lot of them had wished him into a hell on earth. How would he ever get West with some no-account woman at his side?
Moss stormed across the clearing in front of the meetinghouse and grabbed up the dragging reins of his rust-colored gelding.
Red Tex was the finest saddle horse ever seen inthese:parts. And like a fine mount anywhere, Red Texeasilypicked up on the temperament of his rider. He'dstoodthrough the whole ceremony, calmly munchinga tall bunch of fresh spring grass. Now, with an angry Moss beside him, he was skittish and alert.
It was one bit of extravagant luxury for a plowing man to own a fine riding animal. But Moss was wining to endure the criticism of his neighbors in exchanger for the pure pleasure of sitting tall and proud in the saddle. And a man headed west needed a good horse. Moss Collier, in his most fervent plans and dreams, was headed west.
He mounted with an urgency born of the need to be away from this place, these people, the embarrassment of being judged as a har and seducer, the humiliation of being forced against his will to take a wife. He wanted to be in the saddle, racing into the wind. He wanted to leave all behind him. Red Tex side-stepped nervously, his head high and taut, his ears twitching to the side expectantly.
"Ransom," Moss heard his new bride say to her younger brother, "you gather up Clara and the twins. I can stop by and get Little Minnie on the way to Mr. Collier's farm."
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Fun! The Sweetwood Bride might be Morsi least loved Americana book but for me it is such a fun read every time it has five star status. It is a shotgun marriage when Eulie, our not far thinking heroine, frames Moss, our hero, into marriage. I have a love of forced wedding plots because I like the couple to just have to deal with each other. All the time. I think what draws me to this book besides Morsi's typical humor and lovely historical deatils is that the leads both grow, learn, and change. This book might not be to everyone tastes but for me I like to settle in, accept who the character are, and enjoy.
Sweetwood Bride by Pamela Morsi Reviewer: Pamela Ackerson (author of Home of the Braves trilogy) Time and time again, Pamela Morsi proves she belongs on the best seller list. We have a shotgun wedding forced on an innocent man by a young woman who has connived and tricked the town into believing she was seduced. Of course, no one believes Moss Collier--the old -- guilty before innocent creeps in the minds of the townspeople and whips up a good storyline. But it wasn't just any father she wanted for her brother and sisters, it had to be someone special. Eulie Toby's well constructed plan backfires as the two struggle with their newlywed status, his inner battle to be free of the Tennessee mountains and the desire for the warmth of a good woman by his side. Grab a nice cup of tea, a few snacks to tie you over and enjoy.