Join nine brides of convenience on their adventures in a variety of times and settings gone by—from a ranch in California…to the rugged mountains of Colorado…to a steamship on the Mississippi…to the dangerous excitement of the Oregon Trail…into high society of New York City. No matter the time or place, the convenient brides proceed with what must be done, taking nuptials out of necessity. . .and never dreaming that God might take their feeble attempts to secure their futures and turn them into true love stories for His glory.
|Publisher:||Barbour Publishing, Incorporated|
|Product dimensions:||6.50(w) x 9.10(h) x 1.60(d)|
About the Author
ECPA bestselling author Amanda Barratt, fell in love with writing in grade school when she wrote her first story—a spinoff of Jane Eyre. Now, Amanda writes inspirational historical romance, penning stories that transport readers to a variety of locales. These days, Amanda can be found reading way too many books, watching an eclectic mix of BBC dramas and romantic chick flicks, and trying to figure out a way to get on the first possible flight to England. She loves hearing from readers on Facebook and through her website amandabarratt.net
Andrea Boeshaar has been married for nearly forty years. She and her husband have 3 wonderful sons, 1 beautiful daughter-in-law, and 5 precious grandchildren. Andrea’s publishing career began in 1994. Since then, 30 of her books have gone to press. Additionally, Andrea cofounded ACFW (American Christian Fiction Writers) and served on its Advisory Board. In 2007, Andrea earned her certification in Christian life coaching and is currently the purveyor of The Writer’s ER, a coaching & editing service for writers. For more information, log onto Andrea’s website at: www.andreaboeshaar.com. Follow her on Twitter: @AndreaBoeshaar, and find her on Facebook: Andrea Boeshaar Author.
Mona Hodgson is the author of nearly 40 books, historical novels and children’s books, including her popular Sinclair Sisters of Cripple Creek Series.
Much to her introverted self’s delight, Melissa Jagears hardly needs to leave her home to be a homeschool teacher, day-care provider, church financial secretary, and historical romance novelist. She doesn’t have to leave her home to be a housekeeper either, but she’s doubtful she meets the minimum qualifications to claim to be one in her official bio. Find her online at www.melissajagears.com, Facebook, Pinterest, and Goodreads, the Inspirational Historical Fiction Index website.
Maureen Lang writes stories inspired by a love of history and romance. An avid reader herself, she’s figured out a way to write the stories she feels like reading. Maureen’s inspirationals have earned various writing distinctions including the Inspirational Reader’s Choice Contest, a HOLT Medallion, and the Selah Award, as well as being a finalist for the Rita, Christy, and Carol Awards. In addition to investigating various eras in history (such as Victorian England, First World War, and America’s Gilded Age), Maureen loves taking research trips to get a feel for the settings of her novels. She lives in the Chicago area with her family and has been blessed to be the primary caregiver to her adult disabled son.
Gabrielle Meyer lives in central Minnesota on the banks of the Mississippi River with her husband and four young children. As an employee of the Minnesota Historical Society, she fell in love with the rich history of her state and enjoys writing fictional stories inspired by real people and events. Gabrielle can be found at www.gabriellemeyer.com where she writes about her passion for history, Minnesota, and her faith.
Jennifer Uhlarik discovered the western genre as a preteen, when she swiped the only “horse” book she found on her older brother’s bookshelf. A new love was born. Across the next ten years, she devoured Louis L’Amour westerns and fell in love with the genre. In college at the University of Tampa, she began penning her own story of the Old West. Armed with a BA in writing, she has won five writing competitions and was a finalist in two others. In addition to writing, she has held jobs as a private business owner, a schoolteacher, a marketing director, and her favorite—a full-time homemaker. Jennifer is active in American Christian Fiction Writers and is a lifetime member of the Florida Writers Association. She lives near Tampa, Florida, with her husband, teenage son, and four fur children.
Erica Vetsch is a transplanted Kansan now residing in Minnesota. She loves books and history, and is blessed to be able to combine the two by writing historical romances. Whenever she’s not following flights of fancy in her fictional world, she’s the company bookkeeper for the family lumber business, mother of two, an avid museum patron, and wife to a man who is her total opposite and soul mate. Erica loves to hear from readers. You can sign up for her quarterly newsletter at www.ericavetsch.com And you can email her at firstname.lastname@example.org or contact her on her author Facebook page.
Renee Yancy is a history and archaeology buff who works as an RN when she isn’t writing historical novels. She has visited Ireland, Scotland, and England to stand in the places her ancient historical characters lived. She lives in Kentucky with her husband, two dogs, and her ninety five year old mother-in-law. Check out her blog at www.reneeyancy.blogspot.com or visit her website: www.reneeyancy.com.
Read an Excerpt
The Convenient Bride Collection
9 Romances Grow from Marriage Partnerships Formed Out of Necessity
By Erica Vetsch, Amanda Barratt, Andrea Boeshaar, Mona Hodgson, Melissa Jagears, Maureen Lang, Gabrielle Meyer, Jennifer Uhlarik, Renee Yancy
Barbour Publishing, Inc.Copyright © 2015 Erica Vetsch
All rights reserved.
Bristol, Connecticut June, 1883
If men were mosquitoes, Grace Whittaker would be surrounded by every eligible gentleman in Bristol.
Instead she knelt outside in the family garden, not a man in sight. Unless one counted old Timothy Taylor watering his orchids next door. Audrey, on the other hand, sat in the blissfully cool parlor, her fiancé beside her. Giggling like a schoolgirl of sixteen instead of a bride-to-be, while Dr. Raymond McNair attempted serious conversation.
He failed miserably. What with Audrey rattling on about her dress, her bridesmaids, and the traveling theater company currently in town, the poor fellow barely got a word in edgewise.
Grace stood, rubbing the small of her back. At least she had a basket of roses to show for her labors. Something fragrant and summery to decorate the parlor with.
So much left to do. Including making sure Dr. McNair left at a reasonable hour. It wouldn't do for the groom to see the bride the night before the wedding.
A sigh found its way to her lips. Tomorrow her sister forsook her girlhood forever, leaving Grace the only Whittaker child still at home. Of course, she would never dream of going anywhere.
Not that there was any place to go.
Grace crossed the porch and pushed open the door. Sunlight streamed through the tall front windows and cascaded over the honey-wood floor, now polished to a gloss. With the help of their cook, Mrs. Ackerman, she'd spent most of the morning waxing it. That is, when she hadn't been occupied with packing Audrey's trunk, shining the silver, and laying out the family's best china. And a million other things.
More laughter streamed from the parlor, mingling with the muted melody of a Beethoven sonata. Audrey did love to perform. Especially when she had a rapt audience.
She entered the room quietly, so as not to interrupt. Audrey perched on the piano bench, her pink lawn skirts spread around her, a neat ribbon holding back her thick cinnamon-colored hair. Her face wasn't reddened by the sun, nor her hands cracked and chapped. She was a lady. No wonder Dr. McNair was enraptured.
Out of the corner of her eye, Grace chanced a look at the man on the settee. A gray pin-striped suit encased his broad shoulders, and his mahogany brown hair had been slicked back with some sort of pomade. He flashed her a smile, his eyes crinkling, before riveting his gaze on Audrey. Fixated. Entranced. Just like every man, after her sister laid on the charm.
With Dr. McNair she slathered it a mile thick.
Audrey finished the piece with a flourish and spun around.
"Well? What do you think?"
"Very nice, darlin'. Very nice." He crossed the room and rested his hand on Audrey's shoulder, in the possessive way of a husband-to-be.
Her green eyes narrowed. "Nice? Is that all you can think to say? I wonder if you even heard a note I played."
"Why, darlin', of course I did. I heard every bit of it. And 'twas fine indeed, sure it was." He chuckled, though it rang false.
Grace pressed her hands behind her back. Audrey wasn't about to have one of her tantrums, surely? Not with all the work that still needed to be done. Not in front of Dr. McNair, the night before their nuptials.
"Sure it was! Humph! I doubt you comprehended half of the emotion, the pathos of the piece. How could you, when you spend your days stitching people up?" Her cranberry lips screwed into a pout.
"Ah, darlin'. You know I love your music better than any sound in all the world." He bent and kissed the top of her head. "You're just edgy, 'tis all. Fretting about tomorrow." Grace could easily imagine him in his role as doctor, soothing an irritable patient with that voice of his. It slid over her ears, rich music, punctuated with the lilts and slurs of his native Ireland. Like hot and creamy chocolate steaming in a mug.
Audrey smiled, obviously mollified. "Oh, get on with you, you silver-tongued charmer. I've got lots of things to do before tomorrow."
"As m'lady commands." He kissed the nape of her neck, his arms around her waist.
Grace looked away. She shouldn't be here, witnessing this tender moment between an almost married couple. Yet no one ever seemed to notice her, continuing on with their lives whether she was present or not.
As inconspicuous as the wallpaper.
A strange ache pinched her heart. Perhaps if she were pretty and lively like Audrey, a man might notice her. Look at her with love and longing, the way Dr. McNair did.
No. Audrey was satin slippers; she a pair of work boots. Practical. Dependable. Well worn.
And the sad truth remained. Men as handsome and distinguished as Raymond McNair wanted satin slippers.
* * *
Today, he'd gain his treasure.
Audrey Whittaker would become his beautiful bride. He, her adoring and adored husband. At last, he'd have a family to call his own.
Raymond rubbed a brush across the front of his new frockcoat, purchased especially for the occasion. He'd spent a pretty penny on his clothes, even more on the ring and the special gift he'd bought Audrey for their wedding night. But for her, it was worth it. He'd give her the moon if she asked him.
There. He stepped back and surveyed the array spread across the bed. Everything in readiness. Too bad he had over five hours to wait before going to the church.
He crossed to the window, gazing out at the street. A horse and buggy rattled past — the Taylor rig. Up early to make their weekly trip north to visit their children, as they did every Saturday morning. He waved, then leaned against the sill.
Lord, I pray Your blessing upon our marriage. May we love richly and give generously. And I pray, that if it be Your will, we would soon have a child to call our own. Amen.
He couldn't wait another minute. Of course there'd be no seeing Audrey, but surely Grace wouldn't mind if he dropped by the Whittaker house. Sat in the kitchen drinking coffee and eating one of Mrs. Ackerman's featherlight strawberry muffins. Just to be near the woman he loved, even for half an hour.
It didn't take long to dress quickly, not in his wedding finery, but in a simple everyday suit. Then he went out of the small apartment at the top of his medical practice. It always amazed him — the practicality of living above his office. If a patient arrived at one in the morning, or nine at night, he'd be only a few steps away.
Sadly, Audrey didn't share his view. She wanted a proper house. But what woman wouldn't? Though his apartment boasted four rooms, it wasn't what a girl like her deserved.
Once he added a wee bit more to his savings, he'd buy her the home she desired.
At length, he arrived at the Whittaker residence, a spacious brick house in the heart of town. His marriage to the eldest daughter of Mr. Bromley Whittaker, owner of the finest dry goods store in Bristol, was a step in the right direction. Of course, even if she'd been a pauper, it wouldn't have made a whit of difference. Not when he cared for her so.
He stepped onto the porch and gave a brisk rap. A moment later the door opened.
Grace stood just inside, an apron around her waist, her light brown hair twisted in a serviceable knot. She smiled, her pale gray eyes lighting.
"And a fine morning to you, Miss Grace." He tipped his hat. "Might I beg a cup of coffee from Mrs. Ackerman?"
"You're not supposed to be here." She placed her hand on the door frame as if to bar him entrance. Although if he'd wanted to get in, it would be an easy task. Wouldn't take much more than a stiff wind to plow the petite lass over.
"Aw, come now, Miss Grace." He gave her his most charming grin. "I'm marrying your sister in just a few hours. I just want to be near her, 'tis all."
She stepped aside, reluctance crimping her brow. "Very well. But if Audrey comes down, you'll have to hide."
"Agreed." He moved past her, catching the scent of lemons. She looked tired, poor thing, dark circles under her eyes, a pale cast to her skin. No doubt the past weeks had been exhausting, assisting her sister with the planning and all. Strange. Audrey never showed fatigue, her features always as bright and cloudless as a summer day.
The warmth of the kitchen greeted him. Tantalizing scents of meat sizzling and coffee brewing made his mouth water. The Whittaker's robust cook stood at the counter, putting finishing touches on an enormous three- tiered cake.
"What do you think you're doing here, young man?" Mrs. Ackerman turned, brandishing her spoon like a weapon. "Today of all days! When I have so much work to do too."
He hid a smile. "Why, Mrs. Ackerman, where did you get that absolutely divine cake? Did some fine restaurant from the city come and prepare it?" He gestured wildly. "Just look at the intricacies of the icing. The elegance of the ... the ..." How else could one describe a cake?
She beamed. "I made it myself, Dr. McNair, as you well know. You handsome devil, you. Now sit yourself down and I'll get you some coffee and one of my strawberry muffins."
He settled himself in a chair and drank in the peace that always swept over him at the Whittaker house. A home well run and properly managed. Soon, he would have such a place for himself. So very, very soon.
He turned. Grace stood by the table, her face pale as bleached muslin. Her hands ... were they shaking?
"Whatever is the matter?" Fire and thunder, the lass looked ready to collapse. His medical instincts sprang into action. Get her a chair so she didn't fall on the floor. Some water. Salts volatile.
Her words stopped him short. "It's Audrey." Her breath came out in a shudder.
His heart kicked against his ribs. "What about Audrey?"
"She's ... she's ..."
He stood and grasped her shoulders, forcing her to look into his eyes.
Grace swallowed hard. "She's gone."CHAPTER 2
Her next words would tear this man's world apart. Unravel it completely, link by link, strand by strand. Grace couldn't bear to think of it. But she had to tell him. She'd already revealed the worst. The rest was just detail.
Her father chose that exact moment to lumber into the kitchen, glasses perched on his nose, paper beneath his arm. Like so many other mornings, he wore his faded velvet dressing gown over his vest and trousers. Unlike so many mornings, his carefully laid plans were about to change.
"More coffee in the dining room, if you please, Mrs. Ackerman." Then his gaze landed on Dr. McNair. "What are you doing here, my boy? You should be at home. Not here where my daughter could come in and see you."
"Father." Grace did her best to steady her tone and speak with authority. "Audrey isn't here."
"What do you mean she isn't here?" Her father's brow knit until it seemed as if the two salt-and-pepper caterpillars under his forehead would plow into each other.
"She ran away. I found this." Grace pulled the letter from her apron pocket. Audrey had left it in her chamber. Next to her wedding gown.
The contents had already stamped themselves indelibly on her brain, but she forced herself to listen as her father read aloud.
To my family,
Once you have received this letter, you will have already discovered my absence. I hope it shall not come as much of a surprise to you. Please do not take the trouble to search me out, as I have no desire for anyone to do so. I have grasped my future with both hands and have no intention of letting it go. Perhaps you may guess with whom I have thrown in my lot.
Please give Ray my sincerest apologies, and my dearest hopes for his health and happiness. Although he is not the man I love, I wish him only the best.
Love to all,
The letter fluttered to the ground. Her father's face reddened. Grace glanced from him to Dr. McNair. He stared into space, jaw clenched. Emotions battled in his formerly warm eyes, now cold as iron.
"Ungrateful little hussy. I know just where she's gone. That traveling theater manager she's talked so much about. Well, I hope she's wretched indeed. Bringing this disgrace upon the family. The very day of her wedding to a decent, honest man." Her father paced the room, arms swinging wildly. Mrs. Ackerman stood motionless by the cake, icing dripping off her spoon and pooling onto the floor.
Dr. McNair sank into his seat. He leaned his arms on the table, his strong, broad shoulders now crumpled in defeat. Grace's own eyes filled with tears. Only moments ago, there had been so much happiness, such anticipation. Now it lay in a heap at their feet, a cold, dead pile of ashes.
Audrey was flighty, of course. Had flirted and flitted from beau to beau for years. It had been a relief to them all when she'd at last settled upon the new town doctor. She seemed so happy with him. No one would have ever dreamed she would do such a thing.
Except Grace. She'd seen the signs. The blushes whenever Mr. Ransom was mentioned. The excuses to stop by the theater company's encampment whenever they passed that way. She should've known. Warned someone. Perhaps if she had, this never would have happened.
Her heart squeezed. Now this good, upright man had to pay the price. She was used to picking up the pieces after Audrey scattered them around. Dr. McNair wasn't. How would he endure the shame and humiliation of being left at the altar? Would his medical practice suffer? Would the townspeople still look at him with the respect he had received so far?
No. Plain and simple. No.
Dr. McNair straightened his stance, as if drawing from deep within an ounce of courage. "I'm sorry about this, Mr. Whittaker, sure I am. Please let me know what I can do to assist you through this difficult time. I'll go to the church and tell Reverend Hansen there will be no wedding."
"Not so fast, young man." Her father wheeled around. The same determination that had taken a simple country store and turned it into the best establishment in town now lined his features. "Why shouldn't there still be a wedding?"
"But, sir." Dr. McNair shifted in his seat, raw pain in his face. "How can there be? I have no bride."
"Why not?" Her father strode across the room and stopped directly in front of her. Grace swallowed hard. "You forget, my boy. I have more than one daughter."
The air choked from her lungs. Father couldn't mean ...? He couldn't be suggesting ...? He couldn't actually be offering ...?
Herself as Audrey's replacement.
"Sir?" Dr. McNair stiffened. "I haven't the pleasure of quite understanding you. What can you be meaning?"
"I mean that since my eldest daughter is ungrateful enough to reject your suit, my youngest will take her place."
The world she'd known crashed down again. She, wed Dr. McNair? Little, unremarkable Grace? Had her father lost his mind? As a replacement for Audrey, she was laughable. Dr. McNair would never agree. Nor would she. Would she?
"You wish to give me Miss Grace's hand in marriage?" Dr. McNair looked ready to bolt out of the room. She didn't blame him. Right now, she wanted nothing more than to crawl back under the covers and forget this terrible morning ever happened.
"Why not? Grace is all of nineteen years of age. Although she may not be as ... well ... as noticeable, she is just as capable as Audrey in running a house. The man who weds her will be most fortunate. And after all the trouble and expense I've been put to, it seems shameful for it all to go to waste."
Noticeable? Just say it, Father. Audrey is ten times more likely to capture a man's attentions than I. The words burned deep within her throat.
"Do you not care to ask the lass if she be willing?" Dr. McNair's gaze sought hers.
A tingle spiraled down her spine. His chocolate-brown eyes. His chiseled features. Strength and masculinity. He couldn't actually be considering ... her?
"Why, of course she's willing. What better offer could there be for her?"
The words stung, more because of their truth than anything else. Father was right. She would get no other offers. Except perhaps from some desperate widower who simply wanted a housekeeper.
But of course, she would never be anything more to Dr. McNair. He'd chosen her sister.
"I want to hear what she has to say." The doctor looked down at her. Nothing resembling ardor filled his gaze. Only deep, heartrending sorrow.
"I would do anything to make amends for what my sister has done." Tears swam in her eyes. For this man who her sister had so carelessly wounded. He'd given her his heart. She'd tossed it in the rubbish heap.
"There you have it. Now, Dr. McNair. What do you say? Shall you take my Grace in her sister's place?" Her father laid a hand on her shoulder. She looked up at him. Instead of the usual censure in his eyes, something else lingered. As if he might, for a moment, think her special. Something valuable.
"Well? Will there be a wedding today or not?"
Excerpted from The Convenient Bride Collection by Erica Vetsch, Amanda Barratt, Andrea Boeshaar, Mona Hodgson, Melissa Jagears, Maureen Lang, Gabrielle Meyer, Jennifer Uhlarik, Renee Yancy. Copyright © 2015 Erica Vetsch. 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.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Table of Contents
ContentsThe Substitute Wife,
One Way to the Altar,
Keeper of My Heart,
Blinded by Love,
Bonnets and Bees,
A Groom for Josette,
Wedded to Honor,
A Bride for Bear,
Have Cash, Will Marry,
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Really enjoyed these stories.
This collection of stories is about determination and fortitude, which I found in each of these brides as they ventured into a blind agreement of marriage, most intriguing. I am not so sure I in that age or time would have found the courage to venture into such an agreement. Though most of these women did not have much of a choice for some it was a matter of life or death. We are fortunate as women to have rights these women did not have back then. Each story made an impression on my heart leaving me to imagine if any of the women on my family tree were put in the position to make such a choice. Don't even ask me to pick which story was my favorite because I must say they are all top of my favorite list. I want to thank all of these authors for combining their stories into one book for our pleasure to read and contemplate on historical times for women, which is my favorite subject. I highly recommend this book! Dislosure: I received a free digital copy of this book from NetGalley/BabourBooks for an honest review. I was in no way compensated for this review.
I enjoyed this collection of nine novellas so much! I love marriage of convenience stories and it was so fun to have nine different takes on this theme. Some stories I liked better than others, however, I did have fun reading every one. Another fun thing about these collections is discovering new authors in a way that is low pressure. If I find that I am not a fan of a certain author’s writing style, it is no big deal since these stories are novellas and shorter reads than a full-length novel. I thought that, for the most part, the stories contained well-developed plots and characters. I connected with some characters and stories easier than others, but I really appreciated the diversity of setting, characters, and time periods from story to story. I definitely recommend this book to those who enjoy marriage of convenience stories. I received a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.