Can Olivia survive the crime and Gold Rush fever of 1849...and the countless marriage proposals? A series for fans of all things related to history, romance, adventure, faith, and family trees. The Daughters of the Mayflower series continues when Olivia Brighton finds herself widowed and working her brother’s restaurant in San Francisco during the height of the rush for gold. Even though she receives at least twenty marriage proposals a day, she will never marry a gold miner. Her brother’s friend Joseph Sawyer has gotten caught up in local politics and the plight of Chinese in forced labor. The more Joseph gets pulled into investigating crime in the city, the less Olivia sees of the compassionate man. And just when she thinks she could love again, a fire threatens to steal all hope."Woodhouse’s love story rises above other historical romances with its engrossing setup of virtue resisting rampant sin." -Publishers Weekly More in the Daughters of the Mayflower series:The Mayflower Bride by Kimberley Woodhouse – set 1620 Atlantic Ocean (February 2018)The Pirate Bride by Kathleen Y’Barbo – set 1725 New Orleans (April 2018)The Captured Bride by Michelle Griep – set 1760 during the French and Indian War (June 2018)The Patriot Bride by Kimberley Woodhouse – set 1774 Philadelphia (August 2018)The Cumberland Bride by Shannon McNear – set 1794 on the Wilderness Road (October 2018)The Liberty Bride by MaryLu Tyndall – set 1814 Baltimore (December 2018)The Alamo Bride by Kathleen Y'Barbo - set 1836 Battle of the Alamo (February 2019)
About the Author
Kimberley Woodhouse is an award-winning and bestselling author of more than fifteen fiction and nonfiction books. A popular speaker and teacher, she’s shared her theme of “Joy Through Trials” with more than half a million people across the country at more than 2,000 events. Kim and her incredible husband of twenty-five-plus years have two adult children. She’s passionate about music and Bible study and loves the gift of story. You can connect with Kimberley at: www.kimberleywoodhouse.com and www.facebook.com/KimberleyWoodhouseAuthor
Read an Excerpt
June 1849, somewhere between San Jose and San Francisco
No matter how much he thought he deserved to be one, Olivia Brighton's husband of six weeks was not a king. Just because he'd been named after the thirteenth king of Judah didn't mean he was destined for greatness as well. Even if that's what his father had told him. And saying it over and over didn't make it come true either.
His namesake was a righteous ruler and godly man, but Hezekiah Brighton was neither. Nor was he rich, honest, or even smart, for whatever that was worth. And it wasn't worth much. Hezekiah wasn't worth much.
Shame washed over Olivia for a moment, and she grimaced at her thoughts.
As she stood beside their covered wagon and looked out toward the horizon, Olivia sighed. Guilt had been her constant companion these past few weeks. It seemed like every time she turned around she was having to repent. Lord, I'm sorry. Forgive me for my horrible thoughts toward Hezekiah.
No matter what kind of man he was, he was her husband. She was the one who had agreed to marry him after she'd only known him a day. He'd been so handsome, attentive, and charming. Even though she'd had plenty of doubts about him, his offer to help and promise to take her to San Francisco so she could be near her brother had made her jump in with both feet faster than she could say her new name.
She should have spent more time in prayer about it, but she missed her brother, Daniel, the only family she had left. It had been years since she'd seen him, and her heart ached for family. That was not a good excuse to marry a complete stranger, though, no matter how good-looking he was. But after Mama and Daddy had died so suddenly, her options had spiraled down to nothing. And there had been debts to pay.
What did she think would happen even if Hezekiah honored his promise and took her to San Francisco? It's not like all of a sudden she wouldn't be married to him anymore. And she definitely couldn't just up and leave and go live with her brother. Why hadn't she thought this through? It was so unlike her to grasp at straws. What would she tell Daniel? He was sure to be disappointed when he met Hezekiah.
If they ever made it there and the two men in her life actually met ... That was a mighty big if. Her husband's detours were getting out of hand.
In the still of the morning air, Olivia shook her head of the negative thoughts. She'd made a mistake and would have to live with it. She needed to make the best out of the situation and pray that the man she married would eventually get them to San Francisco and provide for her. Or at the very least yearn to be a better man.
While worry had never been something she struggled with in the past, her new marriage had given her a fair share of it. Hezekiah hadn't stuck with the same thing for more than two days in a row. Almost every day he'd come up with a new scheme — his next get-rich-quick idea. They'd done little more than drive around in the wagon for six weeks, always looking for a new way to find his fortune.
The sun fully crested the horizon, its rays warming her face. Breakfast wouldn't make itself. Olivia wasn't sure they had enough food to last them through the day, but they could at least start off with a decent meal. Hezekiah had taken off with one of the horses an hour earlier saying something about his plans, but Olivia hadn't truly been listening. Every day it was the same. He'd get up and go off and come racing back with news of whatever they were about to plunge into next. They'd eat breakfast, and then they'd head out with the wagon. By the time they reached the destination, the jobs were gone, the money was gone, or Hezekiah simply had changed his mind and told her that the next day he would find whatever it was he was looking for.
Like clockwork, she heard the hooves of their horse running toward her. Wiping her hands on her apron, she realized that Hezekiah hadn't been late for one meal. See? At least he was dependable in one area. Maybe that was what she should do to turn her attitude around. Try to find one positive thing about her new husband each day. She could do that. Maybe.
"Olivia!" Hezekiah's shout broke through her thoughts, and she turned to him and pasted on her dutiful-wife smile.
"Good morning. Are you hungry?" She pumped enthusiasm into her words.
"I sure am." He hopped off the horse and tied it to the wagon. Placing his thumbs under his suspenders, he walked toward her and kissed her on the cheek. "I've got great news. We're headed to San Francisco."
The shackles of doubt and worry fell off her like a burdensome weight. "Really? We're finally going?" She could hug the man.
"Yup. The rumors are true. There's plenty of gold there, and I aim to get my share of it!" He sat on the ground and started wolfing down his plate of food.
Maybe he didn't deserve a hug after all. But what did it matter? They were headed to San Francisco! After she told Daniel the truth, maybe he could help. There was hope on the horizon. She doubted there was enough gold there to amount to much anyway. Hezekiah was always blowing things out of proportion.
"We're only a day or two away, and I need supplies, so we'll stock up as soon as we're done here. Then tonight or tomorrow we'll camp outside of town so that I can get started the first thing in the morning."
"That sounds like a good plan." Forcing her breathing to remain steady, Olivia kept her excitement at bay. She would show Hezekiah her support and allow herself to rejoice that she would finally see her brother again. As joy and relief mingled in her mind, another emotion swelled in her abdomen.
Mama and Daddy were gone, and she didn't know if Daniel had received her letter. How would he take the news? What if she had to tell him in person? So many things had happened that had brought her to this place. What would he think of her decisions? Would he blame her?
"I'll need you to work at your brother's restaurant for a while to support us." Hezekiah broke through her thoughts. "Just until the gold starts coming in."
Of course he would. She shouldn't have told Hezekiah about Daniel's prosperous business, but she'd offered to get a job there, thinking it would motivate her husband to get them to San Francisco faster. "That's fine. I don't mind hard work." And it would keep her busy. Maybe that would help the ache of loss fade.
He slurped up the last of the gravy off the plate. "It's just for a little while. We'll be rich before ya know it, and we'll have a passel of kids." The tone of his voice sounded convincing, but Olivia knew better. "Let's get packed up so we can get supplies. It's going to be a great day." Hezekiah rubbed his hands together.
Yes, it would be. She was on her way to San Francisco.
* * *
Miles and hours later, Olivia stretched her legs beside the wagon. Foolish man. He'd spent every last penny on supplies for his gold digging but hadn't bothered to replenish any of their food stores. She had enough to make a pan of biscuits, and that was it, so Hezekiah had gone off to hunt something for dinner.
Olivia wouldn't hold her breath. The man had tried to hunt numerous times and never came back with anything. Looked like biscuits would have to do at least until they made it the rest of the way into San Francisco tomorrow. Looking in the direction of the town, Olivia could only hope it wasn't that much farther. Between getting stuck in the mud, Hezekiah spending entirely too much time buying supplies, and then his penchant for getting lost, she doubted they could even make it tomorrow.
Once again ashamed for her negative thoughts, Olivia plopped down onto the grass. This wasn't her. She'd never been such a negative Nellie. How had six weeks changed her so much?
Lord, I need Your divine help. I don't know how to deal with all this. I want to honor You with my thoughts and my actions. But I don't think I made a good decision marrying Hezekiah, and now that I've got to deal with the consequences, I'm a mess. Help my attitude. Help me be a good wife. Help us to find our way to Daniel's. And forgive me, Lord. Please.
As she poured out her heart to the Lord, Olivia felt a bit better. It didn't change the circumstances, but she knew she needed to get herself back on a more positive track. She couldn't continue down this path of negativity and complaining.
Daddy had always teased her about her skepticism and her partiality for sarcasm, but her life had been full of family, love, laughter, and quick wit back then. It had balance. Now there wasn't much to be happy about, and her pessimism had gone to an extreme. It wasn't good, and she knew it. But how could she fix it? Confessing it every day just made her feel worse and like more of a failure.
A shot rang out in the distance. Lifting her head toward the sound, she convinced herself to be positive. Perhaps Hezekiah had gotten them some meat for dinner after all. She could always hope. Standing up, she went back over to where she'd started to set up camp for the night. She should get everything going so that when he came back to their wagon, she could make them a meal. And maybe she could work on her attitude with Hezekiah and show him some encouragement and support. The Bible did say that a contentious woman was like a dripping rain. It also said that it was better to live in the wilderness than to live with a contentious woman. She didn't want to be that — even if her marriage was less than ideal.
Olivia just needed to find herself again. Starting now. Maybe God could still bless her marriage if she looked at it as a chance to make up for her mistakes.
When the biscuits were finished and she'd done all she could to tidy up and get everything ready for the night, Olivia looked off in the direction she'd heard the shot. Maybe he hadn't shot anything after all. But watching the sun sink in the western sky made her nervous. Hezekiah had never been late for a meal. Until now.
Maybe he'd gotten something large like a deer. That would take him a while to clean and drag back to camp, wouldn't it? Sitting down next to the fire, she was overtaken by weariness. She'd just sit down for a spell and wait for him to return.
The howl of an animal brought her awake in an instant. How long had she been asleep? The night sky was illumined by a canvas of stars with the moon shining high above. Rubbing her eyes, she tried to get rid of the cobwebs of sleep left in her mind. Olivia jumped to her feet and looked around. She'd been resting up against the wagon wheel this whole time, and the crick in her neck was proof. Looking around, she spied the pan of biscuits still sitting by the fire. But no Hezekiah. What if he'd gotten lost again? Or had been attacked by a wild animal?
The thought made her gasp, and she put a hand to her throat. As much as her husband wasn't ideal, the idea of anything happening to him sickened her.
With a quick cleanup of the camp, Olivia decided she had to find him no matter what. She placed a couple of hard biscuits into her apron pocket, grabbed the lantern, and climbed onto their other horse, Buttercup. Lord, please let me find him. Please.
She pointed the horse in the direction from which she'd heard the shot. Hezekiah might be well beyond that place now, but at least it gave her a place to start.
Time passed in the plodding steps of the horse. Afraid she might miss his prone form if he'd fallen asleep, Olivia didn't want to take any chances by going too fast. Sweeping the lantern back and forth, she searched. As the horizon began to light with the predawn hues of orange and gold, she didn't know what to do. Too many scenarios ran through her mind. Hezekiah killed by a bear, fallen from his horse and severely injured, wandering in the wilderness around them, dying of hunger and thirst. Her heart filled with compassion for the man she'd married, and once again guilt took up residence. Maybe if she'd been the wife he needed — the wife she should have been — he wouldn't be lost right now.
Another horrifying thought took root. What if he'd taken off without her?
Shaking her head, Olivia couldn't believe that was true. Especially not without all the supplies he'd just spent their last money on. But ... would he?
Buttercup shook her head and whinnied, bringing Olivia's focus back to the trail in front of them. A shadowy form on the ground didn't appear to be moving. Buttercup took a step back and whinnied again. Something wasn't right, and the horse didn't like it.
Olivia took a deep breath and slid off her mount's back. She patted Buttercup's neck and spoke in a soothing tone. "It's all right. I'm going to go check this out. You just stay right here for me, all right, girl?"
A huff from the beloved animal wasn't very encouraging.
With tentative steps, Olivia moved forward until she realized the form on the ground was indeed a person. The buzzing of flies caught her attention right as she noticed the darkened grass. Blood. And lots of it.
With a gasp, she covered her mouth with her right hand but moved quickly to the body's side. It only took a second for her to recognize Hezekiah Brighton.
Perhaps God hadn't given her a second chance after all.CHAPTER 2
May 1849, San Francisco
Joseph Sawyer shoved his hands into his pockets and walked to Livingston's Restaurant for lunch. It was hard not to feel utter sadness and shame at the depravity he saw around him as he took long strides through the dirty, raucous town. San Francisco had turned into a modern-day Sodom and Gomorrah with all the crazed gold seekers who flooded the streets each day.
He could say that with all honesty and without judgment because not too long ago, he'd been one of them. When he came to San Francisco by chance two years ago, he'd been a mess. He'd been lost, broke, always looking for a fight. But after gold had been found, he threw all of his energy into the hunt. Why God had chosen to bless him with a bountiful claim was beyond Joseph's understanding, especially when he had been a ne'er-do-well himself. But here he was. Grateful for grace, second chances, and a friend who had picked him up out of the pig sty.
Walking through the open door of the restaurant, Joseph headed to his regular table.
"I'll be there in a minute." Daniel Livingston waved from across the room.
Joseph waved back.
It amazed him to this day. If not for Daniel, Joseph would've been killed when he'd first found gold. The memory of that night rushed into his mind as he took a seat at the table and watched the restaurant continue to fill. Daniel had barely known him at the time but said for some reason God had placed Joseph on his heart. So Daniel had gone to find him that night and had dragged him out of the saloon. With his pockets full of gold nuggets that he'd been showing off, Joseph had been picking a fight ... again.
He owed Daniel his life, and not just his physical life. If his friend hadn't taken him in, given him advice to lie low and keep his mouth shut, Joseph would certainly be lying dead in the street, his claim taken by someone else.
Over the next weeks, Daniel fed him, straightened him out, and introduced him to the Lord. Once Joseph had his eternal life in order, Daniel helped him figure out a plan. He'd spent days toiling with Joseph at the claim, found him suitable workers, helped him open a bank account, taught him how to study the Bible, and showed him how to give to others.
Thankful those difficult days had taken place but were now safely ensconced in his past, Joseph smiled. It all boiled down to the fact that God wasn't done with any of them yet. He was a God of second chances. Even so, on some days Joseph wondered why the Lord tarried. It had to grieve Him to see the way the world had gone.
Looking around the crowded restaurant, Joseph felt a bit of that grief. Nearly all of the tables — more than thirty if Daniel hadn't added more — were full. Full of men caught up in the lust and greed running rampant in this city. Plagued with stealing, prostitution, gambling, and murder, San Francisco wasn't a place most God-fearing people stayed. But his friend Daniel remained, stating that someone had to stand for what was right and be an example of Christ. His actions encouraged Joseph to do the same.
Now that he'd already made a small fortune for himself in gold and the claim was still producing, Joseph had funded the building of a church and, with Daniel's help, had purchased clothing and food for people in need. He longed to do so much more, but trying to keep his prosperity quiet was harder than he'd anticipated — to say nothing of protecting his workers and the mine. It was a good distance away from San Francisco, but that didn't stop thieves from trying to hijack it all.(Continues…)
Excerpted from "The Golden Bride"
Copyright © 2019 Kimberley Woodhouse.
Excerpted by permission of Barbour Publishing, Inc..
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