Nine Meddling Matchmakers Find Love When They Least Expect It
Meet nine women of the late 1800s who have found themselves in the role of matchmaker. They think they have mastered the art of recognizing romantic potential in others, but when it comes to their own lives they have been unlucky in love. In small communities from Tennessee to Colorado, Wyoming to Indiana, love unexpectedly enters the women’s lives with men they never imagined marrying. But what will it take to get these ladies to say “I do”?
Home Grown Bride by Diana Lesire Brandmeyer
Emmie Mueller thinks the only way to leave Illinois and join her family in Kansas is to play matchmaker to the boarders who stand in the way of her grandmother selling her house. But tables are turned when the boarders attempt to match her with the newest man in town, Landon Knipp.
The Unmatched Bride by Amanda Cabot
1886–Cheyenne, Wyoming Territory
When a confirmed spinster matchmaker accepts an unusual assignment and helps a wealthy widower choose the right mate for his daughter, more than one couple finds true love.
Playing Possum by Lisa Carter
1895–Possum Trot, WY
Hoping to outplay, outwit, and outlast the Possum Trot matchmakers during the harvest festival, Cage Cooper proposes a pretend engagement to suffragette Theodosia Holland. Trouble is—in playing possum, they both may have gotten far more than they bargained for.
Hog Trough Bride by Ramona K. Cecil
Hoping to save her older sister from the humiliation of having to dance in the hog trough—a local custom when a younger sister beats her older sister to the altar—an aspiring bride engages in multiple matchmaking attempts with chaotic and surprising results.
The Tinman’s Match by Lynn A. Coleman
1880–On the road from Virginia to Tennessee
Josephine Woodley is surprised to find Xander Russell, a matchmaker, is an honorable man. Can she soften his tin heart enough for him to consider a match of his own?
Miss Matched by Susanne Dietze
Brainy Grace Perkins applies scientific principles to play matchmaker for the singles in her small town. However, her hypothesis leaves out God’s role and matters of the heart, creating tangled results.
The Backfired Bride by Kim Vogel Sawyer
Can a pair of single, inexperienced but well-meaning young people convince an older man and woman that marriage is better than remaining alone?
Sing of the Mercy by Connie Stevens
1876–Black Hills of Dakota Territory
A newly-elected mayor teams up with a hash house cook to turn a mining camp into a brand new town. Will they be able to transform the rough-edged miners into gentlemen, persuading prospective brides to consider matrimony?
A Match Made in Heaven by Liz Tolsma
Pastor Len Montgomery receives an unusual letter that turns him into the matchmaker he never wanted to be. But the match he most wants to make, the one with the town’s sweet and charming postmistress, may be out of his reach.
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About the Author
Christian author Diana Lesire Brandmeyer writes historical and contemporary romances about women choosing to challenge their fears to become the strong women God intends. Author of A Mind of Her Own, A Bride’s Dilemma in Friendship, Tennessee and We’re Not Blended We’re Pureed, a Survivor’s Guide to Blended Families. Sign up for her newsletter and get free stuff. www.dianabrandmeyer.com
Amanda Cabot is the bestselling author of more than thirty novels and half a dozen novellas, including Jeremy and Esther’s story, The Christmas Star Bride, and Waiting for Spring, which tells Madame Charlotte’s story. Although she grew up in the East, a few years ago Amanda and her high school sweetheart husband fulfilled a lifelong dream and are now living in Cheyenne. In addition to writing, Amanda enjoys traveling and sharing parts of her adopted home with readers in her Wednesday in Wyoming blog. One of Amanda’s greatest pleasures is hearing from readers, and so she invites you to find her online at www.amandacabot.com.
Lisa Carter and her family make their home in North Carolina. In addition to "Mule Dazed," she is the author of seven romantic suspense novels and a contemporary Coast Guard romantic series. When she isn't writing, Lisa enjoys traveling to romantic locales, teaching writing workshops, and researching her next exotic adventure. She has strong opinions on barbecue and ACC basketball. She loves to hear from readers and you can connect with Lisa at www.lisacarterauthor.com.
RAMONA K. CECIL is a wife, mother, grandmother, freelance poet, and award-winning inspirational romance writer. Now empty nesters, she and her husband make their home in Indiana. A member of American Christian Fiction Writers and American Christian Fiction Writers Indiana Chapter, her work has won awards in a number of inspirational writing contests. Over eighty of her inspirational verses have been published on a wide array of items for the Christian gift market. She enjoys a speaking ministry, sharing her journey to publication while encouraging aspiring writers. When not writing, her hobbies include reading, gardening, and visiting places of historical interest.
Lynn A. Coleman is an award winning and bestselling author of Key West and other books. She began her writing and speaking career with how to utilize the Internet. Since October 1998, when her first fiction novel sold she's sold 38 books and novellas.
Lynn is also the founder of American Christian Fiction Writers Inc. and served as the group's first president for two years and two years on the Advisory Board. One of her primary reasons for starting ACFW was to help writers to develop their writing skills and to encourage others to go deeper in their relationship with God. "God has given me a gift, but it is my responsibility to develop that gift."
Some of her other interests are photography, camping, cooking, and boating. Having grown up on Martha’s Vineyard, she finds water to be very exciting and soothing. She can sit and watch the waves for hours. If time permitted she would like to travel.
She makes her home in Keystone Heights, Florida, where her husband of 42 years serves as pastor of Friendship Bible Church. Together they are blessed with three children, two living and one in glory, and eight grandchildren.
Susanne Dietze began writing love stories in high school, casting her friends in the starring roles. Today, she's the award-winning author of a dozen new and upcoming historical romances who's seen her work on the ECPA and Publisher's Weekly Bestseller Lists for Inspirational Fiction. Married to a pastor and the mom of two, Susanne lives in California and enjoys fancy-schmancy tea parties, the beach, and curling up on the couch with a costume drama and a plate of nachos. You can visit her online at www.susannedietze.com and subscribe to her newsletters at http://eepurl.com/bieza5.
KIM VOGEL SAWYER, a Kansas resident, is a wife, mother, grandmother, teacher, writer, speaker, and lover of cats and chocolate. From the time she was a very little girl, she knew she wanted to be a writer, and seeing her words in print is the culmination of a lifelong dream. Kim relishes her time with family and friends, and stays active in her church by teaching adult Sunday school, singing in the choir, and being a "ding-a-ling" (playing in the bell choir). In her spare time, she enjoys drama, quilting, and calligraphy.
Connie Stevens lives with her husband of forty-plus years in north Georgia, within sight of her beloved mountains. She and her husband are both active in a variety of ministries at their church. A lifelong reader, Connie began creating stories by the time she was ten. Her office manager and writing muse is a cat, but she’s never more than a phone call or email away from her critique partners. She enjoys gardening and quilting, but one of her favorite pastimes is browsing antique shops where story ideas often take root in her imagination. Connie has been a member of American Christian Fiction Writers since 2000.
Liz Tolsma is a popular speaker and an editor and the owner of the Write Direction Editing. An almost-native Wisconsinite, she resides in a quiet corner of the state with her husband and their two daughters. Her son proudly serves as a U.S. Marine. They adopted all of their children internationally, and one has special needs. When she gets a few spare minutes, she enjoys reading, relaxing on the front porch, walking, working in her large perennial garden, and camping with her family.
Read an Excerpt
The Matchmaker Brides Collection
By Kim Vogel Sawyer, Amanda Cabot, Diana Lesire Brandmeyer, Lisa Carter, Ramona K. Cecil, Lynn A. Coleman, Susanne Dietze, Connie Stevens, Liz Tolsma
Barbour Publishing, IncCopyright © 2017 Diana Lesire Brandmeyer
All rights reserved.
Trenton, Illinois, 1887
Emmie Mueller wore her favorite floral dress to the July wedding. She hoped the skirt wouldn't wilt in the humidity. Two old bachelors down and two to go, and then she and Granny would be on their way to Kansas to be with their family.
Orville Tinze, the first bachelor she made a match for, had bluebonnet eyes and soft manners, which made him attractive to several older widows. In less than a month, he said his vows.
Getting today's happy couple together had been the most difficult task. A nigh impossible endeavor. But with God's help, she'd found a wife for George Henderson. One Sunday, she noticed the church organist, spinster Louise Wheeler, sending longing looks toward George. The surly old man would never have picked up on those subtle glances, but Emmie did, and she took action.
With a little coaxing, she managed to get George looking quite dapper before she put the two of them together at the church voters' meeting. He took to Louise like rain on a parched garden.
Finding the other two boarders a spouse couldn't be as tiresome. Her cheeks hurt from smiling.
"Do you take ..."
She brought her attention back to the vows. This had to be the best part of the wedding, when two people in love promised to be together forever. And to think, God used her to bring this about. This must be God approving her plan to find matches for the other gentlemen boarders.
Hylda Mueller, Emmie's grandmother, nudged her in the side and leaned close to her ear. "Someday that will be you."
A rush of heat rose to her face. "Shh, Granny." Sometimes her grandmother spoke too loud, and when Mrs. Thompson snickered behind them, Emmie feared this was one of those times.
Granny patted her leg and nodded.
The couple faced the congregation, and the pastor introduced the newlyweds. Both of them beamed through their wrinkles. Satisfied everyone had their attention on the couple, Emmie slipped out the side of the pew. The finishing touches for the reception being held in the side yard of the church needed to be readied.
* * *
Landon Knipp left the building he was considering renting in Lebanon, Illinois, thankful his father had come along with him to inspect it. This one, unlike others they'd explored, appeared to be the right size for his specialty market and in the right location on the corner of Main and Spruce.
Mr. Knipp brushed dust particles from his jacket sleeve. "You don't need to move. Why not stay in St. Louis and work with the family? It's a headache to start a new place where you aren't known."
"Father, whether you believe it or not, as the youngest I'll never have a chance to be the boss. I've spent my entire life being ordered around by my brothers. I'd like to try being the one in charge." Landon stepped back to inspect the front overhang. "No light peeking through."
"Where do you plan to live?"
"Maybe above the store. That would give me a bit more money to put into this place, maybe on better display cases." Landon shaded his eyes and peered down the busy street crowded with farm wagons and buggies. Another good indication that his store would have customers.
Church bells jangled in an unordered tune, as if a few schoolboys had control of the rope.
"Is it the top of the hour already?" His father checked his pocket watch. "No, not even close. There must be something happening at the church."
"Sounds like it's around the corner. Let's walk in that direction. This building is only one part of my life. I'll need to find a church. Worshipping is important as well."
And finding a wife.
All six of his married brothers had at least one child. When he'd returned from Europe, he'd been surrounded by infants and toddlers. Each one brought a distinct desire in him to have a family of his own. And to stay in one town. No more traveling for him.
If the bells didn't lead them to church, the steeple would have. The redbrick building was simple in appearance except for the stained-glass, circular window above the double entry doors. Though it wasn't as grand as those in Europe or back East. Even St. Louis had more impressive houses of worship.
The side yard contained tables decorated with many different cloths and flowers. "I'd say it's a wedding." Landon stopped at the bottom of the steps.
The door flew open. A blond-haired beauty hurried through it and down the steps.
"Do you suppose that's the bride?" His father snickered.
* * *
Emmie's narrow-skirted dress hindered her movement. Now she regretted wearing it, instead of the wide skirt she wore at home. Going slow down the stairs wasted time she needed to uncover the food.
On the last step, she stumbled.
Her ankle twinged.
She grasped for something to steady her but found air.
Someone grabbed her by the waist, and she fell into the arms of a man. One she'd never met. Emmie swallowed. Was her embarrassment from the fall? Before she could sort out her feelings, he righted her, and then tipped his hat.
"Thank you for saving me, Mr. Knipp. I'm afraid my mind was on getting the tables ready for the wedding guests." She smoothed the skirt at her waist.
"Then you aren't the bride?"
She hadn't noticed the older man standing next to Mr. Knipp.
"Father. Excuse him, Miss ...?"
"Miss Mueller." She turned to the older gentleman. "No, sir, I'm a helper today."
"My father has an odd sense of humor."
"I see. Well, if you don't mind, I need to get busy." She took a step and winced. "Ow."
He grasped her by the arm. "Here, lean on me, and I'll get you to the tables. You can sit and rest and direct Father and me on what needs to be done."
"I couldn't, shouldn't ..."
"She's right, son. We aren't guests at this wedding."
"We won't stay. With the two of us, we'll get things shipshape in no time. Miss Mueller?"
If they hurried, there might be a chance. And she did want George and Alice to have a beautiful day. "Please, that would be kind of you, and then you can be on your way." They would have to finish before Granny saw him, or there'd be wedding suggestions before they made it home. Having a new man in town would ignite the fire under Granny, and the pressure to marry would be upon her once again.CHAPTER 2
Landon uncovered the third dish of potato salad and moved it down a table next to the other two bowls. That was the last one. He stepped back to inspect the display. Finished and grouped like with like. He and his father did a decent job of making the tables appealing. A feast for the stomach and the eyes. Would Miss Mueller think so? He glanced at her. She rubbed her ankle. It would be blue and purple by evening.
A loud cheer rose from the front of the church. The newlyweds and their guests would be coming this way soon. He headed over to Miss Mueller. "We're finished. Is there anything else you'd like us to do?"
"You've done a marvelous job. I wouldn't have considered placing the foods the way you have. We usually let the person bringing something set it where they want it."
"It makes more sense to have all the potato salad in one place, doesn't it?" He scratched his chin.
She wrinkled her forehead and chewed her lip.
"Unless there is a reason?"
"There is. It's a tradition passed down from generations. If one has all the bowls together, someone might get their feelings hurt if their bowl isn't touched. And sometimes people forget to put something on their plate, and they have a second chance of doing so as they move down the row."
"We should move them around then. I'll get Father —"
Her eyes widened, and she looked past him.
"Emmie, who is this?"
He turned to find an older woman standing behind him. "I'm Landon Knipp, ma'am. My father and I helped Miss Mueller set out the food."
"They aren't staying, Granny. They offered to help when I misstepped and twisted my ankle." She stood, wobbled, and caught the edge of the table to steady [right arrow]herself.
"Nonsense. You helped my granddaughter, and you must stay. There's plenty of food." The older woman beamed. "We love having new people attend our church. Where are you from?"
"St. Louis." His father stepped next to him. "My son is looking at a building to open his new business."
"What do you do, Mr. Knipp?"
"If I decide to settle here, my store will carry items you can't find at the mercantile. My father owns Knipp Emporium in St. Louis. And I'm opening our second one."
"What does that mean? Things I can't find at the mercantile?" Emmie narrowed her eyes.
Landon's heart stuttered. He'd insulted her town and her. "Items from all over the world. Fine china, exotic spices from India, that sort of thing. When a customer walks in, we want them to be wide-eyed and speechless while they take in the displays."
"Followed by excitement. Don't forget that, Landon. Lest the ladies think you want them to be as quiet as a church mouse while they shop." His father chuckled.
"You won't be competing against the mercantile, then?"
"Not at all. Our intent is to have different choices. Not everyone gets to travel around the world purchasing items to decorate their homes or give as gifts. Like this." Landon pulled a handkerchief stitched with embroidered birds from his pocket and handed it to her.
She traced the stitching. "It's beautiful. You're right. I haven't seen anything like this before."
"Our store will be filled with items like this."
"Look, Granny, isn't this exotic?"
Mrs. Mueller held it in her hands and rubbed the fabric between her thumb and finger. "The fabric is soft as down."
"You will do well with a store in this town. When will you decide?" Mrs. Mueller cocked her head. "And where do you plan on living?"
* * *
Emmie knew what was coming before Granny asked. She wanted a boarder to fill George's room. "Granny! That's none of our business."
"It certainly is. Did you forget we run a boardinghouse?"
She squirmed like a little girl under Granny's glare. "No, but remember —"
"This is not the time or place to discuss this." She turned to them. "If you are in need of a place to stay, please come see us. We have plenty of rooms available."
Rooms she'd worked hard at emptying of boarders. She knew Granny didn't want to leave this town, but it wasn't fair of her to expect Emmie to stay here. She wanted to be with her family, and that included Granny. Yes, she did want to marry and have children but not here. No, she did not. She wanted to be near her momma. But Momma wouldn't approve of her pouting. She gathered her emotions and tucked them away.
"Mr. Landon, it would be an honor if you'd stay with us for a short time." Please turn down the offer.
"Thank you, but Father and I will return to St. Louis this afternoon. I have some decisions to make. I've seen several towns that fit my needs."
His words were like warm butter, and the tension in her shoulders dissolved. A problem diverted, though looking at him again, it wouldn't be hard to find him a wife if he did stay. Handsome, with those Jersey-cow eyes framed with long, dark lashes. Yes, there would be a few women in town that would want to sit at his table every night. Good thing he was leaving, because she might be tempted to get his attention and that would mess up her plan.
* * *
There were quite a few people at the reception. Landon listened in on conversations as he filled his plate, hoping to get a feel for the people of the town.
"Something's going on, Walter. I think Emmie is up to some shenanigans."
Hearing Emmie's name, he whipped around and took note of the two older men behind him in line.
"Milton, I'm telling you. Orville getting married didn't surprise me. He still has all his hair. But George? Didn't you notice how Miss Emmie got him to slick down his hair and make sure his mustache didn't have food in it every Sunday?"
"You might be right. Do you think she's trying to match us up, too?"
"We best keep an eye on her. I like things the way they are." Milton plopped potato salad onto his plate.
"Landon?" His father spoke into his ear. "You listening in on conversations again?"
"Yes. You can learn a lot about the culture of a place when you do that."
"You're in Illinois, son, not a foreign land. Not much different from where you grew up. Let's look for a place to sit."
Under a young tree, they found a spot that hadn't been claimed and settled beneath it with their packed plates. From here, Landon observed Miss Emmie Mueller undetected. Her delicate fingers piano-key danced through the air while she chatted with another woman.
"She's a pretty one with that blond hair." His father wiggled his fork in her direction. "Are you thinking this town might offer you more than a place to sell wares from abroad?"
"You know me too well. But it's not just her. I know nothing about her. It's the townspeople that will be the key to having a successful business. Like those celebrating this wedding. I should think them to be an indication of the type of people I'd be selling to."
Miss Mueller filled her own plate even with an injured ankle. He noticed. Yes, he did. He'd been watching for a beau to offer her assistance, but none came. Maybe she didn't have one. Curious that one so beautiful wouldn't have a group of bachelors hanging around trying to capture a smile from her.
"— and you'd need furniture, too." His father's words broke into his thoughts.
"Pardon? My mind drifted somewhere."
"I thought as much. I've been observing your keen interest in the young Miss Mueller. Your fork has been hovering over that piece of ham for quite some time." His father raised his eyebrow. "What interests you the most about her?"
He stabbed the piece of meat and stuck it in his mouth, debating whether to answer his father's question.
"You're stalling, son." He laughed loud enough for a group to turn and stare.
Landon tipped his hat at them. "She must be a member of this church as she is talking to everyone. One of my high priorities. I desire a marriage such as my brothers' and yours. This might be the best town we've seen to open the store." And Emmie Mueller, the possible matchmaker, was the first woman he wanted to get to know.CHAPTER 3
Emmie held a bowl of green beans as she settled in the rocker between Milton Taylor and Walter Hoffman. She picked one up and snapped it, the ends falling onto her apron. "What did you two think of the wedding?"
The rockers creaked against the wooden porch floor.
Emmie stared at Milton.
He stopped rocking. "Did you say something?"
"I asked what you two thought of George getting married?"
The rocker resumed its motion at a quick pace. "Don't see what that old grump needed a wife for."
Walter leaned forward. "Me either, Milton. Mrs. Mueller takes good care of us, and we don't have to do anything. Now George will have to do everything his wife wants."
"That's not nice. George is happier than both of you. Did you see him smiling at the wedding?"
"Of course, he was. There were tables of pie waiting for him after the ceremony."
Emmie ignored Milton. "Just think, he will have someone to listen to him at dinner."
"We heard everything he said." Milton snorted. "Even when we didn't care to."
"Never said much worth hearing." Walter nodded. "No sir, that man is going to run out of interesting things to say before next Sunday."
The door opened, and Granny leaned out. "Emmie, can you run and get me some baking soda? I'm plumb out, and I need it to make the biscuits for dinner."
"Yes, ma'am, I'll be happy to." She gathered the hem of her apron in her hand as she stood. "Sitting with these two makes me sad. They don't have a romantic bone in their bodies." She shook her apron over the porch railing.
"We're too old for that foolishness. Set in our ways." Walter settled back against the rocker. "But you're not, missy."
Emmie spun on her heel. "I have plenty of time once I get to Kansas." But did she? Her age was creeping up fast. What if she didn't find someone to love there? Dear God, is it Your plan for me to be a spinster? Her stomach sank. If it was, could she follow it?
* * *
Landon's gut instinct was right four weeks ago when he'd first visited this town. It would be a good place to open his store. And a lovely blond woman had something to do with it as well. He closed and locked the door to the new store and pocketed the key. His stomach growled. He needed to find a place for breakfast. Last night convinced him he had no desire to sleep above the store. The old bed creaked with every breath he took and disturbed his sleep until his body gave up and he drifted off.
This morning, the sun broke through the dirty upstairs window waking him. He missed the smell of coffee wafting up to greet him. Not to mention a plate of eggs and a muffin. He hadn't noticed the lack of a kitchen before he bought the place, and the idea of buying a stove and all that went with it didn't appeal to him. Plus, his cooking wasn't fit for hogs. He could purchase a new bed and eat his meals out, but the cost would add up fast. It might be best to find a boardinghouse.
Excerpted from The Matchmaker Brides Collection by Kim Vogel Sawyer, Amanda Cabot, Diana Lesire Brandmeyer, Lisa Carter, Ramona K. Cecil, Lynn A. Coleman, Susanne Dietze, Connie Stevens, Liz Tolsma. Copyright © 2017 Diana Lesire Brandmeyer. 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 Homegrown Bride,
The Unmatched Bride,
Hog Trough Bride,
The Tinman's Match,
The Backfired Bride,
Sing of the Mercy,
A Match Made in Heaven,