In A Vote of Confidence, the stage is set for some intriguing insight into what it was like during 1915 to be a woman in a “man’s world.” Guinevere Arlington is a beautiful young woman determined to remain in charge of her own life. For seven years, Gwen has carved out a full life in the bustling town of Bethlehem Springs, Idaho, where she teaches piano and writes for the local newspaper. Her passion for the town, its people, and the surrounding land prompt Gwen to run for mayor. After all, who says a woman can’t do a man’s job? But stepping outside the boundaries of convention can get messy. A shady lawyer backs Gwen, believing he can control her once she’s in office. A wealthy newcomer throws his hat into the ring in an effort to overcome opposition to the health resort he’s building north of town. When the opponents fall in love, everything changes, forcing Gwen to face what she may have to lose in order to win.
About the Author
Robin Lee Hatcher is the author of 80 novels and novellas with over five million copies of her books in print. She is known for her heartwarming and emotionally charged stories of faith, courage, and love. Her numerous awards include the RITA Award, the Carol Award, the Christy Award, the HOLT Medallion, the National Reader’s Choice Award, and the Faith, Hope & Love Reader’s Choice Award. Robin is also the recipient of prestigious Lifetime Achievement Awards from both American Christian Fiction Writers and Romance Writers of America. When not writing, she enjoys being with her family, spending time in the beautiful Idaho outdoors, Bible art journaling, reading books that make her cry, watching romantic movies, and decorative planning. Robin makes her home on the outskirts of Boise, sharing it with a demanding Papillon dog and a persnickety tuxedo cat.
Read an Excerpt
A Vote of Confidence
By Robin Lee Hatcher
Copyright © 2009
All right reserved.
Chapter One Idaho, May 1915
The Torpedo Runabout cut the corner from Shenandoah Street onto Wallula Street, driving over two of the boarding house's rose bushes in the process. The automobile then weaved dangerously close to Guinevere Arlington's white picket fence.
With a gasp, Gwen jumped up from the porch swing.
In the nick of time, the Model T Ford veered away from her fence, avoiding disaster.
"Hello, ladies." The driver tipped his hat to Gwen and her sister as if nothing was amiss.
"And there goes our next mayor." Cleo shook her head and cast a look of despair at Gwen. "Ten o'clock in the morning and drunk as a skunk. Can you imagine him holding the reins of government?"
"No, I can't." Gwen sank onto the porch swing again. "Hiram Tattersall is a fool, not to mention his penchant for strong spirits."
Cleo crossed one booted foot over another as she leaned against the porch railing. "Why don't you run for office, Gwennie? Not a reason in the world you couldn't do it."
"Me?" Gwen looked at her twin in disbelief.
"Of course you. There's nothing in the law that says a woman can't be the mayor of our fair town. You're a nicer person than Mayor Hopkins, the old coot -"
"Cleo. Don't be unkind."
"I'm sorry. I know he's sick or we wouldn't be having this special election. But he hasn't done a single, solitary thing of worth while he's been mayor, and everybody knows Tattersall will be an even worse mayor than Hopkins."
"I have no qualifications for political office."
"And Tattersall does? You'd do a better job than Hopkins and Tattersall put together. Folks like you." Cleo winked. "Especially the men, pretty as you are."
Gwen wasn't amused. "If I were to run, I wouldn't want to be elected for my appearance."
"So don't let that be why. You got that fancy education burning to be put to use. Why not let folks see you're as full of information as a mail-order catalog?"
It was a ridiculous idea. Gwen had no intention of running for mayor. She was content giving piano lessons to the children of Bethlehem Springs and writing her columns for the local newspaper.
Cleo drank the last of her iced tea, set the glass on the porch floor, and pushed off from the railing. "I'd best get back to the ranch. I've got a load of chores still to be done." She slapped her floppy-brimmed hat onto her head, covering her mop of short, strawberry-blonde curls. "You'd be doing this town a favor if you were its mayor. We could use a little forward thinking, if you ask me."
Gwen smiled as she rose from the swing. "Darling Cleo, I could never be as forward thinking as you."
Gwen followed her sister off the porch and around to the back of the house where Cleo's pinto was tethered to a post. Cleo stopped long enough to give Gwen a hug and a kiss on the cheek, then untied her horse, grasped the saddle horn, and swung into the seat. "You think about it, Gwennie. I'm telling you. It's the right thing to do. You pray and see if the Lord doesn't agree with me." With a tug on the brim of her hat, she twirled her horse away and cantered down the street.
Gwen shook her head. Cleo could come up with the most outlandish ideas. Imagine: Gwen Arlington, mayor of Bethlehem Springs. It was preposterous. Not that she didn't believe women should serve in public office. She did, and she was glad she lived in a state where women had the right to vote. But she had no political ambitions.
With a sigh, she returned to the front porch and settled onto the cushioned seat of the swing, giving a little push with her feet to start it in motion.
The air smelled of fresh-turned earth, green grass, and flowers in bloom. The mountains of southern Idaho were enjoying warm weather, although snow could be seen on the highest peaks to the north and east of Bethlehem Springs.
Gwen loved this small town. She loved her neighbors, the children who came for lessons, the women in her church sewing circle. She loved the long, narrow valley, the river that flowed through it, and the tree-covered mountains that overlooked it all. She loved the sense of the old West and the new century that surrounded her, horses and automobiles, outhouses and indoor plumbing, wood-burning stoves and electric lights.
Her mother, Elizabeth Arlington, hadn't felt the same about Idaho. She despised everything about it, so much so that after four years of marriage, she'd left her husband and returned to her parents' home in Hoboken, New Jersey, taking two-year-old Gwen with her.
"Be thankful, Guinevere," her mother said on many an occasion over the years, "that your father allowed you to come with me. We're alike, you and I. We need society and fine culture. Think of the advantages you've had that poor Cleopatra has gone without. The opera and the theater. Fine schooling. You would never be suited to live in that backwater town where your father chose to settle."
But her mother was wrong. Bethlehem Springs did suit Gwen - a truth she discovered soon after her arrival in Idaho seven years before. At the age of twenty-one, and with the reluctant blessing of her mother, she had come to Idaho to meet the father and sister she couldn't remember. She hadn't intended to stay, but in a few short weeks she'd fallen in love with the area. Her heart felt at home here as it never had in New Jersey.
A frown puckered her forehead. What would happen to Bethlehem Springs if Hiram Tattersall became its mayor? He wouldn't try to better their schools or improve roads or help those who had lost jobs due to mine closings. And if the governor of the state succeeded in passing Prohibition in Idaho, as many thought he would, Tattersall wouldn't enforce it in Bethlehem Springs. She was convinced of that.
I would do a better job than he would.
But of course she had no intention of running for mayor.
No intention whatsoever.
* * *
Morgan McKinley wanted nothing more than to punch that artificial smile off Harrison Carter's face.
"You'll have to wait until after the election, Mr. McKinley. I'm sorry. The new mayor and the county commissioners must be in agreement on these matters."
Before Morgan did something he would regret - something that would get him tossed into the jail one floor below - he bid a hasty farewell and left the commissioner's chambers. When he exited the municipal building, he paused on the sidewalk long enough to draw a calming breath.
Harrison Carter had delayed this decision for personal reasons, not for anything to do with an election. Several times over the past year, the commissioner had offered to buy the land where New Hope was being built. If he thought these delays would change Morgan's mind about selling, he was in for a big disappointment.
With a grunt of frustration, he turned and headed for his automobile, parked on the west side of the sandstone building. Fagan Doyle, Morgan's business manager and good friend, leaned against the back of the car, his pipe clenched between his teeth.
"Well?" Fagan cocked an eyebrow.
Morgan shook his head.
"Then I'll be asking what it is you mean to do about it?"
"I don't know yet."
Morgan got behind the wheel of the Model T while Fagan moved to the crank. Once the engine started, Fagan slid into the passenger seat and closed the door. Morgan turned the automobile around and followed Main Street out to the main road, thankful his friend didn't ask more questions. He needed to think.
Occasional complications and delays were expected when a man undertook a large building project, but this felt different. Morgan had half expected Harrison to ask for money under the table, but that hadn't happened. Just as well since Morgan wasn't the sort who bribed public officials. Nor allowed himself to be blackmailed by them. Not under any circumstance.
Twenty minutes later, the touring car arrived on the grounds of what would one day be a unique resort - the New Hope Health Spa. The main lodge had taken shape at the upper end of the compound. Morgan no longer needed to study the architectural renderings to imagine what it would look like when finished.
He wished his mother had lived to see it. This spa had been her dream before it became his.
Before the automobile rolled to a stop, the site foreman, Christopher Vance, ran toward them. "Morgan, we've got a problem."
Another one? "What is it?"
"The dam on Crow's Creek. It's leaking. I'm not sure it'll hold. I've got a crew up there now working on it."
Morgan's gaze shifted toward the narrow road at the east end of the compound. About a mile up they'd built the dam that would provide and control the cold water used in conjunction with the natural hot water from the springs.
"I'd better see it for myself. Hop in," he said to the foreman, "and we'll drive up there."
If that dam broke, a good portion of the resort compound could end up covered in several inches of water. Not the end of the world, but it would stop construction until things dried out. Another delay.
"Somebody did this, Morgan," Christopher said. "It's no accident."
He frowned at his foreman. "Are you sure?"
Why would anyone want to sabotage the dam? It was deep into his property, and he hadn't diverted water that was needed by anyone else. No farmers or ranchers were dependent upon the flow of Crow's Creek. He'd made sure of that.
Could Harrison Carter be behind it?
* * *
On her way to the Daily Herald with her latest article, Gwen stopped by the mercantile to inquire about Helen Humphrey. The poor woman had suffered with severe back pain for more than two months, and nothing she'd tried had relieved it.
"The doctors say rest is the only thing that'll help," Bert Humphrey told Gwen. "And even then they're not sure she'll ever be without pain. Maybe the health spa that fellow's building will do her some good. Nothing else has. Not that we could afford it. Something that fancy's bound to cost more than we could come up with."
"I'm so sorry to hear you don't have better news, Mr. Humphrey. But, no matter what it costs, do you really believe taking the waters would help her? I'm afraid I'm somewhat skeptical."
"I don't know. I'd try just about anything at this point."
Gwen offered a sympathetic smile. "Please tell Helen I'll make some of my chicken and dumplings and bring it over."
He swept a hand over his balding head. "She hasn't had much appetite, but I know we'll be glad for it, all the same."
"I'll keep her in my prayers."
"We'd appreciate it."
Gwen bid the proprietor a good day, then left the store. As she walked along Wallula Street toward the newspaper office, her thoughts remained on the resort. There were varying feelings in Bethlehem Springs about the construction of the spa ten miles to the north. Many people thought it would be good for the town; quite a few local men were already employed as carpenters and general laborers. Other townsfolk thought the resort would change Bethlehem Springs for the worse, bringing in too many outsiders. Of course, there were a few in town who thought the spa would fail, so what did it matter?
Gwen didn't know what to believe. She'd never frequented a spa, although she had gone with Cleo a few times to sit in one of the natural hot springs on their father's ranch. Enjoyable, to be sure, but was it a cure for physical ailments? For all she knew, McKinley was a snake oil salesman of the worst kind, offering a cure to the hopeless - a cure that didn't exist.
There was also the matter of McKinley being a newcomer to the area. No local had heard of him until he arrived in the area a year ago. And although the wealthy Easterner had purchased the old Hampstead home on Skyview Street, it sat empty. Folks said the new owner was at the resort site every day of the week, coming into town only long enough to send a telegram, pick up his mail, and purchase supplies. Not once had he spent the night in town.
"The time I met him, he was genial enough," Nathan Patterson, owner and editor of the Daily Herald, had said once. "A newspaper friend of mine from Boston says the McKinley family is among the wealthiest in America. Doesn't it seem odd that he would end up here, of all places?"
"Thinks himself too good for the likes of us, I gather." That had been Edna Updike's opinion - something Gwen's neighbor never hesitated to share. "He doesn't even go to church. A heathen, no doubt."
"Not much mail ever," Dedrik Finster, the postmaster, had said in Gwen's presence just a week ago. "He is mystery, ja?"
Arriving at the newspaper office, Gwen shook off thoughts of the resort and the mysterious Morgan McKinley. "Hello, Mr. Patterson," she said as she stepped through the doorway.
"Ah, there you are, Miss Arlington. I was wondering when you would have your column for me. What's your story about this time?"
"The expansion of educational opportunities for women in the past fifty years and the importance of women taking advantage of them. Did you know, Mr. Patterson, that there were only five women lawyers or notaries in 1870 but almost fifteen thousand by 1910?"
Nathan shook his head. "Not sure I think women should be lawyers."
"Why not? A woman doesn't have an inferior mind. She is as able to grasp the written law as any man. Deborah was a judge in Israel, if you'll recall. And if a woman is widowed, isn't it better that she have an education and a profession that will allow her to support herself and her children rather than to be dependent upon the generosity of relatives or her church?"
"Well, of course. But -"
"But not in a man's profession?" She offered a smile, taking the bite out of her question.
"You have me there, Miss Arlington." He chuckled. "There is certainly nothing inferior about your mind."
"Thank you." She held out the carefully penned pages.
Nathan took them. As he glanced down at some other papers on his desk, he muttered, "Wish I could say the same for our one and only candidate for mayor. Tattersall." He growled in disgust. "I can't figure why no one else has stepped forward to run against him. The election will be here before we know it."
Cleo's words echoed in Gwen's thoughts: "Why don't you run for office, Gwennie?" She ignored the shiver of excitement that raced up her spine and posed her sister's question to the newspaperman. "Why don't you run for office, Mr. Patterson?"
"Politics wouldn't suit me. I'm better reporting the news than making it."
"Not a reason in the world you couldn't do it," Cleo's voice whispered in her head.
Gwen glanced at the pages in the editor's hands. She'd written the article to encourage women to step forward, to better themselves, to make a difference in the society in which they lived. Was it possible God had been speaking to her even as she wrote those words to other women?
Softly, she said, "My sister thinks I should run."
Nathan stared at her.
"It's a silly notion, of course." Her heart hammered and her pulse raced. "I told Cleo it was."
Wordlessly, he leaned back in his chair, rubbing his chin with his right hand. "Silly?" A long pause, then, "I'm not so sure it is."
"You're not?" Her throat felt parched.
"Isn't a woman mayor a little like a woman judge?" He shot up from his chair, knuckles resting on the top of the desk. "Do it, Miss Arlington. Run for mayor. The newspaper will put its support behind your candidacy."
"But Mr. Patterson, I've never held public office before. Why would you support me?"
"My gut tells me you would do what needs to be done. You're articulate and well educated. You obviously aren't afraid to speak out when you see a problem the community needs to address. You've done so often enough in your columns."
She wished she hadn't spoken. She wished she'd kept her thoughts to herself.
"Do it, Miss Arlington. The town will be grateful. And I must admit it would give me plenty of interesting things to write about in the coming weeks. Never been a woman mayor that I know of." He jotted a note on a slip of paper. "I'll have to look that up. Wouldn't it be something if we were the first?"
"I haven't said I'll do it yet."
"Think about what it'll be like here if Tattersall's elected."
Gwen took a step back from his desk. "I ... I'll want to pray about it and ... and talk to my father."
"Of course. Of course. You do that. But I'm telling you, Miss Arlington, you should do this."
* * *
Fortunately, Christopher Vance's worst fears weren't realized. The damage appeared less serious than first perceived. By late afternoon, the crew of men had stabilized the dam on Crow's Creek. More permanent repairs would be undertaken in the morning.
Excerpted from A Vote of Confidence by Robin Lee Hatcher Copyright © 2009 by RobinSong, Inc.. 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.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
I loved this story and I wanted it to continue! I loved the characters and how very smart the woman proved that she was! Very good book!
The author got straight to the plot but still told a wonderful story. It was pretty predictable but still a goid read...on to the next book in the series!
When the town drunk is the only canidate for the office of mayor, Gwen Arlington decides to run against him. Little does she know that she won't be the only one running against him! Morgan McKinley, a wealthy newcomer to Bethlehem Springs, the owner of the new health spa, also decides to take up the challenge. As the sparks fly, will these adversaries become allies? Or more? This is one of those books that I classify as an opposites-who-aren't-as opposite-as-they-think-attract book ;) I've read some other books by Ms. Hatcher and I would have to say that this one lacks the emotional depth that I have come to associate with her writing. It's different. I had a hard time relating to the main characters as much as I had hoped. I found myself intrigued more by Gwen's tomboy sister, Cleo, and am now very excited to find out what happens to her in the next book! Not to say that I didn't enjoy this book, but it wasn't quite what I had expected from Ms. Hatcher. Though, with that said, I found it an entertaining book, skillfully written, and amusing. I also hope to read the next book in the series, especially since it's starring Cleo :) Overall, I enjoyed this book, although it was much lighter than the other books I have read by Ms. Hatcher, and would recommend it :) Thanks! I received this book for free from the publishers in return for an honest review, Thanks :)
This is the first book I've read by Robin Hatcher so I wasn't sure what to expect. I loved it! It kept my attention from the beginning. The main character is Gwen but you'll also meet her twin Cleo and the handsome Morgan McKinley. Gwen is convinced to run for mayor of her town in Idaho and from there the fun begins. You experience small town life circa 1915. There is mystery, politics and romance. I think anyone wouild enjoy this book.
I thought this book had a great story line. I will not go into great detail sense the other readers have. I will just say I have found a new favorite author. I'm going to read the next book.
more like 41/2 stars....i really enjoyed this book, it was my first from this author and it was wonderful!!
While the storyline is typical for a western historical romance, I still found the characters fun and the plot enjoyable. Sure, it's formulaic--because it's supposed to be that way. But even though I knew it was supposed to have a happily ever after ending, I was never bored with the story. I get tired of the same old same old stuff and this was a really fun read for me. Not too fluffy and not too sweet. I literally enjoyed every page. In fact, I kept waiting to get bored and it never happened. The romance was the best part of the story because it seemed natural and believable to me, and not contrived. The dialog was also very well done. I felt like I was living in the town along with the characters. The author really knows how to crank up the romantic tension and bring a couple together in such a way that it will make you sigh when they finish kissing. I really enjoyed the historical aspect of the story with the whole women voting plot and the mayoral race. The hero was, of course, divinely heroic and a perfect match for the heroine. :) Overall this was a great read. I'd recommend it to anyone.
Books about women in politics are always intriguing to me. The ones that especially do are those that are set when women are the underdog during times when they are NOT supposed to be involved in politics. Gwen is setting up the new era of women in politics in the West and I'm glad that her campaigning was met with non violence and no roughness. I'm surprised at how well received she was in the town. Not because she was not a good candidate but because the town seems welcome to the possibility of having a female preside over them. She handled the situation very well and kept up her standards throughout the story. She actually knows why and how she will help the town out as opposed to other stories that I have read where the women run for office but have no platform. I enjoyed reading about her relationship with Morgan. There was very good chemistry between the two of them. Even though they felt attraction to each other, I was glad that both decided to stay in the race and not "drop out" in order to make the other happy. I thought his business of a spa was also very innovational for the time period. I was very impressed with the ending of the book. I was afraid that it would fall into the stereotype of the female falling back to the "traditional female" role of the time period. My only qualm is that Gwen's mother has not seen her OTHER daughter, Cleo in 20 years yet does not show any desire to see her at all. I can understand not wanting to see her estranged husband but it's very strange that she doesn't want to see her own daughter. The fact that it was never even brought up bother me a little. I'm hoping that this is talked about in the next book which focuses on Cleo. That being said, I thought this was a great story about frontier life, romance and the beginning of women's lib in the West. Robin Lee Hatcher has written another winner.
Robin Lee Hatcher creates colorful characters that draw you in immediately, no matter where or when the story is set-historical or contemporary. A Vote of Confidence casts the reader back to 1915 when women were just gaining a voice. Gwen and her twin sister are both engaging and quirky but complete opposites. The men are rugged and some, enlightened. A Vote of Confidence is a delightful tale with a surprising twist. And the next book in the Sisters of Bethlehem Springs series promises to be as good. I give it my highest recommendation-a five star read.
Hatcher does it again; Complete with captivating readers from page one! You'll find yourself falling in love with the characters, and rooting for their successes. You can relate to each one, and see yourself smack in the middle of a much heated up election! Things take a turn for the unexpected with the unsavory Harrison Carter, and again at the public debate for mayor. Romance and suspense in every page; you'll be rooting for love over politics, and an end to deceit and trickery! Tune into see just which character you think deserves the Vote of Confidence!
The story is set in a small-ish Idaho town (big enough to have a handful of restaurants and churches of several denominations, but small enough that everyone knows everyone else) in 1915. There isn't a whole lot of detail about the places- I found it slightly annoying that there wasn't enough information to create a picture of Bethlehem Springs and the associated locales. It wasn't enough to distract from the story, just mildly annoying for me.Although the main characters are both from moneyed families back east, they both share a love for the town. Gwen Arlington moved to town several years previously, in an attempt to get to know her father and sister, both of whom are long-term residents. Morgan McKinley is a developer, and thinks that God has brought him here to build a health spa that doesn't just cater to the rich, and provides spiritual healing as well as physical. When they both decide they are going to run for mayor, the sparks start to fly. Both have been hurt before by others. Gwen wants to be independent and won't stand for a husband who won't let her think. She's decided there's not a man who is worth it. Morgan doesn't want to fall for another beautiful face, and sees them as gold diggers. Many of the characters seem very very flat and fairly stereotyped- those that are good are all but infallible, and those that are bad have no redeeming qualities. I also got the feeling that this wasn't so much historical as modern problems playing dress up. There was nothing that really held it in the past. It was quick and easy to read, but I would have preferred a little more depth to characters and plot.
The protagonist, Guinevere Arlington, better known as Gwen, is so beautiful that she stops men in their tracks, but if they want to make points with her, they'd better not mention her looks. She's much more than that, and she resents the common thinking that women should not be involved with things other than housekeeping and child-rearing. Then, the unthinkable happens. Gwen decides to run for mayor--in 1915--in the small town of Bethlehem Springs, Idaho, and she sets the town to talking!This first book of the Sisters of Bethlehem Springs series asks the question, "Who says a woman can't be mayor?" The second in the series, Fit to Be Tied, the story of Gwen's sister, Cleo, is due out the end of this year. The question in that novel is "Who says a woman can't be a wrangler?" If you like historical romance novels, this is a good one to grab.
A great story of an independent woman when it wasn't popular to be one! Pretty and smart with opinions of her own, Gwen set out to accomplish something unheard of back in the early 1900's, and she got more than she bargained for!
Can't wait to read the rest of the series
Thas my vote
Options: Goldenkit Ivorykit Lightkit Skykit Brightkit And whatever else i forgot just vote for Sapphirehearts vote: Ivorykit!
This is light, feel good reading sprinkled with some western history. It provides a good break between heavy, action packed, or suspenseful novels. I finished it which means it is not that bad.
Very enjoyable story with a happy ending !
Great book with good moral story and well put together with the characters.
The story starts out interesting, but quickly peters out, and the ending seems rushed. The male main character is portrayed as close to perfect....rather annoying. As the story progresses, the focus seems to be more on quoting of scripture rather than development of characters and the plot. Quotes of scripture should not automatically designate a story being rated as a four star book. Overall, boring and disappointing story.
A quick, easy read. As others have noted it's pretty predictable but I got it for free so I'm not complaining. Honestly, I wouldn't pay $9.99 for it but I did enjoy the story.