BOOK DETAILS

Westward Winds: Sweet Clean Historical Western Mail Order Bride

Westward Winds: Sweet Clean Historical Western Mail Order Bride

by Linda Bridey

ASIN: B00LA2QDBM

Publisher Mail Order Bride Dept, Beldene Publishing

Published in Romance/Historical, Literature & Fiction/Historical, Romance, Literature & Fiction

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Book Description

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Bored socialite Tessa craves adventure, and finds it when she becomes a mail order bride to Montana rancher and widowed father Dean Samuels. Can this pair — as different as night and day — find love?

Sample Chapter

At breakfast, Tessa once again scoured the newspaper. An unusual advertisement caught her eye.

The Brooks Agency is seeking eligible women of good reputation to correspond with gentlemen from the West who are seeking a wife. Please reply to this advertisement with a letter of description or come to our office located at the address below.

Tessa grew more excited every time she read the advertisement. Her mind began churning as she weighed the pros and cons of doing such a thing. She would certainly begin an adventure that would be worth writing about and perhaps find true love in the meantime. She would miss her family greatly and most likely anger them, but she was of age and could make her own decisions. Tessa was no fool and she realized that she would have to be sure of the man before travelling to meet him.

Knowing that she would be noticed writing down an address, Tessa memorized the address listed in the ad. After a rather boisterous breakfast with a lot of teasing between the four women, Tessa went up to her room and began making her plans to go to the Brooks Agency the next day.

She would need a taxi because she didn’t want the family’s driver to report where she was going. Tessa had no doubt that Mr. Richards would tell her father if she were to go anywhere out of character for her. She decided she would go for a walk to the park and take a cab from there. Paying cab fare wasn’t an issue because Tessa had a rather large sum of money saved and stashed in her room.

Each of the girls was given an allowance every week and it was rare that Tessa used all of hers because almost all of her needs were met by her parents. Maddie, on the other hand, was prone to spending her money on frivolous items and then wanting more money to buy more things that caught her eye. Tessa hoped Maddie married a rich man who could keep up with her spending habits.

The day seemed to pass slowly even though Tessa kept busy. She was impatient for the day to be over and for the next day to come. She lay in bed that night and couldn’t sleep, try as she might. She wanted to look her best tomorrow to make a good impression at the Brooks Agency. However, it was a long time before sleep claimed her.

*****

“Well, Miss O’Connor, you seem to be exactly what we’re looking for in potential brides. The men are looking for women of your breeding and temperament,” J.D. Brooks said with a smile.

Tessa returned his smile and said, “Splendid! How do we proceed?”

J.D. turned and took a large file from a cabinet behind him. “These are advertisements from prospective men. Look through them and see if any appeal to you. I would ask that you choose only one to correspond with at a time because you may become confused as to whom you are writing. Men are jealous sometimes and it may not sit well with them that you are talking to other men as well.”

Tessa saw the wisdom in that. “I understand.”

“Follow me, please,” J.D. said and rose from his chair.

He led her to a large conference room with a long table and many chairs.

“You will have plenty of room and privacy in here to look through them at your leisure,” he informed her.

“Thank you.”

“You’re welcome,” Brooks said and left her. As he went back to his desk, he wondered why such a beautiful, refined young lady was considering becoming a mail-order bride. From her elegant clothing and impeccable hair style, Tessa was obviously a woman of high social standing.

Tessa sat at the table and opened the file. There were many ads in it and she began to read them. She giggled over some of them because they were so amusing. Some were from men who were very strict about wanting a very domestic wife. Others were very sweet, almost too sweet, and she put those aside as well.

After an hour, she’d narrowed it down to five and then three. Finally, she ended up with the one that struck a chord within her. It read:

Lonely widower rancher with two children seeks lovely lady who is kind, intelligent, and strong. Must like children and should be able to do some cooking. He’s a hard worker, a good provider, and also likes to have fun.

The name listed was Dean Samuels from Dawson, Montana. She felt sympathetic toward the gentleman because he had lost his wife and was trying to be a good father and earn a living at the same time. After putting all of the rest of the advertisements back in the folder, Tessa went back out to the front office.

J.D. looked up from some paperwork and smiled. “How’d we make out?”

“I would like to write to this gentleman,” she said and handed him the ad.

He read it and smiled. “Ah, yes. This one is rather popular,” he lied. “Let me write down the information for you. The letters will be private. I would ask that you be able to make up your mind within three months as we don’t want these men waiting for women who never come.”

Tessa was surprised. “There are other women writing to this rancher?”

J.D. nodded. “Oh, yes. It’s only fair.” He had no qualms about his dishonesty. He had to make a living, after all.

“What if they’ve already made up their mind?” Tessa said.

“Don’t fret, my dear. Once a decision has been made, you must come to inform me. Thus far, no one has gone to see this gentleman. There is a contract you must sign. We require a two hundred dollar service fee. If you should change your mind about contacting this gentleman further and do not want to try any others, I would refund half of your money.”

Hope seeped its way back into her breast. “I see. You said two hundred dollars?”

“Yes. Will that be a problem?” J.D. asked.

Tessa calculated her funds. “No, it won’t,” she said as she opened her reticule and counted out the money. “Now, about that contract.”

Chapter Three

Sweat trickled down Dean’s back as he finished mending the last section of fence. Evening was closing in and he had wanted to get the work done before dark. It made him feel good to know that he had achieved his goal. He straightened up and stretched his cramped back. Replacing rotten fence posts and stringing new wire was not easy and it was one of the jobs he hated most.

But, like always, Dean just got on with the job and got it done despite how he felt. He was good at pushing his feelings down deep. It made things simpler and it was less time consuming. He didn’t have enough time as it was because he had two kids to raise and a ranch to run. The work was never ending but he didn’t complain. It could be worse.

He threw the hammer he’d been using into his tool box and began walking back through the field to the barn. It was early May but the spring was coming on fast. Dean hoped that didn’t mean there would be a drought that summer. Lord knew he needed a bumper crop this year because the crops and meager profits from the cattle sales last year had barely kept them going through the winter.

As he walked, Dean looked at the lush, green grass under his boots and was thankful his cattle had good grazing with which to start the summer. They were a bit thin and he wanted to get them fattened up. No one wanted to buy a skinny steer. He needed his steers to go for a good price.

“Pa! Pa!” he heard his son, Jackson, holler.

Dean looked up and saw his seven-year-old boy running at him pell-mell. His wheat-blond hair flew everywhere as he ran. Jasper, one of their border collies, ran barking and jumping at Jack.

“Look! Uncle Seth just brought it!” Jack told him and thrust the letter at him.

Dean took the mail from Jack. The envelope was ragged and dirty on the edges, evidence of how many times it had changed hands to get to him. He looked at the return address.

“Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania? I don’t know anyone in Pittsburgh, let alone Pennsylvania,” he mused.

Jack bounced up and down next to him. “Is that what it says, Pa? Pittsburgh? Can I see?”

Dean smiled at Jack. “Yeah, sure. See right there.” He pointed it out to Jack. “I’ll get you to learn it and write it tonight, ok?”

Jack nodded. “I’m hungry. When ya gonna read it?”

Dean loved the way his son was able to focus on two things at once. His son had a busy mind and he was very intelligent for his age. He got that from his mother, rest her soul.

“You’re hungry? I’m not surprised. You’re always hungry. What are you making for dinner?” Dean asked.

That stopped Jack. “Me? I don’t know how to make anything except sandwiches and we had that for lunch. Can’t we have steak?”

Dean said, “Hmm. Steak? What do you wanna have steak for? It’s not like you like it or anything.”

“Pa!” Jack said with a laugh. “Quit teasing me. C’mon, let’s go get dinner.” He tugged at Dean’s arm. “I’ll carry the toolbox. You’re probably tired from all that hard work you did.”

“Ok.” Dean agreed and gave the box to his son.

It was heavy and it fell to the ground at first. Then Jack picked it up in both hands and began walking with it. He didn’t complain about the weight, but Dean could tell it was tough going.

About halfway to the barn, Dean said, “Hey, Jack. You go on ahead and get cleaned up. Tell Sadie to get that steak out of the cold cellar and get it on the stove. I’ll take the tool box. Where’s Uncle Seth now?”

“Went in the barn!” Jack shouted. He dropped the tool box and ran off to the house.

Dean smiled as he watched Jack go. He picked up the tool box and proceeded to the barn. Horses whinnied as they heard him approach. Dean stopped by each stall, patting and stroking their sleek coats. His brother, Seth, came out of the tack room.

“I see you got your letter,” he commented.

Dean nodded. “Jack was all wound up about it. I guess it’s because we don’t get a whole lot of mail.”

“Who’s in Pittsburgh?” Seth asked. His blue eyes held curiosity. Seth was well known for being nosey.

“I have no clue,” Dean answered.

“Are you going to read it now?”

Dean frowned at his older brother. “You’re as bad as Jack. No. I’m going to read it after supper.”

“How is it you have so much patience?” Seth said shaking his head.

Dean retorted, “And how is it you have so little?”

Seth smiled. “Because you’re like Ma and I’m like Pa, remember?” It was an old joke between them.

“How could I not? You staying to dinner?”

“I better get some kind of reward for goin’ after the mail,” Seth said.

“Well, c’mon then. I’m hungry.”

Sadie was her mother, Sarah, all over again, Dean thought as he watched his daughter set the table. Her light brown hair was pulled back in a long braid with little wisps flying about. Her coffee-brown eyes looked to and fro as she went about her work. At eleven, Dean saw glimpses of the beautiful woman she would become. He thought about the boys who would come sniffing around in a few years and his stomach clenched.

Sadie looked up and saw his expression. “Did I do something wrong?”

“What? No, sweet pea. I was just thinkin’ how pretty you are. Just like your Ma. I’m gonna have to beat all the boys off with a stick before too long,” he replied.

“Pa, do I really look like her?” Sadie said.

Dean nodded. “You sure do. Why do you think I tell you that? Look in the mirror and you’ll see your ma.”

Sadie’s smile of pride touched Dean’s heart and his throat constricted with emotion.

“Is it ready yet?” Jack said.

Dean checked the meat and saw that it was done. “Yep. Let’s eat.”

Once dinner was cleaned up and the children sent to bed, Dean sat down in one of the comfortable chairs in the parlor. The ranch house was one of the larger ones in the area because of several additions that had been made over the years. As the eldest son, Seth had originally inherited the house when their parents had passed on, but he’d given it to Dean because he’d gotten married.

Seth had always been a talented cattle driver and preferred to be on the trail. Dean would rather work the ranch than drive the herds so it worked out for both of them. Seth still retained his share in the ranch, but didn’t like being tied down, which was why he’d never married.

Their parents, Ralph and Catherine Samuels, had built the house after they’d settled the land back in 1839, before that area of Montana was sectioned off into Dawson County. Their house had been four rooms at that time, consisting of a kitchen, parlor, and two bedrooms. It had been a lot of hard work, but their parents were determined to make a nice home and build a stable business to pass down to their children.

Seth had come along first, only six months after the house and barn had been finished. Back then, the barn had only been big enough for four heads of cattle; a bull and three cows. That was how their ranch had started. Another year passed and, soon, Dean was born. When the boys were five and six, Ralph decided they needed more room because Catherine was pregnant again.

Another bedroom was added and the kitchen enlarged. Ralph’s father died not long after and his mother, Edna, came to live with them. That’s when they’d decided to add a second floor. There were three rooms upstairs; two large bedrooms and a wash room with a dry sink and chamber pot. They still had an outhouse, which they used most of the time, except overnight and during the most bitter cold winter weather.

Dean and Sarah had lived with his parents until they’d passed away and then the young couple had taken over the house. Seth preferred to use one of the bunk houses when he was home, saying he liked the privacy and figured that Dean and Sarah didn’t want him blundering in late at night if he’d been drinking and such.

Marcus, their younger brother, had bought a place a few miles away when he was eighteen. He also preferred privacy, not because he didn’t love his family but because he and Seth shared a common love of freedom. Not to mention that Marcus highly prized books and learning. His house held more books than furniture. When he had lived in Dean and Sarah’s house, he had run out of room for them all.

Dean looked around the parlor, which he and Seth had enlarged. Both he and Sarah’s chairs were nicely upholstered and thickly padded. Sarah’s was a rocker. He’d surprised her with them right before Sadie had come along, knowing she’d appreciate somewhere comfortable to rock their baby.

He remembered how thrilled she’d been and the joy that had lit up her face as she sat in the chair. Her belly had been greatly swollen with their child and Dean couldn’t have been happier. The chairs both had matching ottomans. Dean had traded a high quality heifer for the pieces and had never regretted it. Turning his head, he gazed at the sofa and smiled. It was another purchase with which he’d surprised Sarah. When she’d gotten farther along with Jack, she’d been more tired than with Sadie and so he’d gotten it so that she could lie down when she needed to rest.

He was equally happy when both children were born and loved having one of each. Sarah was a wonderful mother and took excellent care of her family. A lump formed in his throat as he remembered when Sarah had told him she was pregnant for a third time. He’d grabbed her and twirled her slowly, just as thrilled as he had been when she’d told him about Sadie and Jack. He remembered how excited Sadie and Jack had been, too.

It wasn’t to be, however. Sarah had gone into labor too early into the pregnancy. The neighbor woman at the time, Lydia Benson, had done everything she could, but Sarah had hemorrhaged and both mother and baby perished.

Crushing grief had followed, and if it hadn’t been for Lydia and her husband, Charlie, Dean might have gone crazy from it. Both had been quick to make him see that he had two young children who needed him and he owed it to them to be strong. It wasn’t that he shouldn’t mourn, but he had to keep it together for their sakes. Lydia told him that Sarah would have expected it of him, and she’d been right.

Seth and Marcus had been on a drive at the time and he’d had only Lydia and Charlie to fall back on. Lydia had taught him some cooking, and Charlie had helped with repair work around the ranch and kept Dean moving each day. Dean had buried his pain in work and taken comfort in his children. The last three years had been difficult, but not without joy.

Turning his mind away from all that, he looked down at the letter in his lap and wondered who it was from. He slit the envelope with a pocketknife and pulled out the letter. He detected a faint whiff of ladies’ perfume.

Unfolding the letter, he read:

Dear Mr. Samuels,

I am responding to the advertisement placed with the Brooks Agency of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. I found it to be touching and straightforward, which I appreciated very much. As I understand it, you are looking for a wife and mother-figure for your children.

“What the hell?” he said. Then it came back to him. “Marcus!” His younger brother had told him he should get married again. Dean had said that he didn’t know any single women, at least any reputable ones. That’s when Marcus had told him about mail-order brides and said that would be the perfect way to find a wife.

Continues...

Excerpted from "Westward Winds: Sweet Clean Historical Western Mail Order Bride" by Linda Bridey. Copyright © 2014 by Linda Bridey. 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 solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
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Author Profile

Linda Bridey

Linda Bridey

Linda Bridey lives in New Mexico with her three dogs; a German shepherd, chocolate Labrador retriever, and a black Pug. Writing is a labor of love for Linda Bridey, whose works are consistently on several top 100 best-selling romance book lists. Since starting her writing career in earnest, Linda has written thirty-three books and counting, which have gained great popularity. Readers are drawn to her vivid writing of mail-order bride and historical romance stories, many of which deal with social issues, and always include humor and heart.

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