A few weeks ago, fellow author Ruth Ann Nordin invited me to be part of a project for next year. A project that involves mail-order brides in the 1800s. Of course I said yes! And then I said, “yikes!” I’ve only written two historicals – Reluctant Guardian (2011) and Enza (2012). Obviously, I’m a little rusty in all things past so I started researching and reading everything I could about the subject. Then, armed with all of this new knowledge … and my trusty copy of Everyday Life in the 1800s, I decided I needed to get some practice in.
And so the Harper’s Crossing Mail-Order Brides series is in the process of being born. I thought about setting it in the wild west, or in a state like Montana or North Dakota but decided on Michigan’s Keweenaw Peninsula. Harsh winters, a largely unsettled territory, violent storms in Lake Superior, and pirates… What’s not to love about that mid-1800s setting?
Currently, I’m working on A Long Cold Winter and hoping for a release sometime in late March. Actually, I’m hoping for a lot earlier than that but I want to get it right so we’ll see. In the meantime, I thought I’d share the first (and maybe final) version of the blurb with you.
When a promise extracted by his dying sister leaves him a surrogate father to his infant niece, Ethan Barclay resolves to keep his word no matter how hard it might be. It’s not long though before he realizes cattle ranching and hauling a baby around on horseback in the bitter cold of a Keweenaw Peninsula winter isn’t going to work. Then an acquaintance suggests a solution so ridiculous his first instinct is to laugh. But looking at the innocent face of the baby in his arms, he wonders if it’s really so absurd after all.
Jessie Lockhart has always heard whispers about her parents frittering away their livelihood but she’s never believed it. Not until the day she overhears them planning to marry her off to the highest bidder. To a man who is older than her father. A man who will be arriving in America in three months’ time. Desperate and willing to do almost anything to avoid her fate, Jessie begins to plan her escape. The question is, what – exactly – is she escaping to?
Can two people who marry for the wrong reasons find their way to love in Harper’s Crossing, a remote copper mining town on the banks of Lake Superior?
Let me know what you think in the comments below.