I’ve been very busy and I have just finished writing about Winona who is the next Mail Order Bride in the fourth book in my Silver River Brides series , it will hopefully be published in the next few days, so keep your ears to the ground 🙂
Meanwhile enjoy the blurb and excerpt.
Silver River is changing rapidly as its inhabitants find love and romance. Our feisty heroines and handsome fellas are just waiting to welcome you in.
Winona Campbell has never had much, but what little she does possess she has always been more than glad to share it. Always there for anyone in their time of need she never puts herself first.
Robson Philbert has studied hard and longs to bring his knowledge and skills as a doctor to Silver River. But he has no time for a wife and family much as he longs for one. But to his surprise someone thinks it is time he found one!
The night air was sharp against Winona’s skin. She pulled her coat around her tightly, buttoning it right up to her throat, and wrapping a thick woolen scarf around her head and neck. The sidewalk was covered with snow and ice, and she had almost lost her footing more than once, so even though she longed to be inside and in the warm as swiftly as possible she was taking the utmost care with every step. She could feel the hem of her gown growing heavier and heavier and her neatly buttoned boots were sodden through to her stockinged feet. She shivered violently. Philadelphia was a town little prepared for the snows that came sporadically through the bitterly cold winters, and Winona was not surprised that she was one of only a few people outside battling against the elements.
Reaching her destination, she pushed open the door of the bakery owned by the parents of her oldest friend, Mabel Swinton. A tinkling announced her arrival. She stamped her feet to remove the snow from her boots, and began to unwind her scarf as the drastic difference between the cold outside and the warmth of the bakery began to make her cheeks sting. A rotund woman dressed all in white, with a neatly pressed apron tied firmly around her middle appeared, beaming at her happily. “Dear Winona I am so glad to see you,” Ava Swinton said as she ushered Winona inside, taking her coat and hanging it on a peg near the door. “Alfred is quite delirious and I just didn’t think it was wise for him to be left alone while I get the fires going and the dough proving. I’m sorry, but I just didn’t know who else to ask. You are always so good with him, and I can rest easy knowing he is being watched over by a capable pair of hands.”
“I am sorry he is no better Mrs Swinton. I’ll just make my way upstairs shall I?” she asked. “Let you get on with the baking?”
“Help yourself to a dry dress. I think Mabel left something behind when she went to Texas to wed her rancher.” Winona looked down at the mark the snow had left on her gown, the dampness had reached almost up to her knees and the hem was almost black with dirt from the road. If she sat around in it like this for too long she would catch her death, and be as much an invalid as poor Mr Swinton was.
“That would be most fortuitous if she did,” she said with a wry smile. “How is Mabel? Have you had a letter from her recently? I haven’t heard a thing from her since she first arrived in Fort Worth.”
“One arrived just yesterday. She seems happy enough, and she thinks she is with child. She can’t seem to stop regaling me with the wonders of her new husband. I am glad it worked out so well. I cannot tell you how worried I was about her just heading off across the country to meet a man we knew nothing about – but she always did want adventure, was quite a hellion as a girl as you well know. I shall tell her to write to her dearest friend in my next letter, I am sure she has just been too busy to remember her correspondence.”
“I’m sure she has too, but I do miss her,” Winona admitted. “Even I would never have thought she would go in search of a husband in the newspaper, but I am glad it seems to have worked out so well for her. You hear such tales; the papers are full of the disaster stories. I was so worried she might end up one of the unhappy ones.”
“Me too,” Mrs Swinton said fervently. “I’d like to be able to visit, to see it with my own eyes that she truly is happy, but with poor Alfred so unwell I doubt we will ever make the journey. I have the bakery to run too, it would just be too difficult. I just have to hope she will bring her husband to visit us one day.” Winona made her way upstairs, wondering if Ava had told Mabel of her father’s ill health. She was sure that if she knew how serious it was, that she would have been on the first train back home – no matter how happy her life with her handsome new husband might be. Mabel adored her father, and Winona was sure that her presence would help Alfred too.
She looked in to the Swinton’s bedchamber. Alfred lay prone in the bed, as he had for some weeks now. She could see the sweat on his brow. The fever clearly had not yet broken. He had the most horrendous cough. It wore him out utterly as he hacked up great gobs of blood, and phlegm. He had once been a big man, hearty and full of life. He had lost an immense amount of weight and now looked very small in the bed. He was plagued by drenching night sweats, chills that left him shuddering, and searing pains in his lungs and back. The doctors had been summoned on many occasions, but there was no cure for consumption and they just had to hope that he had the strength to fight it and recover in time. Too few people did, but Winona was sure that if anyone could get well from being so very unwell that it was the kindly baker who had been like a father to her over the years.
She moved to the tiny room that had once been her friend’s. A large trunk sat at the end of the bed, and Winona lifted the lid and sighed with relief when she found a plain grey gown inside. She took off her own dress and stockings and put the simple woolen garment on over her head. She rummaged around in the bottom of the trunk, hoping to find a dry pair of stockings too but only found a thick pair of woolen socks. She rubbed her feet briskly before popping them on. She took her wet things and draped them in front of the fire to dry.
Feeling much warmer she made her way back to Alfred’s side. She poured some fresh water from the ewer into a small basin and took a clean muslin cloth and began to bathe Alfred’s face, neck and chest. He stirred, his eyes flickering a little, then opening wide. He grabbed at her hand. “Mabel?” he said, hope in his ragged voice.
“I am sorry Mr Swinton, it is just me, Winona,” she said ruefully. “Mabel is in Texas, remember?” He shook his head, but soon drifted off into slumber again. Winona prayed that his ability to rest now was a good sign. In the early days he had barely managed to get a wink of sleep, his cough had kept him awake night and day. She sat down in the chair by his bedside. He seemed peaceful for now. She picked up the newspaper that Ava had clearly been perusing as she sat by his side. There was little to interest her inside, but she did take note that there would be a performance of Shakespeare’s Macbeth next weekend. She wondered if her Mama might like to attend, she had always loved the theatre and it had been some time since she had been out anywhere.
Winona’s Papa had sadly died in a tragic accident when out hunting with some friends. A tornado had hit the tiny cabin they had been staying in, and none of them had survived. Mama had never been the same since. Always a nervous woman, she had become scared of her own shadow and could rarely find the courage to drag herself from the safety of her bed chamber, let alone the house itself. There were times when Winona felt that she had become the parent, her mother the child. It was a heavy burden sometimes, and her work as a nurse only barely covered the expenses of their tiny household. She did her best though, and tried her hardest to seem happy and to help their friends whenever she could too.
The page of matrimonial advertisements was crammed full. It made her smile to think that Mabel had read one of these pleas for companionship, and had possessed the courage to write to one and then make the move across the country to change her life. Winona wished she did not feel her duty here in Philadelphia so strongly. She had her work in the hospital, her Mama and now Mabel’s parents to care for too. It simply wouldn’t be right for her to leave all that behind, no matter how much happiness it might bring her personally. But, it didn’t stop her from looking, from dreaming of a happy ending of her own.