Hope you are having a wonderful weekend 🙂
I’m currently in the process of finishing book 4 in the ‘Ruby Springs Brides series’ and it will be published very soon.
Meanwhile enjoy the blurb and excerpt.
Bernadette Havering is a vivacious and independent woman. She knows her mind and never intends to let a man dictate what she should or should not be able to do. In a world where women having a job is frowned upon, she longs for a profession and wants to make history by becoming one of the very first women in the United States of America to gain a law license. But why should she give up a husband and family in order to do so? Can she truly have both?
Edward Grieve has worked hard. He has come from nothing and managed to gain an education, becoming a skilled veterinarian in great demand. But this is not the only thing that makes him unusual. He also believes passionately that women deserve more than they get from men, society and the law of the land. But will he ever trust anyone enough to explain why?
“Congratulations Miss Havering,” Professor Wilder said with a snide smile. “Though what purpose an education in the Law will be to a young woman, such as yourself, I cannot possibly imagine.” Bernadette stifled her rage. She would soon be gone from Northwestern University School of Law, and she would be able to put the years of torment her teachers and fellow students had heaped upon herself and the other two young women in the class. All three had graduated above many of their male peers, and yet they were still not deemed the honor of being presented their diplomas with their fellows.
“Why Professor, like everyone else I intend to apply for my license to practice as a lawyer, and to help those in need to get the legal advice and support that they need,” she said, her voice saccharine sweet. She smiled at him, as though he hadn’t tried to diminish all her hard work, or her hopes and dreams for the future. She knew that too many men felt threatened by women like her, that they wished they would stay in the home and bring up babies as good little women were supposed to – but she had never been that kind of girl and she doubted she ever would.
She had chosen to attend Northwestern as it was the University that the heroine of her girlhood had attended, the remarkable Ada Kepley who had been the first woman in the United States to graduate from law school here in 1870. But Ada had never become a practicing lawyer; she was denied a license until 1881 when Illinois had finally overturned the law barring women from practicing the learned professions. Bernadette longed to be as fearless and to make her own way in the world. She was determined to do so – whoever told her she could not. She knew that she would still have a fight on her hands to obtain her license, but she had gotten this far – she would not give up now.
Professor Wilder made an indistinguishable sound, but Bernadette was sure he was trying hard to disguise his disgust at her audacity. “Well, I wish you luck, but I doubt any man will ever hire you to draft so much as a will for him,” he huffed.
“We shall see,” Bernadette said with a smile as she took the diploma he begrudgingly proffered. She grinned to see her name on it, and cheekily gave him a little curtsey. “Good day Professor Wilder, and thank you. I shall make this University proud.” She could hear him choking as she hurried from the room into the cool corridor. She leant against the wall, suddenly feeling a little overwhelmed. She took a few breaths and waited for her heart to stop pounding before she made her way outside into the warm summer sunshine. She had to keep looking at the certificate in her hand to believe that she truly had achieved everything she set out to do. She had not given up, despite the disdain of everyone around her, and she had proven she was just as capable as any man.
She hurried back to her lodgings. Chicago looked particularly lovely to her on this wonderful day and she almost skipped along the streets. “You look chipper,” her landlady, Mrs Peters said as she burst through the front door.
“I am on top of the world,” Bernadette said taking the portly lady by the hands and whirling her round and round in the hallway.
“He actually gave you your certificate then?” Mr Peters said as he emerged from the couple’s small front parlor, his newspaper still in his hand.
“He did, and I can hardly believe it. So few women ever achieve such things,” Bernadette cried eagerly.
“And you know you have a position in my law office, starting tomorrow,” he said proudly, “though getting your license will be difficult. I heard that they denied poor Myra Bradwell again.”
“That won’t stop me. At least I will be able to gain the experience I shall need to prove to them that I am competent, determined and not faint-hearted.”
“You are anything but that,” chuckled Mrs Peters. “When I think of those images Charles brought home, that the pair of you pored over for days. They quite turned my stomach, but you didn’t bat an eyelid.”
“My father owned an abattoir, blood and guts were a part of daily life,” Bernadette chuckled.
“Well, in that case you can help me to butcher the mutton for your celebration supper tonight,” Mrs Peters said giving her a shove towards the kitchen.
“Congratulations Bernadette,” Mr Peters said. “You deserve it. I certainly never worked so hard to get my diploma. I am absolutely certain that old Wilder marked you girls much more harshly than he has ever done a male student. Maybe it is something we should look into. It is not right, nor fair that a woman should have to prove herself to be so much more capable than the mark made out for a man in any sphere.” He rolled up his newspaper and tapped it against his chin thoughtfully as he headed back into the parlor, his mind clearly mulling over his idea already.
Bernadette smiled, it was so like him. He was a good man, and he truly believed that women should be on an equal footing in life with men, that they should be able to follow whatever profession they chose, should be able to gain access to any college or University in the land if they could prove their ability – as men did – and he was passionate about women’s suffrage. He would have a case mapped out by the time she and his wife had served supper, and he would do what it took to see it through too. Though there were many nights when it was he who was slaving over a hot stove, and his wife busy poring over her ledgers. They truly were a most unusual couple, and Bernadette found them inspiring in every way.
Inside the kitchen, Bernadette took off her coat and hung it on the hook by the back door, and pulled on a crisp white apron. Mrs Peters opened the door to the ice house, and they entered, shivering. A number of whole and half carcasses were stored inside. “That one,” Mrs Peters said, pointing to the half carcass of a sheep. “He is so very proud of you. I am too of course, but I think he likes to think of you as his protégé.”
“I am honored. He has been such a support, and an invaluable resource. He is so knowledgeable. I am so glad that I chose to board here, rather than at Moira Clayton’s,” she said honestly. They lifted the mutton on a count of three, neither of them struggling with the weight. Bernadette’s mother would have been appalled to see her daughter undertaking such toil, lifting was a man’s work. Though to be fair, she would also have been quite upset that her daughter did anything outside of the scope of a genteel young lady. She shuddered as she thought of how dull her life might have been, if dear Mama had managed to keep her tucked away in the parlor playing the pianoforte and stitching at her sampler.
“Are you cold?” Mrs Peters asked her.
“No, I just had the most horrible vision of what my life might have been like. As much as I do miss Mama and Papa, I am glad to have the right to choose my own destiny.”
“Well, if that isn’t the most pragmatic thing I have hear in some time. We are glad you chose to come and board here too. I know you miss your family, and rightly so, but do know that you have become like a daughter to us and we love you dearly,” Mrs Peters said affectionately. “We shall miss you when you marry and have to leave us.”