Wednesday, May 22, 2019

LOVECARNATION: THE PROMISE


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Lovecarnation: The Promise

Lovecarnation Trilogy Book 1
by
RKC Puthran

Genre: Contemporary Romance 

Emotionally complex and gripping, author RKC Puthran brings you an unforgettable
story of the transcendental power of love.


Fresh out of college with an MBA and a job at a prestigious bank in the US,
Rohan Rai seemingly has more than any twenty-five-year old Indian
could have. But he has a different dream for his life, and a
clear-cut plan to get there. A cocky workaholic determined to climb
the corporate ladder as fast as possible in order to achieve his
goals, he doesn’t care who he alienates on his meteoric rise to the top.

Then he meets Shona. She’s everything Rohan’s not—an easy-going
Irish girl who lives in the moment, loves Whitney Houston, and enjoys
life to the fullest. Although there’s no room for any love in
Rohan’s three-year plan, he finds himself increasingly drawn to
her. As their relationship blossoms, Rohan slowly finds himself
viewing life differently, until a past grudge escalates and his inner
demons resurface. Torn between his ambition, his responsibilities,
and love, he must now re-examine everything he believes in…or risk losing it all.

Lovecarnation – The Promise 
is the heart-wrenching first book of the Lovecarnation trilogy, a
thought-provoking series about fate, destiny, and the timelessness of true love.



Prologue
May 25, 1996

In the beautiful countryside of Missoula, Montana, on a lonely street in the afternoon, a car came to a
screeching halt.

“Please be careful, Hugo. We are parents now!” cried the lady sitting in the back seat of the car next to a baby who was crying incessantly, strapped in the car seat.

“I am sorry,” the father apologized, feeling very guilty. “Can you please pick him up and see if you can calm him down?”

The baby was crying even more loudly now. The mother unstrapped the car seat belt and picked him
up. Unable to calm the baby down, she got out of the car with him in her arms and walked around caressing his back. The road was vacant, and the cries of the baby filled the air. There were a few shops a short distance away, but most of them were closed, and the place looked deserted. The cries became louder and louder. The mother kept walking slowly, worried, not knowing what to do.

The baby was born two days ago, and the parents were going back home from the hospital. The little one had been crying continuously for the last two days. When they were still at the hospital, Grandma said on the phone that it must be colic or gas.

The worried parents had gotten all the medical checks done, but doctors were not able to find anything abnormal with the baby. The mother, however, knew that something was definitely wrong. She did not sleep even a little since the baby was born, wondering why the baby was behaving that way.

There was pain in the way the baby cried, as though his little heart was breaking and his soul was being torn out of his body. The only quiet time in the last two days was when the baby fell asleep tired of crying. With sweat trickling down her neck and the baby simply refusing to stop crying, the frustrated mother turned around to get back into the car.

Suddenly she came face-to-face with a middle-aged woman wearing a red bandana on her head and a long, flowing, colorful maxi dress in blue, black, and red. Her thick, long, bushy hair had beads tied all over, and both her wrists were covered with beautiful bracelets. The woman, who most probably was a traveling gypsy, looked at the crying baby very attentively.

“Lovecarnation,” she said, and looked at the mother, who by now was even more worried and stepped back a bit. “Don’t worry; he will stop crying when he goes through all his memories. He will smile when he sees new hope, in this new life,” the woman said. This time she was looking straight into the eyes of the mother.

“What memories? What are you saying?” The mother was a bit shocked and stepped back further, clutching the baby tighter.

The woman smiled, looked at the baby, turned around, and walked away. The terrified mother ran
toward the car.

“Who was that?” asked the father as the mother hurriedly threw herself and the crying baby into the
car.

“Let’s go quickly. This place is weird,” she said while strapping the baby into the seat.

As the car moved, the mother looked out of the window and noticed the mysterious woman at a
distance walking through a small door into a corner shop. A nicely crafted wooden board on the door of the shop read - Irish Fortune Teller.

CHAPTER 1

Around two and a half years ago - February 5, 1994—Bombay, India

I was at the Bombay International Airport surrounded by my entire family. A young MBA, twenty-five years old, chasing the America dream, I was all suited and booted, ready to say goodbye to everyone to fly off to America—for the second time. Last time it was for my studies just two years ago to get an MBA degree. But this time, it was for a job that I had landed with a multinational bank. It was the stuff dreams were made of. There was not a single person in Bombay who did not tell me how lucky I was.

They weren’t wrong though. I was lucky, as not everyone who finished college got a job right after, and at a bank in America, at that! I had every reason to be excited.

However, this was not exactly what I had wanted to do in life. I wanted to be an entrepreneur and have my own business. While pursuing my MBA, during my spare time, I had drawn ambitious plans on how to set up a software start-up company. I then wanted to venture into the food industry by starting a chain of fast-food restaurants serving baked chicken dishes. I loved chicken.

The idea was to create a very different brand of fast food which would be not only healthy but also very tasty. I had decided to complete my MBA, and unlike others, who immediately start looking for a corporate job, my plan was to go back to Bombay and start working on my business—by first looking for investors.

But as the saying goes, “Man proposes, God disposes.”

Just before the last term, we had companies visiting the campus for recruitment. Though I had prepared myself not to get into the corporate world, it seemed a bit unwise not to go to the campus interviews. If nothing else, it was at least an opportunity to learn something new. So I went, totally unprepared. But on that day I had answers to every question thrown at me.

Somehow my subconscious mind had prepared me for the day, and I was selected for the job. Even to this day I don’t know how it happened. I got something I never wanted and something I didn’t know how to say no to. Only sixteen others from a batch of almost two hundred were selected along with me. I informed my dad and the family, and it was celebration time back home. How would I tell them what I wanted to do in life?






RKC Puthran lives in Dublin, Ireland along with his wife Rashmi and 7
year old daughter Natasha. 
Born and brought up in India, RKC started working 
as a teenager to support his family while pursuing his studies. 
His first job was that of a salesman for a sewing machine company.

Unable to sell even a single machine even after 2 months of hard work in the
hot sun, the company refused to pay him his salary and he quit. He
then took up several jobs from working as a cashier in a 5 star hotel
to working for a diamond merchant and in the share market.

Post-graduation, RKC joined a company in the banking and finance sector as a junior
officer. Through sheer dedication and hard work, RKC rose through the
ranks and managed to get an assignment in London.

He later managed to move over to London on a temporary contract banking
job along with his wife for a short period before finally settling
down in Dublin, Ireland with a full time job in a bank. 


RKC’s intense passion for writing made him write short stories during his
spare time though he never submitted any of them for publication. He
however wrote articles of general interest which were published in
the newspapers.

He co-authored 2 non-fiction books but he did not credit himself on the
cover as he wanted his name to be on the cover of a novel first.

LOVECARNATION –THE PROMISE is RKC Puthran’s debut novel and the first book in
the LOVECARNATION TRILOGY Series.


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for exclusive excerpts, guest posts and a giveaway!



Monday, May 20, 2019

A MATCH MADE IN LONDON


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A Match Made in London
by
Christina Britton

Genre: Historical Romance

Miss Rosalind Merriweather’s life has been one of hardship and servitude
since her late sister’s ruination. Now a paid companion, her latest
post brings her to London to watch over the daughter of a social
climbing harridan. She vows to protect her charge―and her own
heart―from rakes and libertines, the very type of man who destroyed
her sister. This vow proves difficult when Sir Tristan Crosby, the
epitome of all she despises, begins to show attention to the girl.


Tristan has spent decades perfecting his easygoing, charming persona to hide
the damage done by years of abuse by his father. Finding he has a
talent for matchmaking, he fills some of the emptiness inside him by
helping the overlooked, shy women of London find true love. However,
the latest young woman has a watchdog of a companion who seems to see
beyond his careful façade to the flawed, uncertain soul he strives
to hide from the world. Even worse, she affects him in ways no woman ever has.

But he will not give up his matchmaking, even for one such as her. What
he does not expect is for Rosalind to be fired from her position
because of it―nor that she will immediately find a position in his
own household. When these two headstrong adversaries meet under one
roof, will their attraction to one another lead to heartbreak, or
have these two passionate souls finally met their match?


* Apple
* B&N
* Kobo



Christina Britton developed a passion for writing romance novels shortly
after buying her first at the tender age of thirteen. Though for
several years she turned to art and put brush instead of pen to
paper, she has returned to her first love and is now writing full
time. She spends her days dreaming of corsets and cravats and
noblemen with tortured souls.

She lives with her husband and two children in the San Francisco Bay
Area. A member of Romance Writers of America, she also belongs to
her local chapter, Silicon Valley RWA, and is a 2017 RWA® Golden
Heart® winner. Her debut novel, With Love in Sight, was released by
Diversion Books in early 2018.



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for exclusive content and a giveaway!



Friday, May 17, 2019

AUTHOR SPOTLIGHT -- CHERYL HOLLOWAY!


Don't miss the Rafflecopter at the end of this post!


June's Double Rainbow
by 
Cheryl Holloway
Genre: Contemporary Romance
When love and monogamy fail…Her fiancé breaks off the engagement.
At first, June is stunned, but then, she is determined to move on to
better things…like an unplanned trip to Paris for her job—where
she falls deeply in love with a man from another part of the world.
He wines and dines June; sweeps her off her feet; and ultimately,
wins her heart. Their short romance echoes an endearing love. When
she returns to the US, he calls her faithfully every day. Then
suddenly, no call…
Can their love survive on different continents?

"An engaging story with beautiful imagery!"
In this heartwarming romance, June learns to
embrace each challenge and wait for a transformation in her life.
This beautifully written romance is complete escapism.
Each of the characters has been well developed, considering the
length of the story, and the dialogue revealed a great deal about
their personalities. ~ Lesley Jones for READERS FAVORITE

A Quick Romantic Read…This is a nice story for someone looking for
love. Everything happens for a reason. Love comes when you least
expect it. ~G. Littlejohn for Philadelphia Publishing House

Readers, this is a quick read; yet, an epic romance. If you’re a fan of
Debbie Macomber, you’ll soon be a fan of Cheryl Holloway!

**Get it FREE!!**

The Proposal: A Leap of Faith
by 
Cheryl Holloway
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Cheryl Holloway’s knack of presenting an in-depth love story is
remarkable. The detail in each page enabled me to connect with the
characters like I was holding Carol’s hand each step of the way.
–5 Star Readers’ Favorite

If you love contemporary romance with
real-life events…

Carol and Marvin love each other and have
dated off and on for over ten years; however…Carol becomes jaded
about the relationship when Marvin won’t ask her to marry him.
Marvin's commitment to the relationship never waivers despite being
afraid to commit to marriage. Finally, he wants to move their
relationship to the next level—on Valentine’s Day. After a
heartbreaking event and crying for days, Carol is ready and at last
she thinks he is, too. Will he ask her to marry him or does he have
something else on the agenda? Will commitment-phobic Marvin take the plunge…

Smart and sophisticated, with a plot twist that will
give the reader a jolt!
Similar to books written by Shirley Wine and Becky Wade.
Cheryl Holloway’s The Proposal: A Leap
of Faith is inspired by a real-life women and real-life events.

Love's Ride
The Struggle Book 1
by 
Cheryl Holloway
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Love makes the ride worthwhile…or does it?

Bob is ready to take the next step in his relationship, and he wants to marry Ava, the
woman of his dreams. He’s been secretly saving up money for the
“special” ring that she wants. To quicken the process, he gets a
part-time job as a Ryde driver, but…Bob stumbles upon Ava’s secret. The struggle begins.
Can their relationship withstand secrets and cheating?

Love’s Ride is a literary
roller-coaster ride that will make you happy, scared, excited, angry,
hopeful, and more—not necessarily in that order.

Cheryl Holloway is a contemporary romance author, journalist and
award-winning editor. She has eBooks, The Cougar Tales Series, Book
1: Father and Son; Book 2: The Italian Basketball Player; Book 3:
Jamaican Love; Cougar Tales Box Set (Books 1-3); The Bane Bath Salts,
(Teen Drug Prevention); The Proposal: A Leap of Faith; A Sisterhood
of Women Living Life: A Short Story Collection Book 1; and June's
Double Rainbow available on Amazon.com and Smashwords.com. 


Cheryl's blog is where an author writes information about writing, literary
events, books, and her writing journey. She pays-it-forward to other
authors with Guest Author Interviews. You can visit the blog
at:
www.CherylHolloway.net/blog
Follow the tour HERE
for exclusive content and a giveaway!

Wednesday, May 15, 2019

LOUISIANA LATTE - CHICK-LIT COMEDY!


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Louisiana Latte
by
Rebecca Henry

Genre: Chick-Lit Comedy

Deb hadn’t flown in over 20 years. In 1989, at the age of 22, Deb was
enrolled at Griffiss Air Force Base to become a commercial pilot.
Somewhere between dating her yuppie fiancé and planning their
wedding in Chicago, Deb developed claustrophobia—a fear of enclosed spaces. 


I blame the yuppie. 

Deb couldn’t get on a plane for love that day, but she could do it 20 years 
later for money. Money was worth dying for.





On their way from Syracuse NY to Chicago, the yuppie placed so much pressure on Deb with wedding arrangements and meeting the wealthy stuck-up family that Deb’s chest began to tighten. The cabin crew were preparing for their takeoff announcements as Deb began to feel trapped. The Boeing 737 was transforming into a metal tin can with wings. Deb took Adam’s hand, seeking comfort. He sat motionless in his neatly pressed J Crew shirt and ironed jeans. His face was freshly shaven, and he smelled of sex and desire.

Deb sighed loudly as her seatbelt began to dig into her skinny lap. She tried loosening the strap, but her hands trembled with anxiety. She placed a manicured finger to her neck; her throat was beginning to tighten.

Adam the yuppie was staring at Deb as she fidgeted with the belt. “What are you doing?” he said, annoyed. “Just leave it alone.”

Deb began to take deep breaths, exhaling as she fanned herself with her hands.

“Deb, stop that. People are looking at you,” Adam growled. He hated scenes and cared highly what strangers thought of him. Deb looked at the man she was going to marry and said, “Nope! Not flying today!”

Adam became agitated, annoyed by Deb’s sudden display of theatrics. “Sit down and calm down, Deb!” He ran a hand through his black hair. “Jesus, you fly planes for Christ’s sakes, don’t give me this shit that you’re suddenly afraid to fly.” He grabbed Deb by the arm as she tried to stand up from her seat.

“Look Adam, I don’t know what’s going on...I just know I need to get off,” Deb said in the most forced pleasant tone she could muster. Deb raised her hand to the flight attendant who was walking down the aisle. “Hi there, sweetie! Excuse me!” Deb called, as she stood up, releasing her grasp from Adam’s controlling hand.

Her three carat diamond ring flashed the flight attendant in the eye. “Hi, sweetie. I’m so sorry to do this now, right before takeoff but...I got to get off.” Deb reached for the overhead compartment, grabbing her coach bag, her butt accidentally hitting the man next to her. “Oh, so sorry, sweetie,” she said to the passenger.

“Not much room on this thing.” Deb patted her clammy chest, which was beginning to break out in a cold sweat. “God, can you feel it, it’s getting hot in here. Oh boy...it’s time for me to go.” The flight attendant looked down at Adam who was now in a full rage.

“Deb, will you stop this nonsense and sit back down.” His voice was stern, a father directing a child.

“Nope, don’t think I will. But I’ll meet you outside, okay babe!” Deb pleasantly pushed past the flight attendant, excusing herself as she made her way to the exit. She was wearing her first pair of Gucci stilettos and was making sure to tiptoe gracefully as she raced down the speckled blue carpet. The flight attendant quickly scurried in front of Deb as she approached the exit door.

“Ma’am, please take your seat. You are not supposed to be out of your seat before takeoff.”

Deb eyed the flight attendant’s name tag. “Donna, I need you to listen very carefully to me, okay sweetie. I have to get off this plane.” Deb was pushing down the edges of her miniskirt. She could feel the cabin closing in, the plane was shrinking.

Donna stretched out her arms, blocking Deb. “Ma’am, you can’t get off this plane. You must return to your seat and I will come around to speak with you momentarily.”

Deb glanced at Donna’s bad dye job; black roots were showing through her bleached hair. Donna’s face had a perfect ring along her jawline where the foundation stopped. Deb wanted to give her a quick crash course in fundamental foundation rules on applying makeup, but Donna’s face began to swirl as Deb’s nausea began to rise. Deb placed a hand on her forehead, trying to steady the swaying.

“Donna, I can’t go back to my seat, I can’t stay on this plane.” Donna raised an eyebrow at Deb.
“What I need to do, Donna, is get off. So, if you would be a doll and just scoot over so I can fit through the aisle and make my way to the door, I would appreciate it.”

Donna glanced at the other flight attendant standing behind Deb. “Ma’am, the engines have started.” Donna pointed in the air. “Can’t you hear? I cannot let you off the plane.”

Deb began to panic. A burning sensation was rising up from her stomach, scorching her arms, making its way to her head. She felt hot all over. The cabin was closing in, crunching her.

“Donna, just go talk to the pilot, explain to him I need to get off. He’ll understand and open the doors so I can leave.”

Donna braced her arms against Deb’s body. “Ma’am, I will not tell you again. You need to go back to your seat, and someone will be with you shortly to talk you through this.”

Deb pressed her face against the window. She could see the wheels on the plane moving. An intense fear struck Deb, she realized she had to get off that second.

“Talk to me!” Deb’s voice was frantic, growing louder with each syllable. “What the hell is talking going to do for me? I’M IN FEAR! I HAVE FEAR! I need to get off and either you will remove yourself from my path or go get the pilot!”

“The pilot? You want me to go speak to the pilot?” That’s when Donna realized Deb had lost her rabbit ass mind.




 Rebecca Henry is a published author. Her debut novel is The Lady Raven,
A Dark Cinderella Tale, which was published in 2017. The Lady Raven,
is for those who have an infinity for fairy tales retold with a link
to witches, magic and the macabre. Her second novel, Louisiana Latte,
a chick lit comedy was released February 28th 2019. Louisiana Latte,
is a feel good comedy that focuses on the bonds of sisters, and how
audacious life can be when you have a diva for one! Both books are
available on Amazon as well as Barnes & Noble.


Rebecca Henry is a world traveler living abroad in England. Besides being an
author of two published books, Rebecca is also a podcast talk host on
the show The Latte Talk. The podcast was inspired by her latest
novel, Louisiana Latte and her diva sister, Deb. She is a serious
vegan, gardener, crafter, wife and mom who practices yoga. She loves
to laugh (her drug of choice) and loves all things witchy with a hint
of the macabre. Her favorite holiday is Halloween and her favorite
movie of all time is "Practical Magic". 




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for exclusive excerpts, guest posts and a giveaway!






Monday, May 13, 2019

THE MATAWAPIT FAMILY TOUR AND GIVEAWAY


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Redeemed
The Matawapit Family Series Book 2
by 
Maggie Blackbird
Genre: Contemporary Inspirational Romance

A single woman battles to keep her foster child from his newly-paroled
father—a dangerous man she used to love.
Bridget Matawapit is an Indigenous activist, daughter of a Catholic deacon,
and foster mother to Kyle, the son of an Ojibway father—the
ex-fiancé she kicked to the curb after he chose alcohol over her
love. With Adam out on parole and back in Thunder Bay, she is
determined to stop him from obtaining custody of Kyle.



Adam Guimond is a recovering alcoholic and ex-gangbanger newly-paroled.
Through counselling, reconnecting with his Ojibway culture and
twelve-step meetings while in prison, Adam now understands he’s
worthy of the love that frightened him enough to pick up the bottle
he’d previously corked. He can't escape the damage he caused so
many others, but he longs to rise like a true warrior in the pursuit
of forgiveness and a second chance. There's nothing he isn't willing
to do to win back his son--and Bridget.

When an old cellmate’s daughter dies under mysterious circumstances in foster care,
Adam begs Bridget to help him uncover the truth. Bound to the plight
of the Indigenous children in care, Bridget agrees. But putting
herself in contact with Adam threatens to resurrect her long-buried
feelings for him, and even worse, she risks losing care of Kyle, by
falling for a man who might destroy her faith in love completely this time.






Blessed
The Matawapit Family Series Book 1

Genre: Contemporary M/M Inspirational Romance

It’s been ten years since Emery Matawapit sinned, having succumbed to
temptation for the one thing in his life that felt right, another
man. In six months he’ll make a life-changing decision that will
bar him from sexual relationships for the rest of his life.



Darryl Keejik has a decade-long chip on his shoulder, and he holds Emery’s
father, the church deacon, responsible for what he’s suffered: the
loss of his family and a chance at true love with Emery. No longer a
powerless kid, Darryl has influence within the community—maybe more
than the deacon. Darryl intends on using his power to destroy Deacon
Matawapit and his church.

Hoping to save the church, Emery races home. But stopping Darryl is harder
than expected when their sizzling chemistry threatens to consume
Emery. Now he is faced with the toughest decision of his life: please
his devout parents and fulfill his call to the priesthood, or remain
true to his heart and marry the man created for him.

This is very erotic book about a spiritual journey.






An Ojibway from Northwestern Ontario, Maggie resides in the country with
her husband and their fur babies, two beautiful Alaskan Malamutes.
When she’s not writing, she can be found pulling weeds in the
flower beds, mowing the huge lawn, walking the Mals deep in the bush,
teeing up a ball at the golf course, fishing in the boat for walleye,
or sitting on the deck at her sister’s house, making more wonderful
memories with the people she loves most.



Follow the tour HERE
for exclusive excerpts, guest posts and a giveaway!






Wednesday, May 08, 2019

A BRIDE FOR GIDEON, #16 PROXY BRIDES SERIES


What an exciting week for me! A BRIDE FOR GIDEON releases May 9th and has been available on preorder for a couple of weeks. This is #16 of the popular Proxy Brides Series, a multi-author project. I’m so honored to participate in this project. The beautiful cover was designed by Virginia McKevitt. 

I'll be giving away a $25 Amazon gift card to one person who comments on this blog between now and midnight May 12.

A BRIDE FOR GIDEON takes place in Montana in 1871. Here’s the blurb:

Keira desperately wants to belong somewhere
Gideon is haunted by a secret too horrible to share
Fate conspires against them…    

Keira Cameron came to Boston from Scotland after the death of her parents. She wanted a job, a husband, and eventually a family. She feels rejected because she’s too tall, too foreign, and too pretty for a wife to want Keira working near her husband. Were her expectations unreasonable? Her cousin convinces her to enter a proxy marriage to his friend, Gideon Ross, who lives in Montana Territory. Out of options, she agrees and hopes her goals will be realized.

Gideon Ross is a large man at five inches over six feet. His business is a smithy and gun repair shop. The war left him with a terrible scar on his face. He wears a beard to try to conceal the scar but still hears people whisper he’s a monster and a giant. Do they think he has no feelings? He’s haunted by the war and has terrible nightmares. Reluctantly, he agrees to wed Keira by proxy.

Outside forces work against the couple. Keira and Gideon must find the key to the attack on their lives. Can they defeat the enemy before they’re too late?

I love writing books with outside forces working against the hero and heroine. The more mayhem in the story, the more I enjoy writing. I also enjoy humor in a book but that I write is subtle. Still, I hope readers find a smile tugging at them once in a while.

The Universal Amazon buy link is http://mybook.to/Keira A BRIDE FOR GIDEON is available in e-book, print, and is in KU.





Here’s an excerpt from A BRIDE FOR GIDEON of when he finds out his sister and brother-in-law have arranged a proxy marriage for him:

Darren strutted around in front of Gideon. “So what do you think about Keira?
Following Darren’s conversations was always a winding road. “Who?”
“Keira Cameron, the girl I’ve been telling you about, who else?” Darren rubbed his hands together expectantly. “Shall I set up your part of the proxy wedding this afternoon?”
Gideon leaned on the anvil. “Are your ears plugged then? I said I’m not interested.”
Darren pulled off his cap and wrung the thing in his hands while a worried expression hovered on his face. “Well, you see now, Gideon, there might be a problem with you saying no.”
Gideon stood with his hammer in one hand and stared at his best friend. With Darren and Orla’s scheming, he had no need for enemies. “What have you done this time?”
Darren’s eyes widened and he backed two steps and held up a staying hand. “Now take it easy, Gideon, until you’ve heard me tell it all. You see, Keira’s done the proxy wedding on her end and is on her way here.”
Gideon laid down the hammer and tongs and stared at his friend. Surely he’d misunderstood Darren’s prattling. “She’s what?”
“She’ll be on the five o’clock stage today.”
He hadn’t gotten the wrong idea, drat his luck. “Auch, the time must be near four now.”
Darren pulled out his pocket watch. “Aye, half past three. We’d better get you wedded on this end before she arrives.”
Gideon advanced on his friend. “What the devil is wrong with you, man? How could you let this situation get so far out of control before you told me? What do you intend to do when this woman arrives and there’s no groom to meet her?”
He stabbed a finger in Darren’s chest. “You’d better decide fast.”
Darren’s wheedling tone of voice changed to demanding. “Now look here, Gideon Ross. Don’t be mistreating the nice lassie because you’re put out with me. It’s coming on cold weather and you’ll be happy for a wife to warm your bed. Plus, having a wife in your arms at night may stop your nightmares.”
He shook his head, sorrow claiming him. “I doubt anything will make the night terrors cease. Nothing even makes them less.”
“You’ll be surprised. Having Orla next to me has done wonders. Besides, you admitted you wanted a wife and a family.”
He exhaled. Would the man never shut up? “Maybe I’ve changed my mind.”
At six feet to Gideon’s six foot five inches, Darren stared up into his face. “You know you haven’t. Don’t let your stubborn pride prevent you from marrying the one lassie perfect for you. Alec’s description sounds like you and Keira are well matched in height and temperament and the other things you enjoy.”
Gideon couldn’t resist leading on his friend. “Is she a blacksmith going to help in the smithy then or does she repair guns?”
“Don’t be daft, man. You know I mean things you do when you’re not working.”
When would that be? Lately he was working from can until can’t. “Such as?”
“She likes to read and play chess and go outdoors for walks and such. She wants a home and children and the security of a good man. How can you fault her for that?”
“Auch, I’m not faulting her, you idiot. You’re the one whose neck I’d like to wring. I’ll bet your wife—my own little sister—knew about this and conspired with you against me. Am I right?”
Darren wouldn’t meet his gaze. “Orla and I might have talked the possibilities over between us. Listen, Gideon, the idea came to us only because we think so highly of you and want you to be happy. Orla especially worries about your well being.”
The truth of what his friend said softened his anger. “Well, you’re in a fine mess now, aren’t you? How did this woman come by the funds for the train and stage fare?”
Darren grimaced. “Um, well, you see, Orla took the money from her inheritance, the money from your grandparents’ estate. She said there was no better use for it than seeing her dear brother happy.”
Gideon hated that his sister had used part of her money on his behalf. What was Darren thinking to let her? Gideon took a deep breath. Auch, what was he thinking himself? There was no “letting” Orla do anything. His sister was stubborn as a stone once she’d made up her mind.
He frowned and pointed at his friend. “Through no fault of her own you’re bringing a woman over two thousand miles under false pretenses.”
“But, don’t you see? They’re not false if you wed her by proxy before she arrives. Orla is waiting at the parsonage until you and I show up. She’ll stand in for Keira and I’ll be a witness. Come on, Gideon, you won’t be sorry.”
“What’s the point? She’ll soon be here and I can marry her then if I wish.”
Darren did a few fast steps to get in front of him. “No, can’t you see that won’t work? Think about the situation. She’s already married you by proxy in Boston and believes herself properly wed. You have to do the same before she arrives, else I don’t know what will happen. Don’t let being peevish with me cause you to hurt Keira.”
Gideon found himself weakening. In truth he would like a wife to come home to each day. He admitted he’d been depressed since Ella had publicly rejected him six months ago. Was he that unlovable? Her privately recanting her criticism recently had done little to soothe his hurt even as it made him glad he wasn’t married to the fickle woman.
He looked down at his leather apron tied over his grimy work clothes. “Did you not think I might like to look a little better on my wedding day? Did you not consider that this Keira might appreciate coming to a clean home?”
Darren tugged on his arm. “Come to the church parsonage now. While you’re at the stage stop, Orla and I will nip over to your house and tidy it a bit.”
Recalling the state of his home, Gideon shook his head. “A ‘bit’ won’t do the job. You know I’ve been rushed with jobs and working all hours for months. I haven’t cleaned in… well, it’s been a while. Unless I’m mistaken, I don’t even have a clean shirt. Once again, you’ve created a mess with your meddling.”
Darren refused to be daunted. “Don’t give it a second thought. Orla and I will make things presentable while you’re meeting the stage.”
Resigned to Darren and Orla’s manipulation, Gideon removed his apron. He must be losing his mind. He told himself he was only agreeing to spare this Keira the humiliation he’d experienced.
Fact was, not only curiosity fueled him. He admitted he was lonely. He looked forward to a wife sharing his life.




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