Friday, July 14, 2023


 By Caroline Clemmons

What a lovely surprise I had last week! An email notified me that my clean sweet historical western romance, JESSE AND THE MAIL ORDER BRIDE, Book 2 of the Texas Hill Country Mail Order Brides Series, has tied for third place in the National Excellence in Story Telling (NEST) Contest for 2023 in the historical short category. That contest is sponsored by the Central Region Oklahoma Writers. Actually, it’s the only contest I entered, which increases the pleasure of being a finalist. At the time I was notified I was a finalist, I couldn’t fully appreciate the honor because Hero was in the hospital followed by rehab. He came home Wednesday, and I am happy to have him home and feeling better. He scared us there for a few days.

JESSE AND THE MAIL ORDER BRIDE is more the bride’s story than the groom’s. Rosalin Arnold grew up very sheltered in a large orphanage not far from the nation’s capital. Although beautiful, she was not adopted—possibly because many people don’t trust a redhead. In spite of her surroundings, Rosalin has grown into an elegant, graceful, and intelligent woman, but she is quite naïve about the world.

After leaving the protection of the orphanage, her first job was as a waitress in a restaurant located in a dismal area of Washington, D.C. Spunky Rosalin wasn’t afraid of hard work, but both her room in a boardinghouse and the nearby café were dismal. She viewed both as stepping stones to a better life. When she’d been waiting tables a year, a charming young man told her he could get her an easier job that paid more. Still naïve, she fell for his lies. Too late, she learned her boss was a devilish criminal who told her she had to pick pockets. After teaching her and others how to succeed at picking pockets, the man said she must bring back her quota each day. He also told her if she tried to leave, he’d find her and she’d suffer the consequences.

Rosalin had been taught right from wrong and hated being forced to steal. Though her boss and his henchmen terrified her, she vowed she would not show that fear. Rosalin also refused to accept that this was her fate—or that she could be transferred to work in the brothel if she didn’t follow orders. She and her roommate wanted to escape, but everyone they knew who’d tried was captured and bad things happened to them.

After biding her time, she felt ready to implement her plan. In addition, she intended to take her roommate and a young boy with her. She convinced her boss to let her and her roommate dress as elegant society ladies aided by the young boy to make a big score. Her boss agreed reluctantly. She chose a politician she saw accept a fat envelope. She speculated the envelope contained a bribe. In fact, the result was a bonanza, which provided enough cash for their escape—if she could evade their boss’ enforcers. Certain the money was a bribe, she didn’t feel guilty about relieving the politician of the funds.

Sheriff Jesse Cameron aimed for Texas when he stepped off the ship that brought him to America from Scotland. Good natured, Jesse is young for a sheriff. He arrived in town in the midst of a battle between the former sheriff and deputies against a group of robbers. He pitched in to help the sheriff. He is capable, well-respected, and viewed as firm but fair. When upset, his Scottish burr thickens his speech.

To learn what happens when a feisty pickpocket bride meets a strict sheriff as her groom, get your copy of JESSE AND THE MAIL ORDER BRIDE. Available as an e-book, a paperback, and enrolled in KU.

Stay safe and keep reading! 

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