Release Date: March 15th, 2013.
Genre: Historical, Romance, Western.
Formats Available for Purchase: Kindle, Nook, Smashwords, Apple, Kobo.
Heiress Ella Davenport survived a carriage accident that killed her father. Her life saved in exchange for savage scars marring her beautiful face. Her friends, socialites, showed their true colors, casting Ella from the social circles and leaving her a social pariah. Even her wealth can’t buy her the kind of marriage she wants. Desperate to find a husband who can accept her despite her scars and, without knowing about her money, she seeks to become a mail order bride. Matchmaker & Co. has a new client.
Nathan Ravenclaw was run out of town by the father of the girl he was courting once he discovered Nathan’s Arapaho Indian heritage. It didn’t matter he was a successful rancher, businessman and a positive member of society. The white community suddenly saw only a half-breed. Even his money couldn’t buy him a wife. That was ten years ago. He moved and rebuilt everything that cold rancher took from him except a wife. Matchmaker & Company can get him a wife. But Nathan is not expecting the beauty that waits for him on the train platform. Though he still lacks the ability to trust, he determines that she will be the wife and mother he needs.
Can these two people find love and healing together? Or are their scars too deep to bridge the gap between trust and acceptance?
Thank you to Cynthia Woolf for taking the time to write a guest post for us about her research into mail order brides.
My research into mail order brides
My research was limited to what I could find in books. I was unable to find much on the internet about mail order brides from yesteryear. There was plenty of information on Russian brides if I was looking for one.
The book of choice for me was HEARTS WEST, True Stories of Mail Order Brides on the Frontier by Chris Enss. There are more than a dozen stories of real mail order brides. Each one is different. Each experience unique.
One of the most interesting to me was the story of Eleanor Berry. On the way to meet her groom and get married, her stage was robbed and then blown up. Before the stage was blown up, she begged one of the bandits to take her luggage off the stage as it contained her trousseau. He obliged. As he was taking down her trunk she noticed a long, jagged scar on his hand.
Eventually, she made it to town and met her groom, a Mr. Louis Dreibelbis. They were quickly married by the local reverend, who also acted as Eleanor’s guardian. After the ceremony they went to sign the marriage certificate. As they did, Eleanor noticed the scar on Louis’ hand. It was the same long, jagged scar as the bandit had that had robbed them.
Upon discovery Louis escaped and took off for parts unknown. Eleanor, so despondent over her marriage, tried to take her own life. She was saved by the reverend and his wife. Though it is not known what happened to Eleanor, I like to believe that she eventually got her own happily ever after.
Another book is called Object Matrimony: The Risky Business of Mail Order Matchmaking on the Western Frontier by Chris Enss. This book chronicles the very real dangers that mail order brides undertook in accepting the proposals of marriage. Everything from getting married to a drunk or wife beater to being sold into prostitution. It wasn’t a safe or guaranteed proposition by any means.
That’s what gave me the idea for Matchmaker & Co. This was a company that vetted its applicants. Checked them out to make sure they were real and were upstanding men. They also check out the brides and make sure the men, who were the actual clients, are getting a good woman, of good character. No drug users or prostitutes need apply.
My matchmaker, Maggie Selby, does her best to actually match the brides and grooms based on what her investigators discover and what the applicants say in their letters. She does a very good job of it and has a 100% success rate.
Nathan Ravenclaw proves to be a challenge to find the right bride for. He is half Arapaho Indian and most white women will not consider marrying him for that reason. It has left him scarred inside and somewhat bitter.
Ella Davenport has survived a horrific carriage accident that left her father dead and her beautiful face scarred. She applied to be a bride, because she would rather marry a stranger, aware of her scars but accepting of them than to have someone marry her out of pity or for her money.
Maggie believes that these two young people are the perfect pair and will be able to help each other heal as well as find their happiness together.
She arrived in Denver on April 6, 1868. A date she would forever remember as the start of her life. It was almost like another birthday.
The weather was cold with the wind off the plains toward the mountains. The buildings weren’t as tall as in New York, but the wind still whistled between them and over the platform where she stood. She was glad of her good wool coat and lined boots. They kept her warm while she waited for Mr. Ravenclaw to find her. There wasn’t anyone else wearing a veil so she didn’t think he’d have much problem identifying her.
She wasn’t really sure what she expected, but it wasn’t the tall, devastatingly handsome man that approached her. He had a square jaw shaved clean and a tiny dimple in his chin. Black eyebrows slashed over his eyes, the color of which was hidden by the shadow from his hat, pulled low on his head. For once she was glad of her veil. He wouldn’t be able to see her mouth hanging open, gawking at him.
“Yes. Are you Mr. Ravenclaw?”
She held out her hand. “Ella Davenport.”
He removed his glove and enveloped her hand in his big one. His fingers brushed the skin of her wrist just above her glove. The tingle that traveled clear to her toes was unexpected and her gaze snapped up to his. She looked up into the most beautiful blue eyes. They seemed to question what was happening between them as much as she did.
He held her hand for what seemed like a lifetime and they simply starred at each other.
“Ella. I would like for you to lift your veil.”
“Are you sure you want to do this in public. It can be…shocking.”
“I’m sure.” He squeezed her hand and then let go.
“Very well.” She lifted the heavy lace, prepared for him to be taken aback by the ugliness of it. She wasn’t prepared for him to lift his hand and gently trace the scar all the way from her left eye over her cheek and down her neck to the top of her collar.
There was no disdain on his face. His blue eyes took in everything and accepted it, but even so he said the last thing she expected.
“You are a very beautiful woman.”
She stood there with her mouth open until he raised her chin with his knuckle.
“Why are you surprised? Surely you have heard the compliment before.”
She shook her head to clear it and find her tongue. “Not since the accident, except from my brother. But he’s biased. He loves me.”
“He but states the obvious. Your scars do not detract from your beauty.”
“I must thank you because good manners dictate it. However, I believe we should see about getting you some glasses.”
He laughed. A rich, deep baritone. “I’m glad you have a sense of humor.”
She stared back at him, incredulous, “Who was joking?”
About The Author:
Cynthia Woolf was born in Denver, Colorado and raised in the mountains west of Golden. She spent her early years running wild around the mountain side with her friends.
Their closest neighbor was one quarter of a mile away, so her little brother was her playmate and her best friend. That fierce friendship lasted until his death in 2006.
Cynthia was and is an avid reader. Her mother was a librarian and brought new books home each week. This is where young Cynthia first got the storytelling bug. She wrote her first story at the age of ten. A romance about a little boy she liked at the time.
She worked her way through college and went to work full time straight after graduation and there was little time to write. Then in 1990 she and two friends started a round robin writing a story about pirates. She found that she missed the writing and kept on with other stories. In 1992 she joined Colorado Romance Writers and Romance Writers of America. Unfortunately, the loss of her job demanded she not renew her memberships and her writing stagnated for many years.
In 2001, she saw an ad in the paper for a writers conference being put on by CRW and decided she'd attend. One of her favorite authors, Catherine Coulter, was the keynote speaker. Cynthia was lucky enough to have a seat at Ms. Coulter's table at the luncheon and after talking with her, decided she needed to get back to her writing. She rejoined both CRW and RWA that day and hasn't looked back.
Cynthia credits her wonderfully supportive husband Jim and the great friends she's made at CRW for saving her sanity and allowing her to explore her creativity.
Find more about her at: www.cynthiawoolf.com