It’s 1880, and graduation is right around the corner at Miss Robson’s Academy for Young Women in Boston, Massachusetts…
After a devastating tragedy, Claire Banes sets out west as a mail-order bride for Edmund Parker, a General Goods owner in Laramie, Wyoming. On her arrival, she is dumbfounded by his rejection and his downright hostility towards her. What has she done to deserve such a welcoming? Heartbroken over the apparent mix-up she is ready to head back home on the next train. But his sister’s startling revelation and an unexpected visitor from his past bring her to a crossroads in her life of what is worth fighting for. Will Claire return home to Boston? Or will she muster the courage to fight for what was promised her?
Enjoy this Sweet Clean Historical Western Romance short story of courage, faith, determination, hope and true love…
This book is part of the much-loved Mail Order Brides of Laramie Series. Each book is a stand-alone story but should be read in chronological order for the best reading experience as you meet your favorite characters again and again with each new book.
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Eliza King’s Clean Mail-Order Bride Historical Western Romance Series are enjoyed by all ages from Teen & Young Adult to a more mature audience.
Book 1: Claire’s Courage
Book 2: Hannah’s Hope
Book 3: Vera’s Victory
Book 4: Heather’s Happiness
Targeted Age Group:: young adult to mature audiences
Heat/Violence Level: Heat Level 1 – G Rated Clean Read
What Inspired You to Write Your Book?
I'm a hopeless romantic at heart. Mail-Order Bride Romances of the American West have always fascinated me. I love reading and writing about the courageous women who left home, headed west and risked everything for a brighter future. All Romance stories are expected to have a happy ending. In my stories I make my couples earn their happy ending by triumphing over the conflict keeping them from easily falling in love and committing. Then it's pure joy!
How Did You Come up With Your Characters?
My inspiration for Claire, the heroine of this book, came from my eldest daughter who is a determined and independent soul. After graduation, she decided to travel alone to Europe and live and work in London, England for two years. She was twenty-two at the time and had no previous travel experience, but she embraced the opportunity to spread her wings in a strange country. That took a lot of courage for her to do. While on vacation to Vilnius, Lithuania, she met the love of her life and they married a year later. Recently they celebrated their tenth wedding anniversary.
Claire sat in the long dorm room on the top floor of Boston’s Young Women’s Academy on a bed that had been hers for the last five years. She stared at the two letters on her lap. She took a deep breath and picked up the first. Her exam, though written late due to a sudden illness, was accepted and graded and she would, in fact, be graduating with her peers the next day. The second letter was unexpected. Her parents rarely wrote and she’d be seeing them in a few days. As she read the polite words her hands began to shake. Tears sprang to her eyes and she raised a hand to her lips.
She grabbed the letters in one hand, the hem of her skirt in the other, and raced to the door at the far end of the room. She descended the stairs, brushing past students, servants, and teachers alike, barely seeing them through her tears.
She banged on the wooden door, forgetting her manners as she knocked and knocked, praying that Miss Robson was in her office.
When the door opened, Miss Robson stood there with pursed lips. “Miss Banes, I was not expecting you by your knock.”
Claire let out a wail.
Miss Robson stepped back and let the distraught student into her office. “My dear, whatever is the matter.”
“My parents are dead,” Claire sobbed.
Miss Robson bypassed the desk and took Claire to a loveseat against the far wall. The two sat together while Claire cried and Miss Robson murmured soothing things. When the sobs subsided to hiccups, the headmistress said, “Tell me what happened dear.”
“My parents, there was a fire. The apartment, the business, everything is gone. They were both trapped inside.”
“Oh, my dear, I'm so sorry," Miss Robson said placing Claire's hands into her own. "Do you have any other family?”
“A few cousins, but that’s all. And they have their own families. We’re not close.” She sniffled. "I can't believe they're gone. My mother and I were planning a surprise party for my father. It was to be his fiftieth birthday."
Miss Robson put her arm around Claire’s shoulders. "I can't imagine what you're feeling right now, dear. This is such shocking news."
"I only hope it was quick and they didn't feel any pain." She dabbed her eyes with her handkerchief.
Miss Robson patted her hand. "I'm sure the Lord in his mercy made sure of that."
Claire held up one of the letters. “This letter from the lawyers says that all the insurance money is spoken for, that my parents had debts that needed to be paid, and the funeral costs, and lawyer fees. There’s nothing left. I have nothing, no one. What am I going to do?”
“You could stay here a few months and get a teaching degree. Some of the smaller towns west of here need teachers. It wouldn’t take long and then you’d be out on your own.”
“I don’t know. I can’t pay for any more school.”
“Well, there is another option.” Miss Robson said. She looked Claire over. The girl was fit and strong with chestnut brown hair and clear, bright eyes. She would do nicely.
“Please. I don’t know who else to turn to. I have nothing left.”
“I received a letter from an acquaintance. He is looking for a young woman who has a basic education to help at his store, among other things.”
“What are these other things?” she asked.
“Yes, well, ideally he is looking for a bride. Many of these towns suffer from a shortage of good, God-fearing, Christian women and the men write to the cities here in the East for help finding a suitable bride. Otherwise, they’d all end up marrying Indians, those poor men. I receive many letters from businessmen in these towns who are looking for educated young women to marry.”
She swallowed hard. “Marry him? Is he old?”
“According to the letter he’s past thirty, but not yet forty. He's not terribly old but old enough that he’s desperate for a bride. He owns a store; he’s a successful businessman, a member of the local congregation, and a well-regarded member of the community.”
“I . . . I don’t know. To leave home, get married . . .”
“I understand. Take a few days to think it over. Celebrate your graduation, bury your parents, and then tell me what you have decided. I’ll let you know if I see anything else that might help you.”
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