Nellie Wallace is a young widow with two children. In post civil-war New York, the men are scarce and none want the burden of a wife with children. Her dead husband's family is wealthy, and cruel. Desperate to escape their influence, and eager for a home, a husband, and a stable life for her children, Nellie decides to make a new life in San Francisco as a mail order bride.
Saloon owner Blake Malone is a bachelor and likes it that way. He worked hard for everything he has, but the San Francisco City Council won’t approve his plans to build a family emporium unless he is a family man himself. The solution? A mail order bride from New York who will bring him a ready-made family, stability, and the council's approval.
Blake expects his future wife to care for his home and, other than helping him impress the city council, to stay out of his business. He expects life as usual. What he gets is an unexpected desire to win Nellie's heart, a dangerous threat to his new bride, and a rich benefactor determined to steal his new family out from under him. Blake believed his battle for success a hard one. But he will discover that the battle to win Nellie's heart and keep his family safe is going to take everything he's got.
If only she could fix her problems with a needle and thread she’d be set. Nellie looked up from the socks she was darning toward the knocking on the front door.
Who could that be? She set aside the socks, straightened her dress, checked her reflection in the mirror on the wall in the hall, patted her blond hair back into place and then answered the door.
“Mrs. Robert Wallace?” asked the soldier in dress uniform who stood at attention on her front porch.
Oh, God. No. Please. No. “Yes,” she said, trying to keep the tremor from her voice. “I…I’m Mrs. Wallace.”
The young soldier handed her an envelope. “I regret to have to inform you that Lieutenant Robert Wallace was killed at the Battle of Appomattox on April 8, 1865. I’m sorry for your loss, Mrs. Wallace.”
Nellie didn’t know what to say over the lump in her throat. She always knew this could happen—from the first moment Robert joined, to his last farewell eight months before Violet was born.
“I, uh, thank you, Officer…”
“Black, ma’am. Sergeant Black.”
“Thank you for letting me know, Sergeant.” Her grip tightened on the door knob. “I…I have to sit down now.”
“Of course, ma’am. Do you need help?”
Nellie shook her head. “No. Thank you. I’ll be alright.”
The man saluted her, turned and walked down the sidewalk to the waiting carriage. How many of these calls did he have to make today? Was I the only one? I doubt it. Not in a city the size of New York.
She closed the door and leaned against the wall next to it, her legs no longer able to support her, she slid to the floor. Tears left salty trails on her face, but for the life of her she couldn’t remember crying. Screaming, cursing God, yes, but crying, no. Even though our marriage wasn’t what I’d dreamed it could have been when I was a child, I shall miss him. He had his good side, he was funny and could make her laugh. He was gentle every where except…no I will not think about that now. I endured and have two beautiful children.
How am I to tell Henry his father is dead? Violet was just a baby and didn’t know her daddy but Henry… Her son missed his father something fierce. Robert had doted on Henry. They spent so much time together that Henry cried for days when his father left the last time. And now I have to tell him his father is never coming home. How do I do that?
She wiped her cheeks with the backs of her hands, took the hanky from her apron pocket and blew her nose. No need to put it off. The task would be difficult enough, without waiting and making it harder. Perhaps she and Henry could grieve together. In any case, she needed to be strong for her son and daughter. She was all they had now.
Taking a deep breath, she mounted the stairs to the play room and her children.
Get to know the author:
Cynthia Woolf is the award winning and best-selling author of ten
historical western romance books, one short story, and one novella in the
anthology Lost in a Kiss, with more books on the way. She 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.
Cynthia loves writing and reading romance. Her first western romance Tame A
Wild Heart, was inspired by the story her mother told her of meeting Cynthia’s
father on a ranch in Creede, Colorado. Although Tame A Wild Heart takes place
in Creede that is the only similarity between the stories. Her father was a
cowboy not a bounty hunter and her mother was a nursemaid (called a nanny now)
not the ranch owner.
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.