Category Archives: Clean Reads

New Releases

Some of my author friends had some recent releases I thought you might enjoy. Check out these pretty covers!

A Past to Forget by Rose Pearson:

Already with 61 reviews averaging 4.8/5! Wow! Everyone’s loving it.

I love Rose’s tagline: A past relationship threatens their future. Can they clear his name and find happiness together?

Find it on Amazon here: https://amzn.to/37cdAbW

undefinedCallie’s Calamity by Marie Higgins:

Callie’s Calamity is a #1 Best Seller! Readers are loving it! Check out the first line of the blurb:

All Callie Cartwright knows is that she’s got to get out of town fast. Her husband is dead and she’s pregnant. If the truth comes out to how her husband died, she won’t live to see the day her baby is born.

Doesn’t that make you want to read more?? Find it here: https://amzn.to/3czWYMk

undefinedMail Order Pearl by Cheryl Wright:

This one sounds like it starts with tragedy but we know it’s going to lead to a happily ever after 🙂

Abducted and forced to marry at gunpoint, Pearl Hopkins is held captive until her outlaw husband is killed in a gunfight.
With nowhere else to turn, she decides to become a mail order bride, unaware she is pregnant with her dead husband’s baby.

Find out more here: https://amzn.to/2A60dxM

What kind of wagon was my heroine driving?

While I was writing my latest Proxy Bride book, , I found myself in need of a little research. In it, Sadie, my heroine finds herself married to a well-to-do man out west in Nebraska. The story calls for her to do some travelling around the area so I’ve had to research how she did so. Would she ride? Would she drive? What kind of transportation options did she have after she arrived in Nebraska by train? Here is a little of my research:

A single horse could pull a wheeled vehicle and contents weighing as much as a ton! Wow! I had no idea! Apparently their pulling abilities exceed their ability to carry on their back. Here are some of the wagons and carriages that would have existed in the 1850s:

Buckboard WagonBuckboard Wagon: The no-frills buckboard wagon was commonly used by farmers and ranchers in the 1800s. It was made with simple construction. The front board served as both a footrest and offered protection from the horse’s hooves should they buck.

Concord Coach: American made Concord coaches were tall and wide and incorporated leather straps for suspension that made the ride smoother than steel spring suspension. They were also extravagant, costing $1000 or more at a time when workers were paid about a dollar a day. Wells, Fargo & Co. was one of the largest buyers of the Concord coach. Today the company still displays its original Concord Coaches in parades and for publicity.

Gig Carriage: A gig was a small, lightweight, two-wheeled, cart that d one or two people. Gig CarriageIt was usually pulled by a single horse and was known for speed and convenience. It was a common vehicle on the road.

Barouche: A barouche was a fancy, four-wheeled open carriage with two seats facing each other and a front seat for the driver. There was a collapsible hood over the back. It was a popular choice in the first half of the 19th century and was used by the wealthy. It was often pulled by four horses.

Victoria Carriage: The Victoria carriage was named for Queen Victoria and renowned for its elegance. It was a low, open carriage with four wheels that seated two people. It had an elevated seat for the coachman.

Phaeton: The Phaeton was a sporty four-wheel carriage with front wheels that were smaller than the rear wheels. The sides were open and that exposed a gentleman’s trousers or a lady’s skirt to flying mud. The seat was quite high and required a ladder to access. Phaetons were fast, but also high-centered leaving them vulnerable to tipping. They were pulled by two or four horses.

Landau Carriage: The Landau carriage was considered a luxury city carriage that seated four. It had two folding hoods and was uniquely designed to allow its occupants to be seen. It was popular in the first half of the nineteenth century.

Brougham Carriage: Designed by England’s Lord Brougham, the Brougham carriage was lightweight, four-wheeled carriage with an enclosed carriage. It was popular because passengers sat in a forward-facing seat making it easy to see out. It was also lower to the ground and easier for passengers to climb in and out of the carriage. The Brougham was driven by a coachman sitting on an elevated seat or perch outside of the passenger compartment.

Rockaway Carriage: The Rockaway originated on Long Island. It was a popular vehicle with the middle class and the wealthy. One distinguishing feature of the Rockaway was a roof that extended over the driver, while the passengers were in an enclosed cabin.

Conestoga Wagon: The Conestoga wagon was large and heavy and built to haul loads up to six tons. The floor of the wagon was curved upward to prevent the contents from shifting during travel. The Conestoga was used to haul freight before rail service was available and as a means to transport goods. Conestoga wagons were pulled by eight horses or a dozen oxen and were not meant to travel long distances. The Conestoga wagon is credited for the reason we drive on the right side of the road. While operating the wagon, the driver sat on the left-hand side of the wagon. This freed his right hand to operate the brake lever mounted on the left side. Sitting on the left also allowed the driver to see the opposite side of the road better.

So, I have concluded that Sadie was probably using either the buckboard or the gig depending on the situation. Have you read Sadie and Hamilton’s story yet? If not, check out A Bride for Hamilton today 🙂

Homesteading

I have found it fascinating to research the Homestead Acts in the United States and cannot even begin to imagine how exciting the possibilities were for anyone with the courage and energy to take advantage of the legal opportunities. This research went into Homesteadingmy most recent release, A Bride for Hamilton, since it fascinated me so much.

The Homestead Acts were several laws in the United States by which an applicant could acquire ownership of government land or the public domain, typically called a homestead. In all, more than 160 million acres (650 thousand km2; 250 thousand sq mi) of public land, or nearly 10 percent of the total area of the United States, was given away free to 1.6 million homesteaders; most of the homesteads were west of the Mississippi River. (This fact blew my mind!)

The first of the acts, the Homestead Act of 1862, opened up millions of acres. Any adult who had never taken up arms against the Federal government of the United States could apply. Women and immigrants who had applied for citizenship were eligible. The Homestead Acts had few qualifying requirements.

A homesteader had to be the head of the household or at least twenty-one years old. They had to live on the designated land, build a home, make improvements, and farm it for a minimum of five years. The filing fee was eighteen dollars (or ten to temporarily hold a claim to the land).

The homestead was an area of public land in the West (usually 160 acres or 65 ha) granted to any US citizen willing to settle on and farm the land. The law (and those following it) required a three-step procedure: file an application, improve the land, and file for the patent (deed). The occupant had to reside on the land for five years, and show evidence of having made improvements. The process had to be complete within seven years.

The “yeoman farmer” ideal of Jeffersonian democracy was still a powerful influence in American politics during the 1840–1850s, with many politicians believing a homestead act would help increase the number of “virtuous yeomen”. The Free Soil Party of 1848–52, and the new Republican Party after 1854, demanded that the new lands opening up in the west be made available to independent farmers, rather than wealthy planters who would develop it with the use of slaves forcing the yeomen farmers onto marginal lands. Southern Democrats had continually fought (and defeated) previous homestead law proposals, as they feared free land would attract European immigrants and poor Southern whites to the west. After the South seceded and their delegates left Congress in 1861, the Republicans and other supporters from the upper South passed a homestead act.

I really love the ideals and principles behind these Acts. The fact that those supporting hamilton-ebook-coverthese laws wanted to allow “average” people to settle and prosper rather than those who were already wealthy landowners really appeals to me. And inspires story ideas 😉

If you haven’t yet read A Bride for Hamilton, check it out now 🙂

The Gold Rush and Western Travel

My latest Proxy Bride book released recently. Some of what inspired by a recent trip to hike in Death Valley which gave me so many ideas!! Have you ever heard of the California 49ers? Yes, they are a sports team, but it also refers to the peak year of influx of people moving to California searching for gold (1849). One group who were looking for a shortcut to the gold fields got a wee bit lost and ended up wandering around the desert for a couple months. Finally they burned their wagons and ate their oxen and walked out on foot. Death Valley National Park has several monuments to their adventures and losses. I can’t even begin to imagine how terrifying that must’ve been! At least that story has a happy ending (except for the oxen).

The trains only went so far West but were a whole lot faster than travelling by wagon. You could get almost halfway across the country in a week by the late 1840s. But then, if you didn’t get lost, it would take about another month to get all the way to California from New York or Boston.

The California Gold Rush brought a sudden influx of gold into the money supply and reinvigorated the American economy. The population boom vastly altered California, leading it to become a state in 1850. Agriculture and ranching expanded throughout the state to meet the needs of the settlers. Roads, churches, schools, and other towns were built throughout the state.

Hamilton, the groom in my story, made his wealth through some of these exploits. It’s quite fascinating to read about the massive shift in fortunes during the 40s and 50s. We’re so used to stores, and roads, and hotels today. People must have been truly intrepid back then!

Tell me, would you have liked to explore the new world back then?

Mail Order and Proxy Brides – Why?

As you hopefully know, I am writing in the Proxy Brides multi-author series. My fourth in that series just released. There are only so many reasons for becoming a mail-order or a proxy bride, or are there? I needed to do some research 🙂

Wives WantedOne of the most basic reasons that men tried to find spouses through the mail during the nineteenth century was because of an imbalance in the gender ratio. There were many factors that contributed to this imbalance, ranging from the California gold rush, to the American Civil War, to westward expansion. The first significant event to contribute to the unbalanced gender ratio was the discovery of gold in California in 1848. It inspired many a man – both domestic, and international – to head to the American West in an attempt to find his fortune.

Many pioneers were disappointed to discover that all of the easily-accessible gold had already been panned. After investing extensive time and money to travel by ship, wagon, or railway, however, they were not about to head back home. As the 19th century progressed, pioneers headed into the mid-West and West in search of gold, natural resources, open land, and a fresh start. Some were coming from the eastern portion of the United States, but others came from foreign countries. Between 1850 and 1890 approximately 7.5 million European immigrants traveled to the United States, a portion of them settling on farms in the western part of the country. Due to the demanding nature of farming, some men sought to marry and have children who could help them to establish and maintain a farm. For others it was particularly significant to marry and have children so as to carry on the family name.

There were plenty of other reasons that men of the West wanted to marry. Some men desired a spouse because they were lonely, some needed money, and still others hoped for someone who shared their cultural background. It is important to note that while there were not as many white women in the American West, there was not a total absence of women. Indigenous women were, of course, present in the American West, and some pioneers formed relationships with them. Statehood advocates feared that inter-racial marriages would not count as “civilized behavior” and therefore threaten the possibility of transitioning from territory to statehood. Many Americans expected that the presence of (white) women would help to civilize the Wild West by replacing alcohol, gambling, and prostitutes with schools, and churches.

Just as the West drew men with the promise of opportunity, fortune, adventure, and a new beginning, it also did for women. In many cases marriage provided a literal ticket for a woman to go West and seek a better life. Other women also found that the mail-order method of match-making allowed them to pursue ambitions of their own, such as greater personal autonomy.

Some western states made a deliberate effort to encourage the migration of women by promising them liberal women’s legislation. In 1849, for example, California legislators crafted a state constitution that defied the tradition of coverture law. That is, the Constitution allowed women to retain ownership of their property upon marriage. Henry Halleck helped craft the Constitution, and he explained the end of coverture as a means of attracting single women to settle out west. Here’s what he said: “I do not think that we can offer a greater inducement for women of fortune to come to California. It is the very best provision to get us wives that we can introduce into the Constitution.” Kansas (1855), Oregon (1857), and Nevada (1864) also eliminated coverture laws with the intention of drawing women to their states. Since western legislation promised women autonomy, and western men offered marriage, independent women could achieve the former by agreeing to the latter as mail-order brides.

In addition to its favorable property laws for women, California offered women the legal right to initiate divorce. Presuming that women outside of California were aware of this law, it made marriage to a man met through the mail a slightly less risky proposition – if the marriage turned sour, women had legal rights to leave it.

States also wooed women to traverse the country with the promise of suffrage. In 1869 Wyoming became the first state to allow women the right to vote. Utah (1870), Washington (1883), Montana (1887), Colorado (1893), and Idaho (1896) followed suit, all promising women suffrage prior to their East Coast counterparts.

Some women became mail-order brides not to advance their position or pursue their own goals, but simply to survive. Women often depended upon men in their lives to provide for them economically. Losing a husband to death introduced an economic vulnerability. Having to provide for children after the death of the breadwinner only exacerbated economic woes.

The death of men in the Civil War only compounded the gender ratio imbalance that the resource rush to the West had begun. Between 1861 and 1865, nearly three million men fought in the War. One in five would die. Many others survived but came home grievously injured. The death count alone, though, was equivalent to approximately two-and-a-half percent of the general American populace. Although this might not sound significant enough to threaten women’s marriage prospects, the average age of a Union soldier was 25.8 years old – prime for marriage, therefore the one in five was concentrated among eligible men. As such, many women feared that with the new scarcity of men, they would end up spinsters.

So, as you can see, there are many reasons why women would marry a stranger, one they may not have met or maybe only by mail. If you haven’t read all of my Proxy Bride books, now might be a good time to check them out 😉