Today I’m sharing an inside look and an excerpt from my latest historical romance, Loving a Wild Stranger. This full-length pioneer-wilderness romance is set in the Michigan Territory and blends adventure with a sensual love story.
Here’s the summary:
Loving a Wild Stranger
A woman running from her past… straight into the arms of an untamed man
In a moment of desperation, Kathleen Stanton flees her pampered life in Kingston, New York and ends up stranded in a small town in the Michigan Territory. Out of money and forced to rely on her instincts, she impersonates a handsome stranger’s mail-order bride.
Committed to her deception, Kathleen calls herself Michelle and starts her new life with Luther in an isolated cabin in the wilderness. Luther can’t believe his luck when his beautiful bride arrives, but something doesn’t feel right about his new wife. Michelle has terrifying nightmares involving a man named Roger and is reluctant to talk about where she came from.
Luther’s friend, Redfeather visits and tries to convince Luther to send Michelle back east. Distrusting Michelle, he warns Luther that his bride is not what she seems. But Luther is in love with Michelle, and he is harboring a secret of his own—one that might force Michelle to reject him when she learns the truth.
Michelle falls in love with Luther and adapts to her new way of life. Together, they face off against brutal townspeople and overcome harsh living conditions. When they finally give in to their desires and agree to become a proper man and wife, a dark figure from Michelle’s past resurfaces and threatens to destroy everything.
The idea for this book started with a simple premise: a woman on the run impersonates a mountain man’s mail-order bride and lives in his cabin in the woods. From there, I thought about the characters and how they would interact, learn to live with each other, and naturally, fall in love.
But before I started writing, I went to the library and did a lot of research. First, I had to decide on the time period. When and where I set my story would determine all the necessary details that bring the characters to life—and also influence the plot.
Once the time period was finalized, I needed to learn about mail-order brides, fur trapping and trading, Native Americans, and get an overall feel for what life was like back then. As I wrote the book, I incorporated my research as background information. This gives the story a rich historical feel without going overboard with details that might bog down the book or bore readers.
I enjoyed creating the characters and all the conflicts that take place between them. Michelle and Luther are very different people—sort of like a city mouse and a country mouse—and I played on their differences in lifestyles, clothing, expectations, etc. throughout the book. When Luther’s friend Redfeather arrives, Michelle realizes how far she is out of her comfort zone and begins to see her situation (and Luther) in a new light.
As Luther and Michelle get to know each other (and fight for each other) they realize they have a lot more in common than they once thought. They both had to fend for themselves to survive in a rough world, with little or no family support. This brings them closer together and makes their love stronger.
I enjoyed writing this book, and I hope readers will fall in love with the characters the way I did.
Here’s an excerpt:
Kathleen’s knees shook as she strode down the sidewalk toward the livery. She had to get out of the store before there was trouble. She felt sorry for that man, Luther. He’d seemed nice enough when he gave her back her glove.
The coach waited near the livery, and her trunks still sat on the sidewalk. She had some time left. What should she do? She didn’t dare get back on the coach, but this town was awful and she didn’t want to stay here. Perhaps she could throw herself on the mercy of the church. There had to be one somewhere and the reverend would take her in. Or would he?
Kathleen crossed the street and entered the livery. A round-faced man slouching behind the counter straightened up.
“You must be from the stage,” he said, gazing at the front of her dress.
She folded her arms across her bosom and looked him square in the eye. “How did you know?” she asked, her voice dripping with sarcasm.
“Because I’ve been with all the women in town and you ain’t one of ’em. You Clyde’s new girl? I’d pay two dollars for a night with you.” He winked.
“How dare you! I’m looking for the church.”
The man spit a stream of tobacco juice on the floor next to her brown boots. “We ain’t got a church. If you ain’t the new whore, then what are you doin’ here?”
She spotted the newspaper the man had open on the counter in front of him. An advertisement for wedding lace gave her an idea. “I’m a mail-order bride.”
“That so?” He scowled. “Who’s the lucky man?”
Kathleen twisted her skirts and tried to stall for time. “There’s a problem with the papers you see…”
She glanced out the window. The driver stood near the coach, scratching his head. A second later, she heard the familiar clomp of boots on the sidewalk. This was her one chance. It had to work. She had always trusted her instincts, and now she could only think of one answer. Her gut told her to take the risk. “Luther’s his name and—”
“Luther?” The liveryman’s eyes widened. “Well, you’re in the right place.” He arched an eyebrow. “You sure it’s Luther?”
She nodded as the coach pulled away. All hope of escape left town in a swirl of dust. Her trunks lay abandoned on the sidewalk. There was no going back now. This man thought she was a mail-order bride. She tried to remember what she’d read about them. It sounded simple, a man sent money to a company and they sent a wife.
She tensed as the livery door opened.
“Hey, Karl. I pulled the wagon—” Luther stopped as he spotted her.
She averted her gaze and smoothed her skirts, suddenly ashamed of her appearance. What man would accept her unwashed and dusty?
The liveryman laughed. “Hell, Luther, looks like ya got more than you thought goin’ home with ya.”
“What’s that mean?”
Kathleen closed her eyes. What had she done? This wasn’t a game anymore.
“Seems your wife came special delivery on the coach.”
She heard the surprise in Luther’s voice. What if he hadn’t sent away for a bride like the men in the store had said? She had to think of a story, now. ...
Order your copy of Loving a Wild Stranger here:
I hope you enjoyed this inside look at the making of Loving a Wild Stranger. I welcome comments and questions from readers. Be sure to follow this blog for the latest updates and visit me on social media!