Blogaversary Celebration Day One: Author, Janet Dean
I’m thrilled to be a part of your blogaversary celebration, Renee!!! Even if black and gold aren’t my favorite team’s colors, I feel right at home. You and I share the love of reading and history and God. Thanks for this exciting opportunity to connect with your readers and chat about my February release, The Substitute Bride, Steeple Hill Love Inspired Historical.
The Substitute Bride was a fun story to write—with a mail-order bride, disgruntled groom and a small town filled with quirky characters. Here’s a peek:
They Struck a Bargain for Marriage
Fleeing an arranged marriage, debutante Elizabeth Manning exchanges places with a mail-order bride bound for New Harmony, Iowa. Life on the frontier can’t be worse than forced wedlock to pay her father’s gambling debts. But Ted Logan’s rustic lifestyle and rambunctious children prove to be more of a challenge than Elizabeth expects. She doesn’t know how to be a mother or a wife. She doesn’t even know how to tell Ted the truth about her past—especially as her feelings for him grow. Little does she know, Ted’s hiding secrets of his own. When their pasts collide, there’s more than one heart at stake.
Why was Ted disgruntled?
When he and Elizabeth are about to speak their vows, the bride suggests one teeny change—the name on the marriage license. A clear sign trouble lies ahead for this couple.
As a homemaker and mother, Elizabeth Manning is definitely a “fish out of water.” Poor Ted. Yet no matter how inept she is, Elizabeth perseveres. She manages to find unique ways to handle the children and her new and very challenging life on the farm. I admire her spirit and fortitude—the same attributes that enabled women to survive the challenges of the West.
In my quest for information to write this story I read Hearts West: True Stories of Mail-Order Brides on the Frontier. Hearts West makes fascinating reading. I recommend it to anyone interested in mail-order bride stories. Author Chris Enss relates stories of men and women who wed often sight unseen until the ceremony. My husband and I dated for over two years, and we had some surprises. All good, of course. LOL Can you imagine the surprises in store for couples who may have exchanged a few letters or a picture and never met until the wedding day?
Why did these women leave behind everything and everyone they knew to take the amazing step of marrying a stranger? Some were motivated by the fear of spinster-hood. Others desperately needed life’s necessities and hoped marriage would give them a better life.
Looking for a spouse, men and women in the mid to late 1800s placed ads in publications like The Matrimonial News. Arranged marriages may sound odd to us, but a high percentage of marriages are still arranged today, a norm for many cultures. The accounts in Hearts West prove these mail-order bride matches varied from wedded bliss to divorce. But for those that flourished, these wives not only made a home for their husbands and children, but also drove the creation of churches, schools and libraries bringing civilization to the frontier.
In this excerpt from The Substitute Bride, Ted helps Elizabeth make biscuits and the two do battle with the dough. The silliness turns romantic and they share their first kiss. For the first time, Ted and Elizabeth’s marriage of convenience looks as if it might stand a chance for happiness.
Ted found Elizabeth in the kitchen, putting on an apron over his pants that she still wore from gathering eggs that morning. “Planning on making those delicious biscuits of yours?”
Her mouth gaped. “You want biscuits?”
No point in admitting the thought put a knot in his stomach. “I’m hungry for a batch.” He gave her his most innocent look. “Want some help?”
“And you want to help?” She cocked her head at him, a smile tugging at her lips. “In the middle of your work day?”
With one field to plant with corn, he should hitch up King and Queen, but his suggestion appeared to cheer her. “If you don’t mind.”
She examined his palms. “Only if you wash those hands.”
Well, at least she was touching him. A good sign peace had been restored. He headed for the sink. “Yes, ma’am.”
Suspicion clouded her dazzling blue eyes, as if she didn’t believe a word he said, Elizabeth handed him an apron. He didn’t hanker to wear it but no point in making a fuss and take a chance of ruining the harmony between them.
She reached for a crock then opened the door that hid the flour bin. “Measure out two cupfuls of flour.” She handed him a knife. “Use this to level it.”
He fumbled with the cup and knife.
“Do it like this,” she said, showing him how, then handing the knife back to him. “Add another cup of flour.”
With her standing so near, he could barely absorb her directions, but somehow managed to dump the flour into the bowl. He could tell she enjoyed bossing him by the sparkle in her eye and the smile playing around her lips. Well, fine with him. She looked...happy. Why hadn’t he tried harder to give her joy?
Why had he expected her to fall into his arms? With the planting and all the chores to do, he’d neglected his wife. Hadn’t taken the time to have fun. Well, he wouldn’t make that mistake again.
She thrust a spoon at him. “Add four teaspoons of baking powder.”
And so it went with her giving orders and him following directions until he was wrist high in dough, his hands a mucky mess. He shot her a grin.
“This is fun, kind of like playing in the mud. Care to join me.”
She rolled up her sleeves and dove in, squishing the dough between her fingers.
“A nice way to take out your frustrations,” Ted said.
“Why do you think I’ve gotten so good at biscuits?”
He chuckled. Within minutes, they were battling with their fingers over territory in the bowl. When she tried to shove him out of the way, he raised dough-globbed fingers at her in a sinister pose sending her into fits of laughter.
Next thing Ted knew, Elizabeth streaked a doughy finger across his cheek then stepped back grinning at him. Well, he couldn’t let that go without a fight. He grabbed her wrist. She ducked and tried to pull away, but he managed to draw a pretty decent circle on each of her cheeks.
She retaliated with a batter-smeared mustache above his lip. “You look ever so handsome,” she teased.
“You’d look mighty good with one yourself.” She scrambled out of reach, but he lunged for her wrist, twisted her around and smeared the dough above her lip. “Now your face matches those pants you’re wearing.”
Things went downhill from there, giggling and making a mess even Tippy wouldn’t touch.
Capturing his bride in the circle of his arms, Ted lowered his head and planted a gooey kiss on her lips. Amazingly she kissed him back, dissipating the humor like shadows on a cloudy day. Leaving them both breathing deep and staring into one another’s eyes with the beat of Ted’s heart thumping in his ears.
“I had no idea you were so fond of biscuits, Mr. Logan.”
“From now on, I’ll take my biscuits raw.”
Copyright 2010, Janet Dean, The Substitute Bride, Steeple Hill Publishers
I hope you enjoyed the excerpt from The Substitute Bride. Thanks again, Renee, for allowing me to celebrate with you today!
Janet Dean credits her father, an art and social studies teacher, for giving her a love of the past and of story telling. He shared wonderful folksy stories of real people passed down to him from his father. Janet first wrote fiction around the age of twelve, penning and illustrating little romances. None of those early stories survive, but Janet’s love of history and writing did.
Janet married her college sweetheart and taught first grade before leaving to raise two daughters. She is thankful to be married to a right-brained man, whose idea of creativity is a spreadsheet.
Fascinated by history and the role of strong women in our nation's past, Janet brings both together in her faith-based love stories. After seriously seeking publication for nine years, Janet sold her debut book, Courting Miss Adelaide to Steeple Hill Love Inspired Historical. Janet is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers, Romance Writers of America and Faith, Hope & Love.
Whenever Janet can snatch a few moments away from writing books, she enjoys rubber stamping greeting cards, knitting and an occasional round of golf.
Janet’s web site: http://www.janetdean.net/
Personal blog: http://www.janetdean.blogspot.com/
Group blog: http://www.seekerville.blogspot.com/
~For a chance to win a signed copy of The Substitute Bride, share a funny wedding story. Or tell us about your ancestors’ marriage of convenience. Or perhaps share a cooking mishap. If none of those fit, just say hello.
~You MUST leave an email address in your comment so I can contact you for your mailing address if you win! (example: steelergirl83[at]gmail[dot]com )
~U.S. residents only please!
~Contest open until March 21, 2010 at 11:59PM EST.
~One winner will be chosen, their name posted on this blog, and they will be notified by email on March 22, 2010 and will have 48 hours to respond or another winner will be selected.
Don't forget to GO HERE to enter to win The Yellow House by Particia Falvey and Beguiled by Deeanne Gist and J. Mark Bertrand!