Updated: Dec 9, 2019
Title: A Vow for Christmas
Author: Linda Carroll-Bradd
Genre: Historical Romance
In the three years since his beloved wife died, rancher Chad Rutherford has done the best for his family. But with his sister leaving the family ranch to get married, he needs to find someone to keep house and tend his kids so he places an ad for a mail-order bride.
Left on her own by her brother’s murder, spinster Vika Carmichael must find a way to life. An ad for a mail-order bride from a widower with small children seems like the perfect fit. Until she arrives in Gunnison, Colorado Territory, and wonders if room for her exists in their hearts.
Will two proud individuals find a way to work together, or will their marriage vow be broken by Christmas?
After scooting away from the steps, she scanned the area and focused on a tall man with a wide-brimmed hat shading his face. He stood against the depot wall, away from the crush of people, with a small child clasping both of his large hands. His height and bulk dwarfed the wee ones. A thick coat hung unbuttoned from broad shoulders. From the angle of his body, she assumed he looked in her direction, but she couldna be sure. Lifting the front of her skirts, she took slow steps, inching her way through the crowd until she stood only a few feet away and tipped back her head. She gazed into the darkest eyes she’d ever seen. “Mister Rutherford?”
He nodded. “Miss Carmichael?”
The relief of arriving and making the anticipated connection tumbled her stomach. “I am pleased to be making yer acquaintance.” Seeing no offer of a handshake greeting, she dropped a shallow curtsey then glanced at the wide-eyed children now pressed against their father’s legs. “Oh, and the wee bairns. What be their names?” Smiling, she glanced upward to see his dark brows slam into a frown. Reviewing what she’d said, she realized in her excitement, she lapsed into her native brogue. “Sorry, I meant children.”
Mister Rutherford shook his left hand. “My son is Lance, and he’s five years old.” Then he wiggled his right hand. “My daughter is Guinie, and she’s three.” He crouched down to their level and glanced between them. “Children, here is the woman I told you about. Miss Carmichael has come to live with us.”
“No, Daddy! Want Auntie Caro.” Guinie shook her head then buried her face in her father’s neck.
Vika stiffened. Never in her thoughts of her new life had she worried about having to win over the children…only their father. Hoping for a friendlier reception, she looked toward the boy who stared with an unflinching, brown-eyed gaze. “Making new friends is hard.” She glanced at the father who patted his daughter’s back and wished the right words sprang from her lips. But she was so tired and hungry she couldna think straight. From a distance, she heard a faint yip and turned toward the back of the train. Biscuit. Of course. “I brought a surprise I think ye’ll like.”
Mister Rutherford straightened. “We’d best collect your luggage. Come along, children.” He urged them forward.
She was left staring at the back of the three people who looked like a self-contained unit. Did room exist for her in any of their hearts? Shoulders drooping, she trudged behind them, wishing for a strong arm to lean on. On the platform near the freight car rested the trunk holding all her clothes, accessories, and valuables. Next to it were two wooden crates packed with kitchen items, linens, blankets, and her mother’s porcelain tea set. On top of the crates sat the wicker basket holding her beloved pet.
The baggage clerk lifted a hand. “Ah, Miss Vika. She’s been whimpering the last few miles.” He lowered the basket to the platform and worked to loosen the rope knot.
“Thank you, Mister Frederick, for all your good attention.” She reached into her reticule and pulled out a dime for his tip. Maybe extravagant but the clerk took good care of her Biscuit. Then she leaned down to drop her carpetbag before lifting the lid with one hand and slipping the other into the slim opening to grab Biscuit’s collar. “Calm down. I’m here.” Once she was sure the dog wouldn’t escape, she slid in her other hand to grab the leather leash and clipped it on. With a shove, she flicked back the lid.
Biscuit jumped out then shook herself before running her nose along the platform boards.
“What in blue blazes is that thing?” Frowning, Mister Rutherford pointed.
“She’s my dog, Biscuit.” Vika hurried to the platform edge and let her pet run down the four steps to the dirt to take care of her needs.
“You wrote nothing about bringing a pet.” He scoffed and waved a hand in the air. “And a scrawny dog, at that.”
After a moment, Biscuit hopped back to the platform then trotted toward the children, tail wagging like a flag in a stiff wind.
Her stomach rolled.
Both children looked at the dog then glanced at their father’s frown.
Would the presence of this surprise pet invalidate their agreement? Tiredness swamped her. “You never wrote that I couldna.” Needing the comfort of a warm being who loved her, she scooped up the dog, hugged Biscuit to her bosom, and kissed her furry head between her pointed ears. “Actually, you never wrote much of anything.”
Share a holiday family tradition:
When my children still lived in the family home, I always made cinnamon rolls from scratch for Christmas morning. We’d drink Ibarra (Mexican hot chocolate) and eat the rolls after the kids went through their stockings and before opening presents. The snack provided a nice way to slow n the frenzy.
Why is your featured book perfect to get readers in the holiday mood:
The novella relates how a mail-order bride learns to be part of a family again after losing her own.
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As a young girl, Linda was often found lying on her bed reading about fascinating characters having exciting adventures in places far away and in other time periods. In later years, she read and then started writing romances and achieved her first publication--a confession story. Married with 4 adult children and 2 granddaughters, Linda now writes heartwarming contemporary and historical stories with a touch of humor and a bit of sass from her home in the southern California mountains.
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