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Mail Order Bride:The Counterfeit by Kathy L Wheeler is a Western Romance Event pick #westernromance
Title: Mail Order Bride: The Counterfeit
Author: Kathy L Wheeler
Genre: Western Historical Romance
He needs a wife, she needs a way out. Can she spin a tale to save her own tail?
After a disastrous first marriage, Will Jeffers hasn’t the stomach for another emotionally entailed union. All he needs is a wife to cook, nurse his mother, and look after the homestead. But good women are few and far between in Colorado mining country. A mail order bride is the perfect solution. Amelia Johannasen is running for her life. Literally. Her brassy mother has decided it’s time Amy joined the family business, shattering her dreams of marrying for love. Imagine her surprise when she is mistaken for Will Jeffers mail order bride. She has a talent for spinning tall tales but no notion of how to cook, nurse, or keep house. Can she reach the heart of a man once burned so badly, he’s sworn off love?
“I’m looking for a young lady—”
Said man jerked to his full height—a good six inches shorter than Will’s own of six-three. Will could have crushed the man’s throat with one hand. His bulbous nose turned a comic shade of purple and the veins at his temple pulsated violently. “I beg your pardon, sir. We do not run that sort of establishment here. The saloon girls are down the street.”
Heat crawled up Will’s neck, but he straightened and set his right hand on his holstered colt.45. “Er … that’s not what I meant.”
The man’s eyes fell to Will’s right hip. He swallowed hard, and to the man’s credit, he did stand his ground. “I-I would ask you to l-leave.”
Will shoved a hand through his hair then straightened his jacket, exasperated. The motion rustled the paper in his pocket. The telegraph. He’d forgotten. He pulled it from his pocket. “All I wanna know, is if there’s been a young woman here askin’ for me. William Jeffers. She was due in on the 6:16, and I’m—” He grimaced. “—late,” he said, grounding out the word. He thrust the paper at him. “I need this telegraphed to Rock Springs as well.”
The man’s eyes bulged. “Jeffers! Oh, my. Mr. Jeffers. So sorry, sir. Of course. Of course. We don’t normally send telegraphs from here but I’ll handle this for you personally.” He took Will’s carefully crafted note offering refuge to the unemployed miners in Rock Springs without glancing at it. “I, er, wish to thank you for how you’re fighting for the miners. My brother and his sons speak right highly of you, sir.”
Accepting praise did not come easily to Will, and he would have already maneuvered his way out of the situation if not for one pressing matter. “The young woman?”
Confusion furrowed the clerk’s brow, then cleared. “Oh. Oh, yes. I mean, no. No sir. There’s been no young woman in asking for you. Perhaps she is still waiting at the station…” He fumbled with his pocket watch, checked the time and looked back up. “It’s, uh, 7:03.”
Will read the man’s thoughts clear as the snow on Pike’s Peak on a sunny day—they mirrored his own. The station shared the corner with the Gold Rush. If his new bride even remotely resembled her photograph, Miss Bethany would snatch her up quicker than a hungry bobcat. Will spun on his heel, high-tailed it out the elaborate doors, and ran smack dab into a young woman reaching for the handle. “Beggin’ your pardon, ma’am.” His hands landed on her shoulders, steadying her. A subtle balm of lemon, and perhaps nutmeg, drew him close. The fragrance was so alluring he almost tripped forward. “You all right?”
“Yes.” Her voice rolled over him like warm rum and butter.
The reluctance to let her go startled him. He hadn’t ordered a mail-order bride to lust after. He damned sure couldn’t go about accosting the first female he ran into. Will’s hands dropped to his sides, and he stepped back.
She tugged on her less-than-desirable straw bonnet, that effectively shielded a good portion of her face.
He delved into the inside pocket of his duster and pulled out a small photograph, then glanced back up. “Miss Amaris Jones?”
The bonnet jerked with her shock. Slowly, she pushed it back. The gas lights bathed her features in a soft glow that sent his senses reeling and his heart pounding. Wide set eyes, their hue, a clear blueish-purple, met his. She was striking. He could never have made out her true beauty from the tarnished picture he held. He was stunned; tongue-tied. Trapped in that bewitching gaze.
“Amaris?” she whispered.
The young lady lowered those striking eyes, breaking the magnetic hold she had on him. She tugged her bonnet back into place; in the span of a heartbeat, had her face hidden again. She clasped her gloved hands demurely before her. Will shook his head, wondering how he would make it to the church without devouring his mail-ordered bride before marrying her. He was suddenly hungry, and not for food.
“—that you, Will? What the devil you doin’ here, man?”
With heroic effort, Will dragged his gaze from Miss Jones to Ennis Wisentangle.
“You headed to Miss Bethany’s, Will? She’s innerducin’ a new girl tonight. Simone. Ever’body in town’ll be there.”
From the corner of his eye, Will saw the girl’s top hand clench the other, the soft leather stretched tight over her clenched knuckles. The sight sent a rush of fury through him. Ennis was dumber than a dishpan. Will tightened his own fists to keep from ploughing the man in the gullet. “Ennis, I’d appreciate you not mentioning Miss Bethany in front of my fiancée.” With substantial effort, he pulled back his temper with a steadying inhale and turned to Amaris. “Please forgive this dunderhead’s bad manners, ma’am. Guess that’s where he got the label—” He sliced pointed eyes on Ennis. “ ‘Slow-bum Ennis.’ He’s known for his slow wit.” He bit off the rest. Will could hardly tell her Ennis was renowned for suffering with some sort of sexual dysfunction. At least, that was the gossip that spread like wildfire through the mines. While Will might cringe at being the brunt of talk, any sort of talk, anger simmered just beneath his skin.
“Fiancée, eh?” Ennis’s gaze wandered down Amaris’s worn cloak.
Her hands squeezed into fists.
Will was surprised smoke didn’t emit from his nostrils like a bull staring down a blood-red cape. His feet shifted. “That’s enough, Wisentangle. She’s not part of the cattle call.”
“Oh, uh, yeah. Sorry, ma’am.” Ennis tipped his hat. “Pleased to meet ya.”
Amaris squared her shoulders and tipped her head. The light showcased a tilted stubborn chin. “Of course.” The haughty steel beneath her soft words spoke volumes. This girl wouldn’t take no shit. For some reason that gave Will relief, even made him proud.
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What makes your featured book a must-read?
Well, if love hidden identity stories with twisting turns of suspense and a quirky heroine, you’ll love this counterfeit trying to find a way out of the hole she’s dug herself into.
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Kathy L Wheeler loves the NFL, the NBA, musical theater (don’t ask how her how many times she’s seen Phantom of the Opera (12); or Wicked (7), travel, (Europe, Grand Cayman, Mexico, All over the US), reading (practically a book a night), writing (25 published books and counting) and karaoke (well… what can I say). She assists other authors in critiquing, formatting, and creating covers for their publishing dreams.
She writes contemporary and historical stories where the heroines save themselves and the heroes who honor their courage with suspense and humor.
She migrated from Texas to Oklahoma to the Pacific Northwest with her musically talented, lawyer husband, her adorable dog Angel (who lives up to her name…mostly).
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