book excerpt from Married by Mistake, Catherine Castle's Wednesday Writers blog series, historical romance, Laura V. Hilton, Mackinac Island, MArried by Mistake, Second Chance Brides Romance Collection, Sweet romance, Upper penninsula Michigan
Laura V. Hilton is back on Wednesday Writers today, talking about the Story Behind the Story of Married by Mistake. Welcome, Laura. I can’t wait to hear about Married by Mistake. BTW, I love that title and Mackinac Island. I’ve always wanted to write a story set there.
When my agent asked me if I’d be willing to write a historical novella for a collection she was putting together for another author, I jumped at the chance. I usually write Amish romance (which I love) but I wanted to try my hand at historical. And a novel set in my home state of Michigan would be a dream come true. I had several ideas and I pitched them all to my street team to see which they liked best and the majority chose this idea.
Then I went to my brainstorming group to help me figure out the hero’s story. And one lady in there, mentioned the Krump family in German and a war they provided weapons to the Boers in South Africa. See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Krupp – also http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history/boer-war-begins-in-south-africa. The Upper peninsula in Michigan produced iron ore ( http://www.miningartifacts.org/Michigan-Iron-Mines.html) and what if….
The story was born from there.
Mackinac Island was a popular vacation destination in the Victorian era where the wealthy city residents went to escape the heat of the city. A perfect setting for a wounded hero to escape from gossip – at least until the socialites arrived – and then have to face his demons and come to terms with his past.
While writing this story, I also was homeschooling my two youngest children and my youngest daughter (a reluctant reader) was reading Alice in Wonderland out loud. Since that was a new book on the market at the time my story was set, it seemed fun to include bits and pieces of that story in mind, wrapped with the history of the island and the mess our hero and heroine would soon find themselves a part of.
I hope you enjoy reading Second Chance Brides Romance Collection – as well as my novella, Married by Mistake.
Here’s an excerpt:
Married by Mistake
by Laura V. Hilton
Mackinac Island, 1902
The sea spray touched Bessie O’Hara’s face as gently as she imagined he—whoever he might be—would some day brush his lips across her cheeks.
She couldn’t wait.
If only she could skip all the tiresome courtship rituals like monotonous parlor visits and chaperoned strolls. She’d also eliminate the formal calling cards and fluttering fans society demanded and go straight to the happily-ever-after.
It wasn’t that easy. She glanced at her two cousins, giggling behind their fans, as they stepped off the ferry onto the dock leading to the island. They looked toward some gentlemen who’d come to meet the boat. Judging by their clothing, they were there for the summer season as well. They certainly weren’t employees hired to drive the buggies and wagons.
Bessie smoothed her hand over her dress. Splotches of water dampened the material under her touch. With a sigh, she looked around for her family’s carriage. Papa had wired ahead and told the driver when to meet the ferry. She didn’t see the carriage, but a large crowd blocked her view.
She didn’t want to do this. Not that she minded visiting her family’s vacation home on the island, or escaping the stifling August heat of Grand Rapids, or even spending time with her cousins. But this was so much more than a summer reprieve. Henrietta and Rosella were husband-hunting and dragging her along, completely against her will.
And worse? Her parents completely agreed with her cousins. It was time she got married. That was a woman’s highest calling—to manage a husband and a household.
Or so she’d been told.
She’d been looked over so many times before she was afraid of facing another rejection. Was she somehow defective because her hair wasn’t pale blond like Rosella’s or a deep, dark red like Henrietta’s? She dreaded being put on endless display in the “meat market” and found lacking over and over during the tiresome rituals.
If only she could have said husband handed to her, dropped in her lap, maybe even delivered, gift-wrapped with a ribbon and a card reading, “Here he is. Treat him well.” Instead she’d been forced to endure countless teas in stifling parlors from her usual place on the fringes.
Bessie stepped up her pace to catch up with her cousins who already neared the end of the dock. She didn’t want to be left behind. A gentleman wearing a plaid cap stood in her way, talking to someone, and she stepped to the side to keep from hitting him, but he turned sharply and bumped her in the side with his elbow. Her foot landed on the edge of the dock. She groped for something to grab onto but came up with nothing but air. She gulped a breath that emerged as a high-pitched squeal, and tumbled toward the water.
A strong hand grabbed her by the back of her dress, jerking the fabric up tight, and she flailed. Was this how a fish on a hook felt? She eyed the cold, fishy water she’d almost fell into. Seconds later, another hand closed around her elbow, the grip tightening as the hand on her dress released the material, slid around her waist and hauled her back against a firm chest.
Shocks raced through her body like the rise and fall of waves crashing against the shore during a storm. His arm firm against her, the man loosened his grip on her elbow. Then the arm wrapped around her waist slid away.
Slid—the fingers took a leisurely tour of the silky fabric covering her abdomen. There had to be something improper about this, but the touch set her senses on fire, charring her thoughts almost before they formed. She tried to take a deep breath and lightheadedness made her dizzy, overwhelmed with how quickly her situation had changed from impending bath to rescue.
“Watch where you’re going.” The voice was brusque, hardly matching the rest of the sensations. And with those harsh words, he released her. Her feet set firmly on the wood planks, free from his disturbing touch.
Bessie jerked her shoulders in an angry twitch as she turned carefully around and moved away from the edge of the dock. She didn’t want a repeat performance. “Watch where I’m going? Let’s try being more careful, Mr….”
Her voice trailed off as she stared into grayish-blue eyes, the color of the water on a winter day. Stubble shadowed the man’s chin, and his equally dark hair, a bit on the long side, peeked out from under a plaid cap.
He adjusted the brim as a muscle jerked in his jaw.
Wait. He was the man who’d stood on the opposite side of the ferry and stared at her during their ride over to the island, his gaze boring into her until she turned.
He’d quickly looked away.
Her fingers had itched to sketch his portrait. Strong. Dark. Handsome. And dangerous. She tried to memorize his features, but he’d glanced back at her and caught her staring.
Then it’d been her turn to look away and try to distract herself by listening to another half hour of her cousins giggling about potential prospects.
“You.” The single word sputtered out without warning. She resisted the urge to clamp her hand over her mouth. Maybe she should apologize for being so rude. But then she’d need an explanation for why she’d said it and she had none. Other than… well, he drew her and made her long to be his helpmeet. Not that she’d ever admit it to anyone.
He bowed at the waist, his lips twisting into something resembling a grimace, and he waved his hand. “Ladies first.”
Want to read more? Check her book out at http://www.amazon.com/Laura-V.-Hilton/e/B004IRSM5Q
About the Author:
Laura V. Hilton is an award-winning, sought-after author with almost twenty Amish, contemporary, and historical romances. When she’s not writing, she reviews books for her blogs, and writes devotionals for blog posts for Seriously Write and Putting on the New.
Laura and her pastor-husband have five children and a hyper dog named Skye. They currently live in Arkansas. One son is in the U.S. Coast Guard. She is a pastor’s wife, and homeschools her two youngest children.
When she’s not writing, Laura enjoys reading, and visiting lighthouses and waterfalls. Her favorite season is winter, her favorite holiday is Christmas.
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