Elsie Graham stepped on board the train and turned back. Her sister Lottie stood on the platform, smiling at her.
“Go on!” Lottie said with a little wave of her hand.
Elsie didn’t want to. Getting on this train and heading back to Dallas was the last thing on earth she wanted to do. And yet she knew she had to. She couldn’t stay in California with her older sister; their father would come and fetch her and there would be no end to the trouble.
Of course for Elsie, there wasn’t likely to be any end to the trouble anyway. Her life was going to be nothing but misery from here on in. Years and years of being married to a man who made her skin crawl at the mere thought of him lay ahead of her. It was an unmitigated disaster and despite her intelligence and resourcefulness, she couldn’t seem to find a way out of this predicament that didn’t involve being destitute in some strange town where she knew no one.
And everyone knew what happened to girls who found themselves in situations like that—in towns, alone with no prospects. Nothing good. She would most like end up working in a brothel. That thought had scared Elsie enough to get her onto the train.
No doubt seeing her little sister in distress, Lottie stepped forward and took Elsie’s hands through the doorway.
“It will be all right,” Lottie said.
“Easy for you to say,” Elsie said. “Father didn’t choose a horror of a man for you.”
Lottie’s blue eyes grew hard and sharp.
“Look,” she said seriously. “Father loves you. He would never make you marry a man who would hurt you. Also, Mr. Johnston is very well respected at father’s bank. He even gives money to charities. How bad can he be? I’m sure you will want for nothing.”
Except love and happiness, Elsie thought miserably. Would it help to tell her sister that Mr. Johnston only gave to those charities to make himself look good in others’ eyes? He did it so that people would see him doing it and that made Elsie feel sick to her stomach. Surely if one was to give to the poor and needy it should be because one wanted to make their lives better, and not one’s own?
She could say this to her sister, but she knew it would do no good. Lottie was an obedient, dutiful daughter who had gone off and married the man their father had picked for her without so much as a qualm. What could Elsie say to someone like that who was willing to accept her fate with eagerness and a smile?
“Come on, chin up,” Lottie continued, oblivious to her younger sister’s thoughts. “It’s not as bad as you think. You saw—Charlie and I are perfectly happy together.” She stepped even closer and, rising onto the step of the train, planted a kiss on her sister’s cheek. “You’ll be fine, and Mother and Father will be proud. That’s what matters.”
Lottie said that as though it was supposed to make everything all right. It wasn’t, and the closer Elsie came to leaving California and the relative safety of her sister’s house, the more she knew this to be true. Nothing would ever be all right again.
Practically pushing Elsie into the train, and then stepping back, Lottie took up her position on the platform. As the whistle blew and the train began to chug out of the San Diego station, Elsie stepped back further into the passageway. She didn’t want to be here. But at least here wasn’t Dallas. Perhaps she could find a way out.
Having a ticket for the ladies’ sleeping car, Elsie made her way through the carriages until she reached it. Opening the door, she stepped into a world of lush velvet hangings and brass finishings. There were two other women in the room that took Elsie a moment or two to notice.
Both looked up at her as she entered, and Elsie clutched her carpet bag to her chest as she stepped into the car, suddenly slightly nervous.
There was an open bed and seat at the far end. She made her way there and placed her bag on the bed. Should she unpack? The journey only took a week with all the stops along the way. It hardly seemed worth the effort of unpacking only to have to put everything back in her bag. But on the other hand not having wrinkled clothing would be nice.
Standing undecided, she stared at her bag without moving.
“They don’t unpack themselves,” a sharpish voice said from her right.
Elsie looked up, frowning. “Oh, I know,” she said with a forced smile. “I was debating whether to bother.”
“It’s really just the choice between wearing wrinkled clothes and wearing ones that aren’t,” the other woman said. She was plump, rosy-cheeked and smiling warmly. “Hello, I’m Anne Dunn and she’s Twyla Harrington.” She gestured to the first woman who had spoken.
“Elsie Graham,” Elsie said, nodding a greeting to Anne and Twyla. For a fleeting moment, she considered never hanging or ironing her clothes again. Perhaps if she looked terribly untidy, Aiden wouldn’t want her for a wife. But that was silly; her parents would never let her get away with anything like that.
Sighing, she undid the clasps and began to stow her things away in the slim closet and drawers provided.
“Where are you headed?” Twyla asked. She was lounging on her cot in the manner of one who naturally owned any space she occupied. She wore a new princess line dress made of mauve cotton and lace that made her look very slender and imposing.
Elsie smoothed her own blouse and skirt down. They were well-made but not of the same new fashions that Elsie had been mooning over in one of her sister’s magazines. It made her just a touch jealous of Twyla.
“I am heading to Dallas,” she finally said.
Twyla nodded. “Well, Dallas, how nice for you…”
When she didn’t offer anything more, Elsie decided she wasn’t going to unpack further. At least not now. Instead, she pulled her book from her bag and went to sit at the window, outside of which the world shot by at an alarming pace.
As she settled into the seat, she ran a hand lovingly over her book. It was by Emily Brontë and was called Wuthering Heights. Elsie just loved it. She’d read it once already and had decided to read it again. She couldn’t get enough of Heathcliff. Brooding though he was, he spoke to her, and she hoped that one day she would find a love like that.
What was she thinking? She was never going to find a love like that. Never. She was going to be married off to the repulsive, shallow Mr. Aiden Johnston. And it was a disaster of epic proportions. If she had been a heroine in a story, something miraculous would happen to save her. But she wasn’t. She was just Elsie Graham, and she was stuck in her fate.
To force herself not to think about her dismal future, Elsie raised her book and began to read—at least, she held the book in front of her, but her eyes refused to focus, and her brain wouldn’t take a thing in.
Just then the door to the car opened again. Elsie looked up from her book. A young woman stepped into the car. She was dressed in a simple blouse and skirt. A sheen of sweat covered her face and stuck her golden-brown hair to her head.
“Goodness,” she said. “Finally. I thought I’d never find this car.”
The other women just stared at her. The newcomer smiled a little nervously and hefted her fat suitcase with both hands. She looked to be struggling so Elsie put her book down and went to help.
“May I assist you?” she asked.
“Oh, that would be mighty kind of you,” the young woman said. “I fear I might have packed a few too many things.” As she said this she turned and pulled another bag into the carriage. It was bulging at the seams, just as the other one was.
Instantly, Elsie regretted her quick decision to help the young woman because the suitcase was indeed terribly heavy. She dragged it along the floor for a bit before Anne came over to help her. Together, they managed to get the bag to the bed beside Elsie’s, which was the only one still open.
“Thank you so much,” the young woman said. Holding out her hand to Elsie and Anne, she continued, “I’m Julia Reynolds.”
The other two women shook hands and introduced themselves and Twyla, who seemed to have to be introduced, never doing it herself.
Julia greeted everyone warmly.
“And where are you headed?” Twyla asked.
“Um, to Coppertown,” Julia said. “It’s in Texas.”
Elsie had never heard of the town. But then, that in itself wasn’t surprising. Texas was a large state and there were a lot of little towns that had popped up over the years. Of course, anything that involved Texas upset Elsie at the moment and she went back to her book to read. Outside her window, the scenery rushed by as though in a hurry to move her along.
And move along she certainly did. Before she knew it they were leaving California and heading into Nevada. After Nevada came Texas and as her home state approached, Elsie became more and more nervous.
The only one to notice it, though, was Julia. Since her kindness helping the young woman to get settled, Julia had decided that Elsie was her new best friend. She spent hours talking to Elsie about her life and the man she was rushing to meet.
“The orange farm isn’t doing so well,” Julia said. “And since Daddy passed last year with the influenza, things have been tough. My two sisters are too young to be wed—they’re still in school. And my brother is trying his best with the farm, but he’s only fifteen.”
Elsie had never been poor. Her father was co-owner and the head honcho of a very successful bank in Texas. He worked long hours and he and her mother were always busy with their adult friends and his colleagues. Elsie had never gone to bed hungry for food. She had gone to bed hungry for love. She might have grown up completely starved for the illusive emotion, if not for her sister Lottie and their nurse, Gabriella.
Gabriella was a wonderful woman with kind brown eyes and thick dark hair. She was loving, generous with her time, and understanding. Elsie adored her.
“Anyway,” Julia said in her sweet voice, “I decided to become a mail-order bride. And I think I found a good man, out in Coppertown but…” She paused, looking unhappy. “I’m not sure. You know, my mother isn’t doing well, and I don’t know if the others can cope without me.”
Elsie thought of her own mother: a tall, austere woman with a grace and beauty that spoke of breeding and education. The idea that there might be something her mother couldn’t manage was alien to Elsie. She’d never seen her mother do anything but exude an air of calm and capability while organizing luncheons and events for the charities and organizations she was the chair of.
“So, why are you marrying this man?” Elsie asked.
Julia sighed. “To be one less mouth to feed. But you see, I don’t love him. I mean, Tom seems nice enough on paper; he’s sweet and he writes with a lovely hand. Here, have a read,” she said and thrust four envelopes into Elsie’s hands.
“Aren’t these highly personal?” Elsie retorted, trying to push them back. She’d gotten into trouble as a child for reading some of her father’s correspondence. Her backside had throbbed for two days from the hiding she’d received for being too nosy and she’d never forgotten it.
“No, of course they aren’t,” Julia said. “They’re just about him and his farm. He grows feed for livestock. He also has some cows, sheep, chickens, and horses.”
“Oh,” Elsie said. Reluctantly she took the first letter and began to read. After that she took the next one and the one after that. And slowly a mental image of this Tom McCarthy began to form. He seemed solid, dependable, and was it her imagination or did he seem slightly brooding, like Heathcliff?
If only Aiden was more like this man—Elsie might be able to stomach marrying him.
No. She didn’t think she could even then.
From the letters it seemed this Tom wanted a wife, but he’d settle for someone who could cook and clean. Thanks to Gabriella, Elsie could cook. She had insisted that Elsie learn from Mrs. Watson, her parents’ cook. She was skilled in the kitchen. And how hard could cleaning be anyway?
Julia hadn’t been lying. There was no emotional attachment in the letters. Nothing to indicate that either Tom or Julia had managed to fall in love from their exchanges. The letters sounded more like little essays written for a school mistress about one’s life. At least that was how Tom’s came across, and Elsie imagined that Julia’s were likely a lot like her conversation.
She fiddled with the pages, biting her bottom lip in thought. Would it work? Would it solve her problem, this bold, daring idea that was growing in her mind? Would it be her salvation?
Oh, but it was scandalous. Deliciously so.
Feeling guilty, Elsie looked around the car. It was late at night and everyone else was asleep. They were two days away from Dallas now. All she had to do was convince Julia of her plan and she would be free. Free as a bird. Her heart beat so fast she could barely contain it. But she had to.
With difficulty, she went to her bed and lay down. It took sleep a long time to claim her and when it did, it was fitful and disturbed.
The next morning, Elsie woke to another bright and sunny day hurtling by outside the windows. It seemed that Twyla and Anne had left the car, most likely heading to the dining car, and she and Julia were alone.
As she washed and dressed, Elsie practiced what she would say to Julia. The young woman had expressed her reluctance to marry Tom many times. Elsie could only hope she meant it and that she wasn’t pretending to be upset at the prospect when really she was counting the days.
When she dressed, she went to Julia. The young woman sat at the window, looking out. She wore a worried expression on her face.
“Are you all right?” Elsie asked.
Julia sniffed and nodded. “Quite well, thank you. And you?”
“Fine,” Elsie said, snapping a teeny bit in her excitement to speak to the other woman. She took a seat beside Julia and turned to face her. “I might have found us a solution to our problems.”
Julia stared at her, wide-eyed. “How?”
Elsie smiled. “You want to go home to your family,” she said.
“Yes, and Andrew, he’s this man in the town I come from,” Julia said. “He’s been sweet on me for a long time. And recently I found out I love him, too—”
“Well then you’ll love this idea I’ve had,” Elsie said hurriedly lest Julia get derailed and go on speaking about Andrew for the next hour. And without giving Julia a chance to say another thing, she launched into her plan.
It was simple and elegant. It gave each woman what they wanted. The only problem was going to be Elsie’s father, and frankly, she didn’t care if she made him worry. He deserved it for forcing her into a marriage she didn’t want.
“So,” Julia said, frowning when Elsie was done. “You want to go to Coppertown and marry Tom, and I get to go home?”
Elsie nodded vehemently. “Yes, just like that. Look, I’ll buy your ticket and give you this cash to keep you fed. What do you say? Can I go in your stead?”
Julia looked thoughtful. “But aren’t you trading one life without love for another? You don’t even know Tom.”
“Neither do you,” Elsie pointed out. “Look, Tom doesn’t seem anything like Aiden from his letters and I think that bodes well. I’d love to meet him and see if we can work something out.”
Julia was silent for a moment, thinking. She patted her lips with her fingers. “Are you certain? And what if Tom won’t have you?”
Elsie shrugged. “I’ll make my own way. Anything is better than marrying Aiden Johnston. Trust me on that one.”
It took a little longer to convince Julia that this was the best possible outcome. Eventually, she held out her hand and the women shook on it. The deal was done, and Elsie would go on to Coppertown, while Julia would turn back and head home. All would be well with the world.
Tom McCarthy spent most of his days alone. Well, alone in terms of other humans; he had plenty of animals around, just not any people. And the reason for this forced solitude was as simple as it was unfair. It was all his father and younger brother’s fault.
They were also the reason that, from time to time, the local townsfolk who called Coppertown their home felt it was their right to come onto his land and poke around. Today was one of those days.
Tom stood by as Oliver Trench accused him of stealing his prize bull.
“I tell you, Sheriff,” Oliver said, his burly shoulders just making it through Tom’s front doorway. “He’s got that bull squirreled away here somewhere.”
Tom was in the kitchen making coffee. He had learned that the best way to deal with this was to let them walk around the farm. He had nothing to hide, nothing at all. This had happened so many times in the last two years since his father and brother Elliot were sent off for cattle rustling that Tom didn’t even follow them around any longer.
Neither did Sheriff Randall. He sat at Tom’s scrubbed kitchen table, his hat on the smooth wood, and looked up at Oliver.
“Well now, Oliver, I don’t see how that would be possible,” the sheriff said in his mellow voice. “Seeing as how the animal is quite large and you’ve gone and checked the barn, the shed, the stable, the dipping pen, and the paddock, I think you might be mistaken. It’s not as though Tom here could put him in his pocket, now, is it?”
Tom shook his head as he poured the sheriff another mug of coffee.
“Would you like some, Oliver?” Tom asked. “There’s plenty.”
Oliver glared at him as though wishing Tom would catch fire and turn into a pile of fine ash. When that failed to happen, he grunted and shook his head. “Are you just going to sit there, Sheriff? My prize bull is gone and you know as well as I do that his daddy and brother took a whole lot of cattle off a whole lot of folks.”
Sheriff Randall took a sip of his coffee. “We’ve been through this,” he said sternly, his voice losing its good-natured tone. “Tom was not involved in what his brother and father were doing. Tom has the backing of Pastor Richardson. You know that he does good work over at the church, as he has done since he was eleven years old. I do not think—and let me stress this—that your bull is anywhere in this vicinity.” He glared at Oliver as he rose from his seat to be eye level with the man. “You want to know what I think? I think your bull has taken a walk through that hole you refuse to fix in your fence. That’s what I think. And if it wasn’t for Tom’s excellent coffee, I would lock you in the cells for wasting my time.”
The two men squared off against each other. Although the sheriff was shorter by a head, and certainly not as wide as the giant Oliver, he carried with him the office of the law. Not to mention everyone in Coppertown had seen him put a man twice his size down on the ground so he couldn’t get up without help. No one messed with the sheriff. But they did like to test his patience.
Had it been up to Tom, he would have loved to skip this whole nasty business. But it was his lot in life now thanks to his relatives.
What peeved him the most about it was that his father and Elliott had never even thought of the consequences of their actions. They were too alike. They were brash and impulsive, wanting quick fixes for everything. Instead of trusting Tom and his careful assessment of the situation when the farm ran into trouble, the first thing they’d done was turn to crime. Tom hadn’t. He’d turned to science, and it had worked.
Five years ago, Coppertown had been in the clasp of a terrible drought. There was no rain, and no one had feed for the cattle and horses. Not even Tom’s father. The town’s wells had dried up and everyone and everything was thirsty.
While his brother and father ran around like headless chickens screaming that they were going to lose everything, he had taken to careful contemplation and observation. Yes, their well was lower than ever, but it wasn’t dry. They still had water. They could still grow feed.
So, Tom had gone and bought a windmill with the last of their money. His father had been so angry he’d beaten Tom black and blue. But Tom didn’t care when the next morning there was more than enough water in the holding trough. His father should have been proud. He should have praised Tom for his brilliance. But he hadn’t. Instead, he took Elliott and they went on with their plans—plans to steal cattle and sell them. It was probably the most donkey-brained idea that Tom had ever come across.
And thanks to his father’s idiocy, Tom now had to endure having his land trod on by more donkey-brained individuals like Oliver Trench.
Oliver backed off and Sheriff Randall sat back down.
Just then, Westley Donald came into the kitchen. He was out of breath, red-faced and panting like a bellows.
“What are you doing here?” Oliver asked.
“Came to…tell you,” Westley said, puffing. “Found your bull…on…Leonard Washburn’s…land.”
Sheriff Randall shook his head and drained his cup. He placed it on the table. “Well, there you have it,” he said. “Thank you so much for the coffee, Tom. I sure do like it. Don’t know how you get it so smooth. But now that my morning has been wasted, let me get these dunces off your land. You have a nice day.”
“You, too, Sheriff,” Tom said with a smile. He walked them to the front porch where he shook the sheriff’s hand. “Have a safe trip back to town.”
“I will,” Randall said. “You take care, you hear? This will pass. Eventually they will realize that you aren’t your father or your brother and they’ll stop pestering you. You’ll see.”
“Hope so,” Tom said.
Sheriff Randall yelled until each and every man in the search party was back on his horse, and they rode out of Tom’s gate. It stood open. It always stood open. And they still thought he was hiding something. It boggled his mind.
Tom was glad they finally decided to leave. He had to get to town, to the stagecoach yard. He was meeting someone important today. Glancing around the kitchen, he picked up the two coffee mugs and placed them in the sink. Then pumping water with the hand pump, he washed them and set them on the rack to dry. There—now the place was clean.
It took him several minutes to gather his things and head out to the stables. As he walked, he noticed all the places where those men from town had left evidence of their raid: hay bales that were toppled over, grain sacks knocked to the floor, and plants trod into the hard ground. It wasn’t anything he couldn’t fix, and yet it irked him.
In the stable, he found his two horses restive and unhappy. He stroked Coffee, the black mare’s neck and then ran his other hand down Chocolate’s neck as well. Chocolate was the other mare, gentle, dark brown, and sweet like her name. They didn’t like strangers any more than he did.
As he harnessed them to the cart he spoke in a soft, gentle tone and soon his girls were back to normal. They pricked up their ears and nuzzled his neck and hands looking for treats or failing that, some love. He patted them.
“Come on, girls,” Tom said. “We have to go and fetch Julia.”
The horses gave no indication of whether or not they understood him. He suspected they didn’t. But since he had only animals to talk to most days, Tom had developed the habit of going to the paddock or the stable and telling the animals what he was thinking. Sometimes they would nod and made noises as though they, too, were trying to join in. It made things less lonely.
Perhaps that was the real reason behind his desire to find a wife. He would settle for a cook and housekeeper, but a wife seemed more companionable somehow. He wanted someone to talk to, someone to share the little moments that made up his life.
Sitting in the driver’s seat of the cart, he flicked the reins and yelled, “Yah!” and the horses began to trot forward. They had a bit of a ride ahead of them. The stagecoach yard was at the north end of town and the farm was in the south.
Tucked away between some hills, Tom’s land was in a great spot. When there was rain in the area it always seemed to fall on his land, even when it missed the rest of the town entirely. His well had only gone dry once, and that was a terrible year when there had been no water at all for four days. And then the heavens had opened up and there were flash floods and landslides. It seemed there was never a happy medium.
Tom considered that most of the time, the farm was a good place to be. It was far enough away that he didn’t have to deal with the Oliver Trenches of the world too often, but could still come into town when he wanted.
For the hundredth time, he wondered if bringing Julia out to the farm this soon was a good idea. He knew almost nothing about her except that she had two younger sisters and a younger brother. From the way she’d written her letters he got the feeling that her education had stopped not too long after it began; when he’d mentioned that he was reading a Jules Verne novel, she hadn’t commented on it at all. That made him think she either didn’t like reading, or wasn’t too comfortable with it.
Well, no matter. He could always help her. His mother had cultivated a love of reading in him when he was little. She used to read to him every night. They were some of his best and most beloved memories of her.
She had died bringing Elliott into the world. At first, Tom had hated his little brother for taking his mother away from him. But as time went by and Elliott began to look more like their mother than he himself did, he began to love his brother. So outgoing and boisterous. Elliott was a firecracker, just like dad. And there in lay the devil, or so Pastor Richardson said.
Sighing, Tom pulled his broad-brimmed hat further down over his forehead to cut out the worst of the sunshine hitting his eyes. It was hot and horrible already. His shirt was beginning to stick to him with sweat and he wished that the breeze was cooler and not just the gentle movement of air only slightly cooler than the ground under it. Texas this time of year was a nightmare. And in August it was a province of hell—at least, that was according to Pastor Richardson again.
Tom’s friendship with the pastor had begun when he was young. He’d lost his mama, and his father hadn’t been one for compassion, telling Tom to get over it. Tom hadn’t been able to. He had loved his mother dearly, finding in her the nurturing and loving soul he needed to be able to grow. And he had gone looking for a surrogate. Finding two had been sheer providence. Pastor Richardson and his wife May were nothing but miraculous. They were loving, understanding, kind, and generous. And best of all, their door was always open.
So when Tom had a fight with his father and little brother, he would scoot off to the church and stay there until things calmed down. Sometimes it seemed to Tom he’d lived at the church far more than at the farm. That arrangement had suited him well.
It also made him wonder now, with that wonderful thing called hindsight if perhaps he had stayed at home more, his brother wouldn’t have followed their father down his well of deceit and lies. Tom couldn’t stand liars—not after his father and brother had lied to him for years and had turned him into a liar on their behalf. Tom shuddered as he thought of the lies he had told everyone. Did it exonerate him that he hadn’t known he was lying at the time? He didn’t think so. A lie was still a lie.
Deep in his musings, Tom only realized he had reached Coppertown when someone yelled at him. He pulled on the reins and the girls stopped walking. In front of them, another cart came to a juddering halt to his left. It was clear had they continued as they were, they would have smashed into each other.
“Hey! You wanna watch where you’re going?” the irate driver asked.
Tom smiled in a friendly manner and held up a hand in apology. “Sorry, lost in thought,” he said.
The man smiled then and waved as well. “Do your thinking at home on your porch,” he advised.
Tom nodded. “Will do,” he said. The man drove on and Tom checked the intersection before going on his way as well.
Coppertown wasn’t the biggest town in the area, but it had over a thousand residents. This was good ranching land and with the copper mines close by, a lot of people came into the town.
The stagecoach yard was busy. A coach came trundling in as Tom arrived. He tied up just outside the yard and joined the stream of people walking in through the gate. The yard was open, dusty, and smelled of horse manure. There were people climbing into and out of coaches while some stood to the side waiting for their coach to arrive. A group of people stood off to the right. They were few and were the ones waiting for someone to come and fetch them. Tom had arranged that he would meet Julia there.
As he approached the four people standing against that wall, he became concerned. Julia had said she was a brunette with brown eyes. There were no brunettes waiting. There was a young blonde though. Apart from her there was middle-aged woman with graying hair and a pair of twin boys of about fourteen. A large man who was dabbing at his cheeks with a handkerchief looked Tom up and down and then looked away.
“Good morning,” Tom said as he stepped up to the waiting people. “Anyone of you know a Julia Reynolds? I’m supposed to collect her here.”
To his surprise the blonde nodded. “I know Julia Reynolds,” she said. Then looking somewhat nervous she stepped towards him and said softly, “Are you Tom McCarthy?”
She swallowed and fixed a nervous smile to her lips. “Could we have a quick word?”
“What about?” Tom asked. “Is Julia all right? Has something happened to her?”
The woman sighed. “Yes and no,” she said. “I’m afraid this will take some explaining. You see, Julia sent me in her stead.”
Tom’s mouth dropped open.
“Love’s Heartfelt Journey” is an Amazon Best-Selling novel, check it out here!
On her way home, Elsie Graham comes up with an intriguing plan to escape the future her parents have arranged for her. Instead of marrying the odious man her family has chosen, she swaps places with a mail-order bride who has second thoughts. Elsie has always dreamed of a fulfilling life, but when she meets her husband-to-be, she realizes that her dangerous scheme could ruin her last chance at happiness…
Will she be able to determine her own fate, or will she regret her spontaneous decision?
After a terrible misunderstanding, Tom McCarthy’s life has turned into a nightmare. He is forced to endure the suspicion of the townspeople over his family’s actions. His loneliness forces him to look for a mail-order bride, and when he meets Elsie, he is charmed by her values and unique personality. However, he is reluctant to reveal his past, fearing that she will lose interest…
Will she trust him enough to stand by him through the tough times ahead?
Tom and Elsie’s newborn love grows stronger every day… However, can it endure the constant attack of those who want to see them leave town in shame? Will they disprove the rumors that torment them, or will love be defeated by hatred?
“Love’s Heartfelt Journey” is a historical western romance novel of approximately 80,000 words. No cheating, no cliffhangers, and a guaranteed happily ever after.