The Bartered Bride

The Brides

Book 3
Indigo Road Publishing
60
Free sample

COLORADO 1880
Jem Wheeler has always been a survivor. He just wants to make a fresh start in Colorado Springs after the loss of his wife. But then he happens upon a young mute woman being sold off to the highest bidder. He wasn't looking for a mail-order bride. He wasn't looking to rescue anyone either. But desperate circumstances can drive a good man to do things he hadn't planned on doing... 

When Jem steps into Annie's life, she's not expecting anyone to save her. Mute from birth, she's just using all her wits to survive. All she's ever really wanted is a family of her own. For someone to see her. To look at her long enough to hear the things she can't say.

Can Annie finally break through the silence to win Jem's heart?


Sweet Historical Western Romance
A Mail-Order Bride Novel

Each book in The Brides Series can be read as a stand-alone novel, but reading in order will provide a more complete reading experience.


THE BRIDES SERIES

The Unexpected Bride
Sleigh Bells & Mistletoe
The Bartered Bride
Only the Heart Knows


Excerpt

Jem took the apple core from his daughter and passed her one of the remaining crackers with a piece of cheese on it. Mae munched that down and looked to him immediately for another, the last one.

He gave it to her, then showed her his empty hands.

She frowned. "More?"

"No more," Jem said, and showed her his empty hands again, making a bigger gesture out of it, as if the little girl was accusing him of hiding some.

If Annie weren't so intent on eating her share of cheese and crackers she might have smiled at the sight of them, one of the most dangerous men she'd ever seen sitting side by side with that tiny little girl. They made quite a mismatched pair.

Mae looked over at Annie, at the last cracker in her hand and the last bit of cheese.

Annie gulped down the mouthful she was chewing. She looked down at the last of her meal and back at the little girl. To her shame, she didn't want to give up her last cracker. She could barely remember the last meal she'd eaten.

"That's Annie's food," Jem admonished the little girl. "You've had yours."

Mae bit her lip. She glanced down at her lap, then back at Annie again.

I can share, Annie attempted to tell Mae with her eyes alone. She snapped her cracker in half--simply unable to bear parting with the whole thing--and passed it across to the little girl. Mae took it and popped the whole thing in her mouth, making Annie smile.

"Mae!" her father said.

She looked at him wide-eyed, her mouth full of cracker. "Whaf dafdda?" she said, muffled, spraying a few cracker crumbs onto his trousers.

He closed his eyes briefly and brushed them off. "You didn't have to give her any," he said to Annie, "but thanks."

Annie grunted, her way of saying she didn't mind that much. She looked down quickly and finished her last bit of food. The crackers had been crispy and the cheese silky and smooth. They'd tasted like heaven.

"You must be thirsty," he said. "Do you mind sharing?"

She shook her head and automatically lifted two fingers.

"Two's no?" he asked.

She nodded, pleased, and lifted one finger. She'd grown up sending signals through the floor of the Ruskins' house, one stomp for yes, two for no. It came natural as rain now.

"And one's yes," he said, catching on quick.

Annie drank deep when he passed her the flask of water, amazed he'd let her drink from it. She tried her best to pour it down her throat without touching her lips to the flask, so he wouldn't regret giving it to someone so dirty. She wished she could tell him thanks, but after Mae had her fill and he took his own swallow, he was back under his hat, likely going over the events of the day.

How he'd stuck himself with her.

How he probably regretted even stepping off the train at the last stop.

She couldn't say she blamed him.

She hadn't much wanted to marry a stranger herself.

***

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Additional Information

Publisher
Indigo Road Publishing
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Published on
Dec 7, 2015
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Pages
390
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ISBN
9781519513113
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Language
English
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Genres
Fiction / Christian / Historical
Fiction / Christian / Romance
Fiction / Christian / Western
Fiction / Romance / Clean & Wholesome
Fiction / Romance / Historical / General
Fiction / Romance / Historical / Victorian
Fiction / Romance / Western
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Content Protection
This content is DRM free.
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Read Aloud
Available on Android devices
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Eligible for Family Library

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When an advice columnist falls for a handsome rancher, she fears he'll never forgive her once he learns he's actually been sharing his secrets with a woman!

COLORADO 1880

Mandy MacKenna is secretly the voice behind Ask Mack, an advice column for men, addressing all matters ranching-related. And she's secretly in love with "Banks," one of her most devoted correspondents. But whenever she's around him, she can barely bring herself to make eye-contact with the man.

Adam Booker is a banker-turned-rancher, who's struggling to make his way after he inherits his uncle's place. If not for Ask Mack, he would have surely floundered by now. But the ranch is only one of his problems, because Mandy MacKenna - daughter of the region's wealthiest rancher - is far beyond his reach.

A lighthearted, sweet historical romance.

Only the Heart Knows is a standalone novel in The Brides Series.

THE BRIDES SERIES

The Unexpected Bride
Sleigh Bells & Mistletoe
The Bartered Bride
Only the Heart Knows

EXCERPT 

A look of alarm crossed the postmistress's face. "Miss Amanda! Behind you!"

Mandy spun around, expecting to find a crate on the boardwalk behind her.

What she collided with instead was a wall of chest. A man. Strong arms fastened around her, preventing her from tumbling backward off the boardwalk into the street. He set her back a bit without releasing her.

"I'm so sorry..." she said. Her words stumbled to a stop as she found her bearings and met the man's eyes. A pair of piercing blue eyes that reminded her of the deepest blue sky.

Those eyes.

Adam Booker's eyes.

He stood before her, so close. His face oh-so familiar. Freshly shaven, it looked like. Handsome. Refined. And yet entirely masculine. The ends of his dark, richly brown hair curling to just above his collar. Broad shoulders. That brown Stetson. A bright blue chambray shirt. A pair of nicely worn denims. Polished boots.

A banker in rancher's duds.

Lordy.

All Mandy's breath hitched up in her chest, making her lightheaded.

"Miss MacKenna," he said. She wondered if he was aware that he was idly smoothing his hands down her sleeves in a most familiar fashion. As if checking her for damage. Leaving a trail of tingles wherever he touched.

"Are you all right?" he asked.

She shivered. Not from cold. For she wasn't cold. Not in the least.

"I'm fine, sir. I mean, Mr. Booker. Sir." Oh, why had she said that? She'd called him sir. Twice. She sounded a fool, all breathless and overwhelmed with his closeness.

Mandy felt Miss Judith's curious gaze resting on them from the post office doorway. Miss Judith, who knew Mandy's secret. That she was the real face behind Ask Mack. Mandy had never revealed that Adam was Banks, but Miss Judith may well have figured it out.

Mandy answered Adam privately these days. And they'd become friends through their letters. A treasure she didn't wish to share with all of Cross Creek.

And here she was, Mack, standing with Banks on the boardwalk.

With his hands clasping her shoulders. Which felt so...right.

Something shifted inside Mandy. The usual butterflies danced inside her stomach, as they always did whenever she saw him, but this time she also felt the tiniest of clicks. Like something broken coming together. And with it came a rush of awareness that just yesterday she'd felt something missing in her life.

Was it this? That she belonged with him, Banks? A rather romantic notion. Especially since they'd only shared a few lovely dances. Adam couldn't possibly know when she looked at him, she saw a dear friend. And she could hardly expect him to view her with the same deep regard. Adam Booker didn't see her as a dear friend. How could he? He was possibly no more interested in Miss Amanda MacKenna than he was in a grasshopper hopping down the middle of Main Street.

He certainly didn't know she was Mack.

Not that she wanted him to know. He'd feel betrayed. Duped.

By her.

When an advice columnist falls for a handsome rancher, she fears he'll never forgive her once he learns he's actually been sharing his secrets with a woman!

COLORADO 1880

Mandy MacKenna is secretly the voice behind Ask Mack, an advice column for men, addressing all matters ranching-related. And she's secretly in love with "Banks," one of her most devoted correspondents. But whenever she's around him, she can barely bring herself to make eye-contact with the man.

Adam Booker is a banker-turned-rancher, who's struggling to make his way after he inherits his uncle's place. If not for Ask Mack, he would have surely floundered by now. But the ranch is only one of his problems, because Mandy MacKenna - daughter of the region's wealthiest rancher - is far beyond his reach.

A lighthearted, sweet historical romance.

Only the Heart Knows is a standalone novel in The Brides Series.

THE BRIDES SERIES

The Unexpected Bride
Sleigh Bells & Mistletoe
The Bartered Bride
Only the Heart Knows

EXCERPT 

A look of alarm crossed the postmistress's face. "Miss Amanda! Behind you!"

Mandy spun around, expecting to find a crate on the boardwalk behind her.

What she collided with instead was a wall of chest. A man. Strong arms fastened around her, preventing her from tumbling backward off the boardwalk into the street. He set her back a bit without releasing her.

"I'm so sorry..." she said. Her words stumbled to a stop as she found her bearings and met the man's eyes. A pair of piercing blue eyes that reminded her of the deepest blue sky.

Those eyes.

Adam Booker's eyes.

He stood before her, so close. His face oh-so familiar. Freshly shaven, it looked like. Handsome. Refined. And yet entirely masculine. The ends of his dark, richly brown hair curling to just above his collar. Broad shoulders. That brown Stetson. A bright blue chambray shirt. A pair of nicely worn denims. Polished boots.

A banker in rancher's duds.

Lordy.

All Mandy's breath hitched up in her chest, making her lightheaded.

"Miss MacKenna," he said. She wondered if he was aware that he was idly smoothing his hands down her sleeves in a most familiar fashion. As if checking her for damage. Leaving a trail of tingles wherever he touched.

"Are you all right?" he asked.

She shivered. Not from cold. For she wasn't cold. Not in the least.

"I'm fine, sir. I mean, Mr. Booker. Sir." Oh, why had she said that? She'd called him sir. Twice. She sounded a fool, all breathless and overwhelmed with his closeness.

Mandy felt Miss Judith's curious gaze resting on them from the post office doorway. Miss Judith, who knew Mandy's secret. That she was the real face behind Ask Mack. Mandy had never revealed that Adam was Banks, but Miss Judith may well have figured it out.

Mandy answered Adam privately these days. And they'd become friends through their letters. A treasure she didn't wish to share with all of Cross Creek.

And here she was, Mack, standing with Banks on the boardwalk.

With his hands clasping her shoulders. Which felt so...right.

Something shifted inside Mandy. The usual butterflies danced inside her stomach, as they always did whenever she saw him, but this time she also felt the tiniest of clicks. Like something broken coming together. And with it came a rush of awareness that just yesterday she'd felt something missing in her life.

Was it this? That she belonged with him, Banks? A rather romantic notion. Especially since they'd only shared a few lovely dances. Adam couldn't possibly know when she looked at him, she saw a dear friend. And she could hardly expect him to view her with the same deep regard. Adam Booker didn't see her as a dear friend. How could he? He was possibly no more interested in Miss Amanda MacKenna than he was in a grasshopper hopping down the middle of Main Street.

He certainly didn't know she was Mack.

Not that she wanted him to know. He'd feel betrayed. Duped.

By her.

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