Hi Janette and welcome to HJ! We’re so excited to chat with you about your new release, Last Chance Wife!
Hey! Thanks so much for having me here, and thank you, readers, for stopping by to learn more about my debut inspirational historical romance, Last Chance Wife!
Please summarize the book a la Twitter style for the readers here:
Six times ordered but never a bride. Last Chance Wife is a mail-order bride story but not your typical one. I like to tell people it’s You’ve Got Mail in the Wild West.
Please share the opening lines of this book:
“In case of trouble, call upon Mr. Ewan Burke at the Golden Star Mine in Deadwood.”
Clutching the crinkled note Aunt Mildred had given her, Winifred Sattler raised her gaze to the town in which she’d found herself stranded.
Please share a few Fun facts about this book…
- I live ten minutes from the location of Last Chance Wife.
- I sold Last Chance Wife through Love Inspired’s Manuscript Match contest in 2016.
- I researched for the book by touring a real, historic gold mine within a mountain–while I was pregnant with my twin sons!
- It is my debut publication!
- The first scene was deleted in the editing process, so I’m planning to release it to my newsletter subscribers after the book is released in May.
What first attracts your Hero to the Heroine and vice versa?
The Hero, Ewan, isn’t interested in the Heroine, Winifred, at first…he wants a no-nonsense wife and she’s very whimsical. But when he sees her tireless effort to help him save his fledgling gold mine business, his heart is softened.
Winifred is intimidated by Ewan’s serious ways, and she knows her unconventional approach to his business makes her a difficult employee for him to keep on. But when he helps a woman in desperate need, Winifred sees the warmth behind his seemingly cold exterior.
Using just 5 words, how would you describe Hero and Heroine’s love affair?
Surprising, Connection, Self-sacrificial, Satisfying, Emotional.
The First Kiss…
They have just thrown a fundraising party together for the business, and while they are cleaning up after closing time, they get to talking. They connect over their shared experiences, which leads to stories of their painful pasts and growing respect for each other. Ewan realizes how much Winifred has done for him over the past couple of months, and so he becomes vulnerable and kisses her.
Without revealing too much, what is your favorite scene in the book?
There are so many favorite scenes to choose from! But many I can’t describe without giving away too much information. So I’ll share this one, where Ewan and Winifred have just had an argument and are now on a walk through the forest together, delivering a pie and well wishes to a man who was recently hurt at Ewan’s mine…
Sunlight winked through the evergreen boughs as her feet shuffled over a blanket of fallen pinecones and brown needles. She stumbled on a root but righted herself before anything could happen to the pie. Her heeled shoes weren’t exactly suited to hiking.
The trail seemed nearly nonexistent. Winifred followed Mr. Burke past ferns and through wildflowers as he led her farther from the claim. The scent of creek water mixing with soil caught her senses.
“Are you sure you know where you’re going?” She sidestepped a spray of lovely white flowers that reminded her of dainty lace.
“Of course I know.” A hint of irritation circled in his tone. Irritation probably left over from that morning’s spat.
Winifred cringed. “About this morning…I’m sorry for sounding like I was accusing you of not caring about your workers.”
“You didn’t sound like you accused me. You did accuse me.”
“That wasn’t my intention.” She hastened to keep up with the man’s long strides. Couldn’t he slow down? “I didn’t mean to hurt your feelings.”
He didn’t answer.
She exhaled. “It’s just that I seem to cause trouble every time I’m with you, and—oh!”
Her heel caught in a snarl of underbrush and down she went. The pie flew from her fingers, landing somewhere in the flowers just before Winifred’s torso made impact with the ground.
The sudden collision stole her breath, stung her joints. Blinking, she was still trying to fathom what had happened when Mr. Burke rustled through the flowers toward her and two hands hoisted her to her feet.
“Are you all right?” This time no irritation hung in his tone. Without warning, he plucked a pine needle from her hair and brushed dirt from her shoulders and arms.
Winifred swallowed. He was so intent on the process of tidying her up, she doubted he realized how close he stood. Hadn’t kept her from noticing. “I’m fine.”
He made a final dusting over her shoulders and swiped a strand of hair from her face, then he finally froze. Stared at her, slightly slack jawed. A trace of something burning and tentative sparked in his gaze. A gaze she could lose herself in…
Mr. Burke squeezed his eyes shut and stepped back. “We’d better check on that pie.”
Ducking her head, Winifred found capacity in her lungs again, then made a move to walk forward. But when she took a step, her right ankle wobbled beneath her on shifting ground. Or deep mud. Whatever it was, she sank in clear to the sole of her shoe. Except when she looked down, she realized she hadn’t sunk in at all. Worse than that—she had completely broken off the right heel of her shoe instead.
“Fiddlesticks.” Bending, she swiped her broken heel off the ground and held it up for Mr. Burke to see. “See what I mean? Trouble. Everywhere I go.”
The man pressed his lips together. A corner of his mouth turned upward, and he pressed his lips firmer.
Winifred narrowed her eyes. “Mr. Burke…are you trying not to laugh at me?”
“Never.” His mouth wobbled a bit more before he finally released a chuckle. A genuine, bona fide chuckle—which had a nice ring to it. “All right, fine. I tried not to laugh. Didn’t work so well.” Still chuckling under his breath, he walked away from her and knelt in the flowers. “Good news. The pie survived.”
If your book was optioned for a movie, what scene would be absolutely crucial to include?
In the beginning, Winifred is stranded in Deadwood on her way home to Denver after a failed mail-order match. While working for Ewan, she spies a mail-order ad in the newspaper. With spite for her current situation, she decides to respond to the ad. Not as an interested candidate, but as “Miss Thoroughly Disgruntled,” and she gives him a piece of her mind in regards to the mail-order practice.
She never plans to send the letter. And little does she know that her respondent, “Mr. Businessman,” is actually Ewan, her boss.
In this scene, she is at the post office and finds out that somehow her letter (concealed inside an envelope she doodled all over) was actually mailed! And, oh the embarrassment, she has received a reply….
“An envelope very similar to this came through the other day.” The postmaster turned the envelope over, following the scrawling sketch. “Ah, yes, see here? The initials embedded in the drawing itself. WS.”
Her eyes widened. She’d thought the initials were hidden quite well in the drawing. And wait—how did the postmaster know…
“Are you Miss Thoroughly Disgruntled?” The man’s gaze twinkled, meeting hers. “This buffalo is quite nice.”
“I beg your pardon?” Winifred felt the blood drain from her face, along with her ability to understand complete sentences. Surely he hadn’t just called her…
“The advertisement reply to Mr. Businessman,” Mr. Star prompted. “Your letter had no return address, so when he mailed a response, I kept it in the back in case you came in—though I wasn’t sure how I’d know you, without a name or description. Handy thing, having those drawings as a calling card. I couldn’t believe he had the gall to call you that on the envelope. Though I suppose you must’ve kept your name a secret or he would’ve used it. But ‘Miss Thoroughly Disgruntled’?”
He let out a deep belly chuckle, and Winifred had to catch herself on the counter to keep her knees from giving out beneath her.
“I think you have me confused with someone else.” No way could he have meant her. The advertisement, a reply…they had to be coincidental. Her letter still lay secured in her valise. Though she couldn’t exactly explain away how he’d guessed the nickname she’d signed to the letter or how he knew her initials were in the sketch.
“You did respond to an advertisement for a wife, didn’t you?” He cocked his head to the side. “The envelope that came through looked just like this, except it was of a hummingbird. Wait one moment.”
The man left the counter and went into a back room. Alone, Winifred plopped her valise on the counter and unhooked the buckles. It didn’t make sense. Everything he said described her response to the ad. But it couldn’t be hers. The envelope remained in her bag.
She riffled through her tangled contents. “Come on, come on…” Heart beating wildly, she yanked out her stack of envelopes and flipped through them. Empty. Every single one, and no sign of the one with the hummingbird.
“Here we are.” The postmaster returned with a letter, and she prayed it would be hers. But no, she could see the envelope’s crisp whiteness from a distance, void of her rambling sketches. As he set the envelope on the counter, he grinned as if he’d found himself involved in a most creative and intriguing plot. “Your mystery suitor replied immediately. Same day, actually. I’ve never seen someone so eager. And what providence to be in the same town, so your mail reaches each other so quickly. Do you want to know who he is?”
“No.” Winifred’s stomach flipped. “I—I need to get to work now. We’ll be opening soon.”
He scooted the envelope closer, and she jumped back. Silly, it’s not a rattlesnake. With a shaking hand, she dragged the envelope to the edge of the counter and dropped it into her bag.
Readers should read this book …
…if they love emotional romance, a hint of mystery, humor, a faith message, and an extremely satisfying Happily Ever After.
What are you currently working on? What other releases do you have planned?
I have some new projects up my sleeves, though nothing is scheduled for a release yet. Since Love Inspired’s historical line is closing, I’m taking advantage of the opportunity to try writing a romance for their contemporary line. I’m in the process of it right now, and really enjoying it! It involves ex-sweethearts who co-inherit the Heroine’s family ranch. (There are also secret baby twins, so that’s a lot of fun!)
Historical romance is always near and dear to my heart, so I also have a trade length series I’m working on, which deals with romantic suspense/mystery set in the West (1890s). It’ll be exciting to see what becomes of these projects!
Thanks for blogging at HJ!
Giveaway: I’m giving away a free electronic copy of Last Chance Wife!
To enter Giveaway: Please complete the Rafflecopter form and Post a comment to this Q: If you were a mail-order bride, where would you hope you ended up? What would your husband and your new life be like?
Excerpt from Last Chance Wife:
In this section, we see Ewan Burke’s mission highlighted. At his store, in his office, and in the gold mine, he employs several people who would otherwise be considered ‘unemployable’ by other business owners in that day. This is the scene where a woman, Delia Richardson, comes to him for help and employment, and Winifred gets to see Ewan’s warm heart beneath his seemingly cold exterior….
Mr. Burke’s hand clasped hers beneath the table.
Startled, she looked up at him. He offered her a small smile. “Why don’t you accompany me to the store, Miss Sattler? Cassandra will stay with Miss Richardson and help her settle in.”
Unable to find her voice, Winifred nodded and followed him out of the kitchen. Colors from the low sun glowed through the hallway windows as they made their way around the twists and turns that now felt so familiar to her.
“I thought this might be a bit overwhelming for you.” His voice still sounded hushed, the same soft tones he’d used with Delia. “Perhaps an explanation is in order.”
Before tonight, she’d never quite heard that tone from him, nor seen the gentleness in his actions toward another person, and her heart filled with warmth. Whatever explanation he thought he owed her, she could assure him he did not.
He unlocked the store and stepped in first. Odd—usually he stepped aside like a gentleman.
“Just a minute.” Then he swept through the store and checked the front door to make sure it was locked to the outside, and with a rush of appreciation, she realized he had stepped in first to protect her from any threat that might be lying in wait. He came back to where she stood in the doorway and ushered her in. “All clear. I wanted to make certain.”
Entering, Winifred took in the shop with new eyes. “Are we in some sort of danger?”
“No, probably not. But one can never be too careful.”
He moved to the counter to light the lamp waiting there. Winifred ambled to the window and stared out at the golden sun, bursting into a sunset. She touched the pane with her fingertip. “Is Delia in danger?”
Mr. Burke released a heavy sigh. “I never know. We haven’t had any problems in the past, but I don’t want us to be caught unawares.”
“In the past?” Winifred turned. “You mean there have been others?”
“A few.” He leaned a hip against the counter. “That’s what I wanted to talk to you about.” Low light from the lamp cast those shadows across his face again, and he crossed his arms over his broad chest. “The Golden Star has a reputation in town. When people need a place to turn, they know they’re welcomed here.”
Winifred turned her body to face him fully. “You mean people like Delia.”
“Sometimes, yes. And also people like George and Lars.” Mr. Burke shook his head. “It all started so suddenly. I met a woman named Lucinda, who had run away from the Gem and had nowhere to turn. I’d recently completed my office building, so she moved in with Cassandra and began managing my store after that. She actually quit the day I hired you. Others have come and gone, doing office work or helping Cassandra in the kitchen.” He smiled faintly for an instant before his face grew serious. “I only tell you this so you’re not confused about what’s going on. People come here to find a new start, Miss Sattler. When they have learned skills and are confident in using them, they have the chance to move on with their lives somewhere else, where no one knows them and they can begin again.”
Her already-warmed heart melted into a pool, and her throat thickened. “So, you save their lives?”
Mr. Burke waved off her question. “They save themselves by choosing to turn toward a new path. Cassandra helps out tremendously. I only supply the building.”
One of her brows arched. “You’re being modest. I saw the way you took charge in there. You’ll help Delia more than either of us will.”
He shrugged a shoulder, obviously unprepared for how to respond to her compliment. Not that she really knew where to go from there, either. Even after all the stern comments he’d said to her since she first came, she had a strong desire despite it all to cross the floor and kiss him for his good deeds tonight.
The thought brought a blush to her cheeks, and she whirled to face the window. Winnie Sattler, get a hold of yourself. You can’t go kissing Mr. Burke just because he did something that moved you. Have you gone mad?
Or worse, was she that desperate for a solid, good-willed man in her life?
“I admire your courage and servitude.” She drew a line along the windowsill. “Most people would be like the characters in the story of the Good Samaritan and walk on by, but you stop to help. More than that, you hang a light in your window so that people in need know they can come to you.” She swallowed, fortifying her thoughts. “My father was a man like you. He and my mother owned an orphanage in Kansas. A small one, with maybe ten or twelve children. But they loved their work—loved building a home full of care for children who needed it so badly. Then one night, there was a fire. He managed to get me and the other children out, but my mother—” Pausing, Winifred blinked back the emotion pressing down on her. “My mother was sick. After rounds and rounds of entering that building, in and among flames and smoke, my father still went in for Mother.” The golden light outside took on an orange hue above the evergreen trees. “My parents’ relationship was like nothing I’d ever seen before or since. A sacrificial love that covered everything.”
It was a love she had fervently prayed to have for her own. And every time a mail-order agreement didn’t work, she clung to that picture of her parents and set her shoulders, telling herself the next one would be it. The next one would be that sacrificial love she wanted so desperately. But it never was, and she always ended up alone.
“They died together.” Tears clogged her words. “Some say in each other’s arms.”
Two hands touched her shoulders from behind. Turning, she allowed Mr. Burke to put his arms around her as she pushed her face into his chest. Oh, how desperately she wanted not to cry, to be strong, but in the warmth of someone’s comfort, she couldn’t hold back her tears.
She had been alone for so long. “Aunt and Uncle did their best, but—”
“Shh…” He placed his chin on her head and gathered her closer. “We don’t always understand why life happens the way it does. My mother died when I was a child, too. But know you’re safe here, that the Golden Star is a second family for you.”
Excerpts. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.
Her Secret Suitor
When six-time mail-order bride Winifred Sattler is stranded in Deadwood, Dakota Territory, she’s grateful to find a temporary position at Mr. Ewan Burke’s business until she can return home. Ewan is handsome, but stuffy and serious—her complete opposite. Unlike her new anonymous correspondent, Mr. Businessman, who appreciates her bubbly optimism.
To keep his mining company afloat, Ewan can’t be distracted by Winifred’s vivacious beauty. He needs a no-nonsense wife. Someone like Miss Thoroughly Disgruntled, the only respondent to his recent ad with whom he truly connected. In person, Winifred and Ewan don’t get along, but in their letters they’re falling in love. Will they discover a perfect match in each other?
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Meet the Author:
A former high school English teacher, turned stay-at-home mom, I’m passionate about inspirational, God-centered romances and teaching people to see themselves as having worth in God’s eyes.
I am a proud member of American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW), secretary of the ACFW Dakotas chapter, and am represented by Tamela Hancock Murray at the Steve Laube Agency.
When I sneak in time for my extra hobbies, I love to read, quilt, make cloth dolls, and draw. A graduate of York College and Black Hills State University, I make my home in the northern Midwest with my amazing husband, polydactyl cat, bird-hunting dog, and the most adorable baby twin boys on the planet.
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