Two strangers. One clandestine wedding. Many hidden stories. Discouraged by his limited prospects and tired of trying to find a bride in a traditional manner, Elias Wheeler places an advertisement requesting a mail-order bride and mother for his young daughter. Rebecca Malone, eager to escape an abusive past, travels to Montana to become Elias’s wife despite only exchanging a few letters. Learning to care for one another proves easy; learning to trust proves much more difficult. Elias and Rebecca must navigate the waters of blending families while learning to depend on one another with confidence, loving support, and faith. Together they must learn to rely on each other and what they hope to build while accepting that perfection isn’t the goal; love is.
Elias stood nervously waiting for the train to pull into the station. He looked down the tracks for any indication that the wait was almost over. Of course the train was running late. This, the biggest day of his life, had him pacing and constantly wiping the sweat from his palms onto his trousers. Maybe I should have dressed a little better, he thought, knowing that his everyday work clothes certainly weren’t fit to greet his future bride. But he’d run out of time this morning, and he couldn’t very well head to town in his one good suit without arousing suspicions with his family. He wanted this to be a surprise. He needed this to be a surprise for the simple fact that his family would likely try to talk him out of it. Nobody in their small town of Hollow, Montana had gone the route of taking a mail order bride, and Elias knew they would likely judge him for not finding a bride in a more traditional manner.
He had tried the traditions of courting and marriage before, with little success. He married his sweetheart Rachel when he was 20 years old out of equal parts love and obligation, and their relationship ended when she died shortly after their daughter, Lottie, was born. He later learned of Rachel’s infidelity and confirmed the fact that Lottie was not his blood child. He didn’t care one bit if she was his; he was her father and he cherished her more than anything in this world. But she needed a mother. At just eight years old, Lottie was taking on too much responsibility caring for him. Elias didn’t want her to feel obligated to take care of his needs. She needed to run and play and make her own adventures in the vast fields of their cattle ranch. She didn’t need to spend her days doing laundry or cooking his meals. She needed to learn and grow as a child was meant to do. And it was this need that drove him to look for a mail order bride.
Elias looked down the tracks again. Nothing. Several other families seemed just as anxious as he was for the train to arrive. Perhaps they had relatives coming to visit. Maybe they were waiting for a special package or shipment to arrive. He noticed that no other single men stood there waiting for the train. Of course he didn’t recognize several folks waiting on the platform, so it was possible he wasn’t the only one waiting for a woman. His small town had grown tremendously since the train set up station here just over a year ago. New people were moving into town and setting up much needed businesses. They now had a dressmaker, a tailor, a hotel, several restaurants, a feed store, and a blacksmith. Two saloons had opened as well, though Elias didn’t appreciate the types of men and women they attracted. But the town appeared to be flourishing with new people and new opportunities. They had recently completed construction on a new church, and a new schoolhouse would be built this spring. Several folks had claimed their own homesteads to try their hand at ranching. None were as successful as Elias’s cattle ranch, but he appreciated having more neighbors for fellowship and assistance.
Despite the growth of the town, Elias had minimal luck finding a bride. Most women who came to Hollow were already married and planning to settle. The ones raised here were either too young or too old to marry a widowed rancher. That didn’t leave him many options. He’d watched his brother marry his wife, Hetty, and their happiness was worthy of admiration. In the five short years they’d been together they’d grown their family with three young boys and another child on the way. They’d built a life together on a foundation of love and faith. Elias wanted the same thing…for himself and for his daughter. If the train would ever arrive maybe he could make that happen.
He didn’t expect immediate love from his soon-to-be bride. They barely knew one another, after all. But he hoped that with time their fondness for one another would grow and possibly turn into a relationship built on mutual respect and love. He prayed that would be the case. Elias reached in his pocket and took out the advertisement he’d placed last year.
Widowed rancher seeks wife to share land and home in Montana. Must be of moral character and possess a love of children.
He had received only one response from his advertisement from a young woman named Rebecca. She had written to him stating her desire to come west to settle and start a family. They had corresponded only a handful of times before he had sent her the necessary funds to travel from her home in Ohio to his home in Montana. Elias had learned she was 22, had no family, and was used to the hard work of a ranch, having been raised on a farm herself. She had described herself as rather plain, but Elias didn’t care. Rachel had been beautiful, and look where it got him. Having a wife full of beauty wasn’t important; he cared more about what was on the inside – her character, her faith, and her ability to love and accept Lottie.
Elias nearly jumped from his skin when he heard a sound in the distance. The train? he thought. He removed his hat and ran his fingers through his light brown hair. He adjusted his shirt and used his fingers to remove a bit of dust sticking to his pants. In just a few minutes his future wife would step off the train. He took a deep breath and smiled to himself. This was just the beginning.
Just in case you missed
Reverie, Hollow Hearts Book One…
Orphaned at a young age Hetty is convinced that her circumstances make her unworthy of having a family of her own. When a job opportunity as a housekeeper presents itself Hetty accepts believing that working for Isaac Wheeler and his family is a welcome, if not temporary, surrogate for her own family dreams. As she’s faced with learning to trust she discovers that wanting a family and building a family are two very different things. Will she learn to see herself as worthy of God’s gifts? Or will she return to the solitary existence that defined so much of her life? Isaac Wheeler, successful furniture maker and dishonorable bachelor, finds Hetty’s presence in his home to be disturbing and a haunting reminder of his past sins. As he struggles with his growing and unwanted feelings, he can’t help but torment himself with mistakes from his past. Can he navigate the family tensions, infidelity, and sudden choices destined to keep them apart? Or can Isaac endure each struggle and seek forgiveness before discovering what truly makes a family?
Meet the Author
Christina Yother is a historical and contemporary romance writer. She has been involved with writing, blogging, and social media for several years and earned a PhD in 2012 by writing one of the first dissertations to explore how women build community through writing online. She lives in small-town Georgia with her husband and three children.You can find her writing at christinayother.com or at projectunderblog.com where she runs a submission-based collaborative writing blog that celebrates the smaller voices in the blogging community.