by Shanna Hatfield
Baker City Brides, Book 1
Detestable! Arrogant! Insufferable!
He’d been called worse…
Rancher Thane Jordan reluctantly travels to England to settle his brother’s estate only to find he’s inherited much more than he could possibly have imagined.
Lady Jemma Bryan has no desire to spend a single minute in Thane Jordan’s insufferable presence much less live under the same roof with the handsome, arrogant American. Forced to choose between poverty or marriage to the man, she finds herself traveling across an ocean and America to reach his ranch in Oregon.
Originally, I planned for this book to be a Christmas story about a rough and rowdy rancher who found himself in England during the holiday season. Once I actually sat down and started writing the book, the characters took on a life of their own and I realized the story wasn’t going to be a stand alone Christmas story – but the first installment in a new series!
I chose Baker City as the setting for several reasons.
‹ It fits into the Eastern Oregon region that I enjoy writing about.
‹ It was a major stop on the train route through the area way back when.
‹ It was a booming town during the 1890s (when the series takes place).
‹ Many of the town’s old buildings still stand which makes it awesome for research and visualization.
‹ The Baker County Library has a huge and amazing collection of old photographs that brought the town to life for me.
‹ I like the way “Baker City Brides” sounds and rolls off the tongue.
‹ In the 1890s, Baker City experienced its second gold rush along with the establishment of many successful businesses. (Giving me loads to write about.)
Also, whenever we drive past the area on our way to visit family, we see this place…
It always makes the imaginative, curious part of me wonder who originally lived there and built the outbuildings. Who put up the corral? Why did they live so far from town? (This place is out in the middle of nowhere). Did they have a family? What did they think of the miles and miles of sagebrush and rolling hills?
I used this place as the foundation for Thane Jordan’s ranch, located south of Baker City, out in the middle of rolling hills of sagebrush and dirt.
Imagine being an English Lady, accustomed to a life that was lush and comfortable and entirely pleasant, forced (for the sake of two children) to marry a man you loathe entirely, and give up everything familiar. You travel across an ocean and the vast country of America, only to spend an hour on a bumpy wagon (or buckboard in Jemma’s case) ride to discover your new home out here in the midst of nothing but sagebrush and cattle.
It would definitely have taken strength, fortitude, and bravery.
Here's an excerpt:
Thane has just taken Jemma for a ride to look over part of the ranch.
“Thank you, Thane. I enjoyed it as well. The ranch is truly beautiful. Thank you for showing it to me.”
“I’m sorry it took so long. I meant to take you out last week, but things have been so busy.”
Jemma placed her hand on his arm and looked into his face. “I understand. I know you have many responsibilities to see to and you can’t spend all your time with the children.”
Although he loved Jack and Lily, he didn’t feel a desperate need to be close to them. Rather, it was the beguiling woman standing beside him with her hand burning a hole through his shirtsleeve who captured his thoughts.
“I better relieve Sam of the children. I’m sure he has grown tired of Lily asking ‘why’ and Jack wanting to find you or play with the dogs or ride his horse. Thank you for giving him his own horse, by the way. He hasn’t stopped talking about it since the moment you put the reins in his hands.”
“Every rancher needs a good horse. Jack will grow into Nick.”
As she recalled Jack’s excitement at having his own horse, she smiled at Thane. “It meant so much to him for you to entrust an animal to his care.”
He nodded as she turned back toward the barn door. One of Lily’s doll dresses on the ground caught her attention. When she bent over to pick it up, Thane reached out and brushed his hand over the curve of her rear.
She shot upright as if she’d been branded. Fire blasted from her eyes as she spun around and glared at him. “Mr. Jordan, that is completely and absolutely unacceptable. Do I make myself clear?”
“And wipe that smirk off your face!”
“That, I can’t do.” Thane’s wicked smile did little to calm her pounding heart or the breath she drew in with tight, short gasps. He touched his fingers to his hat, strolled out of the barn, then looked back at her with a wink.
Frustrated, she stamped her booted feet then marched to the bunkhouse. She wanted to chase after Thane, spin him around, and slap his face – or kiss him until she lost what little sense she had left.
Shanna creates character-driven romances with realistic heroes and heroines. Her historical westerns have been described as “reminiscent of the era captured by Bonanza and The Virginian” while her contemporary works have been called “laugh-out-loud funny, and a little heart-pumping sexy without being explicit in any way.”
She is a member of Western Writers of America, Women Writing the West, and Romance Writers of America.
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