A Match Made in the West (Preview)

Chapter One

April 1887

Kaitlin Robbins turned from the stove where she was stirring a big pot of vegetable soup as her best friend burst through the doorway, a wild look on her face.

“I have about had it with the men around here,” Olivia announced dramatically as she sank onto their sunken-in sofa. It was faded and old and had been left behind by the last tenants who had rented the apartment they now lived in. It was gray and dingy, although Kaitlin thought that it might have been a pretty blue at one time.

“What happened now?” Kaitlin asked with sympathy. There was also a small hint of anxiety in her chest. They didn’t live in the best part of New York City, and they both always had to be on guard for their safety.

“John Peterson followed me home again,” Olivia explained with a frown.

Kaitlin knew exactly what her friend was talking about. Mr. Peterson was a much older man who had begun to show interest in Olivia. Even though her friend had kindly let Mr. Peterson know that she wasn’t ready for marriage, he wasn’t taking no for an answer. He seemed to always show up when Olivia left their apartment, with the offer to walk her to the store where she worked as a seamstress. Even when she refused his offer, he still followed her. It was a bit scary for Kaitlin to think that Mr. Peterson was being so persistent.

“I think that you should tell Nathan about what’s going on. He’ll put a stop to it,” Kaitlin advised as she gave the soup a final stir and then put the lid on the large pot to simmer.

Nathan was Olivia’s twin brother. “I don’t want to tell him about Mr. Peterson. He’ll overreact and cause more problems than it’s worth. I want to get out of New York City.”

Kaitlin blinked at the abrupt change of subject, but this wasn’t the first time Kaitlin had heard her friend complain about where they were living. In fact, deep down, she agreed with Olivia, but she didn’t know where else they could live. They only made enough money to make the rent on their small apartment and purchase food, with very little left over. They didn’t have enough funds to move somewhere else.

“How did Mrs. Nelson like her new dress that you made her?” Kaitlin asked in an effort to divert Olivia’s attention from something that they would never be able to do. Mrs. Nelson was a well-to-do woman who had ordered a fancy ball gown from the store where Olivia worked. Mrs. Nelson had been extremely picky, constantly changing her mind on the style, the fabric, and even the trimmings. Olivia’s boss had insisted that she accommodate Mrs. Nelson in the hope that she would become a regular customer.

“She liked it, but not enough to order any more dresses,” Olivia said discouragingly, and then she held up the stack of newspapers. “I stopped off at the store down the street and purchased these. I’m hoping I can find another job as a nanny.”

Kaitlin sat down next to Olivia, not sure how to tell her about her own job, that her hours were being cut back. She was also going to need to find another job. Olivia opened the first newspaper and began to glance through the advertisements. As Kaitlin watched, she thought about how she had gotten to this point in her life.

She had grown up in an orphanage and met Olivia and her brother in the same facility. While Kaitlin had been living there since she was a baby, Olivia and Nathan had come to the orphanage when they were eight years old because their parents had been killed in a factory explosion where they worked.

Kaitlin had become good friends with Olivia since almost the moment they met, and Nathan was always included in whatever they did. The three of them stayed in the orphanage until they were kicked out at the age of sixteen. They were lucky that they were able to find jobs with the help of a local minister. Kaitlin had worked as a maid for almost six years for a local banker and had hated every moment of it. She had been thrilled when she had been able to secure work as a bookkeeper for a large accounting firm two years ago. She was one of the only women that they employed, and she made half as much as the men did, but she was grateful that she had a job.

Olivia had been able to get a job as a nanny for three young well-to-do children. But she lost that job six months ago when the youngest was old enough to be shipped off to boarding school. Now she tried to make ends meet by sewing dresses for women, but she was only paid when a dress she personally made sold.

Nathan had struggled with keeping a job for a few years and had ended up living on the streets of New York for a while, but he was now doing well and working at the local police station.

Olivia tossed the newspaper aside with a groan. “Kaitlin, I know you think that I’m just complaining, but I really do want to move out of this city.”

Kaitlin’s heart dropped. The last thing she wanted was to be separated from her friend. Besides, if Olivia left, she wouldn’t be able to afford this apartment. What would happen to her?

“Where would you go?” she asked, trying to keep her voice steady. She didn’t want Olivia to realize that her words had greatly upset her. If Olivia felt like she needed to make a change in her life, Kaitlin would do what she could to support her. They had been friends for so long, she didn’t want to hold Olivia back if she wanted to leave.

Olivia didn’t say anything for a long moment. “I don’t know. There must be better opportunities in other cities. I might even consider moving out West.”

Kaitlin didn’t know what to say to that comment, so she stayed silent. She didn’t want to point out that it would take a lot of money to move somewhere west. The price of a train ticket was more than Olivia had, for one thing.

“Do you like living in New York City?” Olivia asked.

Kaitlin shrugged. “I’ve lived here all my life. I haven’t thought about living anywhere else.”

“Here’s what I think. We should both try to find new opportunities outside of this city.”

Kaitlin was about ready to refuse, but something held her back. Besides the fact that she didn’t want to be separated from Olivia, she realized that the idea had some merit if she wasn’t trying to figure out how they’d get to a new city or town. They would also need to be able to find jobs quickly once they arrived. She didn’t think that would happen, considering how hard it had been for them to keep jobs in New York City as single women.

It was becoming more and more difficult to find self-supporting jobs, especially for women. Even between the two of them, they were barely making ends meet as it was. Neither of them had good romantic prospects, although Olivia had no desire to get married at this point in her life. Kaitlin, on the other hand, wouldn’t mind settling down if she could find the right man to spend her life with. She was already twenty-four years old, and had only gone out with a few men, but nothing ever came of it after the first few dates. One of the things that always bothered her was when men found out that she had grown up in an orphanage, they immediately lost interest in getting to know her. It was as if there was a black mark against her because she didn’t have any family. Although she considered Olivia and Nathan to be her family, she was aware of how that didn’t matter to most people.

“What would you tell Nathan if we did leave?” Kaitlin asked.

Olivia’s face brightened as if she realized that Kaitlin was seriously considering her suggestion. “He could come with us if he wanted, although I doubt that he will since he’s been courting Jenny.”

“Do you think he would try and stop us?”

“Even if he wanted to, he couldn’t. We are adults, after all,” Olivia pointed out. “But I don’t think he will. He is aware of our situation.”

She reached down to the pile of newspapers that she had thrown on the floor and picked up one of them, a magazine that was called The Matrimonial Times. “I purchased this with the other newspapers, although I’m not sure why.”

“What is it?” Kaitlin asked curiously as she took the magazine from her friend. Olivia didn’t say anything while Kaitlin began to look through the magazine. Her eyes widened when she realized that it was full of advertisements from men who were looking for wives. She looked at Olivia with astonishment.

“I thought that this might be an option,” Olivia explained.

“But you don’t want to get married right now,” Kaitlin pointed out.

“Not for me, for you.”

“But…” Kaitlin began to protest, but Olivia held up a hand.

“Just hear me out. I just think that this might be something you could consider doing. There might be a man who is looking for someone just like you. I’ve heard that there are many men in the West who live in small towns, and there are very few women available to marry. So, they place ads like this in newspapers and magazines in the West.”

“But if I decide to do this, what would you do?”

“I would go with you and settle in the town that you choose,” Olivia replied.

Kaitlin felt relief at her friend’s words. Suddenly the possibility of traveling so far to marry a man she’d never met before sounded a bit more feasible, if Olivia was willing to come with her. “But what about a job for you? Small towns probably don’t have a lot of choices in employment for women.”

“I know this sounds a bit strange, but I would worry about that once I arrived. Maybe the man that you decide to marry will know of a job that I could have. I could also sew dresses like I’m doing now or maybe even find a family that needs help with their children,” Olivia suggested, her face brightening. She loved being around children, even though she wasn’t ready to have any of her own yet.

Kaitlin wasn’t sure what to think about this idea. She set the magazine aside and went to check on the soup. Seeing that it was done, she moved it off the hot stove and dished out bowls for them. She was grateful that Olivia didn’t make a comment about how thin the soup was.

There really wasn’t much food in their pantry, and vegetable soup was about the only thing Kaitlin knew how to make, and that could last two or three days before they needed to make some more. Sometimes she was able to buy a soup bone to throw into it, but today it was just cabbage, a few carrots, onions, and potatoes, with salt and pepper for flavor. She had to admit that the soup did smell good, though, and she was hungry enough to eat more than one bowl.

As they ate their dinner, Olivia started to talk about other things. Kaitlin half-listened as she continued to think about the magazine that sat in the middle of the faded sofa as she spooned the thin soup into her mouth.

When the dishes were done, Olivia began to work on her next job, which was a small pink dress for a little girl. Kaitlin slowly picked up the magazine and began to look through it. Taking a small, stubbed pencil, she made marks next to the ads that were promising and crossed out the ones that she wouldn’t even consider answering. By the end of the evening, she had narrowed the ads down to three potential candidates.

She eventually decided that she would write to all three men and see who answered. After all, writing to them didn’t mean she was committing to marry them if she changed her mind. It was an option to look into. But she was glad that Olivia would be willing to travel and then settle in whatever town Kaitlin ended up settling in.

And deep down, she liked the idea that she might find a man who wouldn’t care that she had been raised in an orphanage. Maybe she would finally be able to have a family of her own.

Chapter Two

“What are you thinking about?” Sheriff Robert Agnew jerked to attention at his good friend and deputy’s question and looked at him with confusion. “You’ve been staring at the same spot on the wall for the last five minutes,” Mike helpfully pointed out with a nod towards a deep hole where a picture once hung.

Robert smiled sheepishly. “I’m a bit worried about my mother being able to take care of my wild five-year-olds.”

“She seems to be doing well so far,” Mike commented as he made himself comfortable on a corner of Robert’s desk, the only empty spot available. Papers, books, and wanted posters covered the rest of it. A well of ink had gotten knocked over a few days ago, the ink spreading across some paper Robert hadn’t yet had a chance to clean up.

“Now that they are getting bigger, they actually can move faster than my mother. There are also causing a few problems for her,” Robert explained with a frown at his friend. He didn’t like anyone touching his desk, and he knew Mike sat on the corner just to bother him, although he noticed that his friend had carefully stayed clear of the spilled ink.

“Like what?” Mike asked.

“She took them to the general store yesterday. While she was talking to the owner, Tommy and Beth slipped out the door. Ma didn’t know they were gone for a while, and then it took her almost an hour to find them.”

“That is concerning,” Mike admitted. “Where did Carrie finally find them?”

“They were sitting on her porch, looking like perfect angels. But they had sticky faces and fingers. Ma suspected that they had stolen some licorice sticks from the store, but she couldn’t get them to admit it, and the evidence had disappeared. I had to make an extra trip to the store last night to pay for the candy they took.”

“It sounds like they need a mother,” Mike commented.

“They have a mother,” Robert said sharply, and then he looked at the wall again, his eyes sad. “I mean, they had one.”

“I know that Pamela hasn’t been gone very long, but maybe you ought to consider remarrying,” Mike said.

“I don’t know if I could love another woman,” Robert confessed as he frowned at Mike. “Although I have to admit that I am a bit lonely. It would be nice to have someone to talk to at the end of the day, once the twins are in bed.”

Mike stood up and went to his own desk, opened a drawer, and pulled out a magazine, handing it to Robert.

“What’s this?” he asked curiously.

“It’s a magazine from back East that posts advertisements to women from men in the West who are looking for wives. Any correspondence that is done between the man and woman is through the mail,” Mike explained.

Robert frowned and tossed the magazine onto the top of his desk, making a few papers it landed beside flutter to the floor. “I’m not going to marry a woman I’ve never met. There’s no telling what kind of woman would be desperate enough to answer these types of ads.”

“Where are you going to find a woman who would be willing to marry you and take on two energetic and active five-year-olds?” Mike asked.

Robert didn’t answer, and he was glad when the door opened, and one of the townspeople, Mrs. Hammond, came inside with a determined look on her face.

“Good morning, Mrs. Hammond. How can I help you this fine day?” he asked, pasting a welcoming smile on his face.

Mrs. Hammond didn’t seem moved by his friendly greeting. “I want you, as sheriff of this town, to visit my neighbors and tell them to keep their dog on their property. I caught the dirty animal digging in my flower beds again.”

Even though the last thing he wanted to do was take care of such a minor issue, it was his job to keep the peace. Mrs. Hammond was a regular visitor to the office, always with some problem that she wanted him, and only him since he was the sheriff, to handle or fix. Mike felt like the older woman was lonely and came up with excuses for Robert to handle because no one else would visit her. She was a bitter woman who seemed to enjoy making everyone’s business her own. She lived across the street from him, another reason why she felt she could come to his office and complain whenever she wished.

“Let’s go and see if we can work something out with your neighbors,” Robert agreed.

He stayed busy with his job as Sheriff of Poppy Valley the rest of the day, helping citizens solve other minor issues, but for some reason, he couldn’t get the conversation he’d had with Mike out of his head.

He knew that he would always miss Pamela. She had been fun and vibrant and a joy to be around. He would always miss her, and he hated the thought of finding a woman to replace her. He also knew that Tommy and Beth would not respond very well to having a new mother in their lives. They were struggling with her death as it was, which was part of the reason why they were so out of control.

But the situation they were all living in was not ideal. He was extremely grateful that his mother had moved in after Pamela’s death to help with the twins while he worked. But she wasn’t as young as she used to be, and he could tell by the tired lines on her face that trying to keep up with two active five-year-olds was starting to wear on her.

Maybe Mike was right and that he should consider remarrying. It would be the best thing for the twins and for him since he desperately missed the companionship that a wife would offer.

When they finally closed the office for the day, Mike left for home, but Robert stayed behind on the pretense of needing to do some paperwork. But the moment he was alone, he opened the magazine Mike had given him. He didn’t like the idea of trying to find a wife from back East, especially someone that he didn’t know. But there weren’t any women that he was interested in who lived in Poppy Valley or any of the surrounding towns. He also really didn’t have the time and inclination to properly court someone in nearby San Francisco.

He began to wonder if maybe it wouldn’t hurt to at least post an ad in this magazine and maybe even in a few other newspapers. He could see what type of women responded and go from there in making a decision. Just because he paid for a mail-order bride ad didn’t mean that he had to marry if he changed his mind.

When he returned home a few minutes later, there was chaos everywhere. Tommy and Beth were running through the house like hooligans, screaming at the top of their lungs. His mother was in the kitchen, calmly finishing the last touches on dinner as if there weren’t two children out of control around her.

He realized that this was another reason why he should consider marrying again. Carrie did her best with the twins, but she was also very soft with them, letting them get away with things that he would have been punished for as a child. Robert went to his room to change out of his sheriff’s uniform and then went to greet his mother.

“How was your day?” she asked brightly after he kissed her cheek.

“Calm as usual,” Robert responded.

Poppy Valley was a very small farming and ranching town in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada Mountains. It was almost a full day’s stagecoach ride from San Francisco. There were really few problems that he had to deal with, only small issues like what Mrs. Hammond had come into the office for that day.

“Dinner will be ready in a few minutes,” Carrie said.

“I’ll get the twins washed up.” He turned away just as a small body ran into him.

“Oomph,” he said as he caught his son before he fell to the floor.

“Hi, Pa,” Tommy said with a twinkle in his eyes.

“What have I told you about running in the house?” Robert asked.

Tommy’s smiling face instantly turned mutinous. “I know I’m not supposed to, but Beth took my ball, and I want it back.”

A moment later, Beth ran into the kitchen, but seeing her father with a firm grasp on her brother, she quickly tried to leave the room. Robert took two large steps and grabbed her arm with his other hand. The ball Beth held dropped to the floor, and Tommy immediately squirmed out of Robert’s grasp and went after it.

“You can’t take my ball,” Beth screamed as she pulled away from Robert and attacked her brother. “I had it first.”

They both fell to the floor and began to wrestle each other like small puppies. The forgotten ball rolled under the table.

Robert quickly took control of the situation. He picked up the ball and set it on a high shelf and then gave instructions to go and wash their hands for dinner.

Dinner was fairly calm, considering the type of meals they sometimes had. After dinner, he instructed Beth to help her grandmother wash the dishes while he gave the broom to Tommy and ordered him to sweep the floor. The rest of the evening went by quickly as he got the children ready for bed, then read them a story out of their favorite book.

When they were finally asleep, he went to the kitchen to find his mother sitting at the table, holding the magazine that Mike had given him.

“What is this?” Carrie asked curiously.

In a few short sentences, he explained the idea of sending out an advertisement for a bride. He wasn’t sure what Carrie would think of the entire idea, but he wanted his mother’s support if he decided to do this. Carrie’s eyes widened with surprise as he spoke.

“What an interesting idea,” Carrie commented when he finished his explanation. “Are you going to place an ad?”

“What do you think about it?” Robert asked, curious to hear his mother’s thoughts.

Carrie didn’t answer for a long moment. “I have to admit that I think it’s a good idea. I am doing as much as I can to help with them, but I do feel that the children need a mother. They’ve changed so much since Pamela’s death.”

Robert understood what Carrie didn’t say—that they had been sweet, well-behaved children. Pamela had been easily able to keep them under control with love and a busy schedule.

“This morning, Beth asked me again when her mother was going to come home,” Carrie continued, sadness in her eyes. “She doesn’t seem to understand that Pamela is gone for good.”

Robert wasn’t surprised to hear this, but it still broke his heart. He wished that he could go back in time and change the circumstances around Pamela’s death, but he could only do what he could to make their future as good and bright as possible.

Carrie handed him the magazine, but then changed the subject, reminding him that he needed to watch the twins for a few hours in the morning while she went to help a neighbor who had just had a baby. They went over the next day’s schedule with each other. After she went into her own room for the night, Robert headed to his office and found some paper tucked in a drawer of his oak desk. He would post an ad to this particular magazine. It took him a full hour to write the ad since he found he was having a hard time knowing what to say. But he finally came up with something he was pleased with.

Wanted, a young woman between the ages of twenty and twenty-five, who is willing to travel to a small town in California. I am the sheriff of Poppy Valley and have two children who need a mother. I am looking for companionship with the possibility of love in the future.

As he sealed the ad in an envelope, he still felt conflicted about even advertising for a wife, but there was a part of him that was also feeling optimistic. Maybe there was a young woman out there who could make a difference in their lives.

Chapter Three

Beginning of May 1887

Kaitlin tossed aside yet another frustrating and inappropriate letter from a man she had written. After agreeing to correspond with some of the gentlemen, Olivia helped her answer three ads. She then waited impatiently for a response, and when three letters came on one day, she had eagerly opened the first one. But each one made her wonder if this really was a good idea.

One man wanted to know how well she could cook and clean, letting her know he was just looking for a housekeeper. The man who wrote the second letter admitted that he was over fifty years of age (even though his ad had indicated that he was only thirty) but that she shouldn’t worry about that since he had plenty of life left in him. She blushed while reading the third one and didn’t even finish his lewd innuendos of what she could look forward to on their wedding night.

She had just tossed them into the garbage can when Olivia stepped inside their apartment. “Did you get some responses?” she questioned eagerly, asking the same thing she had been wondering almost daily over the last week.

Kaitlin frowned and, without saying a word, fished the three letters out of the garbage and handed them to Olivia. A few minutes later, Olivia put them back in the wastebasket, a frown on her pretty face.

“So those men aren’t obviously going to work. Let’s see if there are other ads.” Olivia began to search for the magazine.

Kaitlin frowned at her friend. “You seem much more excited about this than I am. Maybe you should be the one to find a husband.”

She immediately regretted her words when Olivia’s face became carefully blank. “I’m not ready to be married, you know that,” her friend said quietly.

“If those letters are examples of what kind of men place marriage ads, I don’t know if I’m ready to be married either,” Kaitlin said hotly. “What is frustrating is that their ads made them sound like very different men. But their letters showed that they weren’t being the least bit honest.”

“At least they were now, and they didn’t keep up the pretense until you traveled all the way there and found out they weren’t being honest,” Olivia pointed out.

Kaitlin turned away. She was done with this conversation. “I’m going to start dinner.”

“I’ll help,” Olivia said. It didn’t take them long to reheat some stew Olivia had made a few days ago. Kaitlin sliced a few pieces of bread, and after a prayer over the food, they began to eat.

“I feel that I might be pushing you into this decision. You need to decide what is right for you,” Olivia said when the silence between them grew too long.

Kaitlin felt relieved by Olivia’s words. She didn’t want to feel that marrying a man she didn’t know was her only option. They finished dinner and quickly washed up their few dishes before they did their own things for what was left of the evening.

Evenings after working hard all day were one of Kaitlin’s favorite times of the day. After the dishes were washed, she picked up a book that she had read many times and tried to focus on the words. Olivia began to sew on her latest dress. They usually talked as they worked, but tonight was strangely silent. All Kaitlin could think about was what the right decision would be for her. By the time she went to bed, she had decided to not answer any more ads and felt relieved that she wouldn’t ever receive such awful correspondence again from strange men.

The next day, she was called into her boss’s office the moment she arrived for her workday. She left a few minutes later, doing her best to keep her head held high and not let the tears fall until she was outside and on her way home.

She was being replaced by a man who hadn’t been there as long as she had been.

“Mr. Browning has a family to support. I’m sure you understand,” her boss had said.

Kaitlin had wanted to point out that single women also had to support themselves in some way, but how were they to do that when all the men around them took all the good jobs. But she kept silent, knowing it wouldn’t matter what she said, that it wouldn’t convince her boss to let her stay.

She didn’t want to go home. The last thing she wanted to do was to inform Olivia that she had lost her job. Things were extremely tight as it was. She didn’t know how they were going to make it.

“A Match Made in the West” is an Amazon Best-Selling novel, check it out here!

Kaitlin has been alone her entire life, without ever experiencing the joys of having a family. When her best friend encourages her to become a mail-order bride, she reluctantly agrees, hoping to start a new life in the West. Little did she know that she would find instead a sheriff with two young children in desperate need of a new mother.

Can Kaitlin find a place to call home at last?

Sheriff Robert is devastated by the loss of his beloved wife and determined to create a loving home for his two children. However, despite his best efforts, the loneliness he feels is overwhelming. When Kaitlin enters his life, she proves to be a safe haven in the midst of his grief. Can he ever truly heal from the ache of his loss?

Robert must find the courage to reclaim his own happiness…

Kaitlin and Robert quickly form an unbreakable bond, but soon a dangerous plot against their town threatens their newfound love. As they both fight to save the city, they must also find a way to build a family. Will they find the strength to overcome the odds, and finally taste the sweetness of their long-awaited happily ever after?

“A Match Made in the West” is a historical western romance novel of approximately 80,000 words. No cheating, no cliffhangers, and a guaranteed happily ever after.

Get your copy from Amazon!

7 thoughts on “A Match Made in the West (Preview)”

  1. I Would love to get the extended epiloque but I am unable to get it,which makes it hard to finish the main story

  2. Hi Aurora,
    I’ve just finished A Match in The West and am trying to locate the “Extended Epilogue”. My Kindle is several years old and nothing happens when I click on the link, it just grays out. Or, it says, “Website Unaccessible” Sorry browser cannot access the website. Any suggestions?

    Thanks much!

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