728x90 AdSpace



18 October 2010

Best Hook, Historical--Excerpts and Summary

On October 25th, in a very close battle, Lena Nelson Dooley beat out Tiffany Amber Stockton for Best Hook, Historical.  The competing books were Love Finds You in Golden New Mexico (the winner!) and Liberty's Promise. Wanda Chamberlain and Tammy Griffin both won free books this week.

EXCERPT A-- Lena Nelson Dooley's Love Finds You in Golden New Mexico

Are you plumb crazy?” Jeremiah Dennison’s loud retort bounced around the main room of the adobe house and returned to mock him. “Where did you get such a harebrained idea?”

Trying to control his anger, he shoved his clenched fists into his denim trousers’ pockets, paced to the window, and stared out, pay¬ing scant attention to the piñon trees bending in the wind. He loved Philip Smith like a father, but the man could vex the weather. And this latest idea was the most farfetched yet.

Philip gave a snort. “Harebrained?” He put his rocking chair into motion that sent out a rhythmic squeaking. “Why’d ya say that? It’s worked fer other men.”

Jeremiah tried to calm down. He wanted to measure his words, season them with wisdom that would awaken his elderly friend to all the pitfalls he would face. “What would you do with a mail-order bride?”

The old miner stilled the chair and stared at Jeremiah, obsidian eyes piercing under his bushy white brows. “Somethin’ ”—he smoth¬ered a hacking cough with his fist, then swiped a clean handkerchief across his face—“has a deadly grip on me.

“I know you’re sick. I take care of you, don’t I?” Jeremiah resented the fact that what he’d done wasn’t enough. Otherwise, Philip wouldn’t even consider such a preposterous proposition.

His old friend reached up to scratch the scraggly beard he’d worn all the years he was a miner, but it no longer covered his clean-shaven chin. Old habits died hard. “Jerry, I don’t wanna be a burden on ya.”

“You’d rather be a burden to a woman you don’t even know?” Jeremiah regretted his cynical tone the moment the words flew from his lips. He softened his tone. “I’ve never considered you a burden any more than you thought I was a burden when I came to the gold fields as a greenhorn.”

Philip clutched the arms of the rocking chair and slowly rose. He took a moment to steady himself before he ambled toward Jeremiah. “I ain’t come to this decision easy.” He squinted up into Jeremiah’s face. “I done studied on it fer a while.”

Jeremiah straightened the fingers he’d gripped into fists and relaxed his stiff spine. “What do you mean, ‘studied’?”

“Well, I figure a woman who’d answer them ads in the news¬paper must be purty needy, maybe even desperate to get out of a particular bad situation.” He gave a vigorous nod that riffled his snowy hair. “Made me a fortune when I sold my mine. More money than any man can spend in his lifetime. What good is a fortune to an old-timer like me? Won’t never have a family of my own. Maybe I’ll git me a woman with children. She can take care a me, and my money can take care a her.” Another nod punctuated his last state¬ment. “And her young’uns, if she has any.”

How could Jeremiah deny his mentor’s request? 


Heedless of the home-stitched stockings showing at her knees, Raelene Strattford ran down the tree-lined lane, her skirts flying behind her. Strands of hair from her crown of braids came loose and flailed in the cool breeze. After being cooped inside the house for the past week, abed with a fever, it should have been refreshing, but Raelene was distracted by the lone wagon coming toward her.

It wasn’t the one she expected. This one belonged to her neighbors, not her mother and father. One man drove it at a dirge-like pace as another walked alongside, both with heads down. But what made Raelene run even harder were the two workhorses tied behind it. Her family’s workhorses! That could only mean. . .

A sob tore through her body.

Mama! Papa!

Her pounding heart beat her voice dead in her throat, but not the furtive prayers for this not to be what it seemed, what she feared. As she reached the wagon, her mouth as parched as the dirt beneath her feet, the driver halted the horses.

“Whoa, Braedon.”

Raelene couldn’t recall her neighbors’ names, not with the panic racing through her mind.

“Aim sorry, miss,” the larger of the two said, stepping between her and the wagon. The cocky farm boy had actually had the nerve to ask her father permis­sion to court her. What was his name?

“There is no way to break bad news,” the older man interjected.

Bad news. His heavily accented words halted her steps, as if delaying fac­ing what she feared might change things. But her mind refused to stand still.What would she find? God forbid, they couldn’t be dead. They just couldn’t be. She wouldn’t know unless she looked. But could she bear it?

The wall of a man stepped out of her way. His large, gentle hand cupped her elbow, nudging her forward. With hesitant steps and dread filling her being, Raelene reached the solid wood gate across the back of the serviceable wagon. She looked inside.

Mama used to tease her that she had a wild imagination, but nothing Rael­ene could conjure in her mind compared to this. This was horribly real.

Mama and Papa lay in the back of the wagon, bloodied and battered. She covered her mouth to catch the moan rising from the center of her anguish, but it escaped. And with it, Raelene’s strength. Her knees buckled, and she would have landed on the ground had it not been for two strong arms that held her upright.

“Here now! Do not fall. You are safe.”

Bewildered, she looked into a pair of striking and sympathetic indigo eyes. Gustaf Hanssen. That was the name of the man who had disrupted her life last year with his suit, focusing more on her land than on her. The older man was his father, Jarel.

“If you say what you want us to do. . .” Gustaf broke off, awkward, his choppy English making it difficult to follow. He seemed to have trouble only when speaking with her, but somehow she managed to grasp his meaning.

What she wanted them to do? She wanted them to make this go away. But for all the compassion in his gaze, he couldn’t do that. She had to deal with this herself.
Newer Post
This is the last post.
  • Comments
  • Facebook Comments
Item Reviewed: Best Hook, Historical--Excerpts and Summary Rating: 5 Reviewed By: April Gardner