Shannon here: Donna Schlachter shares her inspiration for her latest Historical Romance, Hollenberg Hearts. Comment or answer the question the enter the drawing for a print (U.S. only) or e-book copy. Deadline: Sept 11th, 11:59 pm central time. Here’s Donna:
Romance Along the Trail by Donna Schlachter:
Most people know something about the Pony Express, but few realize it only operated from April 1860 through to November 1861. The first ride left St. Joseph, Missouri heading west, and from Sacramento, California heading east, on April 3rd, 1860.
The idea for a Pony Express was conceived in the minds of its owners because of the possibility of winning the contract for the overland US mail. Another company, Butterworth, was running a southern route that took up to three weeks to deliver to the west coast, and Majors and Waddell thought they could beat that time by taking the shorter northern route.
The time period, 1860, fascinates me as there were so many changes happening in America. The train is a near dream; the cross-country telegraph is nearing completion; the country is brewing for civil war; women are campaigning for voting and civil rights. In just a few short years, cameras will photograph the first war ever; telephones will be installed in people’s homes; electricity will light our lives into the dark of night.
Which brings us to my story, Hollenberg Hearts. My heroine, Catherine, lives out east with her best friend Margaret, who she calls Maggie. When her friend answers an advertisement for a mail-order bride, Catherine is thrilled for her. Sad to lose their close relationship, but glad that Maggie is stepping into a bright future with a man who owns property in Kansas.
But when Maggie falls ill and dies, and Catherine is pursued by a man who wants back the personal items Maggie stole from him, Catherine sees no choice but to use the ticket this wonderful man from Kansas sent to Maggie. She hops on the stagecoach and heads west, posing as Maggie.
In Hollenberg, Kansas, Benjamin Troudt, crippled in a riding accident, works as stationmaster for the Hollenberg family. He owns nothing besides the clothes on his back. Unbeknownst to him, his pastor has placed an ad for a wife and corresponded with Maggie, sending her the money to come to Kansas. He’s certain that when she meets Benjamin, she’ll fall in love immediately.
When Catherine/Maggie arrives, Benjamin knows nothing of the correspondence. Catherine cannot go back, and she doesn’t have the money to travel further. When an ill pregnant woman pulls into the station with a wagon train, Catherine/Maggie nurses her back to health. Benjamin agrees she can stay so long as she makes herself useful.
Can Catherine and Benjamin let go of the past to forge a new future together? Or will they both be labeled by their pasts, unable to move forward?
Excerpt from Hollenberg Hearts by Donna Schlachter: Chapter 1
Hollenberg Pony Express Station
Catherine Malloy braced a hand against the doorframe as the stage rounded a turn. A cloud of dust encircled the coach, filtering through the gaps in the doors, the curtains, the floor, and the roof, threatening to choke her. She coughed politely behind her gloved hand, cringing at the sight of the stains on her once-white hand coverings. Her spirits were as rumpled as her sleeves and skirt. Would the dirt ever come out?
But no matter how primitive the conditions, no matter how hostile the natives or how cold the winters—all stories she’d heard about the Wild West—she would not turn back.
She had nowhere to turn back.
When she’d excitedly read the advertisement in the magazine to her friend Margaret, neither had truly contemplated just how far the Kansas Territory was from Boston. Four days on the train to St. Joseph, Missouri had been just the beginning. Three days in this bouncing torture chamber, surrounded by surly men, snot-nosed children, and sharp-tongued women caused her to question her sanity and her decision more than once. She’d already eaten more dust than she’d known existed.
In Mr. Troudt’s first letter, he’d explained that he ran a way station and needed a wife. Neither she nor Margaret knew what that was. They knew a man from Australia, who talked about working at a sheep station. Perhaps a way station was similar.
Not that any of that mattered. She had no reason to go back. No family. No job.
Not after the way Master Talbott had approached her.
About Donna: Donna lives in Denver with husband Patrick. As a hybrid author, she writes historical suspense under her own name, and contemporary suspense under her alter ego of Leeann Betts, and has been published more than 30 times in novellas, full-length novels, devotional books, and books on the writing craft. She is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers, Writers on the Rock, Sisters In Crime, Pikes Peak Writers, and Christian Authors Network; facilitates a critique group; and teaches writing classes online and in person. Donna also ghostwrites, edits, and judges in writing contests. She loves history and research, and travels extensively for both. Donna is represented by Terrie Wolf of AKA Literary Management. Stay connected so you learn about new releases, preorders, and presales, as well as check out featured authors, book reviews, and a little corner of peace. Plus: Receive a free ebook simply for signing up for our free newsletter! Donna’s Website
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About Holmberg Hearts: Catherine Malloy, an orphan girl running from a compromising situation in Boston, answers a personal ad in a magazine, on behalf of her illiterate friend. Through his letters, she finds herself falling in love with this stranger. Benjamin Troudt is crippled and illiterate, and knows nothing of this ad. His route supervisor, Warton, who was helping Benjamin with the paperwork, has been given only a short time to live, and knows Benjamin needs help, so he places the ad. Can Catherine overcome her belief that the God of her parents has abandoned her? And can Benjamin allow God to open his eyes and his heart to love?
Can’t wait for the drawing? Worried you won’t win? Interested in Donna’s other titles? Get your copies now!
Question for Readers: Answer the following question to enter a random drawing for a print (US only) or ebook copy of Hollenberg Hearts: What would be the strangest way to meet a potential spouse?
Come back Sept 3rd for Alyssa Roat!