Today I am pleased to welcome author Zina Abbott to Romance Sweet Reads to share her latest release, Mail Order Letitia, part of the An Imposter for Christmas series.
When forced to live with her late mother's much younger sister, Aunt Matilda, she and Uncle Clyde make it clear that if Letitia wishes to eat, she will participate in the family business: swindling people. Matilda's latest scheme is writing to well-to-do men seeking wives through correspondence, with Letitia doing the writing. Collecting spending money and tickets to be cashed in is bad enough. The last straw for Letitia comes when Matilda decides to travel to marry a rancher she learns is well-off. She is already married to Clyde, isn't she? Then there is the manner in which Clyde puts his hands on Letitia's shoulders and assures her he will take real good care of her until Matilda returns.
Samuel Grayson has spent a decade building a successful ranch near Laramie, Wyoming. He now wishes to marry. After writing three letters to Matilda in Baltimore, he decides she is the one for him. He wants her in his home as his wife by Christmas.
Until the letter with tickets and money from Samuel Grayson arrives, Letitia had never, of her own free will, stolen anything. However, she sees this as an opportunity to save this unsuspecting rancher from Matilda and herself from Clyde. She only hopes, if Samuel Grayson ever finds out the truth, he will see it the same way.
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Again, Letitia pulled Samuel Grayson’s letter from her pocket and carefully read the letter. She realized exactly what she could do to prevent Matilda from swindling him. She would warn him in person. If he really wanted a wife by Christmas, she would happily fill that role. After all, she was already halfway in love with him.
Letitia set the bag, her cloak, and her green, knitted shawl on the table. She made two bread-and-butter sandwiches. One she ate, and one she wrapped in a cloth napkin, along with several slices of cheese. That, along with two apples, she stuffed in the bag. Fearing she might get thirsty with all the walking she would be doing, she drank a glass of water.
Letitia started to reach for her bag to put it over her shoulder before a thought occurred. She dared not leave the earlier letters from Samuel Grayson behind. They contained his return direction. She knew where Matilda hid the letters she already received. Like everything else she did not wish Clyde to discover, Matilda kept the letters in the pantry under the stairs that connected with the first floor. Once she received the money and tickets from a man, she tossed any correspondence from the duped suitor into the fire.
With a hope that the foray beneath the stairs would not coat her clothes with dust and spider webs, she stooped over and made her way to her aunt’s hiding place. All the letters in her hand, she carried them to where she could catch enough light to find the ones from Samuel Grayson. After picking his out of the stack, she returned the rest. The ones from Mr. Grayson she tucked deep inside the tow sack that held all her worldly possessions.
After putting the strap over her head and securing the sack across her body, she draped her shawl across her shoulders and tied the ends into a knot. She covered everything with her new cloak and, sliding her sleeves through the slits in the sides, buttoned the front. Without looking back, she walked out the back door.
Zina Abbott is the pen name used by Robyn Echols for her historical novels. A member of Women Writing the West, Western Writers of America, and American Night Writers Association. She currently lives with her husband in California near the “Gateway to Yosemite.” When she is not piecing together novel plots, she pieces together quilt blocks.
You can find all the books in the An Imposter for Christmas series on
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