Brendan (Bren) MacKinnon is eager to begin a new life away from the Kansas farm where he was raised by a beloved uncle. When his uncle passes, Bren sees this as his chance to do what he’s always wanted to do... become a cattleman rather than a wheat farmer. He sells the farm and all that comes with it to fund his dream of setting out on the next Oklahoma Land Run to claim himself a proper homestead. However, he knows the best chance he has of making a go of it is to have someone by his side. A partner. Maybe even a wife.
Will the cowboy and the socialite be a match made in Heaven, or the worst decision either has ever made?
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Two widows with grown children, two former saloon workers, and a very stark looking schoolmarm. At least that’s what the listing he’d been given said. Given there were two names on the list that hadn’t shown up, Bren couldn’t help but wonder if they’d met earlier and decided to skip the whole greeting process.
The entryway door opened, the loud click drawing his attention, as well as that of every other person in the room. The woman who stepped through was tall, slim, and at least a dozen years younger than any of her counterparts.
He pushed himself away from the wall and joined the queue of men who’d also noticed the late arrival. Picking up his speed, he closed the distance between them a half-dozen long strides.
Lily O’Halloran. The name badged pinned to the bodice of her plain brown jacket listed her age as twenty-six. She glanced from side-to-side, offering each of the men before her a cautious smile. The closer Bren got, the more he realized she was as nervous as he was—her eyes wide with fear—her pulse beating rapidly at the side of her long, elegant throat.
Definitely not what he was looking for in a wife, a partner. Still, he couldn’t help himself when his turn came for an introduction.
“Mister Brendan MacKinnon,” Missus Miller began, “may I introduce Miss Lily Marie O’Halloran from Boston.”
Bren brushed his hand across the leg of his trousers and offered it to her. “Hello, Miss O’Halloran. It’s nice to make your acquaintance.”
She placed her hand in his, the touch of her soft skin sending his senses sideways.
“It’s lovely to meet you too, Mister MacKinnon.”
“Would you like some punch?” he asked, the simple words tangling on his tongue.
“No, but thank you for offering. I’d much prefer to talk, if you’ve got a few minutes.”
“I’ve got all the time you need.”
She gave him a coy smile that set his heart pounding.
“Good. I guess, first of all, I should ask—what are looking for in a wife?”
Bren did his best to recall the long list of attributes he’d thought of the day before, but all that currently came to mind was tall, redheaded, with skin as soft as a newborn lamb. Swallowing back the sudden dryness in his throat, he told her, “Obviously, someone who doesn’t mind marrying a total stranger.” Once the first sentence came out, mostly in some semblance of order, he relaxed a bit and added, “Someone who doesn’t mind the thought of taking part in the land run over rugged territory. A woman who can handle hard work, can cook a decent meal over a campfire, and...”
His words stalled when her complexion paled, the slight change accentuating a spray of freckles across her high cheekbones.
Why hadn’t he noticed those before? The cheekbones, and the freckles.
“Have I said something wrong?” he asked.
She shook her head, the tightly coiled hair she’d pinned at her nape coming loose enough to send a few stray tendrils flying across her cheeks. The beat of his heart picked up speed.
“No, of course not. It’s just that your list is far longer than the few men in line ahead of you.”
Her honesty drew his laugh. “I’d reckon those old codgers would say almost anything to get a young woman like you into their bed.” He immediately regretted the insensitive remark when her face flushed a bright shade of pink. “My apologies. That was rude. I’m truly sorry.”
“Is it rude and insensitive of me to say I agree with you?”
There it was again, her unbridled truthfulness. An attribute he’d not even put on his list, but one he truly valued. “How about you, Miss O’Halloran? What are you looking for in a husband?”
She made a show of glancing around at the men who now stood off to the side, their narrowed stares shooting daggers in his direction.
“Someone far closer to my age than those fellows.” She raised her head, meeting his gaze. “Your age, perhaps. Also, a man who has a plan for this land run over and above just staking his claim to a piece of the Almighty’s fine earth.”
His offered her a tentative smile. “That would be me, then. I’m planning to become a cattleman. I even know exactly which section of land I want, and why.”
“You’ve obviously put some thought into your plan. I like that. The only other things I need in a husband include him being a kind and honest Christian man.” She paused, as if gauging his reaction, then added, “It would also be helpful if he wasn’t absolutely set on those cooking skills you mentioned.”
“Something tells me, Lily Marie O’Halloran, that I’d find it most pleasurable teaching you to cook.”
Her coy smile came again. And, as it had before, it nearly undid what little was left of his composure.
Nancy Fraser is a best-selling and award-winning author who happily jumps across multiple romance genres with gleeful abandon.
She's also the granddaughter of a Methodist minister known for his fire-and-brimstone approach to his faith. Nancy has brought some of his spirit into her Christian romances. And, her own off-beat sense of humor to her clean & wholesome books.
When not writing (which is almost never), Nancy dotes on her five wonderful grandchildren and looks forward to traveling and reading when time permits. Nancy lives in Atlantic Canada where she enjoys the relaxed pace and colorful people.
Oklahoma’s Land Runs began on April 22, 1889. There would be five land runs with the last one taking place on May 23, 1895. Each book in the series is set around one of these land runs.
You can find all twelve books in this series on Kindle Unlimited
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