Once Upon a Mail Order Bride by Linda Broday
Hi Romance Besties,
Linda Brody is back to share the fourth book in her Outlaw Mail Order Brides series. She has an excerpt for us and a print book giveaway. Enjoy!
Once Upon a Mail Order Bride
Outlaw Mail Order Brides Book 4
by Linda Brody
Buy on Amazon
When the West was wild and man's law favored the few, these extraordinary women could be found...in the heart of an outlaw.
Accused of crimes he didn't commit, ex-preacher Ridge Steele is forced to give up everything he knew and make his home with outlaws. Desperate for someone to confide in, he strikes up correspondence with mail-order bride Adeline Jancy, finding in her the open heart he's been searching for. Upon her arrival, Ridge discovers Addie only communicates through the written word, but he knows a little of what trauma can do to a person and vows to stand by her side.
Addie is eager to start a new life with the kind ex-preacher and the little boy she's stolen away from her father—a zealot priest of a terrorized flock. As her small family settles into life at Hope's Crossing, she even begins to find the voice, and confidence, she'd lost so long ago.
But danger is not far behind, and her father will not be denied. While Addie desperately fights the man who destroyed her childhood, a determined Ridge races to the rescue. The star-crossed lovers will need more than prayers to survive this final challenge...and find their way back to each other again.
Addie rose and kissed Bodie’s cheek, then pushed back a curl that had fallen onto the fifteen-year-old’s forehead, just like a mother would. Her tender caring brought a hitch to Ridge’s breath, and he worked to get air past the ache in his chest.
As Bodie went out, Addie turned toward her small space.
“Wait a minute,” Ridge called, striding to her. “I want to ask you something.”
Arms full of yarn and mending, she lifted her eyebrows in question.
“I’d like to kiss you good night—that is, if you’re agreeable. As husbands and wives do.”
She smiled and moved toward him until she stood very close. The gold flecks in her green eyes sparkled and the smell of the peach cobbler they’d had for dessert filled each breath. She didn’t seem afraid. Maybe she wanted this as much as he did. She lowered her lids and seemed to hold her breath.
Ridge anchored her with his hands, spreading his fingers behind each ear, and slowly moved his mouth over hers. Very gently, he kissed her, devouring her softness. The kiss was more deliberate than the light one that morning. A lot more. He slid an arm around her, splaying his large hand across her back.
Warmth rushed through him and pooled in his belly. Her breath melded with his and her lips parted slightly as she leaned into him for the space of several heartbeats. Not wanting to press his luck, he ended the kiss and took a half step back, not sure what to expect. He prayed he hadn’t upset her. He thought he was heeding Luke’s advice to go slow, but any more and they’d come to a complete stop.
“Would you like to do this each night—as our private ritual?” He smiled at her nod, finding the promise of more kissing bursting inside his chest like a roman candle. “Good night, Addie. Sleep well.”
He turned down the lamps, made sure she didn’t need anything, and went up to bed. Maybe tonight he wouldn’t need whiskey to silence his demons. Addie would be his medicine. The question of whether she would pay him a midnight visit again rolled through his head as he undressed and crawled between the sheets. Just in case, he left the bedroom door wide open in invitation.
Maybe that was the trick to having a successful marriage—never closing a door, any door, between a husband and wife. An unbidden smile brightened his thoughts along with the hope burning inside him.
Long after the house grew quiet, Addie sat on her bench and listened to Ridge moving about upstairs, his kiss tingling on her lips. The fat Miss Kitty curled beside her and Squeakers leaped into her lap and settled with a happy meow. A feeling of contentment stole over her. She’d found a place where she was supposed to be, a place where she mattered and had value.
The lamp burned low but provided enough light to see by. She braided her hair, then reached for her writing notebook to voice some of the thoughts running through her head.
I don’t know what love is, or if I’ll ever know. Maybe it’s nothing more than being immensely grateful for what someone has given you, gratitude that bursts inside your chest and spreads through you like a flame. Tonight, Ridge made me feel this way. Around him, I matter for the first time in my life. I feel his deep caring down to the soles of my feet, and I know beyond a doubt that if it came to it, he’d willingly die for me. Although I’d never want that. Never. I love his kisses, the taste of his mouth, and his warm hands on me. If this isn’t love, I think I’ll surely die when love does come.
A smile crossed her lips as she thought about lying next to him on the bed while he slept. If he’d noticed she’d been there, he hadn’t said anything. Yet…her faded ribbon had been lying there in plain view on the bench after she’d looked all over for it.
What would he do if she announced she wanted to sleep with him all the time? A rush of flutters spread through her and settled in her stomach. Yet she needed to purge herself of all the hurt, anguish, and despair in order to hopefully one day claim her rightful place. Dr. Mary was right. She had to start facing her past in order to reach for that bright future glimmering within sight.
Memories so thick she could taste them almost choked her. Her hand shook and she laid down the pencil, unable to go on. After a few moments, she tore out the last two pages and set them aside until morning. But she left her musings about love in the notebook. No one would ever see those. She put everything away and curled up on the bench under her quilt. But sleep refused to come, her mind dwelling on the heady feel of Ridge’s lips on hers. The promise of more beat in her heart like a drum.
She was Ridge Steele’s wife, and she wanted to stay where she was safe—in his arms.
This giveaway is now over. The lucky print book winner is: Linda Rorex