Today Iâ€™mÂ sharing an inside look and an excerpt from my historical romance, Loving a Wild Stranger. This full-length pioneer-wilderness romance is set in the Michigan Territory and blends adventure with a sensual love story.
Hereâ€™s the summary:
Loving a Wild Stranger
A woman running from her pastâ€¦ straight into the arms of an untamed man
In a moment of desperation, Kathleen Stanton flees her pampered life in Kingston, New York and ends up stranded in a small town in the Michigan Territory. Out of money and forced to rely on her instincts, she impersonates a handsome strangerâ€™s mail-order bride.
Committed to her deception, Kathleen calls herself Michelle and starts her new life with Luther in an isolated cabin in the wilderness. Luther canâ€™t believe his luck when his beautiful bride arrives, but something doesnâ€™t feel right about his new wife. Michelle has terrifying nightmares involving a man named Roger and is reluctant to talk about where she came from.
Lutherâ€™s friend, Redfeather visits and tries to convince Luther to send Michelle back east. Distrusting Michelle, he warns Luther that his bride is not what she seems. But Luther is in love with Michelle, and he is harboring a secret of his ownâ€”one that might force Michelle to reject him when she learns the truth.
Michelle falls in love with Luther and adapts to her new way of life. Together, they face off against brutal townspeople and overcome harsh living conditions. When they finally give in to their desires and agree to become a proper man and wife, a dark figure from Michelleâ€™s past resurfaces and threatens to destroy everything.
The idea for this book started with a simple premise: a woman on the run impersonates a mountain manâ€™s mail-order bride and lives in his cabin in the woods. From there, I thought about the characters and how they would interact, learn to live with each other, and naturally, fall in love.
But before I started writing, I went to the library and did a lot of research. First, I had to decide on the time period. When and where I set my story would determine all the necessary details that bring the characters to lifeâ€”and also influence the plot.
Once the time period was finalized, I needed to learn about mail-order brides, fur trapping and trading, Native Americans, and get an overall feel for what life was like back then. As I wrote the book, I incorporated my research as background information. This gives the story a rich historical feel without going overboard with details that might bog down the book or bore readers.
I enjoyed creating the characters and all the conflicts that take place between them. Michelle and Luther are very different peopleâ€”sort of like a city mouse and a country mouseâ€”and I played on their differences in lifestyles, clothing, expectations, etc. throughout the book. When Lutherâ€™s friend Redfeather arrives, Michelle realizes how far she is out of her comfort zone and begins to see her situation (and Luther) in a new light.
As Luther and Michelle get to know each other (and fight for each other) they realize they have a lot more in common than they once thought. They both had to fend for themselves to survive in a rough world, with little or no family support. This brings them closer together and makes their love stronger.
I enjoyed writing this book, and I hope readers will fall in love with the characters the way I did.
Hereâ€™s an excerpt:
Kathleenâ€™s knees shook as she strode down the sidewalk toward the livery. She had to get out of the store before there was trouble. She felt sorry for that man, Luther. Heâ€™d seemed nice enough when he gave her back her glove.
The coach waited near the livery, and her trunks still sat on the sidewalk. She had some time left. What should she do? She didnâ€™t dare get back on the coach, but this town was awful and she didnâ€™t want to stay here. Perhaps she could throw herself on the mercy of the church. There had to be one somewhere and the reverend would take her in. Or would he?
Kathleen crossed the street and entered the livery. A round-faced man slouching behind the counter straightened up.
â€œYou must be from the stage,â€ he said, gazing at the front of her dress.
She folded her arms across her bosom and looked him square in the eye. â€œHow did you know?â€ she asked, her voice dripping with sarcasm.
â€œBecause Iâ€™ve been with all the women in town and you ainâ€™t one of â€™em. You Clydeâ€™s new girl? Iâ€™d pay two dollars for a night with you.â€ He winked.
â€œHow dare you! Iâ€™m looking for the church.â€
The man spit a stream of tobacco juice on the floor next to her brown boots. â€œWe ainâ€™t got a church. If you ainâ€™t the new whore, then what are you doinâ€™ here?â€
She spotted the newspaper the man had open on the counter in front of him. An advertisement for wedding lace gave her an idea. â€œIâ€™m a mail-order bride.â€
â€œThat so?â€ He scowled. â€œWhoâ€™s the lucky man?â€
Kathleen twisted her skirts and tried to stall for time. â€œThereâ€™s a problem with the papers you seeâ€¦â€
She glanced out the window. The driver stood near the coach, scratching his head. A second later, she heard the familiar clomp of boots on the sidewalk. This was her one chance. It had to work. She had always trusted her instincts, and now she could only think of one answer. Her gut told her to take the risk. â€œLutherâ€™s his name andâ€”â€
â€œLuther?â€ The liverymanâ€™s eyes widened. â€œWell, youâ€™re in the right place.â€ He arched an eyebrow. â€œYou sure itâ€™s Luther?â€
She nodded as the coach pulled away. All hope of escape left town in a swirl of dust. Her trunks lay abandoned on the sidewalk. There was no going back now. This man thought she was a mail-order bride. She tried to remember what sheâ€™d read about them. It sounded simple, a man sent money to a company and they sent a wife.
She tensed as the livery door opened.
â€œHey, Karl. I pulled the wagonâ€”â€ Luther stopped as he spotted her.
She averted her gaze and smoothed her skirts, suddenly ashamed of her appearance. What man would accept her unwashed and dusty?
The liveryman laughed. â€œHell, Luther, looks like ya got more than you thought goinâ€™ home with ya.â€
â€œWhatâ€™s that mean?â€
Kathleen closed her eyes. What had she done? This wasnâ€™t a game anymore.
â€œSeems your wife came special delivery on the coach.â€
She heard the surprise in Lutherâ€™s voice. What if he hadnâ€™t sent away for a bride like the men in the store had said? She had to think of a story, now. Lutherâ€™s boots clomped across the floor and stopped in front of her. When he cleared his throat, she opened her eyes.
Luther stood two feet away, holding his hat in his hands. His head was cocked to one side. â€œHe foolinâ€™? This a trick they paid ya for?â€
â€œNo,â€ she whispered. â€œNo trick.â€
As Lutherâ€™s shoulders relaxed, his face softened.
Kathleen clenched her hands behind her back, took a deep breath, and started her story. â€œI had paperwork for you to fill out, but there was a problem on the stage and some luggage got left behind, so thereâ€™s nothing for you to sign.â€ Her voice wavered, and she coughed lightly. â€œI sent the mail order place a wire. They said theyâ€™d send the papers as soon as they can, soâ€¦â€
â€œThatâ€™s fine, maâ€™am.â€ He smiled. â€œMy name is Luther Dubois, and you donâ€™t know how long Iâ€™ve been waitinâ€™ for you. Come with me. Iâ€™ll put the feed on the cart, and weâ€™ll get settled.â€ Luther lifted a bulky sack from the floor and walked to the door, obviously expecting her to follow.
She hurried after Luther. A chestnut-colored horse and a wooden cart waited outside the livery. Luther headed to the cart with the sack slung over his shoulder like a dead body. He half-turned to her. â€œHe give you any trouble?â€
â€œMan inside, Karl. The men in this town ainâ€™t known for their manners, especially when it comes to women.â€ Luther dropped the sack into the wagon.
â€œMy trunks are over there.â€
â€œIâ€™ll fetch â€™em. But Iâ€™m afraid I ainâ€™t got room for you in back with all the supplies. Youâ€™ll ride behind me.â€
She watched as Luther carried her trunks to the cart and tucked them in next to sacks of flour, grain, and other supplies.
â€œYou ready, Missâ€¦â€
All of a sudden she realized that Luther had never asked her name. â€œEvans, Iâ€™m Michelle Evans,â€ she answered. After months on the run, she was smart enough never to give her real name.
â€œMe-chelle, thatâ€™s French.â€ Luther smiled. â€œMiss Me-chelle, weâ€™ll be on our way.â€ He mounted the horse and reached down to her. â€œGive me your hand and swing your leg over.â€
Kathleen bit her bottom lip, unsure. If she did this, there was no turning back.
â€œNow donâ€™t tell me you ainâ€™t never rode a horse before,â€ Luther joked.
Kathleen placed her hand in Lutherâ€™s palm and he hoisted her onto the horse. She sat behind him and adjusted her skirts. Where were the saddle and stirrups? Luther rode only with a blanket and reins.
â€œWrap your arms around my middle and hold on. Weâ€™ll get home before dark.â€
Home? She clutched Luther as the horse lurched forward, willing herself to stay strong. If she started to cry now, sheâ€™d never stop. What in heavenâ€™s name had she done?
Order your copy of Loving a Wild Stranger here:
Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01N6M551H Â
24 Symbols: https://www.24symbols.com/book/x/x/x?id=1854921
I hope you enjoyed this inside look at the making of Loving a Wild Stranger. I welcome comments and questions from readers. Be sure to follow my blog for the latest updates and visit me on social media!
Kelli A. Wilkins
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Kelli A. Wilkins is an award-winning author who has published more than 100 short stories, 19 romance novels, and 5 non-fiction books. Her romances span many genres and heat levels.
Midsummer Night’s Delights,Â the first book in the Naughty Nobles erotic trilogy, was released in February.Â Loving a Wild Stranger was released in January 2017. This historical/pioneer romance is set in the wilds of the Michigan Territory and blends tender romance with adventure.
Kelli’s third Medallion Press romance, Lies, Love & Redemption was released in September 2016. This spicy historical western is set on the Nebraska prairie in 1877.
In 2016 Kelli began re-releasing her romances previously published by Amber Quill Press. Visit her website and blog for a full title list, book summaries, and other information.
Her writing book, You Can Writeâ€”Really! A Beginnerâ€™s Guide to Writing Fiction is a fun and informative non-fiction guide based on her years of experience as a writer. Itâ€™s filled with writing exercises and helpful tips all authors can use.
If you like to be scared, check out Kelliâ€™s horror ebooks: Dead Til Dawn and Kropsyâ€™s Curse.
Kelli posts on her Facebook author page: https://www.facebook.com/AuthorKelliWilkins and Twitter: www.Twitter.com/KWilkinsauthor. She also writes a weekly blog: http://kelliwilkinsauthor.blogspot.com/.
CATCH UP WITH KELLI
Here are a few links to find Kelli & her writings on the web
Amazon Author Page: www.amazon.com/author/kelliwilkins
Newsletter sign-up: http://eepurl.com/HVQqb
Medallion Press Author Page: http://medallionpress.com/author/kelli-wilkins/