Saturday, August 18, 2012

Excerpt: Train Station Bride by Holly Bush


Excerpt from The Train Station Bride:

     The Crawford women were all tall and slender except Julia. She was no higher than her father’s tiepin at fourteen and still exactly the same height at twenty-seven. Julia snatched three shrimp from the young serving girl’s tray as she passed and laid them beside four chocolate bon-bons in the napkin on her lap. Julia preferred to refer to herself as pleasingly plump, or on the days before her monthly courses, as a fat, frothy, ugly spinster with perfectly beautiful siblings and parents.

     Julia was licking chocolate from her fingers when she saw her mother staring. Jane Crawford excused herself from her guests gracefully, as she did everything in life, Julia had long ago decided. Gracefully floating, serene and above the clutter and clamor of normal living. She had attempted to instill that elegance to each of her children. Julia was certain her mother considered her second daughter her greatest failure.

     “Julia, use a napkin,” Jane chided and turned her head to view the crowd in their formal sitting room.  “Alred McClintok has been hoping to speak to you all evening. Why don’t you quit hiding in this corner and go talk to him?”

     Julia dabbed chocolate from the corner of her mouth and looked at the man her mother was referring to. Did everyone assume that plump women were only attracted to fat men? One of the reasons Julia continued writing Mr. Snelling was because of his description of himself early on in their writing. I am of medium height and very thin. Dear Mama worries I am ill, but Dr. Hammish assures me . . . Alred McClintok was busy stuffing canapés in his mouth, leaving a trail of grease around his fleshy red lips. He reminded Julia of a large black ball propped on two very stubby sticks.

    “I’m perfectly happy here, Mother. Your party seems a rousing success,” Julia said. Changing subjects had been a tact Julia had used successfully when conversation turned her direction, especially with her father and Jennifer. Her mother and Jolene, however, rarely allowed such a diversion unless it was to their advantage.

     Julia knew she had failed when her mother gave her a glare she was long accustomed to. The icy blue of her mother’s eyes and the pinched shell of her mouth screamed spinster, on the shelf, and a long list of other shortcomings without saying a word.

     “Mr. McClintok is an associate of your father’s, dear. We must always endeavor to make your father’s business prosperous. Household expenses only seem to rise, rather than fall,” her mother said.

     The veiled reference to Julia’s dependence on her parent’s home did not escape her. She also knew her family’s business was very successful. Feeding and clothing her would never send them to the poor house. Julia glanced at the shrimp still lying in the napkin on her lap. Maybe she’d best go speak to the man. Nothing would come of a quick introduction and might keep her from expanding her waistline yet another inch. If he spit lamb on her gown, she could go to her rooms to change and not emerge until morning. Or she would slip to her room via the servant’s staircase in the kitchen and check her bags already packed and stacked in the dressing room of her bedroom. On the morrow there would be only three days until she departed.

     Julia had hoarded every bit of silver she could for her trip. The letter to her family was written, as well as a separate one for Jillian. Their maid, Eustace, would give them out when she didn’t arrive home from a weeklong visit with Aunt Mildred. By that time she would be married, and there would be nothing her family could do.

     Jolene would roll her eyes. Jennifer would be sad. Not for long, though. Her father would rant and rave. Her mother’s fury would be hidden behind a glassy stare. Though, all in all, Julia was sure they would be glad she was gone. They would never voice the sentiment, for certain. Would be gauche to admit this final lapse in judgment would, thankfully, be the last, in their company at the least. They would tell friends Julia was on an extended holiday at Aunt Mildred’s. Just as they had done before. Soon no one would inquire as to when she would be coming home. Her family least of all.

   The only person other than their housekeeper, Eustace, who would miss her would be Jillian. No more long walks in the park. No more reading together by candlelight with the rest of the household long abed. No more brushing the girls’ silken hair till the child’s eyes drooped. Jane Crawford supposed Jillian preferred Julia’s company because Julia often acted with the sense of a ten-year-old rather than a woman. Julia would insist that Jillian loved the freedom to just be herself in Julia’s company. For whichever reason, they would miss each other desperately.

    But it was long past time that Julia did something for herself. Make something of herself. Even if it was to only be a wife to a thin, balding Midwesterner and a companion for his mother. She could have lived indefinitely with Aunt Mildred. Her aunt had written her as much. Julia loved the woman and her aunt adored her, but Mildred at seventy-two had an active life with other widowers in the seaside town she lived in. And a beau in his eighty-fourth year. As Mrs. Jacob Snelling, she was someone of her own making. Someone’s wife. Something no one could take away from her.

Author Bio:
I grew up in a home where I was surrounded by books. There was not a room that did not hold a bookcase, stack or shelves of books. My father didn't care what we read, although he did, as long as we read something, even a comic book. His stack of books beside his reading chair that sat next to a sunny window was a strange mix of westerns, political intrigue, current affairs, science fiction and the odd biography. Books made me curious, comforted me, excited me, scared me and gave me glimpses into lives and worlds beyond my reach. What a gift - the written word - what a gift!
Where to find Holly: Website | Blog Twitter 

Buy Links: 
Amazon | Barnes & Nobles | All Romance E Books | I tunes | Kobo  | Reader Store 

1887 Debutante, Julia Crawford endures a lifetime of subtle ridicule as the plump, silly daughter of a premiere Boston family. Julia strikes out on her own to gain independence, traveling to the Midwest to marry an aging shopkeeper and care for his mother. Julia finds her new home rough and uncivilized after the sophistication of a big city, while closely held secrets threaten to ruin Julia’s one chance at love.

Jake Shelling was sixteen and grew up quick when his parents died from influenza on the North Dakota prairie. Left with a half-cleared farm and two young sisters, he spent little time on his own needs . . till now. At thirty-five, he figured it was high time to have some sons and a mail order bride would suit him just fine. No expectations of love, just a helpmate from sturdy stock, ready for farm life.

Will fate and chance play a trick on Julia and Jake?

Blog Tour Stops:

August 13 Lace & Lavender Hints Review
August 14 Lace & Lavender Hints Author Interview
August 15  Reflections of A Book Addict  Review
August 16   Reflections of A Book Addict  Guest Post
August 17  WV Stitcher Review 
August 18 
Hanging With Bells  Guest Post
August 20  Historical Tapestry Guest Post
August 21   boeklogboek -Guest Post
August 22 Nothing Better Then Books  Review
August 23 My Devotional Thoughts  Excerpt
August 24 My Devotional Thoughts Guest Post
August 25 Nette's Book Reviews  Review
August 26 
My Devotional Thoughts- Review
August 27 Nette's Book Reviews    Author Interview

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