In Love's Blessing: A Clear Creek Legacy, widow Jenna McDowell, and medically discharged soldier Riel (Gabriel) Shepard meet at his grandfather's Cooper Ranch near Sweet Grove, Texas. They both came to the ranch to heal from their individual heartbreaks. Time and help from their family and pastor finds them healing, falling in love, and ready to marry each other.
In Love's Double Blessing, the sequel to Love's Blessing, as Jenna and Riel plan their December wedding and remodel an old ranch house, their lives are instantly changed by a call from the Dallas police. Jenna's friends die in an auto accident and she's named the guardian of their children, six-year-old Amie, and four-year-old RJ.
Because of Riel's PTSD, caused by a military accident in Afghanistan which involved a child's death, Jenna doesn't believe Riel can handle an instant family. She calls off the wedding, so Riel doesn't have to raise the children.
But Riel bonds with the children and wants to be their new father. Can Riel convince Jenna to marry him? Doesn't this situation count as a "for better or worse" their pastor had been counseling them about?
(Riel's ancestors, Reuben Shepard, was featured in Darcie Desires a Drover in the Brides with Grit series, and Gabriel Shepard, was featured in Gabe's Pledge in the Grooms with Honor series.)
WHAT HAPPENED TO ORPHANED CHILDREN IN THE 1800S?
Even though Love's Double Blessing was a contemporary story, I couldn't help but wonder what happened to orphaned children in rural America in the 1800s.
I assume children were taken in by family members, neighbors, or sent to an orphanage in a city if no one stepped forward to help. In some cases, older children struggled to make a living and keep the young children within their family.
Except for the kindness of neighbors and the community, orphaned children were on their own. Even though our modern-day system has some flaws, I'm sure glad children have people and resources to help them.
If you're blessed with the Christmas spirit this year, I hope you can share it with a child less fortunate. Then it would be a "double" blessing, for you, and for them.
Happy Holidays from the Kansas prairie!