I first tell in love with the Old West through childhood books like Caddie Woodlawn and the Little House series. Oh, the outdoorsie, pioneer life seemed just right for me. These days I am very much an indoor-plumbing/Marriott sort of girl, but those childhood fantasies just won’t quit. Hence, writing western romance. And one of my favorite themes to read or write is the Mail Order Bride.
In my book Marrying Minda, the good guys of Minda Becker’s Pennsylvania hometown are either dead or severely maimed due to the Civil War. After raising three little sisters, she refuses to be a caretaker anymore. Joining a “hearts and hand club”, she finds the perfect mate: a well-off farmer in Nebraska. She arrives in Paradise wearing her wedding gown and...marries the wrong man.
In my latest, Her Hurry-up Husband, socialite Elspeth Maroney needs to hide from a serious indiscretion in the city. Escaping to the outback of Colorado as a rancher’s MOB--just for one month--sounds about right. But of course she wants to stay with Hezekiah forever after about ten minutes.
Okay, these are fictions. What provoked a woman in the 19th century to partake in such a life-changing decision fraught with danger? We all have happy endings in our books, but was MOB-ing worth the risk?
What would get a woman to travel hundreds of miles to marry a man she didn't know? Or at best, knew only from letters and a tintype or two?
Here’s what I think:
1. Starting Over. Like my Elspeth Maroney, her reputation is in tatters and a future in her normal locale is too scandalous.
2. Lack of Suitable Men. It’s true. Gender equality didn't exist in much of 19th century America. And I don’t mean voting rights. I mean, as with my Minda Becker...the East had a proliferation of females due to the deadly costs of the Civil War. In the West, the frontier teemed with masculine jobs like logging, gold mining, and starting up a farm or ranch from scratch. Here, men outnumbered women as much as 3, sometimes 4 four, to one.
(dark spots on this census map indicate the highest concentration of males.)
3. Her Desire for Excitement and Adventure. Sounds scary to me without the modern advantages of internet searches, eHarmony, and Google Earth. Goodness, one’s intended might write about a gorgeous, three thousand acre spread that turns out to be a dug-out in the side of a hill. And shivers...maybe he’s an ax murderer...
4. Civilize and evangelize! The untamed west was full of saloons and bordellos and pretty short on churches, tea rooms and schools.
5. Looking for Love...and the usual places just aren't working.
6. Financial security...she’s down on her luck and has nothing else to try and nowhere else to go.
As for guys advertising for mail order brides, well, we all know their needs: bedroom and kitchen. Just kidding. Men too wanted love, companionship, and families...culture and cleanliness. In 1849, a ship arriving in San Francisco with a promised load of MOB’s actually produced only three..leaving the waiting bachelors so bereft they went on an epic spree of drunkenness.
What do you think? What would motivate a woman to become a mail order bride?
Prim and proper socialite Elspeth Maroney flees from an indiscretion to the Wild West of Colorado as a mail order bride. She doesn’t plan to stay long, only a month. Rancher Hezekiah Steller needs a wife quick to get himself an heir, but what will the stagecoach deliver to his doorstep?
Their worlds collide deliciously until Ellie must confess her mistakes. Will Hez still want her tomorrow?
Buy link http://tinyurl.com/nzqrehl