The Substitute Wife: Book One of Brides of Little Creede

He wasn’t the man she loved.  Then again, she wasn’t the bride he expected.


Once his fortune in silver mining is secured, Harrison Carter finally sends back home for his fiancée. It’s been four years since he’s seen Jenny.

But it’s Retta Pierce, Jenny’s sister, who arrives by stagecoach with young daughter Adeline in tow. When this lovely, soiled dove brings devastating news and a written plea from Jenny to marry and care for Retta and little Addie, what’s a good man to do?

RETTA . . .

Fulfilling her dying sister’s request, Retta travels across dangerous territory to marry a man she barely remembers. But the hard miner who meets her at the stagecoach surely isn’t the same one her sister claimed was kind and honorable, a gentleman who’ll embrace her and her daughter as if they were his own. Has she made a mistake she’ll pay for, the rest of her life?


Thrown together in shared sorrow, Harrison and Retta struggle to forge a life in the brand-new state of late-nineteenth-century Colorado.


Harrison advanced toward her, his eyes on Addie.

Retta stiffened and turned away. As exhausted as she was, if he tried to harm her daughter in any way, she’d fight him.

A gruff chuckle near her ear indicated he’d reached her. “Relax, Retta. I don’t bite.”

He smelled of leather and dark spice. Such a combination under different circumstances would have appealed to her. Right now, she just wanted it, and him, to go away.

His broad chest brushed her shoulder when he continued past her, carrying her bags down a short hallway and disappearing through a door. Her heart raced as apprehension filled her, wondering if the room was for her and Adeline, or her and Harrison.

Of course it’s for me to share with Harrison. I’m his wife now.

A heartbeat later he returned, a determined expression on his face. Stopping in front of her, far too close, he peered down at her with unreadable eyes. “It’s getting late. Put the child down for the night. Use the room across from ours, on the left. Then go to bed, you’ve had a long trip.”

Across from ours . . .

That answered her question about the sleeping arrangements. She ran her tongue across her teeth, searching for some moisture so she could speak. “Maybe I should stay with Adeline tonight. She might wake up frightened, being in a strange place.”

Harrison’s face hardened. “No. You’re my wife, your place is with me.” He turned toward a back door at the end of the hallway. “I need to tend to my horse. When I return, I’ll expect to find you in my bed.”

With that, he strode away without a backward glance and slammed out the door. Retta sucked in a deep breath, her legs shaking beneath her as the finality of her situation crashed down on her.

Oh, Lord. What have I gotten myself into?