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The McBride Brothers #3
The McBride Brothers #3
By: Scarlett Dunn
Releasing April 26, 2016
In Last Promise (The McBride Brothers #3) by Scarlett Dunn, there's nothing more Mary Ann Hardwicke wants than to escape being married to someone she doesn't love, so she decides to flee before the wedding. She's determined to make a life for herself away from her stifling parents, and what better way than to put an ocean between them. But just when she's starting to find what it means to be independent, and possibly falling in love for the first time, her past catches up with her and it's not about to let her go. Unless the new man in her life can convince her father that he's just as worthy as the man she's being forced to marry.
Luke McBride never lacks for female company, so why is it that he can't get the new woman in town out of his head. She's definitely going to be a challenge, considering the first time they meet, she doesn't bother giving him her time of day. But if there's one thing Luke doesn't shy away from it's a challenge. However, when he learns the truth of why she's escaped her home to come to America, he's determined not to fall any deeper than he already has for her, because he believes a future for them is impossible. Then again, what if it isn't?
I haven't read any of Ms. Dunn's books before, but I'm so delighted to have finally been introduced to her writing, because I've got to say that this book was a wonderful read. Right from the beginning, I was drawn into this fast-paced story by both the main characters, but more so from the moment the heroine and hero met, as Luke is such a flirt and isn't used to women ignoring him. So, I was eager to discover how he won Mary Ann over.
The dialogue was well-written, and Luke was determined to prove to the heroine that he wanted her like he hadn't wanted any woman ever before. Mary Ann had me smiling a lot throughout this story, because just when I thought she was going to give him a chance, the hero managed to do something that totally turned her off him. Moreover, the dialogue was also intense due to the main characters back stories, what happened with Luke's friend and the heroine, the difficulties the heroine had with her overbearing father, and then there were the obstacles this couple faced. Mostly, how were they going to be together when the heroine was betrothed to another man.
Both characters were compelling, and I liked them both immediately the moment they were introduced in this story. Mary Ann is strong, brave, and independent. Travelling all the way from Britain to America must have been daunting, yet it felt the heroine saw it as more of an adventure; the start of a new life for her, depending on what her father would do if he discovered where she was. But what I liked most about the heroine was how determined she was to take care of herself. The way she was determined to work and run her own store. Yet, at the same time, it was nice that she had a family member that was willing to help her out.
While Luke, he's confident, hard-working, and would do anything for those that need it. He's also determined to find out what happened to his friend that had him missing for three months. Once he learned what happened to him, there was no doubt that he would investigate why someone would want to hurt him and his friend? Then there's the confidence he possesses that believed he could get the heroine to give him a chance. Yet, what I liked most about him was his relationship with his family. He loved his nephews, and it seemed they were the only ones that could brighten his day when he wasn't having a good one.
Overall, Ms. Dunn has penned a sweet romance where the secondary characters help both main characters realize that love isn't easy, and if Luke wants it bad enough than he has to be willing to go after it no matter what he has to face when he finally confronts her father. The ending wrapped this story up nicely, as Mary Ann was back where she belonged. I would recommend Last Promise by Scarlett Dunn, if you enjoy reads where the heroine is determined to escape being married to someone she doesn't love, and ends up finding the love of her life on her journey.
The heart always finds a home . . .
For British heiress Mary Ann Hardwicke, the Wild West is the perfect place to make her own life and escape the stifling privilege of an arranged marriage. Hard at work proving her independence, it's little wonder she has no time for handsome cowboy Luke McBride. No matter that he somehow understands the freedom she so badly needs—how could she trust such a wild spirit, much less find a way to love him?
Like the broncs he busts, Luke doesn’t see himself settling down in one place, let alone with one woman. So at first, Mary Ann is just an intriguing challenge. But her determination and bravery are sparking a longing to prove he can be the truly good man she deserves. Now as their enemies work to separate them, they will take a dangerous gamble on faith to claim an enduring love . . .
“Don’t you want me to stay, Uncle George?” The reunion with her uncle hadn’t gone as well as Mary
Ann had expected. After she’d told him of her reasons for leaving London, he seemed concerned her father would come to America to find her. Perhaps her uncle thought he might face her father’s wrath and be held responsible for her decision to come to Wyoming.
George’s sister, Coreen, had married Hardwicke for his money. Coreen was a great beauty in her day, just like his niece, and Hardwicke had been persistent in wooing her. George’s family were on the same social level as Hardwicke, but their estate was not nearly as large. George knew when his sister married Hardwicke it wasn’t a love match, but his sister wanted the life his wealth could provide. When George inherited the Granville estate he chose a different path than his sister. He gave control of the estate to his younger brother and he left England. He yearned for a different life, one filled with adventure and knew he would find what he was looking for in America. He could sympathize with Mary Ann for desperately wanting to get away from the life she was destined to lead. She feared her life would mirror Coreen’s if she stayed in England.
“Of course I want you to stay, but you know your father. He’ll send someone to find you, and I would expect if they are not already on their way, they soon will be. I just don’t want you to be disappointed if he forces you to return.”
“I left Mother a note and told her I was leaving. I didn’t say where I was going.”
She looked so devastated that George tried to relieve her concerns. He didn’t have the heart to tell her that it would only be a matter of time before they discovered she’d left England. Hardwicke had a legion of detectives and barristers at his disposal. “Let’s not worry about it tonight. I certainly don’t mind if you stay forever. If your father’s agents appear on our doorstep, then we will deal with the situation when and if it happens. But if you decide you want to go home before then, I will escort you.” It troubled him that his beautiful young niece had traveled so far with no escort. Why, all manner of evil could have befallen her. Her guardian angel must have been keeping a close watch over her.
“I will not be going home. I have some funds, but I need to find a position, or a building where I can establish a business. Once I arrived in America, I discovered I could start a small shop. As a matter of fact, while I was waiting for you to return today I had time to look around your hotel and there is a perfect little spot I could utilize for a shop I have in mind.”
George couldn’t believe his ears. Mary Ann was nearly royalty in England, he wouldn’t hear of her looking for a position, or working for that matter. “My dear, that is impossible for someone of your position. If your father does show up here he will have me drawn and quartered if he finds you among the working class.”
“Uncle, I don’t need to remind you that this is a different country and I am determined to support myself. I am no longer dependent on Father and I have not come all this way to be a burden on you.”
“My dear, you have never been forced to earn a coin and I assure you I can certainly see to your needs. I do not consider you a burden.” Her desire to work was the last thing George expected out of a young woman who had been coddled her entire life.
“I want to work. I want to live life like everyone else. I’m sorry, but I cannot exist like Mother.” She’d given her future a lot of thought, and if her uncle wouldn’t assist in her effort, she would find another way.
They discussed this point for over an hour until George finally relented. If she was determined to do this, then he would help her in any way possible. He actually admired her resolve. “What kind of shop do you have in mind?”
“A small shop to carry products for women.”
“What kind of products?”
“On my journey here I noticed the farther west I came that there were fewer stores that sell items necessary for a woman’s toilette; powders, tinted rouges, perfumes, and such.
“You are so beautiful, surely you have no need of such potions.”
“Thank you, but I assure you all women will use such products if they are available. I will carry the finest perfumes, as well as undergarments from France. Such items are only found now in the larger towns.”
“You’ll not find the women here will buy such foolishness. I thought apothecaries mixed the powders for women. As far as undergarments, these are items that can be purchased at the mercantile.”
“I assure you it is not foolishness as all women enjoy looking their best. Apothecaries do mix various powders, but they are not equal to the products from Paris. The undergarments certainly are not what you will find in the local mercantile. They will be designed from the finest silks and satins.” She wasn’t comfortable discussing intimate apparel with her uncle, but he needed to know what she had in mind, and he seemed truly interested. “I am quite determined. If you do not have space to spare in the hotel I will find another spot.”
He quickly concluded his niece was not just a lovely woman, she also had a sharp mind. Far be it from him to know what interested the fairer sex. He would have to take her word for that. It seemed her mind was made up, and he wasn’t one to squash her dreams of independence. “What space did you see that you fancied?”
“The space to the right as you walk through the door. The alcove under the staircase is quite large and I can use a partition should the ladies prefer privacy while they are shopping.”
“Quite right. That is a space not utilized. While you are getting your shop underway, perhaps you would be interested to learn about managing the hotel. I am building a house on some land outside of town, and it is taking me away from my responsibilities at the hotel on a regular basis. You can register the guests when Eb is occupied with his other duties, and supervise the two ladies who handle the cleaning of the hotel. Mrs. Howe does the cooking in the restaurant. You may need to help her in the dining room when we are busy, nothing too demanding, maybe refill coffee cups, things of that sort.”
Mary Ann jumped up and threw her arms around his neck. “Oh thank you! I don’t know what I would do without you. I will pay you rent for the space.”
“Now, now, this is not something you need to concern yourself with. As I said, the space is not used at present. Let me know what you will need in the way of construction for shelving, painting, or whatever, and I will see to it. We will install a door to have a private entrance.”
Her uncle hadn’t mentioned the man who carried her luggage to her room. The man with the stunning blue eyes. “Uncle, you didn’t mention Mr. McBride. What is his position at the hotel?”
George gave her a puzzled look. “Mr. McBride?”
“Yes, he carried my luggage to my room.”
“I have no Mr. McBride employed here.”
“That is strange. I’m quite sure he said his name was Luke McBride. He’s a very tall man and quite the ruffian.”
George laughed. “Luke is not one of the employees. He is one of the owners of the McBride Cattle Company. He is the youngest of the three brothers. Fine men.” He furrowed his brow at her. “Ruffian, you say?”
“Indeed. He was brawling in the street when I arrived. I thought he was one of those pistoliers I’ve heard so much about.”
“Most men here carry guns and make no mistake, the McBride brothers know how to use them. But they are good men, certainly not gunslingers. I consider them friends, they’ve been very kind to me.”
She had tipped a man who didn’t even work for her uncle. “You say they have a ranch here?”
“They own one of the largest cattle ranches in Wyoming. And Luke carried your luggage?”
“Yes, I’m afraid I made a dreadful mistake. I thought he was in your employ and I tipped him.” She’d probably insulted one of her uncle’s friends.
“No worries, honey. I’m sure he took no offense. Luke is a good-natured man.”
She remembered when Mr. McBride was in the room she hadn’t been very friendly. He was such a large man that he made her nervous. “I will apologize, of course.”
“Don’t give it another thought. These men out here don’t consider such slights as serious transgressions.” He smiled at her. “Particularly if the transgressor is someone as lovely as you.”
She hoped her uncle was right and she hadn’t offended Mr. McBride. While she didn’t countenance his behavior, she wouldn’t want her uncle’s friends to think ill of him due to her mistake.
George stood and walked to the door. “You best get some rest, we will talk some more over breakfast and make plans for your shop. In the morning I’ll have Eb take your things to the third floor. Those are my living quarters for a few more months until my home is completed. You will find the space more accommodating than this room.”
Mary Ann hadn’t realized he lived on the premises. “The entire third floor is your personal living quarters?”
“Yes, you will have all the room you require. Your bedroom is much larger than this room,” George informed her.
“This room is quite lovely. Why are you building a home?”
“I’ve an interest in trying my hand at cattle ranching. So perhaps your arrival will be most opportune for me if you find you enjoy managing a hotel.”
“I am sure I will enjoy it very much and I will start tomorrow.” She was anxious to get started now that she had a plan for her future.
“There is no hurry, take some time to rest.” George had made the trip from England and it was a grueling journey.
Mary Ann didn’t need rest. She was invigorated knowing she would no longer be forced to attend parties gossiping with bored women, or be forced into a marriage she didn’t want. “I do not need to rest. Tomorrow is the beginning of my new life.”
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Scarlett Dunn lives in Kentucky surrounded by all manner of wildlife, and enjoys long "God walks" where most inspiration strikes. Possessing an adventurous spirit, and a love of history, particularly the pioneers of the West, she has a special place in her heart for all cowboys, past and present. Readers can visit her website: www.scarlettdunn.com.
Author Links: Website | Facebook | GoodReads
Author Links: Website | Facebook | GoodReads