Saturday, November 12, 2022

The Prodigal's Shotgun Wedding by Vickie McDonough


The days are getting shorter, and now that we're off Daylight Savings Time, the evenings seem longer without the sun's light. It's the perfect time to curl up with a blanket in a comfy chair to read a holiday story. Let me tell you about this one.

A prodigal’s hope for a happy homecoming is derailed.

Clay left home after his brother’s death—a death for which he was responsible. After years away he’s finally returning, hoping for reconciliation with his father. But when the stagecoach he’s riding in wrecks and he is injured, he finds himself in a fight for survival. 

Jolie is fleeing a nightmare situation. She desperately hopes becoming a mail-order bride doesn’t land her in a worse place. When the stage crashes, and she spends the night alone with a wounded man, she can't help wondering if her intended will still want her. If he doesn’t, what will she do? She has no money and nowhere to go. 

Okay, so I know there's no mention of Christmas, but trust me, it's part of the story. The Prodigal's Shotgun Wedding is a story of forgiveness, redemption, and restoration. Here's a sneak peek. This scene is from the heroine's point of view. She's traveling across the country to become a mail-order bride. Mr. Peavey is the man she is going to marry.

    Would Mr. Peavey be at the depot in Cedar Springs to meet her? Would he be young or old? Tall or thin? How would she recognize him? What would he expect of her?
    Jolie took a deep breath. “Stop being a ninny,” she whispered to herself. Of course, he'll be there. The road leveled out and became smoother. Jolie laid back her head again, and this time it wasn’t shaken half off her neck. Her eyelids closed, and her body relaxed.
    A loud noise jolted her awake. At the blast of gunfire, she sprang to the window and peered out, her breath coming in quick bursts. 
    “Robbers!” The coach driver yelled.
    “Fool woman. You want to get shot?” Mr. Jackson, now in her seat, yanked her backward. 
    She fell into his lap, arms flailing. “Unhand me.” 
    He grabbed her arms, pinning them to her side. “Stop. I’m trying to help.”
    A bullet ricocheted off the doorframe, sending splinters of wood flying. Her captor threw her to the dirty floor between the seats. Gunfire erupted from inside the stage as Mr. Jackson fired his revolver at their attackers. She covered her head. The odor of gunpowder mixed with the scent of dirt and wood. What had she gotten herself into? 
    The stage seemed to pick up speed, and Jolie was jostled in all directions, unable to regain her balance enough to even sit. Mr. Jackson stepped on her leg, and she jerked, nearly knocking him on top of her. 
    “Lie still,” he snapped.
    Shots blasted all around her. She peered up and saw light shining through a hole in the door. Glory be, it must have just missed her head. Would she even live long enough to meet her husband-to-be? “Father in heaven, help us.”
    “Amen,” Mr. Jackson yelled. 
    His gun fell silent, and Jolie peeked up again. He wrestled to stay on the seat and reload his weapon at the same time. His bullets suddenly flipped out of his hand and showered down on top of her. The carriage bounced and shook as if a madman drove it.
    “Hold on,” yelled the driver. 
    Jolie glanced at the window. Trees whipped past in a blur, and her heart flew up to her throat. The horses’ hooves thundered down the road, and the carriage creaked and groaned. 
    “Whoa! Whoa!” the driver yelled.
    The floor slanted as the coach careened down a steep hill. Mr. Jackson slid off the seat and landed on top of her, pinning her down.
    She pressed her hand against the door near her head, trying to brace herself. The stage rocked viciously back and forth then gradually slowed and rolled to a halt. Jolie dared to breathe again. Dared to move. But she could hardly catch a breath or budge with Mr. Jackson’s large body weighing her down. She pushed against his back, trying to lift him up, but he was too big. Too heavy. Why didn’t he move?
    "Mr. Jackson, could you please get off of me.” She jerked her legs and shoved his shoulder, but when she got no response, she lifted her head up. A large red circle stained the left shoulder on the back of Mr. Jackson’s shirt. 

Vickie McDonough is the CBA, EPCA, and Amazon best-selling, award-winning author of 54 books and novellas.

Get your copy of The Prodigal's Shotgun Wedding here:

Amazon / Free on KU

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