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The Christmas Brides

Cover of The Christmas Brides

The Christmas Brides

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A McKettrick ChristmasLizzie McKettrick is homebound with a Christmas Eve surprise for her family--Whitley Carson. He might seem too interested in the McKettrick money, but she's certain Whitley cares...
A McKettrick ChristmasLizzie McKettrick is homebound with a Christmas Eve surprise for her family--Whitley Carson. He might seem too interested in the McKettrick money, but she's certain Whitley cares...
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  • A McKettrick Christmas

    Lizzie McKettrick is homebound with a Christmas Eve surprise for her family--Whitley Carson. He might seem too interested in the McKettrick money, but she's certain Whitley cares for her. But fate has a surprise for Lizzie--Morgan Shane. When their train is stranded by an avalanche the handsome doctor takes charge with Lizzie by his side. With faith, hard work and some unexpected help, it might be a joyous McKettrick family Christmas after all.

    A Creed Country Christmas

    In Montana, Lincoln Creed is up against more than rustlers, wolves and storms. The widowed rancher must find a suitable governess who won't set her sights on him for his daughter, Gracie. Disowned for her refusal to marry, young schoolteacher Juliana Mitchell seems like a perfect fit. As she gets to know Lincoln and Gracie, Juliana suddenly doesn't feel so strongly against marriage. In the season of miracles, Providence might find a way to bring these souls together.

 
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    December 22, 1896

    Lizzie McKettrick leaned slightly forward in her seat, as if to do so would make the train go faster. Home. She was going home, at long last, to the Triple M Ranch, to her large, rowdy family. After more than two years away, first attending Miss Ridgely's Institute of Deportment and Refinement for Young Women, then normal school, Lizzie was returning to the place and the people she loved--for good. She would arrive a day before she was expected, too, and surprise them all--her papa, her stepmother, Lorelei, her little brothers, John Henry, Gabriel, and Doss. She had presents for everyone, most sent ahead from San Francisco weeks ago, but a few especially precious ones secreted away in one of her three huge travel trunks.

    Only her grandfather, Angus McKettrick, the patriarch of the sprawling clan, knew she'd be there that very evening. He'd be waiting, Lizzie thought happily, at the small train station in Indian Rock, probably at the reins of one of the big flat-bed sleighs used to carry feed to snowbound cattle on the range. She'd warned him, in her most recent letter, that she'd be bringing all her belongings with her, for this homecoming was permanent--not just a brief visit, like the last couple of Christmases.

    Lizzie smiled a mischievous little smile. Even Angus, her closest confidant except for her parents, didn't know all the facts.

    She glanced sideways at Whitley Carson, slumped against the sooty window in the seat next to hers, huddled under a blanket, sound asleep. His breath fogged the glass, and every so often, he stirred fitfully, grumbled something.

    Alas, for all his sundry charms, Whitley was not an enthusiastic traveler. His complaints, over the three days since they'd boarded the first train in San Francisco, had been numerous.

    The train was filthy.

    There was no dining car.

    The cigar smoke roiling overhead made him cough.

    He was never going to be warm again.

    And what in God's green earth had possessed the woman three rows behind them to undertake a journey of any significant distance with two rascally children and a fussy infant in tow?

    Now the baby let out a pitiable squall.

    Lizzie, used to babies because there were so many on the Triple M, was unruffled. Whitley's obvious annoyance troubled her. Although she planned to teach, married or not, she hoped for a houseful of children of her own someday--healthy, noisy, rambunctious ones, raised to be confident adults and freethinkers.

    It was hard, in the moment, to square the Whitley she was seeing now with the kind of father she had hoped he would be.

    The man across the aisle from her laid down his newspaper, stood and stretched. He'd boarded the train several hours earlier, in Phoenix, carrying what looked like a doctor's bag, its leather sides cracked and scratched. His waistcoat was clean but threadbare, and he wore neither a hat nor a sidearm--the absence of both unusual in the still-wild Arizona Territory.

    Although Lizzie expected Whitley to propose marriage once they were home with her family, she'd been stealing glances at the stranger ever since he entered the railroad car. There was something about him, beyond his patrician good looks, that constantly drew her attention.

    His hair was dark, and rather too long, his eyes brown and intense, bespeaking formidable intelligence. Although he probably wasn't a great deal older than Lizzie, who would turn twenty on her next birthday, there was a maturity in his manner and countenance that intrigued her. It was as though he'd lived many other lives, in other times and places, and extracted...

About the Author-
  • In 2006, New York Times bestselling author Linda Lael Miller left the Arizona horse property she's called home for the past five years and listened to the call of her heart. Packing up her dogs, Sadie and Bernice, and her four horses, the author of more than seventy novels bid farewell to her home in the desert and returned to the place of her birth, Spokane, Washington.

    The daughter of a town marshal, Linda grew up in Northport, WA, a community of 500 on the Columbia River, 120 miles north of Spokane. Her childhood remembrances include riding horses and playing cowgirl on her grandparents' nearby farm. Her grandparents' spread was so rustic that in the early days it lacked electricity and running water.

    As delightful as this childhood was, Linda longed to see the world. After graduating as valedictorian of her high school class, she left to pursue her dream at the age of eighteen. Because of the success of her writing career, Linda was able to live part-time in London for several years, spend time in Italy and travel to such far-off destinations as Russia, Hong Kong and Israel. Now, Linda says, the wanderlust is (mostly) out of her blood, and she's come full circle, back to the people and the places she knows and loves.

    Before Linda begins her writing day, she takes her first cup of coffee while enjoying the scenic view of the wooded draw behind her new home. The first morning there, a snowfall blanketed the pine trees, something she had missed in the desert outside Scottsdale. Still enamored with the people she came to love in Arizona, she says she will still set books in that starkly beautiful area, and, of course, Washington.

    Devoted to helping others pursue their dreams, the author will launch her seventh round of the Linda Lael Miller Scholarships for Women in May 2007. A talented speaker, she donates all her speaking honoraria to her scholarship fund. The stipends are awarded to women who seek to better their lot in life through education.

    It's no wonder the protagonists in Miller's novels are women her readers admire for their honor, courage, trustworthiness, valor and determination to succeed, despite overwhelming odds. "These qualities make them excellent role models for young women," Miller explains. "The male leads possess equally noble traits that today's woman would be delighted to find in her life's mate."

    The author traces the birth of her writing career to the day when a Northport teacher told her that the stories she was writing were good, that she just might have a future in writing. Later, when she decided to write novels, she endured her share of rejection before she made her first sale.

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