As a reader and as a writer, I love heroines who match the hero for strength of will and intelligence—with a little humor tossed into the mix. While the hero may be physically more powerful, the heroine must be resourceful. Since I loved visiting Bavaria, I’ve wanted to write a heroine from there. I live in Texas, and many Germans settled the Texas Hill Country near Austin and San Antonio.
For THE MOST UNSUITABLE COURTSHIP, I needed a stubborn, determined woman who could match wits with the hero, Storm Kincaid, a rancher temporarily a Federal Marshal. After deliberation, Renata “Rena” Hausmann Dmitriev appeared.
When her grandfather-like husband is murdered, Rena will no longer stand for injustice. In Bavaria, she had seen her father murdered when she was twelve. Rescued by kindly Adam Dmitriev, she had traveled with Abram as his granddaughter until she was fifteen. Due to her being Christian and him being Jewish, they fit in no community. In the hope of warding off unwanted attentions as her beauty blossomed, she and Abram married, but never consummated the marriage. Instead, Abram continued to treat her as his granddaughter.
Rena and Abram came to Texas to start over. All the while, Abram taught her English and saved for her dowry so she could marry well when he died. That day came seven years later. Rena had always been a dutiful daughter and wife-in-name-only. When four killers tortured and robbed Abram, outrage replaced Rena’s patience. While the murderers did their foul work, she had followed Abram’s instructions and hidden in the secret place he’d constructed.
But no more! This time, Rena is determined to avenge Abram’s murder. She’s donned a pair of Abram’s trousers and has the pistol he taught her to fire. When Storm Kincaid arrives and helps bury Abram, Rena tells Storm she saw the faces of the gang members. She vows to shoot at least one of the evil men.
Storm says he is chasing the men, who are probably heading from Central Texas toward Indian Territory, a hard ride and one they might not survive when finally confronting the men. Rena is insistent that she will shoot at least one of the men who killed Abram. Rather than have her riding off on her own, Storm agrees to let her accompany him. The two ride north across the Texas ranching county.
Nothing stops Rena. She is wounded crossing the flooded Colorado River. She is almost trapped inside a burning cabin helping Storm rescue three children orphaned by the same killers, and helps Storm when one of the killers shoots him in the leg. The adults and children are caught in a choking dust storm, but make their own shelter.
When the killers try to abduct Rena, she is able to shoot one to save Storm’s life. But she doesn’t have time to revel in vengeance because Storm’s injury has become infected. The local doctor wants to amputate Storm’s leg, but Rena refuses. How could Storm ride around his ranch with only one leg? Instead, she wires his sister who is an herbalist healer.
While taking care of the three children, Rena follows instructions to treat Storm until his sister can arrive by train. When Storm’s sister and brother in law arrive, Rena thinks all will now be well. As the family travels to Storm’s home by train, they all fall asleep. But the brother of one killer is seeking his own retribution. During the night, their train cars are disconnected and the killer attacks. Rena helps Storm battle the unknown assailant.
Rena has traveled from Bavaria to Texas. She thought all she wanted was avenge Abram, recover her dowry, settle in a nice town, and enjoy meeting suitable young men. She’s learned that she wants Storm Kincaid and their three little ones, that life with him holds all she desires.
Excerpt from THE MOST UNSUITABLE COURTSHIP:
She emerged from the brush straightening her trousers and shoving her pistol back into her waistband. “Where do you think those men are going?”
“Indian Territory. They’ll steal all they can before they reach the Red River and leave no survivors to identify them. They’re selling off the stolen stock along the way, so that will slow them some.” He wondered if she knew how to use the gun.
“But I saw their faces.”
He sent her what he hoped was a frightening stare. “If they knew that, you’d be dead for sure.”
She shivered, but glared at him. “Do not think to frighten me. I will do everything I can to kill these men and reclaim my gold and my mother’s locket. It is not that I care about the jewelry that once belonged to Abram’s wife. But to him, it meant a great deal, and I want it because he gave it to me.”
Storm wanted to shake her. Not that he hadn’t lived all his life with stubborn women. At least his oldest sister Pearl made sense. He’d worried about shy Sarah, especially when she’d appeared head over heels with a con man. Now that Sarah and Nate were married, she had life figured out. Nate had surprised everyone, even himself. Storm suppressed a smile and worked up his anger again at his traveling companion.
“We can be in Llano by nightfall. We’ll get a couple of rooms there and you can rest.”
She shot him a suspicious glare. “You think to abandon me in that town. If we stay somewhere, we will be in the same room so I can watch you.”
Shocked, Storm wondered what he could do with this woman. “We wouldn’t be allowed to stay in a decent hotel. You want to sleep over a saloon? Besides that, folks will be shocked when they see you in those trousers. You want people to think you’re a fallen woman?”
With her chin raised, she placed her hands on her hips. “I am a good woman. You can tell them we are married and I wear britches to ride more easily.” She held up her hand and wiggled her fingers. “I have a wedding band, see?”
He raised his hands and backed up a step. “Oh, no. I’m not even pretending to be married. If I were ready to marry, which I’m not, I’d pick a woman who knew when to let a man do his job.”
“Ha, and when I recover my dowry, I will marry a man who knows a woman can do as much as a man.”
He swept a formal bow. “And when you marry, will you be wearing the lovely gown you now wear?”
She appeared angry enough to use that Colt on him. “You are wrong to…to talk so. I do not have the English words to tell you what I think, but do not try to leave me behind. If you do, I will go after the men alone.”
Disgusted, Storm stomped over and retrieved the horses. “Then let’s go.”
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Caroline Clemmons is an Amazon bestselling author of historical and contemporary western romances whose books have garnered numerous awards. A frequent speaker at conferences and seminars, she has taught workshops on characterization, point of view, and layering a novel.