A Bride’s Escape to Love (Preview)


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Chapter One


“Yes, I believe in magic.” 

Twenty-two year old Amy Cutler looked up at her sister with a broad grin as she replied. Her long, dark blonde hair fell in bountiful waves over her shoulders as she turned her head upward to meet her sister’s gaze. 

“Aren’t you a little too old for such nonsense?” Anna asked. She was Amy’s elder sister by three years, but she’d already been a married woman once, and it had been an experience that had aged Anna far more than just the three years that were between them. 

“Besides,” Anna continued, “It’s 1865. I’m pretty sure with how far humanity has come revolutionizing the planet, magic has been proven to be nothing but a figment of imagination.” 

“I don’t think it’s nonsense,” Amy replied. “Or imagination. How else do you explain such things?”

“Such things as what?” Anna asked, rather impatiently now. Anna was laying on her bed with Amy on the floor near her, but Amy kept butting in, disrupting Anna’s reading. 

“Love, of course,” Amy replied with a giggle. “How do you meet someone, then suddenly, all you do is think about them, and them about you? Everything you do reminds you of them, and them of you. You go from complete strangers to lovers, and no one can explain how that happens.”

“You read too many books,” Anna said with a sigh. “Anyone can explain love quite simply. It’s science. Not magic.”

“Science!” Amy snorted. “I hardly think even you believe that, dear sister.” 

Anna’s face fell solemn, and Amy wished she hadn’t made the statement. Anna had only been home for a few months after the passing of her husband, and while it was a tragedy that her husband was dead, Anna herself was relieved to be home. 

The marriage had been a terrible one. It was arranged by their aunt and uncle for the sake of money. Anna had been meant to have children with the wealthy miner. But he’d perished in an accident before she’d become pregnant, so even as his widow, she had no claim to any of his assets. 

Their aunt and uncle had been very disappointed by this, and often reminded Anna of her failure. 

Since then, Anna had become a serious young woman despite her young age, and Amy often felt guilty for being so caught up in her own whimsical ideas. 

But ever since the death of their parents, Amy had found comfort in whimsy, and she was reluctant to let it go. 

“Girls! Girls, come down here at once,” Janet’s voice drifted up the stairs. “There’s something we need to discuss.” 

“What do you suppose Auntie wants?” Amy asked her sister, but Anna only shrugged as she closed her book with a sigh. 

“Only one way to find out,” she said. 

The two headed downstairs to the sitting room, where Aunt Janet and Uncle Bronson waited for them. The sound of the bustling street outside crept in through the open window as the city of Irving, New York, woke up. 

“Sit,” Uncle Bronson directed once the two were in the room. He wasn’t ever a cruel man to the girls, but he wasn’t overly kind, either. 

Amy and her sister did as they were told, then waited expectantly for Uncle Bronson to tell them why they were there. 

“Amy’s getting married,” he announced without warning. 

Both Amy and Anna looked at each other, then back to their aunt and uncle. 

“What!” Amy cried. “When? To who?” 

Her heart sank into the pit of her stomach. All the lightheartedness she’d been feeling only minutes before vanished, and she worried she would be sick. Her mind instantly went to how terrible her sister’s marriage had been, and she felt terrified she was facing the same fate. 

“To a family friend in Michigan,” Aunt Janet replied in a cool, even tone. “He’s a good man who will make you happy. Uncle Bronson and I have a few things we have to wrap up here in New York, so we will be following you two to Michigan once our affairs here are in order.” 

“Michigan?” Amy asked. “You mean we’re going across Lake Erie?” 

“You’ll be boarding a steamboat, yes,” Uncle Bronson said. “The two of you will then land in the southern port town of Golden Brook, then you’ll continue to travel south by stagecoach until you are in Dusty Trails.”

Amy didn’t like the sound of that one bit. She’d witnessed the steamboats plenty of times in their port town in southern New York state, but it would be the first she’d ever been on board one. 

“And like I said,” Aunt Janet added. “Your Uncle and I do have some things to tend to, but we’ll be following once we are able.” 

“Following?” Anna asked. “You mean you’re not coming with us right away? When are we leaving?” 

“Tomorrow,” Uncle Bronson announced. 

“Tomorrow!” Amy repeated. “I can’t leave tomorrow! I’m not ready!” 

“That’s why we wanted to talk to you now,” Aunt Janet replied. “Now you have the time to go upstairs to your room and pack your things. Anna will be helping you along the way, won’t you, Anna?” 

“Auntie Janet, I- “Anna started, but Aunt Janet put her hand in the air to silence her. 

“Anna, we have done so much for you both. So much. You have practically run us out of house and home. Of course, we’re happy to do it. But it’s time that you both give back for all we have sacrificed,” she said. 

There were tears in Amy’s eyes as she knew there wasn’t anything she or her sister could say that would change their caretaker’s minds. Bronson often stated how disappointed he was in Anna for not producing an heir or securing any of the wealth from her late husband, and Amy knew it was now her turn to attempt to bring in some money for the rest of the family. 

But all she saw in marrying a complete stranger was misery. All her dreams of love and happiness came crashing down around her, and she couldn’t stop herself from rushing out the door to head back to the bedroom. 

“Amy!” Anna called after her.

 But before she was able to follow, Amy heard her aunt and uncle stop her sister to speak with her further. She knew there was little Anna could say that would help change the situation, anyway. 

Neither of them had any authority in this house, and they both did as they were told. If that meant Amy was now to marry a stranger, then that’s how it would be. 

Even if it did break her heart in the process. 

“There there there, it’s going to be okay,” Anna said as she came rushing into the room a mere ten minutes after Amy had entered. Amy was sobbing on the bed when her sister came in, and she didn’t stop despite Anna’s attempts to console her. 

“It’s not going to be okay,” Amy retorted. “It’s not. I don’t even know who this man is!” 

Anna hesitated, and Amy gave her a look. 

“Did they tell you his name?” she demanded. 

“Yes,” she said. “And I don’t think it’s going to be as bad as it sounds.” 

“Who is it?” Amy demanded once more. “Who did they decide I’m going to marry?” 

“Black Jack,” Anna said simply. 

“No!” Amy cried. 

“You don’t know him any more than I do,” her sister admonished. But Amy refused the comfort. 

“Black Jack? You and I both know anyone associated with Uncle Bronson isn’t likely to be a good man, and he’s going by the name Black Jack? He’s bound to be terrible!” 

“Don’t be silly,” Anna replied. “We don’t know why he calls himself that. Perhaps he has a big black beard like Blackbeard the Pirate? Or maybe his eyes are so dark, they look black.” 

Amy giggled. She couldn’t help herself at the thought of such a thing. She knew her sister was simply trying to help. Though there was still the heaviness in her heart as they both knew Anna’s words carried little weight. 

With a grim smile and her jaw set in determination, Anna pulled the trunk out from beneath the bed and lifted it onto the mattress next to her sister. 

“We best get packed for the trip,” she said softly. “Uncle Bronson says we leave early in the morning, and you know as well as I do they’ll make us leave whether we have packed yet or not.” 

Amy sighed. She knew her sister was right. They would be making the trip either way, and if she wanted to be ready, she best get her things packed up like she was told. But even bringing along the few comforts she had in her life did little to bring her any real comfort in her heart. 

Amy already had it set in her head. Black Jack was likely named so because his actions were black as sin. And she had very little desire to ever meet the man. 

Let alone become his wife. 

Chapter Two


“You won’t get away with this!” the outlaw shouted. “You’re going to pay dearly! I promise you that!” 

“Get away with what, friend?” Caleb Hunter asked. “You’ve just been caught red-handed with the plans to do another train robbery, and there’s no denying you’re the same man who is on this poster now, is there?” 

He pulled the wanted poster out of his pocket and unfolded it for what felt like the hundredth time. The bound man looked at the drawing of his own face and shook his head. 

“Don’t look a thing like me,” he said. “That man has a beard.” 

“You shaved,” Caleb said simply enough. “Daniel! Where you at?” 

“Sorry,” Daniel Garrett, Caleb’s best friend, came around the corner of the building. “I didn’t know you were going to strike right now.” 

“I told you as soon as we saw him leaving the saloon, we were going to follow him,” Caleb said with a shake of his head. “You were too busy flirting with that saloon girl to pay attention.” 

“She seemed nice enough,” he said. “Just was making friendly conversation is all.” 

“That friendly conversation almost cost us our quarry,” Caleb argued. 

“Well, I apologize!” Daniel said halfway defensively. “You and I both know you’re the one who catches the ladies’ eyes when we’re anywhere. I was feeling rather flattered with the attention, I guess.” 

Caleb didn’t indulge his friend with an argument. Caleb knew he was considered attractive by most women. He was tall, muscular, had deep hazel eyes and dark brown hair. A faded scar ran across his forehead and ran over one eye, just grazing his cheek, but it was so faded, not many even noticed it was there. 

Daniel, on the other hand, was short and heavyset. He was a smart man who knew business and who knew horses, but when he was next to Caleb, Caleb was the one to often get the attention. 

“No need,” he said. “Let’s get this man into the sheriff’s office and collect on the bounty, then let’s get out of here.” 

“You know,” Daniel replied as they both worked together to get the bound, struggling outlaw to his feet. “I was wondering something.” 


They both took a side of the outlaw and started walking. The man went willingly for only a couple of steps, then both Caleb and Daniel had to practically carry him between them on their way up the street. 

Being the gunslinging bounty hunter Caleb was, he had grown used to the stares he received from many of the onlookers. But he had also grown used to ignoring them and going on about his business. If he didn’t bother the other people on the street, it was rare for anyone to bother him. 

It was obvious to anyone looking on that the man between them was a prisoner, and he was being taken to the sheriff’s office. 

Many a man on the street didn’t care to get involved with anything like that. And Caleb was glad for it. 

“You said you’ve already got your next assignment from the sheriff, correct?” Daniel asked. 

“That’s right,” Caleb confirmed. “We’re heading up to Michigan. Dusty Trails, to be specific.” 

“What do you say to me staying up here in Indiana a little while longer?” Daniel asked. 

“That’s fine with me,” Caleb said. “I don’t need you right away. But what’s got you staying up here? Not that saloon girl, I hope?” 

“’Course not,” he snorted. “I got wind of a horse sale happening three days from now, and I’m particularly interested in an Arabian I hear is going up to auction.” 

“That so?” Caleb asked. “Sounds like a lot of horse for someone like you.” 

“You know I love helping you out when I can, but this ain’t my life,” Daniel said with a slight nod to the struggling man between them. “I want to breed horses full time. Make my money, have my big house with my hired hands. That’s the dream right there.” 

“You already have a ranch, though,” Caleb said. “What’s wrong with the house you have?” 

“It’s a nice house,” Daniel said quickly. “Make no mistake. It’s just that I’d like a big, fancy house. And I really mean fancy.” 

“If you say so,” Caleb told him. “I’m leaving tonight, but no rush on your end.” 

“Thanks,” Daniel said. “I’ll be following you once I have that animal secured. I’m not leaving you high and dry out here.” 

“Right now, I just want to get this animal secured,” Caleb said, struggling to get a better grip on the outlaw. “Come on, mister, you’re just making this harder than it needs to be.” 

Of course, Caleb didn’t expect anything less. It wasn’t an easy job taking outlaws in to justice. But it was what Caleb felt passionate about. Ever since he left the army due to his head injury, he had wanted to do what he could to fight evil in the real world. 

And he found his calling in hunting down these criminals and taking them in to be held accountable for the crimes. 

“Damn you both,” the man hissed. “You’re going to pay.” 

Caleb shook his head. He had been given many different threats during his time in this line of work, and while he had had several standoffs and shootouts with outlaws, he’d never worried that there would be anyone coming after him to get vengeance for taking a criminal off the streets. 

It was something they’d say to scare him, and he wasn’t the kind of man to be scared so easily. 

Daniel helped him take the man into the sheriff’s office, and together they waited while the sheriff went through the standard questions before pulling out the money to pay them for the bounty. Caleb then gave Daniel his portion of the pay, and the two men shook hands. 

“I’ll be looking you up when I get to Dusty Trails,” Daniel said. “Try to stay out of trouble long enough for me to get there.” 

“You stay out of trouble yourself up here,” Caleb replied with a snort. “I ain’t worried about trouble hunting down these bad guys, but you are the one who is going to a horse sale with money in your pocket. Not sure it’s a good idea to let you go alone.” 

Daniel laughed. “I’ll be fine. I know what I’m after.” 

With that, the two men parted ways, and Caleb shifted his focus to his next assignment. 

After all, that was how he spent his days. He was a nomad, always ready to move forward. He never stayed anywhere long. He couldn’t. Bad guys didn’t live in one spot, and if he was going to catch them, he had to go where they were. 

It was a bit of a lonely life, he could admit, but he felt it was his purpose. 

He was already thinking of the next man he’d be bringing to justice. 

It was the reason he did this. The reason for his living. He was twenty-eight years old and had grown up an orphan without any siblings, so he had chosen this life to make something of himself. 

He didn’t feel he deserved a wife or children. He had no idea how to be a husband or a father. Instead, he put his time and effort into bringing in the outlaws, the bad guys. 

And he did it well. 

Chapter Three


“Are you sure there’s no delay?” Amy asked her sister when the two of them stepped off the boat and onto the pier. 

“We just got here. I’m sure I don’t know if there’s a delay or not,” Anna said over her shoulder. “But we can check.” 

Anna knew there wasn’t any reason to believe there would be a delay with the stagecoach, but she was hoping all the same. She and her sister had boarded the steamer to leave New York and head to the port town of Golden Brook, Michigan. 

But, since the moment the ship left their home behind, Amy had hoped there would be some sort of delay with the stagecoach. She didn’t much care what caused it. Only that it would be delayed for some time to prevent her from making it all the way to Dusty Trails.

Anna had, of course, pointed out that she would only be putting off what was to come, but Amy didn’t care. She dreaded the thought of marrying Black Jack so much, any day she could put it off felt worth it. 

The two women stood on the pier and looked around. Amy knew as a grown woman she ought not feel so nervous, but she did. She relied heavily on Anna to know where they were supposed to go, to the point she almost put her hand in Anna’s, just as she would do when the two of them were little. 

“Come along,” Anna said over her shoulder. “Let’s find a hotel.” 

“And pray a storm comes up and causes the stagecoach to be late,” Amy muttered. She followed her sister through the sea of people, grateful she got to spend at least the journey to her new life alone with her sister. 

Black Jack could have insisted on coming up to meet with them to escort them back to his home, and she would have hated that even more than what they were already going through. 

“Keep your bag close,” Anna said over her shoulder. “Amy! Pay attention.” 

“Sorry,” Amy said, tucking her purse under her arm. She did know better than to let it swing so loosely in a crowd like this. Back home, that would have been an incredibly easy way for a thief to come over and snatch it right out of her hand. 

But then, she had to admit there was a part of her that almost hoped for such a thing to happen. To lose her ticket for the stagecoach would mean that they would have to wait a while longer to secure another. And that would give her that much longer to not be married to Black Jack. 

Anna, however, would never agree to such a thing, so Amy didn’t tell her sister that was on her mind. Amy had heard both her aunt and uncle telling Anna how much they were counting on her to ensure this wedding happened, and Amy didn’t want to put her sister in a bad place with their remaining family members. 

Anna already had to deal with the stigma of being widowed at her young age. As their auntie put it, she was “used goods,” and unlikely to find another husband. In short, Anna was being treated as nothing but a burden in the household. 

And if there was something Amy could do to help her sister, she knew it was her duty to do so. 

“Oh, bother,” Anna said with a sigh. “They’re busy.” 

“Of course they are,” Amy said. “The boat just came in. All the people who want to spend the night in town and who need a room are going to head straight to the hotel if they’re smart.” 

“True, but I was hoping since we wasted no time, we’d be able to get there quickly enough to avoid having to wait too long,” she said. 

“Hey!” Amy suddenly cries out. “That’s mine! Anna, Anna!”

Amy hadn’t realized it, but she’d let the purse on her arm hang loosely by the strap once more, and what she’d thought she’d want to happen actually did. 

A thief appeared seemingly out of nowhere, and with skilled hands, he snatched the purse right off her arm. 

Amy had caught him just as he managed to slip the strap free, and her hands closed around the bottom of the bag before the thief was able to vanish with it. However, she had been caught by such surprise, she didn’t have a good enough grip on the bag to keep him from wrenching it free. 

The man ran back into the crowd, vanishing among the many faces milling about the pier. 

“What are we going to do now?” Anna cried out. “Amy!” 

“I’m sorry,” she said, her voice cracking with emotion. “I’m so sorry!” 

“We need to find someone to report this to,” Anna fumed. Amy didn’t know what good it would do. She hadn’t gotten a good look at the man, and she figured this sort of thing happened a lot down at the pier, anyway. 

Initially she thought it would be good to lose the purse, seeing the distress it brought Anna was enough to make her want to curl up into a ball and disappear. She was mortified with herself for being so selfish in her thoughts, and she berated herself silently for being so foolish. 

But before either of the women could make up their minds on what to do, another stranger approached them. 

This man was tall and very handsome. Amy was immediately struck by his appearance. His muscular physique made him look so strong, but his hazel eyes were so filled with kindness, she felt she could get lost in them forever. 

“Excuse me, ma’am,” he said. “But I believe this belongs to you.” 

“My purse!” Amy cried out. “How did you? Oh, thank you, thank you!” 

She was going to ask him how he had managed to get it back to her, but she quickly decided it didn’t matter. She had it back, and as she quickly looked through the contents, she saw everything was accounted for. 

“I don’t know how to thank you,” she said. “You are truly a hero.” 

“Think nothing of it,” the handsome stranger said. “Just doing what any gentleman should.” 

“Thank you, thank you,” Anna cried. “That purse had all our money in it. You have truly saved us from being out on the street tonight.” 

“I’m glad,” the man said. He touched the brim of his hat and gave them both a warm smile before walking away, leaving Amy feeling almost giddy. 

“Are you blushing?” her sister asked her with raised eyebrows. 

“No,” Amy said quickly, denying her feelings immediately. “I’m merely warm, that’s all.” 

“Remember, you’re going to be married soon,” her sister said. “You don’t want to anger your new husband by having such reactions to other men.” 

“I know,” she said. “He was just so handsome, though, and I’m really thankful to him for bringing back my purse.” 

“I am, too,” Anna said. “Now make sure you hold it to you like you would back home. We can’t afford to lose it.” 

“Of course,” Amy promised. The two of them turned back toward the hotel, but Amy couldn’t help adding, “What do you suppose his name was?” 

“Don’t be a silly girl,” her sister said. “It doesn’t matter what his name was or is or any of it. You’re to be married in a few days, and it’s best you put all thoughts of that stranger out of your mind once and for all.” 

“Yes ma’am,” Amy obediently replied. Though Anna was only a few years older, there were moments when Anna behaved as more of a mother toward Amy than a sister, and Amy appreciated it. 

Ever since the death of their parents, her sister had been her only real family. She trusted and respected Anna. 

But as the two women headed through the doors into the hotel, Amy still threw one last look behind her, hoping to see the tall, dark stranger one more time. 

Even if she would never know his name.

“A Bride’s Escape to Love” is an Amazon Best-Selling novel, check it out here!

In the rugged Wild West, Amy’s dreams of adventure, freedom and love are shattered when her family arranges a betrothal with the menacing outlaw, Black Jack McCallister. However, salvation rides into town in the form of a mysterious gunslinger who promptly puts her betrothed behind bars. With his protection and tender care, Amy’s heart begins to stir. However, as love blossoms, danger looms. With the McCallister family seeking revenge, her life is in danger once again…

Can Amy find happiness amidst this chaos that surrounds her?

Caleb Hunter is a man of grit and honor, a gunslinger who’s battled outlaws like Black Jack for years. When he outdraws the villain in a fierce showdown, he feels a newfound responsibility to protect Amy, the betrothed he rescued. As they bond over shared dreams and experiences, Caleb is genuinely enchanted by Amy’s tender heart. However, their bond is threatened not only by the vengeful McCallister family but also from dangers that lurk within their own ranks…

Will he be able to protect the woman that stole his heart?

Soon enough, Amy and Caleb’s love is put to the ultimate test. As they face betrayal, danger and the ruthless pursuit of the McCallister family, their love story becomes a battle for survival and they must navigate a treacherous path to find the freedom they both yearn for. Will their love conquer all, even in a world of danger and deceit? Or will they be torn apart by the unforgiving West?

“A Bride’s Escape to Love” is a historical western romance novel of approximately 80,000 words. No cheating, no cliffhangers, and a guaranteed happily ever after.

Get your copy from Amazon!


Grab my new series, "Western Brides and True Loves", and get 2 FREE novels as a gift! Have a look here!

One thought on “A Bride’s Escape to Love (Preview)”

  1. Hello my dears, I hope you were intrigued by the preview of this inspiring love story and you cannot wait to read the rest! Let me know your thoughts here. Thank you kindly! Happy reading! ✨

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