Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Welcoming His Frontier Christmas Family

When I first starting writing about pioneer Seattle and discovered the Wallin family, I knew the youngest brother, Levi, would make an interesting hero. Levi was the pesky younger brother, always getting into trouble, always trying to prove himself. When he was nineteen, he struck out to make his fortune, heading to the gold fields of Vital Creek in the Omineca area of what is now British Columbia. Those of you who read Mail-Order Marriage Promise know that he returned years later battered and wiser. And now, Levi is about to find a family of his own.

His Frontier Christmas Family launches this week.

After taking guardianship of his late friend’s siblings and baby daughter, minister Levi Wallin hopes to atone for his troubled past on the gold fields. But it won’t be easy to convince the children’s wary elder sister to trust him. The more he learns about her, though, the more he believes Callie Murphy’s prickly manner masks a vulnerable heart…one he’s starting to wish he was worthy of.

Every man in Callie’s life chose chasing gold over responsibilities. Levi—and the large, loving Wallin family—might just be different. But she can tell he’s hiding something from her, and she refuses to risk her heart with secrets between them. Even as they grow closer, will their pasts keep them from claiming this unexpected new beginning?

Here’s a taste:

As Callie held a squirming baby Mica, Levi positioned the sled, then nodded to Frisco and Sutter to climb on. Once the boys had scrambled into place, he pulled back slightly.

“One, two,” he started.

“Three!” Frisco shouted, and Levi pushed.

They shot down the hill. He had barely straightened before they had reached the bottom and spun to a stop. Leaping off the sled, they looked up at him expectantly.

Levi motioned with his gloved hand. “Well, bring it back up. You ride it, you carry it back. Those are the rules.”

They each grabbed a curved end of a runner to drag the sled back up.

Callie shook her head. “They’re going to wear themselves out.”

Levi shot her a grin. “We should be so fortunate.”

Her chuckle made him feel even warmer.

But while he enjoyed having her beside him, watching the boys’ excitement, he wanted to try something else.

“Care for a turn?” he asked Callie as he positioned the sled for another run.

She shook her head, stepping back. “I’m not putting Mica on that.”

Levi nodded to Frisco and Sutter, who climbed back aboard, then he shoved them to start. Their delighted squeals echoed back up the hill.

Levi straightened. “I wasn’t asking about Mica. I was asking about you.”

Callie eyed her brothers, who were hurrying back up with the sled. “I don’t know. What if it tips over?”

“Then we’ll fall in the snow,” Levi said with a shrug.

She raised a brow. “We?”

“Did you think I was going to wait much longer for a turn?” he teased.

Callie handed Mica to Sutter as he came abreast. “Hold her. I’m going down with Levi.”

Sutter’s eyes widened.

Frisco held the sled in place as Levi helped Callie settle near the front. Then he climbed on behind her, legs straddling hers, chest pressed against her back, arms braced beside her. Her body was tense, but he hoped that meant she was as excited as he was to give it a try.

“Push,” he told Frisco, rocking forward to help the boy.

Frisco shoved, and the sled was away.

Wind whipped past Levi’s cheeks as they flew down the hill. The trees, the snow, everything became a blur, until it was only him and Callie, dashing through the snow. Her laughter tickled his chest as she shouted against the air. He wrapped his arms around her and hung on.

The sled spun to a stop at the bottom of the hill. For a moment, he just held her, resting his cheek against the top of her head. His chest was heaving, but not from any exertion. He didn’t want to move.

But she shifted against him, and he knew he had to get up. Climbing off, he offered her his hand to rise. She scrambled up, eyes shining, cheeks red. There was nothing for it. He pulled her close and kissed her.

And all at once the sled seemed tame. Even the thrill of finding a nugget in the stream was nothing compared to the feel of Callie in his arms. This was what he’d been seeking all his life, this exhilaration, this joy.

Callie pulled back to stare at him, and he couldn’t tell whether she was shocked or delighted.

“Hey!” Frisco’s call echoed down the hill. “You got to bring it back. Those are the rules.”

The rules. The rules said Levi was a minister; Callie was his ward. The rules said he was to treat her like a sister. But there was nothing brotherly about the emotions singing through him.

You can find His Frontier Christmas Family at fine retailers, such as

The Book Depository, free shipping worldwide 

Come back on Friday, when Levi’s sister Beth has her say about the doings at Wallin Landing.

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