An interview with hero, Austin Hart, of "Mail-Order Mayhem", a novella in Seven Brides for Seven Texans (Barbour Publishing, December, 2016).
Genre: Christian historical romance
Novella Description: "Mail-Order Mayhem" - With the cattle industry growing fast in Texas, Stephen “Austin” Hart thought his future as a rancher looked fairly secure. Austin had long expected his father’s ranch to be divided among the seven brothers, although he never expected that to happen before his father died. But his father has issued an ultimatum—get married or lose out. Now Austin’s future is on shaky ground. He’s 34, and between fighting in the War Between the States, returning home to recover from severe wounds, and then helping his pa keep their large ranch going amidst the turmoil of reconstruction in the years following the war, he hasn’t had time to marry. But if he doesn’t, he could lose his land and the future he’s dreamed of. So marry he will, but none of the women he knows interests him. A mail-order bride seems the quickest and easiest solution to his problem.
Interview of Austin Hart
VM: Mr. Hart, I hear you have a rich heritage here in Texas.
AH: First off, call me Austin. With 8 Mr. Harts in the vicinity, things can get confusing faster than a stampede. My pa, George Washington Hart was friends with Stephen F. Austin, founder of the first white settlement in Texas. My grandparents Benjamin Franklin and Mary Ellen Hart came to Texas with their four children, George Washington—my pa, John Adams, William Penn, and Martha Abigail Hart. They were part of the “Old 300,” the first white settlers in Texas.
(CFP: I LOVE this history, Austin!)
VM: Wow, that is some heritage. The Old 300 settled east of here, so how did you end up in this part of Texas?
AH: Benjamin Hart and his family ventured farther west than most of the Austinites, putting down roots along the Sabinal River. There he established the Hart ranch and set aside a portion of his property to establish the town of Hartville.
VM: Ah. . . so that’s why the town bears your family name. Interesting. Now, I have a more personal question. Does it bother you that five of your six younger brothers have found love and have married, but you still remain single?
AH: To be honest, it does pester me that so many of my brothers have found wives and I haven’t. Although let me state right now that I’m happy for each of them—and even though Pa forced our hand by declaring we had to marry or lose or inheritance, I have to say it’s worked out well for my brothers.
VM: What about your brother, James Bowie Hart. Do you think he’ll find a wife?
AH: I’m not sure that he cares if he does or not. He was hurt bad in the war and hasn’t quite been the same. He took off not too long ago, and none of us know where he went. I’d love to see him happy and settled with a good woman, but it would take a very special gal to wrangle Bowie.
VM: You’re a good-looking man and wealthy—if you don’t mind me saying so. You’re thirty-four, so why haven’t you married before now?
AH: (Austin’s neck and ears turn red.) I work from sunup to past sundown on our large ranch, ma’am, so I don’t get to town often. And besides, none of the women I know interest me enough to marry. Most women in these parts have set their bonnets on marrying a Hart brother. I’d just as soon marry a woman who cared more for me than she does my family’s wealth.
VM: So is that why you sent for a mail-order bride? I bet that was a big surprise to your family.
AH: Yes, ma’am. It sure was.
VM: I can tell by your huge grin that you really pulled one over on them. How has that worked out for you?
AH: Not as good as I’d hoped.
VM: Can you elaborate?
AH: Well…uh…it’s not exactly an easy thing to talk about.
VM: What do you mean?
AH: (Austin sighs and stares off in the distance) I thought I’d found a woman who’d be a good match, but now I’m not so sure. Jenny hasn’t warmed up to me like I’d hoped she would once she arrived.
VM: I heard you had quite a surprise when she first got to town on the stage.
AH: No kiddin’. There was two of her. Uh…well, not exactly, but she brought her twin sister along. I didn’t even know she was a twin. Kind of hard to tell the two of them apart, especially when they wear matching outfits.
VM: Wow, that must have been a shock. I wonder why Jenny never mentioned being a twin.
(CFP: Yikes! I have sympathy for Austin!)
AH: I wondered that too. It seems there were more than a few things she neglected to mention.
VM: Like what?
AH: (Austin stares at me long enough that I squirm and look away. I bet he’s used that look on his brothers a time or two to get them to do what they’re supposed to) That’s a rather personal question, don’t you think? I need to get back to work. This interview is done.
VM: I’m sorry for getting too personal. Thank you so much for this interview. I do hope things work out for you and your bride.
Austin tips his hat and walks away. I’m sure I heard him mutter something like, “It has to work out. I have no choice.”
Author bio: Bestselling author Vickie McDonough grew up wanting to marry a rancher, but instead married a computer geek who is scared of horses. She now lives out her dreams penning romance stories about ranchers, cowboys, lawmen, and others living in the Old West. Vickie is an award-winning author of more than 40 published books and novellas, and over 1.5 million copies of her books have been sold. Her novels include the fun and feisty Texas Boardinghouse Brides series, and End of the Trail, which was the OWFI 2013 Best Fiction Novel winner. Whispers on the Prairie was a Romantic Times Recommended Inspirational Book for July 2013. Song of the Prairie won the 2015 Inspirational Readers Choice Award. Her latest series, Land Rush Dreams, focuses on the Oklahoma land runs. Book 1, Gabriel’s Atonement, was a finalist in the 2016 Will Rogers Medallion Awards. Vickie has recently stepped into independent publishing.
Vickie has been married over forty-one years to Robert. They have four grown sons, one of whom is married, and a precocious granddaughter. When she’s not writing, Vickie enjoys reading, antiquing, doing stained glass, watching movies, and traveling. To learn more about Vickie’s books or to sign up for her newsletter, visit her website: www.vickiemcdonough.com
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