I'm a teacher, a painter, a musician and, for almost forty years, a writer. I grew up reading my father's Zane Grey and Louis L'Amour collection and fell in love with their rugged, handsome heroes, spirited heroines and wonderful settings. So, for me,the progression from reading Westerns to writing them seemed natural.
I write historical romance because glimpses of the past have always sparked my imagination, and I'm a romantic at heart. I believe in happily ever afters, and I enjoy writing about ordinary people who face adversity in a positive way. Which brings me to my debut novel, McShannon's Chance, being released this fall by Bluewood Publishing.
Trey McShannon survived the carnage of the Civil War, only to discover that the deepest wounds are those to the heart. A traitor to his home state of Georgia, Trey has built a new life for himself in the untamed Colorado Territory. Now it's time to find a wife to share the future he's worked so hard for - but can he free himself from his past?
Beth Underhill is looking for choices. Needing to marry to escape being sent back East, she prefers Trey's honest business proposal to false promises of love. Can a union between a man who isn't sure he can still feel love, and a woman who doesn't believe it exists, blossom into more than a marriage of convenience?
McShannon's Chance is the first in a planned series of three, possibly four books about the McShannon family. While Trey comes of age on the battlefields of the Civil War, his twin sister Rochelle faces challenges of her own. Chelle is the heroine of McShannon's Heart, my current WIP.
McShannon's Chance Book Trailer
Here's an excerpt of McShannon's Chance for you. If you'd like a glimpse of Chelle's story, check out my website. You'll find a contest, music, and some snippets of history to enjoy. Stop by the guestbook - I'd love to hear from you.
Beth turned to the store window and watched the man she'd agreed to marry walk toward her.
Twenty-seven years old, six feet tall, dark hair and eyes. She'd described herself to him in similar meaningless terms. She supposed he'd find them as inadequate as she did.
His rangy frame could have carried more weight, but he had the muscle of a man who did physical work. His long, quick stride suggested latent energy. The way he wore his faded denim work pants collarless homespun shirt and battered cloth cap made her think he rarely dressed any other way. She would have guessed him to be over thirty; there wasn't much of youth about him.
That impression didn't change when he stepped into the store. Long, thick dark lashes shadowed his molasses-colored eyes, set deep under heavy brows. His straight, wayward, near-black hair needed a trim. The stubble on his angular jaw didn't make him any less intimidating.
"Excuse me, Miss, are you Beth Underhill?"
He spoke coolly, almost to the point of curtness, with a bare hint of a drawl. Beth's stomach jolted when their eyes met. She swallowed and caught hold of the edge of a shelf to stop herself from stepping back. Idiot, say something. When she found her voice, it sounded odd and distant to her ears.
"Yes. You must be Trey McShannon."
It helped that he looked as uncomfortable as she felt. Beth held out her hand. Warm, callused fingers closed around hers and released.
"I am. How was the trip out? The road can be bad in the spring."
"It wasn't too bad."
The clerk stood behind the counter looking from one to the other, avidly curious. The corners of Trey's mouth tugged upward with subtle amusement as he handed her a list.
"Could you put this together for me, June? We'll pick it up in twenty minutes or so." Without saying anything more, he picked up Beth's bags and walked out.
With a glimmer of mischief, Beth turned to the counter. Since June was bound to talk, why not give her something to talk about?
"Will you please add something to that order? A couple of pairs of waist overalls. My size."
June nodded. Beth turned and followed Trey, leaving the woman staring after her.
Trey crossed the street to a wagon drawn by a team of fine black Percherons. He put the bags in the back. When he turned around, Beth spoke first. She usually reacted to fear by charging ahead, and something about this man rattled her. After five years in the marriage market, she hadn't thought that was possible.
"I thought we might as well see the minister while we're in town, unless you'd rather wait a few days." If he gives me a chance to back out, I will.
His appraising glance made her feel like squirming. He didn't seem the least bit impressed with what he saw. Men didn't often react to Beth that way. Graham would have said it was good for her.
As if he'd been looking at nothing more interesting than the goods in the store window, Trey turned away. "The church is this way."
Beth arched an eyebrow at his back. Mr. McShannon seemed to have a pretty high opinion of himself.
"Of course. I'm not blind. I can see the steeple as well as you can."
Reviews for McShannon's Chance
Beth Underhill is a city girl in the highest sense. The niece of a famous racehorse breeder, she was raised with a lofty upbringing by her Aunt and never asked to do a chore. Her dresses are fancy, and her manners are impeccable. When her Aunt passes away, the estate falls to her cousin, who wishes to sell it immediately, putting Beth in a precarious situation. With enough money to get her through five months and no more, she is desperate. But she is also strong willed. Instead of waiting for her cousin to select his idea of a respectable husband for her, she applies to Trey McShannon's add for a wife and travels out west to meet her destiny.
Trey McShannon is a practical frontiersman. Having fought for the union at a young age, he's seen war and death, and his life experiences have changed him into a quiet, mysterious man. He needs a sturdy wife to help him run his household, someone that is not afraid to do hard work and get dirty. When he sees Beth Underhill, and learns of her famous lineage, he fears he has made a mistake. But he is also drawn to her, and realizes that there is more to her pretty face and high pedigree than meets the eye. She's also a talented artist, a dutiful worker, and shares his love of horses.
McShannon's Chance has a wonderful historical flavor to it with picturesque writing and scenes right out of a western. Marsland captures the image of a lonesome frontier that is both beautiful and dangerous. Her writing is realistic, but at the same time it has a grand sense of adventure and romance. The pacing is steady and sure, allowing the reader to savor each scene.
Marsland takes her time to tell the tale, setting up a sweeping historical romance with characters that have so much detail and depth they could be anyone's own ancestors. It reminded me of my favorite series growing up, Dr. Quinn Medicine Woman. Like Dr. Quinn, Beth is a strong female character with honor, compassion, and patience. She works hard to earn her life beside Trey, and her rewards are immense.
McShannon's Chance is an ideal historical romance escape! I found my soul soothed and my heart warmed by Marsland's writing and I recommend this book to anyone that enjoys an excellent historical romance with real life characters and a western flavor.
Aubrie Dionne, author, SynergEpress