In 1868, Otto Atwell has a 160 acre homestead near Abilene, Kansas and a limp as a result of a Cheyenne musket ball hitting his low back while he marched with the 16th Kansas Cavalry on the Powder River Expedition in 1865. What he doesn’t have is a wife. Then again, what woman would want to marry a cripple?
Libby Jones comes to Junction City as a mail order bride. Not only does the man who sent for her reject her, he tries to sell her to the local brothel to recoup his fee. Otto offers to marry her, but she rejects him in favor of a job with his relatives.
Will Otto’s offer still stand when trouble from Libby’s past catches up with her?
Otto’s Offer is a stand-alone book in the Lockets & Lace series sponsored by some authors of the Sweet Americana Sweethearts blog.
While they last, an ebook version of the series prequel, The Bavarian Jeweler, is available from the blog without charge.
My name is Robyn Echols. Zina Abbott is the pen I use for my historical novels. I’m a member of Women Writing the West and I just joined Western Writers of America. I currently live with my husband in California’s central valley near the “Gateway to Yosemite.”
I love to read, quilt, work with digital images on my photo editing program, and work on my own family history.
I am a blogger. In addition to my own blog, I blog for several group blogs including the Sweet Americana Sweethearts blog, which I started and administer.
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Otto's Offer is the follow up to the second installment form the Lockets and Lace series. I have never read anything by Zina Abbott before. I thought it was a good, quick story. I had it finished in just a few hours. I enjoyed visiting 1868 Kansas with Otto and Libby. They both had painful pasts and it was interesting to see how they struggled with that and see how they learned to trust one another.
I give Otto's Offer 3 1/2 stars and would like to read the other books in the series.
I received this book from the author. This review is 100% my own honest opinion.
She sucked in breath when one young man with disapproval written on his face approached without her noticing until he stood at her side.
“You don’t belong here.”
“Please. I’m new in St. Louis and don’t know my way around. Can you please tell me how to find a Catholic church?”
The young man frowned and pointed down a street at a right angle from the direction she had been walking. “French Quarter’s that way. Probably find one there.”
She clenched her arm across her stomach to quell the gurgling that announced her hunger. She had run out of the food she had brought with her two days prior. The keelboat captain had offered to share his food. After a quick look at the expression on his face, worried about what he might expect from her in exchange, she had shaken her head and softly declared she wasn’t hungry. He had made a point of eating within her line of sight, his gaze never leaving her form. She had turned away and endured it. In the end, he had grunted in disgust and threw three inches of the heel of a loaf of bread at her feet, as if tossing leftovers to a dog. She had nodded her thanks and claimed it. She was not too proud to accept the food, no matter how rudely offered.
However, she had finished that bread the previous evening and had eaten nothing that day. The waves of light-headedness, coupled with the pangs in her belly, warned her she needed to find food soon. Although it had been years since she had prayed, she prayed she would shortly find the church. So much rested on the promise her father had made to her all those years ago.
After another hour of walking once she reached what she suspected was the French Quarter, she finally saw a building that looked like it might be a Catholic church. It was much bigger, and far more ornate, than the strange church she recalled from ten years earlier. However, there was something about it that drew her.
She approached the doors and stepped inside. Just inside the door, it had similar features from what she remembered when she entered with her père all those years before. To feel assured her head was properly covered, she adjusted her fabric sunbonnet, the one she had used for working outside back home. She peeked farther into the sanctuary and saw windows of colored glass, a large carving of a crucified Christ on the far wall, and a table with lit candles. She felt confident she was in the right place.
She quietly walked towards the front and went down on one knee the way she recalled her père doing all those years before. However, she could not remember what he had done with his hands—he had moved them too quickly for her to follow.
“May I help you, my child?”
She jumped to her feet and spun towards the male voice that had addressed her. He did not have the same color robe as the prêtre she remembered, and he spoke English with an Irish accent instead of French, but she assumed that he must be the priest for this church. “Yes.”
“I’m Father O’Brien, my child. Did you come here for confession?”
Having been forced to grow up quickly, she had not considered herself a child for many years. Then a flicker of memory of the prêtre back home referring to her père as “my son,” even though her père was a grown man, put her at ease. He had used Father as the priest’s title. Perhaps it was part of the Catholic belief that their ministers felt like they were a parent to the people they taught.
Did she wish to have her confession heard? That was not why she had come, but perhaps that was the proper procedure for speaking with a priest. She recalled her père had put a coin in the box next to the table of candles. She could not remember if her père had told her the reason he bought a candle to light. However, she had no money to buy a candle. She didn’t know what else to do but move onto the next step. She nodded her head.
Father O’Brien gestured towards a closet about the same size as the one like her père entered all those years before. Inside, a wooden screen separated them. She felt disconcerted once she realized she could see Father O’Brien far easier than she wanted to. It meant he could also see her. She stared in front of her for several seconds before she spoke. “I don’t remember what to say.”
A lie, probably one she was expected to confess. She had never known what her père said inside the closet, if anything, before he talked about his sins.
The priest patiently guided her through the words. Finally she reached the point where she suspected she was expected to tell everything bad she had done since the last time she had confessed. Only she had never confessed. Her père, over ten years before, had only explained to her how it worked. How would she even start? How could she remember all her sins?
Then there were the things she had been told to do that she knew were wrong. No one had ever told her they were wrong—she had just felt it. They were probably sins. Some of those sins she had not wanted to be part of, but she had been unable to stop them from taking place. Others she had allowed to happen only because she knew she could live with it easier than what might have occurred if she had not committed those sins.
Where should she start?
She relied on the assurance her père had given her all those years before the day he had led her by the hand as they left the Catholic church back home.
She turned to face the Irish priest. Her voice choked with emotion as she forced out a whisper. “Father, I need help.”
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