American Historical Romance, Reconstructing Jackson, is on sale! Read the blurb and excerpt below to find out why this book has a 5 star rating at B&N and a 4.4 star rating at Amazon.
Reconstructing Jackson is on sale for 99 cents for a limited time - get your copy today!
1867 . . . Southern lawyer and Civil War veteran, Reed Jackson, returns to his family’s plantation in a wheelchair. His father deems him unfit, and deeds the Jackson holdings, including his intended bride, to a younger brother. Angry and bitter, Reed moves west to Fenton, Missouri, home to a cousin with a successful business, intending to start over.
Belle Richards, a dirt poor farm girl aching to learn how to read, cleans, cooks and holds together her family’s meager property. A violent brother and a drunken father plot to marry her off, and gain a new horse in the bargain. But Belle’s got other plans, and risks her life to reach them.
Reed is captivated by Belle from their first meeting, but wheelchair bound, is unable to protect her from violence. Bleak times will challenge Reed and Belle's courage and dreams as they forge a new beginning from the ashes of war and ignorance.
May 19, 1867
“Need some help, mister?”
“I’ll be fine, thank you,” Reed Jackson said.
The conductor approached through whirls of black smoke and repeated, “Do ya need some help?”
The whistle blew as Reed replied. “I’m a cripple, not deaf, you jackass. I said I’d be fine.”
The conductor squinted through ashed air and hefted himself onto the train’s step. “OK, son,” he shouted.
The train pulled away and Reed struggled to pull his bag on to his lap and wheel himself to the step of the station house. A sign, swinging in the locomotive’s draft, read ‘Fenton, Missouri - Population 6,502.’
“Is there a boy about who can get my trunks to the hotel?” Reed shouted into the dim building. The scrawny station manager shaded his eyes as he stepped into the dirt street.
“Where ya be headin’?” he asked.
“The Ames Hotel,” Reed replied.
Reed contemplated the man who was now rubbing his jaw and eyeing his wheelchair; the last, hopefully, in a long line of nosy, prying half-wits whom Reed had encountered on this tortuous journey. The man knelt down and touched the leather strapping of the wheels.
“Please don’t touch the chair, sir,” Reed said.
He stood, eyes still perusing Reed and his belongings. “In the war?”
“Is there someone able to bring my trunks to the Ames Hotel?” Reed repeated.
“From the sound of that drawl, I’d bet my Helen’s berry pie, you was wearing gray,” the stationmaster added.
The man’s self-righteous smile did nothing to lighten Reed’s mood. He was tired, his leg hurt, and he wanted nothing more than complete and utter silence, followed by a long soak in a tub. But this was to be his new hometown. His fresh start. This imbecile may need his services as an attorney if he killed his pie-making wife, Reed thought.
“I served in the confederacy, sir.”
“Damn. I was right. A Johnny Reb, huh?”
“I consider myself a U.S. citizen,” Reed replied.
“Well, yeah but . . .”
“Excuse me,” Reed said as reached his hands to the wheels of his chair. “I must get to the hotel. I’m expected.”
The stationmaster turned as a man and woman approached. “Reed?” the man called.
“Henry.” Reed recognized his cousin from the remarkable likeness the man had to Reed’s mother. Tall and dark with great smiles marked the Ames family.
Henry clasped Reed’s hand and shook, turning to a petite blond beside him. “Reed, this is my wife, Mary Ellen. Mary Ellen, this is my cousin, Reed Jackson.”
“Pleasure to meet you, sir. How was your trip?” she shouted over the clang, roar and bedlam of the station.
Mary Ellen Ames wore an expensive, up-to-date gown and filled it most attractively, Reed noticed. He smiled his best Southern charm and held her dainty, gloved hand in his. “Dirty, hot and long.”
She laughed and turned to her husband. “Our traveler is weary, Henry. Let’s get him out of the sun and the dust.”
Reed was thankful this woman, his hostess was gracious and mannerly. So unlike the passengers he’d been forced to sit beside and occasionally converse with. He was sick of boorish behavior and basked in the delightful smile Henry’s wife bestowed upon him. Henry must have married as well as he possible could have in this God-forsaken town. His mother had told him that her brother’s son had come west before the war, married and was a successful businessman. She apparently was right.
Reed looked at the stationmaster as he listened in on their conversation. “I was trying to hire someone to bring my trunks to the hotel when you came.”
“Oh, yes siree, sir. Right away, sir.”
“Thank you.” Reed wheeled himself along beside Henry and Mary Ellen as they walked away from the station. As the roar of travel sounds dimmed, Reed turned to his cousin. “So what is life like here in the wild West?”
Henry stopped, looked at Reed’s serious face and leaned back, laughing. “The wild West? Fenton is hardly wild, Reed.”
“Well, we are west of the Mississippi, Henry? I was raised to believe civilization begins in the heart of the South,” Reed said and smiled.
“You’re teasing, Mr. Jackson. Why we have churches, shops, theatres, and even a small hospital. The fine ladies of the Aid Society consider Fenton a bastion of civilization.”
Reed regarded her sincere countenance. “Why, of course, Mrs. Ames. Forgive me.”
“Please call me Mary Ellen. We are related, and I want you to feel comfortable in your new home.”
“I would be honored if you would call me Reed or Jackson, in kind,” he replied.