The Maid’s Quarters is the newest book in the Crawford Family Series and features a character from the second book, Alice Porterman. It is available for pre-order now and will release on July 9th.
1893 . . . Alice Porterman is released from her duties as a maid and travels home to help her mother care for her sickly brother. But her mother and brother are not in their family home when Alice arrives and she learns the landlord, Albert Donahue, has evicted them into the harsh Boston winter. Alice goes in search of him and is surprised at what she finds.
Albert Donahue, an up-and-coming member of Boston’s elite, made his fortune through hard work and shrewd business deals. But his dreams of a family to share it with have not come true, perhaps until an impertinent young woman enters his home and won’t leave until she speaks to him.
The Maid’s Quarters novella is part of the Crawford Family Series, featuring Jolene Shelby’s maid, Alice. Coming July 2015!
Alice Porterman looked at Mrs. McKinnell. “What do you mean Ma and Jimmy aren’t living here anymore? It is our house!”
“They’re living in two rooms at the back of the church, Alice. I would have taken them in here, but I have no room, none at all,” Alice’s mother’s closest neighbor said to her. “You better get them, girl. Jimmy wasn’t doing well the last time I stopped by. Your mam can hardly leave him to get victuals or go to work. I’ve been shopping for her when I can.”
“Thank you, Mrs. McKinnell. I’ll go right away.” Alice turned and looked at the narrow two-story home where she’d grown up. “I’ll just put my bags in the house,” she said, and started down the walk that separated the Porterman and McKinnell homes as she had just arrived from the train station coming from Washington.
“Nay, you can’t, girl. They’ve changed the locks. Your mam couldn’t even get back in to get your brother’s medicine. Leave your cases on my porch. I’ll have one of the boys carry them in and we’ll keep them here until you’re settled somewhere.”
“Thank you, Mrs. McKinnell,” Alice said, red-faced. “I will get them as soon as I get this straightened out.”
“Don’t worry, Alice. Just get your mother and brother back home where they belong.”
Alice nodded and kissed the plump, red-headed woman’s cheek. “Thank the Lord you were here to help Ma.”
“It’s nothing. Neighbors do for neighbors. Your mam would do the same for me, she would. So, your mother had Jimmy read me the letter she got from you that those rich nobs are paying you without you even working for them. La-de-dah! And look at them skirts of yours! That is fine wool, is it not, with them lacy petticoats sticking out? And a pretty little hat to boot!”
“Senator and Mrs. Shelby knew that Jimmy was ill and were very grateful for the help I gave them and their daughter when their ranch was struck with the influenza. They wanted to lighten my worry about Jimmy and Ma and offered me my full salary indefinitely. I will always be eternally grateful.”
“I would say so!” Mrs. McKinnell agreed, and belted out a laugh. She peered through the open door of her house and screamed, “Devon McKinnell! Stop your teasing! I’ll have Mr. McKinnell whoop your hide when he gets home from the mill, I will!” She turned back to Alice. “Go on, now. Get your mother and get poor Jimmy back in his bed.”
Alice waved her good-byes and turned to climb the hill to Saint Peter and Paul Catholic Church. How very angry she was! How could her mother have let this happen? Alice sent her the full amount of the rent on their small house every month from her pay as long as she had been employed. Even when she’d first started at Landonmore as an upstairs maid, her salary had been enough to cover her mother’s rent and pay for some food, although it left only a few pennies for herself. With her help, Alice’s mother had been able to work mornings only at the dressmakers and still scrape by.
Alice let herself in the church gates and circled to the back. She came to a small building and saw smoke coming from the chimney. What would it be costing in coal to heat this shack? she wondered. The door opened suddenly, and her mother was screaming and dragging Jimmy out into the cold air.
“Breathe, boy!” her ma shouted, and plopped down in the snow beside the steps. “Breathe!”
“Ma!” Alice cried, as she dropped her purse and hurried to where her mother was struggling to turn Jimmy onto his stomach.
“Help me, Alice! He’s not breathing!”
If you’d like to start at the beginning . . . .
1887 Debutante, Julia Crawford endures a lifetime of subtle ridicule as the plump, silly daughter of a premiere Boston family. Julia strikes out on her own to gain independence, traveling to the Midwest to marry an aging shopkeeper and care for his mother. Julia finds her new home rough and uncivilized after the sophistication of a big city, while closely held secrets threaten to ruin Julia’s one chance at love.
Jake Shelling was sixteen and grew up quick when his parents died from influenza on the South Dakota prairie. Left with a half-cleared farm and two young sisters, he spent little time on his own needs . .till now. At thirty-five, he figured it was high time to have some sons and a mail order bride would suit him just fine. No expectations of love, just a helpmate from sturdy stock, ready for farm life.
Will fate and chance play a trick on Julia and Jake?
Contract to Wed is Book 2 and where we meet the heroine of The Maid’s Quarters.
1891 . . . Jolene Crawford Crenshaw, heiress and Boston socialite, went from her family home directly to Landonmore upon her marriage, the mansion she shared with her handsome and charismatic husband. She’d never in her life worried in the slightest over anything as crass as the dollars required to maintain that home or the lifestyle she’d been born to. Her extensive yearly wardrobe, the stables and the prime horseflesh within it, even the solid silver forks and knifes that graced her table, were expected and required to maintain the social standing that she’d cultivated over the years. But suddenly she was a widow with little money and just her pride and her secrets to keep her upright.
Max Shelby made his fortune in oil wells and cattle, but lost the love of his life the day his wife died. Now, his happy, carefree daughter needs instruction and guidance as she grows into a young lady and his dream of becoming a Senator from his adopted state of Texas seems out of reach with few political or social connections. The right wife would solve both problems. As it happens, his sister knows of a woman, a recent widow, charming, beautiful and socially astute, but in reduced circumstances, who may want to begin again. Max signed the wedding contract sight unseen.
Will Jolene be able to shed her sorrows, anger and fears to begin anew away from the censure and hidden tragedy that marred her life? Is her new husband, confident, strong and capable Max Shelby, the man, the only man, to see past her masks to find the woman beneath?