Publisher: Mill City Press (Nov 17, 2015)
Category: Historical Fiction, Romance, Pioneer Woman, Strong Female Character, Western Tour date Mar/Apr, 2017
Available in Print & ebook, 560 pages
Description of Blue Hour by Vicki RighettiniIN THIS EPIC TALE of love, loss, and redemption, the year is 1861, a time when women are expected to be married by a certain age. At 26, spinster Emily Wainwright has no reason to believe her sheltered life will ever change—until the charming Samuel Todd unexpectedly crosses her path. Samuel yearns to homestead and start a family in Oregon, but he first needs to find a wife. Blinded by Samuel’s good looks, and grasping at her final chance to have a husband and children, Emily accepts his marriage proposal. However, Samuel is not the man she thought he was, and her marriage becomes a cold, cruel prison, offering her no solace amidst the hardships of farm life. When Samuel dies and a second chance at love and happiness arrives in the form of farmhand Cole Walker, Emily must overcome her bitter past—or risk losing Cole and the life she has always dreamed of having.
Praise for Blue Hour by Vicki Righettini“All of Righettini’s characters are well-rounded, in particular Emily herself, whose personal growth throughout the novel is richly detailed and memorable.”-Historical Novel Society “This novel is about second chances and the courage needed to take them. The most compelling aspects of The Blue Hour are not the vivid, expansive descriptions of life on the vast (and seemingly never-ending) Oregon Trail or the well-drawn characters who dance (and often trudge) between hardship and hope. Instead, the brightest lights burst forth from nuanced moments tucked throughout the story. Read this book if you want to immerse yourself in the wilds of western America in the 1860s or get lost in the even denser wilderness of love and loss. Maybe this recommendation needs to be simplified even further – read this book. It’s exhilarating to root for a character who is trying to navigate uncharted territory and make the greatest discovery of all.”-Underground Book Reviews “The Blue Hour is one of the finest historical novels I've ever read. You will love the author's writing and the detailed historical references. The characters are vividly portrayed, and I felt as if I knew them well. Long after I'd finished reading, I still thought about the story. It's part adventure, part love story, and part survival. Highly recommended.”-Ann Creel, Author
Up till now she’d avoided the frantic crowds that jammed the stores, but she couldn’t put it off any longer. She tried to squeeze through the doorway, having heard this was the best place to order supplies for their trip, but she couldn’t get past the clot of anxious travelers perusing the posted prices and debating whether they should look for cheaper goods elsewhere. She was forced to rudely push her way in, where she was immediately swallowed up by the crush of people. A sharp, apprehensive smell rose from the crowd. She could almost hear their thoughts: Will there be anything left by the time I reach the counter? Can I afford everything I need? What will happen if I can’t? In the close room the turmoil was palpable.
As she inched towards the counter, she distracted herself from the press of people by imagining what Samuel must be doing at that moment: probably badgering some poor blacksmith or pampering the animals. Her walks around the town had taken her by the wagon encampments, where, unlike Samuel, the men seemed to be at a loss. The women had the usual chores of cooking, washing, and child care to occupy their time, but without a field to work or a trade to ply, the men had little to do until departure day. Judging by the burgeoning trade at the saloons, their wives were hard-pressed to keep them out of trouble. She counted herself fortunate that Samuel was occupied and above such mischief.
How foolishly she’d behaved at the wedding feast! She understood now that her trepidations had been merely the nervous imaginings of an uninitiated girl – fears planted by a jealous Nettie. All through their honeymoon trip to Independence, Samuel had been as elated as a child on Christmas morning. She was discovering that her new husband was surprisingly accomplished at many tasks – just not tasks that were valued by Springfield society.
She’d marveled at his skill in caring for the animals. Because of his ability to soothe and instruct the oxen, they accepted the yoke from him with calm equanimity. Take care of your animals, he’d said, and they’ll take care of you. These noble beasts will be pulling us and our worldly goods all the way to Oregon – they’re more valuable than gold and deserve to be treated as such. He’d impressed her every day with his self-assurance in handling the wagon, and with his impeccably maintained tools, cleaned and oiled daily. His enthusiasm had inspired her to work hard at their new life. She was learning to cook over an open fire, and she’d sought out wild foods to supplement their diet. She’d even tried washing their clothes in an icy stream. Because of Samuel, her life was full to the brim with new and exciting adventures. How she wished her father and Nettie were here to see him in this new light. She was certain it would change their minds about him.
She stole a glance at the women waiting alongside her. Most wore ragged or faded dresses, the sort of thing she used to garden in, but would never have worn in public. Many of the women looked hardened, their jaws set firm. A few seemed bowed down by burdens she could only imagine. None appeared happy, merely resigned. What every woman had in common was a fussing baby on one hip, a whining toddler clinging to her free hand, and at least one more child peeking out from her skirts. These women had obviously been married for years. She wondered if their intimacies were anything like hers and Samuel’s. That had been the revelation of married life: the many ways of expressing physical love. Certainly at first she’d been nervous. She’d had no idea what was expected of her, what she was supposed to do. No one but Nettie had ever helped her undress, or seen her undressed. She’d been utterly lost.
But Samuel came adeptly to her aid. That first night, she’d had to put aside any thoughts of where her new husband might have learned to so deftly unlace a corset. Quickly stripped to her chemise, she’d stood before him, unable to control her trembling. But he took her in his arms and kissed and stroked her, murmured his love for her, how beautiful she was, and before long she forgot her fears. He sensed when she was ready before she herself did. Their lovemaking opened her soul, unlocking passions deep within her. She’d never dreamt such exquisite pleasure existed.
She’d been right to ignore Nettie’s misgivings, chagrined she’d given those poisonous thoughts a moment’s purchase in her mind. She was a woman, claiming a woman’s full experience of life. At the thought of her lusty husband, a hot flush of desire came over her. She couldn’t wait to be alone with him again.
Suddenly aware of the crush of people around her, she blushed at her unchaste thoughts.
About Vicki Righettini
Vicki Righettini is an award-winning, nationally produced playwright, and her recently-published historical novel, The Blue Hour, was a badge winner and Pitch Perfect Pick at Underground Books. Originally from Los Angeles, Vicki lived in Oregon for over twenty years, where she developed an abiding love of the land and the Oregon way of life. Before turning to full-time writing, she worked for forty years as a singer/actress and performing arts instructor. Her blog, Between a Book and a Hard Place, focuses on the ups and downs of the creative process (http://www.vickirighettini.com). Vicki lives in San Diego with her software-developer, Jeopardy!-champion husband, and the world's shyest cat. Facebook: http://bit.ly/2h2UZGy Twitter: https://twitter.com/VRighettini
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