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Saturday, February 10, 2018

LOVE LETTERS--February #blogabookscene by Cheryl Pierson

Ah, those wonderful love letters! Don’t we love reading them? I must admit I have an affinity for love letters because of the insights they give us into the past, and the people who lived then.

With Valentine’s Day almost here and my 39th wedding anniversary just celebrated on the 10th, love letters are something I’ve been thinking about a lot. Probably because of the time of year, but also because, as authors, we have to use letters and notes in our writing to “get the message” across that perhaps our characters might not be able to speak aloud.

My hubby is, like many men, not sentimental. He wouldn’t care if I never got him another Valentine’s Day or anniversary card, but they mean a lot to me—so we exchange them every year. I suspect that, through the years past right down to the present, most men didn’t and don’t make flowery love speeches from their hearts, or even write their innermost thoughts and feelings in cards and letters.

One of the most poignant love letters I know of is the famous letter written by Union Army Major Sullivan Ballou, just before the First Battle of Bull Run in 1861 where he died at the age of 32. Married only 6 years, he left behind two small sons and his wife, Sarah. The letter he wrote to Sarah days before he was killed is one that speaks poignantly of his guilt at having to choose between his duty to country and duty to family. Ken Burns used a shortened version of the letter in his series, The Civil War—and its contents are unforgettable, and so powerful it brings tears to my eyes every time I read it.

In part, it reads:

Sarah, my love for you is deathless, it seems to bind me to you with mighty cables that nothing but Omnipotence could break; and yet my love of Country comes over me like a strong wind and bears me irresistibly on with all these chains to the battlefield.

The memories of the blissful moments I have spent with you come creeping over me, and I feel most gratified to God and to you that I have enjoyed them so long. And hard it is for me to give them up and burn to ashes the hopes of future years, when God willing, we might still have lived and loved together and seen our sons grow up to honorable manhood around us. I have, I know, but few and small claims upon Divine Providence, but something whispers to me—perhaps it is the wafted prayer of my little Edgar—that I shall return to my loved ones unharmed. If I do not, my dear Sarah, never forget how much I love you, and when my last breath escapes me on the battlefield, it will whisper your name.

I had to come up with a love letter, of sorts, for my latest novel, Sabrina, part of the 4-book set entitled MAIL ORDER BRIDES FOR SALE: THE REMINGTON SISTERS. Oh, nothing to beautiful as this letter penned by a soldier marching to his inevitable death, but a letter that had to convince Sabrina to leave her wealthy lifestyle in Philadelphia and come West to Indian Territory!

Sabrina and her three older sisters have to have mail-order arrangements in order to get out of the fix they’re in with a step-father who plans to sell them to the highest bidder—and they don’t have much time to do it. When Sabrina receives two proposals on the same day, she counts her lucky stars that she’s able to compare the two letters and has a choice between the two men who have written her—something many women of the day did not have.

She’s safely with the man she’s chosen now, Cameron Fraser, but she’s remembering the day she received the letters and why she made the decision she did. Take a look:

She’d answered ads from both Cameron Fraser and David Mason. Ironically, she’d received offers from both men on the same day. That had been a blessing, as she was able to compare their responses immediately.
Mr. Mason had written one page, in sprawling wide script.

“I have need of a wife to help me raise my four children I was left with after my sainted Amelia passed on last year. Your help will be appreciated. And I will do right by you. I hope you are a willing worker and a good cook. Can you make good cornbread? That is a must in our home…”

She’d opened Mr. Mason’s letter first, and tucked it back into the envelope quickly. She’d hoped she’d managed to keep the revulsion from her face when her oldest sister, Lola, had come hurrying through the door. Lola was five years older, and Sabrina could never manage to keep a secret from her, no matter how she tried.

“Well?” Lola had asked, pinning Sabrina with “the look” that Sabrina dreaded.

“I haven’t read them,” Sabrina said defiantly.

“Bree. You know we have to get out of here—the sooner the better. We don’t have much time.”

Here’s the difference, and why she chose Cam. He wanted her for more than making cornbread!

Lola had turned and left the room, closing the door behind her. That’s how Sabrina knew her oldest sister was angry—or hurt. Maybe both.

She’d sighed, and begun to open the letter from Mr. Cameron Fraser. And before she’d read the entire first page of his two-page missive, she knew her decision was made.

Dear Miss Remington,

Thank you for your very kind response to the ad I placed for a bride. I felt out of place to do such a thing, but your answer made me glad I did so, after all.

I know that Indian Territory may seem uncivilized and wild to a well-bred lady such as yourself, who has grown up in the cultured, genteel society of the East, but I assure you, I will do everything in my power to welcome you. In no time at all, I hope you’ll come to think of the Territory as your home.

My family owns a fairly large cattle ranch in Indian Territory. I wanted to assure you that, although the ranch itself is somewhat isolated, we are close enough to Briartown to travel there frequently for supplies.

You will be safe here, Miss Remington, and cherished. You will be well-treated, and I promise you here and now, I will never raise a hand to you.

If it is your will, and I hope it will be, I am willing to be a good and loving father to any children we may have—and a good and loving husband to you.

The sky here is the bluest you’ve ever seen. The water is the freshest and coldest. And I hope you will come to love the open range as much as we Frasers do.

I await your arrival in Ft. Smith. I will meet you there, where we’ll be legally married in a civil ceremony before we travel together to the ranch. Enclosed, you will find a financial draft for your passage and travel expenses.


Cameron James Fraser

Something about the underlying feeling of the words Cam had written spoke to Sabrina. That he’d taken time to describe—even briefly—how he felt about his ranch made her know that he cared about her feelings—not just about what skills she might bring to the marriage table.

I see it, too, don’t you? He loves the land and his life, and wants her to share it with him. I wonder if women who were forced to take this route looked for these types of things—I know I would. And Sabrina is a bit of an adventurer, so going to Indian Territory would not hold her back. Adventure awaited!

Have you ever received a love letter that meant the world to you? I’ve had a few in my lifetime, and they’re tucked away in my desk and my heart! If you would like to share, we’d love to hear about your love letters—it’s that time of the year—love is in the air!

Here’s the blurb for MAIL ORDER BRIDES FOR SALE: THE REMINGTON SISTERS–buy link below!

Boxed set of four full length mail order bride novels.

Brought up in the wealth and comfort of Eastern “old money” in staid and proper Philadelphia, the Remington sisters are forced to scatter to the four winds and become mail-order brides. In order to gain a fortune, their sinister step-father, Josiah Bloodworth, has made plans to marry them off in loveless marriages. Time is running out, and no matter what lies ahead in their uncertain futures, it has to be better than the evil they’re running from…

LIZZY: Livia J. Washburn

Elizabeth Remington’s world is turned upside down when she is forced to become a mail-order bride. With her cat, Fulton, Lizzy flees to Alaska—only to discover the man she’s to marry is not who she thought he was! Now, she must protect herself from the biggest danger of all—her own heart. Handsome Flint McKinnon has signed his soul away to her step-father, hasn’t he? He’s chased Lizzy across the continent, but can she believe him when he says he loves her?

BELLE: Jacquie Rogers

Belle Remington must marry someone before the dangerous Neville Fenster catches up with her. She hightails it out of Philadelphia to the wilds of Idaho Territory to become a bootmaker’s bride, but when she arrives in Oreana, she discovers her groom has been murdered! Now, handsome, inebriated rancher Cord Callahan insists on fulfilling the marriage contract himself. Belle is beautiful and smart as a whip. But she has a secret. When Fenster shows up, can Cord protect the woman he wants to love forever?

SABRINA: Cheryl Pierson

Impulsive Sabrina Remington, the youngest, weds a man she knows her family would disapprove of. Though Cameron Fraser’s family owns a ranch in lawless Indian Territory, he’s made his way in the world with a gun, living barely on the right side of the law. With everything on the line as Bloodworth and his henchmen close in, will Cam be able to protect Sabrina from the desperate man who means to kidnap her for his own wicked purposes?

LOLA: Celia Yeary

Sensible Lola Remington, the eldest of the four sisters, must be certain the others are on their way to safety before she can think of fleeing Philadelphia herself. With the help of a local bridal agency, Lola finds the perfect husband for herself—in the wild countryside of Texas. Jack Rains owns a ranch and he’s in need of a bride—and children, of course! But just when Lola starts to believe there might be a future for them, she discovers a hidden letter from another woman…Jack’s first wife.

Mail Order Brides for Sale: The Remington Sisters is available in print and for Kindle at Amazon. Here’s the link!

Mail Order Brides for Sale: The Remington Sisters is available in print and for Kindle at Amazon. Here’s the link!


  1. Cheryl, first of all I love your picture--very pretty. Not that I didn't like the other one, but you are looking great. I very much enjoyed your blog on the love letters took me back years. I did receive a few from my hubby before we were married. We were engaged and planning our wedding when he got drafted out of college, went into the Navy and left for A-school training for 6 wks. in Chicago. I treasured those letters--he wasn't the mushy type--but by his words I knew he missed me as much as I missed him. I hadn't thought about those letters for some time and just remembering them brings a smile to my face and a nice cozy rememberence in my heart. So thanks. You already know how much I loved The Remington Sisters. I wanted all four stories to go and on so I didn't have to part from the four girls and their exciting men. Happy Valentine's Day to you and your husband.

    1. Oh, Bev, I remember those Vietnam days--both my sisters were married to military men and as a younger sister, I couldn't really understand the huge danger they were in at the time because everyone downplayed it, but my oldest sister's husband was a pilot, too, in the Marines, and middle sister's hubby was in the Navy. My husband was in the Navy over there, too, but I didn't know him then. I'm sure you were worried sick and those letters must have meant everything to you!

      So glad you enjoyed the Remington sisters so much--we loved writing them and getting them out there. I know we all hated to see it come to an end, too, but maybe there'll be another project on the horizon.

      Happy Valentine's Day to you and your hubby, too! Thanks so much for stopping by and sharing your story.

    2. Meant to say, too, thanks for the very kind words about my picture! It's a temporary headshot, but I liked the way it looks better than my others, too, so maybe when the weather warms up I'll get my daughter to do another professional set of pics for me.

  2. Such great sounding stories, not enough time to read then as quickly as I wish. Still, they are there for me when I'm ready.

    I guess I'm not the romantic type. Love letters really never played a part in my life, to busy chasing those dreams. LOL.Still, there is always time for one in the future, (she says with a grin).

    Now, since it's cold and snowy, maybe it's time for breakfast and some reading. Loved the post. Doris

    1. I know, Doris! I love to read and there are so many books out there I know I'll never have time to read them all. Oh, when I think of the love letters I wrote to my hubs...I don't think he kept any of them, but I think I kept every card and letter he ever sent to me. LOL Why is that not surprising? Glad you enjoyed the post--time to write or read now! LOL

  3. Cheryl,

    Letter writing is one of the main reasons I like writing in the historical genre. No telephones. No email. No texting. When the hero and heroine have to depend upon letters and telegrams, both of which were slow (relatively speaking) and could more easily be intercepted or even lost, there are all sorts of plot twists that can show up: letter intercepted, letter lost for weeks, misunderstandings. Perhaps the heroine thinks the hero jilted her at the altar when he doesn’t show up for their wedding when actually the villain intercepted the letter, which explains the legitimate reason for the hero’s delay. Letters also provide a remembrance for lost love, as in the example you gave with Major Ballou. Letters also leave a legacy for children to hold on to as they grow up. Off the top of my head, I think every story I've written, even the contemporary stories, include a letter.

    As for love letters of my own... Yes, I've had my share, and I've written a few, but when that particular relationship ended, I kept one very special letter and card and burned the others as an emotional cleansing to 'move on'. *sigh* (do we ever really move on?) However, years later, my current hubs of almost 26 years wrote a poem for me on Valentine's Day. I have it framed.

    1. Kaye, I used to write letters all the time. I loved it. I wrote like I talked to people--and it was like just sitting down and telling them all I wanted to say. And what a wonderful day--to check the mail and find a letter in the mailbox from one of my friends, relatives or "special cousins" (I had several cousins who were just my age and we wrote back and forth a lot). I agree with you about the wonderful plot manipulations we can play with including letters. It's just such a great way to get info across to the reader, too.

      And you were very smart to hang on to that "one" letter and get rid of the rest. Cleansing is good. What a neat thing--to have a poem written for you and framing it! That is wonderful and something I know you treasure!

  4. Great excerpt! What a wonderful collection. As for love letters, I have a few from my husband when we were dating. They contain silly stuff that only we would understand. They meant the world to me at the time, and still do. Happy Valentine's Day!!

    1. Kristy, that's so cool--and especially to have those special memories just between the two of you like that. BTW, read your excerpt from your new book, and loved it--GOOD STUFF!

  5. People don't take the time to write letters by hand any more, let alone to take the time to say heartfelt things in an eloquent manner. How I love my old letters. Now adays it's text messages with shortened versions of words--certainly no eloquence.

    I loved the letter Cam wrote and that he included the clear, cold water and blue sky. Yep. I do indeed believe that aces cornbread. LOL

    Like you, Cheryl, I saved back a few of my love letters from my beaus in my youth. I keep them, along with letters from my parents in my personal trunk. Reading them usually makes me sad.

    I'm looking forward to reading the Remington Sisters.

    1. You are so right, Sarah. People don't make time for letter writing. I remember a couple of years ago when I got a handwritten letter from my best friend for my birthday. That meant more than any card or gift she could have bought me.

      Yes, I agree--the description of Cam's land and life made more of an impression than the cornbread question, and I was so glad it came down to something that simple--it's not really a question of love--they have never met--but it shows the potential for what can grow and come of their relationship as opposed to what the "cornbread man" expected.

      Yes, those old letters can sure bring on the tears. I think because it makes us wonder about "the road not taken", don't you? Hope you enjoy the Remington sisters, Sarah!

  6. Loved reading the letter to Dear Miss Remington. Living here in the Indiana territory, I can tell you it's still not civilized. LOL
    My husband doesn't write love letters, but he's the kind of man who will stand over a Hallmark selection of cards for an hour until he finds the right one. He has a romantic soul and surprises me from time to time with his words and thoughtfulness. Each year my birthday falls the day after valentines and I never get cheated. I have yet to wake up without a table covered in flowers, gifts and cards on both days. Maybe there is something to say about the men in Indiana. Ha! Sabrina's story sounds wonderful can't wait to read it.

    1. Oh, Cindy! That is wonderful! You got a "keeper" for sure. Gary always gets me a beautiful card for Anniversary (the 10th of Feb.) and Valentines (the 14th, of course) but this year we made a pact that we would not worry about cards. We are trying to keep from getting the flu and minimizing our time in the "crowds" as much as possible. LOL I made us a steak dinner tonight, and he said, "We could not have gone out to eat anywhere and gotten a meal that was that good." See? All kinds of ways to say "I love you!" LOL

      Hope you enjoy Sabrina and all the Remington sisters, Cindy!

    2. The steak dinner sounds awesome and putting a hold on cards because of the flu, is a good idea. I know you have a really great guy and don't want him to get sick. Happy Anniversary!!!