Today's Wednesday Wonders features
Sophia's Leap-Year Courtship
by Kristin Holt
About Sophia's Leap-Year Courtship:
Union Pacific Station Agent Chadwick Hughes has everything in a state of readiness to welcome his mail order bride…everything but the bride. The woman he’s corresponded with for a year didn’t change her mind or miss her train in Omaha—she never existed. Chadwick’s mortified to discover he’s been swindled by a fraudulent matrimonial agency in Chicago. He needs a lawyer if he’ll ever recover a dime of the fortune he spent on worthless membership fees and the nonexistent bride’s transportation west.
Sophia Sorensen, Attorney at Law, is a spinster on the edge of propriety. The good people of Wyoming Territory are open to a lot of things, including Lady’s Privilege during Leap Years, but some aren’t fond of her day-to-day behavior. Why, the woman rides her bicycle hither and yon, showing her petticoat ruffle and ankles. She might be the least ladylike specimen beneath Wyoming skies, but it’s entertaining to watch her court the U.P. Station Agent, Chadwick Hughes, the most-eligible bachelor in the county.
She leaned near. Immediately, her intentions were clear.
Sophia sought a kiss.
Her attention slipped to his mouth, lingered. The anticipation of her mouth upon his made his breath catch, his lungs constrict. Lightheaded, he blinked, tried to slow his breathing.
She brought those heavily lashed eyes up to meet his. Seeking permission?
Why did she think she needed to ask?
Yes! The answer was always yes—though he shouldn’t.
If roles were truly reversed, leap-year style, didn’t that mean he was obligated to receive her kiss only if he believed their courtship would end in marriage? Kisses, he believed, were special. A wordless promise.
Her warm breath caressed his lip, scented of coffee and almond. Craving, sharp and sweet. He wanted her kiss.
Closer, closer still. Captivating.
His pulse leapt. He shouldn’t, but he couldn’t think of anything sweeter than falling in love with Sophia.
Sophia’s lips, rose-petal smooth, touched his. She held perfectly still for the space of one heartbeat, then two.
A soft purr made its way from her throat and tugged him under.
The intimacy felt so right, so good. She broke the kiss. He followed when she would have retreated, sought another, and another.
So good. So good, it scared the life out of him. How could he fight this? This connection, this ease, the sheer perfection, the attraction that drew him, a flying insect to firelight. This, this was precisely what he’d wanted when he’d contacted Amour Marital Bureau and proposed marriage, in writing, to Lina. But Sophia brought so much more than he’d ever dared imagine.
He kissed her this time, with intent. His hands found her cheeks, the softness of her hair satin between his fingers. Something inside him loosened for the sheer joy of having her in his arms, in his home, in his life.
Five kisses became ten. He lost count. Better yet, he lost himself in her scent and her warmth and acceptance.
She eased back, and he let her go.
How would he make this work? “Unchartered territory. I’ve run off the end of the track.”
“Of course this is unchartered territory.” Sophia’s voice was husky. She dragged her little thumb over his lower lip, sending tingles all the way to his toes. “Because there’s never been an us before.” She blinked, held her breath, looked him squarely in the eye. “Don’t misunderstand me, Chadwick. Just so you know, I’m courting you. Well and truly courting you. I’m claiming my Leap-Year Privilege in every sense of the word. I have just over one month to win you.”
He ought to be terrorized.
Instead, agreement swelled, choking him with something so close to love. He wanted this woman…and she’d just said, plain as day, that she wanted him.
How had that miracle come about?
“This is where you respond,” she said after a long moment when all he could do was smile. “Something along the lines of, ‘I’m honored,’ or, ‘I’m sure my father would be pleased, were he here to ask permission of.’” She chuckled, and he heard the nervous undertones.
He couldn’t reject her.
Not now. Not after those kisses and the vibrancy in his life these past weeks. When had he ever felt more alive? More whole?
He loved leap year.
“Thank you, Miss Sorensen. I’m honored. I’m the luckiest fellow in all of Wyoming Territory.”
Book Review for Sophia’s Leap Year Courtship:
This delightful western romance dealt with two issues of the day. First, Sophia had trained to become a lawyer at a time when society frowned on women entering professions they considered appropriate only for men. She had read for the law with her uncle, then struggled against and overcome those who would have kept her from being admitted to the bar. She moved to Wyoming, a state Still, once she set up her business, there was the issue of being seen as a competent professional and getting clients so she could earn a living before her savings ran out.
The second issue dealt with fraudulent mail order bride agencies. Such schemes—advertising to connect couples for a fee, but having nothing come of the agreement after the money was collected from the groom. It was a prevalent scam of the era.
It was this issue that brought Sophia and Chadwick, a Union Pacific Station Agent, together. As she helped him with his legal issue, they discovered each had traits that complemented each other in ways that each could be themselves. Then mutual friends encouraged Sophia to take advantage of a tradition widely practiced back east in the 1800’s during leap years. It was acceptable for women to turn the tables and pursue a romance with men of their choice. Not only did others in the community benefit from their efforts, it was fun to read how Sophia courted Chadwick.
This book is well-written, a delight to read and had a satisfying ending. Those who love historical western romance set in the Victorian era will love it.
About Kristin Holt
USA Today Bestselling Author
I write frequent articles (or view recent posts easily on my Home Page, scroll down) about the nineteenth century American West–every subject of possible interest to readers, amateur historians, authors…as all of these tidbits surfaced while researching for my books. I also blog monthly at Sweet Romance Reads, Sweet Americana Sweethearts, and Romancing the Genres.