Bartered Bride Romance Collection

BOOK: Bartered Bride Romance Collection
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Joie De Vivre
© 2006 by Lynette Sowell

Button String Bride
© 2001 by Cathy Marie Hake

The Wedding Wagon
© 2002 by Cathy Marie Hake

From Halter to Altar
© 2003 by Cathy Marie Hake

From Carriage to Marriage
© 2003 by Janelle Burnham Schneider

From Pride to Bride
© 2003 by JoAnn A. Grote

From Alarming to Charming
© 2003 by Pamela Kaye Tracy

A Vow Unbroken
© 2000 by Amy Rognlie

Finishing Touches
© 2007 by Kelly Eileen Hake

Print ISBN 978-1-62029-155-9

eBook Editions:

Adobe Digital Edition (.epub) 978-1-62029-564-9

Kindle and MobiPocket Edition (.prc) 978-1-62029-563-2

All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted for commercial purposes, except for brief quotations in printed reviews, without written permission of the publisher.

Scripture quotations marked KJV are taken from the King James Version of the Bible.

This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are either products of the author’s imagination or used fictitiously. Any similarity to actual people, organizations, and/or events is purely coincidental.

Published by Barbour Publishing, Inc., P.O. Box 719, Uhrichsville, Ohio 44683,
www.barbourbooks.com

Our mission is to publish and distribute inspirational products offering exceptional value and biblical encouragement to the masses
.

Printed in the United States of America.

C
ONTENTS

Joie De Vivre
by Lynette Sowell

Button String Bride
by Cathy Marie Hake

The Wedding Wagon
by Cathy Marie Hake

From Halter to Altar
by Cathy Marie Hake

From Carriage to Marriage
by Janelle Burnham Schneider

From Pride to Bride
by JoAnn A. Grote

From Alarming to Charming
by Pamela Kaye Tracy

A Vow Unbroken
by Amy Rognlie

Finishing Touches
by Kelly Eileen Hake

JOIE DE VIVRE

by Lynette Sowell

Dedication

To Kathleen Miller Y’Barbo.

You have truly blessed me with your friendship
and mentoring moments over the past few years.
It’s been a joy to see this brainstorm of ours come to life.
Merci!

To Lisa Harris.

Thanks for your critique,
and for all the critiques we exchanged during those early days
when I was in my first critique group ever.

I’m glad our paths have crossed again in “Writing World.”

As always, to Zach and Hannah.

You add to my
joie de vivre
.

Thank you for letting me take the time to follow a dream.

Follow the dream God gives you.

And to CJ.

I love our life together.

Thanks for always believing in me
and encouraging me to never give up.

Chapter 1

La Manque, Louisiana—July 1819

H
urry!” Jacques LeBlanc shouted over his shoulder. “We’ll be late!”

If Papa LeBlanc is angry, it’ll be your fault.” Josée Broussard held her skirt high enough with one hand to keep from tripping on the hem. “You’re the one…who let Philippe…fall into the bayou.”

She gasped for breath. Little Philippe bounced on her hip while she trotted along the path through the tall grass. The boy was too small to keep up with their hurried pace yet heavier than a sack of flour. Josée tried not to think he might not settle down to sleep tonight after Jacques telling him the legend of the great snake of Bayou Teche.

Jacques paused and faced her. He grabbed her hand, and the touch made her stomach turn like the curving dark waters behind them.
Jacques has been my friend for so long, why should his hand make me feel …?
Josée’s skirt swirled down around her ankles.

He smiled, and his black eyes sparkled with a secret. “Ma’amselle Josée, it’s your birthday, and Papa will be in a good mood.
Bon temps
tonight!”

She tried to smile but bit her lip instead. Couldn’t Jacques carry his younger brother?

Prickly heat surrounded them like a heavy blanket. Josée longed for the cool bayou, thick with moist air but cooler than where the larger LeBlanc house stood, farther away from the banks of Bayou Teche. Papa had turned from the bayou to farming.

Philippe wriggled from her hip and ran.
Not through the garden!
Jeanne and Marie scolded him where they stood by the house, their arms reminding Josée of flapping hens’ wings. She waved at them.

“Happy birthday, Josée!” they called.

“Merci. I’m sorry Philippe ran through your garden.”

Jeanne, six months older than Josée, ruffled her littlest brother’s hair. “Why so wet, then?”

“He thought he was a fish,” Jacques said. The sisters both laughed then fell silent and stared at Josée’s and Jacques’s hands clasped together.

Josée pulled free and wiped her palm on her skirt. “It’s hot today.”


Oui
, and you’re brown already, just from being down by the water.” Jeanne linked arms with Josée. “We must get you ready for the party tonight. I think Mama has a surprise for you.”

“Wait for me.” Marie followed behind.

“How does it feel, being eighteen?” Jeanne leaned closer. “Now you’ve caught up with me.”

“Eighteen’s not much differen’ from seventeen.”

“Ah, t’is different. When you’re eighteen, you’re a woman. As soon as I turned eighteen, Josef Landry asked Papa for permission to marry me.” Jeanne sighed. “He already has a small farm next to his papa’s. Then once his house is built …” She sighed again.

Josée laughed. “I can guarantee you that no one will be asking your papa’s permission to marry me.”

They entered the LeBlanc farmhouse, and the three girls climbed the ladder to the loft where they shared half of the space with the boys. A curtain divided the long loft in two.

Mama LeBlanc, the only mother Josée had ever known, had hung a new dress where they could see it. Mama turned as the girls entered the loft. “Beautiful,
n’est-ce pas
?”

“Yes, it’s very beautiful.” Josée wanted to cry. She held scant memories of her own parents. The fact that the LeBlancs accepted her as one of their own comforted her, yet the same fact reminded her that they had taken her in when she had no one.

“Merci, Mama.” She hugged the short, stout woman who stood beside the dress.

Mama LeBlanc returned the hug then held Josée at arm’s length. “Your papa LeBlanc has another su’prise for you tonight.”

“I wonder if he’s found a man for you, Josée!” Jeanne started brushing her own black tresses. Marie, sixteen, giggled and flopped onto the mattress so hard that a tuft of Spanish moss stuck out the side.

Josée touched the soft cotton frock and almost shuddered. Marriage? A man? Yet if she were to marry anyone, it would probably be Jacques. At least he would make her laugh and listen to the songs she made up. But she, Josée Broussard, orphan, had nothing to offer a man. “I couldn’t imagine.”

All afternoon, Edouard LeBlanc had endured the squeals and laughter that disrupted the tranquillity of his secluded LeBlanc bayou cabin. If he hadn’t caught enough fish for the day already, he’d have sent the brood back to the big house. To him, violating the quiet of the bayou was sacrilege.

Edouard stared up at the canopy of cypress trees that blocked most of the late afternoon heat. He had time to shave before the party. No sense in hurrying. If it wasn’t that Papa had requested—no, demanded—his presence, Edouard would be content to lie in his hammock and watch the fish jump from the bayou tonight. Or maybe not. A wayward mosquito found Edouard’s arm, and the sting spurred him to leave the hammock and enter the cabin.

Today Josée Broussard turned eighteen years old. All grown up and always with a song on her lips and spring in her step, Josée’s ways needled him like pesky mosquitoes. Not that he’d been close enough to feel any bites. Listening and watching her from a distance was enough.

Edouard prepared his shaving mixture and propped up the chunk of mirror, a remnant from an old looking glass. Careful of the long scar running from under his ear to the end of his chin, he used the long shaving blade to remove his scruff of beard.

The scar made its appearance on his face. He would dare anyone to stare at him tonight, like Celine had done on his return from the war. Believing in a cause and following its course had made him follow Jean Lafitte to New Orleans five years before. If he had known his actions would cost him his only true love, he would have planted himself along the Bayou Teche and never have departed from La Manque.

Satisfied he’d removed enough of the beard, Edouard put the glass away. After sunset, maybe the light of the bonfire and lanterns would give enough shadows to cover most of the scar. He found his comb and pulled it through his wet hair then secured the length in the back with a leather thong.

Edouard limped to the bureau at the other end of the cabin and took out a clean but rumpled shirt. He could endure the fiddle music and the songs as long as he didn’t have to dance. Storms approached. His bad leg told him so.

Out of respect for Papa and because of Josée’s birthday, Edouard resolved to go to the party and stay no longer than necessary. Then he could retreat to the cabin and try to forget the life that swirled around him persistently and tried to draw him in.

BOOK: Bartered Bride Romance Collection
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