What starts out as a fake relationship between the much-sought after town sheriff and the town's female doctor soon becomes all too real in this historical romance. Keep reading to get a tempting taste The Engagement Gamble by Nancy Fraser, along with hearing from the author about history and women's roles in history, then learn even more about this book by visiting the other sites hosting this tour. In honor of this third installment in the Love's a Gamble series make sure to fill out the form below for the chance to win a $15 bookstore GC too!
Ms. Fraser is here today to talk about the role of women in the actual historical time period this book is set in and how that influences this book’s storyline. Take it away Ms. Fraser!
Balancing the heroine’s journey with norms of the post-Civil War era was one of my biggest challenges when writing The Engagement Gamble.
While it definitely wasn’t normal for the time, my heroine Suzanne Martindale, is a physician and trained surgeon. Because the story is the third in the series, my heroines from the previous two books also make an appearance. They are strong, in their own ways, especially Kate from book 1, given she’s actually from the present and traveled back in time and decided to stay.
Felicity, from Book 2, is the expected gently-raised southern belle who has a bit of a defiant streak when she decides to free her rich father’s illegally kept slaves. Encouraged by her new husband and the rest of the McAlister clan, she spreads her wings and ventures into altruistic endeavors.
However, because I was crafting stronger heroines, I had to balance that with the stereotypical and much more frequent women of the time period. The books include the doting mothers trying to marry off their daughters, the daughters enamored of any one of the handsome McAlister men. We have the docile preacher’s wife, and the older townswomen who love to gossip.
I have shopkeepers, female saloon owners (more about her in a later book), café owners. While all are businesswomen, they still adhere to the time period expectations. I knew if I went too far outside the expected, except with my heroines, I’d be courting criticism that the books weren’t realistic.
My greatest accomplishment though in mixing the expectation with strength was with Virginia McAlister, the family matriarch. No one, not even the strong McAlister men, would dare to cross her. She holds her own with bankers and businessmen and anchors the entire family while still retaining her gentile southern upbringing.
Marshal Zack McAlister has made it his mission to protect the good citizens of Greenville, MS. In particular, one very opinionated and independent lady doctor. The only hindrance to his professional obligations are the dozen or so single women vying for his attention.
Suzanne Martindale, M.D., has quickly become a fixture in Greenville since taking over for her semi-retired predecessor. And, like Marshal McAlister, she’s been inundated with unwanted suitors.
When Zack proposes a fake engagement, Suzanne is reluctant at first and claims in order for anyone to believe they’re actually courting and in love, there has to be chemistry between them.
Zack sets out to prove they can easily fool the people of Greenville into believing their ruse. Will his smooth Cajun charm and steamy-hot kisses do the trick? Or, are they destined to be victims of their own charade?
When outside forces threaten the entire McAlister clan, can Zack keep his family, and his faux fiancé, safe? And, will a life-threatening accident show them anything, even love, is possible if you have trust?
The McAlister family welcomes you back to Mississippi with a third adventure, and maybe a sneak peek at yet another devastating seductive McAlister man!
“It’s been quiet around town lately. Not much for a decorated marshal to defend.”
“You trying to get rid of me, Doc?”
“Now why would I do that? If you were to leave, who else would I have to argue with?”
“We don’t argue,” he said, his gaze meeting hers in challenge. “We discuss...heatedly.”
“It only gets ‘heated’ when I’m winning.”
He shook his head and leaned back against the side of the desk. “If you say so, Cher.”
“As to your offer of an escort, I can see myself home, Marshal. There’s no need to wait.”
“I’d feel better if you let me escort you.”
She sighed deeply, and Zack waited for her to launch into another of her ‘independent woman’ speeches. Or, at the very least, remind him that he was being over-protective.
“I’ll only be a minute or two, if you insist on waiting.”
She could have said she needed another hour and Zack would have gladly stayed. Despite what he’d said to Pete Bailey earlier that evening, Suzanne Martindale was a breath of fresh air among the over-zealous horde of ladies hounding his every move.
She was beautiful, well-educated, independent, and beautiful. Zack shook his head, trying to shake the repeating thought free. Obviously, no matter what her many assets, her beauty was the one thing tying him up in knots. Or, maybe, it was the fact she didn’t use it to her advantage, as some of the other ladies did. Instead, Suzanne relied on her brains and taunting sense of humor to get her where she wanted to go.
“All set,” she said, drawing Zack from his mental inventory of what made Suzanne Martindale the most desirable woman he’d ever met. And, at the same time, not at all what he was looking for in a wife.
Once she’d locked the door to the clinic, Zack offered his arm. Nodding toward the hospital next door, he asked, “Do you need to stop?”
“No, the night nurse is there, and our only patients are the new mother and babe. They’re in good hands.”
They strolled along in comfortable silence until they’d reached the walkway leading to the small stone cottage where Suzanne lived. She stopped just short of the gate.
“Shall I walk you to the door?”
“This is fine, thank you, Marshal.”
“Marshal? I thought we’d agreed on Zack?’
She met his gaze, rolling her eyes for exaggerated emphasis, he supposed. When she shook her head, a small lock of blonde curls fell free of its pins. Zack’s hand itched to take the silky strands in his fingers and tuck them back where they belonged.
“You suggested Zack and Suzanne. I don’t remember agreeing. I’d much prefer Dr. Martindale, or just ‘doc’.”
Her continued attempts at formality amused him and he asked, “Tell me something, Cher, do you ever let your hair down and just relax?” Before she could answer, he added, “Have any of your friends ever been tempted to call you Suzie?”
She paused briefly before saying, “Only those who wished to be soundly kicked in the shins.”
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NANCY FRASER—Jumping Across Romance Genres with Gleeful Abandon—is an Amazon Top 100 and Award-Winning author who can’t seem to decide which romance genre suits her best. So, she writes them all.
Like most authors, Nancy began writing at an early age, usually on the walls and with crayons or, heaven forbid, permanent markers. Her love of writing often made her the English teacher’s pet which, of course, resulted in a whole lot of teasing. Still, it was worth it.
Nancy has published over thirty-five books in full-length, novella, and short format.
When not writing (which is almost never), Nancy dotes on her five wonderful grandchildren and looks forward to traveling and reading when time permits. Nancy lives in Atlantic Canada where she enjoys the relaxed pace and colorful people.
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