The Surprise Brides Series – Feature Cynthia Woolf

Welcome Cynthia Woolf, our first blogger to tell us about Gideon, one of the brothers in the new Surprise Brides Series!



Last February, at something called an uncon, I got together with Sylvia McDaniel and we decided to write a series of books together. We knew we wanted four books in the series and we wanted it to be about mail order brides.

We invited Caroline Clemmons and Callie Hutton, both wonderful western writers, to join us in our endeavor.

Next we had to figure out a way to plot the overall arc of the series. Skype is a good way. When the three of them were at RWA this summer, we held a Skype meeting with me. Ideas flew around the room, good ideas, but we settled on one we thought would be fun. A marriage minded, grandchild wanting, mama orders “surprise brides” for her four sons.

A blizzard causes the ranch they are on to be cut off from the town for a week and marriages must ensue for the sake of the girls’ reputations and their mother’s as well.

My hero is Gideon and he is the preacher for Angel Springs, Colorado and could perform the ceremony. From there each book and each couple took off on their own, with only a bit of overlap. Still making sure that the same things affecting the town all happen in each story was not easy.

You couldn’t ask for a better group of women to do a series like this with. That being said, I don’t think I’ll do one again. It was a great experience but also the hardest book I’ve ever written.


The Surprise Brides: One determined mama, four reluctant brothers, four mail order brides. Meet Jamie, Caleb, Gideon and Ethan.

As the local preacher, Gideon Fraser often talks about the many virtues of a good marriage, but that doesn’t mean he has the slightest inclination of claiming a bride of his own. No, he’s been burned before, by greedy women who only want the prestige and money the Fraser family name can provide. When his mother’s devious matchmaking results in his unexpected wedding, Gideon looks at the beautiful face of the woman who has sworn to be his and wants nothing to do with her. But Gideon is in danger of losing his heart until he discovers the truth. His new wife lied to him…about everything.

Ruby Haller needed a husband and fast. A treacherous man promised her the world, took her virginity, and left her without a father for her unborn child. When her father, the town minister, found out she was expecting a child, he offered her hand in marriage to the meanest man in town. Becoming a mail-order-bride appeared to be a safer choice. But instead of a rancher, she ends up the wife of a stubborn, bull-headed preacher and he’s none too pleased when he discovers her duplicity. Worse? The local town beauty, who had been courting him for years, is determined to make her life a living hell.

But Angel Springs, Colorado is a small town that can inspire big dreams. It’s nearly Christmas, and as these two hearts heal, a holiday miracle just might be within reach.

Look for the other books in the series –

CALEB by Callie Hutton
ETHAN by Sylvia McDaniel
JAMIE by Caroline Clemmons


Gideon rose early the morning of the weddings. The chilly air did nothing to help his back, which ached from sleeping on the cold floor. He couldn’t think about that now, he had to get Desiree to Pete’s place.

With a gentle tap, he knocked on the bedroom door. “Miss Desiree, it’s Gideon Fraser. I’ll escort you to our foreman’s house now.”

Desiree answered the door, her blonde hair disheveled and her fancy dress barely covering her ample bosom. “Look preacher, I’m not an early riser. I’ll go later.”

Gideon averted his gaze. “I’m sorry miss, but we have to go now. I have four weddings to officiate at and chores that still need to be done. Please put on your coat, scarf, and boots. We have to leave as quickly as possible.”

In the main room, his three brothers were rising now, stretching, and wanting coffee. Caleb, it being his house and all, lit the stove and put on a fresh pot of coffee.

“She can eat breakfast with us, can’t she Gideon?” asked Ethan.

Gideon saw the look in Caleb’s eyes. He was looking for any opportunity to take out his frustrations on Gideon.

Gideon didn’t fall for it. “Of course, she needs to eat. I thought I’d have the oatmeal done before she was dressed and ready to go.” He walked past Caleb to the kitchen and scanned the bare shelves. “You have oatmeal, don’t you?”

“Hell, no, I don’t have any oatmeal.”

“Then I’ll scramble the girl some eggs.”

“Don’t have those either. All I got is coffee. I eat at Mama’s just like the rest of you.”

“Well, she needs to eat,” insisted Gideon, running a hand through his hair.

Desiree poked her head out of the room. “Thank you, Mr. Fraser, but I don’t eat breakfast. I hate to eat on an empty stomach.”


“I now pronounce us men and wives. You may kiss your bride.”

Gideon had never married four couples before and certainly never married himself to anyone before. He angled his body and looked at his bride. Ruby was a sweet little thing with dark red hair and the prettiest green eyes he’d ever seen. He took her hands and brought her close. Her lips were as red as the finest ripe cherry and he could resist them no longer. He leaned down and placed his lips on hers. They were warm and soft under his. He was tempted to give her a real kiss, not just the peck expected after the ceremony, but resisted the urge.

After several seconds, he pulled back and looked at her. Her eyes were still closed, but a smile curved her lips. That was a good start to their marriage. They both were attracted to each other.

Ruby didn’t eat much of the dinner Mama and Milly had fixed. Of course, none of the women did.

The opposite was true of him and his brothers. Nothing kept them from eating. He especially appreciated the home-cooked meals. When he was home at the rectory he cooked for himself or ate the offerings of one of the single ladies, which was a double-edged sword. On the one hand he was glad of the meals, but on the other he didn’t want any of the young women to get the wrong idea about marriage.

Ruby would put a stop to all of that. No more casseroles or fried chicken from the women and no more fending off mama’s foisting off their daughters at the church socials.

He looked around for Ruby among the other couples who spoke together quietly. She’d gone into the kitchen to help Mama, but she hadn’t come out with the rest of the females. Curious, he went into the kitchen.

She was stood by the counter, dabbing her eyes with a handkerchief.

Guilt stabbed at him. She’d obviously been crying.

“Ruby? What’s wrong? Are you upset about the marriage? I know it wasn’t what you’d probably dreamed your wedding would be like…”

“No. I’m fine. I’m not upset with the wedding. I’m very glad you married me. I guess I’m just a little homesick. I’ve never been away from home before.”

Huh? Gideon thought back to what he knew of her and cocked an eyebrow. “But I thought you’re a widow. When you were married you were away from your home.”

She stuffed her handkerchief up her sleeve and quickly amended her words. “I meant away from my husband. Before he died.”

“Ah, I understand. Look, my brothers and I have chores to do whether the snow is falling or not. I thought you and the other ladies could keep Mama company in the parlor until we return.”

Ruby nodded. “Certainly. I’d like to get to know your mother better.”

He stepped close and extended his crooked arm. “Good. May I escort you?”

“Sure. Uh, Gideon. How long before we are able to return to your home? I understand you live next to the church in Angel Springs.”

“Yes, that’s right.” It will be nice to have someone to talk to and share sermon ideas with. “As to returning, we have to wait for the snow to stop, then I’ll have Pete take us home in the sleigh, if possible.”

Ruby nodded. “I’m not a very good cook,” she blurted out.

Surprised by her outburst, Gideon took her hand. “I thought all women could cook, but it’s all right. I can cook passably well. Ask Mama for some of her recipes. Can you follow a recipe?”

“Yes, if I have one, I can follow it easily enough.”

“Good.” After tucking her hand into the crook of his elbow, he patted it. “We’ll do fine together Ruby. You’ll see.”


Cynthia Woolf is the award winning and best-selling author of sixteen historical western romance books and two short stories with more books on the way.

She loves writing and reading romance. Her first western romance Tame A Wild Heart, was inspired by the story her mother told her of meeting Cynthia’s father on a ranch in Creede, Colorado. Although Tame A Wild Heart takes place in Creede that is the only similarity between the stories. Her father was a cowboy not a bounty hunter and her mother was a nursemaid (called a nanny now) not the ranch owner.

Cynthia credits her wonderfully supportive husband Jim and her great critique partners for saving her sanity and allowing her to explore her creativity.


  • GIDEON – The Surprise Brides
  • MAIL ORDER OUTLAW – The Brides of Tombstone, Book 1
  • MAIL ORDER DOCTOR – The Brides of Tombstone, Book 2
  • MAIL ORDER BARON – The Brides of Tombstone, Book 3
  • NELLIE – The Brides of San Francisco 1
  • ANNIE – The Brides of San Francisco 2
  • CORA – The Brides of San Francisco 3
  • JAKE (Book 1, Destiny in Deadwood series)
  • LIAM (Book 2, Destiny in Deadwood series)
  • ZACH (Book 3, Destiny in Deadwood series)
  • CAPITAL BRIDE (Book 1, Matchmaker & Co. series)
  • HEIRESS BRIDE (Book 2, Matchmaker & Co. series)
  • FIERY BRIDE (Book 3, Matchmaker & Co. series)
  • TAME A WILD HEART (Book 1, Tame series)
  • TAME A WILD WIND (Book 2, Tame series)
  • TAME A WILD BRIDE (Book 3, Tame series)
  • TAME A SUMMER HEART (short story, Tame series)
  • TAME A HONEYMOON HEART (novella, Tame series)



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