Author Joan Johnston is returning to the west with her new series, Unexpected Brides. So we caught up with the author to get all the details about her new book deal and find out what readers can expect from the series.
RT: Who are these "Unexpected Brides"?
Joan Johnston: My "brides" are all sisters orphaned by the great Chicago fire of 1871. The eldest is being forced out of the orphanage where they've been living the past four years because she's eighteen. She answers a newspaper advertisement for a mail-order bride — from Jesse Creed, a forebear of the Creeds in my New York Times bestselling Bitter Creek series — and brings along her two little brothers! As you might suspect, the western men who end up with these brides discover a woman who's nothing like the bride they expected to marry.
RT: Where in the west are the stories set?
JJ: I think the titles give it away! [They are Texas Bride, Blackthorne’s Bride, Wyoming Bride and Montana Bride.] The first and fourth books are set in Texas. Book two is set in Wyoming and book three is set in Montana.
RT: What can you tell us about these women?
JJ: Each of the "Unexpected Brides" faces a particular challenge in her marriage.
Liberty has terrible burn scars on her legs that she's hiding from her husband — making her reluctant to consummate the marriage — and two little brothers that her husband (who was recently widowed when his wife died in childbirth) isn't happy she brought along.
Rose takes a wagon train west, is captured by the Sioux, rescued, and then unwittingly agrees to marry a man who's in love with his brother's fiancée — and who hopes that marrying someone else will keep him from pursuing the object of his desire.
May searches fruitlessly for her twin sister Rose after she's captured by the Sioux. Desperate and destitute, she marries a proud and powerful man who only wants her as a brood mare to build his dynasty. When she can't conceive, she comes up with a solution she hopes will save their marriage: children from a nearby orphanage who need a home.
Josie comes to her marriage already pregnant with another man's child — and marries a Blackthorne, the mortal enemy of her eldest sister's husband. Forced to choose between her sister and her husband, is there any right choice? Josie must find a way both to make peace between bitter enemies — Blackthorne and Creed — and regain her husband's love.
RT: Why will these heroines be so special to your readers?
JJ: Readers will be delighted to know that the four sisters, Liberty, Rosebud, Mayflower and Josephine Wentworth, marry historical characters who are forebears of characters in my contemporary Bitter Creek series (both Blackthorne and Creed) and men related to characters from my previous historical western novels.
RT: What aspect of this series are you looking forward to writing?
JJ: It's great fun for me to be writing this series, because each book is connected to other novels I've previously written. The first and fourth novels, Texas Bride and Blackthorne's Bride, are set in Texas and connected to my contemporary Bitter Creek series, The Cowboy, The Texan and The Loner. (There are actually eight books in the contemporary series. You can find a complete list on my website.) The second novel, Wyoming Bride, is connected to The Inheritance and Maverick Heart. The third novel, Montana Bride, is connected to Barefoot Bride and Outlaw's Bride.
RT is anxiously awaiting this new series. Johnston reports that she is at work on the first novel, Texas Bride, and hopes to have it on shelves soon!