Patience Callahan is twenty-five and fast becoming an old maid. But she’s spent most of her life dreaming over romantic European literature and wants a dashing d’Artagnan, not a bookish Bob Cratchit. Alas, the Colorado town of Gilman’s chock-full of Cratchit’s without a d’Artagnan in sight.
Peter Foote, the general store owner, has been in love with Patience for seven years. But every time he’s on the verge of proposing, she cuts him off; he can only imagine on purpose. This time though, dadburn it, he’s going to go through with it.
Ring in hand, he’s moments from touching knee to floor, when Patience pulls out a list of mail-order bride advertisements and declares her intention of marrying a backwoods stranger on Christmas Day.
He’s got two weeks to change her mind.
There she was, the girl he’d loved for seven years. And she was sorting preserve cases at his store, as she’d done for the last four years. She stood not six paces from him, and yet so far away.
Peter’s fingers squeezed the ring box in his jacket. This time he was going to go through with it, no matter if she pointedly changed the subject, or hastily found excuses to be elsewhere, or pushed other eligible young women at him. Dadburn it, today he’d have his answer, a “yay” or a “nay” instead of living in this wretched bog of uncertainty.
The store had already closed. He just needed to grate the key in the locks while Patience tidied the shelves. The falling winter sun made long shadows on the floor between them. Now she had put down the strawberry preserves and taken an inventory list. She moved towards the mercantile section.
His heavy boots clomped on the hardwood floor, but his heart clomped louder. His fingers tightened around the red velvet box. It was a white gold ring and a miner’s cut diamond. Size six, as he’d discovered four years ago when he’d stolen her glove.
Patience’s brown hair twisted back around her ears. She always complained it lay too flat, and said her younger sister teased her about having a mottled complexion. But he’d never seen hair shine like hers, and her soft skin set off brown eyes that possessed a luster no girl in Gilman could match. And her smile. Oh, her smile. She could turn Antarctica into the tropics by just curving her lips.
A head-high shelf of baking perishables hemmed them in on one side while bolts of fabric made up the other side of the narrow aisle.
“Patience Callahan, will you,” Peter slid the box out of his pocket, and started to lower one knee to the ground.
Her gaze flicked to the ring box. “Why, Peter,” she stepped into him, blocking all attempts at kneeling. “I’ve been meaning to tell you my news.”
Her long fingers were slender. Yet, they could move lickety-split when sorting spools or organizing canned goods.
“I just received this.” Patience tugged a newspaper clipping out of her pocket along with a small daguerreotype. “This is Arnie Dehaven. He’s a Montana rancher. I’ve answered his mail-order bride advertisement and I’m marrying him.”
Anne Garboczi Evans is a mental health counselor, military spouse, and mama to an opinionated preschooler named “Joe-Joe” and a very dramatic baby called “Chip.” Her inspiration for Plum Pudding Bride came from moving to the Colorado Rockies. You can find Anne online at