Copyright © 2004, Carolyn
Reviews For WILD HONEY by Carolyn Lampman
"Never judge a book by its cover. WILD HONEY is a wild adventure sure to please a reader's thirst for steamy romance and excitement. Ms. Lampman weaves an unforgettable tale with characters that sparkle, a plot filled with adventure, and a romance that will leave readers breathless. Alaina is impetuous, stubborn, and in charge of her own destiny, regardless of what proper society might think. This often leads her into mischief, but her intelligence and passion rescue her, and often others. Jared is persistent in his quest to do what he deems the respectable and responsible thing, and he often finds himself at odds with Alaina. It is this conflict that brings out his true character, as well as the best in him. He is stubborn, strong-willed, and fiercely protective of Alaina, and when he discovers that he loves her, it hits him with the force of a tornado. With characters that sparkle, scenery that is descriptive, and a plot that is sure to please, be sure to check out WILD HONEY." Edith Morrison Romance Reviews Today
book has sexual interaction, but for the most part, the focus is on
the romance between the characters. This reader enjoyed the novel, and
the characters stuck with me after the story ended. As a result, I highly
recommend this book."
"If I had to sum up WILD HONEY in just a sentence or two, I'd say it reminds me of some of the old Saturday morning westerns I used to watch on T.V. when I was a much younger person (*ahem* I won't say how long ago because that would give my age away *G*). There's adventure, dangerous desperadoes, tender moments, and high-strung tension...and plenty of interesting characters to keep you reading nicely along." Nancy, Romance Reader At Heart
"Overall rating: 5 Hearts ""I think Carolyn Lampman is brilliant! Wild Honey is not only well written and true to the time but she brings her historical characters to life. By the end of the book you'll be crying for Alaina and Jared and wanting Susan to end up in another mud puddle. A definite must read for any historical romance reader!" Reviewer: Angel, The Romance Studio"
are sure to empathise with both main characters and will find themselves
caught up in the emotional turmoil; the misunderstandings and the pure
bliss. This is a charming romance of country mouse versus city mouse,
set against a backdrop of an exciting adventure. The ever-changing scenery
and riveting story felt more like I was watching a movie than reading.
It is a page-turning romance that is a definite keeper. Wild Honey is
linked to Silver Springs and Meadowlark, but all are enjoyable if read
as solo titles. If you have not tried any of Carolyn Lampman’s
early American romances yet, prepare yourself for a real treat.
Sample Chapter For WILD HONEY by Carolyn Lampman
“Are you sure the satchel’s up here, Papa?” Alaina’s voice drifted down from the loft.
The blacksmith looked up and grinned. “Ja, I’m pretty sure it is. I remember your Mama putting it up there when Grandpa still owned the shop. Nobody’s used it since.”
“That’s because nobody in this town ever goes anywhere.” There was grunt, then the sound of crates sliding along the wooden floor. Garrick Ellinson watched the dust drift down from the ceiling for a moment, then shook his head and went back to work.
“I’ll bet there isn’t a satchel or a valise to be found in this whole blasted town,” Alaina grumbled.
“Better not let your Mama hear you talking like that. She’ll wash your mouth out.”
“I know, I’m sorry. It’s just so frustrating. Nobody ever wonders what the rest of the world is like.”
“That’s because this is their world. Just about everybody in town was born here,” Garrick pointed out.
“Everybody but me.”
“Ja, except you and your Mama.”
“But Mama’s happy here and I’m…Aha!” There was a sudden triumphant cry from above. “Here it is.”
A worn satchel came sailing out of the loft and landed on the floor with a dull thud and a cloud of dust
Garrick winced. “Be careful, Alaina. That satchel is older than you are.”
A moment later his daughter’s grinning countenance appeared at the top of the ladder. “I know, and the last time it was used was to transport my baby clothes from South Pass City to Nerstrand. I was just testing it, Papa. If it can’t take a fall like that it will never survive the trip to Wyoming.” She tucked her skirt between her legs, grabbed a rope that hung from the center beam, and slid down it to the floor below with the ease of long practice.
Garrick hid a grin as he stuck the piece of iron he’d been working back into the forge. “A young lady would use the ladder,” he said with mock severity.
“And she’d still be coming down that ladder instead of standing here talking to you.” Alaina stripped off the leather work gloves and tucked them into a cubby-hole on the wall. “The rope is much faster. Besides, Mama wasn’t here to see, and you don’t care.” She picked up the satchel and looked it over, testing the seams and the handles to make sure all was secure. “There, you see, everything is fine other than the clasp sticks a little.”
“I promised Jan Andersen I’d have his plow shares for him by closing time but this is the last one. I can probably fix your clasp as soon as I finish.”
“That’s what I figured. You can fix anything, Papa.” She pursed her lips as she gave the satchel a speculative look. “Where’s the saddle soap? It might even be presentable if I get some of that dirt off.”
“Over by the harnesses,” Garrick said. “I thought we were discussing you acting like a lady.”
“Oh, but Papa,” Alaina said batting her eyes at him, “I can be as much a lady as any of them if I choose.” With her right hand on her hip and her left held delicately aloft, she sashayed across the room with an exaggerated sway of her hips.”
Garrick watched her with a fond smile. Even in the dim light of the smithy, with dirt streaked across one cheek and the carefully constructed hair knot listing to one side, his Alaina was a beauty. And that, of course, was the problem She had grown up in a town where everyone knew her; a place where she took safety and security for granted. Tomorrow she was going out into the real world, and she had no idea of the dangers that lurked there, especially for a girl…no… a woman who looked like Alaina.
“You won’t tell Mama about me sliding down the rope, will you, Papa? She’ll just use it for another excuse not to let me go.”
“Your Mama’s worried about you. This trip has her all tied up in knots.”
“But Papa, I’m going to see Angel. Besides being my Godmother, she’s Mama’s very best friend in the whole world!”
“It is not Angel Mama is worried about, it’s the big cities you’ll be going through and all that time on the train. Wyoming is a long way from Minnesota.”
“I know, but it’s not like I’m going by myself,” she reminded him. Then she made a face. “I still can’t believe Angel is sending her brother Jared here to get me,” she said. “The last time I saw him, he was a little weasel.”
Garrick chuckled as he took the plowshare out and laid it on his anvil again. “That was thirteen years ago, Alaina. He was just a boy; now he’s a full grown man.”
“All right, so he’s probably a full grown weasel.”
“I hope you didn’t tell Mama that.”
Alaina bit her lip. “I may have complained about the time he tied my braids to the doorknob.”
“What did she say?”
“She laughed and reminded me that he came back and let me go right away. Then she gave me a long lecture on how lucky I was that he was on his way home from New York and was willing to go so far out of his way to pick me up and escort me to Laramie. If I couldn’t be properly grateful then, maybe I’d better not go at all.” She sat down on a sawhorse with a thump. “Papa, what is she afraid of?”
Garrick smiled and pounded the edge of the hot iron. “That her little girl is growing up and won’t need her anymore.”
“I’m eighteen. I haven’t been a little girl for a long time. Besides, she’ll be so distracted, she’ll hardly know I’m gone.”
“Oh? What do you think is going to distract her that much?”
“Let’s see, there’s Patrick, Knute, Lars, Jan, Garth,” Alaina said ticking her siblings off on her fingers, “and of course baby Mary, who’s a fulltime job all by herself.”
“Ja, and Mama won’t have you around to help with them. She says you’re the best helper a mother ever had, and so do all the other women in this town.”
Alaina shrugged. “I like children, especially babies.” The only sound in the smithy was the ring of Garrick’s hammer and the soft scratch of cloth against leather. This was Alaina’s favorite place in the whole world. She loved everything about it, the cinders on the floor, hot metal hissing in the slag trough, the acrid smell of sulfur, and the loft with all its mysterious treasures. Most of all she loved the sound of the hammer against the anvil, and the man who made it. No matter how upset or angry she was, the sound of Papa’s hammer and his deep unruffled voice would sooth her jangled nerves. Yet, today even that failed to calm her.
“Papa, is where I’m going part of the reason Mama is so edgy about this trip?
Garrick held up the piece of metal and studied it. “I think that’s part of it. Wyoming wasn’t a very happy place for your Mama.”
“But that’s where she met you and where I was born.”
He flashed his daughter a grin and thrust the metal back into the fire. “Ja, maybe that’s the problem. Maybe she thinks some big Norwegian is going to sweep you off your feet.”
Alaina gave a very unladylike snort. “If that were going to happen, it would have by now. Big Norwegians are a dime a dozen around here. Besides, nothing would make her happier than if I married one of them and settled down right here.”
“Maybe so, but she knows it wouldn’t make you happy, and that’s what’s most important to her.”
“It would kill me! Alaina said. “I crave adventure. I want to see the world.” She gave a dramatic shudder. “I’ll suffocate if I have to stay here.”
“I know.” He pulled the share out of the fire. “And that’s why Mama will let you go even though she’d rather keep you here safe and sound.”
Alaina looked surprised. “I didn’t think Mama understood. She’s perfectly content right here with you and the boys.”
“She doesn’t understand- not really- but she knows you are different and accepts that.”
“Sure she does. That’s why she worries more about me than the rest.” Alaina removed the top of the saddle soap can with an angry twist. “If it were Patrick or Knute going, she wouldn’t give it a second thought.”
He tapped on the edge of the share, putting in just the right curve. “Boys are different than girls. She’ll be the same when Mary is your age.”
“No, it’s because I’m just plain different.” Alaina scrubbed the leather of the satchel fiercely. “I’m not like anybody else in Nerstrand.”
“You don’t have an enemy in this town.”
“No, but I know what they say behind my back. ‘Did you hear what Alaina Ellinson pulled this time?’ ” Alaina said in a scandalized falsetto. “Why, I can hardly believe she’s Garrick and Becky’s daughter.”
Garrick chuckled. “I didn’t know you could imitate your Aunt Kirsten so well.” He smoothed the final edge, held it up for inspection, then plunged it into the trough of cold water. “You’re full of high spirits and not a soul holds it against you. Even Kirsten is proud of the way you stand up for yourself.” Garrick rose to his feet, and crossed the room to open the shutters.
“But Mama worries about it, I can tell, almost like she afraid I’ll do something really stupid or hurtful.” Alaina frowned down at the leather. “It has something to do with the reason she hates Wyoming, doesn’t it?”
Bright sunlight flooded the normally dim interior of the smithy, but he seemed oblivious to it as he stared unseeing at the street outside. He was silent so long Alaina didn’t think he was going to answer. “Ja,” he said finally. “It does.”
“Then tell me what the big secret is. If it has something to do with me, and it obviously does, I have the right to know.”
Garrick gave a heavy sigh and turned away from the window. “I think so too, but it’s not mine to tell.”
“Who will tell me, then? Mama?”
Garrick nodded as he took the satchel from her hands and inspected the catch. “When she is ready, she will.”
“How do you know she will?”
“She has promised me. Mama has never broken a promise to me yet.” He sat down next to her and worked the catch. “Go get me that penknife from the workbench.”
Alaina was incredulous. “You’ve discussed this will her?”
He nodded, took the knife from her hand and gently inserted the blade into the catch. “But she is stubborn like her daughter. I have learned not to push either one of you when you get like that.” He grinned up at her. “I think you are both part mule.”
“So I’m supposed to just sit and wait until she’s ready to tell me?”
“If you’re smart, you will. Maybe when you come back from this trip and she sees how grown up you are, she will realize it’s time.”
“And in the meantime?”
“In the meantime, you’ll have your adventure.”
“What if I went home right now and asked her?”
“I think you’d be very sorry. You don’t want to upset your Mama any more than she already is. It’s going to be hard enough for her to let you go without bringing up things she wants left buried.”
“Are you sure that’s for the best?”
Garrick gave an emphatic nod of his head. “Positive. Do you know how I have managed to lived with your mother for nineteen years and survive? By knowing when to keep my mouth shut and not bring her wrath down on my head!”
Alaina gave a gurgle of laughter. Stubbornness aside, there was no one sweeter or more biddable than Becky Ellinson. “I’m going to tell her you said that.”
“And she will tell you it’s true. There,” he said, flipping the catch several times then handing her the satchel. “Get some lard from Mama to grease that down a little and it will be good as new.”
Alaina held it up and admired the finished product. “It doesn’t look too bad does it?”
“Like you just bought it,” he assured her.
“Garrick,” called a voice from the doorway. “Thought I’d stop by and see if you’ve got the plow shares for me.”
“Just finished the last one.”
Jan Anderson smiled when he saw the blacksmith was not alone. “Well, hello, Alaina. I didn’t see you there.”
“Good afternoon, Mr. Andersen. How is Mrs. Andersen?”
“Baking cookies when I left home. She said if I saw you to send you on by.”
“Tell her, I’d love to, but I have to go home and pack. I’m leaving for Wyoming tomorrow.”
“Well, well, all the way to Wyoming! Looks like you’re finally going to get your great adventure.”
“Ja, if she doesn’t have second thoughts and decide to stay home.”
“Fat chance!” Alaina said scooting toward the door. “Give my love to your wife, Mr. Andersen, and tell her I’ll take her up on those cookies when I get back. Papa, when shall I tell Mama you’ll be home?”
“Oh, half an hour or so.”
“All right. Bye now.” She blew her father a kiss and gave Mr. Andersen a cheery wave.
Late spring was usually her favorite
time of the year, but Alaina was barely aware of the beautiful afternoon
and the scent of lilacs as she considered the odd conversation she’d
had with her father. What great secret could her mother be keeping
from her? She pondered the possibilities for a few minutes then gave
a prosaic shrug. Papa was right; Mama would tell her when she was
Always able to put unpleasant thoughts out of her mind, she pushed the mystery aside and turned her attention to the forthcoming trip. As long as she could remember she’d dreamed of leaving, and now it was really going to happen. She gave a little skip of joy then hurried toward home, her step light, and her heart full of anticipation.
Alaina was nearly skipping by the time she reached home and rushed into the big airy kitchen. “I’m back, Mama,”
“Did you find that old satchel?” Her mother’s voice came from the sitting room at the front of the house.
“Yes, it was right where Papa said it was. He fixed the catch, and I cleaned it up with saddle soap.”
“Are you all set to go otherwise?”
“I think so.” She walked into the front room and held up the satchel for inspection. “Papa says it looks brand new.”
Becky smiled. “Other than being a few decades out of date, it does.”
Alaina cocked her head and listened intently. “Sounds like baby Mary is awake and hungry. She probably needs to be changed too. I’ll go get her for you.”
Alaina walked into the bedroom she shared with her baby sister and tossed the satchel on the bed. “Hello, sweetie.” She bent over the cradle. “I’m going to miss you most of all,” she admitted, and then made a face. “But I won’t miss your diapers.”
With the efficiency of long practice, Alaina changed Mary’s diaper and dressed her in a fresh gown. She was rewarded with a toothless grin and a string of baby gibberish. Alaina laughed and tweaked one of Mary’s dark curls.
“You look just like Mama when you do that.” She smiled down at the miniature version of her mother. Mary was the only one of the children who had taken after Becky. All five boys were the spitting image of their father with their strapping bodies and white blond hair. Alaina didn’t look like either of them, but the old folks said she’d probably inherited her honey-colored hair and willowy build from her Irish grandmother’s side of the family.
Alaina picked Mary up with a hug and a kiss. She walked back into the front room still cuddling her sister “How come babies are so soft, Mama?”
Smiling, Becky set her mending aside and began to unbutton her blouse. “I don’t know for sure, but it’s one of the best things about this age.” She took Mary and settled the baby against her breast.
Alaina draped the blanket over them with a soft smile. Sometimes she could hardly wait for one of her own. Most girls her age were already married, but she knew that way lay the destruction of her dreams. Babies could wait. “Papa said he’d be home in half an hour. I’ll go start supper before I pack.”
“May as well go do your packing now,” Becky said with a resigned sigh. “The boys all went fishing so there’s no reason to start supper for awhile yet. They won’t be able to tear themselves away until dark.”
With her earlier excitement surging through her, Alaina returned to her bedroom and pulled her extra underwear out of the bureau she shared with baby Mary. This time tomorrow she’d be on her way to Wyoming...the Wild West...it just didn’t get any more exciting than that.
It took little time to gather her belongings, and she soon turned her attention to the satchel. She opened the clasp and eyed the inside with satisfaction. There was plenty of room. She would travel in her best dress and carry her coat. Everything else would fit into the satchel easily. There would even be room for her everyday dress and nightgown in the morning before she left. For once she was glad her mother hadn’t let her buy a fashionable bustle. It would never have fit.
As she looked down into the satchel she noticed a piece of the heavy paper protruding from the bottom as though the lining had popped loose. She bit her lip. Maybe tossing it down from the loft hadn’t been such a great idea after all.
Alaina looked up when she heard the front door and smiled at the sound her father’s voice. Half an hour on the dot. Good, now that he was home, he’d help Mama with baby Mary. She had plenty of time to stitch up the tear. It only took a moment to retrieve a needle and thread from her sewing kit and settle herself on the bed.
When Alaina reached down into the satchel, she discovered what she thought was the underlining was actually a piece of heavy paper. It took a little wriggling, but she finally managed to pull it loose. As she lifted it to the light, she was surprised to see it was an envelope. Curiously, she opened it and pulled out an old photograph.
A quiver of shocked recognition skittered through her as she stared at the handsome young man in the army uniform. He might have been Alaina’s twin brother. The blond hair, the light-colored eyes, even shape of his face was the same as hers. Who was he? An uncle perhaps, or her grandfather?
There was only one way to find out for sure. Alaina set the satchel aside and walked to the kitchen where she could hear her parents talking. Garrick sat with his chair against the wall bouncing a giggling baby Mary on his knee as Becky put a pan of rolls in the oven. They both looked up when Alaina came in.
“Finished packing already?” Garrick asked.
“Almost. You were right about me not tossing that satchel. The lining ripped a little.” She glanced at the picture in her hand. “I found this photograph in the bottom. Who is it?”
Becky reached for it. “Let’s see.” At the first glance, the color drained from her face and she gave a sharp cry of dismay.
“What is it, Becky?” Garrick asked shifting baby Mary more securely onto his lap.
“C…Cameron,” she whispered staring at the picture as if it were a poisonous snake.
“Oh, Lord.” Garrick exhaled as though the weight of the world rested on his shoulders. “It’s time, Becky.”
“No,” she raised her stricken gaze to his. “Oh no, Garrick, I’m not ready.”
“It’s too late for that now. She knew something was up the minute she saw that picture.”
Alaina looked back and forth between them and her uneasiness grew. “Does this having anything to do with Mama’s Wyoming secret?”
Becky gasped and cast her husband a disbelieving look. “You told her?”
“No, but it’s way past time that she knew. I promised I would let you be the one, but if you don’t tell her, I will.”
Becky sank down onto a chair with a strangled sob and covered her face with her hands. “I can’t.”
Garrick closed his eyes, the muscles working in his jaw as though he were in great pain.
“Papa?” Alaina asked in a frightened voice. She’d never seen her parents like this.
Garrick opened his eyes, and looked at her as though memorizing her face. “The man in the picture is Cameron Price,” he said finally. His Norwegian accent was noticeably thicker than usual, the way it always was when he got upset. “He’s your father.”
Alaina wondered for a moment if she was going to be sick as the earth rocked beneath her feet. Her brain seemed frozen. “Y…you’re not…?”
He shook his head regretfully. “No, Alaina, I’m not.”
“Yes, you are!” Becky cried, dropping her hands and glaring at him. “Cameron may have fathered her but he is not her father. A father stays around and takes care of his children. They don’t leave without a word in the middle of the night.”
“M…mama was married before?” Alaina could barely force the words past her lips.”
“No, he never married me. He just left me there to face it all alone.”
“Cameron was in the army,” Garrick explained. “He didn’t know your mother was pregnant when he was reassigned.”
“Didn’t care, you mean,” Becky said with bitter reproach.
Alaina gasped. “Then I’m a b…”
“No!” The word was explosive and came from both parents at once.
“Don’t even say the word, Alaina. Mama and I were married a good six months before you were born. You’re as legitimate as any of the rest.”
Alaina’s head swam alarmingly, and she sat down across from her mother with a thump. “Why did you lie to me? Why did you make up that stupid story about me being born in a blizzard, and Papa having to deliver me?”
“Oh, no, Sweetheart.” Becky reached across the table to touch her daughter’s fingers. “That was all true, every word, I swear.” Hurt filled her eyes when Alaina pulled her hand away and her voice hardened. “Garrick became your father when he brought you into the world. I told him that on the day you were born and haven’t changed my mind since. He’s your father as surely as he is baby Mary’s. ”
“Alaina has a right to know about her real father,” Garrick said gently.
“You are her real father, Garrick. If you hadn’t saved me, she would never have lived. What did Cameron ever do for her other than leave?
“He didn’t even know she existed until she was eight months old,” Garrick said. “And then she fascinated him.”
“Only because she looked like him. He didn’t care a fig for her otherwise. Besides I wouldn’t be surprised if he became an outlaw or something.”
“I doubt it,” Garrick said. “He probably stayed in the army where he could be sure of finding lots of action. I imagine he’s made General by now.”
“Cameron Price was an irresponsible adventurer,” Becky insisted. “I can’t think he’s much different now than he ever was. Maybe he got himself killed in the Indian Wars out West.”
Completely bewildered, Alaina grasped onto the one comprehensible fact in a sea of confusion. “You mean he may still be alive?”
Garrick nodded slowly. “As far as we know he is, though Mama’s right about the Indian Wars. Knowing Cameron, he was in the thick of things.”
Alaina was stunned. “Y...you knew him too?”
“Everybody in South Pass knew him. He was a bone fide Civil War hero. ”
“I...I don’t understand,” Alaina said. “What happened to him? Where is he now?”
Becky frowned. “I don’t know where he is, and I don’t care. Cameron Price is ancient history.”
“But, he’s my father,” Alaina said, in a dazed voice.
“Oh, for...Garrick Ellinson is ten times the father Cameron Price would have been. You should be thanking your lucky stars he was there when Cameron walked out on us without a backward glance.”
Alaina hardly heard her mother as she picked the photograph and gazed at it in sudden sick comprehension. “That’s why I’m different; why I never really fit in here.”
“Balderdash, you’re no different than you were half an hour ago! It’s that treacherous man and this detestable picture that’s turned your head.” Furious now, Becky grabbed the photograph and tore it in half as she stood up. “I don’t know why I didn’t do that eighteen years ago when he gave it to me,” she said, as she lifted the stove lid and threw it inside. “As far as I’m concerned the subject of Cameron Price is closed.”
With an inarticulate cry, Alaina jumped to her feet and ran out of the house.
“Oh, little one, I wish you hadn’t done that,” Garrick said, as the sound of Alaina’s running footsteps faded. “That picture was all she had of her real father.”
Becky made a rude noise. “A father she didn’t even know existed fifteen minutes ago.”
Garrick sighed. “Just because she didn’t know about him doesn’t make him any less important to her. All you accomplished was to set up her hackles and send her off in one of her snits.”
Becky raised her fingers to her lips in dismay. “Oh, Garrick. Jared Brady will be here to pick her up in the morning. What are we going to do?”
“We’re going to let her go to Wyoming.”
Becky stared at her husband. “We can’t let her leave when she’s so upset.”
“I don’t think we could
stop her. You know how she is once she sets her mind to something.”
“I doubt that she will. The West is a big place. Anyway, I have always said she has the right to know her real father,” he repeated stubbornly.
“Garrick, he left me alone and pregnant. If it hadn’t been for you, I’d have died long before she was even born. Have you forgotten that?”
“No, but it won’t matter to Alaina. She’ll want to know the other half of what she is.”
“I’ll tell her exactly what Cameron is,” Becky said angrily.
“And she’ll decide you’re lying. Alaina has to find out for herself.”
“You’re just going to let her leave?”
“Yes, and she’ll come back.”
“What if she doesn’t?”
“Then I'll be very surprised. Part of Alaina is Cameron, but mostly she’s like you. She’ll see that soon enough.”
“Are you sure? If she finds Cameron, he’ll turn on that silver-tongued charm of his and fill her head full of all sorts of nonsense.”
“Which she’ll see through just like you did. Don’t you see, Becky? We have no choice. If we force her to stay, she’ll only resent us all the more. This way at least we leave the door open for her to come back.”
“What I see is that damnable Norwegian logic of yours is going to let our daughter walk straight out of our lives,” Becky snapped. “I suppose the next thing you’ll tell me is I should help her pack.”
“It might not be a bad idea.”
“Oooo.” With a final glare, Becky spun on her heel and left.
With a deep sigh, Garrick gazed down at his infant daughter and rubbed his thumb gently across the tiny hand that gripped his finger. Then he leaned his head back against the wall, closed his eyes, and swallowed against the hard knot in his throat.