The Unlikely Wife

By: Debra Ullrick

A woman in pants!

The arrival of Michael Bowen’s bride, married sight unseen by proxy, sends the rancher reeling. With her trousers, cowboy hat and rifle, she looks like a female outlaw—not the genteel lady he corresponded with for months. He’s been hoodwinked into marriage with the wrong woman!

Selina Farleigh Bowen loved Michael’s letters, even if she couldn’t read them herself. A friend read them to her, and wrote her replies—but apparently that “friend” left things out, like Michael’s dream of a wife who was nothing like her. Selina won’t change who she is, not even for the man she loves. Yet time might show Michael the true value of his unlikely wife.

“What do we do now?” Selina asked.

Her whisper, broken by tears, tugged at his heart. He hated seeing a woman cry, no matter how angry he was.

What did they do now?

He folded the letter from her—supposedly from her—that he’d been reading, stacked it on top of the rest and tied the string around them. What he wanted to do was burn them along with his marriage certificate.

The way he saw it, they had no other choice. Vows had been spoken. The Bible made it clear about the wrongness of breaking vows. Like it or not, he and Selina were legally married. There was only one answer to that question. “I guess we head home.”

Her gaze flew up to his and the color drained from her face.

Michael understood exactly how she felt. But they had no other choice. He hoisted his body off the log and offered Selina a helping hand up. “We made our vows before God and we need to honor those vows. Let’s go home.”

Dear Reader,

Welcome to Love Inspired!

2012 is a very special year for us. It marks the fifteenth anniversary of Love Inspired Books. Hard to believe that fifteen years ago, we first began publishing our warm and wonderful inspirational romances.

Back in 1997, we offered readers three books a month. Since then we’ve expanded quite a bit! In addition to the heartwarming contemporary romances of Love Inspired, we have the exciting romantic suspenses of Love Inspired Suspense, and the adventurous historical romances of Love Inspired Historical. Whatever your reading preference, we’ve got fourteen books a month for you to choose from now!

Throughout the year we’ll be celebrating in several different ways. Look for books by bestselling authors who’ve been writing for us since the beginning, stories by brand-new authors you won’t want to miss, special miniseries in all three lines, reissues of top authors, and much, much more.

This is our way of thanking you for reading Love Inspired books. We know our uplifting stories of hope, faith and love touch your hearts as much as they touch ours.

Join us in celebrating fifteen amazing years of inspirational romance!


Melissa Endlich and Tina James

Senior Editors of Love Inspired Books

Chapter One

Paradise Haven, Idaho Territory


This has to be a nightmare.

Standing in front of Michael Bowen at Paradise Haven’s train station was the woman who claimed to be his wife. His eyes traveled up and down the length of her. Instead of a dress, she wore a red scarf draped around her neck, a black cowboy hat with a stampede string, black cowboy boots and brown loose-fitting trousers. In her hands she held a Long Tom black powder rifle.

A rifle? The woman was holding a rifle. No matter how hard he tried he couldn’t pull his gaze away from the weapon that was nearly as long as she was tall.

Michael bore down on his teeth until he thought his jaw would snap. Even with her heart-shaped face, stunning smile and beautiful brown eyes, the person standing before him looked more like a female outlaw on a wanted poster than the genteel lady he had been corresponding with for the past five months. The woman he had fallen deeply and passionately in love with. The woman he had legally married sight unseen.

This woman was nothing like what he’d expected. Nothing. There had to be some mistake. There just had to be.

Suddenly, she lunged toward him and threw her arms around his neck. He stiffened and struggled to draw in even the smallest amount of air because she squeezed him so tightly. Dear God, have mercy on me.

“Oh, Michael! It’s so nice to finally meet ya.” Selina Farleigh Bowen pulled back and stared into her new husband’s face. She knew Michael would be handsome—no one who wrote letters that sweet could not be. But even if he were uglier than a Kentucky toad, she’d still love him.

She took a second to study his face. Jaw, nice and square. Nose, straight. Eyes, breathtaking and smiling, the color of a sapphire necklace her ma once had when days were better. Lips, bow shaped. The man was so handsome. And he was all hers. “I just can’t believe I’m finally here.”