PROMISE ME FOREVER – Diane Amos
Welcome, Montana – 1898
Dressed in a black nun's habit, Elizabeth O'Hara walks into a saloon. She's looking for the promised land, i.e. the town of Welcome , she read about in a newspaper. Surely, it's not this place, which is nothing like the news article. The bartender, Pete, introduces her to Queenie, the saloon's owner, as well as the author of said article, a local rancher named Ben Ricker. Elizabeth explains that she's here to start an orphanage, and until the other sisters arrive, she needs a job and a place to stay. Ben, pushed by Pete and Queenie, reluctantly offers her a job on his ranch as a cook. It's a good deal for Elizabeth , with room and board and pay of a dollar a day for her services. However, Elizabeth has led a sheltered and privileged life; she can't boil water for tea without a mishap.
Ben Ricker is just trying to keep his ranch out of foreclosure and a roof over his grandmother's head. But he can't afford to hire a cook, let alone pay her. Even so, this pretty little nun has a mighty fine body underneath that black habit she wears. He shouldn't have been down at the stream while she was taking her bath, but once he saw her undress, he just couldn't turn away. It will be pleasant having her around, just knowing she's a beautiful woman, even if he's going to go straight to hell after ogling a nun. He didn't bargain on her having children in tow, but those two orphans might be a help for Granny.
Elizabeth, with her brother, Joshua, and her sister, Cecilia, settle into the room Ben provides. Ben doesn't know about their pregnant basset hound, Bernie, but Elizabeth will cross that bridge when she has to. Meanwhile, she has to cook the promised stew for Ben's dinner. The kitchen is a problem. In her step-father's house, there's running water, an icebox, and a gas stove. No such conveniences here at Ben's ranch. The meat is kept in a barrel of salt water; she has to pump water into a bucket outside and carry it into the house, and the stove is heated with wood. Elizabeth has never cooked a meal in her life, and now there are bugs floating in the stew, but she's going to give it her best shot...
PROMISE ME FOREVER is a fast paced and fun story! Elizabeth and her siblings are running from an abusive stepfather. She ran out of money by the time she got to Welcome, and Ben Ricker's offer suits her just fine, if he doesn't fire her after he starves. The characters sparkle, and the story captivates the reader. Ben has doubts when he sees a wanted poster with Elizabeth 's picture on it. He sure could use that $500 reward, but Granny likes the girl and won't let her go.
Ben fights to keep his finances above water while Elizabeth settles into ranch life where she captures the hearts of the cowboys, Lefty and Zach. The only living things she can't charm are the chickens that peck her mercilessly as she learns to gather eggs. But amid all these troubles, Ben and Elizabeth fall in love while fighting to keep the ranch safe. PROMISE ME FOREVER is a fun and exciting book!