As detailed by Amy Barry in her latest historical romance—Marrying Off Morgan McBride, released just this week—Epiphany Hopgood, better known as Pip, has been having a hard time finding a husband in her small home town of Joshua, Nebraska. It’s 1887, and a woman’s future is pretty much limited to husband and children. So at the “ripe” age of 22, Pip is desperate enough to answer an ad in Matrimonial News for a mail-order bride, even though the man advertising describes himself as a “bullheaded backwoodsman with a surfeit of family.” After all, he wants a woman with a mind of her own, and Pip has that. He wants a good cook, and if there is one area where Pip excels, it’s in the kitchen.
But when Pip reaches Montana, she discovers that her bridegroom, Morgan, has no idea she exists. And as we might expect, things go downhill from there. But the whole journey, including its final resolution, is tremendous fun. Amy Barry was kind enough to answer my questions, so read on to find out more.
This is your second historical romance featuring the McBride family. Could you tell us a bit about the first, Kit McBride Gets a Wife?
It’s 1886, and the four McBride brothers live high in the Elkhorn Mountains of Montana, raising their irrepressible little sister Junebug, who has had more than enough of looking after a passel of grumpy mountain men. She’s sick of doing their laundry and of cooking and cleaning for them. So she secretly orders up a mail order bride for Kit, her hulking blacksmith of a brother. A brother who cares more for book reading than finding a wife to help Junebug out. But Junebug has no plans to sell some poor woman a false bill of goods—she tells the truth about her brother—snoring, cantankerousness, and all. When Maddy Mooney arrives in their mountain meadow, she’s not what any of them expected. But she might be exactly what Kit (and his little sister) needs.
Kit and Morgan’s sister, Junebug, is the motivating factor in both novels. What makes her so determined to find wives for her brothers?
Junebug is no one’s fool, and she’s certainly no one’s maid or wife. So why should she act the housewife for her brothers, doing all the womanly chores? As far as she can see, they need wives to milk the cows and cook their dinners and wash their pestiferous underwear. And Junebug needs a woman or two around. Because no girl wants to be outnumbered by mountain men. Especially mountain men like her brothers, who are grumpy in the extreme and never let her go fishing when there are chores to be done, and there are always chores to be done.
Junebug herself is a wonderful character. Tell us a bit about her.
Junebug’s mother died when she was young, and her father ran off and left her in the care of her four older brothers, rough mountain men who didn’t have the slightest clue about raising a girl. Morgan is the eldest, and he’s been Junebug’s rock through her hardest days. Even if he is a captious, nagging, irascible blockhead of a parental figure. Junebug is a force of nature, completely untamed, without any citified manners. She’s wilier than her brothers, with less scruples, and a much bigger vocabulary. They don’t stand a chance.
Introduce us, please, to Epiphany (Pip) Hopgood. We know early on why she answers the advertisement for a mail order bride, but what is it about her personality that makes her the perfect heroine for your purposes?
Pip has always been too much for her hometown. She’s too tall, too big, too loud, too opinionated. She’s like a square peg in a round hole. After being rejected by every single eligible bachelor in the county (even the ones old enough to be her grandfather), Pip begins to wonder if maybe it’s not her that’s the problem. Maybe it’s the men. So she’s on the hunt for a man who doesn’t mind “too much” woman. She’s more than a match for Morgan McBride. In fact, she’s even more than a match for Junebug. Maybe …
The men in Joshua, Nebraska, spurned Pip as a potential bride, mostly because of her looks, but Morgan feels differently. What does he see that they missed?
Morgan isn’t looking for dainty and girly and mannered. He doesn’t care a fig for a frilly pink dress and a well-turned ankle. He’s a rougher sort of man, the kind used to being holed up for the winter in a cabin with a bunch of mountain men. When he meets Pip, he doesn’t see any of her “flaws” as flaws. In fact, her height, sharpness, quickness, and stubbornness knock him flat. And if he doesn’t like the feeling … well, he certainly can’t resist it …
What does Morgan really want out of life, since he’s clearly not looking for a wife?
Morgan inherited a bunch of kids to raise after his ma died, and he’s been chafing under the responsibility ever since. He longs to get them raised so he can light out of the mountains and live a life alone on the trail, free. He’s spent six years playing parent, with no one who understands the burden he carries, and he’s sick of it. He wants to be responsible for no one and to no one. Or so he tells himself.
The trip to Buck’s Creek is as eventful for Pip’s grandmother as it is for Pip herself. What does Granny Colefax hope to gain from the journey to Montana?
Pip’s grandmother is a firecracker of a woman who has no intention of being stored in the attic like a bit of old furniture now that she’s aging. She takes the opportunity to chaperone Pip as a chance to run away from her staid life back in Nebraska. She’s going to start anew, and that includes remembering how it feels to be a woman and doing a bit of courting. She’s letting her hair down and showing her granddaughter how life should be lived. One mountain man at a time.
The end of this novel indicates that Junebug hasn’t entirely given up on her matchmaking. Are you working on the next book now, and what can you tell us about it?
Oh, I’m hoping you’ll get to come back to Buck’s Creek again soon. Let’s just say, Beau and Junebug get into a little competition over who can find the best mail order bride, and it gets out of hand. There might not be one, or two, but maybe Seven Brides for Beau McBride. Fingers crossed, readers like the McBrides enough to want more marital mayhem!
Thank you so much for answering my questions!
My very great pleasure!
Amy Barry writes sweeping historical stories about love. She’s fascinated with the landscapes of the American West and their complex long history, and she’s even more fascinated with people in all their weird, tangled glory. Amy also writes under the names Amy T. Matthews and Tess LeSue and is senior lecturer in creative writing at Flinders University in Australia. Find out more about her books at https://amy-barry.com.
Images of cowboy (1888) and a cattle ranch in the Elkhorn Mountains of Montana public domain via Wikimedia Commons.