Sunday, June 24, 2018
Open Book - Cristabelle: The Christmas Bride
Cristabelle: The Christmas Bride was published on June 8, 2018 by Estrella Publishing.
Hebby came up with the title from watching an old movie. “There was a heroine who was part Italian and her name was Cristabelle,” Hebby said. “I have an unusual name, Hebby (my real name, not a pen name), and I’m attracted to other unusual names. I already knew I wanted my heroine to be the daughter of an Italian immigrant. Italian stone mason immigrants were responsible for constructing many of the west Texas forts, along with most of the original masonry buildings in my home town. Who the stone masons were and how they came to this rough-and-tumble corner of Texas is a little-known piece of my hometown history, and I wanted to include it.”
The inspiration for Cristabelle: The Christmas Bride came from Hebby’s home town which is a few miles from Fort Clark, Texas where the action of this story takes place. “It’s a fort that was active for almost one hundred years and is steeped in military history,” Hebby explained. “I wanted to capture a piece of that history during some of the most challenging years when the cavalry guarded the frontier and had to fight Comanches, Kickapoos, and Mexican bandits on both sides of the border of the United States and Mexico.”
The theme of Cristabelle: The Christmas Bride is all about forgiveness.
In Cristabelle: The Christmas Bride you’ll meet the heroine, Cristabelle Shannon. After her father’s untimely death, she is supporting her ailing mother by being a laundress at Fort Clark, one of the few “decent” jobs for a woman in a frontier town. “Crissy is pious and serious-minded, a hard worker with a shameful family secret that she fears will be revealed, which could lead to her losing her job. She’s wary of men because of what happened to her mother,” Hebby said.
You’ll also meet the hero, Sergeant Davie Donovan who immigrated to the United States as a young boy. He’s Irish, charming, a prankster, and fun loving. He left his family in Galveston, Texas to join the cavalry and find adventure on the frontier. He’s brave and smart, teaching himself how to speak Spanish.
“Crissy wants to take care of her ailing mother and be accepted as respectable, Hebby said. “Her dream is to return to the Ursuline Convent in San Antonio, Texas, where she was educated. She doesn’t believe she has the vocation to be a nun, but she would like to live at the convent and help the nuns as a lay person. Crissy, after living an unsettled life with her mother, craves peace and quiet in her life. Davie wants to enjoy life to its fullest, embracing life on the frontier and in the military. Even though he’s in the military, he’s not a “fan” of rules and gets himself into trouble by flaunting them. On the other hand, he repeatedly distinguishes himself for his bravery. He likes women and is something of a ladies’ man. He’s never seriously thought about settling down until he meets Crissy.”
Other important characters are: Mary Shannon, Crissy’s mother. The life she’s been forced to lead has made an indelible impression on her daughter, making Crissy yearn for respectability and a peaceful life. Lieutenant Colonel William Gregor is the commander of the fort, and a continuing character in the A West Texas Frontier Trilogy. With help from Davie, he uncovers the Mexican bandits threatening the fort and brings them to justice.
Adding more to the story are a few villains. Sergeant Dawes, is in competition with Davie for First Sergeant. At the same time, he’s collaborating with the Mexican bandits, who are trying to steal the fort’s payroll. Carlos de Los Santos is the leader of the Mexican bandits. “His family has owned land in Mexico for over two hundred years and despite the Mexican-American War’s outcome, they don’t accept the United States’ hold on the disputed strip of land, between the Rio Grande and the Nueces Rivers,” Hebby explained. “In a series of continuing reprisals, Carlos leads an attack on the stagecoach line, murdering innocent passengers in an attempt to steal the fort’s payroll.”
Hebby said Cristabelle: The Christmas Bride is a sweet romance featuring a naïve and young woman, finding her first love. Life on the frontier was difficult and dangerous, especially for women. Both good and bad people are known by their actions, not by the words that come out of their mouths. “Even with family members, whom one loves deeply, some things are hard to forgive,” she added.
Cristabelle: The Christmas Bride is a part of the series A West Texas Frontier Trilogy. “The first book is set on the prairie at Fort Concho, Texas,” Hebby said. “This book is set in the brushland of the Nueces Strip, a hotly-contested area of Texas, which both Mexico and Texas claimed as part of their country. The third book is set in Fort Davis in the Davis mountains in far west Texas.”
You can find more about Hebby and her books here:
Let’s get a closer look at Cristabelle: The Christmas Bride.
Cristabelle Shannon is struggling to support her ailing mother as a laundress at Fort Clark. Pious and serious, Crissy safeguards a family secret. If her secret gets out, she could lose her position, the only decent job she can find. Crissy dreams of a day when she can put her shameful secret behind—a place where no man can trouble her.
Sergeant David Donovan is a fun-loving prankster, who has made the United States cavalry his home. He joined the Army for adventure and to guard the frontier. His outlandish jokes have cost him his stripes, several times, only to be won back by his bravery. Davie is an Army lifer, committed to his free-wheeling ways and with no thought of settling down.
When Davie meets Crissy, he’s drawn to her. The rules of the fort’s commander forbid their relationship. Not wanting to lose her job or encourage him, Crissy resists Davie’s attentions. But when he discovers a plot to steal the fort’s payroll and is plunged into danger, Crissy realizes how much she cares for him. Can she face the shameful secret in her past to embrace her future and be Davie’s Christmas bride?”