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The Great Lakes Lighthouse Brides Collection: 7 Historical Romances Are a Beacon of Hope to Weary Hearts by [Lena Nelson Dooley, Rebecca Jepson, Carrie Fancett Pagels, Candice Sue Patterson, Kathleen Rouser, Pegg Thomas, Marilyn Turk]

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The Great Lakes Lighthouse Brides Collection: 7 Historical Romances Are a Beacon of Hope to Weary Hearts Kindle Edition

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Bound to the towers they manned, Great Lakes lighthouse keepers guarded dangerous and often remote shorelines to keep immigrants and goods moving. Both men and women braved the elements to keep the lights shining. Seven romances set between 1883 and 1911 bring hope to these lonely keepers and love to weary hearts.
--This text refers to the paperback edition.

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.

The Great Lakes Lighthouse Brides Collection

By Lenz Nelson Dooley, Rebecca Jepson, Carrie Fancett Pagels, Candice Sue Patterson, Kathleen Rouser, Pegg Thomas, Marilyn Turk

Barbour Publishing, Inc

Copyright © 2018 Pegg Thomas
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-68322-769-4


Anna's Tower,
Beneath a Michigan Moon,
Safe Haven,
Love's Beacon,
The Last Memory,
The Disappearing Ship,
The Wrong Survivor,


Thunder Bay Island, Lake Huron October 4, 1883

The wail of a ship's whistle jerked Anna Wilson from sleep despite the cotton wadding she'd shoved in her ears before bed. Another blast sounded, and then a third, while she untangled her nightgown and legs from the quilt. Heart pounding, she pushed Barnacle out of her way and ignored the sleepy meow of protest.

The whistle was too loud and too close to the island. Thunder Bay Island's fog signal moaned its response as she pulled the cotton from her ears. The ship's whistle blasted three more times while Anna charged down the stairs, her bare feet smacking the wooden steps.

Auntie Laurie poked her head from the downstairs bedroom. Gray hair fanned in all directions around her nightcap. "What's going on, child?"

"It's a distress signal."

"Of course it is. I'll awaken Gretchen." The old lady shut the door.

Anna raced through the arched brick passageway to the foot of the metal circular stairs leading up to the lighthouse tower. She stopped on the bottom step, cold metal against her feet, her hand clenching the handrail.

"Uncle Jim?"

The stairs vibrated as Uncle Jim descended. Anna let go of the rail and stepped back.

"What could you see?" she called.

"Not a thing. Fog's too thick." He stopped at the bottom, wrinkles deep around his eyes beneath the rolled hat brim. "Doug's gone to the mainland. I can't leave the tower, not on a night like this."

She straightened her shoulders and smoothed her hair away from her face. "Tell me what to do." After all, this was what she'd come for.

Uncle Jim stroked his beard. "Could be a bad one. That whistle's close."

"Too close?"

"Aye. She's likely on the rocks." He clamped his hand on her shoulder and squeezed. "Go to the lifesaving station. Remember the way?"

Could she find it in the dark through the fog? What choice did she have? She nodded.

"Run and change." He sighed. "Suppose the aunties will go with you, even if you try to stop them."

"I imagine they will."

"Go. I'll join you at daybreak if you've not returned by then."

Anna ran back to her bedroom, faster with each wail of the ship's whistle. Garbed in her work dress with woolen stockings and a heavy shawl, she hurried to the back door for her boots.

Auntie Laurie, hair neatly tucked under a wool scarf, stomped into her boots while Auntie Gretchen, looking for all the world like a scrawny bear rousted from hibernation, grabbed quart jars of canned chicken from the pantry. She shoved a basket of potatoes into Anna's arms then thrust a sack of onions at Auntie Laurie.

"What are these for?" Anna clutched the basket to her middle.

"Soup." Auntie Gretchen wrapped her shawl around her shoulders. "If they fish any live ones out of the water, they'll need warming up from the inside out."


The word hung like a specter in the room.

"Now sister," Auntie Laurie said. "Of course some are alive. Someone is sounding the distress whistle, after all." She settled her shawl, tucked two jars of chicken under her arm, picked up the onions, and stepped outside, holding the door. "Let's not delay when men need rescuing."

Auntie Gretchen mumbled under her breath as she grabbed the remaining jars and the lantern.

Anna followed the two old women into the damp darkness, thankful that they'd taken the lead. This was her first time to respond to an emergency at the lifesaving station. There'd been a few minor accidents with fishing boats this summer, but those had happened in the daylight, and Uncle Jim had been there, leaving Anna back at the lighthouse with the aunties, shielded from everything.

Tonight she'd be in the thick of things, but what if someone died?

She swallowed even though her throat had gone dry. When she'd cajoled Uncle Jim into letting her come to the island after Father's death this past spring, she'd overlooked this aspect of what it meant to live in a lighthouse. It wasn't all keeping the lamp burning to guide sailors on their journey. She made a fist of her hand that had grasped the handrail to the tower steps. That wasn't the only thing she'd overlooked. But she could do it. She had to do it. Anything was better than being the dependent little sister living with one of her overbearing brothers. She hoped.

"Hold the light higher. I stumbled on something." Auntie Laurie limped in front of Anna.

Auntie Gretchen lifted the lantern higher. "My arm isn't a ship's mast, you know."

Anna hustled up beside the old women. "Here. Let me." She reached for the lantern and held it aloft. "Can you see better?"

"Thank you, my dear," Auntie Laurie said. "So thoughtful."

The ten-minute walk took almost twice that long through the darkness and fog. Droplets clung to Anna, weighing down her shawl and making it sparkle in the torches outside the lifesaving station.

Auntie Gretchen opened the door and they filed in. Finding the main hall empty, they headed for the kitchen in the back, the source of warmth and the aroma of strong coffee.

Mrs. Persons stood near the huge black stove. Her air of quiet authority settled the nervous tumult brewing in Anna's middle. Only Captain Persons inspired more confidence to those on Thunder Bay Island than Celia Persons.

"Got a sinker out in the bay, eh?" Auntie Gretchen's voice dominated the room. It was said that if the fog signals ever failed, they could use her vocal cords for a replacement.

Auntie Laurie shrugged out of her shawl and hung it next to the stove, wisps of steam rising from the damp wool. "How can we help?"

"Let's assume the best and plan for the worst," Mrs. Persons said. "You brought the makings for soup. Good. You start that while Anna and I light a fire in the hall stove and then roll out the cots and blankets. God willing, we'll only have a bunch of cold men to feed."

"Amen," the aunties murmured in unison.

"Oh child." Auntie Laurie came forward and cupped Anna's cheek. "This is your first shipwreck, isn't it?"

"Yes, ma'am."

"We've had a long run of good luck. It was bound to give out sooner or later." Auntie Gretchen hung her shawl next to her sister's. "I hope they fish a few out alive, at least."

"Now sister." Auntie Laurie's hands settled on her hips. "Let's do like Celia said and hope for the best."

Auntie Gretchen snorted and thumped her quart jars on the table. "All right, but you know as well as I that the lake wreaks havoc on a night like this." She rolled her r's, a reminder of her Russian heritage that grew more pronounced when she was agitated.

"Don't mind her, child," Auntie Laurie said. "She'll soon have soup made fit to snatch a man back from death's door. Oh." She pressed her hand to her chin. "Not that we'll need to, of course."

"Hurry. They'll be back within the hour," Mrs. Persons said over her shoulder.

Anna swallowed against the dryness again before scurrying after her.

* * *

An eerie flash from the lighthouse broke the gloom surrounding the dock as Maksim Ivanov stepped from the rescue boat. The fog swallowed the beam before it could reach the dangerous waters beyond. If only the captain of the SS James Davidson had seen that beacon in time.

The men around him spoke too fast, and he didn't understand much past the words ship, rocks, and fog. Pavel Orlov had been herded onto the other rescue boat, leaving Maksim with three sailors from the Davidson along with the burly rescue crew speaking their hurried English.

He followed the men along a pebbled path until a building formed out of the fog, torches lit on each side of its door. The scent of something savory mingled with the cold mist. His stomach growled. One of the nearby rescue workers laughed and smacked a meaty hand against Maksim's shoulder. Maksim managed to grin while keeping on his feet. The man spewed a tangle of English words that meant nothing, but Maksim nodded and followed him into the building.

Warmth radiated from a flat-topped stove in the center of the room. Maksim, along with the sailors, pulled off his gloves and stretched his fingers toward the heat. How much worse it would have been had they been thrown from the ship when it ran aground on the reef. The fog had dampened everything, but at least they weren't drenched.

A diminutive woman clapped her hands and commanded their attention. She made an announcement. He understood coffee and soup and smiled along with the rest of the men, two of whom broke from the group and returned from the back room with a steaming kettle and the largest coffeepot Maksim had ever seen. Behind them came a young woman with hair some shade between red and brown. She carried bowls and smiled as the men lined up to receive a helping of the fragrant concoction.

Maksim got in line. He nodded his thanks when the tiny woman — who appeared to be in charge — handed him a cup of dark coffee. He stepped closer to the younger woman ladling the soup. A smattering of pale freckles splashed across her nose. She tilted her head and asked him a question. His English was improving, but tonight he couldn't concentrate on the words. He shrugged and shook his head.

The sailor behind him answered her. The word Ruskie pooled in a ball of resentment in his hollow belly. He didn't need to know much English to know that most of the sailors looked down on him. In fact, most of the people he'd met since coming to America had looked down on him.

The young woman in front of him smiled. A beautiful smile. She pressed a bowl into his hand then gave the remaining bowls to one of the rescue crew and filled his ears with hasty English words. She turned and hurried to the back room.

Maksim balanced his bowl, stepped out of the line, and took a cautious sip of the scalding coffee. The chairs around the tables were full. He looked for a place to sit.

The young woman emerged a moment later with two old women in tow.

"Welcome, boy, welcome," one of the old women said. The words were stilted and heavily accented, but they were Russian.

Homesickness tugged at Maksim's heart. "You speak Russian?"

"Da, we do." She pointed at the other woman. "This is Auntie Gretchen, and I am Auntie Laurie."

He set his bowl and cup on the end of a nearby table then pulled the knit cap from his head. "I am Maksim Ivanov."

"You're bleeding." Auntie Gretchen pulled a cloth from her pocket. "Bend down." She held his chin and scrubbed his forehead with more force than gentleness. The pretty girl with the freckles hovered close by. He did his best not to wince with her watching. Once Auntie Gretchen released his chin, he nodded toward the girl.

"Is she your granddaughter?"

"Nyet, but we'd claim her if we could." Auntie Laurie beamed at the girl. "Her name is Anna, and she lives at the lighthouse. As do we."

Auntie Gretchen leaned closer and gave him a bold wink. "She isn't married."

Maksim took a step back, at a complete loss for words ... in either language.

"Sister, I swear the most untimely things fall from your mouth. Anna would be so embarrassed if she understood you. And this poor boy looks like he just swallowed a frog."

Auntie Gretchen shrugged and winked at Maksim again. "Some opportunities don't come twice. A wise sailor knows when to drop anchor."

But he wasn't a sailor. He was a stowaway.


Maksim and Pavel shared the edge of a cot and ate their soup. An elbow to his ribs pulled Maksim's eyes from the pretty girl across the room.

Pavel leaned close. "We need to talk."

Maksim scanned the room. The two old women disappeared into the kitchen, and the girl followed them, shadowed by a blond man roughly the size of a haystack. Nobody else near them spoke Russian as far as Maksim knew. "What troubles you?"

"I overheard the head of the rescue crew talking to the captain. This is an island we're on. They've sent someone to the mainland to telegraph the company."

"This is good, da?"

Pavel shrugged. "For me, but maybe not for you."

His friend's troubled scowl made the chicken soup in Maksim's stomach sour. "What do you mean?"

"If they can't free the Davidson and sail her out of here, they'll send another boat for the crew. There's no way I can sneak you onto the rescue boat."

"But the captain, he knew I was on the Davidson. He let me work off my passage."

"He did, but he won't admit that to his bosses." Pavel rasped his fingernails across three days' growth of whiskers. "He wanted your free labor, so he broke the rules. If the company finds out, he'll get in too much trouble. He won't risk it."

"But —" Maksim stopped when Pavel shook his head.

"A rescue ship will have a list of who they are picking up. Your name won't be on it."

Maksim set his half-eaten bowl of soup on the floor. "What will I do?"

"Pray that we get the Davidson afloat." Pavel shrugged. "If we can't, try to find another ship heading to Duluth. There's still time. The St. Mary's River won't close for a couple of months. There should be plenty of ships heading into Lake Superior before the ice sets in."

Duluth. Maksim had no burning desire to go to that western city on the Great Lakes, except that it was far away from Rachel and known to be a growing agricultural area in need of laborers. Maksim knew farming. He could start over in a place like that.

The pretty girl — Anna, the old woman had called her — worked her way around the room picking up used bowls and spoons. Her graceful movements reminded him of Rachel, although her hair was straight and fine, nothing like Rachel's ebony curls. When Anna reached their cot, she spoke to Pavel. He handed her his bowl. She stooped and picked Maksim's off the floor, asking him a question. He glanced at Pavel.

"She asks if you're finished with your soup."

He looked into her eyes, such a dark blue he'd mistaken them for brown when they first met. "Da."

She smiled and moved off, the sway of her skirts commanding his attention.

"There's a girl who could take your mind off the Jewish one." Pavel stressed the word Jewish as if it were something distasteful.

Maksim gritted his teeth and shook his head.

Pavel walked away, mumbling to himself. He'd never understood how Maksim could become attached to Rachel. Pavel's family may have come to America before he was born, but they'd brought their old-world prejudice with them. The same prejudice that had taken Maksim's father from him. That had taken Rachel from him.

He grabbed a folded blanket off the end of the cot and wrapped it around his shoulders, grateful for its warmth. Then he made his way to the window near the door. The beam from the lighthouse broke the darkness with a dim glow, muted by the same fog that had befuddled the Davidson's captain.

Maksim had been a fool to think that leaving Russia meant leaving the prejudice behind. He'd been a fool to think he could fall in love with Rachel. He leaned his shoulder against the wall and watched Anna return to the kitchen, the blond haystack in her wake. He'd been a fool who'd stowed away on a boat captained by a man who'd run it aground, leaving him a castaway.

* * *

"I'm here because Uncle Jim couldn't leave the lighthouse." Anna pushed down her irritation and forced the words over her shoulder at Ernest Kindt. Why must he seek her out when she'd done nothing but discourage him since she'd arrived?

"You shouldn't have come here on a night like this." Ernest stepped in front of her, blocking the entrance to the kitchen. "What if you'd tripped and twisted your ankle? You could have been lying out there for hours before anyone knew to look for you."

"The aunties came with me," she said through clenched teeth. Ernest was more annoying than her bevy of older brothers back in Detroit. Just because she was the youngest didn't mean she needed someone to watch over her. Not family and not Ernest. She was eighteen, for pity's sake.

"I still don't like it."

Anna pulled the tray of dirty bowls against her waist and took a steadying breath. "It's not your place to like or dislike what I do."

"It could be if —"

"Get out of the way, boy. Let the girl through." Auntie Gretchen smacked a wooden spoon against Ernest's shoulder.

He stepped aside, rubbing the spot.

"I was just —"

"In the way." Auntie Gretchen grabbed hold of Anna's arm above the elbow and hauled her into the kitchen, calling over her shoulder, "We've work to do. You'd do well to mind your own duties."

Ernest reddened but backed away from the door. "Yes, ma'am."

"That boy's a nuisance," Auntie Gretchen muttered.

"Don't I know it." If only he'd take one of her many hints that she wasn't interested.

Anna had dried the last bowl and put it on the shelf when Auntie Laurie poked her head into the kitchen. She joined Anna by the sink.

"They have fifteen cots here, but nineteen sailors. I've told Celia that we'll shelter four of the men. I'm sure your uncle won't mind."

"No, I'm sure he won't."

"We'll bring the Russian boys. Gretchen and I will —"

A low rumbling came from the corner of the kitchen where Auntie Gretchen slouched against the wall precariously seated on a three-legged stool.

Auntie Laurie smiled. "We will walk over with the sailors. You can take the lantern and run ahead to make up the beds. Take your blankets to our room and make a pallet under the window."

"I will. I expect they'll sleep like the dead after tonight."

"They'll be out at first light to try and move the ship and barge off the reef."

(Continues...)Excerpted from The Great Lakes Lighthouse Brides Collection by Lenz Nelson Dooley, Rebecca Jepson, Carrie Fancett Pagels, Candice Sue Patterson, Kathleen Rouser, Pegg Thomas, Marilyn Turk. Copyright © 2018 Pegg Thomas. Excerpted by permission of Barbour Publishing, Inc.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
--This text refers to the paperback edition.

Product details

  • ASIN ‏ : ‎ B07D8GNHBF
  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ Barbour Books (November 1, 2018)
  • Publication date ‏ : ‎ November 1, 2018
  • Language ‏ : ‎ English
  • File size ‏ : ‎ 1447 KB
  • Text-to-Speech ‏ : ‎ Enabled
  • Screen Reader ‏ : ‎ Supported
  • Enhanced typesetting ‏ : ‎ Enabled
  • X-Ray ‏ : ‎ Not Enabled
  • Word Wise ‏ : ‎ Enabled
  • Lending ‏ : ‎ Enabled
  • Customer Reviews:
    4.7 out of 5 stars 135 ratings

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