I’m so happy to announce that How To Fell A Timberman is now on sale at Amazon.
Here’s a little about this first book in The Bjornsons series with an excerpt.
The logging environs of the Pacific Northwest lured young men like Vidar Bjornson and his fellow Norwegian immigrants with the promise of adventure and opportunity.
Vidar is strong, resourceful, determined and focused. He has a vision.
Logging isn’t for the feint of heart but with determination, brute force and sweat, Vidar and his Scandies carve out the town of Whiskey Spit from of a beautiful dangerous wilderness of towering trees, and rivers.
But his vision isn’t done. Three years ago misfortune hit his family and he’s out to regain his honor. He also has a promise to keep, one that will ensure steady workers, contentment and success for all.
In a primitive land building dreams is a lonely endeavor. The Scandie loggers are family men with no families and even the most cantankerous loners long for the hearth fires of home, family and a good woman.
So keeping his promise, Vidar sends his youngest brother to fetch brides for his men.
It’s a good plan, and he isn’t the first Puget Sound businessman to do such a thing. But like most plans, there is a hitch. Women confronted with an uncouth and barely civilized timber beast tend to run for their lives.
Vidar’s sure-fire way to counter the problem?
Simple. Hire a plain old maid teacher – one who won’t stir up jealousies among the men – to smooth out their edges.
The variable he doesn’t count on?
His prankster brother who swears he’s found the perfect woman.
Turns out the teacher is a statuesque beauty. It’s too late to find someone else so Vidar is stuck with the sassy-mouthed woman.
Having run from scandal and the arms of a lying polecat, Texas schoolmarm Noelle Bridger is furious when she discovers another man has duped her. Her students are a bunch of smelly, tobacco spitting, cursing loggers.
Rowdy loggers, bad men, Norse lore and lots of fun ensue as the schoolmarm teaches her new boss a few lessons of his own.
Here’s an excerpt from How To Fell A Timberman:
“Whiskey Spit?” Noelle Bridger stared at the tall, middle-aged Norwegian standing beside her on the deck of the small mail packet, Excelsior. Ole Gjerset had met her in Seattle to escort her to her new teaching position in Seabeck. Or so she’d thought.
The smile beneath Gjerset’s gray-brown walrus mustache wobbled. “Ja, you teach in Whiskey Spit,” he replied, his heavy accent making the w sound like a v.
Noelle’s stomach pitched. “There . . . there must be a mistake. I addressed all of my correspondence to Mister Vidar Bjornson in Seabeck. And when I interviewed with his brother in Texas, he didn’t mention a place called Whiskey Spit.”
Gjerset shrugged. “Whiskey Spit has no post office. Everyone gets mail in Seabeck.”
Noelle glanced behind her at the bustling seaport town of Seabeck, already a distant blur of ship masts and buildings. Although perfectly logical, Gjerset’s explanation did nothing to allay her misgivings.
. . . A couple of hours later, Gjerset startled her. “Look!” he cried out and pointed. “Is Whiskey Spit!”
. . . It didn’t look like much to Noelle, but seeing the proud and hopeful expression on Gjerset’s face, she answered politely. “The surroundings are beautiful and the town seems busy and peace-abiding.” Still, she couldn’t help asking, “Are you sure Whiskey Spit is large enough to support a school?”
Gjerset chuckled. “Ja, it is. And soon it will be bigger. Much bigger!”
Noelle was about to ask what he meant when the steamer’s shrill whistle blasted three times. Abruptly, the carpenters on shore dropped what they were doing and ran onto the pier, waving their arms and hollering. In a show of amazing agility and daring, the men herding logs into the mill leapt from log to log toward the shoreline. From somewhere up the road, three howling blasts of a horn sounded and by the time the ship made a wide arc into the harbor, men swarmed out of the woods like mad bees fleeing a disturbed hive.
“My goodness,” Noelle gasped, “you weren’t exaggerating. There are so many men.” She was about to ask where their wives and children were when the steamer sidled up alongside the wharf with a jarring thump.
Sailors set to work securing the mail packet amidst the noisy crowd of grinning lumbermen gaping up at her. A motlier bunch she’d never seen. All wore plaid shirts of various colors, stained canvas britches held up with suspenders and sturdy high-top boots. With their hulking builds, shaggy hair and thick untrimmed beards, they resembled grizzly bears more than men.
“It’s her, boys, the schoolmarm!” a logger hollered, pointing at Noelle. “Wooee! Ain’t she somethin’!”
Uncomfortable, Noelle backed away from the railing where the crewmen lowered the gangplank. At the same moment, Gjerset clasped her arm and neatly guided her toward it. Before descending, he stopped and addressed the rough lot below.
“Men, this is the teacher, Miss Noelle Bridger.”
Wolf howls split the air, barely eclipsing the thunder of stomping boots.
Reminding herself that Texas cowboys were just as boisterous, Noelle forced a nervous smile. Still, the uneasy feeling she’d experienced earlier returned twofold. “Mr. Gjerset, where are the –”
“Outta my way!”
Two men with arms like tree trunks stood on the gangplank elbowing each other. One grinned up at her, displaying a gold front tooth. The other man grabbed Gold Tooth’s arm and yanked him backward, almost dumping the man into the Canal.
“Where do you think your goin’, you damn Frenchie?”
“I escort ze teacher,” Gold Tooth growled in the other man’s face. “Leave off me!”
“Like hell! I’m escortin’ the lady.”
Gold Tooth threw a punch and in another moment, both men tumbled into the water, still slugging. The rest of the men shouted and wagered on the outcome. Then another brawl broke out. Two more men splashed into the drink. Somebody yelled, “Fly at it,” and they all hurled punches.
Whoops, hollers and obscenities burned Noelle’s ears. She stared aghast, her entire body trembling at the sickening sounds of flesh pounding flesh.
“Mister Gjerset, do something!”
Gjerset started to laugh then looked at her and sobered, patting her shoulder instead. “Is nothing to worry about,” he said. “The men, they love to fight. Always they do this.”
Noelle didn’t find his statement the least bit reassuring. …
… “Aa jo!” Gjerset exclaimed over the clamor. “Our bull of the woods is coming. The boss is not looking happy.”
Noelle followed Gjerset’s gaze and spotted a long-legged giant charging down the spit. He must be Vidar Bjornson, she thought. Surely he’d stop this senseless riot.
Bjornson cannoned into the boiling mass of bodies. She lost track of him but figured he’d start ordering the men to desist at any moment. Instead, another logger joined the others thrashing around in the green sea. A few feet closer to the gangplank, two more sailed off the pier. Bjornson was not putting an end to the heathenish row. He was slugging his way through it!
He punched, butted heads and kicked backsides, clearing a path to the gangplank. When he finally reached it, Noelle got a better glimpse of Whiskey Spit’s pillar of the community.
Her breath caught.
Ranch-bred, she’d grown up around a lot of men. Texas grew them tall, lanky and rugged. Bjornson, however, was the epitome of a massive Viking raider gone berserk. His long nose bore a slight deviation at the bridge, as if once broken. Beneath it, a thick mustache flowed into a shaggy beard. A tawny lion’s mane scuffed his broad shoulders around a bull-like neck.
He mounted the gangplank, his torn shirtsleeve exposing a bulging bicep. Noelle noted the angry set of his features and retreated a few shaky steps. Gjerset grunted when she bumped into him and trampled his toes.
“Sorry!” she said, keeping a cautious eye on Bjornson.
Gjerset chuckled. “Nothing to fear, Miss Bridger. Vidar Bjornson is gentle as a lamb.”
Lamb? Enraged bull is more like it.
Without a glance in her direction, said lamb glared below at the brawling men, fixed his fists on his narrow hips and bellowed, “Fun is over, boys.” Amazingly, the fighting ceased almost as quickly as it had begun. “This is no way to greet a lady. Get back to work. Daylight’s wasting in the swamp.”
Despite her irritation with the situation, the teacher in Noelle noticed that although the Norse cadence was evident, Bjornson’s English was better than Gjerset’s.
Grumbling lumbermen sporting bloody noses, swollen eyes, and split lips splashed ashore. The rest tromped off the wharf with good-humored slaps on each other’s backs.
Standing a mere two feet from Noelle, Bjornson shifted and glared at her with startling ice-blue eyes. His gaze journeyed slowly down her body, then up again in rude perusal. A tremor of alarm gripped her gut, but she stood her ground and returned his impertinence in kind.
Up close, he seemed as lofty and strong as the mighty trees he logged. And twice as intimidating. Noelle pressed a hand to her stomach in an attempt to calm the squall erupting there.
His gaze followed her hand to her stomach, then ambled upwards again, pausing at her breasts before meeting her gaze. “Freya’s tits! You’re Noelle Bridger?” he bellowed.
Noelle gasped in outrage. She didn’t know who Freya was, but crude was crude, and she refused to be bullied by this . . . tree trunk. Squaring her shoulders, she stared him in the eye. “Yes, I’m Miss Bridger, and I’d like to know –”
“You are not what I expected.”
“This place isn’t what I expected,” she shot back. Her “new beginning” no longer looked so promising. …
The teacher’s slow southern drawl evoked visions of wild sex on a fur rug in his cozy fire-lit cabin. But Vidar didn’t miss the angry spark in her pretty eyes. The schoolmarm was building up a good head of steam. If he meant to keep her in Whiskey Spit — and like it or not, she must stay — he’d have to do some fancy talking.
He combed his fingers through his beard and offered a well-practiced grin, one that charmed every female he aimed it at. “I hope my men didn’t scare you, Miss Bridger. They’re rough around the edges, but they mean well. Come. You must be anxious to see your cabin, and you’ll want to rest before dinner.”
“No. That is, I want to –”
Ignoring her half-formed protest, he captured her arm and hauled her down the gangplank.
Noelle gritted her teeth at Bjornson’s high-handedness, but didn’t dare fight him on the wobbly plank for fear of falling into the cold waves below. Once safely on the wharf, however, she planted her feet and wrestled free of his hold. Just as she opened her mouth to give him what for, she spied Gjerset directing the sailors to unload her trunks.
“Y’all can leave those, right there!” she called up to them.
His face coated with impatience, Bjornson jerked his thumb toward the lumber camp, signaling the sailors to proceed. “The Excelsior has a schedule to keep. Take them to her cabin.”
“Now just a darn minute.” Noelle fumed, clenching her hands at her sides. “Something isn’t right here. Before I take another step, I want some answers.”
Seeming impervious to the chilly sea breeze, the hulking logger, stood hip-shot and crossed his thick arms over his chest. “Just what is it that you think ‘isn’t right here?’”
“Plenty. I thought I was hired to teach in Seabeck. Then I find out that’s not true. I’m to teach in a place with the ridiculous name of Whiskey Spit. Fine, I told myself — a simple misunderstanding. Then I arrive at this . . . this wart of a town, and I’m greeted by a bunch of brawling hooligans. I might be willing to overlook them, but I demand to know where all the women are. And where are the children, my students?”
He quirked a tawny eyebrow and his mouth twitched. “Hmm. Students.”
Noelle heaved an impatient sigh. “Mister Bjornson!”
“The men what?”
“The men are your students.”
Available at Amazon