A Bride Opens Shop in El Dorado, California
An ever-resourceful widow, Elenora Watkins arrives in El Dorado ready to go into partnership with Miles Rutledge. When he refuses, Elenora becomes the competition across the street. Is this town big enough for the two of them?
Miles can’t help but stick his well-polished boot in his mouth whenever he comes face-to-face with Elenora. Can he find a way to win her heart while destroying her business?
Miles’s mother, Maude, is bent on Elenora becoming her new daughter-in-law while Elenora’s daughter, Tildy, thinks Miles would make a perfect papa. How far will these meddlers go to unite this enterprising pair?
Enjoy meeting Elenora & Miles!
Widow Elenora Watkins, 30, is short. She has dark hair, chocolate-brown eyes, and a warm smile Miles would like to see more often. Her favourite colour is purple, and she often wears a spray of silk violets at her throat, a flower that has special meaning for her. (Hey, Rel, did you notice how international I am? I’m using your spellings instead of the American versions.)
Rel: I’m very impressed, Keli!!
Widower Miles Rutledge, 35, is a foot taller than Ellie. He has captivating blue eyes that twinkle when he’s amused, chestnut brown hair he combs with such regularity his own mother calls him a “dandy,” and a meticulously trimmed moustache. Ellie finds his broad shoulders and the cleft between his eyebrows to be his most captivating features.
I found historic photographs, known as cartes de visite, with real people, which I used as the models for Miles and Ellie. The differences are that Ellie doesn’t have “fringe,” or bangs as we say today, as does the woman pictured, and Miles’s moustache is much neater than the one worn by the man in the photograph.
If I were to pick actors to portray Miles and Ellie, I’d go with a young, hunky Tom Selleck—think Magnum P.I.— for Miles and the gorgeous Catherine Zeta Jones for Ellie. Not only do I think they come close to looking like the characters as I envisioned them, but I think they could do a great job playing them.
Strengths and weaknesses
Elenora is bright, determined, hardworking, tenacious, and endearingly childlike at times. She does, however, deal with pride and can be rather stubborn and too independent for her own good.
Quirk (if any)
Ellie has a rather serious mien and no real quirks, but Miles has a number of them. He’s forever combing his hair, changing his collar, and polishing his boots. And the poor man isn’t very good with words at times and ends up putting those shiny boots of his in his mouth far too frequently for his liking—and Ellie’s, too.
Your inspiration for the character
Miles was inspired by a merchant in El Dorado. James B. Wetherwax owned a mercantile that was the most successful business in town in the most impressive building. He was actively involved in many organizations and was well liked. I could find out little else about Mr. Wetherwax, but I could imagine such a man, and those imaginings led to the creation of Miles Rutledge.
Elenora isn’t based on anyone in particular, but I did use the fact that women in California could own businesses from the early days of the state as proof that she could do the same. A woman in my hometown of Placerville, not far from El Dorado, named Emigrant Jane drove a wagon across the country and opened a shop in a building she had erected back in 1861, one that is still standing today.