One Last Letter
Historical romance, Western
A romantic hardened by reality…
Evelyn Lancaster turned her back on her love for ranch hand Jesse Greenwood when she was sixteen to pursue a career and marry into wealth that could save her father’s struggling ranch. Now twenty-three, she works hard to keep the property afloat, but no suitor has stirred her heart the way Jesse did. After her father falls ill, she needs all the help she can get to keep the ranch running.
A cowboy returning to what he left behind…
After making his fortune, a newly wealthy Jesse has returned home to see his younger sister married. Still smarting from Evelyn’s rejection, he finds the tables have turned, and now only his investment could save the ranch that he vowed to never step foot on again.
When he agrees to help her salvage her family legacy, they must overcome their pride and painful past to work together. As long-held emotions rekindle, Jesse pretends indifference, only to admit his true feelings in an unsigned letter left on Evelyn’s porch.
Evelyn finds the missive and writes back, beginning a furtive correspondence. She dares to hope her mystery admirer is Jesse, but then another man comes forward to claim the letters as his own. Will one last letter give them the courage to say yes to love on the wild Texas plains?
THE MUSIC BEHIND THE STORY
Music plays a huge role in framing my stories. Spotify is constantly in one of my windows while I’m typing! I’m a visual writer, and always envision scenes inside my head before penning them down. Soundtracks not only help set those scenes to music, but they even inspire me to create new scenes as well! That’s why I’m sharing the soundtrack of One Last Letter for the first time on Sara’s blog and explaining each song’s relevance to the story. Enjoy!
First Time Feeling by Dan + Shay – “First Time Feeling” is all about those sweeping, all-consuming emotions of first love. This song describes the beginning of the relationship between Jesse Greenwood and Evelyn Lancaster. Before she left for her East Coast seminary school, she spent nearly all her time with her father’s ranch hand. The song is told from Jesse’s perspective; he’s looking back on those early days of their relationship.
Close Your Eyes by Dan + Shay – Another Dan + Shay song! “Close Your Eyes” talks about a couple staying together even when times get tough. “We don’t have to go outside/baby just close your eyes.” Jesse wants Evelyn to stay with him even when the odds are stacked against them. She’s a wealthy rancher’s daughter; he’s just a cowboy. He believes their love is strong enough to weather any financial hardship, but Eve’s not so sure.
Still Fallin by Hunter Hayes – (No country playlist would be complete without Hunter Hayes!) When a newly wealthy Jesse returns to Texas after his long absence in California, he’s caught off guard by how strong his feelings for Evelyn still remain. “After all this time you’d think I’d be/Used to the pull of your gravity” are two perfect lyrics to describe them. He’s tried his best to resist her after her initial rejection years ago, but he can’t seem to shake off the chemistry they share.
Still Into You by Hannah Trigwell – The song is sung from Eve’s POV. “It’s not a walk in the park/To love each other” indeed! She knows that she should be over him after he’s been gone for seven years, but she can’t deny her love for him never subsided. Seeing him around her family’s ranch all the time hasn’t helped end the affection either, nor has his generous offer to invest in her family’s ranch. Ever the rationalizer and over-analyzer, Evelyn thinks it’s impossible that Jesse could still feel the same way for her.
Sooner or Later by Mat Kearney – Evelyn starts to receive mysterious letters from a secret admirer, and she dares to hope the author of the letters is Jesse. Through her daily correspondence with the writer, she begins to have hope that she and Jesse might just have a future together after all. “Sooner or later/I swear/We’ll make it there.”
A Case of You by James Blake – Jesse notices Evelyn spending more and more time with the judge’s son, who’s made no secret about his intentions to court Evelyn. Jesse continues to help Eve keep the ranch up and running, but he’s started to believe her affections lie elsewhere.
To Whom It May Concern by The Civil Wars – Evelyn starts to wonder whether the author of the letters will ever step forward. She yearns for someone who hasn’t yet admitted his identity. “I missed you/But I haven’t met you” describes her reaction toward the written correspondence. But will pen and paper translate to a true confession of love from Jesse?
Misunderstandings and second chances follow Jesse and Evelyn across the wild Texan plains in One Last Letter. Listen to the playlist on Spotify below!
Evelyn Lancaster wanted to run away as fast as possible.
It was a mistake. It was one colossal, gargantuan mistake. Worse than Athens ordering the death of Socrates. Worse than Persephone being kidnapped by Hades. What did she think she was going to do? Seconds ticked by as she found herself unable to say anything more. Her mouth felt dry. What was she supposed to say?
He’d changed, more than she would have ever imagined possible. The boyish frame was filled out, and extra years working on the ranch had defined the muscles in his arms under his coarse brown shirt. He’d even grown taller—past six feet, she guessed. His shoulders were broader, and his cheekbones seemed more pronounced than before. His face carried even more of an aristocratic air, but his body seemed undeniably more masculine.
Yet the expression was the same. Jesse Greenwood’s same reticent, admiring expression hadn’t changed as he continued to stare at her like she was hand-blown glass. His brown hair still flopped lightly in front of his eyes, causing him to brush it away.
She winced. She hadn’t heard that nickname since she’d left Hamilton, Texas, for the female seminary in Massachusetts. No one there ever called her Eve. During classes she’d been “Miss Evelyn” and “Miss Lancaster.”
She cleared her throat. She’d anticipated the awkwardness but not the simple difficulty in forming words. “I returned home a few hours ago. I thought I should stop by and say hello. Is Preston here? Are any of the other ranch hands here?”
Jesse blinked. He didn’t respond for a few seconds. The adoring expression morphed to one of disbelief. “Eve, did you get my letters?”
She bit her lip. “I did.” Evelyn resisted the urge to embrace him. Doing so would only make it harder to answer his questions with a lie. Instead, she stood rooted to the spot. She wouldn’t move a muscle; there was too much she could regret. “They were nice letters. Thank you. But I burned them.”
His eyes became cool steel, all traces of admiration in his eyes melting away. “Burned them? But you . . .” His jaw was set. “Eve, why didn’t you write me back?”
“I was busy.” She tore her eyes away from Jesse’s searing gaze and tried to look behind his shoulder. The sinking feeling in her chest was surely no more than an echo of the past. She needed to leave before all rationality left her. “Just let all the other ranch hands know I stopped by.”
“Stop. Eve, I said stop.” Strong hands grabbed both of her shoulders, and she looked up in alarm toward his furrowed brow and confused expression. His voice was so much deeper than she’d remembered. “That’s all? You couldn’t once respond to me?”
She struggled to push against him, but he held her in place. His tone was rough. It increased in volume, rising with each word that tumbled out of his mouth.
“What about the promise I made to you? When you told me that you wanted to marry—”
“Enough!” Evelyn yanked herself out of his hold and glared. She breathed deeply, as if the extra air would give her the courage she couldn’t truly conjure up. “I remember what you are referring to. I did receive your letters. I thank you for them. But I did not respond to you because whatever we had before I left for school . . .” She gulped. The polite tone of indifference faded. “This has to end.”
Pema Donyo is a coffee-fueled college student by day and a creative writer by night. She currently lives in sunny Southern California, where people wear flip-flops instead of Stetsons and ride in cars instead of carriages. As a rising sophomore at Claremont McKenna, she’s still working on mastering that delicate balance between finishing homework, meeting publisher deadlines, and… college. Black coffee, period dramas, faded book covers, and peanut butter continue to be the driving forces in her life.