Posted by: Tanya Hanson | November 3, 2012

Interview with the Heroine: Mary Alice Price

Lifstyle Editor for the Culdesac County Courant

Miss Prinsella Primm is delighted to present the following interview with MARY ALICE PRICE, heroine of High Stakes Bride by Caroline Clemmons.


MISS PRIMM:   (Miss Tanya Hanson’s alter-ego and Lifestyle editor of the Culdesac County Courant),  with much excitement:     What a thrill, my dear Miss Caroline Clemmons. Thanks for coming to Culdesac Corners, all the way from Sweethearts of the West, and bringing along with you your heroine, MARY ALICE PRICE.. How dreary my Lifestyle Column this week would be without this interview.  Mary Alice,   welcome to  our little Corner of California.  We’re a humble, quiet community hereabouts. Seems like you had some rather exciting run-ins with the meanest people around. What can you tell our readers about those experiences?

 MARY ALICE PRICE:  Miss Primm, thank you so much for letting me visit. Please call me Alice, as that’s the name I use in my new life. Reckon you’re right about me and the meanest people around. When I think of how I barely escaped, I still get the shakes.

My story sort of started back in Georgia before I was born. Mama’s father disowned her because she married Pa instead of one of his wealthy Atlanta friends. I was only three when my real Pa died. Lawsy, we had a hard time stranded in Cleburne, Texas with no money and nowhere to turn. My stepfather, who I also called Pa, fell in love with Mama the day he saw her, and loved me as well. Seems like from the time Mama married up with my stepfather, the years sort of blended together. Before I knew it, I was a grown woman and life was passing me by.

Not that I objected to being a spinster, mind you, Miss Primm. But I wanted more from life than Mama had with Pa. I determined to go to Atlanta and see if I could find all the social doings she talked about. I dreamed of meeting a handsome man there who would love me, and together we’d have a good life.

Meanwhile, I had me the two meanest stepbrothers alive, Frank and Rusty. Oh, Pa kept them in line while he was able. After Mama died of consumption, then Pa took sick with the stomach cancer. I had nursed Mama and took right in to nursing Pa, all the while dreaming of going to Atlanta.

Pa knew he was going, and helped me plan how to get away. He was a loving stepfather and saved back some of his morphine to use in the boys’ coffee when he was gone. By the time he passed on, I had set with him night and day for weeks and was so tired I could barely escape. I fixed the boys their doctored coffee, all right, and they slept long enough for me to pack my mules, saddle my horse, and get away. But I got turned around and went in circles. They almost caught me.

Lawsy, I had me a string of bad luck until I threw my cards in with Zach Stone. Did I mention Zach is the handsomest man I ever saw? And did I say he is the best man anywhere?    

MISS PRIMM,  hands clasped:  Be still my heart. Nothing better than a handsome man. Nonetheless, our single ladies live quite properly here in Culdesac County. I’m told you have two chaperones at Mr. Stone’s ranch. What can you tell us about them. Who else do you take on for recreation and companionship? 

ALICE, with affection:  Maggie Gamble and Lizzie Fraser couldn’t be nicer, and are aunts to Zach Stone. Though both women are widows, they don’t have children. I tell you, they couldn’t love their nephews more if they were born to them. They helped me fix my hair, which was the result of one part of my bad luck. They also helped me alter Mama’s dresses that I’d brought with me. And they’ve found something good to say about everything I’ve done.

And let me tell you about the little boy, Seth, that Zach and I found. That boy is a caution. When we found him, he could lie more ’n any politician alive. He and his dog, Harry, are quite a pair.

But I learned that there are a lot of social happenings even in North Central Texas–teas, quilting bees, and friends and relatives coming to call. And most are real nice people.

          Oh, did I tell you how handsome Zach is, or that he is a wonderful man? 

MISS PRIMM, ablush:  Indeed, I am eager to behold his handsomeness myself.   I myself am a spinster; therefore, I live love stories vicariously. But since love rarely goes smooth, what is the biggest obstacle between you and Mr. Zach Stone?  Despite him being handsome and wonderful, there must be something. 

ALICE, ablush herself:   By the time I met him, Zach had been jilted twice and was through with women. I was wary of him trying to take liberties with me, what with him being so big and all and us being alone. Did I mention he’s the handsomest man who ever lived? Anyway, he told me he wouldn’t take liberties if I was to pay him. Imagine that? Did I mention what a good man he is?

I thought the biggest obstacle was those men chasing me. But then I learned what had happened to Zach and his family, and I like to have died. I can’t tell you more or all my secrets will be out. 

MISS PRIMM, thoughtful:  Ah,  I understand. We must keep those secrets between those book covers. But as a journalist, I must press you a tad.  I notice you had some trouble with gamblers in your past. But…are you in any way a gambling woman? What chances have you taken, or are willing to take? 

ALICE, eyes wide:   Gamble, me? Let me tell you, ma’am, living with those stepbrothers made every day a gamble, to say nothing of the risk from having their worthless friends hanging around. But I would never gamble with cards or dice, and never touched alcohol. No, ma’am. Make no mistake, in spite of living with a bunch of rough men, I am a good woman. Mama taught me to be a lady. I forgot how to walk like she said and don’t speak proper, but I never forgot the other lessons.  

MISS PRIMM, pensive:   Ah, those mamas of ours. (sighing) Whatever would we do without them. Anyway, what are five things I’m likely to find in the bottom of your reticule?

ALICE, with a smile:   From the time Mama married Pa when I was four, I only left his ranch once. Who needs a reticule to cook, wash clothes, and clean house?

          Course I do have one with me today. Let’s see what’s in here. Oh, my best linen handkerchief with the lace edge because coming here is a very special occasion. See, here are my initials embroidered in the corner. Oh, my, how silly of me. I shoved my kidskin gloves in here by mistake, so don’t count those. Here’s my tiny tablet and pencil in this little case. Oh, I’d never leave without this little purse of coins for tips or a treat for Seth. This tin holds peppermint breath mints, which are my favorite flavor. Oh, and because I do live in rural Texas, I keep this little pocket Derringer handy. How clever of you, Miss Pimm, I believe that’s five things just as you suggested.

  MISS PRIMM:    What is the biggest surprise you’ve ever had? (Mine was a three-yolked egg from the mercantile. I’m too busy to have my own coop.) 

ALICE:   Three yolks? My, you are fortunate. Two yolks is good luck, so that must have been an extra lucky day for you, Miss Primm.

I’ve had some big surprises, and the good ones all happened after I met up with handsome Zach Stone, who is such a good man. Finding Seth was the luckiest surprise. I love that boy. You would too if you knew him. He doesn’t lie now that he knows he’s loved and has a home.

        Another surprise was learning there were so many social events even living on a ranch. Mama longed for all the doings she’d grown up with, and we had no idea they were going on all around us. Poor Mama. She sure was lonely to talk to other women.

MISS PRIMM, back to business:    What about your past would you change if you could? How does what happened then threaten what you’re trying to build now? 

ALICE, eyes misty:    I’d give anything if I could undo the harm Pa and his kin did. I try to put those memories in the past and live the best life I can. Zach says not to think on it, but I can’t forget. 

MISS PRIMM:    Well, I am thinking Zach is making you some better memories. Thing is, it’s heading onto noontime.  I’m somewhat handy in the kitchen. How about a favorite recipe to share? 

ALICE, with a big smile:    Not my salt cake, I’m sure. ☺ That was a one-time thing and sure taught that handsome Zach Stone a thing or two about talking to women.

Here’s a real recipe.

Lizzie’s Applesauce Cake and Carmel Icing

2 cups flour

1 teaspoon soda

1 teaspoon ground cloves

1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1/2 cup lard or shortening

2 large eggs

1 cup sugar

2 cups applesauce

3/4 cup raisins or chopped dates

1 cup broken Texas pecans


Sift dry ingredients together and set aside. In large bowl mix shortening, sugar and eggs and beat well until fluffy. Scrape bowl while mixing. Add applesauce, raisins (or dates), and nuts and mix well. Add dry ingredients and beat slowly for two or three minutes. Pour into a greased and floured tube or bundt pan and bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes. Let cake cool in pan. When cool, serve or frost with Caramel Icing.


Caramel Icing:

2 cups sugar

1 cup cream

1/4 cup butter

1 teaspoon vanilla extract


Put 1 cup of the sugar into a heavy skillet and let it caramelize slowly, being careful not to let it scorch or burn. Set aside. Into saucepan put remaining sugar and cream and let come to a slow boil. Gradually add caramelized sugar into this and cook to a soft-ball stage. Remove from heat and add butter and vanilla. Beat to desired consistency and spread on cake.


MISS PRIMM,  staving off a tummy rumble:    Why, my mouth’s awatering already. But back to business. Alice,  we’ve had trouble with outlaws here in Culdesac Corners. Jesse James blew through here once on his way to San Luis Obispo. What experiences have you had with outlaws, or other despicable men? 

ALICE, looking backward in time:   Mama and I weren’t sure what Pa and his kin were up to besides ranching. After a while, we suspected it wasn’t anything good, so Mama taught me not to ask questions. Pa was real good to Mama and me, ‘cept he wouldn’t let us go to town. Said pretty things like us drew too much attention.

The most despicable man, though, was that Fernando Vargas that my stepbrothers promised me to for gambling debts. Imagine, men trading their own stepsister for what they lost at poker. Now that is a high stakes game for sure, and I like to have drawn the losing hand. 

MISS PRIMM, as if turning a page:    As for myself, Miss Louisa May Alcott is my all-time favorite author, and Miss Tanya’s as well. Who is your favorite author and why?

ALICE, nodding:    Miss Alcott has been a favorite for me also. She is the first author who interested me in historical fiction. That interest has kept me reading. Miss Georgette Heyer also broadened my interests. 

MISS PRIMM, smiling broadly:   Oh goodness me. Miss Heyer’s “The Black Moth” is a great favorite.  Thanks from my heart’s bottom for spending time as part of Miss Tanya’s blog and my Lifestyle column. You hurry on back, ya hear? 

ALICE, with a gracious wave:    Thank you, Miss Primm, for having me join you today.

Buy Links:

Smashwords ebook

Print or Ebook at Amazon:

Barnes and Noble ebook



  1. Oh, Miss Primm, I loved this interview! Miss Alice sounds like such a sweetie, and…well, she certainly has me wanting to meet that good, handsome Zach. I have a feeling High Stakes Bride is a must-have!

    • On behalf of Miss Primm, we thank you kindly! We sure hope to have you and Pia back at Culdesac Corners in the near future!

  2. I am loving this blog, Tanya….er….Miss Primm….so clever and fresh!! Great job, and the book sounds great! Nice interview “Mary Alice!!”

    • On behalf of the Courant, we thank you kindly too, Miz Evans, for stopping by. We sure hope you can spare a sec from your wonderful book tour for Devotion to spend a tad of time here in the Corners. xox

  3. Miss Primm and Miss Tanya, I thank you for my kind interview today. I can hardly wait to tell Zach and his family all about meeting you. Why, I feel famous already. I am hoping the Radford Springs Gazette will run a copy of your column this week.

    Thanks, Mary Alice Price (soon to be Alice Stone)

    • Why, Miss Caroline, Miss Primm would be rightly honored! Hugs…and so glad to meet Alice and hear about Zach. Hubba hubba.

  4. Hello, Miss Primm… wonderful to meet another fellow time-traveler (I’m surprised more people haven’t discovered this amazing pastime). Lovely interview with Alice. She has an admiring sort of courage, and I Just love people like that. Very inviting spot you’ve got here at Culdesac Corners (with recipes, too!). Thanks for the invite, and, now that I know you’re here, you can bet I’ll be paddling back to meet more of your guests as often as I can!

    • Lilly, thanks so much for the stop-off in Culdesac Corners. Alice is a terrific new friend, that’s for sure. Please make haste to return to us soon!

  5. I do love a heroine with courage and integrity. Miss Primm has both.

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