Dear Ms. Bold,
I like arranged marriage/marriage of convenience type plots. Here’s a couple, forced to get married, who then have to find a way to love. And since westerns are also a favorite, the mail order bride plot is tailor made for me. When I did my review of Cobblestone Press, yours was the book I decided to buy.
Luke Chandler has been pushing people away ever since he was permanently injured during the war. Tired of seeing him alone, his interfering brother orders him a mail order bride. Widowed Sarah Montgomery answers the ad, only to discover that the last thing Luke wants is a wife.
Stranded at his remote Colorado home, she's forced to accept his reluctant hospitality. Soon she realizes that there's more to this brooding stranger than she ever imagined. Can she convince him that the last thing he ever wanted is the one thing he needs most?
“The Mail Order Bride” was nice. I felt the connection between these two wounded souls both of whom have spent years wanting another person. Luke and Sarah have both had security, love and happiness in the past and each has lost those things due to the Late Unpleasantness. Luke’s loss of his leg has lost him his fiancee (who wasn’t really that great a catch, he finds out when she abandons him), his pride and for a while, his desire to live. He alternates living in a bottle and feeling sorry for himself. At times, I wanted to shake him out of his self pity. He’s alive when one of his brothers and so many others were dead. Thank God he finally wakes up and comes to his senses about his situation in life.
Sarah lost her husband, her home and her way of life to the war. She’s down to her last few dollars but she retains her pride and dignity. She thinks enough of herself to reject Luke’s initial crudities designed to drive her away but has enough sense to accept his proposal (once he finally makes it!) even though she hasn’t heard those three words which so many romance authors love to toss in as a completely reasonable excuse for their heroines to turn down offers of marriage even though they’re backed to the wall in historical novels. She also doesn’t go off in a snit when she learns how he lost his leg (though I would have thought that any woman who’d lived through the war would immediately conclude that injuries suffered by a man of military age would have been due to war wounds).
What didn’t work so well for me was the fact that Luke takes forever! to make an honest woman of Sarah even though he knows what the townspeople think of her for spending time at his house so far out of town and without a chaperone. And why didn’t his meddling brother and sister in law have Sarah arrive at their house first then introduce her to Luke? Okay, so the initial scene woudn’t have had as much impact but it seems much more believable. And unfortunately I read your book after suffering through another historical that was just riddled with errors and which put me in a nitpicking mood so I was ready to pounce on anything I read that raised any red flags. Your book isn’t filled with historical mistakes but a few things made me stop and ponder them (bananas in Colorado in 1868 to make cream pie?).
But enough of niggling things. This is a sweet, short novel that has some hot scenes of intimacy (I wouldn’t really call it an erotic novel, though) that I enjoyed reading. B-