Mail-Order Marriage: 5 Historical Stories of Marriage Arranged by Letters Between Strangers – Mary Davis, Denise Hunter, Judith McCoy Miller, DiAnn Mills, Tracie Peterson – Barbour Books – Published 1 December 2015
Escape into the history of the American West along with five of today’s leading inspirational fiction authors who deliver exciting historical romances begun from advertisements for mail-order marriages. Placing their dreams for new beginnings in the hands of a stranger, will Cinda, Emily, Maura, Gabe, and Daughtry each be disappointed, or will some find true love?
Five delightful stories of mail-order marriage bring five couples together. They will face the challenges of beginning life as a couple against the dangers and harsh reality of life farming or ranching in the west.
Cinda’s Surprise – Mary Davis
Cinda is more than a little surprised when she discovers that her friends have organised a mail-order marriage in her name. Deciding to go ahead with the marriage, there are plenty more surprises awaiting Cinda when she and her new husband travel to his Montana farm. While it took me a little while to connect to this story initially, I warmed up to the characters and plot as it developed. At the start everything seemed a little ridiculous, too much deceit and a few nasty characters, but this all works together in the end, raising issues of forgiveness and truthfulness. There is also a host of colourful characters, and a sweet romance. Simple but sweet.
His Brother’s Bride – Denise Hunter
When Emily steps off the stage in Cedar Springs she expects to meet her intended for the first time. What she finds instead is her fiancé’s brother with terrible news that Thomas has died. Saddened by her loss and troubled that she will no longer be able to search for the gold rumoured to be hidden on the brothers’ farm and save her grandmother from the rule of her horrible uncle, Emily is surprised when Cade offers to marry her. But it isn’t quite the arrangement she expects it to be. I liked this story. It’s no secret that I love Denise Hunter’s writing. This story has a clever and detailed plot, beautiful setting, wonderful characters and a romance with chemistry that leaps of the page. There is plenty of adventure and tension, as Emily seeks to balance her need to continue searching for the gold with her growing feelings for husband.
Changes of The Heart – Judith McCoy Miller
Maura sets out for California as part of a mail-order marriage. But she hasn’t been totally truthful with her intended. The marriage doesn’t start out well, with hurtful comments and strong wills leading to fierce arguments. As time passes and the couple choose to have a little distance in their relationship, it will take a changing of both their hearts to reconcile. While I mostly enjoyed this novella, I couldn’t help become a little irritated at the characters – both with their endless quarrelling and their general propensity to go on and on about things. If the message of this book is centred around not judging others then it is apt, because the characters, Maura, her husband Luther and even her friend Georgette, are pretty good at casting stones. It’s a complicated little story and seemed as detailed as any full length book.
Mail-Order Husband – DiAnn Mills
Lena, widow, mother of two boys and owner of a farm in Nebraska, is desperate for help – but not so desperate as to accept the hand of the men around her town. Unsure where else to turn she places an advertisement for a mail-order husband. But Gabriel Hunters is not the man she was expecting. A scholar, city man and overweight, he has no farming experience and even less knowledge about being a husband or father. But as Gabe and Lena weather the wild Nebraska seasons together, Gabe continually surprises Lena with his determination, gentleness, kindness and faith. There are trials ahead for this new little family, but together they can withstand anything. I really enjoyed this story. It is a beautiful tale of looking past appearances to what truly matters. As Lena and Gabe’s relationship develops, softly and sweetly, so too does Gabe’s relationship as father to Lena’s two sons. It’s a tale of family, adventure, the harsh life of farming and romance of the very best kind. Perfectly paced and enchanting from beginning to end, I would have happily stayed a little longer with this delightful family.
Forever Yours – Tracie Peterson
Forever Yours is the perfect way to end this delightful anthology. Daughtry feels trapped in her life. Smothered by her over-protective brothers and father, she fears she will never have the chance to fall in love or start her own family. Pushed to the edge, she decides to accept an advertisement as a mail-order bride. When she arrives at her new home she is surprised to find that her new husband is not there. Determined to get off to a good start she begins work around their ranch while waiting for his return. I really enjoyed this story. Daughtry is one headstrong woman. I loved the romance the springs up between her and her husband Nick. Their relationship gets off to a really good start. Nick has a charming and cheery disposition. However, they are both keeping their pasts hidden from the other. It will take being faced with grave danger to truly open up and begin trusting. This is a simple story, with the complications resulting from dangerous situations rather than relationship drama. It makes for a fun read and truly enjoyable romance. Very sweet.
The publishers provided a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
Genre: Christian historical.
Themes: Romance. Arranged marriage. Ranch life, farming. Historical US. Family.
Published: 1 December 2015 by Barbour Books
Format: Paperback. 656 pages.