The Element of Love
– Mary Connealy –
The Lumber Baron’s Daughters #1
Bethany House Publishers
Published 1 March 2022
Need a historical romance featuring heroines with a difference? The Element of Love begins a new series from author Mary Connealy.
The Lumber Baron’s Daughters series features the three Stiles sisters. They have been raised to take over their father’s company and each have been highly educated. They are headstrong and fiercely intelligent, each with a different passion – from chemicals and explosions to engineering and building. But since their father’s death and their mother’s remarriage, their idyllic lives has been shattered. Their stepfather is abusive, their company falling apart under their stepfather’s mismanagement and they have each been promised to horrid men in business deals. Their only plan is escape.
Together with their mother they hatch a daring plan and this is where we join them in their story. Their escape certainly proves these are no ordinary women. They start their journey across the country, hiding as servants. Their plan is to find husbands as quickly as possible and return to claim their inheritance and control of the company. Early in their journey, they come across a missionary group and join with them. The sisters then find themselves in a tiny, rundown settlement with women and children waiting for their men working in the gold mines. The sisters might have the goal to get as far from their stepfather as possible but they can’t overlook the need shown by the women and children. Laura works closely with Parson Caleb, leader of the missionary group. Laura also uses the money she has to secure better food and supplies for the group. Jilly starts immediately on the building work, only too happy to put aside plans for a quick marriage. Laura feels Caleb might be the right man for her, but he is hiding a secret he hasn’t shared with her and when their settlement is attacked, these secrets come to light and Laura isn’t quite so sure about her future.
This is fun story, if a little dramatic. I think we readers must be told hundreds of times about the girls’ intelligence but it was their interests in chemistry, building, engineering and business management that were interesting. I wasn’t convinced about the romance that develops between Caleb and Laura, after all she selects him out of desperation and they go from there. It wasn’t the romance that I enjoyed, so much as the plan to outwit their stepfather and reclaim their company. I am most intrigued by Jilly and look forward to her story. I also enjoyed the other characters we meet, including a cattle farmer and his ranch hands who provide aid when needed.
An interesting start to a new historical series.
The publishers provided an advanced readers copy of this book for reviewing purposes. All opinions are my own.
Category: Adult fiction.
Genre: Christian historical
Themes: Sisters, romance, missionaries, chemistry, engineering, stepfathers, marriage, faith.
Advisory: References to domestic violence, descriptions of violence, injury and death.
Published: 1 March 2022 by Bethany House Publishers
Format: Paperback, ebook. 304 pages.