A Cowboy for Keeps – Jody Hedlund – Colorado Cowboys #1 – Bethany House Publishers – Published 5 January 2021
Greta Nilsson’s trip west to save her ailing little sister, Astrid, could not have gone more wrong. First, bandits hold up her stagecoach, stealing all her money. Then, upon arriving in Fairplay, Colorado, she learns the man she was betrothed to as a mail-order bride has died. Homeless, penniless, and jobless, Greta and her sister are worse off than when they started.
Wyatt McQuaid is struggling to get his new ranch up and running and is in town to purchase cattle when the mayor proposes the most unlikely of bargains. He’ll invest in a herd of cattle for Wyatt’s ranch if Wyatt agrees to help the town become more respectable by marrying and starting a family. And the mayor, who has promised to try to help Greta, has just the candidate in mind for Wyatt to marry.
This was exactly the book I needed to start my holidays with. It is extremely romantic, relaxing, exciting and so warming. It was also really easy to read – both a rest for my brain but also something that kept me eager to keep picking it back up. A Cowboy For Keeps is a charming historical romance and another fantastic offering from Jody Hedlund.
Greta and her younger sister have traveled west. As a mail-order bride, Greta hopes to finally be able to provide for herself and hopes the change will be good for her sister’s ailing health. But, when the stage is robbed, her savings stolen and she discovers that her intended is dead, Greta is scared about their prospects. Wyatt is working hard to build up his ranch, but with no funds and a competitor that is buying up many of the available livestock, he fears he will never be able to send for his mother and younger siblings. Then the town mayor proposes a deal – he’ll fund Wyatt’s herd if he marries Greta. What starts as a marriage of convenience has the chance to bloom into something real, if Greta and Wyatt can work past their hurts and fears.
Greta and Wyatt have a wonderful relationship. What starts as a slightly awkward arrangement that benefits them both slowly grows into a strong partnership. Neither of them are very good at communicating their feelings, but the chemistry between them is very sweet.
More Than Just A Pretty Face – Syed M. Masood – Little, Brown Books for Young Readers – Published 4 August 2020
Danyal Jilani doesn’t lack confidence. He may not be the smartest guy in the room, but he’s funny, gorgeous, and going to make a great chef one day. His father doesn’t approve of his career choice, but that hardly matters. What does matter is the opinion of Danyal’s longtime crush, the perfect-in-all-ways Kaval, and her family, who consider him a less than ideal arranged marriage prospect.
When Danyal gets selected for Renaissance Man–a school-wide academic championship–it’s the perfect opportunity to show everyone he’s smarter than they think. He recruits the brilliant, totally-uninterested-in-him Bisma to help with the competition, but the more time Danyal spends with her…the more he learns from her…the more he cooks for her…the more he realizes that happiness may be staring him right in his pretty face.
More Than Just A Pretty Face is an uplifting, fun book that also comes with sweet romance and a feel-good, save the world message. Diverse representation – both ethnically and faith based, #OwnVoices, this has all the boxes ticked to make it an “important” book, but basically it’s just lots of fun to read.
Danyal is going to be a chef. Sure, his teachers and classmates think he’s a joke and his father disapproves of pretty much everything he does, but Danyal isn’t fazed. His goal is to get his best-friend’s twin, Kaval to value him as he is, even if their parents might not approve an arranged marriage match. When his mother sets up a meeting with Bisma, he is shocked with her open honesty and the way she gets him, even if she says she’s not interested in him. When he is selected for a school academic championship, he asks Bisma for help researching his topic – a topic everyone else has cautioned him against. But working with Bisma makes him feel like nothing else does and it might just mean he has to reevaluate his other goals too.
More Than Just A Pretty Face is Syed M. Mason’s YA debut and I really hope he sticks with it, as I would love to read another YA contemporary novel from him. He has such a great way of capturing the characters’ voices and bringing them to life. The situations are almost ridiculous – people don’t treat their family that way, right? – but it is so ridiculous it feels entirely true and hits home. The teens in this book struggle to balance their faith and personal values with the ideals and standards of the world – something that brings conflict into their relationships with friends and family. Danyal is open about his faith, but can’t quite relate to the more devout devotion his friend is showing.
Rogue Princess – B.R. Myers – Swoon Reads – Published 21 January 2020
Princess Delia knows her duty: She must choose a prince to marry in order to secure an alliance and save her failing planet. Yet she secretly dreams of true love, and feels there must be a better way. Determined to chart her own course, she steals a spaceship to avoid the marriage, only to discover a handsome stowaway.
All Aidan wanted was to “borrow” a few palace trinkets to help him get off the planet. Okay, so maybe escaping on a royal ship wasn’t the smartest plan, but he never expected to be kidnapped by a runaway princess!
Sparks fly as this headstrong princess and clever thief battle wits, but everything changes when they inadvertently uncover a rebel conspiracy that could destroy their planet forever.
I love fairytale retelling and Rogue Princess was such a wonderful surprise. It’s fresh, clever, unique, romantic and has such a fantastic cast of strong, diverse characters.
Princess Delia knows her duty. Choose a husband that will benefit the kingdom. That doesn’t mean her heart doesn’t long for a love match. Determined to find another way to secure the energy source her planet needs, she attempts to steal a space ship and broker a deal. Aidan wants to find a better life away from the control of his stepfather and step brothers. Stealing items while working at the palace has enabled him to secure a new future for himself. But when he steals a valuable item from a prince he must run, and finds himself on Delia’s spaceship. The two don’t make it far, intercepted by pirates. Delia must return to the palace and face the wrath of the queen, Aidan to his stepfather. But the two have a connection and together begin to uncover a plot to over throw the monarchy.
Rogue Princess is a sci-fi romantic adventure, with themes of sustainability issues and equality. Advanced technology means there are servant androids and mini personal flying craft, spaceships and mentions of other planets, but the story remains firmly grounded on Delia’s home planet.
Flame in the Mist – Renee Ahdieh – Flame in the Mist #1 – G.P. Putnam’s Sons – Published 16 May 2016
The only daughter of a prominent samurai, Mariko has always known she’d been raised for one purpose and one purpose only: to marry. Never mind her cunning, which rivals that of her twin brother, Kenshin, or her skills as an accomplished alchemist. Since Mariko was not born a boy, her fate was sealed the moment she drew her first breath.
So, at just seventeen years old, Mariko is sent to the imperial palace to meet her betrothed, a man she did not choose, for the very first time. But the journey is cut short when Mariko’s convoy is viciously attacked by the Black Clan, a dangerous group of bandits who’ve been hired to kill Mariko before she reaches the palace.
The lone survivor, Mariko narrowly escapes to the woods, where she plots her revenge. Dressed as a peasant boy, she sets out to infiltrate the Black Clan and hunt down those responsible for the target on her back. Once she’s within their ranks, though, Mariko finds for the first time she’s appreciated for her intellect and abilities. She even finds herself falling in love—a love that will force her to question everything she’s ever known about her family, her purpose, and her deepest desires.
I was enchanted and surprised by Flame in the Mist. This historical novel with an element of fantasy and the supernatural is utterly delightful. I was intrigued by the cover, drawn in by the synopsis and charmed from the very first page. A story about being a woman and embracing everything that entails, even in a world that privileges men. A story about belonging and love. A story about fighting for what’s right.
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 Continue reading