From the back cover:
Although Everett Cline can hardly keep up with the demands of his homestead, he won’t humiliate himself by looking for a helpmate ever again–not after being jilted by three mail-order brides. When a well-meaning neighbor goes behind his back to bring yet another mail-order bride to town, he has good reason to doubt it will work, especially after getting a glimpse at the woman in question. She’s the prettiest woman he’s ever seen, and it’s just not possible she’s there to marry a simple homesteader like him.
Julia Lockwood has never been anything more than a pretty pawn for her father or a business acquisition for her former fiance. Having finally worked up the courage to leave her life in Massachusetts, she’s determined to find a place where people will value her for more than her looks. Having run out of all other options, Julia resorts to a mail-order marriage in far-away Kansas.
Everett is skeptical a cultured woman like Julia could be happy in a life on the plains, while Julia, deeply wounded by a past relationship, is skittish at the idea of marriage at all. When, despite their hesitations, they agree to a marriage in name only, neither one is prepared for the feelings that soon arise to complicate their arrangement. Can two people accustomed to keeping their distance let the barricades around their hearts down long enough to fall in love?
This book, a début novel by Melissa Jagears, is probably the best mail-order bride story I’ve read. Right from the first chapter, Jagears’ easy-to-read and engaging writing style left me in no doubt that this book was a keeper (excuse the pun). So good, in fact, that I kept my husband awake by reading it into the wee hours of the night.
One of the things I liked the best about this book was that a least half of the story was written from the viewpoint of Everett. His character was very believable, especially the way he struggled with his feelings for Julia. After having two mail-order brides leave him for other men, and another one turn up on the train dead, it was no wonder it took him so long to trust Julia. I think many guys would relate to him and he was the perfect Christian romance hero – a little rough around the edges, but gentle and kind.
Julia’s lack of interest in Everett was really annoying – in a good way. There were plenty of hurdles for them to overcome in their marriage, and I enjoyed the slow build of their romantic connection, and the lessons they learned along the way.
The spiritual element of this book was woven into the story in a way that wasn’t forced or preachy, as both characters turn to God for forgiveness and healing.
The only negative for me was that I felt the viewpoint changed a little too often and it was hard to know at times when the changeover had occurred.
Thank you, NetGalley and Bethany House Publishers for providing me a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest opinion.
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