Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Seeking Persephone

Seeking Persephone
Sarah M. Eden

Adam Boyce, the Duke of Kielder, has no intention of marrying, nor does he seem a likely candidate for marriage. Despite his title and his fortune, his sour disposition, not to mention his disfigured face, make him less than the ideal potential suitor, or so he believes. However, his immensely dislikes the man set to inherit if he doesn't produce an heir, so Adam extends an offer of marriage to Persephone Lancaster, even though he's never seen her and doesn't even know her last name. What he does know is that she is impoverished and that if he's willing to support her younger siblings, she just might be willing to marry him. She does consent, and Adam, expecting a dour old maid, is astonished to find himself attached to a pretty young woman. Neither quite knows what to expect from their marriage, but as Persephone tries to be a good woman, Adam comes to realize that perhaps his pretty young wife is exactly what he needed.

I quite enjoyed this romance. I loved seeing the reasons for why people did the things they did--why Adam shut himself off from others, why his mother fled from home when he was a child, etc. I also liked seeing how Persephone affected Adam and got him to open up and soften up a little.

5 stars.

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

One Plus One Equals Trouble

One Plus One Equals Trouble
By Sondra Kraak

Having been jilted by her fiancĂ©, who wed her twin sister instead, Claire left San Francisco for a fresh start as a teacher. While she was supposed to be assigned to a school in Seattle, she instead is sent to teach in remote Pine Creek—and she quickly falls in love with the town. Determined to be a success at something, after feeling like she’s failed in love and at ever measuring up to her sister, Claire is shocked when she finds out her job isn’t as secure as she believed—the school board has hired TWO teachers and she has to battle against Barrett Clarke (who is the nephew of one of the school board members and a former college professor) to see who will ultimately be offered the position. Claire refuses to fail—but so does Barrett, who lost his position teaching at a university after false accusations and came home to teach for a year, after which his uncle will give him land so he can be a rancher—which is what he truly wants to do. Equally determined to win the job, Claire and Barrett each set out to prove their merits—but as they work together, attraction flares, complicating things even further.

I liked the premise of the book. I thought Claire was particularly well-developed, with her straight-laced personality and need for control reflecting her attempts to be perfect and not to fail. Barrett is more light-hearted, but I did sometimes get frustrated with him for constantly teasing Claire; while he was trying to break through her reserve, sometimes I thought he’d be better served by just saying something nice to her. There was a lot of banter between the two, as well as a lot of one-step-forward-two-steps-back type behavior from Claire, who retreated whenever she felt vulnerable. Sometimes that made the plot move a little slowly—it was kinda the same banter over and over. Toward the end, though, things picked up a little. Overall, I enjoyed the book. 3.5 stars

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Mail Order Bride

Mail Order Bride (A Timeless Romance Anthology)

This collection has 6 novellas about mail order brides. All are well-written and lots of fun. I highly recommend these novellas for those who like historical romances.

Written in Her Heart by Stacy Henrie
From the time Clayton Riley interviewed to be her father's financial advisor and personal secretary, Georgeanna (Georgie) Fitzgerald had more-than-just-friendly feelings for him. However, he never seemed to return her interest, and with the years passing and her father dying, Georgie has decided to take a husband--by placing an advertisement in the paper. She gets Clay to (reluctantly) agree to help sort through the responses and choose the most suitable men for her. As he begins his new task, however, Clay realizes he does have feelings for Georgie and writes to her as well, under a false name, hoping to show her his heart and convince her that his feelings are sincere.
This was such a fun twist on the mail-order-bride theme--since technically, it's a mail order husband. I also liked how instead of having two strangers come together, it brought two friends together.

Wanted: Midwife Bride
Dr. Naomi Thornton is planning to divorce her husband, a fellow physician who has a very pregnant mistress. However, he beats her to the punch; he and his associates falsely blame her of incompetence leading to the death of the popular NYC major. Knowing that the word of a female won't hold up against the hospital board and her husband, Naomi does the only thing she can think of: responds to a mail order bride request for a midwife bride. She doesn't plan on telling Dr. Joe Chandler that she's a full-fledged doctor; having been rejected by her former husband and colleagues for daring to enter the male world of medicine, she won't make the same mistake again. However, in Joe, she finds someone who not only appreciates but delights in her medical knowledge and skill, as well as in her feminine qualities. She also finds a man whom she could care for deeply and who cares deeply for her--but when the opportunity to take back all that she lost in New York City comes, will she choose life as simple country doctor, married to another simple country doctor or will she return home?
I loved the fact that Naomi is a doctor and how realistically her struggle to succeed in a "male" profession was portrayed. I also loved Joe; he's such a great contrast to Naomi's jerky, slimy ex-husband.

The Sound of Home by Annette Lyon
Victor Hallows wants to marry Marilyn--or at least, have her as a mistress--and he's willing to frame her for murder if she doesn't agree. Marilyn knows it's risky to become a mail order bride, knowing nothing about the man she's agreeing to marry, but she decides it unlikely that her new husband will be worse than Victor, and she heads off to Wyoming to meet and marry Harry Yardley. However, arriving in Wyoming, she's met by his brother, Thomas Yardley, who explains that his brother Harry can't take a bride; having suffered a head injury, he's the mental equivalent of a child and is looking for a mother figure to replace his deceased mother. Unable and unwilling to return to New York, Marilyn stays with Yardley brothers, taking care of Harry and working alongside Thomas--and capturing his heart.
The idea of framing a girl for murder to force her to be your mistress was a bit far-fetched, but it worked. Again, I liked having a little twist, with Marilyn not marrying the man whose mail order bride she thought she was going to be.

For Better or Worse by Sarah Eden
Gerald Smith somewhat reluctantly decides to send for a mail order bride--but when his mail order bride departs the train and he sees that the Miss Hill he is supposed to marry is the same Miss Hill--Mary Hill--who used to follow him everywhere and irritate him beyond measure when they lived next door to one another back in Ohio--he's more than somewhat reluctant. In fact, he tries to figure out someone else in town who might be able to offer her a home and a job; however, when the preacher convinces him that no one else can take her, Gerald and Mary wed--and Gerald comes to find that Mary isn't the pest he remembered and that being married to her is much better than anticipated.
Before I started this book, I thought this would be my favorite of the stories; Sarah Eden is one of my favorite authors. However, I actually think I liked it least--I wasn't completely sold on Gerald as a romantic hero or why Mary might actually like him; as neighbors in Ohio, he called a pest, a pebble in his shoe, and the plague, and yet she says he wasn't ever really cruel to her. While he wasn't physically abuse, I'm not sure I fully agree that he wasn't cruel. While he does come to regret how he treated her, it just made me a little sad to think of this woman caring--for years--about a man who couldn't see her value even at all. (I don't think he needed to love her for years; I just would've liked him more if he had been kind to her even if he didn't have feelings for her.) I did like the ending of Gerald and Mary's story quite a bit, and Sarah Eden is a great writer, with funny dialogue and tight descriptions.

An Inconvenient Bride by Heather B. Moore
When Carmela Callemi, an Italian immigrant who lived briefly in Boston until her brother remarried, arrives in Leadville, Colorado, to marry Gideon Butler, his brother, local blacksmith Samuel Butler, thinks this is just one more mess of his brother's that he'll have to fix. Gideon, having lived a shady life, has died before Carmela arrives--and, as it turns out, wasn't literate enough to write the lovely letters that convinced Carmela to marry him and had to have someone else write them for him. When she finds out what kind of man Gideon Butler really was, Carmela is intent on leaving Colorado and never looking back--but as she waits for a train to take her out of town, she gets to know Samuel, and their budding attraction might be enough to change her mind.
I liked the combination of outspoken Italian Carmela and slightly grumpy blacksmith Samuel. They were a really fun couple, and I liked seeing Samuel try to figure out how to convince her to stay.

The Price of Silver by Sian Ann Bessey When Jake Walker's mail order bride arrives in Idaho, Jake is hundreds of miles away, seizing an opportunity to mine silver. Although he tried to notify Katie not to come yet, his letter didn't get to her, so it's up to his older brother Caleb and their mother Eliza to welcome Katie Spencer to Idaho. At first Caleb is annoyed to find that he has to be responsible for what he considers to be foolish decisions made by his brother, but as Katie settles in on their ranch and they wait for word from Jake on what he wants to do with her, Caleb tries to ignore the fact that he might be falling for his brother's future wife.
This one was just delightful. I loved Caleb and Katie; they were just so cute together. I liked how they worked together on the ranch and thought the author did a great job showing the suspense as they try to fight their attraction as they wait to hear from Jake. Just really fun and well-written, this one might have been my favorite of the six novellas (although it's hard to pick a favorite).

Again, highly enjoyable. I liked the different characters and the different twists in each story. Really fun collection that I highly recommend.

(I received a free copy of this e-book in exchange for an honest review.)