Of Rags and Riches Romance Collection: Nine Stories of Poverty and Opulence During the Gilded Age – Review

ragscover.jpgWritten by Michelle Griep, Susanne Dietze, Anne Love, Gabrielle Meyer, Natalie Monk, Jennifer Uhlarik, Erica Vetsch, Jaime Jo Wright, and Kathleen Y’Barbo

  • Paperback: 448 pages
  • Publisher: Barbour Books (July 1, 2017)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1683222636
  • ISBN-13: 978-1683222637

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Love Flourishes during America’s Gilded Age

Journey along in nine historical romances with those whose lives are transformed by the opulence, growth, and great changes taking place in America’s Gilded Age. Nine couples meet during these exhilarating times and work to build a future together through fighting for social reform, celebrating new opportunities for leisure activities, taking advantage of economic growth and new inventions, and more. Watch as these romances develop and legacies of faith and love are formed.

Union Pacific Princess by Jennifer Uhlarik

Young Dora, her uncle William and her cousin Becca, leave Boston to join Dora’s father at the railroad camp where he works after four years apart.

Gage is at the railroad camp trying to stay under the radar to gather information that will help his Indian friends.

When dynamite goes off, Gage injures himself protecting Dora and Becca and exposes himself to Dora’s father, the very person Gage was hiding from.

-A lot of times I feel like novellas leave me feeling like there is a lot missing or it ends abruptly. This one didn’t. It was fast passed but didn’t feel rushed and I liked how the author used the passing of time to move the story along.

-I like how the characters aren’t perfect, like when Gage realized he was still learning when he compared the treatment of his Indian friends with that of the slaves.

-This was one of my favorite novellas in the collection.

The Right Pitch by Susanne Dietze

Winnie loves playing baseball but fears that this will be her last time playing a charity game with the Liberty Belles before she has to give it up to marry.

Beck had his heart broken when he was younger and is afraid to risk it again.
Will risk or precaution win out?

-This was a cute story. There was a lot of baseball in it and if you don’t like baseball, you might not enjoy it was much.

A Gift in Secret by Kathleen Y’Barbo

Thomas Bolen dies, leaving a will that will change the life of this daughter as well as the Austin family that was wronged. Without revealing the stipulations of the will, Samuel Austin III must decide to keep Bolen Shipping and leave May Bolen penniless or marry her.

-I enjoyed this story but I think it would have served the plot better if it had been a longer novel. Not enough time passed for the characters to develop a real connection for each other.

-There were also things that felt unresolved like where they would live since May loves New York so much and Sam was at home on a boat. It would be a shame if he had to give that up completely.

For Richer or Poorer by Natalie Monk

Polish maid Ella is pretending to be of a higher class when dray driver Woody literally runs into her. Ella tries to hide her growing feelings for Woody due to her need to marry a wealthy man in order to bring her sickly family to America. Meanwhile, Woody is trying to establish an orphanage and hide from his past.

-The orphan storyline is something that is near and dear to my heart and I loved reading about them and their little personalities.

-I also liked when Woody translated for Ella while hiding at the church.

-Some of the scriptures quoted in the book were favorites of mine.

-I thought the ending was a little too neat but I still enjoyed the book and this was another favorite in the collection.

A House of Secrets by Michelle Griep

Amanda is determined to open a school for the poor to impress her father and the Ladies’ Aide Society. Her fiancé, Joseph, has plans of his own for the “haunted” house Amanda wants. Will keeping secrets tear Joseph and Amanda apart?

-I like books that have a mystery to them, although the readers were privy to the majority of the mysteries in this story.

-I also liked the message of waiting on those you trust and love, especially God.

Win, Place, or Show by Erica Vetsch

Beryl just wants to spend the summer taking riding lessons with her beloved horse Lacey and competing in the show at the Deep Haven Hunt Club. However, her parents have different plans for her that include marrying her off to Lord Springfield and selling Lacey.

Major Gard Kennedy is spending the summer teaching riding lessons and saving every penny so he can buy Arcturus as the perfect foundation Sire for his new stud farm.

When Gard falls for Beryl, will he risked everything he has worked so hard for?

-There was a lot in this story that was very predictable but I still liked it.

-The vast majority of the book focused on horses. Since I like horses, this was a positive for me but I think even those who don’t like horses as much as I do will enjoy it.

-Beryl’s parents both annoyed me. They were equally clueless as to their daughter’s obvious feelings and they had the wrong priorities. It was disappointing that Beryl even seemed to laugh about their priorities at the end. Stringing Lord Springfield along until after the business deal closed also felt wrong.

The Fisherman’s Nymph by Jaime Jo Wright

“Maybe you’re not the only one who is pushing through sorrow. Some, like you, turn to bitterness- And some make their penance by blaming themselves.”

Charles Farrington III hides his pain under the façade of a carefree, charming rouge. Abby never grieved properly after her mother’s death and she still blames other people for it. Can two grief-stricken souls help each other find peace?

Abby and her father host fishing retreats for the rich that Abby so despises and Charles and his friend Jonathan are their clients. Through Abby’s forced time with Charles, she must finally face her past.

-This book had a lot of descriptions and details about fishing which I am not a fan of, so this was a negative for me.

-This story also had a darker tone to it and I usually like to read books that are lighter and make me feel uplifted.

-And except for their shared grief and their “spark”, I didn’t see Abby and Charles as a potential couple.

-This wasn’t a bad story, it just wasn’t for me.

The Gardener’s Daughter by Anne Love

Magdalena “Maggie” Abbott loves to read and learn and she has a power with words. She spends her days working at the library and hiding the truth of her circumstances with others.

Wesley Graham was raised by his wealthy uncle and is expected to meet certain family expectations.

While spending the summer in their wealthy cottage home, Wesley meets Maggie at the nearby library and they begin an academic project together. Will Maggie’s secrets and Graham’s family obligations keep them apart?

-The pace seemed a little strange in this book. Some parts were drawn out and other parts seemed to move too quickly.

-My favorite part of the book was when they were working together at the library.

-I found it strange that Maggie thought she would hurt her father’s pride if she liked a wealthy man.

A Tale of Two Hearts by Gabrielle Meyer

After the death of Lucy Taylor’s father, she has to take on a job as a lady’s maid so she can help care for her family, especially her injured sister.

Eli Boyer dreams of racing and manufacturing cars one day and leaving his life as a footman behind. However, when he meets Lucy, he is coming to realize that his previous dreams may no longer be enough.

-As a fan of auto racing, I enjoyed reading about the early days of racing.

-I felt like I wanted to know more about Mr. Alexander and Mr. Walker’s past with Mrs. Walker that was briefly mentioned in the book.

I received an ARC but the opinions expressed here are 100% my own.

This collection of novellas had a number of great stories. I rated it a 4/5 overall and would recommend it.