The Mail-Order Brides Collection: 9 Historical Stories of Marriage that Precedes Love – Review

mobcoverby Kathleen Y’Barbo, Megan Besing, Noelle Marchand, Donna Schlachter, Sherri Shackelford, Michelle Shocklee, Ann Shorey, Liz Tolsma, Jennifer Uhlarik

Paperback: 448 pages
Publisher: Barbour Books (February 1, 2018)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1683224442
ISBN-13: 978-1683224440

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What kind of woman would answer an advertisement and marry a stranger?

Escape into the history of the American West along with nine couples whose relationships begin with advertisements for mail-order brides. Placing their dreams for new beginnings in the hands of a stranger, will each bride be disappointed, or will some find true love?

Perfect for the Preacher by Megan Besing
1897, Indiana
Fresh from seminary, Amos Lowry believes marriage will prove to his skeptical congregation that he’s mature. If only his mail-order bride wasn’t an ex-saloon girl, and worse, pregnant.

The Outlaw’s Inconvenient Bride by Noelle Marchand
1881, Wyoming
After a gang of outlaws uses a mail-order bride advertisement to trick an innocent woman into servitude, an undercover lawman must claim the bride—even if it puts his mission in jeopardy.

Train Ride to Heartbreak by Donna Schlachter
1895, Train to California
John Stewart needs a wife. Mary Johannson needs a home. On her way west, Mary falls in love with another. Now both must choose between commitment and true love.

Mail-Order Proxy by Sherri Shackelford
1885, Montana
A mail-order marriage by proxy goes wrong when a clerical error leads to the proxies actually being married instead of the siblings they were standing in for. In their quest to correct the mistake, the two discover outlaws, adventure, and even love.

To Heal Thy Heart by Michelle Shocklee
1866, New Mexico
When Phoebe Wagner answers a mail-order bride ad that states Confederate widows need not apply, she worries what Dr. Luke Preston will do when he learns her fiancé died wearing gray.

Miss-Delivered Mail by Ann Shorey
1884, Washington
Helena Erickson impulsively decides to take advantage of her brother’s deception and travels to Washington Territory in response to a proposal of marriage intended for someone else. How will Daniel McNabb respond when Helena is nothing like he expected?

A Fairy-Tale Bride by Liz Tolsma
1867, Texas
Nora Green doesn’t feel much like Cinderella when her mail-order groom stands her up. But could the mysterious jester from the town’s play be her Prince Charming?

The Brigand and the Bride by Jennifer Uhlarik
1876, Arizona
Jolie Hilliard weds a stranger to flee her outlaw family but discovers her groom is an escaped prisoner. Will she ever find happiness on the right side of the law?

The Mail-Order Mistake by Kathleen Y’Barbo
1855, Texas
Pinkerton detective Jeremiah Bingham is investigating a mail-order bride scam bankrupting potential grooms. When unsuspecting orphan May Conrad answers his false ad, she becomes the prime suspect in the case.

The Mail-Order Brides Collection brings us nine historical stories of women who choose to marry a stranger for convenience rather than to marry for love.

Perfect for the Preacher by Megan Besing
-This story is about someone who has trials that she had to go through and how she became more faithful through it.
-There is a lot of judging other people and forming prejudices but then knowing that God’s forgiveness is for all and we are all sinners.
-One of my favorite movies is While You Were Sleeping. There is a scene in the movie that reminds me of the way Margaret kept jumping topics during dinner.

The Outlaw’s Inconvenient Bride by Noelle Marchand
-Mariah tried to leave a life of crime behind and yet she ended up right in the middle of it.
-It has the message of trusting God and trusting those you love
-I liked the action and adventure in this story.

Train Ride to Heartbreak by Donna Schlachte
-There is a message in this story of finding joy even in bad circumstances.
-I liked the plot and the characters. I especially liked that the characters weren’t perfect.
-The children in the train were a little unbelievably resilient in tragic circumstances.
-I found it odd that John can fall in love and propose even without knowing her last name.

Mail-Order Proxy by Sherri Shackelford
-There is a struggle of trying to prove yourself to others and is it really worth it?
-I loved this story and it was one of my favorites in the collection.
-There were lots of funny moments and I loved the banter, characters and storylines.
-Some quotes:
“They each wanted to feel as though they mattered.”
“Would you rather have your life matter to a thousand people or to one person?”

To Heal Thy Heart by Michelle Shocklee
-This story is about a Yankee doctor who doesn’t want a mail order bride who is a southern sympathizer but Phoebe Wagner hides her beliefs and marries Dr. Luke Preston anyway.
-I liked most of the story but the confession and forgiveness would have been better if it had been expanded.
-Phoebe was completely wrong for being married to one man but still in love with another even though he had died.
-Luke was a very likable character except for his flaw in not loving all people.

Miss-Delivered Mail by Ann Shorey
-This was about looking for something better and taking a chance but not asking God to lead you.
-I liked the other family but wish there was more interaction between Daniel and Helena.
-There was also a lot of wasted money on tickets.
-One of my favorite scenes was the one where Helena received a letter from her brother and Daniel recognized the handwriting.

A Fairy-Tale Bride by Liz Tolsma
-This story was another one of my favorites. The characters were well developed and the story didn’t seem rushed, which is often the case with novellas.
-I really enjoyed this story. It was a sweet and different version of Cinderella. It was a clever take on Cinderella using the play instead of the ball.
-I liked the play and the jester scenes as well as their interactions at Maude’s house.
-I have known people like Maude and I feel for those kids.

The Brigand and the Bride by Jennifer Uhlarik
-Jolie is a strong female character, but she put up with too much abuse from her brother.
-I liked that there was lots of action and adventure and the story was filled with details.
-Jolie and Del had a great connection.
-I didn’t actually see a twist coming in the story which made for a nice surprise.

The Mail-Order Mistake by Kathleen Y’Barbo
-I liked the details about the different locations throughout this story.
-I also liked the mystery.
-Things really did seem to fall into Pinkerton detective Jeremiah Bingham’s lap. I would have liked to see more detective work.

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.