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.

The Second Chance Brides Collection: Nine Historical Romances Offer New Hope for Love – Review

bridebook.jpgWritten by Lauralee Bliss, Angela Breidenbach, Ramona K. Cecil, Pamela Griffin, Grace Hitchcock, Pam Hillman, Laura V. Hilton, Tiffany Amber Stockton, Liz Tolsma

  • Paperback: 448 pages
  • Publisher: Barbour Books (August 1, 2017)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1683222466
  • ISBN-13: 978-1683222460

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Meet nine women who each believe their chance for lifelong love has passed them by. From the girls who lost their beaus to war, to the wallflowers overshadowed by others, and the widows deeply hurt by their loss, the desire to love and be loved spans American history from 1777 to 1944. Experience the sweet pull of romance on each life and the blossom of faith that leads them to brighter futures.

Love in the Crossfire by Lauralee Bliss

Gretchen is engaged to Rolf, a Loyalist sympathizer who dies fighting in the war. Yet, she struggles with what side of the war she believes in. On the same day that Gretchen finds out her fiancé has died, she meets Jake Rowlings, a man with the Continentals hiding out in her barn trying to stay warm.

-Gretchen kissing and falling in love with Jake so soon after her fiancé died seems wrong.

-I found Jake entirely too full of himself. He seemed to think he single handedly would win the war.

-A lot of the book seemed very unrealistic and there was too much focus on the war instead of developing real relationships between the characters

Fanned Embers by Angela Breidenbach

Montenegrin Lukas Filips has left his homeland and his title for the opportunities in America. He takes a job working as a mining foreman to earn enough money to support his mother and sister back home.

Juliana’s husband was killed by a Montenegrin and now she lives as a widow baker to earn money. She dreams of one day earning enough money to open her own bakery.

-This was an interesting story that had action as well as romance. It was very well developed, especially for a novella.

-I would love a continuation of this story. I would be interested in their story as well as hearing more about Lukas’ mother and sister.

Daughter of Orion by Ramona K. Cecil

Widow Matilda must make money to cover the debt her Captain father and seafaring husband have left her after they died, so she poses as a cabin boy where she meets Tom a harpooner.

Matilda has vowed to never again give her heart to a seaman. Tom is hiding the fact that he is the reason for the death of Matilda’s father and husband. Will their pasts keep them apart?

-There are a lot of disgusting things that happen in whaling but I thought the author did a good job with the way she wrote about it.

-I love that Matilda was so committed to bringing Tom’s heart to God.

The Substitute Husband and the Unexpected Bride by Pamela Griffin

Cecily plans to enter a marriage of convenience with Zeke, a boy she knew of from her hometown in Massachusetts. After her long journey to Seattle, she learns that Zeke has died.

Due to the guilt that Garrett feels for the part he played in Zeke’s death, he offers marriage to Cecily.

Cecily thinks that Garrett would be happier married to the widow Brown who looks perfect to Cecily but makes rude comments. Garrett believes Cecily doesn’t return his feelings, so he hides himself away. Will their misunderstandings ruin any chance of a happy marriage?

-I like the characters, but I wish there were more interactions between Paul and Gwen. Paul and Gwen seemed to lack some personality.

-The widow Brown’s mention of how in love Garrett and his first wife, Linda, were was the perfect way to unnerve Cecily.

The Widow of St. Charles Avenue by Grace Hitchcock

On the day Colette starts to come out of mourning her late husband, Robert, she runs into Norman Hartley the former boy next door who had moved to New York when he was twenty.

Robert had forbid Colette of doing charity work but after his death she decides to teach Bible class. She meets the pastor’s con, Malcolm Reilly, who wants her to help teach a boy’s Bible class.

One man believes in her dream of building a school for the orphan boys but one doesn’t. Will she make the right decision?

-I’m curious as to how the boys who got to attend the school were chosen. It is obviously a huge benefit to live at the school instead of the orphanage.

-The story of the ink ribbon was cute.

-This novella had things that were predictable but I enjoyed the story.

The Prickly Pear Bride by Pam Hillman

Evelyn is the topic of town gossip when she leaves Ollie at the altar because she knows he is in love with another woman.

Cole is new to town and looking to build a cattle ranch when he is called upon to help Evelyn with shepherding.

-I liked the scene at the beginning of the book with how Evelyn and Cole met.

-Ollie and Angie never should have allowed Evelyn to take the blame for backing out of the wedding.

-I don’t really understand why Evelyn is described as prickly.

-I enjoyed this novella but it seemed to end abruptly.

Married by Mistake by Laura V. Hilton

Thomas Hale has been hiding out after a girl he formally courted ruined his reputation by lying and telling everyone he was a spy and had an improper relationship with a maid. He lives in seclusion until he meets Bessie O’Hara. Archie notices his best friend’s interest in Bessie so he arranges a “pretend” wedding for an advertising campaign that turns out to be real.

-The courting period and falling in love after the wedding was rushed and skipped over.

-Since they were already married, I understand Thomas and Bessie respecting their parents but getting their permission didn’t make sense to me.

-Even after the marriage, Bessie seems to think she would have been happy with any random husband she had handed to her.

-I enjoyed the plot and the beginning of the story but didn’t like it as well at the rushed parts.

Love in Disguise by Amber Stockton

Anna St. Claire leaves her life in New York to move to Breckenridge, Colorado in order to escape living in her sister’s shadow.

Trevor leaves his business life in New York and moves to Colorado to live as a cowboy.

Anna had feelings for Trevor in the past but he never noticed her, so when he meets her in Colorado, Anna hides who she really is from him.

As a highly eligible bachelor, Trevor is overcome by numerous women he has no interest in. Anna agrees to pretend to be courting him in order to fend off the other women.

-I found it unusual that Trevor would ask someone he thought was a stranger to fake a courtship with him as soon as he meets her.

-Anna having her picture in the paper and the description written about her also seemed odd.

-I have lots of questions about their future and wonder how their relationship issues would have been resolved without the fire happening.

What the Heart Sees by Liz Tolsma

Miriam Bradford spent a summer with her mother in Germany where she met and courted Paul Albrecht. Five years later they meet again when Paul is a German POW in Miriam’s American hometown.

-Miriam convincing Paul to break the rules and leave the camp was wrong. She seemed to do it because she was bored and wanted to have an adventure.

-I really like that the preacher is holding services for the POWs and is really concerned with their spiritual health regardless of the town’s opinion on the matter.

-The author makes good use of the passage of time to advance the story along.

-A lot of times I like reading more lighthearted novels and this wasn’t one. However, I really enjoyed it. It was interesting and made you think.

-I haven’t read a lot of stories from this time period and am not a fan of war stories but this was really well done.

This was a good selection of novellas and I would rate it a 4/5 stars. I received an ARC but the opinions expressed here are 100% my own.