I’m a sucker for slow burn, innocent but passion filled romances. And the prospect of a story like that, set in late 1900… swoons.
A Tender Tale of Love on the Prairie Perfect for CBA Readers
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?
Everett Cline has been through his fair share of brides. Sounds like a player, right? Wrong! Poor boy was for all intents and purposes stood up by his brides, wait for it – 4 times. The first couldn’t wait literally another day, the second died en route, the third and fourth found him lacking and saddled themselves with different lives, one of them didn’t really get what she bargained for. Basically, he is left bitter from all the mail-order-bride business. And honestly, I can’t blame him. Only that his BFFs wife is determined to fix that situation and orders another one behind his back.
When beautiful Julia Lockwood arrives from the big city, she is fancily dressed and knows absolutely nothing about farming. But she’s determined which works in her favor. Everett and Julia strike up a deal. He gets a wife in title and someone to share household chores with and she gets a roof, protection and innocent companionship. Both would like friendship from the other, but Everett is attracted to her too much and Julia avoids male contact. Problem!!!
The plot is classic, there aren’t any surprised and twists, but there are little special things that make the story unique. For example, Julia’s circumstances and how/why she decided to marry a stranger; Everett and the reason for his weariness. The thing is that the plot is dragging so much. The story is filled with endless repetitions of emotions, thoughts and situations. That wouldn’t be bad if it didn’t hinder the flowing of the story. It started great and ended beautifully, but the 70% in between was somewhat tiresome. Also, I felt there the use of religion in the story was overdone. I realize people, especially in that time relied a lot on faith and devotion to the church and God, but at some point, even when matters of the heart were involved, all the scripture and praise felt forced and unwarranted.
The characters are fantastic. Julia is bruised but not broken, and she’s strong and determined. I’m going on a limb here and guessing that would be a good trait to have living in that time. Everett is typical male. He’s got his bright and sunny side he reveals when with his friends and people he’s comfortable with. He’s got that (subtle) macho attitude but is also very sensitive towards those he cares about and it’s slowly seeping into his behavior with Julia.
They both grew throughout the story, however it’s not very pronounced through the before mentioned dragging in the plot.
Bottom line: It’s a sweet story, full of heartache and love of different kinds. Recommended.
My thanks to Bethany House Publishers and NetGalley for the advanced copy in exchange for an honest review.
About the author
I am a stay at home mother on a tiny little farm with a fixer-upper house. As much as I love writing and reading about homesteaders, I am so glad I’m a homesteader during an era with modern grocery stores to take up for my slack. I am an ESL (English as a Second Language) teacher by trade, and I still work occasionally in that field along with being my church’s financial secretary.