Mail-order bride Josephine Dooley’s trip West was supposed to end in marriage to her intended groom—not with the discovery that he hadn’t actually placed the bridal ad! Now her only choice is to convince Pony Express rider Thomas Young to wed her anyway to save her from her scheming uncle.
A bride shouldn’t be a surprise package, and when Thomas finds out about his meddling brother’s ruse, he plans to send his would-be wife packing. However, when he realises Josephine desperately needs his help and a marriage of convenience is the only way he can protect her, he vows to become the husband she needs. But he quickly learns that it will be hard to keep his new bride at arm’s length…because Josephine is his perfect match.
This is the second book in this series I’ve read, and while there are many things I really like about them (and I find the whole Pony Express thing fascinating – not something we learn about here!), I have the same issues the second time round.
As for the good? Despite being part of a series, this book has a relatively narrow focus, and yet I thought it went by quickly. I didn’t think there was any point where the story dragged.
I also thought that the Christmas-themed parts were subtle, and definitely not cheesy.
These Christian historical romances often have an early marriage to make sure the hero and heroine can be together a lot of the time, but because sex is not allowed in these books, the author has to jump through hoops to find ways to keep them from having a proper relationship.
Usually this annoys me, but I thought the setup for this one was really good. The heroine is a mail order bride, and so she was hardly going to jump into bed with a man she’d only known a few minutes.
My problem is that the characters are all constantly distrustful and angry. Every man in this series (see my other review) seems to hate or at least distrust women just because – for no real reason. They go on and on about how women aren’t to be trusted, and I find that pretty offensive – especially for romance books written by and for women.
As for the women in the book, the heroine – and at one point also the hero’s adoptive mother – are fly-off-the-handle angry for no reason, all the time. People make a joke or an offhand comment, and instead of being normal and laughing about it, they go crazy mad. The heroine also held a spiteful grudge against her brother-in-law that lasted past the 50% mark, which I thought was nasty. It made her hard to like.
Then there was the judgemental religious stuff. For example, when hero and heroine first meet, she explains that she ran away to join the Pony Express to escape a forced marriage to a murderer. And the hero responded like this:
Didn’t she realise she had lied by omission of the truth? She’d led everyone who worked for the Pony Express to believe that she was a boy. That was the same as lying to them. He understood why she’d done it, but it was still deceitful.
Thomas didn’t know what to say. It wasn’t his place to judge her, and if she’d confessed to the Lord her wrongdoing, well, that was between her and her Maker.
She saved herself from being murdered! If anyone wonders why I’ve become more and more of an atheist in recent years… This is not the thought process of a romance hero; or at least not any man I’d ever want to know.
I do think the year the book is set can be a difficult choice. It is 1860, and only just before the US Civil War broke out, and when I read this series, it’s always in the back of my mind that these men might have been off to war shortly afterwards.
I’m no US history expert, but a simple Google search tells me that the book’s setting – Wyoming – didn’t even exist until eight years after the book is set!
There is plenty to like in this book; the problem is I didn’t LIKE the characters most of the time. Everyone took themselves too seriously, and unfortunately the religious aspects made them nasty and narrow-minded instead of accepting and kind.
I think I’ve read enough of this Pony Express series now. A fascinating topic, but not when done with a “Christian” theme.
Review copy provided by NetGalley.