20 June 2013

A Bride for All Seasons by Margaret Brownley, Debra Clopton, Mary Connealy & Robin Lee Hatcher

"It all started with an ad in a mail-order bride catalogue..."

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It's 1870. Reminders of the Civil War remain littered throughout the country. Scarred by the past, like the slowly healing land, four women seek a better future. Turning to the Hitching Post Mail-Order Bride Catalogue and its altruistically scheming editor, Melvin Hitchcock, to facilitate a new beginning, each woman finds herself headed West, full of happiness and hope for a fresh start with her unfamiliar groom-to-be. As the couples meet for the first time, they find that behind-the-scenes embellishments and purposeful miscommunications have left them unprepared, and sometimes unwilling, for what lies ahead. As the four individual novellas, each written by one of the authors and then compiled in A Bride for All Seasons, follow the both humorous and heartbreaking moments that result, each woman discovers that love and second chances often come in ways unplanned and unexpected.

"And Then Came Spring" by Margaret Brownley: When mail order bride Mary-Jo Parker arrives in town she receives the shock of her life; not only is her fiancé dead, he left behind an eight-year-old son he neglected to mention. But the biggest challenge of all is the boy's way-too-handsome uncle.

"An Ever-After Summer" by Debra Clopton: Widower Matt McConnell wrote his ad with no room for misunderstanding – Bible believers need not apply. But then Bible-thumping Ellie shows up on his doorstep. Matt's so desperate for her help that he accepts.

"Autumn's Angel" by Robin Lee Hatcher: Luvena Abbott's privileged childhood didn't prepare her for the hardship she now faces as an adult, especially when it comes to being the guardian of her nieces and nephew. Marriage seems the only answer to her dilemma. Clay Birch hopes to change the hurdy-gurdy house he won in a poker game into the finest opera house in the Northwest, but he'll need help to do it. Could this unlikely couple actually be the perfect match?

"Winter Wedding Bells" by Mary Connealy:
David Laramie is looking for a woman to care for his children. In exchange he'll make her financially comfortable for life. But no woman wants to marry a dying man. Then Megan responds to his ad. It seems his "edited" letter contained no mention of him dying.

In this nostalgically whimsical approach to mail-order brides, A Bride for All Seasons did not disappoint. At first, I was a bit wary of its novella format, as I am a lover of long novels, full of engaging characters, dramatic histories and unexpected turns of events. But once I started reading, my wariness faded. The form of the novella did not preclude all of this things I have grown to love about novels - it simply condensed them into a shorter amount of pages, making each story all the most addicting and hard to put down. Story after story, I was hooked from the get-go, lost in the unique style of each author, and found myself reaching the end sooner than I was ready. Needless to say, I would recommend this collection to anyone looking for a quick and compelling read, with an interest in historical romance. I am truly grateful to BookSneeze for providing me with a free copy of this novel and the opportunity to review it honestly.

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