Book Review: A Bride For All Seasons
A Bride for All Seasons : The Mail Order Bride Collection was a wonderful collection of novellas. All of the stories take place in 1870 and all involve a mail order bride. Another singular thread connects all the stories together: each bride and her groom meet through The Hitching Post Mail-Order Catalogue. Additionally, in each story, someone at The Hitching Post manipulates the letters in order to ensure certain matches occur. This particular concept was cleverly integrated into each story. I would have actually liked to have seen more development of this concept and learned more about the mysterious Melvin Hitchcock from The Hitching Post. While he is mentioned in the first two books, he is only eluded to (mentions that someone at the Hitching Post manipulated the letters) in the second two novellas.
A Bible verse connected to the theme of each individual novella was printed on the page before each story began. I enjoyed going back and looking at these verses after I was finished reading, as it helped me process the message the author was trying to convey. A "Reading Group Guide" at the end of the book was full of thought-provoking questions which makes this a great book for a discussion group/book club. Another section that interested me was an interview with the authors. I enjoyed getting the "inner scoop" on their thoughts about the book.
This collection of stories was delightful, and I found that I could not put the book down. Below is a breakdown of each individual novella.
And Then Came Spring by Margaret Brownley
In this first novella, Mary-Jo, who is very superstitious, arrives just in time for her husband-to-be's funeral. After learning this shocking news, she finds herself looking after her former fiancé's young son until she can figure out how to go back home. Her former fiancé's brother is supposed to be taking care of him, but, as sheriff, he is often out and about. The sheriff isn't sure what to make of his deceased brother's fiancé. When I first started reading this novella, I was pretty sure I had read the same general plot in other books. However, I will say, to the author's credit, that I was pleasantly surprised when the vaguely familiar plot was not as predictable as I had assumed. Overall, this was a cute story. Unfortunately, I could not find any empathy for the main character. It wasn't that her situation wasn't tragic; it's just that the author didn't pull me in like I longed for her to do. The characters just didn't seem totally believable to me: there was little to no depth in the main character. I wanted her to be believable and likeable to me, but she wasn't. The plot, however, kept me hooked.
An Ever After Summer by Debra Clopton
Ellie comes into town clutching her Bible, and a Bible "Thumper" is the one thing that Matthew did not want. Mr. Hitchcock apparently left that important detail out of the couple's correspondence. Matthew also wanted someone without frills, and Ellie is all dolled up when Matthew first meets her. Ellie, though, is determined to convince Matthew that she is what he needs. Ellie also has a secret: she's not the dolled up proper gal that she seems to be. Can her secret help Matthew? Will he believe that she's not what she appears to be? Even though Matthew fights against it, will this couple find love? I found this story very enjoyable. It was a beautiful blend of romance, suspense, drama, and humor. The characters were believable, there was great character development, and the story captured and kept my attention.
Autumn's Angel by Robin Lee Thatcher
When Luvena shows up with kids, that is a major contradiction to the one prerequisite that Clay had for his mail order bride: no kids. The Hitching Post apparently strikes again. Luvena has experience with opera, and Clay is trying to get an opera house up and running. Luvena decides to stay and help him, even though they will not be married due to her having her aunt's children in her care. However, where will Luvena go after helping Clay? Clay's conflict between wanting to love Luvena and not wanting kids to take care of is a strong one, and he grapples with that the entire way through the story. I particularly enjoyed watching the character development of the main characters in this story and how they discover God's plan for their lives. There was depth to the characters, and the plot kept me engaged.
Winter Wedding Bells by Mary Connealy
David was told by a well-known doctor in Chicago that he is dying of pneumonia. Because of that and because of his desire to make sure his ranch and his two boys are taken care of, David wants a wife to be able to carry on his work and take care of his boys once he dies. Megan, on the other hand, is not convinced that David really is going to die. Will she encourage him to try living in vain and end up heartbroken or is she right: is David not dying? David has determined that this is a marriage of convenience and he will not fall in love because he doesn't want to leave behind a wife and maybe even more children. Great story with, again, evident character development. I was easily swept up in the inner workings of both character's lives...and rooting for both of them.
Book Description From the Publisher
It all started with an ad in a mail-order bride catalogue . . .
This charming bouquet of novellas introduces you to four Hitching Post Mail-Order Bride Catalogue prospects in the year 1870, all eager for second chances . . . and hungry for happiness. Year in, year out, they'll learn that love often comes in unexpected packages.
"And then Came Spring" by Margaret Brownley
Mary-Jo has traveled halfway across the country to meet her match, arriving just in time for his funeral. Returning home seems like her only option until her would-be brother-in-law proposes a more daring idea.
"An Ever After Summer" by Debra Clopton
Ellie had no idea she's not what Matthew ordered. And what's wrong with being a "Bible thumper" anyway? She's determined to show him she's tougher than she looks-and just the girl he needs.
"Autumn's Angel" by Robin Lee Hatcher
Luvena would be perfect for Clay if she didn't come with kids. But kids are a deal breaker, especially in a rough-and-trouble mining town. e trouble is, there's no money to send them back . . .
"Winter Wedding Bells" by Mary Connealy
David's convinced he's not long for the world. He needs someone to mother his boys when he's gone-nothing more. Can plucky Irish Megan convince him to work at living instead of dying?
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