Could anything be worse than being an innocent woman wrongly convicted and jailed in 1873? Only if your family and friends turn against you, believing you are guilty!
Rachel Ross has only one ally the day she steps out of prison—her brother, Patrick. He takes her home where her mother, father, and sisters are waiting, only to find them ready and anxious to throw her out, shamed by her crime and imprisonment. Surely, she could convince her family that she is innocent of the charges. After all, her wretched boss framed her to cover for his embezzlement! Unfortunately, her homecoming was the worst one imaginable leaving Rachel in the predicament of finding a new home fast. With the help of her brother, Rachel sees a newspaper advertisement seeking women “for the purpose of marriage.” She arrives for her interview with Mrs. Lydia Harrison and is soon on her way to the town of Tarnation, Texas, along with several other single women. More than a dozen eligible bachelors await the bride brigade. It doesn’t take long for Rachel to meet the handsome Zane Davis, owner of the local freight office. But the thought of telling him about her past and the conviction hanging over her head fills her with enough shame and self-doubt that she decides to stay silent while keeping her heart locked up tight.
This is a unique storyline with good characters making for an entertaining read, but it had its flaws. Its multitude of editing errors (“Adam shifted rose and shifted” or “what if she they came across someone,” etc), coupled with the book’s almost indistinguishable “voice” identifying the 1873 time period, took me completely out of the story many times. Lines such as, “when the cab arrived” and “Ken Hill followed in the second vehicle” are not words that reflect the 1873 time period when horses, wagons, trains, and stagecoaches were the mode of transportation. As a fan of historical fiction, accuracy is important, too, and giving Rachel an alarm clock that she could tote around in her luggage was a tough one considering the first wind up mechanical clock didn’t come along until 1876. Alarm clocks that were in existence at that time would not have been easily transportable. Still, I found myself making excuses for the anachronisms, because I enjoyed the story so much.
I am not normally a fan of prologues or epilogues, but this story ends with a well-written, satisfying epilogue, which ties up loose ends and unanswered questions nicely. Overall, this was an enjoyable read and I will definitely try this author on a future book.
If you crave unusual circumstances with a “mail order bride” scenario then this book will be right up your alley!
Editor's note: This article was originally published at Long and Short Reviews. It has been republished with permission. Like what you read? Subscribe to the SFRB's free daily email notice so you can be up-to-date on our latest articles. Scroll up this page to the sign-up field on your right.