MailOrderBridesMail Order Bride Collection (A Timeless Romance Anthology Book 16) by Stacy Henrie, Kristin Holt, Annette Lyon, Sarah M. Eden, Heather B. Moore, and Sian Ann Bessey

As a reader of sweet contemporary romance and mid-century pulps, I had my doubts about reading 1800s American frontier groom-seeks-woman-with-good-teeth-for-amiable-marriage stories. I thought they would be melodramatic and dull. However, what I found as I read Mail Order Bride Collection was a surprising breath of fresh air.

In WRITTEN IN HER HEART, by Stacy Henrie, the heroine, Georgie is lonely and desperate to find a husband—but the man she wants doesn’t want her. Good plot set up. If she marries, her inheritance will fund her favorite orphanage. Proves Georgie has a good heart. I like how she’s characterized. Clay, the man she’d really like by her side is who she’s asked to find her a husband. This sets up great conflict, kept the story moving. Clay, who cann’t sit by and watch Georgie marry another, writes to her as a pretend suitor. Funny situation. I love to see a fast one being pulled over the eyes of the characters and for the hero and heroine to be at cross-purposes. The story really worked for me.

Kristin Holt’s gives us a gripping set up as Dr. Naomi is expelled from her own hospital with charges of murder nipping at her heals in WANTED: MIDWIFE BRIDE. She lays low and answers an ad for a mid-wife to the country doc in Wyoming. However, conflict ensure when Dr. Naomi refrains from telling Dr. Joe she’s a fugitive. Really nice sense of hopelessness. Easy to relate to. It’s suspenseful to the end to see if they can work things out. I’ve seen the withholding of information by an author not work as it could be cleared up with a simple conversation, however, Kristin makes it work in her story.

Annette Lyon wrote about an orphaned girl, Marilyn, given an impossible choice—marry a murdering fiend, or go to jail as a killer. In THE SOUND OF HOME, Marilyn answers an ad for a bride to flee NYC. But her would-be husband was a mentally incapacitated man. His brother, Thomas must send Marilyn back home until he discovers–complication–that he’s falling for her. I loved the set-up of this story and the conflict built upon conflict with the brother taking a chance on her. The story drew me in and delivered on its promise.

In Sarah M. Eden’s FOR BETTER OR WORSE Gerald Smith is lonely and sends for a bride only to have the gal turn out to be someone he’d known and who had annoyed him as a girl. There is humor galore in this story, lots of quick-witted dialogue, and always at cross-purposes. The funniest line in the story is when Gerald, the hero asks Mary, the heroine, if she’s a murderer, and she replies, not yet.

Heather B. Moore’s novella THE INCONVENIENT BRIDE sees Carmela traveling from Boston to Colorado supposedly to marry the eloquent man she’d been writing to. However, big surprise when she gets off the train—her intended is dead. What’s the brother to do? Nice characterization and flow.

THE PRICE OF SILVER, by Siân Ann Bessey, Katie leaves New York for Idaho to marry Jake, a man she’s written to. Great set-up. But when she steps off the train, his brother Caleb greets her instead. Toss in emotional conflict with her having to stay at the family farm. Caleb takes her home to wait for Jake’s return from a mining job he couldn’t pass up. The more Caleb gets to know Katie, the more he wants what his brother has, but he can’t let his heart overrule his head unless Jake changes his mind about his intended bride. Never had to stop an examine the writing.

There was only one issue I had with the book. I just had a minor issue with Heather’s story. She felt the need to explain when the character was thinking, and this was besides writing the thoughts in italics. She would follow what was a clear thought with [he thought, or she thought, or she wondered]. And though a tad annoying and unnecessary, she does tells a marvelous story. So if that’s not a deal-breaker for you, go for it.

If you are a fancier of the simple and sweet love story happening on the fly between two strangers set in a simple time, this might be the compilation of stories for you.

I was given an ARC of this book for an honest evaluation.