Reviewed by: Linda Tonis
Member of the Paranormal Romance Review Team
In 1867. Matchmaker & Co. sent three women by boat to San Francisco to be mail-order brides. In book one, we met Nellie Wallace, in book two, Annie Markum, and now, Cora Jones. Cora is a seamstress who lost her fiancé, Asa Woods, two years ago during the Civil War. She also lost her brother, Virgil. Due to her insecurity over her weight and the shortage of men after the war, she decided to sign up with Matchmaker & Co. to be a mail-order bride.
When she arrived in San Francisco, she and the other women were taken to a hotel where they would be able to stay for two months until they got to know their husbands to be. Nellie and Annie married immediately and moved on, but in the lobby of the hotel Cora got the shock of her life. Not only is she greeted by Henry Belcher, the man she is supposed to marry, but also by the man she thought dead, Asa her fiancé. Asa lost his leg from just under the knee and refused to return to Cora half a man. Over time, he realized he should have given Cora the choice of whether she wanted to be with him, only now he has competition.
Cora feels Asa betrayed her and needs to learn to trust him again. Over the year she had written back and forth to Henry, she developed feelings for him. Cora refuses to make a rash decision and insists both men court her, giving her time to know her true feelings. She has known Asa all her life. He was best friends with her brother. But how do you overcome being left behind because he didn’t know her well enough to trust her with his disability?
Fortunately for Cora, she has some money and opens her own dress shop, something she has long dreamed about doing. She also has Nellie nearby and their friendship grows and grows. Nellie is married to Blake and is pregnant, but Cora has someone she can confide in about her feelings. Her first date with Henry turns out to be a fiasco. Henry takes her to a sailor bar and reveals his mother lives with him. Neither of these things endears him to her. The man she wrote to is not the man she met in person. On the other hand, Asa is always there for her declaring his love and begging for forgiveness. He promises he would never leave her again. Cora still has to learn to trust him.
Over time, Cora learns about Henry and his mother. They are two people she is not sure she wants in her life. She also is unsure of her feelings for Asa and tries to concentrate all her efforts on her new shop. What happens between the four of them is something I will not divulge but it makes for a very exciting read.
I loved the first two books in this series, and this one was no exception. I loved the fact that in each book we are brought up to date on the other mail-order brides. The books do not have to be read in order, but you would definitely be losing out on some very romantic stories.
**2015 Paranormal Romance Guild Reviewers Choice Awards Nominee**