Kim Vogel Sawyer writes very well and I enjoy her books. “Beneath a Prairie Moon” is no exception. This is another mail-order bride novel, but with a twist.
Helena Bingham has a business matching eligible men with women of marriageable status, for a price. Abigail Grant has been sent to four different men for marriage, but either has returned of her own free will or has BEEN returned. She was raised in wealth, and when her father brought shame to their family by committing fraud, if she wanted to be married, since she was shunned by her former friends, she needed to become a mail-order bride.
Bachelors in Spiveyville, Kansas wanted wives, for comfort and for help on their farms and in their businesses. Since there were no single women in their town or surrounding parts, they collectively wrote letters to Mrs. Bingham seeking brides. When their letters arrive, Mrs. Bingham was appalled by their crudeness and illiteracy, not to mention lack of societal manners. In order to make sure she was not sending her girls into a bad situation, she decided that she and Abigail would travel to Kansas to provide classes for the men to teach them how to be husband material.
Although these marriage broker novels are mostly the same, this one in particular, is a joy to read. I found it so interesting because of the various characters and their mannerisms and also I found it very humorous which kept me reading. Ms. Sawyer has produced a good novel and I recommend it.
I received a complimentary copy of this book from NetGalley.com. The opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.
“Until Tomorrow” by Jill Marie Landis is a funny, poignant story of post-Civil War Kansas and Alabama. The story begins with ex-Yankee soldier Dake Reed travelling home from Kansas after leaving the army. He stumbles upon a wagon, which has been ambushed by bushwhackers, leaving two Negroes killed and a young woman in the throes of childbirth. She asks Dake to take her child home to her family in Gadsden, Alabama. Not sure how he is going to transport this child, no matter that he doesn’t know the first thing about babies, he is desperate to find help.
Cara James has lived on the Kansas prairie for most of her life and all she wants to do is go to California and live the dream of owning her own store. She has buried all of her family and is alone on the big prairie. She has bundled up her possessions and is ready to leave for California all by herself. When she sees a horseman coming to her dugout home, she gets her gun ready. Dake Reed asks for her help. He offers to pay her to travel with him and take care of the newborn as they try to reach the Clayton home in Alabama to turn the baby over to his grandparents.
This makes a good story in itself, but Ms. Landis has provided a most engrossing tale of the two as they travel across the country, neither of them knowing what to do with an infant, but also becoming attached to the little mite. Since Dake is an Alabaman who served with the Yankee army, he is not welcomed in his ancestral home by his brother and his fiancée. Those problems along with visits from the Klan make for a most appealing read.
I heartily endorse this book and hope that many of you choose to read it. If you do, I’m sure you will become great fans of Jill Marie Landis as I am.
I downloaded a free Kindle copy from NetGalley.com in return for my honest review.
In “A Love So True” by Melissa Jagears, Evelyn Wisely and her parents run the local orphanage in Teaville, Kansas. They are employed by Nicholas and Lydia Lowe who had previously worked there. Evelyn has a secret, but no one knows anything about it. She has determined never to marry and is leery of men…all men. Because of this, she is very active in the Teaville Moral Society and works to bring help, food, medicine and faith to the “soiled doves” of Teaville. She plans on opening a shelter for these women who want to leave that “profession”, teach them a skill, and see that they get a job. Of course, all of the members of the Society are not in favor of this. She must overcome seemingly insurmountable odds to accomplish this.
David Kingsman has been sent to Teaville by his father, a cold, unfeeling man, to try to revitalize his father’s business there. He happens upon Evelyn as she is hosting a Saturday picnic for the children of the women she is trying to help. She wants them to at least have one good meal. Sometimes the mothers venture to this outing and Evelyn attempts to lead them away from the brothels. David is captivated by Evelyn and her cause and decides to help. Along the way, the two find each other, but with everything they have against them, their plans seem to go awry.
I found Ms. Jagears writing style to be very appealing. Her characters jump from the page as realistic and true. The story moves along at a steady rate which makes for a leisurely read.
Kim Vogel Sawyer has taken true events from her family history and written a wonderful novel. “Room for Hope” is an apt title for the book because Neva Shilling and her children are unwitting victims of Warren Schilling’s “other life”. Warren and Neva own a mercantile in a small Kansas town. Warren travels every other month to pick up supplies and sell goods from his wagon. Neva and the children are anxiously waiting for his return one of those months. However, to their surprise and dismay, a lawman draws a wagon up to the mercantile, which also serves and their home, with a sad story and a wagon-load of goods and three small children. It seems that Warren has died in another town along with his other “wife”. It was his wish that the children of this pairing come to live with Neva. How could he do this to her and to his children? How would she manage to raise five youngsters, feed them, educate them, clothe them, and…most of all love them? The road to forgiveness, hope, charity, and love was not an easy one for Neva and the children. In the end Warren’s betrayal led to a life with more love than Neva could have ever imagined. The end was not what I expected, but so satisfying. I loved this book!
I was sent a print copy of this book by Penguin/Random House for my honest review.
“Gideon’s Secondhand Bride” by Kristin Holt was a very enjoyable book. Millie Owens was married with a small child, living in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. Her husband Oliver fought in the war and came home although Millie wished he hadn’t. The war changed him…made him a drunk, an abusive drunk. She feared for her life and her son’s life and decided she had to run away. Oliver had threatened her if she left, but love for her son propelled her forward. A good friend managed a mail-order bride enterprise and talked her into answering an ad from a farmer in Kansas. John Gideon was a widower with three young children and needed a wife to care for them. He intended this to be a marriage of convenience. He and Millie married, but Millie carried the truth about her marital situation and worried that Oliver would come to cause trouble.
I really enjoyed this novella and had a hard time putting it down. It was written to be easily read as is usual for Ms. Holt. I downloaded a free Kindle copy of this book from Amazon.com.
“When Mercy Rains” by Kim Vogel Sawyer is the first book in the Zimmerman Restoration Trilogy. The secrets of an Old Order Mennonite family threaten to destroy them. Suzanne, a 17 year old girl finds herself in trouble. Her mother sends her away in shame. However, she stays in Indiana, becoming a nurse and raising a daughter. Twenty years after she left home, she is contacted by a brother to come and nurse her sick mother. She reluctantly returns to Kansas to face her family, community and first love. Suzanne hopes that she will find forgiveness for long ago transgressions, but she is not counting on that. Her past will eventually come to affect all those she loves.
I liked this book, however, I was very put off by the reactions of Suzanne’s family during her problems and after she returned to them. I think this book left me a little unsettled. However, I would still recommend this novel. Kim Vogel Sawyer is a wonderful writer of stories of faith and hope.
I was sent a free print copy of the book by NightOwlReviews.com in return for my honest opinion of the book.
“Through the Deep Waters” by Kim Vogel Sawyer is a very good novel. The story concerns a young woman who was born and brought up in a brothel. She desperately wants to live her life differently than her mother did. After the mother’s death, Dinah decides to accept an offer to be a chambermaid in the Clifton hotel in Florence, Kansas. The hotel was owned by the Harveys, who also owned and ran restaurants catering to train travelers. Harvey Girls were either chambermaids or servers in the chain of Harvey hotels. They were kept under very stringent rules and were expected to be exceptionally good girls.
Dinah had a past that she was desperate to keep quiet. She held herself aloof from her fellow chambermaids and kept herself from making friends lest she be disappointed if they found out about her and rejected her. She’s had enough of that in her short life.
Amos was a chicken farmer who had an accident when younger and now walked with a decided limp. It was hard for him to get around, but he decided that he would raise chickens to provide eggs and fresh poultry to the citizens of Florence and ultimately to the Clifton Hotel. He was tired of being alone and wanted to find a young woman to share his life and have his children. He met Dinah and could not put her out of his mind.
This novel is about overcoming afflictions, both emotional scars and physical scars. I loved this story. It was a very sweet love story about two damaged individuals who find love, with each other and with the Lord. I also enjoyed the references to the Harvey Girls who worked in Fred Harvey’s hotels and restaurants at this time in history. The Harveys gave young women a chance to have a life apart from being taken care of by their families and others. They made a living and were given a place to live, which helped many poor girls who had neither.
Ms. Sawyer writes very sweet, personal novels which are an absolute blessing to read. I always enjoy her stories and try to read them all.
I was sent a free print copy of this book from Waterbrook Multnomah’s BloggingforBooks.com in return for my honest review.