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?
|Release Date||Jun 18, 2013|
- Review by Tina
Excerpt from book: “Following the War Between the States, mail-order bride catalogues sprung up like mushrooms, none could claim as many successful marriages as the Hitching Post.” There are many different reasons a single woman or man wrote and advertized for a bride or groom. Each one of these women traveled from the East to the mid-west/West to marry. Generally, these women have no money or family to return to back East if things do not work out for them to marry.
Melvin Hitchcock owner and editor of The Hitching Post, “a mail-order bride catalogue for the discerning, lonely or desperate...”. Melvin personally reads each clients ads or letters in case he has to “edit the wording”, adjusting the contents of the ads/letters before placing the ads, thereby showing his clients in their best light to their prospective bride/groom. His way of looking out for his clients best interests and insuring they do get married. Of course, his “editing” of their correspondence brings about all kinds of misunderstandings which in turn lead to some interesting and sometimes funny situations.
This is a wonderful collection of four mail-order bride stories:
1. And Then Came Spring by Margaret Brownley, spring of 1870 Colton, Kansas
--Mary-Jo travels from Georgia to Kansas to marry David. However, he is very late in meeting her at the train station. The longer she waits for him the angrier she gets, as well as scared. After waiting over 2 ½ hours, she approaches the ticket operator again requesting location of the hotel. What should have been her wedding day turns out far different than she ever imagined. On the way to the hotel a young boy runs into her. She learns the boy is her intended's son and he tells her she can find his Pa at the church. Why is David at the church instead of meeting her at the train station? Very angry now, she charges into the church and is shocked with what greats her. Now what does she do? In tears she flees from the church. Sheriff Tom, David's brother, runs after her. What was his brother thinking advertising for a bride in that mail-order bride catalogue? What is he to do about her now? Is there an answer they all can be comfortable with?
2. An Ever-After Summer by Debra Clopton, summer of 1870 Honey Springs, Texas
--Ellie has longed to be a wife and mother, but since everyone she cared about dies, which is her fault according to her Aunt. No decent man in Fort Worth will marry her least they die too her Aunt reminds her and urges her to leave and not return. Ellie answers an ad in the Hitching Post Mail-Order Bride catalogue for a husband far away. Matthew, a widowed rancher with a two year old daughter answers an ad in the same catalogue and invites Ellie to come to Honey Springs, Texas to be his bride. Once Ellie arrives in Honey Springs she finds that all is not what she expected. Matthew is a widower with a two year old daughter but there are things that don't add up with his letters. Matthew is wondering the same about Ellie, she isn't anything like he pictured her from her letters. One of them must have lied, but which one is telling the truth and which one is lying? Can they work through the apparent lies to the truth and continue with the wedding?
3. Autumn's Angel by Robin Lee Hatcher, September of 1870 Grand Coeur, Idaho Territory
--With no other prospects of a husband Luvena answered an ad in a mail-order bride catalogue. She receives an answer and travels from Boston, Massachusetts to the Idaho Territory to marry Clay. Along with her are her 14 and 8 year old nieces and her 10 year old nephew whom she is guardian to.
Living in an old mine town there are not many women who are not already married. So Clay advertised for a “young woman who is strong, willing to work hard, has a keen mind and good business sense for a bride”. And NO widows with children! Once the stage finally arrives he watches as three children descend from the stage coach followed by a lovely young woman. Is she his intended? Once he learns that she is indeed his intended, he asks about her luggage. She nods and informs the stage driver which bags belong to her and the children. Children! He goes cold all over. The children climb aboard the waiting wagon and Luvena glances at Clay. Questions fly back and forth as they try to untangle the misunderstanding. Obviously someone has mislead the other in their letters. Why would Clay send money for the children along with hers if he did not want children? Why did she not inform him she had three children she is guardian to? Anger and confusion mount as questions and accusations fly back and forth. As Luvena learns of Clays offer does not include children she crumbles in a faint at his feet. Clay picks her up and places her in the back of the wagon. This has to be unraveled after they make it to Grand Coeur and have rested the night. And strong letters will be written to Mr. Hitchcock of the Hitching Post Mail-order Bride catalogue immediately.
4. Winter Wedding Bells by Mary Connealy, November of 1870 Wyoming
--Melvin Hitchcock of the Hitching Post Mail-Order Bride Catalogue scanned the thee page letter from David to Megan shaking his head. This will not do at all. How does he expect to secure a wife and mother for his two sons-4 and 5-by telling her he is about to die? No woman will travel all the way to Wyoming to marry knowing her future husband is on deaths door. He threw two of the three pages away and proceeded to add another page to the first and mailing it to Megan with the assurance he was helping those two young people find their mates.
--Megan arrives from Chicago weary and proceeds to the hotel to wait for David inside. But the doorman refuses to let her in the front door, informs her to go to the servants entrance. Leaving her no option but to wait out in out of the bitter cold November air. A coach stops not far from her and two boys scramble down followed by a finely dressed man. Before Megan and David can introduce themselves the boys struggle over a hat, one boy lands under the carriage they just left and the other boy ends up in the street about to be trampled by the stage coach. Without thinking Megan dashes after him and manages to grab him but rolls into the middle of the busy street. One of the horses hooves scrap across her back knocking her further into traffic. David rushes to help as best as he is able. Once everyone is safe, David escorts them all into the hotel to talk he is racked with a terrible cough and clutches his chest. Apparently he is not over the pneumonia yet she thinks. But David is determined for them to marry as soon as possible to ensure his sons will be taken care of once he is gone. As they travel to Megan's new home in a private train car David learns that she is just as determined to make him well not matter what the “top doctor” says. Will David recover enough to live and see his sons grow up? How can he teach her everything she needs to know to run a ranch as well as his sons and home? Is he sicker than he told her in his letters? What will she do if he really dies?
I really enjoyed each of these stories. They are by different authors and the characters are not connected in any way other than the ads they posted in the Hitching Post Mail-Order Bride Catalogue. I can't imagine answering an ad for a bride and then moving across country to marry a man I have never met. It was not easy as the prospective brides and grooms soon find out. Mr. Hitchcock's editing of their letters/ads brings about some interesting problems, unexpected situations, misunderstandings and even humor that they must muddle through and find that they are indeed suited to each other.
~~~I received this book from Thomas Nelson Publisher in return for my honest opinion~~~
~~Posted review on Goodreads.com, BarnsandNoble.com, Christianbook.com and Amazon.com~~ (Posted on 10/12/13)
- Review by Kathleen E.
A Bride for All Seasons ~The Mail-Order Bride Collection~ Brownley*Clopton*Connealy*Hatcher, ©2013
What fun and unexpected happenings all in one place!
There are three sections in the back. For each of the four novellas in this book there is a Reading Group Guide. And... An Interview with the Authors ~ Behind the Scenes with Your Favorite Matchmakers; followed by About the Authors.
Hitching Post Mail-Order Bride Catalogue 1870
The lot is cast into the lap,
But its every decision is from the Lord.
--Proverbs 16:23 NKJV
And Then Came Spring by Margaret Brownley
There is a fun Glossary of Mail-Order Bride Advertising Terms (And What They Really Mean) following the story.
Melvin Hitchcock owns and edits the Hitching Post Mail-Order Bride Catalogue and "finds it his duty to present clients in the best possible light" ~ so a little rewording here and there before their ads are posted are sometimes in order. Sometimes a necessity, if the truth be told, and definitely Melvin wants a happily-ever-after union, not a frowned upon stretching of the apparent-upon-sight!
Miss Parker needs to be represented correctly if she is to linger. Superstitious at that! Mary-Jo has traveled from her home in Georgia to be wed to Mr. Garrett. Traveling on a Friday has caused his demise, she is sure of it. Not his traveling; hers. She arrives in town a little too late and is first greeted by young Master Garrett and then by his uncle, who happens to be the county sheriff. Of all the luck, or lack of it. In all of her travels to Kansas, she is out-of-luck. Completely.
She hated to compare the sheriff to her gambling father, but Tom treated his nephew in much the same way Pa treated her. Eddie wasn't just running to catch up; he was knocking on the door of an empty house.
--And Then Came Spring, 45
Young Eddie's uncle is unprepared to care for his newly deceased brother's eight-year-old son. In a short time, Mary-Jo Parker has already gotten Eddie out of a couple scraps standing up for him. All she has had to compare the sheriff to was what she had known. What is she to do? This is not at all what she expected.
I really enjoyed this story by Margaret Brownley. Once they get acquainted, Mary-Jo finds she is the one who needs a little changing.
~*~ ~*~ ~*~ ~*~ ~*~
"For I know the plans I have for you," declares
the Lord. "Plans to prosper you and not to harm
you, plans to give you a hope and a future."
--Jeremiah 29:11 NIV
An Ever After Summer by Debra Clopton
Ellie leaves home at the request of her aunt and is hoping for a happy-ever-after. She has been accused of causing the demise of her family ~ her mother at her birth, her father, following of heartbreak, and on and on gossip acknowledges that she is not one to stay around.
There is a curly-haired little girl needing her mothering and Purdy needing to be the protector of the little girl too. Her daddy has already settled his ever after.
Right then and there he resolved he'd offer this woman his last name and his protection in exchange for care for his daughter. But not his love. Not his heart.
--An Ever After Summer, 122
Toss in some cattle rustlers, and a dance to remember.
~*~ ~*~ ~*~ ~*~ ~*~
This means that anyone who belongs to
Christ has become a new person.
The old life is gone; a new life has begun!
--2 Corinthians 5:17 NLT
Autumn's Angel by Robin Lee Hatcher
Love the handwritten letters within!
As long as he is good to me and kind to the children, as long as he is a Christian and has integrity, it doesn't matter who he is or where he lives or what he looks like. I'm not marrying for love. I'm marrying because it's the practical thing to do. The same reason hundreds of other women choose to travel west and marry complete strangers. People have been arranging marriages since almost the beginning of time. It will be all right. It will.
--Autumn's Angel, 201
Has Mr. Hitchcock tampered with this to suit his perspective outcome of his magazine successes?
Luvena turned toward the stagecoach and pointed toward the luggage that the Wells Fargo driver and station agent were unloading. "Those" two smaller trunks there and those two carpetbags are ours."
Ours. He liked that she said it that way, even if she hadn't traveled light. Good thing he'd borrow a wagon instead of a buggy. Still, she'd said ours instead of mine, and he knew they were going to get along. It was a good start for their union.
Well, well. Mr. Hitchcock has ad-libed ~at liberty~ omitting three important children, for sure. Especially when Clay Birch made it quite plain in his first letter he wasn't interested in a widow with children; never mind that they are her nieces and nephew. He sent fare for Luvena Abbott to come as his mail-order bride to foresee them doing good for others together. Hmm...
Grand Coeur Opera House. Clay is having the stage rebuilt in the old Grand Theater. He desires to have the folks of Grand Coeur see beauty and grace to make a difference in their daily lives.
"I don't suppose anyone would consider me a refined or cultured man, Miss Abbott, but I've seen how people can be transformed by performances of great artists. The audience may think they're just being entertained for a few hours, but it can be so much more than that. It can make them long for something better...."
Will he discover the change in him, beyond what he regards himself to be?
Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.
--2 Corinthians 5:17 KJV
I especially liked how Luvena found the practical thing was not to be determined by circumstance.
~*~ ~*~ ~*~ ~*~ ~*~
Yea, though I walk through the valley of the
shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art
with me; thy rod and they staff they comfort me.
--Psalm 23:4 KJV
Winter Wedding Bells by Mary Connealy
Mr. Hitchcock has again edited the letters. He has sent on pages 1 and 3 of David Laramie's letter to Megan McBride.
And an Irish lass, for sure!! This half-Irish Kathleen likes that! [That would be me.] ~*~ Back to the story.... Fortunate for Megan she has had experience with five younger brothers. The sleek carriage arrives dispelling David and his two young sons as bedlam proceeds. A need for David and Megan each to rescue one from the Chicago streets. They are used to the country life and not the crossing hoofs of horses in both directions carrying their wares and supplier of transportation.
Megan looked down at the boy she held. She asked, "And can I be trusting you to stay at my side, laddie? No running off? No horseplay?"
The boy nodded as if he was quite terrified to disobey. Megan released the child, took a few moments to dust herself off. She straightened her bonnet, which had been knocked nearly off her head. Then she tidied Zachary with quick, efficient motions. Regaining Ben's hand, she said, "I'm ready to go in then. We can have our visit and decide if we'll be suited to one another, Mr. Laramie."
"You just saved my son's life," Mr. Laramie said with grim satisfaction. "I reckon we'll suit just fine. In fact, we'll suit well enough you oughta call me David."
--Winter Wedding Bells, 300-301
That's what I call "an introduction and referral."
David Laramie has his own train car; a borrowed one because of his health. He is in a slow recovery from pneumonia. They are preparing for their wedding meal.
Megan stepped onboard and gasped. A velvet couch, brass lamps. A table with four chairs to her right, the table laden with platters covered by domed metal lids for keeping food warm. Her stomach growled.
"We'll eat first." David pulled the door shut. She wondered if he'd heard her stomach.
He threw a latch, which blocked off a means of escape for the rowdy boys.
Megan's new sons are four and five. The four of them are on their way to their ranch home in Wyoming. David met Megan in Chicago as he was there for doctoring care. They marry the day after meeting and go directly to the train. David married for his sons to have a mother's care, with his illness extinguishing his life ~ mentioned on the center page she did not receive. However, his eyes do not have death in them, nor does Megan's belief and heart.
Many plans occupy the mind of a man, but the LORD's purposes will prevail.
--Proverbs 19:21 ISV
~*~ ~*~ ~*~ ~*~ ~*~
I thoroughly enjoyed these four novellas. ~ All together in one place. ~ Endearing, they will remain with you after the last written page.
***Thank you to Litfuse Publicity Group for inviting me to be part of this blog tour for the four novellas and sending me a copy of A Bride For All Seasons ~ Spring, Summer, Autumn, and Winter ~ they have been delightful reads! This review is in my own words. No other compensation was received.*** (Posted on 7/16/13)
- Review by Anne
Each author has done an excellent job in this collection. The stories are fast-paced with plenty of sparkling repartee that kept me positively engaged. The character development is good and there are some precious moments between the brides and bridegrooms.
Introducing us to the ramifications of Melvin's meddling is author Margaret Brownley's And Then Came Spring. With her trademark wit, Margaret blends feelings of fear, abandonment, and grief into a work of fiction that is both funny and sweet, while showing how God works his perfect will in life. Lots of chuckles and oh no's, along with some serious head shaking made my family look askance at me a few times while I read this novella.
Mary-Jo Parker arrives in Colton, Kansas expecting her groom to meet her at the train station. The agreement was they would get “hitched up” right away but after a few hours of waiting, he doesn't show so she goes looking for him. Of course, being such a highly superstitious person, she has to be extremely careful. Margaret managed to introduce me to all kinds of superstitions people have that I wasn't aware of. Thanks to Sheriff Tom Garrett and his steadfast faith in the Lord, Mary-Jo learns that there's no need to live in fear of stepping in the wrong place, spilling salt or any of that other nonsense. God is the one in control! And you'll meet Eddie, a little boy who has firmly planted himself in my heart and I hope gets a grownup story of his own someday.
I highly recommend this collection of novellas to all Historical Fiction fans!
I received an ARC of the book from the author in exchange for my review. No other compensation was received.
(Posted on 6/17/13)