A big family, a reading addiction, and the occasional celebrity scandal are the ingredients of life that create one woman's opinion on just about everything.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

MAIL ORDER BRIDE by Maureen McKade

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MAIL ORDER BRIDE by Maureen McKade

I saw this quote for the book on the author's website and I just had to put it here because it sums up how I feel too.

"There have been so many romances with the title "Mail-Order Bride," one of them was bound to get it right. McKade does with her tale of Kate Murphy..." -- Marcia Abramson, Detroit Free Press

Kate Murphy arrives in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado after selling off the family farm to settle her dead father's debts. She arrives believing that leaving Kansas to start over fresh as someone's mail order bride is her only option since she has no money or means of support. She arrives in the midst of a huge mining accident in which her fiance has been killed. There she is far from everyone and everything she knows with no money, no job and no friends or family. Terrifying circumstances for a woman of those times to be sure.

I liked the gritty realism of the period in this book. Set in a mining town Ms. McKade doesn't hesitate from the opening pages to let us know how awful mining was (and is) for men who work below the earth. To demonstrate how far apart her characters are Kate Murphy has an interest in astronomy and her last remaining cherised possession is an astronomy book while Trev Trevalyn is tied to the earth and mining from his Cornish roots to his current position as superintendent of mines for the wealth mine owner, Cromwell.

There is a mixture of fascination, attraction, guilt and hopelessness for both Kate and Trev regarding their relationship. Trev is not the typical hero. He has been married before and set his cap and won his wife in a less than honorable manner and one for which he feels remorse. The story finds him a widower and with two young children to raise. He wants nothing to do with another relationship and his focus is on keeping his well paying job and raising his children with more hope and opportunity than he had growing up. I appreciated Ms. McKade showing us his conflict with balancing what he knew was right with wanting to keep a good paying job to provide a secure and good future for his children.

Kate on the other hand struggles to feel something for the man she came to marry and now must mourn and bury. She also has the more pressing need of a place to live and finding a way to support herself. Fortunately she finds an older mining widow to take her in. Good for Ms. McKade for not immediately having these two solve all their problems by marrying and then using the remainder of the book having them get to know one another. I think this story is more honest and interesting the way she did it.

While Trevalyn admires Kate and sees her sensibility and smarts, he is far more interested in her to provide reliable and loving care for his children than a love interest for himself. Kate sees Trev's offer as an opportunity to make some money, re-think her life and a chance to study something she loves and gain some independence.

Obviously since this is a romance, these two people find each other, but I liked that it was a struggle and not a pat resolution for them to come together. Also, while there is sexual tension, and I enjoy the steamy (remember my review of
HOT NIGHTS?) I also appreciate that this book remained true to the characters and the times where a sexual relationship was not something a couple in a small community could jump into without repurcussions and a great deal of thought. In fact the issue is addressed in the book about the appropriateness of Kate coming and going to Trev's house and both their motives are questioned.

If I have any complaint it's that the characters aren't honest with themselves...let alone each other about their growing attraction and feelings. Just when it reached the point of "oh for godsakes people" they both seemed to wake up out of their trance. After creating these two pretty sensible and forthright people I was disappointed Ms. McKade chose to make them clueless about their relationship with one another.

This is a good solid read. I would classify it more as a historical set in the west rather than a western.

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Blogger ames said...

Great review. This book seems interesting and I've heard good things about the author. I'm just a bit worried about the kiddies. LOL

8:35 PM PST  
Blogger Rosie said...

Ames, I have kids and sometimes when authors include them they seem like little aliens. No worries here though.

9:38 AM PST  

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