by Laurie Kingery
Love Inspired Historicals
I want to bring your attention to The Brides of Simpson Creek series created by Laurie Kingery and published by Love Inspired Historical. Laurie has taken the mail order bride plot and flipped it upside down to create a series based on mail order grooms.
This series fascinated me from the moment I heard about it. I mean, we’re all familiar with the destitute or despairing mail order brides who choose to start a new life with a stranger in order to escape their old one. Let’s face it, in the 19th century, there wasn’t much for a woman to choose from if she didn’t have money to do what she wanted.
But why on earth would a man choose to be a mail order groom?
Laurie’s reasoning in the Brides of Simpson Creek is sound and believable. It’s 1865 Texas and the war is over. So many men and boys were lost in the fighting with some towns hit hard than the rest. So it is the case in Simpson Creek. Men are in short supply and almost a dozen young women of marrying age want a family of their own. Without the men, the town won’t survive. When one enterprising young lady suggests they place an ad for husbands, the idea doesn’t set well with everyone, but the ones looking to get married are all for it. And so The Simpson Creek Society for the Promotion of Marriage aka The Spinster’s Club is born. An ad is submitted to the Houston Telegraph with explicit instructions for marriage-minded bachelors to write back and wait for an invitation before appearing in town. With business taken care of, the ladies start checking the post office. It would be nice if men did what they were told, right?
Milly Matthews and her sister, Sarah, are trying to protect their ranch from Indians, rustlers and unruly neighbors. Milly is also the one who thought up the Spinster’s Club. She wants a man she can love and trust to help her run the ranch. And she’s adamant that men who reply to the ad should follow the rules and not just show up in town without an invite.
British Cavalry officer, Nicholas Brookfield isn’t really interested in finding a wife and settling down in Simpson Creek. He’s on his way to a job at the British Embassy, but after reading the ad where ladies were looking for husbands, he just has to come take a look – without writing of his intentions. He just shows up in the middle of a Spinster Club meeting and once he sees Milly, he's a goner.
Brave, spunky heroine vs dashing, protective hero. I thoroughly enjoyed this book.
Foreshadow: Throughout this book, Milly’s sister, Sarah had one crippling fear – that one of the marriage-minded bachelors would be a Yankee and try to hide it. By the time I finished Mail Order Cowboy and was ready for Book 2, I was yearning for the heroine to be Sarah and the man who comes calling to be a Yankee. Laurie did not disappoint me.
Sarah Matthews takes over the running of the Spinster Club when Milly marries. Sarah is still mourning her fiancé who never returned from the war – most likely shot by a Yankee. She loathes Yankees. When a badly-needed doctor answers the ad, Sarah takes on the task of corresponding with him. During their correspondence, Sarah’s interest is sparked. Her attraction intensifies the first time she sets eyes on Nolan – until he opens his mouth and his words have a flat, nasal accent! Betrayed by the lying Yankee, she passes him off to the Spinster's Club.
Dr. Nolan Walker is a widower who wore the blue during the war, but treated men of all colors. He wants to settle down where no one else cares either. Nolan doesn’t want to choose another member of the Club, he wants the woman he fell for through the letters, and he’ll wait until she’s ready to accept him. But will Nolan’s dream come true when Sarah’s prayers are answered and she has to choose?
Brave, misguided heroine vs honorable, lonely hero. This book sent me on a rollercoaster of emotions, but what I liked best was the snappy interplay between Sarah and Nolan.
Foreshadow: Sarah’s housemate is Prissy Gilmore, the new chairwoman of the Spinster’s Club. Sarah is hoping Prissy will meet someone this time. But in the background of this book is Caroline who lost her fiancé in Book 1 and feels her life is over. I really want to read Caroline’s story.
Prissy Gilmore, the mayor’s daughter, is easily attracted to handsome men so when she sets her cap for the new sheriff the minute she lays eyes on him, she has a hard time proving he’s really the one for her. But no man could be better for her than the honorable sheriff who only wants to take care of her and protect her town.
Sam Bishop and his dog are on the run and need a place to lay low. When Sam spots an ad for marriage-minded bachelors, he heads to Simpson Creek intent on finding a job and attracting a rich wife to cover his gambling problems. It’s his lucky day when he rides into town and within minutes of each other, gets a job as sheriff and meets the mayor’s attractive daughter. After awhile, Sam wishes he hadn’t lied about his credentials and wants to come clean with Prissy. But can he come clean with her and keep her love before his past catches up to him?
Devoted, impetuous heroine vs dishonest, loyal hero. At first, this hero made me mad. I understood why he did things, but that didn’t explain his continued dishonesty. Yet, Laurie took this ‘bad boy’ and turned him into a worthy hero.
Foreshadow: Caroline applies for the town's schoolmarm job. If she can’t have a family of her own, she’ll teach other people’s children. Oh Laurie – why haven’t you written a story for Caroline?
Guess what? I was over at Laurie’s website the other day and she has the 4th book in the Brides of Simpson Creek coming out in November and yes, the book is finally Caroline’s story. The Rancher’s Courtship has Caroline working as the town schoolteacher when her deceased fiancé’s brother, Jack, shows up with twin six-year-old girls and a herd of cattle. Jack is unaware of his brother’s demise and had planned to leave his daughters with the newlyweds while he finished his cattle drive. Oh, this sounds like another good one from Laurie Kingery although I’m not sure it classifies as a mail order groom story. Of course I’ll have to read it to be certain, though.
I sure hope Laurie will be at the ACFW conference in St Louis this coming week because I’d personally like to tell her how much I’m enjoying this series, as well as find out more about Book 5 scheduled for Jul 2012 according to her website.
Good twist on an old theme, Laurie. I'm enjoying this series immensely.
You can find out more about this Texas-born author at http://www.lauriekingery.com/index.html