Also posted at my blog, TBR Mountain Range.
Jo Goodman creates a tale that easily compels western historical romance lovers' hearts.
It took me about a minute to fall in love with author Jo Goodman's talent. I love westerns and if they're historical westerns with romance, I love them even more, but finding one that mesmerizes is true gold. Jo Goodman understands how to create a setting and then slowly build upon it with three dimensional characters who demand your attention. Do you crave the unlawful Wild West and the men who manage on just this side of the law, along with their strong, supportive women? Look no further than IN WANT OF A WIFE.
In 1891, Jane Middlebourne is the poor relation to her cousin Francis who brought orphaned Jane into her home when her parents died, but not necessarily into her heart. Jane has been given many privileges as someone in a wealthy household but spent most of her time as the hired help. Jane and her cousin, Alexander, concoct a scheme to get Jane out of his mother's control, but not without consequences. Jane escapes with some money to become a mail-order bride in Wyoming but realizes she may have made a huge mistake once she arrives.
Rancher Morgan Longstreet believes his life is moving forward in the right direction the day he arrives at the train depot to pick up his sturdy, made for ranching, mail-order bride. Until he realizes the photograph he was sent is not the delicate woman who steps off the train. Dare he send her packing for a lie when his attraction is undeniable?
Sound like a familiar story? There's nothing new about mail-order bride stories and the many ways they can be told. What's new is when an author can layer a story piece by piece and snag your heart in the process. IN WANT OF A WIFE is exactly how I love a story to be told and if all historical western romances were written like this, they'd be all I'd read.
So, Jane and Morgan are opposites in many ways, then thrown together and dealt personal circumstances to overcome. They're not left alone to their own devices but surrounded and meddled with by Morgan's ranch hands as well as the folks in town. Mrs. Sterling lends her straightforward advice, without much care whether Morgan wants her say so or not. Or she tells Jane what she thinks without Morgan's permission. Then there's the young brothers Finn and Rabbit who annoy Morgan with their helpfulness, especially when Marshall Cobb Bridger deputizes the youngsters. And, the things they say are some of the best one-liners! Let's not forget the three brothers who work for Morgan at the ranch, when they're not fighting one another, who become quite fond of Jane and rile Morgan every chance they get. And that's just the beginning of the many secondary characters who add to the realism of this story.
Jo Goodman is a western historical romance master with her subtle layering that makes her characters spring to life, grabs our hearts and keeps us glued to the pages. Her fine attention to detail lands some of the funniest laugh-out-loud moments between the lead couple and the other characters. The laughter isn't continuous but unexpected and laugh-out-loud worthy, which is the best kind of funny, in my opinion. Plus, some of the conversations between Jane and Morgan are so endearing and wonderful and so memorable I will forever refer back to them. One such conversation happens in the middle of the book and it's such a great scene that sets the stage for what you hope for their future.
IN WANT OF A WIFE intrigues, is finely-laid out, molded and shaped, then allowed to blossom into well fleshed-out characters who can't help but love each other deeply once they realize neither one of them is giving up. Heartbreaking at times, made even more so by how invested the reader becomes in the lives of all the characters, IN WANT OF A WIFE is the kind of western historical romance I love to read and highly recommend.
If you want to read the rest of Jo Goodman's BITTER SPRINGS series, there are two more novels to read starting with THE LAST RENEGADE and followed by TRUE TO THE LAW, both published prior to IN WANT OF A WIFE. Also connected to the BITTER SPRINGS series is a novella in a multi-author anthology titled BOOTS UNDER HER BED. Enjoy! I know they're on my "to be read" list.
Review by Dorine, courtesy of Romance Junkies.