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Winning the Mail-Order Bride (Oak Grove) Kindle Edition
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Fiona is a recent widow with two young sons who has been living in Ohio. Thanks to the circumstances of her husband's death, she and her sons have been treated as outcasts. It is strongly suggested that she become one of the brides. The mayor personally invites Fiona to become his bride, bypassing the Betterment Committee. When she arrives in Oak Grove, the mayor quickly shuffles Fiona and her boys to a small house, telling them to stay there. The house is empty of everything except one small bed and has no food or provisions of any type. Fiona herself has no money to purchase these things.
Brett lives in the house next door to Fiona's. He is a successful businessman and one of the disappointed bridegrooms. He encounters Fiona's sons, Wyatt and Rhett, on his way back from fishing. Learning of their situation, he invites them and Fiona to eat with him. I loved Brett. He was one of seven boys growing up and immediately connects with both Wyatt and Rhett. He knows just how to talk to them and treat them.
There are so many emotions in this book. There is loneliness. Brett wants what the other men have found - love, friendship, passion, and a family of his own. Fiona has been alone in a way since even before her husband's death, thanks to his drinking and other problems. There is anger. The anger of the men who feel that they have been deceived, Brett's anger at the way Josiah treats Fiona, and Fiona's anger at Josiah over the way he treats her sons. There is also confusion, as Fiona is torn between keeping her word to Josiah and following the heart that increasingly leans toward Brett.
Most of all, there is love. I enjoyed the development of the relationship between Brett and Fiona. There is an attraction from the get-go, though both try to resist it. Both know that Fiona is promised to Josiah. But Brett can't deny that Fiona is everything that he has been looking for, and he quickly feels very protective of her and the boys. I loved how Brett took care of them, both with food and simply caring about their needs and wants. It was really sweet to see how quickly Wyatt and Rhett began to look up to Brett. Fiona quickly discovers that Brett is everything she could wish for in a husband. His kindness, generosity, and caring are a balm to her wounded soul.
But things look pretty bleak for a happy ending for them. Fiona is promised to Josiah and, having been the victim of broken promises, refuses to break her word to Josiah. I ached for her because it was obvious that Josiah is all wrong for her. Brett has a similar problem because, before he met Fiona, he had wired his mother that he was looking for a wife, and she had already found a woman for him. So both Fiona and Brett are honor-bound to other people. A life-threatening injury for Fiona and an unexpected twist in the other woman's arrival bring matters to a head. The solution to Brett's problem is quite clever, while Fiona's required her to put herself first.
The secondary characters were well done. Josiah, the mayor, was a character it was easy to dislike. He was pompous and had a very high opinion of himself. He was also a bit underhanded in his dealings with the men and with Fiona. He had selected Fiona for very selfish reasons, feeling that he needed a wife for his social and political well-being. His treatment of her and the boys showed a man who doesn't think of others before himself. He did redeem himself a little bit at the end, but I still found him to be very unpleasant. Fiona's sons Wyatt and Rhett were terrific. Wyatt was only seven, but he tried so hard to be the man of the house. Rhett, at five, was adorable, especially the way that he hero-worshipped Brett. I loved the various townspeople, especially the ladies that took care of Fiona. It was sweet to see the way that they all pulled Fiona into their lives, offering friendships like she'd never had before.
Fiona Goldberg was left widowed with two young son, Rhett, and Wyatt, and due to the nature surrounding her late husband’s, Sam, death, she is now being treated as an outcast. When the pastor’s wife informed her of Oak Grove, she was given the name of Josiah Melbourne and with a quick exchange of letters, agreed to come and marry him.
Josiah knows that he needs to be a married family man for his social status. In his mind, marrying a widow with children will improve his standing in the community. The way he goes about it isn’t as upstanding, and when the other men in town find out, it nearly causes a riot.
The plot will have Fiona and her two sons coming on the train to Oak Grove, being met by Josiah and shuffled off to an empty house with one bed and told to stay there. They are left in a strange town, hungry, and without food or provisions. Next door neighbor, Brett Blackwell, sees Wyatt and Brett and befriends them, offering them food, and insist Fiona join them for fish he just caught.
The story has so many secrets to be revealed, plenty of angst, anger, and confusion, along with one woman being pulled in two directions. One man wants her to be his wife just to have a wife, and the other man is falling in love with her and her sons. Honoring her word is important, and she is trying to teach her sons that a person’s word is their bond leaves her in a pickle. There is no chemistry or attraction between Fiona and Josiah and when it comes to his treatment of her and the boys, it leaves a sour taste in her mouth. Is marrying this man what is best for her family? “If you want to be treated like a queen, you have to act like one.”
Brett Blackwell wants what the other men in town do, a wife, a helpmate, a friend, and a future with a family. Sending a telegram to his mother is kept secret, with only one other man knowing the truth. What will happen when the young woman shows up in Oak Grove to become his wife? When Brett meets Fiona and her sons, there is instant chemistry. When he learns of her commitment to Josiah, and the way Josiah has treated them, he isn’t happy.
The story will take on a life and death situation for Fiona that will bring the towns people together and throw a wrench into Josiah’s plans. Now Fiona must decide what lesson to teach her sons. Is the happiness of her family worth suffering by marrying someone in haste because of a promise? Or, should the welfare of her children and herself be her top priority? Two men want her, but only one truly cares for her and her children.
“Fiona wondered if she’d been caught in a Kansas tornado. Some claimed those fierce wind twisters popped up out of nowhere, and that was exactly what it felt like. As if she’d been lifted up, twirled around and set back down again so fast her head was spinning.”
Disclosure: I received an e-copy of this book, and voluntarily am reading and writing an honest review. All thoughts, opinions, and ratings are my own.