My rating: 3 stars / I liked it
Mail-order bride Eliza Cantrell is on her way to meet her intended groom and help him grow his general store business when her train is held up by robbers and she loses her dowry. She's further thwarted upon arriving in Salt Flatts only to find Axel, her groom, away on business.
Hoping a wife would push Axel to become a better business partner, William Stanton had encouraged him to seek a mail-order bride. With Axel gone, Will feels responsible for Eliza, so he finds her a place to stay and lets her help in the store.
Working together isn't what they'd expected, and when Axel is further delayed, neither can ignore the sparks that fly. But Eliza is meant for Axel and is set on a future with the store, while Will is biding time until he can afford medical school.
Their troubles are far from over when Axel returns to town, however, and soon both Will and Eliza must decide what they're willing to sacrifice to chase their dreams--or if God has a new dream in store for them both.
I was so excited to read this book, but it turned out to be somewhat different than I expected. I love mail-order bride stories since it's a fascinating situation for two strangers to enter into. In this case, the delay of Eliza meeting her intended groom allows for her to get to know Will, his business partner. It takes a while for the chemistry to build between Will and Eliza and since they each are focused so much on the store and saving the business I felt like romance just wasn't a priority for them. Not to mention that Eliza is committed to marrying Axel and Will doesn't consider sharing the considerable flaws of his shady and absent business partner. I didn't fully buy into Will's hangups preventing him from pursuing his dream- there was just too much waffling and he came across as a weak character. There are some interesting historical details involving the general store that I enjoyed learning about.
(Thank you to Bethany House Publishers for a copy of the book in exchange for my honest review)