Friday, July 22, 2022

Review: The Element of Love by Mary Connealy

My rating: 4 stars / I really liked it


With their sharp engineering minds, Laura Stiles and her two sisters have been able to deal with their mother's unfortunate choice in husband, until they discover his plans to marry each of them off to his lecherous friends. Now they must run away--far and fast--to find better matches to legally claim their portion of their father's lumber dynasty and seize control from their stepfather.

When Laura befriends a mission group heading to serve the poor in California during their escape, she quickly volunteers herself and her sisters to join their efforts. Despite the settlement being in miserable condition, the sisters are excited by the opportunity to put their skills to good use. Laura also sees potential in Caleb, the local minister, to help with gaining her inheritance. But when secrets buried in Caleb's past and in the land around them come to light, it'll take all the smarts the sisters have to keep trouble at bay.

My Review

This series starts with the heart-pounding escape of the three sisters from their gilded cage, and doesn't slow down as they make their way deeper into California, relying on their wits and ingenuity. The voices of these independent young women are familiar as they remind me of previous characters of the author, even though their backgrounds are different. I admired the way they adapted to their rougher circumstances, learning new skills and making new friends along the way. Quick marriage is a frequent theme of the author, and while Laura has an immediate need for a husband, I missed the developing emotion of a relationship. The plot of the complicated dynamics of Caleb's mission to the gold rush families living in poverty, squatting on a local rancher's land, along with the sisters' goal to overthrow their evil stepfather's grasp of their lumber inheritance, definitely took center stage of the book. It was entertaining, but I didn't feel connected to the characters' more tender emotions. The book ended with a good wrap-up of Caleb and Laura's story, but the overall story of the three girls and their mother is only beginning and will continue throughout the series. Definitely should be read in order!

Disclosure statement: A complimentary copy of this book was provided from a tour group, publisher, publicist, or author, including NetGalley, OR was borrowed from the library, including OverDrive, OR borrowed from Kindle Unlimited, OR purchased. A review was not required and all views and opinions expressed are unbiased and my own.

The Lumber Baron's Daughters series

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