Author: Andrea Downing
Read Type: eARC from Wild Rose Press
You can purchase a copy of this book from Amazon UK, Amazon US and Wild Rose Press
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Book BlurbStuck in a life of servitude to her penny-pinching brother, Emily Darling longs for a more exciting existence. When a packet with travel tickets, meant for one Ethel Darton, accidentally lands on her doormat, Emily sees a chance for escape. Having turned down the dreary suitors that have come her way, is it possible a new existence also offers a different kind of man?
Daniel Saunders has carved out a life for himself in Wyoming—a life missing one thing: a wife. Having scrimped and saved to bring his mail-order bride from New York, he is outraged to find in her stead a runaway fraud. Even worse, the impostor is the sister of his old enemy.
But people are not always as they seem, and sometimes the heart knows more than the head.
Author BioAndrea Downing likes to say that when she decided to do a Masters Degree, she made the mistake of turning left out of New York, where she was born, instead of right to the west, and ended up in the UK. She eventually married there, raising a beautiful daughter and staying for longer than she cares to admit. Teaching, editing a poetry magazine, writing travel articles, and a short stint in Nigeria filled those years until in 2008 she returned to NYC. She now divides her time between the city and the shore, and often trades the canyons of New York for the wide open spaces of Wyoming. Family vacations are often out west and, to date, she and her daughter have been to some 20 ranches throughout the west. Loveland, her first book, was a finalist for Best American Historical at the 2013 RONE Awards. Lawless Love, a short story, part of The Wild Rose Press ‘Lawmen and Outlaws’ series, was a finalist for Best Historical Novella at the RONE Awards. Dearest Darling, a novella, is part of The Wild Rose Press Love Letters series, and comes (came?) out Oct. 8th and Dances of the Heart, another full length novel, comes out in the next few months.
Strong language: Some, mild
Sexual content: Yes
I received a copy of this novella in return for an unbiased review.
What would you do if your brother had been keeping you as a servant in your own house for years, then one day a rail ticket arrived to sweep you away to be a man's bride, along with a sensuous love letter? There's the mild problem that the letter isn't addressed to you… but the address is smeared beyond legibility by the rain. After all, what's the difference between one mail order bride and another? He would even be grateful when he discovered you have been keeping house before and can help him tend his life in the west… right?
Emily Darling finds herself in that very predicament, and after deliberating at length she takes off, without the knowledge of her brother to travel the width of the country. The welcome she receives is less than she'd hoped, now she just has to decide if she wants to win his heart over to her, or try to make her own way in the world.
This novel is written in clear, precise writing, letting the emotion and story flow without an abundance of adverbs, adjective, metaphors and other flowery language that can smother some romance novels. I was also pleased to find that despite it being based in the historic America West, and me in England, it was easy to understand the terminology (there was one minor incident where my kindle dictionary tried to suggest the characters were going to have one of the horses curried for tea, but I quickly got that definition cleared up with the author! For anybody wondering this is a type of stiff comb for grooming.)
Daniel Saunders, the gentleman she'd hoped would accept her, is a quiet man, both in contemplation and anger. Having saved for a long time for that ticket he is distraught that somebody else has taken the place of his bride; especially when they expect him to marry them instead. He's fiercely independent, doing household chores himself, often seeming to do it just to make poor Emily feel unwanted. Yet he had a softer side that shone through, drawing both Emily and the reader to feel for him. He felt like a lost man, needing something in his life to come home to after a hard day on the ranch.
The romance was pitched perfectly, lots of "do I, don't I" moments, subtle looks and indecision that had me wanting to lock them in the bedroom until the sorted things out!
I loved the twists that appeared, they weren't obvious or expected. These led to a fantastic ending that left me satisfied with the story. That takes a lot of skill to pull of in just 26,000 words.
Overall I found this novella to be an adorable story and get away from life for a little while. It was an easy read to boot, allowing the reader to get straight to the story. Despite its short length, Dearest Darling had well drawn characters and a plot that felt complete and finished.
I give this a 5 for being a good all rounder.