Friday, October 10, 2014

Book review of A Bride in Store by Melissa Jagears

Cover ArtAn historical romance with a western flair and a new up and coming author - what's not to like? That's how I felt when the book A Bride in Store arrived in my mail box. Only that feeling didn't survive to the last page for me. This was not a story I enjoyed. After reading many other reviews on line I see that I am in the minority though ... so please check around before making your own decision. An excerpt from the book is available on line by the publishers.

Melissa Jagears' second book, following her debut A Bride for Keeps continues on in the little western town of Salt Flatts, Kansas in 1881 with a new mail order bride arriving a tad too soon. Here is the Publisher's blurb:
Impatient to meet her intended groom and help him grow his general store, mail-order bride Eliza Cantrell sets out on her travels a week early. But her plan goes sadly awry when her train is held up by robbers who steal her dowry and Axel, her groom-to-be, isn't even in town when she finally arrives.
Axel's business partner, William Stanton, has no head for business and would much rather be a doctor. When his friend's mail-order bride arrives in town with no money and no groom in sight, he feels responsible and lets her help around the store--where she quickly proves she's much more adept at business than he ever will be.
The sparks that fly between Will and Eliza as they work together in close quarters are hard to ignore, but Eliza is meant for Axel and a future with the store, while Will is biding his time until he can afford medical school. However, their troubles are far from over when Axel finally returns, 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. 
Let's start with characters. This isn't a typical western in my mind. If you're looking for a cowboy or two this isn't the book for you. However our main male character of the story, Will Stanton does a very good job of playing the adorably sweet,and superb gentleman hero. He felt well-rounded and easy to like. The only thing he needed was a little more of a backbone.

Our female counterpart, Eliza Cantrell was not as endearing. She felt too spoiled, too selfish and too whiny to me. I understood as the book progressed that these were characteristics that she needed to work on and she did. However, I couldn't find that one character strength that drew me to like her. She did however, have the backbone our hero lacked.

The other characters in the story were well done. The author does a good job of not writing to the stereotypical quirks and traits. Her ensemble of characters were fun and interesting.

I did not read book one in this series, A Bride for Keeps, and I did not feel it affected my understanding of the characters. However there was one character, Jonesey, that I could not figure out why he was there - so maybe that was a carry-over from story one. Other than that I feel this book can be a stand alone.

The story premise was interesting and drew my attention from the back cover. However I found the story moved very slowly at times with not enough at stake for me. The tension needed to drive this story forward was weak and sometimes implausible.  I would have liked to see the characters do more and think less. There was too much "I think I should-- no I can't" inner dialogue going on. Both the main characters could have overcome most of the obstacles by having a little chat by the half way mark of the book.

Overall, I struggled to finish the book. If I didn't have to write this review I would've shelved the book. I liked the idea and the characters were fine, but the story had no draw and no excitement for me. I wouldn't recommend this book to a friend but I will give this author another read when she publishes again. As her own characters would attest ... everyone deserves another chance.

Thanks to Bethany House and the author for the opportunity to receive this book free of charge in exchange for my honest review.

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