Abby: Mail Order Bride
by Verna Clay
Publisher: M.O.I. Publishing
Page Count: 129
Release Date: June 9, 2012
How got: personal library; bought via Amazon
First attention getter: genre it belongs to
Brant Samson has fallen on hard times with the death of his beloved wife a year earlier from lung fever. Left with three children, he's desperate to find a mother for them. Ten year old Jenny does her best to care for two year old Ty, and fourteen year old Luke works the ranch with his father, losing himself in dime novels to ease the pain of his mother's passing. Brant's options are limited since eligible women seldom pass through Two Rivers, much less settle in the small Texas town. In desperation, he places a classified advertisement for a mail order bride. Marrying a woman he'll come to know through a newspaper advertisement scares the bejesus out of him, but at this point, he's out of options.
Abigail Mary Vaughn always dreamed of having her own family, but caring for her elderly parents, as well as working as a teacher to help with finances, ended that dream. Her parents are now dead and she's faced with the reality of her lonely existence. After reading Mr. Samson's advertisement in the Philadelphia Inquirer, she garners enough courage to respond. Since she is considered an old maid at the age of thirty-eight, she'll more than likely spend the rest of her life wondering "what if" unless she does something unconventional.
Star Rating - 4
For its length, this was a pretty successful romance. Novella length stories of this kind don’t always succeed, but for the most part, this one does.
I liked that the author chose to play around with her leads and their circumstances, making them different than your usual farmer and his mail-order bride. Their ages are significantly different than the usual, and I liked that Abby was a normal sized woman, not a pixie-thin gal. For being a former teacher from a somewhat privileged background, Abby shows a lot of grit and bravery to go into such an unknown situation and try to build a better life. I loved that Brant was willing to look beyond the obvious with Abby to see the sweet, loyal individual she really was.
I liked that the author was also willing to go to some distressing areas with the overall story and fate of characters. Historical romances can veer off into the smoopy sweet territory, making many areas unbelievable and so removing my enjoyable from the story. Yet, Clay played around with some tragedy and tears to give her romance depth in contrast to all the pain. For a novella, that’s a bold step I liked.
Where this book suffered a smidge was a common fault I’ve run across in novellas. The author seemed to be trying to fit too much into one storyline. Situations and conflicts were solved very quickly as the story progressed, never really giving the reader a chance to sink teeth into any one thing. Prime example of this is how quickly Brant’s kids got on with Abby and how quickly they seemed to accept her as a mother figure, Luke especially. He starts out as a typical teen who misses his mother so lashes out, but it only takes a few gestures on Abby’s part to win him over.
For a historical romance novella, this work actually stands up pretty well. I loved the leads and their relationship. The author chose to incorporate unusual aspects into the story that gave it extra depth and stand-out power. It fell short in the usual area that novellas do with me; yet overall, I enjoyed the book more than I didn’t. I’d recommend it to lovers of short historical romances as it’s a nice diversion and won’t take long to devour.