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Friday, October 19, 2012

Cantrell's Bride by Suzanne Ferrell

Cantrell's Bride by Suzanne Ferrell
Publisher: Ellora’s Cave – Blush
Genre: Historical
Length: Full Length (239 pages)
Heat Level: Spicy
Rating: 4 stars
Reviewed by Camellia

Spinster librarian Laura Melbourne is in danger. She’s the only witness to the murder of a senator, and the assassin is hunting her. Desperate to flee, she agrees to become a mail-order bride.

The last thing Nathan Cantrell wants is a new wife, especially one with secrets. What he needs is someone on his Colorado farm to help care for his daughter, a child who has limited contact with the world around her. For his daughter’s sake, he advertises for a mail-order bride.

Nathan is surprised to find himself tempted by Laura, but her ability to care for his daughter prevents him from sending her packing. Soon their marriage is more than one in name only, but the secret from her past threatens not only their tentative union, but their very lives.

Mail order brides had all kinds of reasons for going west to wed an unknown man; but Laura Melbourne has one of the best reasons—to stay alive.

Laura has survived miserable conditions growing up, but she has no self-pity. She has determination. An industrious, intelligent, thirty-year-old spinster, Laura takes her friend’s advice and with careful planning believes she has escaped a killer, even if she did have to marry a man who has no intentions of falling in love with her.

At his wits end as to how to take care of his precious daughter Rachel, Nathan Cantrell takes the advice of his friend Micah and orders a bride. He doesn’t want a wife. His first wife had pretty much bankrupted him and made him the laughingstock of the community with her promiscuous ways. Her cruelty to their child is crushing to him. Laura was not what he expects and he wants to ship her back east but she doesn’t want to go—a deal is a deal.

Little Rachel reaches out and grabs one’s heart. Her despair and isolation are heartbreaking. As she inch by inch improves, one wants to cheer her on. Her survival tactics amaze.

The secondary characters like the widow Sarah and her children, the mercantile owner Jenkins, and Micah bring winsome personalities to the story and give the reader a close look at true friendship. They add depth and meaning to Rachel, Laura, and Nathan’s making a life together. “Once burned, twice shy” really fits Nathan and Rachel, but Laura, bit by piece, gains their trust. Her unstinting generosity and ability to cope bring about profound changes.

Nigel Blackwood, attaché to the British Embassy, is a power hungry killer. When his henchman Otis fails to find Laura, he does away with him and pursues the one person who can destroy him. He wants the power promised him, but more than that, he wants to save his own life. Consequently, he searches relentlessly for the eyewitness that seems to have vanished.

The climax of Cantrell's Bride reveals the length a person will go to in order to save loved ones as well as showing friends that prove tried and true when the going get rough.

Suzanne Ferrell takes an often-used bit of old west history along with ordinary, predictable events and creates a delightful character-driven story that catches the attention and propels one along from a quiet library in Washington, D. C. to the obscure farm of a struggling father in Colorado. The tension, humor, and ordinary doings of life make Cantrell's Bride engaging. It is a story that reaffirms that the indomitable human spirit can meet and beat fears and hardships of life to find a happy-ever-after.