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review 2019-07-08 00:22
Character Round-Up
The Express Bride - Woodhouse, Kimberley

Barbour has a great concept with The Daughters of the Mayflower series. Covering some of America’s most auspicious historical events, the characters all descend from two Mayflower passengers, and yet each story stands alone so that they can be read in any order. Add to that the wholesome Christian perspective and you have a compelling series that addresses true periods of history from a fictional viewpoint. Having read each book as it releases, I have enjoyed every one of them, but some have left a deeper impression than others.

Kimberley Woodhouse’s “The Express Bride”, The Daughters of the Mayflower book nine, ranks among my favorite installations in this series. To begin with, it focuses on a brief but fascinating interval in American history, one that I have always found rather enthralling. Upon reading the author’s note at the end, I was surprised to learn that the Central Overland California and Pikes Peak Express Company, better known as the Pony Express, actually failed financially during its short-lived run. The brevity of its existence makes it all the more interesting to me, and I was quickly drawn into the tale.

“The Express Bride” offers a glimpse into the routine and way of life of a combined express and stagecoach station in 1860. Located in the isolated wilderness of what was then the Utah Territory, the Carson Sink station serves as a tiny town unto itself. More remarkably, a young woman named Jacqueline “Jackie” Rivers runs the station and takes care of the riders who live there. As she adjusts to life without her recently-departed father, she finds herself embroiled in helping James Crowell root out a counterfeiting operation while also assisting a man named Elijah Johnson in the search for his employer’s heir.

Several aspects of this story appeal to me. The main characters are endearing, and the residents of the Carson Sink station have an easy camaraderie that adds depth to the narrative. Jackie is tender-hearted but also has admirable strength of character as she shoulders many responsibilities while still dealing with her grief. With a prominent Christian element, this story highlights the virtues of forgiveness and loving one another, and I appreciated that the author points out that two of the characters had been unequally yoked because one had not truly accepted Jesus into his heart. Not being much of a fan of romantic angst, I also enjoyed the fact that intrigue and discoveries dominate much of the narrative, with the romantic thread serving as an overall small portion of the book. Containing an inspirational message throughout, historical details about the unique Pony Express venture, and mysterious happenings, I highly recommend “The Express Bride” as a stirring western adventure.   

I received a complimentary copy of this book from Barbour Publishing and was under no obligation to post a review.

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review 2017-10-28 00:00
Pony Express Special Delivery
Pony Express Special Delivery - Rhonda G... Pony Express Special Delivery - Rhonda Gibson 4.5 stars.

Review to follow
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review 2017-06-05 18:43
The Crippled Pony Express Rider & The British Bride, Indiana Wake
Mail Order Bride: The Crippled Pony Expr... Mail Order Bride: The Crippled Pony Express Rider and the British Bride: Clean, and Inspirational Western Historical Romance (Mail Order Bride Murder Mystery Book 6) - Indiana Wake,Belle Fiffer

I enjoyed this clean Historical Western Romance. I voluntarily chose to review it and have given it a 4.5* rating.This was an interesting mix but they liked each other right away. Now they needed to get to know each other better.There is a little bit of mystery in this too. Now on to the next one.

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review 2017-03-20 00:00
Pony Express Mail-Order Bride
Pony Express Mail-Order Bride - Rhonda G... Pony Express Mail-Order Bride - Rhonda Gibson 4.25 stars
This is the second of the Saddles and Spurs novels that I have read. I have enjoyed both, but I think Pony Express Mail-Order Bride was the best so far. Though I thought the characters were a bit on the young side (eighteen), and Bella's lack of trust made unnecessary hardships for the couple, the story kept me engaged from beginning to end. That's actually saying a lot, since they spent a lot of time doing every day tasks around the homestead, and there weren't a lot of diversions other than what kind of sweets Bella baked for dessert, so the author's writing style is engrossing, and the protagonists' inner monologues were kept at a steady tempo to draw the reader in and care about the characters.

Bella turns up at a Pony Express relay station with her young nephews in tow. She's come to reply to Philip's ad for a mail-order bride. Only Philip didn't place the ad; his brother did to get him back for a placing an ad for him the previous year. When Bella seems at the verge of tears and at her wit's end, Philip suggests that they have a marriage of convenience (third marriage of convenience in less than a week in a Harlequin!). He never wants to get married because he is afraid it will destroy him emotionally if anything were to happen to his wife, just like what happened to his father. Bella, penniless and desperate to keep her nephews, agrees to his proposal of a loveless marriage.

While the boys could often be annoying, (how many times do you almost have to drown to listen to orders to stay AWAY from the river?), the slowly building relationship between Philip and Bella felt natural and believable. They both have dreams that they have had to set aside, and those unfulfilled aspirations poke at them like at tooth pain. With rumors that the Pony Express might be shut down, Philip suddenly has the opportunity to realize his dreams.

Bella wants to be supportive, but she's terrified that she and the boys will have to flee when Bella's villainous ex shows up, making threats and trying to force her to marry him. I was worried that the awful man would cause a bigger rift between Philip and Bella then he did, mainly because Bella was afraid to tell Philip that she was being threatened by another man. With the help of the local lawman, the threat was neutralized, leaving Bella and Philip closer and ready to admit their feelings for each other. I have to see if the library has the rest of this series, because the books are a quick, satisfying read, without being too preachy. I love the settings, and the Pony Express has always fascinated me.
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review 2016-12-26 00:00
Pony Express Courtship
Pony Express Courtship - Rhonda Gibson Pony Express Courtship - Rhonda Gibson 4.5 stars

What a heartwarming read! I loved how dedicated to each other everyone in the Young family was. Rebecca is trying to raise her family after the death of her husband, but she is leery of the arrangements her late husband made to have her farm become a Pony Express station. Her adopted sons are going to be riders, and right off the bat Rebecca has reservations about the safety of this endeavor. The boys do need to earn money so they can build lives for themselves, but Rebecca can't help but worry about them being on the trail by themselves.

Seth, the new station master, has reservations of his own. He's here to whip the boys into shape and teach them survival skills for the trail, but Rebecca is constantly questioning his methods, like a mother hen. No wonder the Pony Express prefers hiring orphans! This is a dangerous job and now Seth is beginning to worry about the boys' safety as well. It's hard for him to do his job as he develops feelings for the boys and their young mother.

Pony Express Courtship is just a nice, sweet read. Everyone cares for each other, and the sincerity of their feelings really shine throughout the story. This is a story about the strength of family and friends, and it is a prefect holiday read. I'm looking forward to more in this series.
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