on November 26th 2012
Purchase: Amazon, Barnes & Noble
Bessie Randall is shocked to discover that, thanks to her sister’s meddling, she is now married by proxy to Jasper Mendenhall, a man she’s never met. Since her plain looks have attracted no other suitor, Bessie travels to Fort Bridger to take up life with this stranger and discover what surprises God has in store for them both.
Coble's first historical series consists of: Where Leads the Heart, Plains of Promise, The Heart Answers, and To Love a Stranger. You'll want to read them all!
¬¬Reviewed by AnnMarie¬¬
This story is about Bessie Randall. Unknown to her, her younger sister Lenore has been corresponding with an army man, felt smitten with him, and when he asked her to marry him by proxy (mail) she agreed. Unfortunately, all that was done with Lenore using her sister’s name. Bessie only finds out by accident about the romance and that as all the legal documents were in her name that her sister forged, she is married to a man she has never even spoken to. Lenore is selfish, and has actually fallen for another man, this one in person, and she pretty much expects Bessie to take her place with Jasper Mendenhall. Bessie knows her sister has really wronged both herself and Jasper, and she is in two minds about what she should do. She has always been known as the plain sister, with not so much as one marriage proposal in her 26 years, so this situation could at least see her married and maybe in time with children. But on the other hand, she is not the sister this man fell in love with. She decides to read the letters that he had sent Lenore and before she even got half way through she realised that she had to go to him and explain the situation while at the same time offering to stay as his wife.
Jasper isn’t at all pleased when he finds out what has happened, and he certainly isn’t at all keen on the plain woman that Bessie is, when he was expecting the stunning black haired beauty that is her sister. He isn’t even sure if he believes that Bessie wasn’t involved in the duping, trying to trap herself a husband. It’s not the greatest way to start a relationship, but they both decide that during a trip to his new posting they could think further about if they wanted to try to make their marriage work, or just get it annulled.
This was a beautiful, sweet love story that was a pleasure to read. It was only about 2 hours long, so although the content was deep and emotional in some places, it really was a nice light read. There were plenty of light hearted moments in the book too which had me laughing out loud. I started out angry at Lenore for her deception, but as things get better and better between Bessie and Jasper, I was actually happy that her selfishness paid off for the couple. As for Bessie, she’s a beautiful character, and watching her confidence grow throughout the book was a real delight. As for Jasper, his biggest problem was trust, and his pride. Every time he seemed to let his guard down, he would remember being duped, and the doubts would start up again about Bessie’s part in it, and the walls would come up again.
During the long journey many trials and tribulations are faced including an attack by Indians. Bessie holds her own and shows all the men of the army, including Jasper that she isn’t just a little woman who won’t be able to cope with the strains of living out west. During the trip the relationship seems to take one step forward and two steps back, with neither of them really being honest about their feelings. Will they decide to stay married? Will a relationship between them ever work when it started out based on lies? It doesn’t help that Bessie believes that Jasper is still longing for her sister. Will she be able to settle in a marriage where she knows there is no chance of a total commitment from the heart from her husband? You will have to read the book to find out?
I voluntarily reviewed an Advance Reader Copy of this book.