My Thoughts: Two women hoping for a change of pace are startled into a new reality when, after answering mail-order bride ads, they are met at the station by the brother of the man both thought they were corresponding with. Two such different women were never seen than Greta and Cora. Both feel used by Zach Gifford and are taken aback when they meet face-to-face with Jess Gifford. The man both thought they could love is, in fact a brusque, disarrayed, easily angered man who cannot seem to remember things. Zach knows his brother needs a wife to keep his dream going, running his own small ranch not the mercantile store his brother is the proprietor of. Having written to the ladies as Jess, Zach’s strategy is to allow Jess to choose his own wife and he agrees under one condition: That Zach court one of the women also. Jess’ world is about to change drastically as he finds himself captivated by one pair of very pretty blue eyes.
As a teen, I think my fascination with prairie fiction was great because of Janette Oke’s historical stories, but also because the writing was straight-forward and unfussy – something I appreciated having a preference toward uncomplicated prose’s. Though I always intended reading relative newcomer, Maggie Brendan’s novels, this was the first one I’d gotten around to. Reading the synopsis alone wasn’t all that enticing but I tried not to be a pessimist and decided it was time that something spurred me to reading Brendan’s books, and being given opportunity to review Twice Promised seemed the nudge I needed to spur me into cracking the pages of Revell and Brendan’s “Blue Willow Brides” series. Though I hate to be negative, I am afraid that I don’t plan on re-visiting this book.
For this reader, I was sadly let down by the writing, story and even at times the characters. All four of the main protagonists were upstanding moral people but their actions and quirks weren’t to be my liking. So many of their reactions and motivations felt insincere to me and it frustrated me to no end that someone didn’t just blurt out that they weren’t happy with the person who was courting them – I get the “delicacy” of not wanting to hurt the other three people who could be affected but to allow yourself to be in a position you feel is wrong didn’t set well with me and that is essentially what Greta and Zach both did. Their feelings lay elsewhere and yet, they kept quiet over foolish misunderstandings and fear of heartbreak. The “revelations” in this story were also not as jaw-dropping as they should or could have been and in fact were rather ordinary. Even the story line follows a strict pattern that is telling of how the end outcome. Perhaps I am merely burnt-out on old west fiction or maybe the older I get, the less tolerance I have for stories that aren’t my cup of tea but whatever the scenario Al Lacy has a better grip on the mail-order bride with his multiple book series. If you liked Janette Oke or Wild West fiction in general, then you will likely enjoy this tale of mixed emotions and misunderstandings. For myself, the entire novel was too much of a misunderstanding scenario that never really drew me in.
In Summary: Sometimes stilted writing and character’s who came across as too compliant made this something I won’t be anxiously awaiting the conclusion of though for fans of Brendan, I suspect, this will be a new Western jewel for your collection.
Synopsis: Greta Olsen arrives in Central City, Colorado, as a mail-order bride, expecting to marry Jess Gifford, the man she’s come to know through his tender letters. But when she meets Cora Johnson, she discovers she’s not the only bride waiting at the train station for Jess.
Already shocked to find they must compete for Jess’s affection, the young women can hardly believe it when not Jess but his brother Zach picks them up from the station–and reveals that Jess knows nothing about any mail-order bride, let alone two. Will either bride make the match she hopes for?
Filled with surprises, misunderstandings, and tender romance, Twice Promised is the story of how two unlikely women become twice blessed. – from the publisher
With thanks to the publisher for providing a copy of this book for reviewing purposes
Available October 2012 at your favorite bookseller from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group.