The spinsters and widows, a seventeen-year-old innocent, a Missouri belle, and the wagon train's handsome half-breed scout all have reasons for moving west, all of them carrying secrets. Now they will discover the dangers of the trail match the dangers in their souls.
Comment: Although not always in the mood for a western, this month I just imagined a great adventure in the wild west and this author writes the kind of stories I usually tend to enjoy when it comes to the sub genre. I was once more proved right until the very last page, where a small detail was enough to make me not give this the five star grade I thought about through the whole book.
This is the story of a wagon trail journey from Missouri to Oregon, when wagon master Cody Snow, on his last trip across the west, takes merchandising and mail-order brides to their respective husbands-to-be. The journey is dangerous, long and filled with possible setbacks. Those who embark on it need to work as team, need to be resilient and prove they can endure the difficulties, the boredom and the lack of comfort. Cody knows his men are ready for it but when it comes to the brides it's another story.
This book is about the brides and how each one needs to face challenges, physical and emotional and the best reward, besides arriving, is to do so while becoming a better and stronger human being...
This book is a romance and I really liked how the two main romance sub plots were developed here. But, overall, this should be read more as a woman's fiction tale very centered on the woman's evolution. We also have a secondary situation related to the merchandising Cody and his men are also taking to Oregon, so they can profit from the journey but personally, I wasn't much interested in that because my focus were the women and their individual plights.
In fact, I really liked this aspect of the book: of course it's not possible to have everyone's POV in a way that would ensure a consistent and manageable plot but from details everywhere we get to know a lot about each bride and her evolution as a character. And the brides do make this book feel alive. I liked learning something about all of them even if three were more central than the others and took the role of protagonists, along with Cody and Webb, one of the men working with Cody.
The main protagonist we can say were Cody and Perrin. Perrin is one of the brides, she's beautiful but an outcast because she is reported to have been the mistress of a man back home. The other women don't talk to her except one or two. The society "rules" make her an outcast but things change when, by chance, she gets to be the spoke person for the group of women, representing them all with Cody, the master of the journey. Perrin fears this at first, she knows what it's like to be alone and dismissed but with time, her personality comes through and she becomes a true heroine. She fights her attraction to Cody but since this is a romance we know they will have to end up together somehow.
Another central couple is Mem and Webb. Their story is more subtle and takes longer to become defined. I liked Mem, she is adventurous, friendly, caring and she shows no prejudice nor hate towards others. We kind of want her to win Webb's love and that makes all the difference for her future.
Augusta is another bride, her story is the more complex I think. I kind of wanted her to be redeemed sooner but her story is quite addictive and I admit I wanted to see what next she would do when facing a new challenge. I suppose she was the one who evolved the most, emotionally speaking.
The other brides are secondary, but all have different fates and some don't get to arrive in Oregon. Obviously there's a moral lesson here, when it comes to second changes, of using the chance you have, of becoming a better person, of letting go of the things that brought you down, of proving to yourself you're more than the looks or the name, or the gender you have. The emotional complexity of each bride was quite alluring to read about and their relationship and interactions the best part of the novel for me.
As a romance novel, this was not the best ever, but it did fill all the required fields for it to be a good story. The plot was interesting,t he author did a good job in creating situations, scenes where we could see the development and the spirit of each character. It was amazing when the key characters managed to arrive in Oregon at last and out heroes found happiness and the brides married.
At this point, the very end, I was ready to give this a 5 star rating on GR. I had been amazed and while reading I found little to distract me away from these characters, always a plus in my appreciation of a book. But the author also included a sort of epilogue, where we discover the fate of each bride who arrived in Oregon.
I must say that, for me, it was an overkill and the bitterness of those three or four lines about each character ruined the fascinating HEA read just a couple of pages before.
The destiny of some brides was definitely something I wouldn't need to know about, no matter how much closure one can applaud the author for.
Well.. so much for imagination and dreaming about their happy futures... but for each their own and some readers certainly liked this last information detail. For me it's a definite no.