Anna Ivey is one of my all-time favorite heroines. Orphaned and utterly alone after the Civil War, she carries a weight of guilt which cripples her from ever allowing love to blossom in her heart. She feels she is responsible for the deaths of those closest to her, and fears she will be the demise of anyone she lets near. Despite her poverty and grief, she is a plucky, hard-working gal, and unafraid to take the risk of joining Asa Mercer’s emigration of single women to the Northwest Territory.
Utterly handsome Joe Denton has worked his Seattle lumber enterprise for eleven years as a single man. He loves his land more than anything, even more than the wife he lost back east before she could join him. Without a wife, however, he will lose half of his land due to the land grant rules. Married men are entitled to 640 acres, but a single man can only have 320. Desperate to retain what he’s developed, he agrees to take one of Mercer’s brides, sight unseen.
What results is a delicious conflict of physical attraction, emotional hang-ups, and a dash of mis-communication, smattered with humor and, ahem, almost-romantic rivalries. Joe believes he has secured a bride, while Anna holds to her contract as stated—to work as a cook. Can Joe muster the charm and love for Anna to win her as his bride before his deadline?
Many twists and unexpected delights awaited on this romantic journey. Full of tangible yearning, this story held me captive to see how the guy gets the girl. In the end, it was deeply satisfying. One of the most beautifully written and deeply characterized books I’ve read in a while. Wonderful secondary characters make this a fun, and at times, laugh-out-loud book. But keep a hanky close—some parts just hit the spot.