Friday, October 22, 2010
Review: Second Chance Brides by Vicki McDonough
This is a delightful historical novel set in the tiny town of Lookout, Texas, about 20 years after the Civil War. It was a time when the expansion of the American West was taking its toll on women and children to a far greater extent than on men. It was a the time of the mail-order bride, and the two main characters in this novel were just that, having been wooed into coming to Texas but under false pretenses. But the man they understood was to be their husband (neither woman knew about the other initially) was now going to marry his long-time love. The Corbett brothers had written and entices Leah and Shannon to Lookout, believing that this would push their cousin Luke into finally marrying. Now these women were stranded with no job and no marriage prospects, being supported by the Corbetts until they could find husbands or move on.
Leah was more than willing to leave Missouri after learning that her father had "sold" her to an elderly man. She had been involved in helping her mother raise her 10 siblings, being the oldest, and she just had to get away.
Shannon was a lovely Irish girl who had come to America with her parents because this was her father's dream. Not long after arriving both her parents had dies in one of the 19th century influenza epidemics. She was alone, without any family in a foreign country, and having a home, a husband, and possibly children of her own was something she had long desired. Perhaps this was her opportunity.
This story centers around the efforts of each of these women to move on with their lives. Shannon secures a job with the very brothers who brought her to Texas, tending to their office and doing their bookkeeping. Yet she is so lonely and the man with whom she has fallen in love doesn't appear to return her affection. She must decide whether she will accept someone else's offer of marriage or go elsewhere, perhaps to Dallas.
Leah is at her wits end. Unlike Shannon she has no job and there doesn't appear to be any job prospects for her in Lookout. She is attracted to the local livery owner, but is this the direction her life should take? Even when it appears that this is the one with whom she will spend the rest of her days, true love definitely doesn't run smooth.
This is a beautiful love story for each of these women, but each woman's experience is marked by worry over the future, courage to face the unknown, and finally hope. Each has a personal faith that is the foundation of their lives which sustains them through some very tough times. Were it not for their faith and their belief that God had brought them to Lookout for a reason, each would have been awash in depression and discouragement. It is a story of friendship and caring, community and sharing in the difficult days of the Old West. In the midst of fire, injury, sickness, and tornadoes, the people of that time struggled and carved out a life for themselves. It embraces the values of live that are seen as the bedrock of the American culture. There is also a lovely side story that involves the daughter of the local marshall, her adventures with her friends, and the lessons she learns through those experiences.
This is a gentle story that is taken right out of the pages of the history books. Lovers of romance fiction and especially of the Old West will especially like this novel. All in all, I think it was a very good read and one that quite enjoyable. I am going to be sure and get this book for my granddaughter. I give it a rating of 4 out of 5.