Everett Cline will never humiliate himself by seeking a mail-order bride. Not again. He’s already been jilted by three mail-order brides and figures a wife just isn’t in his future. However, a well-meaning neighbor hasn’t given up on seeing him settled, so she goes behind his back to bring yet another woman to town for him.
Julia Lockwood has never been anything more than a pretty pawn for her father or a business acquisition for her former fiancé. A mail-order marriage in faraway Kansas is a last resort, but she’ll do anything to leave her life in Massachusetts and the heartbreak she’s experienced there.
Although Everett doesn’t see how a beautiful, cultured woman like Julia could be happy sharing his simple life, he could really use a helpmate on his homestead. Determined to prove she’s more than just a pretty face, Julia agrees to a marriage in name only. Faced with the harsh realities of life on the prairie and hesitant to explore the tentative feelings growing between them, can Everett and Julia ever let each other in long enough to fall in love?
Julia Lockwood has faced more heartbreak in the past ten years than most people experience in a lifetime. Trying to escape from the pain back home, she impulsively agrees to become a mail-order bride for her pen-pal’s neighbor. While uprooting her life and adjusting to being a wife for a Kansas farmer is more difficult than she imagined, Julia is determined to prove to Everett that she can handle it, that it wasn’t a mistake for him to choose her. With the past hurts still filling her heart, Julia struggles with her self-worth and can’t allow herself to let Everett in. Will she ever let go long enough for him to show her he doesn’t want to hurt her?
Although based on its synopsis, this book—the first installment in the Unexpected Brides series—seems like it is purely a romance novel, it really isn’t as much as you would think. In a good way of course. A Bride for Keeps is threaded with feelings of guilt, pain, rejection, and worthlessness that I found I related with on so many levels. Many times I found myself begging Julia and Everett to see that they were worth so much more than they thought they were. To me, it made this story more understandable, more thought provoking, more touching than it would have been otherwise. That is why I give it all five bookmarks. It reached my heart in ways some books never can.
Also, there is an e-novella—Love By the Letter—that precedes A Bride for Keeps that you can get for free on your Kindle or Nook (there’s a link to it on my Amazon Store). It’s a really great short story that first got me hooked on Melissa’s writing, so I would definitely suggest checking that out before you try this one.
All credit for the italicized synopsis goes to Melissa Jagears and her publishers.