Title: Nellie: The Brides of San Fancisco 1
Genre: Historical Romance
Author: Cynthia Woolf
Purchase Links: Amazon
Nellie Wallace is a young widow with two children. In post civil-war New York, the men are scarce and none want the burden of a wife with children. Her dead husband's family is wealthy, and cruel. Desperate to escape their influence, and eager for a home, a husband, and a stable life for her children, Nellie decides to make a new life in San Francisco as a mail order bride. Saloon owner Blake Malone is a bachelor and likes it that way. He worked hard for everything he has, but the San Francisco City Council won’t approve his plans to build a family emporium unless he is a family man himself. The solution? A mail order bride from New York who will bring him a ready-made family, stability, and the council's approval. Blake expects his future wife to care for his home and, other than helping him impress the city council, to stay out of his business. He expects life as usual. What he gets is an unexpected desire to win Nellie's heart, a dangerous threat to his new bride, and a rich benefactor determined to steal his new family out from under him. Blake believed his battle for success a hard one. But he will discover that the battle to win Nellie's heart and keep his family safe is going to take everything he's got.
**This is NOT a clean romance. There are explicit sex scenes.
***There are also discussions on abuse, which may be a trigger to some.
I love mail order brides. Hands down my favorite sub-genre. I'm not sure why, but I love it so much! Because it's my favorite, I have very high expectations when going in. Not going to lie, I was a little disappointed here. Oh, I liked it just fine, but there was also a lot that just didn't fit well for me.
Here's the thing about fiction, yes, it's fiction. Yes, it can be outlandish and unbelievable, it's fiction. However, if you want me to fall in love with your characters, if you want me to get them and want to know them more, I have to be able to relate to them. I need to be able to understand their reactions. If I can't do that, I'm going to walk away disappointed. That's just how human emotions work. I couldn't connect here. The emotions didn't seem right. I fell in love with Nellie...but I'm still not sure I like Blake.
In the beginning he comes off as a bit of a villain, but he's supposed to be redeemed by the end...I just didn't really feel that that was illustrated well. There needs to be more development from his perspective, especially as the relationship between him and the antagonist changes. The development there isn't as smooth as it could be.
Recovering from abuse is a hard line to walk, and unfortunately, Cynthia didn't walk it well here. Blake was still pushy and borderline abusive. NOT OKAY. Perhaps she was trying to be true to the times, but it really fell short because it was far too modernized in other parts.
Overall, I'm giving this story 3/5 stars because I did enjoy quite a bit of the story and the idea was great. Overall, however, it just fell short of what it could be. This would in no way deter me from reading another of her books in the future.
As of this posting, it's free on Amazon.