I always love when a good novella collection featuring a beloved author introduces me to similar writers. I’ve enjoyed Regina Jennings and Mary Connealy’s historical westerns with touches of humor and I was glad to find the stories from Melissa Jagears and Karen Witemeyer are just as entertaining. These four novellas all revolve around couples where the path to love runs rough, but will be sure to draw a few laughs.
The Husband Maneuver by Karen Witemeyer: Marietta Hawkins has a crush on her father’s ranch foreman, partly because of what she actually knows of the man, and partly from the dime novels based on his earlier life when he was known as Dead-Eye Dan. Daniel Barrett despises the stories written about him, more fiction than fact, and he’d rather forget about his days as a bounty hunter. He’s ready to move on with his life, leave the ranch and build his own spread. Marietta has one last chance before he goes to win his heart, but her love of the dime novels may get in the way. I really enjoyed how the story included little snippets from the novels at the beginning of chapters, showing the contrast between the fictionalized and real man. The characters were nicely developed, so even for a novella, I felt like I knew them well. She has a great writing style. I am looking forward to reading more books by Karen Witemeyer.
Her Dearly Unintended by Regina Jennings: Katie Ellen is taking care of the family farm while her parents are away. When neighbor Josiah comes over to check on her, the bridge washes out, stranding the pair. A suspicious-looking stranger has Josiah fearing for Katie Ellen’s safety, so the two pretend to be newlyweds in order for Josiah to keep her safe. Only problem is, the pair can barely get along, so convincing the stranger will take a lot of effort. Regina Jennings part in this collection is what made me want to read this book. Josiah and Katie Ellen’s story was my favorite, a couple of childhood best friends that grew apart . I enjoyed how they kept their sense of humor, even with a dangerous stranger watching them.
Runaway Bride by Mary Connealy: Carrie is being pressured into a marriage she doesn’t want, so when she decides to run away, she writes to her sister for help. Carrie and younger brother Issac sneak out one night and run into Big John, the Texas Ranger sent by their sister to help them cross country to safety. I enjoyed all the characters in this story, main and supporting. I wanted to know more of their stories, which I’m hoping will be connected in the rest of the Kincaid Brides Series.
Engaging the Competition by Melissa Jagears: Harrison and Charlotte (AKA Charlie) have been competing since they were kids in school. Charlie is in danger of losing her family home, which would be devastating to her ailing mother, so she plans to marry August Whitacre. While taking refuge in Charlie’s barn during a storm, Harrison’s glasses get broken, leaving him nearly blind. Feeling responsible, Charlie agrees to help Harrison with his teaching job until he can get replacement glasses. This was my first time reading anything by Melissa Jagears. I highly enjoyed this story. I love that she gave the main character a physical flaw, being nearly blind without glasses. This was a charming novella, and I will be looking for more books to read from this author.
Recommendation: I’d highly recommend this collection to anyone who enjoys light-hearted reads and old west cowboys. This is a great way to test out some authors that may be new to you. Who knows, you may discover a few new favorites like I did. This is one of the best novella collections I’ve read.
Rating: 5/5 stars
I received a free copy of this book from the author/publisher in exchange for an honest review.