Happy Friday readers.
We've made it through another work week and to celebrate I've got returning author
Andrea Downing and her book, Dearest Darling.
Andrea Downing likes to say that when she decided to do a Masters Degree, she made the mistake of turning left out of New York, where she was born, instead of right to the west, and ended up in the UK. She eventually married there, raising a beautiful daughter and staying for longer than she cares to admit. Teaching, editing a poetry magazine, writing travel articles, and a short stint in Nigeria filled those years until in 2008 she returned to NYC. She now divides her time between the city and the shore, and often trades the canyons of New York for the wide open spaces of Wyoming. Family vacations are often out west and, to date, she and her daughter have been to some 20 ranches throughout the west. Loveland, her first book, was a finalist for Best American Historical at the 2013 RONE Awards. Lawless Love, a short story, part of The Wild Rose Press ‘Lawmen and Outlaws’ series, was a finalist for Best Historical Novella at the RONE Awards and placed in the 2014 International Digital Awards Historical Short contest. Dearest Darling, a novella, is part of The Wild Rose Press Love Letters series, and came out Oct. 8th, 2014, and Dances of the Heart, another full length novel, comes out in February, 2015.
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Genre: western historical romance
Publisher: The Wild Rose Press
Stuck in a life of servitude to her penny-pinching brother, Emily Darling longs for a more exciting existence. When a packet with travel tickets, meant for one Ethel Darton, accidentally lands on her doormat, Emily sees a chance for escape. Having turned down the dreary suitors that have come her way, is it possible a new existence also offers a different kind of man?
Daniel Saunders has carved out a life for himself in Wyoming—a life missing one thing: a wife. Having scrimped and saved to bring his mail-order bride from New York, he is outraged to find in her stead a runaway fraud. Even worse, the impostor is the sister of his old enemy.
But people are not always as they seem, and sometimes the heart knows more than the head.
Emily liked the sound of his voice, low but not husky, a slight twang he had cultivated, but not pretentiously so. When he spoke, she envisaged melting caramel, something delicious, the way it could be so appealing as she stirred, with a shine and slow drip from the spoon, before it gradually solidified. Soothing. A liquid velvet.
But he hadn’t spoken today. Not since first thing when he’d told her to get ready. Not through breakfast, or as he helped clear dishes, or gave her a hand up into the wagon.
“You haven’t seen her. You didn’t see her picture, did you?” The questions came sudden, yet without malice.
Emily straightened, alert. “No. No, I didn’t.” Would I understand better? Is that what he meant?
“I keep it with me.” Daniel began to fish in his pocket. “Would you like to see it?”
“No. No, you keep it, please. It won’t change anything.” Emily panicked. She would be beautiful, the other, that would be the answer. So stunningly beautiful that just her photograph had enthralled him, mesmerized him into loving her. Emily couldn’t bear to look, didn’t want to know the answer. Didn’t wish to torture herself further. “And I’m sorry. I’m sorry for reading the letters.” A rush of words, they flowed out of her. “I should never have done that. It’s not like me. But you...well, you understand it seems—”
“You’re probably wondering what I see in her. Or what she sees in me. As for that, what she sees in me, I have no idea. Maybe, like you, she wishes to get away.”
Emily studied his profile, the planes and contours of his face, the eyes set straight ahead, the slouch hat low on his brow. He gave nothing away, was a man in control of his emotions, thinking, maybe still wondering how he had won that woman. Or maybe set on keeping the answer to himself.
Overhead, clouds scudded, scoured the sky, leached the blue, threatened.
“Did you ever ask her? Why you?”
“I did. She never answered. I’m thinking what she sees in me is husband material. I guess. She tells me about her day, the people she knows, what she does. As you read.”
“She just seems so...so outgoing, so...so very social to ever want this life. I found it difficult to believe.” She jutted her chin out, then turned to him, waiting.
He gave the reins a sharp shake. “I don’t know. I never asked if she knew what she was getting into. I described it. I assumed if she wanted to stop the correspondence there, she would have. I was pretty damn amazed and happy she’d wanted to come, written back even though I described the cabin to her, the isolation.” His gaze slid toward her.
“And you think she’ll make you a perfect wife, do you? Be happy living here? Cook your meals, mend your clothes, keep your cabin, have your babies?” Exasperated, she tried to make him think, think of what he was letting himself in for, how long a marriage like that could go on, how it could end up being even lonelier than he was now. Emily would seem to him to be trying to win him over rather than making him see the truth, but push him she must, save him, stop him. She knew those sorts of women, the debutantes, the socialites. Not a one would last out here, not for a single day.
His head snapped around to stare at her. “She’s been writing. She hasn’t stopped.”
"…Dearest Darling by Andrea Downing is a page turning mail order bride tale that doesn't really follow the standard formula. Instead, the plot is fresh - after all, it isn't often that a story starts out where the wrong woman receives tickets West and decides to use them! Don't let the size of this book fool you. Even though Dearest Darling is only 88 pages, Andrea Downing provides well fleshed characters and an interesting plot that made me feel like I was reading a full length novel.
With plenty of attention to detail, the author paints a clear picture of the setting, allowing me to visualize it as the characters did. Ms. Downing also provides plenty of emotion, and it was easy to be drawn into Emily's longing to belong, and the peacefulness she felt with Daniel was sweet. Speaking of Daniel, he was the perfect male lead: kind, considerate, but determined to send Emily back. I will say that there was one sexual situation, but it was very beautifully written. I am a huge fan of the mail order bride genre and this story was certainly unique. Instead of a predictable tale, I found several twists which kept me guessing as to how the ending would eventually turn out!"
---Brenda Casto, Readers Favorite, 5*
"The romance was pitched perfectly, lots of "do I, don't I" moments, subtle looks and indecision that had me wanting to lock them in the bedroom until the sorted things out!
I loved the twists that appeared, they weren't obvious or expected. These led to a fantastic ending that left me satisfied with the story. That takes a lot of skill to pull of in just 26,000 words…
Overall I found this novella to be an adorable story and get away from life for a little while. It was an easy read to boot, allowing the reader to get straight to the story. Despite its short length, Dearest Darling had well drawn characters and a plot that felt complete and finished.
I give this a 5 for being a good all rounder." --Laura of Lurking reads