Saturday, 15 November 2014

Mail Order Tangle by Caroline Clemmons and Jacquie Rogers

Contains two stories by best-selling Western Romance writers

Mail Order Promise by Caroline Clemmons is the first, followed by Mail Order Ruckus by Jacquie Rogers

Clemmons has created a wonderfully real setting filled with three dimensional characters we’d all love to meet in real life.

About Caroline Clemmons

Caroline Clemmons is an Amazon bestselling author of historical and contemporary western romances. Her books have garnered numerous awards. Her most recent novel, BLUEBONNET BRIDE, is a poignant tale of tender redemption. A frequent speaker at conferences and seminars, she has taught workshops on characterization, point of view, and layering a novel.

About Mail Order Promise

Mail Oder Promise unfolds amongst the backdrop of the a-little-bit-tamed Wild West, on a cattle ranch where the cowboys ride armed and the women earn their keep. It sets itself up for a sweet romance between a tough, practical young rancher and a pampered rich girl who has been brought down in the world and in desperation signed herself up to be a mail order bride. They sum each other up pretty quickly, each writing the other off as an unrefined bully and spoiled brat respectively. How will they be persuaded to see past their prejudices?

The characters are beautifully portrayed. Ellie is hugely dislikeable at the start, but still I couldn’t help relating to her. Her greatest sin is the inability to shut up, and I think we’ve all been in the position of putting foot in mouth at the worst possible time. Having been brought up surrounded by prosperity and opulence, she has never worked a day in her life, and her arrival on the ranch is a rude awakening.

Thank God her character is the one who goes through the biggest transformation. It was a little bit of a stretch, but she becomes a more likeable, hardworking ranch woman by the end of the story.

Kage, the male love interest, is hugely likeable. He sizes her up pretty quickly and I have to admit fairly accurately. I think he’s way too good for her, but it’s a mercy he didn’t listen to me because the ending is predictably sweet. Where Ellie’s problem is her big mouth (and inability to boil the jug), Kage’s problem is his stubbornness. They find each other attractive but unsuitable, and the usual misunderstandings follow.

The pace of the story is mostly good. I felt the ending didn’t have the “punch” in the right place, ending with a rather sickly picture of family bliss, which I felt was not necessary to the story. I was wondering if someone was about to jump out of a box. But no, it was just a few extra pages of happiness.

The rest of the book however does some perfect head switching from her to him and back again; just the right amount spent in his for us to know that she is the author’s main focus, but that he doesn’t find her wholly unattractive… just annoying. Which I did too, so she had to get herself over that.

I found the calf burial exceptionally comedic. It wasn’t till I’d finished the scene that I realised I’d found it ridiculous, because I think I expected a different point to it, but when it was over I realised it was all about him showing his softer side. At the time it was telling me that she was soft in the head, and I was seriously rethinking the direction the story was taking. Markers about her “delicate condition” were beginning to make sense, and I started wondering if the story would have a more serious side, falling somewhere among the mental health stars. But no. It wasn’t that she was a bit loony or seriously immature, she was just far too well bred. (A calf burial though? On a cattle ranch? Bless his cotton socks, Kage found it ridiculous too.)

So he is great the whole way through, she is annoying at the start and less annoying at the end, and the rest of the cast are pretty darn good. The sister is an also ran who could have been left out - I got no reading at all on her personality. Not even a blip. Grandpa and Inga are simply gold. They breathe beautifully. I especially I love the scene where Inga doesn’t let the also-ran sister Laura go to help Ellie with the washing. She says it all in that one line.

All in all Mail Order Promise delivers all it promises: well-rounded characters, a slow-to-develop storyline that builds with good pace, dialogue and beautiful scene-setting, and a very sweet romance between two - er, one and a half - likeable characters.

You can find Caroline Clemmons here

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