Home for Christmas by Jillian Hart
Christina Eberlee is desperate for the safe haven promised to her by the Montana man whose bridal ad she answered. Yet she can't forget the handsome marshal who helps her on the journey. Maybe venturing from her planned path could lead Christina to the home she was truly meant to find.
Snowflakes for Dry Creek by Janet Tronstad
"Maybe you could marry her." Gabe Stone's niece and nephew long for a mother just like the mail-order bride Gabe's brother sent for and then abandoned. Yet in making the children's Christmas dreams come true, Gabe and Annabelle may discover the most precious gift of the holidays is love.
Along with governesses, wallflowers and girls who are masquerading as boys, mail order brides are my other historical trope of love. I tend to prefer these stories when reading American Historical or Canadian Historical romances actually, I don't know why. Let's not look too deeply into it.
Jillian Hart is kind of my defacto go to author if I want a good mail order bride book actually, so I was pretty happy to see both this and another holiday themed collection on sale for the kindle in the last year or so.
In "Home for Christmas" we get Christina, who wants to build herself a life where she belongs quite desperately and thus answers a mail order bride ad that sounds tailored for her. Upon meeting her intended she starts to have doubts, but she believes it will work out for the better once they know each other. Meanwhile the marshal who helped her after her purse is stolen distracts her thoughts whenever they meet and fate keeps tossing them together.
I'll give Hart credit, she makes it clear that while feelings are being developed between Christina and the marshal, they both are too good natured to consider putting themselves into a compromising position. Christina tries to see the good in her intended, but he is...well. Deception in many forms take root in this story. The holiday and faith play an important parts as they become the dividing wedges between her intended and herself. The ending is a little bit gee-shucks, but it wraps up a cute story very nicely.
"Snowflakes for Dry Creek" is a somewhat sadder tale. Annabelle traveled with Christina on the train (the authors cleverly tied the two stories together in that manner) as they both went to their intended. For Annabelle it was less about desperation to belong and more about needing something to believe in again. With her father's death, and the store she helped manage similarly gone, Annabelle wanted to feel useful again. With her injury she knows she comes with handicaps, but Gabe's brother seemed to understand her.
We don't get to know his brother that well, for all that he sent for Annabelle he disappears and leaves behind two young grieving children and a brother who doesn't quite understand how to be the homemaker kind (he's a solitary trapper pretty much). Then also he reminds Annabelle so strongly of her father that she shies away from him in the beginning, confusing him a lot. The holidays serve to be a perfect time for these two are they band together to prove to some gossiping women in the town that they are perfect to raise the two kids.
In the end love prevails and though I wonder what Gabe's brother is going to do now, I'm happy for how it turned out for Gabe and Annabelle.